Sign up to our Newsletter to receive updates on Gigs, Christy Chat and any Christy News
A Chat to start 2023.
Good Listeners all,
It’s a busy day here in the workroom.
Thankfully the year has kicked off well with some gigs in Vicar Street Dublin.
Two new songs introduced – “Lemon 7s” by Brian Brannigan and “Lyra McKee” by James Cramer.
“The Big Marquee” is on the verge and “Zozimus and Zimmerman” chomping on the bit.
great to see some (long-haul) familiar faces returning after the yoke. The gig has been uplifted by the arrival of many new listeners.
The audience participation swelling to Barrowland proportions which is magnificent to behold. These nights the listeners sing joyfully in choral unison then listen carefully when a quiet song begins. After 56 years of gigging it never fails to inspire.
Thankfully the voice appears to be holding up – fingers crossed. I hope to continue as long as the voice box does (and the legs to carry it).
The crew are still intact and on the ball. Paddy, Mick, Dickon, David, John and Geoff still 100% supportive as they strive to ensure that singer and listener can make the best of every gig.
Since covid, gigs have been confined to Ireland (32 Counties). It’s not known yet if or when we’ll ferry again. Air travel is no longer an option for me.
I’ve no specific recording plans but many ideas are kicking about.
Up until recent years, the “next album” would always have been a priority but that seems to have faded a bit. I’ve not tried to analyse this feeling – Not sure whether it’s my age or the changing attitude to recorded music.
The public listening to music has changed utterly. The return to vinyl is promising – nothing beats good audio reproduction. The full sound of well-played, well recorded, well amplified music is still so rewarding, but the convenience of new devices seems to rule the roost.
Thankfully, many are coming back to gigs again…that’s where songs and music are at their best.
We attended a song circle last night – 35 people gathered and most of them sang at least one song. we heard numerous songs for the first time and many more were great favourites
An extra bonus was to hear two of my own songs sung by other singers. that’s a great buzz altogether – “On the Bridge” and “Come all You Dreamers” never sounded better.
I came across this Obituary to Ciarán Bourke, a founder member of The Dubliners. It appeared in the Irish Times after Ciarán’s death in 1988 & was written by my Brother-in-law Davoc Rynne
CIARAN BOURKE – An Appreciation – published in The Irish Times in 1988
I wasn’t the only one that noticed him at the Gorey Leinster Fleadh on a sunny weekend in 1962. Himself and Jennie were certainly not the kind of people that would be lost in a crowd. Ciaran, tall tangle bearded and dressed rough in a donkey jacket with bits of hay hanging from it and Jeannie, small wearing a hand knit gansey to her knees, walking barefooted. No, they would certainly not go un-noticed in a small town in the early 60’s when beards were as rare as ships in a forest, seen only on old men or apostles of JC. I had devoured Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums, but Ciarán Bourke was the first beatnik I had ever seen. I was determined to meet this man. Later in the year at the Fiddlers Club in Church Street in Dublin, I got my chance. I found out from him that he was a builder and general Jack of all Trades. I told him of a job available in Prosperous doing up an old house. He hitched down the following week, with difficulty. Long beards were discriminated against at the time! He told me he walked with his back to the traffic, thumbing, but when turning around his potential lift would put the boot down. He arrived with no baggage other than a Clarke’s tin whistle.
He could converse on any subject under the sun. Hours we spent discussing how to cook a chicken without plucking it. Any open-hearth cooking, using pots, spits, cranes or whatever, he was past master at. He saw the open fire as the centre of the universe, were all domestic and social activity took place. Every night he picked a prime position and rolled his blanket down in front of the fire. He also had the amazing gift of bringing the best out in everybody. He discovered dormant talents in people in Prosperous they hardly knew they had themselves. Some that hadn’t played for 20 years he got them to bring out their instruments and have a go again. They sang to him, told yarns and played music and he was very tolerant of their rustiness. Ciaran sang “The Cruise of the Calabar” – “it’s only forty verses and I won’t detain you long”, played superbly the “Cuckoo Hornpipe”, told stories and to any audience and an audience could be one. I remember a local Garda Sergeant arriving in full uniform with his set of pipes. He played for an hour for just the two of us. Other sessions weren’t quite so small and intimate. One night all the Dublin beatniks arrived. There was Dusty, Stan, Ben, Nat, Jeannie, Rusty, Dick, Jake, names that float to my mind. Some had no names and no addresses. There were fires lit and food was cooked and a dozen pints could be bought for a pound, if you had a pound!
