Thursday, December 3, 2009

Jenny Huston - 'In Bloom' Irish Bands Now

WITH a rush of books appearing for the saturated Christmas market, 2FM DJ Jenny Huston’s ‘In Bloom - Irish Bands Now’, stands out from the glut.

The Canadian-born music supremo has attempted to chronicle the heaving Irish music scene she has called home for 13 years, in her new book, and fares admirably well in this compelling and attractive tome.

Everything you ever wanted to know about your favourite Irish band - 15 in all - is included here, with all offering up an honest appraisal of their careers and where they see the industry going.

There is also a profile of up and coming bands, called the Hotlist, including a nod for Limerick’s own Giveamanakick, who sadly recently announced their intention to go their separate ways.

Huston explains that she got the idea for the book after being approached by the publishers, Currach Press, who wanted to do something about emerging Irish bands.

"They asked if I had considered writing a book on emerging Irish artists and the proposition of it excited me,” says the engaging Huston. “I'm not a journalist, I wasn't sure if I was the right person to do it, but more and more people kept saying to me, ‘what's happening with Bell X1’, to which I responded that they have just done four tours of North America and played Letterman twice.

"I realised that there just seemed to be a gap in information between the bands that are doing international work and for some reason no-one seems to know how well they are doing, so I felt the need to brag about them,” she laughs.

This is an admirably complete analysis of a well-stocked Irish music scene, from Bell X1 to Villagers, and while a couple of names are not included, there was simply no way Huston could have included all, a testament to the busy Irish scene.

Interestingly, most of the bands eschew their standard press interview-speak for an honest appraisal of themselves and their business, a fact Huston clearly feels proud of.

“What was nice about this was that there was a really relaxed atmosphere and they didn't have their press hats on - I think once they realised I wasn't doing a critique of their music and it wasn't going to be a critical piece on bands, that I really wanted to tell their story in their own words, then people were amazingly honest and forthcoming,” she says.

A brutal foreword from Glen Hansard sets the tone for the book, as he recounts his experiences with major labels and the pressure brought to bear in The Frames’ early career. Equally frank admissions follow from Richie Egan and Bell X1, and, for any younger bands out there, make for standard reading on what to avoid in their own careers.

“They pass on an awful lot of advice and certainly any band at any level would pick up an awful lot from them. The industry is changing so rapidly that it is interesting to hear how each band decides to approach it and everyone has revealed something different, and I have actually learnt a lot myself (from this),” she says.

As a knowledgeable DJ, Huston is well aware of the leading lights of the Limerick music scene, which she pays homage to as we speak. Chief among her favourites are rocking Giveamanakick duo Steve Ryan and Keith Lawler, who are unfortunately about to split up after a national tour.

“I was gutted to hear that because they have had an amazing start to 2009 and I am a big fan of the guys, I think they are amazing,” she glows. “They are proper rock and roll, their gigs are like a sonic assault and for them, it sounds like they left on a high and I'm happy they can do that.

"GAMAK were cool and they were so positive about the scene that they emerged from in Limerick and Limerick had such a healthy gig scene when they started out, it was amazing. Jamin (O’Donovan from Fred, who are also included) is from Limerick and so are We Should Be Dead, who are doing really well in the States as well, which is great.”

“That is the thing, and I realised it as soon as I started the book, that I didn't even know if I should do a Hotlist because there were so many bands to include, and we only had a finite number of pages - I'll have to get working on a follow-up,” she laughs.

‘In Bloom - Irish Bands Now” - is out now in all good bookshops. For further details see here.

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