1.Back home in Derry
2.North and South
3. Pity the poor Immigrant
7.Cry like a man
9.This is the day
10.No time for love
12. Missing You
13. Scapegoats ( for Paddy Hill)
16. Smoke and strong whiskey
18.Viva la Quinte Brigada
19 Time has come
21 Biko drum
22 Ride On
23.Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian Roulette
26.Bright blue rose
27.Black is the colour( For Hamish Imlach)
april 9th 2007
1. Back Home in derry
7.Wise and Holy Woman
10. Quinte Brigada
11. Declan sang Corrina
12.Smoke and Strong Whiskey
18. North and south
19.Time has Come
20 A pair of Brown Eyes
23.Bright blue rose
24 Faithfull Departed
25. Ride On.
17th May 2007
1. One Last Cold Kiss
3. Missing You
4. I Pity The Poor Immigrant
5. Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian Roulette
6. Little Musgrave
7. Back Home In Derry
8. The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll
9. North & South
10. The Least We Can Do
11. Ordinary Man
12. Burning Times
13. Yellow Woman’s Door (Declan)
14. Black Is The Colour
17. Viva La Quinta Brigada
18. Ride On
19. The City Of Chicago
21. Biko Drum
22. The Time Has Come
23. A Pair Of Brown Eyes
24. Reel In The Flickering Light
25. Nancy Spain
27. The Cliffs Of Dooneen
28. The Lakes Of Pontchartrain
29. Bright Blue Rose
Nov 19th 2007
- all for the roses
- missing you
- biko drum
- yellow triangle
- cliffs of dooneen
- fairytale of n.y.
- north and south of the river
- black is the colour
- quinte brigada
- stitch in time
- i will
- ride on
- ordinary man
- time has come
- smoke and strong whiskey
- flickering light
- john of dreams
- wise and holy woman
- all for the roses
- biko drum
- magic nights
- missing you
- cliffs of dooneen
- I will
- fairytale of n.y.
- black is the colour
- sacco and vanzetti
- flickering light
- north and south
- ride on
- quinte brigada
- quiet desperation
- john of dreams
Monday May 5th
1. After the Deluge
3. Back Home in Derry
4. Time has Come.
6. Missing You
7. Quiet Desperation
11. Metropolitan Avenue
12. Biko Drum
13. On The Bridge
14. Brown Eyes
15. Sacco and Vanzetti
16. I Will
18. Minds Locked Shut
20. As I Roved Out
21. Only Our Rivers
22. Ordinary Man
23. Stitch in Time
25. City of Chicago
26. Black is the colour
28. Cliffs of Dooneen
29. Ride On
Tuesday 6th May
- Smoke and strong Whisky
- On The bridge
- Quiet desperation
- Missing You
- Nancy Spain
- Hattie Carroll
- Go Move shift
- Bright Blue Rose
- Time has Come
- Ride on
- No Time For Love.
Monday 19th May.
- Black is the colour
- Go move Shift
- Missing You
- Quiet desperation
- Ordinary Man
- I will
- Yellow Furze Woman
- North and south
- Time has Come
- Minds Locked shut
- Ride On’
- Biko Drum
- All for the roses
- Nancy Spain
- Bright Blue Rose
- Quinte Brigada
Tuesday May 20th
- Faithfull Departed
- Missing you
- Victor Jara
- Sacco and Vanzetti (In memory of Jim Lawlor)
- I will
- On The bridge
- Hattie Carroll
- Time has come
- Ordinary man
- No Time For Love
- Ride On
yellow furze woman
riding the high stool
north and south
riding the high stool
Reviewed by Howard Zinn
The following is an excerpt from Howard Zinn’s new book, A Power Governments Cannot Suppress, published earlier this year by City Lights.
Fifty years after the executions of Italian immigrants Sacco and Vanzetti, Governor Dukakis of Massachusetts set up a panel to judge the fairness of the trial, and the conclusion was that the two men had not received a fair trial. This aroused a minor storm in Boston.
One letter, signed John M. Cabot, U.S. Ambassador Retired, declared his “great indignation” and pointed out that Governor Fuller’s affirmation of the death sentence was made after a special review by “three of Massachusetts’ most distinguished and respected citizens-President Lowell of Harvard, President Stratton of MIT and retired Judge Grant.”
Those three “distinguished and respected citizens” were viewed differently by Heywood Broun, who wrote in his column for the New York World immediately after the Governor’s panel made its report.
It is not every prisoner who has a President of Harvard University throw on the switch for him..If this is a lynching, at least the fish peddler and his friend the factory hand may take unction to their souls that they will die at the hands of men in dinner jackets or academic gowns.
Heywood Broun, one of the most distinguished journalists of the twentieth century, did not last long as a columnist for the New York World.
On that 50th year after the execution, the New York Times reported that: “Plans by Mayor Beame to proclaim next Tuesday ‘Sacco and Vanzetti Day’ have been canceled in an effort to avoid controversy, a City Hall spokesman said yesterday.”
There must be good reason why a case 50-years-old, now over 75-years-old, arouses such emotion. I suggest that it is because to talk about Sacco and Vanzetti inevitably brings up matters that trouble us today: our system of justice, the relationship between war fever and civil liberties, and most troubling of all, the ideas of anarchism: the obliteration of national boundaries and therefore of war, the elimination of poverty, and the creation of a full democracy.
The case of Sacco and Vanzetti revealed, in its starkest terms, that the noble words inscribed above our courthouses, “Equal Justice Before the Law,” have always been a lie. Those two men, the fish peddler and the shoemaker, could not get justice in the American system, because justice is not meted out equally to the poor and the rich, the native born and the foreign born, the orthodox and the radical, the white and the person of color. And while injustice may play itself out today more subtly and in more intricate ways than it did in the crude circumstances of the Sacco and Vanzetti case, its essence remains.
In their case, the unfairness was flagrant. They were being tried for robbery and murder, but in the minds, and in the behavior of the prosecuting attorney, the judge, and the jury, the important thing about them was that they were, as Upton Sinclair put it in his remarkable novel Boston, “wops,” foreigners, poor workingmen, radicals.
Here is a sample of the police interrogation:
Police: Are you a citizen?
Police: Are you a Communist?
Police: Do you believe in this government of ours?
Sacco: Yes; some things I like different.
What did these questions have to do with the robbery of a shoe factory in South Braintree, Massachusetts, and the shooting of a paymaster and a guard?
Sacco was lying, of course. No, I’m not a Communist. No, I’m not an anarchist. Why would he lie to the police? Why would a Jew lie to the Gestapo? Why would a black in South Africa lie to his interrogators? Why would a dissident in Soviet Russia lie to the secret police? Because they all know there is no justice for them.
Has there ever been justice in the American system for the poor, the person of color, the radical? When the eight anarchists of Chicago were sentenced to death after the Haymarket riot (a police riot, that is) of 1886, it was not because there was any proof of a connection between them and the bomb thrown in the midst of the police; there was not a shred of evidence. It was because they were leaders of the anarchist movement in Chicago.
When Eugene Debs and a thousand others were sent to prison during World War I, under the Espionage Act, was it because they were guilty of espionage? Hardly. They were socialists who spoke out against the war. In affirming the ten-year sentence of Debs, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes made it clear why Debs must go to prison. He quoted from Debs’ speech: “The master class has always declared the wars, the subject class has always fought the battles.”
Holmes, much admired as one of our great liberal jurists, made clear the limits of liberalism, its boundaries set by a vindictive nationalism. After all the appeals of Sacco and Vanzetti had been exhausted, the case was put before Holmes, sitting on the Supreme Court. He refused to review the case, thus letting the verdict stand.
In our time, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were sent to the electric chair. Was it because they were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union? Or was it because they were communists, as the prosecutor made clear, with the approval of the judge? Was it also because the country was in the midst of anti-communist hysteria, communists had just taken power in China, there was a war in Korea, and the weight of all that could be borne by two American communists?
Why was George Jackson, in California, sentenced to ten years in prison for a $70 robbery, and then shot to death by guards? Was it because he was poor, black, and radical?
Can a Muslim today, in the atmosphere of the “war on terror” be given equal justice before the law? Why was my upstairs neighbor, a dark-skinned Brazilian who might look like a Middle East Muslim, pulled out of his car by police, though he had violated no regulation, and questioned and humiliated?
Why are the two million people in American jails and prisons, and six million people under parole, probation, or surveillance, disproportionately people of color, disproportionately poor? A study showed that 70% of the people in New York state prisons came from seven neighborhoods in New York City-neighborhoods of poverty and desperation.
Class injustice cuts across every decade, every century of our history. In the midst of the Sacco Vanzetti case, a wealthy man in the town of Milton, south of Boston, shot and killed a man who was gathering firewood on his property. He spent eight days in jail, then was let out on bail, and was not prosecuted. The district attorney called it “justifiable homicide.” One law for the rich, one law for the poor-a persistent characteristic of our system of justice.
But being poor was not the chief crime of Sacco and Vanzetti. They were Italians, immigrants, anarchists. It was less than two years from the end of the First World War. They had protested against the war. They had refused to be drafted. They saw hysteria mount against radicals and foreigners, observed the raids carried out by Attorney General Palmer’s agents in the Department of Justice, who broke into homes in the middle of the night without warrants, held people incommunicado, and beat them with clubs and blackjacks.
In Boston, 500 were arrested, chained together, and marched through the streets. Luigi Galleani, editor of the anarchist paper Cronaca Sovversiva, to which Sacco and Vanzetti subscribed, was picked up in Boston and quickly deported.
Something even more frightening had happened. A fellow anarchist of Sacco and Vanzetti, a typesetter named Andrea Salsedo, who lived in New York, was kidnapped by members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (I use the word “kidnapped” to describe an illegal seizure of a person), and held in FBI offices on the 14th floor of the Park Row Building. He was not allowed to call his family, friends, or a lawyer, and was questioned and beaten, according to a fellow prisoner. During the eighth week of his imprisonment, on May 3, 1920, the body of Salsedo, smashed to a pulp, was found on the pavement near the Park Row Building, and the FBI announced that he had committed suicide by jumping from the 14th floor window of the room in which they had kept him. This was just two days before Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested.
We know today, as a result of Congressional reports in 1975, of the FBI’s COINTELPRO program in which FBI agents broke into people’s homes and offices, carried out illegal wiretaps, were involved in acts of violence to the point of murder, and collaborated with the Chicago police in the killing of two Black Panther leaders in 1969. The FBI and the CIA have violated the law again and again. There is no punishment for them.
There has been little reason to have faith that the civil liberties of people in this country would be protected in the atmosphere of hysteria that followed 9/11 and continues to this day. At home there have been immigrant round-ups, indefinite detentions, deportations, and unauthorized domestic spying. Abroad there have extra-judicial killings, torture, bombings, war, and military occupations.
Likewise, the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti began immediately after Memorial Day, a year and a half after the orgy of death and patriotism that was World War I, when the newspapers still vibrating with the roll of drums and the jingoist rhetoric.
Twelve days into the trial, the press reported that the bodies of three soldiers had been transferred from the battlefields of France to the city of Brockton, and that the whole town had turned out for a patriotic ceremony. All of this was in newspapers that members of the jury could read.
Sacco was cross-examined by prosecutor Katzmann:
Question: Did you love this country in the last week of May, 1917?
Sacco: That is pretty hard for me to say in one word, Mr. Katzmann.
Question: There are two words you can use, Mr. Sacco, yes or no. What one is it?
Question: And in order to show your love for this United States of America when she was about to call upon you to become a soldier you ran away to Mexico?
At the beginning of the trial, Judge Thayer (who, speaking to a golf acquaintance, had referred to the defendants during the trial as “those anarchist bastards”) said to the jury: “Gentlemen, I call upon you to render this service here that you have been summoned to perform with the same spirit of patriotism, courage, and devotion to duty as was exhibited by our soldier boys across the seas.”
The emotions evoked by a bomb that exploded at Attorney General Palmer’s home during a time of war-like emotions set loose by the violence of 9/11-created an anxious atmosphere in which civil liberties were compromised.
Sacco and Vanzetti understood that whatever legal arguments their lawyers could come up with would not prevail against the reality of class injustice. Sacco told the court, on sentencing: “I know the sentence will be between two classes, the oppressed class and the rich class.That is why I am here today on this bench, for having been of the oppressed class.”
That viewpoint seems dogmatic, simplistic. Not all court decisions are explained by it. But, lacking a theory that fits all cases, Sacco’s simple, strong view is surely a better guide to understanding the legal system than one which assumes a contest among equals based on an objective search for truth.
Vanzetti knew that legal arguments would not save them. Unless a million Americans were organized, he and his friend Sacco would die. Not words, but struggle. Not appeals, but demands. Not petitions to the governor, but take-overs of the factories. Not lubricating the machinery of a supposedly fair system to make it work better, but a general strike to bring the machinery to a halt.
That never happened. Thousands demonstrated, marched, protested, not just in New York City, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, but in London, Paris, Buenos Aires, South Africa. It wasn’t enough. On the night of their execution, thousands demonstrated in Charlestown, but were kept away from the prison by a huge assembly of police. Protesters were arrested. Machine-guns were on the rooftops and great searchlights swept the scene.
A great crowd assembled in Union Square on August 23,1927. A few minutes after midnight, prison lights dimmed as the two men were electrocuted. The New York World described the scene: “The crowd responded with a giant sob. Women fainted in fifteen or twenty places. Others, too overcome, dropped to the curb and buried their heads in their hands. Men leaned on one anothers’ shoulders and wept.”
Their ultimate crime was their anarchism, an idea which today still startles us like a bolt of lightning because of its essential truth: we are all one, national boundaries and national hatreds must disappear, war is intolerable, the fruits of the earth must be shared, and only through organized struggle against authority can such a world come about.
What comes to us today from the case of Sacco and Vanzetti is not just tragedy, but inspiration. Their English was not perfect, but when they spoke it was a kind of poetry. Vanzetti said of his friend Sacco:
Sacco is a heart, a faith, a character, a man; a man lover of nature and mankind. A man who gave all, who sacrifice all to the cause of liberty and to his love for mankind: money, rest, mundane ambition, his own wife, his children, himself and his own life.. Oh yes, I may be more witful, as some have put it, I am a better babbler than he is, but many, many times, in hearing his heartful voice ring a faith sublime, in considering his supreme sacrifice, remembering his heroism I felt small, small at the presence of his greatness, and found myself compelled to fight back from my eyes the tears, quench my heart throbbing to my throat to not weep before him-this man called chief and assassin and doomed.
Worst of all, they were anarchists, meaning they had some crazy notion of a full democracy in which neither foreignness nor poverty would exist, and thought that without these provocations, war among nations would end for all time. But for this to happen the rich would have to be fought and their riches confiscated. That anarchist idea is a crime much worse than robbing a payroll, and so to this day the story of Sacco and Vanzetti cannot be recalled without great anxiety.
Sacco wrote to his son Dante: “So son, instead of crying, be strong, so as to be able to comfort your mother.take her for a long walk in the quiet country, gathering wild flowers here and there, resting under the shade of trees.But remember always, Dante, in this play of happiness, don’t you use all for yourself only.help the persecuted and the victim because they are your better friends.. In this struggle of life you will find more love and you will be loved.”
Yes, it was their anarchism, their love for humanity, which doomed them. When Vanzetti was arrested, he had a leaflet in his pocket advertising a meeting to take place in five days. It is a leaflet that could be distributed today, all over the world, as appropriate now as it was the day of their arrest. It read:
You have fought all the wars. You have worked for all the capitalists. You have wandered over all the countries. Have you harvested the fruits of your labors, the price of your victories? Does the past comfort you? Does the present smile on you? Does the future promise you anything? Have you found a piece of land where you can live like a human being and die like a human being? On these questions, on this argument, and on this theme, the struggle for existence, Bartolomeo Vanzetti will speak.
That meeting did not take place. But their spirit still exists today with people who believe and love and struggle all over the world.
Hammersmith Apollo, Tuesday 30th October
Reviewed by Robin Denselow, The Guardian.
