Saturday 23 September 2017

Music and memories make for rockin' good radio

Kerbdog
Kerbdog
Darragh McManus

Darragh McManus

I'm always interested to hear musicians talking, mainly because I really wanted to be in a band when I was younger. Shamefully, I was too lazy to be bothered and have regretted it ever since, so now must live vicariously through others. You take your comforts where you can get them in this vale of tears.

Songs in the Key of Life (TXFM, Sat 11am) is one such comfort. Each week Nadine O'Regan interviews a musician about their life, personal and professional, the music they love, the things that inspired them, with some musical interludes.

This week's guest was Cormac Battle, who's doubly interesting because he actually gave up being a full-time musician a decade ago, but is now "back in the game". Battle's bands, Kerbdog and Wilt, were pretty damn good (sounded to me like an Irish Foo Fighters) but never quite made it to the top. So he's been working as a DJ, first with Phantom, then 2FM, for years.

However - plot twist - Kerbdog are back with a new album, the wheel has turned full circle, and Battle came to his old home (TXFM used to be Phantom) to explore all this. An amusing and engaging interview, fascinating for a music ingénue like me; I smiled at the story of limos pulling up outside Kilkenny pubs, ferrying A&R men from California here to see a local band who'd never played a gig yet.

Also amusing was the bit about mash-ups on The John Murray Show (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 9am). Mash-ups, in this case, referring to everything from samples in a song to splicing together spoken-word audio into entirely new sentences.

Some of this stuff is silly and self-indulgent, but some of it's brilliant, as detailed by guest Darragh Doyle. The David Cameron "rap", by British duo Cassette Boy, is insanely clever. And I did chuckle guiltily at the "unnecessary censorship" of the Count off Sesame Street.

Finally, production deadlines prevented me covering this, but the ever-inventive community radio station Near FM deserve a mention for really pushing the boat out with a unique broadcasting event. A Woman, a Dog & a Walnut Tree (Wed, 9.30pm) was a radio play, but with a significant difference: it was performed live, over one-and-a-half hours. Written by Denis Byrne, the work tells the stories of three women in a refuge victims of domestic violence, and was followed by a panel discussion on the subject.

But it's the live element that really tickled my fancy. What ambition, courage and imagination - would larger organisations, with better finances, take such risks? ­ It's all available to listen back on www.near.ie.

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