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Review: Opening Night of Glitterball – Dublin

11 May

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By Rhea H. Boyden

I walk down Dublin’s South Anne Street frequently but I had not noticed the beautiful blue door at Number 22 until I found myself standing in front of it last Saturday night wearing a sparkly blue dress that was just about the same shade of blue as the door. I was excited to see what lay behind this portal and so I entered and walked downstairs into the stunning new club named simply after its address: ‘Number Twenty-Two’ which opened last November. The event I was there to attend on Saturday was the opening night of DJ/Producer Dean Sherry‘s  glamorous new event: Glitterball – Saturday Nite Phever. The opening night was spectacular and most certainly did not disappoint. Dean opened his set at the stroke of midnight with the fantastic Nile Rogers/Bernard Edwards Remix of ‘Lost in Music’ by Sister Sledge which really was the perfect track to commence a new Saturday night residency that he will hold weekly in this beautiful and stylishly refurbished building. ‘Glitterball’s focus will be on promoting Irish musical talent with small group rotations and occasional international guest DJs,’ he told me.

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DJ/Producer Dean Sherry 

The ‘Number Twenty-Two’ venue is decorated with well-restored antiques, plush curtains, stained glass and large gold -framed mirrors. It hosts dinner shows in a 1920’s New York theme, as well as traditional music, folk gigs and jazz with Sherry’s weekly Glitterball event adding classic house, soul, funk and New York disco to the repertoire. I really did feel like I was in a New York club as I sat in the large leather booths on the balcony overlooking the dancefloor, stage and dining tables below.

When Dean Sherry finished playing ‘Lost in Music’ he launched straight into ‘Benediction’ by Hot Natured – a song I love. I sang along to the line: ‘I feel like my love has found a home,’ and as I did I was also struck with the thought that sexy, civilised and quality late-night clubbing has also found a new home in Dublin and this is something to get very excited about. The music was accompanied by top-class visuals and graphics provided by Brian Byrne and Christian Boshell.

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Niall Redmond 

Dean was joined on opening night by the hugely talented DJs Jay Carpenter aka Muska who opened with the track ‘Club Soda’ by Thomas Bangalter and Niall Redmond who played ‘Clouds’ by Chaka Chan which went down a storm. As I observed Niall in action it occured to me that Djing really is a physical activity. I could see the passion and music flowing through this extremely talented man and it is quite remarkable to observe. But then Dean Sherry himself is a huge talent who surrounds himself with a pool of talented DJs. He is an award-winning DJ and owner of PHEVER:TV-Radio which he set up in 2014. He has held residencies in almost every leading dance club in Ireland over the past 2 decades as well as touring extensively and internationally with his successful PHUNK’DUP Soundsystem. He also held a residency in the late 90’s in a hugely popular underground club called The System which was in the same location as the freshly refurbished club on South Anne Street. Dean is now returning to the same spot to DJ nearly 20 years later with his new sparkly and sexy Glitterball club night.

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Jay Carpenter aka Muska

I have learned a lot more about the history of the location in the past week, and 22 South Anne Street, being in the heart of Dublin city centre, has a colourful musical history. In the 1950’s it was home to The Crystal Ballroom which was where many young people went dancing to jazz/swing orchestra bands. This week I was introduced to Dublin songwriter/musician Andy Jack who told me a little more about his personal family connection to The Crystal Ballroom. ‘My uncle Henry Jack who is now 82 years old was resident crooner there in the 1950s and would sing only the most lavish of songs with the in- house jazz/swing orchestra. He had a voice that could sing classically as well as big swing-jazz numbers of the time. He was often compared to the Hollywood legendary singer Mario Lanza and he would perform songs by the likes of Dean Martin and Elvis Presley as well as many of his own songs, ‘ he told me. Henry Jack went on to have a very successful singing career in New York.

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Henry Jack – Resident Crooner at The Crystal Ballroom in the 1950s

The Crystal Ballroom has also been immortalised in a U2 song of the same name. Bono’s parents used to go dancing there in the 1950’s too. And on the same location as the Crystal Ballroom another club sprang up in the 70’s, – the iconic McGonagle’s which featured a mix of indie bands, acid house and pop dance. U2 played there and many Irish bands made their debut there in the late 1970’s and throughout the 80’s. I spoke with DJ Aoife Nic Canna and her close friend Ailbhe Ni Mhaoilearca who both told me that they have fond memories of seeing New Model Army in McGonagle’s in 1988 when they were young teenagers. ‘The gigs on Saturday afternoons were free which made it all the more appealing when we teens had very little money,’ Ailbhe told me. The venue hosted such bands as Thin Lizzy and The Virgin Prunes.

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It has been fascinating and intriguing for me to talk to so many different people this week about the history of this location that I knew absolutely nothing about before. I have lived in Dublin for a little under 3 years and there is still so much musical history for me to uncover. I very much look forward to attending more of Dean Sherry’s Glitterball club nights in the near future especially now that I learn that this is the fourth music club to be located on this very spot since the 1950’s. Dean has a lot of exciting plans for his Glitterball residency. He told me Niall Redmond will be spinning on stage with him frequently and that they both have a special guest lined up who they will soon reveal. I can’t wait for the second night of Glitterball this Saturday May 13th when Dean will invite DJ’s Speedi D (Purty Loft) and Frankie Moorhouse to join him in working their musical magic on the decks.

Glitterball Dublin is delivered in association with PHEVER.ie featuring exclusive resident DJ Dean Sherry plus weekly guests. For VIP guestlist applications please PM to Glitterball Facebook page and leave name and email address. The club also offers supper club deals from earlier in the evening. Glitterball kicks off at midnight. Doors: 11pm. No. 22 South Anne Street (off Grafton Street) Dress to impress. The event is strictly over 25s.

Photo of Henry Jack courtesy of Andy Jack.