Most guitar-strumming singer-songwriters start solo then acquire a band, but Christy Moore turned the process on its head. He started out on the folk circuit in the 1960s and went on to work with Planxty and Moving Hearts, but now has only one other guitarist to help him, the sensitive Declan Sinnott.
He has acquired legendary status in Irish music, yet still acts as if he were playing in the intimate setting of a front room. His songs constantly change direction, from humour and whimsy to angry musical history lessons on Cuba, apartheid or the Irish contingent who fought against Franco with the International Brigade. It works because he is a fine storyteller with a glorious, soulful voice and the ability to make other people’s songs his own.
At Hammersmith, his carefully constructed set switched from Yellow Triangle, his thoughtfully chilling song about fascism, to Richard Thompson’s lyrical Beeswing, and then the emotional Missing You, on the loneliness of Irish migrant workers in London. His return here prompted both nostalgia and surprises, with reminiscences of performing at Ewan MacColl’s Singers Club bringing on a MacColl ballad, Sweet Thames, Flow Softly, and memories of the Watersons, followed by a bravely unaccompanied treatment of Mike Waterson’s A Stitch in Time. So it went on, with North and South of the River, the stirring, controversial song of reconciliation in Northern Ireland that he co-wrote with Bono and the Edge, followed by a version of the very funny, half-spoken and stomping Lisdoonvarna and the traditional Cliffs of Dooneen, surely one of the most exquisite of all Irish ballads. Christy Moore may be in his early 60s, but his potency is undiminished.
Reviewed by Pat Ryan
The clock went off at 5:15 and i was on the road from Stratford on Slaney to the Barrowlands at 5:40.
I had been looking forward to this gig for a long time. I spoke to Christy about it many times and at the Kilkenny gig I spoke with Paddy and he said ” Come over to Glasgow Pat. I can’t describe it but you will not have seen anything like it before”. So I was off to Glasgow.
I got the 7:50 flight to Prestwick and there were 2 lads in the seats behind me talking music. They were of my vintage and were well travelled music fans. They were on the way to The Barras as well. The flight was full with quite a few Celts on board for the away game to Hamilton the next day. Despite the early hour there was a great buzz on the plane – everyone seemed to be talking about their plans for the weekend.
I arrived in Prestwick and got the train into Glasgow Central. I was in the station 3 weeks previously and had a cup of tea there. The pidgeons with their mangled little legs came up right up and ate crumbs out of my palm. ( A regular little St. Francis !!!). Anyway, I left the station and headed for the hotel. I knew it was Menzies in Washington Street but that was as much as I knew. I walked down Argyle Street and went into the Celtic shop. It was about 10 in the morning and I had a look around the store. I like memorabilia so I passed a little time in there. I asked the lad working there for directions and he googled the hotel and gave me directions. I had decided to walk as much as possible on this trip so that i could get a feel for the city. So off I went with me bag on me back. On the way Eric from Coatbridge rang me and we arranged to meet the next day. More of that later.
I arrived into the lobby of the hotel about 11 and went to reception. I was way too early for check-in but I signed in and left my bag with Brian. I asked Brian directions for a good breakfast – Moores at the Glasgow Central bridge: I asked him how to get to Andrews Square and he guided me there. I went for breakfast and it was pretty busy with blue and green supporters lapping up the fried delights and washing them down with pints of beer and some , like myself even had tea with their toast. As the world outside was trudging through the Glasgow rain I saw the 3 young lads from Ireland having a few drinks and taking in the freedom of a weekend away with all its potential. There was the group of long time Celt supporters arriving with new bloods and meeting up with friends of long standing. The strong handshakes of earned respect and the smile that said it good to see you.
I headed out to find Andrews Square based on Brian’s directions. I got as far as the clock in Trongate and could not find what I was looking for. I asked a woman and she said it’s not around here. I headed back towards the city centre and stood in under the canopy of M&S. I looked at a tourist map I had but no luck. I conceded after about 10 minutes and asked a man standing near me if he knew where the street is I was looking for. He pointed me confidently back towards my hotel. I went back that way in the hope of tying in with friends. As I neared the hotel again I looked at a map on a bus shelter – There it was – Andrew Square just off the Saltmarket in Trongate!!
I arrived back to the hotel lobby about 1PM. When i walked in I saw Andy and he leapt up to say hello and asked me to join him and his two buddies Tom and Bobby. They were well into the second day of slagging that only good friends can keep up and get away with. Tea arrived and i was in the middle of it straight away. I had met Tom on a couple of occasions previously and I met Bobby twice in Clonakilty but did not know him that well. The hour or more I spent with the lads though gave me an insight into a good friendship and I was glad of the company. Sound men all three. I have known Andy for quite a few years but we never spent much time together. Tom and Bobby headed off to their rooms and myself and Andy had a great conversation. I got to know him and he me and I think we forged a new friendship. It was refreshing in the honest way that life’s battering sometimes allows. I checked in then and went up to my room to lie down for a while but that wasn’t possible because when I’m in a different place I feel that time spent lying down is time wasted when I could be out getting to know the area. However, I turned on the telly and there was a documentary on about Sevvy Ballesteros and his recovery from brain surgery. It was fascinating listening to him speak about how grateful and lucky he is to be alive and how his ambition is to play in The Open again is St. Andrews. He has set up a foundation to help others in a similar situation and he is smiling. True humility.
About 4 I headed off for Barrowlands with a detour planned to find the Rooms in Andrew Square. Like all good journeys I needed to march on a full stomach so McDonalds was my first stop. I finished there and headed towards Trongate again and saw this great painting of John Lennon in a gallery window. I went in and it was full of great paintings by an artist whose name escapes me but whose paintings are really raw. The gallery owner is a man from Donegal and we spoke for a while. A very engaging man. I left him and turned right into the Saltmarket and left into Andrew Street. I found where I was looking for but it was closed. I know now where it is for the next time I’m over. I headed up for the Gallowgate and The Barras and in less than 10 minutes I was outside the great Ballroom. I took a few pictures and then headed into Bairds out of the pouring rain. I was due to meet Mick or Paddy at 5:30 at the door of Barrowlands. I went into the lounge side and it was throbbing with a group ripping it up with ballads and other folk songs. The crowd there were in great form. This was about 4:45. I went into the bar side of Bairds and ordered an Irn Bru and a bag of salt and vinegar. An oul boy came up to me and asked me the result of the game between Wolves and Villa. I told him it was a draw. He knew that already though i’m sure. Anyway at about 5:15 the band finished up with The Fields of Athenry and wished all well at the gig. Then they asked great crowd gathered to stand for the National Anthem – Amhran na Bhfiann !!
This was a first for me – at 5:15 in Glasgow on a Saturday afternoon standing to attention for the Irish National Anthem – Great stuff. I left Bairds and went to the ballroom door. Paddy was there waiting for the Troubadour and Mick. I said Howya Paddy. He wasn’t sure who I was. I told him and he said Jesus sorry Pat I was miles away. He brought me in and gave me the laminate and gave me a tour of the area and showed me to a seat at the back if I wanted to use it. I took the time to look around this old venue. The stage was set up with all the gear and the sound man arrived to prepare for the sound check The other long time crew were on stage making sure all was in place and as it should be. A vital cog.
It was empty other than that. I walked around the hall and took some pictures. The bar was closed in the hall. Christy and Mick arrived a short while after me and I was brought into the dressing room. Straight away Mick was playing the host and made me a cup of tea. There was an array of goodies lined up. Home made brown bread, white bread, cheeses, olives, thick cut slices of cooked ham and sponge cakes from a fan from the gig the night before. I dived in and made a doorstop of a ham sandwich. Wally had already arrived and done his sound check. Declan was just finished his and arrived in to get a bit to eat. I was chatting to Christy and just went in to say hello to Declan and pay my respects. I felt awkward and said a couple of things that were just off the mark – like suggesting a song and stating the obvious like you’ll miss him!! Declan on the other hand was gracious. I watched Christy doing his sound check and then Wally and Declan came up to go through the 3 songs they were doing together. They decided on Christy for Barrowlands, Wally for Smoke & Strong Whisky and Christy for Biko Drum. They were a bit concerned about how to come in on each other’s lead – they needn’t have worried. The 3 went back to the dressing room and sat together. They started to chat about songs and gigs and songs again and all the time strumming. I went into the kitchen area as I felt it was a place for just them. Val and Juno arrived in the meantime and the dressing room had a great atmosphere. There was a real feeling of goodwill.
They started to play some songs and laughed and played and it was like an Everly Brothers vibe coming from the music and singing. It was quite special.
The hall was filling rapidly and I took a seat at the back and watched the fans arrive. They were 4711ers and fans from all over. Val and Juno were already in their seats and I sat in with Tom. While we were waiting we had a great chat and it is amazing what people endure and accept with a humility that is almost unbearable – another sound man. Bobby was there with his son and Andy went out into the crowd. I was getting a bit anxious myself so me and my laminate went backstage and waited for the arrival of Christy and Declan. The build up was great and at about 8:05PM Mick’s torch went on and the lads came up the steps of the stage and the thunder was huge. They kicked off with North and South ( one of my favourites) and just built it from there. The crowd was amazing and to see them from where Christy sees them was awesome. A little bit of heckling went on and it was handled with years of experience. The crowd were alive to every song and when required you could hear a tear drop. At about 9:10 PM Wally was brought up. He was at the side like a prizefighter waiting to go on. He was on his toes and rarin’ to go. The crowd gave him a great welcome. They went straight into Barrowlands – the reaction was stunning. The crowd owned this. Then Wally sang Smoke and he just went into another level altogether – the crowd was in ecstasy and sang along to perfection. Biko Drum followed with Christy on fire and Declan’s guitar playing has no words to describe. To huge applause and cheering Wally left the stage and as he came down the steps Mick said to him “well?” and Wally’s reply was ” I love it, I just love this”. What a pleasure to see all this.
I could go through all the songs and tell you about each one but this was among the best gigs I have ever been to. It was over 2 hours and it will last forever. The atmosphere is very special and Christy rates this as one of his favourite places to play. I am a fan of Christy for over 36 years and he and Declan have a magic that is rare when they play together. Declan virtuoso playing is an untapped national treasure and we are lucky to have such a great musician.
After the gig I went in to the dressing room and had fish and chips with the whole gang. Great. I left the Barrowlands about 10:45 and got a cab back to the hotel. I sent texts thanking the people whio made this possible for me and about midnight got a call from Christy. We spoke for a few minutes and he thanked me for being there!!!!
I got up for breakfast and met Andy in the restaurant who invited me to join himself, Tom and Bobby. The slagging was good if a little quiter to allow for any delicate heads. The breakfasts were consumed with gusto though so they were ready to get the boat.They were great company and i was grateful for the time I spent with them.
Eric rang to say he would pick me up at noon. He and his wife Matty arrived and we went to the Banks Social Club to watch the Bhoys playing Hamilton. They went 2 -0 up and the was almost no great chat about the match but it was suddenly changed when Hamilton got a goal back.It was hell for leather and that was just in the Social club. We left there and went to John the plumber’s house. We had soup there and I was made feel completely at home like I had been calling for years. We went back to Eric’s then and watched the end of the united game. Eric has a grwat way about him and I felt relieved that I am on the right track after speaking and more importantly listening to him. He and Matty brought me for a lovely meal and dropped me back to Prestwick. They walked in with me and I feel I have really connected there. It’s a great relief for someone like me to be able to speak freely to a like mind. I am looking forward to them coming over to Ireland.
I got in home about 1:15 on Sunday night/Monday morning. I was delighted to be home with Geraldine, Sara and Charlie the dog. I was looking forward to telling them all about this great 2 days.
Reviewed by Davoc Rynne
Cappoquin – Ceapach Choinn (Conn’s Plot)
Cappoquin – Ceapach Choinn is in County Waterford and directly translated means Conn’s Plot. Even Joyce’s “Names and Places “does not know who Conn was. So the plot thickens! Ah – but it’s not that kind of plot! It is land and probably lots of it! “This neat market town is situated on the river Blackwater at its right angled bend from east to west”. So my guide book tells me. But then I reach into the mahogany bookcase in the gorgeous sitting room of Richmond House Guesthouse in Cappoquin and there on the middle shelf I find “The History, Topography and Antiquities of the South West of Ireland”. I search for Cappoquin in the index and find it mentioned twice…….”Cappoquin possesses nothing worthy of particular notice except a new church ornamented with a neat spire”……..and again…….”with its light bridge crossing the Blackwater”. It sure does not sound exciting. But then I see this was written by Rev. Ryland in 1824! Sure what would he know!
It is 4pm on the first day of a two night set of Christy Moore gigs in town. The Christy crew has gathered in the community hall – Mick Devine points us at the food and the cups o’ tae. It is a magnificent hall with state of the art facilities. There is a crèche, a gymnasium, a community meeting room, toilets, showers and changing rooms and finally the large hall with terrific comfortable seats. It is early yet for the gig so I head down town for a pint. People are battling for car space. Someone is getting out of a car complaining that Christy Moore is causing bedlam in town. All ages in the pub and most of them going to the gig. Some have not been at a Christy concert in twenty years. Many have travelled from Dungarvan, Tralee, Enniscorthy, West Clare, and even America.
The concert starts to a hushed and reverent audience. The opening number is designed to create a relaxed atmosphere – Ordinary Man, and it does the trick. Not a hand clapping, feet stomping number, nor is it a mega ciunas song that requires buckets of hush and respect. It is also very well known so won’t tax the mind – a good choice. The audience is in awe!
I’m itching here to talk about audiences. Years ago the only audience you would encounter was at Mass or occasionally in the cinema. Will we ever forget – a full house with a packed audience of baldy and Brylcreemed capless headed men on the left and heads covered women on the right. Ok ok, it was a church and we were the congregation but it’s the same difference! We had a priest in Prosperous with zero tolerance for any type of distraction. If people were coughing, he would stop the mass until they stopped and he would read the riot act if it continued. And what about the yobbos at the cinema! What with smart alecs shouting at the crouching cowboy – ” there’s an injun creepin’ up behind ya”, the noisy coortin’ couples snoggin’ in the back row, the crisp bag being burst against someone’s ear and all of this done in the middle of a thick pall of dense tobacco smoke! Wow, have audiences changed. But let’s get back to Cappoquin.
Two or three numbers in Christy does a solo – “A Stitch in Time” with six hundred people listening intensely. This is a seriously funny important song. If you have not heard it before, listening to the first couple of verses it is hard to know where it is going. “She lived all alone with her husband” gets a bit of a snigger. But from then on the listener is transfixed by what is about to happen in the song. After the verse …
“As she started to stitch with a girlish thrill
with a woman’s eye and a seamstress skill
she bibbed and tucked with an iron will
as she stitched all around her sleeping husband”
– I can feel the penny dropping and am aware of a sudden intake of breath when I hear a group of women behind me softly laughing. Even at this stage of the song the full impact of this shocking domestic scene takes a little while to sink in. And indeed even when the whole story unfolds – one is not too sure whether to laugh or cry.
I stop listening to the song but strain my ears for any other type of sound! It is totally awesome. I can literally hear the man beside me breathing and far away in the distance above the sound curtains, and very faintly, I hear the soft whirl of a ventilating fan. I look around to see the faces in the soft light. (But even this I am nervous to do – what if Christy spots me. “Stay quiet you down there and stop gawkin’ around you”! As if……?) It is truly amazing the respect that this audience has for these mighty performers. After “Morecambe Bay”, which ends on a lonesome note, there is absolute and total silence. This silence is palpable and lasts for fully five seconds which is then broken by thunderous applause. Christy has a big grin on him and looks extremely pleased. He talks of this rare occurring magical silence after a song that has a special meaning for him, in these wonderful seconds the song is allowed to drift into a spiritual space.
