The first time I can remember playing music with someone else was a classical piano duet at the age of 14 with Darragh Kelly. The piece of music was Anitra’s Dance from Grieg’s Peer Gynt suite, and although I hadn’t heard the piece of music before, and indeed haven’t heard it since it is still lodegd in my head over 20 years later because of the amount we practiced and played it. Hotel California won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1978, and the guitar solo was voted the greatest of all time by readers of the renowned Guitarist magazine in 1998. It is a duet between Don Felder and Joe Walsh, written over three days by the two guitarists, and features first one, then the other and culminates in a twin guitar pattern repeated till fade, changed slightly each time to fit over the changing chords underneath. A great duet must not only show off what each

read more Duets

Comparison is the thief of joy.

I was asked to be a judge at a fundraiser recently. It was a dancing competition along the lines of Strictly Come Dancing or Dancing With the Stars in aid of Sligo Rugby Club. It was a really well organised night, great entertainment and huge effort had been put in the organising committee and by all 15 couples. Everyone had a great time…I must have been the only person in the room that didn’t enjoy it. Now don’t get me wrong – I loved the dancing, the craic, and pretty much everything else about the night itself – I just didn’t enjoy being a judge. I had to give a mark out of 10 and some sort of entertaining/controversial comment to each couple. I was encouraged by the organisers to be ‘the Simon Cowell’ and I tried one or two half-critical comments but I couldn’t do it with any conviction. We were only allowed give a 7, 8, 9 or

read more Comparison is the thief of joy.

What to do with good ideas.

People are always looking for new ideas. The world would be a boring place without those people. Many are worth trying. Most won’t work. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try them. Every so often one will really connect with people, and the results can be amazing, for everybody involved. If you’re lucky enough to find one of these, mind it. Work at it. Look after it. Stay true to it. Respect it and everyone who believes in it. Don’t stop looking for new ideas, but the really good ones don’t come around too often, so enjoy them when they do.

Do your job.

Randy Meisner was fed up. His marriage was breaking up, he was exhausted, and this tour seemed like it was never going to end. What’s more, deep down, he was struggling with his new-found stardom. He was a shy man at heart, and while he was OK with being the bass player in the band, he struggled when the fact that he wrote and sang one of the band’s biggest hits meant that he had to sing it every night as one of the centrepoints of the set. So says the picture painted by the Netflix documentary History of the Eagles. It came to a head one night backstage when Meisner refused to sing Take it to the Limit as the encore number. The co-leader of the band, Glenn Frey insisted he do it, the two fell out, and Meisner left the band soon after. It was Frey’s explanation for his insistence that struck me though. ‘Randy – there’s thousands

read more Do your job.

V-I (with a few stops in between)

We have a big weekend coming up in Sligo – Theme Night 20 takes place this coming Friday and Saturday It’s like a blind date with The Eagles. Audiences know we’ll be playing their music, but they don’t know who will be in the band, who is singing what, or who has decided to put their own twist on something. I love these nights for many reasons – one of which is that I get to know the music of a particular artist really well for a period of time. The challenges of each theme are different, and this time I reckon if we can get the guitars and the harmonies right we’ll go a long way to putting on a good show. If we do, I hope to show you some footage of the performances next week. The Eagles wouldn’t be renowned for tricky chord sequences, but you’d be surprised when you get into the music. The first chord of

read more V-I (with a few stops in between)

Daydreaming in Irish Class

I’ll always remember one particular Irish class when I was 15. I was daydreaming – humming the bass line of U2’s With Or Without You in my head. Not trying to see the notes on a stave, which was the extent of my musical education up to that, but trying to sing them (in my silent voice!) and figure out how they fit onto the major scale. The first one – OK that sounds like it’s the home note of the song – so it must be doh. So if that is doh, what is the second one? Sing the first note, then the second one, back to the first one and try and sing down note by note to the second…doh, ti, lah, soh – soh – is it soh? – It’s SOH! Then sing back up to the next one –it’s Lah, then Fah…wow this is a m a z i n g! I’ll never forget the feeling

read more Daydreaming in Irish Class

The First Dance

The First Dance – the title of the track played by Seamie O’Dowd, John Joe Kelly and I in this video. My first attempt at writing a jig, but also the opening track of our Melodic Reflection album – a musical dance between piano and guitar explored in more detail as the album progresses. And today, this tune also represents my first dance with blogging. I will publish a blog post each day for the next 35 days – some short and some longer, some written and some filmed, some you’ll find interesting and some you won’t, but hopefully enough of the former that you will stay with me on this short trip! No sales pitches. No politics or religion. No clickbait. Just some stories, insights, and above all honesty from me about all things musical and the piano. The safest way to make sure you get to read these blogs is by signing up to my newsletter, but they

read more The First Dance