This month marks 5 years of Seamie O’Dowd and I playing together each week. First in Hargadons, then Furey’s and now for the past (almost) 4 years on every Monday in Connolly’s.
It’s a baby compared to the likes of Seamie McGowan’s Sunday night residency in the Strand, No Crows on Wednesday in Shoots or Gerry Grennan and the gang’s Tuesday session in McLynns (which turns 12 today I believe), but it has been a huge addition to my week and long may it last.
I have written about this residency in numerous previous blogs. I believe that part of the reason why it has been successful and lasted is that we have been given the freedom to invite a guest in with us each week. This keeps us on our toes, because each guest brings different skills and energies and hence requires different accompaniment from us. It means that no two weeks are the same, which means that it doesn’t get stale for us or the audience.
Yesterday I asked a few people if they wanted to be our guest last night but no-one could. So eventually I decided rather than keep trying people, that for the first time in many years, we would do the gig as a duo.
And again it required different skills and energies. You work harder and play more when there is just the two of you rather than three or four, and the intensity of the interaction increases.
And Sligo being Sligo, we ended up having two guests anyway throughout the course of the evening – our friend Barry Brennan and also a young man I had the pleasure of playing with for the first time – Eamonn is his name – who rocked the place with a couple of Pogues numbers.
So to anyone learning how to play an instrument out there – try it all. Embrace new styles. Accompany, improvise, interact. The more ways you can play your instrument, the more varied your life as a musician will be. And that’s good for your audience, but more importantly that’s good for you.