Silver Glitterball image from Wikimedia Commons

Review: Hugo McCann’s ‘Best Sets’ on PHEVER:TV-Radio

21 Jan

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by Rhea H. Boyden

In the past few months I have been tuning in to Dublin DJ Hugo McCann’s ‘Best Sets’ show on PHEVER:TV-Radio which airs Saturdays from 6-8pm. His altogether excellent two hour mixes take you on a musical journey through the genres of progressive techno, deep house and tech house. On December 3rd I was tuned in when the following vocals really caught my attention: ‘I want to take this time to do a shout out to all the nations of the universe, to all the leaders of every land. This is the time for everyone to unite and stop this hate against each other.’ I was curious about this track and so I asked Hugo about it. ‘Yes, it is Luna City Express – Motherland,’ he told me. ‘I am glad you spotted it, as I consciously added that vocal especially in light of the current protests in Standing Rock.’ The powerful vocal continues: ‘Take the time, search your heart, show more love. Teach the children what their motherlands are all about. Stop the hate, love is the answer, education is the key.’

In the past few weeks, I have got to know Hugo a little better and he has told me more about the philosophy, literature and music that has inspired his DJing career that has now spanned more than two decades. ‘I try to impart the wisdom of Alan Watts where and when I can, especially by adding clips and quotes to my mixes,’ he said. Alan Watts (1915-1973) was a British writer, philosopher and speaker who was best known for popularising Eastern philosophy for a Western audience. He wrote and spoke at length, especially on the topics of overcoming fear and really learning to experience the present moment. Hugo certainly has some great stories about how he has applied Watts’ Zen teachings to the trials and tribulations of everyday life. ‘I was recently at the dentist and had a terrible toothache and I was miserable and thought, this is it, I am going to lose this tooth,’ he told me. ‘And then I just gave up and let the experience be what it was. I let go of the fear. Suddenly things worked out for me. While other dentists had told me they could not save my tooth, this dentist turned around and said he could! And not only that, as I got chatting to him, he revealed that he was a pilot and he needed someone to choreograph the music to accompany his flight routine so we struck a deal; he would save my tooth and I would provide him his music in exchange.’ Most impressive. Hugo has inspired me to read more Alan Watts in the past weeks and I think the Watts’ quote that best describes the above scenario is this: ‘When you realise that you live in, that indeed you ARE this moment and no other, that apart from this there is no past and no future you must relax and taste life to the full, whether it be pleasure or pain.’

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Hugo is also a big fan of science fiction, fantasy and the Tao of Pooh which was what he read before he moved onto Watts’ philosophy. He has been collecting records and djing since the 90’s and he told me a bit about the exciting hunts he has been on over the years to find the best records and the tastiest tunes and also the dedication that has really gone into honing his DJing skills. He has held residencies at The Temple of Sound, Ormond Multimedia and The Kitchen nightclub (owned and operated in the 90’s by U2) among others, as well as DJing all over Ireland, the UK and also attracting promoters from places such as Thailand and Las Vegas. He set up his You Tube channel ‘Best Sets on the Net’ four and a half years ago and it has been hugely successful. He now has 56 thousand subscribers and averages about 100 thousand views a week and has had almost 19 million hits to date. It features world class DJ mixes from across the planet covering Chicago House to minimal techno and just about everything in between.

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Hugo McCann at PHEVER:TV-Radio Studios

In recent years Hugo withdrew from the DJing limelight to focus on his family and other commitments until he was introduced to DJ/Producer and PHEVER boss Dean Sherry  in the summer of 2014. Dean had just set up PHEVER:TV-Radio and offered Hugo a weekly residency. This has become his ‘Best Sets’ show that airs every Saturday from 6-8pm. ‘Radio has given me a platform to start playing and accessing music that never makes it to vinyl and this has been an interesting adventure for me. I rarely play out in clubs anymore, but when I do it is all vinyl. My radio show and You Tube channel have been my focus of late.’ Not only is ‘Best Sets’ gaining in popularity, but PHEVER:TV-Radio is growing fast too. I spoke to Dean who said: ‘There is so much fantastic new music coming into the inbox that I hardly have a chance to listen to it all!’ This is indeed very exciting. Dean Sherry has big plans for PHEVER for 2017 and it will be interesting to watch how both Hugo’s show and PHEVER as a whole develop over the next while. And while it is fun to get nostalgic and listen to the music of our youth it is also great to focus on what is happening right NOW (in the spirit of Alan Watts) and listen to hot new releases. ‘So what are some of your favourite new releases?’ I asked Hugo. ‘I would say my current faves are Taras Van De Voorde and Virgil Delion – December, Umek – Incinerator and Sergio Fernandez – Unforgettable Summer.’ I also asked him who he thought would be big in 2017 and who we can expect him to play on his show. ‘The big artists for me for 2017 are definitely CJ Jeff, Latmun and Ali Ajami if I had to just name a few off the top of my head.’ Excellent. I will certainly be tuning in to ‘Best Sets’ to hear more of the melodic and deep musical adventures that Hugo so brilliantly takes his listeners on every weekend.

PHEVER’s mission: To develop and educate new artistic talent and establish a standard of excellence that is recognised globally through its broadcast, media, publishing and performances.

phever.ie – TV-Radio global 24/7 91.6FM – The Sound of the Irish Underground SMS/Viber/WhatsApp/Mobile: +353 (0) 85 7833 733 TV/Radio/Events/Academy/Label

‘Best Sets’ logo graphic courtesy of Hugo McCann

Review: Rich Lane at Ukiyo

13 Nov

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by Rhea H. Boyden

Last weekend Dublin music promoter Julie-Ann Smith hosted music maker and record-label owner Rich Lane from Stoke-on-Trent for a gig at Ukiyo. In the weeks leading up to the gig, the anticipation and excitement among my circle of friends and acquaintances was very apparent and so I felt it was an event that should not be missed.

Ukiyo, which opened in 2004, is a lovely Japanese restaurant in Dublin city centre run by Duncan Maguire. In addition to offering a varying Bento box and excellent sushi, they serve delicacies such as slow-roasted pork served with scented squash and the most delicious pan-fried hake and prawn gyoza served with a mouth-watering garlic and chilli dip. The restaurant has huge plate-glass windows allowing for perfect people-watching as you feast on the food or sip their cocktails that are expertly mixed by the friendliest of bar staff. As well as providing Karaoke booths downstairs, once the tables are cleared upstairs, a host of DJs hit the decks to provide further entertainment several evenings a week.

