Lockdown Blues & Gigs….

I think everybody was tested this week with the continued lockdown, despite the slightly loosened restrictions. Personally, I was a bit zoomed out and increasingly worried at the impact the lockdown measures will have on our economy, and on the Arts Industry in particular.

I’ve actually never been as busy as I have been over the last few months, as I looked at creative ways for Kíla to keep working despite no gigs. I wrote grant applications, each of them like a college project, I worked with various creatives on projects, I even co-wrote a pitch for a TV show. Things I wouldn’t have seen myself doing at the beginning of 2020. And each of them have given me a sense of pride and achievement. Whether they are successful remains to be seen.

But this week, the future seemed bleaker. How an earth can pubs, venues and musicians work under social distancing restrictions? How can we justify, as a country, the fact that this lockdown may bankrupt this industry? Some of these venues and pubs may never re-open. How can we find a creative solution for this industry to survive and protect the jobs of so so many.

The Arts Industry is low paid anyway. People working in it, including myself, do not work in it for money. They work in it for love of the Art, whichever form that art takes. However Art has value, and I have been lucky to have been able to earn enough from this to meet my outgoings, and to do something with my life that I enjoy and find incredibly worthwhile.

In January, I was in New Orleans with the lads. We put the start of a US tour together on the back of it, which I continue to work on with contacts in the US, however it is very uncertain if it can take place, even in 2021. It may be 2022 or 2023. St Patricks Day Weekend 2020 was booked out solidly for Kíla with festival after festival, and our bookings for the remainder of 2020 were looking solid, both at home and abroad. One by one, they were all cancelled. I remained positive throughout all of this and threw my energy into anything I felt might generate income and art for a band of 8 musicians who currently cannot gig together.

So a bit of the lustre, hope and positivity left me at the beginning of this week. Unease, anxiety and cabin fever set in. I miss my friends and family. I want to see Kíla, Aindrias, the Lust for Life team in person and not on Zoom. I had a moment. I even had a little cry.

And then something magical happened. Kíla had a gig. An actual gig that could bring them together, while respecting socially distancing guidelines. It would be streamed on YouTube. It all happened very quickly and I immediately got into promo and PR mode, realising how important this was for us. I worked closely with the Lock Up Live crew to ensure we got as big an audience as possible within the timeframe. They are a team of techies, crew, sound engineers, camera men, all of whom we have worked with several times, and consider friends.

The Launch weekend was free but these gigs will eventually be pay for view. And so they should be . Art has a value. Seeing Kíla perform live on YouTube on Saturday made me so happy. It proved to me that we can still be creative even in lockdown. We can find a way for Art to survive. We can save the industry. We just all need to work together to do so.

Hats off to Lock Up Live, super job!! And I am so proud of Kíla for putting on such an amazing gig in very strange times. If you haven’t watched it yet, you can watch it at the link below.

The PayPal link is http://www.paypal.me/Kilarecords if you wish to contribute to costs.

 

I got 45% in my mocks in Economics..

I remember it so well..I was my Economics teacher’s star pupil at the time.  A man who is now principal of the secondary school I attended (and who I now speak to using his first name..sometimes..but mostly, unless I revert to Máistir)….

So anyway my Economics teacher (lets call him Frank) met my mother around about the time of the Mocks results at a parent teacher meeting. And Frank said he was shocked ‘SHOCKED’ at my poor result in the mocks. My Mother relayed this to me. Personally, I wasn’t shocked – I knew I hadn’t done the work but even then at 17, I had a bit of  an arrogant streak…I felt confident I would ace the leaving certificate exam. Why waste my energy on trivial class exams..or in this case ‘Mocks’. But I said none of that to my Mother or to ‘Frank’… and to be fair ‘Frank’ was one of my favourite teachers.

As it happened I did ace my leaving certificate Economics exam. My father helped me prepare for it and I got a very high mark. I went to a good school and I worked hard for the exams that mattered. The State exams! I worked hard for them. And I won a scholarship to University as a result.

But I did NOT work hard on class tests in my 6 years of secondary school, I often did not do my homework and if I was to be assessed on a continuous assessment basis, there is a chance I would have got a big fat ‘F’ as an overall score.

