CHRISTMAS CHEER

Bugle Babes at Brown Thomas  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Bugle Babes at Brown Thomas Photo: © Michael Fisher

Wishing all my readers a Happy Christmas, wherever you are and whoever you are with. No better way to bring in the Christmas cheer than with the Bugle Babes who I mentioned yesterday. They have been entertaining shoppers all week in the elegant Brown Thomas store on Grafton Street in Dublin. Their music could be heard ‘a cappella’ (which I am told means without instrumental accompaniment) so you could appreciated the range in their voices.

Christmas Lights in Grafton Street, Dublin    Photo: © Michael Fisher

Christmas Lights in Grafton Street, Dublin Photo: © Michael Fisher

Meanwhile news came through on Christmas Eve of two developments in stories I have featured this year. On twitter I mentioned the campaign to save from demolition Cregagh Presbyterian Church in East Belfast. It has been confirmed by the campaigners that the building constructed c.1928 is now a listed one. It already has an entry in the NI Historic Buildings database.

Cregagh Presbyterian Church  Photo: facebook

Cregagh Presbyterian Church Photo: facebook

Then almost simultaneously I received an email about an article I wrote in September on Samuel Munro from Lurgan, a former TUC President who had also served as President of Belfast Trades Council. It was based on a talk given in Belfast by the labour historian Francis Devine. Someone in England (originally from Bangor County Down) who says he is a great grandson of Munro had found the blog and is now seeking to make a connection with Munro’s granddaughter, who lives in England and who was thought to be the last known relative of the former Northern Whig typesetter. She had presented to the ICTU a bell originating from Belfast Trades Council, which has now been placed on a wall at the John Hewitt bar along with a plaque. So at least one success story from the 27,400 views my daily blogs have had! Happy Christmas one and all!

Plaque for Samuel Munro at John Hewitt Bar  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Plaque for Samuel Munro at John Hewitt Bar Photo: © Michael Fisher

BUGLE BABES IN ANTRIM

Bugle Babes Photo: © Michael Fisher

The beautiful Bugle Babes brought some Christmas sparkle to Antrim last night with a lively rendition of ‘Jingle Bells’ and other festive music included in their mainly 1940s repertoire. The tea dance in the Old Courthouse finished around 10:15pm and the trio were on the road again back to Dublin at 4am today in order to make an appearance on TV3’s Ireland:AM show at 7am (repeated on 3e at 11am).

Old Courthouse Antrim Photo: © Michael Fisher

Old Courthouse Antrim Photo: © Michael Fisher

The former courthouse building has been restored to convert it into a small theatre on the first floor. The ground floor contains a tourist information office and a convenient café. The dressing room area downstairs used to contain the cells!

Derby Browne, founder of the Bugle Babes  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Derby Browne, founder of the Bugle Babes Photo: © Michael Fisher

Derby Browne is from Dublin and founded the Bugle Babes in 2007. Much of their show is based on the songs of the Andrews Sisters, whose songs entertained the GIs during the Second World War. She can be contacted through her website.

Eileen Coyle of The Bugle Babes  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Eileen Coyle of The Bugle Babes Photo: © Michael Fisher

Soprano Eileen Coyle told me she comes from Finea in County Cavan. An area I associate with the late John Wilson TD, a former Tanaiste who was also my Latin teacher in school and who came from nearby Mullahoran. She has sung with the Lassus Scholars in Westminster Cathedral. The choral group from Dublin performs Renaissance music, very different from the sounds heard in Antrim last night!

Lou Van Laake of the Bugle Babes  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Lou Van Laake of the Bugle Babes Photo: © Michael Fisher

The third member of the ‘Babes’ is Lou Van Laake, originally from the Netherlands, who is now a well-known name on the Dublin cabaret circuit (aka Truly DiVine) and whose latest solo show is a tribute to Marlene Dietrich and was performed in Dublin recently. She says she hopes to repeat it in April.

The Bugle Babes  Photo: © Michael Fisher

The Bugle Babes Photo: © Michael Fisher

The Bugles Babes’ appearance at the tea dance was part of the 4 Corners music festival run by Antrim Borough Council and presented by MADD Music. It runs until Monday 2nd December.

