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Thursday 18 September 2014

After 25 years, the lads still won't Take It Easy...

Mary Fogarty

Published 11/06/2014 | 05:22

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Take it Easy at the Harbour in Greystones (L-R) Mark Elliott, Niall Lewis, Chris Greene and Cubby Piererru.

A group of Greystones and Bray men are still rocking together after 25 years as members of the band 'Take it Easy.'

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A group of Greystones and Bray men are still rocking together after 25 years as members of the band 'Take it Easy.'

They will mark the important anniversary in the Beach House in Greystones on August 30 with a number of special guests including original guitarist Colm Greene.

Niall Lewis, Chris Greene, Mark Elliott, and Cubby Piererru are true troopers in the music biz, having played everywhere from the inauguration of a priest, to corners of pubs, to RTE, and when times were mighty many a corporate gig.

In 1992 Niall and Colm appeared on BBC Northern Ireland as a duo on a show called 'Go For It,' and in 2007 Niall made it through to the first RTE Radio 1 All Ireland Talent Showcase final which was held in the National Concert Hall in Dublin.

They've only had one lineup change in over two decades. Their original lead guitarist, Chris's brother Colm Greene, left on excellent terms because of other commitments and was replaced by Cubby.

Sadly, their saxophone player Sammy Ward died 10 years ago and is sorely missed. They didn't replace Sammy. 'He was too hard to replace,' they said. They started band life with the name 'Rave On' and were featured in the now legendary 'On The Beat' column of this newspaper with Tony Murphy.

'The reason we changed the name from Rave On (from the Buddy Holly hit song) was to branch out a bit from the old style 50s and 60s rock 'n' roll music we originally played,' said Niall. 'We became big fans of the Eagles and included a few songs of theirs in our programme.' Hence the name 'Take it Easy.'

They laugh at the fact that they were little more than 'kids' when the band started back in 1989 and many miles have been covered in vans late at night, an apprenticeship served on the road and with hard graft, including that rite of passage which all performers know as the 'rubbish, horrible gig.'

For the uninitiated, that's the gig with nobody there, or too many people who've had too much to drink and don't care about what the band's doing no matter who they are.

Reading a room is second nature to these guys now, and they go to any event armed with a host of songs for any mood.

'We've probably played every pub in Bray at this stage!' said Chris, who explained that the band got together originally through mutual friends.

'We were teddy boys at the time, into rockabilly,' he said. 'We all had the same interest in music and we were all at the same level musically so we could develop together.'

While they have done some writing, and put out an album of original songs, they perform covers. 'It's hard to go from being a covers band to originals,' said Niall, adding that if you want to earn a living out of music, covers is the way to go.

In 2002 they flexed their creative muscles with the record Another Way, which is still available on Soundcloud and from the guys.

Their own children have become big fans of a band which is older than they are, with other fans ranging in age from 18-80.

Their own parents were big influences. While they didn't play instruments themselves, they encouraged them in listening to music and in keeping at it when the band was formed.

They've been on the circuit and proving their mettle for long enough to be booked in a heartbeat for the likes of Tony Fenton's 40th, birthday parties for the likes of Clannad's manager, Bob Geldof, Hazel O'Connor and many more.

Whoever is doing the hiring knows that Take It Easy will entertain the crowds and won't let them down.

The hiring naturally became less frequent with the demise of the Celtic Tiger. Weddings and corporate bookings 'just collapsed' in one fell swoop. Previously the diary was full. 'You'd look in the diary, and think if this kept going you'd never have to work for anyone else again.' However that was not to be. 'You could feel it in the music circles before the banks collapsed,' said Chris.

While this presents a lot of challenges, the boys know their craft and keep playing away without getting unnerved. They feel sorry for teenagers now looking at a lifetime in the business.

They rehearse monthly to keep their set fresh and do a monthly gig in the Beach House as part of their routine.

On still remaining friends after 25 years, Niall and Chris said it was simple. 'You know someone half your life,' they said, saying they've always shared the same views, interests and sense of humour.

'You're like brothers. There are no egos. We've spent every weekend together for a quarter of a century.'

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