All videos from Theme Night #25 now up…

Thanks as always to Kris, Dominika and Iga from KDM Video-Photo Production for their work in producing almost 40 videos in double quick time! You can see videos of all the performances here… Or just enjoy Georgie Gorman’s memorable version of the early Bee Gees hit The First Of May.

Anyone looking for piano lessons?

Some slots have unexpectedly come free, so if you are interested in learning to play piano, improving your existing piano skills, or looking to understand music a bit better, read on. Right now I have availability after school on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and I’m looking mainly for secondary school students, but possibly late primary school or adults too. If you’re not sure if my lessons are the right fit for you (or your child), you can read more about my thoughts on teaching piano in a blog I published last July here. If you’re interested or would like more details, please contact me at The sooner the better…

Signing off…for now…

I heard an interview on the Second Captains podcast earlier this week with one of the best rugby players in Ireland right now – Andrew Conway. He was discussing his current good form, and why his game is in such a healthy state right now, and he spoke of a journal which he kept. In this journal he kept details of his nutrition, sleep, recovery, training, mood, and other variables and when he looked back at it he realised that when he was consistently getting these things right, his form on the field was usually good too. Then came the part which really rang a bell with me. He said he used to fill this journal out 7 days a week, even on his days off, but it started to feel like a chore, and so now he does it just on the days on which he trains. Still 5 days a week, but he finds it a lot more

read more Signing off…for now…

Vicar St 2020!

A lot of people have ben asking me for information regarding this night – so here is all you need to know… Firstly a short behind the scenes video from last year’s never-to-be-forgotten trip. Thanks to theme night regular Rory Maitland for this. So – the show (Theme Night #26) will take place on Thursday April 23rd in Vicar St. The theme is ‘Ireland in Song’ – and we intend to celebrate our wonderful country’s rich musical heritage in the unique theme night way. We will be covering all genres from Mary Black to Micheál O’Suilleabháin, and from Thin Lizzy to The Pogues. It’s no ordinary gig – we will be bringing over 70 musicians to Dublin, and in order to make this happen we need your help. In this regard we are offering VIP tickets and corporate packages, where for a little extra, you or your company can not only make a valuable contribution towards the event itself, but

read more Vicar St 2020!


One thing of which we are very aware in the Theme Nights is to document them as they happen. Kris and Dominika Manulak are invaluable in this regard and have been with us since the early days in Source taking photos and recording the performances. Here is an example of their work – Paddy Keyes’ beautiful Theme Night debut from last Friday. You can find the regularly updating playlist of videos from Theme Night #25 here. 12 videos are up so far and more will be added daily over the next while. Complete playlists from Theme Nights #21-#24 are available on YouTube and we are working hard to update the libraries of other theme nights and will bring them to you as soon as possible.

It's sad…so sad…

You’ve heard the one about the third Monday in January being the most depressing day of the year? The benefit of a rest over Christmas has worn off, the buzz of New Years Resolutions is starting to fade, and many people are still waiting to get paid… Well I’m sorry, but new data published recently in the Economist, based on what songs we listen to – now says that the worst is not over yet – that February is in fact the most depressing month. It makes sense to me – it’s anecdotal evidence at best, but I have always thought that February is usually the quietest month in Connolly’s for our Monday night gigs – a suggestion backed up by the bar staff and management there. Anyway back to the article in The Economist – journalists collated data from Spotify, where music experts have given each song a score between 0 and 100 depending on how uplifting the song

read more It's sad…so sad…

Weekly Challenge #5 – How Deep is Your Love??

Theme Night #25 has been and gone, but the wonderful music of The BeeGees will live on. To celebrate that fact, this week’s challenge features one of their biggest hits – How Deep is Your Love?. It is quite a difficult one, possibly the trickiest challenge so far. No key changes in it, but watch out for some melody notes outside of the relevant major scale, and also for plenty of unusual chords. Click here for more information. Answers to this challenge will be posted on Wednesday.

Theme Night #25 – reflections

So! Another Theme Night consigned to history. We had a lot of firsts this time – a Maori blessing, an unknowing participant, a troupe of dancers, flourescent violinists. It was also the first time I attempted to tell the story of the subjects of this particular theme through the structure of the show. And some lasts – Chris Baillie’s last theme night in Sligo, possibly the last time we’ll see our original horn section (Tom, Tom, Fraser and Eddie) on the Hawk’s Well stage together, and the last instalment of our first quarter-century of Theme Nights – a wonderful milestone to reach. Indeed I’d like to take this opportunity to say thanks to the more than 300 participants who have taken part in a theme night so far – for helping create these unique shows with me. There was huge variety in the music this time – from the BeeGees early material, to their disco phase, to the songs they

read more Theme Night #25 – reflections

Walking the walk

Every time a Theme Night or a Teenage Theme Night comes around, many performers get out of their comfort zone. It might be singing in a professional environment for the first time, trying a new genre of song, playing a new instrument, saying something to the audience before the song, or somehow improving their performance with something a little bit extra. And without fail, I encourage this. It leads to practice, work, growth and a sense of achievement. Even if it doesn’t go quite as you hoped it would. But when the one in charge is asking others to do something, the words quickly become hollow unless their actions match their words. And this is how I ended up dancing in a white disco suit and singing You Should Be Dancing in falsetto. Even though it was a bit scary. But it was fun. SO – if you want to see who will get out of their comfort zone next

read more Walking the walk


People often ask me what arranging is. So here’s an example. The first video below is the original BeeGees version of I Started a Joke, the second an arrangement Aileen Concannon and I put together for Theme Night #25. So we have changed the key, the chords, the instrumentation, the interpretation, but not the melody (bar a little bit of improvisation on Aileen’s behalf) or lyrics. It’s a new arrangement of an existing song – and a song is defined by it’s melody and lyrics. But there are many ways to put across that melody and those lyrics, and that’s what makes live performances so special. If you haven’t already, have a look at Aileen’s above – it IS special. And for anyone interested in reading more about this song, here is an interesting interpretation of its meaning.