What does Bono sing in his garden?

A friend of mine recently told me that he was at a party in the house next door to Bono’s. It was summertime and the party was outside. He heard someone singing at full voice in the garden next door and soon realized it was Bono belting out a country and western tune. And it’s funny…the immediate feeling I had was happiness for Bono that sometimes he gets to sing other stuff apart from U2 songs. I was interviewed for a podcast recently and wrote a blog about their value as vehicles of expression and creativity in our world. But the other thing about podcasts is that they are brilliant vehicles for conversation. Barry (the host – above in pic) and I – plain and simple – had a great chat. About Bono, about how best to approach writing music, about what the ultimate aim as a musician should be, about the wonderful week I had where I wrote the

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A Year of Wednesdays

Every Wednesday morning for almost a year now I have seen a counsellor. Or psychotherapist – depending on what part of the country in which you live and what type of work in which you are engaged with them at a particular time. It’s not the first time I have seen one. For my 21st birthday, my mother (a counsellor/psychotherapist herself) bought me 4 sessions with a man who practiced on Gardiner St in Dublin. I had no particular issue at the time – we just chatted generally about a few things and it was certainly a positive experience. As it has been this time. Funny though, at the end of the third session he said to me – ‘I don’t think you need to come back any more – but if I can give you one bit of advice before you go – given the way you have spoken about it here I think you should seriously consider music

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A career in a creative industry…

…is certainly not all roses. It’s easier in many ways to have a regular job and create on the side. I met a man this morning who gave up a permanent and pensionable job 16 years ago. His accountant, fearing for his future, asked if he wouldn’t even have kept the old job on for one day a week to at least have kept some sort of pension, but this man just knew he wanted out. I have had that feeling – I have alluded to it in at least one previous blog – and I know many other creative people have too. Some people can ignore it and be happy as long as they get to fulfil their creative urges outside of work. Others, like the man above just have to get out. But what happens when you’re out? How does it work from then? Well – in the early days you might take every bit of work going.

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Who can you trust?

If you talk to people who were out last night and are back to work tomorrow, today (Monday) feels like Sunday. And when they get back to work in the morning tomorrow (Tuesday), it will feel like a Monday. Yet my diary says that tonight I’m playing in Connolly’s with Seamie, Cathal and John Joe. And I do that every Monday night. So today must be Monday. Or is it? Information is only as good as the source from where it comes. We need to be able to tell the difference.

A Day in the Life…

I loved this post yesterday – 24 hours in the life of Seamie O’Dowd. And I thought of some of the teenagers who took part in this weekend’s teenage theme nights, and the 24 hours of which they are currently in the midst. Take Fraser for example…bottom left of the below pic. He has just completed his 7th Teenage Theme Night and I reckon he has done just as many adult theme nights. Last night he played guitar and and sang a beautiful version of Jacob Collier’s Make Me Cry. This afternoon he played saxophone on Amy Winehouse’s Valerie, Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out for a Hero and contributed to some 4-part harmony on Adele’s When We Were Young. And tonight (very shortly) he will play as part of a 64-piece orchestra alongside 3 DJs in a dance spectacular. And he’s only one of many with such a varied schedule. And none of the gigs involved Seamie O’Dowd! A culture takes

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Stand your ground

A stage can be a lonely place to be if things are going wrong. Hundreds of people looking at you, willing you to get it right, but knowing that right now you aren’t. And the thing going wrong may not even be your fault. But the crowd don’t know that. So it’s on you to fix it. Or leave the stage. Fight or flight. And one is certainly easier to do than the other. Show 1 of our 18th Teenage Theme Night last night was eventful. Lots of highlights, and a few people for whom things didn’t go as they wished. But I’ll always remember it for one young man standing his ground. He knew he could get it right, and kept at it until he did. And our wonderfully supportive audience were with him all the way…urging him on and rewarding him at the end with huge applause. As regards the future, there will be huge learning in it

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There’s something special about an orchestra…

Last night we were rehearsing for Sunday’s Sligo Live Symphony of Dance event. It will feature 3 DJs, the 64-piece Sligo Academy of Music Sinfionetta, guest vocalists and musicians, and some of the biggest dance tunes of the last few decades. It’s not music I have ever played before, and it was fun figuring out what to do on the tracks, more fun than it looks in this pic! DJ Barron Cawley was rehearsing with us, but even with his gear plugged into an amp and turned up to the max, the entirely acoustic orchestra drowned him out, and hence conductor Niamh Crowley had difficulty keeping us in time with the track. Until she got a set of headphones, and everything changed. Everything got tighter, everyone looked happier, and the music was better. I somehow doubt that in the Knocknarea Arena on Sunday evening the orchestra will drown the tracks out, and hence I also doubt that there will be

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It could be worse…

Just imagine… You get a flat tyre on your way to work. You can’t drive any further so you pull in on the side of the road. You also can’t be late so you run the last mile and arrive on time but puffed and sweating. At break time you run back a mile to change the tyre on the car. It starts to rain. The wheel is on the road side of the car so each time a car drives past you get splashed. It starts to rain more heavily. But at least you have the tyre changed. You put everything back into the boot and are all set to drive back to work. Until you look at the new tyre and realise that you never got the spare fixed last time you got a puncture. So now you are standing there, wet to the bone, late for the resumption of your work, no further on than when you

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Making mistakes…

Today I was trying to come up with ideas for the design of the package that will contain the CD which in turn will contain the tracks I have recorded which will comprise my next album (out next month). I was looking at other similar packages containing CDs (some mine and some not) to see what type of thing I liked and didn’t like. But when I looked closely at the back cover of Seamie’s and my Melodic Reflection (2017), for a moment I was horrified. I saw two mistakes! And I can’t tell you how many times we all checked and rechecked the design, but it was a lot. And still two mistakes got through. They aren’t hugely obvious ones, but they are still mistakes, both my fault, and it would be better if they weren’t there. Indeed only this morning I was reading yesterday’s blog and I noticed a small mistake I had made. But after thinking about

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Class is permanent

9 – Amy Winehouse 7 – Adele 6 – Elton John 4- The Beatles 3 – Birdy 2 – Ed Sheeran, Radiohead, Bonnie Tyler, Sam Smith These are the most popular artists in terms of songs chosen by performers at this coming weekend’s Teenage Theme Nights. The theme is Best of British and given that the majority of the performers are female and under 18, it’s no surprise that the two most popular artists are female soloists with plenty of big hits in recent years. The two interesting ones for me are Elton John and The Beatles being so high however, higher than huge present-day pop artists such Ed Sheeran or Sam Smith in terms of male representation. Elton John, like Queen – has benefitted from a recent mainstream cinema release of a film on his life. It has brought his music to a whole new generation. It’s interesting to compare him to his contemporary on the piano – Billy

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