It would be difficult for me to deny my Celtic heritage after someone listens to my music, being that the most common reaction is 'yea... you can tell you're Irish.' Not that I ever would deny it. I fully embrace my roots and am proud to be associated with such an accomplished culture. It has produced a number artists that have inspired me throughout my life and I thought it appropriate to write a few words about my faves (mainly Shane MacGowan (my hero)) in light of confirming my first gig overseas, in the wonderful Galway.
A few months ago I finished James Fearnley's book describing his time in The Pogues and, as I often do around Christmas time, I reaqcuainted myself with Shane MacGowan's genius. For me the man is everything I aspire to be as a musician. His music has been with me since my earliest memories, and if there was ever a sound track to my life, it would probably be Rum Sodomy and the Lash (dear god). The beauty of his poetry captivates and terrifies me. I am drawn to the darkness of his lyrics, so full of substance. He is a poet, who fiddles with the imagination and creates vivid images; 'the arms and legs of other men were scattered all around, some cursed, some prayed, some prayed then cursed, then prayed and bled some more.' I read somewhere that only Shane MacGowan can put the lyrics 'bitches bastards, whore,' into context and I heartily concur.
The Dubliners were also largely influential for me. My dad would play their live albums on family trips, with no room for debate, and I sat there, at thirteen years old, grateful nobody would ever have to find out. But once I developed a more mature appreciation for music, I fell in love. I had dabbled in violin lessons when I was younger and as I listen to the violinist fiddling away, I wonder how on earth a human could move their fingers so fast. Like with all folk/trad music, I appreciate that it's the bare bones of msic. It stemmed from a natural desire to create music, that eventually developed into what we have today. I always think of that, I am grateful to those people who created it..
Christie Moore is an artist I found harder to relate to, however his song Sonny's Dreams will always have a place in my heart. I was around 7-8 when I first heard it and cried so much at the thought of the poor boy's dad never coming home that my own dad banned it from the house, probably quite pleased with himself..
And then of course there were Boyzone and Westlife. Who I said I loved. Because my sister did. And she was older. And cooler. And I'm still unsure if I ever liked them.... but I saw them both live on my seventh birthday, when the latter were still called 'Westside' and I'm told I had fun.
The list is endless, but Rory Gallagher, Delores O'Riordan, Sinead O'Conner, The Sawdoctors, Paddy Reily, Damien Rice, The Dropkick Murphys, all deserve a mention.
I can't wait to bring my music to Galway. I went there every year up until I was 18 and those holidays lie among my happiest memories. Paddling near waterfalls in Tourmakeady, traipsing through the woods in Cong, climbing The Reek in Westport with Helen, Tara and Ciara (see picture above) made for an epic summer every year. Now I can't wait to bring together the two loves of my life, Music and Ireland, in April at The Roisin Dubh! . My liver shudders...