Week – Oct 5- Oct 11
Gigs: 3 Wicklow, Carlow, Laois
Musicians involved: 26
(Seamie O’Dowd, 25-strong Portarlington Golf Club Choir)
This week started with a setback. I went up to Enniskillen on Wednesday night to try and firm up my Fermanagh date, only to be told that the man I had been dealing with no longer worked there and the bar was being closed for renovation until December, which will be too late for this tour! So I’m back on the hunt for Fermanagh venues with a piano, if anyone knows of one??
So Seamie O’Dowd and I set off in the car on Thursday lunchtime – with a bit of a marathon drive ahead of us. First stop was Dean’s Hill, Armagh, where we met Jill and Edward Armstrong, the gentleman and lady of the house whose drawing room housed a Steinway which was over 100 years old. Good stuff went into it though, and it still sounds great, so we will hopefully have that date confirmed shortly.
Down to Wicklow then, to play in Tinakilly House Hotel, Rathnew. In my wisdom I booked the gig for the same time as the Ireland v Germany match, which of course turned out to be the greatest night in recent Irish soccer history (raging I missed it!). The gig was lovely however – Anne had set it up beautifully, and there was a lovely warmth to the audience there that night.
Back to Dublin to stay the night and I headed out to my buddy Dave McCune’s studio in Balbriggan first thing Friday morning to put an acoustic piano track down on Maria Carbonell’s upcoming single. Back into the city centre to collect Seamie and we hit the road to Barna, Co. Galway, where we had a lunchtime appearance scheduled on the Sean Moncrieff show, on Newstalk.
We got there, set up, did the slot, and before we knew it we had eaten our dinner and were back on the road to Carlow! Sean is a really quick-witted interviewer and so we had to be on our game, but he and the crowd seemed to enjoy the music and that boosted our spirits for the long drive ahead. You can listen the segment here - it starts just over half way through the segment.
Friday night’s gig was in South Co. Carlow, in the village of Clonegal, in Huntington Castle. This is home to Alex Durdin-Robertson, his wife Clare and their three sons. If I get to a more historic and character-filled venue on this tour I will be surprised. Alex knows everything about every inch of the house, and we very much enjoyed the tour the next day. The gig was really nice – invited guests filled his sitting room, and the intimacy of the performance helped with the connection between musicians and audience and I left very happy with the night’s work. A late supper provided by the family and a pint in the pub at the end of the avenue rounded up what had been a long couple of days very nicely!
Got to chill out (relatively anyway) on Saturday. We had nothing to do bar get to Portarlington Golf Club that evening for the last gig of the weekend. Pat Greensmith was my initial contact in the club, and he had suggested getting the golf club choir involved. What a great idea! We had a fantastic night with them and ended the night accompanying them on “There is an Isle”, with the big sporting day ahead on Sunday in mind. It was the biggest crowd of the weekend, and so there were a few more nerves than usual, but from the second song in I know they were with us and we were going to have a great night, and indeed we did. Thanks also to Frank Smith and all involved with the choir. What lovely people and we will hopefully get back there in the New Year.
This week is a quiet one, just the one gig, in Neven Maguire’s restaurant in Blacklion this evening (Tuesday 13th Oct). It’s sold out I’m afraid so those of you who want to see the gig will have to look at the tour page of the website to see which dates might suit. Confirmed Cork and Kildare this week already so there are new dates up.
I have a family wedding at the weekend so have taken it off and am looking forward to a well deserved break!