New single celebrates band’s starring role at music festival

Rock/Pop band Fair Exchange - Charlie O'Neill, Johnny Casey, Joe Shine and Tom Grace.
They formed their first band in 1979, and almost 35 years later their love of playing and recording music together is as strong as ever.

They formed their first band in 1979, and almost 35 years later their love of playing and recording music together is as strong as ever.

Fair Exchange are celebrating a successful year that saw them perform at the Castlepalooza Festival in August by releasing the single ‘Beetle Camper Van’, the follow-up to ‘Bob Marley on My MP3’.

With global production of Volkswagen’s Beetle camper van due to end next month this radio-friendly, gently lilting tune conjures up fond memories of this particular mode of transport.

The song was written by guitarist Johnny Casey, the idea coming to him after they secured their slot on the Castlepalooza line-up, when Johnny remarked to his fellow band members that they were so like old hippies that all they needed was a camper van.

“The buzz at Castlepalooza was just brilliant”, says Johnny. They were the only act appearing on the Metro stage to play an encore, as demanded by the crowd and stage crew.

Fair Exchange were formed in Cahir in 1979 by Charlie O’Neill, Johnny Casey, Joe Shine and Anthony Fitzpatrick and for the next few years played extensively in clubs and pubs around the south east.

Disillusioned with the local gig circuit, they decided to take a “short break” in 1983, which lasted for 23 years. They reformed in 2006 to write, record and release a double A-sided CD single to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Despite receiving little or no airplay, ‘Hope/Beach Party’ spent three weeks in the IRMA Irish Top 50, peaking at number 43.

They took another break in 2008 but three years later the three founding members - Casey, Shine and O’Neill - were joined by Tom Grace, and once again Fair Exchange returned to the live gigging circuit.

They play live about 15 times a year and most of those performances are fundraisers - on this Friday night they play The Hill Bar in Cahir for the Shaun Fogarty (Cahir) Appeal and then on Friday, November 22 they play Baker’s in Clonmel for C-Saw, an organisation of community suicide awareness workers.