Niall Toner does Nashville

Niall TonerThe ABC TV series, that is.

The current season, episode 15, (415) of the American soap series Nashville, broadcast on Wednesday, April 15, featured two of Irish bluegrass mandolin player Niall Toner’s tunes.

The instrumentals, composed about 15 years ago – Drunken Daisy, written Toner says “as a tribute to a friend in Bunclody, County Wexford, who was fond of a pint!”; and You Gotta Have a Banjo In The Band, “composed after a trip to the bluegrass clubs of England, before we actually had a banjo in the band” – were both written, recorded, and released in 2000 on Toner’s first album, There’s a Better Way, on Avalon Records.

Toner adds, “Bill Whelan, [doyen of clawhammer banjo in Ireland] and Richard Hawkins [of Dublin-based band Woodbine] feature on banjo on this [second] track”.

The producers of Nashville, specifically T-Bone Burnette, chose another Niall Toner piece, Lonely Souls and Broken Hearts, for use in the program two years ago. The song was included on the Niall Toner Band 2005 CD Mood Swing, also on Avalon Records.

You can purchase the recording of Drunken Daisy/ You Gotta Have A Banjo In The Band and all twelve tracks of the album There’s a Better Way from iTunes

Toner’s earliest success when pitching songs was when Bill Wyman (of Rolling Stones fame) and his Band, the Rhythm Kings, recorded Mood Swing, followed by cuts with The Nashville Bluegrass Band with There’s a Better Way, and Special Consensus with Josie’s Reel.

The first substantial usage came when Grand Theft Auto IV used a tune of Niall’s called A Real Reel.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.