If the Leaving Cert had been cancelled when I was in sixth year, and I was to be assessed on my overall performance, well I am not sure how I would have fared. I was smart but I was shy. I was also lazy when it came to class tests. BUT I worked hard, very hard when I needed to. And I was good at exams.

If the Leaving Cert had been cancelled when I was in sixth year, I think I would have been screwed and would not have been offered any of the opportunities that came my way as a result of my good grades in those exams.

The Leaving Certificate exams are a foundation for exams everybody has to take in life. They should not be cancelled. I won a scholarship to university based on my exam results – there is absolutely no way I would have won that scholarship based on class participation or continuous assessment. Just no way.  The exams were what helped me shine.

I hope the Irish Government rethinks the decision they made on the Leaving Certificate today due to Covid-19.

 

Quarantine by Eavan Boland – RIP

Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a hanam.

Quarantine
by Eavan Boland

In the worst hour of the worst season
of the worst year of a whole people
a man set out from the workhouse with his wife.
He was walking — they were both walking — north.

She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
He lifted her and put her on his back.
He walked like that west and west and north.
Until at nightfall under freezing stars they arrived.

In the morning they were both found dead.
Of cold. Of hunger. Of the toxins of a whole history.
But her feet were held against his breastbone.
The last heat of his flesh was his last gift to her.

Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.
There is no place here for the inexact
praise of the easy graces and sensuality of the body.
There is only time for this merciless inventory:

Their death together in the winter of 1847.
Also what they suffered. How they lived.
And what there is between a man and woman.
And in which darkness it can best be proved.

From Code (2001), reproduced by kind permission of Eavan Boland and Carcanet Press

Creativity creates Optimism – It’s a Lovely Day after all!

Today, in lockdown, I told myself to cop myself on. I had been swaying towards feeling a little sluggish, a tad sorry for myself, and generally just a wee bit sad and frustrated about the state we have all found ourselves in, in Ireland. Having no control externally can lead to having no control internally so I needed to nip that in the bud.

So I decided to write a list of all the things I like about me and my life. It took me some time, but I did it. The temptation in lockdown is to over analyse and beat ourselves up for past mistakes, maybe even current mistakes. There is also the temptation to think we are not achieving enough in lockdown, for me anyway. But these are surreal times, there are no rules. We all just gotta do the best we can.  So I kicked myself, I did some meditation, and I remembered how amazing and wonderful I am, and how amazing and wonderful we all are. This kind of self-love is not narcissistic in my opinion, it is necessary and important just now.

And so the day went on. First and most important step, what will I cook today? I read cookery books voraciously, I record every cooking programme I can, and I am trying very hard to improve my skills in the kitchen during this period. But the culinary advice I seek most just now is my Mum’s. An amazing cook and baker, I ring her every day to find out what she and Dad are having for dinner and despite me not eating red meat or pork, her recipes are my go-to, and I have managed to adapt them to my own cooking. I haven’t seen my folks in a long time now but that little cookery connection makes me feel like they are present in my meals, and I know I am present in theirs.

It’s Sunday so as a self-employed person, I then planned my week ahead. I have a bad habit of working at weekends but this weekend I slowed that down big time, in favour of me time, or to more accurately define it, still time.

Like lots of people I plan to cook myself out of this crisis, but I also plan to work myself out of this crisis. Creativity does not stop because of lockdown. In truth, creativity is enhanced because of lockdown. Mostly, I am using this time to be as creative within my job as I can be.  It’s exciting times if you look at it that way. Creative times. And creativity kills the negative critical voice that can creep in. Creativity kills the temptation to feel sad, because creativity makes the world look a bit brighter. It’s ok to feel sad. It’s ok to feel out of control. But use those feelings to create. Creativity creates optimism.

Remembering Bill Withers. It’s a lovely day after all.  (And its vegetable curry for dinner)

There was no rhubarb in Dunnes today…

Well there was one bunch…a pathetic limp little bunch that I couldn’t bring myself to purchase. I love rhubarb. I feel like I was reared on rhubarb. I just love the stuff. I have it for my breakfast every morning with oats..maybe its an O Riagáin thing. It’s possible. My older brother’s best man (and former housemate) commented on Fergal’s love of the stuff in his best man speech. Is it really that weird to love it so much? I talk to my Mum every day just now, as my folks are cocooning, (hate that word but that’s for another blog post) and every conversation mentions rhubarb…who has it and where can I find it?? (within 2km).

