After Barrowland, October 26th 2009
Back home once more from Scotland Ö We had a great week in Perth, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The 4 gigs went well, and as always, it was great to spend some time amongst our neighbours.
|Perth Concert Hall||Usher Hall||Glasgow Concert Hall||Barrowland|
|1. So Do I||1. So Do I||1. So Do I||1. Nth & Sth|
|2. Listen||2. Missing You||2. Missing You||2. Companeros|
|3. Missing You||3. Duffy’s Cut||3. Contender||3. Galtee|
|4. Matty||4. Merseyside||4. Duffy’s Cut||4. Duffy’s Cut|
|5. Wandering||5. Smoke||5. Merseyside||5. Listen|
|6. Flickering Light||6. Contender||6. Listen||6. Merseyside|
|7. Merseyside||7. Flickering Light||7. Yellow Triangle||7. Black Hair|
|8. Duffy’s Cut||8. Listen||8. Victor Jara||8. Derry|
|9. Gortatagort||9. Jolly Ravers||9. Ordinary Man||9. Natives|
|10. Smoke||10. Matty||10. Matty||10. Missing U|
|11. Viva||11. Wandering||11. Viva||11. Nancy|
|12. Beeswing||12. No Time||12. Magdalene||12. Chicago|
|13. Casey||13. Magdalene||13. Hurt||13. Barrowland|
|14. Magdalene||14. Far From Me||14. I Will||14. Smoke|
|15. Biko Drum||15. Well Below||15. Well Below||15. Biko Drum|
|16. Spancill Hill||16. Ride On||16. Chicago||16. Scapegoats|
|17. DT’s||17. DT’s||17. Flickering Light||17. Far From|
|18. Far From Me||18. Mothlerland||18. Smoke||18. Billy Gray|
|19. Raggle Taggle||19. Viva||19. Bright Blue Rose||19. Viva|
|20. Bright Blue||20. Yellow Tri.||20. Shovel||20. Clyde’s|
|21. Deluge||21. Natives||21. Billy Gray||21. Ride On|
|22. Ride On||22. Beeswing||22. Derry||22. No Time|
|23. Shovel||23. Rivers Run||23. Time Has Come||23. John O’|
|24. Black Hair||24. Shovel||24. No Time||24. Time Has Come|
|25. Nancy||25. Chicago||25. Black Hair|
|26. Lisdoon||26. Barrowland|
The DVD ‘Come All You Dreamers’ will be available at all upcoming gigs and may be purchased from this site from November 16th.
I am particularly happy with this piece of work. I have long wanted to capture the Barrowland phenomenon. Some years ago I set out to make this film but I got distracted and sidetracked, this diversion resulted in the “Live at the Point” being recorded 3 years ago. With “Come call you Dreamers” now finished and available I feel that the work we have been doing is “marked” and recorded. In years to come, when all this is over and done, when the guitars have been put away, this DVD will carry the record of what a Christy/Declan gig was like…not precisely for no medium can match “real”reality….
Some of you in Glasgow brought your children to the Concert Hall. Regretfully, I did not receive your notes till after the gig .Sorry too to have missed Jimmy Hutchinson in Perth, an old friend from the days of The Mucky Byre Folk Club in St Andrews, he remains one of my favourite singers. It was wonderful to see Spike and Diane Kerr in Edinburgh, to remember nights in Sandy Bell’s and catch up on old acquaintance. Hayden Murphy also put his head around the door and I assured him that “Grogans” has not changed an iota. (Though it is rumoured there may be a new seat in “the ladies” but I have no way of checking that one out).
This coming Saturday I have been invited by Gill Ross to unveil a statue of her husband Christie Hennessy in Tralee. The family have honoured me with this invitation and Tralee has honoured one of its finest sons .I loved Christie; he was one of nature’s gentle men…I think of him often and cherish the memory of our infrequent meetings…
Doing some work with Wally Page at the moment, we are knocking together a few ballads and enjoying the process. I have also come across a few rare gems in my travels and will be slipping them into the setlist as we make our way, a couple of solo gigs up next in Ballyshannon, Co.Donegal then back with Declan in November to his hometown of Wexford where we both look forward to the spanking new Opera House.
Some gigs for next yearÖ
JanÖ Vicar St
Feb… Mullingar, Ballinasloe
MarÖ Belfast, Cappoquin, Thurles, Castlebar, Killarney
MayÖ Bristol, Warwick (Coventry), Brighton, Hay-on-Wye, York, Llandudno
Details for all of the above on gig page….
At the moment we are planning to play London, Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle for October time, we hope to play in Dublin’s new venue next year ( The Grand Canal Theatre) there is talk of a few festivals, one in Ireland and one in England, still trying to get back to Germany and Holland, there will a Bantry gig next year with Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill (as part of The Bantry Masters of Tradition Festival)…various other whispers and rumours of events that will be announced here as soon as we have any news…..a 4711er soiree in Lisdoonvarna next April perhaps, keep an ear to the ground for that one…
A great night at The Goilin Singers club for The Frank Harte memorial Concert Ö to listen click the link belowÖ
Come all you Dreamers…
Good day from Monaghan as the season commences. Three and a half months since the last chat and here we are again…..
Everything here has been dominated by the passing of young Kevin Sinnott, Declan and Kathy’s beautiful son. Kevin was 22 and studying philosophy in the United States. I met him a number of times this past 10 years. He was a fine young man who thought constantly of others. Intelligent, bright and fun loving, Kevin will always be remembered by his family, his girlfriend Jessica and all his friends in Ireland and America. Declan was deeply touched by the messages of condolence he received both here and on the sister site.
Over the Summer I played some solo gigs in Macroom, Bantry and Clonakilty. With these under my belt I felt it possible to play solo in Sligo and Ardee. Declan returned last week in Limerick and we have recommenced our “tour”. Last night in Roscommon was uplifting. A GAA hall not used for gigs, the Roscommon crowd flocked in for what turned out to be a stellar night, despite the aspersions cast here by a few lugs it proved to be a great choice of venue. Paddy Doherty scores again! That lad could find funk in a forest.
I signed off on the DVD “Come All you Dreamers” which is now in production. It is a film I have wanted to make for many years and it has turned out as good as I hoped. 23 tracks filmed and recorded in Barrowland Glasgow and a documentary filmed backstage in that Museum of Music and Gaffa tape. Some of you 4711ers are visible throughout the audience, all behaving immaculately although a few of ye managed to avoid the cameras (ye were probably on sick leave from work).
Some great sport these past months…2 great All Irelands with The Cats and The Kingdom beating The Premier and The Rebel in two thrilling encounters. Got in a few bowling scores around the roads of West Cork. Also caught two great plays from The Ballydehob Theatre group who tour ‘fit-ups around the region. Two performances, one in Eileen’s of Kilcrohane, the other in The Ballydehob Community Hall were as riveting as anything I’ve ever seen…. regretfully I don’t have the details at my fingertip just now….
The Bantry Masters of the Tradition had its 6th year and I’m happy to say that we caught most of it again this year. We heard The Mulcahy Family, Niamh Parsons (with Graham) Tommy Peoples plus the Festival anchormen Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill…great to hear Tommy Peoples again, his playing as mesmerising as ever and himself sharing anecdotes about the music which I had never heard him do before..
Did a Q&A at the Hot Press music forum 10 days ago-it was grand….did an IMRO song writing workshop in Copyright House 2 days ago…. heard the songs of 30 writers and we shared our experiences. It was an uplifting event to hear such a diverse range of songs and styles in one room over 6 hours…I certainly benefitted greatly from the exercise…
As well as the confirmed gigs which appear on the home page there are further gigs planned next year for Mullingar, Ballinasloe, Cappoquin, Thurles, Castlebar, Cork and Tullow….. UK dates being considered are Bristol, Warwick, Brighton, York, Llandudno and, later in the year, London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and Newcastle…. I will post confirmations as soon as these dates are confirmed…… there is talk of a few festivals as well but nothing further to report….. We will shortly announce a special night with the Culture Factory in Newbridge where I hope to introduce some local acts and sing a few songs myself. See link below for more info on the culture factory.
Alas and Alack……. Come all you Dreamers has developed a glitch in production… we are still striving to have it available for Glasgow …it will be available at gigs and from this site…we are not sure yet whether or not it will go on general release…
Other news… My nephew Conor Byrne has announces a series of gigs in Dublin. Each gig will feature the music of a different county.
My nephew Gavin Moore has released his second album. My nephew Robbie Moore recorded a demo recently. Please check them out Ö see links below for details Ö.
See you along the way… Good to be back.
We are progressing towards completion on the upcoming DVD “Come All You Dreamers” which was filmed in Glasgow last year.
Declan has been gigging with his band Small Town Talk to great acclaim. (See 4711ers.org)
We have our end of season gig in the Marquee, Cork, next Saturday night. This will be our fifth year to play the Big Tent and we look forward to it.
We will continue in September and the following gigs are in place:
September 24th Sligo, Park Hotel
September 25th Ardee, Co. Louth, Parish Hall
October 2nd Limerick, UCH
October 8th Roscommon, Hyde Centre
November 20th Wexford, Opera House
There will be further gigs to follow in Dublin, Tralee and Portlaoise this autumn, and Derry and Belfast are being planned for early next year. (More details later) We will travel to Scotland in October. Details of all these gigs can be found on the gig page of the website.
Thank you for your feedback on “Listen”. The album has been well received. The Ballad of Ruby Walsh came out after Cheltenham, where Ruby obliged by riding rings all around him. Then the single “Listen” garnered lots of airplay creating an awareness of the album before it was released. It hit the No. 1 spot in Ireland and stayed there for 4 weeks, which was a grand old buzz. On week 2 we had Pink, Lily Allen, Lady GaGa and Bob Dylan floundering in our wake. We let on that such pop trivia does not matter, but when it does happen it calls for celebration Ö. “O the crack was 90 in The Isle Of Man”Ö
I sang today on a documentary about James Connolly. A song which I learned many years ago from Dominic Behan. I also heard from John Spillane who has invited me to duet with him on his next album.
Enjoy the summer months, come back refreshed and, hopefully, we’ll meet up along the way Ö.. Come on the Flour Bags Ö..
A Sunny day on the river looking across at The Sage, one of the world’s most impressive looking venues. London’s Royal Festival Hall and Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall too have been welcoming and accommodating. It is indeed a joy to work these great venues.
Had a day off Yesterday….enjoyed a long Riverside ramble and caught The B&I Lions win their opening game in South Africa. I slept through the FA Cup final. Saturday Night in Newcastle has to be seen to be believed. It sure is a party town.
Things have settled a bit after the “Listen” launch. The songs have become established in the setÖit remains to be seen if they will stick the pace….”Come all you Dreamers” (Live from Barrowland 2008) is now on the workbench and shaping up nicely.
The Bodhr·n has re-emerged after a long lay off, so too have “Magdalene Laundry”, “Strange Ways” and “The Well”. We have added dates in Limerick, Buncrana, Drumshambo and Wexford to the gigs page. Later this year we hope to perform in Ardee, Co .Louth, Roscommon, Sligo, Thurles, Tullamore, Mullingar, Cappoquin, Tralee, Ennis and Ballinasloe. We hope to return to Vicar Street in Dec-Jan, Derry in February and Belfast in March. Along the way we will pick the odd gig here and there.
Back home in time to vote. I have supported Mannix Flynn and Richard Boyd Barrett in their local campaigns. We find ourselves in an awful mess as Church and State slowly sink into the muck and threaten to pull us all down with them. We gave them the power that they have abused. We have voted our abusers back in before.
Did you notice Pope Benedict greeting Margaret Thatcher to the Vatican? Was that match made in Heaven or Hell? All they needed was Pinochet in beside them for a right Triumvirate.
Head-the-ball in North Korea is flexing fierce….he don’t hide no WMDs …He can consider himself lucky he aint got no oil…Willy O’Dea would be gunning for him…
The best song session I ever witnessed was The GÛilÌn 30th anniversary shindig.
There were 43 singers and a host of listeners, maybe 200. No P.A. needed, we could hear
the price of a pin drop.
Dublin, June 3rd.
Recent reviews have commented on our sound and lighting. Declan and I travel with six colleagues. David Meade engineers our stage sound. I first met him in the old Rialto Cinema in Derry City. He is a unique engineer. Geoff Ryan lights our performance. I never get to see the lights but I can sense that they are sympathetic to the work.
Lighting should not draw attention to itself. Very few technicians achieve this. Both David and Geoff have to “work on the hoof” for there is no set list, no cues, they’ve got to busk it with myself and Declan and follow the songs wherever they go…Dickon Whitehead attends to our stage sound and keeps an eye on things technical….Johnny Meade cares for all the guitars and humours the Bodhr·n. Michael Devine is our Tour Manager and makes sure that Declan and I turn up at the right venue…Paddy Doherty oversees all our activities and makes gigs and tours happen…when gigs achieve accolades – it is fitting that we remember all those who work hard behind the scenes to make the gig happen.
Had a grand trip back. It was still twilight as we departed the Symphony Hall in Birmingham after a satisfactory 2 hour gig. It is a most impressive room within. We raced up the M6 as a beautiful half moon became our Sat Nav. The Holyhead Shed boys waved us through and away we sailed to Bognia….
The Ropes, Ryston, Newbridge, Co. Kildare. April 9th & 10th 2009.
1. Two Island Swans.
2. The Curragh of Kildare.
3. Missing You.
5. The Ballad of Ruby Walsh.
6. Does this train stop on Merseyside.
8. Ordinary Man.
9. The Shovel.
11. North and South.
12. Nancy Spain.
13. Welcome to The Cabaret.
14. The Contender.
15. Stitch in Time.
16. I Will.
17. Smoke and Strong Whiskey.
19. City Of Chicago.
20. China Waltz.
21. After the Deluge.
24. Riding the High Stool.
25. Black is The Colour.
28. Ride On.
29. Back Home in Derry
(2 hours 5 minutes)
1. Yellow Furze Woman.
2. The Curragh of Kildare.
3. Does this train stop on Merseyside.
4. The Ballad of Ruby Walsh.
5. Viva La Quinte Brigada.
7. Duffy’s cut.
8. Nancy Spain.
9. Missing You.
10. Quiet Desperation.
11. City of Chicago.
13. Ride On.
14. Welcome to The Cabaret.
15. Stitch in Time.
16. I Will.
17. Smoke and Strong Whiskey.
19. The Shovel.
21. Ordinary Man.
23. Reel in the Flickering Light.
25. After The Deluge.
26. North and South of the River.
27. Black is The Colour.
28. Bright Blue Rose.
(2 hours 7 minutes)
It was a special homecoming for me…On day 1 I walked around Moorefield, Dara Park, Pairc Mhuire, Rathfield, Hawkfield, Morristown, down the Back Street, up the Front Street and in around by Rosy’s Lane. I was getting my bearings, re-acclimatising myself to the old town….Spent some hours in The Standhouse on the Curragh, myself and Declan shaping up Cabaret and Curragh, me wondering what Paddy Leahy would make of all the changes to his pub. In my heyday The Standhouse was a real old country pub (in between race meetings). Thirsty citizens from nearby Newbridge would seek out its quiet dark corners, where they could slake their thirst without the whole town knowing about it. Many’s the detour was taken to Leahy’s hospitable sheebeen…mind you if you chanced upon a day when Paddy himself was imbibing, the hospitality could be roaring hot. If Paddy took a notion you could be out on your arse as quick as Mornie Wing in a 2 year old 5 furlong maiden stake…
On day 2 I went with Paddy Doherty and Mick Devine for a good scoot around The Curragh. Into the Military Camp on Good Friday once again. In the 60s we used to gather there on this day for it was the only place in the county where drink could be taken on this holiest of black, dry days. If you had the right connections you’d get “signed in” to the NCO’s mess. This was was the place to be on a Good Friday. Back then there were not many guitars around. I had my Clancy repertoire well honed and my old guitar gained me entry to many’s the fine watering hole in those fledgling days. Good Fridays and Christmas Days were wild in The Camp.
Leaving The Curragh behind we went to Brownstown and on out by Jockey Hall to
Donnelly’s Hollow, where we marvelled at the memory of Donnelly and Cooper and the great contest fought there nearly 200 years ago. Then back around by Lumville and The Jockey Hospital where my Father died on Oct 8th 1956. We called into the Moorefield GAA club in Pollardstown and saw the great progress made there by dedicated voluntary members who have built a great sporting facility. 50 years ago we cycled to matches and togged off in the bushes. If it rained…tough luck…we cycled home wet but happy, boots dangling from handle bars as we dreamt of one day playing for the Lily Whites. (Someone mentioned that they have changed the strip to include green… I sincerely hope this is not the case…to see the Lilywhites run out onto the field has always stirred the spirit)…As we made for Milltown to visit my parents resting place the skies opened and I thought of the evenings performance so we doubled back to base and the shelter of The Standhouse Hotel once again.
The Hall was full to capacity both nights. I watched from behind the curtain as people came in. Spotting many old friends and neighbours warmed my heart, but the vast majority were from the younger generations. Occasionally I could spot family resemblances. I have seldom felt so good watching an audience assemble. From Two-Mile-House and Poulaphouca, from Black Trench, Cut Bush and Boolea they came, from Ladytown, Feighcullen, Suncroft, Tankardsgarden, from Kilmeague, Lullymore, Caragh, Rathcoffey, Moone, Pluckardstown and Fr. Moore’s Well….they came from all sides….I saw Sheila Bell, Jimmy and Anne McDermott, The Ba and Alice Dowling, Paddy and Mrs Kenny, my sisters Eilish and Terry, my brother in law Peter Byrne all the way from Drimnagh, 4711ers from all over the gaff, Lawlor’s of The Forge, Jimmy Naughton, Joe Doherty, Laura and Winnie Murray, Michael Halford, Noel Heavey, Mags Hall, people from Artillery Place, Blackberry Lane, Rowan Terrace, Station Road…..
I recalled the Newbridge bands of my youth, The Jimmy Dunny Orchestra, The Bobby Rogers Band, Tom Wilmot’s Ceili Band, a skiffle group featuring Tony Sinnott, Laura Murray, Leo McBride and A.N.Other (anyone remember). The Brass band and then ,of course, came The Liffeysiders and The Rakes of Kildare (short lived they only played 2 gigs that I can recall one of which was the 1966 Easter Commemoration Concert in Hugh Neeson’s Lounge when the entire Easter Monday was spent commemorating, I clearly recall the late Jack White’s rendition of “A Nation Once Again”).
Back then Newbridge was a Town of 4,000 people. We had 2 cinemas (plus 2 more in The Curragh), a dancehall, a youth club, 2 tennis clubs and THE RIVER……At both Concerts we were joined by members of The Culture Factory Collective. They assisted with the seating and also presented a leaflet outlining their vision for a better Newbridge. They are seeking to provide a focal point for young people who might have wishes and desires outside the playing of football. There is no shortage of football fields (a good thing in itself) but where to go if your interests are music, art, creative writing, film making or conversation. The Arts Centre lies empty and unused, a monument to un-joined-up thinking… even when it was open it paid little more than lip service to the youngsters …like many Arts centres it smacked of elitist exclusivity. The Public servants (aka Arts Administrators) who control our publicly funded Art Centres would appear to prefer the Centres “empty and black” rather than have them full of local youngsters expressing their creativity in painting, music, poetry, dance and whatever else should take place in a public funded Arts Centre….if this sounds like a rant I have no apology to offer….my own personal experiences of Arts Centres and administrators have mainly been negative ones…I deeply regret that this be the case….there are and have been notable exceptions…The Belltable blazed the trail with Brid Dukes at the helm in the 70s…The Nerve Centre in Derry is always a good place to visit, The Black Box in Galway is always welcoming,….I will never forget the joy of visiting Paul Funge’s Gorey Art Centre 35 years ago…no funding then but creative and determined spirits working together to make things happen…..The Focus Theatre in Dublin is a centre worth recalling, the late Deirdre O’Connell kept it going on a wing and a prayer and I recall many’s the good night of music there, Glor in Ennis where Kate Verling hosts artistic diversion – diverse, highbrow, lowbrow and every brow between……
I hope the Culture Factory realise their dream….Come all you Dreamers, hear the sound of The Palace humming (I have committed to do a project with The Culture Factory and look forward to seeing what emerges).
What does anyone think of The National Museum being closed at Easter…for what died the Sons of Roisin. Intransigence is sometimes unforgiveable….it’s a long way from Jem Larkin to squeezing the last drop of blood from the roster system…
Just home from Tina Turner. All thoughts of retirement have been retired. Great Band, Sound, Venue and a Mighty Woman….could not make out lyrics but the other 10,000 knew them word for word and sang heartily right through the gig. Particularly enjoyed the acoustic set at the start of the 2nd half. All the ensemble were having a ball and the band were a joy to hear and watch, but Diva Tina… gimme some of what she’s on… her voice her spirit, passion and warmth… her singing and love of performance shone through everything…lights, lasers, effects, fireworks, dancers, ninjas, wonderful musicians all added to the spectacle but Ms Tina generated the power that drove it all.
Back to work tomorrow, been yapping with the papers about “Listen”…the journalists seem to like it….will play some songs on The Late Late Show next Friday. Going up to visit Gerry Anderson in BBC Ulster and have already recorded interviews with Mike Harding for BBC Radio 2 and Steve Wright for BBC Radio 2….the album goes public on Friday, hope ye like it, myself and Declan had a good time stitching it together……
Since boyhood I have loved the game of rugby. There are so many different aspects to the game. Each position requires such diverse skills, strengths and body shapes. It continues to develop and change through the decades but remains, for some at least, the most exhilirating of ball games….. I can still recall most of the Irish players from my boybood days. (Wigs Mulcahy, Ronnie Dawson, Sid Miller, Gordon Wood, Ronnie Kavanagh, Noisy Murphy, Andy Mulligan, Mick English, MIKE GIBSON, David Hewitt, Cecil Pedlow, Tony O’Reilly, Niall Brophy)……I have this memory of seeing Jackie Kyle swerving through the English defence at Lansdowne Road, I’m in the stand with my father…but when I check the dates it must have been a dream for I would have been too young…….I played a bit in youthful days,never with any great skill but always with lots of enthusiasm… with the Newbridge school team and later with Bective Rangers, Cashel and Galway Corinthians…
Last Monday night I had the pleasure of singing a bunch of songs for the Ireland Rugby Squad. Mick Devine and I arrived at the training camp at 8 o’clock. We were welcomed by Paul O’Connell and I went into a small room that was full to the gills of very large and very fit men. This was my 5th time in 11 years to play for the squad and myself, Malcolm O’Kelly and Rala are the only three survivors from that night. I sat on a low chair with the Irish Team and Subs gathered round me. I was a schoolboy allover again. I am almost 64 but still in awe of these legendary athletes. What made the night for me was that 5 of the squad got up and sang with me. The set was:
Black is The Colour (we all sang this in memory of David Noble aka McScrum)
Ride On…………………(Ronan O’Gara took the lead vocal on this)
City of Chicago…….(Donnacha O’Callaghan hit the high notes beautifully)
Cliffs of Dooneen….(With Rala O’Reilly, kit manager, confessor, counsellor)
The Contender……..(Denis Leamy sang this and did a fine job)
Joxer goes to Stuttgart
The Well below The valley….(requested by the team doctor Jim McShane)
Rocky Road To Dublin………..(for Shane Horgan in honour of his legendary try against England in Croker 2007)
Flickering Light………………..(a duet with Luke Fitzgerald who jinked his way through the verses)
Brian O’Driscoll said a few words and made presentations on behalf of the squad to Mick Devine and myself…… Good luck in Murrayfield and Cardiff….
Started back in Trim Co. Meath last night. As always, I am nervous for about 10 minutes but then I realise, once again, that I am among friends who love the songs as much as I do. I opened my eyes after 15 minutes and the first face I saw was Primula’s. Sitting beside him was Tommy Clarke (just back from Bosnia) and a gaggle of 4711ers. I knew that I was home and dry so I closed my eyes again.
“The Ballad of Ruby Walsh” went to radio stations yesterday and has been getting a few spins. The album will be out in six weeks. Signed off on the sleeve and Artwork yesterday.
STOP PRESS….Jim Page is back in Ireland. His song “Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian Roulette” was a big Moving Hearts number. He continues the tradition of Woody Guthrie by going to the front line. Catch him at the following;
March 1 De Barras, Clonakilty
4 The Crane Galway
5 Boyles Bar, Slane Co Meath
6 Community Hall, Avoca, Co Wicklow
7 Seamus Ennis Centre, The Naul, Fingal, Co.Dublin
News Extra…..A regular visitor to this site( and to our sister site 4711ers.or.) is Doug Lang ( aka The Duke of Lang). He has been sending us songs, poems, pictures and videos these past years. He will depart his native Vancouver and come to visit us in Ireland and Scotland in April. He plays support to John Spillane in Clonakilty on Apr 2nd. Himself and myself are going to do a wee gig on the 4th and then he will travel to Dublin to do Mick O’Briens “Sin E” radio show on Dublin City Anna Livia FM ( all details on 4711ers.org)…Lar mentioned he might be doing a house gig before he heads off to Scotia……
We return to England in May with gigs in London, Manchester, Gateshead and Birmingham. In October we play Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth and Barrowland.
We hope to return to Concert Hall Limerick in October. There is talk of gigs in The Opera House in Wexford in November, we both look forward to visiting this new venue in Declan’s home town.
“Gallopin down the back straight he has her in a canter
look at her leppin’ the jumps shes like a ballet dancer.
Over the last she hits the front and nothin is goin to pass her.
Winner Alright! Up Kildare! and Follow me up to Carlow”.
(The Ballad of Ruby Walsh)
Bob Doyle (1916-2009)
Bob was the last surviving member of the Irish battalion of The International Brigade.I met him briefly, maybe half a dozen times,always at events commemorating fallen comrades in the Spainish civil war.Just this morning I received the following report.These words were spoken by Bob at an anti-war rally in Southampton 2 years ago…………”Some of you may wonder why a 90-year-old veteran of a war that happened a long time ago in a far off country is speaking to you here today….Some of you will know a little about the Spainish civil war and may see it as a glamorous episode in working class history…You may have come to see a ‘decrepit romantic relic’….But I am not here to indulge in emotional memories although I do have many memories of comrades and events that effect me deeply…..I am not here to make you sad with tragic recollections of a heroically fought war or to make you happy with my survival into old age….I am here to make your blood boil with anger.The powers that supported Franco in Spain are still active today. Their reach is now global.The same US corporations that supplied the Fascists with oil in Spain are today pilfering the oil of the Iraqi people”…….. Bob went on to say “Those who lie and cheat to hold on to power, who exploit child and slave labour in the third world to make yet more profits, who torture and murder in defense of their business interests, They are still in control……When I am told that Spain was the last noble cause I know I am listening to someone who does not want to see the obvious truth.Today the fight against those who put profit before people is just as intense”…………….(This speech was reported in The Camden New Journal of Jan 29th and was sent to me by Bob Davenport)
Bob Doyle 1916-2009.
This is my 100th time to sing up here in Derry. I think back to earlier times. A Planxty Concert when we played with Albert Fry in a school hall. The following year we came back to St.Columb’s Hall for a concert that also featured Seamus Heaney, Seamus Deane and Pumpkinhead, a very fine American band then domiciled in Sligo. I don’t recall the precise context of either of these gigs but the second one did have a souvenir programme. I think it may have been part of an arts festival. After Planxty my gigs in Derry began to change. As the repertoire moved from Traditional Ballads to Contemporary Songs the atmosphere at gigs changed too. After recording “90 Miles to Dublin” other songs began to emerge. There were concerts in support of the Blanket Men, The Smash H-Blocks Campaign, both Hunger Strikes and all the time there were Bloody Sunday Commemoration Concerts. I first heard Bobby Sands songs here in Derry. I heard “McIlhatton” over in Bellaghy and “Back Home in Derry” in Bertie and Olive Barrett’s the following night. Both songs sung to me by men who had been on the blanket with Bobby. “The Time has Come” was based on the experiences of Peggy O’Hara who vividly described her family’s suffering while her son Patsy O’Hara was on Hunger Strike. So many songs came and went in this town, sometimes written quickly to be performed once, other times scribbled down of an afternoon but developing on to become part of the repertoire. “Minds Locked Shut” started out in The Rialto before the 15th Bloody Sunday Commemoration. I asked Eamon McCann to talk me through his memories of the day and that became the basis of the song…..”and then our minds locked shut” “they are firing bullets at us” “disbelief upon the faces”…..years after “North and South” had its first lines written at the edge of Ballyscullion Wood and “The Boy From Tamlaghduff” was penned across the way after spending time with the late Joe and Mrs. Hughes in their family home. So much of the work was written and learned here in the Derry air. Small wonder that the songs sound like they are coming home.
In the past week we have played in Newcastle Co. Down, Silverbridge in Co. Armagh and now here in Derry City. Driving and walking, singing and talking I begin to get a small sense of the changing province. There is peace, there is an absence of Military and Armed Police at every corner, there are outward signs of hope for the future when compared to the bleakness of the war years. But there are other, less obvious, things taking place that need to be noted. Today I walked through parts of Derry untouched by the culture of regeneration. I walked streets where the police have little or no interest in policing. There is disquiet and unrest amongst people who feel abandoned by those who once stood in their midst. Wherever we go in this island we must try and bring everyone with us. Yes we must embrace all cultures but, equally, we must bring all our own people to The Promised Land. I hope that peaceful times are here to stay.
The current album is all but finished. We will get back to it after the upcoming gigs in Mullingar. There is a small bit of recording to do before we commence mixing and mastering. Then begins the process of deciding the running order, a title for the work, the sleeve notes and various other yokes. Singing the songs really is the easiest and most pleasurable part. All the rest of it is where the work comes in. We have 13 songs recorded, don’t know yet how many will feature – 8 are new pieces (although most of them have been gigged lately). The other 5 have been around a while but never recorded satisfactorily….Declan has recorded a song… four friends came in and played on different tracks…Wally Page dropped in and laid down a few sweet harmonies…
We are going to Dingle in December for Philip King’s “Songs from a Room” which will be transmitted on RTE in the Spring.
This is year 42 of the tour. Since hitting the road in 1967 there have been a few adjustments to the routine. Back then I travelled light, guitar case and sleeping bag, (spare set of strings (St.David Originals), diary, jotter, spare sox ‘n jox – all fitted snugly in the guitar case. No PA systems nor microphones. Gigs were in rooms above pubs. Every gig would have local singers to warm the night. Audiences varied from 20 to 200. Clubs fell into different categories with many having a strict booking policy. Most clubs would cater for the broad variety of styles that existed but there specialist clubs that concentrated on their chosen genre. McColl’s club in London was a serious place. Les Cousins was very much guitar orientated, I heard Davy Graham play there. The Troubadour Club was very much that. Gigs usually ran to 2 half hour sets… approx 12 songs and that was your lot. The accommodation was invariably provided by the club organiser, and could be 5 star or abysmal but the sleeping bag was essential. Heady days still well remembered. These days Declan and I travel with 10 guitars and a bowrawn. We have six colleagues who between them look after all aspects of the gig. We carry PA, Lights, Staging, while accommodation, catering, transport and business are all carefully planned in advance. Last night we performed 31 songs in 2 hours and 10 minutes. Back in those early days there was a lot less time spent on the material for there was a lot of life to be lived. These days the work takes priority when out on the road. The one thing that has not changed is the dedication to song, the passion for singing….that’s what I must go and do now….
For those of you who follow the oval ball…what a great performance the Munster team put up last night against the All-Blacks. Neither side could field their First XV but by all accounts it was a classic encounter. (Various media had me present at the game but I had important business to attend in The Forum Theatre Derry.) Shane Geoghegan’s memory was honoured before and during the game. I’ve no doubt but that many players offered this game up to their fallen friend. I was surprised to see The Army brought in to the pageant beforehand. A pity they were not at hand when Shane was callously and brutally gunned down just 2 weeks ago. If the police can no longer control the activities of these feuding gangs and drug lords the Government must respond with realistic measures to curb these murderous thugs. I don’t have the answer. However I felt that bringing in the Army for a rugby game in Limerick was both ironic and opportunistic considering recent events.
