The music of Stockton's Wing has evolved into an exciting blend of traditional and contemporary Irish music and song, performed with power and precision by some of the finest musicians in Ireland. Back in 1977, in Ennis, Co. Clare, the five member group including all-Ireland champions, Paul Roche, Maurice Lennon, Kieran Hanrahan and Tommy Hayes with Tony Callinan won the traditional section of a Guinness sponsored talent competition in Limerick (the rock section was won by a little known group from Mount Temple School, called U2). As a result of this competition they secured a recording contract with Tara Records and released their debut album, Stockton's Wing.
Mike Hanrahan, replaced Tony Callinan in 1979 and in the spring of 1980
they released their second album on Tara "Take a Chance." The
album featured some original music and marked the arrival of a progressive
force into the world of Irish music. Following the success of the album,
they toured extensively, creating a storm of enthusiasm at major Folk
Festivals across Europe.
Percussionist, Tommy Hayes, left the band in 1983 and was replaced by Fran Breen on drums and Peter Keenan on keyboards. After listening to the band, a critic for the New York Times wrote "they were eclectic, electric, passionate, personal, innovative and powerful." In 1985, a live album "Stockton's Wing Live - Take One" was recorded in Galway and Dublin capturing that 'eclectic, electric' sound and enjoyed major success.
Tours of America, Canada, Europe and Australia kept the band away from the recording studios until the autumn of 1986 when they recorded their fifth album "Full Flight." The album contained no less than four hit singles - "Why wait until tomorrow", "Avondale", "New Clare Revival" and "So many miles." The group's sixth album, produced by Steve Cooney, received critical acclaim in America where the group headlined major music festivals in Chicago, Boston and New York.
In the summer of 1988 they shared the stage with Michael Jackson in Cork. The following year they made a guest appearance with Sammy Davis Jnr. in Dublin as part of his world tour with Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli. In 1990 Stockton's Wing went on location to take part in the Noel Pearson/Jim Sheridan film production of the John B. Keane play "The Field" which featured Oscar nominee Richard Harris and John Hurt.
In 1991 Kieran Hanrahan was replaced by Davey McNevin on banjo and mandolin. Drums and bass guitar were dropped from the lineup, shifting the musical emphasis to an acoustic based sound. With the release by Tara Records of a compilation of the best of the Band's earlier work called The Stockton's Wing Collection, they renewed their contract with Tara and together with producer Bill Whelan, recorded their seventh album The Crooked Rose in January 1992. The album of original music highlights the excitement, drive and virtuosity of each individual musician and creates the sound that will keep Stockton's Wing to the forefront of contemporary and traditional Irish music.
In July, 1994, Stockton's introduced to the lineup the award-winning young singer/songwriter from Omagh, Co. Tyrone - Eamon McElholm. He replaces Mike Hanrahan who retired from the Band to follow a solo career. Eamon is a recipient of the revered PRS/John Lennon Songwriters Award and reinforces the band's reputation for musical excellence with his live performances and songwriting skills. 1995 saw the release of the Letting Go album which featured Eamon's songwriting talents.
In November 2003 Stockton's Wing held a reunion concert in their home town of Ennis, Co. Clare. Founding members, Kieran Hanrahan, Paul Roche, Maurice Lennon and Tommy Hayes, were joined by long-time band member Mike Hanrahan. The concert was a hugh sucess with over 1200 people packed into the West County Hotel. In the words of the band's producer PJ Curtis "what an extraordinary, amazing, mind-blowing concert the Wing delivered last night. I'm still spinning from it. It was TRIUMPHANT!..no other word for it....such an incredible turn-out....and the music and the vibe (Ronnie too...who was pure magic as usual) made it a NIGHT TO REMEMBER!!! It rates as one of the top gigs of the decade for me..."
"Stockton's Wing rendered he hoariest of western
folk traditions with an urgency and vitality every bit as strong as another
Irish band, U2."
"Versatility is the watchword of Stockton's Wing.
They are equally adept at crafting stirring traditional tunes as they
are with more sensitive vocal melodies. They transform regional roots
into a vehicle for universal communication."
"Stockton's Wing hit the target, melody lines darted
this way and that, imparting a lilting, carefree sweep, before kicking
"They're always great value for money and provide
an infectiously lively night out. Don't miss 'em - you don't get the chance
to see them too often."
"Stockton's Wing had the crowds crying and smiling
to syncopated solos of flute, banjo and fiddle."
"As folk musicians, the band has virtuosity to spare
- particularly fiddler Maurice Lennon and flautist Paul Roche."
"The accomplished five-man group, Stockton's Wing,
provided compelling music old and new. Its instrumentals were as lyricism
itself, while its songs were as lusty and likable as the performers themselves."
