When we set out to write the notes for the album “Distant Memories” I said to Joe Giltrap “you know what people like to read is something about you in your own words; where have you been? What have you done? Not a load of old standard publicity stuff that means nothing to anyone. “
I spoke those words to Joe with a somewhat disrespectful feeling inside; for I know that Joe Giltrap has done and achieved much as an artist, a business man, and most importantly as a human being. Joe may not be the richest man on the planet, but his friendship brings riches beyond anything that words can do justice to, I know this feeling is shared by many in the music industry and way beyond its boundaries.
Joe is in that unique position that many artists never get to experience, that of performer, troubadour, music venue proprietor and music booker. Many will recall that Joe was “mine host” at The Sir George Robey (with Malcolm Rogers) and the much lamented “Weavers” in North London. The Weavers was a music venue that was wise to the terms, world rhythms, eclectic, roots, Americana and it was certainly a venue that was more Austin than Nashville. The Robey was a different setting musically, its doors beckoned in a new generation of players who made an indelible mark on the British music scene.
I recall once when Tom Russell was playing Joe’s pub “The Weavers” in North London; he made the comment to me that the great thing about playing a gig for Joe Giltrap at The Weavers was that when he said he would pay you a fee for playing the venue you received your money on the nail. Many an act said that if you played for the door and your potential audience failed to realise your true musical ability by honouring your talents with a low turn out, you often found a few shillings more in the night’s pay packet. Troubadours who venture here to read these notes will know the nature of the man by the words you have just absorbed. True stars will always recount the time they played to the sound of their own footsteps and an empty payday.
The Early Days:
So anyway I asked Joe to tell me a few things about the early days in Ireland, he says “musically speaking Dublinwas a great place to be during the folk boom of the sixties when I was starting out. I began playing folk music when I formed a local group in Leixlip Co Kildare called The RyeFolk with my pal Mick Lube (we are still best friends to this day and get together whenever I am home in Ireland) We did the rounds for a while, Mick joined one of the best country bands ever to come out of Ireland, namely Ray Lynam & The Hillbillies and had a long and successful career with them. I joined a group called The Broadsider's, they had just had a hit with a song called “The Shores of America.” We played all over Ireland and the UK; we played every Tuesday at The OldSheiling Hotel in Raheny in Dublin. The resident duo who opened the show was the piper Liam O'Flynn and the whistle and flute player Matt Molloy. Liam went on to be part of Planxty with Christy Moore and Donal Lunny. Matt Molloy as we know is a member of the The Chieftains. Both Liam and Donal appeared at The Weavers a few times though not together. Another member of Planxty, Andy Irvine, also played The Weavers a few times.”
Joe said “you know because Dublin is such a small city every musician met up at some stage either at concerts or pub gigs. One person I will never forget was Bob Lynch, Bob was a regular solo performer at The Sheiling and also at some of the other gigs we played, a nice guy, I liked Bob. When Luke Kelly left The Dubliners for a while in 1964 to pursue a solo career Bob stood in for the great man, I can’t think of a better person to do the job.” “You know? I don’t think Bob was really aware of his own ability and talent. I don’t know if it’s my imagination but he seems to be a forgotten Dubliner, I can still see him, foot on a low bar stool, guitar resting on his knee singing The Kerry Recruit.”
The Broadsiders also played at The Chariot Inn in Ranelagh in Dublin every Thursday. The resident traditional band there included Paddy Moloney, Martin Fay and Sean Potts, laughing out loud Joe says “I wonder what happened to them.” I remember a long haired Christy Moore complete with bushy beard having just come back from England and asking if he could do a guest spot on our Thursday show. The regular concerts at Liberty Hall in Dublin were great.
Just about anybody who was anybody on the folk scene played there e.g. Sweeney's Men, Luke Kelly, The Broadsiders, Paddy Reilly, The Johnsons, Bob Lynch, and Anne Byrne, what a voice Anne had.
We shared the same management as The Emmet Spiceland (Donal Lunny and the Byrne Bros.)“Mary from Dungloe” beautiful harmonies, Johnny McEvoy was a stable mate, great songwriter, lovely singer, Johnny’s still out there performing, long may he continue.
One of my ex musical partners for a while in Dublin was fiddler Don Knox who later formed the very popular group Spud. Also in Spud was mandolin maestro Dermot O'Connor who eventually was part of Wes McGhee's band in London and also played gigs with me. Strange as it may seem I only really got to know Dermot in London. Dermot played on my album “Where There'sLife.” He now lives in Germany but we keep in touch. I had an e-mail out of the blue from Don Knox recently. He said “we have to meet up when I am home I will bring the fiddle,” I told him that’s a deal.
