How Home Sweet Home helped me

On 16th December, I went with my cousin Laura to see Glen Hansard play in the Guildhall in Derry. I decided to call it my staff night out. Recently setting up my own business and becoming self-employed means that staff nights out are a thing of the past. Glen was accompanied by a group of musicians playing strings and piano. It was great to hear a few Leonard Cohen covers among the variety of songs from his two solo albums. The music was relaxed, but I felt that there was something different about Glen’s performance. It was passionate and emotional, but it was like there was something else. I can’t explain.

Four weeks later, Laura and I were lucky enough to be two of 180 people in the audience at Seamus Heaney HomePlace for a solo concert that Glen played there. Other than to say it was really special, in the smallest music venue I’ve ever seen him play, I can’t describe it. Hearing Glen read poetry between songs in the hometown of a poet he really admires seemed to be a privilege for him. For me, it was the perfect venue to bring my guide dog Sibyl to her first ever gig, and she behaved well. It was nice to say hi to Glen after, as well as meeting some Frames friends I hadn’t seen in a while.

The second concert, (which was definitely the better of the two) was a more relaxed performance, but there was a good reason for that. The same night that Glen played in Derry in December, he featured on the Late Late show. He sounded nervous and frustrated. He didn’t speak for long, but that was our introduction to Apollo House and the Home Sweet Home campaign. This involved a group of people occupying a vacant office block in Dublin city centre, and providing accommodation for homeless people who would otherwise probably have spent Christmas on the streets. The group left the building on January 12th in compliance with an order from the high court. During their time there, almost 90 people stayed and moved on to six-month supported accommodation where they can live comfortably and feel safe. In my opinion, this was the best thing to happen in Ireland since the marriage equality referendum. It showed how powerful people can be if they work together. Each person’s small part can make a big difference.

So why am I writing about Home Sweet Home now? The answer is that I don’t really know, other than the fact that I’ve been thinking about it very often since before Christmas. It’s very easy to ignore a problem if you can’t identify with it or have no experience of it. It’s easy to say things like, that will never affect me. That’s only a city problem. People who end up in that situation got themselves there or didn’t try hard enough to get out of it. People with addictions can’t be helped. There are enough beds for people who are homeless, why don’t they just be grateful and take them? Of course the real story of homelessness is much different and much more complex than that. The Home Sweet Home campaign told the stories of some of the people living through these experiences. It made them more real. It made us listen and pay more attention. Our government are being put under more pressure to actually do something about the housing crisis, and the people of Ireland aren’t going to stand and do nothing any longer. This campaign won’t be going away any time soon.

Glen Hansard was only one of many activists who supported the Home Sweet Home idea, and he was always very clear about that when he spoke about it. Homelessness is a cause that he’s been involved in for a long time before this campaign even existed. It was never done for publicity, like some people who have done nothing better themselves have been suggesting. Through his music, he was able to promote an idea and a message, and encourage other people to give their support. For someone like me who loves music and was going to the gigs anyway, he really helped capture my attention in a way that other people or the government certainly wouldn’t have. Music can be very powerful! When you’ve been watching someone perform and hearing them talk about music for the last fifteen years, you have an idea of the kind of person they are, and sincerity is a big thing for me when it comes to charity. That’s something so many people in Ireland, even some who are employed in charities lack.

I’ve been frustrated that I couldn’t do much to help with Home Sweet Home during the last month, apart from offering to volunteer if a suitable opportunity came up. However the whole thing has made me realise that there’s much more I could and should be doing to volunteer and help others in general. Even small one off things could help make a difference. Being blind definitely makes it more difficult to go where you want spontaneously, and to help people with things in the same way that sighted people can. When you are blind, you are often the one who needs help, and automatically are linked to specific charities and organisations. That can be frustrating, but it can’t be my excuse. I want to do more to open my mind and benefit others. I have no idea exactly what yet. I just know that this is something I’ve intended doing for a long time, and Home Sweet Home has given me the push that I needed.