For our overseas readers I should explain that Shane Geoghegan was a young man gunned down, an innocent working man on his way home when murdered in a case of “mistaken identity” by drug dealing, murdering, cowardly bastards….. he was a young family man who played amateur rugby for his club Garryowen…he was the fourth innocent by-stander to be shot dead by drug dealers in Ireland recently. The Government appears to be unable or unwilling to do anything about it. How long before people decide they have had enough and begin taking the law into their own hands.
It’s time to pack up the load and get on the road, head over the Foyle Bridge, accelerating quickly towards Belfast. On up over Glenshane and freewheel down into Beal Feirste. The next two gigs are different. The Opera House in Belfast Is a Benefit for PIPS who are a suicide support group I encountered last year at a similar event in Dublin. The following night we play a concert for the Ballygawley Road Estate Community Centre. We look forward to these gigs for they always have their own energy and are always unique events in themselves. The music becomes a backdrop to the night’s event and invariably something special emerges.
See ye along the way……
Crossed the Irish Sea in anticipation of two concerts in this year’s European City of Culture. I am ensconced in a Liverpool garret for the next 3 days. I’ve been looking forward to this for some time. Here I have a glimpse of the river from my room, the prod Cathedral is 200 yards away and the taigs kneel just around the corner, Plan to visit both this morning so I will be oozing divine vibes if I make it to The Philharmonic tonight. It is 40 years since my first gig here, came by train from Manchester, travelled light back then with all my belongings in a big green guitar case alongside my Yamaha FG180 guitar. Then I played Jacqui & Bridie’s Folk Club in some forgotten pub in this great Port City. They sang “Whiskey On a Sunday”, a song which I learned and brought back to Dublin where Danny Doyle made it his own with a wonderful version…
We have six songs mixed, one we have decided to abandon and go back to the beginning – it somehow got swamped along the way and needs a much simpler approach. We will return to the studio to continue the process, some overdubs, looking at some different sounds. It seems like we have sufficient songs, maybe even a few spares. A very different scenario from years ago when albums were recorded under contract and under pressure of time. Back then recording studios were large buildings owned by record companies who called the shots. These days a recording studio is a series of boxes that can be set up anywhere and all the better for that.
Our good correspondent Doug Lang ( who will sing in Ireland and Scotland next April) has opened a discussion about singing, how voice, style and material develops over decades. His question caused me to reflect and try to remember. After a years of piano bashing, singing the boy soprano, “proper” singing, I was turned on to Elvis in my early teens. Followed him from Heartbreak Hotel to Wooden Heart around which time I heard The Clancy brothers and Tommy Makem. Got my first guitar and Donal Lunny taught me C G7 and then F D. That did me for a while as I got the early beginnings of a repertoire going….Jug of Punch, Rosin The Bow, Bard of Armagh, Kevin Barry were among my early songs. I heard Andy Rynne sing bigger songs like Yellow Bittern, Napoleon Bonaparte alongside Master McGrath and The Night before Larry was Stretched. I was trying to copy everyone I liked. 1962 I began to seek out songs that were no longer sung and discovered Curragh of Kildare in the Joyce Collection and Mary from Dungloe in Colm O’Loughlin’s Irish Street Ballads. These were the first 2 original songs I sang and they went on to become very popular again through fine versions by The Johnstons and Emmet Spiceland. Began to travel around seeking out singers and new songs and came across The Galtee Mountain Boy in Clonmel sung by Patsy Halloran, The Scariff Martyrs in Tulla Co.Clare sung by Mrs Murphy (who had attended the funerals of McMahon, Rogers, Egan and Kildea), I heard Spancilhill in 1964 sung by the author Robbie McMahon. The repertoire was expanding and I was developing a style of singing that was an amalgam of the various singers I was hearing.Ted McKenna, Al O’Donnell. Maeve Mulvanny, Andy Rynne, Mick Moloney, Luke Kelly, Ronnie Drew, Jesse Owens and many others..
Hearing John Reilly was a revelation, for here was a tradition outside anything I’d heard before. The style was totally unaffected, the story line was the centre and it had been sung a thousand time over generations of Travelling (Gypsy/Tinker) singers. When I sought to learn and sing Raggle Taggle and Well Below the Valley I was entering a new world of singing. Prior to this it was the buzz and excitement of striving to be part of “the scene” but here I was finding a new purpose and a new high. These songs began to take me somewhere else. When I landed back in England in 1966 it was with the intention of staying for a while. I heard different singing styles and was immediately taken with the likes of Frank Duffy, Harry Boardman, Mike Harding in Lancashire. I hung out there for awhile all the time expanding my repertoire, borrowing and copying plagiarizing all I encountered. Heard The Watersons, Carty and Swarbrick, Tony Rose, Martyn Wyndham-Read all at a time when The Beatles and The Stones were dominating the world and I never heard a bit of it. I stumbled into Ewan McColl in St Andrews in Scotland and that turned me on to the concept of contemporary song. I had heard a number of contemporary singer songwriters in the folk clubs but it was McColl who caught my ear. Around this time I heard Ralph McTell and also listened to Woody Guthrie songs for the first time……….(contd)
Last night’s Liverpool gig went off very well.
Spotted a good gaggle of 4711ers in the front stalls. Had Ian Prowse in last night and sang his song “Merseyside Train”. It’s a beauty to sing, beautiful structure, melody, chorus, pictures, vibe – his folks were in too, which made it all the more special. Maryline up from Chile for a brace of gigs, puts a guy on his toes when someone comes so far for the songs. Afterwards we sat with John and Mo and had the supper – you’ll recall last year’s fun with the Desert Island set list. John was the man of the hour and we finally met up last night.
Last nights set was:
2.North and South
9.Bright Blue Rose
11.Smoke ‘n Whiskey
12.Quinte Brigada (Louths)
13. I Will
22.Rory is Gone
23.John of Dreams
(contd)….In 1968 I met and befriended Hamish Imlach who took me on the road and I watched him gig around the UK. I began to develop “between-song” banter and for a while got waylaid by the funnyman bug. Listened to Noel Murphy, Tony Capstick, Mike Harding, Billy Connolly and took my eye off the songsters for awhile, sang a lot of comedy stuff and drank lots of porter….a guy pulled me up one night in London after I’d done a really bad gig and told me bluntly that I was a disgrace, to wise up and get back to the songs and material I had done previously. (Thank you Bruce May)
Planxty was a learning time – the material we would perform had to pass fairly stringent quality control and quite a number of songs I suggested were (mostly rightly) knocked back. The band were very popular and for a while my head was turned and confused by the fame factor. This impacted on the singing. We got so busy that we had little time to rehearse and develop. We soon tired of the never ending road and of performing the same set – for a while it was very much a case of going through the motions. The excitement of the first 18 months flittered away. However the atmosphere that existed when Donal, Andy, Liam and I played together has always stayed with me. It was a new experience and brought the songs to a new plateau. Just realised I’m blarring on far too much here, I’ve totally lost track of Doug’s thread from last week, the real answer in my case is I got sober. When I managed to put down the glass, get over the shock, begin to see the world around me, then my approach to singing began to change. I realised that everything to do with my singing was the result of many different factors all of them outside my doing or control. Everything is given. In earlier times I might have taken credit for some of the stuff that was going down but when it was all taken away the truth slowly began to dawn. Lying in a dark place, unable to talk or communicate, all feelings of ego and self importance turned to mush. Then it all began to change. Today I give thanks for the very breath that gives me voice to sing.
Now I must go and get ready for Sunday night at The Philharmonic, wonder what songs will come along tonight, lots of notes, letters, requests and emails to coax them along but when the time comes, I will put myself in Your Hands and out we’ll go, myself and the good doctor will face the music once more…..
Monday morning Liverpool……………………..
It was very different last night, we played the following…
1.North and South
11.Cliffs of Dooneen
12.Yellow Furze Woman
23.No Time For Love
25 Missing You
Thank you to everyone concerned for two great nights at The Phil. All the staff were brilliant, Andy backstage fed us the football results but was most unhappy about Everton’s defeat exacerbated by The Reds doin’ the business.
A word about doing requests and dedications….there has been an upsurge recently, it is never a problem to receive your letters and emails requesting songs and dedications. It is never possible to include them all. In fact there are nights when it is impossible to do any. On such nights it takes all our energy and focus to get the music out. However some may be included if they fit into the run of the gig as it unfolds. Bear in mind that the vast majority of the audience will not have requested songs nor dedications…..sometimes it feels right and more times it does not…..if you are taking the trouble to write a request or dedication please bear in mind that your efforts may bear no fruit….on any night the gig itself must be given priority and free rein…..
The dates for London, Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle are now posted on the gig page. If you are thinking of going to Vicar St this year ,there are very few seats left …Irish gigs next Spring will include Trim, Kilkenny, Ballybofey, Cavan, Castlebar, Killarney,Newbridge, Ennis and Galway……all these will be on the gig page as soon as they are fully in place…
Declan will sing a song on the next album, he continues to rehearse and occasionally gig with “Small Town Talk”, the band he has formed with Hank Wedell, Eleanor Healy and Martin Leahy. I have heard some recordings and they are well worth a listen.
Thats it for now except for one little story……..
Sun Morning, Hope St., Liverpool…There are Bells and there are Bells. The lie-in was out of the question so I leapt out of the scratcher to follow the sound of (not so distant) bells calling. With two equally dominant cathedrals looking for custom I opted for the red one. A stunning feat of builders labour filled the October sky as I made my way to Church. Getting closer I became aware of a large police presence around the house of God, then I spotted a long line of black limousines. I had happenend upon the annual “Judges Service” and Choral Matins at Liverpool Cathedral. What a procession I witnessed in this place of worship. Every Mayor and Mayoress from Liverpool to Warrington and all places between, MPs, City Council Leaders, Chancellors of Universities, Army and Police top brass, Governers of all local prisons…they all came in their full finery and regalia to witness the Judges Service (the coroner was there too in case any of us expired). On came the procession of Magistrates, District Judges and Honourable Judges, The Sheriffs brought up the rear and when we were all in place the organist struck up “Praise my soul, King OF heaven”.
The Dean, God be good to him, welcomed the congregation and introduced the “general confession”. Following Psalm125 His Honour Judge Globe QC read to us from the Book of Malachi after which The choir sang Te Deum Laudamus. The High Sheriff Of Merseyside, Mrs J Greensmith, then gave us 8. 2-11 from The Gospel of John and she had a lovely hat (not a Philip Tracey, maybe an Aintree!) . The Choir then tore into a great version of Jubilate Deo as things began to hotten up. Heading towards the sermon we were primed with The Apostles creed and a harrowing “Lesser Litany and Collects” from Choir and Cantor which brought to mind the pulling out of nails…Very Rev Justin Welby then delivered his sermon to the gathered Judges. He chose to expand and expound on Justice and quoted liberally from his many overseas experiences on the delivery of same. Im afraid I dozed off momentarily but came to in time to hear The High Sheriff’s Chaplain lead prayers for sinners in general but in particular for
The High Court of Parliament
Lord Chief Justice
all in Matters of Law
Chief Constable of Mersey Police
Her Majesty’s Prisons, Walton, Altcourse, Risley and Hindley
International Court of Justice, United Nations and Sec Gen. U Thant!!
We then stood and belted out “All creatures of Our God and King”
The Dean, God be good to Him, then pronounced The Blessing ..Amen to that sez we…..then the organist shook the entire edifice with the most ear shattering intro I have ever heard to any song…ears bled, bats went crazy, spiders were blown from the rafters as Professor Ian Tracey pumped the mighty organ up to 11 and we sang The Queen ….Lemmy eat your heart out…….
We then stood in shaken awe as the procession of bewigged and bejewelled dignitaries trooped towards the back of the House of God where Port and Wine, Cheese and Biscuits were served in The Nave (or was it the apse) for the exhausted Judges and their crones….a few of us tourists, locals and, it has to be said, very friendly constables were able to look down on the wigs and chains as they had their post prayer repast………………….It truly was a great experience, I’d not have missed it for the world. As Hamish Henderson (and Luke Kelly) used to sing……” Such a parcel of rogues in this nation”
On the road now and heading for South Wales.
PS Greetings to Mero in Brisbane ñ “any chance of the start?”
I first met Jimmy Faulkner in 1974. Nicky Ryan introduced us. In early Planxty years Nicky and I often sat up late listening to songs and talking about music and sound… he often talked about Jimmy as a guitar player who had great empathy with songs and singers. We met up and struck it off straight away. Over the following 2 decades I played on and off with Jimmy on many different projects. He was a wonderful friend and a great player. We recorded many songs together between 1975 and 1997. Our first recording was Nancy Spain in the old Eamon Andrews studio in Harcourt Street where Jimmy laid down a riff that still sparkles. “Whatever Tickles Your Fancy” was the first album we did and subsequently he played on the 1978 album “Christy Moore” (aka The Kunte Kinte album), “The Iron behind The Velvet”, “Live In Dublin” (1978 with Donal Lunny and recorded by Nicky Ryan). He Played on The Anti-Nuclear album of 1979 and the last recording we did together was “King Puck” in 1996 (all dates are approx.). There were other recordings along the way.
There was a great bootleg from Stuttgart in 1977 which has disappeared. It contained a long and wonderful version of Pontchartrain. With a Martin acoustic, a Fender Strat and a great song we played on and on (the audience were just as stoned as we) …. Then there was a London Palladium gig in the 90’s some of which is on the Box Set. Earlier on he played on “Welcome to The Cabaret”which ended up, I think, on “Smoke and Strong Whiskey”.
On a trip to Germany we shared a bill with a band called, if memory serves me, The Mike Reinhardt Septet and thus began Jimmys love of Gypsy Music. Along the way I heard him with Red Peters, The Floating Dublin Blues Band, Martin O’Connor, Finbar Furey, Ronnie Drew, Freddie White, Barry Moore, Mick Hanly, Eleanor Shanley, Hotfoot to name but a few. However most of all I remember those days in the 70’s when Himself and myself toured Ireland with Declan McNelis, Kevin Burke and, occasionally, Robbie Brennan. The Merriman In Scariff, The Baggott Inn and once in Dalymount Park where we played between Status Quo and Judas Priest. No one heard us but we had a memorable time in the Green Room before retiring to The Meeting Place for a few quiet Basins with the Spillane brothers.
Jimmy passed on a few months back. His funeral was a great gathering come to mourn their dear friend and to offer sympathy to Pauline, Jemel, Catherine and to all Jimmy’s family including his Father Christy who passed recently just short of his 100th birthday (he was a banjo player). Next day I got a call from Terry O’Neill saying “lets get together and honour Jimmys life with a celebration of music”. Terry, Nicky Ryan and Pat Farrell were the steering committee (Terry
being the main man who just made it all happen). Soon as the word went out all troops rallied.
(I dont have the definitive list and I’m writing this from memory).Nollaig Bridgeman, Tommy Moore, Pat Farrell, Pete Cummins, Myself and Declan Sinnott, Honor Heffernan, Anto Drennan, Jack Lynch, Smiley Bolger, Eamonn McCann, Robbie Overson, Don Baker, Mick Hanly, Ronan Dooney, Garry O’Briain, Mairtin O’Connor, Bree Harris, Paul Fairclough, Mary Stokes, Mick Pyro, Carl Geraghty, Philip Donnelly, Gary Moore (travelled from London), Ed Deane, Frankie Lane, Paul Brady, Eamon Murray, Fran Breen (came from Nashville), Fran Byrne, Brush Shiels, Pat Collins with Darzen Derek,
Oleg Ponomarev of The Cafe Orchestra, Richie Buckley, Carl Geraghty, Colm Querney, Chris Meehan, Martin Curry, Brian Downey, Bill Bergin, Paul Moore, Pete Rees, Gerry Hendricks, Nigel Mooney, and … The Stage Crew included Colm Flynn, Pat Maguire and his team, Norman Verso, John Chisholm, John Meade, Mick Devine, Noel McHale and Sophie Flynn … MCD played their part too and Denis Desmond honoured Jimmy’s memory … Every dressing room was full of old combos reforming and new outfits rehearsing. Down along the corridoor I could hear Don Baker warming his Hohners, Patrick Collins saddling the ponies, There were blues and ballads, speedsters and laid back ladies all together under Jimmy’s spell … It kicked off at 8.10pm when Nollaig Bridgeman sang “I Will” and ended four hours later with an ensemble rendition of “Knockin on Heavens Door”
This was a very special night for all of us. We re-united with old friends that are seldom seen. The Love in the Room for Jimmy was the glue that held it all together. We strove, with great difficulty, to leave our egos at the stage door. There was no bullshit backstage. Everyone pulled together. Terry O’Neill captained the ship to shore. Declan Sinnott remarked “if Jimmy was here tonight
he would be out on stage playing with everyone”.
He was and He did.
That 1977 night in Stuttgart, halfway through the set, I said to Jimmy “What’ll we do next?” … He thought for a second and gave me the Jimmy Faulkner look …
“Let’s split man, let’s head back to Dolphin’s Barn”…
Fierce soft weather in all parts. Anyone else noticed the skin growing between the toes and fins between the shoulder blades? It was a grand quiet, but soft time. There were fierce storms too and our bats were blown off course one windy August night and have not been seen since. One of them did appear in Bantry House during Iarla O Lionaird’s wonderful set with Steve Cooney and Padraic Cassidy when this trio appeared at the Bantry “Masters of the Tradition” Festival. This annual event has been the highlight of Summer for many these past five years. This year, along with the aformentioned, we heard Martin Hayes, Denis Cahill, Frankie Gavin, David Power to mention but four of those who blasted out the music over five memorable nights. Michael O Suilleabhain gave a stunning recital of seven new pieces which were recorded for what may be a live album. A Grand Piano never sounded like this in The Earl of Bantry’s day.
We also went over the mountain to Gougane Barra where we attended a performance of “The Tailor and Ansty” in a marquee behind the Gougane Barra Hotel. This has been happening for the past three years and I highly recommend it for next year. The players were Ronan Wilmot and Nuala Hayes who made a wonderful job of this great play. We saw the first production in The Peacock over 30 years ago when the Tailor was played by Eamon Kelly. For those of you unfamiliar with this play it was adapted from the book “The Tailor and Ansty” by Eric Cross (Mercier Press).
Declan and I finished last season in The Marquee in Cork on June 28th. We have now played it every year since its inception and this year was a great end of season gig. We started back last Friday in The Premier Ballroom in Thurles where a great crowd gathered and neither Waterford nor Hurling was mentioned. Fr Joe has done a great job in reviving the fortunes of the old hall. We had listeners in From USA, Germany, Liverpool and Tralee. Ian Prowse, author of “Does this train stop on Merseyside” came by boat and we sang his song in celebration. The Galtee Mountain Boy got an outing and John of Dreams awoke for a rare appearance.
We have been laying down a few tracks too, Declan is currently hatching a few riffs and we will return to it in September. I have thirteen vocal tracks down and we are looking forward to dolling it all up, kicking it about, hiring in a choir of angels for some BVs……..it is scheduled for release in March 2009 unless it gets off earlier for good behaviour.
My nephew Conor Byrne has produced a series of programmes for TG4 called Faoi Lan Cheoil. They are scheduled for viewing in October and, whilst admitting to extreme bias, I do believe this will be a very interesting series and I am happy to recommend it.
Apart from the gigs currently in the gig section there will be further nights of song this year in Silverbridge, Newcastle, Belfast, Dungannon and Vicar St. Dublin. All these dates will be announced as soon as possible. Next year we have pencilled in Galway, Lisdoonvarna, Kilkenny, Dreamland, Kerry, Ryston, Cavan, Donegal, Ardee, Trim and Dingle. Then back over the sea to England in May for 6 concerts, details as soon as etcÖÖ.
Declan is still rehearsing a project and has done a few gigs. (Some 4711ers attended).
There will be a live Radio Chat with Mick O’Brien on Sin E 103.2 Dublin City FM ñ www.dublincityfm.ie – Tuesday 30th Sept 2008 9pm Irish time.
Heading to Stradbally now to plug into the Electric Picnic, hoping to hear Jinx Lennon.
PS Just back in from The Electric Picnic. In forty years of gigging I have never experienced anything quite like it and that includes Glastonbury, Feile, London Fleadh, NewYork Fleadh….it was mad, wild, loud, lusty, soulful, delerious and wonderful….all credit to John Reynolds and his team for pulling it all together – this festival is, literally, in a field of its own. We had prepared a set of old and new, planned to do a gentle set maybe rising it towards the end. Three minutes in and that set was out the window. These kids wanted to sing and dance, scream and shout and I decided to join in with them. Decky reckons he was in The Beatles for an hour last night – we could not hear a thing! Grace Jones snaffled all the pink M&Ms, Johnny Rotten’s a ride, Kila were leppin, Jinx was in the groove (catch him), I blew a fuse and Decky popped his bulbs, Hey John Reynolds….we’re available next September….I think our set was…
Yellow Furze Woman
North and South
Missing You (for Ronnie Drew)
Black is The Colour
After The Deluge
Lisdoonvarna…………then it was straight to the Oxygen Tent after which we were debriefed and……………………(to be contd on page 2009!)
New Chat coming soon…
Tonight was the 27th anniversary of the death of Bobby Sands.His son was in the audience as were many of his comrades. The city looked beautiful in the summer sun as 10,000 ran in The Belfast Marathon. It was the sort of day he dreamt of…
|Monday May 5th
||Tuesday 6th May
||Monday 19th May.
||Tuesday May 20th
Other news. The proposed Leeds dates have not materialized – maybe next year. As well as the gigs currently showing on the gig page for 2008 we will shortly be announcing dates in Thurles, Armagh, Derry, Mullingar, Dungannon and Newbridge with a few more to add before closing the book on 2008.
Doing bits and pieces of recording and while I still have nothing concrete to report I feel there may be an album in the air.
Getting ready for Holland and Scotland at the end of which lies Barrowland. Hope ye’ll be singing your heads off that night. We have added a second night in The Tripod Dublin on June 20th with special guests Jinx Lennon, Miss Paula Flynn and Jackeen Culchie.
Talk of a short German tour next year and perhaps a return to Paris. London is under discussion but with Ken gone and the GLC but a distant memory we can only hope that Boris will be as welcoming.
Going to hear Leonard next month and hope to catch Neil Young and Iron Horse at The Marquee by the Lee. Then theres Tom Waits, Brendan Bowyer, Small Town Talk, Damien Dempsey, Jinx Lennon and Miss Paula Flynn, Wicklow in The Leinster C.Ship. Radiohead, Martin Hayes,….the feckin’ ears will be worn off of us!
Highly recommend Exhibition “Hard Rain Gonna Fall” at Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin…check for details….
The Busby Babes honoured those who’ve gone before.
(4711ers.org are planning a gathering (a gaggling) for likeminded eccentrics early next year, early April I think, you’d need to check them out if you are so inclined but don’t say that you read it here for they are touchy, touched and touching…..it won’t be Limerick or Koln, (as far as one can tell)Ö..
top of page
Last played here twice before with Jim Page and Donal Lunny. Played another night with Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny. Been to many gigs here over the years and nearly always enjoyed myself. Amongst many gigs I remember Bert Jansch and Jacqui Mc Shee, Norma Waterson and Martin Carthy, The Handsomes, John Prine, all at Whelan’s over the years. It has long been a mainstay of roots music and has just undergone an overhaul. It now has two venues and dressing rooms and the new policy seems to be music comes first. Good luck to Leagues O’Toole and Derek Nally and all concerned. Dublin needs this venue.
Our set was:
1.Yellow Furze Woman
2. Magic nights in The Lobby Bar
6. CoCo Moon
7. Go Move Shift
9. Cry Like A Man
10. Stitch in Time
11. Little Musgrave
13. Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian Roulette
14. Pity The Poor Immigrant
17. Two Conneeleys
18. Smoke and strong Whiskey
19. Anne Lovett
20. Hattie Carroll
21 Biko Drum
22. Delerium Tremens
23. Cliffs of Dooneen
24. No Time for Love
25. Ride On.
Next up was two nights in the INEC Theatre in Killarney. I have always loved this town. It was rain swept, windy and soggy but once the lights went down we all forgot about the weather for two hours. Took a trip down The Black Valley, then sat in the car park of Kate Kearneys and watched the capers and antics as the world passed by. Washed the feet at Torc, ran from the midgies up Mangerton – no sign of Bill Cullen who may be selling apples on the moon.
Then it was a midnight flit on up past Ladies View and over the top on down into Kenmare. Passed through there at midnight Saturday and it was Puck Fair. Back up the mountains and through the tunnels over the top for a first glimpse of Bantry Bay with the lights of Whiddy Island guiding me down towards Glengariff.
We played two nights in Dzogchen Beara, the Buddhist Centre located outside Castletownbere high above The Atlantic Ocean. These were fundraisers for the hospice being built, under the spiritual guidance of Sogyal Rinpoche, by the community who live and work in this very special place. We performed there with no PA which was challenging at first. Forty years of singing through microphones changes a singer’s technique. It took a while to adjust and to project out to the back of the room. Matt from the Centre suggested that if I sang the songs The Dalai Lama would take care of the rest. We had a most memorable visit to this Holy place.
The moon was high was we took our leave to head across Bantry Bay towards the Sheep’s Head. We set up camp high above Ahakista in anticipation of our next gig in St.James’s Church just outside Durrus. The lovely chapel was built in 1745 and we had a grand night there with the kind permission of Rev.Paul Willoughby who was delighted to welcome the nearby parishioners of Ahakista as Declan and myself gave it our best shot (andÖ. there were cushions on the pews).
Finally on to Belfast where I pen these words. We returned here yesterday. It was a beautiful day. Sun shone down as The Belfast City Marathon ran all around the place. It was a happy and bright town yesterday as we made our way to The Waterfront Theatre. It was the 27th Anniversary of Bobby Sands passing. His son was at last night’s concert.
After The Deluge
Back Home in Derry
The Time has Come
McIllhatton (for Gerard Sands)
On The Bridge
Sacco and Vanzetti
Minds Locked shut
As I Roved Out
Only our Rivers run free
Stitch in Time
Black is the Colour
Cliffs of Dooneen
Ride On……………………….a quiet half hour with friends in The Green Room and we were ready for the scratcher……
After three more gigs here in Belfast we will move on to Holland and Scotland. We will do a one off gig in The Tripod, Harcourt St. Dublin in mid June – see gig page. I will sing with three of my favourite singers when Declan and I will be joined by Damien Dempsey, Jinx Lennon and Paula Flynn. We will be singin’ the heads off one another.
6th May 2008
Lately we tend to arrive the day before a gig that we may re-connect, reconvene, rehearse – get the feel of the vibe, the rumble of the buzz of a town. Declan and I live at different ends of the Island so we seldom get to play between gigs. We need this night-before to lay the foundation…. Last played here in late 80s. Remember a gig here in the late 70s in a pub called The Log Cabin. I was given the use of the parlour room above the premises to prepare myself for the gig. There was an ancient grandfather clock thwacking away. I was working on Johnny Duhan’s song “El Salvador” and ever since I have always associated this song with the rhythm of that old clock.
There is conflicting news on the shop. My sister, Anne Rynne, has been “minding” the shop since its inception. She has now moved on to fresh challenges and we have decided to close down that end of the site. However we have also decided to crossover to a digital shop. It is our hope and intention to make the work available for downloads. Over the next period we will be setting up systems. It is my wish to make the entire back catalogue available, then perhaps to follow on with other miscellaneous recordings from the archives. I would like to thank Anne for her input and attention to detail these past years. Many of you have commented favourably upon the service that she dispensed so efficiently and all the good juju she created…..Thanks Sis… Gr· MÛr….
There is a discussion site at 4711ers.org. I have been visiting it of late and it may be of interest to some of you. A right shower of headbangers congregate there and chaw the fat. They seem like a friendly bunch, weird and wired betimes but thats why I like them. Join in and get the numbers up.
The recording news is scant. Little to report – lots of rehearsals and a modicum of progress.
TG4 (our Irish Language television station) will transmit a film on St.Patrick’s night at 10.15pm. It has been gleaned and woven from the 2006 DVD of The Point, Dublin and also contains some new footage. Maurice Linnane, who directed the original, has re-edited the various strands and come up with a grand bit of work…..Hope ye like it.
Some gig news and some recently confirmed dates. We have added Tilburg at the end of May after The CarrÈ in Amsterdam. Scotland is shaping up well at the beginning of June. We are playing the Tripod, Dublin in Mid-June. It will be a stand up gig with some guests singers I love to hear and always wanted to sing with….The Marquee in Cork on June 28th…..The Electric Picnic, Stradbally, Co.Laois on August 28th…Limerick Concert Hall on Sept 26,27………Possibly Leeds in October but cannot confirm yet, Liverpool Oct 18,19…Barry,Wales Oct 21 and Aberystwyth Oct 22nd…..We are planning some Ulster gigs in November one of which will be for PIPS……PIPS are a suicide counselling organisation and this concert will be a profile and fundraising event and will take place in The Opera House Belfast, details to follow shortly…..We plan to return to London next Spring and play close to the river at low tide…
Just back up after the Ballinasloe breakfast and spotted a few early 4711ers arriving…Primula was making his way through a Full Irish…
Its time to change the strings…….
Jimmy Faulkner has passed away. I first met him in 1974. I had just left Planxty and Nicky Ryan suggested I hook up with Jimmy-he felt that we could play some tunes together. From the very start it worked. I sang songs and Jimmy sat in and played sublimely.In both life and music he was a sensitive and compassionate man.He had a great laugh and loved the bit of banter. Between 1974 and 2002 we played in many line ups and on numerous stages.I have many musical memories, a long solo he played in Stuttgart on “Lakes of Pontchartrain”— his bottle neck playing on “Galtee Mountain Boy”— then when we played with Declan McNelis, Kevin Burke and Robbie Brennan and we all had a narrow escape when the van crashed on the way home from Scariff in 1976 — The National, Kilburn where the crowd were wild and rauceous but Jimmy and me we won them over — one night in The London Palladium when Jimmy was just playing like never before,his notes soared and his guitar and himself were one.
Jimmy played with so many, Red Peters Floating Dublin Blues Band, Finbar Fury, Mick Hanly, Mary Coughlan, Ronnie Drew, Louis Stewart, Don Baker, Martin O’Connor, Freddie White, Jimmy McCarthy, Jim Page,… just a few names that spring to mind in a moments reflection..there were 100s more besides…. He hailed originally from South Circular Road where he grew up near Dolphins Barn. Jimmy was loved and will be missed by many but most of all by his loving wife Pauline, their son Jamel, their daughter Catherine, his Father and Sisters, extended family and friends
It was a privilege in my life to have known and played with such a beautiful man.
Come all you loyal listeners and here we go again. Another page turned upon this wonderful journey. The annual hometown soiree has come and gone. 8 nights in Black Lagoon where listeners came to hear the covers and originals, old and new, trad and folk, whatever your having yourself and make mine a double. It finished last Thursday on a high for us. From start to final encore the songs just flowed like porter from a barrel as we sailed away. We had young wans dolled up to the nines at their first gig, lipper and cleavage to bate the band, dashing young blades killed trying to look at the stage, wise old sages who’d heard it all before and drifters in from Bray to check on the progress of the next box set. Folkies from the 4 corners gathered in the name of song some of whom would listen to anything we chose to sing whilst others came only to hear the one they came to hear. Up came a note to me announcing that in our midst was one ANNE KELLY who had come down from the Wicklow Mountains and travelled into Vicar Street to celebrate her 96th birthday with a blast of old songs. I do not know the Lady nor did we meet but her presence in the room brought a grand air of celebration to the proceedings. We rendered “Ride On” to her and the congregation sang along with joyful devotion if somewhat out of tune towards the front (the panting young blades again).