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Rich Lane 

One thing that especially excited me about attending Rich Lane’s gig at Ukiyo was that a lot of the people I have collaborated with or been introduced to in the world of Dublin dance music over the past year were also planning to be there. Ukiyo has become, and will likely remain, my local haunt because it certainly is a joy to have a place to go where I can meet my peers: others in their late 30’s and early 40’s and the bar was packed for Rich Lane’s set. Before playing Ukiyo last week, Rich was also a guest at PHEVER:TV-Radio on Hugo Mc Cann’s ‘Best Sets’ show. I spoke with Hugo and also with DJ/Producer and PHEVER boss Dean Sherry about their impression of Rich’s music: ‘Rich takes techno and house and slows it down and makes it more interesting,’ Hugo said. ‘Yes, and I really think he makes the transitions between the beats more interesting,’ Dean added.

Rich told me he really had a great night and was very pleased with the warm welcome he got in Dublin. He was Julie-Ann Smith’s guest last year for a gig at Pacino’s in Dublin and was delighted to return. He has been producing music for over a quarter of a century and has had a hand in producing hundreds of tracks. He is the owner of the record label Cotton Bud and also has a sideline in mastering. He does mastering for Sub:Sonic records, an Irish record label specialising in releasing a wide range of electronic music. The lovely guys from Sub:Sonic were at the gig too and Rich also played a few tracks released by them.

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On the night, Rich played many of his own tracks released by him on his label, as well as his lovingly recrafted and re-edited version of Sinead O’ Connor’s hit ‘Jackie’ from her 1987 album ‘The Lion and the Cobra’  which he made especially for the Ukiyo gig. ‘I love the relentless, driving tone of this track,’ he told me. ‘Its beautifully tragic, spooky and evocative lyrics and her uniquely passioned performance have always been spine-tingling.’ Rich also does the mastering for Logical Records from Spain who Julie-Ann Smith also hosted at Ukiyo back in September and he played a few tracks released by them too. It was at that gig that I first met Julie-Ann who has hosted various DJs including Craig Bratley, Duncan Gray, Chris Massey, Los Bikini and Javier Busto (of Logical Records). She told me she is really passionate about the music that Rich and all these guys make. ‘I love slow techno and chug’, she said. ‘A lot of it has a nod to acid house and I also love these dirty slow beats.’

I have been listening to Rich’s dirty slow beats whilst chatting to him and it has been a complete joy for me to get to know him better and also to discover that we have collaborated with some of the same people. He has enlightened me some more too on the process of mastering dance music. We also spoke of the the creative process in writing music lyrics and writing in general and the beauty of returning to unfinished work after it has been left alone for awhile. ‘My last track ‘Wolf in Shell Toes’ was on the shelf for about 8 years,’ he told me. ‘It was just sitting there waiting for me to add some lyrics to and then suddenly one day I was sitting in the pub with my kids with a notebook in hand and they came!’ he said. I love this too when suddenly you are filled with the creative energy to complete a project to satisfaction. You never know when it is going to happen, just as you never know who you are going to be collaborating with or who you will meet next. It certainly is an exciting journey. I will surely be keeping a close eye on Rich Lane’s work in the future, and of course, the work of the host of other amazing DJs whose work he does the mastering for.

Ukiyo Bar, Restaurant and Karaoke is at 9, Exchequer Street in Dublin city centre

Cotton Bud Logo courtesy of Rich Lane

Salon Series at The Liquor Rooms-Dublin

23 Oct

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by Rhea H. Boyden

Since June of this year The Liquor Rooms on Wellington Quay has been hosting a monthly Salon Series presented by their arts and culture manager Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan. It has featured panel discusssions, live performances and demonstrations highlighting the work of The Liquor Rooms’ altogether excellent creative community. The topics that have featured so far in this series have ranged from burlesque to coding to comic illustration and publishing.

Two weeks ago I attended the Salon Series’ fascinating and inspiring publishing event. Moderated by Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan, the panel discussion included Irish editors and publishers Susan Tomaselli of Gorse, Marc O’ Connell of The Penny Dreadful, Eimear Ryan of Banshee and Declan Meade of The Stinging Fly. Set in the intimate and inviting vintage lounge of The Liquor Rooms, the talk centred around the challenges and successes they have each experienced with their journals to date. They publish short stories, personal essays and poetry predominantly, and were in agreement regarding their passion for print over online media. They also discussed their own histories and the leap they took from being writers to publishers and editors.

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Salon Series Publishing event at The Liquor Rooms

The Liquor Rooms, which recently celebrated its third birthday, describes itself as a ‘subterranean den of delight.’ And this it truly is. I have spent nights there scrutinising their unusual artwork and unique decor which includes an intriquing wall of old fireplaces. As its name would suggest, they also serve excellent cocktails and are multiple award winners at the Irish Craft Cocktail Awards. These can be enjoyed with a variety of gourmet delicacies which are also available.

The final Salon Series event of this year will be held on Wednesday, November 2nd at 7pm and will be a talk on and performance with vinyl, as well as the history of the Liquor Rooms. The panel will include resident DJ Aoife Nic Canna who has been Djing there since shortly after they opened, and also the hosts of the ‘Vinyl and Wine’ series Mark Whelan and Anthony Kelly. ‘Vinyl and Wine’ which is also hosted by The Liquor Rooms, is an intimate album listening party and discussion, encouraging people to really be present with music and share their experience of it with others. They recently featured an evening listening to and discussing David Bowie’s lesser known album ‘The Gouster.’

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 Aoife Nic Canna – Photo by Cris Llarena

Aoife Nic Canna, for her part, will be discussing her own history and experience of Djing in the Liquor Rooms and also the history of the building itself. She also held a residency at The Kitchen nightclub which opened in 1994 on the same premises and was owned by Bono and The Edge. Aoife has held multiple residencies at many clubs around Dublin for more than two decades, is an archivist at Near FM Radio, and is the producer of the fascinating six part documentary on Irish Club history ‘Folklore From The Dancefloor’ which aired on Near FM and community radio around Ireland in 2012.