"The great thing about Stockton's Wing is that they
are never the same; one year there will be a rock edge, another jazz yet
again some acoustic divergence."
"Then came Stockton's Wing, concentrating on what
they do best, blistering sets of tunes and stunning musicianship. Their
songs and arrangements had very effective dynamic and tonal variety so
that when they really let go they took the roof off."
"Stockton's Wing displayed all the fire, drive and
technical virtuosity that are fast winning them new friends."
"They were eclectic, electric, passionate, personal,
innovative and powerful."
"Letting Go opens a vivid new chapter in the long running sucess story of Stockton's Wing, an outfit widely regarded as the academy Of Excellence of Irish music. Many of Ireland's finest musicians have graced the rank's of Stockton's Wing contributing to an impressive body of work which has consistently pushed back the boundaries of traditional Irish Music"
"STOCKTON'S WING - Live - Take One Tara Music TARACD
4016 12 tracks, 45 minutes Originally released in 1985, this CD version
will delight Stockton's Wing fans and newcomers alike. Perhaps one of
the most curious bands of the 70s and 80s folk revival, and certainly
one of the most puzzling names, Stockton's Wing managed to bring Irish
music and pop/rock together without compromising their traditional credentials.
As a result, a whole generation of young Irish musicians grew up playing
the old tunes in a new way. For folkies, they represented the acceptable
face of rock music. For trendies, they lent some street cred to Irish
music in the days before street cred was invented. For me, they were and
are a bunch of white-hot musicians who recorded some ground-breaking albums
- and Live - Take One is no exception. Kieren Hanrahan, Paul Roche, Maurice
Lennon and Tommy Hayes all had All-Ireland titles under their belts. The
addition of singer Mike Hanrahan produced a supergroup with real Celtic
fire in its belly. The influence of their songs and instrumentals alike
was enormous: Beautiful Affair, Walk Away and In Our World are still requested
wherever forty-somethings gather to drink porter. Skidoo and The Chicago
Reel set a standard which endures to this day. Listen to The Golden Stud
or Silent Dreams and you'll hear the forerunners of Riverdance, created
by the man who produced this album. In many ways, Stockton's Wing have
never really gone away: they just keep organising reunion concerts! Those
of you who still have the LP will notice that the CD version is longer
by ten minutes and three tracks. Tara have added studio versions of Sally
Lennon's, In Our World and The Mason's Apron as bonus tracks. The energy
level is almost as high as in the live act, and it's fascinating to hear
the crystal clear recording. I'd still have preferred Tara to squeeze
two albums onto the CD, but that's commercial reality for you: take it
or leave it."
The enormous drawing power of 70’s/80’s traditional group Stockton’s Wing was confirmed on Saturday night last, with 1,500 devotees showing up in the band’s home-town for a once-off, rollicking romp through their eclectic back catalogue. Minus the talents of the Wing’s regular banjo/mandolin player Kieran Hanrahan for the night, his absence was more than made up for by a sterling display from stand-in Enda Scahill. The Galway man’s ornate mandolin began the show with ‘Drops of Brandy’, as Maurice Lennon’s compelling fiddle soared over and gradually cajoled the other group members into the icebreaker - laying down a definite marker for a rambunctious and utterly compelling performanc e‘Miss McLeod’s Reel’ affords the basic footing for Mike Hanrahan’s ‘Beneath The Shade’, with Paul Roche’s lilting whistle lifting the song to lofty and lark-like heights. The introduction of guests, Tony Molloy (bass), Steve Flaherty (electric guitar) and Danny Byrt (drums), generated an upsurge in intensity, particularly on ‘Walk Away’, with Flaherty’s searing solo adding an extra dimension to the popular song. Guest singer, Eleanor Shanley rendered a rousing version of Stephen Foster’s ‘Hard Times’, while an innovative bodhrán solo by the peerless Tommy Hayes added to the diverse and entertaining nature of the overall presentation.
The low-key, banjo/jaw’s harp introduction from Scahill/Hayes to ‘The Maid Behind The Bar’, signalled a calm-before-the-storm approach, culminating in a manic and uninhibited version of the old reel. With a fiddle/flute/banjo axis, underpinned by Byrt’s Ceili band style drumming, an explosive Chicago Reel extracted gasps and howls of approval from the large and frivolous audience. Though hindered somewhat by an obdurate room, sound-wise and pockets of boisterous revellers in the throng, Stockton’s Wing magnificently soared above perceived adversity to produce a memorable and satisfying recital that hopefully will re-emerge again, in the not too distant future. Gerry Quinn and The Irish Examiner
|© MBE 2010|