Christy and O J!

Appologies for the lack of blog posts, and this one being so late. I finally and reluctantly decided to move my blog to wordpress, because the new blogger was really annoying me. I did seriously consider giving up blogging, but I must not be ready to do that just yet.
Anyway… that’s not the point of this post, its much more interesting than that!

Last Saturday Nicky and I (and the dogs) went to see Christy Moore in the Millennium Forum in Derry. I bought Nicky the ticket for his birthday as he had never seen Christy play a full gig before, and that’s something that needs to be seen, at least once! We went for dinner in the restaurant in the venue before the gig, and the staff were very friendly and helpful. The food was lovely and I’d definitely recommend it.

It probably goes without saying at this stage that I thought Christy and Declan were fantastic. They seemed on top form as soon as they came onstage. I sat in the front row and Nicky sat behind me. We should have done this the other way around, because Ralph lay a lot quieter than O J did. The sixth song in the set list was ‘smoke and strong whiskey’, which Christy dedicated to O J. He told the audience that he had met us a couple of years ago in Buncrana, and O J was the most beautiful dog he had ever met. Towards the end of the song he called OJ’s name, and whispered “here boy” into the microphone, and OJ jumped up wagging his tail, to the amusement of the people in our row who could see him. I’d left a message on Christy’s guestbook saying that we were going to the gig, but I honestly wasn’t expecting him to mention us in such a nice way, so it was a lovely surprise!
The rest of the gig was fantastic, Declan’s playing was flawless and Christy was as funny as ever when he interacted with the audience. They are two performers who I can watch over and over again and still be fascinated by what they do.

People came up to say hello to O J after the gig because they knew who he was. It was great to meet up with some of the 4711ers, who were all great craic! They were very welcoming when we joined them for drinks after, and John officially became OJ’s best friend!

Seeing Christy and Declan made the bank holiday weekend very special, and I can’t wait to do it again. We finished off the weekend with dinner and drinks in my house with my sister, brother in law and their friends, before going to the pub to watch a live band who were good, but nowhere near as good as the performance the night before!

Set List (thanks to Petra)
Saturday, May 5th, 2012:

1. Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian Roulette
2. Cliffs Of Dooneen
3. Mcllhatton
4. Back Home In Derry
5. The Time Has Come
6. Smoke And Strong Whiskey (for Jennifer + OJ)
7. Beeswing
8. Does This Train Stop On Merseyside
9. Gortatagort
10. Sixteen Fishermen Raving
11. The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll
12. Away You Broken Heart You
13. Missing You
14. Don’t Forget Your Shovel
15. Song of Wandering Aengus
16. Scapegoats
17. Sunshine In (Declan singing)
18. True Love Knows No Season (Billy Gray)
19. No Time For Love
20. Black Is The Colour
21. Joxer Goes To Stuttgart
22. My Little Honda 50
23. Amsterdam
24. Tyrone Boys
25. Viva La Quinte Brigada (aborted)
26. Ride On
27. This Is The Day (So Do I)
28. The Voyage
29. Delerium Tremens
30. Minds Locked Shut
31. Ordinary Man
32. Four Strong Winds (for Levon Helm)

A special night in the Walled City … The Cliffs of Dooneen came in as a noble call – note: requests may as well be sung and not shouted… Back Home In Derry, Tyrone Boys and particularly Minds Locked Shut are having a very special meaning in this city … Honda 50 and Amsterdam were dedicated to a certain Dutch listener …. So Do I and the surprise song Four Strong Winds were particularly lovely renditions. And who knew that special dogs like special songs ? Smoke And Strong Whiskey is OJs favourite song …. Great vibes in a lovely venue – a high energy gig.


Christy in Buncrana

Where can I start. What a gig! The atmosphere was perfect. Christy and Declan were on top form. The crowd were silent when appropriate (well most of them anyway) but everyone had the craic too. They played solidly for two hours, and the set list included some requests from audience members. When people start asking for songs at the beginning, he tells the audience that him and Declan will play for a while and then go into “dukebox mode” where the audience can choose the songs. This system seems to work well, as you don’t get people constantly shouting throughout the gigs.
It was brilliant to see an event with so many people in the town, and it was nice to see the venue being put to good use as well.

