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San Francisco's Noctambule are no strangers to Newry, having played several times at the City's Iúr Cinn Fleadh as well as at Newry and Mourne Museum.

Bruce and Marla playing in Buttercrane Car Park in 2019 as part of Iúr Cinn Fleadh. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Bruce and Marla playing in Buttercrane Car Park in 2019 as part of Iúr Cinn Fleadh. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

The band consisting of Marla Fibish and Bruce Victor have a deep love for Ireland and recently Bruce has written several blog posts on their website explaining how they got here in the first place.

Central to their story is Clive Price, a Journalist and writer for Irish Music Magazine who now lives in Newry and is himself involved in the organisation of the annual Iúr Cinn Fleadh.

Bruce writes "So, um, how exactly does a doctor from Detroit, whose early musical influences were Motown and Hebrew folk songs, not just materialize in Ireland, but go on tour there as a musician? There are two versions: one which consistent with the 'lack of evidence for non-existence' of giants, fairies, and dwarves.... and one that doesn't involve them. I could probably think of more such versions, but, for now, let's hold it to those two basic categories of explanation. But both versions involve Clive Price.

"So who is Clive Price? He is journalist, publicist, theologian, bodhisattva, and mensch -- and had he so desired, he could have given John Cleese a run for his money as the Minister of Silly Walks."

Bruce continues "For the past nine years, my wife Marla Fibish and I have been playing as a duo called Noctambule. Our first two albums were largely (though not exclusively) original musical settings of poetry; our third album was largely (though not exclusively) Irish traditional music, at Marla’s request. As many of you might know, she is an internationally renowned player of the mandolin in traditional Irish music. By contrast, I am an ‘eclecticist’, defined by one of my professors in medical school as “one who is so open that his brains fall out.”

Explaining how their album almost didn't happen at all Bruce adds "This album, then, 1) came perilously close to not being made at all, given that only one of us was a truly seasoned player of Irish music, 2) predictably did not sound like other albums of Irish music; 3) somehow nevertheless wound up on Clive’s desk at Irish Music Magazine to be reviewed.

"Clive’s review began, “I was enjoying this album too much, it couldn’t be that good” and proceeded to “(they) blend in melted brilliance.” Whaaa? Really? Did he really not know that my playing blues under Marla’s jigs on this album wasn’t the product of my admittedly overdeveloped sense of whimsy, but necessitated by my ineptitude at playing jigs? (To actually hear what I am talking about, please click here."

Just to show the importance of a thank you note, Noctambule's note eventually saw them ending up in Newry over several years playing their eclectic mix of tunes in many local establisments, including even, the Buttercrane Shopping Centre Car Park as Bruce Explains "So, in our attempt to find out just where we were going to send an effusive thank you note, we found out that he was a publicist…”Dear Mr. Price, thank you for the lovely review...and, by the by, would you even vaguely consider”…and then…and then…we stayed at his house in Newry as we played some local gigs, having now become very close friends with him and his wonderful wife, Janice." said Bruce who adds that very long theological discussions frequently took place in live and Janice's kitchen.

Clive, Marla, Janice and Bruce.

"Clive has a Masters Degree in Celtic Christianity and wrote his thesis on St Patrick. Because my thrice weekly attendance at the Shaarey Zedek Hebrew School seemed to neglect the story of St Patrick (I intend to speak to the Curriculum Committee about this…), I dove into Wikipedia and discovered that Patrick had been a slave in Ireland and escaped to England…and was then bidden back to Ireland by a spirit named Victor (or Victoricus, depending on what account you read)." 

Bruce ends his blog post with "This just in about giants, elves, fairies, saints, and spirits: in addition to the lack of evidence for the denial of their existence, there is also no evidence that they do not function as a dharmic travel agency."

No doubt once restrictions begin opening up and venues start the music going again the pair will once again be winging their way here.

Check out Noctambules Blog with many local references at /WWW.NOCTAMBULEMUSIC.COM

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