Navak Band / Lightning Express Feature (1966-1977)
Photo Gallery -
Band Lineups -
- Audio samples -
Where Are They Now?
The Navak Showband was playing locally in the Cavan area in
mid-1965, but they were officially "launched" a couple of months
later playing their debut gig on September 3rd, 1965 in the Ulster
Arms Ballroom. The band, and most of its members were from Cavan
and, in fact, their name is Cavan spelled backwards with a K
substituted for the C.
The original band was managed by
Joseph McNamara, himself a drummer and owner of a Ceili band. He was
the guiding light which put the boys on the road. The original
line-up was: Gerry Graham (guitar), Liam Cooke (bass), Sean
McCormack (drums), Bill McCusker (keyboards), Richard Graham (sax),
Sean Carroll (lead vocals and trumpet) and Patrick Carroll
In late 1966, the band 's
management appears to have been taken over by Tommy Smith, who also
worked as the manager of Jimmy Smith's (Mighty Avons) new business
venture, New Pin Dry Cleaners. In the middle of the year, we read an
account that said John Kelly (who played for Carlow) was a member of
the band, but we can't verify this. The line-up of the band had also
changed with the additional of Brendan Hutchinson as the leader
singer and Paddy Swarbrigg as the new trumpet player as Paddy
Carroll had left the band to join the Swingtime Aces in Co. Galway.
The band was now going well,
playing all across the country, North and South and continuing to
build a strong reputation.
In February, 1968, two members of
the band, Gerry Graham and Paddy Swarbrigg were involved in a car
accident and although hospitalised with head injuries, were reported
to be doing well. In July, 1969, Paddy would retire from show
business and he was replaced by Oliver Kane (guitar).
In late 1968 they
released the Hokey Pokey which had been previously covered by
Jim Farley and his Tophatters. Said leader, "Dag" Carroll at
the time, "it was unfortunate, but we feel we have too good a
version to throw away, so we're going in there to fight it out." He
continued, "we just want our version to be played on the radio and
then let the public make up their own minds."
An issue in the Spotlight magazine of September 12, 1969
included a three page advertisement feature on the Navak Showband
which said they had been together for two years, putting their
starting date as 1967 (which was incorrect). They were managed by William McCormack from the end of 1968, the band was in
the main a country outfit, although like all showbands, they played
a little bit of everything.
Their lead singer was Brendan
Hutchinson (who also played bass), brother of the Melody Aces, Shay
Hutchinson. The rest of the band was: Sean "Dag" Carroll (sax), John
Smith (keyboards), Oliver Kane (guitar), Gerry Graham (trumpet),
Liam Cooke (drums) and Richard Graham (sax).
In September, 1969, the band
undertook its second English tour taking in Manchester, Birmingham,
Coventry, Fulham, Leeds and London. In December, 1969, a blurb in
the Donegal News said that Gerry Graham was taking over
management of the band. By the way, all this time, the band were
semi-professional as many of the members still had their day jobs.
In May, 1971, the band was taken
over by the Release organisation and changed their name to the
Lightning Express. The announcement said that only two members of
the Navak were returning to the new lineup which we know where
Brendan and Dag. In an article a month later in the Anglo Celt, it
was also stated that they had made changes in their personnel and
were under a new management team. Other reports at the time said
that the Navak had disbanded and that Brendan and Dag were forming a
new band which was made up of musicians previously playing under the
name Apollo. An article in the Donegal News reported that
besides Brendan, Dag and Oliver Kane (who joined a new band which
featured Gloria Sherry) all then other members had retired from the
In June, 1973, the band announced
the addition of a new lead sing, Big Ivan. From what we can gather
the band finally went off the road in 1977, but we will continue to
More to come.....
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