Week 8: Nov 2 - Nov 8
Gigs: 5 (Offaly, Longford, Monaghan, Down, Louth)
Musicians involved: 5
(Charlie McGettigan, Collette Sheerin, Colm O’Caoimh, Gerry Grennan, Niamh Crowley)
I think I always knew that this was going to be an epic week - and have been looking forward to it/dreading it as a result! 5 gigs in a row, lots of travelling, the promise of some great crowds, and the fear of some small ones…here’s how it turned out!
I took to the road on Wednesday afternoon, accompanied by Offaly native and friend and colleague Collette Sheerin, headed for the Eden School of Music, Edenderry. Emilia, who runs the school, had been a great source of encouragement and enthusiasm throughout the preparation process, and we duly had a great evening there. A lovely crowd, full of piano students and others, seemed to enjoy what we had to offer. A feature of the gig was the return to the line-up of Colm O’Caoimh, a guitarist whom I had never met before this tour, but absolutely loved playing with him in Kilkenny and it was great to get to do a second gig with him. We also included some of Collette’s own songs and tunes in the set and I always love playing Collette’s music!
Back home and back up the N4 the next day, headed for Laurel Lodge Nursing Home, Longford. You may recall that at the start of this process, Longford was one of the most troublesome counties in which to find a piano! Well as I said on the night, good things come to those who wait as this gig was one of the highlights of the tour so far!
Where do I start – the venue (a small church in the nursing home) was spot on and the sound of the piano was just magnificent with the high wooden ceilings. It was great to get to play some new stuff with Niamh Crowley – Czardas being particularly memorable for me as I just about hung on to Niamh’s coattails!
And I learnt so much from Charlie McGettigan on the night – what a pro – a great singer and songwriter, but also had the crowd in the palm of his hand from the word go. We couldn’t have done it without the support and help of Ann Watters and all her team in Laurel Lodge though – they were fantastic throughout and made sure there was a lovely crowd there for us. Thanks to all!
Headed for Castleblayney on Friday – the Nashville of Ireland! Darren and Karl in Iontas looked after Gerry and I really well, and we had a great gig in the theatre there. No offence Gerry (!), and nothing to do with our playing, but the highlight of this night came after the gig when a Sligo (Geevagh specifically) exile living in Monaghan approached me afterwards. He is a photographer, and was in Dr. Hyde Park 8 and a half years ago now on the day when Sligo beat Galway in the Connacht Final. I made a couple of catches late in the game that day but had never even seen them on TV, let alone a photo. So I was thrilled when this man Fintan, took out a fantastic photo of me (that he had taken) stretching at full length to pick the ball out of the sky, and gave it to me… it’s on the wall at home already! Thanks Fintan…
Downpatrick on Saturday… well there was always going to be one! I arrived to the lovely facility that is the Downpatrick Arts Centre on Saturday evening to be told that there were no tickets sold. Donna there reckoned there may be a walk-up but she wasn’t that hopeful, and come 8 o’clock, there was still no-one in the room.
So I played a tune, lest anyone say I didn’t do the Down gig (!), and took advantage of the unexpected few hours off to get working on a new song inspired by the occasion….’The Night that Nobody came Along’. I look forward to adding it to the set shortly…! It’s a good story anyway, and no-one was hurt, so had a good night’s sleep and headed for Carlingford for the last gig of the week on Sunday afternoon.
The Carlingford Heritage Centre was another beautiful venue – an old church now run by a group of volunteers. Gerry made the long drive again – this was the 24th gig of the tour, and it was the 10th for Gerry – we celebrated with one of our best gigs yet I think.
One of the many advantages of playing so many gigs in a short space of time is that you really get to know the material well, and having done so many of them with Gerry, we now know the stuff backwards and are really getting the most out of the music and each other. Some lovely friendly faces in the crowd too…thanks to you all for coming!
The second last week of the tour this week. Playing Thursday the 12th in Mullingar Golf Club, with my old buddy Tommy Moore, who will also be playing a support slot on the two Homecoming gigs in the Model, Sligo on the 13th and 14th – should be another lovely week – chat y’all soon….