You know I was on tour in Iceland recently with Michael O’Rourke; we met a man called Dan Cassidy. Dan lives there now he is a cracking fiddler, he plays with a band doing quite a bit of Celtic stuff. He stood in with us on two nights just for the crack, twin fiddles, fantastic!
We exchanged CD’s, I treasure his album, play it often, what a shame his sister passed away she was truly special. When I returned to the UK I sent Dan some publicity on Eva that he was unaware of.
London in the 70’s: In 1972 I recorded a single for Polydor in Dublin under the name Jason Cord (their idea)
It received radio play but little else happened around the release. At the time Dr. Hook's song Sylvia's Mother was playing non stop on the radio. Funny that, I never dreamt that years later I would meet Dennis Locorriere in London. Anyway, I moved to London, it was meant to be temporary, but Polydor in London were not interested in the single.
Someone introduced me to MAM Agency (Tom Jones, Englebert etc) I remember doing some gigs in the North of England that they booked for me, but I got so disillusioned with the business that I packed up music altogether. After a time I realised just how much I missed playing, so I started to look around for musicians to perform with again.
A friend saw an ad in Time Out from a fiddle player. It was Malcolm Rogers who had just moved to London from Belfast. We met up, tried a couple of songs and tunes together, shook hands and from that first meeting Irish Mist was born. Malcolm was a protestant from the North, and I a catholic from the Republic, we started to gig and it took off. Perhaps it was just right place, right time, who knows.
Anyway, Rob Dickens from Warner Bros. saw us at a gig in Mooney's on the Strand and offered us a deal. We recorded an LP 'Rosin the Bow' and Rob produced it. Warner Bros. were about to release a single from Roisin the Bow to officially launch Irish Mist.
Just at that time bombs exploded in Birmingham and suddenly it was a difficult time to be Irish; many of the pubs even took Irish records off their jukeboxes. Warner Bros. dropped the project; Rob Dickens was really disappointed but to his everlasting credit he pressed up some LP's and gave them to us, he didn’t have to. We never saw him after that but I know he went on to be head of Warner’s in the Uk and now owns his own label, he deserved to do well and I am delighted for him.
On one of our early European tours we were on our way to Germany, we were passing through the French customs when one of their officers decided to confiscate all our copies of “Roisin the Bow.” My remark that they must really love Irish music was not well received.
Axel Koberne (still a friend and fan) saw Irish Mist in London and offered to get us some work in Germany. Irish Mist played the Audimax in Freiburg, what a gig. When we arrived there first we saw crowds of people, I was thinking at the time that there must be something big going down and that nobody would be at our gig, little did we know that the people had come to see Irish Mist. I still go out to Germany, great audiences, I love playing there.
At that time we seemed to be following Eddie and Finbar Furey around. Everywhere we played the Fureys had been there the day or even week before. At one venue the organisers produced a full crate of beer for us. We said that we didn’t drink which at the time was true. They said that The Fureys drank two crates when they were there the week before so we would at least need one crate. I don't think we fitted the typical image of Irish musicians of the day. I remember once when we were playing on one of the shows on Capital Radio with Richard Digance. We were upstairs in hospitality with some other artists when the intercom rang and someone said that, The Fureys were on their way up. The musicians looked at each other and made a dive for the beer and started hiding it. When the lads arrived they couldn’t believe there was nothing for them.
Irish Mist had a good run, we did a lot of gigs for the Irish Tourist Board and B+I Ferries sponsored the group for a while. We used to put up this B+I banner behind us on stage saying Irish Mist travel B+I. One night a man came up to the stage and asked us if we could change his ticket for him there and then to travel on a different date! We did thousands of gigs all over UK and Europe. Some of our work can still be heard on the gold selling and much praised “Green Velvet” albums and “A Song for Ireland” video. Malcolm and I are still best of friends we have some great laughs talking about the Irish Mist days. Malcolm is now a respected journalist and we still do the odd gig together from time to time.
At one time myself and Malcolm ran a folk club, it was based at The Castle, Childs Hill,Finchley Road.We put on really good acts like Julie Felix, Richard Digance, Fred Wedlock, Barry Dransfield and people who were big on the folk scene at the time. Alas the club closed down overnight when the pub manager changed. It was around this time that we decided to get our own music venue. We persuaded a brewery to give us the lease on The Sir George Robey located at 240 Seven Sisters Rd Finsbury Park in London. The musical exploits at the Robey are now the stuff of legend documented in music books, bands biography’s and the history of the music and fashion industry of North London. The Robey was cutting edge before that term meant anything; we put on all kinds of music and made our mark on the London music scene.
