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From: Coleraine, Co.Derry

Active: 1972-78

Style: Country Rock



Rodeo were a country rock band formed by Errol Walsh from Coleraine. They considered changing their name to Trouble sometime in 1973 but instead stuck with Rodeo. Rodeo were highly rated by fans and press alike. They were considered musically very sophisticated, and at the time were by far the best country rock band in Ireland as well as the hottest live band. Their live set included covers of the Eagles, the Grateful Dead and Little Feat. They were often compared to Pure Prairie League, Brinsley Schwartz, Commander Cody, The Band and the Flying Burrito Brothers.

Dougie Gough and Dusty McSheffrey were cousins. Dusty McSheffrey was the younger brother of Les McSheffrey, who played bass in a number of Northern groups including Mad Baron John and The Executioners, who drove around in an old car with a coffin on the roof, The Great Eight, The Monarchs showband, with Van Morrison on sax, and most notably with Margo & The Marvettes, who moved to the UK in 1964 and sustained a successful career until 1972, though none of their four singles achieved much success.

Rodeo toured in Ireland, England, Scotland, and Canada. They supported many visiting acts (though not Procol Harum in October 1973, which was cancelled). They appeared on RTE's Talk About Pop TV show in October 1973. A TV special for broadcast in early 1974 was planned by UTV but I am unsure if this actually happened.

Rodeo released just one single on the short-lived Thrust label in the first half of 1974. "Dance To The Music", a band original, is backed by a cover of Shel Silverstein's "Freakin' At The Freakers' Ball". It was recorded at Eamonn Andrews Studios and self-produced by the band. The band relocated from Coleraine to Dublin at this time, which was tough on those with young familes. Their manager during the 1972-74 period was Peter Mate who'd quite University to manage the band. He also part managed Thurst Records until he and John Weir fell out. The Thrust single sold extremely well in Ireland, and it is not too hard to find. The picture sleeve is a little less common.

Rodeo relocated to the UK circa 1975 in an attempt to make a breakthrough. They supported Horslips on their 1975 UK tour which ended with an invitation from Dave Robinson (band manager, later co-founder of Stiff Records) for a residency at the Hope & Anchor in London. They did a solid month of dates in London with Bees Make Honey and the rest of the London Pub Scene, but it nearly broke the band financially. The Ireland-to-London transition was a common hurdle for Irish bands at that time, and was often a risky one. While a record deal was reputedly close, it didn't come quickly enough for Rodeo, and the band left. Craig Mathieson joined Bananas who relocated to New York in 1975.

Nicky Ash(e) (keyboards) had a farmhouse cum studio where the band could rehearse and record. In the kitchen was a large Kelvinator fridge. This was the source of the name the band began using when playing live for fun in local pubs: The Kelvinators. Another name used occasionally was Red Herrings. The band still did occasional concerts as Rodeo with their original material in larger venues.

Later the band went to live on the Isle of Arran (Scotland) where Nick rebuilt his studio and they played in local hotels as the Kelvinators. They also played in Glasgow. Damien O'Reilly (ex Chips) joined and played keyboards during this period, circa 1977. Jonnie Miles and Dusty McSheffrey also worked as the rhythm section for a Glasgow funk band Croppa, and came in contact with Scottish new wave act Albania, who'd formed in 1978. Dusty's cousin Dougie Gough recorded with Albania though the LP wouldn't come out until 1981, by which time he was a Mighty Shamrock. When Albania later played in Ireland (with Miles and McSheffrey in the ranks), they did a gig with the Shamrocks in Kelly's in Portrush. See Albania's entry for more details.

Rodeo returned to the stage in Dublin after a four year absence in May 1979 playing The Sportsman's Inn (May 12th), McGonagles (May 13th) and appeared on RTE's Our Times. The lineup at this time was Dougie Gough (guitar), Damien O'Reilly (keyboards), Nicky Ash(e) (keyboards), Dusty McSheffrey (bass) and Scotty McNichol (drums). But this was the bands last gasp. Errol Walsh continued with Stagalee. Miles and McSheffrey became involved in Albania And Dougie joined The Mighty Shamrocks.


• Dance To The Music / Freakin' At The Freakers' Ball
7" - Thrust Records - THR101 - IRL 1974 - some copies with PS


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