I commence these few words on the N11 as we wing our way through the water covered, but sunny, southeast. Many parts of the country are under flood this morning and I can but hope that Declan’s journey from the Southwest is going well. Yesterday many roads were impassable and it was particularly bad in the area of his home. We have been looking forward to tonight’s concert for many’s the day. Wexford being Declan’s birthplace makes it special but there are other factors too. The new Wexford Opera house has received great reviews on all fronts…Listeners ecstatic, Artists impressed, Promoters pleased, Journalists positive and local cynics doing what they do in every locality. Many past gigs come flooding back (just been detoured round a flooded Enniscorthy) a gig with Planxty in the early 70s, the wonderful Carnsore Point Festivals, The Wexford Arts centre with Rhoda McManus at the helm, The Unyoke Inn before its demise, Foulksmills, Paul Funge’s Gorey Arts Festival, Adamstown Hall with Danny Doyle who also ran the legendary “Caesar’s Palace” in Bunclody-not at all like its namesake in Las Vegas (” By the Streams of Bunclody all pleasures do meet”). Nights in New Ross, Graiguenamanagh & Courtown Harbour. Singing with Pierce Turner, Joe Monaghan and the Billy Roche Band…
Anyway, that was then and this is now…poor old Enniscorthy is flooded and in chaos, County Council men drafted in trying to keep the traffic flowing as an irate driver blows her horn as if that was going to avert the flood waters…Last night on “Curb your Enthusiasm” car honkers were being slain. We could do with a few car horn vigilantes here Slaney Side this morning…
We went to a Sam Shepherd play “Ages of The Moon” in The Abbey Theatre last night. A two hander with Seán McGinley and Stephen Rea which lasts only 80 minutes and feels over in an inst… pure, strong, intense dialogue all taking place on a porch in the outback, 2 men and 2 bottles of whiskey, we enjoyed it immensely and it certainly got under my skin. It is wonderful to see 2 great actors at their work, to watch every breath and nuance being delivered so beautifully. I was not surprised to learn that Sam Shepherd is also a music man. As well as his writing and acting he also sings and plays.
It’s now much later in the day after gig in the Opera House.
How my world has changed. 40 years ago I travelled around English Folk Clubs with all my worldly possessions in a battered old 1956 VW Beetle. A Yamaha FG 180 guitar, sleeping bag and maybe a change of clothes.10 years later I had progressed to a Peugeot 404D pickup with a box on the back, a small PA, Martin D28 guitar, better sleeping bag and, perhaps, a clean set of duds. 30 years on and I get delivered to hotels and venues. The big problem today is I can’t get online in my hotel room – how very challenging is that! Tonight I played in a Sold out Opera House and I even have a bed to sleep in. Everything has changed yet everything is the same. Its about the songs…if I end up back in the VW playing in small folk clubs I will still be content doing what I love to do. Singing these songs.
Just back in from The Opera House Wexford. A Beautiful Venue and a most welcoming audience. It was extremely cold on stage so much so that both Declan and I had to don coats and I had to cover the auld pate too. Still we got through it and even got an encore. It is a new dilemma in venues. It can be very cold on stage, particularly in large modern venues upon which vast sums have been lavished. The curse of air conditioning! I went to hear Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill in Whelan’s last week and there it was again. An absolutely magic gig and this bloody air conditioning comes on and freezes the gaff! Anyway back to tonight’s gig. The audience gave Declan a huge welcome back to his birthplace and he really appreciated it. We played;
North and South of the River
Does this train stop on Merseyside
Bright Blue Rose
Far Far From Me
Smoke and Whiskey
This is The Day
Well Below The Valley
Afterwards we had the tae and sangwidges and back to our billet. A good midnight walk down by The Quay. The town is quiet, the country is wet, and there are thousands of families tonight living amidst flood waters after the wettest November in history (with 10 days still to go). Hopefully tomorrow will bring some relief.
Saturday nights set:
This is the Day
Wise and Holy Woman
Smoke and Whiskey
Far Far Away
John Of Dreams
Away Broken heart
I recommend the Joan Baez film as posted here and on 4711ers.org by The Duke of Lange over there in Canadayio. I also looked at “Little Children” with Kate Winslet, weird, brutal, engaging and well acted.
Back home from Wexford now…stormy and windy so I did not get out around the town much. In retrospect 2 great audiences in a beautiful venue but the temperature on stage made it almost impossible to play.
We have had very good feedback for “Come all you Dreamers”. Sony will release it in Ireland and UK next week and it is also available from here.
Vicar St gigs in December and January are all but sold out. I have been invited to perform in the new Grand Canal Theatre, Dublin which opens shortly. We will play there on April 29 and 30th next. Tickets will be available soon.
Hay-on-Wye has been added to the Spring Tour in the UK. We will also do an autumn tour which will commence in Liverpool in late October taking in Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and finishing in the Royal Festival Hall, London in early November. All details will be posted shortly.
We have some new pieces coming along nicely in rehearsal. I have stumbled across a few gems, 2 in Kildare, 1 in England and 1 in America. Wally Page and I are slaving away in the hit factory morning, noon and night to produce some new verses for all you songsters.
I think there is an interview with Philip King on Radio Eireann next Saturday and there may be a Late Late show appearance on the way…
Thanks for listening and for feedback, do keep in touch, both here and/or on 4711ers.org…..