Archive for March, 2012

A very much musical start to the month of March

It must have been November or maybe a little earlier that the exciting news came through that Bruce Springsteen would be coming to play in Ireland in the Summer. I think that when I had heard about it dates hadn’t been confirmed but I knew that I wanted to go and see him. I had wanted to go before and I couldn’t just get to go at the time. I have never seen him live before and I knew that this time I wasn’t going to let the chance go by. Also, Jennifer is a big fan so we discussed it and I told her that I was going to make sure and keep an eye out and I had already arranged for my brothers wife to get them as my brother has always been a huge fan and the four of us would go together. The tickets finally went on sale on the 1st of December and the first show sold out in minutes. They then added a second show and we got tickets for that and we will be heading to see him at the RDS on the 18th of July. I’ll never forget ringing up Jennifer that morning to confirm that I had the tickets. She was delighted and immediately started blasting out Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Bruce’s version of course) down the phone at me. I am sure that we are going to have a great time at that concert. I am looking forward to it and I am starting to hear of more and more people that I know going also so I am bound to bump into someone that I know there. Anyway… to bring all of this up-to-date as far as this weekend is concerned. The Album Wrecking Ball came out just a few days ago. Having heard quite a bit about it recently and seen some online clips and stuff I was delighted to be able to grab it on Itunes yesterday morning. I have only listened to it twice and am not going to go into too much of what I feel about it here as I am still getting into it but track 5, Death to my Hometown is my favourite so far. I should say that I really like the album for the most part but I wouldn’t consider myself to be a great reviewer. Maybe Jennifer will do a much better job at that than me on her blog. I am sure she will not forget to mention its releace at some point. :)

Listening to the radio sometimes and in particular a show that I wouldn’t usually listen to can sometimes have its rewards. On the Tuesday night just after coming back from the Cruise I was listening to a local station and an ad break came on. I heard, or thought I heard an ad advertising Nanci Griffith to play in Kilkenny on the 3rd of March which was last night. Being sort of half asleep I thought that I must check that out over the next few days and also I wanted to try and get someone to come with me. By the time I had got arrangements made for people to come it was Thursday and there was only two days left to the show. I was sure it would be sold out when I rang the theatre but I was informed that no, there were still seats left.

The show kicked off at 8:00 sharp. Her support group were a husband and wife group called The Kennedys from New York. They were quite good. The husband mostly did backing vocals and the wife did the lead parts which in my opinion worked very well. They talked about their different musical influences and featured for the most part all of their own material which is great cause I had never heard of them before and I love to get the chance to hear new stuff and be surprised by an unknown group like that. They told us stories about different songs and one that stands out was about a song that they wrote after going on one of their first dates. This date happened to involve visiting a grave yard to pay their respects to Buddy Holly. Hmmm, who says all dates have to be of a romantic kind haha. For their last number they wanted to do a tribute to Davy Jones from the Monkees who passed away earlier this week. They sang Daydream Believer and Nanci quietly came out on stage and joined them and sang the song with them to great cheers from the audience.

There was a small break after the Kennedys went off stage and without any fuss or fancy introductions Nanci came out on stage and with a strum of a guitar just immediately started chatting and broke into song. Of course I was looking forward to seeing what she would start off with and it was Speed of the Sound of Loneliness by John Prime. It was delivered slow and steady and she had the crowd in her hands I think from that first number. She chatted in between each song and just made herself at home with us all. The theatre seemed to just lose all of its formality and it was just a really intimate experience for me. Then there came that point in the show when I heard a guitar being tuned down to a certain key. Something in my head just told me what was coming next and then there it was. With the voice sounding a bit strained or aged, she still managed to deliver From a Distance in a very powerful and immotional way. I really love the sentiment of that song. Its strange that when it was written it was rejected by so many people until Nanci was given it and asked her opinion on it. She states that she owes a lot of the success from it to the Irish since it was recorded in 1986. That was followed up with Trouble in the Fields which is another great song of hers and some people will know it from Maura O’connell who Nanci mentioned from the stage. It really was a fantastic night and really just gave me some sort of lift. Hearing good music does that to me. You just get some great feeling. The only way I can describe how I felt after it is to say that it was like being in a dream and not wanting it to end and when she went off the stage for the first time at ten past ten I just couldn’t believe it had got to that time already. I certainly would love to see her again and who knows, maybe I might get to meet her sometime.

Back from the sea

This is really a take 2. I did think I had written a perfectly good post last night and uploaded it up here but I didn’t check it after I had done that and it all was messed up so here goes my second attempt.

It is really high time I wrote on here and let you know whats been happening over the past while. In particular my adventure on the cruise which I blogged about just before I set off on my travels.

Well, it all began later in the early hours of the morning of the 12th of Feburary when my brother in law drove myself and my parents who were accompanying me on the cruise to a local bus stop where we would take a bus to Dublin Airport. I hate all the rushing around and stuff wondering if I had packed everything or was I leaving something behind but thankfully I didn’t leave anything of any great importance behind that I needed. Shur as someone later said to me, once you have the passport and the money and tickets with you nothing else matters and well, that is sort of true for the most part.

