In recent weeks I have had enjoyed some special gigs. On April 2nd I visited the Keltoi Centre in The Phoenix Park where I sang with people in recovery from addiction. It was an emotional but fun filled gathering. Some of them came up and sang beautiful songs. Thanks to Kieran and all the staff there for making it happen. Great atmosphere and healing plus strong tea and mighty sandwiches.
On April 18th I travelled to Derry lovely Derry. A great crowd assembled on the Banks of The Foyle River. His Holiness the Dalai Lama crossed the Peace Bridge with Richard Moore and a host of children. They entered a fine tent where thousands had gathered to hear The Dalai Lama speak. The event was to mark the work of Children in Crossfire. His words can be heard by clicking HERE
Richard Moore invited me to sing and I sang this song “How Long” from Jackson Browne.
When you look into a Childs face
You are seeing all the human race
The endless possibilities there
Where so much can come through
And you think of the beautiful things
A child can do
How long can a child survive
How long if it was up to you
When you think about the money spent
on defence by government
and the weapons of destruction they build
then tell us we need
and you think of the millions and millions
that money could feed
How long can you hear someone crying
How long can you hear someone dying
Before you ask yourself why
How long will we hear people speak
About missiles for peace and let it go by
How long will they tell us these weapons are keeping us free
It’s a lie
If you saw it from a satellite
all the green and with its blue and white
The beauty of the curve of the earth
And the oceans below
You might think it was paradise
If you didn’t know
You might think it was turning
But it’s turning so slow
How long can you hear someone crying?
How long can you hear someone dying?
Before you ask yourself why
How long will it be till we’ve turned
To the tasks and the skills that we’ll have to have learned
If we’re going to find a place in the future
Have something to offer to the children of the world
Leaving Derry afterwards, having spent some hours in the presence of His Holiness and his people, having heard him share his philosophies on forgiveness and compassion, on peace and tolerance, I knew that my own prejudices and resentments had been challenged, that I might never think in the same way again. I am still absorbing it all.
On April 22nd it was into The City Hall, Dublin where The South African Ambassador was launching an event to remember Irelands Anti-Apartheid Movement. He invited me in to sing “The Dunnes Stores Song” (by Sandra Kerr) and The Biko Drum” (by Wally page) There were many dignitaries present. One of our Government Ministers was there plus many trade union officials, journalists, photographers and a good smattering of old (like myself) activists. Surprisingly there was not one woman from the Dunnes Stores Strike. I can’t figure out whether that was an oversight, a decision or an impossibility. I’m working on it. I dedicated the following song to The Dunnes Stores Strikers, and to two trade union workers Tommy Davis and Brendan Barron, who were very supportive of the strike.
The Dunnes Stores Strike (Sandra Kerr)
Close your eyes and come with me back to 1984
We’ll take a walk down Henry St to Dunnes Department store
The supermarket’s busy, the registers make a din
The groceries go rollin’ out and the cash comes rollin’ in
Mary Manning is at the checkout trying to keep warm,
A customer comes up to her a basket on her arm
The contents of that basket Mary’s future was to shape
The label clearly stated, produce of The Cape
I can’t check out your oranges Mam, you’ll have to put them back
They come from South Africa where The White oppress The Black
I’d have it on my conscience I couldn’t sleep at night
If I helped support a system that denies Black People’s Rights
The managers descended in an avalanche of suits
Mary was suspended cos she wouldn’t touch the fruits
No one was goin’ to tell Ben Dunne what he bought or sold
These women are only workers they must do as they are told
Isn’t that just typical of the way Apartheid works
It’s not just in South Africa that the Boss man calls the shots
Dunne’s wouldn’t have a boycott, couldn’t give a tinkers curse
Don’t matter how they filled the shelves so long as they lined his purse
Goodwill and solidarity came from all around the world
Such concern and sacrifice, such courage brave and bold
When 14 months were over 10 women and a man
Had helped to raise black consciousness all around the land
Clerys in O’Connell St stopped sellin’ South African shoes
Best Man sent all their clothes back, Roches stores their booze
Til all South African Goods were taken off the shelves in Dunnes
Mary Manning was down in Henry St and she was sticking to her guns
On Saturday the 27th I had a great gig in Vicar Street with Martin O’Connor, Shamie O’Dowd, Cathal Hayden and Jimmy Higgins. It was our 5th outing. I love playing with these musicians. We hope to continue on this journey.When the stars are in alignment and when we all have corresponding gaps in our work schedules, The music will continue …
Here is the setlist;
1. How Long
2. Arthur’s Day
3. Dunnes Stores
4. Ruby Walsh
6. Yellow Furze Woman
7. Magdalene laundry
9. Quiet desperation
I was joined on stage by Martin, Shamie, Cathal and Jimmy, We did;
