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Archive for March 2011

Come All You Dreamers

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“I played in the opera house one night, and a bat went mad. It’s a strange name to give four walls and a roof, opera house. Probably needs a bit of bingo to knock the edges off it.” (Christy Moore, The Way Pierce Turner Sings, Disc 4, The Box Set). There were no bats in the audience, or the rafters for that matter on Saturday last. However, there was as usual with a Christy Moore / Declan Sinnott gig a lively mix of young and old, big and small.

The show began at 8.05 pm, and the two boyos kicked off with a rendition of Wise and Holy Woman, a song written about Christy’s mother, Nancy. Followed by Ordinary Man, and a song I have never had the pleasure of hearing live, apart from the Live at The Point CD, Welcome to the Cabaret. The song featured references to Mick Wallace and the FCA.

Three songs in, and Christy and Declan were smiling, and the crowd were as Christy spotted, “just warming up.” So he kicked into Nancy Spain, and there was a gentle, low hum of voices throughout the Opera House. The vibe of the place, and the audience participation picked up a bit then and kept the pace for the rest of the night. It was jukebox time after a few more tunes, and the coins were rattling. Christy and Dec gladly obliged all requests. They seemed in great form with a lot of laughing between songs, and during them. Safe to say, the gig is definitely a duo and not a solo outing. The duo is ten years down the road, and their friendship shines through, despite the intense work on stage.

A lone voice called out, “The Rose.” Christy took to laugh, and he said, “If I can trawl it up, we’ll come back to it. Alright, horse?” And he came back a few songs on. I had never heard this song until tonight, I am ashamed to say. A true tour de force of trademark Christy humour and that rare dying art of story telling. I could picture every image in the song. My personal favourite being the image of Christy posing as a white South African in a house run by a woman from Rosslare!

Declan Sinnott graced us with a song then, a gorgeous, bluesy version of the Bob Dylan song, Corina, Corina. Watching Declan throughout the gig, no matter how many times I’ve seen them, has me utterly enthralled. The man adds so much to songs that have been sung thousands of times before.  He weaves stories and colours with his playing. Declan truly is a master of the weapon that is the six string guitar, and if anyone asks why Christy tours with Declan, then you’re clearly watching the wrong show!

As expected, there was an encore. But there was none of the old showbiz razzle dazzle. As Christy said, “There’s no point in walking off and waiting in the wings. When there’s an encore goin’, ya should take it!” The boys got up, accepted their applause and sat back down to do a blistering version of Lisdoonvarna. And a heartfelt, audience assisted version of The Voyage. I have seen Christy and Declan ten times and counting, including last Saturday. Safe to say, this was the most enjoyable gig I have ever attended. Joy is infectious, and the boys were having a great time onstage, that joy was beamed out to every smiling face in the audience. Fol-de-dee, get outta that. He was a quare one!

Written by thepanch

March 16, 2011 at 7:56 pm

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Meeting Christy

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They say you should never meet your heroes. You’ll only be disappointed. This writer has to disagree wholeheartedly. Walking the hallowed backstage halls of the Wexford Opera House, me and my father were ushered in by Christy’s manager, Paddy Doherty. Paddy asked if we would wait “side-stage”. So we stood silently in the wings and waited. Without even opening my mouth, Christy spotted me and came straight over, extended his hand. “Howya, Pancho.” I took his hand in mine. “Howya, Christy.” And so I had met one of my heroes, Christy Moore.

He was every bit the giant I expected him to be, from seeing countless shows and dvd footage. However, a gentle giant. I found him to be soft spoken, unassuming and very accommodating. We discussed the airing of the Barrowlands show on BBC4 the previous night, and the inclusion of my grandfather in the folk documentary that followed. Then we posed for a photograph. “Jaysis, Pancho ain’t it awfully handy having your father doing the photocalls? And I can tell by the cut of him, he knows what he’s doing.”

Job done, I dropped my professional face and went into fan mode, asking Christy to sign three autographs, which he did very graciously. Sadly business reared it’s head and the sound check beckoned, so he extended his hand once again, I extended mine. “Best of luck with it, Pancho. Keep her lit, man.” Thank you Christy, I intend to do just that!

Written by thepanch

March 16, 2011 at 7:54 pm

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Chaz Bar

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Contrary to popular belief, and my haircut, I am not nor have I ever been a member of The Beatles. As such, I have never played The infamous Cavern Club. However, there is a little venue in Wexford that has that same small but deadly vibe bouncing off the four walls. The Chaz Bar on the Quays in Wexford is hands down for me my favourite venue to play. And I’ve played up and down the country.

The Back Door takes place every Monday night, and is run and organized by the lovely Ms. Patricia Bird. A venue for local artists, originals and covers to play and I cannot recommend it highly enough. With the snow and the new year beginning, it was on hiatus until Monday the 21st of February. But now it is back, and back with a bang.

