This week I spoke with Art Supple during the week on Youghal Radio and I know Art and myself are related but when it comes to music and music connections the simple fact that Art is one of our best known musicians in Cork. I asked Art to explain how he became involved with the music business. I started out singing in school we had a great teacher who always encouraged us to sing and be involved in music, this led us to forming the Barrony Aces, a group of young school children who would put on small plays and performances in our local hall and school. I was like any young person of that time and saw no reason why I wouldn’t become the next Oscar winner or music star. I then got involved with the Patsy Irwin band and we used to play the local halls in and around East Cork. We used to play in Redbarn before the main bands. At that time there was a showband on the scene who for me were the best band on the circuit, They entertained with a group of top class musicians they danced, they sang and had us all enthralled in the show they put on each time they came to Redbarn they were called The Clipper Carlton They were the forerunners for the showband scene as it became known.
I was working out in the field at our farm with my father one day when two gentlemen in suits arrived on the scene they explained that they were putting a band together and needed a singer Local man Murty Lucey from Redbarn had told them to get in touch with me as he had seen me performing in Redbarn Dance Hall. They spoke about many things but the one thing that caught my attention was the mention of an American tour, now this was 1963 and the thought of a tour to the USA was a big deal at that time nowadays people fly over and back to America but back then it was not as easy as it is today. I didn’t need much more convincing I accepted the offer to become the singer with the Victors Showband and we set off from there.
After a short while we had become one of the top ten showbands touring Ireland at the time and we did our American tour, I have to say looking back on it was a great time for showbands. In Ireland around then there were over 850 showbands touring the circuit, not all professional but they were all playing to huge crowds. If you think back there was no TV in a lot of places and we only had the one radio channel so entertainment was a night out to see a band in the local dance hall. It was such a busy time for bands that dances were running seven nights a week with anything from 800 to a few thousand people crammed into these large ballrooms.
I was lucky in that during this time because the scene was so strong many of the top international acts wanted to tour Ireland because the cost of travel etc was large most of the singers would arrive along and work with an established band in our case we were lucky enough to tour with the likes of Roy Orbison, Jim Reeves, Millie, Johnny Cash. We shared the stage with The Beetles, Had tea with the rolling stones and met many of these and other famous singers on our travels.
Looking back on it was a great time and things have changed so much, I remember that we were recording a new song and we had all the band part of the Concert orchestra a group of backing singers all in one room singing into the one Microphone and because it was all recorded on very expensive tape we only had one take to get it recorded, there was no editing or adding in tracks it was basic and it worked all because of the quality of musicians who worked in these showbands. Nowadays you can get the same sound in our bedroom at your computer but back then it was expensive we had to travel to the only studio in Ireland which was based in Dublin we had to hire all the musicians so it was like getting a small army on the move for one performance which they would have to get right.
Looking back on his career which is now in its 48th year as a professional singer Art has met so many wonderful people from Christy Ring who he had the privilege of playing hurling with to The Irish Soccer team who he entertained. He has sung to presidents from many countries, and met many wonderful people around the world. There was so much more to ask and talk about but like all good tales we will have to leave the rest for another day.
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