Category Archives: Performing Arts

For Your Ears, Heart and Soul: Leaca Bán – Na Tonnta

Posting and sharing with you, my most recent music production project, the beautiful Leaca Bán by 5-piece, traditional Irish crossover group, Na Tonnta.

Na Tonnta
Na Tonnta

Introducing Na Tonnta (L-R as above): Daniel ‘Hearthrob’ Whelan, Ellie ‘Ellington’ J McGinley, Sinéad ‘Brings her own teabags’ O’Malley, Ciara ‘I♥ Beoga’ Moley and Fiachra ‘Figgy’ Meek. The group met while studying Music in DkIT together and bonded through their love of traditional Irish music, popular music, tea, biscuits and cakes!

My journey with Na Tonnta began in September 2014. I was searching for a musically-new band to introduce to the recording studio and collaborate with for my final music production project at DkIT, resulting in three songs- one being the core and most-polished production.

Approaching Na Tonnta was an easy task. It was actually perfect timing! I already knew Sinéad, their flute and whistle player from the Norway erasmus trip in 2013 and I worked with Ellie, their vocalist and fiddle player on my previous production project, “Crystal Hearts” feat. Fiona McErlane by Audio_Girl | Free Listening on SoundCloud.

I knew I wanted to carry forward my love for traditional Irish music while bringing it into a contemporary production and I also knew Na Tonnta were a hard-working, creative and driven group from my Facebook stalking since they formed in October 2013!

Na Tonnta warming up for the Spirit of Folk Festival, 2014
Na Tonnta warming up for the Spirit of Folk Festival, 2014

Leaca Bán began in the rehearsal room. Sinéad introduced the idea to the group with the beautiful, haunting traditional tune, 250 To Vigo, accompanied by accordion player, Ciara. I sat, mesmerised by the performance- the beautiful tone of the B flat whistle, the rhythm of the tune, the sombre accordion, gently accompanying the haunting tune. The hairs on my arms stood and I knew instantly that this was a tune I wanted to be a part of. I could already hear our studio recording in my mind’s ear!

What happened next lifted my spirits even further. There was a lyrical idea. In fact, there was more than just an idea- there was a theme, a mood, an atmosphere and a poem! A vintage book was produced- a little blue book with yellow pages, about to be tossed out from a local school library where Sinéad worked. For some reason unknown to me, Sinéad opened the book and there was a beautiful poem at the beginning. The Lights of Leaca Bán by Alice Cashel is an old book intended for secondary school children but the poem simply titled Leaca Bán, found at the begnning of the book, is a literary work of beauty.  It was suggested that Ellie fit the tune to the words- amazingly, it worked like a dream. Ellie suddenly started singing the poem and it was just right.

Ellie and Fiachra in the rehearsal room
Ellie and Fiachra in the rehearsal room

By Christmas a humble demo which consisted of a vocal, fiddle, tin whistle and accordion was recorded and then my audio fun began. What I already had was a beautiful tune which was deeply Irish and could hold up on its own with such a small ensemble- how about adding drums? Synthesisers? Guitars? More vocals? How big could we go?! How big did I dare?!

Well, here’s the final production.  Listen for yourself.

Special Announcement :)

Delighted to announce that the Augustinian Gospel Choir will perform a special concert in the Dominican Church, March 8th 2015!

This is a fundraising event in aid of the Dominican Church, admission is free and a brilliant night of gospel choir music and solo singers and musicians is promised.

More information about saving the Drogheda’s beautiful Dominican church can be found at: Fight now begins to save Dominicans after 790 years – Independent.ie.

Drogheda Independent January 2015
Drogheda Independent, January 2015

Watch the complete story, including interviews, footage of the Rally and the controversial debate that followed it.

Exquisite Performance Of Original Music by El Grey at the Spirit Store, 09-08-14

Last night I finally got to see El Grey live! I have been waiting for an ideal opportunity to hear the voice of El Grey herself live for a long time and last nights performance at the Lockup Big Day Out gig in the Spirit Store, Dundalk, did not disappoint.

It was one of those gigs where you felt like the singer was singing only to you. One of those gigs where the hairs on your arms stand on end. One of those gigs that literally takes your breath away. And such gigs are rare.

I was in awe of El Greys voice- her vocal is powerful, expressive, delicate, haunting and strong- all at the same time. Her range is astounding and her style is unique. A voice you will never forget once you’ve heard it.

I watched her performance in absolute delight, superbly skilled in acoustic guitar- flawlessly, effortlessly fingerpicking- a natural player. During her performance she seems to enter another state of consciousness- a higher state of mind- her voice expressing her deepest emotions through soaring notes, beautiful on-sets and releases- a very dreamy sound world. A talented musician, she also plays the ukulele with a grace I’ve never seen before- no tacky jokey jingle-jangle here- her unique guitar fingerpicking style translates beautifully onto her charming little instrument.