The 21st saw two quarters of my own band opening up, Love Muffin. Our guitarist and bassist were incognito. If I know them boyos, and I do, I can safely say they were probably bringing the horse to France. And so the set was shook up to suit myself, guitar and vocals and Fiona Byrne, vocals. It would be egotistical to write my own review, so let’s just say we didn’t sound too bad, and thoroughly enjoyed the gig. Oh, and I played a banjo.

We were quickly followed by Mr. Noel Quaid, a musician I first encountered when we played our first public gig, nearly eight years ago. Noel was playing in C.C. Riders, and he was brandishing a fretless bass. I could not believe it, it just seemed to be magic. No frets, surely he’s a wizard? Noel didn’t have the fretless bass this night, sadly, but he did have a borrowed acoustic guitar and some lovely tunes. My favourite was Angel, a song written by Noel. Always liked that tune.

The gigs are running every Monday night for the rest of the year. For bookings or info, contact Trish on: 0860307832.

Chaz Bar on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/group.php?gid=136205075311

Chaz Bar on Myspace:

http://www.myspace.com/thebackdoorchaz

Written by thepanch

March 3, 2011 at 11:00 am

Posted in Music, Thoughts

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John

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First gig. Bricking it. You check everything, sound check times, stage times, getting down to the venue. You’re on top of it. Last minute tuning, string snaps, well that’s that up the river. Wait, Clokes will be open. And it was. So I ran up and told John the catastrophe, he gave me two strings and never even charged me. The gig went swimmingly and the new strings sounded lovely.

That same summer, we all got immersed in music and all things musical. As a result, we spent our Saturdays rehearsing in Patrick O’ Brien’s front room, and his mum would bring sandwiches. Then we would go “up town” and spend the rest of the day in Clokes’ For Music. Looking at guitars, talking guitars and music in general. John was nothing but accommodating, we only had the money to buy maybe a set of strings every two weeks, but John didn’t seem to mind. If you wanted to talk music, you could spend hours in the shop.

That tradition is still carried on today. Whether I went in for strings, drum heads or plectrums, there were always young musicians in there. Coming and going from lessons, picking up guitars attempting to play Sweet Child of Mine. And all the while, John would be behind the counter smiling away and talking about the best guitar to get.

The music scene in Enniscorthy and indeed the town itself has lost a great, great man. John would go out of his way to help you and always had a smile for everyone that entered the shop. Every time I play Whiskey in the Jar now, I’ll think of John, because that was the song I was playing when I suddenly needed new strings. Sleep well, John.

Written by thepanch

March 3, 2011 at 10:58 am

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The Last Picture Show

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I love films. The sense of wonder, the clichéd one-liners, the guy getting the girl, the will they won’t they romances, every nuance of every scene. Good ones, bad ones, laughable dramas, not so funny comedies. A love indeed, that has endured since I was only a chap, knee high to a grasshopper if you please. My earliest film related memory takes me back to the old Xtra-Vision store in Rafter Street, where Music Net stood and DV8 now stands. When I was dragged down town on a Friday after school, to do the “big shop”, I would always coax my mother to leave me in the shop. Pauline, the lovely store manager would allow me to sit bow legged on the floor and gaze up at the big television screen up in the corner, and the young Jemmy would sit in wonder and awe at whatever film was being shown at the time. If it was just a string of trailers, I didn’t care; they were just a series of the best bits of loads of films thrown into one long, glorious set.

So imagine my joy and delight when The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film came over to Ireland, and somehow wound its way to our little town. And where was showing it? The Astor Cinema, you know the one above the shop that took forever to get to and then you had to have legs like a wrestler to traverse over the sticky patches! My eyes were wide the entire film. How did the Turtles talk??? How did they walk around like humans????? The wonder of film!!!

And then the Slaney Plaza opened. That was the clincher. No more long road trips to Wexford to the Cineplex, with crappy country and Irish on the radio, because my dad “was driving us down, I’ll play what I like.” To this day, Declan Nerney gives me a rash. But there was a cinema in town, and the first weekend it opened they were showing Twister. And you could enter those massive doors, walk up the red carpeted steps, and enter a world of tornadoes, flying cows and wonderment for the pricely sum of £1. Seems like forever ago. (And you got small pop and small popcorn!”)

And I went there every weekend I could manage. Pocket money? You’d find it in the cash register at Slaney Plaza. I can only speak for myself, but the place holds nothing but good memories for me. Sneaking in to see an 18’s film at the tender age of 15, because I had the nerve to go up, look the seller in the eye and squeal, “Howya, one please!” Taking a young lady to see a film about your man wanting to get with your one, but her dad hates him, and then taking the young lady for a slap up meal of chips and a milk-shake in Malocca’s, before she had to go get her lift at the bridge.

Maybe it’s a victim of these economic times, or maybe it just can’t compete with the bigger cinemas. None of that matters really. The town is losing a landmark, people are losing jobs and film lovers like myself are losing what effectively was a place of wonder, excitement, joy and if you were lucky, a kiss before she got her lift at the bridge. Slaney Plaza, here’s looking at you, kid!!

Written by thepanch

March 3, 2011 at 10:56 am