Having left Carlow at half 2 in the morning we got to the airport sometime around 10 past 4. For that time in the morning the place was busy enough. From conversations going on around me I think that a lot of people were heading off on skiing holidays. One or two friends have tried to persuade me to go on a skiing holiday before but I am not entirely sure if I would really like it or not. We had to kill some time waiting around for the ckeck-in desks to open at 6:00 so some tea was consumed and we just sat around waiting for the rest of the time. I was also hoping to meet Jennifer as she was going on her travels that morning also to Thailand with her family and she would be returning back to Ireland two days after me. It was just coincidental that our flights were leaving at roughly the same time so we had arranged it so that we would meet for a while at the airport. We checked in and went to get breakfast and I had a little chat with Jennifer and her dad. To read all about her holiday in Thailand why not visit her blog where she has written an account of some of the things that she got up to while she was there.

After two different flights we arrived in Fort Lauderdale in Florida around midnight Irish time Friday night. It was a long days travelling but I was sort of getting a second boost of energy at that stage and so when we got to our hotel and got rid of our cases we went down the road to find somewhere to eat as the buffet in the hotel wasn’t up to much. I was all over the place and didn’t really want anything big to eat but at the same time I was sick of just eating silly things like plane food so I had a burger and a few beers. The beers helped me get a nice sleep afterwards.

Having spent the day just going round the local area on the Saturday and visiting a local shopping centre and managing to buy a pair of headphones and then losing them before I could even get to open them from their packet we eventually boarded the ship on Sunday afternoon. The weather had been mixed since we had arrived in Florida. It was more overcast than we would usually be use too. By Saturday evening it had cooled right down and on Sunday morning we were waring jackets. Luckily for us this was short lived as by the time we got out to sea it started to gradually heat up again.

We set sail on the Sunday evening. We had 2200 passengers on the cruise this year and we have travelled on this ship before. For the first day or two it was a slight bit rocky and not at all what we would be use to in Caribbean waters. Both myself and other artists that were on the ship would have different timetabled gigs to play during the week in the various bars/lounges situated on different decks on the ship. There was also a theatre where some of the more high profile artists would perform each evening. This year we were joined by Daniel O’donnell. I had never met Daniel before and I must say that it was a pleasure to meet him. I found him to be very nice and relaxed and a complete gentleman. It was very nice of him to take some time to spend a few minutes with me for a chat and he certainly taught me a thing or too also when I met him.

We arrived at our first Island stop on Tuesday morning. We were sailing in the Eastern Caribbean and the Island we first called at was Grand Turk Island. It was a nice small friendly Island and we got off and had a nice walk around. My only purchase on there was a hat to keep the sun shaded from me. I tend to burn quite easily so applying a suitable amount of sun cream was also very necessary. Unfortunately for me by the Tuesday afternoon I was coming down with a bad cough and my throat was becoming very uncomfortable. I had to do a long gig that night as another artist had unfortunately taken sick and could not perform. Thankfully he was ok later in the week but I couldn’t back out of this gig at this stage and just didn’t know how I might manage it but with the help of the two lads on guitar and keyboards who were playing with me I managed to get through it.

On Wednesday we arrived at the Island of St. Thomas. I have been to this island probably twice before and was looking forward to it cause I do know that it is a good place for shopping. Ok, if you know anything about the place at all you will know that it can be expensive but you will find some things like perfume at reasonable prices. And, perfume was what I was after. It was going to be Jennifer’s birthday on the Saturday so I had decided to purchase a nice gift set for her there. I was hoping she would like the one I choose for her and well, I am happy to report that after giving it to her last weekend it did meet with her approval. :)

Thursday we stopped at St. Martin. This is an interesting place. The people are very friendly and it was nice walking around the town of Philipsburg and making a few small purchases. You could bargain here in a lot of the shops also and, they would also except euros if you wanted to use them.

Friday, like Monday was a day at sea. Sea days are not so bad really. People might think that you would get a little closterphobic but there is lots to do on the ship. Music is the theme of the cruise and its all mostly Irish. In the afternoons at sea a band would perform on deck and you could relax on a sun chair or have a beer or swim in the pool while you listened to all kinds of everything Irish being played for your enjoyment. I did three gigs while I was there. I played on Sunday night and Tuesday night. Thankfully by Friday afternoon I had sufficiently recovered my voice to do another spot in a gig on deck with a band which was put together for the occasion. We had great crack just doing some off-the-cuff numbers and I must say that the audiences all during the week were fabulus.

Saturday was our last stop at a private Island owned by the cruise line company called Half Moon Quay. I decided to chill onboard with a book and not get off here. Later in the afternoon we had rehearsals for the final theatre show where all artists were getting to perform and say farewell to everyone.

And then it was Sunday and unfortunately another cruise was at an end. I am very grateful to Gertrude Byrne Promotions for having me on yet another All Star Irish American Cruise and while i am not cruising again next year I do hope to be back again in the future. Do pop over and visit Gertrude Byrne Promotions for information on the 2013 cruise.

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