The Grehan Sisters

The Grehan Sisters

My brother has just sent me a cd by the Grehan Sisters.It’s the most unintentionally funny thing I’ve ever heard under the guise of ITM. Bombastic singing,wobbly harmonies.Their version of "The Black Velvet Band" has to be heard to be believed.Thre’s a song on there called "Victoria" which has to be heard to be believed.Does anyone know anything about them? Were they serious,or is it all just a joke? anyway,I can highly recommend the cd.It falls into the "so bad it’s good category".

Re: The Grehan Sisters

Classic stuff. The best banjo-mandolin and spoons duo ever to come out of Belfast.

Re: The Grehan Sisters

https://thesession.org/discussions/5807/comments#comment123800
http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/fcfansite/comp-cd-bestofirishfolk-esdcd768.htm (and I’d like to point out that that recording is called the BEST of Irish folk!)

and, from http://www.ceolas.org/pub/Claddagh/Dec :

"The Grehan Sisters were a traditional group from Boyle in County Roscommon, right at the start of the ballad boom. They had a pub in the town and it was in their pub that the great ballad singer John Reilly was discovered. Theyre a bit rough by modern standards, but its honest, traditional folk music."

Re: The Grehan Sisters

So they were serious? They actually listened to the playback in the studio and said,"that’s great,let’s put it on the album"?

Re: The Grehan Sisters

Got me on that one, ducks, I’ve never heard their recordings, myself! Then again, I’ve had that reaction the first time I listened to a, say Coleman recording (although that was mainly in re: the piano accompaniment!).

Re: The Grehan Sisters

No, they are no joke.

I must admit surprise at your response.

I used to have an acquaintance (friend of a friend) in North London called Tony Grehan who was their brother.

Once, myself and a couple of heads (Phil Nolan and Amos Burke) were coming back from the Sligo Fleadh on our way down to Knocknaboula, West Lim’k and Tarbert, North Kerry, when we found ourselves going through Boyle Co. Roscommon. Nolan allofasudden shouts out "Grehan’s Bar!" by which he meant we were going past his mate Tony’s, and the sister’s, mother’s bar. This old lady had kept the little bar going for god knows how many decades. So needless to say we rolled in. Old Mother Grehan was behind the bar, and so was the daughter, one of the fabled sisters.

Lovely people they were. We played a lovely session, had a really nice chat about all sorts of subjects, you name it. But what lasts in my memory was some of her solo singing of her own songs with her own guitar accompaniment. A lady of great soul and depth. I kid you not.

I have some Grehan sisters stuff on video somewhere, and it does come over as a female version of the Dubliners. But what the hell, I’d guess they were a great act to see live.

That’s my take on them.

Re: The Grehan Sisters

The cd is a tonic,guaranteed to banish the blues.God bless ‘em.

Re: The Grehan Sisters

Thanks Zina, for posting the link. So basically there’s a discrepancy between "Let’s find grehans bar!" and once found, "Grehan’s Bar!" - but you get the drift. I wish I’d seen them both together in concert - such energy. They were actually quite famous in Ireland for quite a while.

Re: The Grehan Sisters

If listening to stuff that’s sort of rough amuses you, Jocklet, you might try giving Dale Morris (the great Texas style fiddler) a call next time you’re in Texas in the States. Apparently he has a large collection of terrifically, horribly bad recordings, and he loves to play them, one after another, for people. πŸ™‚

My one claim to fame is that I once found a track bad enough to send to Dale, who told me that I’d made him happy for a week with it. Heh.

Re: The Grehan Sisters

Surely there’s videos and such of them somewhere, Danny? Bet you could find one *some*where…

Re: The Grehan Sisters

glad you’re coming round to them, Jocklet. Just think live performance.

Re: The Grehan Sisters

Zina - I know I’ve got something somewhere…could be one of them "The Pure Drop" yokes….

Re: The Grehan Sisters

I don’t know them,they’re probably very nice people,but when i put the cd in the player and the music came out of the speakers,I genuinely thought that it was a put on.Come to think of it though,I’ve heard worse singers in sessions.But you don’t put that stuff out on albums,do you? Anyway,the cd is now nestling between The Shaggs,Mrs Mills,William Shatner,Florence Foster Jenkins and the inimitable Eliert Pilarm,the worst Elvis imitator in the the universe.If you need cheering up you can hear him and a host of other gems here.
http://www.aprilwinchell.com/multimedia/

Re: The Grehan Sisters

Which track did you send to Dale Morris?

