Spotlight on: Honky Tonk Angels
It’s always exciting to bring a brand new Band to the attention of our readers.
Move over Pistol Annie’s and Dixie Chicks – Ireland’s Honky Tonk Angels can certainly be described as ‘a breath of fresh air’ with their unique vocal blend, undoubted musical talent, and sparkling star quality.
The talented trio of Bernie Heaney, CC Cooper, and Lorraine McDonald have already made significant inroads into the Irish Country Music world, and judging by the reaction to their first Single, Hush Hush, will be in huge demand both for live performances and on all Radio Stations going forward.
Founder member, Bernie Heaney will be no stranger to our readers, having worked as a teenager in St. Finbarrs’ Club in Coventry. The Heaney family lived in Coventry for many years but relocated back to Ireland 22 years ago, however Bernie’s brother still lives in Leamington Spa, she has Aunts and Uncles in Birmingham, and asked me to give a big shout out to her Aunt Josie and Uncle Duggie Tallon who are avid Harp readers!
“I was raised on country music my Dad played the pedal steel guitar, acoustic guitar, and sang in the local pubs and clubs. He was known as the Yodeling Cowboy. I loved taking a day off school to head off in his lorry and listen to Philomena Begley, Susan McCann and the Country music Radio Stations. The music would fill the cab and I was with the king of the road. Life was a lot of fun,” Bernie explained.
As a youngster, Bernie spent most of her spare time learning songs, listening to favourites like Slim Whitman, Charlie Pride, and Marty Robbins. She also cites Tammy, Dolly, and Loretta Lynn among her top artists.
“I started my first job when I was fourteen years old collecting glasses at the local Irish club, St.Finbarrs in Coventry. The place was hopping every weekend and I saw the cream of the crop, bands like the young Daniel O’Donnell, Joe Dolan, The Morrissey’s and Eileen King. I loved the craic of Ireland, and I was part of a big Irish community. We all socialised together at music venues or GAA games. There were people from every county living and working in Coventry at that time. I would get up on stage to sing any time I got a chance, and I loved playing along with the bands. The local bands were great and the dance floor was always full,” Bernie reminisced with a smile.
Having mastered a few Chords on her brother’s Guitar, Bernie bought her first Guitar from a second hand music shop; “On the final payment, I was so proud and couldn’t wait to get it home, it was finally mine and I have it to this day,” she said.
Bernie married at the age of nineteen and moving back to Newbridge, Co. Kildare. She and her husband raised three children who are now grown up, and as Bernie says, “Music was always close to my heart, and I have been playing the Pub scene as a solo act”. She recorded her debut Album which was extremely well received last year at Spout Studios in Granard, Co. Longford.
Bernie outlined how Honky Tonk Angels came about; “Lorraine, CC, and I knew each other from appearing on various shows together, I approached the girls with regard to collaborating as I felt our three voices would harmonise together really well, and of course a really important aspect is that we get on great together!” she said.
The hugely talented Lorraine McDonald of course comes with a wealth of experience and professionalism. Lorraine is a daughter of Frankie McDonald who is one of the most respected musicians in the country, having played for many years with the late Joe Dolan. Going back a generation further, her grandfather Kieran Kelly had his own band in which her Mother May was a member for a number of years. Suffice to say Lorraine lives, breathes, and loves music.
The multi talented musician Lorraine is also a fine vocalist and is currently a member of the Conquerors band. A well-known session musician, she has backed many of the top singers and bands both on stage and in the recording studio. She has also fronted The Showband show with her brother Keith and has been involved with the Ronan Collins in Reelin in the years on RTE. Lorraine has a number of recordings to her credit and has received numerous awards.
Christine Cooper from Dublin, who is better known in the music industry as CC, is also steeped in music as her grandfather was one of the original members of the famous clipper Carlton Show band one of the greatest Irish musical outfits of the 40s and 50s. The band was credited with starting the Show band craze. C.C is a qualified nurse by day, and brings her music to audiences as a one-woman show by night.
Honky Tonk Angels released their debut single Hush Hush last October, and recorded their first music video together for the single, which has been aired on many of the popular music TV channels. They are currently putting the finishing touches to three more recordings to be released as singles this year, and are working towards a full Album.
“We have done some shows together, and there is a lot in the pipeline for 2016 including Festivals, Shows, and appearances throughout the country, and we’re thrilled to be receiving our first award in January from the Sunday World newspaper.” Bernie said.
The girls are appearing at the Embo Country Music Festival in Scotland next November and would love to tour the UK, so promoters – get in touch! There is no doubt that Bernie, Lorraine, and CC would certainly have a huge following around Coventry, the Midlands, and beyond.
“We want to wish all of The Harp readers a very Happy, healthy and prosperous New Year, and we hope to meet some of you on our travels in the future. Also, a big thank you to the Harp Newspaper for your support and for allowing us to share our musical journey with all your readers”.
Readers can catch up with Bernie, Lorraine, and CC on their Facebook Page; Honky Tonk Angels, by email at; firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 086 6059602.