‘It didn’t rain on me’!

The guy at the table beside me was there for a short while on his own. Two ladies (I’m guessing his wife and daughter) then joined him and he asked why they were late. The older lady said that it was raining and traffic was worse than usual. His triumphant (and quite loud) response? ‘It didn’t rain on me’! Which is great for him, but down to fortune, not any skill, talent or good judgement on his behalf. It’s like the card game Beggar My Neighbour. The result is pre-determined by the way the cards are dealt. Even Snap has more skill to it. So there’s absolutely no reason for the victor to be happy with themselves. Like the dude beside me. Triumphalism rarely serves anyone except the triumphant one. Especially when there’s nothing to be triumphant about.

The Manhattan Skyline

I travelled to New York for the first time at the age of 22. It was with the Sligo football team – we were drawn against New York that year in the Connacht Championship. We didn’t stay in the city, but I’ll never forget my first glimpse of the skyline on the road in from JFK airport. It was 8 months after the Twin Towers had fallen, and in an era when many looked to America for leadership and guidance. And so it was like a dream. I had been to cities like Sydney and London at this stage, but this was another level. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. I couldn’t believe I was actually there. Killing time before the game, we took a short ferry trip on the Hudson river, and had time for a quick stroll to Times Square when we got off. And wow. The amount of people, the steam coming out of

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‘Woke up this morning…

…got yourself a gun’. These lyrics were going through my head this morning as I travelled along the New Jersey Turnpike. The views were reminiscent of the opening credits of The Sopranos – where Tony drives from New York City back out towards his New Jersey home – all to the strains of the above Alabama 3 song… We got speaking to the driver, who was from Egypt. He said he loved America because there were great opportunities there for people to work hard and make a success out of themselves. And we wondered if this was actually true or if he had heard it so many times from people around him that he presumed it to be the case. But maybe it didn’t matter. He believed it, and so it was reality for him. And that’s it. If we want something to be the case, we have a better chance of it being so if we really believe it.

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Weekly Challenge #2 AND Theme night #25…

Ok…so operation BeeGees began in earnest today and during the course of the day I realized that I asked the Hawk’s Well to hold more tickets than I need…so some tickets WILL be coming available in the coming days. As always this blog will be the best place to hear when that will happen. Also today – as promised some answers to Weekly Challenge #2. No Frontiers is in the Key of C, in 4/4 time and is full of tasty chords. Click on the link below to undertake the challenge and to find out more about learning piano in this way. More here.

Teenage Theme Nights 1-19

Let me take you back to the beginning. It was Christmas 2013, and I had recently come across the wonderful singer, musician and character that is Georgie Gorman. Indeed I’ll never forget the day he sat down in my sitting room to rehearse Desperado for Theme Night #8. I really felt I was in the presence of greatness – he gave me chills, goosebumps, tears – the whole lot. Anyway we got to know each other a bit over the next while and he asked me to meet him one day to listen to a couple of ideas he had. And so when I met him that December afternoon he said – ‘you know those theme nights you put on for adults – have you ever thought about putting one on for teenagers’? Bing! I knew it was something I wanted to do immediately, and so the very first Teenage Theme Night took place almost 6 years ago now –

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Weekly Challenge #2 – No Frontiers

What a weekend of teenage theme nights! Two shows yesterday alone which was a first – and the atmosphere in the room by the time last night came around was something to behold. More about these in tomorrow’s blog because Monday on the blog is now Weekly Challenge day – where any musicians of any level out there can test and improve their ears. Its a slightly trickier challenge this week, with far more chords in this song than in Budapest last week. It’s worth it though – No Frontiers is a beautiful song with a top class piano accompaniment track. Click here for the 4 challenges you must complete this week.


So as well as the teenagers expanding their listening horizons in the hunt for a song to perform, we in the band do the same when the song choices come back. I have received much slagging about my age in recent days, and maybe I’m now showing it here but I had never heard the song Fireball before Eddie Fitzpatrick decided to perform it at Teenage Theme Night #19 last night. It was another great show last night…with more than enough highlights to fill a blog, but today’s blog is all about this standout performance. Because the reason these nights keep getting better is because the bar keeps being raised. By performances such as this. And then the others realize that they need to work a bit harder at their song, or put a bit more thought into their arrangement. And then they come back next time with more ideas. And more preparation. And we get a night like last

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Human. Sacrifice.

Sedated. Speechless. Bruises. Run………….. Freedom! Some of the darker song titles from the second half of last night’s show…with a happy ending of course! With thanks to emcee Penny Lee for pointing this out to us all in her own dryly humorous way. It was another entertaining show last night. Plenty of standout moments – some highlights for me were as follows… The first original piece of music at a theme night for a while (and what a piece!) – and we have another this evening. The girl who took a good swig of a hot drink from her flask during the saxophone solo in her song to make sure her voice could hit the high notes on resuming. The dramatic entrance of the 5 horn players from the back of the theatre at the start of the second half. Great idea and execution! The end of Perfect (Fairground Attraction). Those high notes coming. Will she go for it?? If

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Get it right…

The official count on songs being performed at Teenage Theme Night #19 this weekend now stands at 96. Average 24 a show over 4 shows. Now some are repeat performances of the same song, and some we don’t have to play on as the teenagers cover the instruments themselves. But that still leaves – at a guess – the best part of 70 separate songs for the band to learn and then play over the course of the weekend. Now they are great lads – good friends all, and top class musicians, and I’m not suggesting that there has been any complaints from any of them. Because there hasn’t. But just in case any of us were feeling sorry for ourselves, a friend put me right this morning. She basically said – ‘Yes – you might be playing 70 songs, but each of the teenagers is performing only one. They have put a lot into choosing that song, arranging it,

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Where do all the old posters go?

I was out and about this morning and passed a number of posters for Gaslight – currently showing in the wonderful venue that is Kilmacowen Hall. On the way back however I spotted what I thought was my name on the back of the poster…and on closer viewing – it was! Immediately I was reminded of the lyric in The Green Fields of France – ‘in an old photograph torn and battered and stained’ – because this was how this side of the poster looked. Of course it was serving as good a purpose as it can now, but I took a closer look to see what gig it was advertising. And I remembered it – a fundraiser I was part of in the Knocknarea Arena a few years back – I sang Meadhbh’s Call as a duet with Sinéad Conway, and accompanied a few other pieces during the show. I remember the Grammar School Choir being particularly good that

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