The opposite also occurs – as in clapping! Theses could be written on the extraordinary human behaviour of applauding. But these old boys have it worked to a TEE – when to encourage it, play away through it, throw it out of time or stop it altogether. All rear up umpteen times in the course of a gig. OK – no problem with “The Shovel” – just let them bang on and enjoy themselves. But but but but you’ve got to also stop them or they’ll miss the funny bits like ……”if you want to do it, do it agin’ the wall, there’s a shed there in the corner and they won’t see you at all… mind your sandwiches….” Even if we’ve heard it a thousand times before that doesn’t mean we’re not going to laugh yet again! (I noticed Dikon, the sound man, smiling at Joxer and god knows but he must have heard it a gazillion times before). And you can’t hear if everyone is stamping and clapping. These ol’ boyos can shift and move these clappers at will. They appear to just jump a beat and create confusion and then it just trails off a bit, then stops.
I jotted down the titles of all the 28 songs performed. I wondered the next day how many of these were actually on an agreed set list. Neither Declan nor Christy could give me a definitive answer. Songs are planned, rehearsed, talked about but when the gig starts it takes on a life of its own. Depends on the audience, the mood, the sound, the lighting, maybe even the moon phases! One thing for sure Declan has huge patience and flexibility. “Let’s try the key of C” sez Christy. Declan gives him a look. (Fine says Decy to himself, but what song are you going to sing?) Off with Christy and Decy gets it straight away. Then Christy changes his mind and reverts back to the usual key – no bother to the guitar maestro!
Certainly no set list when Christy starts the jukebox! Five, six songs are shouted up together. He hears the word “Veronica” (a song he wrote in 1996 on the day he heard of Veronica Guerin’s dreadful murder). He picks up on it and is obviously chuffed that someone has requested it. He forgets the start of it and looks to Declan for a clue, then he quickly recovers and gets going. But the amazing thing about it is that I could hear plainly behind me, a prompt, “In the broad daylight…..” from a young man who had the start of this great song, way before Christy had it.
Christy connects with his audience in a most extraordinary way. With years of experience under his belt he has developed a finely tuned gift for feeling the pulse and mood of the masses of people in front of him. Yes, he is completely in control and within seconds he has his audience eating out of his hand, they are comfortable and relaxed in his company. He is aware that there are maybe a dozen singers softly joining in – he even spots where they are sitting and he shouts to them to rise it! Then there’s the humour. “Dogs howling at the moon” and the audience automatically starts howling and Christy whispers to Deccy “distemper”!! Deccy cracks up – unusual for Deccy, he’s a great man for the straight face!
Keep listening and you’re sure to hear more buried humour and quirky jibes. It could be Bertie, or Charlie or even Daniel…..or ….or….or… Oooooh Lisdoonvarna!
Console – living with suicide
MOJO (The Miscarriages of justice organisation)
Pavee Point Travellers Centre
Burma Action Ireland
Children In Crossfire
Turn Off The Red Light – End Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in Ireland
Richard Boyd Barrett – People Before Profit
Trad / Arr: Christy Moore
It was one fine March morning I bid New Orleans adieu
Am G Am C/G F
And I took the road to Jackson town, my fortune to renew.
C Am G Am C/G F
I cursed all foreign money, no credit could I gain,
Which filled me heart with longing for the lakes of Ponchartrain.
I stepped on board of a railroad car beneath the morning sun,
I rode the rods till evening and I laid me down again.
All strangers there no friends to me till a dark girl towards me came
And I fell in love with my Creole girl by the lakes of Ponchartrain.
I said, “Me pretty Creole girl, me money here’s no good,
If it weren’t for the alligators, I’d sleep out in the wood.”
“You’re welcome here, kind stranger, from such sad thoughts refrain,
For me Mammy welcomes strangers by the lakes of Ponchartrain.
She took me into her Mammy’s house, and treated me right well.
The hair upon her shoulders in jet black ringlets fell.
To try and paint her beauty, Im sure twould be in vain,
So handsome was my Creole girl by the lakes of Ponchartrain.
I asked her if she’d marry me. She said that ne’er could be
For she had got a lover and he was far at sea.
She said that she would wait for him and true she would remain
Till he’d return to his Creole girl on the lakes of Ponchartrain.
Its fare thee well, me Creole girl, I never may see you more.
I’ll neer forget your kindness in the cottage by the shore
And at each social gathering, a flowing bowl I’ll drain
And I’ll drink a health to my Creole girl by the lakes of Ponchartrain.
Sorry no essay at present.
Sorry no Chords at present.
We are still working on finalising the Lyrics and
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Well we had 10 sacks of rice, a container of beans, all our money in silver and gold and not a shaggin’ thing happened. All the greedy promoters lost a packet on their rip off gigs and the hungry hoors of publicans who put on big cover charges got their tight arses burnt. Y2K me bollix.
Into 2000 and I did not one gig all year. It was all book stuff. Finishing off ‘One Voice’. Corrections, re-writes, photos, proof reading, it was all new and kinda’ exciting. Did book signings all over Ireland and also in London. Good fun.
Had a few weird experiences in London. Lunch with The Financial Times was quite superb.Began talking to Declan Sinnot about playing some songs. Then we played at his 50th party and Donal joined in. Then all Decky’s gear got robbed and Donal and I did a benefit (The Stolen Guitars Gig) and Decky joined in and we had a great gig on Wednesday 30th August 2000. Next thing we were recording ‘This Is The Day’ in Kilkenny in January 2001 and we decided to do some gigs on the back of that. These got recorded and are released as ‘Live At Vicar St.’ I’m back in front of the lamps and it feels good, so lets see where we go from here.
I remember the nineties alright. I recorded ‘Smoke And Strong Whiskey’ in Westland. It’s a strange album. I fell out with some of the musicians I’d rehearsed with and had to re-convene. The album always sounds too fast to me.
My old label put out a compilation the same time as ‘Smoke And Strong Whiskey’ and it fairly sunk the album but that’s the way those people think, so fuck ‘em (although I must admit it’s a good album!).
’King Puck’ was recorded in Ballyvourney and I used to visit Peader and Geraldine O’Riada for healing cups of tea and honey sandwiches. I got to play with Neil McColl and Máire Breathnach. Got the old ‘Rose’ down at last and also vowed never again to wear make-up no matter what the photographer told me. I still blush when I see the shaggin’ snaps.
Nancy died in 1992 but I still talk to her and I miss her too but she’s not gone too far away. I was finally cut loose from my moorings.
‘Live At The Point’ was a nightmare in the making for I regarded three different sets of gigs at the venue and mixed them all. It was arduous but also rewarding, educational, humbling and sometimes great fun. ’Graffiti Tongue’ came next and some of the early work was wonderful. Inis Meán and Passage were special but back in Ballyvourney it got very lonely. This is the loneliest album I ever made.
I realise I’m only writing about albums here but down the road I’ll fill in some gaps. I’ll tell you all about the real life after ‘Graffiti Tongue’, there was ANOTHER compilation. Yes the fucking ‘Collection Part 2’. There’s a story here too but I won’t tell it just now – only to say that it was the multinationals 1997again. The suits were pressed into my face once more. I didn’t record for three years after ‘Graffiti’ but then I discovered again that the process of recording songs should be enjoyable – that it could be (even) fun.
Me and Leo Pearson down the garden banging ‘Traveller’ together. Fuck it but ‘twas a healing balm. Young Lunny came in and played bouzouki backwards while The Edge was a welcome guest.
There’s another ten years up the spout.
4711ers (CM discussion forum)
The museum of Free Derry
Irish Traditional Music Archive
West Cork Music
Crooked House Theatre Company
Crooked House Theatre Company
Ryan Graham took the trouble to post this review on the Guest page…
I read it just before the Barrowland gig and it stayed with me
Hi folks, I’ve been up since the early hours this morning on a rare day off and have spent it doing something I haven’t had a chance to do in too long a time. Christy CDs on and just relaxing around the house and trawling through the internet for anything interesting to read. I came across the following post on a soccer forum and it said a lot I myself couldn’t have put in to words so eloquently so I thought I would share them with you.
Anyway, here goes:
Good Morning, in another universe and on another planet, in another time, another place I wear a different hat and coat. In that other world and with a different name I have cause to write sporadically on things simply not related to Celtic Football Club or Football in general. One- Pastime-so to speak, in this other world occasionally involves the reviewing of the odd performance artiste, and in the course of so doing I do occasionally throw in a mention of my love for Celtic Football club and all- or at least most things- related to the club. This morning I feel the need to bring that other world into this football forum- and talk not about football, but about something else entirely. I first “heard” Christy Moore live whilst hanging about outside the Mitchell Street Theatre. It would be the very early ’80’s sometime and he was rehearsing for a gig that night. I had no idea he was on and had no tickets for the gig. I had no idea he was rehearsing- I only heard a noise and a tune that stopped me in my tracks. In those days, I was a part timer. Part time student, part time drinker, part time footballer ( in the purely amateurish and recreational sense ), part time shite talker, part time sage, part time- everything! It is a job description or life style that I have never escaped despite eventually becoming a full time worker, husband, father and I suppose Adult. I am and hopefully always will be a part time something or other. Within two years I had me a job, a wage, a supposedly 9-5 existence, and the permanent smile and laugh that I hope one’s early twenties should bring. I also therefore had the wherewithal and the savvy to go and see the man from Kildare when he next came to town. That too was to become a fixture that I rarely missed and Christy has ever since been a constant source of reference. He still is some nearly 30 years on. The reason for Christy Moore being an Iconic performer was all too much in evidence last night at the Concert Hall. Some may come to listen to the man sing, but for me it is more- far, far more- than the singing which drags me in like a tractor beam. I will openly admit that I frequently, if not always, shed a quiet tear during a Christy concert. It is something that I cannot and never can explain. Whether it is the emotion he throws into a concert, or the songs or the lyrics, or whatever- I am gripped. Seized with the images painted in words and music. He grabs the root tree and branch of the soul and the very being. He can reach into the grave and pull out your ancestors as well as showing you your children. When you look into a child’s face- you are seeing all the human race. Moore has vast cannon of songs and whilst he has a songbook with a list always at hand, there is no set list as such. Yes there is the stable diet of standards, but he feels his way into a vibe and plays and sings what he feels is right in the spur of the moment-often leaving his side kick, Declan Sennett (of whom more later ) having to follow on and catch up. Last night, you clearly got the impression that he had a particular vibe- a particular message. A subliminal statement to make. Starting quite deliberately with North and South (co written with Bono), he went through a range of numbers concerning Ireland and the Irish, the today, the yesterday and the tomorrow. He name checked “Mary” at 70 and “Hannah” at 14. He paid his homage- as he always does- to Scotland and Glasgow in particular with the beautiful Barrowlands, and Black is the colour learned from the late great Hamish. Mentions of Danny Kyle, and the boys of the loch were thrown in and a quick tale about being saved one night by Tam Harvey, Billy Connolly and the late Gerry Rafferty, who threw him into the back of a van one night quickstyle- when he sang the wrong song in the wrong place! There is no need for me to go through a Christy Set list on here- many will know the words and tunes as well as I do if not better. What I want to convey is that I always feel a better man for having been to listen to Christy. He sings and talks of what is right. About the issues. About a moral coda that to me seems absolutely the right path and stance. A stance full of humour and the good things of life with no animosity to your fellow man, and a deep respect and love for those who we share the planet with. However all of this is fortified with the right and belief that you should stand up for your rights and for the rights of the man next door no matter his race, creed, background or whatever. There are few Human beings on this earth who are as “Gentle” as Christy Moore, but by God I swear that Declan Sinnott is one such. His effortless guitar playing and his endless capacity to just follow on wherever Christy chooses to go is, in itself, a wonder. These two men are linked by far more than the desire or need to eek out a living on the road together. There is clearly a deep bond between them, which goes way beyond the playing of music. Declan has huge hands. Hands that could be wrapped around the frets of three guitars at once let alone one. He sings with a lovely gentle voice that should be heard more often, and he plays the guitar with his right shoulder. If you don’t know what I mean by that, then treat yourself and buy a bloody ticket next time round. Declan will applaud some solo stuff that Christy comes out with, and seems sometimes surprised and delighted at what his fellow performer comes away with. Many reading this will have had parents, or grandparents, or great grandparents who came here from Ireland a long time ago. They came in search of the better and to escape if not the great famine, then a different type of famine- oppression, a lack of hope or opportunity, a lack of possibilities for them and their kids. Others will have come to Scotland- and elsewhere- to escape the more recent troubles- the bombs, the bullets, the army, the police, the tensions, the bigotry, the gerrymandering, the unemployment and the general greyness of the 60’s or 70’s that could be found almost anywhere in Britain and Ireland. They came with Hope. Hope and a sense of tradition expressed in music and song. The ability to build, or fix, or mend, to work long hours if given the chance, and to contribute and fend for themselves and theirs. Christy’s songs always bring that back home. The reminder that the ordinary man is precisely that- the ordinary man just going about his day to day. Not seeking conflict or hassle, just the chance of the daily wage, the bread on the table, the ability to give the next generation the leg up. In 2011, life is much more comfortable for many than it was in the’80’s or before. The standard of living is higher and in many respects the rubbish that came with the troubles and the troubles themselves are behind us. Songs will always exist about historical events. Some glorify past actions, some are testament to and a reminder of things in the past which must remain in the past and never be allowed to happen again. Not just in Scotland or Ireland, but England, South America, The US- everywhere.Yep, Christy Moore reminds me of why I get up in the morning, and instills in me the belief that if enough of us pull together then the world will be a better place than yesterday and the day before. He also instills that sense of righteous gentleness that you see in many, many good folk from all walks of life, all colours, and all persuasions. Ordinary people, not politicians, presidents, kings, film stars and the like – just the ordinary Joe. Such a concert is magic – just magic and you leave with the belief that you are absolutely right and justified in dreaming of past, present and future. So if you have never been then make it a must do for the next time yer man comes to town. I swear you will feel the soul move. My oldest son is called Declan, my youngest called Christy – and I just like that. And to the big fella that sat next to me and who tunes in here from time to time– Enjoy the Barrowlands tonight- I will be singing in the living room. So come all you dreamers……….. Ride On!
Wally Page/Tony Boylan
He’s twenty-five; he’s sick and tired,
It’s time to try the other side,
The B&I to paradise,
To sergeants and their men.
He’s never been to Dun Na Ri,
Combed the beaches after three,
Chips and beer and greenery,
Brothers one and all.
He signed and took the soldiers crest,
A decent man in battle dress,
When bugles blow you do your best,
For sergeants and their men.
All for the roses, over the sea.
He’s way ahead; he’s second to none,
With his fabrique nationali gun,
Marching bands with Saxon blood,
Sergeants and their men.
They landed with the sinking sun,
An invasion by the media run,
They covered up and they kissed with tongues,
Sergeants and their men.
But the phantom gunner danced the end,
And battered human bodies bled,
They butchered us, we butchered them,
Sergeants and their men.
All for the roses, over the sea,
All for the roses, Finglas boys to be.
Now a flower of sleep grows on his grave,
Forgotten soon the cowards and the brave,
But the coldest hate still lives today,
For sergeants and their men.
All for the roses, over the sea,
All for the roses, Finglas boys to be.
Sorry no essay at present.
Sorry no Chords at present.
Shane Mac Gowan
See the bright new moon is rising,
Above the land of black and green.
Hear the rebels voices calling,
I will not die ’till you bury me.
The aunt upstairs in the bed she is calling,
Why has he forsaken me.
Faded pictures in the hallway,
Which one of them brown ghosts is he?
Bless the wind that shakes the barley,
Curse the spade and curse the plough.
I’ve counted years and weeks and days,
And I wish to God I was with you now.
Fare thee well me black-haired diamond,
Fare thee well me own Aisling.
At night fond dreams of you still haunt me,
Far across the grey north sea.
And the wind it blows from the North and South,
To the East And to the West.
I will be like the wind my love,
For I will know no rest until I return to thee.
1, 2, 3, 4 telegraph poles,
Standing on the cold black road.
The night is fading into morning,
Give us a drop of your sweet poitín.
The rain was lashing – the sun was rising,
The wind was whipping through the trees.
The madness from the mountains crawling,
When I saw you first my own Aisling.
