Archive video of The Good Mixer pub Camden c1985 plus background

(Updated Sept '16 to include archive Video ) Earlier in the week we posted up a review of the remarkable new, or old, recording by Noel O' Grady, Henry Benagh, John Carty and Marcus Hernon called The Good Mixer.  In the liner notes to the album Henry Benagh provides an outline to the recording, the pub in question and how they all ended up back in John Carty’s house to record this remarkable album.

“The Good Mixer is a pub in Camden Town which has been a focal point for music in London since the mid 80s. Around 1985, Tipperary man, Michael Hurley took over what was at the time a fairly rough establishment, and set about changing the overall tone with the introduction of live music.

Though it later became known as the haunt of The Pogues, Amy Winehouse, Oasis, et al, the first music played there was 'straight down the line' Irish traditional music. It made sense in its own way, as Camden has always had a strong Irish presence, and was once a real stronghold of traditional music. In the 50s Seamus Ennis,Willie Clancy,Tom McCarthy, Martin Byrnes and a host of others regularly played in the pubs there. As Camden became increasingly trendy most of the traditional music in north London decamped to the Holloway Road, but by the 80s the Irish were back in their droves, Michael Hurley saw the potential, and traditional music returned again to Camden Town.

It was the Irish music teacher Brendan Mulkere who first heard that The Good Mixer was looking for music, and he mentioned it to Waterford piper, Tommy Keane. Tommy paid the place a visit and set up a gig which was to run in one form or another for the better part of five years.

Ireland was going through one of its recessions so there were always comings and goings in London, and over time there were shifts in the band members. The initial lineup was Tommy Keane on pipes, Michael Hynes on flute, and Henry Benagh on fiddle. The first change came about a year down the road with the addition of Mayo man Noel O'Grady on bouzouki, and the first departure followed a few months later when Michael Hynes decided to move back to Clare. Enter Marcus Hernon, the hard driving flute player from Connemara. Then a couple of years later Tommy Keane decided to move to Galway.

Tommy's move sparked an inevitable change and the music took on a distinctly London flavour with the addition of John Carty on banjo with his infectious bounce and rock steady rhythm. With time the music began to assume a new swagger, and it's this combination of John Carty, Marcus Hernon, Noel O'Grady, and Henry Benagh that feature on this recording.

By 1989 conditions in Ireland had improved considerably and everyone had their sights firmly set on moving, so The Good Mixer sessions finally drew to a close. Just before the exodus began the band got together for the last time at John Carty's house and recorded as much as would fit into an afternoon (with Bernadette McCarthy providing piano on some tracks). The recording has lain more or less forgotten since that time, but John was recently asked about it and was surprised at how fresh it still sounded. The sound is lively and tight and is simply the product of a group of musicians who played regularly one night a week for the love of it. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed playing it. Henry Benagh”

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