These were heady pre-TV/Walkman days that I will always remember, but for Ciaran Bourke they would not have happened for me. He was the centre of it. The house eventually got restored and it still doesn’t let in the rain and the toilet still works! Only three times I met Ciaran since. Once on a fleeting visit to Prosperous, next at Christy Moore’s wedding when we were all too drunk to converse and lastly at Luke’s funeral when we were all too sad to talk.
Ciaran Bourke will remain in many a mind. He was salt of the earth, a wild and hilarious man.
May the sod rest lightly on him.
I thought that some of you might like to remember Ciarán – a truly gifted Troubadour.
It was in Davoc’s house that the “Prosperous” album was recorded 52 years ago.
Since then, Davoc and my sister Anne have been living in West Clare where they are both involved in making music and song. They can be heard here; https://www.rynnefolk.com/
Tuesday January 10th.
Last night in Vicar St rang clear in my head – it just seemed to flow. Before me, beneath me, beside me, around me, gathered a gaggle of listeners who travelled with me every verse of the way. To my right, somewhere in the room was a very special listener. a precious person who participated in their own very special way. Every now and then I feel blessed to hear those special sounds – Thank You dear listener, whoever you may be.
It was night 10 of a 13-night run in the Dublin venue that, for a variety of reasons, is close to my heart. Since it first opened 25 years ago, I’ve played there perhaps 200 times. I know every nook and cranny of the room. I’ve also attended numerous gigs as a listener – Jackson Browne, Lisa O’Neill, Roseanne Cash, Damien Dempsey, Tommy Tiernan, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Dylan Moran, Janis Ian, Jackie Mason, Steve Cooney, Kila and others. I’ve played many benefit gigs there in support of front-line workers. The venue is run by the Aiken Family. Last year marked 50 years since my first gig with Aikens. Back then the late Jim Aiken promoted a Planxty Concert in The Carlton Cinema on O’Connell St in Dublin. It was to mark the release of the first Planxty Album (the black one!). That was a night to remember. It’s heart-breaking to see what has become of O’Connell Street – the Main Street in our Capital City has been turned into a Monopoly Board where Dublin City Councillors/Planners/Developers/Builders/Gambling & Burger Joint Proprietors wreak havoc on that once gracious thoroughfare.
Last night’s gig featured these songs (not in this sequence – I’m working from memory here)
Magdalen Laundry (Joni Mitchell)
Clock Winds Down
Ringing The Bell
Black is The Colour
On the Mainland
Back Home in Derry
Stitch in Time
Welcome to the Cabaret
Sail On Jimmy
Today I hope to record a video gig for the contingent of Irish Soldiers on UN Service in the Golan Heights – hopefully they’ll get to see it on Patrick’s Day in the GPO at their camp. we’ll record it in a room where the road crew lodge. a chair, a guitar, a camera, a recorder and away we go.
Then to hear the news from West Kerry …
Seamus Begley has died. What a Gaeltacht man was he. A gentle giant of a man with the most beautiful singing voice, His polkas, reels and jigs were the heart of many the set.
His slow airs always full of passion and pathos. On top of that his charm, his fun and roguery were infectious. I toured with Seamus and Steve Cooney way back. The excitement of their music has stayed with me ever since. Deepest Sympathy to his Family, his Friends and to the Community he so cherished.
Days later – dark of night – not sure what date we’re at.
The Vicar Street run of gigs came to an end – 13 nights over 6 weeks.
My thanks to all who make the venue such a great place to work.
My own Team, Aiken’s Crew and the Vicar Street Operation all working together towards the same conclusion.
Time now to reflect as we look forward to what lies ahead.
May the songs and music keep our spirits high.