When my family and I left Phuket Island in December 2004 to travel to the airport after being caught up in the tsunami, I remember feeling guilty. I knew I was lucky to be safe and to be alive, but I felt bad for escaping and leaving the people behind. Their lives and their town was destroyed. They’d been so good to us, helping us to get out of there, and we were leaving the country and leaving them to sort their lives out. I know there’s nothing we could have done right at that time, but that day changed something in me that I’ve never bothered to properly explore. I’ve always had a gnawing feeling that I should be doing more, because I know I’ve had such a lucky easy life compared to many people. So this is it. This is the year. I have no idea what I will become involved in, but I do know that the Home Sweet Home campaign and the events that took place in Apollo House over Christmas and New Year have made an impact on me in a way that I really wasn’t expecting.

This was a good week!

There are a few reasons why the last week has been really good.
I love trying new things, and I got to do a couple of them this week, which were unplanned, not part of the 30 challenges, but still good fun!

My two younger nephews were off school last week so I told them I’d make them lunch and take them to the cinema. My PA drove us to Derry and left us off there. The road where the bus lets people off would be too dangerous to bring a dog and two small boys. They were so excited that Sibyl was coming too, even though they’ve been to the cinema with her before. We went to see the Jungle Book, mostly because I wanted to see it myself, if I’m honest. Anything with animals, and especially the fact that I knew the story so well made it seem like a good choice. We got treats and drinks and sat down to watch it in 3D. A man who worked in the cinema came over to ask if I wanted earphones for the audio description. I’ve never used it in the cinema before, and didn’t actually know that the Moviebowl cinema had it, as it’s not very well advertised. I was glad of it because the film was so visual. I was able to adjust the volume separately in both ears so that I could hear the boys to my right and hear the film louder in my left ear. Every ten minutes one of them would say, ‘what’s she saying now? What’s she telling you now?’ It was very funny. I must remember to ask for them next time I go, although every film is not audio described. If I didn’t have Sibyl with me, they probably wouldn’t have noticed that I was blind and wouldn’t have offered them.

The weather has been lovely, so I’ve been doing lots of walking and Sibyl has been doing lots of free running. Tuesday morning was really warm, and when I went to yoga, the teacher (who is my aunt) told us that she was doing the class outside. It was really strange for the first few minutes, being on the grass, listening to the birds and the sea. Most of the things we did felt different, but it was really enjoyable. We actually had to go inside for the last 15 minutes because it was so warm.

In between the walks and enjoying the good weather, I’ve been busy transcribing. I get nothing for a while and then everything comes at once. I could have a potentially big project coming up soon, so hopefully it will all work out, and I’ll be very happy.

The best part of the week was my new nephew being born yesterday morning. Everything went well, and he’s a gorgeous healthy little boy, with three big brothers to look after him. I’m looking forward to getting lots of cuddles in the next few days, especially when he comes home.

Sailability

I work in Letterkenny two/three days a week. These are, what my youngest nephew calls “days on”, which I suppose makes sense, since weekends with no work (or school in his case) are days off. It’s a phrase my family use regularly now!
Anyway, today was a day off, and apart from getting up early and doing my shopping in the morning, I had no plans for the rest of the day. The weather was going to be very hot, so I wanted to do something outside. My mum’s students were going sailing, and she rang to tell me there was room on the bus if I wanted to come. I’ve heard about the great work that
Sailability
do, and I’ve wanted to go sailing for ages, so this last minute decision was a great opportunity.

Sailability provides opportunities for people with disabilities to experience being on a boat. The boats can also take wheelchair users, without them needing to transfer. The staff are so friendly and helpful, making everybody feel welcome, and encouraging them to participate. Our group went on the big boat first, and then I was taken out in a dinghy with one of the staff members. Small boats freak me out more than big ones do, but they were both really relaxing. It was funny to be in the middle of the river Foyle, going under the bridge that we drive over so many times without thinking. I’d love to have had the opportunity to try sailing, but it wasn’t possible with the number of students. I’ll just have to come back another time.

