ANOTHER ARCHIVAL HILLBILLY AT HARVARD
To quote myself,
That’s right, it’s 1999, and we’ve got Boston natives the Dave Foley Band in the third hour, and rising star from Kansas City, Mike Ireland in the fourth hour. We’ve got only two hours for the original four-hour show, so sadly I’ve had to chop off the first two. You’ll just have to imagine how much fun they were, but Dave Foley and Mike Ireland will make up for it.
Dave Foley, along with his long-time compatriot, singer and bassist Rich Holbrook, became regular visitors to Hillbilly at Harvard, and on May 8th, 1999, Dave brought along drummer Mal Shaw. Dave and Rich had moved from rock-‘n’-roll some years before, and became accomplished country performers. Dave is an energetic but still affecting singer. In this live set he sings mostly covers, including a nice Merle Haggard song neither Sinc nor I remembered—until Dave pointed it out on an album in the studio!—and Rich even sang a Gene Autry classic. Dave previewed his first album, Holey-Moley, It’s Dave Foley! with an original, and a taste of many more fine songs to come.
As far as I know the Dave Foley Band is still active, though the last gig on their Facebook page was in 2020. That’s probably not significant, as the ‘dempanic’ gave all performers an extended vacation. I expect we’ll see Dave and Rich back in the clubs pretty soon.
Mike Ireland impressed us mightily with his first album in 1998, Learning How to Live. Despite its production style, slightly reminiscent of ’60s countrypolitan, Mike’s pointed, emotional writing and beautiful tenor made a powerful combination, getting him great reviews and a guest appearance on the Grand Ol’ Opry. In August 1998 we had him and his band Holler in the studio. I was hoping to use it on one of these Archival HAHs, but on my home tape the drums made it unlistenable. I guess we’ll have to fault the studio engineer—but that would have been me! Maybe you just had to have been there.
In any case, I was delighted to find this show from May 8th, 1998. This time it was just Mike, with his guitarist and harmony singer, Dan Mesh. The two certainly do mesh well, and I think you’ll admit there’s some amazing vocals in their half-hour set. Mike closed out the show with his emotional recollection in ‘Graveyard Song’, which he dedicated to Sinc, who was clearly moved.
Mike Ireland is an engaging fellow and a huge talent. So ‘Whatever Happened to Mike Ireland & Holler?’ That’s the title of an anonymous report on a blog called ‘chimesfreedom’ (no caps). Mike released a second album in 2002, Try Again, which I don’t remember as well, but then seems to have disappeared from the country-music scene. chimesfreedom’s author follows up what he can find about Mike and his bandmates, until he learns in 2018 that Mike and a current wife (the breakup with his first stimulated a lot of his song-writing) are in Kansas City and writing movie reviews. Go to the link above for more details. /CL