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By William B. Devine


Arriving at the Royal Hotel, Boyle for the Reunion Dinner. All former Jivenaires to attend. Had not seen most of them since 1968 or earlier. How had the years treated them, would I recognize them, would they recognize me? Anticipation and apprehension. Some advantage in having seen Sean Kenny, Monty Montomery and Pat Hoye on the Website recently.

Inside Hotel meet Sean who lives up to his website image. Mutual instant recognition and the exchange of hearty greetings. Christy Regan clearly recognizable and in typical good form. Ricky McCaffrey greets me, fail to recognize him instantly - not that he has disimproved, quite the opposite, having a much better physique than in his younger days. Michael Kennedy now sporting a beard resembles his younger brother Sean which can’t be bad, but Michael quickly straightens me out. Less trouble with Monty, Pat Hoye and Liam Conroy (who has not changed in build but whose tighter hair style and spectacles add a certain distinction). Had wondered how over two decades of married life in Italy would have affected Evelyn, find that I recognize her immediately. As the Boyle based organizer who knows the who, the what, the where and the when, Sean is the host of the evening and carries it off with the self assurance which is his trademark and which is to add so much to the evening’s events.

Move into the diningroom but postpone starting meal until Pat Hever arrives. Contact by mobile establishes he is almost here. Duly arrives to round of applause. No trouble recognizing him as he goodhumouredly offers an explanation for the delay No interest in explanations, we are just glad to see him, and not merely because the meal can now start. No better man to make the grand entrance. My brother Michael (former London based English Agent of the band) is also present. Danny Murray who was so active in instigating the reunion and in helping to organize it and establishing the website unable to attend, detained in hospital until 1st June. Everybody agrees “What rotten luck”, not only for Danny but for everybody else who had been so looking forward to meeting him. His wife Maureen and daughter Deirdre are present. Everyone grateful that they made it. Pat Feely the only deceased member of the band who died in his 40’s is fondly remembered and is represented by his wife Peggy. Spouses and other family members make up the balance of the group.

Sean distributes to each band member souvenir metal badges bearing the immortal words “Still Jiving” and around the circular badge the words “2002 Jivenaires Reunion 31st May” followed by the website address. Clearly badges of honour and rare collectors items..

Enjoyable meal and conversation follows, too little time to catch up adequately on a 35 year backlog. Sean asks me to say a few words. Welcome Evelyn back from Italy with husband Roberto (loud applause), Pat Hoye back from Boston (more applause) and everybody else from different parts of Ireland. Read from letter received from original member Andrew McKeon who recalls old memories and regrets he cannot attend. He mentions all the original members including Evelyn “and her travelling companion Irene Murray” (Irene is now the travelling companion on life’s journey for her husband Monty). Following some more mostly relevant remarks photographs are taken by Christy Regan. All band members sign a Get Well card for Danny so that Maureen and Deirdre can take it back with them. Before long we find ourselves vacating the Royal to move to the Forest Park Hotel for the main event - the Jivenaires Reunion Dance.

The Dance

A good number of tickets had been sold in advance – but would the people actually turn up, and if they did would they be disappointed? After less than two days of rehearsal would the band gel well together and would it be safe to present a selection of music from the 1960’s?

It was clear from an early stage that people were arriving in large numbers and soon all available seating was gone. The hall was packed to capacity by the time the MC Eddie Murphy announced to an expectant crowd “Give a big welcome to The Jivenaires back in Boyle after a short interval of 35 years!” An enthusiastic round of applause and the band breaks into the old Crystals’ number Da Doo Ron Ron with Evelyn on vocals sounding as vibrant as she did in 1967 when she last sang the song with the Mystics as the Jivenaires had then become. Pat Hever is superb on drums, the whole band joins in the chorus and Pat then supports Evelyn on the “Yes his name was Bill” line with a crash of cymbals that commands attention from those outside the hall as well as inside. Sean, Monty and Pat make it clear that none of them has been in retirement and the years of experience have come to the surface to achieve a remarkable tightly knit performance. The dance floor has become animated with energetic dancers, the band sings the last chorus, the music comes to a stop – and there is a positive roar of approval and prolonged applause from the crowd. This is the defining moment of the night. It is not just like the old days – it is better. . The crowd have not been disappointed and they make it clear that the band are among friends.