Knackered I was after it all. It’s a young mans game, all this cavorting and throwing shapes and grimacing and trying to get it all to sound right. But come the night when it all sounds right, then it makes a bit of sense.
Another surprise recording last week. U2 pulled a song together and called in myself, Damien Dempsey and Shane to sing the verses alongside Bono. “Heres to you Ronnie Drew” was written and recorded to express to Ronnie the great well of love that exists for him on The Island as he struggles on with illness. He is delighted with the song and we all hope there will be healing balm within. Fair play to Bono and Edge and Simon Carmody and John Reynolds who produced and all the lads and lassies who thronged in to express their love for Ronser. The Dubliners, Kila, SinÈad, Paul Brady were all there and many more besides.
For 40 years there was always confusion about the 2 Joe Dolans. It lasted right to the end when they passed away within a fortnight of each other. Mullingar Joe Dolan was a household name and the country mourned him. “Our” Joe Dolan was an entirely different kettle of conundrums. He played in the original Sweeney’s Men with Johnny Moynihan and Andy Irvine. I never got to hear this line up for Joe had departed before the first album was recorded. I got to know him later on. We sang and drank and roared and laughed. I once recorded two of his songs, The Foxy Devil and The Trip to Jerusalem. He painted too and I once opened an exhibition of his paintings in Longford town and there was long night after. We had lost contact this past 20 years but I’ll not forget “our”Joe. He was a quare one fol de dee get outa dat. (If anyone knows of any original Sweeney’s recordings I’d love to hear them.)
Another comrade bit the dust when Pa Tunney passed away a few weeks back. Pa played a big part in the Anti-Nuclear Festivals at Carnsore Point 30 years ago. He was there from the beginning lending his enthusiasm and expertise towards getting the sites together. He was part of the core collective that did the real hard work whilst others of us spouted the polemic or sang and twanged their banjos! (I won’t say which division I was in). A great lover and listener of music, Pa and I worked together for a time in the 70s when the pair of us did some hard travellin’ in the old Peugeot 404 diesel (she never saw as much as a drop of the red). He has left his loving family and gone to a quieter corner where, come the hour, they will all embrace again.
All sorts of palavar planned for this year. Lots of low key stuff and maybe even a bit of collaboration. Have commenced and jettisoned 2 recording bouts recently. Like Scallywag says-what sounds great at 4 in the morning can be soured by the light of day. Not to worry. Theres too many albums comin’ out these days. Some get the guitar on Monday and have the first cd out by Wednesday evening. Would yiz not give it a year or two…..Then again there is not as much time left these days and my own first effort was no great shakes.
A request for “Veronica” brought the song back and we played it twice recently. After a 4 year gap it sounds to have gained different perspective. A few recent calls for “Farmer Michael Hayes” has me wrestling with the old blackguard once again. We looked at it during the Planxty rehearsals but were unable to carry it through to the cut. Don’t be surprised if he leps out from behind some bush one of these nights. Musgrave is in and out these days. He needs rare air in which to breathe. A call too for “Me and The Rose” has me thinking. May be worth a birl.
Catch Jinx Lennon if you can. He plays Sugar Club Dublin on Thursday February 7th with his sidekick, the wonderful Paula Flynn. Check out his album “Know your Station Gouger Nation!!!” …… “City of Styrofoam cups” is worth a listen. Support on the night is Capt Moonlight (hurler extraordinaire). Check Jinx’s website for further details. If you like your ballads sweet and sugar-coated this gig may not be for you.
Happy listening in ’08. By all means down load to your hearts content, ipod your head to infinity, you got the right to megabyte but at the end of the day we gotta KEEP IT LIVE. Lets get off our arses and flock to the kips where the sweet music is being played. Have you got your LedZepp TKTS for Whelans tkts yet? Finbarr tells me there are still a few left, and remember- this is Listen to Luka week….
Back from the UK we recommenced home gigs with 2 nights in Tullamore. Good to be back there after a 4 year absence. Always been a town for gigs going way back to The Harriers and subsequently The Bridge. It takes a while to get back on track after a stint abroad. Across the water we’ve been playing large Concert Halls and modern Theatres. The Sage on Tyneside and The Bridgewater in Manchester are as good as any venues in the world and it is a privilege to play them. However it is always gratifying to get back to the local gigs on the home front. Whilst some of the halls might not have state-of-the-art facilities they more then make up for it with atmosphere and enthusiasm. Something I learned many years ago is that every venue, great or small, is somebody’s Carnegie Hall.
Quite a few old songs have appeared back in the set. Some have been rested for many’s the year and have gained a fresh sparkle when taken out and polished up. Van Diemens Land, Dalesmans Litany, Welcome Cabaret, John of Dreams. Aisling, Faithful Departed, Well Below The Valley and Sweet Thames have all got a run out of late and a few others are jostling for position in the set. I look back sometimes and reflect upon the sheer drudgery of being nailed to an identical set night after night. I can recall times just having the bare set. An encore, if forthcoming, would necessitate repeating a number. This might not bother some but I cherish the freedom Declan and I currently enjoy, being able to ramble off in any direction that takes our fancy. Occasionally it can cause confusion and I have found myself, at times, at the end of some ancient verse with no idea of what comes next. It feels like teetering at the edge of a cliff, usually I am saved by audient prompt or Declan will lepp in with a fill of notes. It seldom falls totally asunder but even then, better that we keep it real, flaws and warts and all. We were not cut out for the fake tan, bleached teeth dance to the DAT routine
We have started on an album. Just putting in the foundations at the moment, no release date yet, it will take as long as it takes.
Next year is shaping up. So far the following gigs are in place:
January 2, 3, 5, 6, 15, 16 Vicar St. Dublin
February 22, 23 Westport, Co.Mayo
March 13, 14 Ballinasloe, Co. Galway
March 19, 20 Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford
April 11, 12 Killarney, Co. Kerry.
May 5, 6, 19, 20 Belfast, Co Antrim.
May 28, 29 CarrÈ, Amsterdam
June 1 Edinburgh
June 2 Glasgow
June 4 Aberdeen
June 5 Inverness
June 7 Barrowland
October 18, 19 Liverpool
These are confirmed dates for 2008. (Further details in gig section of home page)
We also hope to play Mullingar, Cork, London, Laois and Dublin in the latter part of the year.
That’s it for now,
Sing a song for Christmas
top of page
After 4 days in Londing we are about to strike camp and roll on down to Brighton (Hove actually) where we hope to rattle the cobwebs in The Old Dome and take in a few draughts of sea air. Great few days in the Capitol. Got down to Putney yesterday for a few hours with Oliver Cromwell and a fine rendition of Pilgrims Progress in St. Mary’s Church at Putney Bridge. Met Mr. Tony Rohr (who got all the laughs) and his bevy of beautiful daughters. Loitered around The Tate (ancient), considered Stamford Bridge but resisted.
Back home recuperating, recharging the voice box. Putting up a couple of reviews and a pair of set lists. We had a good trip so far, none of the gigs were total pearls. The 2nd London gig was slightly difficult but most enjoyable. They are beginning to morph into a single entity but I still recall bits and pieces clearly. The josh in Cardiff was more vindaloo then josh as was Heath on the security gate, as unwelcoming a gent as we have ever encountered. The poor lad was having a Guantanamo day. Brighton was lovely and meeting Bethan was a highlight of the tour. She gave me a helping hand with Joxer. The Pembroke crossing was a pleasant change. Caught 4 hours kip before Rosslare and then slept all the way home missing the new Gorey bypass.
Half time in the UK tour is whizzing past, went to West Clare for 2 days to meet my recording counsellor who had some stern words to say to me as he steered me onto to a course of action with regard to the nature and direction of the next album. I have been dithering around. Twice I’ve cancelled recording time as my confidence waned .It was different before, soon as I’d get 12 songs I’d make an album……its all so touchy feely now, will it hang together ,agh me bollo, record the hoorin thing and get on with your life,(but “will Larry play it”, “I’m not hearing the hook”)
Gigs confirmed in Westport, Ballinasloe and Enniscorthy, details are on the gig page. Belfast is almost sorted out and we will be announced in the next week. Preparing now for the second sector of mammoth UK tour.
Rolled into Bristol Mon evening giving us 24 hours to acclimatise before stepping onto The Colston Hall stage. It’s always a good town for re-connection. The River walks. The boats, buskers, autumn leaves, skateboarders, lurchers and the Bristol brogue all make it a soft landing. Met a young busker from Oz whose only instrument was a cardboard box which he rhythmed with a pair of weathered twigs. He was homesick, lost and forlorn but his rhythm was as beautiful as his cup was empty. His voice and music stayed with me all day. He will never know it but I played the gig for him last night and I hope he manages to get back to his home place someday.
It’s a grand venue, a happening place with a never-ending array of acts coming and going and leaving their echoes behind. The 2 nights preceding were KT Tunstall and Richard Thompson and it seems to run 7nights a week full on. Yet for our stay it was our space and the staff and crew showed respect and co-operation to every aspect of our production, full marks all round. On the wall of the dressing room it read;
1952 ÖÖÖ. Danny Kay
1962 ÖÖÖ. Cliff Richard & the Shadows
1969 ÖÖÖ. Led Zeppelin
1975 ÖÖÖ. Black Sabbath
1987 ÖÖÖ. Guns ‘N Roses
2003 ÖÖÖ. Wynton Marsalis
I think we can assume that The Ghost of Colston Hall has seen it all!
Becoming aware lately that the number of gigs left to do is rapidly diminishing. It could be 1 or 10 or 100 but it probably won’t be a 1000! Never had these thoughts before. It’s not a negative feeling but rather a determination to make the best of it while it lasts. Heading out to centre stage last night with Declan was just a feel- good situation. I never aspired to any of this. Major venues, road crew, agents promoters, dressing rooms, hotels and then get paid as well……….40 years ago I travelled around, just me and my old Yamaha FG180 and if I got a good kip and enough to get me on to the next folk club I was made up.
I’m here in Birmingham today, chilling out and preparing for a show in The Symphony Hall, the city’s premier venue. When I first came here was 1967 it was to play in Michael Hipkiss’s folk club “The Skillet Pot” which ran every Sunday night in a pub called “The Old Contemptible”. In this town I met and played with Ian and Lorna Campbell,(stayed with Dave and Winnie), John Swift, Tommy Dempsey, The Munstermen, Brian Patten, Bob Cooney to name but a few. Nor is tonight’s gig any different, neither more nor less important, just another night on this grand tour, sharing the songs with those who, like myself, take something from them.
That’s it for today, Let the Music keep your spirits high says Jackson
I saw Brian Wilson singing Good Vibrations last night and it reminded me of my time working at the EMI pressing plant in Hayes, Middlesex one summer 40 years ago. It was a hot, sweaty (but union) job where the hours were as long as you could manage, and the wages were very good if you were pressing well. Our line pressed nothing else for about 6 weeks around the clock 7 days a week.
Had a great night in The White House, Kilcrohane, Sheepshead last Sat. The gig was Jeff Martin’s and ZoÎ played support. I played half a dozen songs with Jeff and Wayne Sheehy whom I last met in The Andersonstown Leisure Centre 4 years ago when I gigged with Damien Dempsey.
Visited Dzogchen Beara Buddhist Centre on The Beara Peninsula. They are building a Hospice there and I hope to play a gig to support this very special project. Also went out to Allihies and walked through the trees and up around the old copper mines.
Visited the Horse fair in Bantry last Sunday and sat on the wall observing the comings and goings. Nothing much has changed since the Fair of Spancillhill. This was a quiet Fair when compared to Puck or Ballinasloe but for the casual observer it was a treat.
Did a grand few gigs over the summer. Played with Steve Cooney at Bantry House and we were joined by Martin Hayes and Denis Cahill. Got to hear some wonderful and exciting music too. I recommend The Masters of Tradition Festival which takes place in Bantry every August but only to those of you who enjoy intense listening with no distractions. That’s all that is on offer, pure music played with focus and passion.
Played a concert with Mark Edwards who spoke about his book of photographs based on Dylan’s Hard Rain. It was part of West Cork Sustainability Festival which was in its 2nd year.
Tom Munnelly passed recently. He devoted his life to the collection of songs and folklore. His legacy enriches our heritage. I first met Tom and Annette in the mid 60’s and always enjoyed their company. He collected over 20,000 songs many of which would have been lost forever without his intervention. Without Tom I would not have had access to the songs of John Reilly. There will be some great sessions when himself and Frank Harte meet in The Cosy Snug.
Various plans taking shape, more news soon,
Had 2 good nights in De Barras, Clonakilty, too.
Greetings from The Butt End of Bognia. I will come back on line in due course. In the meantime I send you all best wishes. Chase your dreams, only then might then they come through
Friends, Listeners and Competitioners
Before even contemplating a new chat I thought it best to have a final word about the Desert Island Disc Debate/Debacle/Debunk/DeBarra. In my innocence, in a moment of madness I threw out the idea for sport and didn’t we have some…here is my end of the story and I am sticking to it…
Felicity Lott…….. Ave Maria (by whoever)
Myself …………… Stitch in Time
Paul Anka………..Lonely Boy
Clancys…………..Brennan on the Moor
Luke Kelly………..Joe Hill
Ewan Mccoll…….Joy of Living
Planxty……………T·imse im Codladh
Since boyhood I have known 3 Ave Marias. I have never known which was which and wrongly assumed it was Mozart’s. (Before this debate takes off again – I accept the possibility that Mozart had no Ave Maria, nor do I give a flying fiddlers).
I am happy to have awarded the Prize to John from Liverpool. However, as Chris D insists that Eileen in Boston is the actual winner I will see to it that, “in fairness”, she gets a (slightly) better prize. That is that, (Mail me Eileen and we can get things rolling). Chris D. has been very diligent that the right thing be done and I applaud his efforts to keep the boat on course.
In retro I should have taken 10 seconds to think it out but that’s not my style. Often I have to “open mouth, change foot”. It is unlikely that I will change at this stage. Despite all the ructions, multi-entries, skin and hair, GBH, slander, libel, jealousy, guilt, guile, (NOT YOU!) it was great crack and we must do it again. I have been on to Kirsty Young asking may I return next year and we’ll all go to a different Island.
The (super) prize recipients must sign a confidentiality clause as to the nature of their windfall. The last thing we need is an outbreak of petulance, jealousy or heartbreak.
Lets get back to normal now….A chat will follow shortly. (After the Marquee in Cork where I am sandwiched between Elton John and Duran Duran with Antony and The Johnsons bringing up the rear. Shame we’re not all on the same night. Oh The Crack would be 90 on The Isle of Man. I last shared a bill with Elton back in ’69. The Krumlin Festival was one of the greatest disasters in the history of Music Festivals. Anyone remember it?)
Ora Pro Nobis…….
Just home from 5 days in the city of Derry. We played 4 concerts in The Millennium Forum, a relatively new venue in the heart of the City. It is getting on for 40 years since I first played Derry and it has changed enormously. I visited the newly opened Free Derry Museum in The Bogside which I recommend to anyone in the vicinity. Walked the walls repeatedly where you can get a great view of the city, eavesdrop upon other wall walkers, watch youngsters coorting and playing, exercise the body and take in the Derry air. On Sat.afternoon I came across 3 Lambeg Drummers (and their roadies) by an Orange Hall that overlooks The Bogside.I have never heard louder drums.Hearing them in the City centre on a beautiful Spring afternoon was certainly disturbing my peace and, in other circumstances, would be a frightening experience. It was difficult to place the racket in any context. They certainly did not appear to be drumming for pleasure.There were half a dozen armed police standing around.Maybe this was coincidental but they were the only armed police I saw all week.This interlude was but a slight blip in what was a memorable trip for all of us.Thanks be to all involved , particularly the thousands who came to hear the songs, to the staff of The Forum and all at Aiken promotions.
Next gig up is a return to the Town of my boyhood years.I am really looking forward to this one which is a fundraiser for The Michael Garry Centre in Newbridge which caters for Homeless people in Kildare.The concert was first suggested by Annie Morris of the centre.Her input has been enormous in seeing the project through. Our principal sponsor is Tommy Tougher who weighed in to cover all production costs.(Tommy and I went to National School together in the 50s) so 100% of the ticket money raised goes to the centre. Patrick Farrell solicitors made a generous donation, Top 20 Newbridge handled the Ticket sales free of charge. Finally Ryston Social Club have provided the venue and Sandy O’Neill has given full support.It really is a return to my roots for I played in the fields around here in the 50s. Played Juvenile and minor football for Moorefield in the old “Ropes Field”, learned to swim in “The Strand” below the venue and played Pitch and Putt on the course that surrounds it. Gathered mushrooms and conkers ,played cards,fantasized as the girls swam, rehearsed nearby in Lunnys house………
TG4 and Hummingbird will record a TV special in the Autumn. I was asked to pick my favourite venue.I did not have to think too long….Barrowland in the East End of Glasgow.We will travel back over in early Autumn to do a one off show. Soon as it is finalised we will let you know. Those who were at the last gig and 4711ers will get first crack at the tickets.Dont even consider coming unless you are ready to sing. It is a stand up gig, no frills or fancy rest rooms, just plenty of atmosphere and good vibes in an old dancehall in a great city.
We will do 2 gigs in The Hall,Royal Spa,Lisdoonvarna in late May..Again 4711 will get the first choice.The announcement will follow shortly.(no point in ringing before then)We will play Carlow on the 6th June,tickets are now available ,see gig page.”Follow me up”
Wrestling at the moment with various ideas for a studio album.Can not pin it down.I have one set of songs emerging that might work but my confidence in this project ebbs and flows.There are two other projects yapping at my heels.One is attractive but also retrospective ( there has been a bit of retro these past few years).The other would be a departure in one way, a harp -back in another.Hopefully a clear picture will emerge and I will have something new to offer in due course.The writing is painfully slow. Wally and I completed Barrowland and are currently involved in a brace of other songs. Speaking of songs, Thanks to all of you who have sent me songs. It is not possible for me to respond or to review most unsolicited material. There are only so many hours in the day. I do not even get to listen to all the music that is sent to me.I came back from a recent trip to Scotland with almost 30 cds and there was another bagful waiting in the post.I get to hear as many as I can and sometimes I respond (if I have something positive to say)…that said I do try and listen. In the past I have been sent some wonderful songs. Both in the post and to stage doors….”Ordinary Man”, “Away You Broken Heart”,” Does This train stop on Merseyside” are three that spring to mind,
The Derry Set Lists:
|1.Back home in Derry
3.Yellow Furze Woman
20.Minds Locked shut
21.Bright Blue rose
25.Only Our Rivers.
26. North and south
4.North and south
5.This is the day
13.Time has Come
22.Back Home in Derry
23.One Last cold Kiss
24.Minds Locked Shut
25.Black is the Colour
12.North and South
14.Minds Locked Shut
15.John Hurt (Declan)
22.No Time For Love
24.Back Home in derry
25.Time Has come
|1.Yellow Furze Woman
2.North and South
11.Only our Rivers
12.No Time for Love
14.John Hurt (Declan)
18.Back home in derry
22.Minds Locked Shut
23.Black Is the Colour
There were many requests that I could not fit in. On one of the nights I tried to manoeuvre Nancy Spain into the set ( I had received a special request). Mostly the songs flow effortlessly .As I get towards the end of a song the next one begins to emerge,to suggest itself.When that does not happen I will refer to the “menu”.If that fails I will sometimes ask Declan or the audience.Mostly though the set just flows.
Saw a classic film ………”.The Lives of Others “…..A story of lives in East Berlin under the Stasi. I recommend this, it is compelling viewing, beautiful and ugly,sad and funny,frightening and comforting.It is currently showing in The IFI in Dublin but surely will travel to a picture hse nr you soon.
The Handsome Family were wonderful in Whelans last night. A Full house who came to listen and were not disappointed
Scotland was memorable. That’s all I can remember. The 5 gigs were the sweetest. We gallivanted around Scotia, sang and played the living daylights out of the songs, got encored, fed, feted and fussed-over to the highest degree. Saw football, parks, art galleries, chapatti halls, The Clyde banks, Leith and Arbroath. It is dark and lonely work but someone has to do it. Chatted and reminisced with Archie Fisher and Ian Anderson on BBC Scotland. We played live on Archie’s show. Chatted on Ian’s and played some favourites. Sang our new mega hit single Barrowland on the 6 o’clock news on Holy Thursday (God forgive them). Each gig was special. Aberdeen kicked it off and the Hall was old and atmospheric. I met with Joey Donohoe whom I last met in 1963 when myself and Meg McGowan were getting the bus to Paddington outside Con Cummins pub down the bottom -of -the- town of Newbridge. I also met Peter Mitchell who booked me to play at Thurso Folk Festival in 1971. I have no recollection of this but he assures me that I did a fine set. I do recall an earlier gig in the Nuclear Power Station Folk Club in Dounreay, near Thurso circa 1968.That’s when my hair began to fall out. Then on to Perth. First gig there since 40 years so I did not worry about the set being stale. What lovely venues you have over there. The Perth concert hall was splendid and the Rogan Josh was fairly good too. On down past Stirling castle and into Glasgow singing Nancy Whiskey and Quare Bungle Rye. A good walk around the town and hooked up with some reprobates. There is talk of returning for a one off in Barrowland this year. I have been asked to film a gig in my favourite venue. Sure where else would we do it?
As we boarded the ferry in Stranraer I got the terrible news that my good friend Tony Ryan had passed on in Waterford. I met Tony 12 years ago when he invited me and Mick Devine to his home to watch an FA cup final. We were gigging in the Forum, Waterford and we had nowhere to watch the game (it was in the pre-Sky era) we became good butties. Tony and his family came to many gigs. He was a great music man with broad tastes, Dylan, Peter Green and ourselves being amongst them. He was laid to rest on a beautiful day last Thursday; the old graveyard was thronged with those who had come to bid their auld pal adieu. I’m going to miss his banter. He was too young to leave.
My brother Luka Bloom has just arrived home from a trip to Australia. His gigs went very well and he loves playing in that great country. My nephew Gavin Moore is down there presently singing his heart out and working on his tan. Catch him if you can and tell him I was asking for him.
Back to Derry this week for 4 gigs. Look forward to that. It’s been a while.
Here is the story………. Back in the 70’s and 80’s I visited the H Blocks in The Maze Cellular at Long Kesh. I always travelled from the Falls Rd. with the families of Republican Prisoners. I have many vivid memories of these visits. The journeys were made in a Transit Van that had seen better days, it was rickety and well past its best. I came up with a project that would raise funds for the purchase of a new vehicle.
Over two days in 1983 I recorded 12 songs. Donal Lunny produced and played as did many other musicians. All gave their services freely. When the work was mixed and mastered I called the collection “The Spirit of Freedom”. One thousand cassettes were produced and delivered to the Prisoners Dependents Office in Belfast. Over the following months these were sold and, in due course, a vehicle was purchased. I thought that was the end of that.
A year later I got a call from Clive Hudson of WEA Records. With a copy of the cassette in his hand he informed me that, under terms of contract, the project was the property of WEA. They sequestered the songs and put them out as a regular WEA album. They also altered the artwork. It had never been my intent at any time to have these recordings presented as a studio album.
24 years on and the whole exercise has been repeated. With no consultation or notification, this collection of songs has once again been re-released as an album. I do not even know the name of the (Warner’s) subsidiary responsible. No one has taken the trouble to inform me.
I write this as an insight into the history of the project. I have no regrets about the original fund raising concept but I find the behaviour of Warner’s absolutely galling. The manner in which they have treated my work is, at least, irresponsible. Some reviewers have incorrectly (but understandably) assumed “The Spirit of Freedom” to be an album that I released. It is not so.
We are currently rehearsing towards making some new noise, perhaps a studio album in 12 months or so. Planning a possible “Best of Box Set” CD to coincide with the English (plus Cardiff) tour in autumn. Dates are up on the gig page. We will play The Midlands Festival at the end of July (Belvedere House, near Mullingar, Co.Westmeath.) Finalising some dates around Ireland at the moment which will be posted over the next few weeks. The “Coming to some auld hall near you” tour continues……..Myself and The Doctor are enjoying the current gigs. Delighted to be returning to within The Ramparts of Derry as Newbridge beckons, Athlone shimmers and our huge European Tour draws ever closer …sin a bfhuil mo ÈistÛirÌ, mar a deirtear san “Bog of Allen” Gaeltacht, Home of The Peat F·inne.
All is well and too because, looking forward to the new Ry Cooder, Murrayfield, Trim next week and the dinner today. (Sheep’s eyes, mashed mangles, chopped straws and buttermilk).
On the back of Adam’s Vicar St. review comes a journal of Maryline’s trip from Chile (Both available here). Over the years I have read 100’s of reviews, good and bad, written by professional music critics. They are just a part of what we do, they are part of the business – they seldom have soul. But these pieces were both written by devoted listeners who came to hear and then chose to write. I really did enjoy being transported back to those nights and being reminded of what went down. Some of you may think it odd that I post these essays. I do it because I enjoy the insights they give. There is an element of fun and they also give those of you who can’t get to the gigs a taste of what we are doing.
We will Play The Black Box Galway on June 29th (now on sale). We play a concert for The Michael Gorry Centre (Kildare Homeless) at Ryston Newbridge on May 2nd.Tickets will go on sale on Thursday, March 29th but not before (details will be announced soon).
The diary is almost finished for ’07; we may add another 10-12 gigs and that will be it. (Belfast for certain). As many of you ask, I should say at this point that there are no plans to play either USA or Australia. I love both these countries, have great memories and friends on both continents but the fact is I just don’t feel up to it.( I wont expand on this)
My Brother Luka Bloom is currently on tour in Australia and his gigs are going very well. He is in Melbourne tonight. My nephew Gavin Moore is also playing in Oz and having the “Life of Reilly”.
(Click here for Gavin Moore Website)
(Click here for Luka Boom Website)
So it’s back out on the road for us. After 2 months in winter quarters we are raring to go. The vehicles have been checked for oil and the fan belts tightened. Davy has laundered the popshields, Geoff has greased the faders and polished the jels. Johnny has the Taks serviced and Dikon has the howlaround on order. Paddy is in Scotland doing some advance scouting while Mick is having voice lessons and will commence backing vocals at a kip near you soon. We start back in Trim Co. Meath. Never played there before. The Royal County is always special as it was the birthplace of my Mother… Nancy Power of The Yellow Furze……
A few words in memory of Jim Aiken, now at rest in Jonesboro, Co Armagh.
I first met Jim Aiken in 1972 when he booked Planxty to play in The Carlton Cinema on O’Connell St in Dublin. We had a memorable night which coincided with the launch of the first Planxty album. (Jim often reminisced in later days about how our backstage rider was 2 dozen stout!)
Over the following 35 years I have done Jim Aiken gigs North and South, hundreds of them. The Ulster Hall, Beechmount and Andytown, The Waterfront, Newry. We even played Craigavon one night but that story is for another day. His gigs always had a particular stamp on them. At some point of the day Jim would make an appearance, it might be before the sound check or long after the final curtain, but He would show his face and, over a mug of tea, would thank the act for “the business”.
Whether You were No1 in the world charts or on Your first tour He would look after us all equally. He had great insights into artists and acts. He knew too what was required to make a gig really happen and always took good care of the crews and backstage personnel. I suspect Jim would have preferred to be with his mates in the canteen but He would linger in The Greenroom telling the stars what they needed to hear. On many occasions he offered me advice and pointed me in the right direction. We had disagreements too, but they never lasted beyond the day.
Last time I spoke to Jim was Backstage at The Silverbridge GAA club, near his home place in Co. Armagh. He loved to bring a gig with full production values into the heart of the country. It could have been Carnegie Hall or Sydney Opera House but it would not have meant as much to Jim, (Or to me). His Son Peter Aiken carries on the tradition and upholds the high standards that Jim always insisted upon.
To Mrs. Aiken and all the family I offer my sympathy……Thanks for all those great nights Jim….. Catch up with you later…….
Young Adam from Wicklow posted his review of a recent gig (an Aiken Promotion!) We have included it in the Review section at the home page.
Thats it for now.
A greeting on this grand Spring day, Old Brigid is delivering the goods in these parts. As I scribble, there is growth in The Bogs and Songbirds are tuning up their whistles. It’s a busy enough time as our Circus prepares to break camp and head back down the blue tar road.
We will play The Marquee in Cork on July 7th and it goes on sale this week. You should also know know that there will be some gigs in Kerry in June, these will be announced shortly. There will be a gig in Newbridge in early May. (This will be for The Michael Gorry Centre for The Homeless) Details will be announced on the gig page shortly. There are a number of other gigs in place and details can be found on the gig page.
Hamburg, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Brussels are warming up nicely in May. I have been invited in for Desert Island discs on the way home from Brussels. There is talk of doing something for TG4 (our Irish Language TV Channel) later in the year. I hope it happens for I like the channel a lot (serious weather forecast vibe)
We hit Scotland in April where I look forward to reuniting with The Barrowland Choir. After the last show there myself and Wally Page wrote:
There’s an easy place down Gallowgate to the Eastend of Glasgow
Its a ballroom of remembrance and a disco
where the shooting stars light up the fresco
where the last ones and the lovers go…..to carry on
We sang about the Nicky Tams in the back room of The Scotia
we drank sweet wines and called for neon pints of Fidel Castro
til it was time to fly to Dreamland
out of Bairds,up the stairs to hell or to heaven we go
Come all you Dreamers hear the sound of The Barras calling
come all you dreamers to Barrowland
Hear Mags McIvor and the ghost of The GayBirds callin
Come all you dreamers to Barrowland
The Lassies of The Broomielaw in their Cuban heels are dancin
here comes Our Lady of The Clyde and there goes Jinky Johnston
they’ve come to rock and roll at the church of CÈilÌ
to waltz beneath the carousel of healing
to jitterbug and boogie the night away
Wally also wrote a grand melody and I look forward particularly to givin this a birl beneath the carousel of healing…..
Went to hear my old comrades in Moving Hearts at work in Dublin last week. Albert Niland opened up with a fine set. It was strange to see the band come out having walked out with them so often. It was the original band minus Declan Sinnott, Brian Calnan and myself, Plus Anto Drennan,Noel Eccles,Graham Henderson and Kevin Glackin. We really enjoyed ourselves and met up with many friends from those heady nights in the Baggot.(There were a few shouts for Danny and The Valtones.) I particularly enjoyed The Category,McBrides,Lake of Shadows and The Downtown. Keith Donald was on fire and refloated the Titanic with a blistering solo.Donal Lunny was steering the ship, as always, with a steady hand and a big heart. Eoghan O’Neill and Matt Kelleghan nailed their colours to the mast.Davy Spillane appeared to be having enormous trouble with his pipes but his low whistle was enchanting.Norman Verso delivered a great mix to the room. A great night……..Talk again soon
Best wishes to you 4711 listeners, I hope the coming year brings all you need and most of what you wish. Thank you for all your posts, good wishes, comments and suggestions.
We are planning a facelift for the home page and a few alterations – bear with us while it takes place.
Declan and I finished our year with some grand gigs at Vicar St. in Dublin. It was a pleasure to meet up with some of you who had traveled, from as far afield as Chile, Australia, Germany, Holland, USA, Italy, Japan and, of course, Spink. Not to forget Inchicore, Moorefield (and Sarsfield, Rathfield, Liffeyside, Blacktrench, Pollardstown, P·irc Mhuire, Backadebarracks and Brownstown), Sallynoggin, Ballinteer and Lar who came all the way from Blackrock having dispelled with a spate of Limo duties. Jim, Ang and Deirdre seemed omni present whilst Maryline and Brian were not too far behind.
Just heard that The Point DVD was the No 1 music DVD in Bognia last year, ye left a host of megastars floundering in the wake as ye flocked to support your ageing balladeers. We sometimes maintain that such things don’t matter and, of course, they dont’nt. Me and the Doctor are above all that! We played a couple of new songs, “Does this train stop on Merseyside?” from Ian Prowse and the Liverpool band “Amsterdam” sent by Andy Glover in a Liverpool compilation gifted at The Phil gig. We are currently recording a new song “Barrowlands” which will be available (I hope) to download. It will also feature, as an extra track, on a re-issue of Burning Times (by SonyBmg UK) which will include live-takes of six of the songs from that album.
