The brainchild of Hob Junker and David Boland, Citóg is a free weekly musical showcase which takes place each Friday night downstairs in the Cellar Bar in Galway. As well as playing bass in local groups The Deparavations and Rural Savage, Hob Junker also runs multimedia suite, Hob Junker Studios, which offers services such as sound engineering, graphic design and video production. In between kicking ass, taking names, and all of the above, he somehow found the time to highlight five of his favourite songs by artists who have played Citóg over the past two years.
As I sat abreast my private lake on my expansive country estate, the deceptively named Junkland, I was suddenly struck about the face by a wild email, though upon closer inspection I discovered that it was in fact a run of the mill domesticated service email, from Ms. Noise. Contained within the aforementioned email was a request that I produce a list of my “Top 5 songs.” A preposterous proposition I thought.
I asked my good friend Arlo what he made of the request, he replied rather enigmatically with just one word, “rough.” It was at that point that I remembered that Arlo was in fact my dog, and as such not really someone whose views on music I’d have the highest regard for.
What would be the point in me producing a list of 5 outstanding songs that no-one reading this piece would have ever heard of anyway when I could just take this opportunity to highlight some of my own personal high points of the last 2 years of gig promotion under the umbrella of Citóg?
Believe me when I say I have no interest in what’s going on musically in the U.S., U.K. or elsewhere. I care only about what’s happening in the Irish scene. I absolutely love Irish music and it never ceases to amaze me. Below are five of what I believe to be the best musical acts in this country right now. Who naturally enough have all played Citóg.
Long ago, in the before time, I lived in a land known as “Tra-lee”, a powerfully unpleasant place populated predominantly with people who wore sportswear 24 hours a day yet never appeared to engage in any sports-like activities. In this land it was said that there was a place where people could occasionally go and watch people play music that they themselves had created… This place was called CLUBHEADBANGBANG, and this was where I first witnessed Laura Sheeran.
Her music was, quite simply put, a feast for the senses. One could also say it was an emotive tour de force but that seems like a pretty douchey way to put it. I had genuinely never experienced anything like her live performance before. I’d imagine it was as close as any could come to being literally breathtaking. She may also be the only person I’ve ever seen who’s used a loop pedal both effectively and in an interesting way.
So naturally, considering all that, when it came time for Ray Wingnut and myself to launch our very own gig night in Galway she was right at the top of our list of artists we’d want to help us with our début. This video was captured in the days of lo-fi, low-def, Citóg, for which I apologise, but even with the video quality as it is it’s still plain to see the pure talent on display.
I don’t think it would’ve been hard to see from the outside that when we started this venture we were taking it very seriously, bringing in the very best acts each week that were within our power to bring in, and with that in mind it didn’t take long for the local music heads to start emerging from the woodwork and making themselves known to us. One such head to emerge was that of local Record Label Mogul Keith Wallace, of Rusted Rail fame. At that time it appeared as though Rusted Rail was the only independent record label in operation in Galway so naturally we immediately approached him with the proposition of a night dedicated entirely to the acts of his Rusted Rail label. Thankfully he agreed. And the rest, as they say, is history…
Not really, but sure ’twas nice to essentially come across an entire sub-culture of Galway’s music scene all in one evening’s work, that of the plaid-shirted, well-bearded, noise-folk-fiends. It was that evening that I first encountered Yawning Chasm, AKA Aaron Coyne, a man who by technical definition you might refer to as a singer-songwriter but I never would as that would almost be a slight to his talent in my eyes. Singer-songwriter is a dirty word; this man was an artist, a master-craftsman. He literally looked like the kind of chap who could go away after the show and whip you up a fine table.
A sordid love affair began that night between Citóg and Rusted Rail, and Yawning Chasm would return to our stage many a time to come as a result. After operating for some time as a solo act Aaron recruited the aid of one of Galway’s premier noise-mongers DECLANQKELLY to add a new dimension to his music, The results of which can be witnessed in the below video. Again, apologies for the quality but you still get the idea of how great these guys are.
Once again my love of the next act harks back to my days in Tralee, hanging out down in CLUBHEADBANGBANG. When the whole post-rock instrumental trend first reared its head back in the day I wasn’t really a fan, love it now, but back in the day I was always waiting for someone to break out some sweet wordage, but that never happened. Until Private Underground Residence came to town. They had all the intricacies, tappata tappatas and stop-starts the instrumental kids had but with sweet rhymes to boot.
