On top of the world

What a day. The sun was out, the West of Ireland looked amazing, and if you’ll forgive me for delving into my personal life for a moment, Sinéad and I were away celebrating 10 years of marriage. Living day to day, it’s easy to feel that things don’t change much. But when you reach a milestone such as this one, and you look back over ten years, it’s clear that those days all add up and make up a significant part of a life. And we realized today that ten years ago we had yet to become parents, there had never been a theme night, and Sinéad was still years away from even considering a career in politics. And so it becomes clear how important each of those days is, and each of the moments within those days, because in ten years time we’ll hopefully be looking back again and marveling at how much has gone on since today. And

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September sun

“Don’t it always seem to go – that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” sang Joni Mitchell. Thankfully in Ireland we don’t make that mistake with September sun. Because we know from bitter experience that it will be gone soon, so we know exactly what we’ve got, and hence make the most of it. But is our attitude the same towards August sun, or July sun? And if it’s not, why not? It’s easy to appreciate something when it’s a bonus. The trick is to do so when it’s not.

I Believe

Grainne McCarthy got married last month.  And it just so happened that the song to which she walked down the aisle was a Stevie Wonder song. So when I asked her to take part in the theme night she asked me straight away to sing that very song – I Believe (When I Fall in Love). She sang it on Friday and was amazing, but on Saturday her new husband was in the wings and she elevated her performance to another level.  She believed.  And the first thing any singer must do is to believe.  Vocal ability, patter, stage presence, mic technique – none of it matters if you don’t believe. Because if you don’t, we won’t.

‘I would have loved something like that when I was young’.

So say many adults I meet about the Teenage Theme Nights. And I agree. I would have absolutely eaten it up. A professional environment where creativity and expression is encouraged, and all among friends, peers and people of your age, who are into what you are into. Here is one of the many teenage representatives from the adult Theme Night #24 last weekend – Callum Wall delivering on Sir Duke. And it’s not even just about his voice, which speaks for itself yet is also still maturing. It’s about the few words with the audience before the song, the way he holds their attention with the few dance moves, the way he engages with them, the stage presence, and watch for the end, when he politely waits for the next performer to come on stage before acknowledging his applause from the crowd. All things we try to teach the teenage musicians about performing and delivering to an audience. All while

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A friend once told me that when announcing or advertising an event, keep your message simple. Communicate clearly the what, the when and the where, and as little else as possible. Anything else may confuse people. So in that spirit – here you go. Theme Nights #25 & #26 will both take place in the spring of 2020. Theme Night #25 – BeeGees and The Disco Era – Hawk’s Well Theatre, Feb 5, 6, 7 2020. Tickets on sale from 10am tomorrow (Tuesday 17th Sept). From hawkswell.ie, on 071-9161518 or in person at the Hawk’s Well. And for Theme Night #26 we’re going back to Vicar St, Dublin. Thursday April 23 2020. Tickets go on sale in the next few weeks. Anyone interested in pourchasing VIP or corporate ticket packages please get in touch ASAP. Follow this blog to hear first about details of the theme and the sale date.

A quiet day…

Here’s a few tasters of what went on over the weekend. I hope you enjoy them. Thanks as always to Kris and Dominika Manulak for the pics and videos. I don’t have the energy to write much else today, other than that details of Theme Nights #25 and #26 will be in tomorrow’s blog.

Why we love Marie…

This short clip shows Marie O’Byrne at her best. You know the way you always hear that it’s the little things, the detail that makes the difference? Well here is the perfect example of that. So first there’s a bit of dancing…the knees start to move. Another Star…great groove and a big finale to the show. But her eyes are always on Eoin at the front of the stage setting his guitar up. A little step forward to be sure…and yes there is something wrong. Puts the violin down and makes a short sprint to the centre of the stage. Susses out the issue. A quick wave to Vinnie on sound to make sure she’s Ok to correct it. Does so and a quick dash back to her instrument. All done in the space of 8 bars and she’s back in time to play her first phrase. I described her as a legend last night when introducing her to the

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Blood on the piano…

The fact that my fingers (well one of them!) bled onto the piano last night has nothing to do with how well I performed. But if I tell people that this happened they might think – ‘Wow – the pianist was so committed to last night’s gig that he literally shed blood for the cause’. And I was committed. But no more than usual. Some people work hard, perform really well every day and very few – if anyone – know. Others work reasonably hard, perform reasonably well but spend the rest of the time making sure everyone knows how hard they are working and how well they are performing. It’s up to us not to be fooled by occasional grand statements or actions and to see the true picture.

Theme Night #24 – tonight!

Happy Theme Night day everyone! Am really looking forward to the next three nights and presenting our take on the music of Stevie Wonder. It was impossible to include every good song he ever wrote – there are so many (!), but we have crammed as many as possible in. The usual number of 70 or so musicians will be taking part, yet they’re not all the same faces – as ever we try and include plenty of newcomers – in fact we have 8 debutants this time as well as the return of many familiar faces who were away for Theme Night #23. Each theme presents new challenges – for example Tonto (our percussionist) is looking forward to trying to emulate the sound made by the 3 percussion players Stevie usually brings with him to live shows. And after the success of our choir feature in Theme Night #23 we have gone really ambitious this time – so much

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Tackling decisions

When he was small(er), my son made the wonderful statement that his favourite part of the game of tennis was the tackling. And while I’m not sure he quite understood the rules of the tennis at the time, one thing he does understand, even in his very early years as a sportsman, is that if a tackle is there to be made, you must make it. You put your body on the line, but better to do your bit than doing nothing and letting the result be determined by someone else. It’s like a decision, especially a big one. Expect that it’s not your body that you’re putting on the line – it’s your reputation. Each of us are defined by the decisions we make every day. None of us will get them all correct, but just like a tackle, if you don’t make them when they need to be made, you’re leaving your fate to chance.