So anyway there was no rhubarb in Dunnes today apart from the one little limp bunch that I didn’t buy…

But it was great to get into town, I cycle in once a week now to do a weekly shop. I appreciate that I am so lucky that I live so near town, but initially, I found it quite depressing to wander into, what is essentially, a ghost town. But today, despite the lack of rhubarb, I found it way less depressing, in fact I found it strangely uplifting.

Several TDs were wandering through the streets, heading to Fallon & Byrne to buy their takeout lunch, and while everybody was obeying social distancing, it was comforting seeing that some businesses could continue to move, and that they were being supported by customers to be able to do that.

As I cycled home through Grafton Street, I could see that some shop doorways were being boarded up. That made me sad momentarily as I am not sure if that measure is to stop homeless people sleeping in doorways, or to prevent break-ins.  But neither that momentary sadness, nor the lack of rhubarb could dampen my joy of being out, being in town and seeing smiles on faces of all the staff in Dunnes, and people, just like me, doing their weekly shop.

A lovely Irish musician said to me recently that he gets dressed up to go to Tesco…those lucky Tesco customers (was what I was thinking, like who knows he might bring a keyboard next time?).

Me, I wasn’t too dressed up today, but my weekly shop to Dunnes is till my social  highlight just now.

And then I came home and I started to work again…if you haven’t been checking out all the lovely videos we have been posting to the Kíla socials, it’s really time to do so x

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Pat Tierney was a poet who died in 1996. Some of you may remember him from Grafton Street where he recited poetry, both his own poems and poems of others. He also wrote a self-published autobiography called 'The Moon on My Back'. The title was inspired by a dream he had had, as a child, that the moon was chasing him. He was energetic, joyful, and charismatic but he was HIV positive. The 4th of January 1996 was the first full moon of that year and that was the day that Pat died. Colm O Snodaigh penned a song about this, as Gaeilge, called 'An Ghealach ar mo Thóir'. Anyone who has been to the The Kíla Sessions at @whelanslive , may have heard him sing this. It is an unreleased song, as yet, but we recorded it while in Paris in March at the @centreculturelirlandais . At the moment we are calling these jam sessions, The Paris Demos. Dave Hingerty filmed this, during the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown (social distancing rules were respected) and we think it is absolutely beautiful. Inspired by Pat Tierney, the song and video brings two virus pandemics together, that each in their own way, brought the world to a halt. Codladh Sámh Pat agus Go raibh maith agat. Filmed & Edited by @davehingerty Recorded & Mixed by Brian Hogan ( @preachersson ) #poetry #writing #scribbling #poem #pattierney #poet #music #irishmusic #newmusic #band #musician #dublin #graftonstreet #Ireland #paris #france #art #kíla

A post shared by Kíla (@kila_official_) on

 

 

 

 

 

Day ???

Since my last post, I’ve been tested. For Covid-19. It was negative. I was tested a week after I was referred ( and at that point I had no symptoms) and I received the results 2 weeks after the test. So was I negative? Or could I have been positive? Who the hell knows? Do I have questions about the Covid-19 testing system? Hell yeah. Is this blog post about that? Hell No. I’m well, I have a lovely home, I go for walks and cycles and I am bloody lucky in my book just now. I have some freedom.

I still have my Irish Navy neighbours though ( see last blog posts). The L.E. Samuel Beckett left us so now its just me, my neighbours, and the L.E. Niamh. Niamh is slightly less intimidating than Sammy B. I feel I have less to prove if I sit beside her in the sunshine. Sitting beside Sammy B made me want to reach for my notebook, and pen, and then realise how I would never be as good a writer as him. But, you know, I take my lessons where I can get them.

I’ve found it hard to write this blog. I wanted to do a daily update but I just could not do it. In truth I have found it hard to concentrate  on any form of relaxation. On the other hand I have not found it hard to focus on my work. That bit has been easy to a certain extent. And Zoom calls with Kíla are a whole new world for me, entertaining, inspiring and challenging.

I’ve also learnt not to sweat the small stuff. Sounds clichéd but I don’t mean it to be. Things that bothered me before the ‘Virus’ no longer bother me..not only do they not bother me, if these things are not worth caring about, I simply let them go and I focus on me, my job, and my life.