It might be hard to imagine now, considering how successful we are, but Ray Wingnut and I have a couple of failed ventures under our belts too you know. One of which being a small portable recording studio, slash production team, by the name of Sami’s Dodgy Buddies. With this firm we worked with some incredibly talented cats, like Ten Past Seven, Hope Is Noise, Vince Mack Mahon, Alphastates and, you guessed it, Private Underground Residence. And when you combine the fact that they’re a great band with the fact that they’re fierce sound lads, it was hard not to put them in this list.
To be honest when they got onto us about a gig in Citóg I wasn’t even aware they were still working together as a band, it had been years since I’d heard from them, but now that they’re back to their old ways we’re hoping for very big things from them. It shocked me to learn that this was their first ever gig in Galway as well, how that was I’ll never understand, what had the gig promoters in Galway been doing before we arrived?
I don’t know how, or when, but at some stage the fact that I was making this list must have been leaked by someone. As for the last few weeks I’ve been receiving lots of threatening letters from a man calling himself Perry Benthos, repetitively referring to himself as an “enterprising, visionary and revolutionary businessman” and claiming that he could “make life difficult for me” if I didn’t include the Trumpets Of Jericho in my Top 5. Paired also with threats of putting me to work in one of his “manufacturing plants.”
Eventually I grew tired of all the abuse and decided to reply to Mr. Benthos, outlining the fact that Citóg does not negotiate with terrorists. Some while later I received another letter from Mr. Benthos outlining his desire to put the past behind us as, in his words, “the most important thing is what happens today, what happens tomorrow, and the day after that.” He tipped off this piece of diplomacy with 5 vouchers for steaming-hot pints of Guinness at the Electric. Which is all I needed from the get go.
My only apprehension regarding this entry is that their CD broke the CD player in my car… Bastards.
I’ve had the great honor of bearing witness first hand to the birth and growth of this next group. It all began in the early days of Citóg, when one evening a fresh-faced young lad by the name of Donal McConnon appeared on our figurative doorstep with tales of being pronounced the ”Great Lord of the Open Mic.”
For a brief period during our first stint in the Cellar we ran a scheme in conjunction with their “Open Mic” night whereby the pick of their proverbial litter each week would be given the opportunity to come and open up proceedings at the following week’s Citóg. Very few people seemed to take us up the offer though, presumably because as a reward for playing a song at the Open Mic one is bestowed a free beer, a fact which was well advertised, but while we offer many free boozes to our artists we don’t actually advertise the fact so perhaps the thirsty Open Mic’rs dare not take the chance of performing without alcoholic restitution. But anywho, I digest.
That young man proceeded to blow us away with his musical swagger, undeniable charisma and an abundance of gab the likes of which even the most prolonged and enthused shift with the blarney stone itself could not produce. This young man, to put it a way I’m not at all comfortable with, was the complete package. He would go on to wow us countless more times in the coming months with his wealth of, as the French would say, “I don’t know what.” But that would change…
After a while a woman came into the picture, one Anna Mullarkey, occasionally joining Donal onstage for a few songs and sometimes even demanding entire sets of her own! Would she be the fat fingered child to bring down the mighty Jenga tower that was Donal McConnon? In a word… No. For she was a star in her own right and with her Indian lullabies and Melodica solos she shone just as bright.
They eventually joined forces officially under the moniker My Fellow Sponges and went about recruiting more absurdly talented and attractive people to their ranks. Naturally enough their first instincts drew them to myself for Bass and Mosey Byrne for Percussion. But it didn’t take long for them to realise that we were both shit at music and weren’t particularly attractive, so the hunt went on.
Not long after that they emerged from the wilderness as a full, incomparable band. With newly recruited characters such as Tracy “The Flute Bastard” Bruen, “Big John The Bass Mon” and Diarmaid “The Hound-Dog” Hurley they were a band the like of which I’ve never seen the like of which. With seemingly no band member ever playing the same instrument 2 songs in a row the live shows were truly a thing to behold.
As they continue from strength to strength right before our very eyes it’s hard to imagine anything ever hindering this musical juggernaught. We expect great things from this band, which if not achieved, will upset us somewhat…
Thank you for reading my meanderings.
You may not have your wasted time back.
Yours in Christ,
(Fairly articulate for someone who goes by the name of Hob Junker, isn’t he?)
Citóg celebrates its second birthday this Friday April 20th. Kicking off from 7 downstairs in the Cellar Bar, seven of the finest acts currently operating in the West will be playing on the night including Music For Dead Birds, Brian Kelly (So Cow), My Fellow Sponges, The Followers of Otis, Jenny Liston, Fires of Babylon and Ergot Fire. There will also be a special guest appearance by the supremely talented Dubliner Big Monster Love. Free in. Cheap, cheap booze. Sorted.