Bless the wind that shakes the barley,
Curse the spade and curse the plough.
I’ve counted years and weeks and days,
And I wish to God I was with you now.
Fare thee well my black haired diamond,
Fare thee well my own Aisling.
At night fond dreams of you still haunt me,
Far across the grey north sea.
Myself and Shane were having a spasmodic shambolic attempt at telephone communication. I recall we were talking about a great lyric he had called”St.John of God(s)”. He mentioned Aisling in passing and spoke the words down the line, I was instantly smitten. He sent me a cassette of the song and I could not make out the melody, in my anxiety to sing the song I threw a tune at it. I have never been happy with the result. A flawed tune and a great lyric. He subsequently recorded the song himself with The Popes. Whilst I have not heard it yet I will hazard a guess that it is the better melody.
no tabs here. the tune I use is incorrect..see below
Thanks to all who have been in touch since the last letter. Thanks too for Seasonal greetings proffered in great abundance and for all your support during the recent run of gigs. Some interesting talk about venues on the site recently. I like it when we get your impressions of various gigs and venues. Michael Hayes (no relation to The Farmer) wrote from England about different venues. It started a train of thought. By now I may have played 30-40 different venues in the City of London. My first gig there was in The Troubadour Club for Martin Windsor and Redd Sullivan back in 1967. After that came The Singers Club with Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger. The Hammersmith Folk Centre, The Peelers Club, The Fighting Cocks in Kingston, Wood Green club… later I played Cecil Sharpe House, Albert Hall, Half Moon Putney, Shaw Theatre, The Swan in Stockwell, The Roundhouse, The Marquee Club, Ronnie Scott’s, Queens Hall, The Palladium, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, National Kilburn, Gaumont State Kilburn (with Doc Watson), Forum Kentish Town, Electric Ballroom, Dominion, Hammersmith Odeon, Hackney Empire, The George Robey, Royal Festival Hall… all these from the top of my head without delving into old diaries… such an array of rooms. As I write this The Forum Kentish Town comes out on top and Albert Hall at the bottom. The former because of some great gigs there, the latter for the unfriendly vibe I experienced there which still lingers 20 years on.
Where I end up playing depends on a host of very different factors. It’s somewhat different from 45 years ago when this tour began. Back then I got most of my gigs through hanging around Folk Clubs, meeting organisers, doing floor spots at singers’ nights. I travelled very light, guitar case and sleeping bag. Overheads were extremely low. I basically lived hand to mouth.
These days it’s a very different world. We first decide, about 18 months in advance, when we might cross the water. My colleague in Lisdoon then contacts our Agent in London. He in turn makes contact with various promoters and venues around England, Scotland and Wales. They begin to get the bones of a tour together. When the gigs are in place it is time to plan production, accommodation, flights, ferries and publicity. All this takes a lot of time, work and attention to detail. I am fortunate to have work colleagues who take great care and pride in their particular part of the operation.
It’s not always possible to play where I would wish. I look forward to playing Leeds for its been nigh on 20 years since. It just has not been possible in the interim. I hoped to play Buxton having heard such great reports about the venue there. It simply has not worked out, maybe some day it will. For years I have wanted to play Cornwall but it has not worked out. 5 years ago I played Torquay, in my ignorance I thought I was in Cornwall but the Devon audience soon put me right on that one. Someone else suggested Cecil Sharp House in London. I played there in1973 with Planxty. Currently our London Listeners are sufficient in numbers for us to do 2 nights in the RFH so that’s where I like to play. Who knows, maybe in another few years I’ll be back at The Half Moon, Putney… I cherish the thought.
It is 40 years this week since Bloody Sunday.
I was 26 years old and back living in Dublin after 6 years working the Folk Clubs of England, Scotland and Wales. Planxty was in its infancy. We were rehearsing daily and playing small clubs in Dublin. I was in my element. I was reasonably aware of the situation up North. I knew a bit about the N.I Civil Rights Movement, (played a few fundraisers); I knew what happened at Burntollet, about
B Specials, Gerrymandering, Religious Sectarianism and class struggle but it was all a bit at arms length. Bloody Sunday changed that. I remember the day clearly, how the news began to filter through (news travelled at a different pace back then). As we realised what was happening on the Streets of Derry, many of our lives began to change. Everyone knew as the word spread and people took to the Streets. I was among the many thousands who marched to the British Embassy. It was my first time to witness violent street protest. Police baton charged us on Merrion Square, skulls were cracked. Eventually the British Embassy went up in flames. Subsequently I became more interested, and later involved, in what was happening “Up North”. Songs were written, gigs were planned and performed, and funds were raised. I became familiar with what life was like in Ballymurphy and The Bogside, in Bellaghy and The Bone. I visited The H Blocks to learn more about The Blanket Protest and over the subsequent years my work as a singer was imbued with songs and stories from The Six Counties. 40 years later and I returned again to Derry (Jan 25th) where I was invited to launch the book “Setting the Truth Free” by Julieann Campbell. It tells the inside story of the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign. May the healing process continue, may we live in Peace
We cross over to Manchester next week for the BBC Folk Awards. Kevin Littlewood’s song “On Morecambe Bay” has been nominated for an award and I have been invited to sing it on the night. It is such a powerful song. I am looking forward to playing in the new Lowry Theatre in Salford, the town that Ewan McColl described in his classic song “Dirty Old Town”. It was his home town. I have been blessed in my working life to have had access to so many great writers across the water. From Ewan McColl on to Dave Goulder, Peter Hames, Mike Waterson, Sandra Kerr, Dave Cadwell, Bill Caddick, Harvey Andrews, Ian Prowse, Peter Cadle to name a few. All those writers, singers and musicians who shared so generously, who swapped songs and chords, shared gigs…
I have also been invited to perform on the BBC’s excellent Sunday Morning Programme The Andrew Marr Show. My choice was to perform “On Morecambe Bay”. I was perplexed and disappointed when the editor decided it was not suitable for their TV show. My first thought was to pull the gig but instead I have decided to proceed. Maybe there will be a change of heart. If not I will find another song to sing. Recently I have performed this song on Ireland’s most popular TV show; also on many of our top Radio Shows (with Pat Kenny on RTE Radio 1, Tom Dunne on Newstalk FM, Gerry Anderson on BBC Radio Foyle and with Mick O’Brien on Dublin City FM). Small wonder that Folk Music exists in the mainstream of music in Ireland. “On Morecambe Bay” has become widely known here over the past 3 months, it is an achingly beautiful, well crafted, relevant and controversial song. Yet it has sadly been deemed unsuitable by the editorial suits of the (very fine) Andrew Marr Show.
I received a very powerful album last week. I first met Helen Brennan in the early 70s. We both frequented The Traditional Club which ran in Slattery’s of Capel St., Dublin every Wednesday night for over 20 years… Her album “Mirrors of the Soul” is a very fine collection. Helen tells me that it is available from Claddagh records…CD World…Celtic Note…iTunes
The visit to the Sin é Radio Show was a gem. My third visit in 12 years it was one of my most enjoyable radio experiences ever. Mick O’Brien was master of ceremonies, Lar Flynn was “fear an tí ” and we had three 4711er’s in as guests who doubled on backing vocals (Adam, Graham and Olivia). It was more like 6 friends sitting about shooting the breeze (with the added dimension of friends dropping in from all around the globe on text, facebook, flitter, scutter and twatter) Lots of songs, banter, tea, tart and simple downright bonhomie.
Some new dates added to this year’s schedule. Currently in place are gigs in Mullingar, Kilkenny, Drogheda, Enniscorthy, Killarney, Cardiff, Leeds, London, Liverpool, Newcastle, Charleville, Castlebar , Derry, Carrickmacross, Tullamore, Cork… details for these gigs are on the gig page.
Later in the year we hope to play, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Galway, Lecky Picky and Donegal amongst other. Details will be posted when available… both Declan Sinnott and myself may do some solo gigs towards the end of the year. Happy Listening. Keep in touch and let us know what’s going on out there…
PS…Just received “Speech Project” an album by Gerry Divers…Very Highly recommended to anyone interested in music innovation. Trad. Irish with contemporary and classical flavours. In fact it is impossible for me to define or categorise this music except to say that I am finding it riveting, spellbinding and (in the case of the Margaret Barry tracks) very emotional… it will be released in the coming week on One Fine Day records.
I’m confused about the year 1980. My diary is blank until the 11th of April when I played in Liberty Hall, Dublin. I think that I was being booked by a man called Brian Molloy at this time. I was starting to play more dates in the Occupied Territory.
I went to Italy with Planxty in July finishing up at Nyon festival in Switzerland. I recall playing ‘No Time For Love’ with Planxty around this time and always felt it was the best version. Carnsore Point was a highlight of the year. I also played a week in Dublin’s Olympia Theatre with Planxty.
’81 was busy, lots of gigs as ‘Moving Hearts’ came together. We started our first national tour at The Seven Oaks, Carlow on February 16th 1981. Mad year. Throat surgery, dental problems, managing and singing with The Hearts and also keeping Planxty meetings and solo stuff together. Seems like Mayhem.
carlton moving hearts ’82
Across ’82 I was playing with Moving Hearts, Planxty, and doing solo gigs. I’d also begun working with Mattie Fox who became my manager later. I feel exhausted just leafing through my diary. I was spending a lot of time in recording studios. Went to see ‘Fitzcaraldo’ at I.F.T on November 11th, a night off!!
The ‘80’s were mad, very productive but stone mad. Mad productivity. Producing madness.
Maybe I got a bit carried away there, nevertheless I’m finishing my essay on the 1980’s here.
I’ll continue through for I feel that down the road I’d like to be a bit more connected to those who want to hear the songs but live in places that I’ll never get to. Its unlikely I’ll make it back to Warnambool or Sausalito so I’ll forge on with my foyer notes.
Across the ‘60’s I’d heard The Clancy Brothers, John Reilly, The Dubliners, Luke Kelly solo, and then I began to be influenced by the British folk revival. I heard Sweeney’s Men, Moynihan and Irvine, Mick Moloney, and I was drawn back by the kind of music that was coming from the island.
Having failed my Transatlantic audition I returned once more to the producer Bill Leader who had begun releasing albums on his two record labels, ‘Trailer‘ and ‘Leader’. He liked my idea of going to Ireland to record with musicians I had long admired. In July 1970 Bill arrived in Prosperous, Co. Kildare where I had been rehearsing with Donal Lunny, Andy Irvine and Liam O’Flynn. We recorded work that was subsequently released as
We loved what we heard and agreed to re-converge the following year and try forming a band. The band commenced on Monday, 3 January 1972 with a residency at The Mug’s Gig held upstairs in Slattery’s of Capel St., Dublin. For a short while we went under our four names and we briefly were called “CLAD” but then settled on “Planxty”. Our first Planxty tour began at the M.S.G Manchester on April 22nd 1972, which was also the first time that Nicky Ryan ever did our sound. Planxty were on the road.
Over the next two years Planxty continued to tour and became very popular. We recorded three albums; ‘Planxty’, ‘The Well Below The Valley’ and ‘Cold Blow The Rainy Night’. Donal left in ’74 and I followed in ’75. Back solo again.
Looking back I was fortunate to come through these years intact. My work was poor and the sort of gigs I was doing were not memorable. I did a German tour in March 1977, which was a particular low point both personally and musically. The rock bottom of my musical life was Club Stubo, Bremen, Germany on 5th March 1977. The promoter was one mean bastard, God bless him.
In 1978 I made my first visit to Long Kesh Prison. Planxty reformed and began to rehearse for the ‘After The Break’ album. The original four members were augmented by Matt Molloy. In January 1979 we began to rehearse for our longest tour. It commenced in The Hammersmith Odeon, London on Saturday, April 15th and finished in The Stadium, Dublin on Monday 11th June. We performed 54 concerts in 8 countries and arrived home pretty wrecked. Financially we would have made a lot more money had we just played the first date in London and the last date in Dublin. There were some good moments on the tour but for me personally it was a very difficult time and the tour was very badly organized. I was playing solo again
I’d learned a lesson in the early ‘70’s. The first time I left Planxty I had no solo career to return to and I vowed never to become entirely immersed in a band again.
The starting point of my life as a musician.
As I recall today my first gig was in the original Embankment in Tallaght in 1965. I was booked by the late Peggy Jordan to play in this great venue, then being developed by Mick McCarthy (The real Mick McCarthy). I was paid ten shillings. I bought a shirt for 7/6 and went to town on the balance.
At this time the scene that was emerging in Dublin mesmerized me but I found it impossible to get a foot in the door. I had a small repertoire of good songs and I always went down well when I got a chance to sing. But looking back now I was probably not cool enough for the bookers.
I moved to England in ’66 and via work on buildings, factories, oilrigs I ended up on the folk club circuit in Manchester in 1967. My first gig as a professional folk singer was at The Wellgreen Folk Club, Manchester on May 4th. I was paid £6 and I sang:
Rocky Road to Dublin
Verdant Boys of Skryne
All for me Grog
Paddy on The Railway
On Saturday 6th May I played at The Bury Folk Club near Manchester. I sang some of the above songs plus:
I’m a Rover
The following day I celebrated my 22nd birthday. I was a Folksinger in exile
And I was on the pig’s back.
From ’67 onwards I developed my repertoire and spread my wings the length and breadth of the U.K. In ’68 I did my first radio broadcast in Dublin on Radio Eireann in a hall on O’Connell St. I sang ‘The Galtee Mountain Boy’, ‘Bogies Bonnie Belle’ and ‘The Bunch of Thyme’. On the back of my emerging career in the U.K, the Dublin bookers were starting to give me some gigs. I had many British songs that had not been heard in Dublin before and this worked to my advantage.
Around ’69 I was becoming desperate to make an album. To be a “Recording Artist” was essential if I was to break into the Premier Division of the folk circuit. I was doing well but there was still a way to go. I auditioned unsuccessfully for ‘Transatlantic’, which was the most desirable folk label of the era featuring the likes of Pentangle, Ralph McTell and Hamish Imlach. Subsequently I recorded my first album ‘Paddy On The Road’ with Dominic Behan in Sound Techniques, Chelsea.
I can still savor the feeling of getting that first L.P into my hand. I could not quite believe it. I went to Noel Murphy’s pad in Shepard’s Bush and we listened, me in awe and he being kind and encouraging. 500 were pressed and then it was deleted.
By the end of the ’60’s my ears were focused back on Dublin.
In the beginning of this decade I began getting piano lessons from Sister Michael. At 6 I took Christ’s body for the first time. I was half brainwashed with Catechism and discipline and eternal damnation on the horizon.
I saw “Rock Around the Clock” and learned what erections were for. Left the Altar Boys and found the F.C.A. Got long trousers, began to shave, tasted ale, Babycham and Jameson.
Won a County medal for Gaelic, sang solo in the Choir, could be a right little obnoxious bollix or the nicest lad in Ireland. Met Ronnie Delaney on his way home from Melbourne. Daddy died. Fuck it. He was sound.
Just home from The Liffey Banks sessions at the Grand social – The Máirtín O’Connor Band featuring Maírtín O’ Connor on Accordion, Cathal Hayden on fiddle and banjo, Seamie O’Dowd on guitars and vocals and Jim Higgins on percussion. It was my first time in The Grand Social and it was a great treat. It’s a funky room with a great vibe and sound system. It brought back memories of The Meeting Place in the 70s and Mother Redcaps in the 80s. The Tuesday Night Liffey Bank Sessions are run by Conor Byrne (my nephew). The Gig itself was stunning. Máirtín O Connor fronts the band with great presence and personality. His music continues to evolve, he heads out into the left field frequently but he holds his right foot resolutely in the tradition. Right through the set himself and Cathal Hayden were locked together – tight as ” a bull’s arse going up a hill”. It was gorgeous as they varied unison with beautiful harmony. Seamie O’Dowd has really nailed his guitar playing. His contribution to the band is enormous and goes from subtle intros and solos to full-on driving rhythms that betimes had me up out of my seat. He sang four songs and his take on “As I Roved Out” ( Andy Irvine’s version) stilled the room and brought us all away with him. On the opposite wing Jim Higgins was perfection on Snare Drum and Bodhrán. I toured with Jim many years back when he was in Eleanor Shanley’s Band. His playing last night was as good as I have ever heard in a traditional ensemble. Not one but two solos and both of them riveting. The variety of beats and tones he got from the old drum was remarkable. Both Jim and Seamie showed understanding and familiarity with the music they were ‘rhythming’.This would not always be the case with Trad. Ensembles (my own rhythm included betimes). At the end of it all it was fitting that Mairtín payed tribute to the late Joe Cooley, a man whose music still resounds around the world anywhere where Irish Music is played.