Apart from the Sailability organisation and what they do, I was really impressed by the students that I spent the day with. If you have a stereotypical view of people with autism (which thankfully I don’t), the four boys would make you think twice. They dealt with changing plans, lots of waiting around, following instructions and making conversation with no problems. Like all pupils, they have very different personalities, likes and dislikes, and it was nice to get to know them a bit more. Spending time with them is always great fun. One of them became my new friend today. When he saw me on the bus, he asked where O.J was, because he’s afraid of dogs. When I told him he was at home, asleep in his bed, he was happy, and actually spent time sitting beside me during the day. Although he instantly associated me with the dog, he obviously didn’t see me in any negative way, which was great.

When we got back to the school, a barbecue had just finished, and the students were having
lime-dancing lessons out in the yard. I’m not a dancer, but it seemed like fun!
I got a huge welcome home from the dogs, and spent the evening celebrating my dad’s birthday with dinner and cake.
So all in all, it was a very unplanned, but very good day. Tomorrow is a “day on”, but I can’t really complain.
🙂

A little bit of ‘banter’ at Other Voices

This is the second year that
Other Voices
has come to Derry. Basically if you like the kind of music that I do, it’s the perfect weekend. Since 2002, St. James’ church in Dingle is the venue where bands perform over three nights, which are filmed and made into a Television series called ‘other voices’. These gigs are streamed in pubs around the area, and lots of live music takes place in the town during the weekend. Around 80 people are lucky enough to make it into the venue, and tickets are given away through competitions.
Other Voices came to Derry for the city of culture last year, and returned again this weekend. Despite entering at least five competitions each year, I’ve never been lucky enough to get tickets. Last year I watched it online and didn’t go near the city, but this year I was determined to attend at least one thing. Most of my friends don’t like the same kind of music as me, and if they do, they aren’t always the most adventurous type when it comes to discovering new music. It’s not practical or sensible to go to a busy venue with O J on my own, so nighttime gigs weren’t really possible. I would have just loved to have spent the whole weekend in Derry, wandering around finding new music, but being blind makes that impossible. This isn’t meant to be a poor me post! So I’ll talk about the one thing I did have the chance to attend.

Music journalist Jim Carroll hosts an interesting event called
Banter
where he interviews a wide range of people in front of an audience. It has become part of Other Voices, and I went to The Cottage in Derry’s Craft Village yesterday to have a listen to a few of the speakers. The afternoon began with a couple of tunes and a chat from
Colm Mac Con Iomaire,
violinist, composer, and member of The Frames, who had played in the concert the previous night. He’s working on some really interesting things at the minute, and the music he’s making is beautiful. My aunt stayed to hear him and was really impressed. She left then to go shopping, and I listened to Conor Masterson talk about the making of his film
in the deep shade
which is an art documentary about the frames. I have the DVD, so it was interesting to hear the ideas and thoughts behind the film. It’s a fantastic film about how such a creative group of musicians can work together and make music. Definitely worth checking out if you like that kind of thing at all. I’m not just recommending it because they are my favourite band!
Next was a discussion with David Caffrey, one of the co-creaters of ‘love hate’. I hadn’t planned on staying for this bit, and although I didn’t watch the series, it was really interesting to hear how films and TV programmes are made. I left at four to go for food with my aunt, but there was still a couple of talks to go, which I’m sure were interesting too.

I think ‘banter’ is a great idea. It’s very relaxed and informal, and Jim Carroll really does his research and knows his guests before interviewing them. It was nice to meet him, and for anyone who is familiar with him, yes, he does talk that fast!! I had O J with me, and of course he got lots of attention. He got petted by David Caffrey and Colm Mac Con Iomaire, who came over for a chat before he played. I hadn’t spoken to him in so long, so it was nice to have the chance.

Although I only attended a small part of Other Voices, I’m glad I did, even if O J was the only one who came with me. Sometimes the thought of going somewhere on your own with a group of strangers is worse than actually doing it. I need to remind myself of that next time I’m debating whether to do something or not.

A musical Surprise

Usually when I go to see a band or performer, I’m familiar with their music and know what to expect. Sometimes I’m too familiar if I’ve seen that performer so many times, and can predict the next song by the tuning of the guitar! That wasn’t the case when Nicky and I went to see John Prine in Derry on Friday. I got him tickets for Christmas, and I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know much about him really. I knew that Josh Ritter was heavily influenced by his music and song-writing, so chances are I would like him, and of course I did.