Another thing I have had no difficulty in doing, is laughing. I laugh a lot. Sometimes at myself,  and of course sometimes by myself. I find myself very amusing. Laughter is a gift, and a gorgeous gift at that.

And I really adore the amazing quality of talent that is appearing on social media these days, and not just from Kíla or Aindrias, across the board.  I also do some work for A Lust For Life, and their content is just phenomenal just now, particularly in caring for people’s mental health at the moment.

Im gonna finish this post with a little clip from my trip to New Orleans in January with Kíla for Folk Alliance. Aindrias popped down too and although it was a very full on conference, on the Friday night there, once we finished work, we just laughed and we danced and we listened to, and watched great music (oh and the video isn’t too dark…the Manager knows best :) ).

 

 

 

 

Day 11 – Make-Up and Samosas

Self – isolation. Two words: self, and, isolation. Self-isolation.

Thus far under my self-imposed (see what I did there) rules of self-isolation,  I didn’t need to wear makeup. I didn’t need to physically attend meetings, and if I was in sweats all day, well that was just A-Ok with my self-imposed rules because I was in self-isolation…

That all changed today, Self-imposed rules are now being rapidly amended…

Firstly I wandered out on a short local walk today, keeping quite a distance from everybody (as I’m in self-isolation) and bumped into my neighbours. When I say bumped into, I mean I saw them across the square and waved, and then they came over to chat to me (don’t worry the 2 metres was respected)…but even though I looked like a spy trying and failing badly to be inconspicuous (think cap and scarf over face), it was still close enough for me to know that they knew that I wasn’t wearing makeup…

I came home thinking, crap, I can’t have the neighbours thinking I am letting myself go in self-isolation.  So I made a self-appointed decision to self-amend my self-imposed rules on socially distanced outings while self-isolated (still following?)  to include the recommendation to wear make up if exiting the house.

But you know step one, I’d amended the rules, all was ok.. so I was ready to face into all those projects put on the long-finger for the afternoon before my test on the Navy Ship tomorrow (otherwise known as a  cup of tea with my neighbours – see yesterday’s post).

But THEN, just as I had settled in, another bleeding spanner in the works. The ZOOM band meeting that had been talked about for the past several days, was going to happen at 3pm. 3pm??? It was already 1.30pm. Now I had no way out of the make-up dilemma, and in fact the clothes I was wearing were just not up to video conferencing…Crap my self-imposed rules around self-isolating just were not holding up. I scrambled for a mirror, put something resembling respectable clothes on, applied the makeup, sent an agenda, and did the call.

The call was great. So many great ideas flying around. The self-imposed rules have been amended now : If not sick anymore, get up , get dressed for work, and put on the makeup. And on that note, now its time for oven baked Samosas…A great way to use up my utterly delicious homemade vegetarian curry. Another rule to add…Self-isolation cooking is food for the soul x

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Day 10 – Cup of tea anyone??

Day 10  of self-isolation and I woke up feeling healthy and happy. Symptoms gone but still waiting on my test…this morning I was determined to tackle every single project I had put on the long finger over the last few months.

I also wanted to check out the LE Samuel Beckett, docked at the end of my street for several days now, and confirmed as the new city centre Covid -19 testing centre. It feels weird that to be tested for Covid19, for me anyway,  it will be at the end of my street, at a testing centre managed by the navy.

Weirder still is that one of my very first school friends that I ever had (yes from when I was 4), lets call him Kevin, is a navy officer, and when I’ve met him at Christmas over the last few years, he has always said to me that if they are docked at the bottom of my street (which they sometimes are), that I should call up for a cup of tea.

I never did that..I always kind of thought…hmmm it’s kind of weird to knock on the door  of a navy ship and ask if my friend can come out to play ( my friend the navy officer, let’s call him Kevin).

So my day went on from there. I decided to brave a very safe social distanced walk, first time out of my house in 9 days and wandered down to the ship.  It was surreal to say the least. I felt emotional and impressed all at the same time and grateful too. I’m someone who loves to laugh but every so often lately, the emotional impact of what’s going on creeps in a little.