Christmas sparkle with the Bugle Babes in Antrim  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Christmas sparkle with the Bugle Babes in Antrim Photo: © Michael Fisher

Eileen Coyle of the Bugle Babes  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Eileen Coyle of the Bugle Babes Photo: © Michael Fisher

 

Antrim Tea Dance  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Antrim Tea Dance Photo: © Michael Fisher

BUGLE BABES

The Bugle Babes entertaining on the RTÉ Big Music Week train Photo: RTÉ ten

The Bugle Babes entertaining on the RTÉ Big Music Week train Photo: RTÉ ten

The Bugle Babes have headed northwards for a SOLD OUT! event tonight in Antrim town. The tea dance at the Old Courthouse building in the Market Square features some of their Andrews Sisters vintage routine. My first experience of their delightful entertainment was during the RTÉ Big Music Week train journey from Dublin’s Connolly station to Carlow at the end of September.

The programme describes what patrons can look forward to:-

“As part of the 4 Corners Music Festival, the tea dance will go out for the evening in the company of the very beautiful and very talented Bugle Babes! Singing the Billboard hits from the Golden eras of Swing and Jive, the Bugle Babes are a 1940’s style close-harmony trio inspired by the Andrews Sisters and the Hollywood stars of stage and screen. Whether adorned in military costume, or soft satin dresses, the Bugle Babes style is pure Vintage from their Victory Rolls all the way down to the toes of their seamed stockings. Formed by Derby Browne in 2007, the Bugle Babes have performed all over Ireland from the National Concert Hall to the Cork Opera House and their television appearances include the Late Late Show and Ryan Tubridy. Put on your dancing shoes, add a touch of vintage glamour and join these gorgeous girls as they perform their repertoire of classic songs and contemporary pop hits with a twist all served up with lots of scintillating glamour, fun and nostalgia……”

The Bugle Babes in vintage mode Photo: © Michael Fisher

Eileen, Derby & Lou: The Bugle Babes in vintage mode in Carlow Photo: © Michael Fisher

Eileen Coyle from Co. Cavan began singing at an early age and studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. She has been a member of several choirs including the Maynooth Choral Society, the Limerick Choral Union, and the Lassus Scholars. As a core member of the Lassus Scholars Eileen performs regularly all over Ireland, also travelling to Europe, and deputising for the Westminster Cathedral Choir in London. Her favourite composers include William Byrd and Orlando de Lassus. As a member of the jazz harmony group The Bugle Babes, Eileen has enjoyed much success, featuring on The Late Late Show, TV3’s Ireland AM, and on Sean Moncrieff’s show on Newstalk 106.

Truly DiVine (Lou) has been singing her heart away since she discovered her voice at age 13. In her teens, this Dutch lady covered tunes from the musicals and the latest hits in pop and rock. She moved into the world of jazz and blues when she arrived in Dublin in 2004. She played gigs with a variety of musicians for five years and since 2009 has broadened her world to include the burlesque and cabaret scene. She is part of the Bugle Babes, a 40s- style harmony group based on the Andrew Sisters; she regularly performs with rockabilly band The Pavement Kings; her latest show is a Marlene Dietrich tribute, ‘Dietrich’s Angels’.

When not performing with the Bugle Babes, Derby Browne specialises in French café music: the life of Edith Piaf (Pigalle), Jacques Brel, Yves Montand, Charles Aznavour and the style of guinguette and bal-musette. 

The Bugle Babes in Carlow  Photo: © Michael Fisher

The Bugle Babes in Carlow Photo: © Michael Fisher

BIG MUSIC WEEK: NEWBRIDGE

'Birds of Paradise' with town Mayor Mick Deely greet RTÉ's Miriam O'Callaghan at Newbridge Photo: © Michael Fisher

‘Birds of Paradise’ with town Mayor Mick Deely greet RTÉ’s Miriam O’Callaghan at Newbridge Photo: © Michael Fisher

What a fantastic reception in Newbridge for RTÉ’s Big Music Week. Alighting from the train, the musicians, presenters and guests were greeted by the colourful ‘Birds of Paradise’. Town Mayor Councillor Mick Deely was on the platform, waiting to whisk Miriam O’Callaghan away in a horse-drawn carriage.

Hundreds of schoolchildren and supporters lined the station car park and poured out onto the streets to cheer the musicians. One banner read ‘Thank you for the music’. The Kill Singers from County Kildare serenaded the arrivals with “Chattanooga Choo Choo”, which had also been performed on board in style by the Bugle Babes.

Numerous local bands including the Scoil na Naomh Uilig band played as the musicians and singers lined up for a parade into town headed by the Army No.1 Band from Cathal Brugha Barracks in Dublin. On Saturday they will be appearing at the National Concert Hall in Dublin at the Defence Forces Benefit Concert, which is sold out. Soprano Celine Byrne who was also in Newbridge will be making a guest appearance. I notice she is also coming to the Waterfront Hall in Belfast on October 17th to sing alongside José Carreras in the opening night of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s.