Admission to the event is free and will include a tasting of special Liquor Rooms cocktails. Their beautiful website states that they ‘proudly serve liquors to make your tastebuds sing made by a creative team of cocktail craftsmen.’ Enticing indeed.

The Liquors Rooms is at 5 Wellington Quay in Dublin city centre and is open daily from 5pm til late.

Graphics and Photos courtesy of The Liquor Rooms and Aoife Nic Canna.  

Iconic and PHEVER: The Words and Soundtrack of the Underground

11 Aug

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by Rhea H.Boyden

In the past few weeks I have had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with two talented and accomplished men involved heavily in the Dublin underground dance music scene: award-winning and internationally acclaimed Irish DJ, music producer and PHEVER director and TV/Radio presenter, Dean Sherry and sound engineer, CEO and editor of Iconic Underground Magazine, Mike Mannix. Iconic Underground Magazine will be launching on Monday, August 15th- first edition in digital format and then in hard-copy by the end of the month. The first edition of the magazine will contain an in-depth interview with Dean Sherry who has had a dazzling career to date.

In my four years of blogging, I have covered a diverse range of topics from dating to restaurant reviews to art and theatre. In the past year, however, I have become more and more involved in covering the Dublin dance music scene as it has become very clear to me that this city certainly has no shortage of excellent DJs and producers. I have already had a lot of fun collaborating with some of them, promoting and reviewing their events, and I am now very excited about focusing my reviewing more on this scene in the future.

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Dean Sherry 

I was talking recently to both Dean and Mike separately about their projects and I realised that they were, in fact, talking to me about the same project and their collaboration with each other. I found this to be a delightful coincidence and so I felt compelled to learn more about their work together and what plans they have for future collaboration between PHEVER:TV-Radio and Iconic Underground Magazine. ‘Mike and I share similar visions without fear of doing the same thing. It’s complimentary on differing but related mediums,’ Dean told me. ‘Yes, and I have full respect for what Dean has achieved and his future direction,’ Mike said.

Dean, who has held residencies with almost every leading dance club in Ireland over the past 2 decades, set up and has managed PHEVER since 2014; which is now a collective of 75 DJs and presenters plus media artists. He produces and presents his weekly PHUNK’DUP Radio show which airs Saturdays 4-6pm. The latest global stats on PHEVER:TV-Radio from internet-radio.com and Google Analytics show an average of over 100K weekly tuning in to PHEVER.ie. I tuned in to Dean’s superb Old Skool set recently and I was instantly hooked to the funky beats. He told me his current focus is on the promotion of underground music styles, DJs and artists. He is hoping also to get spoken word interviews on the air and to transpose them onto the new PHEVER.ie website, as well as for Mike’s new magazine. He and Mike are looking at different ways in which their projects can intersect and how these ideas will develop in the future and benefit them both.

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Mike Mannix

Mike, who holds a degree in sound engineering from Pulse College, Dublin told me that Iconic Underground’s main focus will be on quality in-depth interviews of the icons of culture based around the underground music scene, street art, graffiti and urban culture. He was a co-founder of online/hardcopy Zone Magazine which covers the underground dance music scene in Ireland and internationally, with Iconic Underground being his latest ambitious project. He told me he is interested in really getting to the heart of people’s stories and what makes them tick. He wants quality content as opposed to just chart listings. As well as including an interview with Dean Sherry, the first edition of Iconic Underground will feature interviews with the following artists: Joey Beltram, Jazzy M, Mauro Picotto, James Darkin, Jon the Dentist, Suddi Raval, KoZy and many more.

I read what Mike wrote about the first edition with great interest and I can’t wait to get my hands on the first copy: ‘kicking it off on the front cover with a worldwide raw and exclusive uncut interview with DJ/Producer Joey Beltram who has been banging out the bangers for 3 decades and showing no signs of abating anytime soon. With a prolific back catalogue and hundreds of thousands of air miles under his belt touring the world, Iconic Underground finally caught up with this techno Godfather to spit it real.This is Joey as you have never heard him before in any interview. He is speaking his mind with zero editing, just how we like it at Iconic, just keeping it real.’

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In the course of my conversations with both Dean and Mike one thing has certainly stood out: they both value keeping it real and getting to the core of what makes people tick. They also both know that reaching a satisfying depth of quality in music production takes time and patience and it can’t be rushed. Pulse College, for their part, enjoy keeping up with their graduates and they asked Mike what he would advise students starting out in a career in electronic music. ‘Don’t just rush the process so you can get a track out and brag to your mates,’ he told them. ‘Be original and do your homework. Spend the time and then some, until you get it right. Don’t be a carbon copy of someone else, buck the trends and believe in yourself.’ Mike knows from experience how long it can take to produce quality music. He worked on his 5 track debut EP ‘Hypnotic Intelligence’ for 3 years until he was sick of hearing it and then put it away for a year to work on other projects before coming back to it to rework it. His patience with it certainly paid off; when he went back and listened to it with fresh ears he was able to finish it and it was instantly signed to Redbox records and did really well in the charts. As a writer, I can relate well to this process. I love the giddy feeling I get when I go back and re read and re edit a piece I have written in the past. I approach it with a vibrant new energy having been removed from it. I have even had heady moments where I have actually asked myself: ‘Did I write this?’ This is such a gratifying and important part of the creative process; to go back and complete a project to satisfaction that you have had the patience to leave alone for a while to ferment.

PHEVER studios

PHEVER:TV-Radio-Studios

As for Dean, well he is a DJ and producer who has consistently been a notch or two above many others for his ability to read a crowd deeply and know exactly what he should play and when. He has released many tracks on his own labels and others since the late 90’s worldwide, and toured extensively and globally as the PHUNK’DUP Soundsystem. He co-owned ViRTU:Media creative studios in Dublin 1 for a number of years and was involved heavily in music production and training, tuition and DJing courses; something he has now migrated over to the new PHEVER: DJ/Producer Academy (launching Q3 2016). He has played to all age groups in a host of venues over the past two decades, is extremely versatile musically and exceeds in technical ability. He was resident of the country’s leading nightclub The Wright Venue for the last 5 years. My impression of him so far too, is that he is an approachable and down-to-earth guy and I can’t wait to learn more about what makes him tick when I get my first copy of Iconic Underground Magazine and read the in-depth interview with him. It will be interesting to keep an eye on what Dean has planned for PHEVER:TV-Radio in the near future. ‘There’s a whole lot more to PHEVER as yet to be unleashed,’ he told me. ‘I have a roadmap, a plan, and an amazing team around me to achieve it as a collective.The Academy launches at the end of 2016, plus the agency, and next year a whole new approach to events is to be unleashed plus- finally-PHEVER Recordings, our label, representing the sound of the Irish underground.’ I know that I will be tuning in and paying attention to what this talented guy has in store.