We put on some great acts there amongst my own personal favourites were Madness, Christy Moore, The Men They Couldn't Hang, Moving Hearts, De Dannan, Flaco Jimenez, Alvin Crowe and of course The Pogues. I was thrilled when Shane McGowan in his autobiography acknowledged the fact that groups like Irish Mist were a major influence on his own musical development. I left The Robey in 1987 and took on The Weavers. I first met Wes McGhee when he played The Weavers with Kimmie Rhodes. Without him the Weaving Records compilations would never have got off the ground.
One great thing about the Weavers Joe says was the lasting friendships I formed there with fellow musicians, without them I would never have started writing songs again, and I certainly would never have recorded the “Where There's Life” CD; this album was a turning point for me.
The sheer fun we had recording it and the media response gave me the confidence to write more and I began to concentrate on my own career which I had somewhat neglected while running the music venues. The encouragement and support I received from people like Wes McGhee, Dermot O’Connor and Ron Kavana influenced this decision. So it seemed the only sensible thing to do when I decided to take a bunch of new songs that I had been working on and a few from the shelf and go back into the studio and start working on a follow up to Where There’s Life. We started to put the songs down in Wes McGhee’s studio enlisting the help of Patty Vetta, Michael O’Rourke, Malcolm Rogers, Brian Aldwinkle and Arthur Anderson. The result of our labour was 'The Soldier's Tree' CD an album that I am very proud of, some of it is quite personal.
With Soldiers Tree under his belt Joe returned to the road full time; the Weavers had closed its doors for the last time. He was spurred on by the reception both his live and recorded work was getting, if at first there was any doubt in his mind about picking up his music career it did not last for long. The Soldiers Tree was going down well with Joes live audiences, and with the support of numerous DJ’s throughout Europe and the USA he has remained on the road ever since.
As with all performers who compose their own material the catalogue mounts up and needs to be aired to a wider audience. And so we arrive at the album Distant Memories an album of fifteen songs, honed on the road and crafted in the studio. Ten new songs, four traditional adaptations and a great favourite of Joes “Summer of My Life” composed by Archie Roache.
Vocals, guitars, mandolin, five string banjo, bodhran, harmonicas and tambourine.
Joe Giltrap uses Ovation six and twelve string guitars with a Temlett five string banjo
and Lee Oskar harmonicas accompanied by Hondo mandolin and a custom made bodhran
Wes is without doubt a musician of much ability and someone who is highly regarded as a guitar player of great style and technique. His canon of work stretches to eleven critically acclaimed albums, the majority of which contain his own compositions.
Wes McGhee was the first non-Texan to be honored (in December 1984) by The Austin Chronicle with a Songwriter's Recognition Night at the city's legendary Soap Creek Saloon - where he recorded his seminal live album, Thanks For The Chicken.
McGhee, is also regarded as one of the great sidemen. He has performed with people like Johnny Allan, Billy Swan, Kimmie Rhodes, Tommy McLain, Warren Storm, Butch Hancock, Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Kate St John, Pinto Bennett, Ponty Bone, Jimmy Day, Guy Clark, Heather Miles, Sid Griffin, Alvin Crow, Freddie Krc, Sid Griffin & The Coal Porters, Richard Dobson, Chuck Prophet and Randy Travis.
Wes has also played on many sessions at Willie Nelsons Pedernales Studios in Austin, Texas. In the UK he has worked for various entertainment companies within British Television including the BBC. Amongst his more recent assignments Wes played seven months at The National Theatre on London’s Southbank playing guitar alongside Bernie Marsden amongst others. The assignment was William Shakespeare's “A Winter’s Tale.” as the folks at The National will tell you, playing in the West End of London is like playing in the Premier League, but playing at The National is like playing for England.
His album session credits include recordings by BillySwan, Kimmie Rhodes, Freddie Krc,Heather Miles, Ponty Bone and R.C. Banks. Wes has also produced albums for Ponty Bone, Freddy Krc and Roxy Gordon. Along with being a first class musician he composed the award-winning music for the Children's Film Foundation movie, Big Wheels and Sailor, and also the haunting Arabic-inspired soundtrack Voices In Exile, the highly praised TV documentary first screened by Channel 4 in 1998.
