James O'Connor
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James O'Connor

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The lights were low, there was anticipation in the air, the crowd had gathered. Drinks had been ordered and loud voices turned to whispers as Shane Booth picked up his guitar and performed his amazing original material. His command on the guitar laft mouths open, and people talking about the huge talent he doesn’t even seem aware he has. A very fitting opening for what was to follow.

Immediately afterwards, the star of the show, James O’Connor took to the stage, shy and almost awkward. As soon as the first note was played on the guitar James held command over everybody present in the intimate setting. James was accompanies on the night by violin virtuoso Audrey Trainor. Her sweet melodies did nothing but compliment James’ raw voice and passionate lyrics. Listening to him is like reading his diary, you feel a little nervous about it but you can’t stop yourself going back for more.

This man is going to be star. Everything about him says so, from his beautiful music to soul – wrenching lyrics to his presence on stage and ongoing rapport with the audience. He doesn’t take himself to seriously; he is doing this purely for the love of his music. This combined with the unmistakable talent you can’t argue with make him one of the most promising musicians to come out of Portlaoise in years.
- Leinster Express



Local musician James O’Connor is heading off to record in the famous Sun Studios, Memphis in July. But before this he will be headlining in Kavanagh’s this Saturday, 24, accompanied by Audrey Trainor.

Support on the night comes in the form of Manchester based duo Roots In Progression whom James and Audrey met while performing at the Manchester Irish festival in March.

Roots in Progression who have been described as an “Irish Rodrigo y Gabriela” will open the show as well as joining James and Audrey on stage for a number of tracks. This will be a unique and special gig, and the last headlining gig James performing in the locality before he heads for the famous Sun studios.


Sun Studio, which is considered the “Birthplace of Rock N’ Roll” has seen many great artists record there such as the “Millionaire Dollar Quartet”; Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis & Carl Perkins and of course Ireland’s U2 to mention a few.

As a result of his new recording venture, James has written a number of songs which he may record in Memphis, such as “All too much” and “Falling Up”. While in America, James is taking the opportunity to perform in New York and Philadelphia, and he is currently waiting to confirm additional gigs in both Nashville and Memphis.

Before heading to the US James will be returning to the studio, this time with lecturer/producer Willie Demange, who as a musician found international success in the Fountain Heads.

James will be revisiting his 2006 album “Second Hand Time” with Willie and the intention is to remix, rerecord and re-master the album with additional tracks to be re-released later in the year. They will also be recording a new 4 track EP to coincide with a tour towards the end of the year.

James has also been very busy performing gigs around the country, accompanied by Audrey Trainor on violin, has performed just under 20 gigs in both Ireland and the UK so far this year. The duo intend to fit in a further 20 plus gigs from performances in the Thatch in Rahan to performing at Dylan Fest and indeed the previously mentioned US gigs.

James will also be performing at the eistmusic showcase which takes place in Kavanagh’s on May 30th and Dylan Fest which takes place from Thursday, July 3 to Sunday, July 6 in Donegal.
- Leinster Express




Michael Tracey

Local troubadour James O’Connor bade farewell to Portlaoise in one of his last gigs in the country before he jets off on a July trip to Nashville.

The trip which will inculed gigging and recording, should reap dividends in maturing and focusing what is hugely promising talent and allow the young man to grow as a musician.

The 22 year old played an enthusiastically received set from material from his two albums and covers last Saturday in Kavanagh’s.

Cork – Manchester duo Roots in Progression warmed up the crowd and kept an attentive audience enthralled with their own blend of singer – songwriting genre.

An energetic performance from Jason Jevens on guitar and vocals and Roisin Draper on percussion and backing vocals ensured a fresh performance.

Jevens, in particular, was in impressive form, combining ab ability to mount high notes like James blunt, but with a harsh vocal punch of Two Gallants’ Adam Stephens.

The material as so often with singer – songwriter types was of love, lost and yearning which can grow a bit staid and I don’t think I would be the only one asking whether the world really needs another cover of Damiens Rice’s Volcano. Apart from that though, they are a band to look out for.