The first issue of Iconic Underground Magazine will be for sale online priced at 2 Euro on Monday, August 15th in digital and PDF with printed hard copies landing at the end of August. Hardcopy 5 Euros (Ireland only-delivered) 15 Euros internationally.

On Saturday, August 13th tune in to PHUNK’DUP Radio between 4 and 6pm to hear Dean Sherry’s live interview with Mike Mannix about the launch of Iconic Underground Magazine.

PHEVER’s Mission: To develop and educate new artistic talent and establish a standard of excellence that is recognised globally through our broadcast media, publishing and performances.

www.phever.ie TV: Radio Global 24/7 91.6 FM Dublin- The Sound of the Irish Underground- Are U Turned On Yet? SMS/Viber/What’s App 353857833733 Facebook.com: PHEVER Music Twitter:@PHEVERirl. 

TV/Radio/Events/Academy/Agency/Label

Graphics and Photos courtesy of Dean Sherry and Mike Mannix

Iconic Underground Magazine- Issue 1 cover graphic by Natalie Keville

 

Preview: RHYTHMBOX at Front Door-Dame Street

27 Jul

Rhythmbox edited flyer

by Rhea H. Boyden

With the August Bank Holiday weekend fast approaching I thought I would have a look around for something new and fun to do. Saturday happens also to be my birthday so I don’t intend to spend it being lazy and going to bed early with a book. I would rather hit the streets of Dublin to celebrate even though 41 is a rather unspectacular age and last year was in fact, my big birthday celebration. But I am a Leo after all, and Leos do not generally let their birthdays slip by unnoticed.

Yesterday I was introduced to Dublin DJ and producer Eric Whelan who celebrated and hosted his own birthday last April in a Dublin venue I had not heard of until I spoke to him; the lovely and lush Front Door Bistro and music venue on Dame Street in Dublin city centre where he and his friends are hosting an event this Saturday night. Eric Whelan, whose artist’s name is Steady State, told me he started collecting vinyl in 1994 and has been an enthusiast ever since. I was curious to hear more about the upcoming event. And although I do not own a single record of my own, I am certainly passionate about and love electronic and underground music. What better way to celebrate than to check out a new venue and meet more of the talented DJs and producers who create, collect and collaborate in the world of electronic music.

Scoundrel Sound System

Scoundrels Sound System

Eric told me that Rhythmbox is the promotional outfit that comprises him and his good friend Dublin DJ and producer Alan Nolan, and that they both had so much fun DJing at Front Door for his birthday that they can’t wait for their next gig there this Saturday night. So what should we expect this Saturday? ‘We’ve put a small night together to party with Sub:Sonic Records (Rob Parkes and Phil Wade) to tip the hat to their fine contribution to the Irish electronic dance music scene,’ Eric said. ‘With two new tracks due for release with Sub:Sonic any time now under Steady State, I really felt a celebration was in order,’ he told me. Rob Parkes and Phil Wade are joined by Tomas Frawley, who are all from Limerick. Together they make up Scoundrel Sound System and Saturday’s gig will be their Dublin debut.

Alan and Eric at Front Door

  Rhythmbox – Eric Whelan and Alan Nolan

The event kicks off this Saturday, July 30th at the civilised hour of 8pm and admission is free. Eric told me that we can expect to hear a selection of slow techno, cosmic disco and chug. On rotation will be the Rhythmbox residents with visuals provided by Eric’s brother Trev Whelan (Little Wolf).’With close to one hundred years of combined musical experience this promises to be a night to remember,’ Eric said. I have a feeling this will be a birthday to remember and I am very much looking forward to the event.

Front Door is at 15 Dame Street in Dublin City Centre

Photos and Graphics courtesy of Eric Whelan and Sue Parkes.

Fast/Shape/Sound at Sweeney’s Bar-Dublin

6 Mar

Sweeneys bar image

by Rhea H.Boyden

I was home from Berlin about five years ago and I went to Sweeney’s Bar on Dame Street in Dublin city centre to meet a friend of mine for a few drinks. We were chatting about life in Ireland and Berlin and I remember getting very emotional and I began to cry. The tears rolling down one cheek were tears of joy at being home and the tears rolling down the other cheek were those of sadness that I did not actually live in Ireland. This was home, but it was not home. Many an emigrant who returns home to Ireland for a holiday can relate to these mixed emotions. I knew then that it was only a matter of time before I actually moved home to Ireland, which I finally did a year and a half ago.

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Dj Flavo – Keith Farrell

I had not been back to Sweeney’s bar since that night five years ago, but last weekend I had a great reason to return. It was the first night at Sweeney’s of Dj Flavo‘s Fast/Shape/Sound event which promised to be a great night of dancing and excellent music. Dj Flavo, who is Dubliner Keith Farrell, is the resident Dj and founder of Fast/Shape/Sound and his first night djing with guest djs Dave Hales and Pete Dancer was indeed a huge success at Sweeney’s. I went with some friends of mine and we danced for hours.

This weekend I met up with Keith for a coffee at the wonderful and iconic Grogan’s pub  and he told me he was very satisfied with how the first night went and he had been getting great feedback. He is delighted that Sweeney’s have now booked him in for more nights and he is hoping it will be a monthly event. He told me he founded Fast/Shape/Sound as a concept for a club night back in 2009 when he spent 8 weeks in Buffalo, New York. The first night was hosted in Sound Lab in Buffalo and he then brought the night back to Dublin and played in The Workmans Club for about 3 years. I asked Keith about the meaning of the name of his gig and he told me the three words Fast/Shape/Sound each represent a side of the triangle, a shape whose meanings and interpretations intrigue him. Keith studied animation and illustration in Dublin and is fascinated with geometry and the particular symmetry of the number three. To him, the triangle represents focus and positive energy and his goal is to bring people together by striving constantly to play the best music from all genres. When I saw the poster for the event, that is precisely what attracted me to the night: ‘Playing musical genres across the floor: indie, soul, disco, house – plus everything in between.’

