It has been slow coming, this first chat of 2010. I have been run off my feet relaxing since Vicar Street in the snow.
John Spillane and I have been putting a few chords together. We started after the County Cork night at the Button Factory. I Visited John at his home in Passage (his beautiful tribute to Passage is worth a listen). “Haitian Girl” is the current working title of a song that is emerging. We will perform a gig in Vicar Street, Dublin on Tuesday, 23rd March. All proceeds will go to GOAL in Haiti. Ticketmaster have waived their commission and Vicar Street their rental fees.
An increasing number of people seem to be becoming critical of benefit gigs. They question the motives and claim that tragic situations are being exploited. One Dublin journalist wrote a scathing attack on those who do benefit gigs. (Presumably getting well paid for the piece) I have heard stories of NGO’s in areas of war and catastrophe, of aid workers behaving inappropriately … But I have also witnessed the courage and commitment of volunteers giving their time and sometimes their very lives to help others. I am in awe of their commitment. I believe that the courage and compassion of thousands far outweighs the errant behaviour of a few. Also I know that certain performers cannot resist any PR opportunity, sometimes cynically, more times unwittingly, but I believe they too are in a minority. Then there are the political arguments, the ethical dimensions, the opportunism of donor nations, the fashionable ladies and gents who lunch for charity … I simply don’t have the time to work it all out, I need to keep it simple. If I can give a dig out I will, and if some what to put a slant on that … so be it.
On 6th June there will be a special concert in the National Concert Hall to celebrate the 65th Birthday of Aung San Suu Kyi who remains under house arrest in Burma, held by the military junta. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. She is a leader of democratic opposition to the military dictatorship; she has dedicated her life to the achievement of democracy in Burma through peaceful means. She has suffered assassination attempts, mental torture and now endless incarceration. This event is the concept of Keith Donald with whom I worked in Moving Hearts. He has gathered together a group who share the same birth year as Aung San Suu Kyi and we all plan to honour her birthday with a night of music, poetry and song.
We had a great night at Ryston, Newbridge for the Culture Factory and another at The Kildare night in The Button Factory. I also had a visit to The Sanctuary where Sister Stanislaus Kennedy invited me in to sing a few songs.
We have added a gig in The Anvil, Basingstoke, England on Friday 25th June, which is the night before our Glastonbury gig. I am looking forward to Glastonbury; it’s the fourth visit since 1987. This year we are playing a tent on Saturday night … sounds like there might be an Electric Picnic vibe – Heads down knobs to the right.
Last summer at the Hot Press Music Forum I took part in a public interview with the editor Niall Stokes. It will be in the Hot Press today, 25th February. It was enjoyable on the day with a lively audience of mixed vintage, and if memory serves, a good scattering of 4711ers throughout the room.
I received a Meteor award … thanks to anyone who gave me their vote, I did not realise I had been nominated until I got the call asking me to attend – I told them I had serious business to attend to in Mullingar. When the results were known I was asked to accept the award to camera which I did. On the spur of the moment I dedicated the award to Liam Clancy, Tom, Paddy and Tommy Makem. Without their inspiration, almost 50 years ago, I would not be here tonight singing, getting an award, searching for songs, writing and versing shaping words and seeking melodies. In the early 60’s their performances created an excitement that carried many of us out of the darkness that enveloped parts of our lives.
I was sickened by the sight of Irish Bishops parading into the Vatican to kiss Ratzinger’s ring. They just don’t get it. The very thing that they beat into us, confession and the seeking of forgiveness, seems totally beyond their comprehension. Their arrogant posturing in ridiculous costumes, their cold superior demeanour, their continuous muddying of the waters, their deviousness in prioritising church property and assets before helping and compensating the abused. Their time is done. They have blocked the path to spirituality for far too long … be off ye hypocrites.
“Come All You Dreamers” looks like getting an airing on both Irish and English television networks. I am very happy about this as it was a film I always wanted to make. I can move on now and dream up another scheme. I suspect that many of you have not seen the documentary that accompanies the film. It is worth a gander if only to see some stellar performances from certain of our songsters.
Declan and I recommenced our world tour last in The Park Hotel, Mullingar. Even after a short time out I get nervous starting back. We hit the stage at 8.15 and tore into it. It’s a good room and it was full of listeners. Good requests came through the gig, Butterfly, Lawless, Ruby … Declan did a new song in his solo set and was in top gear across the frets. After 6 weeks it seemed like we both needed to play …
Met with some Boyneside cousins afterwards and we chewed the fat. Always good to meet the relatives along the way. In the darkness of the room I thought my cousin Paddy Gibney was sitting in the front row and throughout the gig I addressed him a few times … when the lights went up at the end it was not him at all!! The recipient of my asides was looking a bit perplexed. Regrets to those who requested Scapegoats, Pontchartrain, Ballinamore … I considered each of them but decided against as we have not rehearsed them lately and I was suffering a few blank spots.
Went to see Invictus and enjoyed it enormously. I heard some bad reports and I am glad I did not listen. It brought me back to the day that Nelson walked out through the gates. Eastwood is an amazing artist … in an inst I can recall Mystic River, Madison County, Grand Torino, Million Dollar Baby, The 2 Japanese films, and now Invictus … Not bad for an old actor! I also went to see the new George Clooney. I was tempted in by the trailer but found it bland. Despite the theme being travel it goes nowhere. I went to see “Meeting Room” at the Dublin Film Festival. It tells the story of a movement in the ’80’s, Concerned Parents against Drugs, an organisation that emerged in Dublin. They were targeted by Government, Police (under orders) and the media. Members of CPAD were fitted up in the special criminal court and sent down under armed escort to Portlaoise Jail. I wrote and recorded a song called Whacker Humphries. It was included in the film which pleased me greatly. I also thoroughly enjoyed Crazy Heart and The Last Station.
I had a strange ghostlike dream this morning … dreamt I was gigging in England back in the late ’60’s. Alex Campbell was playing too. Derroll Adams and Matt McGinn were in the front row. I can see the room still, it was a club I did play but can’t recall the town. (Remembered after – it was Halesowen) I was doing all the old songs … Hey Sandy, Letter to Syracuse, Rambling Robin and duetting with Alex on My Old Gibson Guitar …