The former St Marys CBS student just doesn’t fit snugly into one particular category. At times I found myself leapfrogging from wildly contradictory influences I felt I heard in his voice, lyrics, guitar skills and overall performance.

His voice is hewn from The Waterboy’s Mike Scott and in my humble view Paul McCarthy.

The lyrics times were at times deeply confessional, ranging from the highs and lows of life on Falling Up and Give in to loneliness.

It was honest and refreshing stuff and more importantly melodic.

You can pump as much blood, sweat and tears into your lyrics but it won’t have halt the impact if you can’t put it to a tune.

Here is where O’Connor bucks the trend as the young man displays his pop sensibilities acute ear for a great hook. Mr. Moon, All too much and the aforementioned Falling up were just three songs that sounded familiar and got feet tapping.

It makes for a very exciting though as what the trip to Sun Studios in America will do for the prodigious talent and his craft.

These tracks alone ensure that O’Connor deserves to be heard by a wider audience but another reason is his self depreciating modest self.

He is an St Brigids Place lad at heart and any faux – sincerity or pretentiousness that you associate with musicians are not on show here.

He manages to even pull off a song about commuting Waiting in line. How Laois is that?

He exuded an easy charm on stage. He greeted every applause with a shy grin and keeps between song banter to a minimum. He even invited his mum Angela up to the stage to belt out a heart warming rendition of Abba’s Super Trooper. One way or the other you’re goung to be smiling at the end of one of his shows.

Violinist Audrey Trainor joined O’Connor on stage for much of the show. Her strings provide extra dimension to O’Connor’s precise fretwork in particular on the frenetic cover of Bitter Sweet Symphony.

The night closed with Roots in Progression joining the pair for a closing medley. It was heady stuff with Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watch Tower being given a through workout and culminating in an encore and boisterous crowd singalong of All too much. It left punters and O’Connor alike grinning as the stage lights dimmed. I predict man similar nights in store for the young man.












- The Laois Nationalist


“Other highlights include the acoustic stylings of James O’Connor and his song “Mr. Moon”, which recalls the melodic, dreamy song – writing of Nick Drake” – John Cleary, The Kilkenny Advertiser, April 2007.” - Kilkenny Advertiser


MEDIA students at Dun Laoghaire College of Further Education (DCFE) have secured a media partnership deal with 3, Ireland's mobile media network. Under this partnership, 3 is funding the production and launch of Our Space, the college's newest and most diverse album, which was released on Friday last.
Very much to the fore on the album are a group of the students who hail from the Midlands. One of these is James O’Connor from Portlaoise.
James, whose tracks Mr. Moon and Something Keeps are featured on the double CD album, said: "It’s been great to be involved with the album. The hard work put in by everybody involved has given me a wealth of experience which I will use to help promote my own music in the future."
James’ first track, Mr Moon was recorded and mixed by himself at Kylemore College. Something Keeps was recorded live at Eamon Doran’s in Dublin in December last year.
This year's album features 36 original tracks, written and recorded by DCFE's students. With the album’s release everybody involved will look to build on the massive success of previous albums, both of which were top 20 hits in the Irish compilation charts.
Locally, the album will be available in Heartbeat City in Portlaoise priced at •9.99.
DCFE has been running certificate and diploma media courses for over 10 years in areas such as sound engineering, event production, public relations, journalism, and TV, video and radio. The college also offers: certificate, diploma and professional courses in a wide range of areas including: Business, Information Technology and Health & Sport.
The partnership deal between DCFE and 3 is part of a continual college initiative designed to educate, train and bring together students from a range of specialist courses, covering sound engineering, music media, event management and public relations, in the implementation of a practical, real-life music business venture.
Graeme Slattery, Head of Music at 3 stated: “3 is delighted to be involved in promoting new grass-roots Irish music and supporting such an innovative approach to education using music as the key mechanic. I have no doubt that some of DCFE’s aspiring artists may be tomorrow’s stars.”
- Laois Nationalist


A 21-YEAR OLD Portlaoise man has zoomed to number five in the album charts with two of his songs.

