Café Sessions present: The Mighty Stef feat. Shauna McManus

Location: Cafe Sessions @ Chapter 1 - Main St. Cavan
Admission: Suggested donation: Waged €5 Unwaged €3
Ticket outlets:

Blue Valentines presents The Mighty Stef at Café Sessions Chapter 1 Special Guest: Shauna McManus Thursday: 13 August 8pm Next Gig: Inni-K Adm: Suggested donation €5 unwaged €3 Assisted by Cavan Co. Council Arts Awards & The Anglo Celt. It might not seem like a good idea when you’re a teenager, but allowing a few years to pass for something decent and credible (as opposed to indecent and incredible) to happen to you and your life as a musician is often the best thing. Giving someone of a relatively young age all they wish for and dream of can often, if not always, lead to a meltdown they will rarely recover from. Wait a few years and give someone the same wishes and the same dreams, however, and hard-earned experience – along with a certain degree of caution – will temper the giddiness. When Stefan Murphy sings “Yearning for deliverance…” in The Mighty Stef’s desolate but delirious anthem, The Hardship – one of many titanium-strength tracks on the band’s new album, Year Of The Horse – you instantly know from his voice that the deliverance he speaks of could arrive only after several years of desperate times and hard knocks. “When I was in my early 20s,” Stefan recalls, “I was a bit of a waster. I feel much more equipped to be the person I am now.” There have been various incarnations of The Might Stef, as, indeed, there have been various incarnations of Stefan Murphy himself. Back in the day, the teenage Murphy was galvanised by the likes of Happy Mondays, Stone Roses and Nirvana. Inevitably, a band was formed. “At the time, I didn’t want anything other than to be able to write a song – and then I don’t believe I wrote my first decent song until years later.” Other bands came and went, until – eventually – The Mighty Stef appeared. Although open to interpretation, and willing to take on whatever shape it needed in order to stay afloat, The Mighty Stef forged its way through support slots (including Republic of Loose and The Things) and a few albums (including 2006’s The Sins of Sainte Catherine, 2009’s 100 Midnights, and 2010’s The Mighty Stef and the Baptists) before settling down into a different kind of band, a different kind of groove altogether. Effectively, the transformation took place from the late 2000s, the point when Stefan began to share responsibility for creative direction. Previous versions of The Mighty Stef, he says, were formed as a means to “facilitate the sound, but it was more of a revolving door policy; anyone that wasn’t busy with their own band would come and play with us for a while.” From 2010 onwards, however, Stefan untied his own creative knots, trusted his instincts and started collaborating in earnest with good friends and band members Gary Lonergan (bass guitar) and drummer Brian Gallagher (each formerly of Irish band, Humanzi). Gallagher has since departed to work on his own music, but other integral band members Brian Farrell (drums) and Dan Fitzpatrick (lead guitar) now form as much of the musical muscle and backbone of the band as anyone. The loosening of knots was, Stefan says, extremely liberating. Indeed, as the band at this time was travelling around Europe (specifically, Germany and Scandinavia), playing in any and every small venue that would take them, unbreakable creative bonds were forged. “We’d be in the tour van, travelling; we’d be soundchecking, hanging around dressing rooms, we’d constantly be talking about the gigs, the music. That was very freeing, because it meant I wasn’t the only one thinking about the music. That’s when I knew that things were moving in the right direction. I immediately had faith that the songs we were going to end up with were going to be great – primarily because the quality control was there without being too critical. In other words, we always knew what worked and what didn’t.” “Half of these songs were written in backstage rooms in Germany,” adds Gary, “some in soundchecks, and then we’d play them on stage.” Such an atmosphere of freewheeling creativity was something that Stefan had always imagined being in a band should and would be like. “When I was a naïve youngster, the thought was that I’d always be playing music and talking about it. That doesn’t always happen, of course, but it transpired that we had this amazing golden period of being on tour so much in Germany.” Neither venue nor tour itinerary weren’t particularly glamorous, needless to say, but for the band the combination created an impregnable bubble within which song development was strengthened and fast-tracked. Reflecting such experiences, Year Of The Horse, says Gary, represents “blood, sweat and tears, and all the other clichés in the book. We came incredibly close to cracking up under the pressure, but we were able to turn certain terrible experiences and events to our advantage.” For Stefan, as for the rest of the band, it was Rock’n’Roll Boot Camp to beat all Rock’n’Roll Boot Camps. “The Hardship is something of an anthem in that, during some of the tours we were on, it felt that nothing was going right for us. It was almost like we were the touring equivalent of Angela’s Ashes – one disaster after another!” Redemption, resolution, ragged-glory rock’n’roll and enough swaggering riffs and poetic dignity to match anything the storytelling lovechild of Mark Lanegan, Nick Cave and The Hold Steady could regale you with, Year Of The Horse is a remarkable album from a remarkable band. Recorded in Los Angeles and produced by Alain Johannes (Queens Of The Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys, Chris Cornell, Them Crooked Vultures), the overall theme, outlines Stefan, is of “trying to turn situations, feelings of desperation, into something that is colourful, acceptable and understandable to people. I’m the lyric writer, so I suppose it’s where I’m personally coming from, but I always try to keep the overall picture of what the group represents in my mind. We like to think, ultimately, that it has a very euphoric feel to it.” The Mighty Stef’s battle cry might always be “Yearning for deliverance…” It is, arguably, by reputation of integrity and hard work that fans gather, like moths to a flame, around the band. There are, however, a few things they don’t have on their side. “And one is being teenagers” says Stefan with a smile and a sense of relief. “We’ve somehow managed to get away with that, however, and long may it continue!”

Telephone: 0862902493

Date and time:

13 August 2015 from 20:00 to 20:00

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