We will shortly add Kilkenny and Trim (Co.Meath) to the Castlebar gig at the end of March. Later on we hope to play, Cork, Tralee, Galway, Drumshambo, Ballybofey, Newbridge. All these dates will be added to those already up on the gig page as soon as we have the relevant details. There may be some solo gigs from both Declan and myself. Again they will be posted here as soon as possible.
Moving Hearts are to perform two gigs in Vicar St. Dublin next month. They will play music from “The Storm” album. Both Declan and I look forward to hearing The Hearts again and wish them every success with the re-union.
I enjoy your guestbook contributions, I will respond as often as I can. If you are likely to be offended by not getting a response …reconsider your options….in the meantime, best wishes to all who sail here………
Greetings from The Banks of The Thames
Having a good visit, Liverpool and Hackney could not have gone better…………..The “Jools” made for an interesting days work with a great variety of music played. Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens), Razorlight, The Magic Numbers, Gotan Project and Mika were the other players. Yusuf is back after a 28-year lay off, must be challenging after such a lengthy break. He has a new album but is unsure about doing live shows. Next morning I had an early start in to Broadcasting House. Along with 3 other guests we spoke on Midweek with Libby Purvis. A genial host she made it very easy for her guests to say their bit. My way was paved when Libby played a verse or two of Motherland from Burning Times…. It was compelling to hear the story of Peter Shaw who spoke of his experiences while being kidnapped. I am currently reading his account in “Hole,Kidnapped in Georgia”(Accent Press)………..
On up to Liverpool then, as we travelled out of London we happened upon many memorial services, it being Remembrance Day. I thought to sing “All for the Roses” which we did later in The Philharmonic Hall in dear old Liverpool town. This was my 5th concert there in 3 years. The first of which was after a gap of 14 years. There is a vital enthusiasm for the songs in Liverpool and the people who run the Phil are great hosts who believe that all forms of music should be respected. We drove back to London after the gig. Got back to my room 16 hours after departing. A great days work. Later that day we made our way to The Hackney Empire where Hoffman, the stage manager, welcomed us warmly. After a lively souncheck we cleared the room for there was a great crowd gathering. Gave “On the Mainland” its first airing in 12 years. Hoffman told me that Lee Scratch Perry and myself have both mentioned the venue in song. Good company indeed.
Next up is Camden Town. The Electric Ballroom has a great ring to it. Getting a bit of serious training in to be fit and able. Walked the Thames Walk today. Past the Eye and Tate Modern, some good buskers under the arches, got a few 2nd hand books, an armful of DVDs and a serious Rogan that should sustain me for whatever the Electric Ballroom throws up. If it goes well enough we might even plug in and spark up for the Electric Picnic.
One of my brothers (in-law) is Davoc Rynne from Miltown-Malbay Co Clare (but formerly of Downings, Prosperous, Co. Kildare). I first met him at the music in 1964, we rustled and dossed through haybarns and sheebeens, across bogs and furniture auctions. His late father always maintained that I led him astray but thats not even the half of it. His family has been immersed in Literary and Cultural achievements going way back. Davoc is a fine flute player but also writes in a style that I like. He came to the Barrowlands gig last year and wrote a grand piece (see review section on homepage). When he told me he was coming to Silverbridge last month I asked him to write a piece about it which follows below. The visit to Silverbridge was very special. In a way it reminded me of an Island gig – like Sherkin Island many years ago when every Islander came to hear the songs. Of course all the dogs came along too and they had their own gig outside the hall. There was a distinct sense of community in the GAA hall on those Silverbridge Nights, the memory still lingers, I will always remember…..
SINGER AT WORK ñ NOT “ON HOLD”!
It was 4.30pm when the Flying Enterprise pulled into the Railway station in Dundalk. This was our fourth train of the day and our sixth railway station. But no doubt about it ñ this old Victorian railway station was the finest, with it’s spectacular cast-iron columns and canopies with original waiting rooms, ticket offices, it even has a well stocked museum. In fact since leaving the town of Ennis five hours previously ñ no hassles no problems. With great difficulty we will forgive Irish Rail for charging us Ä17.50 for two beers and two sandwiches. Why? Well the stories are long and the sentiments run deep. The sheer magic of trains and railroads is very special. Childhood holiday memories merge with long rattling journeys across merry ol’ England. Poker games in carriages on trains with no toilets. “Leg of a duck leg of a duck leg of a duck” as the mighty steel wheels run over the rail joints. Telegraph poles laden with multitudes of pottery insulators, smoke, steam, soot and smells fly by the windows. Puffing and hissing and clackety clack as it goes over metal bridges and clunkety clunk as we go under bridges and into tunnels. As Willy Nelson sings “the sons of the engineers ride their father’s magic carpets made of steel”. Has it all changed beyond belief? Is the romance gone forever? Well, yes and no. No hissing and puffing fire
engines, smoke or steam. No water towers, signal boxes, flags, whistles or uniforms. Now I have to be careful ñ I did see a guard in Limerick Junction with a rolled up green flag ñ but alas, he didn’t use it! Now the train rides silent and smoothly. Poor old “leg of a duck” is gone forever, it seems that it was simple to get rid of him! They figured out that the rails could be just welded together. No need for joints anymore. I miss them! But yes yes to the toilets that work and the trains that run on time. “Are you right there Michael are you right, do you think that we’ll be home before the night”. When Percy French wrote this song about the West Clare Railway, I don’t think he was driven by romance. Indeed the Railway Company sued him ñ I wonder did they win? But I digress.
We are on our way to a Christy gig. We taxi to the Park Inn out the Armagh Road. We are allocated our room ñ big, minimalist and adequate. We could be anywhere from Arizona to Shanghai. The carpets, walls, bed quilts, menus and pictures are all designed with coloured cubes. We are well squared out ñ but we have a comfortable room within sight of the Cooley Mountains on one side, the wee North everywhere else. We are as happy as larks!
But hey ñ we must get going. This hotel is in cyberspace ñ we must meet the people especially across the border. We must drink pints and talk.
“When first the border started and ’twas seen that smuggling paid
King George he ordered out his men to try and stop the trade
‘But don’t’, says he, ‘pass Silverbridge, lest ye not be seen again
For there’s not a cop could ever stop the Boys from Crossmaglen”
Mark drives the taxi ñ he’s from the Falls Road in Belfast. He explains how you tell where the border begins by the surface of the road. He is homesick. There are tough men in Crossmaglen – he likes them. He shows us the monument near Silverbridge dedicated to the ten Hunger Strikers. We talk about the troubles. “What do you think of the support and attitudes of the people down south?” There was a sigh and a long answer ñ “Ever since the British imposed border was marked out by the Boundary Commission in the 1920s, the people of the Free State washed their hands of it, they stood by and did absolutely nothing. No governments or groups did anything to relieve the stress and pain of the people trapped in a ÖÖ.. “But but wait a minute” I protested, “We had to get on with it, raise families, pay our way. We had a sort of freedom and we had no British troops on the streets. We had lives to live”. He sighs again, “If my neighbour, friend or relative was in trouble I would give him a dig out”. We had no answer to that. Case closed.
In jig time we arrived at the Silverbridge Resource Centre and GAA Club ñ a huge place that appears to be in the middle of nowhere. We are an hour early ñ doors open at 7pm. “Do ye know it is a dry gig?” Indeed we do! Which reminds me of a local song, the last verse which goes:
“So all you bred tea-totallers, if sober you may be
Be careful of your company and mind what happened to me
It wasn’t the boys from Shercock or the lads from Ballybay
But the dealin’ men from Crossmaglen put the whiskey in me tay”
Mark drops us at Garveys down the road from the club. The young barman pulls us two great pints. Sitting next to us is a local man originally from Askeaton in County Limerick. We ask him is he going to the gig up the road. What gig? This is not the answer we expected. A picture of Michael Collins throwing a sliotar into a hurling match is on the wall in front of us. A framed Proclamation hangs on the opposite wall. Another punter hears our accents and gives us a huge Mile Failte. We talk GAA ñ at least Turlough does ñ I get lost after the first sentence! I butt in and ask about British Army helicopters using the Crossmaglen GAA pitch as a base. He looks at me strangely ñ “but sure that was about 12 years ago”! Oops ñ how we forget. This young man was probably not even born when the infamous “Beware ñ Sniper at work” was in action. Later I am told that the sign is still there but with the words “on hold” added. A man down the bar, who up till now has been very quiet, buys us pints. We drink to his health ñ sl·inte. He overhears we are staying in a posh hotel in Dundalk. “Ach ye could have stayed with me ñ I have four rooms to spare”! Big hearted generous people.
There are a dozen park attendants, the door is now open and there is a fast moving queue. We are in a mighty big hall that is filling rapidly. Right on time our two boys enter from stage left and Christy without a word goes straight into it with “Viva La Quinte Brigada”. Now this of all songs is a gigantic epic ñ it deserves and demands the best of attention. God I wish he had started on something lighter ñ Janey Mack Alive we have only just sat down!! Ten glorious songs later we get “The City of Chicago”. Christy gives a great boost to the then “very young Kevin Barry Moore for all his musical talent and genius”. The same Luka inspired Christy to sit down and start composing his own songs he tells us, as he gives us two of them. “On the Bridge”, is a simple and short but very poignant song about the scandalous abuse of Irish women prisoners of war. Next we have “The Wise and Holy Woman” ñ Christy’s mother Nancy is here along with “the bounty we gain from nature’s abundance” to the sheer magic of calling on the stars “to shine a light please shine a light on me”. Now Christy himself is quoted as saying “it never did too well on the high stage”, but hold on a minute Christyboy, musicians and singers are only messengers from a higher authority! With the “clear water, fresh air that we breathe and the wonders of the world” yes, yes let the light shine on us.
McIlhatton. Happy go lucky times with a ‘divil a care’ in the world. We drank it together – Christy and I – way back then. We saw the salmon in the bog and the dogs had run away even before we had started. If you say the goat collapsed I believe you, but I didn’t even see him. Hey Bobby Sands ñ yourself and Christy make a great team.
Richard Thompson penned a beauty with Beeswing. Everything here is superb. The music and sentiments ebb and flow together. Free spirits galore and we all aspire to that. We are smitten with grief for the man who attempts to woo her with his hearth, babies on the rug and his couple of acres. “Even a gypsy’s caravan was too much like settlin’ down”. What was she like?! “As fine as a beeswing”.
The audience is never sure whether to laugh or cry at Stitch in Time. This is a huge important song. Hard hitting in every sense of the word. Needles and thread, rolling pins and frying pans ñ simple domestic tools brilliantly used as weapons of punishment. If a drunken abusive husband ever had the tiniest nightmare that this might happen to him when he wakesÖÖÖÖÖÖ..!!
The most extraordinary thing about Don’t Forget your Shovel is that it has survived. 6,559 Paddies diggin’ their way back to Annascaul is far far removed from the Ireland of today. Now we have 49,000 Poles diggin’ their way back to Khodawa!!! And who was Enoch Powell anyway? Who knows, who cares. Maybe this is the whole point. This song is a reminder/historical document of the bad ol’ days of the 1980s ñ long may it remain intact.
Where do we leave the great Wexford man Declan with the classic St Louis Blues? First recorded over 88 years ago ñ it is steeped in history. Her man has walked out on her “Ma man’s got a heart like a rock cast in de sea”. Declan sure can sing and play de blues! His mighty skills on the guitar come shining through. He puts us in an entirely different mood after Christy’s songs. This is good, it allows us to listen differently and it acts as an interlude.
Over two and a half hours and twenty eight songs later and I have only talked about a handful of them!
I leave as the encore begins. The huge bar on the other end of the building is all geared up. I walk in and I’m the only one there. “Is it over?” “Very nearly ñ he’s into the encore”. Five people attend me and as quickly leave to start prepping for the invasion. I am told there are 820 fans inside. Suddenly everyone of them mill into the bar! It rapidly fills up with the chattering masses. In one minute all available space has run out. Chairs by the dozen are brought from the main hall. The place is abuzz, everybody high and as yet not a drink in them! Most of people I overheard were first timers. Old veterans in their mid 30s talk of seeing him four years ago. Wonder what that makes me!!!! A very very very old fan!!
Why does Christy change guitars at least half a dozen times throughout the gig? I used to think he was moody about the instrument or maybe he wanted to change to a different colour! Or was he bored with one and wanted to try another? No ñ the answer is quite simple ñ he’s not able to tune it!!! As a would-be musician this fascinates me. I play me whistle away but have a terrible ear. I get fed up with musicians who spend all night tuning. Give us an A they seem to say all night. No jigs or reels, just an oul’ A that blasts away! And they are always right and I am always flat! So gather around me would-be musicians with poor ears. Christy Moore has five hundred plus songs ñ is an accomplished singer and musician, has been on the road for over 30 years ñ but he cannot tune his guitar!!
We head backstage. Mick, Paddy, Jim Aiken and the lads are there amidst a hive of activity. Lots of fans and lots of people ‘minding’ Christy. No sign of Declan ñ he’s the wise boy and has gone off for a bite to eat. We join him. Later we have a ‘set list’ conversation. Christy says Mick always does them. “You mean Mick decides what songs are to be sung and you read them off the floor”!! “Nooooooooo, he writes them down as I sing them”. All news to me and fascinating. “The two of you can run a real tight gig but in actual fact ye are winging it all the time”! “Correct”. I dig a bit deeper. “Declan, how can you tell what he’s about and where he is going?” Declan puts his hands in the air ñ so it’s magic! Only someone with Declan’s genius could bring the magic to life!
We talked about the importance of the songs. There was a story in ancient Ireland about enemy torture. The unfortunate victim was deprived of music, water and food ñ in that order! “We have ways and means of making you talk”. But it does go to show how music/song was so important to our ancestors. One of the messages in the CM guest book online describes a song that had a special meaning to the writer but adds to the sentence ñ “but sure it’s only a song”! And Christy’s lyrical response ñ “ONLY a song!! What divine pastures you must dwell upon”! Songs and music are never ONLY!
Dear Listeners and Readers
Thanks to those of you who are always prepared to help others find records and films of songs. The network that has formed is part of what I hoped the site would achieve.
Heading over to London next week for three gigs and a gallop up to Liverpool. You might like to know that we are doing “Later with Jools”, BBC 2, on Friday, November 17th. Also “Midweek” at 9-10 a.m on Wednesday, November 8th at BBC Radio 4. When we return to Ireland we are scheduled to play “The Tubridy Show” show on Saturday December 2nd on RTE 1 TV 9.30 pm-ish.
I will write soon again
For many years I have been an (very) occasional visitor to the GÛilÌn Singers Club. I recall four different venues since my first visit. It is unique, in that it is run by singers who share a deep love for singing and for songs – they are the primary purpose. The listening is intense and the fare is very varied. All manner of singing and songs are tolerated but the emphasis is very much on what might be loosely described as Folksongs, be they Traditional, Sean NÛs, Ballads old and new in English and Irish. There is a small network of similar gatherings around the country, each remaining autonomous but they seem to support each other to foster and further a mutual love of songs.
The format of the GÛilÌn is a weekly singaround with as many as is possible getting an opportunity to sing. Occasionally a guest will be invited to sing a set of songs. There is no stage, nor is there amplification. Yet no matter how quietly the song be sung it will be heard for the room has great acoustics. The publican would appear to have great regard for the ethos of the club. Well able to serve the drink (and Tea – God save us) without disrupting the listeners. Despite the restrained atmosphere I describe, the fun element of songs is well to the fore and never forgotten. Instruments are not particularly welcome but, occasionally, a blind eye might be turned to an errant guest who needs their soother.
The proceedings are marked by the ringing of a sweet bell and order for the singer is the order of the day. There is no cover charge but a collection is made to cover expenses – the recommended contribution being 3 euro. (I have started writing a song called “The Box Dodgers” or “Auld Dodge The Box”).
On the night in question the following songs were heard:
Its a Fine Flower The Lily………..Colin Batho
Mourne Maggie…………………….Barry Gleeson
Drumsna Bachelors………………..RoisÌn Gaffney (also sang Bridget;s pill)
Bonnie Lass O’Morning…………….Mary Canniffe
Isolde’s Chapel……………………..Jerry O’Reilly (a song for Frank Harte written by Pat Burke)
Tiochfaidh an tSamraidh…………..Maire NÌ Cron·in
My Old Man………………………….Andrew Clarke
Galtee Mt.Boy/Kit Conway…………Manus O’Riordan
The Auld Thrashing Machine…….. Johnny Collins
No More Fishing……………………..Tom Crean
The Life of a Man……………………Luke Cheevers
Amhr·n Muinish………………………MÌchÈal MacRaghnall
The Sands of San Miguel……………Tony Canniffe
Doctor Crematorium………………….Anne Buckley
Back Home in Derry…………………..Diarmuid Breathnach (with a new original air)
Margaret Burke Sheridan…………….Pat Burke
The Note that Lingers………………..Robert Kelly (written by Colum Sands)
Reconciliation………………………… Colin Batho (written by Ron Kavana)
I was the guest on the night and I sang
The well below the Valley
Middle of the Island
O My lovely Young One
The 2 Conneeleys
Smoke and Strong whiskey
St Brendans Voyage
Stitch in time
Three hours later we went down the stairs sated in song after a memorable gathering.
We’ll be back soon.
The Planxty Book is out. Leagues O’Toole has done the work and Hodder Headline (Ireland) has published. Titled THE HUMOURS OF PLANXTY it traces the emergence of our band from the Boglands of Kildare, how the strands of music emerged, how they came together and journeyed on. As a band member I am extremely partisan, however, I recommend this book to anyone with even a slight interest in our music. (I have no financial interest in the book so I feel it is in order for me to review it here). The story traces back to our times growing up and our influences. Once the band has formed it develops into a history of the music we recorded over 10 years on 6 albums. Leagues went to great lengths to get it right. Sadly, one key component is missing. One vital cog in the Planxty wheel denied Leagues the use of some brilliant insights and stories. For whatever reason the wonderful interview was quashed. (We still love you).
Just back from 3 nights in the Black Box in Galway. It has always been special playing in this city. From the first visit to The Hangar in 1972 through The Cellar, St.Mary’s Hall, Bridie Hogans, UCG, Cotters of Inverin, Teac Furbo, The Castle, O’Connors Salthill, Radisson, Leisureland, The Savoy, (tell me the others), Great Sth, The Crane, this venue beats them all. Great room and people. There were some serious long haul listeners. Fintan came from N.S.W. with his two beautiful daughters. They now hold the record for long hauling a gig of mine. Brendan came from Philadelphia and Pete Galligan all the way from Clarinbridge. Others too from UK, Germany and Italy. The NSW mad-hatters presented me with a silver shovel backstage. Night 2 was very different ñ a long set. I got lost in the time and the songs. Declan is really hitting the spot these nights. I am feeling that all these gigs are so precious. Don’t know how many more there will be. Grappelli went on ’til he was 83, McColl was 74, Keith Richards is 103. I simply cherish these events. That people come to hear Declan and I play these songs is a great privilege for me, that I still have the good health to do it and a great team around us to keep the show moving.
Dates announced for Vicar Street, Scotland, Derry and Belfast soon to be added. Liverpool and London looking good for November, almost sold out I believe. Looks like we will play “Jools” during that stint. I will continue to respond to guest book queries when I can. I notice some of you come on with queries that are already answered in the gig section at the home page.
Working on a recording for 4711 and also I am encouraging Declan to record his own work. He might consider a live cd of the songs he does at our current gigs.
Maryline coming to a gig! ……….
Talk soon …..
The last solo shows were in The Abbey in Chicago back in 1997. Recently I have had a yearning to try it all again. The obvious place for me to do this was The Hall, Lisdoonvarna. This venue is part of a small hotel, The Royal Spa, which is run by the Doherty family. I first played there with Moving Hearts in 1981 and again with Planxty in 2003. I have performed solo there on countless occasions and the vibe has always been good. As I went out on night one I was extremely nervous. As I began I felt very exposed without that blanket of music that Declan has been weaving around the songs. There came a turning point as I began to find my “solo” feet.
Night two I was in better shape and I was able to get much deeper into the performance. The songs began to flow. The palaver came together. For the first time in many years I played the same guitar all night. The audience participation was sympatico and beautiful, you’re singing was restrained and some gorgeous harmonies emerged from the room. (There was one lewdermawn constantly getting ahead with the lyric but no harm was done).
With these two gigs under my belt I now feel that I can do the occasional solo gigs. The main thrust of the work will continue, for the time being, to be with Declan Sinnott.
The sets were:
|Monday 28th August 2006||Tuesday 29th August 2006||The Adelphi Folk Club Leeds Bridge 1969|
|1. Nancy Spain
2. Sacco and Vanzetti
3. Hattie Carroll
4. Yellow Triangle
5. The Well Below The Valley
6. Raggle Taggle Gypsy
7. Johnny Connors
8. The Gander
9. North and South
13. The Dalesmans Litany
15. Back Home in Derry
16. Ordinary Man
17. Go Move Shift
18. Cliffs of Dooneen
22. January Man
23. Flickering Light
24. Black is the Colour
25. Missing You
26. Quiet Desperation
28. Knock Airport
29. Continental CÈilÌ
30. Smoke and strong Whisky
31. Quinte Brigada
32. Sonny’s DreamRide On
|1. 16 Jolly Ravers
3. Two Conneeleys
4. Brendan’s Voyage
5. This is the day
7. Victor Jara
8. Sacco and Vanzetti
9. They never came home
11. Continental CÈilÌ
12. Magic nights
13. Missing You
14. Scapegoats (In memory of Richard McIlkenny)
16. Companeros (we put Fidel in the white light)
17. Stitch in Time
21. Flickering Light
22. Burning Times
25. North and South
26. Middle of the Island
27.The Well Below The Valley
28. Raggle Taggle Gypsy
29. Sullivan’s John (for The Pecker Dunne)
30. How Long
|1. James Larkin
2. Galway Races
3. As I roved out
4. Come By The Hill
5. Follow me up to Carlow
6. Travelling People
7. Mary From Dungloe
8. The Curragh Of Kildare
9. Seth Davy
10.The Galtee Mountain Boy
11.The Spainish Lady
12.The Little Beggarman
13.Rocky Road to Dublin
(60 minutes, very drunk towards the end ñ 24 years old and out of control. Not this singer’s favourite cassette).
Come gather round me listeners and a story I will tell –
Our tour of Wexford, Cork and Clonakilty went well last week. Three diverse gigs, each with its own special conditions and circumstances. The Wexford gig in the Old Dun Mhuire hall was run by Frank Sinnott who, as well as being Declan’s brother, has a great handle on how a gig should be run in that beautiful and ancient town. As we arrived there were plenty of lads fishing at the seafront with plenty of lassies watching them. Holidays were in full swing and the streets were jammed with motor homes, choc ices and bare mid riffs. We had Pierce Turner in for the gig so a hurried rehearsal of “Musha God Help Her” was ordered. Also present was Evan Keville, who is my No 1 listener.
Then to The Savoy in Cork and a stand-up gig for the Simon Community. The stand-up gig has a great energy about it. Beforehand a 15 minute film on Cork Simon Community helped focus all our minds on the night’s purpose. We kicked off with “Motherland” and straightaway the songs became imbued the spirit of the event. I went into “Missing You” and lost my way in the second verse whereupon the Langer Horde took it up and sang powerfully saving the day, Declan and I just played along for the rest of the song. That gig is over now but Simon is still there in Cork – every hour of every day volunteering to assist those of us who have lost the compass.
On to West Cork – the Hall in Clonakilty for a gig put on by De Barras, one of the best Music venues in Bognia. I’ve played De Barras every year (almost) for the past 20 years. This time Bobby Blackwell thought it would be interesting to try a concert and he surely put on a right one. They turned the Community Hall into the Sydney Opera house for the night and it proved to be a great idea. Declan and I hit a purple patch that night and I look forward to hearing the tapes. The one sad note on the tour occurred in Clonakilty. Many overseas listeners were en route to Cork when events took a bad turn in British Airspace. With all the confusion and cancellation of flights about 40 people did not make it to Clon. Bobby told me of people from Britain, Germany, USA, Holland and Italy who got caught up in the misfortune. My heart goes out to you.
We have put up dates on the gig page for Limerick, Newry, Dungannon, Enniskillen, London, Galway, Liverpool. We will shortly announce Dublin, Belfast, Derry, Amsterdam, Belgium, Glasgow, Perth and Aberdeen. We are hoping to play Killorglin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Paris and Switzerland.
I will try and make a live gig recording available to 4711. I greatly appreciate the efforts you take to come to the gigs and the long journeys many of you make.
Dear Readers, Listeners, Travellers, Homebirds (and all the rest)
Recently, on Ben Larkin’s discussion site, I read where someone wrote that he could not understand why I would record Bob Dylan’s “Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll”. Elsewhere I once read a savage attack on THE FACT that I had recorded a Morrissey song. I find it interesting that such attitudes exist within people who profess to be followers of music. In the first instance I consider Bob Dylan to be the greatest songwriter in my lifetime. There is only one writer standing in Dylan’s field. Singing “Hattie Carroll” is a great privilege for me, to have access to such writing, to sing of such recent injustice in a song that contains, for me, references to stuff that is happening around me every day of my life here in Ireland. Dylan, more than any other, writes about this world of ours and how we live on it. I will always be learning a Bob Dylan song. There is nothing to understand. I record songs because I love to sing them and people want to hear them. What about the songs of John Reilly, The Music of O’Carolan, The old reels (and new) that are played every minute of every day in some corner of the world. There are fiddle players all over the world playing “Paddy Canny’s Reel” tonight. Thankfully Paddy is down in Tulla Co.Clare still playing the beautiful music himself, 60 years after he wrote that piece.
Found the Sid Barrett film on the Beeb very disappointing. Got weary of the band yapping on, pity there were not more punter perspectives. Saw a great Diva film on the same channel – it brought together the lives of Piaf, Holliday, Callas, Garland and Joplin. Gave insights into their work and the emotions that drove them to such intensity of performance. Some of the footage was painful to watch. Particularly Judy Garland at the Albert Hall shortly before she died and Janet Joplin being interviewed at her old school when she returned to a past pupils re-union. I’ve seldom seen gutter journalists portrayed, so precisely, in their true colours. Edith Piaf was simply impossible to comprehend. In 70 year old film footage the intensity of her voice and the emotion of her performance shone across the years. She gave everything away. Billie Holliday was a superb singer. Her pain was enormous and she sang it. One commentator said her life had groomed her for “Drugdom”. Sounds cruel, callous and very true. Maria Callas was an enigma, unhappy, confused and with an enormous instrument that I cannot even begin to understand. A fantastic documentary.
After all the World Cup hullabaloo its nice to get back to a bit of Hurling and GAA. The GAA has thrown up some games lately that match the worst of the soccer world cup in sheer awfulness but there have been some great games too. I would love to see Waterford and Dublin lift the trophies this year, that would set Ireland up nicely to retain the Triple Crown and hammer England in Croker. As for all this Riders Cup shite, fair play to you if it turns you on but the brouhaha is galling. A billion viewers my hole. Jasus we’d swallow any auld shite those ad agencies would dream up. The road from Dublin to Straffan will be finished on time. Dr.Smurfit must be well in with the Kildare Co.Council. “I did it my way”-you sure did Doctor. High Definition Bullshite. I was hoping for a while that the greenkeepers were going to go on strike. That would have brought me to The K Klub. I stayed there once. I was booked in for 6 nights but baled out the first morning. A right hoity toity Kip. They were probably glad to see the back of me. Moved to the Ambassador in Kill, friendlier gaff altogether. I was gigging in Goffs. I was booked to play 6 nights and ended up doing 16 and that was before the Celtic Tiger escaped from Charlie’s Circus.
Breaking News….I am doing 2 solo gigs in a small intimate venue in Co Clare at the end of August. Readers will get first go at the tickets. These are my first solo gigs (that I can recall) for 9 years. Details will follow as soon as we have it ironed out. Let there be no panic buying. Further gigs with Dr.Sinnott will soon be added to the gig page as well. The Planxty book by Leagues O’Toole is due out this autumn. I have read some of it and loved it. (The Humours of Planxty – Hodder Ireland) See you all after the Riding Cup, if not before, stay out of the rough and leave your niblock where it belongs. I’m off out for a round of P and P.
Keep the faith….Christy
Dear 4711, After a month off, the music re-commenced in Waterford last Friday night. Not far from the spot I first heard Brendan Bowyer singing. It was in a Ballroom in Tramore back around 1960. I was 15. After drinking 2 or 3 bottles of Smithwicks ale I managed to get into the dancehall. When this wild boy from Waterford started to sing I was mesmerised by his voice, personality and the raw energy his gig. I’ve had a soft spot for B.B. ever since and would love to meet him some day. We had a good room in which to play. The Forum was intimate, packed, hot, sweaty and interactive – the gig went through various phases. Started with” Natives” and soon remembered that the voice needs to be well warmed up for this song. Played 2 hours and finished up with “One last cold kiss”. Encored, Black is the Colour, Missing You and finally a most fragile Beeswing. Declan played a stormer and shone on Little Musgrave, it seems to be developing into a new version. There are lots of things to write about and I will. Tonight I am tired. Before I sign off I want to mention some new dates. These will be posted on the gig page as tickets become available.
10th Savoy Cork .. For The Cork Simon Community. (a stand up gig)
29th Black Box Galway
30th ” ” ”
12 Liverpool Philharmonic
13 London Hackney Empire
15 London Camden Electric Ballroom
16 ” ” ”
All of these gigs will appear on gig page in due course. In the above period we hope to add dates in Dublin, Enniskillen, Dungannon, Silverbridge Kilkenny, Derry and Limerick.
The set list for Waterford Forum
|Friday NightNativesGo Move ShiftNorth and South
Back home in Derry
This is the day
Reel in the Flickering Light
Lord Franklin (Declan)
Sacco and Vanzetti
16 Jolly Ravers
Last cold kiss
Black is the colour
Bright blue Rose
|Saturday Night After The DelugeJanuary man
North and south
My true love’s hair
The contender(Jack doyle)
Smoke and strong Whiskey
Lord Franklin (Declan)
Stitch in time
Cliffs of Dooneen
great audience, good buzz, nice supper, goodnight 4711
I will write soon but in the meantime dates have been added to the gig page for Waterford, Wexford, Clonakilty and Galway and are now on sale.
Soon to be announced are Limerick (September),Enniskillen, Dungannon, Silverbridge (October) London (November) Dublin (Dec-Jan) Derry (early 07), Amsterdam and Brussels (may 07)
These gigs will be added to the gig page as soon as the information is available
Thank you for your continuing support for the songs and singer – I like the ongoing communications, particularly when they stir a bit of discussion or debate on the work itself. Since I was last here Mick O’Riordan moved on to another Valley. His book “The Connolly Column” caused me to write Viva La Quinte Brigada. This song brought me many friends in different countries and I met many Brigadistas in my travels as a result of singing it. Wherever I met with these veteran soldiers I was always struck by their dignity and by the humility shown when their deeds were honoured, a rare enough occurrence in these parts. They fought their fight and suffered much upon their return to this Island of Saints where they were read from the altar and then “sent to Coventry” by their neighbours……………Farewell Mick.
I got news yesterday of the passing of Richard McIkenny. He will suffer no more that whispering campaign that still goes on in London. It was a letter from Richard, then wrongly imprisoned with five other Irishmen, that brought me into contact with The Birmingham Six Campaign. Along with the other five men Richard was framed by The West Midlands Police and charged with the I.R.A. bombs in Birmingham. With the complicity of Government and Judiciary the Police fitted them up and sent them down for 16 years. Upon their release they were never totally exonerated by the British establishment. The pathetic compensation offered had money deducted for 16 years bread and board. I have met all of these men over the years and, again, been struck by their dignity. Eamon Cowan sent me the song “Scapegoats” which I sang for manys the year.
