Robert Love reports on singer Dan Baird’s journey from No 2 on the US Billboard chart to a much-anticipated show in Letterkenny that’s scheduled for later this year.
Like music? Love guitars? Keen on outstanding songs and unforgettably energetic live performances? If you’ve answered yes to all of the above, a rare treat is in store at the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny on Thursday May 3rd next…and now’s the time to get the date into your diary.
That night, a certain Dan Baird and his band Homemade Sin will take to the stage for the second outing of a rare six-date Irish tour that also includes a Dublin show, two nights at the Kilkenny Rhythm & Roots festival and a stop-over in Ballymena.
Who the hell is Dan Baird, I hear you say. Well, the American singer is undoubtedly better known for his role as the former frontman of a rock group called The Georgia Satellites. That band hit the headlines back in 1986 when – spurred on by heavy rotation on MTV – their barn-storming single Keep Your Hands to Yourself seemed destined for the summit of US Billboard charts.
In the end, The Georgia Satellites had to be content with a chart position of Number 2 because their breakthrough also coincided with Bon Jovi’s arrival on the music scene. And great as it undoubtedly is, Keep Your Hands to Yourself just couldn’t dislodge Livin’ on a Prayer from the Number 1 slot.
The two bands followed different career trajectories from there on. Whilst The Georgia Satellites’ debut album sold by the truck load, two follow up records largely failed to match that performance and they gently faded from the charts. Dan Baird embarked on a solo career from there on, recording a number of great roots and country-tinged albums. Best of the lot is Love Songs for the Hearing Impaired, a brilliant release produced by seven-times-Grammy-winner Rick Rubin, famous for his work with Johnny Cash.
It says a lot about Dan Baird’s music and song-writing skills that every record he’s recorded has been critically acclaimed. Largely because of its traditional rock and roll style, The Georgia Satellites’ music – which is likely to form a significant part of the show on May 3rd – has also aged extraordinarily well.
For this reason, tracks pop up intermittently on film soundtracks. Movie buffs may remember the Georgia Satellites song Hippy Hippy Shakes, which was also a minor US hit, from the Tom Cruise film Cocktail .
Much more recently, anyone watching the 2010 Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis action blockbuster The Expendables will have heard Keep Your Hands to Yourself playing in the background at the start of the film as the mercenary crew head off on a plane to kick some ass.
Two ex-members of The Georgia Satellites – drummer Mauro Magellan and bass player Keith Christopher now feature alongside Dan Baird in Homemade Sin and both will join him in Letterkenny. Second guitarist Warner E. Hodges fills the final slot.
Hodges, who has played guitar with Iggy Pop, is a highly respected musician in his own right and is best known for his role in another legendary rock and roll band from the American south, Jason and the Scorchers. They were so good, a very young Michael Stipe (yes, he of REM fame) travelled 300 miles along Route 75 from Athens, Georgia to Nashville, Tennessee to sing backing vocals alongside Hodges on the band’s first record. Enough said.
Just how Dan Baird and Homemade Sin came to place County Donegal on their tour itinerary remains unclear. But, if you enjoy live music and have an appetitive for no-frills rock and roll that covers every base from Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis all the way to AC/DC, you’d be a fool to miss out on a once-off opportunity. Check out some of the bands and songs mentioned above on YouTube if you don’t believe me, and no doubt I’ll see you there.