James O’Connor from St Brigid’s Place, along with his fellow students at Dun Laoghaire College of Further Education (DCFE) have hit the top five with Our Space. The album was launched just over two weeks ago and has scored the number five position in this week’s Irish compilation charts.


James O’Connor penned two tracks on the album, Mr. Moon and Something Keeps.


James, who is the son of Angela and Eugene and brother of Zoe, first attended St Mary’s CBS, Towerhill, before moving onto Kylemore Musical College in Ballyfermot. His musical talents were honed and from Kylemore he went to Dun Laoghaire College where he’s into his second year studying sound engineering.


It was while in Kylemore College that James, along with Brian Lalor from Ballyroan and Paul Byrne from Dublin, made their live musical debut on the Portlaoise music scene with gigs in Little Havanas.


Since the album release James has performed solo in Eamon Doran’s and Radio City in Dublin.


James told the Laois Nationalist: “It’s been great to be involved with the album and to be in the top five in the charts. It’s a great feeling and the hard work put in by everybody involved has given me a wealth of experience with which I will use to help promote my own music in the future.”


Head of Music at 3, Graeme Slattery, said: “3 is delighted to be involved in promoting new grass-roots Irish music. I have no doubt that some of DCFE’s aspiring artists may be tomorrow’s stars and will be selling their music through our mobile and online store.”


The album is available in Heartbeat City, Portlaoise, at •9.99.


Laois music fans can catch James playing solo in Leathean’s, Main Street, Portlaoise, on May



- Laois Nationalist


Discography

2006 - "Second Hand Time", a 12 song album - released locally in Portlaoise.
2007 - "Mr. Moon" which was playlisted and "Something keeps me" - featured on the top 5 album "Our Space".
2008 - Digital EP was issued to members of James' mailing club. This featured "Mr. Moon", "Something keeps me" and "The Rain 2008".
2008 - A new EP, featuring four new songs, including "All too much", "Falling Up", "Always" and "Give in to loneliness". The EP will be recorded in July and August, partly in the famous Sun Studios, Memphis and while Willie Demange will record the additional tracks and produce the EP in Dublin. It will be released in October this year.

Photos

Bio

James O’Connor with Audrey Trainor - James O’Connor, a 22 year musician from Laois, has been writing songs for the last number of years. Last year marked James’ first appearance in the Irish Compilation charts with his playlisted track “Mr. Moon” and “Something Keeps Me” appearing on the top 5 album “Our Space”. After teaming up with Audrey Trainor, a classically trained violinist and music lecturer, from Omeath, who also appeared on the hit album, they have been performing all around Ireland and the UK and are returning to Dylan Fest in Moville this week!

After Dylan Fest, James and Audrey are heading to record in the famous “Sun Studio”, which is considered the “Birthplace of Rock N’ Roll” has seen many great artists record there such as the “Millionaire Dollar Quartet”; Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis & Carl Perkins and of course Ireland ’s U2 to mention a few. As a result of his new recording venture, James has written a number of songs which he may record in Memphis , such as “All too much” and “Falling Up”, which are intended to be released on a new EP towards the end of the year. While in America , James and Audrey are taking the opportunity to perform in New York and Philadelphia , and he is currently waiting to confirm additional gigs in both Nashville and Memphis .

Quotes – Live
“This man is going to be a star” – Mary Kavanagh, The Leinster Express, October 2007.

Quotes – Live
“It was heady stuff with Bob Dylan’s ‘All along the watchtower’ being given a thorough workout culminating in an encore and boisterous crowd singalong of ‘All too much’” Michael Tracey, The Laois Nationalist, May 2008.

Quotes – Live
"That was absolutely brilliant” June Carley, Midlands 103FM, May 2008.

Quotes – On recorded work
“It has warm strings, plaintive harmonica and a pleasant vocal on an impressive song” Jackie Hayden speaking about “The Rain – 2008”, May 2008.

Quotes – On recorded work
“Other highlights include the acoustic stylings of James O’Connor and his song “Mr. Moon”, which recalls the melodic, dreamy song – writing of Nick Drake” – John Cleary, The Kilkenny Advertiser, April 2007.”