An empty stage

The day after a big show is a strange one. Especially if you go back into the venue to collect some gear. The auditorium of the previous evening is now no more than a black floor with a few markings and bare walls. The bright colourful lights are gone, replaced by their dim house counterparts. And the energy created by the performers, crammed into those few square metres, has long since disappeared. The 1984 Talking Heads film Stop Making Sense (opening scene here) cleverly shows how skilled technicians and performers can transform an empty theatre stage into a venue fit for a world-class rock concert. It doesn’t work all the time. Not every gig is a success. But with the right vision, plan and execution what seems like nothing can be turned into something. It’s the same when an architect looks at an empty field or an old house. Or when a sculptor looks at a block of wood. Potential

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It’s better with someone…

Over the last two nights, in Theme Night #21 a huge gang of us had a blast performing a series of duets. For our slot, Niamh (below) and I put together a 4-handed classical/boogie arrangement of Flight of the Bumblebee. What struck me about the night though was the handshakes, hugs and smiles exchanged between performers after each performance finished. In each case there was a sense of something worthwhile achieved together, and performers who would usually sing on their own got a extra kick from having a partner-in-crime. It’s not always the answer, but sometimes if you want to achieve something, or just have a bit more fun along the way, all you need is someone else. PS tickets for Theme Night #22 (Vicar St.) went on sale today here. Or…if you want to really treat yourself or that someone else in your life, you can get the VIP package here.

Rubber necks

Isn’t it funny how necks are sometimes described as brass and sometimes as rubber? I’m here to talk about the rubber variety today. I once undertook a 72-hour bus journey in Australia. A 52-hour one another time in Peru. It’s not as bad as you might imagine. Lots of time to think. I was on a far shorter journey recently and found myself getting more frustrated than on either of those trips. This journey was just the 5 hours. We travelled mainly on a motorway and mainly at a decent speed. At one stage of the journey though, the traffic slowed considerably. It took about 30mins to navigate approximately 5 kilometres, and I assumed there must have been a crash ahead. And there was. On the other side of the road. And as soon as we passed it, the traffic cleared and we resumed our normal speed. I was astounded. This 30-min traffic jam was caused solely because of rubbernecking.

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The rehearsal night before a theme night can be full of tension and nerves. Singers trying to remember words. Hearing how their song sounds with the band for the first time. Musicians attempting to play correctly parts they have often only just seen. Trying to keep up with directions given out. The musical director hoping that everything will come together and struggling to keep on top of a lot of moving parts. All in a very short space of time. Into this atmosphere yesterday walked Sandy Kelly, and immediately when she accompanied her first note with a mischievous smile, the whole room relaxed. She had fun with the song, and hence made us all have fun too, and as you can see below, she even got a smile out of Georgie! I always love to work with Sandy. She is first and foremost a singer, and always makes sure to connect the audience to the song she is singing, through

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Are you planning or acting?

If you’re in planning/thinking mode, your mind needs to be open, creative, working at a slower pace, so that ideas can freely come and go. If you’re in acting/doing mode however, your mind needs to be focused, sharp, fast, so that tasks get carried out quickly and efficiently. These phases can last for minutes or months depending on the nature of your work, but they always require different mindsets. You need to figure out which phase which you are in, and then programme your mind accordingly.

Reflection, examination, new ventures.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”. It’s nice to take stock, to reflect, every so often. Socrates, the author of the above quote, would say it’s more than nice. In fact it’s crucial. And so I’m delighted, as Socrates would be if he were alive today, to announce that for the rest of the year there will be plenty of reflection, some stock taken, and oodles of examination, as before Thursday Feb 7, 2019 we will have the difficult but appetising task of picking a setlist for Theme Night #22 – “The Story So Far”. Oh and the show will be in Dublin, in Vicar St. Tickets will go on sale from next Friday 28th at 10am.

Twitter wit

There was a funny thread on Twitter a few months ago. Firstly I saw a tweet from ‘Pomp’ (@APompliano). This was doing the rounds and at my last count had 12K retweets and 44K likes. It read as follows… The most successful people I’ve met: Read constantly Workout daily Are innately curious Have laser focus Believe in themselves Build incredible teams Admit they know very little Constantly work to improve Demand excellence in everything they do   Then a few days later I saw a reply from Kelly Cates (@KellyCates)… Me – I like numbers 6, 7 and 8 in both tweets. You will like others. It’s worth thinking about however…what does success look like for you?

Normal vs right

Some bands won’t get up to play without a setlist. For other bands, it’s the norm to read the audience and accordingly choose songs as they go. If you stand back and think about it, wearing a tie is a pretty strange thing to do. Yet in certain working environments, it’s not only normal, but is expected. 30 years ago, you would be called mad if it took you more than 30 minutes to get to work each day. Now, in urban environments, it’s normal to spend an hour and more in the both the morning and evening commuting. Just because it’s normal doesn’t mean it’s right. It’s good to take a step back every so often and look at what is normal in your life.  

Bring it on the road…

In 2010 Ciaran McCauley and I wrote and produced a show called ‘An Evening With Sgt. Pepper’ (you can watch highlights of the show here). It went down great in Sligo and the immediate response from cast and audience alike was ‘oh you have to bring that on the road’. ‘That show would hold it’s own anywhere’. And so we did, and the show did hold it’s own in fairness. Only we couldn’t really get anyone to come and see it. And when there were 13 professionals involved in the show that proved to be an issue. It interested me when I heard the same response after the fantastic Nightfly gig we played during the Sligo Jazz Festival in July. I have thought about bringing the theme nights on the road many times. I love the idea – showing off what we have created here to a new audience. I believe that the shows are special and would hold their own

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