A Kick ass band from Belfast.

They are:

  • Brian Acton (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars)
  • Dan Donnelly (vocals, mandolin, guitar, percussion, and plumbing)
  • Bruce Cabbyje (double bass)
  • Phil Duffy (drums)

A quick listen through their records will also reveal kazoo, trumpet, and of course the string section. (the plumbing is played digeri-doo style).

Their musical style is, as with all good bands, tricky to define. Their earlier work is influenced by ragtime, and later work by jazz, reggae and trip hop. Try a few tracks out at http://www.watercress.net

They tour almost continuously, mainly in the USA and Ireland, whilest making occasional forays accross to Britain. They run their own record label, "Creeping Herb". Accordng to a shop owner in Ballymena, the arrival of a new Watercress record is heralded by one of the band members arriving with a suitcase full of CDs. This implies a certain amateurism, but such does not extend to their recordings or live performances which are polished, but fun.

Discography

-With comments where I have the record.

    1995

  • Summertime - "Summertime with me", "Alligators", "Photograph", "Boneyman"
  • 1996

  • Candlemaker - "Candlemaker", "Your Ring", "Sad", "Me and my Mouth"

    This was their first success. Candlemaker is a cheerful song about a woman who drunk so much gin, she didn't notice that her house was burning down around her. Your Ring is a tale of lost love. Sad is another tragic tale topped and tailed by 8 bars of people shouting "sad!". Me And My Mouth describes how the protagonist can't trust himself to form proper sentences, is interspersed with chanted gibberish and ends with an hilarious kazoo solo.

  • Tripped Up - "Tripped Up", "Alarm Bells", "Invisible", "Have a Nice Day", "Tripped Up(extended)"

  • 1997

  • Spacegirl - "Spacegirl", "I'm so clumsy", "This Ball's Never Gonna Get", "candlemaker (demo).

    Spacegirl is about the protagonist's friend having a relationship with a space alien. It's funny. "This Ball's Never Gonna Get" is truly wierd. It features, rap, ragtime, sound effects, and yet is fully coherent.

  • 1998

  • Stars Shine On - "Stars Shine On", "Imaginary Love", "Don't Be A Dope", "Doobie A Dope", "Eat Sweets, Loose Teeth".

    Stars Shine On is a commentry about the futility of worry, to a tune with a similar structure to twinkle, twinkle little star. Imaginary Love is a fun ditty about the protagonist getting through his day with the help of a ficticious girlfriend. Don't Be A Dope is a critique of the National Lottery. Eat Sweets, Lose Teeth (live fast, die young) is a sweet-toothed blues number.

  • Holiday - "Holiday", "She's Leafy"

    Holiday is about losing yourself abroad. She's Leafy is a 1950's style rock 'n' roll arrangement about a woman who is like a tree.

  • Bummer - "Spacegirl", "Candlemaker", "Tripped Up", "Holiday", "Gravity", "Stars Shine On", "I Wish (someone would shoot me)", "Francie Brady d.a.f (r.i.p.)", "Plastercast", "Cruelty", "Someone's Watching You", "Other Things", "Oh Yeah", "Skyrocket", "Fire In The Cup", "Everybody Think's I'm David Sole"

    The best songs on this, their first album are Cruelty, Gravity and Sky Rocket. Cruelty is a short piece consisting of a list of cruel activites. Gravity is in alternating 5/4 and 3/4 time, and borrows from the jazz classic Take Five. Sky Rocket starts with a simple traditional Greek arrangement, and builds to a frenzied Gypsy violin solo.

A small perennial herb, Nasturtium officinale that is often found growing near running water, hence its common name. It also grows well in moist soil and enjoys a shady place in the garden. It grows to a height of 50 cm (16 in), belongs in the extensive mustard/Brassicaceae family and has vivid deep green foliage, each branch containing around 15 or so small leaves.

Watercress is a popular salad ingredient, used either on its own or in a mixture of salad leaves and herbs as in mesclun. It has an invigorating peppery taste that marries well to rich flavours. A very popular bistro dish in many Australian restaurants of late is a prime cut of steak, garnished with a few sprigs of watercress and some mustard or café de Paris butter.

I personally love it as a stand alone salad ingredient with a few snappy ingredients to match its peppery bite. A chef in Melbourne, Greg Malouf, uses watercress in lieu of parsley for his rendition of tabouleh. Try adding watercress to Footprints' tabouleh recipe, but don't tell him, as it is far from traditional. Or for a full-flavoured light meal that sings praise to the wonders of watercress, try the following simple recipe.

Watercress and goat's cheese salad

Ingredients

Method

Wash and clean the watercress, a procedure that is dealt with here. Peel the eggs and cut into quarters. Chop the anchovy into small pieces. Mix together the oil, vinegar and seasonings. Place the watercress, half the goat's cheese, the anchovies into a bowl and top with the dressing. Toss well to combine and divide between 4 plates. Scatter with the eggs, sippets, capsicum and remaining goat's cheese.

Serve up with a dry sauvignon blanc that would play a treat with the goat's cheese and peppery notes of the watercress.

Personally, I've always wondered how these western Anglo-Saxon cooks manage to get away with serving raw watercress. I mean - have you tasted the raw stuff?

In my experience, watercress makes a good soup. Pretty easily made too.

Watercress soup
Boil some water with some chicken/beef/pork bones (or use some soup stock).

After this stuff has simmered for a while, toss in a bunch of watercress that's been cleaned and cut to about 5-7cm length pieces. You need enough watercress to fill up the empty water space such that you can still stir the mixture (alternatively, you estimate the amount of water by working backwards from the amount of watercress you have). Toss in some garlic cloves and some peppercorns. A touch of soy sauce to taste.

Boil on low to medium heat for ... between 1/2 to 2 hours. If you toss in some meat together with the soup bones, this can be a complete meal taken with rice.

Relatively easy to make. The toughest bit is washing the watercress.

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