The gig began with some songs by Philip Donnelley. Imagine Bob Dylan singing while holding his nose, and you get the idea. During the interval I was really wondering what sort of evening to expect, but after a few minutes of hearing John Prine and his two accompanying musicians on stage, I knew I was going to really enjoy this gig. Prine had throat cancer in 1998, resulting in a gravelly voice ever since, and by the end of the first song I was wondering how he was going to make it through an intire performance. He played for two hours, and although he sounded strained at times, he was fantastic. I’d imagine him to be a great story-teller, but I think maybe he was saving his voice for the songs. He was polite and humorous, and seemed to enjoy being on stage. The audience had his attention from the beginning, and seemed very respectful towards him, giving a long applause after he left the stage for the final time I imagined it to be more country than it was, and since I prefer folk music it suited me perfect. The guitars sounded fantastic! I’ll try and find a set list and put it in the comments section. .

I couldn’t help wishing I’d heard John Prine play years ago when his voice was stronger. I knew about eight songs, which was more than I thought I did, and I’m looking forward to buying some albums. In a strange way, its good that I’ve seen him play live now and can go and discover the recorded music and enjoy it.
Its nice when you buy someone a present and enjoy it just as much as they do 🙂

On the subject of music, RTE Radio 1 broadcast a documentary about Fergus O’Farrell from Interference yesterday. Its definitely worth a listen. I found his attitude and outlook on life very inspirational.

We’ve been busy!

Hard to believe its the second week of December already, getting closer to Christmas and I can’t wait! As usual, Decembers a busy month, but the last week in particular has been fun.

 

We had our Christmas party in work last Wednesday. Its for all our employees and clients, so there’s usually a good crowd. This year wasn’t as lively as before, but we made the most of it. Even O J was on the dance floor by the end of the night.

I worked the next day and went to see Mark Geary with a friend that evening. He hadn’t played in Derry in a long time, and Natasha hadn’t seen him in a while. I wanted to do something nice with her before she goes to Australia in the new year, so we were both looking forward to this. Conor McAtteer (from Derry) and The Lost Brothers played before. It was their first gig in Derry, and the majority of the audience seemed to be there to see them. They were fantastic, and it was a much better atmosphere than the gig I saw them play in the Workmans club in Dublin at the beginning of the year. Mark Geary played with a pianist and a female vocalist, which added a whole new sound to his songs. They sounded great and played a lovely set, but most of the audience were embarrassing. They talked loudly throughout the gig, which was worse because it was such a small venue. The woman in front of me was completely ignorant to say the least! Mark didn’t play as long as usual, and the stories he usually tells between songs were lost on this crowd. It was disappointing because I’ve seen him so many times and know how good he can be. When we talked to him after he seemed cool about it all, and promised he’d be back in Derry soon. Looking forward to it already 🙂

 

I travelled to Carlow on Friday morning with my dad, aunt and uncle. My mum and another aunt and uncle met us there, and we had a great weekend. Nicky organised his own Christmas concert, which went really well. Its interesting for me to watch him perform, because in some ways he’s much different, which for some reason I can’t really explain. There were other musicians and singers too, and they were all very different. There were five guide dogs in the audience, and they were all very quiet. Just as well, because there was a raffel in aid of Irish Guide Dogs, so they showed a good example.

We spent Saturday wandering around Carlow and relaxing in the pub with friends before going out for a lovely dinner. Our plans for Sunday had to change a bit, but O J complicated things further by needing to go to the vet. He has an absess which must have burst when the three dogs were playing the previous evening, so he got painkillers and anti-biotics for the rest of the week. He’s in great form and taking all the tablets easily enough.

Even though I’ve been spending time with lots of people, yesterday was the first day that I’ve actually felt in any way Christmasy. Children with special needs held a craft fair in the local primary school, so I bought presents and decorations for my house. Looking forward to getting the tree up at the weekend. I had the yaktracks on this morning on the way to work because the footpaths are all icey.