But it was great to get out. When I got home, I got a text to say my Covid-19 test is on Wednesday (exactly one week after I was referred for it), beside the Irish Navy ship at the end of my road. Looks like I will be calling in for that cup of tea after all, just in very different circumstances.

Then I rang my Mum, to see how Dad and she were doing. They are grand thank God. They were relieved that I’m getting my test and had some questions they wanted me to ask when I get it e.g. if you get the virus, can you get it again?

And then I took a deep breath and remembered those projects I had put on the long finger, the fact that it is business as usual for me work wise just now, and just like that I got on with things.  Getting on with things just now wil be tinged with sadness , laughter, joy and lots more but I gotta keep getting on with it.

I posted a video of this tune to the Kíla pages earlier. It’s very soothing.

Day 9 of Self-Isolation and I’m feeling pretty happy…

Day 9 of home alone and I am in great form. I am not talking to the walls yet, actually I have cleaned my house,  thrown open the balcony doors and enjoyed feeling healthy and well. I’ve chatted to several friends, laughed hard at all the jokes that are coming my way and wished my Mum a Happy Mother’s Day.

I’m still waiting for my Covid-19 test but I no longer feel like I have symptoms and while I know I have quite a few more days of self-isolation left, I have to say positivity is what I feel today. I feel positive about the good humoured approach we are all taking with this and the camaraderie amongst us all. So many people have called me up this week and offered to do my shopping. As it happens I am well stocked, but that does not make me any less grateful for the offers and I expect I will have to call on one of those offers within the next few days.

The musicians I work with are also in good spirits and ideas are flying across WhatsApp groups of things we can do. I recently started doing some project work with A Lust for Life and they could not have been more understanding when I was out of action over the last few days.

There is a lot of doom and gloom and negativity. But there is also so much positivity. This crisis is bringing out the best in us all, and for me personally, as somebody who works with creatives, it is inspiring.

I’m feeling lucky and I’m feeling grateful. Just now I have everything I need, and actually more than that, a lot more. This pandemic which should bring disconnection as a result of self-isolation, has made me feel even more connected. If it is, as they say, the calm before the storm, then the storm will be coming up against a real rock hard foundation of people supporting each other.

I’m glad I am feeling better now and can hit the work ahead of me with gusto. I can do all that at home with my laptop and Wifi connection and once I am given the all clear, I too can offer help to all the people who have offered it to me over the last few days x

 

 

 

 

 

Laughter, Music & Corona

This time last week, and I find it hard to believe it is only a week ago, I was booking flights for Kíla to get them home from Paris where they were recording,  and where they would start a small St Patricks Day Festival Tour. I had put the tour together and was thrilled that they could pack in so much in several countries, over a very small period of time. By 9pm that night every single concert that hadn’t been cancelled , was cancelled, and they came home.

Fast forward to Thursday this week, today, and I am waiting for the call to be tested for Covid-19 having developed flu like symptoms on Monday lunchtime. My GP referred me but there is still a long waiting list. I’m not anxious , just practical. I have been self-isolating for 9 days now and since Monday have not left my home even to go to the shops. I have lovely friends nearby who were available to drop me in paracetamol yesterday when I ran out. If I have Covid-19, my only concern is that I infect nobody and I am confident I have taken every precaution not to.

All of my work is continuing regardless, and the musicians I work with have decided to share music on social media as regularly as possible, and we will commit do this for as long as we need. We know that we will suffer financially but we are working together, to brainstorm, and to keep that suffering to as low as it can be. It is without doubt a scary time but I am heartened by all the jokes flying around whats app and all the amazing musicians trying to brighten up peoples lives by posting movies, online performances and songs.

I can’t say I am looking forward to what the next few weeks or months will bring but for me I can only look at one day at a time. I work with people I admire and care about and will strive to do the best for both them and myself.

I have time now personally to be creative, to read more, and to switch off from social media more. Once I exit the self-isolation phase, I hope to get out in nature more, breathe more and now I can take more time off. I don’t have to push myself so hard. I can chill a little. I can be there for any friends or family who may be suffering during this time and I can look for the light, the lightness and the hope in all of this. I love to laugh and I love to listen to music. Both laughter and music can offer some healing at this time.

In the meantime follow Kíla @kilarecords and Aindrias de Staic @aindestaic to see the creative treats they have in store for you as we all lock down and stay safe.

Tabhair aire x