Monday, October 9, 2017

"Road Tales" by Darragh J. Brady

Road Tales
by Darragh J. Brady

Road Tales  by Darragh J. Brady

Today we feature author and musician Darragh J. Brady. You can read an excerpt from his memoir, Road Tales, as well as my review. Check out my earlier blog post for an interview with the author.

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."

Darragh J. Brady

Book Video

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.]

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.

By Lynda Dickson
Road Tales is a fascinating collection of fifteen tales about the characters the author meets on his travels and who help shape him into the man he becomes. While he initially presents as the stereotypical drunken rocker, with each story he reveals more and more of himself, peeling back the layers, much like his idol John Lennon. Darragh has a true talent for making people open up to him.
While the book could do with a good edit, the author is such a gifted storyteller that this is one occasion when it didn't bother me. In fact, it made the book all the more authentic.
1. "Don Juan" is set in Mexico and Guatemala. Darragh lives the life of a rock star: drinking, taking in the sights, and performing shows. After surviving a turbulent plane trip and an attempted mugging, he gives us his philosophy on life, as well as his thoughts on religion and politics. He meets a man he refers to as Don Juan, a club owner and aspiring politician in Guatemala who is intent on social reform and who profoundly impacts the author's thinking.
"All I had to do was believe in the greater plan, which consisted of the theory that everything was happening as a result of my thinking, and if I could influence that to make miracles happen, then my moment in the great scheme of things would be worthwhile."
2. "The Guru's Disciple" is set in London, at a time when Darragh is disenchanted with the London music scene and the state of the nation as a whole: "The one thing that was keeping me going on this unforgiving trail was to move people with a song. It was somehow buried deep in my DNA that music was still important, and songs from the republic of the soul meant something, it was a madness that was keeping this bus moving forward."
The title of this chapter refers to a Canadian woman Darragh meets at one of his gigs, who turns out to be into the spiritual aspects of yoga. Through this meeting, he learns that "the only truth for me is what you discover yourself, not just accept everything someone says in a robe or a book as the last word."
The author uses metaphors and similes based around the music industry to convey his thoughts. For example, of his encounter with a yogi, he says: "It was like some huge band had flown in to do three nights at Royal Albert Hall and all the pedlars were trying to cash in hard from the night’s performance."
3. "The Krishna Beatle" is set in London and recounts Darragh's experiences when he gets a small part in a film about Hare Krishna. The chapter title refers to the Krishna actor playing George Harrison in the movie. This meeting leads Darragh to form a new spiritual belief.
"Our paths had crossed in the most surreal way and yet we had both been able to share our equal dilemmas in a way that opened up new horizons and highlighted the quest of fulfilment in each of us."
4. "The Cockney Angel" is set in Brighton, on the South coast of England. The Cockney Angel is a woman Darragh meets while taking salsa lessons. She is a horse whisperer with a heart-breaking story and a prime example of not judging a book by its cover or, in this case, her accent.
5. In "The Digital Messiah", Darragh compares the 1990s to the 1960s in terms of the prevalent drug-induced haze. The Digital Messiah gives him a drug and promises him a life-changing experience.
"I knew that from that day, that I would always try to look deeper than what first meets the eye and strive go beyond my five senses in order to see what is really reality."
6. "The Earth Mother" is set in Queensland, Australia, and refers to an Australian woman who asks Darragh to produce her album. After a strange out-of-body experience, he decides to turn his life around.
7. "The Missionary" is also set in Queensland, Australia, where Darragh has an encounter with a young Aboriginal musician and experiences the power of his faith.
"If you can imagine that vision just as John had then you will see miracles happening every minute you open your eyes, that miracle is called life. If there is such a thing as being reborn then maybe that was my moment of rebirth."
8. "The Bush Doctor" is set in Mt Molloy, south of Cook Town, Queensland, Australia, where "all the best days are spent dreaming and catching up on lost time." He meets Hobo, a part-Aboriginal, part-European man who gives him a crash course on bush remedies. Hobo had suffered a terrible loss, yet remained positive: "The thing that struck me so deeply from this chance encounter with this modern day hero that as much as this blow had struck him, as much as he had cried out to the heavens why, he had not become bitter or twisted in his view of life."
