The Worldwide appeal of a Denbighshire band


Shane Brennan

FROM the freezing top of the world to the steaming jungles of Honduras in under a week, even for the raucous Irish Music band of Denbigh it had been an unusual week.

Rory McGough was working away fixing computers on the Colomendy Industrial Estate in Denbigh when he got an a very usual email.

It was from the Pentagon, headquarters to the most powerful military in the world, asking if his band were available to do a tour for them.

Rory, a member of the wee bag band, first reaction was to treat the email as spam
Luckily though the thought of that email stayed in the back of his head and he eventually responded and were then set for the trip of a lifetime.

The band, made up of Roy, Alan, Jules, Paul and Steve, have been together for five years having been brought together by a shared love of Irish and bluegrass music.

In mid March the band made their way up to Manchester to catch a flight to Baltimore, Maryland.

From Baltimore they were flown on a US Navy transport to the Thule base in the north of Greenland.

Thule is a US air base that is 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
For Rory the seriousness of the environment was immediatley evident.

He said: “Greenland was unreal. When we got there the first thing they gave us were survival suits to stop us frezzing to death.”

But the band could not have been made to feel more welcome.

“We couldn’t believe it, there was a guard of honour when we came off the plane it was amazing,” added Rory.

The band stayed in Greenland for two days where they played several sessions in a bar at the base and one formal gig in a theatre.

They also performed a meet and greet with personnel there.

There was a great deal of interest in the band from those stationed at Thule many of whom had not been off base for months.

The band soaked up and enjoyed the atmoshere.

“The atmosphere was great because they’re away from their folks and family for three months and there is nothing else to do. You can’t even go outside because it’s so cold,” said Rory.

It was a quite a change though for the band as they were flown from Greenland to Florida for the next legs of the tour.

In Florida the band were in for a surprise.

Having got used to military transports over the previous days they were given a
private plane for their Caribbean jaunt.

The jet was used to fly to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

This is the home to the notorious prison camp of the same name but it is also the home of a US naval base which was where the band played.

“Peoples reaction to Guantanmo Bay is what we all know about but we did all have a chat about it and we all have difficulties with what goes on there.

“There are arguments for and against the way it’s run.

“But it was clear that we wouldn’t be playing the detention centre.” said Rory.

Returning to Florida the boys found themselves with some time on their hands on St Patrick’s Day.

So they called the Irish bar that was nearest to their hotel and asked if they could comedown and play a session.

The owner agreed and the band arrived at a near empty pub.

By the end of the night though the place was packed as word spread about the band from Wales playing at the Irish bar in Florida.

“The manager came up to us at the end to give us money because it was the best night he had ever had. We only went along for the craic,” said Rory.

The band finished their tour with gigs in the Bahamas and then Honduras.
For all of them it was a trip to remember.

Rory said: “It was absolutely surreal the whole thing went by so fast we had a professional sound technician provided for us who had worked for the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Wonder who made us sound like megastars.”

See full story in the Free Press

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