There were 5 men playing poker on the Heysham train,
fate was dealing them a cruel hand.
Hugh Callaghan was walking home through the evening rain.
Not knowing what lay in store for him.
You’ll find traces of nitro on cigarettes and matches
on formica table tops and on decks of playing cards
when forensic found traces on the hands of these men
The Police drove up from Birmingham saying the case is closed.
Have you ever seen the looks upon their faces after 48 hours in custody
battered and bruised haunted looks upon their faces the
Judge accepted they confessed willingly,
please take another look at what you see
If you tell me my family are being terrorized
keep me awake 6 days and nights confused and terrified
in the lonely dark of night I’ll swear that black is white
if you’ll let me just lie down and close my eyes,
I’ll sign anything if you let me close my eyes.
Scales of Justice balance up your act,
am I talking to myself or to the wall
Hugh Callaghan – Paddy Hill – Gerry Hunter – Johnny Walker – Billy Power – Dick McIlkenny – that’s their names
For 16 years they were talking to the walls.
On Saturday last I had the privilege of walking the Afri Famine Walk from Doolough to Louisburgh in the County Of Mayo. Alongside Dr.Owens Wiwa and Vincent McGrath we started the walk last Saturday afternoon. Before we commenced Dr.Wiwa spoke of the struggle of Ogoni people against the forces of SHELL Oil in Nigeria. His brother, the late Ken Saro-Wiwa was one of 10 executed by the Nigerian military government in 1995. He stood on the Afri platform (www.afri.buz.org) beside Vincent McGrath, of The Rossport Five, and encouraged the Irish people to stand against SHELL OIL – that we should come together and prevent SHELL OIL from walking over the rights of Irish people.
Vincent McGrath spent 94 days in prison, with four of his colleagues, on the back of a SHELL OIL injunction. The Irish Government and Judiciary jailed five working men for standing up to a Multi-National whose only interest in Mayo is to extract oil as cheaply as possible and, that done, to pull out as cheaply and quickly as possible at whatever cost to the local environment and its people. That is their proven modus operandi. Yet the elected government of this country sided with SHELL and collaborated with them against those whom they were elected to represent. Vincent welcomed Dr.Owens Wiwa and noted that their 94 days in prison was a small price when compared to the price paid by Ken Saro-Wiwa and his nine colleagues – all executed for the stand they made.
(Vincent also paid tribute to Bono and Bob Geldof for their humanitarian work and spoke of the cynicism of those in the media who constantly decry the work they do). The walk itself was first organised in 1988. It commemorates the “Death March at Doolough, March 1849”. – (www.afri.buz.org)
The second half of the UK tour went grand with gigs in three countries, Wales, England and Tyneside. The first of two nights in The Sage, Gateshead was the best gig Declan and I have done since we joined up in 2000. It was just one of those rare nights when everything gelled, songs flowed seamlessly, guitars were so in tune, voices harmonised effortlessly, even the banter was poetic and last but not least, my memory gilds the lily at a rate of knots ñ if anyone recorded it please send me a copy. The Sage itself is a wonderful venue. Unlike The Man of The North it is well lit at night and brings an eerie silhouette to the South Bank of the great river, where upon the ghosts of generations of Gypsies who once camped on the site.
There will be gigs posted over the next month. I am looking at some “new” songs. ‘Tis time to learn.
Thank you, my 4711 loyal readers – Ride On, Ye intrepid followers of song
Shortly before she passed away, the late Siobh·n O’Hanlon arranged for me to visit Long Kesh one more time. I spent three hours there on the 30th of April. I had visited this place many times before but this was my first time back in 20 years. I walked the length and breadth of H5 and then spent some time in the hospital wing. I stood where the 10 men died. I was then shown various other places of interest – the communication centre, governor’s oak panelled office, up on top of a watchtower – but I could not engage. I was numbed by the atmosphere that I felt where O’Hara, Hughes, McCreesh, Sands, Doherty, Lynch, McDonnell, Hurson, McIlwee and Devine had succumbed to the agony of death by hunger. Tonight as I write these sad pathetic lines I think of their families, I hope their terrible sacrifice and loss has been eased by the passing 25 years.
I do not know where we stand on this divided Island. There are thousands of good people upon the divided ground all working in their own individual way to regain peace, so many different strands, so many self-interested politicians playing their endless games. Then there is the hatred forever waiting to rear its head at the earliest opportunity. Bishop Tutu brought some glimmer of hope but he is but one man and he has much ground to cover around the world. Yet these are better times in Ulster. The air is lighter and the streets are getting back to normal. The Province is unrecognisable from 25 years ago. Great progress has and is being made and it is there for all to share. Sadly many, riven by hatred and resentment, seem unable to take part in these changing times.
I watched a documentary on Luke Kelly last night. It contained some great old Dubliners footage. It reminded me once again of what a great band they were. It was wonderful to watch them play at a time when they were still enjoying their songs and music. I realised too what an important part Ciar·n Bourke played. As well as being a good solid tasty rhythm guitar player he was also an inventive whistle player, his harmony singing was clear to be heard and he was a great man to sing a song. Most importantly he brought great character and colour and occupied a unique place in the makeup of the band. He was a Quare One, fol de dee get outa that…………
I was reminded too, yet again, of the vital music that Barney brought to the Dubliners. His Banjo lines on the songs are locked right into the lyrics and it is apparent that he listens carefully to the singers. If there is a better Tenor banjo playing, on songs, I’ve yet to hear it. The film chronicled, albeit unwittingly, how the vultures came and sucked the marrow out of them. There were good interviews with band members and some other interviews too. They were a formidable and influential band and we owe them a debt of gratitude. That they are still to the good is a cause for celebration.
I have had sleepless nights, much tossing, turning and worrying about some of your wrong-format and shite dvd players. I almost failed to notice that the vast majority of you had no problem at all. Thank you for your comments – good and fair to middling. We enjoyed making the DVD (but we don’t make dvd players). It is there now and we can move on.
The first leg of the current UK tour was fine, we snuck into York and the old opera house there was perfect for what we’re at. A grand venue down a shady side street, you’d hardly notice it unless you walked in. There we found a room that reverberated to the echo of a thousand arias. The Millers came all the way from Mexboro. They helped launch me in that region in 1967 when they booked me for the Folk Club at an outrageously exploitative fee (plus petrol but I came on the train!). They promised me a great future in that cultured region and sure enough before long had passed I was playing support to Dr. Strangely Strange in Donny and that led to The Highcliffe in Sheffield where I supped some stuff with Capstick – God be good to him.
From York ’twas on to Symphony Hall in Birmingham – a lofty venue, very fancy where Dr. Vibes and I felt strangely at home. The burghers of Midland flocked to the songs and we had ourselves a feckin’ ball of it and two right tasty rogan joshies in the conductors suite to boot. If it’s good enough for Luciano etc.ÖÖÖÖ..
Back up the M6 past Congleton and on into The Mancunian Way. So many old venues and memories but once we hit the Bridgewater hall it was full steam ahead and not a Judas roar to be heard. Walked around and heard echoes of Harry Boardman, Packie Byrne, Frank Duffy, The Beggarmen. All those sounds are still in the mix somewhere; they never seem to leave me. After the 2nd Manc gig we loaded up provisions and set sail for Londing. A quare place to be playing of an Easter weekend but the people came out in their legions and gave us a right festive welcome. We were doused in Easter eggs and good vibrations and the Barbican played host to all of our goings on. The next leg starts in Cardiff this Sunday.
Re the conundrum. No one has come up with the song nor answered the question correctly. The competition is now closed. There were a few gallant efforts. However the whole affair was a spontaneous reaction to the dead of night and was not properly thought out at all at all. To reveal the answer would create a can of worms that ye would all love to open. I will shortly provide a less oblique question for you to ponder and I will simultaneously announce the PRIZE. One or two of you got the right album but not the track.
(For those of you not familiar with the above I should explain that the competition only applies to those unfortunates among us who read ALL the guest book entries. I realise that most of you only read your own -and quite right too)
After Cardiff-Warwick-Gateshead next week the circus moves back to Eire where we will travail the boreens of bognia till the cows come home – we plan to hit Tullow in Co. Carlow, Cavan, Portlaoise, Cork, Dublin, Galway and Limerick in the coming three months. Come autumn we will sail into Derry, Armagh (County), and a few other corners. All dates will be added to the gig page as soon as we know what’s brewing.
Great to see the prime minister of Eire opening a beauty salon in Limerick. He’s fond of the bit of make-up and its good to see him doing something useful. The Minister for Defence played a stormer in the Easter Commemorations. Getting the Labour Party to dress up as an active service unit was a masterstroke. They’d want to be careful though – Private McDowell (FCA) will have them all up in Green St for offences agin the state. Deputy McManus looked a right slapper in her Cumann na mBan outfit while Senator Costello will need to do a bit of a square bashing before going to war. Min.O’Dea should also be complimented for the steady flow of Marines through his constituency and for all the red diesel he is flogging to the USAF. Minister Cullen nearly has the electronic voting machines swept under the carpet. I believe a plan is afoot to use them for dry filling foundations for the new bridge he has promised Waterford. A masterstroke from a master of strokes. The T·naiste is having an awful time with the health. Poor woman must off her trolley with the whole bloody business. I often think of her. Met her briefly at a prostate cancer shindig recently, I never heard the likes of it for sincerity. We get what we vote for.
Have a lovely May, dear listeners, and watch out for the ethnic transplant,
“Easter again, we can’t forget,
our brothers and sisters and all that was said,
so practise your pipes and stand proud in the wet
for the eyes of the world are upon you.
(“Smoke and Strong Whiskey” Wally Page)
It all seems distant. I am here in The Big Smoke watching Sky News. Bertie is on the reviewing stand outside The GPO taking the salute from our Free State Army as they mark the 90th anniversary of The Easter Rising.
As Down The Glen one Easter Morn to a city fair rode I
There armed lines of marching men in squadrons passed me by
No pipes did hum nor battle drum rang out their dread tattoo
But the Angelus bell o’er the Liffey swell sang out in The Foggy Dew (PeaderKearney).
It seems so still here in London SW7. I am refreshed after a free day yesterday and looking forward to tonights gig. I will renew old acquaintances here. First came here 1961 with my (late) best buddy Patrick Paul McGowan. We were 16 as we landed in Paddington. We got lodgings in Southall and spent the Summer making (and eating) steak pies for Walls. A time when our eyes were opened and lessons learned. Four us shared a kip in Hammond Rd. Myself and The Meg worked nights, Anthony Byrne and Audeon McStay worked days so the 2 single beds were always warm and the frying pan was forever hot. Mr Saheed was the landlord and there was a Nigerian man in the next room. It was a big change from the Kildare that I had left behind. Where I am today is more different again. To be playing a major Concert Venue in London is more then I ever dreamed of and today I don’t take it for granted. It is better to give thanks for all the gifts that make such things possible.
We got word yesterday that both the new album and dvd are No.1. in the Irish Charts. That is a great auld buzz for the Easter………….
John McGahern’s passing caused the country to realise how much we loved and cherished him. It sometimes takes the passing before we realise what we have been taking for granted. He was dealt a very difficult hand but never shirked the playing. He leaves a great legacy of literature and a sorrowful gap for his family to mend. May he rest in peace.
Thank you for all your comments on the Waterfront gigs. As a result of his contacting the site I have been able to communicate directly with “the man in the front row”. He has taught me a lot. It was a deeply regrettable incident which caused him embarrassment and pain. He has been compassionate enough to forgive me. That is more than I deserve or could have hoped for. Anything further I have to say will be between himself and myself. Ye can fire away if ye wish but I won’t respond……( I think)!
Re some queries………….. The release next Friday is (initially) for Ireland and the UK. There are murmurings of other countries but I don’t have details. The Soundcheck section of the DVD consists of 7 tracks that were recorded during afternoon rehearsals. They have a totally different atmosphere as the vast venue was empty and Declan and I were playing simply for the sake of it. There is a commentary on both the gig and the soundcheck where the material, source and circumstance are discussed over some of the music. The documentary was shot in the dressingroom before and after the gigs and also features music both from the gig and in the dressingroom.
At this time there are no plans for US or Australian gigs. Apart from the upcoming UK gigs (April-May, see gig guide) all other gigs this year will be in Ireland and will be posted on the guide as they become confirmed. Next year I hope to play Scotland, Germany, Belgium and Holland in Spring ’07.
There will be a performance on the Late Late Show next Friday to help launch the DVD-CD. We hope to do some gigs in Derry, Co. Armagh and Co.Tyrone in the Autumn and I will put them up on the gig page as they are confirmed. In the next 3 months I hope to play some S.E. Leinster gigs. Cork and Cavan have been confirmed and are up and running.
Live in Dublin 2006 (DVD and CD) will be available from this site on the release day which is next Friday 7th April. Details from The Shop on the home page.
Declan and I are looking forward to the UK concerts. We are preparing some new work and regenerating some of the older gems. See you along the way. Christy
Last night in Belfast was a solid gig. For the next few months Declan and I have decided to commence the gig ourselves at kick-off time. This allows us to do a fuller set each night.
Some of you have been enquiring about the sets on the forthcoming DVD and CD. The DVD will have different sections-
1. The Gig.
I have also included a commentary on the gig and soundcheck.
The CD is a double.
Disc 1 is The Gig.
Disc 2 is a selection of tracks from January 5th & 6th (which were not filmed.)
Here are the lists.
1.One Last Cold Kiss. (aka Two Island Swans)
2.North and South
3.So Do I
6.Wise and Holy Woman (aka Yellow Furze Woman)
11.Smoke and Strong Whiskey
12.America, you are not the world
17.Vive La Quinte Brigada
18.The Contender. (aka Jack Doyle)
19.City of Chicago
2.Cry like a man
3.Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian Roulette
4.Bright Blue Rose
5.No Time for Love
The Double CD
1.One Last Cold Kiss. (aka Two Island Swans)
2.North and South
3.So Do I
6.Wise and Holy Woman (aka Yellow Furze Woman)
11.Smoke and Strong Whiskey
12.America, you are not the world
17.Vive La Quinte Brigada
18.The Contender. (aka Jack Doyle)
19.City of Chicago
1. The Two Conneelys
5.Sacco and Vanzetti
7.Stitch in Time
9 Corina. (Declan Sinnott-vocal)
10.Butterfly (aka So Much Wine)
11.16 Fishermen Raving (aka 16 Jolly Ravers)
13.Cry like a man
14.Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian Roulette
15.Bright Blue Rose
The DVD and CD will both be called “LIVE in Dublin 2006” and will be released In Ireland and The UK on April 10th on the Columbia label (SONY-BMG)
Watched “Pinochet in Suburbia” on BBC4 last weekend. An amazing, totally over the top but apt, performance from Anna Massey as Thatcher with Derek Jacobi, doing a deadly Pinochet. It was followed by a documentary, The Other 9-11, which followed events on that day in 1973 when The Chilean Army, under Pinochet, took out the Democratic Government. Seeing these programmes has brought the songs “Allende” and “Victor Jara” back into focus. BBC4 is an excellent channel and I recommend you to access it if, like me, you watch too much television. I heard Paddy Joe Hill on “Liveline” on Radio Eireann last week. He now lives in Scotland where he continues to work on behalf on Innocent People in Prison. He spoke about the trauma of the Birmingham 6 when trying to deal with the world upon their release after 16 years, of how the State withheld a large proportion of their compensation for “bed and board” over 16 years. This has brought the song “Scapegoats” back to mind.
Getting ready for some concerts across the water and looking forward to seeing some old friends and relations. Thats it for today.
This is a quick note. I will follow later with a lengthy ramble. I’m up here in the Belfast City playing the Waterfront tonight and tomorrow.
STOP PRESS: – there is a bollix in Kilmarnock (I have his name and address) who is flogging rip-off cds and representing them as “fan club” recordings. They are shite quality, absolutely awful. He blagged a recording made by someone in Dublin in December and has been selling copies on Ebay.
I know that some people swap audience recordings among themselves and, for me, this is not a problem. But I detest opportunistic miserable gits who pass off shite recordings as quality items and also suggest that they have the artists blessing.
There will be gigs in Cavan and Cork in June. There are gigs pending in Kilkenny, Tullow, Tullamore, Portlaoise, between now and August. These will all be posted on the gig page as they are confirmed. In the Autumn I hope to play a series of concerts in The 6 Counties. These too will be posted on the gig page in due course. Next Spring, if all goes well there will be gigs in Scotland, Germany, Holland and Belgium. These too will be posted ASAP.
I will give all details of the forthcoming DVD and CD in my next chat. They will be released on April 10th and will be available here on that date.
Killarney went very well. We are up and running for the new season and have some new songs coming on stream (and a few old ones reincarnated).
I’m so happy now St.Patrick’s day is over
and all the paper hats are thrown away.
All the plastic paddies are put back in the clover
but they will return another day………..(Colm Gallagher 1968)
(a verse from “The Grand St.Patrick’s in San Fernando” track 8 on the yellow CD. from the Box set 1964-2004)
St.Patrick was a Gentleman he came from dacent people
he built a church in Dublin Town and on it put a steeple.
His father was a Gallagher his mother was a Grady
his aunt was an O’Shaugnessy and his uncle was a Brady.
The Wicklow hills are very high but so’s the Hill of Howth sir
theres a hill much higher still much higher nor them both sir
on the top of this high hill St Patrick preached his sermon
drove the frogs into the bogs and banished all the vermin.
(2 verses from a song I used to sing in the 70s. “St Patrick was a Gentleman”. Its on an album called ” The Iron behind the Velvet”).
You’ve heard of St.Dennis from France,
he never was much for to brag on.
You heard of St.George and his lance
how he slayed the auld heathenish dragon.
The Saints of the Welshmen and Scots
are a couple of pitiful pipers
and might just as well go to pot
when compared to the patron of vipers………
…………….St.Patrick of Ireland , My Dears.
(A verse of a song from my earlier days entitled “St. Patricks Arrival”. A wonderful 18th century ballad from Jack Power of Oylgate. I set the words to the tune of “The Night before Larry was Stretched” a song I’ve been meaning to sing this past 40 years).
Theres only a few hours to go on this once Holy Day. We could do with another visit from Patrick. The snakes have come back in their droves. I heard Mickey Mc Dowell on the wireless this morning urging us to bring our children in to see the parade. He pledged 100s of garda to mind us. Then Seanie O ‘Donoghue came on and told us that the whole debacle was worth 58 million yoyos to the city. Not a word from either taig about poor auld Patrick. No wonder he pegs the shite weather down on us every March the 17th. Bring back the Railway Cup, its time for another Eucharistic Congress. Move it to July 12th. Close the pubs and force march the entire population to Croagh Patrick via St. Patricks Purgatory, bare feet and barbed wire in the underpants (no concessions).
(Normal service will be resumed shortly).
A quick note to anyone interested in UK gigs as posted on the gig page. I have just heard from the agent that tickets are moving very well, the forecast is that most dates will be full, I mention this in case anyone is thinking of turning out on the night, talk soon, Christy.
Greetings from the butt end of the south west of Eire, land of saints, scholars and the hundred thousand welcomes. I’m getting ready for the start of a new season. Declan and I are preparing our new collection which will be revealed on The Waterfront catwalk, next Wednesday, adup in our second city, between Belfast Lough and the Black Mountain where Jesus Christ and Jessie James once meandered out for sport only to meet up with Cormac in The Pound Loney and end up Fleadh Ceoilin with McFeargal round the Green Briar.
We’ve been lying low since Jan 6th at The Pint Depot. I’ve been knee deep in editing and mixing, sleeve noting and running orders. Declan has done a few solo gigs and I hear great reports of a gig he did in McDaids of Middleton Co.Cork. He does the odd solo gig when we are off the road and also guests with a few different bands in the Cork area.
Glad that you are getting into the new Lyric section. It originated on an old site that was run by Pete Cassidy. (Hi Pete, like to see you, Killarney maybe?) He kindly handed it over to us. It will take a while to bring it up to date and into correct working order. There are a few songs there that are mis-named and a few others that were never in my repertoire. I will add essays and chords as I move along. You will also note that we have lost the dreaded Spam. In doing this it has become slightly more difficult for you to visit. I’m glad to see you are getting used to it. There was a falling off there for a while and I was thinking to myself-the bleddy rotten lousers are going to abandon ship.Ö. I am glad to say that the flow has recommenced and I can now browse, each evening over my cocoa, before retiring after another hard day slaving over the old guitar.
The diary is taking on the odd bit of ink. March has 7 gigs around this Island, Co Antrim, The Kingdom and The plains of sweet Mayo. April-May brings us to Manchester, Birmingham, York and London, Cardiff, Warwick and Gateshead. The only new territory here is the visit to Gateshead where I last played in 1969. I will play a number of Irish gigs over the summer and in the autumn we have some possible gigs PENCILLED in for Scotland, Germany, Holland and Belgium. The moment they are confirmed they will be posted on the gig page on this site. At this time we are still contemplating gigs farther afield but nothing further to report at this time. I also appreciate the invitations I have received to many parts of the world. There were decades when I was prepared to drop everything and head out to any auld kip that would have me. However I met myself coming back once too often. I find the prospect of air travel mind numbing, I would love to visit certain parts of the world again but I simply don’t know if I can handle it.
It was 25 years this month since 48 young men and women died in The Stardust Nightclub in Artane, Dublin. They were locked into the inferno by chains on the fire exits and bars on the windows. I was invited by the families to attend the 25th Commemoration Mass at the church in Bonnybrook. It was a beautiful and moving service.
The same family still owns the premises where the disaster occurred. Their response to the 25th anniversary was to open a super pub on the exact site on the exact anniversary. I don’t ever recall witnessing such sheer insensitivity or callousness. My family and I joined the still grieving families on the picket line. They will never gain closure until the truth of that awful night is made known.
St.Valentine’s Day comes around once a year.
All our thoughts turn to love as the time it draws near.
Sweethearts and Darlings, Husbands and Wives,
Pledge love and devotion for the rest of their lives.
As day turns to evening soon nighttime does fall,
Young people preparing for the Valentine’s Ball.
As the night turns to laughter some families still mourn
The 48 children that never came home.
Down to The Stardust they all made their way.
The bouncers stood back as they lined up to pay.
The records were spinning there was dancing as well,
Just how the fire started – no one can tell.
In a matter of seconds confusion did reign
The room was in darkness fire exits were chained
The fire fighters wept for they could not hide,
Their sorrow and anger for those still inside.
Have we forgotten the suffering and pain
The survivors and the victims of the fire in Artane
The mothers and fathers forever to mourn
The 48 children that never came home.
All around the country the bad news it spread
There’s a fire in the Stardust there’s 48 dead.
Hundreds of children injured and maimed
What a shame the fire exits were chained.
Our leaders were shocked grim statements were made
They shed tears in the graveyard as the bodies were laid,
But the injured were forced to wait for 6 years
Seems like our leaders shed crocodile tears.
Millions paid out in legal fees
And a fortune paid over to the owner Butterly.
6 long years before any help came
To the survivors and victims who suffered the pain.
Days turned to weeks and weeks into years
Law favours the rich or so it appears.
A mother still waits for her kids to come home.
Injustice breeds anger, that’s what’s been done.
Let us remember the suffering and pain
The survivors and victims of the fire in Artane.
The mothers and fathers forever to mourn.
The 48 children who never came home.
Greetings from Bertigrad, capital city of Bognia where they shoot pigs for being hungry and where the crow shat on the hen’s lip. Thanks for your well wishing, it did the trick. I had teenchie weenchie minor surgery to release a trigger thumb on the right hand (had the left done years ago). It has healed and I am hopeful that I will be able to return to some bowrawning of a serious nature. I have missed it these past few years during which time any drum attack would leave me hurting and unable to peel root vegetables. It also interfered with my snooker cuing technique. In fact I have not broken 25 this past 2 years. Shite and Onions.
Re the old guest page – I will be happy to try and answer your queries when I can but I do not guarantee replies, you huffers and puffers have been warned!
We have been beaverin’ away on the website and now have a lyrics section. I will now begin the mammoth task of bringing it up to date. We are also trying to bar the Spamfucks. Oh dear God in heaven but I could fukken well strangle some of them gamble fucks with their free blackjack and shaggin’ craps and poker. I got the hot chicks and the viagra merchants sorted and the bleddy gamblefux came onto me like a ton of pricks.
Work is proceeding on the dvd from the Point and it will be released when the swallows come back from Capistrano.
Thanks to Stuart in Tyneside who pointed out to me that the tickets for Sage in Gateshead gigs were over priced. It was very difficult to sort out but eventually they admitted their error and put it right. They should have contacted everyone by now.
We are looking forward to Belfast, Killarney and Castlebar in March and then on over to John Bulls other Island in April-May.
Two bumps Josie….
Dear Readers, I send you greetings in this New Year. Thank you for your notes and letters and greetings. The welcome given to the Burning Times album has been heart warming and appreciated. It was made with love, care and affection, with fun and long days, frustration, satisfaction and even pain betimes but made it was. The fact that ye listen and like is just cool.
I am coming down from the four gigs in Dublin. It took a lot out of myself and all the team directly involved. They were the four hardest gigs of the year. A saving factor was the fact that so many of you enjoyed it so much. I announced on the last night that I would not be playing there again, for the simple reason that it is no longer my sort of venue. Since it opened 15 years ago it has become the premier venue in the country and I have had some good nights and recorded my biggest selling album there. We filmed and recorded these shows so there will be a dvd and cd and, so far, they are shaping up very well. Declan and I sat in the dressing room after one of the gigs and realised how much more fun we have and how much better we play in more compatible venues. No blame to anyone, it is just a simple fact, me and the Doctor are not a stadium act.
Just started listening today to the recordings. This is not my favourite part of the gig, there is a lot of shaping and fidgeting to be done but we should end up with a good live set on disc. Tomorrow I get to see the roughs of the filming, not so familiar with this process but I have great people working with me and I am confident in the outcome – (I think!). They filmed everything that moved so it will be a record of the recent work and what goes to make up a gig.
Some interesting days on the guest site too. Great to get some thought provocation, I enjoyed that. I had to pull back myself once or twice. I did get a pain in my arse from the moanholers who demand a reply. That really got to me briefly but then I smartened up and enjoyed the responses the moaners evoked. Thank ye all.
Still hoping to get rid of the Spam plague, we zap as promptly as we can and we will hopefully find a better solution. However I believe this may involve making the process of posting a step or two longer. We will see.
Having a job done on the right hand this week – if all goes well, the bowrawn will play. No gigs til March, see you along the way, do keep in touch. Hope you enjoy your year, hear lots of good music and give loads of encores,
December 23rd 2005
Limerick was wonderful. Played 3 nights in Dolans down the docks, and it was good to play the City again. It has been 21 years since I last sang within the walls and that was in The Belltable Arts Centre on The Crescent. Since then all my gigs have been out in suburban Limerick, places like The Two Mile Inn, The Parkway, the South Court and of course, the theatre out on the campus, each one a bastion of fun in its own right. I enjoyed being back in this great city and the reception we got from the songbirds was truly inspiring. Many friends turned out and spurred us on. The venue is classic. It has a real gig vibe the minute you walk in. It is a relatively new venue but already has that sense of “10,000 gigs played here and tonight is the night”. Here are the sets we played.
Walked the length and breadth of Limerick, over the Shannon and back again, past the Treaty Stone, out past the prison, over by Thomond Park, into The Limerick Municipal Art Gallery where there is a great collection of Irish Pictures and a smashing visiting exhibition by a South African Artist (William Kenright I think), revisit the Belltable and catch a bit of Shay Healy’s Christmas play amongst 300 wild and wonderful 8 year olds. Also view the Defastenist Exhibition in the lobby, a grand auld bunch of paintings by a gaggle of obsessive fetishists who have been making sweet noise this past year or two. Did not make it to The Hunt Museum this time but lingered in Pery Square to watch the leaves fall. There is a sadness in the city, I detected a hurt, maybe brought on by the pain that’s in the old town. But there is laughter and a welcome there too and I only hope that the good people regain their birthright from those who seek to destroy it. I don’t know how but getting together and talking about it is always a good starting point.
Sang “my” Limerick songs! – Mick Hanly’s “All I remember” and Johnny Duhan’s “Voyage”. Good to hear that Ger Costello is still going strong with The O’Malleys. When Moving Hearts played Limerick he was with “The Outfit” and we had manys the good night with them. Limerick is a mighty place.
Have a good time and see you next year
November 22nd 2005
Readers and friends – Whilst in Germany there were complaints about visits to the guest page leading to spam. It has been sorted. The most common question continues to be about touring. Currently I have no plans to tour anywhere apart from what appears on the gig page. Don’t take it personally; it is not a slight on your country or your beautiful people. I only do what I feel I can do and there are personal limitations, bear with me and I’ll see you as soon as I can if I can. Declan and I visited Scotland, England, Belgium, Holland and Germany in the past 12 months and we had a good time and some great gigs so who knows where the van goes. If we can get wings on the van anything could happen. Thanks for all your encouragement and felicitations (I’m gambling on this word), we will strive to come to an auld kip near you before we die.
The album has been well received by most. Some great reviews and some interesting interviews. The Irish Post in London describes Burning Times (the song) as “Predictable New Age Gobbledegook about the goddess Isis”. Of course I read the reviews, my favourite quote this time round was from Robin Deneslow when he said “This is not easy listening”.
I don’t think I can do the show biz shite any more, I got a bit of it on the radio this week. Declan and I went into a studio at 8 in the morning to play some songs from Burning Times and when it came to interview I was asked about Ireland’s Eurovision entry. I did not have a clue what to say. But we have had some good radio gigs, got to sing eight of the songs on John Creedon’s gig in Cork and 6 on Gerry Ryan’s gig in Dublin. Our next radio outing is with Gerry Anderson on BBC Radio Ulster. He is a music and song man and always gives good interview so we are looking forward to meeting him again.
I have blown it on the TV front but I am not too bothered. On a lot of these showbiz TV shows the vibes are awful and you are made to feel as being somehow, in the way. Last time I did one particular live show here in Dublin, it was just me playing solo. I picked the guitar up and it fed back viciously for 10 seconds. Not only was it embarrassing, upsetting and extremely unsettling but not one of the myriad of people on the floor made any mention of it. They either did not notice or did not care. I had a dreadful sound problem on another major project at the same network some time ago and when I tried to solve it I was treated like I was a bloody nuisance. All I wanted was for the sound to be as good as it could be. As you’ve gathered by now I have a bugle to blow here but I am shutting up NOW.
Next gigs are in Limerick where we have not played for a few years, always a good town for gigs. Going back to 1973 the largest concert venue in Ireland used to be the Savoy in Limerick and Planxty had a few good nights there. Remember a stormer in the Parkway with Moving hearts in ’82 at the Parkway when The Outfit played support and there was allsorts going on down the hall. Both venues are now shopping malls. The Two Mile Inn was a regular gig for me through the 80s and The Belltable has good memories too. In 1965 I sang 2 Joan Baez ballads in The Royal George for a bus full of septics. I was a bank clerk in Askeaton at the time and some gouger gave me a fiver to sing the ballads. I was supposed to do thirty minutes but the septics wanted Danny on the harp so I thought it prudent to get back to Mai Collins before closing time. I have heard great reports about Dolans and am looking forward to our visit.
After that ñ it’s back to the Point Depot for the Festive season.
Before I finish I would like to apologise to the correspondent who replied to Steve Dieterich. Your note was inadvertently deleted by an over zealous (& late) vice-president of this corporation. Should you read this and post it again it will receive a suitable fan fare. Goodnight dear listeners, have you heard the JCB SONG? It is gorgeous.
October 27th 2005
A free day in Berlin is a grand bonus. Years ago my German tours used to last 3-4 weeks and I’d traverse the Autobahns like Kraftwerk on poitin. This is more sedate and I get to thoroughly examine my room. I want to write while last nights gig in Hamburg is still fresh in my memory for it was indeed a good night out.