Monty sings the Kinks’ Dedicated Follower of Fashion, Sean delivers the Stones Honky Tonk Woman, Pat Hoye sings the Merseys’ 1966 hit Sorrow and Pat Hever goes back to the 1950s for Jackie Wilson’s Reet Petite. The place is rocking at this stage. Sean announces greetings from time to time for dancers celebrating their birthdays – not for 20th or 21st birthdays as was the case the last time the Jivenaires played but for 54th and 55th birthdays and 30th and 35th anniversaries.

Pat Hever who had been drummer for the first ever appearance of the Jivenaires and then had to depart was now making a big impression at the last Jivenaires performance – not just as a drummer but as a rock singer. A rock medley of Buddy Holly’s Oh Boy and Rave On with a number of Elvis’s hits Teddy Bear, Don’t Be Cruel etc. are subsequently followed by some of the more difficult Elvis songs to deliver with conviction – Jailhouse Rock, Wear My Ring Around Your Neck and Such a Night are performed with a respect for the originals that you would get only from a dedicated Elvis fan.

Sean encourages people to introduce themselves to one another and talk – he had no need to worry as people all over the hall are meeting friends they had not seen for many years. I am grateful for the opportunity of meeting so many people who are good enough to introduce themselves or who I recognize, but time for talk is very limited. This is a night for wallowing unapologetically in nostalgia and savouring every minute of it. The feelgood factor is palpable.

Sean invites up on stage the other former members of the band who are in the hall – Christy Regan, Michael Kennedy, Liam Conroy and Ricky McCaffrey. He plays a tape of Pat Feely singing Love’s Gonna Live Here recorded in The Eamonn Andrews Studios in Dublin in 1965 which gets a generous round of applause. Sean invites me to say a few words and I thank the people who had come in such numbers, Boyle Celtic Football Club who had promoted the event and made it possible, the Roscommon Herald who had not only reported news but had helped to make it by publishing that interview with Pat Hoye and Sean which ultimately lead to the suggestion for the reunion. I say that we remembered not only the Jivenaires but all the bands of that era – the Royal, the Capitol, the Miami, the Cadets, Pat McGuigan and the Big Four, the Dixielanders – they know them as well as I do and if they don’t they will find them on the Jivenaires website for which I say a big thank you to Danny Murray and refer to the tragedy of his absence. Also recall Pat Feely who would have loved this gathering, that he is, no doubt, here in spirit and we certainly remember him.

Ricky McCaffrey who had apologized for being able to stay only a short time is still here after midnight and comes up on stage to sing two Beatles songs. Michael Kennedy joins the band for a short time and plays guitar as if he had never stopped and Liam Conroy does a spell on the drums. Liam of quiet temperament adopts a different persona when he finds a pair of drumsticks in his hands and belts it out with the best of them. He has not changed in this respect.

The band take turns at the hits of the 60’s – Van Morrison’s Brown Eyed Girl from Pat Hoye, Mighty Quinn the Manfred Mann hit from Monty, Dusty Springfield’s I Only Want to Be with You from Evelyn, Johnny Horton’s North to Alaska from Sean – the list went on and on.

Sean introduces Evelyn singing the Locomotion with a brief reference to Little Eva – no acknowledgment here of Kylie Minogue’s 1980’s version. And Evelyn does Those Boots Were Made for Walking just as she had done on RTE television’s Showband Show in 1966. She is singing so well that Sean feels she should get full credit by announcing that she has not sung in public in 35 years and has hardly spoken any English in over 20 years in Italy.

It’s nearly 3 a.m. and the atmosphere is getting even better. The crowd join in the chorus for the Gary U.S. Bonds hit New Orleans and again for Hang On Sloopy. The final dance is played and the crowd call for more. Again and again the band plays more on request and finally and reluctantly plays the national anthem. Well wishers shake hands with the band members and photographs are taken. Jivenaires and Mystics posters on the walls are taken down as souvenirs. I recall some words I overheard earlier in a conversation between two men – "the nostalgia is great all the same, isn’t it?."

And it was!

William B. Devine

B&W pic of William B. Devine

©William B. Devine 2002

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page updated: Saturday, 7 August 2004