☀ Modern Blues ☀

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  2. Welcome to the Modern Blues page.

    This Page contains some background to the creation of the album, a round-up of various CD pressings, promos, tour merchandise and memorabilia relating to the Modern Blues album and tour.

    Thank you to Mike, Ralph Salmins, Niall Reddy, Kevin O’Reilly, Margaret Perry, Mike Mixter, Takako Saito, Gill & Stephen Charlton and Willem Aalten for contributing items to this web page.

    * If you happen to have a piece of Modern Blues memorabilia that is not shown here, please send a photo on and it shall be added. *

    This Page is split into several sections for quick and easy access.

    * Click on the heading title below to go to that section * .....

    Album Origins

    A brief overview on the album's creation.

    The Songs

    When the songs were written.

    Recording The Album - Mike's Studio Diary

    Details about recording the album.

    Album Cover Art

    The striking album sleeve origin.

    Dublin Album Launch - Gaiety Busk

    Mike and Steve at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin. - January 16th 2015. A report.

    Live Debuts

    First live performances of the Modern Blues songs. Were you there?

    Modern Blues World Tour

    An overview of the extensive World Tour.

    Ralph Salmins

    An interview with Ralph *COMING SOON.


    Modern Blues and related vinyl releases.

    Modern Blues CD Albums

    Here you will find the original release and promo CDs.

    Promo CD Singles

    Promo CD single releases.

    Memorabilia - Merchandise

    A selection of Modern Blues merchandise and memorabilia.

    Album Origins

    Mike began writing and composing several of the songs at the beginning of 2008, with the exception of one song which was begun in 2002 and finished in 2011. These included a number of collaborations with James Maddock. Some home demos were recorded and the album was put on hold.

    Instead he focused on the huge An Appointment With Mr Yeats project, having to choose the songs, assemble a group of first-class musicians and plan out the Abbey shows. Then having to embark on the resulting tour and the recording of the double album and subsequent dates, after that, he followed on with the Spiddal 2012 shows in aid of The Strange Boat Foundation.

    The autobiography Adventures Of A Waterboy was also released in 2012 and he undertook a book tour of readings and performances (many with Steve Wickham).

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  4. He was also working on and compiling the incredible Fisherman's Box 6CD set and preparing for the resulting Fisherman's Blues Revisited tour in November and December 2013.

    That whole period combining the many different projects outlined above, spanned around five years.

    By the time Mike turned his full attention to what would become the Modern Blues album in 2013, he had written a few more songs and now that he had a full arsenal of material, the time was ripe for this new adventure.

    The Songs

    The songs were composed in these periods:.

    1. 01. Destinies Entwined was begun in 2002, then lost for nine years, but found & finished in 2011.

    2. 02. November Tale was written in 2008. Also recorded and released by James Maddock.

    3. 03. Still a Freak was written in 2013.

    4. 04. I Can See Elvis was written in 2013.

    5. 05. The Girl Who Slept For Scotland was written in 2013.

    6. 06. Rosalind (You Married The Wrong Guy) was written in 2008.

    7. 07. Beautiful Now was written in 2008. Recorded by James Maddock with his tune.

    8. 08. Nearest Thing To Hip was written in 2008.

    9. 09. Long Strange Golden Road was written in 2008.

    Recording The Album

    The initial project began in February 2014, with Mike hooking up with Brother Paul Brown and Jay Barclay for some upfront rehearsals in Nashville. The band rehearsed pre-recording at SIR [Studio Instrument Rentals & Rehearsal Studio Company].

    The main recordings took place throughout March and April in the Sound Emporium, Nashville. Addtional recordings took place at Ocean Soul Studios and The House Of Blues Studios in Nashville and back in Puck Towers in Dublin.

    ☄ Mike's Studio Diary 2014 ☄

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  6. Mike: 'Our album Modern Blues was the first to feature Brother Paul and was recorded in the city where he lives, Nashville.

    I wanted to capture a tough southern rock sound, and travelled there in February 2014 to work on the song arrangements with Paul and guitarist Jay Barclay'.

    'Then I went home to Dublin and returned to Nashville a month later to make the record'.

    'The diary picks up on the rehearsal'.

    ☄ Studio Diary Extracts: ☄

    Monday March 3: Rehearsal at SIR ("Studio Instrument Rentals", musical instrument hire and rehearsal studio company). Musicians: Mike, Ralph, Brother Paul, David Hood.

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  8. This is our first meeting with David, a member of the legendary Muscle Shoal rhythm section, "The Swampers". Lisa [Lisa Best: tour Manager] knows him and has secured his services for us. He's a sweetheart, easy to work with, an instant friend, and he plays incredibly great bass.

