Brendan's all star
friends shine bright at the Edgewater
Chronicle, May 3rd 2001
grandparents in the audience tapped their toes and
nodded approvingly, men and women half their age jived
and spun at the Edgewater to the strains of Brendan
Quinn and his enlarged Kickin' Mule Band. And if that's
not a testament to 'lasting appeal', then nothing is.
Some in the audience recalled Brendan's
white-sports-jacket-and-carnation days with the
Bluebirds, and appreciated the gravel of sincerity that
remains as a note of truth in his voice. Younger members
of the audience revelled in the down-home funk and swing
of his approach to roots music.
And everybody applauded the band - a seven strong
solid groove behind the Magherafelt man, in town as
guest of the Black Nun Folk Club to celebrate the launch
of his new album, Small Town.
The album - which features the guitar work and a
couple of co-writes from Henry McCullough - is a
delight. But somehow, the songs sounded even stronger
when fleshed out for the stage and given the full
throttle from Brendan. Seeing eight people walk on stage
can often precipitate a knot of anxiety in the stomach
of any music lover.
But we needn't have worried. Backed by a wealth of
talent, Brendan marshalled the band to perfection,
calling on this or that player to take the limelight
here and there, without turning the whole thing into a
Deep Purple free-for-all.
On stage were Neil Everitt on Hammond (deep soul with
a bee-bop twist); Cloudy Henry on piano (sweet country
and rocking ragtime; Jerome McGlynn on guitar (mellow
and soulful); Chrissy Stewart on bass (a rich, steady
foundation for everyone) ; Stephen Quinn on drums
(powerful and sensitive, always with an ear to the
song); Sean McCarron on sax (tough, punchy soul
phrasing) and Henry McCullough on lead guitar.
Henry began the night with a three-song acoustic
'support' spot that went down a treat, featuring his own
Too Upset To Say Goodbye and the newer From
Belfast To Boston. This is a more contemporary take
on the Irish emmigrant tale, featuring some of Henry's
best yet lyrics and a wondeful hook at the end of each
verse, leaving the listener begging for the next
instalment. He ends it with a delightful Irish jig that
is half traditional, half blues. It's one of Henry's
finest songs, and gets better every time you hear it. On
stage with Brendan his lead playing continues in the
groove he's been developing recently - fluid jazz
influenced runs that leave open spaces and take off in
Brendan gave us a selection of songs from the allbum,
a new direction for him as it's the first time he's
recorded his own compositions. And there were numbers
too from Randy Newman, Dr. John, Bob Wills and Delbert
"Its a pity you couldn't take this band everywhere,"
said Brendan at one point during the night. But he's
only half right. Everyone lucky enough to catch the
performance at the Edgewater on Monday will take a
little piece of it away with them for sure.