I played some music at an 80th birthday party last night. Like every birthday party, it was a celebration, but this was a special one. Firstly because of the age of the man involved, but secondly because it became clear as the night went on that this was no ordinary birthday boy.
The successful Munster rugby team of the 2000s regularly spoke of borrowing the jersey. The jersey is the constant, the inhabitant is not, and it’s up to each player to leave it in a better place for the next person to pull it on.
It’s a great concept, and it applies not only to sport, but to anything you are part of that is bigger than yourself.
There was that sense in the room last night. I saw where the musicians that I learned from had learned themselves. I witnessed them looking up to others as I look up to them. I found out up close how culture is passed on, how songs are passed down, where the practices and norms we know on our gigs have come from. And you realise – like the Munster players, we’re only here for a while. People will still play music with and for each other after we’re gone, and all we can do is do our best to make sure there are opportunities and good conditions for people to do so when that happens.
Happy Birthday Tom. From what I saw last night, our music scene, community, and town is in a better place for us because of you.