    The rehearsal room has lots of space. We play at one end, set-up all close to each other the way we like, and run through all the songs to be recorded.

    Tuesday March 4: Rehearsal at SIR. Joined at rehearsal today by a 5th member, Jay Barclay (lead guitarist from 2013 US Waterboys tour, who has just moved to Nashville).

    Thursday March 6: First day at the studio, Sound Emporium, studio A. Big recording space with two glass-fronted drum booths. Bro Paul sets up his lava lamp on the Hammond Organ. Recording Destinies Entwined. We're playing all at the same time, vocals included, catching performances with spirit as in the days of Fisherman's Blues. Musicians: Mike, Ralph, Paul, David, Jay.

    Friday March 7: Recording Rosalind and Beautiful Now. Same line-up as March 6.

    Saturday March 8: Recording The Girl Who Slept For Scotland & I Can See Elvis. Musicians: Mike, Ralph, Paul, David.

    Sunday March 9: Recording November Tale & Long Strange Golden Road. Musicians: Mike, Ralph, Paul, David and new cat, Zach Ernst from Austin, recommended by Lisa, playing lead guitar. He's great, and plays one of the sweetest licks I've ever heard at the end of the last verse of November Tale.

    Monday March 10: Still A Freak & Destinies Entwined (re-recording). Musicians: Mike, Ralph, David, Paul, Jay, Steve Wickham (just arrived from Dublin).

    Wednesday March 12: Fiddle overdubs (Destinies Entwined & The Girl Who Slept For Scotland), Bro Paul organ overdubs (Still A Freak).

    Thursday March 13: Jay lead guitar overdubs (I Can See Elvis, The Girl Who Slept For Scotland). He plays the same killer solo on Elvis that he played every night on the autumn 2013 American tour.

    Friday March 14: Phil Madeira slide guitar overdubs (The Girl Who Slept, Long Strange Golden Road), [note: Phil's playing on second song won't be included on the final record]. I discovered Phil through his work on Freddie Stevenson's second album. He plays beautifully and it's a lovely, easy session.

    Saturday March 15: Beautiful Now (re-recording with Me, Paul, David and drummer Greg Morrow because I'm not satisfied with the first version we did. Greg, the top session drummer in Nashville, comes in because Ralph has already gone home) / I Can See Elvis (drum overdubs by Greg on the already-recorded version) / November Tale (bass overdub, lead vocal).

    Mike: 'I returned to Nashville for further overdubs in Sound Emporium studio B a few weeks later, and again in May for mixing'.

    *Studio Diary extracts are from a post on The Waterboys Patreon Page

    The album was initially mixed at House Of Blues Studios but this mix was shelved. The album was sent to Bob Clearmountain [Stones, Springsteen, Robbie Robertson etc.] who remixed it all. Mike had an apartment in New York at the time so it was easy for him to go back and forth and listen to album playbacks.

    The completed album was released in Ireland on January 16th 2015 and then it received a worldwide release on January 19th.

    Album Cover Art

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  10. The striking King Of Weeds imagery used for the album artwork is by Nicholas Kahn and Peter Selesnick and dates from 2012.

    Mike saw the image on Tumblr and thought it would be perfect for for the album sleeve.

    He contacted the New York based duo, who work primarily in the fields of photography and installation art, and they were delighted for it to be used.

    Dublin Album Launch - Gaiety Busk

    On the morning of the Irish release of Modern Blues on January 16th 2015, Mike & Steve made an appearance outside the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin. We were treated to four full takes of Still A Freak, which was being filmed for Irish TV. [The Works with John Kelly].

    Between takes we got some extended jams, which included a blast of Jumpin' Jack Flash and some good banter. A host of photographers and camera crew were present and a gathering of happy onlookers, which included Liam Ó Maonlaí. All in all, it was a brilliant performance.

    They Rocked!

    You can view the final take here:

    The Waterboys: Still A Freak - Final Take - Gaiety Theatre, Dublin - January 16th 2015.
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  12. ☄ Trio at the Gaiety Theatre ☄

    Mike, Steve and old friend Liam Ó Maonlaí outside the Gaiety Theatre, South King St, Dublin on January 16th 2015. Photo: Niall Reddy.

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  14. Live Debuts

    Some of the Modern Blues songs were premiered live as far back as 2008. Laid out below is a chronological listing of the first, full band & acoustic, public performance of each of the songs.

    1. A Wild Holy Band/LSGR (Full Band) - Skiipagurra Festival, Tana, Lapland, Norway - 05 July 2008.
    2. Nearest Thing To Hip (Full Band) - Bospop Festival, Weert, Netherlands - 11 July 2008.

