The Corncrakes

The Corncrakes


We call ourselves The Corncrakes but our music is sweeter than the bird call! We’re known for our catchy tunes in an indie folk-rock style. Our music draws on different influences: the bouzouki and mandolin have echoes of Planxty while our tunes and vocal harmonies have been compared to Belle and Sebastian or The Seekers.


The Corncrakes are based around the songwriting of Dave Robb from Edinburgh, Scotland and the singing of Helen Mahaffy from Lurgan, Northern Ireland. Dave has toured with acts such as the Proclaimers (Sunshine on Leith tour 1988) and performed at the Reading Festival (1990). After years in Berlin he came to Belfast and put together the Corncrakes with Helen in 2007. Since then the band has made great inroads in the local Northern Irish acoustic music scene, receiving lots of local airplay on BBC Radio Ulster. The music is highly distinctive drawing on different influences such as the folk rock of Planxty, the catchy 1960s harmonies of The Seekers, or the ironic lyrics of Belle and Sebastian. The group's first single "Willow Tree" reached no. 2 in the Northern Ireland Free Download chart in September 2009. The band has also appeared at the North Coast and Belfast Nashville Festivals amongst others. The second single "Lady Dixon's" in June 2010 consolidated the group's reputation. A professional music video of the song "Mexico" can be seen on the band's myspace site. The Corncrakes are currently in the studio completing work on their first full-length album with producer Mudd Wallace. The band often appears as a trio with guitarist Paul Webster and as a 5-piece with bass (John McGurgan) and drums/percussion (Stephen Quinn) at larger events.


Lady Dixon's

Written By: Dave Robb

Lady Dixon’s

I tiptoed up the staircase
Knocked on the door, walked into the room
I sat down facing the window
I had my suit on, sensing the gloom

They said in sombre tones
We would be sacrificed, no delay
The emperor and his henchmen
Licking their chops on small fry today

They’re closing us down – we’re just a number
Think of old England – merry and gay
We’re in Lady Dixon’s beautiful garden
Watching the sun going down on the day

It’s a puzzle to me
When did the vision start to turn sour
I’m thinking maybe it’s lonely
Up in the top of their ivory tower

Chorus: They’re closing us down etc

Everybody’s lost in fabulous dreams?
The silence is shaking the beams

We got so much support
Don’t whether to laugh or whether to cry
I stood out in the quadrangle
Ninety nine red balloons in the sky


Willow Tree

Written By: Dave Robb

Willow Tree

Four years since she died on me,
I lost the fight and set her free
I’m still in the shadow of our willow tree

Though it gets better down the line
I still dream of her from time to time
Smiling at me from the willow tree

Chorus: But the moment between sleeping and waking
Is like an empty space I’m falling into
She’s not there to catch me
Wipe my tears away

We talk until the sun goes down
Like back in time -- all clocks rewound,
Children dancing by the willow tree

It’s not real, it’s fanciful
A fantasy I can’t fulfill
She disappears behind the willow tree

Chorus: And the moment between sleeping and waking etc

Run from the shadow
Tear the tangles of our willow
Run from the shadow
Tear the tangles now

Lay down new roots and drift along
Sing an ever-changing song
I don’t think she spares a thought for me

Put on my boots, I’m not yet done
For all that’s lost and all that’s won
I’ll break the spell the willow has on me

Chorus: And the moment between sleeping and waking etc..
She’s not there to catch me – wipe my tears away

My Brother Luke

Written By: Dave Robb

My Brother Luke

I travelled two hours down the road to see my old brother Luke
Playing guitar on the streets of Dublin town
Would he recreate the magic of twenty years ago?
Would he still be the same old crazy clown?
When we were young and the world was at our feet he used to say:
“Come for a ride on my Japanese overdrive”
I nearly died on the way, I kept my head buried in my book
Boy it’s good to know we’re still alive

Maybe you came tonight with greater expectations
than stories of Nevada -- going tripping through the desert.
There’s worse things you can do
than staying up all night till you get the second wind.
You could stumble upon my brother Luke
playing the guitar with a bottle,
My brother Luke
I’ll get some joy into my life

He’s hair’s turned grey but I’ve got a snap shot of twenty years ago
Never change you’re beautiful as you are
We were down in Auckland harbour on the Rainbow Warrior
Now we’re setting up outside the Temple Bar
When we were young and the world was at our feet life moved so fast
It’s still rushing on like a hurtling train
But we have time for one last song – the party will go on
Let’s count the coins I feel a spot of rain

Maybe you came tonight with greater expectations….

Welcome to a nght that never ends
It’s a night that twists and turns
All through to dawn with you my friend (along a windy road till dawn?)

(guitar solo)

Welcome to the night……

Maybe you came tonight with greater expectations etc
I promise you Luke
I’ll get some joy into my life

Forty Pounds A Week

Written By: Dave Robb

Forty Pounds A Week

Can we afford forty pounds a week my love?
Can we afford forty pounds a week my love?
It’s not time for counting pennies
Because our love is on the line
And all I want is you back by my side again.

Can we afford forty pounds a week my love?
To help us work our troubles out my love?
Now’s the time for splashing out
‘Cause I see you have some doubt
And all I want is you back by my side again

For all the sunny days you can’t remember
Never found the promised land – that much is true
Please don’t set me loose upon tomorrow
How will I ever find another you

Can we afford forty pounds a week my love?
Can we afford forty pounds a week my love?
Burn a big hole in our pocket
Don’t you think we’re worth it?
For all I want is you back by my side again


Written By: Dave Robb


I came across a long lost movie star
He lived alone in Mexico
He checked out of his life
He left a blue Desoto in his drive
The whole of Hoolywood thought he was dead
But he kept one step ahead
Making boho films incognito
Never seen by a soul

I don’t wanna go down to Mexico
I’d rather rest my head on the Rocky Mountain snow
I don’t wanna ride back through Tupelo
We’ve eaten the honey, now we can let the memories go

The daughter of the cameraman she had
A pretty birth mark on her cheek
She pondered on the meaning of a life
Of anonymity
She broke into my house, she broke my heart
She put a pistol to my head
Said you’re coming down to Mexico
Or I will shoot you dead

I don’t wanna go down to Mexico ....

Heaven knows but it’s not every day
That dead men rise from the grave
When you hear this song I’ll be long gone anyway
It’s a game I play

We crossed the border after midnight
By sunrise he’d passed away
His bitter wife went on the rampage
She had the final say
Threw the film reels on a bonfire
The sight and smell it made me choke
And the promises she’d made me
All went up in smoke

I don’t wanna go down to Mexico.......


'Willow Tree' (EP), CrexCrex Records 2009
'Lady Dixon's' (EP), CrexCrex Records 2010
Ingo and the Bouncy Castle (CD), CrexCrex Records (to appear Spring 2011)

From 'Willow Tree', the songs 'Willow Tree', 'Skulk in Shadows', 'Black and White Fades to Grey' and 'Fighting J' all received airplay on BBC Radio Ulster, Drive 105 and Downtown Radio.
From 'Lady Dixon's', the songs 'Lady Dixon's' and 'Mexico' have also been played several times by the above radio stations.

Set List

Smile on Me
£40 a week
Willow Tree
Black and White Fades to Grey
Speak to Me
Between Worlds
Skulk in Shadows
Lady Dixon's
My Brother Luke
Under the Red Sky