 

After all that, there were still two highlights of the week that I didn’t mention. One was the Bruce Springsteen tickets I bought myself for Christmas, because you have to get yourself a present, right? The other great thing was knowing that my brothers definitely coming for Christmas and will be here on Christmas eve. Its going to be great!

 

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.

Record Store Day 2011

Last Saturday (16th April) was
record store day
I spent the afternoon listening to live music in
Cool Discs
in Derry.
It was great to see the shop busy with people coming and going, with new CDs in their hands as they left. I stood near the door with O J and tried to keep him from being in people’s way as much as possible. He enjoyed getting petted and trying to sniff people when they went in and out. Who knew he could have a career as a bouncer as well? I brought him encase I decided to go out anywhere during the performances, but they were all great, so we more or less stood in the same place for three hours and listened.

The performances included acoustic sets from
Paul Casey
Bronagh Gallagher
Paddy Nash
Furlo, Connor McAtteer, Justin Black and a few more (who I can’t think of to save my life!) They were all great though!

I’ve written
before.
about why I like this shop so much and why I prefer shopping in Cool Discs to shopping online. Downloading music is quick and easy and it doesn’t take up physical space. There are times, when I’m making a radio show for example, when I need something instantly so I will download music. However, shopping online is a lonely activity. You can’t have a face-to-face conversation with the retailer before you buy what you are looking for. Websites like Amazon can recommend music, but they won’t ask you what you thought of the last albums you bought next time you go to buy more. They definitely won’t promote the music released by Irish artists or local bands in your area.

Before I left on Saturday, I wanted to buy some new music. I’d been meaning to buy a Paul Casey album for ages, and when I met him after he played, I promised him that I would. I had a million other things I wanted to get but decided to let Lee and Danny who work in the shop recommend something else for me. Its a great way of finding new music that I know I’ll like. I’ve never been in a shop that knows its customers so well. Its not like I’m in every few days or few weeks even. If I could afford all the music I want I’d never leave the place! I was given ‘the king is dead’ by The Decemberists, which I absolutely love and haven’t stopped listening to for the last two days.

Record store day is definitely a great way of celebrating shops that work hard to promote independent music and local talent. Its a pity it only happens once a year. I just hope all the people who came to their local shops on Saturday keep coming back and supporting independent music.

“Record Stores can’t change your life. but they can give you a better one.”
–Nick Hornby

Dining and dog grooming

The RNIB in Derry work closely with staff at the Northwest regional college learning support service, to ensure that courses and services are accessible for blind and visually impaired people who decide to study there. Yesterday evening they held an awareness event for the staff and students of the cookery department. Dining in the dark is an opportunity for sighted people to eat a meal blindfolded, to get an idea of what its like having a visual impairment.

Yesterday’s event was very well organised. Before we were seated, I worked with an RNIB employee to teach the students who would be waitressing sighted guide. When everyone was blindfolded, the students led them to their tables in the restaurant. Each table had around eight staff members, as well as a person with a visual impairment. There was a braille menu on each table. . The food was beautiful and the students did a great job at explaining where things were and helping people if they needed it. After the meal, blindfolds were removed, and we had a short discussion pannel to hear what everyone thought of the experience. Myself and three other people who are visually impaired answered questions.

I talked to someone recently who said they didn’t think disability simulation was a good idea, since it isn’t a true representation of what its like to have that disability. I can see where they are coming from, but surely doing it in a fun event like this can’t do any harm. If it makes people stop and think for a while, and makes them more aware of issues that blind people might encounter then it has achieved something. It’s something I’d like to do again, maybe as a fundraiser or just with family or friends for fun. I know
Gavin’s family
from the US ran a very successful ‘night without sight’ fundraising event recently.
During dinner people said that they became more aware of background noise when they were talking to each other. They took their time eating and took much smaller spoonfuls, sometimes empty spoonfuls! My two favorite points during dinner was when someone drank the wrong coffee by mistake, and when the waiter asked the man beside me if he was finished, and he replied, “I don’t know, am I?”