Fast shape sound poster

Keith has been djing for the past 23 years and he said as he matures he realises it is better to play good music from all genres to make for a successful night. And he surely has the experience to make this work. As we sipped our coffees he enlightened me on some of the things he has learned over more than 2 decades of playing music. ‘The first four tracks you play on a night of djing are really important for setting the vibe for the rest of the night’, he said. ‘A warm-up dj really has to be as good as the headliner for a night.’ I learned while talking to Keith that successfully playing a whole genre of music on one night really is a skill that has to be honed over many years of really learning about music and understanding what works.

FSS triangle image

As well as djing all over Dublin, Keith has also spent some time djing in Berlin at 8MM bar, White Trash and Astro Bar, three venues I know well from my partying days in Berlin. We realised over the course of our conversation that we had some mutual friends in Berlin too. He told me he had just been djing in Berlin this past January and he returned to Dublin charged on good energy and was motivated to get Fast/Shape/Sound up and going again: this time the venue being Sweeney’s.

I was happy sitting outside Grogan’s chatting to Keith in the March sunlight. I realised with joy now that I live in Dublin there will be no need for me to cry the emigrant’s tears of homesickness the next time I return to Sweeney’s with my friends for a night of dancing to Dj Flavo’s great eclectic mix of tunes. And what better way to celebrate the start of Springtime in Dublin; Fast/Shape/Sound’s next night is planned for Saturday March 19th.

Sweeney’s Bar is at 32 Dame Street in Dublin 2

UPDATE: The next FAST/SHAPE/SOUND night is confirmed for Friday, April 15th 2016

FSSApril15

Images and photos courtesy of Keith Farrell

Review: Pacino’s at Night and The Blind Pig Cocktail Bar

25 Oct

Pacino's outside-image

by Rhea H.Boyden

Hidden inside a copy of Ernest Hemingway’s ‘A Farewell to Arms’ I find the recipe for a mouth-watering cocktail. I am standing at the bar of ‘The Blind Pig’ in Pacino’s cellar venue on Suffolk street in Dublin city centre. I am speaking to the night manager, Daniel. He hands me a copy of the Bible. ‘You can find cocktail recipes in here too,’ he tells me. ‘Our drinks menu is hidden in books which is how it was done during Prohibition too. We are proud of our little Speakeasy bar down here,’ he says with a smile. I glance around me at the inviting decor: vintage style furniture in an original arched wine cellar.

This is my second time back to the lovely Pacino’s Restaurant and Bar in a week. Unlike the cocktail recipes, it is hardly in a hidden location, a minute’s walk from Trinity College, so how had I not noticed it before? I can only say that I have likely been too busy getting settled as many returning emigrants would be too, in their first year back in Ireland after many years abroad. It is only recently that the anxiety of moving home and finding a job and a place to live has subsided and I am happy and ready to really start exploring the city more. It makes me excited about discovering other gems of Dublin as I slowly begin to call this city my home.

NSA and Graham

NSA-Steve Cass and Justin Wilson, Audio Filth-Graham Keely

And truly, Dublin is becoming my home now and in the past month or so I have finally started going out more and meeting people and having a good time. Some of my new acquaintances here invited me to Pacino’s last Saturday night to a floating event called ‘Audio Filth’ that took place in the same cellar bar. At weekends, The Blind Pig turns into a dancefloor after 11pm. Graham Keely from Dublin who is the co-founder of Dublin’s first dance music radio station PowerFM, started Audio Filth last February with his friend Hugo McCann. They invite artists over from the U.K. who are making waves in the house/acid scene. Their guests last weekend were Justin Wilson and Steve Cass who have run a club in Edinburgh for the past 20 years. They call themselves NSA– No Strings Attached- and we had a great night dancing to their eclectic mix of house, disco and as they call it ‘Chug’. I had never heard this word used in a musical context before. ‘I would call it spaced out disco.’ Steve said, describing their set. There were only about 20 of us in the intimate private party in the cellar and we had a laugh dancing to Daft Punk, DJ Koze, Beato Cozzi, Duncan Gray and more. One thing that made the night especially interesting to me is that I found myself surrounded by my peers- people in their late thirties in early forties. I even met two women my age who I had been introduced to a few weeks before at The Sugar Club. I love this about Dublin; It’s not too big and not too small. I have a feeling it will be easy enough to continue making new friends here.

Audiofilth

I was also introduced to Eoghan Farrell who has been djing on the underground scene in Dublin for the last decade and who is a resident dj at Pacino’s. He runs a bi-monthly event there called Press Play and hosts various djs. And all the while our party was running in the basement there was a dub and reggae party- ‘Rub a Dub’ with Cian Finn upstairs on the main Pacino’s floor. It was Eoghan’s friend Marcus Lester who approached the owner of Pacino’s two years ago and proposed hosting late night music events at weekends. Lester, who is the curator of Pacino’s at Night said: ‘Pacino’s is more a vibe than a venue. We aim to put on quality music nights and find the best djs and promoters.’ It certainly seems like they are having a lot of success with it. Not only do they host events both up and downstairs, but they also host lane way parties outside Pacino’s on summer nights.

Eoghan Farrell

Resident Dj at Pacino’s – Eoghan Farrell

And while the wonderful djs and promoters are responsible for quality music at Pacino’s, it is their award-winning Italian chef Luca Mazza from Tuscany who is responsible for quality food upstairs in the main restaurant (The Blind Pig has its own separate menu). Luca Mazza was hailed as the best Italian chef in Ireland in 2012. In a recent article in the Independent- The King of Italian Cuisine, Mazza says that the most important ingredient in his dishes is love. I have yet to try Mazza’s delicacies, but I have a feeling Pacino’s and The Blind Pig will be places I will be returning to often in the future.