This meeting has a profound effect on the author: "... the seeds that I took from Hobo that day would stay etched on my mind, until my moment comes to move on from this beautiful gift I have been blessed with."
9. "The Eagle's Tale" is set in the historic town of 1770, New South Wales, Australia, named after Captain Cook’s epic journey of that year. Darragh meets a visionary preacher, whose parting words prophesise that, "It’s time to lay low now and let God do the work. Change is coming and if you’re not on the side of love - beware."
10. "The Leader" is set in the town of Maleny on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia. The chapter title refers to a man who is fighting for control of the only radio licence in town, and who teaches Darragh the qualities of a true leader: "All good leaders are followed, not through fear, but through a willingness to see the greater good, to see that by pushing the idea forward that change will happen and legacies are born."
Darragh believes that, "Every leader in the world right now should be questioned over their ethics and cause and if it does not suit the environment or the world as a whole, then they should be exposed for what they are, which are earth rapists. They should then be deposed of power and locked up for the duration of their sad existence."
11. "The Artist" is set in a small Queensland town in Australia called Eumundi and refers to a man whose "artwork reminded me of Van Gogh or Gauguin on acid, or some kind of mind altering substance, which gave rise to visions that only a talent could channel such intense work." This artist left his corporate job, his family, and home, and started from scratch in the town where he ended up after his car ran out of petrol. When he arrived there, he did a good deed and was repaid in kind. Darragh states that his "... paintings were making me think and feel without preaching, which all clever switched on art should do."
By this point, after five years in Australia, our author is starting to lose his accent and comments that, "Not being recognised by your own country folk was akin to a serious rejection."
12. "The White Goddess" is set in Crystal Waters in Maleny on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia. The chapter title refers to Gilli Smyth, one half of the band called Gong, which was established in France in 1967. Darragh describes her as a female artist ahead of her time: "In her words 'It’s not about looking back for long, it’s about looking forward."
13. In "Mabel’s Story", the author is now back in London after a long time away from home. He encounters Mabel, a gifted medium and hears the story of her life.
"As I sat there in a semi trance listening to this amazing woman, time stood still. I had been invited into a world that spoke of trusting your intuition whatever the world may say, going with the one true emotion that we carry in our hearts, taking chances and living for the moment."
14. In the "The High Priestess", the author muses, "Have you ever stopped and thought about the people you have met by chance that changed the course of your life." He was "invited to a friend’s party in the summer of 2005, it was going to be a summer to remember, that was for sure." This chance encounter leads him to meet a white witch, The High Priestess of a coven, with whom he has an intense experience.
"If you could bottle this emotion and give it to every world leader to use as a body lotion, the gunfire would stop."
"... human love could change everything if we understood it properly."
"There are moments you wish you could hold onto forever, this was without doubt one of them."
"It is those chance meetings that if you are open for the experience, can change your perspective forever."
"This shift had changed the way I felt about the expression of love and how I would express it in the future."
15. In "The Animal Communicator", Darragh's dog goes missing and he calls in an animal physic to find out what happened to him. Fascinated by her ability to not only communicate with his dog, but also his horses, the author seeks to find out more about her.
"This powerhouse of a woman, had succeeded in taming her demons, and would not waste another moment in self doubt, as she was too busy using her powers to aid the world for the greater good within the animal and human kingdoms."
The author brings it all full circle with a wonderful closing line:
"I had not only found new friends but a true source of love that just keeps on giving. Maybe that’s what all our journeys are about in the end."
My favourite stories: "The Cockney Angel", "The Bush Doctor", "The Animal Communicator".
Warnings: excessive alcohol consumption, drug use, sexual references, sex scenes, but overall pretty tame compared to what I was expecting!

About the Author
Darragh J. Brady
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.