The City was drowned in torrential rain as we got to the Musikhalle. It was a late sound-check, for a Symphony Orchestra are rehearsing there by day so the crew were still setting the lamps and tweeking the amps as we began our rehearsal. The venue is old and well matured – the echoes of 10,000 concerts have reverberated through this grand auld kip. God only knows who may have listened here. (Got a grand surprise in the dressing room when I was presented with a bootleg recording of Planxty’s 1973 gig which was our German debut.)
Declan and I took to the stage at 8 o’clock and received the longest ovation I have ever witnessed. It just went on and on, it became a bit spooky, then scary, then gratifying, then emotional. Finally we got to play and I tore into “North and South of the River” (there was water everywhere which probably brought on this for I’ve never opened with it before – it started off slow and quiet but built nicely and Dr.Sinnott was ready to roll when we got to the outro). “Beeswing” came in then and got very lonely and I managed to whisper the last verse (Davy Meade is the first sound engineer to enable me to sing as quietly as I want, he is a singer himself and a lyrics man, no matter how quiet I go he follows me and amplifies the words to the highest stalls – I can always tell when everyone is able to hear). “Missing You” then presented itself and it began laid back and mournful building slowly into some hard slide on the fender from Declan before the pathos of the outro. (There are lots of thirsty ducks in this country, I am always aware of street drinkers and displacement). On into “Butterfly”, a Handsome Family song which is a bit of a heartbreaker, I detected a few followers of Rennie and Brett. Tonight’s version was hard and even angry, don’t know why but by the end I felt we were all looking at the same picture. I got a flash for “16 Fishermen Raving”, a new song currently getting much airplay back home, I’m still finding my way into it on stage.
(The audience are extremely focused on the work. I have the highest regard for the German audience for they are prepared to work hard to get into the lyrics. I ask myself how we would react to a German singer coming to Ireland without a word of English and singing long songs in German. I ask myself again and don’t like the answer.)
Motherland, Hattie Carroll and America followed, three songs from the new album unfortunately not released in Germany – (Sony/BMG did not even acknowledge our presence in their “territory”, nor did we miss them.) – these three were written by Natalie Merchant, Bob Dylan and Morrissey and we have enjoyed getting them together. Had a phonecall earlier with my brother who is playing at Whelan’s in Dublin tonight. He comes to Germany next month so I did a promo for him and sang his “City Of Chicago”. It’s a big song here for the Ride On album of 84 travelled back with thousands from Doolin (The Voss-in-Doolins!). Then “Ride On” itself, McCarthy’s classic, and the whole room was singing as Declan played that gorgeous Killarney riff for the 1000th time and we still love it. A shout from a Biddy in the gods led us into “Biko Drum” before “Magic Nights” got its Hamburg premiere, I dedicated it to young Padraic – this is a song I love to sing for it recalls earlier music nights in my life, a time when I was a listener and not a performer, when I would get lost in the wonder of some song from Luke Kelly or Frank Harte. Don’t know where “Hiroshima Nagasaki” came from for we have not played it this year, Declan decides to play Spanish rather than Electric and this changes the vibe, I do a shorter version and he cracked out a great outro. (He told me later that he had not HAD A PARTICULARLY GOOD GUITAR NIGHT BUT HE KNEW THE GIG WAS GOING WELL AND got on with it….sometimes when soundchecks are delayed he does not get enough time to set up properly). Then on into Burning Times which turned the mood of the night into a different place (many people have asked why I have recorded this song for a third time in 10 years, I felt I never did it justice before and that if I got it right a lot more people would connect with it. I am happy to say that this appears to be the case)
I paused here for a moment or two, felt like it needed to come back down a bit, maybe step back from reality – so on with us into the realms of A Reel in the Flickering Light. Who was waiting for us but Wandering Aongus who took us in-the-jigs to Delirium Tremens. Had a moment of reflection on the Planxty gig in 1973 and had a go at Only Our Rivers which Declan played as if he had played it before and then he sang Released.
The Bloody smoke machine engineer was having his own gig so we had to pull the plug and give him the rest of the night off. The stage was starting to look like feckin’ Apocalypse Now which was grand for the smoke machine engineer (who must have been getting paid by the billow) but I could hardly shaggin’ well breathe.
Anyway we took off the gasmasks and continued this marathon on into Phil Chevron’s masterpiece The Ballad of the Faithful Departed – which always rattles the purist folkies and keeps us alert. A cry for Natives from the Gods and then some biffo hollered for the shovel and he sounded like he meant business. ‘Twas Pure Mule. We turned to Barney Rush, who used to run a pub in Erlanger, for the next song and we all made absent love to Nancy Spain. (Gavin Friday badly needs to sing this song). The Deluge was upon us and then we pulled it back down for Pontchartrain. This should have been the wind up but no one was leaving. We encored Lisdoonvarna, Voyage, Back Home in Derry and fled to the dressing room. 5 minutes passed and Mick Devine comes in and says “Nobody is leaving” so back out again and we finished it with Hurt, Black is the Colour and FINALLY Sonny’s Dream.
I was knackered. Back in the room we had a mingle and finally back to the Dosshouse with a good job well done. It was a special night.
Now you know how I spend my free nights in Berlin. Cabaret it is not.
October 25th 2005
To my Dear 4711 readers – Greetings from The Mainland of Europe.
First visit to Germany since 1997 and happy to be back. Did an 800-mile drive yesterday leaving Liverpool 4.30am and driving non stop via the Harwich- Hook of Holland ferry. Shared the driving and arrived at exactly the same time as Declan and the crew who flew from Manchester. Mind you, they were in bed til midday.
We had two stormers in Liverpool, very different gigs but equally received. The first night was shaky for 40 minutes until we found our groove. Even a 4 week lay off blunts the edge but we found it and began to buzz a bit. Night 2 I got a fierce energy rush as we got to our positions and started with Go Move Shift, Brown Eyes and All for the Roses before coming back to familiar territory. We have never started with those before and it was, for us, an eye opener. Had a few daft hecklers but they got tired and fell asleep. They were harmless enough. These days the hecklers are not malicious as in earlier times. Both act and audience are less focused on mad alcohol consumption; we seem to come together these days for the sake of the songs and the atmosphere they evoke.
A couple of things – Declan is fine. There was a false alarm the second night in Liverpool when there was a loud bang and flash during the outro from Burning Times. Many of you were concerned and thanks for your well wishes. What happened was a power surge that caused the sound desk to trip out. He jumped a bit but it was only through fright! The fact that it came at such tense moment of the set exaggerated the intensity, had it happened during Lisdoonvarna we would hardly have noticed!
Secondly I cannot answer all communications that come into the guest site. I enjoy having a forum and I reply when I can. I will leave most of your comments up unless they are unsuitable for the site, I decide. Since we opened I have only removed a very small number. No apology offered. Thank you for your comments and communiquÈs. Your reaction to Burning Times has been brilliant. Once Declan and I are finished the recording process it becomes yours to judge, all that remains for us to do is to come and play the songs at a kip near you. We enjoy this very much.
Looking forward to these 2 gigs in Hamburg and Berlin.
See you along the way.
Setlists from Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
|The Friday1. Two Island Swans
3. Quiet Desperation
4. 16 Fishermen Raving
7. Smoke and Strong Whiskey
8. Burning Times
10. North and South of the river
12. Hattie Carrol
13. Wandering Aongus
14. The Reel in the Flickering Light
15. City of Chicago
16. The Contender (Jack Doyle)
17. Missing You
18. Ride On
19. Biko Drum
20. Yellow Triangle
21. America,You are not the world
22. Peace in the Valley once again
23. Released (Declan Sinnott)
24. Stitch in Time
25. Joxer goes to Stuttgart
27. The Lakes of Pontchartrain
28. Back home in Derry
29. Sonny’s Dream
30. The Least we can do
|The Saturday1. Go move Shift
2. A Pair of Brown Eyes
3. All for the roses
4. 16 Fishermen raving
5. Magic Nights in the lobby Bar
8. Hattie Carroll
9. Biko Drum
10. Bright Blue Rose
11. Missing You
12. Delerium tremens
14. North and South of the river
15. Black is the Colour
16. Viva la quince Brigada
17. This is the day
18. Released (Declan Sinnott)
19. Stitch in Time
20. Lakes of Pontchartrain
22. Ride On
23. Joxer goes to Stuttgart
24. America You are not The World
26. The Least We can Do
27. Burning Times
October 2nd 2005
The next basket of songs will be released on Friday 7th October in Ireland, 10th October in the UK. With further releases in Germany, Holland, Denmark and Belgium – all on the Columbia label at Sony BMG. Regular listeners will have heard some of the songs at gigs over the last few years. All the songs are by other writers and many of them have been previously recorded by their authors.
The tracks are:
|1. 16 FISHERMEN RAVING
4. MAGIC NIGHTS IN THE LOBBY BAR
5. AMERICA, I LOVE YOU
8. THE LONESOME DEATH OF HATTIE CARROLL
9. MAGDALENE LAUNDRIES
10. BURNING TIMES
11. PEACE IN THE VALLEY ONCE AGAIN
12. CHANGESBuy Now >>
We will perform live on Radio 2FM with Gerry Ryan next Friday morning 11am to 12pm. There may be other live broadcasts, I will try and let you know.
September 20th 2005
We started a new season last night in The Mayflower Ballroom, Drumshambo, Co. Leitrim – my first gig in this beautiful county since I played the Community Hall in Ballinamore back in 1980. I am always very nervous before the first gig back, will the voice still function when put to the test, what songs to sing, will rapport with the audience still exist, will the new songs work…..this nervousness never abates but it also serves to focus both myself and Declan upon the 2 hours that lie ahead. The Hall looked and felt good. The organisers had done a thorough job in turning an old dance hall into a concert venue. They built a solid stage and there were acres of black drape right across the stage end of the room. The doors opened at 7.15 and by 8. 10 the room was packed and buzzing with an excited air of anticipation as Freddie White walked out in front of the lamps. The audience were not expecting him and showed huge appreciation for this welcome surprise. Freddie had a large following in Ireland before emigrating to America in the 80s. He has recently returned and those of us who have loved his work are well pleased to have him home again. Back in the dressing room as Declan and I warmed up we could sense that Freddie was delivering a stormer. When we took to the stage at 8. 40 the crowd were in fine fettle. Between then and 10. 40 we played:
|After the Deluge
This is the Day
One Last Cold Kiss
North and South of the River
Viva La Quinte Brigada
16 Fishermen Raving
The Lakes of Pontchartrain
The Ballad of Ballinamore
|Joxer goes to Stuttgart
Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian Roulette
America I Love You
Back Home in Derry
The Time has come
Back into the dressing room tired and spent but very fulfilled by a grand return to the Hilly Lands of Leitrim. By Midnight we were on the road for a dramatic drive to Clifden passing through Roscommon and Mayo until we reached The Lakes of Galway shimmering in the moonlight and I said a quiet prayer that the night porter would make a pot of tea and a few sangwidges. The good man did.
I was delighted to finally get some feedback on the review section on the home page. It took a couple of months before anyone commented. I mentioned to the site team that maybe we should drop it and, lo and behold, a few stragglers started to give it a mention in dispatches. It is a loose forum where I plan to post reviews that take my fancy. Occasionally I will review a gig that I have particularly enjoyed. I don’t plan to include regular media type reviews unless they are interestingly off centre or bizarre. I include some foreign reviews because I love how they read in translation.
Today’s gig for New Orleans is sold out. Apart from Declan and I it will feature Wally Page, Mary Coughlan, Lisa Hannigan with Damien Rice, Luka Bloom and Freddie White. It was a spontaneous gesture. I watched the carnage and, in my powerlessness, all I could think to do was make some phonecalls. Everyone said yes. In financial terms it is the slightest drop in an ocean of suffering but it allows a thousand Irish people to spend a night together in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who have lost everything.
Recently I was elected to the board of The Irish Musicians Rights Organisation. I am quite intimidated by the responsibility never having been part of such a body before. It was set up 10 years ago by a group of writers who were unhappy, as Irish writers, at having to deal solely with London collection agencies. The whole area of Publishing and Performance rights has traditionally been a sea of muddy water wherein the hungriest of sharks lurk. Despite 40 years of performing and recording I have little or no knowledge of the business end so I hope I can bring something to the table. Time will tell.
Tonight we play The Clifden Arts Festival. The Director, Brendan Flynn, tells me it was 1985 when I last played here, it feels to me more like 3 or 4 years since………as this passing time accelerates past Ballrooms of Romance to Arts Festivals, from Horan International on by the Mosques of Ballyhaunis, down the Moving Stairs in Boyle to where John Wayne gave Maureen O’Hara a good seeing to…. I’m here in Ballyconneeley preparing to do it all over again and, if I could begin it all over again blah blah blah. The last time I played in Ballyconneely was at an ill-advised festival in 1979. Mostly I recall the Marquee being blown into the Atlantic while the unfortunate audience, blue with the cold, tried valiantly to show enthusiasm as Jimmy Faulkner and I performed like a pair of damp squibs from the back of an abandoned trailer.
Back in 2005 – Burning Times will be released on October 7th and two gigs at the Point Theatre Dublin, December 29th-30th will be announced next week. There may be a TV performance in October, I will try and let you know. There will also be a couple of radio gigs with live performance and apart from a possible gig in Galway in November and one in Glengariff (for Bantry Hospital) that will be it for 2005.
Hope you like the album…..Christy….
August 30th 2005
Greetings to my 23 loyal readers.
Thank you for your continued listening and your interest in this site of ours. Since last writing we have finished recording the album in Cork, it was mixed last week in Ballycotton and mastered today. It is on its way. Sony BMG plan to release it in early October. The title is “BURNING TIMES” and there are 12 tracks. It will be available on the site and in all music shops in Ireland. It will also be released in the UK but at this moment I do not have the exact date. Declan Sinnott produced it and it has been an exciting project for both of us. It was engineered by Tim Martin with whom we have developed a good working relationship over all the recent recordings. He has a good suss on our modus operandi and is always ready to roll when the muse is upon us. I really like the way he records my voice. This is the first time that Declan has produced me and that has worked well. He is a man for the vibe and also likes to take a chance. He also made great sounds and noise on an array of guitars and did backing vocals augmented on some tracks by Mandy Murphy and Mary Greene. During the sessions our guitar technician revealed himself to be a serious assembler of dinner so thanks are due to Johnnie Meade for Top Scran during those long days in The Well Road Recording Studio, Douglas, Cork and The Mixing Suite, Ballycotton in the same county.
There are to be some gigs in late December at The Point in Dublin and they will be announced shortly, readers will be given advance notice. These gigs will be filmed by Philip King and released next year on DVD.
Recently there have been many requests for chords and I have tried to cater. I began to realise that there may be an element of laziness here. I found myself writing out chords for simple songs and I thought to myself why can’t these shaggers work it out for themselves. When I do covers I don’t ask Bob Dylan or John Spillane or Wally Page for the chords of their songs, I shaggin’ well play the records and move the capo around until I have it sussed. There is no better way to learn. So come on you lads and lassies and get practicing. There are no short cuts.
Heard some great music at the Bantry Festival. Did a review of one of the nights, it will be posted on the review section on the home page shortly. Also enjoyed some fantastic road bowling in West Cork. This is a unique sport that retains its character and has barely changed in 200 years. It is also enlightening to see motorists kept in their place while the athletes bowl. The Galway-Kilkenny Hurling All Ireland semi-final was a classic encounter. I have witnessed some great games in my day and this was up there with the best of them. The Cats were very confident but The Tribe were hungry for it. Such sporting spectacle puts The Premiership across the water into perspective.
Some Grand gigs looming. The Mayflower Ballroom in Drumshambo promises to be a great night and then on to the Clifden Arts Festival to renew acquaintance with Brendan Flynn, of that parish, in his last year as director. Back to Dun Laoghaire then for a “Save Our Seafront” rally on Sun September 18th. In October we go to Liverpool, Hamburg and Berlin. In November, there are gigs in Galway (to be confirmed) and Glengariff (for Bantry Hospital).
There is talk of some Radio and TV appearances to tie in with the release of the album but I’ll wait and see how that pans out before committing and I will try and let you know what is happening … See you along the road …
August 7th 2005
Greetings from Belgium.
This past week has been full of good things. Last Sunday Declan and I had a great gig at the 41st Cambridge Folk Festival. Then on to Holland for my first gigs there in 13 years and tonight we are in Dranouter, Ypres where I last played in 1995.
Cambridge is a unique event, one of those gigs where the Festival itself is top of the bill. It sells out even before the Acts are announced. I think it is my fifth visit since first playing there with Planxty in 1974.
Next on to the Paradiso in Amsterdam, a fine venue with a great atmosphere and receptive audience. It is good to once again experience the way other countries listen to music, the way different nationalities respond to the work. It is hard to define but part of it is that non- English speakers have to work much harder to engage with a gig that is so lyrics based. Yet they are prepared to do this and I greatly appreciate the effort they make. The aftermath of the second night was slightly tainted when phone and money disappeared from the dressing room but nothing important was lost. On then to a lovely market town in South Holland, Bergen Op Zoom. It being holiday time the Town Square was deserted when we arrived but come showtime a great crowd had assembled. Many had travelled long distances. There was a bus-full from Germany, one from Wales and numerous Irish all gathered together to give the old Hall an International atmosphere.
I like The Netherlands, the respect that is apparent for the land, the manner in which they have a social aspect to their planning and development and the way that the rights of cyclists and pedestrians are recognised. There are good transport systems too. Of course I don’t get to see below the surface and my opinions are not educated ones. I walked around Amsterdam for 2 days and, as cities go, it is a nice place to visit. If you fancy a nice joint as you ramble you can drop into a coffee shop and they will provide you with a spliff to help you on your way OR a bigger spliff that will make you forget where you are going. Then, if perchance, you need your knob polished, the good Burghers of the town will provide that service too and, by all accounts, it is as civilised as such a service can be. The final verdict should be left to the women in the windows.
There are some beautiful Cathedrals too but not much sign of the locals at prayer, all seem to have background music. In one case I went in to hear the organ music only to find that it was a cd being played but I really enjoyed the acoustics of it all.
It was my first time to travel to a venue by boat. That was a special treat.
Some interesting comments on the website.
I feel I must explain that Declan Sinnott is not a GUEST on these gigs. He is an integral part of the work that I do. I could not do these shows without him. The music he plays inspires me in my singing, I could not have a more creative nor reliable collaborator. Everything is different each night, we do not have a set programme, most nights we decide upon the opening number as we sit down to perform. When we are on tour we rehearse each day and we also play for 30 minutes before we go on stage. We do this because we enjoy it. Since I returned to gigging in 2001 almost all gigs have been with Declan and I hope to continue with him for the foreseeable future.
There are some new dates up on the gig page. Concerts are confirmed for Drumshambo, Clifden, Liverpool, Berlin, Hamburg and we will be adding 5 further dates this year in Dublin, Galway and Glengarriff (which will be posted shortly.) Next year there are dates confirmed in London, Birmingham and Manchester, more will follow in due course.
I have decided to re-record 3 of the songs for the next album. We are nearly there now and we will record and mix the rest when we get home next week.
Welcome home Niall, Martin and Jim.
At the time of writing I have not played the Dranouter gig yet and the Bergen op zoop list has disappeared…
(Set lists for this week ^)
July 20th 2005
Cork is blooming in its occupancy of European City of Culture. At least that is my experience. Of course, for every one praising the 12 month long festival there are ten tearing it to shreds, and this is how it should be. The debate has raged in Cork about the success or failure and this itself has been a good thing. Whilst my own experience was wonderful it was a fringe event and had little input from the actual festival itself. I certainly met no one from the Official Festival but I did meet 4,000 people who made up the most enthusiastic audience I have ever encountered Leeside. The Tent was quite a spectacle, great height and sightlines and the promoters spared nothing when it came to sound and lights, there was a superb sound system in place and despite the vastness of the arena I was able to whisper certain lyrics and it carried right throughout. The silence in the venue for BURNING TIMES, MAGIC NIGHTS and JAMES CONNOLLY was truly inspiring and I could tell that even those in the uppermost bleachers were hearing every word. I spotted the Poet Patrick Galvin in the crowd and sang his fine song “Where is Our James Connolly”. The audience listened in silence and then roared their appreciation to the author in their midst. As Declan And I stood side stage waiting to begin, the Cork singer Hank Wedell introduced me to his son Rory. This put me in mind of the great lyric Nigel Rolfe wrote for the late Rory Gallagher. I took a chance and sang it. Even though Declan had not played it through before he rose to the occasion and it was one of the high points of the night. We gave Eamon Casey an outing too and a new verse was well received.
” When the poor Old Pope came to Ireland way back in that Holy Time.
Eamon Casey and Michael Clery served the Mass and poured the wine.
Two Jockey-boys they’d Ride for Ireland, whilst preaching us Morality.
Sure God love them they’re only Human………………..
………….Annie Murphy might not agree.”
We seem to have finished recording the album. I failed to get one particular song down. It just did not feel right. However we did get 11 songs down on tape and all that remains now is to mix the sounds, get some artwork done for the sleeve, (I think I have the title sorted) and work towards a release date. October is looking likely. Declan and I did it together along with the engineer Tim Martin who worked with us on This is the Day, the last studio album from 2002. Declan played a plethora of guitars whilst I wielded my new Martin, it’s breaking in nicely. There is a touch of Bowrawn on a few tracks and some backing vocals likewise.
Next up is Cambridge then onto to Holland and Belgium. Looking forward to this bunch of gigs and to hearing some new music.
July 11th 2005
Last week we lost our comrade Frank Harte of Chapelizod, Co. Dublin. He leaves his family broken-hearted and a host of friends in mourning at his passing. The gap he leaves is enormous but so too is his legacy. As well as being a good singer he was the most important collector of songs this country has known. Frank was a fine architect by trade but he was devoted to the world of songs. He maintained that, while the Rich and Powerful were writing and revising history the Poor and The Oppressed were writing the songs. Throughout his life he set about collecting songs from every quarter of Irish History and Society. Over the past eight years he was collaborating on a series of recordings with Donal Lunny and was still working at the time of his passing. Personally I have lost a special friend. Our relationship was based almost entirely on our mutual love of songs and singing. He was utterly generous with his vast repertoire. How often have I checked my phone messages to find Frank singing some verse I had been seeking. Sometimes he would call me just to hear a bit of a song down the phone. Betimes I opened my eyes at the end of a song to find him weeping unashamedly and then we would both laugh at the good of it for we knew how blessed our lives were with this wonderful gift of song. Last Friday at his funeral mass the family were surrounded by singers and musicians who came to bid a fond farewell.
” He was a quare one fol de dee get outa that,
He was a quare one I’ll tell you”
Spent a good week in Cork with Declan Sinnott. We did some recording in The Well Road Studios and we may have an album. We are letting it sit for a fortnight to allow it mature but I think we may have cracked it. Two previous attempts yielded nought but this time the songs flew onto the tape.
I am going to add a new section to this site. It will be a review section. I have a few items of interest to kick it off and we can see how it evolves. I have also commenced replying to some entries in the guest-book. I am more inclined towards comments about the work itself.
[Reviews page: www.christymoore.com/reviews]
I have reached a point where it is no longer possible to fulfil the numerous requests for songs at gigs. Between letters, emails, notes- at- venues and requests -roared- on -the -night, I feel that I am in danger of turning into a juke- box. Each concert needs to develop its own momentum.
The concerts around the world last weekend appear to have caught everyone’s imagination. If only these aims could be achieved. I have the utmost respect and regard for both Bono and Bob Geldof. I hate it when cynics take pot-shots at them – High Stool Hypocrites who would not get off their arses to do a good turn for anyone and they have the temerity to slag off those who make huge sacrifices to try and help others. I watched a BBC documentary last week about the ” Feed The World” and “Band Aid” projects and I was gob-smacked by the enormity of the tasks undertaken by Geldof. These events can and will effect change. As to what extent, time alone will tell.
I am excited to be playing at Cambridge Festival again and also to return to mainland Europe with gigs in Holland and Belgium in August and Germany in October. I am planning to play at The Point, Dublin later this year, probably late December. Dates have been confirmed for London, Manchester and Birmingham next April. Information about all forthcoming gigs will be posted on the gig page as it becomes available.
That’s it for today, to my 7 loyal readers I wish ye a good summer,
keep in touch.
June 21st 2005
The Scottish Trip was memorable. The Usher Hall in Edinburgh is as good a venue as I’ve ever played anywhere in the world, beautiful architecture inside and out, good shape and sightlines within and absolutely perfect acoustics for our gig. I could tell that the audience were happy to be in this glorious Hall. The PA and Lights were all in top form and the dressing room was sheer luxury with a Steinway Piano, which we both played elegantly and otherwise, before and after the gig. Even the take away Rogan Josh was above average although I could have done without the coconut. I had hoped for Kushi’s but they close early on a Sunday. First ate there in 1967, I believe it was the First Indian restaurant in Scotland.
The gig itself was the best I have ever enjoyed in “Auld Reekie”. (There have been many, The Police Club, Auld Triangle, the old Traverse and the new one too, Playhouse, The Queens, The McCalmans club, The Corries Show, The old Haymarket with Planxty in “The Fantastical Feats of Finn McCool” back in 1973. Remind me to tell you about that!)
The audience were ready for the songs.
23 songs that ran for 1 hour and 50 minutes but it was all over in an instant, in the blink of an eye, and Declan and I are back in the room breathless and gratified by the tumultuous applause you have given the work, all ages and shapes and sizes and colours of you, all standing right back up to the very back row of the balcony and great big smiles and a feeling of oneness. I know I am going on a bit here but fuck it, was marvellous. Then everyone is gone and we potter around packing up and back to the 5 star kip and wash the socks for the trip to The Clyde.
Arriving in Glasgow is always interesting. It’s a special place for this singer. I’ve had many friends and many influences in this old city. Hamish Imlach was my mentor and friend and I learned too from Alex Campbell, Danny Kyle, Freddy Anderson, Matt McGinn and enjoyed the nights I played in a host of venues from the Forum in East Kilbride, the Rockland in Paisley.
We kicked off in The Concert Hall and it was a grand gig indeed.
Then it was on to Barrowlands. This auld Hall is as far as you can get from the Concert Hall but the Gig was one of, if not THE, best gigs of my life. The Barrowlands audience and atmosphere is second to none. It is sweaty and dingy and sinful and holy and I love every bit of it. The stage is festooned with the gaffa tape of 10,000 gigs and the dressing room still whiffs of decades of quiffs and coiffs and powdered fannys. The whole area becomes the gig with people chatting out on the road or thronging into Bairds for a swift bevy, there was a tribute band bating it out across the road, it was all shaping up well. I was in the dressing room with Wally Page who had come over from Dublin to sample The Barrowlands Experience.
Freddie White played a great opening set and left us with a well-prepared stage. Out we went before crowd and from the first chord it just played itself. There is nothing to match the sound of the Barrowlands crowd singing along. They rise to the occasion time and time again and, seconds after lifting the roof, they will descend into total silence for a quiet song they have never heard before. I look down into the crowd time and again and I see faces that love these songs almost as much as I do. (Mind you, that’s not all I see but I won’t go there just now.)
I now realise that I should record an album and a dvd in Barrowlands. I suppose I should do it sooner rather than later. (Watch this site). I can tell from comments on the guest page that many of you feel the same way. Declan played a blinder and all the roadcrew were buzzing too. Thanks to the staff at Barrowlands and all at Regular Music who promoted the 3 gigs.
The set ran for 2 hours and 20 minutes.
May 18th 2005
May 13th – What a day! Head out with Michael Devine driving west towards The Plains of Sweet Mayo to play once more In The Travellers Friend Theatre in Castlebar. My first gig as a 60-year young fellow and I am full of excitement and anticipation. How the road has changed. Chapelizod, Lucan, Leixlip, Maynooth, Kilcock, Mullingar and all the rest of them now by-passed, there was a time when I had a favoured watering hole in every town along the way but these days its all “sparkling- or -still “in the limo!
First time I played this venue was with Planxty in 1972, it was Christmas Eve babe and the hall was cold and almost empty. I’ve played it every year since and both act and venue have undergone a myriad of changes. Last night around 1500 people gathered to hear the songs in a venue that is as good as any in the country. Freddie White opened the show making a welcome return and the crowd were surprised and delighted to see him. In the audience was Gerry Murray from Charlestown author of “The Least We Can Do” from the Ride On album of 1985 – so we polished that one in the pre gig rehearsal and gave it a run out for the author.
Also present was local musician Johnny Hoban with his wife Isobel. He is one of my favourite players and has a unique repertoire and style. We’ve travelled many roads together. There were a lot of Americans in the audience, a large group of whom had made the trip to attend the gig. I find this dedication to the work awesome and it lifts my heart to find that such enthusiasm exists for this music and these words that Declan Sinnott and I put out on the air and let fly through the night. We both feel privileged to have such an audience as this. Of course there were one or two barflies in the ointment but, in the main they were good- humoured and the only harm in them was hanging out of them.
There was also an interesting American Lady who took extreme exception to my version of Morrissey’s song “America, You are not the world” which I like to call “America, I Love You”. She was seemingly distraught and has threatened to report me to the “Irish Echo”. She caused a fierce hullabaloo and put on quite a show of solidarity with all things white and supremeÖ
In reply to some recent questions (but not all – regrets.)
May 10th 2005
I’d like to hear from Evan who came to the Wexford gig. He came with two friends from Enniscorthy and asked for “Casey”. Told me his favourite song was number 7 on the pink. Wexford was sweet. The Hall of Mary is full of history and atmosphere. Dingy and crumpled, stale and dampish but once the lights go down the magic seeps in.
Freddie White was our special guest. He has returned to Ireland after living in Foreign Parts for many years. Last time we played together in Wexford was in 1979 with the Anti-Nuclear Roadshow. Most of the audience recognised him immediately while those too young to have seen him before soon fell beneath the spell of his performance. He opened the concert gently and presented us with a perfect stage. Declan knows the place well. He played there in 1968 with his first band “The Perfumed Garden”. We had Billy Roche at the show. Another veteran of the Anti-Nuclear Festivals in Carnsore Point he now devotes his time to writing plays and stories. His “Poor beast in the Rain” is currently on in the Gate Theatre in Dublin. His plays are wonderful.
Pierce Turner came too, I have recorded a number of his songs and we polished up his “Musha God Help Her” specially for the night that was in it. Walked the Wexford boardwalk and mooched the lanes and old streets. Checked out the betting offices and eating houses. There is a whiff of cordite in the air and there were pikes round every corner. With it’s narrow streets it is a great town for eavesdropping and I heard some grand snippets. We stayed at Whites hotel which was warm and fancy. There is a great dinner in the bar. Access to the backstage is through the Dunnes Stores carpark which is a good reality check. We had solid rehearsals and the second soundcheck yielded up a rip roaring Moving Hearts session of “No time for Love” “Russian Roulette” Faithful Departed” and “All I Remember” that unsettled the bats in the rafters and had the roadcrew reaching for the ear plugs. Myself and the Good Dr Vibes were ready for action.
A week later and we hit Waterford on the day that Sir Doctor A.J.F. O’Reilly announced that there are to be mass redundancies at the Waterford Glass Factory in Dungarvan. There is an air of despair and frustration and I feel angry that this billionaire – greedy, much honoured, lauded, opinionated buffoon can destroy hundreds of families almost on a whim whilst his newspapers barely carry the story and certainly offer little or no criticism of his actions. I once hero-worshipped this awful man. As a boy I saw him play rugby for Ireland and he looked like a mighty warrior but the golden beans and the diamonds made a mere mortal out of him.
