|John Baird with Stan Mc Cormack ex
Trumpeter With Kevin Woods, Teeveetones,
Savoy Swing Seven and TheBandits,
|With Jimmy Higgins ex Trumpeter with
the Paramount (Tuam), Millionaires, Raindrops , and Internatonal Showbands, one of the 3 organizers
of this super exhibition.
Dancehall Days ran in conjunction
with the Galway Arts Festival from Tue.15 th July until Sat.27
th.July. Organised by Ann Fahy, Jimmy Higgins and Francis Kennedy it contained Showband and Dancehall memorabilia from the 50,s,60,s and 70,s era which was displayed in glass covered cases and wall panels in an area depicting a dancehall , complete with stage , authentic instruments , P,A, systems of that era. It was officially opened by Des Kelly (Capitol) on Sat, 19th July.
Present at the opening were Brendan O, Brien (Dixies), Doc Carroll,(Royal Blues), past members of the Bandits (Tuam) Premier Aces (Ballintubber) Ohio,(Tuam) Indians,Johnny Regan of the Tumbleweeds and many others including Local Radio Station DJ,S and Showband fans.
During the week many Showband members called in including Mickey Brady (Mighty Avons), Pat Lynch (Airchords).Brian Carr (Royal Blues ) and many others.
Speaking for myself and on behalf of Mickey Doherty ex Trend Showband, Derry. and now a Highland Radio DJ, we both thought it was a tremendous effort by the three organizers who put this together. A brilliant effort that preserves the Showband Heritage for the public to see. Well done.
From left , Des Kelly who performed the official
opening,Derek Kennedy (Swingtime Aces) Doc Carroll and Johnny Regan
(Thre Tunbleweeds) and on stage Jimmy Higgins and Keith Mc Donald
Trumpets and on Gutarist well known Joe O'Neill
(He supplied the Sound Systems to the Showband's)
L-R..Frank O, Brien(ex Premier Aces), Myself, and John Merrick
(ex Swinging Viscounts,and now playing Trumpet with the
Black Magic Big Band and the Jazzmasters, Galway).
|Eddie Kelly , Shannonside-Northern Sound Radio, Ann
Fahy,Pat Lynch (Airchords),
Chris Hanrahan , Clare FM and Jimmy Higgins
|Mickey Brady ex Guitarist Mighty Avons
John Baird and Chris Mulachy ex Drummer with the Indians , Chris helped a lot in the setting up of the exhibition.
|Chris Mulachy and Mickey Doherty ,
Highland Radio Presenter and ex member of the Trend Showband ,Derry
|Francis Kennedy, ex Swingtime Aces ,
one of the organisers
|Chris Mulcahy with his old band suit
from the Indians
|Dancehall Days, Entrance|
|Ann Fahy one of the organisers and her grandaughter Emma||Albums||Handouts|
Ireland's stretched 1960s revisited
NEVER MIND what Bob Geldolf and Bono told you - the showbands weren't
crap. They were a home-grown entertainment phenomenon which packed out
halls across Ireland and sent 'em home sweatin'.
The showbands would wipe the floor with today's cover bands and the glory of that era (c1957 to 1975) is captured in all its bizarre glory in Dancehall Days, an exhibition of showband memorabilia, currently running at the Galway Arts Festival box office in Victoria Place.
While it is to be enjoyed as a nostalgia trip and/or glimpse of a bygone era, it's tragic end is the first thing you see. On the little kiosk at the entrance is a poster of The Miami Showband with Fran O'Toole, from the mid 1970s, just years from the Loyalist paramilitary ambush which left three of the band dead.
Uncomfortable reality over with, the rest of the exhibition is pure fun and good times, especially (though not exclusively) for those who were there. The walls are decked out in deliberately gaudy colours with hosts of pictures, 7” and 12” records, posters, and magazines. Each section has its own wall (one for records, etc,) so you can get lost in the detail of each aspect of the showband era and it is a credit to those who put it all together.
The centre floor contains glass cases with picture cards of all the showbands from each province in Ireland, while a small stage to the centre of the back wall has drums, a guitar, and a saxophone, looking as if they're awaiting a band's arrival.
While they are all represented in some form; The Plattermen, The Dixies, The Indians (who have a quite a section to themselves), and Galway's The Philosophers, it's the big three who steal the show. The pic of Elvis looking slightly intimidated by Brendan Bowyer, the images of Joe Dolan in the rugged glory that has seen countless knickers flung at him, and for anyone who ever screamed "Spit on me Dickie!", there's barely a wall from which he isn't beaming out at you.
The magazines and record covers are most intriguing. Witness Spotlight in 1967 pondering the phenomenon of Joe Dolan's ardent fans or in the 1970s asking if Billy Brown was a genus or phoney? As for the record covers, it's fun to see Dana's 'All Kinds Of Everything' single or the early Irish attempt at the cheesecake cover featuring a sixties babe getting all seductive over Avenmore Honey. However there's one that stands out for sheer oddness: A record by The Plattermen featuring (yes) Micheál MacLiammóir with the cover showing a group of white doves (some falling over themselves) standing around a pile of crushed fag-butts on a dirty wooden floor (what sort of stuff were they taking back then?).
A small, but significant piece of the exhibition is hidden in a corner, but don't miss it. There are small profiles of Rory Gallagher, Arty McGlynn, Van Morrison, and others showing how they all began life in the showbands. Oh the nostalgia! Now, who said the showbands were crap?
Kernan Andrews (Galway Advertiser)
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