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Navak Band / Lightning Express Feature (1966-1977)

Photo Gallery - Band Lineups - Discography - Audio samples - Where Are They Now?

The Story

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 (guitar).

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 dance circuit. 

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 research.

More to come.....

Photo Gallery

click on thumbnails for full image

Navak - 1965 Navak - 1965 (RF) Navak - 1965 Navak - 1965 Navak Showband (MY)
Navak (KS) Navak (RF) Navak (RF) Navak (RF) Navak (RF)
Navak (RF)

Navak (KS)

Navak (RF) Navak

Navak - 1969

Navak - 1969 Navak - 1971 Lightnin' Express (RF) Lightnin' Express (RF) Lightnin' Express (RF)
     
Lightnin' Express (RF) Lightnin' Express - 1973 Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon
Years Vocals/Tpt Vocals Guitar Bass Drums Keyboards Sax Trumpet Guitar
Sept
1965
Sean "Dag"
Carroll
  Gerry
Graham
Liam
Cooke
Sean
McCormack
Bill
McCusker
Richard
Graham
  Patrick
Carroll
June
1966
Sean "Dag"
Carroll
John
Kelly?
Gerry
Graham
Liam
Cooke
Sean
McCormack
Bill
McCusker
Richard
Graham
  Patrick
Carroll
Dec
1966
Sean "Dag"
Carroll
Brendan
Hutchinson
Gerry
Graham
Liam
Cooke
Sean
McCormack
Bill
McCusker
Richard
Graham
Paddy
Swarbrigg
 
July
1969
Sean "Dag"
Carroll
  Oliver
Kane
Brendan
Hutchinson
Liam
Cooke
Bill
McCusker
Richard
Graham
Gerry
Graham
 
Sept
1969
Sean "Dag"
Carroll
  Oliver
Kane
Brendan
Hutchinson
Liam
Cooke
John
Smith
Richard
Graham
Gerry
Graham
 
                   
                   
                   

Discography

42 in Chicago / If I Kiss You (Brendan Hutchinson)
Pye Records / 7N.17486 / March, 1968
Hokey Pokey / Evergreen (Sean Carroll)
Release Records - Unknown - December, 1968
The Lightning Express / The Spell of the Freight Train (Brendan Hutchinson)
Release Records / RL.522 / August, 1969
Bringing Mary Home / Honky Tony Season (Brendan Hutchinson)
Release Records - RL.555 - December, 1970
If This House Could Talk / Pinto the Wonder Horse Is Dead (Brendan Hutchinson)
Release Records - RL.??? - April, 1972

Audio Clips

Coming Soon

Where Are They Now?  

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In Loving Memory of Grant Gallagher: Sept. 21, 1990 - Nov. 18, 2006