The happiest man in music

I went to Belfast yesterday to see
Josh Ritter
and the love cannon string band in the Empire. A friend from Derry got the same bus up as me and OJ and we met two others there. We had a few hours to relax and have food and coffee before the gig. OJ had a chance to dry out too.

The support act began before 8, so things started nice and early. I have no idea what his name was, so that shows how good he was! Josh came on smiling from ear to ear as usual. His string band also featured Zach (who plays in his own band) on double bass. I wasn’t sure about all the strings, and especially the banjo with Josh’s acoustic folk style, but by the third song I loved it! The crowd were brilliant, and apart from the noisy glasses at the bar, the venue is great for Josh. He loves playing there too and it shows. They played a two hour set of songs from his four studio albums, along with some new ones that people really seemed to enjoy. They played a beautiful version of ‘moon river’ as well. We didn’t get a springsteen cover, but I suppose you can’t have everything!

OJ is getting very used to this gig thing now. Steven who is the manager in the venue was very helpful, and got us a table with some seats where OJ wouldn’t get stood on. He was so good during the gig and got lots of attention when it finished.

Josh is known for being very friendly, and usually always takes time to meet people after he performs. He stood talking to people, taking photos, signing cds and tickets and giving hugs (he gives the best hugs ever!) for two hours, and he was still smiling when we got to talk to him near the end. I think he was glad of some non-human company too. OJ didn’t mind waiting so long because people kept petting him. Adam the banjo player even came over to say hello. Everybody was so friendly, because the vibes from the stage are infectious. I met a girl who I hadn’t seen in five years in the queue. She retired her first guide dog last year. It was great to catch up with her quickly, but I wish we’d met sooner.

Josh was great fun and asked lots and lots of questions! He wanted to know all about OJ, and when I told him the only other gigs he’d been to were Christy Moore’s, he said he thought he looked like the sort of dog who would like Christy, as he’s so relaxed and placid! When Josh petted him for the third time he tried to walk away. Josh said he wasn’t sure if OJ liked him, but I reassured him that he likes most people, and that he was probably just dying for a pee!

We listened to music and watched one of the
DVDs when we got home. Three of us got the same bus back to Derry, and talked about music practically the whole way, and probably drove everybody else mad. We have so much in common, don’t all know each other too long, and would never have met if it wasn’t for the frames message board. We all shopped in Cool Discs before I went back to work and the others dossed for the rest of the day.

Josh thinks he’s going to be back in April or May next year. I can’t wait already. If you don’t already know him or his music, he’s inspired by people like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. Check out his albums and then take the opportunity to see him live if you can. You’ll understand why I like him so much after you’ve done that.


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