The Blue Light Smugglers
O'Connells Front Bar
Friday August 11th at 9.30pm - FREE
The Blue Light Smugglers are a country/bluegrass/gospel/blues group that started as the resident Monday night band for the Blue Light Pub in the Dublin Mountains. The band began playing in the pub on Mondays – partly because the gig was originally to facilitate other jamming musicians around Dublin. (Monday nights usually being free for musicians.)
The idea was to play acoustic music without amplification – a common enough feature of traditional music, but rare for folk or other genres. This was music as it was played in small family and extended family groups before recordings became prevalent.
A small room with a low ceiling in the Blue Light provided such an opportunity and the band have been playing there every Monday night since 2015. Unfortunately, the pandemic put an end to such intimacy.
The pub – The Blue Light – was associated with smuggling in previous times. A blue light would be shone from up the mountain to let boats in Dublin Bay know that the Customs and Excise officials weren’t on duty. A shebeen grew up to service the men providing this ‘service’ which later became the ‘Blue Light’.
So the name ‘the Blue Light Smugglers’ was a pretty obvious one.
Since the band had for years simply played to reproduce the feeling of music before recording, then when they came to do a recording, it had to be a ‘Record’. They released their debut album ‘Record’ in June, 2019. The album contains 10 original tracks and one cover – Tom T.Hall’s ‘That’s how I got to Memphis’ – a song that fits the theme of the album, love and loss.
The band consist of three members:
Niall Hughes – Double bass, lead guitar, vocals
Terence Cosgrave – Lead vocals, harmonica, guitar
Luke Coffey – banjo, fiddle, vocals
Probably the biggest influence on the group is Gram Parsons – the genre-busting hero of American country rock.
“We don’t believe in simple labels. We’re musicians working in the folk idiom, but folk for us encompasses every bit of popular music in the last 100 years, but not necessarily anything done in the last 40 – folk, jazz, blues, country, bluegrass – we do all those things and are proud of it. Gram’s great contribution to music was to break down genre barriers and doing so he created ‘country rock’ – a new thing completely. We try to follow that by doing whatever sounds good, not worrying about if it fits into someone else’s definition.
“We are singing songs that are popular with Irish people and writing new original songs, and yet people say to us sometimes ‘Sing an Irish song’. Our response is that all our songs are Irish!
“For us, folk music is about breaking down the barriers between the musicians and the audience. It’s about acoustic instruments – preferably without amplification. It’s about small groups of people enjoying music and feeling the instruments and voices in their ears and through their bodies. No instrument reproduced through a speaker can beat that.
The Blue Light Smugglers are currently recording their second album – a collection of their live favourites - and expect to release it in the Summer of 2023.