    3. November Tale (Acoustic) - Tuesday's Child, Vicar St, Dublin - 06 Feb 2009.

    4. Nearest Thing To Hip (Acoustic) - Tuesday's Child, Vicar St, Dublin - 06 Feb 2009.

    5. A Wild Holy Band (Acoustic) The Glór, Ennis, County Clare - 09 May 2009.

    6. Still a Freak (Full Band) - Bluesfest, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada - 12 july 2013.
    7. I Can See Elvis (Full Band) - Bluesfest, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada - 12 july 2013.

    8. Still a Freak (Acoustic) - Gig for Hughie, Whelans, Dublin - 13 April 2014.
    9. I Can See Elvis (Acoustic) - Gig for Hughie, Whelans, Dublin - 13 April 2014.

    10. Destinies Entwined - Big Top, Limerick - 03 December 2014.

    11. November Tale (Full Band) - Big Top, Limerick - 03 December 2014.

    12. Rosalind (You Married The Wrong Guy) - Big Top, Limerick - 03 December 2014.

    13. The Girl Who Slept For Scotland - Warwick Arts Centre, Warwick, Coventry - 02 February 2015.
    14. Beautiful Now - Warwick Arts Centre, Warwick, Coventry - 02 February 2015.

    Modern Blues World Tour

    The Modern Blues World Tour was one of the most extensive and longest in the Waterboys touring history.

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  16. The tour kicked off in Limerick in early December 2014, with David Hood and Zach Ernst both playing their debut shows as Waterboys. Some of the new songs from the yet-to-be-released album recieved their first public performance in Limerick.

    A two-night-stand in the Paradiso, Amsterdam, followed.

    In February 2015, the final two songs from the album were debuted in Warwick at the first of three UK / Germany shows.

    In late March, early April the band played shows in Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

    Later in April, the band headed off on a six-week tour of the USA and Canada, playing 27 shows including a wonderful show at First Avenue, Minneapolis which was professionally filmed. This concert remains Mike's favourite Modern Blues show.

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  18. The band also made an appearance on the Dave Letterman show performing The Girl Who Slept For Scotland to a TV audience of around 3 million.

    After returning from the USA at the end of May, the summer months were spent playing festivals and shows around Europe including a fabulous performance at the Glastonbury Festival on the Pyramid Stage, which was also filmed by the BBC.

    September / October saw the band head out for a month long jaunt around Europe, with shows in Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

    Late October, early November saw the commencement of a 12-date Irish tour, culminating with a four-night stand in Vicar St, Dublin.

    ☄ Modern Blues UK Tour - Press Promotion ☄

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  20. Full page press promotion for the final Modern Blues tour dates in the UK through November and early December 2015.

    This advert appeared in all of the mainstream music magazines of the day.

    Beginning on November 9th, the final leg of the tour was a 22-show run around Scotland, Wales and England with the final show taking place in the Hammersmith Apollo on December 6th.

    The last song at that final show in the Apollo was a specially written song titled: Me and David Hood.

    Including the three December 2014 shows, the band played 107 concerts across fifteen countries and four continents on the Modern Blues World Tour.

    ☄ The Band play Victoria B.C. 2015 ☄

    A photo collage from the show in Victoria B.C. on May 20th 2015. Thank you Kevin.

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  22. Ralph Salmins

    An Interview with Ralph *COMING SOON!

    James: Text Here...

    Ralph: 'Text Here...'

    Vinyl Releases

    ☄ Original Release ☄

    Modern Blues was released on January 16th 2015 in Ireland with a January 19th release date elsewhere. The double vinyl comes with a lyric sheet and download card and the album cover art features 'King Of Weeds' by Kahn & Selesnick.

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  26. ☄ Puck's Blues 10-Inch EP ☄

    A Record Store Day issue of 1000 copies, Puck's Blues was released on April 18th 2015 worldwide. It has very striking artwork with the cover perforated by circular holes. The 10-inch vinyl, the first-ever official release in this format, comes housed in an inner sleeve and with a download card. It contains four fabulous home demos of Modern Blues songs: November Tale, I Can See Elvis, The Girl Who Slept For Scotland and Destinies Entwined. An essential acquisition!

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    Modern Blues CD Albums

    ☄ Original Release ☄

    Modern Blues was released on January 16th 2015 in Ireland with a January 19th release date elsewhere. The album cover art features 'Weed Man', it comes in a gatefold sleeve with a lyric booklet.

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  30. ☄ Promo CD Album ☄

    A UK / Europe watermarked promo CD.

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  32. ☄ Japan ☄

    The Japanese CD of Modern Blues with Lyric booklet and OBI strip. This must-have expanded edition contains two extra songs, the fantastic Louie's Dead Body (Is Lying Right There) and Colonel Parker's Ascent Into Heaven.

