Richie Havens Irish Tour withTanya Nally & Don Mescal @ Whelan’s, Wexford St, Dublin 6th July 2005

Richie Havens Irish Tour @ Whelan’s, Wexford St, Dublin 6th July 05

Richie Havens brought his signature blues folk soul musical style and delightful artistic personality to a warm and appreciative full house in Whelan’s on Wednesday night and left his disciples very satisfied and converted the rest with effortless ease.

Arriving on stage this high priest of the hippie dream, veteran of the pioneering Dylanesque New York Folk Cafe’s in the early sixties, his famous three hour opening act at the famous Woodstock Music & Arts Festival in 1969 this gentle lovable musician captures the hearts and minds of his audience with immediate effect creating an atmosphere of mutual respect that is positively wonderful. Richie is proud of his past and breaths hope and enthusiasm for the future in his conversations with the audience, calling a spade a spade when it comes to politics and environmental issues always delivered with an intriguing wit and charm, dipping the gloom and doom in a little honey to make it more understandable to provide solutions for.

All through the years he has maintained a unique approach and style in his music that forty plus years later threading the boards still remains fresh and interesting, that creates
nostalgic emotions but is not dependant on nostalgia, is not a parody, jaded or worn away by the years in between.

It was my first time to see his performance live and as happens in these cases my feelings of joy were somewhat tinged by regret that I had waited so long to make this journey. This man is an inspiration, an inspiring and lovely man to meet on the road of life in the most profound and spiritual sense.

My previous reference points were of course his memorable Woodstock performance immortalised on screen and the bible for any aspiring musician and self confessed hippie like myself wanting to gain street credibility in Dublin in the early seventies, and also a mid seventies late night experience when listening to Radio Luxemburg late one night on my transistor radio when the now sadly deceased DJ Stuart Henry went into his nightly meditation rap affirming the audience to relax and remove the troubles of their day, wishing his girlfriend well the next day on her modelling assignment, a man in love, affirmations rolling off his Scottish timbre that segued like day into dusk smoothly and
unhesitatingly into a most beautiful Ritchie Havens voice and piano piece
called Dreaming As One.

“And as I reach for you

You open your eyes

As if somehow you knew

The need in my life

As you always do

Slowly you come

And though we sleep as two

We’re dreaming as one”

That wonderful piece of radio has lingered on my memory with so much affection ever since with Ritchie Haven’s voice leaving an indelible and hypnotic impression, transforming beautiful words into a powerful soulful stream, a hymn of lyrical magic.

His trademark guitar style is different from anyone I have observed before or after over the years and produces one of the most identifiable Open tunings, an Open D with the F sharp dropped down a semi- tone to an F at times. The results, partially down to the light but
ceaseless percussive rhythmic strumming driving the droning notes on the open strings into the waiting atmosphere where they nest with pleasure. The bass strings seem to resonate with an even bassier sound because of the use of his left hand thumb to barre the strings allowing him capability to play behind the barre on the higher A and D strings.

His ability to pick a good song and infuse it with the elements of his talent makes his unique interpretation one of the joys of innovation with classic songs like “All Along the Watchtower”,”Tupelo Honey”,”Fire and Rain”,” Just Like a Woman”,
“Here Comes the Sun” being reborn with freshness and appeal to old ears and new, renewing a lease of life, yet never losing respect for the original works of art which are nowadays considered like Georgian houses in Dublin studiously protected by musical preservation orders.

He was flanked by two fantastic musicians on stage augmenting the sound and
presence with complementary performances on acoustic lead guitar by the long lean Shakespearean looking Walter Parks a most interesting accompanist turning left and right on blue, like a reliable taxi man he knows the guitar neighbourhood like the back of his hand, always stays within the speed limit and drops off passengers on Jazzville Crescent, Country Avenue, Classical Boulevard and is a gift on Bluebend Corner with a mixolydian of other stops on his route and from New York Stephanie Winters playing Cello that was
remarkably appropriate to Richie’s   Open Drone guitar sound and baritone timbre and his left leg stepping out the beat on the floor. He remarked that his left foot has clocked up seventeen miles more than his right foot over the years as a result.