A consummate singer with a voice to die for, whenever I hear Patty sing I think of the expression ”the voice is an instrument” and so it is with Patty Vetta, but oh what an instrument. Her session credits include Don Everly, Johnny Tillotson, Roy Clarke, Joe Brown, Ronnie Prophet, Bert Weedon, Joe Giltrap, Terry McMillan, Freddy Weller, Pete Sayers, Paul Milns and Alan Franks. As a backing vocalist she has toured with Johhny Cash and Billie Joe Spears and closer to home Patty has sung on numerous TV and radio shows. Patty has been a member of the Wes McGhee Band for the last thirteen years.
Billy Thompson award winning violinist working in the areas of improvised Jazz, Rock, Gypsy, Folk, Fusion, Blues, World, Country & Dance music. His chosen instruments are the electric violin, acoustic violin and midi violin. For the last three years, Billy's principal work has been with Barbra Thompson & Paraphphenalia. With Barbara having retired from public performance due to Parkinson's disease (for the foreseeable future) Billy is once again spreading his talents wherever they are required). Billy now works with Ana Gracey, daughter of Barbra Thompson and Jon Hiseman. Billy is also a member of The Amigos and sidekick to Welsh legend MeicStevens; Billy has also recently started to play for Wes McGee, and has subsequently started recording and performing with David Soul's partner Alexa Hamilton. Billy played violin and baritone violin on a recent project by the avant garde composers/singer/songwriters Mike & Kate Westbrook
Janie Romer first came to note as a singer in Chaz Jankles Band. After that she had a spell in the USA with Loup Garou who availed themselves of Ms Romer’s stunning voice. This was all before she struck out on her own as Romer with her then partner Tony Garnier who has since gone on to find fame as BobDylan’s MD, Tony is credited with having played the most gigs ever with his royal “Bobbyness.”
As a session singer Janie has contributed to the work of Bert Jansch, with appearances on the albums “When The Circus Comes To Town” and “Toy Balloon.” Janie also composed the song “No One Around” which Bert recorded for the “Circus” album, for it was he who originally encouraged Janie to learn guitar and to keep writing after he heard her “Rock A Bye Baby," a collection of beautifully illustrated lullabies published by Harper Collins called “For The Babies” Bert in turn has contributed some wonderful guitar work to Janie’s new album “Darkest Before Dawn" which will feature the songs “No One Around" and "Limbo." Michael O Rourke
Born of a musical family in Ardara, Co Donegal it came as no surprise when Michael O’Rourke started playing fiddle at the age of nine. Initially taught by blind fiddler Paddy Gallagher he was helped and encouraged along the way by legendary Donegal fiddler’s John Doherty and James Byrne.
Winning the under fifteen “Ulster Fiddle Championship” Michaeldrew the attention of other musicians and an invitation to join local Celtic rock band Pluto proved to be an irresistible challenge. Pluto went on to win the Pepsi Cola supergroup competition in Dublin.
When Pluto disbanded Michael played with the various local groups before being invited to join top country band The Cotton Mill Boys, Joe was also in the Cotton Mill Boys briefly but regrettablynot during the same period. However his love of Irish music soon led him to Poteen, not the drink, but a new ambitious four piece Celtic rock and ballad group just forming and heading for London.
Poteen took the London Irish scene by storm. Their single “FarewellGreenValleys” topped the Irish charts in Britain and the band ended up touring extensively back in Ireland. The inevitable band personnel problems led to the premature demise of Poteen. Michael then went on to play in various London groups before forming The Crack with Dublin singer-songwriter John Slater. The Crack were a major feature on the London Irish music scene for many years until John Slater decided it was time to return home to Ireland.
Michael then teamed up again with singer/songwriter Joe Giltrap (they had played together for a while years before and remained friends) Michael O'Rourke now lives in Co. Mayo.
He has formed a duo, 'The Ceide Boys' with Patsy O'Neill who had also returned home from London. They are now one of the most popular acts in the West of Ireland. Joe and Michael are in constant touch.
Joe Giltrap was presented with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the Irish World Newspaper Awards held in London on February 23.The presentation took place at London’s Galtymore Complex in front of an invited audience of five hundred personalities from the world of sport, music and politics.
