Week 7 – Oct 26 - Nov 1
Gigs: 4 (Donegal, Tipperary, Meath, Derry)
Musicians involved: 5
(Dave Flynn, Gerry Grennan, Jane Kent, Lara Sweeney, Steve Kohlmann)
A tiring yet really interesting week – one of the fantastic things about this tour has been the amount of learning involved, and the lessons learned will stand to me in the future I hope.
Let me just say, house concerts are fantastic. They are really big in Germany and the USA, among other places, but are yet to really catch on here I feel. I first came across them through Frank Armstrong in Clonskeagh Castle, Dublin, where Seamie O’Dowd and I played a really enjoyable gig last February. On this tour then I have done one in Co. Carlow, and now one in Ardara, Co. Donegal. A lot depends on the host, and how much effort they put in – I have been lucky on both occasions, and we really have had two great nights.
I was joined for most of the set in Ardara by Dave Flynn (see video above) and also had guest appearances on Meadhbh’s Call and Take 5 by Jane Kent and Lara Sweeney (the daughter of the house), respectively. I only wish it was bright going up, as the change of the hour meant that we didn’t get to see as much of the fabulous Donegal scenery as I had hoped.
A long drive to Racket Hall, Roscrea the next day brought me to another intimate venue. Before the gig, the youngest member of the audience, 11-month old Libby Smith, took her first steps, which was very exciting for all concerned, especially her parents and grandparents, my hosts for the evening. I played this gig solo, and had a lovely evening in a nice cosy room with a Yamaha baby grand.
Afterwards I was brought to the local pub by a friend of mine, where I came across a wonderful concept. It was called Ramblin’ House, and took place in this particular pub in Killea on the last Thursday of every month. It was hosted by Libby’s grandad Peter, who roved around the room with a microphone, calling on those present to play a tune, sing a song, tell a joke, or perform a recitation. It seems to happen in various places in Co. Tipperary each month, and seems like good innocent fun for all involved – a great idea and very well carried out by all there!
Friday brought me to Navan then, to Beggy’s Bar. We were very well looked after there by Stephen, and a good crowd arrived into the back bar to hear us play. It was the first gig of this tour in a pub environment, and I wasn’t sure it worked as well as in other venues, but it’s always a pleasure to play with Gerry, no more so than this night!
We had great support here – people from all areas of my life came out to hear the gig, which is always a huge boost. 3 old school friends showed up out of the blue… a great surprise!
Sunday brought a trip to another bar – this time it was Bennigan’s in Derry, run by fellow pianist John Leighton. I travelled up with my two old college buddies, Dave Flynn and Steve Kohlmann and it was great to get to spend the time with the lads. Maybe I had learned some lessons from Friday, but the gig worked really well in this particular pub, and the three of us travelled home in top form! The pub environment does mean a later start time, so whereas I had been used to 8pm start times, the Navan and Derry gigs started a bit later – at 9.30/9.45 so some late nights were had as a result.
Never mind though – I’m rested and raring to go for another week! Only 3 weeks left at this stage – it has flown in!
This week I will be visiting Edenderry, Longford, Castleblayney, Downpatrick and Carlingford – the Longford gig includes a guest apprearance by none other than Charlie McGettigan so am very much looking forward to that! Please spread the word…