The staff were very helpful regarding access, and brought myself, OJ and my aunt to a seat as soon as we went inside. OJ slept happily through most of it. Even during powerful versions of Joxer and Lisdoonvarna, he lay curled up at my feet. He looked around a lot when the bodhran started because he hasn’t heard it before. He was also a bit confused when we stood up for an encore and sat back down again for the last couple of songs. OJ thought he was going home.

After the gig I waited with my aunt until the hall emptied out a bit. We talked to some very nice people, (some from the 4711ers forum) and lots of people petted OJ and commented on how well behaved he was. The owner of the Plaza and a man who worked with the musicians came up to ask about OJ. They were keen to keep me hanging around for a while and said if I waited five minutes I could meet Christy. Of course I was delighted and wasn’t expecting it at all. I was also a bit nervous, because I’ve been listening to his music since I was about seven. He’s been playing for so long and had such an interesting career. I would have loved to ask him about something I’ve always wanted to know about his music but I didn’t have time to think about intelligent conversation. I was also distracted by people who were a bit obsessed with me being blind, but I won’t go into that now.

I was in a bit of a daydream when Christy came over and shook my hand. He was like I’d imagined, a gentleman and really sound, and although we only talked for about two minutes it was lovely to meet him. He asked all the questions, not me. I just stood there grinning like a fool, as usual. He asked about OJ first and petted him. We talked about the gig, gigs I’d been to, where I work and what I do there. He seemed genuinely interested, and promised if I contact him before his Derry gig next spring he’ll call up and visit. We shook hands and made it a deal, so we’ll just have to wait and see!

I had a camera with me but didn’t really want to bother him by getting a photo. I’m sure a lot of people would have wanted to meet him, and all he wanted to do was relax so I really appreciated the chance to say hello. I also got a poster signed by him and Declan. I would have taken an album but I wasn’t expecting it to happen. I wouldn’t have met him if it wasn’t for OJ being so good looking, attracting people’s attention in the first place. Its a tough life being a guide dog owner!!

Set list:
1. Wise and Holy Woman
2. North and South
3. Magdalene Laundries (the most immotional song I think I’ve ever heard)
4. Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian Roulette
5. City of Chicago (the singing from the audience was great)
6. Pity the poor Immigrant
7. Duffys Cut (love this song)
8. Listen (a gorgeous song and the title track on the new album)
9. Does This Train Stop at Merseyside
10. Barrowland (Christy said this could also be about the Plaza ballroom in Buncrana)
11. Smoke and Strong Whiskey (one of my favs)
12. Ordinary Man
13. I Will (Declan Sinnott)
14. Missing You
15. Viva La Quinte Brigada
16. Bright Blue Rose
17. Don’t Forget Your Shovel (funny as usual)
18. Mcalhatton
19. Back Home in Derry
20. Voyage (one of the nicest songs ever written)
21. Joxer (a man kept laughing really loudly, (causing Christy and Declan to stop playing and laugh too)
22. Victor Jara (another amazing song)
23. Shine On You Crazy Diamond (their version is unique)
24. Well Below The Valley (Bodhrán)
25. Ride On
26. Lisdoonvarna (pure class!)


27. Rory’s Gone
28. Beeswing

bits and pieces

This is another one of those all over the place posts, but anyone who reads this blog regularly is familiar with them by now.
Speaking of regular readers, thanks a million to everyone who posts comments here, and who follows what me and OJ have been up too. There have been a few newcomers during the last week, so I hope you enjoy reading. I will link to all your blogs soon and give them a mention.

I got my guide dogs radio documentary finished on 1st May like I wanted to, but haven’t found a way to put it online yet, which is why you can’t hear it. If anyone can recommend a free site to host audio, that is easy to use, please let me know.

OJ and I got our photo taken outside specsavers in Letterkenny last Friday for shades week. Students from St. Eunan’s secondary school were collecting for guide dogs, as was another guide dog owner, so we got photos taken with them too.
We went for a nice walk on Saturday when the rain finally stopped, and OJ and Dougal had a long walk and a play on the beach on Sunday afternoon. The weather was lovely, so we just lazed around outside and OJ got a wash for his holidays! We’re going to Cheshire on Thursday, and I’m really looking forward to it. Maybe OJ will post about it when we get back. He hasn’t had his paws near the keyboard in a while!

Ryan Tubridy has been given the job of presenting the Late Late Show on RTE from September. I think this is a great decision and I’m sure he’ll do well. He’s yung, intelligent, seems down to earth and most of all, he’s entertaining, and lets face it, the show seriously needs something to liven it up and keep people interested. And guess what? He’s bringing back “there’s one for everybody in the audience” as well!