1 Distant Memory 2 A Friend To Me 3 Summer Of My Life 4 Colleen And The Soldier 5 Cosa Bana 6 Clonbrogan 7 No More Chains 8 Mist On the Valley 9 High Germany 10 Iceland Maiden 11 Lorena 12 Crooked Jack 13 Tipperary Friend 14 Phonecall From New York 15 Blacksod Bay to Tennessee. (Tracks 5/6/7 are known as The John Kelly Triology)
JOE GILTRAP Press Quotes 'Thinking man's Celtic and country' - The Sunday Express
'A wonderfully diverse mix of Celtic roots' - Time Out
'The perfect Celtic sound, yet so much more' - Country Music International
'Simply stunning. Take it to your heart and love it forever'
Mary Costello, BBC Radio, London
Excellent arrangements sung magnificently and magical performances, what more do you want' - Sean McGhee, Rock 'n' Reel
'The Joe Giltrap Where There's Life CD is our album of the year. It's fabulous'
'Joe is in fact a magnificent singer with a warm and passionate voice'
Massimo Ferro La Voce, San Michele, Italy
'The self-penned opening title track acts as an introduction to Joe's glorious gravelly smooth voice' John O'Mahony, The Irish Post
'This is an album of which Joe can be justly proud' - John Tobler, Folk Roots
'The man's eclectic taste is given full rein as Giltrap and his buddies cook up a storm'
Eamon Carr, The Evening Herald, Dublin
The only album I have played every track off over the air' Kelvin Henderson, BBC Radio, Bristol
'Joe Giltrap has carved a niche as a singer/songwriter of note. The Soldier's Tree pays homage to his mighty talents' - John O'Regan, Rock 'n' Reel
'Brilliant recordings, original and traditional ballads delivered with great style' CoralCoastRadio, Australia
'Beautiful versions of great songs' - Larry Monroe, Lonestar Radio, Austin, Texas
Joe Giltrap Discography:
1968.........The Broadsiders: Group vocals in Irish on single Gleann na Smol
1969.........Cotton Mill Boys: Played rhythm guitar on first single Joey Moroney
1970.........The Broadsiders: Featured on two tracks 'The Lowlands of Holland' and Lord Lovell on the Broadsiders LP
1972..Jason Cord: Single It Keeps Right On A Hurtin/ Sunday Morning Coming Down
1974.........Irish Mist: EP..Peggy Gordon/Slievenamon/Mts.of Pomeroy/ The Soldiers Joy.
1975.........Irish Mist: LP Rosin The Bow
1977.........Zozimus: Cassette LP As Zozimus Says
1978.........Joe Giltrap & Zozimus: Cassette LP Follow Me Up To Carlow
1979...Joe Giltrap & Zozimus: EP Nancy Spain/Cocky Farmer/Bunclody/Zozimus Reel
1981.........Irish Mist: single Dark Island/Where There's Life
1982.........Irish Mist: LP Second Time Round
1984...Irish Mist: Two tracks on Green Velvet compilation Mts.of Mourne' and 'The Old Rugged Cross'
1985.........Irish Mist: One track on More Green Velvet compilation 'The Fields Of Athenry
1985.........Irish Mist: Video Sweet Thames Flow Softly
1985.........Irish Mist: One track on A Song For Ireland video
1985.........Joe Giltrap: Cassette LP 'Solo
1986.........Irish Mist: Cassette LP The Rocky Road To Dublin
1987.........Joe Palmer & Joe Giltrap: LP A Place In Your Heart
1987..Joe Giltrap Band: Single Mr.Tambourine Man/When Margaret Was Eleven
1992.........Joe Giltrap One track Spanish Is The Loving Tongue on Get Weaving Vol 1' compilation
1993.........Joe Giltrap Where There's Life' CD
1994.........Joe Giltrap One track The Years Just Roll By on compilation Irelands Greatest Love Songs
1995.........Irish Mist: One track on Reflections Of Ireland video
1996.........Irish Mist: The Irish Rover CD The Heart Of Ireland
1996.........Joe Giltrap & Michael O'Rourke: Single 'Silverfort
1998.........Joe Giltrap: The Soldier's Tree CD
2000.........Joe Giltrap: Two tracks on Celtic Fayre compilation
2000.........Joe Giltrap: The Mountains of Mourne CD
2001.........Joe Giltrap: Three tracks on Celtic Fayre-Dream Chasing compilation
2002.........Joe Giltrap: Four tracks on The Celtic Chillout Album compilation
2002.........Joe Giltrap: As Down The Glen CD
2002.........Joe Giltrap: Irish Charmer CD
2003.........Joe Giltrap: Distant Memories CD
2005……..Joe Giltrap: Mountains of Mourne CD Re-mastered/additional tracks
2005……..Joe Giltrap: Bravest with Tom Paxton (3 Track single)