Stephanie sold the sound of the cello to me big time with her own innovative technical proficiency showing a capability to flourish above and beyond the call of duty in an almost Hendrixian, Miles Davis mode of creativity in support of her inspirational overseer. I bought her enthralling CD Through the Storm after the gig put it on in the car on the way
home and its going around in my head space ever since. The Cello brings such an emotive four octave colour range in a folk blues rock relationship, a marriage of classical beauty and modern atmosphere that get on so well with each other and deserve to be with each other so much but unfortunately all to often end up eloping, having to run away from home to be together because of parental disapproval.

Richie brought the night to its penultimate climax with his masterpiece “Freedom” which was greeted with a resounding applause of recognition for this anthemia classic with the audience participation creating a call and return exchange of upbeat joy in the air.

Sometimes I feel like I'm a Motherless child
Sometimes I feel like I'm a Motherless child
Sometimes I feel like I'm a Motherless child 
A long long long way away from my home yeah
Freedom, Freedom x 10 times 
Sometimes I feel like I'm almost gone
Sometimes I feel like I'm almost gone
Sometimes I feel like I'm almost gone
A long long long way away from my home yeah
(Clap your hands) x 8 times 
(Yeah, Yeah) x 10 times
I got a telephone in my bosom and I can call him up from my heart
I got a telephone in my bosom and I can call him up from my heart
I got a telephone in my bosom and I can call him up from my heart
When I need my brother, I say Brother! (Brother) Brother! (Brother)...
[Mother (Mother) Mother (Mother)] x 2 times 
Yeah...Yeah... fade 

When the show ended on stage another magical experience happened as fans queued up for a chance to meet the man himself upstairs and have CD’s and LP covers signed. This took time and credit to Whelan’s for their restraint and patience as Richie took as
long as it takes to meet and converse with each individual with his characteristic gentle friendly affectionate personal approach.

When I parted company with him I truly felt blessed and that I had been in the presence of a very spiritual human being. Life had been more of a tumble drier than a joy ride for
the Woodstock generation with more bombers riding shotgun in the skies now, than there ever was and with very little hope of them turning into butterflies and because of that it’s a welcome luxury for mind body and soul to spend a few hours with Richie back in the garden.

Tania Nally @
Richie Havens Irish Tour @ Whelan’s, Wexford St, Dublin July 05

It was a great night for music and earlier on in the night proceedings had got off to fine start with the opening act Tania Nally stepping up to the challenge of ice breaker
for the night with her fragile enchanting songs capturing much attention particularly because of a nice banter style with the audience setting the tone for each songs subject matter. She related how some man had sat down beside her on the train journey to the gig in Dublin earlier and was somewhat confused as to his intentions. Two guys beside me were clearly not confused about the male passengers motives only amazed that there was an empty seat available beside this good looking young Mayo woman in the first place.  She is a hard working musician and getting the makings of a good album of original material honed into perfection on the live scene around the country.

Don Mescall @ Richie Havens Irish
Tour @ Whelan’s, Wexford St, Dublin July 2005

The next act on stage was the Limerick born singer songwriter Don Mescall who should have no problem solving the commercial nature of his talent and deserves to be propelled into the public consciousness on the strength of his hauntingly beautiful well
crafted tunes full of infectious hooks and memorable melodies, Don is a serious
musician who has paid his dues on a long trail of destinations and collaborations and comes across as genuinely modest and likable, that kind of person you meet in life who you feel deserves to do well if there is any justice at all in the world.

Don Mescall’s personal songs capture attention easily, supported by warm spontaneous storytelling skills and effective humour as evidenced when dealing with a loud interfering
conversation chattering incessantly throughout the introduction of a song in the crowd by inviting us all to listen to their conversation instead.

Don has a voice that weaves the lyrics into a captivating experience with a natural phrasing the real craft for me of a songster, a voice so easy to listen to that it floats around the room in waves that was most definitely born to be on a stage. Two beautiful sounding Guild acoustic guitars were used and a harmonica rack to produce excellent guitar and harp playing, aided by a superb PA sound being engineered by Whelan’s sound technician to produce an heartfelt performance by the artist and an eye opening introduction for the audience to a great Irish talent right here on our own doorstep. Don Mescall is without the slightest hesitation a national treasure.


Published by


A Dublin music fan, singer, songwriter, guitar enthusiast and presenter of the ever popular Saturday Afternoon Classic Rock Show on Dublin City FM for many years. Mik The Who, nicknamed as such, due to his globe traveling support and devotion to his favourite rock heroes The Who since the late 60’s.Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *