Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"Road Tales" by Darragh J. Brady

Road Tales
by Darragh J. Brady

Author and musician Darragh J. Brady stops by today for an interview and to share an excerpt from his memoir, Road Tales.

Singer-songwriter and Music Producer Darragh J Brady has been travelling the globe promoting the ancient art of storytelling through Music, a passion which has driven him literally to the edge and back. From a bumpy bus ride with a machete-wielding South American, to playing one of his heroes on screen, Darragh tells all in this incredible series of yarns documenting life on the road. This superb story-teller pulls you into his tales of wonder – whether on a dusty Australian road or flying alongside him on a hallucinogenic ride. Inspiring characters leap off the page – you will be humbled by the stoicism and self-belief of an injured mandolin player and will fall in love with the beautiful and compassionate Cockney Angel. Climb aboard the magic bus for a trip of a lifetime!
Road Tales is a crazy trip across the world and documents a period of time in a British musician's life, when all that mattered was the music and the road ahead.
It is a testament to other peoples' stories, rather than the writer, and digs into the mantle of what makes people tick, while some people thrive others dive.
The author was intrigued by the amount of different tales he was hearing from the Aboriginal stolen generation pushed back to a meagre existence on the fringes of society, to Guatemalan community leaders who would risk their lives to save the greater population of their native people.
Each chapter is bound with a tinge of a rock musician on the edge of chaos finding himself in the strangest locations and situations, like having a gun pointed to his head in a Guatemalan rainforest, to causing mayhem entering the United States, though he always seems to find the beauty in the frail story of human existence.
Road Tales consists of 15 chapters, each one a different character from a different part of the world, each with their own archetype that seeks to give insights into the complicated tale of human nature.
Each tale asks questions like, "what is altruism?", "what is faith?", "what is guru worship?" and "what makes certain people reach up from adversity and succeed in being a better person through the challenges they have been given?"
Read it if you are looking for an amazing read that takes you on a journey and at the end hopefully allows you to say, "You know what, if they can get through their challenges then maybe I stand a chance with mine."

Chapter 1 Don Juan
The BA Flight to Mexico City was nearing its landing point, turning across the huge expanse of buildings and people below us like a miniature world that was getting bigger with every second of the descent. The plane turned sharply to the left in order to steady its incoming position and people were shuffling about, restless after being stuck in the air for 10 hours, when BOOM!
A huge gasp from all the passengers was let out like an orchestra hitting the same note and filling the cabin with fear and amazement by the fact that the plane was still intact.  A twisted line of electricity bellowed out of the sky, hit the right wing bang on, and made the plane shudder as if we’d been hit by a missile. The pilots felt the judder, but in true British fashion they carried on steadying the plane into its descent.
‘Welcome To Mexico! We hope you had a pleasant flight with us. Excuse the slight judder. It was just a random bit of lightening and nothing at all to worry about. The time is 10am local time. We look forward to seeing you again soon.’
The relief at those words made me feel like kissing the ground and the pilots for that matter as we touched down. I was not the greatest flyer in the world and any little bit of noise made me nervous. However, I had a good strategy. My flight survival plan went a bit like this:
1. Check bags in.
2. Get to Departure lounge bar.
3. Order bottle of Champagne.
4. Drink Bottle.
5. Check time and boarding info.
6. If more time, repeat numbers 3 and 4.
This would go on till the last call to board the plane when I would make a mad dash to the departure gate and try to sweeten up the check in attendants with some drunken charm. I would find my seat, wait till the plane took off and when the belt light went off I would order another bottle of fizz. I would end up so loaded by the time I landed that I played catch the luggage at the baggage collection turner and then tried to walk in a straight line past the customs crew.
I once flew to Atlanta to do a couple of shows in a place called Athens, home to REM and the B52’s, and was so out of it that I forgot what I was actually there for. That was a real mind blank moment. This was after the second invasion of Iraq which meant that things had stepped up a gear in terms of paranoia and the US was on high alert. I wandered through passport control like a lost soul looking for redemption only to find a hyped up Afro-American lady asking what the purpose of my visit was? Being completely wasted, I told her that I had not got a clue, but thought she looked hot with her gun and uniform thing going on. She asked me again, and this time my manager at the time stepped in and told her that I was a British musician doing some shows in the Athens area and promised that I would cause no threat whatsoever to the American people.
That was not an isolated event. In fact I think that over a ten year period of flying around the world, I was not once of sane mind when I landed. This flight to Mexico was to be no exception to the rule of intoxication, and the routine of grabbing bags from the baggage recovery lounge commenced. ‘There it goes; next time round it’s mine.’ People were stepping away from this fully loaded freak that was looking worse for wear at 10.30am on a Wednesday morning in Mexico City’s international airport. Thank God for sunglasses; the standard kit for all wasted musicians living out a hyped up and fuelled rock n’ roll fantasy.
The reason for the journey was a simple one. I would head down to Acapulco and play some gigs. Nothing was booked or planned so I would just see what would happen when I got there. I had just spent 6 weeks doing a stint of gigs in Egypt, Bahrain and Lebanon, playing R + B cover versions with a mad West Indian girl from South London which meant that I had money in my pocket and the need to play some original music to a totally different crowd.
If I was writing a confession of a musician, the first chapter would be based on the fact that we just love to play, and in my line of work you get to go to places that some people could only ever dream of going to.
We get to see the dark side of town while most holiday makers stay close to the pool and the bar to avoid getting kidnapped and held for ransom.
Not that this doesn’t happen so I guess if you give a damn about your own safety then you best stay in the hotel complex. However, if you like a little bit of dancing on the wild side then you best come with me.
Mexico City is one of the wildest cities on the planet with no shortage of eye openers to be seen and experienced. I spent a few days finding my bearings and checking out the pyramids and Aztec ruins. It was all here, history, depth, people, culture, danger, and a celebration of life that only those that live on the edge will feel.
I was sitting in the Centro Historico, downtown Mexico City, watching the world breeze past. Everyone was on a mission to get something and somewhere, like anywhere in the world, but here you could see things that you wouldn’t see anywhere else.
A man walked passed carrying a full statue of the ‘Mother Mary’ on his back, which told a story of a million words as he passed me by. The passion of people who struggle to make their daily bread and yet hold so much belief in the reverence of religion never ceases to amaze me. This individual was bearing a heavy church statue for whatever reason, which I was not certain of, and it was biblical as he bowed under the strain of its weight in the midday sun of a Mexican afternoon.
Did the suffering make him feel that he was doing something to gain a better life after this one? Was it some re-enactment of the slaughter of Jesus Christ, only this time he was carrying his mother rather than a cross?
I always thought this kind of thing was a big risk to take. Paying penance now for a better after life gig never really sat well with me. I’d rather take my chances and negotiate later. The guilt of a Catholic religion was still buried deep in my subconscious. They had done a good job on all of us in making us feel like we should live our lives in a box. If you dared stepping out then hell and damnation would follow you. Even writing this makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong, but in truth we really only have this one chance to have as much fun as we can before the lights go out.
As long as you look after the planet and everyone around you then all the bases are covered in my book.
Money is not the root of all evil, it is a means to an end and if you use it right then you can work miracles.
Sex is something to be enjoyed, and as long as you do it with someone you love, then what’s the big deal?
Killing is an obvious no no, as well as stealing things you have not earned, and of course so is lying.
The rest of the sins are open to question, such as gambling for example, but even that, if you feel it and can handle the loss, the choice is yours. The ‘Ten Commandments’ are all negative commands in my eyes, and should have been balanced up.
There should be another ten stating:
11. ‘Thou Shall Have Lots of Fun While You Have the Chance’
12. ‘Thou Shall Hold Back for Nothing’
13. ‘Thou Shall Laugh at Every Opportunity’
14. ‘Thou Shall Rock Hard’
15. ‘Thou Shall Not Believe a Word Anyone Who Works in Government Says’
16. ‘Thou Shall Not Get Wound Up by Idiots’
17. ‘Thou Shall Not Be Afraid to Strut Thy Stuff’
18. ‘Thou Shall Dance Like a Crazy Thing’
19. ‘Thou Shall Not Worship Money, but the Ideas to Make the Cash’ (as long as they do not damage the planets or anything that live on them)
20. ‘Thou Shall Not Give a **** What Other People Think of Them’.
We have been conditioned to fear everything, as if there isn’t enough to keep you concerned by nature imploding on us, we have to fear that if we don’t worship this thing in the sky that looks like an old man, then we are, how do you say in French? ‘Buggered’.
I have total respect for people who hold their beliefs in statues and buildings as it gives them something to hold onto in times of trouble, a rock that inspires hope, but as regards to the whole ‘Believe in my God thing or else!’ it is a turn off for me.
Mexico City was really quite an eye opener. There were no go zones that I seemed to end up in at the end of the night when the more normal places closed. It was as if I was on a mission to push my existence to the edge and then see where that led. Places and scenarios that you only see in movies were being acted out in a real life drama in my waking reality. These were places where you could end up with a bullet in your head for just being there.
After spending a night on a street somewhere on the north side of the city where anything goes if you have the money, I decided it might be an idea to cut loose and head to Acapulco for some beach action.
The journey down to the Pacific coast was again like being in a western movie; dry arid landscapes, beating hot sun, huge cactus trees and mountains that said loudly, ‘I’ll give you an adventure if you want one.’ All that was missing was Clint Eastwood and his cowboy buddies.
I kept looking out of the windows in a reflex state in case bandits on horseback came flying down the range to high-jack the stage coach. It wasn’t that far off the mark. They just didn’t use horses anymore. The further south you went the more likely it was that your vehicle would get pulled over at gunpoint by bandits or government rebels called the Zapatistas.
The Zapatistas had been fighting a civil war with the Mexican government since 1995 over land rights and the fact that the Mayan people had been getting a bad deal since the Spanish turned up in the 1500’s.
It was only fair that they would use any means necessary to make themselves heard, and as the saying goes ‘Power concedes nothing without demand so praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.’
For now that was a distant dream. All I had in mind was going ‘Loco down in Acapulco’ as it was a place which I fancied staying in a little too long, and that was the master plan for now.
On arrival at the Bahia De Acapulco, I was welcomed by a Mexican in a fine sombrero and his well-rehearsed lines flowed effortlessly. ‘Senor, welcome to the best town in the world!’
I thanked him, thinking yes mate, this is it!
‘I have accommodation that overlooks the Bahia.’
With an offer like that how could I say no? ‘Si Senor. Muchas gracias,’ I replied.
Within a split second I was whisked into his waiting jeep and we sped off into the main drag where the beach was and people were waiting for the night to come around.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]