I heartily recommend The Liffey Bank Session at The Grand Social. It is situated at the The Halfpenny Bridge. There are some great some great gigs pending. Check it out: The Grand Social
Friday, 28th October.
Michael D. Higgins is elected President of our Island. It was a close call. McGuinness saved the day. Michael D. is well equipped to honour The Presidency and will not bring further shame and embarrassment down upon us. I last met him at Féile na Laoch in Coolea where he stood amongst poets, warriors, artists and bards. He read his poems eloquently until the clouds cleared and the moon came out. This too is the day that Folk Tale was released. We appeared on The Late Late Show and performed “Morecambe Bay” and “Michael Hayes”. So far the album is being well received. Releasing an album is an intriguing process. It is a year now since we began to record. After three months we abandoned the original project and commenced recording what has become “Folk Tale”. There was no theme nor specific vibe or thrust, we just played and sang one song at a time. As is the way, the work itself indicated when the job was done. Declan and Tim Martin got down to mixing tracks while I worked on the running order, sleeve notes and began to collaborate on the Artwork with Oran Day and my son Pádraic. I had to make a stand in certain quarters on the sleeve artwork. However I had deep conviction as to its relevance and suitability. This laddie was not for turning.
Saturday, 29th October.
Reflecting upon last night’s television programme… It went well for us. We got to sing 2 songs to nigh on half a million listeners (viewers). It is such a privileged position to have access to the airwaves when releasing new work. It is always a dilemma for it can be a double edged sword. It can be nerve wrecking too for there is so much that can go wrong. However we did get all possible assistance last night from both the RTE crew and our own team. Ryan Tubridy,who hosts the programme, was warm and welcoming but, when the show went up, he did appear to be ill at ease. That said, I marvel at the dexterity of those who host such a compendium of guests. Sword swallowers, taxidermists, fading stars, up and coming brats, right wing bigots, left wing midgets, the breast enhanced, the bewildered, we are all there queuing up to flog our wares to an exhausted, traumatised public. Poor old Ryan gets blempt on it all. However he is a very able young man who seems well able for the brickbats. Him being related to Herself, I felt he was pleased when I sang “Michael Hayes” for his ( distant) cousin, The Queen.
Saturday, 5th of November.
It is now 7 days since Folk Tale was released. A week is a long time in song. Declan and I gave it everything we had for 6 months. We arrived at the end of the process satisfied with our efforts but then twas time to put it out for public consideration. There is no way of knowing what way that will go. Seven days on and we are well satisfied by the response to date. The songs are sitting up well in the set, we played six of them last night in Waterford and we’ll maybe try the rest of them tonight.
Monday, 7th of November.
After all the brouhaha of MTV in mBéal Feirste I went looking for some healing balm. I ended up on YouTube at Luke Kelly and The Dubliners. I went back again to Luke’s “Night Visiting Song” (aka “I Must Away Now”) .I believe this was Luke’s final performance before he passed away. It is simply stunning and most beautiful. The rest of the band are mindful of what is going down. Barney is hurting, Ronnie is concerned, Sean is nervous and John is playing so soulfully. Luke is giving it everything he’s got just like he always did. I have often commented before on the solid Rhythm created by the Tenor and 5 String Banjos. It is unique to The Dubs and is a huge part of their original sound…here Ronnie’s finger picking on The Spanish Guitar locks in tight and the 3 instruments create bedrock for Luke to travail. I recommend these 4 minutes to all listeners: Luke & The Dubliners on YouTube
I also dropped in on Luke’s “Unquiet Grave”. I used to sing this in the 60’s.(A version I learnt from Frank Lunny Jnr in Rynne’s cellar 50 years ago)… must give it a burl.
I’ve just read that the Brother, Luka Bloom, is to play at The Black Box, Belfast on Sunday Jan 15th 2012 at 3pm. It should be a lovely afternoon under The Black Mountain. (www.blackboxbelfast.com ) I have recorded 4 of his songs; City of Chicago, Wave up to The Shore, Section 31 and Remember The Brave Ones. Last time I heard him play was at Ryston Social Club in Newbridge earlier in the year when he delivered a stunning set. We book-end the family, I am the eldest he is the youngest and we have 3 sisters Eilish, Anne, Terry and Brother Andy in the middle. Luka began his career as Barry Moore and recorded a number of fine albums before moving to America where he became Luka Bloom and continued with his singing and recording career. Aged 17 he played support to Planxty and at the ripe age of 14 he travelled England with me in the summer of 1969. I can recall him singing in Folk Clubs in Redcar, Windermere and Manchester. I was as proud of him then as I am now. Great Singer, Great Brother.
Monday, 21st of November.
I paid a visit to Dame St and had an hour with the Occupants. Spoke with Emily, a young Wicklow artist. She dropped in for an hour 45 days ago and has been there ever since. I also met Kevin who sang me a very good song and Sandra who gave me soup. This small group of peaceful activists are like a candle in the dark cloud of fear confusion that hovers above The Island. Like the rest of us they are fearful and concerned about where we have been landed by those whom we entrusted to mind the shop. Unlike most of us, the young ones at Dame St are making a stand. They deserve our support. I hope to visit again soon and sing some songs. That’s the best that I can do.
Here in Belfast this morning after a great gig last night in The Waterfront. Perhaps the best gig in Belfast since The Green Briar in 1982, maybe even better then The Pound Loney in 1978. We both sat down in the dressing room afterwards and acknowledged that it had been special. The first time I ever opened with McIlhatton and from there the set just flowed almost seamlessly. Declan was finding lovely notes, the audience were singing beautifully, the requests were appropriate and timely (sorry I could not find Joxer). Afterwards I felt like we had entered a new phase of the journey, can’t explain that… it’s just what I felt.
Germany, Holland, Belgium 2011.
Michael collected me at 8.30 am on Thursday 29th and we make our way to the Stena Seacat out of North Wall, Dublin Port. I love the way the on board traffic controllers park the vehicles, they remind me of the lads with the green cap bands that used to help us culchies park around Croker back in the old days. The promoter has us riding up front, no objections from me on that score. I fancied a quiet Welsh rarebit and a mug of espresso before facing the shed in Holyhead. Will them buckers haul us over the coals again? A grand gentle crossing with the Crosaire done and dusted on the Irish Sea (nt). Any way we pass through Holyhead harbour without any rozzer sticking his mush into the van and on up through Wales as we head toward The Pennines on a beautiful Indian Summers day. I love this drive. Used to be a ball breaker back in the 60s but the new Highway through North Wales is a beauty with the ocean on one side and hills, castles and RAF squadrons on the other.
Passing into England I begin to recognise many towns that once had Folk Clubs and I recall old friends whose faces I can still see but whose names I sometimes cannot remember. Runcorn where we supped some stuff, Chester where I came down with Kidney stones, Wigan where I played darts with Bruce Scott and Barry Halpin… Congleton, Hale, Bury, Heywood, Rochdale… now we’re heading up The Pennines and I’m singing “who wouldn’t be for all the world a Jolly Waggoner “. the rest of the team fly Aer Lingus and RyanAir to Hamburg but I have no time for that any more. I need to spend 30 hours getting to Hamburg or I wont feel any different when I get there. Nor do I want to be under RyanArrest having my totty weighed by Mick O’Leary and his stressed out Staff.
We arrive into Hull 4 hours before the SS Pride of Hull (of the P&O line) departs for Rotterdam. So what are we gonna do? We drove around the town centre for a while and I dreamt about Mike Waterson and Jock Manuel, Jules Pidd and Joe 90, The Rugby Pub and The Old Blue Bell, but I soon remembered that world is gone. We drove towards the Ferry port and I spotted an old graveyard with an open gate. We drove in and parked in the shade of ancient trees. We drank tea and ate sandwiches; we read gravestones and listened to Radio 4. We were at peace among the departed as mighty trucks droned towards Europe on a distant highway. we were first to board the barque, we checked into our cabins and soon we were sitting down to a good feed. Looking around the dining room I realised where the phrase “running a tight ship” originated. This was top scran served by men and women who seemed content to feed us long haul travellers. These people have a difficult and claustrophobic working environment, over and back and over and back, seldom leaving the ship, I suspect their living quarters are basic and cramped and, more than likely, they don’t have union support. It is humbling to receive such warm and courteous hospitality from people who work so hard to provide it.
I love to observe people, to imagine their lives, relationships, conversations and 12 hours on a Ferry is as good a place as any for such eavesdropping. It was a smooth crossing and I slept solid after spending some time shaping up songs in my head for the forthcoming gigs. No great alterations required, yet I know the sets will need consideration. There needs be a different pace and thrust… certain songs will not work whilst others will be brought back in and need refreshing. I got to work in my cabin and soon had different shapes emerging. After a good breakfast, again served by our new friends, we rolled off The Pride of Hull and tuned into Bridie von SatNav who began to guide us on our 450 km trip to Hamburg. We had Kraftwerk smoothing our path as we jostled along the highway through Holland and on into mighty Germany. Back again after a 4 year absence. 29 hours after leaving home we pulled up outside our billet in Hamburg and Paddy Doherty was there, as always, with everthing laid on for our sojourn. Paddy and I took a 5 mile walk around Lake Alster. One of my favourite walks, it gives a great first insight into the German Urban psyche. Then back to the Hotel where Declan had arrived in from Cork. After we unpacked we played songs for an hour and caught up with each others news.
A new day, a new tour. back in Hamburg 4 years on and its so good to be still able to do this; to roll into a great city and to have a thousand people show up to hear these songs. A modern venue in the centre of town, all mod cons and the dreaded a/c… we got a hot welcome and settled in to the work…
Pity Poor Immigrant
Well below the valley
Only our Rivers
North and South
This is The day
2 Island Swans
Back Home in Derry
No Time For Love
Cliffs of Dooneen
Bright blue rose
Sunday Morning Hamburg and I move slowly around Lake Alster one more time. Sitting on a wall I watched people enter the water at the Hamburg Kanoe Club, all ages in all sorts of boats. I saw an ancient lady being helped into her canoe and away she went out onto the lake of sailing boats, pedallos, canoes, kayaks, ducks and geese. Not a cursed jet-ski in sight, not a speed boat to poison the day… walkers, joggers, cyclists, picnicers, lovers, prams and grey beards all celebrating this October Summer day. I am still purring from last night’s fun as I turn my mind to Bochum some 200 miles south of here. Back to my room, a quick shower and a quick few songs before packing the bags and clambering aboard the wagon.
Into Bochum at 4pm and a good sound check. Declan has begun playing a keyboard and now he has arrived with a Bouzouki which we may bring into the set tonight. The addition of the keyboard on the “Well below The Valley” brings this classic timeless song back into the set once more. I first performed it back in 1973 and since then it has been one of my favourite songs to sing. The bouzouki will soon find its way, lovely to sing to that sound again and Declan has immediately taken to it. He never ceases to amaze me, how he can pick up an instrument and begin to unravel its secrets so quickly. The venue in Bochum was large and lifeless at soundcheck, a vast empty space. When we walked onstage at 8 o’clock it had been transformed by an air of excitement and expectation. The gig ran beautifully, both of us felt that there were high points, that we had played a good gig.
Wise and Holy Woman
Well Below Valley
After The Deluge
Smoke and Whiskey
Back Home in Derry
Cliffs of Dooneen
After a grand bit of Wuppertal Goulash and Gutersloh apple juice we took off down the Autobahn with Kraftwerk and hastened towards Amsterdam, getting in at 2 am. The pillows were fluffed and the hot water bottles in place as we settled down after a good days work and play.
A free day in Amsterdam. For 3 hours I walked to, from and around Fondel Park, a beautiful oasis in a dangerous city. I managed to avoid cars, trams, buses, horses, bicycles, skaters and skateboarders only to get run down by a pedestrian. Years ago I spent my free days and nights here in the bars and hash dens of Amsterdam… much safer places then walking the pavements. Some of the cyclists are like stasi on wheels! It is a lovely park to wander about, all human life is there. I love this city. I have never been in any of the Galleries or Museums but it’s nice to know that they are there. I love the mix of Amsterdam, I love the cycling ethos. Great to watch two Rozzers on horseback going yakkity yak around the park oblivious to the world around them. Then I came across a crime scene that was different, hundreds of sightseers with phones and cameras, so much audience it was impossible to figure out what went down. It may well have been a confused (visiting) pedestrian run down by a cyclist busy reading his/her emails. A dinner of cous cous and strong coffee and now I await Declan, we will top off the free day with a few tunes and a bit of banter “Pedal On Pedal On Pedal On”.
Word has come from Vancouver that Doug Lang’s mother has passed. We send him our condolences. Doug is a singer and songwriter who posts the most beautiful videos on our sister site. He takes songs and illustrates them with photos. His montages can be found at 4711ers.org (scroll down to “off topic but musical”). He has introduced us to many’s the gem. His mother had been ill for some time and was a good age, neither of which will lessen the pain of her passing.
I have been thinking a lot of my own father in recent days. Andy Moore passed on October 8th 1956 when I was 11. These days he walks beside me and it feels good.
After The Carre Hall in Amsterdam
A bit tired tonight, bit of a chill in the bones, feeling a bit empty but enough left to write that it was a good night. The audience sang and requested songs like Yellow Triangle, Natives, Sonny’s Dream, Rory is Gone, they sang too as we played a two hour set…
Wise and Holy Woman
16 Jolly Ravers
No Time for Love
This is The Day
The Well below the Valley
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Does This train stop on Merseyside
Weekend in Amsterdam
North and South
Back home in Derry
Rory is Gone
Cliffs of Dooneen
Don’t quite know where the last song came from, had no intention of playing it. We came back out for a second encore and were about to launch into an up tempo, sure-fire satisfier but, thankfully, Haiti started up instead and we nailed it. Wrote this song last year with John Spillane. It is on the forthcoming album “Folk Tale”. It’s always a buzz when a new song gets nailed in the live arena.
We met up with a team of 4711ers after tonight’s gig. It is always good to meet up with such a great group of listeners. They made for a happy gathering, it was icing on the cake at the half way point of our brief European Tour. My brother Andy was over from The Banks of The Lee, he brought me up to date with all the news from the Presidential elections and also the latest from our Rugby Squad way down there in New Zealand. Then back to the scratcher to rest up for tomorrow’s fun in Antwerp, Belgium…
(In Keith Richard’s book ” Life”…he writes “Sometimes people ask ‘ why don’t you give it all up’?
I don’t think they understand what I get out of this. I can’t retire until I croak. I don’t do this just for money nor am I doing it just for you. I do this for me.”)
Roma Theatre, Antwerp.
We just arrived into this splendid venue. Great vibe the minute we pass through the door. It is run by a volunteer collective and has that lovingly-cared-for-feel about the place. First thing I’m told is that I played here with Planxty over 30 years ago, but I have no memory of that gig. I do recall that 1979 tour was not always a happy one but we all survived it. Back to the present and I learn that Bill Haley played here, that man who turned my ear in The Palace Cinema, Newbridge in the late 50s. Laurel and Hardy apparently appeared here too as did a host of more recent luminaries. It is always interesting to tread those well trodden boards. Like Barrowland in Glasgow, each gig leaves a chord reverberating. There was a canteen beneath the stage and a home cooked meal had been prepared for us. We sat together and had our first full crew photo taken since Cardiff in 2004. I’m happy to say that the team remains the same: Paddy, Mick, Dickon, Davy, Geoff, Johnny, Declan and Christy.