Christy Moore was on Ryan’s show today. Listen to it

Now that I mention Christy, the best news of all is that he’s playing with Declan Sinott in
the Plaza
in Buncrana on 11th June. He played here years ago, maybe before I was even born. I’ve seen him three times before, but a gig in my home town will be special. I’m really glad that management at the venue are putting it to good use, and having somebody like Christy will attract a lot of attention. I’m really looking forward to it. Hopefully OJ will come too, but I’m not sure if the venue is seated. There is a bar in the Plaza, but it closes during the gig which will be nice (can you tell I don’t drink?!) It would be lovely to meet Christy, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Don’t forget your shovel/harness!

OJ went to his first gig on Wednesday; Christy Moore and Declan Sinott in the Millennium Forum in Derry.

I had the day off work to use up some annual leave, so I walked to town, got the bus to Derry and visited the RNIB blind centre until Fionas bus got in from Belfast. OJ hadn’t seen her before but liked her straight away because she made a big fuss of meeting him. Usually he hates people walking beside me, and especially people he doesn’t know but he was fine with her. We had coffee, walked around, and spent a long time trying to find lifts to toilets in Foyleside. We had food in Beckets while OJ entertained the children who were there. We went to the forum at 7.30. Our seats were in the end of a row beside the door, which was perfect for OJ because it was nice and cool. The staff brought him some water too.

Christy and Declan came on stage soon after 8 and played for almost two hours. It was my third time seeing them, and as usual they were fantastic. Christy seemed totally relaxed, absorbed in the music and happy to let the duke box in the audience influence the set list (well most of the time anyway!) He had the usual banter with the crowd. Someone kept shouting requests, and his reply once was: “we’re only 16 minutes into the gig and i’ve a pain in my hole listening to you already!”
His voice is perfect – it sounds just how it does on early recordings from decades ago, and he doesn’t have to be dramatic, or have big crescendos or loud guitar playing in his songs to convey emotion. My personal highlights were ‘smoke and strong whiskey’ and ‘little musgrave’, and ‘sunny’ brought back memories of me learning it on the piano when I was small.
OJ had his own personal favourite song too. He lay quietly through the whole gig, popping his head up sometimes when people cheered. The only time he really reacted was when Christy began to play ‘don’t forget your shovel’ He jumped up wagging his tail, and started biting me and giving me his paw, wanting to play. The people beside us were laughing at him, and I don’t think some of them realised he was there until he stood up. When the song finished he lay back at my feet again and didn’t move until the gig was over.
I mentioned OJ’s fondness for the song in a message on Christy’s guest book, and his reply was “I’m glad OJ recognised the song. It has always been a canine favourite…” Now no matter how much you know about Christy and his music I bet you didn’t know that.
Don’t forget your harness if you want to go to work…
We want to go to heaven but we’re always digging holes…

The gift of music

Its August bank holiday monday, and because \I’m in Derry me and OJ are at work. He didn’t want to get into the jeep this morning, and wined a bit going up the road, so i think he was annoyed about going to work as well. I did get an extra half an hour in bed though. I took OJ’s bed from home into the office, because Dougal keeps eating the rubber underneath, and a white mat in work looks more dirty. The Maiden City Festival is on this week, so i have to interview the musicians who play in our cafe at lunchtime. I got about 15 albums on my computer yesterday, so new music is keeping me entertained and making the day fly. Nick Drake, Bonnie Prince Billy, JJ Cale, Lambchop, iron and wine and calexico and lots more, not forgetting “rob’s songs, crafted by his own fair hands and ears” (don’t ask!) They are all brilliant.
I’ve been very busy out with friends for the last couple of weeks. We booked a weekend in Barcellona with people from work at the end of November. I won’t be taking OJ, but he’s coming to Glasgo with me and my parents on aug 19th. Encase i didn’t mention already, I’m going to visit insight radio, which is a station for blind and VI people. I will be there for two days observing and hopefully picking up some new ideas. I’m really looking forward to it, and hopefully OJ will like the plane.
I have also booked tickets for Christy Moore in the Millennium Forum. I don’t know who is going with me but its not until november. I’m taking OJ too, as Christys quite quiet, and i want to get him used to going to different places. We have to sit near the back so there’s more space for him to lye down. Hopefully he won’t make any noise or Christy will have him turfed out!