- 11 Jun 13
The Saw Doctors are now a bouncing, healthy 25-year-old. words Greg McAteer
The Saw Doctors, who have just returned home to Galway after a month-long tour of the US and Canada, are taking a break from live gigs for the rest of this year. Having chalked up an impressive 20 years of non-stop touring and over 3,000 shows, the hardest-working band in the west will not be playing any summer festivals or autumn tours in 2013 in Ireland, the UK, Europe, USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. A list like that is, in itself, testament to just how much they get about and the kind of demand they find themselves in.
As they’ve proved with ‘I Useta Lover Her’ and countless other tunes, they have the ear of ordinary Irish people the world over. They’ve always managed to tell a particularly Irish story in a very Irish way, documenting a world where, like it or not, we all went to mass on Sunday, fancied convent girls and more often than not did nothing about it - except take a huge reddener at the thought of outing ourselves as the sensitive souls everyone already knew us to be.
As a swathe of earnest singer-songwriters struggled with overly complicated, abstracted stabs at ‘folk’ music, Messrs. Moran, Carton & Co. got on with making music that epitomised true folk, marrying lyrics that could not have come from anywhere but Ireland to a filtered version of Americana. It has been a happy marriage and they’ve been blessed with some winsome offspring along the way: ‘Red Cortina’; ‘Presentation Boarder’; ‘Galway & Mayo’; ‘Me Heart Is Livin’ In The Sixties Still’; their re-working of ‘Downtown’ on which they coaxed Petula Clark back into the limelight – all of which and more were brought together on last year’s greatest hits double album 25:25.
Never fear, though. As you might expect from such a bunch of out-and-out workaholics, there isn’t a ‘complete cessation’ as such. While the Saw Doctors are taking a break from live shows for the rest of 2013, guitarist Leo Moran, sax player Anthony Thistlethwaite and drummer Rickie O’Neill formed The Cabin Collective last month along with Galway singer/songwriters Noelie McDonnell and Keith Mullins. The Cabin Collective take their name from the Scandinavian-style log cabin outside Tuam, Co. Galway where the band rehearse.
Completing the nine-man line-up are Dave Clancy (pedal steel), Eimhin Cradock (percussion), Larry Kelly (guitar) and Michael ‘Spud’ Coen (bass). The group got off to a great start when they landed a Late Late Show appearance on April 19, playing debut single ‘Lines Are Fading’, which features Mullins on lead vocals. The erstwhile Saw Doctors and their cohorts will make their Dublin debut at Whelan’s on Thursday 27 June to promote ‘Lines Are Fading’, which goes on sale that day. Other Irish shows by The Cabin Collective in June include a Galway gig at Kellys on June 28 and a Main Stage appearance at this year’s Westport Festival on June 30, where they’ll be in the rarefied company of Elvis Costello and Martha Wainwright.
Having rung the changes and recharged the batteries, you can rest assured that the Saw Doctors will be back for business as usual in 2014.