So,…it’s early July 2010,I’m chatting with the other Band Members before a Monday Nite Gig at The Strawberry Hall about how lately I’ve been foolin’ around with ideas for songs in my head,(which is totally new to me),but I go perform some daily chore, and when I return to the idea, it’s gone..!!
A week or two later, along comes July 23rd 2010,my 50th Birthday.
I’m presented with a gift from the Band of a Handheld Tascam Portable Recorder.
”Now !” they say,”ya get an idea, press Record, hum it, strum it, whistle it, whatever…then we’ll all get together and build on the ideas you have..”!!
And that’s how it started…the Album “Six Days In May”, which will be released on Plateau Records May 1st 2017.
From Summer of 2010 to late 2015, the songs you hear on the album were written.
Some came pretty quickly and relatively well formed, others took a little longer.
For the most part, the Chords, Melody and Arrangement came quickly…the lyrics taking a little longer, and in some cases, a rewrite or two.
In the course of working thru the songs with Vinny, Mark and Jack, Jack presented two great ideas…these became “Candles” and “Carolina Gold”.
So after 35+ years of covering other peoples’ music, something clicked and I had the writing bug..!!
Over the years from 2010 to 2015,I spent quite a bit of time with other musician friends thrashing out the ideas in the Music Shed at the back of my house. A lot of these people don’t feature on the Album, but are owed a big Thank You nonetheless…. Drummers: Rod Quinn, Jay Duffy, Michael Black, Graham Hopkins…Fiddle Player Sean Regan, with whom I spent an amazing day in the hills of Roscommon putting a shape on “29”,and Dublin Bay, another work in progress, Bass Player Ronnie O’Flynn, Piano Player Rory Ferguson and Harmonica/Sax Player Eamonn Murray. Also, established Songwriters Nicole Maguire, Mark Geary, Damien Dempsey and Glen Hansard, who offered constant advice on the process, and how to work thru it without losing faith in yourself and your ideas.
So now we have the Songs, we have the Arrangements, we even have a few pretty decent Demo Recordings of many of the songs, but we seem to be stuck. It becomes obvious we are only going to get this done one way… lock ourselves away from the outside world and concentrate on recording the songs without the distractions that abound in all our lives. Remember, we are all of a certain vintage with work to do, family commitments etc. It’s absolutely remarkable how easy you think it will be to chip away at a project like this, but how hard it actually is to achieve.
The next decision was the big one…. I remember it was a cold rainy nite, I was sheltering at the back of a truck, and I decided…ok…I know where I want to do this, and who I want to do it with…so I called David Odlum. This was November 2015…we settled on Studio Booking at Black Box in France from May 7th to May 14th 2016…a day to load in…a day to load out… and six days to record the Album.
The reason this was a big decision, was now I had the Studio and the Producer…but did I have the band? I knew it was going to be very difficult for the band members to commit to a week six months away, when at any moment they could be offered a paying gig that might clash…as they are all Musicians for hire and generally kept very busy. In the end, we got really lucky…even though John and Jack could only stay three days…them being so on the ball, and David being so brilliant, we got it done with some to spare.
There are actually three songs we got finished which do not appear on the album, for no other reason than we decided the eleven tracks which do feature on the album were enough this time around.
Those other three tracks will certainly see the light of day sooner or later. Mark my words!!
So…10 Months since the Album release…what a nite…as Dylan says in When I Paint My Masterpiece…”everyone was there and NOBODY tried to hide..!”
For those of you who missed it...here’s a rough sketch..
Doors opened 7.40pm...we took to the Stage at 8.55pm.
With House Engineer Ian and our man Gerry “Multi” McDonnell takin’ care of the Stage and Sound duties,we opened with a few cover tunes to warm ourselves and the audience up(‘tho they didn’t need much!). We did Dylan’s Mississippi, The Band’s Across The Great Divide, and Fool Who Knows by Little Village.
We then did Tracks 1 to 10 as they appear on the Album. Track 11, if you by now know the Album, you’ll agree, would be lost in live context, as it’s a little Instrumental played on Kalimba...very hard to make heard..!!
Now I know there’s a runnin’ gag concerning me and chatty audiences, but what happened here totally blew me away....the whole room, for over 50 minutes, stayed quiet and attentive to a whole album of music many had heard nothing of before the nite...for an audience to give like that to a band is really very encouraging,...many of the people in the room that nite can have no idea how pleasing and exciting the feeling was up there on stage, playing our own songs, brand new songs, never heard before for the most part, and having an audience give so much support...
With the full Album played, we took a wee break for about 15 minutes...,
then played a closing set which went as follows, With A Little Help From Some Friends..!!
We kicked off the closing set with Glen Hansard joining us to share Vocals, and Colm Mac Con Iomaire on Violin, on Dylan’s “True Love Tends To Forget”, from the brilliant Street Legal record.. Glen and Colm stayed up for “I Will”, the old Country Classic recorded by lots of Artistes from Dionne Warwick to Dean Martin.
With Colm staying on board throughout this set, and Leon O’Neill joining in with some suitably down home Harmonica, Damien Dempsey then jumped up and did an amazing “Meet Me In The Mornin’”, with a little Hendrix lyric slipped in for good measure!!
Then it was Nicole Maguire, (who left her husband and 8 Week old baby boy at home in Cork and drove up and home same day just to be there!!), lending that sublime voice to The Band’s “Evangeline” and “Please Read The Letter”...from Robert Plant/Alison Krauss Album Raising Sand...also joining us on Drums at this point, for Please Read...was Tom, my 20 year old son...played a stormer he did..!!
Next up Mark Geary ,with Grainne Hunt on B/V’s doin’ Adam and Eve, with Tom stayin’ in on Kit. Beautiful!
We then rolled out, if I may say so myself, (and I’ve heard a few say this was their tune of the nite!), a cracklin’ version of Dylan’s Jokerman, again with Tom doin’ the business on Drums.
Next up, with Barry back behind the Kit, (well done Tom!!), Gavin Glass...knockin’ out Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” with gusto...the Band smokin’ at this stage behind him....and then...Bronagh Gallagher,who absolutely knocked it outa the park with “Take Another Little Piece Of My Heart”...had them dancin’ in the aisles..!!
It had to come to an end at some time,and no better man than me oul’ mucker Glen to take it home with his own inimitable take on Van’s “Into The Mystic”...and that’s where the whole event took us...away away away like only an amazing nite of live music can do, Into The Mystic.
So now,it’s out there....It is now available to buy as CD from sixdaysinmay.com,and as CD or Download from CDBaby.com.
I hope you have your copy, and that you are enjoying it as much as me...I honestly can’t stop listenin’ to it...I think all the folks involved did an amazing job...just playing honestly...from the Hip and from the Heart...ya can hear it in each of the songs...or at least I can!!...F.G.