The summer of 2008 was a funny one in Ireland. It was becoming clear that the economic boom of the previous decade was coming to an end, but no-one knew yet how bad it was going to be, and people were still clinging on to the good times as best as they could.
I remember that summer for a Monday night session that the Strand Bar in Strandhill hosted. It was packed every week for three months, and only partly because people still had a few quid in their pocket.
The main reason was because of the three musicians involved. Cathy Jordan, Seamie O’Dowd and Rick Epping had combined to produce a formidable musical force. The growl of Rick’s mouthorgan, the drive from Seamie’s guitar or fiddle, and Cathy’s hard-hitting vocals and easy way with the crowd made for a winning mix. Patsy Cline’s Walking After Midnight was always one of the encores and you could bounce up the hill home from the energy it gave off.
As a musician, especially a young/inexperienced one (possibly riddled with insecurities), you can often find yourself analysing a gig instead of enjoying it. This gig was intoxicating however, and made you forget all about working out the chords they were playing, or whether the guitar solo was better than something you could do on the piano.
Indeed I remember the relief I felt on discovering that I could still enjoy a gig now that I was working as a musician.
Ten years later we have been through a terrible recession and now property prices are through the roof again. The sun is out in Strandhill again today, and The Unwanted are launching their second album tonight. I’m looking forward to losing myself in their music again.