13 Finglas Boys
14 Smoke and Whiskey
15 St Brendan’s Voyage
16. Michael Hayes
17. Sullivan’s John
19. Blue Rose
20. Missing You
21. Sally gardens
22 On the Mainland
23. The Blackbird.
25. Back home in Derry
26. Ride On
27. Ord Man
29. Yellow Triangle
31. Black is The Colour
You can listen to Sullivan’s John by clicking the link here … Sullivan’s John
The following day we made our way to Avondale where thousands had gathered protest against the proposed sale of our Woods and Forests. As I made my way towards the platform a man pressed a lyric into my hand. Sitting side stage I looked it over and decided to read it out. It was written by Paul whose Facebook moniker is Drum Stig… He is involved with Rage Against The Regime, who will be holding a gig on 13th June in the Grand Social … You can check out their webpage by clicking HERE
Also, you can check out their facebook page by clicking HERE
A Tree Falls in The Forest
If a tree falls in the forest – and there’s no one around to hear it – does it make a sound?
Surely the real question is “Why is there no one around?”
Where are the ramblers and the hill walkers?
Where are the Sunday strollers?
Where are the horse riders, taking their mounts from the soulless open field they’ve stood in all week up to the majestic, soulful mountain forests?
Where are the mountain bikers, risking life and limb with breakneck descents or straining on all the impossible climbs of their carefully mapped trails?
Where are the young families who bring their children to the wonderland of deer and squirrels and rabbits and foxes?
Where are the kids who don’t walk in the woods but actually explore the jungles hunting bear and tiger and wolf?
Where are the cowboys and the Indians, the wizards and the dragon slayers?
Where are the fairy queens and the sleeping beauties and the wood nymphs?
Where are the artists, the writers, the musicians, the poets who come to fill their souls with the spirit of the land and speak to the muse?
Where are the lovers who escape the glare of the city and find the silence to allow their hearts to beat loudly together?
Where are the people who come to speak to their loved ones passed on because the pain is too great in their homes or “life” does not go on without a place to grieve?
Is there no one around because the people entrusted with management of their country have betrayed their people and, for the price of a treasonous signature, have sold the land to faceless, soulless, heartless corporations who erect signs telling you you’re now on private property?
Is there no one around because the government care nothing about the land and less about the people?
Because Taoisigh, Ministers and Public Servants have no hesitation in RAPING their own country, and when they have taken what they can, have no hesitation in PROSTITUTING out the carcass of the ancient land of their fathers to the highest bidder.
Neither will they hesitate to pursue, prosecute, convict and incarcerate any man, woman or child who trespasses on private property which they once owned as citizens of a sovereign nation.
Is there no one around because our Public Servants do not serve the public, but serve themselves in a continuous orgy of money worship and abuse of power?
If we do nothing to stand against this unholy destruction of our beautiful country our children will not be asking “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?”… Our children and our grandchildren will be asking us …
“Daddy, what was it like to walk in a forest?”
You can see some footage of the event by clicking HERE
I sense an awakening around us. People are preparing to stand against oppression, austerity, cut backs, selloffs, awful corruption in high places and robbers walking free. lies are ringing louder these days.
On it goes – the quest for songs and places to sing them…
Just packing the bags for The Black Mountain – Two more nights in The Waterfront. I have not gigged with Declan Sinnott for over a month. I’m rearing to go, to hear his fender’n fuzz box, his Spanish, his folk jumbo, I’ve a feeling there may be long sets looming…
Some new gigs up on the Gig page and more to follow… next album release planned for November. Bealtaine (May) is upon us once more – what’s another year…