Chapter 2 – The USA adventure

It’s summer 1984 and Tony and Kevin are working casual summer jobs – Tony in New Jersey, Kevin in upstate New York. They spot a classified ad in the New York Irish paper – a bar in Texas looking to fill a residency. Dropping quarters into a payphone, the boys convince the owner that they are the men for the job and he offers them the gig on a one-week trial. They quickly get busy adapting their old showband set into a folk and country blend, coming up with a name for their duo – Beamish’s Goat – and booking flights.

Days later, the owner of Kenneally’s bar picks them up from Houston airport in his battered pick-up truck. They flung instruments and bags into the back of the truck, climb aboard and the adventure begins. That first week is four nights on the trot, four hours a night. It’s a success – and on the Saturday night after hours the boss counts out their winnings in a stack of dollar bills and extends the residency another month. Word gets around and there are often new faces in the crowd. The boys fine-tune the set day by day and soon add well-received Americana tunes from the likes of local legend Joe Ely. Other bars hear about them, and the boys play venues across Houston and elsewhere in Texas, including a great night at the still legendary Maggie Mae’s in Austin.

All this lays the groundwork for an intense one-week tour the following Spring – for the US institution of St Patrick’s weekend, playing multiple times per day across Houston to hundreds of people per show – visiting Kenneally’s again and Griff’s pub too – both venues still going today.

The summer of ‘85 sees the boys return for an extended US tour. Texas again of course, across Houston, Dallas and back to Maggie Mae’s in Austin. As their following grows, they’re doing live interviews on radio and getting rave reviews in local newspapers. On the days when they aren’t gigging, they’re hitting the phones to try and land gigs in California and New York. Again, their pitches come off and soon they’re in San Francisco playing multiple venues – including the Plough and Stars pub that was a legendary venue then, and still is today, for touring artists and local musicians alike. Having now clocked up some 70+ shows in the USA, this tour finishes with a couple of gigs at The Cork Lounge in Long Island on the outskirts of New York City. From coast to coast they’d had offers to be managed and become professional musicians but with graduate jobs lined up back home they opt for the career path and head home.