The Coronas are on a winning track 

When Danny O’Reilly and his Irish rock outfit The Coronas won a Grammy-equivalent Meteor Award in their homeland last year for their sophomore album “Tony Was an Ex-Con,” they were up against Celtic supergroups like U2 and Snow Patrol. “We didn’t think we had a chance of winning,” says the singer, the 25-year-old son of folk artist Mary Black. “So when our name was called out, it was complete and utter shock, and the fact that it was a public vote was the thing that really got us. Even [U2’s] Larry Mullen congratulated us on our Meteor, and said it was well-deserved!”

So you’ve been co-writing with your mom recently. How was that? It’s funny — it’s actually a lot easier than I would’ve thought. She never really wrote songs in her career, but she always advised me to. She said, “That’s where there’s money to be made, and that’s what you need to be doing these days, is writing your own music.” But once she and I wrote a couple together, it was quite an easy process. She’s even recording a Coronas song from our last album on her next one.

You started the Coronas at 15. How did you get into music? I was taught by my mom’s guitarist, Bill Shandy. I got some lessons from him when I was quite young, 12 or 13, and I just took to it and started writing songs. And we started the band when we were all in high school, but once we got into college, it started getting a little more serious. So when we finished up college, we decided to go full-time with the group. And thankfully, four years have passed and we haven’t had to get a real job since.

And there was actually was an ex-con named Tony?
Your bus driver on a U.S. tour? Yep. And when we started off the tour, he seemed a bit quiet, but as the tour progressed, he slowly lost his mind. And it all came to a head two hours outside of New York City, late for a gig, and he was driving crazily down these little side roads with no lights on. Our manager tried to call 911, but he didn’t know where in the hell we were. But eventually, Tony pulled over, we got off with all our gear, and that was the last we ever saw of him.

Has Tony heard the record? That’s what we were wondering. We don’t want the album to take off in the greater Chicago region, just in case he tracks us down!


The Coronas

Slim’s, 333 11th St., San Francisco

8 p.m. Wednesday


(415) 255-0333,

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Tom Lanham

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