August Wells live @ Pine Lodge, Myrtleville, Cork 13 Feb 2016

The Pine Lodge in Myrtleville is a venue unlike any other in Cork; It is located no more than a couple of hundred yards from the sea, high up on the rocks overlooking one of Cork’s busiest beaches. On a stormy February evening, the sea can be heard crashing against the rocks while the mist and fog obscure what is usually Cork music’s most scenic view. The venue itself is a cosy, intimate setting which holds a little more than 30 people.

 I’ve been hearing great things about Damsel for a number of weeks now, His full band show last week at the Quarter Block Party I am reliably informed, was excellent. Tonight though Damsel aka Luke O’Neill is performing solo armed only with a very beautiful looking electric guitar. A short, but sweet 7 song performance set the tone for the evening.

Four weeks ago Damsel released his debut EP ‘Boy On The Rocks’ which is a fitting title for tonight’s venue, And from this EP he played ‘A Break From Breaking Things’, ‘Through The Fells’ and ‘Rubber Knives And Socialites’ which was accompanied by a comical story about Damsel’s band being discovered at a talent by his school’s Caretaker. 

Dubliner Brain Mooney took over from Damsel and put his own unique spin on things with his brand of carefully crafted songs laced with humour.  The chorus of the excellent ‘Luckiest Man Alive’ catches the crowd on the hop and has the place in stitches when they hear the lyric ‘That mother fucker always wins’ softly sang.  The former Idiots frontman was trying some new material tonight and for me, a song called ‘Alarms’ was the pick of the bunch.

Little time passes between the end of Mooney’s set and the arrival of the main attraction, August Wells. Based in New York, August Wells consist of Dubliner Ken Griffin on vocals/guitar and New Yorker,John Rauchenberger on keys. Released on Cork’s FIFA records, their debut album ‘A Living And A Dying Game’ is doing the rounds for nearly 6 months now and has been well received. A string of sold out gigs and a lot of radio airtime both highlight that 2015 was a great year for August Wells.

Their mellow sound is ideally suited to tonight’s surroundings but sadly it does also mean that noise from the adjacent pool room causes a few issues with the sound. This was an issue all evening but lead singer Ken is the first to address it; to be honest it does seem like an oversight on the bar’s part.

Thankfully it is only a temporary hiccup and the show continues. Soon after an impromptu rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ for keyboard player John gets the crowd involved and the show is firmly back on the road, A seasoned old pro move from Ken Griffin who has been round the block, as they say.

Griffin’s past bands include Favourite Sons and the excellent Rollerskate Skinny and it would be fair to say he brings his same distinctive vocals to August Wells.  Radio favourites ‘A little Too Real’, ‘Here In The Wild’ and ‘Come In Out Of That Night’ all sound amazing at such close quarters but for me the highlight was a toss-up between the beautiful ‘When You Pick A Flower It Dies’ and ‘Broken Little Dreams’.

Words by Anthony Kelly