Welcome to another installment of my country music diary! I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted an update, so let me apologise for that first of all. It’s been a hectic few months for me, to say the least. All in very good ways, though, I’m happy to say. But listen, before we even go any further here, can somebody please just answer me this: Where is the year going?!
I was walking through a well known department store the other week, an innocent with nothing only milk and biscuits on my mind so I could get home and have a cuppa, when I turned the corner and found myself face-to-face with a screeching skeleton! And I don’t mean a cranky customer! Or even an over-tired, over-worked, under-paid staff member, either! I mean an actual, full-size, screeching skeleton!! Not only does this summer seem like it’s slipped by in a flash, but Halloween has totally crept up on me, too! My heart! And if that wasn’t confusing enough for me, I turned the next corner and was met by a wall of selection boxes! Halloween and Christmas, almost side-by-side….in September?! Let me tell you, I really needed that cup of tea by the time I got home!
The good news, though, is I usually settle down once I have a cup of tea in my hand, and there’s one within easy reach right now as I write this, so let’s get on with our catching up : )
The first big piece of news I have to share with you is that my brand NEW single, ‘BACK ON MY MIND’, is finally out NOW on all digital platforms for all of you to go and download if you like it (see link below). It’s another old country favourite, one made famous by Ronnie Milsap, and I love singing it. It’s been on my list to record for a long time and I’m so delighted that I’ve finally had the chance to take this great track into the studio. Hopefully you guys will think I’ve done it justice when you hear it. In fact, hopefully you’ll have heard it already because it’s been with radio for the past few weeks. And I have to give a huge shout-out to all the presenters who have been spinning it so far, and who have given me such wonderful support throughout my career and with every release, including ‘BACK ON MY MIND.’ The extent of my gratitude to everyone who plays it on their shows – and of course to everyone who requests it to be played – knows no bounds. I’d tip my hat to you all, but I’m a girlie girl when it comes to my hair, so…no hat! But I definitely send you all big hugs! THANK YOU SO MUCH. Like my last single, ‘Don’t Think Twice’, ‘BACK ON MY MIND’ is also going to feature on my brand new album. It feels a bit like forever since my first album, ‘Another Heartache’, because so much has happened since then. So I’m seriously excited about everyone getting to hear my new collection. Not to tease you guys or anything, but you’ll have to wait just another little while! But it’s getting closer all the time : )
There are two huge agricultural events which take place in Ireland every year. Well, I guess it’s more true to say that there are many big agricultural events which take place around the country each year. But there are two huge ones which are world-famous; the Tullamore Show, and the National Ploughing Championships. And like most events in Ireland, there’s music involved, more often than not a combination of country and Irish traditional. The Tullamore Show is a one-day event held in Tullamore every year, but people come from all over the country, and indeed the world, to attend. The National Ploughing Championships tends to rotate, moving to a different location every few years and staying there for a few years as well before moving on. This was the second year the National Ploughing Championships were held in Tullamore, and it was a record-breaking year in terms of attendance, with close on 300,000 people visiting the site over the course of the three-day event. I had the pleasure of performing at last year’s event and I was delighted to be invited back to the main stage once again this year. The site, if you’ve never seen it, is literally built from the ground up and is pretty much a mini city in a field! The amount of work that goes into it is unbelievable. And the amount of fun to be had is equally impressive. I also sang with a gentleman who’s been very good to me in my career, and is always mighty craic to be around, Seamus Moore, in Hugh Lynch’s tent. Even when the middle day of the championship was nearly washed away with torrential rain, spirits in Hugh Lynch’s with Seamus and the awesome Slim Attraction band never even showed the slightest signs of dampening. The show must go on, as they say, and it surely did!
This was also my second year in a row to be asked to perform at the Tullamore Show, an honour I was delighted to accept. There was a fantastic line-up of music on the day, with the legendary Declan Nerney headlining things and taking to the stage late in the afternoon. Before that, though, my good friends Stephen Rosney – with his band, The Back Axles -, Colin Kenny, and Simon Casey (who also has a gorgeous new single out, called ‘The Third Dance From The End’, check it out, folks) entertained a packed music tent.
Well, since I was talking to you all last, I’ve managed to end up on television a couple of times, too. And that’s always an experience! One of the national TV stations in Ireland is called TG4, and it’s an Irish language channel. But thankfully if you’re singing you can get away with doing it in English! I have a few words of Irish still, and would probably know enough to get myself out of trouble. But the other side of that, is I probably know just enough to get myself into trouble, too! One of the shows on TG4 is called Feilte, it’s been on for a few years now, and its concept is beautiful in its simplicity and in its execution. They show producers (Hi Stephen and gang!) and the lovely Aoife (the presenter) visit some of the most scenic and stunning locations around Ireland and this footage is interspersed with Aoife telling us a little bit about what we’re seeing, the location’s history and such, and some ‘live’ music. This year I was one of the performers who was presented with the privilege of performing ‘live’ on the show. Hopefully I’ll get to work with Stephen, Aoife, and the rest of the gang again somewhere down the line.