After I did the radio interview with Mark Patterson at radio Foyle last month, a dog groomer rang in to offer O.J a free groom. I brought him to
groomin marvelous
this afternoon and Michael did a great job. It was a very kind offer and I really appreciated it, and will take both dogs back there in the future.

I’ll have a series of guest posts on the blog next week for the first time. They are very interesting so check them out.

Taking away our independents

Very soon, the music shop Road Records on Dublin’s Fade street will be closing its doors for the last time. This is a great loss, particularly to the independent Irish music scene. The shop was special to many people, and you can check out their excellent website
here
Unfortunately I’m ashamed to say I’ve never been in Road Recs, all the times I’ve been in Dublin in the last eight years. I know from talking to people, particularly on the Frames message board that Dave and Julie know their stuff, and provided a great service to bands, musicians and music fans alike. Hopefully they can put their musical knowledge to good use in the future.

Cool Discs in Derry is, i imagine, the Northern Ireland equivalent of Road Records. Opened since 1996, it has done a lot to promote Irish music in the area. Its owner, Lee Mason was responsible for bringing many well-known artists to Derry, and promoting their work by telling any customers who might be even slightly interested.

I remember my first time in the shop. I was 10, and really starting to love REM. I was obsessed with their song ‘stand’ (probably because of the silly lyrics) and needed it on CD. I bought their album Green for £6.99, and saw it in Virgin the same day for a pound dearer. I loved cool Discs right away!
I started liking the Frames in 2001, beginning my love of Irish acoustic, folk and alternative music. I tried to buy as many albums as possible, and would save for weeks for a particular album. This was when I was in school, with no money, but buying an album then was a big deal. I bought many albums, singles and gig tickets in CoolDdiscs. I remember buying the frames album ‘dance the devil’ with birthday money my granny gave me, and when I went to Pay, Lee changed my copy for a copy that Glen had signed when he visited the shop previously. Needless to say I was very impressed, even though I can’t even see the signature!!

It’s a pleasure to buy music from people who know what they are selling. The staff in Cooldiscs recommend albums and discuss the ones I bought the next time I come in. They always tell me about upcoming gigs and bands who will be playing in their shop. Unfortunately I have not been able to attend as many instores there as I’d have liked too, but seeing musicians play there has always been special. I’ recorded a 40 minute gig Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova aka the swell season performed there in 2006, and listening to it brings back great memories. I can go into Cooldiscs the day an album I like is released and the staff nearly know what I’m looking for before I ask.

Trips to Cooldiscs have become more frequent since I got OJ, because I can find the shop myself. It is conveniently located beside the bus depot, and I am usually too early for the bus home from work. OJ finds the door and walks straight up to the counter, where he waits patiently until I have finished talking about music and finally decided what I want.

I dread the day that Cooldiscs follows Road Records and closes down. CD sales are decreasing rapidly everywhere due to the Internet, music downloads, and people who rob the industry by not paying for music anymore. I’m not a fan of downloading, preferring to have a physical copy of the music I buy. I’ll admit I have bought albums from stores like Tesco’s and HMV, because they are often cheaper, but these people are only interested in making money and couldn’t care less about the music they are selling.

From now on I’m going to make more of an effort to avoid the multi-nationals and support independent retailers like Cooldiscs. I know I can’t exactly keep them in business forever, but they appreciate the custom more than others do. If you happen to be in Derry and want some new music, call into Cooldiscs and give them your support. I’m going in next week to buy the Fleet Foxes and new Bruce Springsteen albums, and who knows what else i’ll find.

http://www.cooldiscsmusic.com
“Food for Thought: Music Junkies,Please support all independent record stores where ever you are in the world, in general we provide a much better service in terms of knowledge and expertise, we are all music junkies and we don’t sell cans of beans!!!And if you are ever tempted to buying a copy-just stop and think for a minute, the only person you are helping is whoever you are buying from, and all they are after is your money-no interest in the music whatsoever-ultimately you are contributing to the downfall of all good Independent Record Stores/Labels who work very hard at providing a service to the general public.Thank you for taking the time to visit us and where ever you are in the world, remember, the real stars are underground and nothing beats the real thing!!!”