5Km Individual Swim for Galway University Hospital Cancer Patient Comfort Fund

SwimHi, I’m doing a 5km individual swim on the 14th of November in the Kingfisher Club, NUI Galway. It’s being organised by my cousin Niall Callanan and there will be up to 28 other people taking part. We’re aiming to raise €20,000 for the Galway University Hospital Cancer Patient Comfort Fund. If it’s a charity that appeals to you, please click on the link to donate.

I’ll be republishing this intermittently between now and the 14th of November.


Donald Fagen on Megalomaniacal Dicks

EmminentI’ve been an unashamed lover of the music of Steely Dan since my mate Dylan lent me the Gold compilation album all of 22 years ago.  He bought it on cassette – How quaint! Wonder if he still has it.  Anyway, I bought front man Donald Fagen’s memoir, Eminent Hipsters, last week and was just perusing it there when I came across this gem on page 100.

“Back to the artist as a megalomanical dick: Just like in the civilian population, a nasty, rude fucker is nasty and rude because they’re scared of what you think of them.  It’s a defense.  Sometimes, the same stuff that made them so scared has also contributed to their creative nature, though I’ve found that the most unpleasant ones are usually mediocre artists as well.  This is because real art – I’m generalizing here – requires a certain level of empathy.”

Hmmmm…..Know anyone like that? I’m really looking forward to reading this book.


Sound Opinions Celebrates 35 years of Cheap Trick’s “At Budokan”


I’m always tempted to put the near-Beatlemania that Cheap Trick experienced in Tokyo in 1978 down to front man Robin Zander being such a handsome bastard, but the music is just too good to ignore and I’ve met a few Japanese women who have very good taste in music.  So maybe it’s not improbable that all those screeching school girls really were digging Rick Nielsen’s wonderful songwriting and guitar playing.

Sound Opinions, Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis’s wonderful weekly music magazine, celebrated the 35th anniversary of At Budokan last month.  They had the band in studio as guests, and in between playing a few tracks off the album they discussed the freak nature of it becoming one of the most celebrated live recordings of all time.  It really is the dog’s bollocks and I suppose what I’m actually trying to say is that if you’re going to get tinnitus you may as well get it listening to At Budokan rather than listening to rubbish like Coldplay.

Swans @ The Button Factory 15th August 2013

SwansAnd there was I thinking that nobody else could really out do Neil Young when it comes to 30 minute plus walls of sound. The Swans performance last night at the Button Factory was probably one of the more unusual experiences I’ve had at a gig in eons.  Think Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, throw in a big dollop of Captain Beefheart, along with Voivod and you’re probably only half way there.

And what an unusual looking bunch too! Slide/pedal steel guitarist Christoph Hahn looks like a cross between  Samuel Beckett and Willem Defoe, whereas percussionist Thor Harris could have been in one of those dreadful 80s hair metal bands.  Front man Michael Gira is as imposing as they come but a pretty gracious and agreeable character in between songs.   Throughout the gig I kept on thinking about how they would fit in to The Wickerman or the seedier scenes in Eyes Wide Shut. I hadn’t a rashers what I was looking at for most of the night but what a powerful performance and a very enjoyable one at that.

It’s obvious to say that they could be interesting collaborators with Neil Young but I’m looking deeper and would love to see what the modern day and utterly inaccessible Scott Walker could do with them.

Graham Murray, Leeds, and the 1999 Challenge Cup Final

Dara Wembley 2In 1999 I was lucky enough to attend two matches at the old Wembley before they knocked it.   The first match was Wales v Ireland in the then Five Nations Championship.  Wales were playing their home games at Wembley while they were building the Millennium Stadium.  The other was the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final between Leeds and the London Broncos.

I’d watched the Challenge Cup as a ritual on BBC as I was growing up and always found myself moved by the hymn “Abide with Me” which is always sung pre-kick off.  I had never warmed to Leeds under Doug Laughton as they seemed to be a bunch of flash Harrys who were “all hat and no cattle.”  That changed when Graham Murray arrived and he forged a team that were difficult to admire but also very difficult to beat.  They were as tough as nails up front and quite functional.  They hammered the London Broncos that day 52-16.  Murray went home to Australia after that and went on to coach the Sydney Roosters and led the North Queensland Cowboys to their first NRL Grand Final in 2005.  He reached the pinnacle of his coaching career when he took the reins for New South Wales for the 2006 and 2007 State of Origin series.

They turned off Graham’s life support machine this morning and he died a few hours later.   He was 58 and had suffered two heart attacks in the last few months, the most recent coming on the day of this year’s State of Origin decider.  God rest him…Go well Graham.

Graham Murray