THIS WEEK JOHN BAIRD STARTS A NEW FORTNIGHTLY COLUMN FEATURING SHOWBANDS
 WHO PLAYED IN LETTERKENNY'S FIESTA BALLROOM AND OTHER POPULAR DONEGAL VENUES.
 FIRST OFF IS THE CAPITOL SHOWBAND WHICH  FEATUREDTWO DONEGAL MUSICIANS...

 Capitol gains
 It is only fittting that the first trip down memory  lane should begin with the Capitol.

There are two reasons really -firstly they played on the opening night of Letterkenny's popular venue the Fiesta Ballroom  on October 5th 1962 and secondly they had in their line-up two Donegal lads, trumpeter Paul Sweeney from Dungloe and pianist, Eamon Monahan from Mount Charles.
They also created a bit of history by the fact that they were the first Irish Showband to ever  record an L.P.,
entitled "Presenting the Capitol Showband". 1962 was also to become a landmark in the band's long travelling history because in April of that year they made the first of many trips to the U.S.A.

How did the start?. Well the two Kelly brothers Des and Johnny from Turloughmore , Co. Galway . together with other family members and friends formed a band called Quicksilver , playing a lot of ceili music in their native County . The got £12 for playing their first gig in Cummer , outside Tuam in the late 50,s. The line up was Des/ Piano and Accordion, Johnny /Drums , their sister Bernie (Now a DJ in Australia) who played Bass and sang along with other band members Mick Costello,Bridie Carrick, Joe Morris, Joe Killarney ,and Christy Dooley.Johnny Kelly was also to play drums for a short time with the Westcoasters Showband from Abbeyknockmoy, near Tuam. It was not long. however that Des Kelly came under the influence of the music and Showmanship , generated by the Clipper Carlton from Strabane,so they decided to go semi professional and form the Capitol Showband. When Des moved to Dublin he teamed up with pianist Eamon Monahan and Trumpeter Paul Sweeney and the played at student gigs such as the AGS Dances, But the challenge of going on the road part time beckoned and the brought in Vocalist/Guitarist Butch Moore and Guitarist Jimmy Hogan from a Dublin based band , The Blue Clavons, Also brought in was Eddie Sheehan/ Sax and Pat Loughman ,/Trombone.

At this stage the Capitol were playing five nights a week and with some of them still studying,
 they opted under the guidance of manager Jim Doherty to go full-time on the circuit.
Eddie Sheehan and Pat Loughman decided to quit rather than risk going professional so Des Long from Cork,
who played with the Donie Collins band from Limerick and Paddy Cole from Castleblaney, who was in Maurice Lynch's band,came in on trombone and Sax respectively. Eventually founder member Paul Sweeney decided to return to his  architectural stud- ies and was replaced on trumpet by Corkman Brian McCarthy.
For most of the 1960's this great showband continued to entertain us everytime they played for the
 Keeney brothers in the Fiesta. They also appeared on "Sunday Night at the London Palladium";
 "Thank Your Lucky Stars" and the Eammon Andrews Show as well as on Telefis Eireann's
 "The Showband Show", "Jamboree" and "Melody Fair".
They were regularly to be seen in Spotlight magazine and had hit record releases among them being
 "Walking the Streets in the Rain" in the Eurovision Song Contest of1965, "Foolin' Time" written by Phil Coulter,
 "Born to be with You", "Black Velvet Band" and Des with the "Streets of Baltimore".
Their second album was "The Many Faces of the Capitol Showband" and Butch was featured on an EP
 "A Christmas Wish". Butch Moore left the band to pursue a solo career in 1967 and was replaced by,
 firstly, Noel McNeill, and later by John Drummond.
The Kelly brothers left in 1970 to go into band management, leaving Paddy Cole and Bram McCarthy
 as the only original members of The great band. The Capitol folded in 1971 when Paddy left to join
 Brendan Bowyer and The Big 8 in Las Vegas. They did get back together again in the early eighties
 for a reunion tour that was marred by the sad deaths of Johnny Kelly and Bram McCarthy.
Where are they now? Des Kelly still gigs In Galway and presents a programme on Galway Bay FM.;
 Paddy Cole has his own jazzband; the Donegal pair Paul Sweeney and Eamon Mqnahan
 have business interests in Dublin; and Des Long still plays jazz with a band in Manchester.
Sadly, Butch Moore died a few years ago - may all the deceased members Rest in Peace.

IN  TWO WEEKS T1ME WE  WILL FEATURE THE
CLIPPER CARLTON SHOWBAND FROM STRABANE.


John Baird
bairdart@iol.ie
 

 
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