Pacino’s is at 18 Suffolk Street in Dublin City Centre

Images courtesy of Marcus Lester, Eoghan Farrell and Graham Keely

Review: Anti-Racist Fundraiser in Aid of the Refugee Crisis at the Sugar Club- Dublin

4 Oct

Anti Racist

by Rhea H.Boyden

In the past weeks several friends of mine have posted something similar to this on Facebook: ‘I have very little tolerance for the racist remarks being made on here about the refugee crisis and I will unfriend/unfollow people posting such remarks’. I too unfriended a woman just last week who was saying awful things about the refugees. Unfriending her was a knee-jerk reaction and I don’t regret it. I don’t need those kind of hateful remarks in my newsfeed. I hardly knew her anyway. A closer look at some Instagram accounts has also revealed some fanatically narrow-minded account holders who are posting the most unsavoury photos and remarks that are both racist and sexist. Instagram would do us all a favour by removing these account holders.

It seems many people are experiencing this recently and so the wonderful Sugar Club Dublin stepped up to counter it by holding an anti-racist fundraiser in aid of the refugee crisis on September 26th. The organisers of the Sugar Club event reminded us that Ireland has never been a racist country (aside from a small minority) and of this we should be proud and celebrate. And what better way to celebrate diversity, tolerance and creativity than by bringing together some of Dublin’s finest dj’s and musicians for a night of fun and fundraising.

Jason percussion MCs

Jason Williams and MCs RV and Mango

The event was organised by Dublin dj Johnny Moy and the line up included the following artists: The Dirty Dubsters, Aoife Nic Canna, Pete Dancer, Al Keegan, Louche, David Kitt, Calvin James, Mark Kavanagh, Ger Regan, DJ Scope, Chris Holten, This Greedy Pig, TASTE dj’s and more. It was wonderful. There was only one drawback: Very few people came to the event. I spoke to some of the organisers and artists and they were disappointed that the club was practically deserted. Do people not care about such an important cause? Where was everybody on the night? This fact did not prevent those of us who were there from having a great night and making the most of it, however.

The Sugar Club

This was my first time at The Sugar Club, Dublin and I love the venue. The main floor has fabulous tiered, saloon style seating with tables affording everyone a great view of the stage. They host a whole range of cultural events including movies and Burlesque nights. On a screen above the main stage there was a stream of photos telling the story of protests past and present and one slide that caught my attention was ‘End Direct Provision’. I also spoke to a few people who were wearing ‘End DP’ badges so I had to find out for myself what this meant. According to an Irish Times article titled ‘Lives in Limbo’ there are 34 state run direct provision centres in Ireland housing a total of 4,300 asylum seekers 1,600 of whom are children. Asylum seekers spend an average of three years and eight months in these centres in conditions that are cramped, unsanitary and damaging to mental health. The adults are not allowed to work or cook meals for themselves and they suffer from depression, boredom and low self-esteem. The children have little or no access to play or recreation and while they are entitled to attend primary and secondary school they are not entitled to continue to subsidised third-level education. The system has been heavily criticised by the United Nations and human rights groups. Ireland has one of the lowest success rates in Western Europe for those seeking asylum.

Photo: Eoin Holland www.eoinholland.com

Photo: Eoin Holland http://www.eoinholland.com

The Dirty Dubsters  founders Jason Rymer and Barry O’ Brien

One of the big things that has irritated people on social media recently is people crying out that we need to ‘help our own people first’. Yes, sure, but are these people who cry this really doing anything to ‘help their own’. Do they go and volunteer at homeless shelters in Dublin? Most of the people saying this do not, I fear. I am guilty too of not doing enough. There is a homeless woman on my street and I give her apples and tangerines when I pass her. It’s not much, but it makes her smile and brightens her day. I have also been down to the Human Appeal Charity shop in Dundrum to which the proceeds of the Sugar Club night went. I spoke to Isolda Heavey who is a member of the Ireland Calais Refugee Solidarity and she said that it costs 7,500 Euros to get a container of aid into Syria hence the various fundraising events. She is currently in Calais with 60 volunteers (along with some friends of mine from my hometown in West Cork who are part of the West Cork Calais Refugee Solidarity). They are working with local charities on the ground in Calais building shelters and distributing winter clothes and medical aid to the many refugees in the camp there.

Special Request

I was sitting in the tiered seats of the Sugar Club discussing the refugee crisis with a few people when the funky beats of the Dirty Dubsters pulled me onto the dancefloor. It was hearing Jason Williams on percussion that quickly got me out of my seat and, as I had not been dancing for awhile, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The Dirty Dubsters’ music spans reggae, hip hop, house, jungle, drum and bass. ‘Our music is kind of hard to pigeon hole’ Jason Rymer told me. He and Barry O’ Brien founded the Dirty Dubsters in 2009 and have collaborated with many great vocalists and musicians since then. Jason told me they were very excited about their upcoming album ‘Special Request’ which is due for release next week on October 9th.

Aoife Nic Canna

Aoife Nic Canna

The Sugar Club has a lovely intimate outdoor area and the party withdrew there when it was clear that there were not going to be enough guests to fill the main room. For the rest of the evening we danced to the beats of Al Keegan, Aoife Nic Canna, Calvin James, Pete Dancer and others.

The wonderful and talented Aoife Nic Canna (who is a good friend of mine who I met in Berlin some years ago) played us some hip hop, soul and ended her set nicely with some mid-tempo house music. Aoife is an archivist at Near FM and presents and produces their Irish Arts program. I have been listening to the wonderful track Aoife played by Angie Stone ‘I wasn’t kidding’ this morning as I sipped my coffee in preparation for writing this review. I have also been listening to the classic tracks by Donna Summer, Terence Trent D’arby and the Stone Roses as well as other indie, house and disco tracks that Dublin dj Al Keegan finished out the set with at the Sugar Club. All in all, it was the best night I have had out in Dublin since I moved back to Ireland last year. I met some great people and I look forward to more nights like this.