We had just the one night in The Forum Waterford. It was a special gig for at midnight I turned 60 years of age and I felt like doing a long set so we played for almost 2 and a half hours. It started off well with a different run of songs but we developed some sound problems and I had a tuning gremlin which forced me to stop in mid song and leave the stage temporarily whereupon Declan took up the reins and turned in a great song whilst I gathered myself together in the wings. We shook off the problems and after 5 encores we left the audience who were almost as happy as we were. There was a grand surprise of 2 rogan joshes with chapati and rice for the hungry minstrels and this was barely finished when the road crew, Paddy, Mick, Davy, Johnny, Dikon and Geoff came in with a cake and candles and gave the most unmusical and tuneless version of “Happy Birthday” that was ever heard but it sounded good to me for there was camaraderie and fellowship in the air. And that’s just about it for now.
I had planned to write a very different chat to this – one that started;
Oh list to the lay of the poor Irish harper
And scorn not the strain of his old withered hand
But remember those fingers could once move much sharper to play merry tunes from his own native land.
At a Pattern or Fair he could twist his shillelagh or dance around the floor with his brogues filled with straw
Whilst all the young maidens for miles gathered round him to hear Bold Phelim Brady The Bard Of Armagh.
April 14th 2005
I start the next studio album tomorrow. There are 11 songs ready to go and a few others standing by to be tried and tested. I am looking forward to a new beginning, I feel good about the shape of this work and how it is emerging. Five of the pieces have been played at gigs these past 2 years and you may be familiar with them. I have not written any of these songs but my commitment to them is total and, where possible, I have collaborated with the writers when I needed to make adjustments. I need to sing songs in my own language, my own dialect, and betimes changes must be attempted. I will change the tense if it suits me better, sometimes I have to switch gender or even person if it helps my flow. Some consider this sacrilegious. That makes it even more interesting. 40 years ago I would try to sing using Woody Guthrie’s English or Bob Dylan’s or Ewan McColl’s but then I heard John Reilly’s language and recognised that my Kildare dialect suits me better. Today when I sing Sacco and Vanzetti it sounds more Moorefield Terrace than Massachusetts.
Tonight I have a sound in my head for tomorrow’s recording but I don’t know how that will be achieved. Declan Sinnott is my collaborator in this work and he brings a deep understanding of songs along with his musicality and guitar playing. We have played these songs time and time again yet still there is so much to discover. Songs change with age and take on new meaning and identity as the days roll on. Some of these songs were written decades ago but are clearly about things that happened last week, about history that has yet to be made. I also have a sleeve in my head and a title but a good overdub could change all that. I hope for some sweet and not so sweet backing vocals. A longstanding wish, seldom if ever achieved in my work to date.
There are various queries in the Guestbook. Yes I do read it constantly but I seldom answer directly. I have no definite plans to play in America this year, nor Australia (much as I would like to). We may be playing Dranouter Festival in Belgium this summer and I would like to play in Germany and Holland at this time if it works out. All information will be posted on the Gig site at the Homepage as dates become available. Apart from the Gigs currently posted here I hope to add concerts in Dublin and London in the autumn and before then let out a few roars in Galway, Killarney and maybe Leitrim. Derry and Belfast are also due a visit. Looking forward to returning to Cambridge Festival where I first performed with Planxty in the 70s. Maybe get a chance to hang out there and hear some songs, meet some friends. I remember sitting around a fire with Diz Dizley as he played like a demon, singing with Rene Werner, listening to Jeannie Robertson, Fred Jordan, Tony Rose, Martin Wyndham Read, The Watersons. It wont be the same without Ken Woollard at the helm but I’ll sing a song for him. The big new imported fancy tent in Cork Euro City of Sliotar should be interesting, on the same bill as Diana Ross and Nick Cave, Al Green and Ronan Keating, Andrea Bocelli and Paddy Casey. Its a bit like running in the Grand National with Ruby Walsh on board, culture comes in all shapes and sizes and Declan and myself will give ye all the culture ye want with little or no thought for our own personal safety.
Heading for Wexford next week, back to Declan’s home patch, OK Frank, make plenty of sandwiches. Goodnight my (3) loyal readers see ye down in The Model.
March 30th 2005
Some of them are always slaggin’ me about playing my trusty Takamine guitars, I have three of them, the eldest is 18 and the others not much younger. They would not be rated by either the guitar experts nor aficionados but I like the feel of them. As a company, Takamine were just about as unhelpful as they could have been, so I stopped calling them 12 years ago but that does not detract from my 3 instruments. I can’t speak for the younger models but they don’t seem to sound as good. Got my first classy guitar recently – a unique Martin. Play it at home all the time but so far have not been able to get a stage sound that I like but we’ll keep trying. Two years ago I changed my bodhran. Donal discovered a maker in New Zealand who fashioned two superb instruments before returning to his main gig, which is making Violins. Since first tapping this drum I have never been able to play another. I play a Yamaha piano at home and have played a Juno 50 keyboard with Planxty.
My principal instrument is this old voice which is still, Thanks Be, in good order. It serves me well and I am blessed that it still functions so well. My first teacher was my mother who sang constantly at home and who encouraged us to sing as soon as we could talk. She herself sang classic songs, light opera, drawing room ballads, traditional songs and pop songs of the day and could accompany herself on the piano. At a young age I sang in the Patrician Brothers Choir under the batons of Bros. Brendan, Michael and Lazerian. Then I was blessed to study under Marie Slowey and Henry Flanagan who gave me a basic understanding of how the singing voice works. My instrument is limited in range but as I’ve grown older I’ve come to realise both its shortcomings and qualities and I’m still learning how best to work within these parameters.
The whole bodhran thing can be a bit dodgy. It is a recent arrival to the mainstream of Irish Music. In all my travels through the 60’s I only recall a handful of players. Ned Farrell in Prosperous was the first I heard and then around Dublin Joey Walsh, Matt Walsh and Bowrawn Byrne from Inchicore were among the first Bodhran men in the city. To the best of my knowledge Sean O’Riada, was the first man to bring it to the national stage by having Bodhran players in his ensembles, Peader Mercier took over from a man called Ronnie ——; both very distinctive players. I write here of a time before the dodginess began. The thing about this wonderful and infernal instrument is that it is both easy to obtain and simple to play. There are a small number of players who can enhance some of the music, there are virtuoso players who perform great tricks but who sometimes add nothing to the substance of the music and there are the legions who wade in unencumbered by any sense whatsoever of what the tune might be about (and I write this as one who formerly belonged to the latter!). I know what it is like for I travelled that road but I had some good tutors.
Having dropped last years album project I am ready to get going again. A different project is emerging from the ashes of the last and there are a number of new songs as well.
Back in Sligo last week after a 10 year absence. Reconnected with many old friends and made lots of new ones. The first night went grand, started off a bit slow until we played Wandering Aengus which brought a bit of magic to the proceedings, Yeats saved the night, for Declan and I suddenly took off. The second night was a different story. From the off we were straight into top gear. Perhaps the best versions ever of Biko, Yellow Triangle, Go Move Shift, Aengus and we also ventured some new material without a hitch. It was a special night in many ways not least that some members of the audience had travelled from Japan, USA, Germany and Lancashire, not to mention Coolaney and Colooney, Ballisodare and Grange. It is a humbling experience when these songs and tunes are so honoured; to be in the middle of it all is pure privilege and almighty crack.
When we came out to encore I started “Ride On” in the wrong key so I called on Declan to sing a song whilst I gathered myself together, he did a savage version of “I Shall Be Released” and we then tore into “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” before ending it all with “Ride On” in the right key. Another bunch of gigs done and dusted. I wonder how many more there will be. Must be getting up for the 5000 by now and still it never fails to excite – the smell of the crowd and the roar of the greasepaint. Long may it last.
See you in Armagh or some auld kip along the way.
February 23rd 2005
Hope you Two are keeping well. The Planxty project finished in London. We have decided to let the Hare sit for a few months and then we will gather again to consider the situation. It was a great success. The music shone and the four of us enjoyed being part of Planxty again. Watch this space.
I am back at square one with my recording schedule. Last years plan for an album and dvd is gone. As of now there is nothing specific in place but I will not rest easy until I have this currant batch of songs committed to “vinyl”.
This years gigs are taking shape. There are dates confirmed for Kilkenny and Sligo with Ennis, Armagh, Castlebar almost finalised along with Brighton and Cambridge Festivals. I hope to play Dublin, Cork, Manchester, Birmingham and London but there is nothing concrete to report yet. America, Australia, Germany and Holland are very slight possibilities. Yes, I would love to visit a venue near you but I must confess to finding the rigours of International Travel more traumatic than in an earlier life. That said I do sometimes yearn for Woolongong or the Stadthalle in Ausfahrt, The great American Music Hall near Sausalito but then some Impresario calls from The plains of sweet Mayo and Gitser don’t need no work permit to go to Castlebar, don’t need no gaddamn fingerprinting neither, still an all Killenaule, never say never and if Carsten gets his finger out we might cross the Rhine before it gets too late.
December 8th 2004
The Gig Situation
The Philharmonic in Liverpool was special. I’ve always loved playing that town and since my first gig there in 1967 I don’t recall ever having a bad one – (although there are one or two that I don’t recall at all). My good mate Bruce Scott (who wrote The People’s Own MP) came to the first night and when everyone was gone home he sang a song to the empty auditorium and it was one of those stirring soulful musical moments that I’ll cherish – alongside memories of Liam O’Flynn playing the Gold Ring in 1972, Maggie Barry singing The Wild Colonial Boy in 1967, Brian Wilson at the Point last year, Richie Havens singing “On The Run” at the HQ a few years ago and Annie Briggs singing Blackwaterside at the Scots House London in 1966, to mention but a few.
Bristol was solid. A grand old town with plenty of bridges, a bit like Cork, and The Colston is a hall that has seen manys the performance, each one leaving a memory that gives the Hall its special atmosphere. Good people working there too, all welcoming the band and crew, which is not always the case. (Beware of venues where the staff are uniformed, it sometimes has a strange effect on folk!).
I think I’m going to give the big festivals a miss. I feel our way of playing is not entirely suited to the great outdoors. It was interesting to play Glastonbury and Finsbury Park but I just don’t feel able to get the vibe together. While it can be exciting, the buzz of going on between stadium acts, as soon as the gig starts I miss the vibe of a good venue and an audience who have come specifically to hear us play. I opened my eyes and looked out at the throng standing in the pissings of rain and its written on their faces “When is that auld bollix gonna finish! Bring on James Brown so as we can go home for our tea”! Its great to hear Morrissey and share a bill with McCartney or Dylan but give me The Barrowlands or Kentish Town any day of the week. I’ve seen Springsteen work an arena and he carries it off no bother, Radiohead too and U2 and Coldplay but these guys are geared up to that sort of work. I go out there and it just feels weird so I’m going to leave it out from here on in.
Anyway there are some gigs taking shape for next year. Almost confirmed are a bunch of UK dates. New York and Boston in the fall of the year. Still trying to get back to Hamburg and Berlin – nothing to report on Australia except I really want to play there again. A clutch of Irish dates in the pipeline and all will be confirmed in the gig news section as soon as I know for definite.
Look out for Frank Harte’s albums if you are interested in the old historical songs. Recently he has been recording albums of songs that pertain to different aspects of our history. Albums devoted to Songs of Napoleon Bonaparte, The Famine, The 1798 Rebellion and most recently a set of songs about The Irish Navvy. All these albums are produced and accompanied by Donal Lunny and I recommend them to anyone interested in the Traditional songs.
November 22nd, 2004
Had some lovely experiences since the last chat. An old neighbour asked me to launch his book of memories of growing up in our town – Newbridge – The Town I love so well by Lauri Murray. I arrived at the Ryston social club by the Liffey at the back of the barracks near Lunny’s house and the room was thronged with all the old neighbours and friends, their childer and grandchilder. There were men and women there I had not seen since National School days almost 50 years ago and sure none of us had changed a bit. There were men there from the days of Gaelic and women from the nights of fantasy and one or two others. The speeches started after Lauri himself had greeted the crowd. The Parish priest from the top of the town was followed by the Parish priest from the bottom of the town, who preceded the Lord Mayor and then the ribbon was cut and the fun began. There was a lovely cake from Mrs Dooley (nee Hennessey), there was a lorry load of freshly made sandwiches, there was wine for the ladies and real drink too. It’s a lovely book and it brought back memories that were otherwise gone forever.
Then it was on to Holyhead to provide entertainment for the Anti-Terror squad who, bored with their lot, picked me and Mick out to harass and intimidate with their mind-games and cynical bon homie ñ”I’m-only-doin’-my- job-shite”. They did not search the vehicle or the 14 instrument cases yet they insisted it was a security check. They quizzed me about our children and Mick about his deceased parents and siblings. The questioning was not related to security but was designed more to be invasive and demeaning and perhaps to try and make us angry. They did not succeed altho’ they did succeed in scaring me for a while. They had no effect whatsoever on 4 fantastic concerts – two in Bristol and two in Liverpool. The bottom line here is that I am privileged to have countless thousands of people in the UK who want to hear these songs and I will continue to travel to England Scotland and Wales for as long as I am able and welcome. At the end of the day we continued on our way.
A number of people have suggested that it was all a publicity stunt. I wish to say that I am glad to be in a position to be able to highlight the fact that this is still happening to Irish people travelling to and from Britain. According to the Police themselves it is routine practice. Many people would feel too intimidated to complain, others would not know how to go about it and would simply want to put it behind them. I totally accept that security operations are a fact of modern day travel and I fully appreciate and co-operate with those whose job it is to carry them out. What is happening to some Irish people entering and leaving Britain has nothing to do with security. It is harassing and intimidating, it is racist and should not be tolerated. I’d like to finish by adding that at no time did I speak to the press. The Irish Times broke the story four days after the event. When the tabloids picked it up it was starting to grow legs and one journalist was trying to introduce a drug element into his story. Only then did I issue a statement and talk to Pat Kenny on Irish radio.
Started some recording last month at Pulse studios in Dublin. It was to have been the beginnings of a new studio album, the first since 2001. After a slow start it began to move a bit and we got 10 basic tracks down. While some of the work is sounding good and has potential I began to realise that perhaps I do not have an album of material at this time so I have postponed the project for the time being. My personal reaction to this is twofold. On the one hand I regret it for I was looking forward to some studio time with Donal and Declan. On the other hand I feel good at having reached a place where I can make such a decision. In the past there were many occasions when I was not ready to record but carried on regardless, sometimes for contractual reasons other times because I had neither the will nor the confidence to call a halt. I also realise that some of you will be disappointed by this but bear with me and I’ll deliver the bread when it’s baked. It will be sweeter for the waiting.
Planxty came together yesterday to begin rehearsing for the forthcoming concerts in December and January. The music is still a joy to play. Most of the original repertoire still feels fresh and we will bring in some new pieces as we progress. Many of the people coming to hear us were not around when we last gigged and we feel that our older listeners would not be too happy if, after a 25 year absence, we failed to deliver the favourites. Hopefully, along the way, new favourites will be fashioned.
That said, I’m off to rehearse with the band. I want to be in good shape when we play London!
September 14th, 2004
Some hure of a bug got into my computer and tore the bejasus out of it. This all happened around the time of the last Chat note. Initially I was put out, not being able to email or read the guest book, but then I shagged off on the holidays and got me life back-without-computer and the muesli started to taste better. However after a period of clean living the yogurt and yoga nearly has me head wrecked and then I met up with a few complainants at recent gigs, moanin’ on about the state of my web site, calling me an indolent slattern and such, so I put on the pan for a good fry up and cranked up the ghetto blaster for a decent turn on before heading back towards my loyal readers North and South of the river.
The Lunny fellow lashed off to the Far East after Glastonbury to leave myself & Declan to face The Cork Opera House two handedly. We did the 4 nights, Jim & Angela from London and Dan Moorhouse were centre front row each night, so it really seemed like one long gig. Cork is a model of a city to visit. I love The Hill, The English market, Crowley’s Music Shop, Kenny Lee, Isaacs, the rivers and bridges and the mullet. I got my nails done, my head tended, bought some gear at the HMV sale and we had 4 deadly gigs. It’s a class venue. It’s a hard place to hire and there are difficulties attached to playing it but the positives far outweigh the minor problems. The Hall has a spirit within, a history of performance, the stage is a magic space on which to perform and Declan & I felt inspired by The Old Lady. We were joined by the brother, Luka Bloom, who delivered four wonderful opening sets and joined us each night to encore with “City of Chicago” & “Black is the Colour”.
Joe Cahill asked me to play at this year’s West Belfast Festival. As he was in ill health and failing I decided to name the gig “A tribute to Joe Cahill”. He passed on a week before, but Annie and family felt the gig should go ahead. It was a muted night but eventually fun broke out.
2 solid gigs in De Barras. It has become an annual event and has the vibe of starting a new season. It holds just over 100 people and is tight at that with the front row literally inches away. I always like to launch a few new (to me) songs and this time is was “So Much Wine” (aka Butterfly) from the Handsom Family & “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” by Bob D. I’ve also been doing Morrissey’s “America is not the World”. For a long time I was trying to write a song that covered the confusion of my relationship with America. I was getting nowhere when my wife suggested I listen to Morrissey’s song and I was immediately smitten.
Getting ready to record an album in October. Nothing pinned down yet but hopefully I’ll release it next May time. The last studio album was “This is the Day” in 2001. I have an almost complete set of songs, a number of which have been gigged fairly regularly these past couple of years while others have emerged more recently. My writing has dried up. I’ve not finished a song since “Scallcrows” in 2001. I don’t lose any sleep over this for my main interest is in singing good songs no matter who writes them. I would sometimes harbour slight envy towards those prolific writers who, upon hearing a spider fart, can produce a double album in no time! While it has been a joy to sing songs that I managed to write myself I probably get more from singing the ancient songs that have stood the test of time. Doubtless there is an excitement in performing a new song but to be the carrier of a timeless song that can still the night, is a very special experience.
I recently heard John Flanagan sing a sean nÛs song to a large crowd, most of whom, like myself, did not understand the language of the song, yet we were transfixed by the emotion, the poetry, and the tradition of what we were hearing.
Planxty will do 12 gigs in December and January – looks like Galway, Dublin, Belfast & London. The gigs earlier in the year went very well and the music simply took off immediately. There was a huge unfulfilled demand for tickets so we are doing some more dates and I look forward to playing with Planxty again.
I’ll wind up now and post this.
See you along the way.
August 11th, 2004
Apologies for the lack of communication. I am in an isolated place and my Computer died five weeks ago. As soon as I am up and running I’ll have the chat.
June 30th, 2004
Just back from a week in England where we had a good time and a brace of enjoyable gigs. Before leaving we did a warm up in Vicar St, Dublin to give the Lunny Lad a chance to settle back in to the Companero’s after a spell in Japan, China and Iceland which along with a new Frank Harte Album kept him busy since we last played together. Before taking the boat I did The Bush Shove in Dublin but he still came and schmoozed around Dromoland with P.M. Aherne in tow with chest well puffed out.
We kicked off at Finsbury Park to a damp but warmly, welcoming crowd, many of whom were waitng for either or all of The Charlatans, Counting Crows and The Bob Lad. I had hoped to play before Bob but Vince kept bouncing me down the bill, for a while there I thought he was going to put me on before the breakfast! It went well but the following night we had a smasher at Kentish Town, a really special gig which ranks highly in my greatest nights list. From the first number the audience soared and we 3 were as tight as could be as we celebrated with a mid-summers night dream gig in a dark and musty old kip where Oswald once rallied his troops to the Nazi call. We sang “Burning Times” once more for the late Rachel Corrie and later I received a copy of a recent documentary on Channel 4 which someone kindly took the trouble to record and get to me.
Then we moved to Warwick University for 2 nights. A unique venue situated on the campus but drawing its audience from the hinterland. It made a stark contrast to the preceeding gigs it being a sit down concert venue. The atmosphere was very different but just as inspiring and welcoming. Audiences communicate very differently in the stand up and sit down situation. People move and groove more freely, are more likely to connect and communicate in the stand up gig. From the stage, looking out, the emotion of an audience is more apparent. Sometimes at a sit down gig it is impossible to see any faces from the stage and I always feel a bit dis-connected and at a dis-advantage.
Then on to glorious Glastonbury. My 3rd visit, having previously played there in 1986 and 1994, it was great to be invited back again. The sun shone as we arrived and there was a sense of a huge drying out going on. We arrived in the back stage area as Joss Stone took to the stage and She performed a brilliant set. We settled in nicely but during Burning Times the rain returned. Happily the audience stayed with us and the set went off well under the circumstances. Truth is, I find it next to impossible to do my work properly at these events. It really is a case of going out and hoping for the best. Some bands are geared totally towards large outdoor performance, while I feel my own music is better suited to the indoor arena. Time and again I’ve said “never again” but then the invitation comes and I fall once more under the spell. How could I say “No” to sharing a bill with James Brown and Morrissey, Supergrass and The English National Opera with McCartney and Oasis as the warm up bands. Sure Jasus how could a fellow turn that down!
Work is now commencing on the next album which I hope to record next April. I will be adding another 8 gigs to this years schedule and next year will do New York and Boston in March (circumstances permitting) with probable dates in Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and possible dates in Berlin, Hamburg and Amsterdam.
All dates will be announced on the gig page on this site A.S.A.P.
May 31st, 2004
Hello Friends, I am more than happy with the way this project has emerged. I like the feedback from the gigs and the recordings, and it is always encouraging to learn that people are connecting with the work in the same way that I do myself.
News.. Bush gig at Point on June 19th…..Watch out for details elsewhere on this site.
News.. Donal Lunny has returned from China and Iceland and will join Declan Sinnott and I for the June UK tour. We are doing a warm up gig at Vicar Street on June 17th.
Recent gigs in Bundoran were memorable. Little John Nee did support and set the stage perfectly. A memorable moment occurred when there was a total power failure. Mick Devine came sidestage and shone a torch while I moved to the lip of the stage and sang John Gibb’s song “Irish Ways and Irish Laws”. The audience obliged by being utterly still and silent. This seems to happen about once every 10 years and always provides a magic moment.
Some replies……..Sorry Mike in Ballinaskelligs but all them auld kips look the same to me. The thing about Sigerson’s song is that it applies to every town in Ireland that ever shipped its childer across the say and that’s why we all understand it so well. I first heard it sung by a Corkman in Birmingham and later by Sean Garvey in Capel St. I heard Tim Dennehy sing it in Clare and Siney Crotty sang it for me once in O’Donoghues shortly before Hon Garech Browne got barred for having long hair and no socks. Of course every body knows its a Ballybunion song.
Re different gig enquiries……
March 2005 – maybe Boston and New York.
Scotland is a priority in 2005 as I need a whiff of the Barrowlands.
Derry will be achieved ASAP.
To Laura in Texas I say that I hope someday to record in Austin. The late Bill Graham told me I should and maybe I will.
Looks like there will be a gig at the West Belfast Festival. I wish to perform a special tribute concert for my old friend Joe Cahill and date and venue will be announced soon in Co Aondrum.
Janeann in Vegas, thanks for making the long haul and I’m glad it went well for you. Mitch in Dungannon, bring your own T shirt for I’ll be hanging on to mine. Anne Pasko, regrets on Burning Times, it is not a song I can do at will. Shippes, Butterly was the owner of the venue where the tragedy befell the 48. Re Lisdoonvarna Music Festival, it will not happen this year as far as I know. Francis K. of Ireland. You seem to harbour resentments. Tell us more about yourself and come out from behind that big bush.
There may be gigs in Berlin, Hamburg, Paris and Amsterdam. Have the odd look
into the News and Gigs page and I’ll try and keep you posted.
Some queries about the extra tracks on the Box Set. If you have not found them you are not listening long enough.
I was at a Luka Bloom gig last night. It was very good. Catch him if you can. He is my kid brother.
May 18th 2004.
I have been reprimanded and rightly so. Two months and not a bleddy word, but dear readers do rest assured that I have not been idle. I’ve been working hard at new repertoire, training hard for upcoming dates, trudging up dead end streets, enjoying glimpses of an early summer and planning the “When Bush Comes To Shove” extravaganza at the Point Theatre on June 19th.
Had some great gigs since last chat. The year has been going well on the gig front. Seems like The Box has brought in a new group of listeners. I’ve brought some of the old repertoire into the current set and it’s holding it’s own with the later material. It is great to rediscover the quality of songs like “Changes” by the late Phil Ochs and ” In Zurich” by the omnipresent Jim Page whose “Seattle, Nov 30th ’99” I am also trying to introduce to the set.
The Planxty album is due for release as is the dvd. End of May is the schedule. Philip King did a great job on the filming. The TV programmes were transmitted and very well received apart from one journalist. We are looking at the possibility of doing a similar number of dates next year- maybe slightly further afield.
Looking forward to returning to England. The London Fleadh has always been a good day out and it will be my first time to share a bill with Dylan. The following Sunday I return to Glastonbury after a 10 year absence. I’ve played it previously in 1986 and 1994. In between the two Sundays there are a few gigs as detailed on the gig page and later on I look forward to Bristol and Liverpool in October – always great cities for lively concerts.
The whole box set journey has been amazing. The reaction has been overwhelming at times and the feedback I’ve received from far and near has completely dispelled all the apprehension I had in the lead up. We all like to feel that we are impervious to criticism but in my own case I must admit that I can be nervous as release dates approach. I am particularly pleased that John Bowman has chosen to give three of his Saturday morning programmes to an in depth review of the work. I listen to his radio (and TV) work regularly and he always looks under the surface. Thanks to all of you who have taken the trouble to send me your comments. I enjoy hearing your opinions and reactions to the work be they negative or positive. I will write again soon. The pen is not flowing too freely these days but, thankfully the voice is in good nick and the guitar is in tune.
March 22nd 2004
The box is all yours and thanks for your positive feedback.
I got very cold feet as the launch approached but the response has been overwhelming. I’ve done a number of media talks to publicise the release. The Late Late Show on RTE television last Friday seems to have gone well, there was a sound problem for a while but it seems to be part of the deal. Had a good interview with Pat Kenny and it could not have had a better launch.
Did interviews with The Sunday Times, Sunday World, Irish Times, Sunday Independent and Irish Examiner to date and also did an early morning show with Ian Dempsey.
There will be a few more interviews over the coming weeks and my experience to date suggests that people are being engaged by the contents of the project. My collaborator Michael Traynor also appeared on the TV show. I inadvertently sang “James Connolly” on the TV show giving the wrong impression that the song was included. I had meant to sing a different Dominic Behan song namely “Paddy on the Road”. One reader has noted my mistake to date, sorry about that. I also did an interview today with Mike Harding for his BBC Radio 2 programme.
I’m going to lie low for a while now, I need to chill for a while and get myself into shape for the coming shows. Bundoran, Dungannon and Dundalk will be shortly confirmed on the gig page as will Bristol and London.
Waterford was very good, the first 3 shows went well and on the last night Declan and I hit a purple patch and the gig simply took off into the good place. The new material is settling in very well and it seems to be getting easier to introduce new work into the set. The gigs have also taken on a different form in that all structure is gone and each gig takes on its own shape and anything is likely to happen. I’m also starting to play some of the old material from the box and this is a good buzz all round – old songs, new lights!
Theres talk of a gig with Dylan, that would be an interesting prospect. I was invited to play with him in Belfast and Galway but it did not work out, but now there is another possibility on the horizon. I hope it comes together (Just to clarify, when I say with him I mean on the same bill, there will be no Foster and Allen vibe)
Also I wish to quell any rumours concerning my joining Westlife. I had a number of calls during the week from highly reputable music journalists and all I can say is that my lips are sealed.
Donal Lunny is mixing the Planxty recordings from Vicar Street and is confident that we have an album of material. The shows were also filmed and there will be a documentary and DVD later in the year. We are also considering a small number of gigs at the same time next year. The 10 shows barely scraped the surface of the demand and we feel it would be mad to let it disappear again. I’ll keep you posted here if there is anything further to report.
Again thanks for your comments and continued support. This communication has worked out very well for me. Also to say that I have not forgotten about trying to make some of the earlier work available here, I will get it together. I’m also pursuing the tabs and lyrics.
Rachel Corrie is one year gone. R.I.P.
March 10th 2004
Goodnight, if only a fellow could get a bit of sleep.
Tossing and turning in the moonlight I recall that my site-foreman has been berating me lately for my lack of chat into space.
So up and at it is my response to sleeplessness. What better way to fend off a minor demon than to wish my 2 readers a happy March.
Well the bleddy box is finally ready for escape and I’m getting cold feet. As I prepare to do a bit of publicity I’m getting nervous about the whole shebang, more so than usual. It is not at all like putting out an album of new or live material. I spent last weekend doing a final check and realised that this whole project will be challenging for the casual listener. Some of the work, because of its nature and source is pretty rough in quality, but my long suffering editor assured me that both of ye would find it of immense interest so, songs like “Seth Davy” as recorded on a Woolworth’s cassette recorder from the back of Folk Club, Leeds, in 1969 makes it’s way onto your groaning shelves. Further back still yields an “Enniskillen Dragoon” from Joe McGrath’s kitchen, Tulla Co. Clare, in 1964. It was the first time that I ever encountered a tape recorder and both singer and recording engineer were well nourished with loose porter. It was quite miraculous how the tape made its way back into my life 40 years on. Joe was working from the grave to have his handywork included.
Now I am faced with the prospect of talking to the media about this collection and it is daunting. The record company have lined up quite an array of stuff for me to do. When I released my first album in 1969 I did one interview. It was with Melody Maker in London and the journalist was Tony Wilson. I recall that we met and instantly adjourned for a feed of Light and Bitter. Interview and photograph was done and dusted in a matter of two gallons.
Seems like I am returning to Glastonbury this year. I last played it in 1994 and once prior to that in 1987. My memory of it is positive and I look forward to playing there again. It is unlike any other event and is not for the faint hearted. London and Warwick will be part of this trip with Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh looking likely for October.
The gig schedule is not as precise or as far seeing as some would like but this is the way it has to be for now. As soon as dates are confirmed they will be posted on the gig-news pages of this site.
The Planxty music echoes on. I’ve heard good reports on both the live CD and the DVD. Philip King is very happy with the way the filming went and Donal Lunny has begun work on the audio and is happy with what was recorded. As of yet we have not made any definite future plans but there is music in the air between us.
Declan Sinnott and I are planning to start putting together an album that will be recorded early next year. There are some beautiful songs coming my way and the set is taking a definite shape. My writing has totally dried up for now but I am blessed by the songs that are coming my way. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter to me who writes them.
The work was honoured last week by the Music Industry at the inaugural IRMA awards. The Edge presented me with the award and there were kind words on Film from An Tea Shock, Damien Dempsey, Bono, Brenda Fricker, Ronnie Drew, David Kitt, Luka the brother, Van the Man, Coldplay and a host of others I’ll remember them all the second I post this.
100,000 euro went to Chernobyl Children and Crumlin Children’s hospital which gave the event purpose. Ronan Collins was the master of ceremonies and I enjoyed the night thoroughly.
Twickenham last Saturday was uplifting as John Hayes might say to Reggie Corrigan (for Folkies who don’t know or care, Ireland defeated England at rugby football).
What a game it was. I was exhausted after this 80 minutes of sporting ecstasy. I had a hunch and actually left my room in Waterford to go and have a punt. Ireland were being quoted at 8-1 and I felt they had a much better chance than that but I got waylaid by a bleedin’ auld one in the lobby of the hotel and I never made it to the betting shop. Shite and Onions.
Still it did not effect my delight at the outcome. All the blouses in the back line were great and all that but Corrigan, Byrne, Hayes, O’Kelly, Connell, Easterby, Foley and Gleeson carried the day, with the Golden Plectrum going to Malcolm O’Kelly for his outstanding return to the Irish Team.
I have finally given up all hope of ever making the team. At 58 I must assume that my tight-head qualities have gone un-noticed. I wish to put it on record that I am no longer available for selection but I might consider some punditry.
Talk soon, my dear listeners,
Planxty Set – Thursday, 5th of February.
