New band, new blog…

Hi again everyone –

It feels good to be writing here again. While I figure out the exact details of when and how this blog will return, I just wanted to let you know about a new band of which I am part.

It’s called The Gateway City Project, and features my long-time musical partner Seamie O’Dowd (guitar/vocals), as well as good friends John Joe Kelly (bodhrán) and Cathal Roche (saxophones, clarinet).


3 (all bar Cathal) of us are playing in The Coleman Centre in Gurteen this coming Saturday night (see here for more details).

And then the debut of the 4-piece will be in the Hawk’s Well Theatre on Wed May 29.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow morning (Thursday) from

Knowing when to stop

Sometimes it’s time to stop. Sometimes there’s a roadsign there to tell you, other times it’s less clear.


Many of my blogs have dealt with the idea of getting started, and how simply starting something can sometimes be better than all the planning in the world. But knowing when to stop is just as important as starting.

Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s difficult, but when you know, you know, and then you should act.

I’m going to stop blogging for a little while. It’s just something I need to do.

Thankyou all for reading and for your feedback along the way – it made it easier to keep writing knowing I was reaching so many of you. Hopefully I’ll start again sometime soon.


On ‘claiming’ a song

The Lake Isle of Innisfree is a 12-line poem written by W. B. Yeats about a small island in Lough Gill, Sligo.

The Isle of Innisfree is a song written by Irishman Dick Farrelly which was recorded by many artists, including Bing Crosby and was chosen by director John Ford as the main musical theme for The 1952 film The Quiet Man.

There is absolutely no connection between them bar the similarity in the title. The Isle in Farrelly’s song represents Ireland as a whole and hence has nothing to do with the small island in the middle of a lake in Co. Sligo.

Yet the way that Sandy Kelly delivers the vocal on this version of the song – when she clenches her fist and delivers the last few lines on a stage full of Sligo people, you would swear otherwise. You see a great singer can convince an audience a song means whatever he/she wants it to mean, even if that is something that wasn’t in the author’s mind when he wrote it. And this is exactly what Sandy does here when she ‘claims’ it for Sligo.

I’ll always remember the month of February 2019 for this gig. And so it is fitting on the last day of the month that I’m happy to share a link to a YouTube playlist which features videos of almost all the performances from what was a special night for many of us.

PS – here are the answers to yesterday’s blog – and bear in mind that this was a very subjective quiz (as evidenced by many of the answers I got).

1 – The intro reminded me of the intro to Every Breath You Take (The Police) – it’s faster but the sound and notes are very similar.

2 – The melody of the verse is almost identical to the melody of the verse in When You’re Looking Like That (Westlife)

3 – And the third line of the song – “you look happy” is almost identical (melodically and lyrically) to Ed Sheeran’s line “you look happier” in his song Happier.

Cheating (a little)…

Seth Godin is the guy who inspired me to start my daily blogging habit.


He writes a daily blog – in fact has done so for almost 20 years, and I feel the same way about it that some of you guys probably feel about my blog. Some days it’s not quite for me, but other days the message (I hope anyway) hits a little closer to home.

Some of his messages have influenced me greatly, and I’m sure have found their way in different ways into my blogs over the last few months.

Today’s blog however is my favourite one of his yet. In fact it’s so good that for my blog today, I’m going to cheat a little, and just share his. I hope you get something out of it.

Thankyou Seth.

Starting again from scratch…

Xira is an Australian singer-songwriter who had considerable success with her first two singles, just months after beginning to write music. She was Matthew Carey’s guest on Episode 21 of his Studio Time podcast, and as always on this podcast, there were some great insights.


1 – The right words, from the right person, can make a huge difference. Xira’s grandpa was a professional musician. After her first singing performance in high school, her grandpa complimented her on it. Because it came from him, it meant an awful lot to her, and helped to set her on the road to being a professional.

2 – It can be tough to to start learning a new skill, to go back to being bad at something, especially when you’re good at something else, but it’s worth it. In her mid-twenties, Xira felt established as a singer, felt she was good and that there was a future for her in it. She was impressive, and people began to ask her for her original stuff.  She insisted that she wasn’t a writer and wasn’t interested in writing – she just wanted to sing other people’s songs.

Very honestly, she admits now that this was a defence mechanism. Because she didn’t know how to write songs, and equally because she was good at singing, she felt that she didn’t want to start again from scratch, to go back to being bad at one thing when she was already good at something else, and so she said that she just wasn’t interested in writing. She finally took the step, got some help, wrote some terrible songs, but eventually started to write some good ones, and is glad that she did.

3 – Names matter. The lady who now calls herself Xira was born with the name Tamika, and sang professionally under that name for years. Having the name Xira sets her free in her own mind to explore new projects and new sides of herself without alienating the people who enjoy the Tamika stuff.

You can listen to this episode, or any of the 22 episodes of Studio Time here.



Roald Dahl Audiobooks…

…are brilliant. And it’s not even the stories I’m talking about – there could be a whole other blog written on them. But the skill of the actors reading them is something to behold.


I recently heard Kate Winslet doing Matilda and Chris O’Dowd doing Fantastic Mr. Fox. And wow. The delivery of the lines, the changes of pace, the conviction behind each word – all incredible.

Most of all though – the voices and accents. Each book features a big cast of characters, and the actor reading the story has a different voice and accent for each. Their ability to be consistent with these but also to change quickly from one to the other is remarkable.

Now I have no idea if this is a difficult gig or an easy gig for them. A boring gig or a fun gig. I have no idea what mood they were in when they recorded them – whether they loved going to work that day or whether they just showed up for the cheque.

But it doesn’t matter. The end product is top notch.

The point is that they delivered. They did a great job.

Sometimes it pays to bring it back to basics. Do your job well. Start from there.