To donate money to help relieve the suffering of refugees please go here:

Ireland Calais Refugee Solidarity BANK DETAILS ******************************************************

BRANCH: AIB, Douglas, Cork

ACCOUNT NAME: Ireland Calais Solidarity

SORT CODE: 93 43 48 ACCOUNT NUMBER: 5600 8064

BIC: AIBKIE2D IBAN IE37AIBK93434856008064 *******************************************************

GOFUNDME.COM Ireland Calais Refugee Solidarity http://www.gofundme.com/9zwfscys

Photos courtesy of Jason Rymer, Lynda Turley and Aoife Nic Canna

An Evening at the Centre for Creative Practices

21 Dec

naked branches. group photo.

by Rhea H. Boyden

Last week I was sitting in bed at 8pm snuggled up and ready for sleep when I saw an enticing description on a Facebook invite to a performance at the Centre for Creative Practices co-hosted by a childhood friend of mine Greg Felton. The performance description read: ‘A very special one off show about love, loss, HIBERNATION and transformation. Using anonymous harvested regrets and dreams and the myth of all myths, a powerful cast of spoken word, vocalists and musicians will weave a stunning, achingly life-filled spell of story and sound that will capture and invite you into experiencing the entire gorgeous mess of life.’

It was the word hibernation that caught my attention first. My flatmate and I had just been discussing the merits of the long winter’s nap and not to feel guilty about it at this time of year especially as this is how dark it is when I arrive at work at 7.43am in Sandyford, Dublin. A darkness that is thankfully punctuated by a crescent moon:

sandyford moon

I decided to pull myself out of my state of hibernation last week to discover the other ideas the perfomance promised to explore: love, loss and transformation. After work I went with a few colleagues of mine to the Centre for Creative Practices on Pembroke Street in Dublin.

The venue, which promotes cultural diversity and artistic entrepreneurship is a cozy and very inviting space. I walked in and greeted my old friend Greg Felton who I had not seen in 15 years. Felton is a talented pianist who has been praised by The Irish Times as being one of Ireland’s most talented composers and players and an exceptional young pianist.

Greg Promo pictures 033 (1)

Greg Felton

The show commenced with Dave Rock, who is a spoken word artist, pacing back and forth across the room, with Felton on keyboards, Jake Quinn on percussion and Aine Ni Heidhn and Ciara Ryan on vocals. Dave then began his story about the people of ancient Ireland and how happy they were and how they sang and laughed and made love to nature. Until one day, creatures came out of the ocean with tongues and eyes as black as oil and the war began and all the trees were cut down and the people forgot how to sing and make love. The entire show was a brilliant example of improv music and spoken word. They had only rehearsed for a few hours the same afternoon, and it was powerful as Dave engaged the audience and asked us questions about what we love in nature and how we feel when we are disconnected.

Dave, who is a talented story teller, spoken word artist, and gifted teacher told me afterwards that the ‘creatures with tongues and eyes as black as oil’ were the Fomorians who in Irish mytholgy were a semi-divine race said to have inhabited Ireland in ancient times. They were the gods of chaos and wild nature. I couldn’t help but focus on the word oil and how oil is driving our insane economy and how on the Thursday before Christmas a wonderful performance like this only draws a dozen audience members because people are too busy Christmas shopping and caught up in pre-Christmas hysteria. This made me even happier that I had made the effort to come to the show and, indeed how wonderful and important improv theatre and music is for bringing people together and celebrating listening and communicating.

_MG_9980

Dave Rock

My interest in the importance of improv now piqued, I decided to google a bit about it and I immediately stumbled upon a TED Talk hosted by a woman named Jen Oleniczak, a teacher who believes fully in the importance of improvisation to make you a better communicator and, above all, a better listener. ‘In improv’ she says ‘you are responsible for everyone and everyone is responsible for you.’ She says that listening is so crucial because every tiny piece of information is important to creating a scene and also that you are vulnerable and you could fail so you have to be fully in the zone and in harmony with the people you are interacting with. She said doing an improv class makes you self aware of how bad a listener you are and how you can take steps to remedy that.

Oleniczak told a story of a woman who had worked in a bank for 8 years who took one of her improv classes and then came up to her after and told her that she had never felt so supported in her life than she had in the improv class. This comes as little surprise that a woman working in a bank does not feel supported by her bosses. Being in the lovely space of the Centre for Creative Practices made me think a lot about how so many of us have our priorities wrong at Christmas. The banks, shops and advertisers have managed to turn Christmas into the biggest money-maker of the year and when I read some of the stories behind this consumerism I can’t help but get a little depressed. Just a few days ago I read an article in The Guardian entitled ‘Santa’s Real Workshop- The town in China that makes the World’s Christmas Decorations.’ The article talks about the ‘Christmas Village’ of Yiwu thousands of miles from the North Pole where workers who have little idea of what Christmas is, slave for more than 12 hours a day making 60 per cent of the world’s Christmas decorations. They get covered in red powder whilst covering polystyrene snowflakes and stars and have to change their face masks multiple times a day. They only earn 200-300 pounds a month making the stars that we can buy for 99 pence at the check out.

At one point during the show Dave asked the audience what feeling you have when you are not connected to the earth and your community. I offered him the most obvious answer: ‘Alienation’. He looked at me and said ‘Yes, alienation’ and then went on to eloquently talk about alienation for the next minute or so. Why did I say alienation? Because I have, to a certain degree, been feeling a bit of alienation since arriving back in Ireland. But I now feel, after attending this lovely improv show at the Centre for Creative Practices that a bit of that alienation that comes with my repatriation is slipping away and I am slowly becoming part of the community again. After the show I also spoke to Nina Panagopoulou who is a Greek artist who works at the Centre for Creative Practices and whose wonderful artwork is currently on display there. I will definitely be returning to this lovely place to attend its shows and exhibits in the future, for the inspiring evening has set the mood and tone that I like for Christmas: focussing on being together, listening, interacting and not forgeting what it is that makes us sing in tune with nature and with our fellow human beings.

Feature image photo credit: Nina Panagopoulou

Check out Nina’s artwork here: http://www.nina-panagopoulou.com/bio.html

A special thanks to Greg Felton and Dave Rock for providing me with their photos and the time to speak to me on the Sunday before Christmas.