Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Emmet Scanlan and What The Good Thought play October Belltable Sessions

OVER the course of a genial chat with Newcastle West man Emmet Scanlan, the singer-songwriter expresses some regret that he never formed his band in Limerick, instead choosing to pick up sticks and relocate to Galway, where his band ‘What The Good Thought’ were formed in 2004.
Casting an ever so slightly green eye over the buzzing music scene in his home town, he subtly displays a slight hankering for the connections between the various acts in Limerick.
However, the strength of his band lies in the fact that he has assembled an international cast with members hailing from Italy to Sweden, leading to a dynamic and diverse sound that is ear-catching.
“Limerick is a place that has a really good music scene, I was almost envious that I didn't start the band here because there seems to be a lot of really good bands and there is a good connection between them,” says Emmet.
He cites the recent ‘Tonelist’ collection of local artists as proof of this “connection”.
“That sort of thing doesn't happen in Galway as much, in Limerick people seem to come out and support bands and I would love to be able to play at home more often,” he adds.
Formed in 2004 around the Tig Neachtain pub in Galway where the Newcastle West man found himself after a period of travel, Emmet Scanlan and What The Good Thought are a delightfully diverse five-piece featuring Alan Preims, percussionist from Italy, classical guitarist Peter Akerstrom from Sweden, Scottish cellist Nicola Geddes and Irish bass player Cathal Doherty. The group released debut album ‘Hands’ in March, a collection of evocative soundscapes filled with lush instrumentation.
Think Spanish guitar fused with light fingered tabla percussion, gorgeous cello parts infused with Scanlan’s Anthony Keidis-esque vocals. In a word, the international scope of this band has transformed and moulded Scanlan’s undoubtedly strong songs; think of One Day International and you wouldn’t be far off.
“I played in bands over the years with guys that I grew up with, but we all grew up listening to the same stuff - so the ideas were coming from more or less the same source,” says Scanlan.
“But all the lads in the band now, the type of music and artist that they would be into would be quite different from what I would ever have heard of and it has opened me up to new music and opened up a lot of ideas and styles, which is great.
“The formation of the band was all very much coincidence and when it seemed to be turning out that way I was delighted. I was working in a bar in Galway and I had been travelling for a year and writing songs, but I wanted to get an original band together to showcase the songs - I didn't know what I was doing really, except that I wanted to get a bunch of musicians together. I got to know these guys through working in the bar and bombarded them and that is how it all began,” he explains.
The result has been tours of the States with the Saw Doctors, invitations to the International Folk Alliance Festival in Memphis and positive reviews of their eclectic debut album.
This summer also saw the band play support to Femi Kuti in the Big Top in Galway and as part of the Volvo Ocean Race.
The band are now gearing up to play nearly 20 dates from here to Christmas and are hoping to record some new material for release early next year.
First, they play at the Belltable Sessions this Thursday night - a rare hometown gig for Emmet to get his teeth into.
“The idea of the Belltable sessions seems to suit our style, it will be nice because we have worked over the last while on having our set to cater to the environment we play in, so it is nice to be able to do both larger, louder venues and smaller, intimate venues. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Emmet Scanlan and What The Good Thought play the Belltable Sessions this Thursday night, with support from Kev Fox, Sí and Beautiful Rooms. Doors at 8pm.

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