From Belfast to California, from Guthrie to Dylan
Ciaran is from Belfast, born and raised; he has shared the stage with Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Arlo Guthrie, Nancy Griffith and quite a few more. His band rocks through all the genres of Folk, Bossa, Jazz, Rock and Blues. He has a fabulous voice and an extraordinary talent for whistling!
But for years Ciaran lived in another world - leaving music twenty years ago to pursue he passion for photography. He lived in California shooting for Capitol, EMI, Sony and Polydor - in the thick of the Los Angeles record business with a camera, not a guitar!
But last year he came back home to music, his first love, and to Belfast Ireland, settled in and put together a new band. On bass is Nicky Scott (Mary Black), on drums Eamonn Ferris (Van Morrison), guitar Pat Gribben (The Adventures, a UK charting band) and out front is Ciaran, composer, writer and front-man of a set that is 100% original.
They were just getting started when lockdown came!
He has a ‘back story’: Long before any of this, the ‘Ciaran Mac Gowan Band’ played weekly in The Errigle Inn; an eight piece band complete with horn section. Andy White on bass, Gerry McIlduff (Pretenders) on drums. He recorded live radio and television several times for BBC, UTV, RTE and Downtown. He supported the ‘big acts’ of the day, Janis Ian, John Martyn, Richard Thompson, and his first record ‘London Trip’ released on Good Vibrations was play-listed ‘Record of the Week’ on RTE. He was twenty-five.
Then they blew up the Errigle Inn and gone was the band’s residency. These were dangerous times in the N. Ireland conflict. Six months later with the venue rebuilt, the band was back in residence. Three weeks after that they blew it up again! Ciarán later joked, ‘they definitely didn’t like that band!’
In frustration Ciarán jumped ship to California, made a success of a different career, headed up the Photography Department at San José City College, CA, worked in Hollywood, and photography on Ireland is archived in several international museums. But through those years Ciarán always came home and in Belfast he often was the support to some of the world’s leading musicians: Dylan, Morrison, Guthrie, Nancy Griffith, Christy Moore, appearing twice in the Belfast/Nashville annual Festival.
Now he’s back in permanence with a superb band.