Anto Thistlethwaite and Leo Moran Flyin’ it in Jersey


“I bet you don’t come to Sham-town when you dream,” he sang on “Shamtown,” one of the first songs Moran ever wrote but had not seen the light of day until this tour. A mournful saxophone melody from Thistlethwaite sits in the background, giving the narrator’s disappointment a sound if that were possible.

Thistlethwaite didn’t just use his harmonica, mandolin, guitar, saxophone and the other instruments he played on this night to tell a story. He wove a great tale about doing hash on the bed with Bob Dylan at a house Dylan was renting from Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin.

“I think the statute of limitations have passed on this incident,” he said with a wink as we leaned into the story before launching into a fantastic read of Dylan’s “Most of the Time.”

“Carmel Mannion’s Son” was a lively folk rocker and another unreleased Moran song. He introduced it by describing a custom in Ireland for calling women by their maiden name to better pinpoint the town she comes from.

“If you call into the house on Father Griffin Road/there’s a welcome on the doorway/and the kettle on the stove/you get tea and bread and butter/and chocolate biscuit if you’re lucky/and a drop of the ‘quare stuff’ if you’re feeling plucky,” Moran sings.

 “Carmel is from Logawanna which is a small townland a couple of miles outside the market town of Headford in Co. Galway,” explains Ollie Jennings, the Saw Doctors' manager and the band’s archivist of sorts.

“Carmel married Tony Barrett from Castlerea in Co. Roscommon and their first born Niall Barrett was born and raised in Galway City. Niall Barrett works as the tour manager with the Saw Doctors. In Galway he is known as Niall Barrett but back in Logawanna he is known as Carmel Mannion’s son.”

From the rural countryside Moran tells the tale of modern technology, recalling some close calls online with potential suitors. He sings on “Facebook,” a song that was once known as “Bebo,” “I’m never going in Facebook again/guess what? She wants to be my friend/to the depths of bunny boiling this could descend.”

The entire evening flew by way too fast, just as it usually does when you are reconnecting with long lost friends.

On the their last song, “Tommy K,” Moran strummed his way back into the dressing room with Thistlethwaite blowing sweet sax behind him. They got enough warm pats on the back on their way out to see them off to Tuam properly if the tour ended right there and then!

Fortunately, there is more to come. You only have a couple of more weeks to see the lads before their tour wraps up on October 27.

For the rest of you, take heart! Flyin’ It! is a tour memento and it will be available on November 1 from the Saw Doctors' web shop. It is currently on sale at the acoustic gigs that Thistlethwaite  and Moran are playing during October.

For any fans of the band, it is a must-have and a great Christmas present to yourself if you want to deck the halls with shamrocking music a wee bit early!

You can check them out at and while you’re there, check out their great blog.

According to their blog, the lads are enjoying this tour as much as the audience apparently is enjoying them. “The venue, the crowd, the support acts in Asbury are all top of the range,” Moran writes. “We feel very lucky and delighted at how the gigs are going and how satisfied the audience is – even if Bruce didn’t manage to make it this time either.”

Alas, it was The Boss’s loss...