Four Men and A Dog - A Profile
I got to know
the members of Four Men and Dog very well over the years. I had met them
all and played with most of them in different bands and sessions all
over Ireland and in London.
Having said that there are very few
who would accuse me of bias by saying that they are one of the best
and most fun bands ever to come out of our lovely country.
I last saw Four Men and a Dog on what was supposed to
be their last ever show as a band. It was in Amsterdam in
the Melkweg one of my favorite
venues in all of Europe . I had played there with Frank
Tovey many times
and knew that when the huge crowd heard the first few notes of a Four
Men show they would be blown away. I just didn't expect how much of an
explosion it was going to be. The band were at their irreverent best
and Gino as always took control of the crowd
and molded them into a heaving mass of dancing bodies. To the untrained
eye the scene looked more like a Clash concert
rather than the rocket fueled traditional Irish, Americana, rapping rock
& roll melting pot of sound created by a totally acoustic band of Irishmen.
had taken a few years for the band to become this definitive lineup.
The original band and first album was an altogether more subdued affair.
It did however get the band noticed. Barking Mad was
a very refreshing album and a unique sound in Irish music at the time.
The word spread and over the years as the band became more popular the
lineup changed to include some of the best players in Ireland . They
also managed to attract some amazing guest musicians along the way including
Rick Danko from The
Ultimately they settled into the core group of Cathal
Hayden a frenzy of fiddling fingers who could play a blinding
concert then sit all night playing a session. His style is unmistakable
in the traditional Irish community often leading us away from the central
melody on crazed jazzy tangents only to return to the beauty of the original
Not that the rest of the band didn't have experience in late nights.
I shared a stage with singer/guitarist Kevin Doherty in
the Pyros and
as Kevin was already a prolific and talented songwriter all he learned
from us was stamina. Kevin has written some of the most moving and mature
songs I have had the joy of hearing. I defy anyone to listen to Mother
of Mercy and not be moved.
As for Gerry O'Connor, I think Four
Men may well have corrupted him but only in the good ways. When Gerry
joined the band it was huge news for me. He was a hero to a few of us
musicians in Donegal. His first solo album Time
to Time was never off
our stereos. It was amazing what could be done with a 4 string banjo.
It inspired so many of us and when he joined Four Men it was a joy. He
followed up that solo album a few years later with Myriad an
album I advise everyone to have a copy of in their collection.
Gino. I first met Gino Lupari when he was
a roadie for a well known local country singer at a dance in Donegal.
Some years later he is on stage with Four Men and a Dog and I didn't
know he played let alone could sing. He is one of the great front men
of our time. He has a brilliant personality, a caustic wit and the energy
of a teenager at a rave. He is also a sweet singer and can take you from
agonizing laughter to tears in the change of a song. I was lucky enough
to end up in another canine named band in London called Beware
of the Dog with Gino and got to know and love our Northern Irish
Thankfully that last ever gig I saw in Amsterdam was just
the band taking a few years out to recharge some batteries and they are
back on the road and have an album out called Maybe
Tonight which proves
that these older and wiser Dogs still have a few tricks up their sleeve.
For more information
check out the Four Men website at