Monthly Archives: February 2017

Introducing Rick McKee

After the introduction of band members Kevin Carlisle and David Bennington we know that the drummer is in charge and that it’s all about that bass, but the introduction of the band is not complete yet. Time to introduce Rick McKee a.k.a. Rick Star, guitar and mandolin player.

Of all band members Rick is probably the most quiet one, but (he wouldn’t say this himself!) a greatly talented guitar and mandolin player!
Rick is good company and even though he’s quiet, he’s someone to keep an eye on…never underestimate quiet people. You’re probably wondering why I’m saying this…well…there’s a story behind it.

I don’t know what it is with this band, but there’s always something with sharpies… We use those sharpies a lot…to write/change set lists, sign albums etc. When the band comes over for a tour sharpies are nowhere and everywhere and no one knows how that happens. A 10-day tour also means 10 days of chasing sharpies. Last year the band went home after the tour and later sent me this photo… Just when you think you have made it through the tour without losing sharpies…
rick-1
I would have expected any band member to fool me, but not Rick! 😉

To get to know Rick a bit better, we also sent him a list with questions. Here’s what he said:

Tell me a little about yourself in one rambling, run-on sentence J
Okay, I’m 36 years old, live in County Down, N Ireland.  I work for the Health Service and as well as being Robb’s guitar and mandolin player and also involved with the music team in a local church.

Coffee or Tea?
Coffee. Definitely coffee!

3 songs on your playlist right now?
Bloodbuzz Ohio by The National
Mary-Jane’s Last Dance by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Bittersweet Me by R.E.M.

How did you meet Robb and where?
We go way back! We went to school together – which is a frighteningly long time ago now!  But yeah, we grew up in the same town, went to the same school and were in many of the same classes. We soon discovered we had similar tastes in music and the rest is history!

Describe one perfect day…
Not being at work.  Not having to rush or sit in queues of traffic.  Just having a day of being with those I love, drinking fine coffee and listening to great music!  It’s the simple things in life, right?

Cats or Dogs?
Dogs! Definitely dogs and it’s not even close! Really don’t like cats…

Do you dance?
No! And the other guys can vouch for that! (we’ll ask them 😉 )

What song would you choose to play for the Queen and why?
Not sure, I’d probably try to do a contemporary arrangement of some old traditional hymn or something.  Something timeless that wouldn’t cause Her Majesty any offence… I’m not sure – what type of music is the Queen into?

If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?
You know what? I’m a real home bird.  Places mean less to me than the people I’m with.  So as long as I’m with the right person or people it doesn’t matter where I am. There’s this old monastic site about 5 or 6 miles from where I grew up though, it’s one of those places that is just always so peaceful – it’s a great little place to escape to every so often.

Favourite place in NI?
Co Down. It’s hard to specify an exact place within my home County, but there’s just so much to see and enjoy – we have countryside and coastlines to escape to as well as a lot of nice little towns with cafes and bistros.

Who would you be nervous to meet?
Bob Dylan. He’s a hero of mine – and a true legend! They say you should never meet your heroes though, right?

True or False… is it really all about the bass?
Ha! Dave would say so! And as a part-time bass player I’d probably have to agree…

Silliest thing you’ve done this past month?
I don’t do silly things – I’m much too boring!

What is your most valued possession?
That would be my (main) acoustic guitar. It’s handcrafted from start to finish by a local luthier and is a work of art!  I love it!

Future plans?
That’s a big question! Who knows?? Haven’t thought that far ahead – I struggle to organise the present from time to time, so allow me to sort that out and then I’ll get back to you about the future!

If a penguin wearing a sombrero walked into your room right now, what would you do and why?
I’d wonder who spiked my coffee with what!

Name one thing about music that drives you crazy?
The industry that surrounds it. It’s a popularity contest – style over substance etc… It actually hinders real, hardworking musicians – and that’s not just me being bitter at the fact that I’m in my mid-thirties and haven’t “made it” – whatever that means!  I think most real musicians would agree with me on that one.

Can you share some of your thoughts on the music scene in NI?
Yeah, that’s a weird one – ’cause despite being involved with it I kind of feel a bit out-of-the-loop too!  There’s a lot of great talent out there, but because NI is quite a small country the local scene has become pretty saturated.  It’d be great to see more local acts break into the main Irish/UK and international music scenes though.

I know you have quite a collection of amazing instruments… is there a favourite?
There are a couple of favourites.  My handcrafted acoustic that I mentioned earlier and my Fender USA ’52 Reissue Telecaster – I’ve had it for years and it has seen a number of tweaks and mods, but for me it just sounds, feels and looks right – I love it!

Batman or Superman?
Batman – better car!

Top 3 places you’d love to play live
Later with Jools Holland, The SSE Arena in Belfast and the O2 in Dublin – all pretty ambitious I guess!

What surprises you the most?
That I keep getting asked to play for people!  I honestly don’t rate myself that highly as a musician but I keep getting opportunities to play with some hugely talented, great musicians – I guess I must be doing something right!  I have a t-shirt that has “World’s Okayest Guitar Player” printed on it – that honestly sums up how I feel about myself as a guitarist – I know I’m not terrible, but I am pretty okay!  I’m so thankful I get the chance to do what I do though!