We were visited by my son Padraic and Aleana Egan from Ringsend. It is always special to have family at a gig… they were both enthralled by the beauty of the Old Venue.
Smoke and Whiskey
Only Our Rivers
Well below the valley
No Time for Love
We struggled a bit with our sound on stage, everything had changed since the sound check. Thankfully no one seemed aware of any problems… this happens sometimes and it effects Declan and I differently. Bringing in two new instruments also effects the overall sound pattern but in a positive way. I found it more difficult then usual to leave the venue. It was such a welcoming environment that I wanted to hang on a little longer. However, the Stagecoach was waiting and the horses were getting restless….. ‘Twas time to move along, get along…
“I’m gonna saddle up the old grey mare, ride through the night without worry or a care.
I’m a messenger boy bringin my love to you” ( Christie Hennessy)
Back into Brussels after a decade or so. Last time I played this venue was 20 years ago. Tommy Gorman, then our man in Europe, organised a grand dinner for myself and my son Andy. Ancienne Belgique is the venue and we arrived here after a 3 hour jaunt from Amsterdam where we have been billeted for the past 5 nights. A grand night, we were visited by our agent, Paul Charles. It is always good to see him. He has been looking after our gigs outside Ireland for many’s the long year. He Writes books in his spare time. We met the promoter Pascal who booked me here 20 years ago, he must have been about 12 at the time! Had Karel in from Shanghai and The Tucson gang in from Arizona. Had listeners in from The Kingdom, from The Garden County, from Chile and Soltau, Ypres, Dranouter, Ghent, from all over the bleedin gaff. Out of Brussels and down the dual carriageway on the Honda 50 screaming towards Franfurt to be time for the match in New Zealand. We blew a gasket near the German border so we transferred to a Mercedes 600S driven by a chaffeuse in a leather uniform whose only knowledge of Ireland was Louis Walsh and Krystal Swing. We made it for the match which meant not getting to bed till 10am so I’m writing this in my sleep.
Wise and Holy
No Time for love
Only our Rivers
Smoke and Whiskey
Well below Valley
It was a hot gig… half the audience were standing, some right close to the stage. I always love that energy, closeness, sharing, being able to see, have eye contact with listeners.
Last Night of Mid-West-Euro Tour. Niederhausen. (Close to Frankfurt)
Having miscalculated my wardrobe needs I had to do some hand rinsing today. The trauma of it all! A most disappointing result from New Zealand but I am proud to know those men and count some of them as friends. They have given us some memorable hours this past while, I look forward to meeting them again soon…
We arrive at tonight’s venue to hear the news that our truck has broken down on the bahn. A local PA system has been acquired and set up; we now sit here and hope that the instruments will arrive in time, that we will have our own monitor system. When something like this happens it is a good reminder of how good our road crew really are. This past 10 years everything has been in place when we arrive. The guitars are set up, bowrawn nicely firmed up, coffee on the bubble and canteen well stocked. Declan and I have a brilliant team around us. It’s only when we have a glitch like today that we focus on how good things really are on the road.
The truck has just arrived…
I dedicate tonight’s set to my Father, Andy Moore, who passed on this day, October 8th, in 1956 aged 41 years.
After The Deluge
2 Island Swans
Well below The valley
Back home in Derry
Sacco and Vanzetti
The Time has `Come
Wise and Holy Woman
At 2 hours 10 mins the longest set of the tour…great audience.
Now it’s time to return to Ireland. Declan and the crew will fly this morning to Dublin, Cork and Shannon. Michael and I will head for Rotterdam. There will be time to reflect and to write on the road and sea, time to contemplate the return to home. Out on the road is sweet, getting to play the music and songs at the cutting edge, walking around these great cities, hearing the sounds, avoiding bicycles in Amsterdam, all these experiences are great but it is the return home that is the sweetest thing of all.
Some new sounds were achieved and we feel that we are playing well. These short tours are good for our spirit. We embrace the intense listening of our foreign audience. These 6 gigs have given us lots to think about. We have 12 days to reflect before we return to our homeland circuit with concerts in Limerick and Waterford and an album “Folk Tale” to release. A new challenge, a new page, more songs to sing upon this great tour…
Until we meet again. Best Wishes…
It’s that time of summer again. Paddy is gone to the Boston Fleadh. Johnny’s at the hay in Rossnowlagh. Geoff at the lights on Sandymount Green. Mick with the Dubs on Hill 16. Dickon at the Black and Decker hammer and thongs. Davy at the mixer mixing Altan songs. Decky on the roads with The Grateful Dead and me diving for the Crack down the old Sheepshead …
Its a few weeks now since I sang with Coldplay at Punchestown, Co. Kildare. It was an interesting experience. Chris Martin contacted me and asked would I consider joining them on stage at Oxegen Festival. I thought about it for about 11 seconds. It probably began about 20 years back when drummer Will Champion (then 14 years old) came to a gig of mine in Southampton with his late Mother. She had encountered the songs in the Folk Clubs in Edinburgh back in the late 60’s. Will has taken an interest in these songs ever since. I was delighted by the invite as this festival takes place only 5 miles from my native place. I knew these fields well as a boy and was often curious about what once was Europe’s largest festival. On the evening of the gig I was collected at Tommy Tougher’s service station outside Newbridge and whisked by limousine around the lanes and boreens of Two-Mile-House until I was deposited beneath the stands at Punchestown Racecourse. I was then escorted to the Coldplay sector where Will, Jonny, Guy and Chris welcomed me warmly. They were well prepared and had obviously familiarised themselves with my 1985 recording of Jimmy McCarthy’s classic song. We ran it twice and then we drank tea and chewed the fat. They departed to an adjoining room to continue their own preparation. From the far off main stage I could hear the distant sound of Beyoncé. I listened with interest to Coldplay’s vocal warm-up techniques and eavesdropped as they greeted fans and record company suits. I watched their set side-stage. A lot of stuff goes on in the wings to make these large outdoor productions happen for the headliners. Towards the end of their set they invited me on, but not before everything had been thoroughly checked. Chris Martin could not have done more to set it up for me. It was a great old buzz to go out and sing with 80,000 joining in the chorus. What made it work was the surprise element. No-one expected it, not even the promoters. The band went back out to do their encores. I was back in Newbridge before they finished.
Here is a song I have just received from Jordan Solitto, a songwriter in America who had just heard about my recording of Wally Page’s song “Duffy’s Cut”. Jordan was writing this song about the same time. He has given me permission to share it with you.
We have finished the next album and I have been dealing of late with the sleeve. I just signed off on the outer sleeve and am very happy with the outcome. Now it is time to broach the innards …
The release date will be towards the end of October which gives me and those involved a little breathing space and time to make the final preparations properly. It will be on the Columbia label at Sony Music. There are 11 tracks. Declan produced and Tim Martin engineered. We are happy with the result and look forward to hearing your comments in due course.
Thanks to all who made contact here after the “One Night Only” TV gig with Gay Byrne. We watched it here last night and the host and crew could not have done a better job. Anita Ward was Gay’s research assistant and every effort was taken to set the programme up properly. It takes a lot of effort from a lot of people to make such a programme seem relaxed and spontaneous. The audience too played their part and created a great vibe in the studio. What made it for me was the fact that it was Gay Byrne himself at the helm. He was there when I arrived for rehearsal. He was around for the sound check and he came and sat with me in the dressing room and helped me through my nervousness. He is deeply interested in the work and in the people who make the work. It is very easy to have a conversation with him despite the fact that half a million people may be listening. He never gets glued to a script. Time and time again I see TV hosts miss golden nuggets as they focus entirely on scripted questions. They fail to hear what the interviewee has just revealed. That has never been the case with Gaybo. If something interesting is revealed, Gay has always jettisoned the script. That is but one of the many facets that have made him our greatest broadcaster. I sincerely hope that he will continue with this format. There are many artists on these shores whom I would dearly love to hear in conversation with Gay Byrne or “Uncle Gaybo” – a moniker that fits him perfectly and describes his position within broadcasting on the Island over 4 decades.
On Sunday 31st of July I performed at Féile na Laoch in Coolea, Ballyvourney, Co. Cork.
It was organised by Peadar Ó Riada and family along with the local community. It marked the 80th birthday of Peadar’s father, the late Sean Ó Riada. 48 hours later I am coming around to the thought that it was, perhaps, the best festival I have ever attended. I have never before witnessed such an array of performers in such a unique setting and circumstance. I hope to provide the full list of performers later but for now I can tell you that it began after a parade in a field at about 9pm on Sunday night. The stage was build entirely by local volunteer labour. At the commencement that stage was facing the sunset. It was moved on the hour after each module. Come dawn, the stage was facing the rising sun. The lighting was minimal but adequate, while the sound by Allie Ó Riada, was excellent. The concert was divided into 7 modules. There was poetry, Literature, Storytelling, Dance, Music, Singing and a dramatic finale after dawn.
Highlights for me included Michael D. Higgins who read a selection of his poems, Barry McGovern who gave us a rousing recital of Sam Beckett, Michéal O’Muireacheartaigh who enthralled us with his reflections. Noel O’Grady sang a beautiful version of “The Lass of Aughrim”, Cara O’Sullivan sang gloriously in the morning light. Then Michéal O’Rourke, who came from Paris, silenced the GAA field for 11 minutes while he caressed the perfectly tuned Grand Piano at 4am in the morning. Only Peadar Ó Riada could dream it up. Alan McDonald came from the Northern Isles of Scotland and played the Scottish Pipes. I sat on stage beside Séan Ó Sé who performed all those years ago in Séan Ó Riada’s ground-breaking ensemble Ceoltoirí Chualainn. He sang out into the night, his voice as beautiful as ever. Monica Loughman, who has danced with the Bolshoi Ballet, came with a troupe of young ballet dancers and it was simply enchanting. During her performance the clouds cleared and the stars came out to shine. Martin Hayes played a selection of Peadar Ó Riada’s music, Steve Wickham played a tune for all the Coolea dogs that turned up and were having the night of their lives. Phil Coulter have a rendition of his own song “The Town I Love So Well”, I gave a blast of “Lord Baker” and “Tippin It Up”, Glen Hansard got the field rockin with Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Caoimhín Ó Raghaillaigh played and a young man danced – this is but a sample of what took place over a 12 hour period.
Then came The Volunteer Youth Orchestra from Cork under the baton of John O’Brien. They performed a wonderful rendition of Sean Ó Riada’s Mise Éire suite as the sun rose over the mist covered fields of beautiful Coolea … Simultaneously there came running down that mountain a fleet of Warriors lead by Séan Óg Ó hAilpín. Brandishing hurling sticks and banners they ran through the river and out onto the field where they jousted in the early morning sun. The O’Carolan brothers came from The Glens of Antrim and Michéal O’Muireacheartaigh gave us a rousing history of the Tuatha Dé Danaan’s last hurling match on earth just before those good people departed to the Underworld. They have not been back since but one could sense their presence on that August Morning.
Apart from the stage performances, what made Féile na Laoch so special was its ethos and atmosphere. There was no branding, no alcohol on sale (People did bring their own refreshments). There was no drunkenness, no violence, no sponsors, no cover charge, no hard sell, and no security. There were 3 local Garda present who were enjoying the festival as much as the rest of us. All the personnel were members of the Coolea Community, Local teenagers and children dispensed the tea, coffee and sandwiches. There was a cauldron of stew of the bubble but that soon sold out …
The memory of Féile na Laoch will never leave me. As Peadar Ó Riada said, it was of the earth, it was of nature. I clearly recall him saying from the stage “It is past midnight now, it is the 1st of August, we are gathered here in nature, it is raining, we know how it feels”. Then he introduced the next leg of the concert which was storytelling. One man said that it reminded him of Carnsore Point in 1978, another woman thought it was like being back in Lisdoonvarna …
12 hours after entering the magic field I made my way from Coolea back to Ballyvourney exhausted, but inspired by what I had witnessed. The next Féile na Laoch will be in 2018 and I have been asked to attend … See you there.
We are on our holidays on the Sheepshead above Dunmanus Bay. It is wet and windy these past days. Before that it was misty and muggy, before that we were soaked for days. Frogs are in bliss, the spiders are staying indoors, the bats and the mice think its winter … it is lovely altogether. The soft days are perfect for lazing about. The water here is very tasty; the local bread is lovingly made. Cream on top of the milk, organic vegetables, fresh fish, Durrus cheese, country butter, smoked bacon from Goleen and eggs from next door …
This too is the week of the Bantry “Masters of Tradition” festival, reviewed here in previous years. It kicked off on Tuesday night in The Church of Saint Brendan The Navigator on the square in Bantry. Martin Hayes, the musical director, set the music rolling with a slow air and a brace of reels before being joined by Denis Cahill as together they segued into a rattle of jigs and a basket of mazurkas before introducing Michelle O’ Sullivan from Tralee on Concertina. The second half of the concert was devoted entirely to Breanndán Begley from West Kerry who with his family Breannáin, Cormac, Concubhair and Clíona gave is a memorable slew of songs and music.
The following night we headed into the wind and rain and battled our way over to Mount Gabriel … on up and over we went, battered and bruised in an August downpour until we came to the fine town of Ballydehob. Geoff Golden, artistic director of Blood in the Alley theatre group invited us over for their performance of Marina Carr’s “Woman and Scarecrow” in the Ballydehob Community Hall. The actors were Joan Sheehy, Bríd Ni Neachtain, Geraldine Plunkett and Mark O’Regan. This is our fourth year to attend the West Cork Fit-Up Festival (www.westcorkfit-upfestival.com).
The quality of their productions is outstanding. Up the town after, I met a man in the queue for the chip shop. He reminded me of a gig I played in De Hob back in 1976. A winter’s night in Rosbrien National School in candlelight. I enquired about 2 local songs I have been seeking for years and he vowed to track them down for me. “The Cove of Rosbrien” and “The Grey Sea Blue” … You never know where or when a song is going to appear.
And do you know what I’m going to tell you? … It’s still raining. August how are you?
PS Saw a beautiful film from China. It’s called “Still Walking” also an entertaining American film called “City Island”.
Also, here is a link to some footage of Féile na Laoch ….
News has come in of the passing of Mike Waterson. We send our condolences to Ann and all the childer and grand children, to Norma and her family and to all the extended clan. Mike was an old friend whom I did not see often enough since 1972.There was great soul in his singing. Along with Norma, Lal and their cousin John they led the way with that acapella harmony singing that became such an integral part of the Folk Revival. I first heard The Waterson’s sing in 1967.Those early sounds have never left me. Mike taught me “The Lakes of Pontchartrain” which I brought home and recorded with Planxty. Thanks to Mike it is now a part of our national repertoire. He also shared a great version of “Van Diemen’s Land” and wrote “Stitch in Time” which I learned from the singing of his brother-in-law Martin Carthy. I would recommend the early Waterson’s albums to all song birds… Let us remember.
Recently I had the pleasure of recording a one hour programme for RTE TV. It was hosted by Gay Byrne and the focus of the programme was primarily songs. Gay had certainly delved into the repertoire and this led to a good discussion with a dozen songs thrown in throughout. I first met him in 1972 when Planxty guested on his Late Late Show. I subsequently appeared on the show 22 times over the years and a couple of those appearances were remembered for different reasons. The programme will be transmitted on RTE1 on Fri July 29th at 9.30.pm. Hope it works as good as it felt. I played the following tracks;
Leaving of Liverpool
Connolly was there
Yellow Furze Woman
Me and the Rose
Cliffs of Dooneen
I had hoped to sing Joni Mitchell’s “Magdalene Laundry” and “Strange Ways” but did not manage to find my way in to either of them.
