Twenty years down the road and The Ruby Sessions at Doyle’s Pub in College Street in Dublin is still packing them in every Tuesday night. With a format that sees four acts play short sets, the hallowed stage upstairs in Doyle’s has featured many acts that became household names after cutting their teeth at The Ruby Sessions. Mumford & Sons, Glen Hansard, Ed Sheehan, Wallis Bird, James Blunt, The Corrs and Hozier are but a few that performed acoustic sets at the venue. The fact that admission is a mere €7, all of which is donated to The Simon Community to aid the homeless in Dublin, is also to be commended.
As you’ll note from the names mentioned above, the sessions cater for a wide range of musical genres and with attendances dwindling at a lot of live music events in the city, it’s encouraging to arrive at the venue twenty minutes before opening and join the queue which already is spilling out onto the street. The eclectic range of music offered at these weekly sessions, that criss-crosses genres, is evidenced when you consider this evening’s line up. With Razorlight performing at Electric Picnic last weekend, their guitarist David Ellis took the opportunity to hang around for an extra few days in Ireland and play some tracks from his recently released debut solo album Misty Heights. His reaction when taking the stage best sums up what The Ruby’s have to offer when he comments ‘’This is great, you would never see something like this in London!’’. Also featured this evening is our own Mik Pyro, former frontman with the much loved Republic Of Loose and also Irish singer songwriter Elle Leon, who currently resides in Barcelona and admitted that this evenings showcase was her first live performance to an Irish audience.
Carson Mc Hone is an artist highly regarded by us at Lonesome Highway and this evening is her first appearance in Ireland, only a few hours after arriving at Dublin Airport. The young Austin Texas singer songwriter turned a number of industry heads with the release of her Carousel album in 2018 and was signed to Loose Records in the U.K., who introduced her to a wide European audience. She’s certainly been busy of late. Having just completed a tour of Scandinavia together with a few dates in the U.K., her appearance tonight is one of three dates in Ireland, before she returns to the U.K. to play The Long Road Festival. From there she heads back to Texas, picks up her band, loads the van and heads to Nashville, where she performs five times at Americana Fest, before taking some time out to complete some more songs for her next album. Her four-song slot this evening closes with a yet to be named song, which is likely to feature on that album alongside three more from Carousel. Before that she opens with the beguiling How ‘Bout It, before continuing with Drugs, adding that she raises some eyebrows at certain shows for including this in her set, but the title is in fact a metaphor. The more upbeat Maybe They’re Just Really Good Friends is up next, a honky tonk swinger from the album, remodelled by her for an acoustic delivery. As well as a talented writer McHone honeyed and crystal clear vocals have gained her a reputation as one of the emerging artists in the Americana genre most likely to make an industry breakthrough, with Rolling Stone Magazine in particular calling her out as ‘one to watch’. I think anyone witnessing her short set tonight would agree.
Finally, hats off to Conor Donovan and his hard working team at The Ruby Sessions, who were buzzing around from start to finish, meeting and greeting and ensuring everything went smoothly. Conor also insists when introducing the acts, in the most diplomatic manner of course, that everyone ‘shuts the f##k up’ while the artists perform, a welcomed policy at The Ruby Sessions.
A great night’s entertainment and evidence that given the right formula, live music can still draw the crowds, even on a midweek school night!
Review and photographs by Declan Culliton