Brian Kennedy seems to bring out a book each year now and it all seems to happen with a wham-bam rush of manic energy. 50/50 – A Collection of Waterford Showbands, Groups and Artists 1958 – 2008, is the latest and you have to admire his passion, his energy that overlooks editing, grammar, word choices, in a mind rush to celebrate 50 musical gems over 50 years. His work burns with energy and love for his chosen story and is a real fan’s hymn to his heroes and their contemporaries.
From the grey fifties, he starts with the Royal Showband, Val Doonican, Liam Clancy and Dick Hayes or Little Lenny Davies as he was in 1965 with a UK chart hit – Little Schoolgirl. There is a wonderful exotic story in the changes of line-up of names that meant something and others that have not survived the passage of time.
Back in the Fifties going to school in Mount Sion, I used to see Froggy Walsh, a hit singer with the Blue Aces and he was exotic with his Buddy Holly glasses, cowboy shirts and winkle picker boots. In the early Seventies, when I got married, Jed And The Southern Express were the wedding band. The section on them is a gem of hippy dippiness and nostalgia.
You get a great spread of the 70s with Simon, Liam Merriman, Tweed, Gilbert O’Sullivan, Drops Of Brandy and the glorious Enda Jackman. She was sultry as Summer heat and had a voice that was like Tequila for the soul.
Moving into the 80s, you get a great blast of the nearly mega Neuro, The Village, Bob Millar, Soul Reason and Miss Brown To You. I remember the late Bruno Browne telling me that The Village would be more Manchester than Joy Division or The Smiths and, in a sad way, they nearly were. I thought back then that Neuro were going to be the business and the hopes were mighty but they faded. The section on Neuro makes sad reading about the hopes and heartaches of an almost mega band.
In the 90s Danu made the big time in America and at home The Butterfly Band just missed the breeze, as did Cassidy. Then there was the wedding band of wedding bands – Avalon – with the legendary lead singer Brian Kennedy and Wayne Brown on keyboards and dreams. In quick succession you get a crazy mix of exotics like the Ska fun of Skunk with Mark Graham as a guru of sounds. There’s a blast of nearly famous, from Gorbachov and the retro hippy dippiness of the last band to be featured – Ugly Megan. They aspire to quirky hip-hop but are electric-lost in fresh-young-things in a love duet, innocents-at-large-vibe. But they make music and make music their own as I suppose did many of the gone but not forgotten in this book.
This 50/50 is a book for the collection up there beside the Heads And Tails of yesteryear.