The London Feis at Finsbury Park
This gig has been revived after 7 years in mothballs. It was formerly known as “The London Fleadh”. I have some great memories of playing there. It felt like I was returning to a familiar field. It rained heavily as we arrived but the audience were determined to have their day. The Cranberries took to the stage in a deluge of summer rain. They tore into a brace of hits. We were backstage, preparing to follow them, as the rain hopped off the porter loos. We heard that Dylan had arrived and it felt good to be hangin’ out in the same paddock. Did not see him nor hear him but I could sense his presence. I wanted to sing “Pity The Poor Immigrant” (for the day that was in it) but decided against it as Himself was playing directly after us… he might not have heard nor noticed but my instinct told me leave it out. (I recall being told years ago, if it feels alright it’s probably alright, if it don’t feel right -don’t do it!)
We went on at 7.30. The rain stopped for the duration of our set. There were about 40,000 listeners and they gave us a good listen. Many would not have seen us before. We could not have asked for more from them, for everyone gave us a good listen. Of course we also had our own loyal band of listeners, some of whom had travelled hard to make it to Finsbury. These outdoor gigs are so different from our usual setting. The sound on stage can be a challenge but our crew gave us a good sound to work with. Declan stuck with the Fender right through for he could not get the necessary sound from any of the acoustic guitars. The notes were blowing in the wind. I eventually risked some finger pickin’, the sound was good so we did a few softer songs, even picked up the old drum for a rattle, and they seemed to like that. Our last festival experiences were Glastonbury 2010 and Electric Picnic 2008 where we had very little stage sound to work with, heads-down-knobs-to-the-right situations. Outdoor gigs have their own energy and ethos. Some people can have the time of their lives without noticing who is on stage, I know the feeling. We played the following songs, not in this sequence;
City of Chicago
Smoke and Strong Whiskey
North and South
Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian Roulette
Joxer goes to Stuttgart
The Well below the Valley
Black is the Colour
I left shortly after we finished our set; I had to catch a steamer out of Holyhead. as we drove away from Finsbury Park Dylan was blowing his Hohner out into the night, the atmosphere was great, his band were cookin’ up a lovely Saturday night groove as we made for the Kilburn High Road, then on up towards North Wales and Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore….
We were hacked again last night. Fourth time since we opened the site (back in 2005 I think). A few of our younger readers were quite upset which caused me to reflect upon it. I’m going to suss out if it is possible to prevent it or make it more difficult. I cannot handle the thought of a youngster logging on to this site and being frightened by what appears. It’s very hard to understand the mind set of someone who has sufficient talent with computers and will then put that talent to such negative purpose… like misfortunates who smash bus shelters, break windows, push and shout their way through life, bully and harangue others, kick dogs, stick needles in insects. Such a sad and pitiful way to pass the time…
I had the privilege of being invited to Paul Simon’s gig in Vicar St. Dublin last Monday night… it was a beautiful 2 hours. He was singing like a lark. He was happy on stage as he sang and smiled and boogied and rapped and it was all surrounded by a wonderful band… tight and so musical, focused on the centre of it all. Everyone took solos but always deferring to the kernel of the gig. Accordion, brass, bass drums, 2 guitarists, piano, Hammond, flutes, whistles, percussion, all 8 sometimes singing together, a 50s rock and roll medley, an entranced and enchanted crowd thronged the room. Vicar St is at its best on such nights as this.
Later In Munster…
It’s a week later and I am back here in Cork by The Lee getting ready for tonight’s Marquee Gig. It’s our 7th successive year to play this “big tint”. It has almost become our Summer Solstice. As always I’m feeling quite nervous as I write this, the nerves still play their part as they have done at every gig since 1966.Writing this is part of my therapy, takes my mind off the gig which will start in 5 hours from now. I’ve done all the other bits. I’m in a hotel about 10 miles from the venue. There is a wedding reception going on downstairs, skies are grey with occasional showers. I’m hoping it will hold up, maybe even some evening sun…that would contribute enormously to the evening’s event. I just got word that Kadar Asmal has passed in South Africa. He lived here in Ireland for the last two decades of the Apartheid regime. With his wife, Louise Asmal, he worked tirelessly in The Irish Anti-Apartheid movement. Nelson Mandela called him home and appointed Kadar to a ministry in his first cabinet. Back here we used to call him Peadar Asmal!
Backstage at the Marquee…
Saturday Nights are the same the world over… perfume and after shave on the air, excitement and expectation out front as we warm up backstage with our own wee session. In the dressing room we played Duffy’s Cut, Cry like a Man, Barrowland. Mick Devine gave the 10 minute call… final prep and out we go to face the rebel throng.
North and South
Gypsy of Cork (For Patrick Galvin)
Go Move Shift
Smoke and strong Whisky
Johnny Jump up
Black is The Colour
If I get an Encore
We had a great night as they listened and laughed, sang and clapped, came right down for Joni’s Magdalene Laundry, and remembered when we sang Veronica. Rejoiced in the life and work of Patrick Galvin, partook of “Johnny Jump Up” on the Lee Road…
After the Feis in Finsbury and The Marquee in Cork its back to the bread and butter this week…. a return to Letterkenny after a 4 year gap and into Sligo for a right old Gilhooley. Just finalised the running order for the forthcoming album, Declan is in London doing the final Mastering.
It should be ready by autumn.
Talk to ye soon…
To Mike Waterson;
It’s fare thee well my singing bird you’ll sing forever more
I’ll ne’er forget the times we spent upon The Humber Shore
At each social gathering I’ll celebrate your name
When I heard that song you sang to me “The Lakes of Pontchartrain”.
Barrowland, Glasgow, Sat 16th April 2011… (I am writing this in Manchester having travelled here after last nights gig in Barrowland, Glasgow.)
We returned to Scotland and kicked off with 2 nights at The Queens Hall Edinburgh and then Westwards to The Clyde where we played the Glasgow Concert Hall before heading to The East End one more time.
When we arrived there for rehearsal and soundcheck the barrows were in full swing. The shoppers thronged the streets moving between dealers, vendors and the fruit and veg stalls while all the pubs were hoppin.
Up the stairs into a dark interior, it bears no resemblance whatsoever to the way it will look in 4 hours time…
Paddy, Michael, Dickon, Davey, Johnny and Geoff are swinging gear into position with the local crew. The promoter, Mark Mackey is on hand with his staff, there is a strong brew in the pot and the security team are being briefed.
Declan always soundchecks first; Spanish, Martin D28, Fender Strat and Dobro, he finalises his set-ups and checks his mikes and monitors. I follow him and check my 3 guitars, (all 25-35 year old Taks ), they are set up the same but with different capo positions, then I do my Bowrawn and vocals. Declan comes back out and we check our various monitor levels for the different combinations of guitars. That done we have a full-on play until David Meade is satisfied with the sound around the hall, then back into the dressing room as the doors are opened.
The early birds get in in time to nab their pitches at the front of the stage, a good few 4711ers are in early and also many faces I (later) recognise from previous nights and from the Barrowland DVD. Back in the dressing room it’s quiet. The crew are in having tea and grub. I have a brief meet with Pat Ryan over from Wicklow and Johnny Hoban over from Mayo, both on pilgrimage to The Clyde. I then gather up some notes and prompts and Declan and I start a warm up. We run through “The Blantyre Explosion”, “Metropolitan Avenue”, “Duffy’s Cut” and a few others. Mick Devine gives us the 15 minute call and I get togged out while Declan files a nail.
The Hall is starting to really vibe up but it’s very quiet and still in the dressing room. Mick gives us the 5 minute call and we are both in the zone. As we make our way towards the stage we decide to open with “Allende”. We pause side stage and then out we go before the heaving mass of hot, anticipating, beautiful Saturday-night gaggle of listeners, all gathered in this very special place.
The first few numbers are very difficult. No matter how long you sound check, everything changes when the crowd comes in. During the first 3 or 4 songs Dickon is feverishly trying to get the monitor sound right as Declan and I try to get into swing.
The crowd are singing magnificently and by the end of song 3 we are gaining control of the space. “Only our Rivers” appears before me and the room goes still, the monitors are suddenly perfect. Over the next 2 hours and 25 minutes we play;
City of Chicago
Smoke and Strong Whiskey
Only our Rivers
North and South
Where is our James Connolly
Back Home in Derry
The Time has Come
After The Deluge
Black is The Colour
Companeros (Fidel and Che) aka The Good Ship Granma
Come all you Dreamers
Does this train stop on Merseyside?
A Pair of Brown Eyes
The Galtee Mountain Boy
Sacco and Vanzetti
Viva Le Quinte Brigada
Minds Locked Shut
The Blantyre Explosion
Crowd Chant (with our accompaniment)
Irish ways Irish Laws
Cliffs of Dooneen
Back into the dressing room, high on adrenalin and music, my head reverberating as I go to a quiet place and sit and give thanks for the wonderful gifts bestowed upon me; these songs and tunes, this voice to sing, these hands to play, this brother who wraps it all up with his sounds, the great crew who take such care of it all and, not least, the thousands who come to listen, to share, to encourage, to laugh and sing.
Two fish suppers arrive in but they were dreadful: shite chips and shitier batter. Paddy makes a few rounds of good sandwiches and there is strong hot tea…
The crowd are singing outside as they exit, the crews are pulling it all down, boxing it up and loading it in. We pack our bags and notes, our phones, Macs, jox, sox and keks and think about leaving Glasgow one more time…
I’ve been doing this thing now for 45 years and I still savour this feeling… it’s a feeling that descends after a glorious gig. All the crowd have gone, the hall is being swept as we exit out into the night air. We climb into the van as Michael sets the sat nav for Manchester. I feel sated and satisfied, happy to be alive.
I watch Martin Scorsese’s History of American Cinema on the Mac til about Carlisle…then Mick announces that City have beaten United. soon we spot The Reebok as we pass Bolton on the M61… on into Manchester as the exhausted revellers make their way home to the suburbs, past Coronation St. and Fag Ash Lil, there’s George Best and Dennis Law, past many old pubs that used to host Folk Clubs, past where Eamon Clinch and Gerry Brady out shaped The Gallagher’s 45 years ago, a whole new set of memories come floating up from The Old Canal…
See you soon,
The Spring Gigs have been going well and we have settled back in after our Jan-Feb break. Starting back after 2 months I was uneasy and nervous. However, the welcome and good vibes from the Mullingar audience soon had us well primed and the never ending tour was back on track.
Wexford went well but the stage in the new opera house gets extremely cold once the gig starts. Back to Portlaoise again where the room was hopping and Declan and I had two right good nights. Castlebar has a unique Theatre … a lifelong project and dream of Pat Jennings. The Travellers Friend Theatre is a most welcoming room in which to work. It is interesting to compare the vibe in the Independent Theatres with those that are heavily State subsidised and funded. In the past year I have experienced many theatres on both sides of the line and I have a definite preference for the Independents. Many of the State Funded and subsidised theatres have an attitude and often display elitist tendencies. Some of them appear to be very heavily staffed compared to their counterparts but often these very staffing levels make production more difficult, surely an irony. Most Independents have, at their helm, individuals who are passionate about their theatres. They have devoted decades of sweat, toil and ambition to build their venues. they are hands on and love the business and creativity of performance, the buzz of the show whatever the discipline or genre … to mention a few independent theatres I think of the TF Castlebar, The Forum Waterford, The Tom Leddy in Drogheda, The Briery Gap in Macroom and The INEC in Killarney. There are many others deserving of a mention but these spring to mind, having played them recently.
We started work on a recording project in January but after a couple of months I decided to park the project for the time being. We have commenced work on a new album and, so far, we are happy with progress. If all goes well it may be out there come the middle of autumn.
I will record a small piece for RTE Radio to celebrate Bob D’s 70th birthday and I look forward to playing with him at The London Feis in Finsbury Park on June 18th. It’s great that this gig is back. It used to be called The London Fleadh but apparently some impresario has copyrighted the word “Fleadh” and the promoter was advised not to call the gig by its original name. I intend to call all my future London Gigs “Fleadhs”. We may have a bit of fun with the honchos of the greasy wheel. for anyone who might be curious about the words, the word “Fleadh” is taken to mean a collective event which encompasses all that might take place at a weekend Festival of music, dance, song and celebration. A “Feis” would describe a more formal event where competitions take place with poise and decorum. I suspect the London Feis will be a Fleadh in all but name….
It was very gratifying to be involved in the recent RTE documentaries, “The Stardust Disaster- 30 years on”, and “The Bloody Sunday Tribunal” which featured “They never came Home” and “Minds Locked Shut”….also got to see the documentary on Concerned Parents against Drugs which featured the song “Whacker Humphries”. It is uplifting when the songs are remembered by those for whom they were written.
We have added some dates to the diary: Scotland and England next week, looking forward to that, Particularly to Barrowland where “Come all you Dreamers” was shot by Don Coutes and his team…We got great feedback from the recent transmissions on TG4 and BBC4. Then we return home to play Boyle and Cavan in April, Trim and Dundalk in May, Carlow, Cork and London in June, Galway in Sept, Germany, Holland, Belgium and Limerick in October, Waterford and Belfast in November. Details for all these are on the gig page. I will play some solo gigs in July which are not yet in place but we’ll keep you posted…
Hope all goes well with you good Listeners, that your dreams may come through,
PS. recently came across this radio documentary from 1996, posted onto the website by James from Waterford.
Also, John Coffey sent this collection of postcards from our home town
Reviewed by Christy Moore
Frank Connolly welcomed the audience to this special event to mark 100 years of the Trade Union Movement in Ireland.The following songs and poems were performed.
Karen Casey and Niall Vallely
James Connolly ( Patrick Galvin)
What would you say
Aine’s Jig,The Old Bush,Malfunction Junction.
You know how I feel.
Jinx Lennon and Miss Paula Meehan
Stop givin out about Nigerians
City of Styrafoam Cups
Serve a drink to my sister
Paula Meehan read her poem “Home”
Theo Dorgan read his poem “Speaking to my Father”
John O’Dreams ( for Liam Clancy- laid to rest this day)
Building Up and Tearing Down
Jack O’Connor, President of Siptu addressed the gathering and then presented long service medals to Esther Cowan, Jim Quinn and Ross Connolly honouring each recipient in turn and describing their lifelong commitment to the Trade Union Movement
It was a great night and I felt honoured to have been part of it.There was a great atmosphere in the room and the songs were given great attention and appreciation by an attentive and appreciative audience. Thanks to all concerned
10th April 2011
Dylan in Vietnam was a surprise at every level. Surprising that it was happening at all given his stage in life, surprising that he is still touring and surprising that he would want to play in a place with no recognizable fan base. In Vietnam his work along with most popular music was inaccessible, suppressed here for many years. Today’s sixty year olds have no folk memory of Dylan and no nostalgia fest to inflict on their children. Not the least of the surprises for me was the serendipity that I should arrive here they day before the event to witness his latest reincarnation at first hand. Maybe Bob got tired of waiting for me the last forty five years or so to show up at one of his gigs and decided that he had better come find me instead.After all we have been together through life. And at a time in my life when I could afford a VIP ticket, though in truth there was little need of that exclusivity as in the end the venue was half empty, illustrating perhaps his relative anonymity over here. He should have had Lady Gaga as a warm up.
Much was made in local press of his music in the sixties being Vietnam war inspired. I am not sure if I buy that narrative for reasons of chronology if for no other premise. I asked some foreigners in the crowd of a certain age who were privileging this narrative to name me one of Dylan’s songs directly relating to the American War. They couldn’t. One Vet now living here did say that Bob did hang with Joan Byaz who did do protest songs by way of ending the argument and the inconvenient truth that were no such songs unless the sad eyed lady of the low lands lived in the Mekong. So I guess Dylan caught dissent by association or maybe the protest virus was transmitted airborne, just a little something blowing in the wind.
