Old photographs

It’s always nice to look back at old photographs. I was searching for a few this morning for the sister of a friend who has a big birthday coming up. She’s making an album and wanted a few old pics to include. And so I got caught for a while looking back at old pics and marvelling at how young I/we all were. The usual stuff. Here’s one from approx 2009. This was my 2nd ever gig – in 2005. Learning – 2003. And one from a school concert in 1997. And it’s only when I look back at myself at these various stages that I realise how little I knew about music and indeed many things at each of those points in my life. So I could put up a picture here of me playing piano in 2019. But you’ve all seen enough of those! But if I did, at some point in the future I would look back

read more Old photographs

Improvisation

I spent yesterday morning at a World Lyrical Dance Federation (WLDF) competition in Dublin. I saw lots of dancers aged approx 5-9 yrs old perform short routines to various standards. If I didn’t have skin in the game it’s not a place I would have chosen to spend my Sunday morning (!) but since I was there I was interested in what type of event it would be and what sort of culture the organisation would exhibit. And sure enough, my interest was piqued at the end of the session when the improv section began. Dancers were encouraged to come up with their own routines on the spot to well-known songs in the lyrical genre. And it was really interesting to watch. Many dancers bunched up right in front of the judges, others took advantage of the space at the back of the floor. Some spent the time showing off as many moves as they could, others took their time

read more Improvisation

Something real…

For the first time ever, I heard a cheer at the zoo today. If you look really closely at the below picture, you can see a small grey squirrel up high on a branch on the lighter tree on the left hand side. Its mother and sibling had previously inched their way to the edge of the branch before jumping a few feet through the air onto another branch on the darker tree on the right hand side. The third squirrel wasn’t as brave. It took a lot longer, but it eventually plucked up the courage and made the leap across, to the loud cheers of the assembled crowd. We had seen elephants, lions, giraffes, snow leopards, but it was the grey squirrel who captured our imagination. Why? Because it was a true story. Unlike the other animals, impressive as they all were, but in fabricated environments. This baby squirrel was in the real world, battling with himself and gravity,

read more Something real…

Commitment

Today we played all the hits. Old MacDonald, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, Twinkle Twinkle. Jointly run by The Hawk’s Well in Sligo and The Dock in Carrick-on-Shannon, the name of the gig was Rock Babies, led by the rockstar himself – Tabby Callaghan. And for a man who has played in front of a TV audience of millions, and in some of the biggest venues in Ireland and the UK, you could have forgiven him for phoning the gig in to a certain extent. But no. As I have written in these pages before about Scruffy Duffy, Eddie Lee and others, one of the most admirable traits in a professional is their dedication to whatever gig it is they are playing at a particular time, big or small, glamorous or run of the mill. And that was Tabby today. Not resting until he had the crowd engaged – dancing, shouting, running, clapping, moving. Giving each song all he had

read more Commitment

When you’re a fan…

When you’re a musician, part of your job is to satisfy existing fans – another part is to attract new ones. And it can be easy to forget what it’s actually like to be a fan. But today I was excited because I heard that Theo Katzman released a new single. Because I’m a fan of his. Here’s a version of Love is a Beautiful Thing – a song from Theo’s 2017 album – Heartbreak Hits. And here’s today’s single – You Could Be President. And I wasn’t disappointed. Because as a fan, all I’m looking for is every so often a new release, new arrangements of old songs, interesting live versions. And for these to feature some of the qualities that made me like him in the first place. And as a musician, it helps to remember this.

Apologising

Today I received an apology. A proper one. A man looked me in the eye and told me how sorry he was for something that happened almost 5 years ago. It was specific, heartfelt and touching. The interesting thing was what happened to me. Our meeting today, instead of bringing back the memories of what happened in the past, actually heightened my respect for him. He made a mistake a long time ago, but today had the decency and the character to do what he did, and hence I think more of him now than I did yesterday. Apologising can be difficult. Especially if you leave it a long time. So mustering up the courage to do so and preparing what you are going to say will probably be difficult, all the more so because of the pride we all have. But having done this, when it comes to the apology itself, if you’re going to do it, you may

read more Apologising

“Are you busy?”

Did you have to go to jail,Put your house up for sale, did you get a good lawyer?I hope you didn’t catch a tan,I hope you’ll find the right man who’ll fix it for yaAnd are you shopping anywhere,Changed the color of your hair, are you busy?And did you have to pay that fineYou were dodging all the time, are you still dizzy? Dave McCabe of The Zutons, who wrote Valerie (later covered by Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse), asked a question in the second verse that I hear regularly, being asked of me and others. “Are You Busy?” The question is often asked in relation to work, and it seems that people want to hear ‘yes’ as the answer – it means you have plenty of work and things are going OK. “Flat out” is an answer you hear regularly in this part of the world. Busy can be good, as long as you’re not the busy fool. Someone

read more “Are you busy?”

Podcasting

Ray McAndrew and Mary Kennedy have been recording The Kendy and Raybo Podcast for over a year now. They have put out 61 episodes and have gained a steady and loyal following who want to listen to what they have to say every week. It has become so popular that they were asked to open the SO Funny Sligo Comedy Festival last week and by all accounts a great night was had by all. I was a guest for the first time on a podcast yesterday. Barry Power hosts and creates the podcast From The Maker to the Made and we recorded the upcoming Episode 10 yesterday. It was a lovely chat about creativity and the creative process when it comes to music. The thing is – it’s easy to do. Set up a couple of mics, have a chat and off you go. And for people who feel that they can’t be artistic because they may not be much

read more Podcasting

Assumptions

I heard a new proverb today. New to me that is. And when considering whether to share it or not, I tried two assumptions. Everyone has heard it before. In which case then there is no real point in blogging about it. Very few have heard it before. In which case there is a reason to blog about it. The proverb? To assume makes an ass of u and me. And since I’ll never know how many readers have heard it before, I’ll heed the proverb, assume nothing, and share it just because I liked it.

Wine and Song

If a wine is good, it’s possible to enjoy it decades after it was bottled. The colour, taste and most of all label will give away its age and origin, but if it was made with good ingredients and care, it will last the test of time. Likewise with a top class piece of music. The instrumentation, quality of the recording and style may give away its age, but if it’s well-made its quality can shine through and it may be enjoyed for years and decades after it was recorded. Some music, and indeed wine is made for the short term. Mass-produced, with the aim of it being consumed as widely and as soon as possible. And there is value and merit in that. If that is your goal. And it’s not always possible when you make something to know whether you’re making it to last or not. But isn’t there something magical about the thought of people enjoying the

read more Wine and Song