INTERVIEW WITH TERENCE DAVID MULLIGAN AND RAY BLACKWELL FOR NOEL REDDING EXPERIENCE WEEKEND

tweety stuff @ronanfromcork

first published in @The Evening Echo 2015-05-8

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Terry David Mulligan, the British Columbia Association of Broadcasters ‘Broadcaster of the Year’ in 2012, found fresh impetus for an interview he did 45 years ago when he visited Clonakilty recently, “I hosted a TV series in 1968 in Vancouver, and interviewed The Jimi Hendrix Experience when they played their first ever gig here. I was young and nervous, I loved the ‘experience’ even if the tension did shorten my life. I found it amazing that the other two guys joined him in the conversation. They felt it was important to present a trio profile, even though they knew Jimi would take most of the questions.”

A few weeks ago, Terence had cause to revisit the interview, “our daughter Kate, who travels the world as a photojournalist, turned 30 in February and she said ‘let’s meet in Ireland’, we came over from Canada, met in Cork and immediately drove straight to Clonakilty. After Jimi died I lost track of Noel, this was long before the internet of course, which was why I was so taken with the ‘Noels Wall’ in De Barra’s. I took a long time to study it’s music history, Noel and his legacy. Noel wasn’t a guy who wanted the spotlight there were always much louder ‘look at me’ rock stars.”

Ray Blackwell, who runs De Barra’s in Clonakilty along with his father, carries on the story, “Noel and his partner Carol Appleby moved to West Cork in 1972, tired and downbeat from his professional disputes with the music industry, they agreed to drop a pin in the map of the world and relocate to wherever it landed. When he first arrived, he was recognised by a local musician Jimmy Hayes, who introduced him to the local social scene. It was a while yet before Noel went back playing music though, by the early 1980s my dad had moved to Clonakilty and re-opened De Barra’s. They got on well and soon Noel was playing in De Barra’s, his first shows were just inside the door in the snug on the left of the pubs entrance! As the years went on De Barra’s became his spiritual home with him playing a Friday night residency right up to his passing in 2003.”

Ray saw at first hand the love people had for Noel, “by the time I was a teenager I would be working in De Barra’s on Friday nights when Noel held his residency, people would travel from all over to see him. He was very gracious and attentive with them when they introduced themselves, he had great time for fans. Loads of people would come to visit Noel, a lot of these were people he befriended during his Experience days. A signed picture of David Bowie hangs in De Barra’s as evidence of one such visit. The signature and message inscribed is almost illegible, David and Noel were supposed to have been in very ‘good form’ when this was written and presented to my dad.”

Noel was welcomed to West Cork and is much missed as Ray continued, “it’s been said before that the beauty of Clonakilty is that ‘celebrity is acknowledged but never bowed to’, and that was what Noel probably needed when he first arrived, honest human relationships. That was a big part of his catharsis. Noel made a lot of pals here in West Cork, and now we have the Noel Redding festival, to acknowledge Noel for all he has done for the town.”

Ray talked through the main line up of the festival, “on Friday we have Jeff Ward, he moved to West Cork after reading Noel and Carol’s book ‘Are You Experienced?’, Jeff went on to record and play with Noel over the years that followed as well as with many other seminal musicians. Jeff will be joined by Noel Jones on bass and vocals, Christy Jones on drums, and throughout the festival we have special guests joining all the bands. Crow Black Chicken are one of the finest rock bands in the country gaining rave reviews from all over the world, and they will be headlining on Saturday night. Then on Sunday we’ll have the Noel Redding Tribute Band, many of Noel’s pals get together to remember the man through stories and song. John Fitzgerald and Les Samson form the core of a house band with a revolving cast of musicians and friends to remember the man and his amazing musical legacy which continues to thrive both here in West Cork and across the world!”

Terry David Mulligan reflected on Noel’s memory, “I think the festival is a beautiful way to keep his spirit and his fame alive… and what better way than through music.”

The Noel Redding Experience will be held in De Barras Friday 8 to Sunday 10 May. For further information go to http://www.debarra.ie

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