Stay with me, this rambling entro does lead to music, OK? I am, and always have been, a mail-order catalog junky – back to my many years overseas in the Army. I lived for the periodic catalogs from Bass Pro Shops, Cabellas, Gander Mountain, Atlantic Cutlery, etc. (Most of the outdoorsy stuff in those catalogs was a LOT better than the crappy low-bid field gear the Army issued, don’t you know!)
Well, after I got out of the Army, as well as attending Renaissance Faires and Celtic Music Festivals as often as I could, I got interested in Scottish and Highland heritage and history, and added Scottish/ Celtic merchandise catalogs to my lists.
One catalog I get is from The Celtic Croft www.kilts-n-stuff.com/ – who, along with kilts, sell various Celtic music CDs. One of the bands whose music CDs they listed, back about 2006 or -7 or so, was Dallas-based NEEDFIRE. I didn’t buy any of their CDs at that time – I was more into “traditional” Celtic groups like ALBANNACH and CLANADONIA back then.
But I remembered their name, and I believe the first time I actually saw NEEDFIRE in concert was at the 2009 North Texas Irish Festival, in this video https://youtu.be/pt3pqjvaA-c John Cleghorn on lead, Dylan Cleghorn on violin, Ed Waleski on bass, Matt Henthorn on drums, Brad Madison on bagpipes. They often had other musicians – pipers, fiddlers, even guitarists play with them in concerts https://youtu.be/AfxZmam1KTE NEEDFIRE was one of the top-name Texas Celtic bands of that decade, and I also saw them at various times at the San Antonio Highland Games and the Austin Celtic Festival. They were fantastic, and I would think nothing of traveling to Dallas, San Antonio or Austin just to hear them at a festival or event! Of course, I have all their music CDs.
Then NEEDFIRE – the great band that I was familiar with - just sort of phased out, I guess about the spring of 2010 or so. An entirely different band, but still calling itself NEEDFIRE http://www.needfiremusic.com/ [This website hasn’t been updated since 2013] – with Ed Waleski from the original NEEDFIRE as frontman – appeared on the Texas Celtic Music circuit, but they were NOT the NEEDFIRE I liked – they weren’t the same, their music wasn’t the same - so I quit following them. I was unhappy!
Then, wonder of wonders, at the Sherwood Forest Celtic Music Festival (September 2011), I first heard a band called CLEGHORN – with John and Dylan Cleghorn! https://youtu.be/zEul6nnh_qA
Well! CLEGHORN played much of the music from NEEDFIRE that I was familiar with and liked, they put on one heck of a stage show, and the audience loved them! So I was happy again! Now CLEGHORN is one of the music groups I follow to all the fests and festivals!
Here’s a video of CLEGHORN on stage at Sherwood Forest Celtic Music Fest September 2015, https://youtu.be/XGTJ4Fp9VW8, where I got a chance to talk with John and Dylan in depth.
For those of you who don’t know, John Cleghorn had been a fixture on the Dal- las rock/blues music scene since the late 1980s – singing and playing guitar with various bands (including THE KANGS and the JUNK POETS), writing and producing music. (The JUNK POETS did release one CD back then, but I cannot find it anywhere!)
John released a solo CD in 1999 ‘Freetown Johnny” in which he wrote and arranged all the songs – and yes, I have it! (Believe it or not, I had to go to eBayUK to find a copy!) The thing is, on this solo CD his music manifestly exhibits the SAME distinctive style and arrangement as the music he later wrote for NEEDFIRE! So remember that little tidbit, OK?
Like I said, I sat down with and interviewed John and Dylan in depth.
John said that the original NEEDFIRE was formed in 2005 when another Celtic Rock band that he (very briefly) and Ed Waleski were in together broke up. He and Ed mutually decided to form another band (although Ed now claims that HE alone started NEEDFIRE!), recorded a few demos to work with, and decided on
a blues/rock with Celtic overtones style of music.
They then began looking for musicians. John got drummer Matt Henthorn to join up (he actually left another band); Ed got piper Brad Madison to come. John’s 16-year old son Dylan was truly an accomplished viola player, and asked for the chance to try out for the violin part. He played one rehearsal, and got the part!
John wrote almost all NEEDFIRE’s music, and said their music writing procedure was the same one he always (and still follows): John was the principle songwriter (although Dylan and Ed did contribute, also); John would initially write the vocals and lead guitar parts, then turn it over to Dylan to write the fiddle (and now, bagpipe) and Ed to write the bass lines.
Dylan said that sometimes, they would reverse the procedure, he would give John a fiddle or bagpipe part to work with.
Obviously, this was a music-writing formula that worked – and still works - for them!
When I asked John and Dylan just exactly WHAT happened with NEEDFIRE, because I told them I followed them for several years, then suddenly the group calling itself NEEDFIRE was not NEEDFIRE?
They said that basically there were beginning to be creative and control issues, and they were both actually away from the band, when Ed took it over. (Again, in interviews, Ed claimed that HE alone started the group. In one interview, he said that John and Dylan were employees and he fired them; in another, he said that the three were equal partners in the band, and they individually left several months apart. He also claimed the HE alone wrote and owned all the band’s music.)
At any rate, John said that he actu-
ally had to go to court over a two-year period to get ownership and copyrights to NEEDFIRE’s music, which he had written (and once you listen to John’s earlier – and later – music, there is no doubt about his writing style, that HE did write it – you know, sort of like John Fogerty’s beef with Saul Zaentz!)
So John and Dylan formed CLEGHORN https://www.c leg horn. rocks/ in May 2011, added Paul Muller on Drums and Ryan Carpenter on Bass, and are playing shows all over the country – and world! https://youtu.be/-3Q1fLpxiDI
CLEGHORN will again be headlining, along with BLAGGARDS (see my earlier article in Issue #42 https://issuu.com/publicnews/docs/pn42pq) at the Sherwood Forest Celtic Music Fest this year September 9 th( Free Admission, camping available) http://www. sherwood forest fa ire. com/more-events/celtic-gathering/