“What a way to arrive into my hometown of Newbridge,” singer Luka Bloom told the Leinster Leader. He was joined on the platform by fellow musician and friend Philip King. “What a thrill. I was at Connolly Station at 8am this morning [Monday 1st October] and what a way to spend a Monday. There was a lot of singing on the train”.

At the Patrician Secondary School, Luka Bloom’s brother Christy Moore was waiting at his alma mater. Luka sang a song he had written for his good friends the Brigidine Sisters in Kildare Town called ‘Don’t be afraid of the light within you’.

BIG MUSIC WEEK

View of beach near Gormanston Co.Meath from train window Photo: © Michael Fisher

View of beach near Gormanston Co.Meath from train window Photo: © Michael Fisher

It was a beautiful morning for a journey and no better way to travel than by train. A great opportunity to see the sunrise over the sea as the train passed along the coast just after Gormanston in County Meath. My thirteen hour odyssey began at Newry station in County Armagh (it’s closer to Bessbrook!) with the departure of the 06:45 Iarnród Eireann commuter train to Dublin Connolly, a train that goes as far as Bray. Try planning a journey to Dundalk on the Translink website and you won’t find this particular service. It picks up at various stops as far as Donabate, by which time it’s a case of standing room only, then runs non-stop to Connolly. On arrival the place was buzzing with the sound of music, including the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.

Miriam O'Callaghan prepares to go on air with The John Murray Show at Connolly Station Photo: © Michael Fisher

Miriam O’Callaghan prepares to go on air with The John Murray Show at Connolly Station Photo: © Michael Fisher

A great start to the Big Music Week at Connolly Station with an hour long John Murray Show presented by Miriam O’Callaghan. Among the crowd (some of whom had joined the music train at Bray) was RTÉ’s Director General Noel Curran. Although he comes from a county (Monaghan) where the railway lines were dismantled over fifty years ago, he still has a love of trains having made the journey many times between Dublin and Dundalk, where I was writing this as I headed back to Newry on the Enterprise.

RTÉ Director General Noel Curran at Connolly Station

RTÉ Director General Noel Curran at Connolly Station Photo: Michael Fisher

The hour-long show at Connolly finished with the Artane Boys Band. The BIG MUSIC WEEK entourage then boarded the special three-carriage Iarnród Éireann train to Newbridge for the next stage of the proceedings.

Entertained on the Music Train by the Bugle Babes Photo: RTÉ ten

Entertained on the Music Train by the Bugle Babes Photo: RTÉ ten

On board we were entertained by the Chattanooga Choo Choo from the Bugle Babes. Other stars  travelling included the Northern duo of Paul Brady from Strabane and Bronagh Gallagher from Derry, who made a special mention of Eamonn McCann when she sang Midnight Train to Georgia for Miriam, a broadcast that went out simultaneously on 2FM and Lyric FM.

Bronagh Gallagher on board the RTÉ Music Train Photo: © Michael Fisher

Bronagh Gallagher on board the RTÉ Music Train Photo: © Michael Fisher

Christy Moore joined the fun at the Patrician Seconday School at Newbridge in County Kildare. After a three hour stop that included a parade along the mmain street of the town led by the Army No.1 Band, it was time to head for the next stop in Carlow. More performances on the train and then in the station car park where Tullow native Selina O’ Leary was among the entertainers. After that the Music Train headed to Waterford for a concert at the Theatre Royal, a benefit gig in aid of Barnardos for whom collections were made along the way. The broadcast schedule for tomorrow, Tuesday 1st October, and other information can be found on the RTÉ Big Music Week (in association with Iarnród Eireann) website here.

9:30, 12:35 & 16:10 RTÉjr The Beo Show This Big Music Week join stage manager Donie and wardrobe lady Gerty Gúna  as they prepare the Beo Theatre for children from across the country Various
10:00 & 14:35 RTÉjr Hubble Hubble is going musical so watch and listen as Emma and Ogié discover a musical world full of fun and interesting sounds. Various
16:00 RTÉ Two elev8 Follow Diana Bunici’s progress as she picks up the guitar for the first time with the promise of a performance by the end of the week. Various
17:30 RTÉ Two Two Tube Throughout RTÉ Big Music Week Two Tube will be  on a quest to find the next big music act, as well as bringing great interviews from well-known Irish talent. Various
20:00 RTÉ Radio 1 The John Creedon Show For day two of RTÉ Big Music Week, John Creedon presents a live performance from Killarney’s INEC, featuring John Spillane, Ger Wolfe, Lumiere, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, I Draw Slow & others. John Spillane, Lumiere, Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, I Draw Slow & others.