Back: Gene Turbett,Jim Henderson,Eugene
McNamee Edward McNamee,Pat McGonagle
Front: Shay Hutchinson,David Coyle,John McDermott

The Melody Aces Showband
Newtownstewart

     The Melody Aces from Newtownstewart, were probably the first Showband to feature Country and Western music as an essential part of their dancing programme.

     Coming from virtually the same area as their illustrious neighbours the Clippers Carlton, the Melody Aces like many other bands had their origins in the local Town Band , in their case , The St, Eugene,s Flute Band. Eddie Mc Namee later to play tenor Sax. in the Showband, played the triangle in the Flute Band, which was formed by J.J. Mc Anulla. Also about this time ,late 1940,s 50s a local traditional fiddler Barney Molloy decided to form a small ceili band, to play at functions in the Town Hall. In this band were Eddie,s brother James, Charlie Duffy, Frank Mc Sorley, Barney Molloy, and John Devine , later to become a member of the Melody Aces  and also their manager, and Eddies younger brother Eugene, later to join the “Aces” as drummer. In 1950 John Devine, together with the Mc Namee brothers and Omagh trumpeter Gene Turbett decided to form the Mourne Dance Band. They started by playing at local dances and hops, but things were about to change for the lads when they were asked to play a date in the Star Ballroom, Omagh. Proprietor Noel Donaghey liked what he heard and offered them a residency there, on the condition that they become a six piece band, They brought in Lifford born sax player Jim Henderson, and Bass guitarist/vocalist David Coyle, who was to feature prominently in the bands vocal repertoire, and the Melody Aces were complete when guitarist/vocalist Shay Hutchinson, guitarist Tony Catorie and Trombonist
Patsy Mc Gonigle joined.

     The sad death of Jim Henderson caused a great void in the band so they reverted to an eight piece till they finished. As well as tours of England and Scotland, the Melody Aces went to the USA in 1959,and returned again in 1962 and 63, such was their popularity there. Needless to say they were a big draw here in Donegal and played all the local and rural venues to large attendances. The Recording Studios beckoned in the mid 60,s and Shay Hutchinson recorded their first single “Highway to Nowhere” coupled with a harmonious rendition of “Oft in the Stilly Night” on the “flip side”. This was followed by a further disc by Shay “From Nowhere at All” with David Coyle singing “The Holy City” on the B side.

     In the early 1970,s with the popularity of the “Pop” Showbands increasing , the conventional bands like the Melody Aces , found it hard to get dates in Dublin, and places South, so with more travelling involved to single date venues, and rising costs, they decided to “call it a day”
John Baird

The Melody Aces
The Melody Aces were from Newtownstewart, Co Tyrone and were one of the bands
that pioneered Country Music in the Showband Era
The members were Shay Hutchinson was regarded by many as the original pioneer
of what was then commonly referred to as ‘country and western’ music.
A brilliant vocalist and a stylish entertainer.
Eugene McNamee,Gene Turbett, Tony Catoire, John Devine,
Edward Mc Namee,David Coyle and Pat McGonigle.(R.I.P)

 
The Melody Aces from Newtownstewart
 played mostly strict ballroom tempo music, mixed
with a little country, dixieland and Rock and Roll.
 Fronted by country singer Shay  Hutchinson, they started
 as the resident band at The Star Ballroom, Omagh

                                                     Tribute to country  musician Shay Hutchinson

By: Michael Commins
While the Aces did not include a cabaret spot like the Clipper Carltons’ in their programme,
 they nevertheless kept the dancers happy with a bright, cheerful style of presentation
 that seemed to go down particularly well in rural areas.
They were selected to open the first of the Reynolds brothers
chain of rural ballrooms, The Cloudland at Rooskey.
 Shay Hutchinson has been quoted as saying I came to stand
in with the band for one night and stayed for twenty years.”
The manager, John Devine, and most of the band members were from Newtownstewart
The Melody Aces went on to become the finest in the land and were unique in that,
at the height of their fame, they all remained pin-wearing pioneers.
The Melody Aces along with the Clipper Carlton were oneof
The Northern Bands who  were the kingpins of the Showband scene
Jim Henderson ,David Coyle, Eugene Mc Namee, Tony Catorie ,
John Devine and  Shay Hutchinson have passed on (RIP)

. They had a reunion tour however, early 80,s and they decided to record
some CD tracks of their popular dancing numbers.
This was merely a personal venture and was never released for general sale
but it is a  fitting tribute to a most entertaining and popular Showband.
Sadly Jim Henderson ,David Coyle, Eugene Mc Namee, Tony Catorie, John Devine ,
Shay Hutchinson  and Patsy Mc Gonigle Eddie Mc Nameehave passed leaving

Gene Turbett
as the sole survivor of the original
Melody Aces Showband

Read This Article
    Story of the Melody Aces Showband
        By John Baird

From the files of John Bairds collection
    bairdart@iol.ie
 

 
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