Interview With the Author
Darragh J. Brady joins me today to discuss his new book, Road Tales.
For what age group do you recommend your book?
Anywhere from 16 to 90!
What sparked the idea for this book?
I got the idea from touring as a musician for fifteen years around the world and meeting amazing people who all had 360 tales to tell.
So, which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the book?
Characters and situations give me ideas for storylines.
What was the hardest part to write in this book?
Finishing it was the hardest part of the process.
How do you hope this book affects its readers?
The book contains positively uplifting stories to allow the reader to believe that miracles can happen.
How long did it take you to write this book?
Six months.
What is your writing routine?
Get down to it early and knock out some pages before hitting the studio to make some music.
How did you get your book published?
Hustling hard.
What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?
Do it.
What does your family think of your writing?
Rubbish, no they love it!
Please tell us a bit about your childhood.
It was a bit broken. To be fair, father died when I was nine and I grew up in a house of alcoholics. I left school early, got a job in a factory, left after a week, joined a band and went on tour for fifteen years.
Did you like to read when you were a child?
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I first started writing songs, then I had a couple of short stories published when I was around 16 years old.
Did your childhood experiences influence your writing?
Yes. I'm not sure you can't be influenced by all your experiences.
Which writers have influenced you the most?
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
So far, just that I have a mad imagination, but that's just my life.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I'll have a new album out next year and some short stories, plus a new book called The Rise And Fall Of Rock n Roll Band.
Anything else you would like to add?
Words put together in the right way can change the world.
Fantastic! Thank you for taking the time to stop by today, Darragh. Best of luck with your future projects.

About the Author
Irish-born Darragh J. Brady is a rock steady musician and writer who is not afraid to go out on the edge if it means bringing something good back from it.
Dar.Ra has graced the UK national charts and dance charts with two top 40s and two number one dance records with acts signed to EMI, BMG, Festival Records (Australia), plus remixed legends like Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Tears for Fears, Urban Harmonix ft Rachel Brown (Faithless, Groove Armada), and many others along the way.
He has lived his life in recording studios around the world making some amazing sonic masterpieces along the way, from Dance to Rock to World Music and back again, and runs his own record label, Kusha Deep Music.
His first solo album Soul Hours released in 2010 made album of the week of Spain’s Heart FM as well as received support from BBC Radio, playing to over 1 million people in one on air live show.
His follow up album Battle Hymns has been used on various TV and Film projects from BBC’s Match Of The Day to US ABC TV films starring Hilary Duff.
Dar.Ra wrote and produced the music for US documentary City of Hope, which told the story of the street kids of São Paulo and how two Americans set up one of the most successful schools, with literally no money.
He has also recently been asked to join the writing team on the strength of his first book, for a new film project set in Wales about the Welsh Uprising against Edward 1st in the 12 century, which will have a Game Of Thrones feel about it.
Road Tales, Darragh’s debut novel, follows his adventures on the road as a touring musician, opening up a whole new dimension by introducing us to amazing people from around the globe to gain insight from their life challenges. Each chapter explores the realms of possibility and what it means to be alive in the 21st century, asking questions such as what is faith, what is altruism what makes people do amazing things while they are here on the planet, while others settle for a life more ordinary.
There will be a collection of short stories titled Caught Short released later this year, with a new novel and solo album planned for next year.