Watercress were an anarchic acoustic band from Belfast with folk, jazz and punk influences - cluas.com describe their sound as "the bastard son of the Specials, The Undertones (unplugged), Pucho and the Latin Soul brothers and a Hungarian wedding band". They formed in 1994 and spent much of the 1990s touring Ireland, the UK, US and beyond. They were fronted by Brian Acton and Dan Donnelly, who harmonised in distinct Belfast accents, Brian playing acoustic guitar, Dan mandolin with occasional excursions into other instruments, including a home-made didgeridoo made out of a drainpipe. Bruce Reid, credited as "Bruce Cabbyje" on their CDs, played double bass, and the drummer on all their recordings was Rabb Bennett, although Phil Duffy also played drums with them.
In 1995-96 they released 3 EPs on CD, recorded at Homestead Studios in Randallstown and produced by the band and Mudd Wallace. The second, Candlemaker, reached number 1 in the Irish indie chart. The songs from the EPs were also released on a cassette album called Three Pee in 1996. Their only proper album, Bummer, followed in 1998, recorded at Sulán Studios in County Cork and produced by the band and Jonathan Barrett. It spawned three CD singles and an mp3 single between 1998 and 2000, each with a selection of b-sides recorded in the same sessions, of which Stars Shine On topped the Irish indie charts. A second album, Pirates on the Vitamin Seas, was recorded but never released.
They supported acts including Duran Duran, Jools Holland, Ian Dury, Sebadoh, The Levellers and Shed Seven, and performed in the USA, Canada, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, England and Scotland. After their final gig at the The Empire Music Hall on 23 December 2000 they went their separate ways due to personal differences within the band. Dan Donnelly is now a solo artist and the main creative force in New York-based Sonovagun, while Brian Acton and Bruce Reid formed a band called Drat, and are now part of the Brian Acton Quartet, a jazz four-piece based in the north of England.
- Dan Donnelly (vocals/mandolin/guitar/percussion/didgeridoo)
- Brian Acton (vocals/guitar)
- Bruce Reid aka Bruce Cabbyje (double bass)
- Rabb Bennett, Phil Duffy (drums)
- Skyrocket/Caller on Live At The Belfast Empire
- Imaginary Love on belFEST 1997
- Cruelty on belFEST 1999 (Spring)
- Jackie Hayden, On the Cress of a Wave, interview with Dan Donnelly, Hot Press, 14 April 1998
- Live review at Cluas.com, Zack's, Donegal Town, 16 October 1999
- Watercress website via archive.org
- Watercress on the Irish Music DB
- Watercress on Everything2
- Watercress on MusicBrainz
- Watercress on Last.fm
- Watercress on Yahoo Music
- Lyrics on Lyric Wiki