Re: The Grehan Sisters

Check your email! There’s no way I’m naming names out in public! *smirk*

Re: The Grehan Sisters

You can hear Jerry Springer attempting to sing "Mr; Tambourine Man" on April’s site.

Re: The Grehan Sisters

Come on Zina,be bold! Name the guilty men!

Re: The Grehan Sisters

Nope, David. No, no, no, get thee behind me, you Satan! No way. not going there, not happening. Go look at your e-mail, for god’s sake!

Re: The Grehan Sisters

Ok, I just checked my mail,and in deference to your wish,my lips will be sealed.

Re: The Grehan Sisters

It’s on it’s way (Norton is taking it’s usual time), so check in a few minutes. πŸ™‚ I truly hope you enjoy the thing as much as I have. Whenever I feel down, I just put that on, and nothing else feels like it’s quite so bad. (And yes, i realize that was a rather ambiguous sentence. πŸ™‚

Re: The Grehan Sisters

I’ve never heard the Grehan Sisters, but I certainly respect Pingu’s considered opinion of them. You name me any recording musician who hasn’t produced a track which on second thoughts he wished had ended up in the studio rubbish bin!

This sort of thing reminds me of a British amateur classical symphony orchestra called the RTO ("Really Terrible Orchestra", I kid you not) which consists of "players" who haven’t played for many years, or indeed if at all, and the only requirement for membership, it seems, is unmitigated enthusiasm for playing music. The "so bad it’s good" effect is evident with this orchestra, and by all accounts they pack ‘em in with their concerts (I’ve been told they even have a cd out).
Trevor

Re: The Grehan Sisters

Quite touching stuff Trevor. I’ve been to many an RTS (as in Session), but had fun nonetheless. I suppose you have to experience the RTO to appreciate the Berlin Philharmonic, or the RTS to appreciate Seamus Connolly, Mick Mulvey, etc.

Re: The Grehan Sisters

So Zeens, I’m guessing you’re talking about a certain ren faire track?

Posted .

Re: The Grehan Sisters

The world is waiting with bated breath.
Trevor

Re: The Grehan Sisters

That’s the one, Will. πŸ™‚

Re: The Grehan Sisters

Jim, alas, not knowingly.
Trevor

Re: The Grehan Sisters

I don’t think Jocklet understands Irish music very well. The recording he refers to was made in the late sixties before there was any sophisticated Irish music. The Grehan Sisters were well known and well respected at that time. Do his remarks refer also to the tin whistle player? Has he heard of a group called the Johnstons?

Re: The Grehan Sisters

I am perfectly familiar with Irish music,thank you very much.My gradfather was half Irish,half Scottish ,and played the whiste.My mother played the accordian and the pipes.I was raised on traditionaI music.I do remember the Johnstons,Mick Moloney and Paul Brady were members of the group.Their repetoire was mainly contemporary,they recorded songs by Leonard Cohen,Tom Rush,Gordon Lightfoot and Joni Mitchell,but they did record a lot of traditional songs.They had a number one hit in Ireland with "The Travelling People",and they had some succes with Joni Mitchell’s "The Circle Game". I’d never heard of The Grehen Sisters,and I’m not surprised.My brother sent me the cd because every time he played it for someone they cracked up laughing,and I’ve had the same result. I just wondered if the whole thing was an elaborate joke. Sweeney’s Men,Sean O’ Riarda and The Johnstons were recording in the Sixties.The Dubliners sounded professional. The Ian Campbell group were doing a more than competent job in the north of England,the Yetties down in Dorset,The Watersons.I saw a lot of these people live in the Sixties,and the Grehan Sisters were not in the same league.Taglione,I defy you to listen to their version of "The Black Velvet Band" without laughing.Is there anything else you want to know?

Re: The Grehan Sisters

P.S. I make no comment about the tin whistle player.It’s the godawful singing which reduces me (and others) to tears of laughter.

Re: The Grehan Sisters

…mustn’t laugh…mustn’t cry…oh lord…! Richard, that is HILARIOUS! I wonder if Dale Morris has that one?

Re: The Grehan Sisters

Brian Eno used to sit in with the Portsmouth Synfonia.If you turned up with and instrument you could join in.I used to have a single by them,the William Tell Overture.Priceless.