1. The Royal Spa Set – Reels
2. The Good Ship Kangaroo
3. My Heart is in Ireland
4. Little Musgrave
5. Jigs on double bodhrans
6. As I Roved Out (Andy Irvine)
7. Si Bheag, Si Mhor
8. Who Are You?
9. The Dark Slender Boy
10. The Garret Barry Set -reels
11. Only Our Rivers
12. The Blacksmith
13. Lord McDonalds Set-Reels
14. West Coast of Clare.
15. Raggle Taggle Gypsy
16. Johnny Dwyer of the Glen.
17. True Love Knows No Season
18. The Jolly Beggar
19. The Cliffs of Dooneen
This set ran to two hours and the music was hoppin’ and grand.
February 3rd 2004.
Tempus fugit is only the half of it. Thanks for your communiquÈs, queries, encouraging salves, praises, complaints and downright putdowns Every bit helps even if only to occupy the old head on those rare troubled nights.
The Box Set 1964-2004 will be released in or around March 19th on the Columbia label in Ireland and the UK. It will include 6 cds and a booklet on the 101 tracks which will be listed at the end of this chat. It will also be available from the shop on this site.
Gigs are taking a bit of shape and details of the dates and tickets will be posted on this site as they become finalised. Waterford in March is already on sale and shortly to be announced gigs will include Carlow, Castlebar, Dun Laoghaire and London in the first 5 months of the year. Further dates may include Cork, Dingle, Manchester, Liverpool (Philharmonic already on sale for October – see news & gigs for details), Glasgow, Boston, New York, maybe Cambridge, maybe Glastonbury. I’ll let you know as soon as I know myself. I realise some of you are a bit frustrated that my dates are not announced much further in advance but this is the way it is and I can’t really do anything about it. I would like to be able to play gigs wherever people wish to hear the songs but I am simply unable to do it. I used to try but it caught up with me and I now plan things a bit differently. Thanks for all the invites from around the globe we’ll see what the future holds. Looks like the German dates are not working out. Australia won’t happen this year but maybe next.
Planxty’s return to the boards has been a delight for us. After all the years of cogitation and procrastination we finally gave it a whirl and it has blossomed and flourished beyond my wildest dreams. After initial planning and a brief soiree last year we got down to some serious work. We rehearsed in Lisdoonvarna and then did 2 nights in Glory in Ennis. The music returned at rehearsal almost as if it was waiting for us to play it. Old arrangements sprung to mind as we swung into action and when we were stumped we had the albums as reference points. We opted for a set of our previous repertoire deciding that it being 23 years since we last played it was the obvious way to go. The atmosphere at the gigs has been inspiring, the welcome we are receiving is uplifting and inspiring. We get such a lift that the music seems to play itself. Our strong point is that, 30 years on we are all still gigging musicians and we are all still deeply involved in our individual music – we never took the soup! Our instruments never gathered dust and we were match fit and ready to roll when Donal counted in the opening Reels. Don’t know where we go from here. We all return to our solo work at the end of this project but I certainly have a desire for some more Planxty music, so who knows what the future may bring.
I’ll keep you posted.
Late, 1st January 2004.
Friends, Roomates and anoraks. What makes all this worthwhile is having somewhere to go when all else fails. The box is brutal, I’m weary of playing those chords on the old FG180, sleep is hours away and then I remember You, My 2 readers. I get a grand trickle of regular visitors but not many seem to read the old chat. However there are 2 of you so thank you for giving some purpose to this, my first sleepless night of the year.
Recently I had minor surgery on my left hand which, so far, seems to have been successful. Expect some complex chordwork when I return, now that the old left hand is coming back to full capability I’ll be up and down that fret board like Louis Walsh at a cake sale.
In response to some questions. Niall in Wexford; The live Moving Hearts album was recorded after I had left the band. The Planxty Aris was a Polydor compilation that had no band input nor did it contain any thing new so it does’nt go in the discography………Charles in Sao Paolo, no plans for that Continent yet. I sing many songs of South America but I’ve not had the privilege of being there yet….the English and Scottish dates are still taking shape for this year. Australia and America are taking a lot longer but are still under consideration. With regard to Ireland this year, once the Planxty dates are completed I hope to play 30 gigs around the Island. I want to play in Waterford, Killarney, Sligo and Kildare for its been a long time but myself and Declan Sinnott and the crew will be coming your way a.s.a.p.
Soon as Box Set 1964-2004 is released in March I’m taking two weeks off and then I’m gonna get stuck in to a new album. Luka has written a song for me and there are some other bits and pieces simmering.
The Planxty project is getting close. Its a strange buzz to be returning to something after so long but it is exciting to be hearing this music again.When we first recorded 32 years ago all the songs were ancient and had stood the test of time.It will be interesting to see how the performers have stood this same test.There is a good chance that the work will be filmed and it is almost certain that it will be recorded.
Did you ever see anything quite like the recent Phil Coulter series? Between that and his other work with the Louis person he certainly gets his fair share of limelight. There is something sickening about the whole concept of allowing these two strange people go on our National Television Channel to ridicule and sneer at youngsters who like to sing and play. Are these two men really suitable for such a sensitive task? Is this the best advice and guidance we have to offer our young hopefuls? If, having squeezed the last drop of voyeuristic potential out of their enthusiastic performance, Cool Filter and Gluey Squalsh decide the kids do not meet their “high standards” then surely R.T.E. should not permit these young performers to be humiliated by this pair of gougers.
As for Walsh and the Special Olympics, my God is there no end to the man’s insensitivity? There we had the worlds 3 best known Black men, Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali and Bono up on Hill 16 welcoming people from 126 countries to Ireland, The vibe was beautiful, it was an emotional and memorable experience and then poor auld Louis Walsh comes out and tears the arse out of the whole shebang. Coulter should put music to it and get Mary Ellen Synon to do backing vocals.
17 December 2003
Thanks for the feedback and the queries. The year ended gig-wise last Sunday, when Declan and I recorded songs for the TV series “SONGS FROM A ROOM” in Dingle Co. Kerry. I did it specifically to perform a tribute to Ann Lovett. This young girl died tragically in Granard Co. Longford in the mid eighties and I wished to commemorate Her by singing the lyric that Nigel Rolfe wrote.
We also performed a small number of other songs and together they will be transmitted in the spring.
I have finished the work on the box and Sony will release it next March. I am currently finalising the booklet and artwork. It is coming together in an interesting way and whilst it may lack a lot of the bells and whistles that often accompany box sets I am more concerned with the songs themselves then with the tinsel.
It has ended up as 98 songs on 6 CDs. I have grouped the songs in a way that works for me and I look forward to hearing your feedback. I will post the song list here in due course.
There are a few interesting gigs taking shape for next year and I hope to be able to let you have details towards the end of January.
In answer to some of your letters and queries;
Dee in Iowa, thank you for your feedback, I do hope to work that music again, it was a special time for me. Peader in Birtley; I sang with the Elliot family a number of times in the late 60’s but I used to stay with the Doonan family in Hebburn. I also played with the late John Doonan on many occasions whan we gigged as far afield as Whitley Bay and Southshields, it were canny man. To Diarmuid in Savannah, easy does it. To Jim in Aberdeen – I’ve played many times there, once in 1969 to 4 people but that was probably before your time! Last visit was in 1996 when I played a gig in some Queens hall and it was a good night and Irene was there with her daughter. “LIVERPOOL TOWN WHERE I WAS BORN”
Pete Cassidy and Turlough Rynne. Whats happening with the bleedin’ tabs lads for Jasus sake. Some of my listeners are givin me woeful grief. Sanjiib has me down as a bleedin’ quisling so youse pair a hures should get your fingers out or poor auld Sanjiib might have to actually try and work it out for himself.
I am saddened today by the passing of my oldest friend. We grew up together in Newbridge. Pat Mc Gowan was a year older then me. He introduced me to Radio Luxembourg, John Steinbeck, Flann O’Brien, we took our first beers together and the last time we spoke, just a week before he passed on he was still recommending stuff to me, he was telling me to listen to Louden Wainwrights song “The Last Man on Earth”. I’ll miss him but not as much as his loving and beloved family. God Bless Meg.
22nd November, 2003
Greetings from Bertigrad.
“The Horse” McGreedy looks like he might win a bumper in Punchestown next season. Good News for the Horsie hoors, Naas Hospital is to be closed and turned into a convalescence home for weary stallions. “The Horse” himself will have a special suite where himself and his bloodstock crones can relax and gaze enviously at the spunky stals as they work out just how much the money-shot will be worth. Enough horseshite for tonight.
I’ll try and deal with some recent queries.
I will play 10 to 15 dates in England and Scotland next year. I’m hoping to play London, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh. There are other possibilities too and a couple of festivals have extended invitations. I will put up news on the gig page asap but it will be February at the earliest.
I will also try and get the word up in advance of tickets going on sale to give you a bit of notice. It is unlikely that Planxty will do any further dates at this time over and above the dates currently on the gig page. Click here for more info…
Plans for Germany are slow in the making. It is my wish to come back and wisit Hamburg, Berlin and possibly a third city. I also hope to see Abi Wallenstein. I’ll let you know. USA is at an early planning stage as there are more imponderables when considering a return to that big island. If it comes together I’ll kick off in Boston and New York and then take it from there. No further news on Australia, Canada, Holland, Tulsk or Mountbellew but I’ll be there before…………..
Having missed Santa Claus I’ve put the box back until next March. That decided I am hoping to record some extra pieces and to replace a few others. I have the Booklet and artwork in good shape and the running order on the 6 cds is also falling into place. I am hoping to have it at a good price too. This upsets my plans for a new album. As soon as the box is gone I hope to get some new work recorded. I’ve not done any studio work since “This is The Day” in 2001 and I have some Beautiful songs that I look forward to recording.
TJ. I’ll try and do some more Woody Guthrie but you’ll need to remind me. Me and Damo are going to have a chat with louis and phil about covering “Uptown Girl”.
Declan and I are in serious training for Letterkenny next week. Donal Lunny cannot be with us but he will join us the following week in Ennis for the final “companeros”gigs (for the time being at least).
12th November, 2003
Attention anyone interested in PLANXTY.
I am looking at adding a section on guitar tabs. I’ve been in touch with Pete Cassidy who ran the precursor to this site and he has agreed to forward the tabs which I hope to use as a starting point on this and bit by bit work up to a full array of my variations on 9 chords!
Sadly there is no full recording of Moving Hearts at the Baggot Inn. However there may be an early Hearts song on the Box Set me Bollix (if anyone out there has any Heart’s stuff I’d love to hear it). I hope to let you both see a full track listing soon. There will be a Ronnie Reagan suite featured too. Someone has suggested a duet on Uptown Girl but with whom?
The Two Conneeleys can be found on the album King Puck.
Re; chords for “Riding the High Stool” keep trying C F G until I post the tabs.
Jen in Yorkshire. only problem with doin small gigs after 8 years away is that maybe you might not get in and we’d both be pissed off.
Sorry to hear of the passing of my old mate TONY CAPSTICK. He was a true original. I enjoyed his hospitality often in the 60s. He ran a club in Rotheram and booked me to play. He was also resident in the Highcliffe in Sheffield when I played there. Once we were double Booked in a club in West Hartlepool. We made the best of it and had a crackin good night. I had not seen Tony for 20 years but I valued the time I spent with him and I cherish his memory. Duet.
Bertigrad, Bognia, 29 October, 2003.
Fuck it lads but where does it go to?
Apologies for silence, all two of you must have been up the wall with worry. Be assured that I’ve been extraordinarily busy on your behalves rattling up the old “Box Set Me Bollix”.
Currently it looks like being 97 tracks about half of which will be previously un-heard. All will be new releases except for a handful that were released as singles.
The earliest are from 1964, the 19 year old balladeer with a belly full of porter givin it sox in east clare. I’ve dropped the dvd and concentrated more on the music. The proposed dvd was taking up too much time and energy so it will be 6 cds and a booklet.
Next up was a most unique event. after talking about it for 20 years Planxty got back together and we played for 5 days. It was a great time. Music we had not touched for decades sprang to life and we played on and on barely pausing for nourishment!! We did a 1 off gig in the hall, Lisdoonvarna on Saturday 11th October and the band certainly enjoyed itself. There may be some further news soon.. I speak here of the original band – Andy, Liam, Donal and myself.
I’ve no further news much at the moment except that after 3 years the companeros will be retiring for the forseeable future. Declan and I may do some dates but Donal has a lot of work in other projects pending so we’ve decided to disband the trio for the time being.
However it is unlikely that 2004 will pass without us showing up somewhere for a few swift ones!
Other bits. I got a agift of a bootleg from Glastonbury 1993. Its my full set plus some tracks robbed from the Point album. Haven’t heard it yet and probably won’t but I do enjoy getting them. I’m less well disposed towards the counterfeit albums as these purport to be quality items and they are usually shite.
Thats it for now.
P.S. I’d like to clear up a slight mis-understanding with regard to the availability of alcohol at the recent gig in the RDS Dublin.
I was one of 41 acts who performed at that great event. It was not my gig as some would suggest. The closing time of the bars was decided by the relevant authorities and was nothing to do with me.
That said I accept full responsibility for all my own solo gigs being “bar less”. Most venues have bar facilities outside the performance space where those who so wish can drink away contentedly, undisturbed by either the gig or those others who have come to listen.
It is very frustrating for the serious drinker not being able to access drink habitually and my heart goes out to you. However the listeners are in a huge majority so I’ll stick with them. I’ve no more to say about it.
In reply to some recent queries….between now and the end of the year there will be gigs in Galway, Limerick, Ennis, Newbridge and Letterkenny. All shows will be announced on this site as soon as possible. I will let you know of any future plans as soon as I know myself. In general there will be no further touring. Where possible I will travel to a country and do a number of shows in 2 or 3 cities but no more than that.
Next year I hope to do England, Scotland, Germany and possibly the U.S. If it is happening it will be announced here.
In answer to other queries, to Rebekah & Brendan in Toronto, Raul in Catalonia, Hans in Denmark, Joyce in Holland, Brent in N.S.W. and Tom in Newfoundland, be patient with me and I’ll try and work it out. Olga, it won’t be possible to sign that special album at the R.D.S. Any regular show, no problem. Talk to Davy at the sound desk. Colin, that band you mention may play again. Lar, keep the hive open. Caomhin, your a dirty little bollix but I like ye. Andreas in Bremen, the album is available from this site. Hasan in Stuttgart, I’ll see if I can sort that out with the lyrics.
Box set will have 80 tracks on 5 cds. Hopefully before the end of the year. I am really enjoying the project. It is now running 3 years behind schedule but its not my schedule and who gives a shite anyway.
Keep in touch……
Last week I enjoyed the inaugural “Masters of Tradition” festival at Bantry House in Co. Cork. I got to hear some stunning performances at close quarters with good acoustics and no distractions.
Better known for their chamber music programming, the organisers sought out Martin Hayes to be their director and it was an inspired call. Martin guided them towards a programme of artists and events that delivered everything the organisers had set out to achieve.
Hayes and his buddy, the incomparable Dennis Cahill, were the lynchpins across the week which also featured, among others, a masterful performance from Liam O’Flynn. It was my first time to hear him play solo since our last Planxty gigs in (circa)’82. He performed on a set of pipes that he inherited from the legendary Willie Clancy.He played two forty minute sets returning to a standing ovation to encore with a pair of blistering reels.
The other highlight for me was last nights set from Hayes and Cahill. They concluded with a 35 minute piece that was mesmerising.
Meanwhile back at the ranch I’m turning my attention to the RDS set for Aug 30. Donal and I plan to rehearse in West Clare this week.
We also did a concert in Spanish Point in aid of the local youth club. This gig was put together by Donnacha Rynne and also features Luka Bloom and the Doolin ceili band. It was completely sold out.
Did 4 Tuesdays in De Barras Folk Club with Declan, an interview on 2fm with Gareth O’Callaghan to promote Lisdoonvarna at the R.D.S, 2 face 2 face and 4 phoners too. It was flashback time doin’ the meeja again and, mostly, I enjoyed the time.
There is a tendency in the irish media not to engage with the work. There are notable exceptions but many insist on doing the same interview over and over. The nervous breakdown, the pump, the gargle, the ganja, the charlie charlie chuck chuck chuck.
Did you see Bertie at the Irish Olympics? What a bleedin’ dose and his honchoes closing down special needs facilities while he blars on about the glorious honour of hosting such a wonderful event while some of his scurrilous shameless minions shut down the West Cork Co Action in Bantry for the sake of saving 25,000 euros.
Still trying to honour Rachel Corrie with a song. There are a number of tributes, poems and songs on her web but none describe what I want to say to her.
There will be gigs later this year in Galway, Limerick, Ennis, Letterkenny, Newbridge and they will be detailed in the gig section as information becomes available.
The boxed set me bollix is forging ahead. Looks like being 4 CDs, a DVD and a booklet. I’m anticipating about 60 tracks, most of them previously unreleased material. I’m finalising the tracks and all the other ancillary details, it may be out this year, that is my intention.
I’ve commenced talks with a view to playing 2 or 3 cities in Germany next year. Iit is also my wish to play in England, Scotland and America. Later on I’d love to re visit Australia, Holland and Sligo.
I have an idea for a series of TV programmes. I’ve not broached it yet. I need to meet the right person that I can trust to collaborate, not to manipulate, exploit and control ‘cos that’s normally what they try and do. Did you see the Cool Filter series recently? My sweet jasus.
Next up is the R.D.S gig. That promises to be special. August 30th, Bertigrad, c u there…….whallup……….Gitser.
An in Between Time.
Enjoyed Springsteen at R.D.S. Saw two hours out front and an hour side stage. He is a master of the stadium gig. Superb band, sound pretty good and the camera work for the screens was excellent.
That said, I need to hear lyrics to become totally engaged and that was not the case. I realise that it’s the genre that I don’t totally dig, but I still go along for the crack and the buzz.
This last year I’ve seen numerous gigs from Coldplay to yer man outta Pink Floyd to Blondie to Brian Wilson and I enjoyed them too, but I often think what it would be like to hear all the glorious lyrics. Brian Wilson pulled it off tho’.
That was a night to remember. When he threw a rose I ran up and caught it. To think I used to press ”Good Vibrations” when I worked as a machinist at E.M.I Hayes Middlesex in 1966. What a shite job. My best night was 1,346 singles done on an 11 hour shift. There was a low basic hourly rate and the rest was performance related.
Back to Bruce. I left before the last few numbers as I wanted to get home in time for the Sopranos. He does a long set.
I went to Ani de Franco the other night and she announced her last song at the 60 minute mark and then did one encore. I was the same myself at her age. Couldn’t wait to get the shaggin’ gig out of the way and get down to the real business – where’s the party. She is an amazing lyricist and I want to hear more of her songs.
Myself and Declan played a one off gig in the Civic Centre Ballyfermot last Sunday night. Good vibe. Gavin Moore opened for us. He hangs out in Clonakilty Co. Cork where he performs regularily in De Barra’s. He has developed a unique singing style and is writing some good songs (he is my nephew too). Have a listen.
Donal returns from Japan tomorrow and I’m looking forward to the upcoming gigs in Vicar Street and the Opera House Cork.
Thats the story.
Enniskillen. We played two gigs in this ‘lough town and it was just right for us. The venue was little more then a large gym but the management and staff at the forum along with our road crew and the promoter turned it into a grand venue.
Both nights the audience were in and ready to roll at 8 and we walked out to an inspiring and heartwarming reception.
I got word that the licence for Lisdoonvarna festival had been refused. This was of course disappointing but needed to be put in perspective. Two weeks on and I feel that maybe its a good thing the festival has re located.
The ill will and narrow minded prejudice shown by a small number of objectors and bureaucrats would have made it nigh on impossible to re create the magic of old.
Talk of “discarded needles”, “used condoms”, “terrorist attack” and “traffic chaos” were some of the fears put forward by disgruntled opponents. There is no arguing with that.
While it is a pity for those who laboured so hard and for those in West Clare who were looking forward to the event, I, for one, am glad to be well away from those Doolin diehards and Lisdoon latchicoes who apparently have access to the ears of head honchos and power brokers in the limestone regions …”I’m a limestone cowboy”…
They can rest on their futons and snooze in their planning chambers safe in the knowledge that there will nary a condom discarded in their perfumed gardens come June.
Back in my work room I am still pondering on the elusive box set and maybe reducing it as some of the tracks are of such quality that even a doting mother might wince.
I find it incredibly interesting to hear an obscure song sung and recorded in a 1968 Leeds folk club but part of me feels like keeping it in the drawer.
let me know what you think…
Wed 21st May, Jim Page at Whelan’s Dublin.
Donal Lunny and I joined Jim Page on stage last night.
At the end of Jim’s fine performance the three of us played; Pastures of Plenty, 1913 Massacre, Hiroshima Nagasaki, Sacco and Vanzetti, Pity the Poor Emigrant, Landlord, Magdalene Laundries, Didn’t We.
This man is worth checkin’ out. I first met him at Carnesore Point Anti Nuclear gathering in ’78. Since then we have traded songs and ideas on both sides of the Atlantic.
He has documented his life and times with a stunning array of songs penned over the last 35 years. He has always steadfastly put his beliefs and his conscience firmly before his career, never playing the showbiz game.
Jim has stood beside the oppressed in America and suffered the consequences too. He carries the flame of Guthrie and Seeger and I value his work and friendship deeply.
Apart from all of this his gigs are full of fun and quirk.
For more info on Jim Page try here…
After 3 nights in Belfast.
We had a great trip to the Second City. We had not played here together since 1983, that was a Moving Hearts gig in the Greenbriar.
There was a sense of anticipation around these shows for us and the audience. I knew from the promoter that the tickets sold out immediately on word of mouth and that there were many people turned away. We will try & return again soon.
Because of its history the Ulster Hall is not a normal venue by any means. I was offered both the Waterfront and The Odyssey venues but I opted for another crack at the old hall, if only for sentimental reasons. We blew some of the cobwebs off.
Damien Dempsey opened and set the scene for, what were for Declan Donal and I, three great nights of music song and communication. Alex Maskey, Lord Mayor of Belfast honoured the work by inviting me to his mayoral chambers where he and Liz Maskey offered good Antrim hospitality to myself and my colleague Micheal Devine.
Andytown was a stand up gig. It began in daylight which was a bit intimidating at first for every face was visible and despite the collective beauty of 1400 faces, the expectation displayed nearly had me heading back to the dressing room!
We opened with One Last Cold Kiss and followed with Allende, Natives, North & South, Strangeways, Quinte Brigada, On The Bridge, McIlhatton, Back Home in Derry, Time Has Come, This is The Day, Pair of Brown Eyes, Biko Drum, Only Our Rivers, Companeros, Burning Times, Johnny Don’t Go, Cry Like a Man, No Time For Love, Black is The Colour, Missing You, Irish Ways Irish Laws, Ride On, Bloody Sunday, Shovel, Yellow Triangle, Nancy Spain, Joxer and Lisdoonvarna.
30 songs in all. Over the previous two nights we also played; The Contender, City of Chicago, Voyage, Victor Jara, Bright Blue Rose, Beeswing, Smoke & Strong Whiskey, Ffaithfull Departed, How Long, John of Dreams, Flickering Light.
The most memorable song over the three gigs was when we dedicated Burning Times to the late Rachael Corrie who was murdered in the Gaza Strip last March.
After Kells Co. Meath & Thurles Co. Tipperary.
Last time I played in Kells was 1981 during the Hunger Strike. it was an awful night, so confusing I recall. The speaker was Goretti Mc Donnell whose husband Joe was coming towards the end of his suffering and sacrifice. I still recall the confusion, anger and turmoil in the room that night 23 years ago. I will remember. Last week was like being in a different world and I am thankful. We did not forget but we also moved on.
Meath is always special for my mother’s people are from the royal plains. The Powers, Sheerans, Gibneys, Hickeys and Elmes. Place names like Ardmulchan, Yellowfurze, The Cottonmills, Beauparc and Stackallen were all part of my childhood. To go back there again brings another dimension to the singing of the songs.
On to Thurles where I have not played since The Trip to Tipp in Semple Stadium. In a deluge of rain I went on after Bryan Adams the Canadian chanter. It rained so hard that the crowd collectively roared FUCK IT lets celebrate our wetness and have a
bit a craic.
I was at a Fleadh Ceoil there in 1964 and I remember an amazing session of music with Luke Kelly & Ciaran Bourke. It was an inspiration for me to hear those guys sing. Their repertoire and intensity attracted me. It was also the first time I saw hippies and crusties but before they got their monikers. Then they were just called mad fuckers and they impressed me too.
Next up Belfast. Can’t wait.
Good Friday, 2003.
Barrowlands, Glasgow, Scotland.
Back in this glorious mad house, kip, classy venue of ill repute, low life and heavenly vibrations and all this before the audience came in. Marianne from Regular Music has laid on some hot cross buns and with strong tea and heavy cheddar sandwiches we are well foddered as the audience gathers outside on the street and inside in Baird’s Bar. We’ve rehearsed “The Bleacher Lassie of Kelvinhaugh” at the sound check and if all goes well we’ll give it a birl. Steve Earle did a magic gig here recently and I’ve heard there’s a hot boot leg which I haven’t managed to get yet.
Not everyone wants to come to Barrowlands. Last night at the Royal Concert Hall was sold out and there were many people looking for tickets who would not come to this venue. I surely understand this for I’m never first in the queue for stand-up gigs myself, but as a performer I love the buzz. I get to look out upon a sea of beautiful faces all sharing in music we are putting out. People partake in a stand-up differently. They can move more freely, have a bit of a sway or a dance or a cuddle or a feel, feel less daunted or encumbered by the discipline of numbered rows of seats, can let it all hang out.
Last night in the Concert Hall was special too. First time in Glasgow for six years and the roar when we walked on was a bit alarming. But heart warming too. We kicked off with Quinte Brigada, then Allende, Brown Eyes, Burning Times (for Rachel Corrie), Shovel (for Pat Finucane), Johnny Don’t Go, Back Home in Derry, So Do I, Biko Drum, Victor Jara, Deluge, Missing You, Ride On, Nancy, Beeswing, Hiroshima, North and South, Metropolitan, Companeros, Ordinary Man, Yellow Triangle, Chicago, Voyage, January Man, Black is the Colour, Blue Rose, Flickering Light, Joxer, McIlhatton, Only Our Rivers. 32 in all but not in that order.
That Glasgow Concert Hall is a swell kip. Lovely lines, beautiful symmetry, great staff – our crew had a good day and for me the icing on the cake was to switch on the box back in the Holiday Inn as “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” kicked off. Later there was some German film with Lou Reed. But I’ve had all me horrors so I crashed out.
Morning after Barrowlands.
Sat – Sunshine streaming down on Clydeside and I look back on a great week’s work. Before I head for the boat and a few final words on the trip.
Last night was sweaty, noisy, loving, exciting and betimes, emotional. It went way up a few times but managed to get it back down. It was dying in mayhem when I chanced upon “Quiet Desperation” about 100 minutes in and Floyd Westerman’s song chilled the night and gave way to a special 30 minutes that just about capped the week for me.
Everything about Barrowlands is unique. It is distinctly uncomfortable and awkward in design and convenience but the staff and crew are top notch. The get in and get out was (I’m told) a great team effort. The dressing rooms are from another time and I love them. The stage itself beams the scars of a 1000 gigs. We hit the stage at 8:25 and kicked off with Allende, Only Our Rivers, Companeros, North and South, No Time, Black is the Colour, Chicago, Yellow Triangle, Victor Jara, Quinte Bragada, Nancy Spain, Burning Times, Brown Eyes, Biko Dream, Blue Rose, Shovel, Minds Locked, Ride On, Derry, This is the Day, Missing You, Quiet Desperation, Metropolitan, Contender, Johnny Don’t Go, Be Released (Declan), Voyage, Hiroshima, Ordinary Man, Lisdoonvarna, Sonny, Broomielaw, Deluge.
I’ll need to watch it – the sets are getting longer. We talked about it in the dressing room afterwards. Planxty never played more than 80 minutes, Moving Hearts the same. Yet these gigs ease their way up to 2 ? hours. Mind you I did feel the audience were spent last night. I stepped forward to take a bow after one encore and I felt they were diving for the exits in case we came back out again!
We decided to start recording next month. I fancy a summer single. There are bees wings in the air.
Leaving now for Stranraer and the boat to Belfast. Most of the team flew out this morning but I like the pace of taking a boat when possible. Glasgow to Belfast, it’s a well worn route for Paddies and Bridies and I’m happy to trod it one more time.
Fare well Scotland.
April 6th ’03
It has taken me too long to get this comment section running. So here goes!
It is Sunday the 6th of April and I’m wrestling with a raw throat. I am scheduled to sing at the Riverbank Arts Centre in Newbridge, Co Kildare tomorrow. It is part of an event for The Samaritans who are marking ten years of service in my hometown. It is now 24 hours to showtime I’m as hoarse as a corncrake!!
The four shows in Vicar Street went well. Our next shows are in Glasgow and Edinburgh – first trip to Scotland for six years. It will be different coming to Scotland now that Owen Hand has passed on. We first met in Sandy Bells in Edinburgh in 1967 he has been like my brother this past 35 years. He stopped gigging around the time we met but not before he had recorded two albums on The Transatlantic Label.
Derry was very special. The Forum is a fine concert venue with none of the stiffness often found in Concert Halls. The Nerve Centre was a lively stand up.
Currently I’m working towards completion of the Boxed Set. It’s looking like 100 tracks on five cds plus a DVD of the film “Christy” made six years ago. It will be all previously unreleased material and will feature recordings from 1965 to 2003. The earliest recording was made in Tulla Co. Clare by the late Joe McGrath and the tape somehow ended up in New York. Its pretty basic – I am 20, playing a cheap nylon strung guitar in Joe McGrath’s kitchen and I’d say I have a at least a gallon of porter inside me! I don’t know yet whether the boxed set will be the next release. There are two other possible albums on the boil but the plot will emerge as time passes.
Other possible projects are to film a gig this year. I’d like to mark the work that Donal, Declan and meself are doing by filming a current show.
Lisdoonvarna will be wonderful if it goes ahead. Those against it are making a very strong case and are indeed making sure that they are heard. Due process will decide what happens. However should the Festival go ahead I am confident that the fears of the opposition will prove to be unfounded. I would not consider playing at the event unless I was fairly sure that it would be properly run.
The “No Disco” Planxty special was very well made and all four of us got to see it – Andy, Liam, Donal and myself. The usual rumours have started up again. Who knows what will happen. At least we are all still making music. Apart from the four members of Planxty I do believe that everyone who played with the band is still making music. Johnny Moynihan, Paul Brady, Matt Molloy, Bill Whelan, Nollaig Casey, Noel Hill, Tony Linnane, Dolores Keane, Arty McGlynn, James Kelly…..I may be leaving a few out.
For those of you off the Island “No Disco” was the best music show available on Irish Television. It had been axed. I suspect the Accountants in RTE though it too left field. Dropping “No Disco” will give them more time to transmit Louis Walsh and Phil Coulter creations.
Damien Dempsey played support in Derry and will do likewise in Belfast. The idea was to maybe do shorter sets and save my voice but Damien got the crowd so fired up that we ended up doing longer sets!!
The sets, on average, are running at well over two hours. I’m normally fairly tired afterwards so I seldom get to meet up with anyone. I can’t believe that I used to do 2 X 20 minute sets in the 60’s. It takes me 20 minutes now to get the feel of the audience.
In answer to some of your queries; I’ve no current plans to tour overseas. We don’t do tours as such, rather pull into a town and do two, three or four shows and head home again. The long tours are over for me – I enjoyed it but it’s done. I would love to play certain countries again. Many places come to mind but Germany was always special. Australia, Holland, Canada, Finland, Switzerland, New Zealand, Italy and Austria too and Denmark, Norway, Liechtenstein, – ah your all special OK? Before ye start giving out I don’t include Britain for I still go there.
Had a very good experience recently singing with a group of children from Fitzgerald Park in Dun Laoire. We tried to raise the profile of their Resource Centre and living conditions. We did a concert at the Pavilion Theatre with SinÈad O’Connor and we also appeared on The Late Late Show on Irish TV.
Until we connect again
Let the music keep your spirits high!