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  35. Promo CDs:

    ☄ A Wild Holy Band (Acoustic Demo) - July 2009 ☄

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  37. The Believer magazine comes with a free CD which contains a quite wonderful demo (which lasts for 10 minutes and 10 seconds) of 'A Wild Holy Band' (an acoustic demo of 'Long Strange Golden Road') that is exclusive to this release.

    This song only appears on the Modern Blues vinyl album as an extra track on side 4. It is unavailable elsewhere.

    Mike writes within: 'I wrote this song in my bedroom in Scotland at six in the morning, just up, in a songwriting mood, trawling through old notebooks and journals from the late 1990s looking for any ideas that might be lying there forgotten. To my surprise, I found the first verse intact on the page of a journal. I must have written it some years before, and had only the dimmest memory of it. The verse suggested more words, a lyrical theme, and in my head I heard a tune. The song followed'.

    This USA publication is quite difficult to find but it is well worth seeking out.

    ☄ November Tale ☄

    One-track promo CD of November Tale (radio edit) in a wraparound sleeve.

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  39. ☄ The Girl Who Slept For Scotland ☄

    One-track promo CD of The Girl Who Slept For Scotland (Single Edit) in a plain wraparound sleeve.

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  41. ☄ Beautiful Now - UK ☄

    A UK one-track promo CD of Beautiful Now in a wraparound sleeve.

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  43. ☄ Beautiful Now - USA ☄

    A USA one-track promo CD of Beautiful Now in a jewel case. Thank you Margaret.

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  47. Memorabilia & Merchandise

    ☄ Tuesday's Child Poster - Vicar St, Dublin - 2009 ☄

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  49. The 'Tuesday's Child' Registered Charity held two special benefit shows for the Children in Gaza, in Vicar St, Dublin on February 6th & 7th 2009.

    The Waterboys played on the 6th with a four-song set.

    Mike gave us acoustic debuts of November Tale and Nearest Thing To Hip.

    ☄ Tuesday's Child T-Shirt- Vicar St, Dublin - 2009 ☄

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  51. ☄ Gig for Hughie - Whelans, Dublin - 2014 ☄

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  53. A venue poster for a special benefit gig for the late Hughie Purcel in Whelans, Dublin on April 13th 2014.

    Mike and Steve played about a 40-minute set and treated us to two acoustic live debuts: Still A Freak and I Can See Elvis.

    ☄ Big Top - Limerick - 2014 ☄

    Venue poster and setlist for the first Modern Blues show in Limerick on December 3rd 2014. Six songs that would later appear on Modern Blues were played and we were treated to two live debuts: Destinies Entwined and Rosalind (You Married the Wrong Guy).

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  56. ☄ Modern Blues Tour - Tokyo - April 2015 ☄

    A Modern Blues Tour mini-poster from Shibuya, Tokyo in April 2015.

    Thank you Takako.

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  58. ☄ Tokyo - Ticket & Aftershow Pass ☄

    A Ticket and Aftershow Pass from the show in Tokyo, Japan in April 2015. Thank you Takako.

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  60. ☄ Modern Blues USA and Canada Tour 2015 ☄

    A Modern Blues Tour Tee from the US and Canada tour in the spring of 2015.

    Thank you Kevin.

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  62. ☄ Los Angeles, California Poster - May 2015 ☄

    Poster from the Fonda Theatre where Medicine Bow was played for the first time on the Modern Blues Tour and uniquely, for the first time with Mike on the piano.

    Thank you Mike Mixter.

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  64. ☄ White Ladies T-Shirt ☄

    A lovely white Modern Blues Ladies t-shirt.

    Thank you Gill & Stephen.

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  66. ☄ Blue T-Shirt ☄

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  68. A blue Modern Blues t-shirt with a great front print.

    Thank you Gill & Stephen.

    ☄ Hoodie 2015 ☄

    A Waterboys zip Hoodie with logo available at some of the Modern Blues shows.

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  70. ☄ Four-Night Stand - Vicar St - 2015 ☄

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  72. A venue poster for the four-night stand in Vicar St, Dublin in November 2015.

    Zach's Dad was in the audience for the first show and Mike treated us to a live debut of a song written about him called Mudslide. This was the only public performance to date.

    ☄ Modern Blues T-Shirts Back Prints ☄

    Two T-shirts, one with dates from the European Autumn Tour and the other with the Waves Logo. Thank you Willem.

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  74. ☄ Tour Flyer For Final Dates ☄

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  76. A UK tour flyer for the final dates of the Modern Blues Tour.

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