Re: The Grehan Sisters

Brian Eno gives a rather interesting definition of folk music in one of the other articles, too, while the writer is building a case for the Portsmouth Synfonia being the impetus for punk music: "He has likened it to folk music, where "variety is achieved not by people trying to do something different from one another, but by accidentally doing something different; this sense of a limitation being turned into a strength"."

http://www.portsmouthsinfonia.com/media/sundaytimes.html

Re: The Grehan Sisters

Jocklet - if you’re ever around in the North West of Ireland, do look up the Grehan sisters. You’ll find them (well, one of them I can vouch for!) great company and if you can persuade a song out of them cherish the memory. I heard a while back the old lady had died so the pub was sold on. I believe at least one of the sisters is still resident in Boyle. Tony and the other brother are still resident in Harlesden NW London. If you value your life, please don’t make your views on the CD known to them. They are as hard as nails, I kid you not. Tony is particularly dangerous.

Re: The Grehan Sisters

On the Portsmouth Sinfonia, John Farley was in student digs in the late 60’s in my parent’s house. I have a recollection of him arriving by motorbike to take up residence, and losing a cardboard box containing his clothes from the back of his bike, and these were never replaced. Eventually he moved into a genuine gypsy caravan which he placed conveniently outside the art college where he was studying - and he just lived in it for ages, no-one moved him on (those were free-and-easy days). It was after this that he acquired a tail-coat and a baton together with world renown!

Re: The Grehan Sisters

Dudes, what is all the pseudo intellectual analysis of the Grehan Sisters? They have survived 4 decades and still are on many a collection of "THe best of…." . People cant be all wrong all the time. Many of the virtous of the day, not even their girlfriends (or boyfriends): remember. I am a great fan of the sisters, I think they portray a truly Irish spirit that goes deeper than a musical interpretation. Does anybody know where you can get a CD exclusively of the Grehan SIsters ( I only have bits and pieces on Irish collections) ? take care guys and feel more and analize less

Re: The Grehan Sisters

Early on in this threasd Daffyd said that he had a CD of the Grehan sisters. If that is so, can he please pass on details of the CD so that I (and longlivethegreen) can obtain a copy?

I too have only got selected tracks on CDs that are ‘The Best Of’ type of compilation.

Did someone mention that there was a video available too?

I have been searching for ages to find out more about the ‘sisters’, sorry Daffyd but I find their music refreshingly enjoyable.

Posted by .

Re: The Grehan Sisters

Well, I have to join the minority. Coming from the backwoods of West (By Ghod) Virginia, I am used to hearing untutored unpolished voices singing folk and blues music, and actually prefer it. I like the "Best of…." CD that included some of the Grehan’s music, and also have been searching for years for anything else by them, and no, I do not think it is a put-on, nor do I laugh at them. I too am in a folk band, and we all get a huge kick out of their singing for it’s heart, and honesty. I actually had an image in my head of a couple of young, kinda earthy, sexy hill country girls when I first heard them. Funny how one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and for so many different reasons. I just wish I had a picture of them..or…maybe I don’t, it might destroy my mental image.

Re: The Grehan Sisters

jocklet. Black Velvet Band -you thought it was so bad it was funny ? When you take three innocent female voices singing that song with the dark lyrics-it has a comic effect-the staging of it-right ? Maybe that’s what you ment. The other songs the girls have recorded are very fresh and skilled considering -no bells or whistles-nothing. I would have loved to listen to them live over a few pints. I am Jockmutt, not Jocklet who originally wrote that comment concerning "funny".

Posted by .

Re: The Grehan Sisters

? Damn you must have been bored to go dig this old thread up!

Posted by .

Re: The Grehan Sisters

Met the sisters many times when they toured the folk club scene in Lancashire including our own folk club in Burnley and Clitheroe and have fond memories. They were no joke! A highly entertaining group, humorous and raucous and simply good fun to be around. Brilliant evenings and the crack was always good. Pity there aren’t more like them. Remember one song in particular - "Dance with me now and I’ll teach you to waltz". Whatever happened to them?

Re: The Grehan Sisters

Now I think about it the song was called TEACHING MCFADDEN TO WALTZ

Re: The Grehan Sisters

Just to revive this very old thread…

I’ve recently done a bit of sleuthing with regard to the Grehan Sisters and used everything I found to construct a wikipedia page, thus:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grehan_Sisters

Hopefully this brings together answers to questions posed earlier in the thread, starting 15 years ago…

Best - Tony