Here’s to tomorrow…

I’m guessing there will never have been a year to which so many people will be so happy to bid farewell. And while my experience of it has been different to yours, yours and yours, I’m sure we can agree that a less challenging set of circumstances next year would be nicer. Of course just because we’re bidding farewell to 2020 doesn’t mean we can do the same to the virus. Just as it doesn’t respect borders, it doesn’t respect calendars, and we can’t draw a line under it tonight at midnight, as much as we may wish to. Indeed January looks like it will be as challenging a month in this regard as we have had in this country so far. However there are reasons to be hopeful for 2021. Just as there were reasons to be hopeful for 2020 this time last year. You can always find a reason to hope, if you try hard enough. But hopes

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Year in Review 3: Virtual Theme Nights

Despite these shows being right up there as regards the best things that happened in my life in 2020, I’m not going to write much about them here. That’s because we at In The Lamplight are releasing a two-part end-of-year special where we do very little else bar look back at these two shows. Specifically how they were put together, and the stories around them rather than the performances themselves. Things like the late-night phone call which pretty much determined the success of the first show, and then the correspondence a couple of days later from Warner Bros. that nearly derailed it, the run-in with the Gardaí which almost scuppered the second show, the craic we had borrowing a jeep and towing a set of industrial lights around Sligo, and how people managed to come up with arrangements and record performances when we were in the thick of a hard lockdown. Our guest is Aileen Concannon, who discusses how she

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Don’t Stop Believin’

I’m really enjoying the Talking Sopranos podcast at the moment. Michael Imperioli (Christopher) and Steve Schrippa (Baccala) are reviewing one episode per show and its great listening if you are/were a fan of the show. David Chase created the show, and he was a guest on the podcast for a Holiday Special recently. The lads asked him about the choice of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ as the song for the very last scene of the last episode of the show. He said he had three options. Al Green’s Love and Happiness would have been a cooler choice – indeed the first three people to whom he mentioned the Journey tune cringed at the thought of it. Because Journey and this song in particular are guilty pleasures for many people. But he went with his gut. Because sometimes you need to listen to what trusted people around you say. And other times you need to ignore them and go with your

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Year In Review 2: In The Lamplight

We certainly weren’t alone in starting a podcast in 2020, but we were the only ones to start our podcast! We (Luke Devaney, Rory Maitland and I) launched it in October and have since released 9 episodes as part of Season 1 – 8 with guests and 1 welcome episode. It has a simple premise – a bit of chat between us, an interview and a few tunes with a musician (usually). It was really enjoyable on many levels I must say, not least playing music with all these wonderful people. Here, here and here are some musical highlights from Season 1. We’ll be releasing an end-of-year special this Wednesday (30th Dec) with a look back at the two online theme nights from the year (among other things), and look forward to getting to work on Season 2 in 2021.

Sunday Music #6 – Year in Review: 1

Today’s Sunday Music blog happens to be the first blog in the 2020: Year in Review series. Over the next few days I’ll present some musical highlights from the year just gone in the blog. So – we’ll start back in February with Theme Night #25 – Bee Gees and The Disco Era. It was the first theme night of the year, the last one before we had to move them online, and looking back now is quite emotional actually, making me realise just how much I miss the spirit, musicality and camaraderie of these nights. As demonstrated perfectly in this performance. You can go to the playlist of all songs from the night here, or else see below for a few stand-out performances from the shows to enjoy. Guilty – Edel Shannon and Chris Baillie Immortality – Marie Conway I Will Survive – Sophie Murphy Words – Annette Rafter Massachusetts – Paddy Keyes More tomorrow…

The priest’s dilemma

I’ve often wondered if a priest’s heart sinks when he cues the congregation for the first response of the day and what comes back is nothing more than a murmur. Tough crowd. Like a comedian when the laughter to his first punchline is muted. Or a musician when the applause after the first song is half-hearted. How do you approach the rest of the mass/gig? I saw it happen in a church recently and I learned two things – one from the priest and one from speaking to a member of the congregation afterwards. 1. A true pro will deliver his/her best no matter what response they receive. 2. A muted response doesn’t necessarily mean those there aren’t appreciating what you are doing. Carry on regardless.

The Dazzling Digger

The biggest hit of our Christmas Day was the digger given to my nephew. But why not? Ok the combination of vehicle and disco ball is a strange one, but they are two things which on their own are guaranteed winners in the world of a 2 year old. And it reminded me of Eddie Van Halen soloing on Michael Jackson’s Beat It. Not 2 musicians you would necessarily put together but it worked spectacularly. So next time you need to spice something up, or you’re stuck for ideas, try thinking of something that is at the other end of the scale from whatever it it that you do. And find a way for it to work…

A love letter to Sligo…

I moved back to Sligo in 2007, having not lived here full-time in 15 years. And all of a sudden everything clicked. Because the way we interact with ourselves and others depends hugely on our physical environment. Our surroundings matter. And being here in Sligo suited me, it worked for me, in ways I never knew it would. And so I asked a bunch of friends and family – young and old – to list their favourite things about Sligo. Because in a year where everything was turned upside-down, at least we got to spend it in Sligo. And that undoubtedly made it easier on us. So – here are some of the people, places and things people mentioned, as well as some of my own choices. Crossing the Curlews on the way home Snow on Benbulben Sligo Rovers and The Showgrounds Annie West The music scene The 4 Lights and The Happy Eater Strandhill – the sunset, The Strand,

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Good…at doing nothing

We spend plenty of time at other points in the year trying to get faster, smarter, better. But sometimes you need to be good at relaxing too. At doing nothing. And it doesn’t always come easily. This got me in the mood for doing just that. Great stuff from three young ladies who have performed at many a theme night over the years. And this should be seen by everyone! Incredible new footage of the band that changed everything.

Tuesday Trivia #6

No video today – just some short thoughts… If you consider a key and the key of it’s flat note (so for example the keys of D and Db), the cumulative number of sharps and flats in both keys always adds up to 7. The best way to improve at your instrument is not to miss a practice session. The first 7 notes of the melody of Jingle Bells are the same. 6 of the first 7 notes of the melody of Winter Wonderland are the same. None of the first 7 notes of the melody of The Christmas Song are the same. Take from that what you will. If you don’t get it in three takes, go home and practice. It’s possible for the same singer to sing the same song in two completely different ways.