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Used with the kind permission of Dan Piraro.

Mild Colonial Boys, San Francisco 1986


Somewhere in Belgium 1980.

Frontmen still play together once in a while. 2009.

Photo by Pam Wendell.

He was well known in Eastern Europe.

"Rory McNamara has a voice akin to aural comfort food – congenial, emotionally satisfying, full of soul and pleasing to the ears. A voice you want to listen to over and over again." ...........Larry Carlin, editor of Carltone’s Corner ............

"Since the 1970s, Rory McNamara has been performing his own personal blend of Irish and American music and song. From the night spots of Berlin and Hamburg, the folk music clubs of the British Isles to the festivals and night clubs of the San Francisco Bay Area, audiences have returned time and time again to hear his heartfelt singing from a well chosen repertoire of songs."


Born near London of English and Irish parents, it could be said that Rory's musical career began at the age of ten when he played second ukelele in The Hottentots a school skiffle band. "Hotter than hottest Africa." It could also be said that he inherited the singing talents of his father who had a fine voice and sang in the style of John McCormack and the other popular Irish tenors of his era.

A serious motorcycle accident in Spain resulted in a stay in hospital that lasted almost two years. It was not all bad though because he learned to speak a unique but passable form of Spanish. Also, and more importantly, he found that with the aid of an old nylon string guitar that someone had left behind at the hospital, he was able to entertain his fellow patients with an ever growing list of songs.

After his release from the hospital, Rory fell in with some Scottish and Irish traditional musicians in Hertfordshire and London and began to play in the folk clubs while apprenticing in the noble art of busking with Mick Softley. For a short period, he even played in the London Underground with his neighbour Dick Gaughan who was himself just beginning his career as a guitarist and singer. A singing part in a West End satire about The Guinness Book Of Records was next and then it was time to head for the continent again.

Rory toured almost constantly for the next two years, playing and singing in the folk music venues of Holland, Belgium, Germany and France. He formed a band called Home Cooking with American banjo player Rodney White and the Irish fiddler Imor Byrne as well as working solo.

Arriving in San Francisco in late 1974, Rory joined forces with fiddler Doug Holloway, playing around many of the clubs of the Haight Ashbury and North Beach districts of the city as a duo going by the name of Blind Pig. A later collaboration with songwriter Billy Marlowe resulted in the release of his first album More is Better on the Belgian Parsifal label in 1979. This album produced by Dave Deighton and Ron Cottam featured Billy Marlowe's songs and the talents of some of Belgium's finest studio musicians. During this time, Rory played in a band called Fishing Trip with the aforementioned Dave Deighton, the brothers Walter and Sooike Kerkhofs and another old compadre, Peter Buurlage.

Settling in San Francisco, Rory became active in the vibrant folk music scene. In 1984, his second album Still Got That Look In His Eye came out on Northern California's Kicking Mule label (KM323). For this, he recruited the assistance of local Bay Area musicians Mayne Smith, Sue Draheim, David Merrill, Kay Burnett, Sylvia Herold and Mike Wilhelm.

The next great adventure was the Mild Colonial Boys. Starting out as a trio called Rebels Without Applause, the band went through many name changes. With the late John Cronin of Killarney on accordion, John Caulfield playing fiddle and mandolin and Rory singing and playing guitar, the band soon became a favourite of the San Francisco Irish community and bar scene. Fergus Feely joined on mandola and when Johnny Cronin moved back to New York and was replaced by Chris Andreetti, the band featured four strong singing voices. This lineup continued playing for some four years and made one recording Paddy On The Fault Line which was released just in time to coincide with the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Twenty years on and the band still plays regularly as a trio with John Caulfield, Rory and Kyle Alden.

In 1994, Rory and long time friend Stevie Coyle formed The Frontmen and worked together for the next three years releasing the eponymously titled The Frontmen, an album that was enthusiastically received by such publications as Sing Out... "A priceless little gem" and Dirty Linen..."This should be required listening." Sometime in early 1998, The Frontmen decided to go in different musical directions and Stevie went off to form a little band called The Waybacks.

Moving to Santa Rosa brought Rory into contact with a fresh group of musicians and influences out of which The Ring Of Truth Trio was formed. People often ask how a band called a trio could possibly have four members. One explanation might be that the word trio does not refer to the number of band members but rather to a Trinity like philosophy regarding "truth in musical content." There are other theories as well and one should experience a concert by the band to begin to fully grasp some of the concepts that are at play here. Most of the new album, So Far, So Good was recorded live by the band in a small studio in Northern California and the rest captured at various locations. The members of the Ring Of Truth Trio, during the time of the basic recording sessions were Rory, Henry Nagle (pedal steel, guitar and vocals), Muir Houghton (bass) and Ross Harris (drums and percussion).



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