Thanks very much for this Rick!

You can follow Rick on Twitter. Stop by and say hello!

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Introducing David Bennington…it’s all about that bass…

After the introduction of the man behind the beat, Kevin Carlisle, it’s time to introduce another band member. David Bennington, a.k.a. Sexy Dave, a.k.a. Captain Banter.

People who follow Robb or have seen him and the band live will know that Dave can play bass and trumpet simultaneously. This all started a couple of years ago when the band was practicing the song ‘Sleep Tonight’. When playing this song live the trumpet was missing and Robb asked Dave if he couldn’t just play both bass and guitar. Dave took on the challenge and started doing it. Where ever the band plays, this always leads to a lot of positive reactions from people being surprised and amazed by it.
Things are never boring when Dave is around! Dave loves sports and is very active. He even gets the band doing pull ups and yoga! When touring in The Netherlands Dave a.k.a. Captain Banter also drives a lot… If Dave decides to be Captain Banter we always need 15 minutes extra time, because before driving off he will tell everyone the safety instructions, he’ll check if the person sitting next to the door is capable of opening the door in case of an emergency and he’ll not leave until everyone has confirmed to have understood the safety instructions and rules on board.

To get to know Dave a bit better, we sent him a list of questions. Here’s what he said:

Tell me a little about yourself in one rambling, run-on sentence 🙂
20 something, moderately active, love jeans, hate trousers, brown hair, brown eyes, bass player, computer programmer, wine and gin lover, terrible sense of humour.

Coffee or Tea?
Coffee before dinner, tea afterwards 😉

3 songs on your playlist right now?
a. Two Steps from Hell: Stay
b. Muse: The Handler
c. Mario Kart 8 title theme – I played that with the Irish Video Games Orchestra, great tune.

How did you meet Robb and where?
When I was a student I was looking for a band to play electric guitar with. Cruised around some wanted ads and found one that I liked the sound of: turned out to be a Robb creation! Sadly wasn’t as popular as I thought it should have been (of course!).

Describe one perfect day…
I couldn’t, I would be asleep. Jokes. I would wake up in a penthouse room in a swish hotel with the sun beaming in, breakfast served on the balcony of course. Follow this with some swimming and relaxing until a light lunch, then a couple of hours of yoga. Drinks and reading sci-fi novels until dinner, which would be fancy, then banter with friends in the bar until the wee hours.

Cats or Dogs?
Well I already have 2 cats, so I guess cats it is!

Do you dance?
Depends who you ask. Probably more accurate to say that I attempt to dance. I know there’s videos out there somewhere…

What song would you choose to play for the Queen and why?
I would play the national anthem. On 3 different instruments. In 3 different styles.

If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be and why?
Backstage at a sunny festival. Failing that just anywhere outside.

Favourite place in NI?
I don’t really have one favourite place really, though when I need to reset myself I go for a walk at Helens Bay. Love the sound and smell of the sea.

Who would you be nervous to meet?
John Carmack. One of the smartest guys on the planet.

True or False… is it really all about the bass?
True, obviously

Silliest thing you’ve done this past month?
Dancing at a new years party. Silly (funny) because I can’t dance and silly (stupid)

What is your most valued possession?
I have a small stuffed toy that I’ve had since I was about 3 months old. Everything else I own is replaceable, except that.

Future plans?
No idea, never really known tbh. I just try and do whatever I enjoy doing and see where that leads me.

If a penguin wearing a sombrero walked into your room right now, what would you do and why?
Put on my own sombrero, open the tequila and just go with it.

Name one thing about music that drives you crazy?
Good crazy or bad crazy? I love close harmonies, but can’t stand manufactured singers.

Can you share some of your thoughts on the music scene in NI?
It *could* be great, but things just start too late here. Nobody wants to still be listening to a band at like 12, they’re already in clubs by then. Bands need to be playing earlier before the party crowds are heading out.

How many instruments do you play?
Well? Trumpet, guitar and bass. I can play a tune on some others but I don’t sound those!

Mac or Windows?
Mac. Used to be windows but I work with linux systems as a day job and and OSX is similar enough to work well, as well as they just look lovely.

Top 3 places you’d love to live
California, Costa Blanca, and Belfast. I’m not kidding, as long as you can get away for a sunny holiday when the weathers crap, Belfast is an amazing place to live.

What surprises you the most?
How utterly stupid some people can be when driving.

Favourite thing about the Netherlands?
Gotta be the people. They have a really relaxed attitude, easy to get on with.

Favourite song from high school?
See, I had 2 major phases in school – trance and alternative. Would be unfair to myself to just pick one, so if you’ll allow me I’ll have 2! Kylie Minogue ‘On A Night Like This’ and Placebo’s ‘My Sweet Prince’. There’s a ton of other ones up there, but those come to mind first!

What inspires you?
Anybody who has a passion for what they do. Doesn’t really matter what, but seeing people who love what they do and give 100% is a fantastic thing.

Thanks very much for this Dave!

You can follow Dave on Twitter. Stop by and say hello!