The Vietnamese get tired of the constant reference to a war that happened a long time ago. ‘Vietnam is a country not a war’ they say. The crowd were an interesting mix of young well-heeled ex-pats, many with glamorous Vietnamese girlfriends and their equally lustrous friends, mingling with visiting fogies such as me. I attempted to seek out likeminded souls to striking up conversations on the topic of Dylan’s oeuvre and his purpose in being here beyond the romanticised protest narrative but this mission proved hard yakka, even the discussion of his music and its development. In these conversations there prevailed a generalised and highly sentimentalized view of his part in our individual and collective destinies rather than an appreciation that was located in time, place or song cycle. In fact the best Dylan specific conversations that I encountered were with a number of younger French and Irish women whose parents were devotees and who had over time infected then with an interest and passion for Dylan history and discography. Perhaps they viewed me as some sort of historic reference point if not a parent substitute, saying to me admiring things regarding their parents dedication to the music that they could not say directly to them, for fear of squirming embarrassment. One young French woman said that she yearned for Bob to play ‘that Mr Jones song’. I said that from 600 songs it would be doubtful if he would choose that song even though I loved it too – but he did!! Lucky woman lucky me lucky us.
Something is happening here and I don’t know what it is … The band were for me a total highlight and part of the surprise; coherent, blues inflected, stirring and unobtrusively led by Bob on organ. This was driving rockabilly that compelled and set the feet into spontaneous agitation. I felt a tear well up as the first chord was stuck after long waiting through the succession of Vietnamese ballads that comprised the warm up, hardly necessary on a tropical night. Greater than that entirely acceptable wait was the shameful fact that I have been forty years waiting to hear this live and this was the moment.
The set was a mix of old and new though both were treated to changes in tempo and often key too, with Dylan using lyrics in a gestural fashion; oft times repeating phrases in an echoing way, reminiscent of later Van the Man treatment of his landmark songs, relying on a strong band to pick up any pieces that might fall on the floor, giving himself the freedom to play fast and loose with the material, working with the essential fragments of something long ago spun yet still seeking fresh expression. Or was it as some said that he really didn’t care at all about the audience, that he turned that back on them, showed no respect for his own lyrics never mind his reverential audience. Ever the enigma I guess, keeping us guessing – he aint there, some said. I hear that critique but ask if Miro in his later work really needed to paint ever detail of sun moon stars birds when a brush stroke would let us know the diference if we were attentive. I gave him the benefit of the doubt, especially through Tangled Up in Blue and Highway 61 which were really stirring. I don’t think I has really allowed that song line ‘Where do want that killing done?’ to seep into my soul before I had heard it live from his own mouth but now it drove right home in all its stark murderous matter-of-fact darkness. I had personal resonance with ‘It Ain’t Me Babe it ain’t me your looking for babe’ after a previous evening refusing offers of female company that seemed to be based less on my irresistible attraction and more on my ostensible wealth – and wishing I had remembered that song line at the time. Someone to pick you up – each time you fall.
Middle of the set the young French woman stood next to me broke off from texting her papa regarding the ‘ambience plus sympathetique et exceptionelle’ to ask me to dance. Surprised once more by the trajectory of this already surprising day – and more than delighted, flattered to oblige – we soon created between us a kind of sacred space in the mosh pit, perhaps one of the politest mosh pits of recorded time as they all moved over in deferential Asian fashion. This empty space stayed long after our gyrations to the endless treatment of the ‘Levee gonna Break’ had exhausted itself. I felt that her inspiration to dance together was perfect. We had had a fragmented conversation together, working with fragments to piece together the Dylan enigma from different ends of the generational telescope, but somehow the dance dissolved differences in time and space and language and made perefect sense of the music and its attraction. Then she suddenly disappeared saying she had to have the motor bike burns on her leg treated as they had opened up mid dance – which made her devotional impulse to dance in homage all the more heroic. She truly bore not only the Dylan stigmata but those of the modern day Vietnam veteran also, as all young Vietnamese have scooters and most bear the scars. And there was I left alone though by this simple twist of motorcycling fate. Bob rasped ‘You’re gonna make me lonesome when you go’ into the star lit night but gone she was, smart phone twinkling behind her until the light faded entirely. But then nature abhors a vacuum.
Clearly emboldened by the success of the direct French approach a young American woman who had been observing us – I thought critically – stepped into the now vacated sacred space and asked me to dance also. Did they think I was part of the performance? She could not match the French woman for any culturally derived sense of Hot Club swing but seemed happy to appropriate the space in a strutting Brittany-esque sort of way. I asked her how she was enjoying the concert. She moaned ‘Okay I guess – but when is he gonna like play anything we all like know?’ As Dylan had just been playing Hard Rain i didn’t quite know how to respond to this culpable lack of classical lyric recognition, instead silently allowing another excellent number from Modern Times to roll over the assembled heads towards us. Meet me in the bottom bring me my boots and shoes. But then why should she know any of this stuff anyway, modern times or ancient times, whether offered in brilliant disguise or the anaesthetised renditions that can be heard in elevators the world over. She filled the silence by offering me a post – jive cigarette which in that heightened moment and in the context was highly tempting.
The urge to accept impulsed perhaps by an involuntary transportation back to a time when my sixteen year old rebelliousness was stoked by listening to Bringing it all Back Home while plotting an escape that signified a quite opposite emotional direction, a flight from suffocating suburban ennui, puffing away all the time on a cool cigarette while I hung out my bedroom window, assuaging the restlessness. Before I could mutter a reluctant refusal her boyfriend returned to reclaim her, spilling some beer over me in passing, by way of friendly salutation mixed with possessive territory marking, then leading her deep into the crowd where no antediluvian dancers lurked. Last night I danced with a stranger but she just reminded me you were the one.
Many of the Vietnamese in the crowd afterwards expressed with empathic concern their sadness that Bob had lost his voice before such an important concert. This naïve sentiment was entirely sincere but they needed to know that he always sounds this way nowadays, that this was another side of Bob Dylan. And that even in his prime his voice was not the greatest but that was not the point of him. Not the point but an inseparable part of his identity. I tell one of the locals that my wife loves his songs – as long as they are sung by someone else, in fact I think she means by just about anyone else. By contrast I have developed an affection for the gruffness of his recently developed cadences, I enjoy the enduring sense of Willie Nelson style indestructability that they evoke. Our conversation was rudely interrupted by one baseball capped good old boy lurched in front of us to shout drunkenly from zero inches into the hirsute ear of the buddy that he was leaning on for necessary if unreliable support – ‘well maybe he can’t sing anymore but at least he can still play the harmonica’. Up until that point I had not realised that harp playing ability was age dependent. But hey it is something Bob can do on the stoop in his dotage when the endless tour is over and the setting sun is about to bring it all back home, awaiting the man in the long black coat.
But maybe the exiled down-home hombre knew more truth than he realised for Daniel Lanois who produced Time Out Of Mind said about the recording process of this 1997 album, “We treated the voice almost like a harmonica when you over-drive it through a small guitar amplifier.”
I love that notion – that transposition of voice as instrument – and it could explain innovative method developed from this necessary age-related vocal accommodation. “I’m walking through streets that are dead Walking, walking with you in my head My feet are so tired, my brain is so wired And the clouds are weeping. I am sick of love and I am in the thick of it.” The mosh pit dwindled to almost nothing as the evening went on – we were encouraged to walk along –all along but not down along, Bob hasn’t gone that folkie yet – the watch tower but only the security guards who were paid to be there seemed to be rocking along to that one.
Dylan finished with Forever Young which i have to admit was a hard sentiment for me to identify with in that moment as I looked around at the remaining crowd and remembered that 50% of the population in Vietnam are under 30. Ahh when i was their age … well when I was their age i was listening to Dylan and at 60 I still am but that is no reason in the world why they should do so either now or in their dotage.
However part of me would wish this burgeoning global audience to catch the bug infecting the younger French and Irish generation who are reaching beyond referred parental nostalgia towards a musical appreciation and interpretation of Dylan that they are making all their own.
It’s all good.
Sunday, Jan 23rd 2011.
This 3rd Sunday of 2011 kicked off for me when I heard John Spillane and his brother Maurice doing an interview on “Miriam meets” (RTE Radio 1). It was spellbinding. John and I share many things in common from our boyhood days (mine in Kildare and his in Cork 15 years later). His “Everyone needs a Rock” is a classic. Lovely too to hear his brother’s perspective on the young John’s gradual ascent into this world of music and song.
I have just landed back down here into the Rebel County where Declan Sinnott and I will commence the next leg of our Hi Fi travelling … I have songs ready to sing and he has his guitars restrung and polished, microphones modulated and ready for the onslaught coming their way.
I filmed the song “They never came home” for a programme called “Scannal” (scandal). It’s a documentary to mark the 30th anniversary of the Stardust Disco disaster when 48 young ones lost their lives in an inferno on Valentine’s Night 1981.It will be transmitted on Feb 14th on RTE TV.
The Barrowlands DVD was very well received on New Years Night. I feel a debt of gratitude to TG4 for transmitting the Film and giving it such a good spot. They were very pleased with viewing figures. I think it will be shown on BBC2 (or perhaps BBC4) next St Patrick’s night.
Our dear friend Jim McCrann was laid to rest last Tuesday. Lar and Deirdre attended the service and carried the 4711ers flag. I will never forget him.
Thank you for all the queries and invites to so many different time zones. Who knows what’s gonna happen?
There is political chaos here. Everything seems to change by the hour. The right hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing and the left hand is not too far behind. There is nothing upon which to commentate. A general election looms, we are in hock up to our oxters. Hopefully we will see the implosion and demise of the scoundrel part. Many rats are jumping ship to retire on large pensions… others are circling each other waiting to gorge upon the next bedfellow to fall. Let them follow their Leaders into shameful exile. Maybe a jorum quorum of Bertie, Mary Harney, Charlie McCreevey, Ray Burke, Ivor Callely, Pee Flynn, The Bev, Michael Lowry, all the Healy Rae’s and John O’Donoghue could start a Travelling Funfair Party going from town to town with scary rides, bumpers, hairyplanes, freak shows, oily poles, wall of death. Senator Harris could provide strategy and Senator Cassidy put up the posters… Lábhrás could lay on the cabaret and Willie O’Dea could use his contacts to book the late night entertainment… first The Church, then The Banks and now Fianna Fail…we’re nearly home and dry.
Monday, January 24th
I realised today that its 42 years since my first recording in Sound Techniques, London. Despite all that’s gone down since I am right back at the beginning as I start recording once again. I have no idea how it’s going to be. It is just Declan and I today in his studio. He is wearing (at least) 4 hats. Musician, co-producer, engineer, co-arranger. We have decided to try this out, see how it works. We got quite a bit done 4 or 5 basic tracks laid down and a few others attempted but abandoned. Declan has made some interesting comments about my approach to recording which is completely different to his. My main problem is that I have never fully engaged with the process, I am not at my ease in studios and from the moment the recording starts I give the impression that I want the whole bloody business over and done with. Get the songs recorded, mixed and released. Let me get on with my gigging! This must be difficult for those who properly engage with the process. There are those who wish to fully engage with the process, take time examining the possibilities with sound, colour and direction… all the wonderful magical things that can be done in recording studios. There are artists who will spend years developing their projects and I have nothing but admiration (and occasional envy) for their commitment and diligence. I am still learning, it is all brand new once again. The magic and mystery of the recording process… Folk Tale, Take One…
Tuesday, January 25th
I am billeted in The Innishannon Hotel, a family run hotel on the banks of the Bandon River. Its about 5 miles from the studio. Kicked off this morning but our efforts were thwarted by numerous frogs in the throat. We adjourned to Bandon where the Chemist gave me various anti frog-in-the-throat remedies. Before heading back into the mountains we took lunch in URRU where they lovingly dispense top sangwedges and good coffee. Back out in the studio we hit a purple patch and lashed down a right few basic tracks before evening came … this work is all consuming, I was up to speed with the rows and ructions of State until I started into the zone… have not heard a thing now for 48 hours… no TV, Radio, Papers… Jackie Healy Rae could be Minister for Foreign Affairs by now, Michael Lowry Minister for Finance and Mary Harney could be President (Last night there were four Marys, Hail Mary, Holy Mary, Hairy Mary and Mary Harney)
Friday, January 28th
Back to the home town, Newbridge on the banks of the river Liffey where we were born and reared by our parents Andy Moore of Barronstown, Miltown and Nancy Power of Yellow Furze, Co.Meath.The occasion was a gig by our youngest brother Luka Bloom who started playing guitar and singing when he was 12 and has not stopped ever since. It was a great night. The Ryston Hall was set up beautifully and dressed in curtains and drapes. There were sculptures of bog oak which were beautifully positioned and lit, the gig was carefully set up by Noel Heavey, Gabrielle Brabazon and Mary Linehan, ably assisted by a host of volunteers from The Culture Factory and The Crooked Wood Theatre group. I have been listening to Luka sing for over 40 years and this gig crowned it all. It was a very special night for our family and our “kid” brother really shone. Special songs included “Outlaw Days” from his first album Treaty Stone, a new song “Backbone and Dignity”, his tribute to our old pal Gerry Rafferty (he sang “Her father didn’t like me anyway” which Luka used to perform with Aes Triplex circa 1972)… then to top it off Kildare won the O’Byrne Cup on Sunday….Lily Whites Abu.
Sunday, January 30th
I hooked up with Tim Edey in O’Shea’s Merchant pub where we were shown great hospitality. We found a quiet corner and a large pot of tea and we sang and played for 3 hours. Tim is going to join me on a batch of songs which will be recorded over the coming months. Then in came Seamus Begley and we drank more tea and talked about the box players whom we love to hear… Joe Burke, Finbar Dwyer, Fintan Stanley, Raymond Roland, Brendan Begley, Dermot Byrne… all the different slants on tunes, the different angles and takes…how this great big confusing wonderful world can be reduced, for some, into the turn of a melody, the grace upon the notes….far too soon twas time to go but we’ll be back again before too long.
Wednesday, February 2nd
I attended the launch of a new initiative which was announced under the banner “Turn off the Red Light”. In Ireland there lurks a horrific sex trafficking industry. Within this industry are as many as 2000 women and children many of whom are trafficked and enslaved by criminal elements both Irish and International. These misfortunates are, probably, the least protected and most abused members of our society. A number of agencies have come together to demand that legislation be passed to protect them. There are many misconceptions and much prejudice. I was invited to attend by Sister Stanislaus Kennedy and I was deeply moved by what I heard. If you would like more information it is available at www.turnofftheredlight.ie
Later the same day…
I went to the launch of Richard Boyd Barrett’s campaign towards the upcoming General Elections. He represents the “People before Profit” movement and will run as part of the United Left Alliance. I have known Richard for over 10 years and have stood beside him in a number of campaigns both local and international. He did extremely well in the last general election and I am hoping he will sit in the next Dáil. I believe he would be a strong voice for those among us who are least represented by the three major right wing parties. There will be a fund raising concert for the “People before Profit” in Dun Laoghaire next week.
Saturday, February 5th
There seems to be some talk on 4711ers.org about a possible 2nd gathering. Is there a desire out there for such an event? You might consider going onto the thread at the sister site and give your thoughts. We have nothing in place nor planned… some input and thoughts about when, where and what might give us some possible ideas. It needs to be different from last time… best that all thoughts and suggestions are posted to the existing thread at 4711ers.org.
Back at the songs with Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill joining us for a few days fretting and bowing… good company, plenty of anecdotes shared from our different journeys… the wind howling up the mountain from the Bandon River as we got down to it.
Sunday February 6th
Sad news about the passing of Gary Moore. I met him a few times over 40 years, most memorably at a Planxty gig in London 1973. Nicky Ryan invited him along to hear the band and we hooked up after the show for a long night of capers and tunes. Last heard him play when he came over from London to pay tribute to Jimmy Faulkner at the Olympia Theatre Dublin in 2009.There are some great shots from that night in the Gallery. He played his heart out for Jimmy that night. I loved to hear him play. He got big round beautiful sounds from his guitars; he played with emotion, style, attitude an tons of ability. He was very much a front man. I did not know him well nor am I overly familiar with his repertoire but I loved to watch him and listen to him. ” Gone with Stevie Ray and Jessie Ed Davis, died too young and too premature, another Rock and Roller gone but not forgotten, gone to jam with Rory in the blues” (Nigel Rolfe). Rest in Peace Gary Moore.
There will be a gig in The Fairways Hotel, Dundalk on Friday, May 13th. Tickets will go on sale shortly … Keep an eye on the gigs page.
All the best,