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The Coach & Horses, 391 Leyton High Rd. E10 5NA
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 Blues Jam Profiles
Oisin Clancy
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Oisin Clancy
Harp-player
Are you local?

No: from Leigh-on-Sea.

Where are you from, originally?

A little village called Blackwatertown in Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland.

What's your tipple?

There's a special Tonic Wine called Buckfast which was very popular when we were teenagers. I'd forgotten about it for years until I went back to Ireland for a few days recently and found it was being served along with the spirits on the optics in most bars. A cheeky little number in which, if you look hard enough in the dregs of the bottle, you will find the toenails of the monks who make it. An acquired taste. It's also called "wreck the house" which I think speaks volumes.

I'm not a big drinker...more of a smoker.

What's your earliest memory?

My mum screaming when a rat jumped out of an old piano we used to have. She had heard some noises inside and when she opened the lid, out came the rat. I think I was about 3 or 4 years old. I'd been banging away at the keys so I guess he didn't like the song I was playing.

What was the first record you ever bought with your own money?

"Games Without Frontiers" by Peter Gabriel, in 1980. I remember nearly bursting with anticipation to get home and play it.

...and do you still have it?

No. God knows where it went to. I still love that song though.

Any hobbies/interests?

Apart from playing harp, I recently discovered the joys of pastel drawing after buying the missus a pastel set for Christmas. I never realised how relaxing it is.

Do you remember the very first gig you went to? What was it like?

It was at Queens University in Belfast, at the Nelson Mandela Hall: I saw Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers and it was the nuts! One of the best gigs I've been to.

Worst job you've ever had?

Picking Brussels sprouts in the dead of winter, on my own, on a hill, in Ireland ...and it was snowing. I remember thinking that any job that I got after that would be paradise, and when any jobs gets me down now I just think back to that day. I think I left a testicle behind in that field.

What's your claim to fame (not necessarily musical)?

I know Ian Carvell - in fact I've actually touched him.

If you could invite 6 people (past, present or fictional) to dinner, who would you choose?
Been playing/performing long?

I got a harmonica and an instruction book from a friend about 15 years ago and was able to play "Oh Susanna" after about 10 years practice. My missus told me to either get lessons or stop playing, so I looked on the web for teachers and was pointed in the direction of Adam Norton from Bad Town Blues. I thought I was quite good until Adam played for 5 seconds. After 18 months he suggested I go to the Blues Jam, ask for Reg and things took off from there.

So I've only really been playing properly for about 5 or 6 years.

Been in any bands?

When I was 16 I was in a punk band called the Plastic Spastics for about 2 days. We split up due to the fact that none of us could play or owned a musical instrument. But we could have been massive. I think the name wouldn't go down too well these days.

What first got you interested in the Blues?

Probably the Blues Brothers to start with, and then listening to a Chess Masters double album of Sonny Boy Williamson. It's only in the last 5 or 6 years that I've started to listen to the Blues seriously so it's all still a bit new to me. I have to confess that 80% of the songs you guys play I've never heard before and just improvise.

What other types of music do you like to listen to/play?

I really do love all music. From Ethiopian Jazz to full blown "diddily" Irish traditional to punk etc. The only thing I draw a line at is that cookie monster voice heavy metal ...oh and anything that spills from the sick mind of Simon Cowell. I love playing blues and funk style music on the harp.

Favourite Blues artists?

Walter Trout, Jason Ricci, Muddy Waters - and I do love to listen to our own Mr Stevie King when he lets loose on a solo. And Son Henry was excellent when he came along to the jam.

Favourite artists (any other genre) ?

Dead Kennedys, Stiff Little Fingers, The Undertones.

Ever been lucky enough to meet or share a stage with one of your musical heroes?

Oh Yes... I've shared the stage with Ian Carvell several times now. What a right royal privilege that is.

Favourite instruments and/or equipment?

A customised harmonica by Richard Sleigh (Approx £300 - no, I don't own one!)

Hohner Special 20 harmonicas. My favourite harmonica to play (yes I do own several of these!)

A Shure vintage Controlled Magnetic bullet mic from the 50s (don't own one of these yet).

A vintage 57 Fender Bassman 4 x 10 combo and a little man to carry it for me. (don't own one of these either).

My little Budgie-cage Hacker amp:

Oisin's 5W Hacker Amplifier

This was a valve extension speaker for an old record player. It's only about 5 watts but it has lovely tone.

If you had to sum up your relationship with the Blues using just one word, what would it be?

Messy.

Who would you pick (past or present) for your dream band?

I was going to say The WHO but then that would be The WHO and I think me and Pete Townsend might clash over the use of harp in every song. So after a little thought I'd have Mick Grundy on drums, our own Ken on bass, Stevie King spanking the plank and Ian Carvell on vocals.

Most embarrassing moment?

Getting caught sunk to the nuts in my girlfriend by my Dad when I was 17.

Proudest moment!

See above.

What do you most enjoy about the Blues Jam?

Where do you start... Very well run, lovely people, unbelievable musicians, very supportive band mates and most of all brilliant music!

If you could travel back in time to be present at one moment/event in musical history, what would it be?

I've recently been reading Keith Richards's autobiography and in it he describes a jazz festival in 1961 which the BBC were filming live, which had to be postponed due to fighting between Trad Jazz and Modern Jazz fans who were rowing over the use of electric instruments. I would have liked to have seen that.

Who would they cast to play you in the movie of your life?

Eric Bristow. Apparently I look like him.

Marmite: - Yes or No?

Hell No!!! It's the devils own dingleberries, liquidised and placed in a jar.

If you were invited on "Desert Island Discs", which 8 records would you choose?
  1. Baba O'Reilly (Live version) - The WHO
  2. Don't Burst My Bubble - The Small Faces
  3. When You're Young - The Jam
  4. Kill The Poor - Dead Kennedys
  5. Suspect Device - Stiff Little Fingers
  6. Going Down - Walter Trout
  7. Unlucky In Love - Satan and Adam
  8. UFOrb - The Orb
...and what would be your luxury item?

An inflatable lady and puncture repair kit.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Never ever let your brother give you a tattoo.

Go on - tell us a secret!

I have to confess that about 80% of the songs you guys play I've never heard before and just improvise.