My other television appearance was on the Irish Post Country Music Awards, where I was also lucky enough to be asked to perform. I was nominated in the Best Newcomer category, which came as a surprise. Maybe I just feel old these days!! But like I’ve always said about awards, they’re bonuses as far as I’m concerned, but they’re not the prime reason why I sing or play.That being said, of course, they’re always lovely to win, and I was very happy to accept a couple of big awards earlier this year, at the Sunday World Music and Entertainment Awards, and then at the Hot Country TV Awards Concert. As it turned out, I didn’t win this time but I was absolutely delighted for Lauren McCrory who did. Lauren is still at the beginning of her own career, and I’m sure picking up an award like this so soon after winning Glor Tire earlier this year will do her the power of good. Not only is Lauren an incredibly talented singer, but she’s a genuinely lovely person through and through as well. I know what a nice feeling it was for me when I picked up my first award, so I’m more than happy knowing that’s a feeling Lauren has been able to share, too.
Speaking of amazing female singers, it’s time for me to sing the praises of Cliona Hagan’s fantastic band now! The lads and I had one heck of a night at The Well in Moate recently. I usually perform solo, except at shows where I’m doing a guest spot when there tends to be a band that backs every act. But generally speaking, I’m out there on my own. Except for my dad, of course, my regular one-man roadie and crew! One day, hopefully not too far away, taking my own band out on the road is definitely something that’s high-up on my to-do list. But until then, getting the opportunity to perform a whole show backed by talents like Aidan Quinn and his boys is something I’ll jump at every time the chance comes along. One reason why is that it’s just so much fun! Another is that it means all I have to worry about is singing!
Somebody else I want to give a special mention to is David McCool. Many of you, especially if you come along to a lot of country events in Ireland, will probably be well aware of the sight of David and his trusty camera. I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating, there’s a lovely sense of community in the country music scene sometimes. And David is a perfect example of this. He’ll come along to whatever shows are on, take pictures the whole night long, and a few days later share them all with everyone on his Facebook page. And unlike me, David doesn’t just point, click, and hope for the best! Although I’m better than that when it comes to taking selfies at least! David is actually a very talented photographer, and I, like so many more artists on the country scene, owe him our thanks for what he contributes to what we all love to do. The memories that David’s work captures are wonderful to have. And on the subject of photos, another hugely gifted ‘lensman’ (not sure if that’s a term, but sounds like it should be!) I’ve had the pleasure of working with before, and you’ll see his work again in the photo from this year’s Ploughing Championship, is Farrell Quaid of Quaid Photography. Between David, Farrell,another real gentleman from Ballinasloe by the name of John Finnerty, and of course Dave Cooley, too, there’s so much talent out there. For anyone on the country scene, there’s no excuse for not having class shots, ‘live’ or in the studio. I also love it, and appreciate it, when fans at shows take photos and then tag me in them when they post them. I love it that people will actually take the time to go to all that trouble. It’s another lovely way for me to enjoy and remember shows even after they’re over. So thank you very much everybody, keep tagging and posting away! : )
And speaking of studios (I’m getting good at this links thing…kinda! Haha), there’s two great new albums I want to tell you about. One is out and doing the rounds now, and the second will be released later this month. So add them to your list for Santa or better still, get your hands on them even sooner. The first is from Andy Feery, and it’s called ‘Back Home To You’, and I was delighted to be one of Andy’s special guests on his launch night. And later this month I have the pleasure of joining Stuart Moyles for his album launch, too, in the McWilliam Park Hotel on October 16th. Robert Mizzell, Gerry Guthrie, are just some of the other guest artists who’ll be there on the night to wish Stuart well. And while I’m name-dropping, I don’t know how many times I’ve run into the brilliant Sabrina Fallon recently, but I love it when I do because she always makes me laugh. She’s such a brilliant singer, and such a natural on stage. Sabrina is definitely one of those people who was born to perform. It does your heart good to hear her sing, and to just be around her, too. Another singer whose voice I adore, and could listen to forever if I had to, is Patrick Feeney. Patrick, as you’ll probably know is one of The Three Amigos, and like Sabrina, a breath of fresh air to be around. I got to open for Patrick a couple of weeks back and it was a night I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish.
Well folks, I think that’s our ‘little’ catch-up nearly caught-up at this stage! I’ve probably forgotten a couple of things, but I swear, I haven’t been the same at all since I ran into that skeleton! : ) Oh, I nearly forgot, I also had the very unreal experience of seeing myself in the pages of RSVP magazine (something like HELLO, for those who may never have seen a copy) in a feature on the Hot Country TV Awards Concert from earlier in the year. Thanks again to Kara and her crew at KODE, Tullamore for my lovely dress that night.
Now, my tea is gone cold from talking so much. Wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened, as some who know me might say! Time to put the kettle on, I think….
Take care everybody, until next time!
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