little john nee
with The Curly Organ
The Black Gate
9pm, January 29th
Little John Nee is sometimes based in the west of Ireland and sometimes based in the north west of Ireland. He was born in Glasgow, spent his summers in Donegal, and returned to his parents hometown Letterkenny at the age of twelve. Here L.J. sang in his first rock ‘n’ roll garage bands, playing support to the likes of “Philomena Begley and her Ramblin’ Men” in the legendary Fiesta ballroom. With the band Hemlock he toured the dancehalls of Donegal in the summers.
He moved to London in 1977 where he lived in various squats in Islington and Stoke Newington, writing poems and working on building sites in the tradition of Patrick Mc Gill “the navvy poet”. He developed a punk beat poet character “The Zen Mc Gonagal” doing guest spots at the Dalston Junction Alternative Cabaret.
In 1982 he returned to Dublin where he began performing a street version of the Zen Mc Gonagle on Henry St. This evolved into performances as Charlie Chaplin where he became one of the iconic street characters in Grafton St in the mid eighties. He also toured and performed with the Grapevine Arts Centre at this time and was a regular cast member with the Pooka Childrens Theatre. In the summers he frequently rambled in Erin performing at festivals of every shape, size and description.
In 1986 he moved to Galway and joined the fledgling Macnas whom he performed with for many years. With Anet Moore he performed as The Barna Boot Co. touring France and Spain. He created a series of childrens theatre shows for The Galway Arts Festival around his fictitious “Ballygroovy Ave” and recorded “Radio Ballygroovy” with The Sawdoctors, a limited release of 500 cassette tapes, which also featured “Little Big Heart” and “Never share a house with a camel” with John Dunne.
Returning from Marseille where he performed in sound artist Peter Sinclair’s John et la Fee L’ectrique a multi media sound sculpture Little John became convinced in the simple power of human communication through song and stories and created “The Church of Chill” as a response to the demands of performance fashion.
“The Derry Boat” was commissioned by The Earagail Arts Festival in 1998 and subsequently went on to tour extensively, throughout Ireland and Scotland with shows in Wales, the United States and England, earning L.J. a nomination for a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in Washington DC.
Since then Little John has continued to refine and develop his unique style of musical storytelling with physical theatre, working in collaboration with many musicians.
Support is from The Curly Organ.