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Four Men and A Dog - A Profile

Four Men and a DogI 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.

It 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 the late Rick Danko from The Band. Cathal Hayden

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 tune.

Kevin DohertyNot 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 butGerry O'Connor 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 LupariThen there's 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 Italian star.

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




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