Accompanied by Chris Topher on percussion and live electronic MIDI sequencing, her music takes on another dimension. Chris programs percussive loops using a MIDI interface and laptop. He also plays a large djembe while playing basslines with his toes! He trades El Greys acoustic guitar and ukulele throughout the set.

A duet clearly in control of their sound and production, El Grey uses the Boss vocal processor for hands-on control of her reverb and delay effects. Her long reverb tails and massive echoes are her trademark and her vocal processor is used to great effect. She clearly understands what she’s doing and doesn’t cloud her sound in a foggy, confusing mist of unnecessary decay. The overall sound is minimal and focussed- and believe me, anything but boring. The 45-minute set included all original songs except one Nirvana cover which was played in absolute El Grey style- she really made it her own.

It’s very clear there’s a super talent here. No wonder she has being going from strength to strength in the last year- winning an EP recorded with United Records and mastered in the world-famous Abbey Road Studios in London in 2013. Her 3-track self-titled debut EP was released 2014. The EP has been given airplay on a number of radio shows in Ireland and beyond, including Dan Hegarty’s The Alternative (2FM), Near FM Sessions (Near FM), and CSM – leading alternative show by Aleksandra Kaczkowska on Polish National Radio ‘3’ (Trojka Polskie Radio). Also El Grey’s recently become the Finalist of the Big Break All Ireland Music Competition organised by Hot Press Magazine (Top Five 2014).

It was very exciting for me personally to get to meet the duet after the gig, I couldn’t help but feel a tiny bit starstruck- when you follow an artists music online for some time that you really admire, you just can’t help but feel in awe, especially after such an amazing gig! I have to say, both Chris and El Grey are absolutely stunning people- they have such a genuinely beautiful energy and spirit, I couldn’t help but feel as if I had met them before! El Grey is very giggly and light-hearted, taking my camera and posing for hilarious selfies, I genuinely laughed this morning looking back on my photos!

Before I share some of my photos of the gig, get yourself a copy of the beautifully recorded EP on their Bandcamp here: El Grey.

Watch her official music videos and special behind the scenes footage of her EP here: el grey – YouTube.

Like the official band page on Facebook for regular updates and further information: el grey.

I hope you enjoy her music as much as I do.

El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14
El Grey- Spirit Store- 9/8/14

Love and light.

Words That Burn Release New Single “Before The Fall”

Attention metal heads! Dundalk-based metallers Words That Burn released their new single “Before The Fall” via BandCamp over the weekend. And it kicks serious ass.

For me personally, the song brings the likes of Primordial to mind. The excellent production showcases the band as a mature and highly-polished unit with plenty of edge and energy expertly performed. Catchy guitar hooks, tight as hell bass and drums, excellent lyrics and a savage vocal performance make this latest release the bands finest output to date. I love the fabulous contrasting middle eight for the well-considered, layered vocal harmonies- the lower register of Ronan’s vocal gets me every time.

Download the song at the link here: BEFORE THE FALL | Words That Burn. Name your price! It’s free if you want it to be!

The accompanying video was released this evening on YouTube- excellent work! Check it out below:

 

Their previous album Praey is also available on BandCamp to download- name your price: PRAEY | Words That Burn. Also awesome merch is available here: Home / Words That Burn Shop.

The band’s next major gig is at PhilFest 2014 in Fibbers, Parnell St, Dublin (Sunday the 29th of June)- a 2-day heavy metal event with a fantastic lineup for a mere €5 per day- you’d be bonkers to miss it!

Get liking Words That Burn on Facebook.

Get following @words_that_burn on Twitter.

Rock out!!! \m/

WTB

Photos From the Irish Maritime Festival 2014 :)

The Irish Maritime Festival was a huge success last weekend in Drogheda Port. Drogheda town centre was buzzing with the festival atmosphere Saturday and Sunday. What fab weather we got for it!

Here’s some photos we took, mostly of the Augustinian Gospel Choir! You can imagine my fright when I turned around to see a dancing Spongebob Squarepants on stage, right behind me! What fun we had! And of course a dancing Patrick, our newest choir member 😉

Thanks to the Purple Sessions crew for the great sound and thanks to the festival organisers for a wonderful experience!

IMG_3212
Gerry Simpson and the Augustinian Gospel Choir
IMG_3223
The Augustinian Gospel Choir
IMG_3230
Patrick joins us onstage for “Happy”!
IMG_3237
Happy! Myself and Gerry 🙂
IMG_3197
My choir buddy Tamlyn
Enjoying the fab weather before the gig!
Enjoying the fab weather before the gig!

Irish Maritime Festival 2014 :)

Join us this Sunday (June 15th) in Drogheda at The Irish Maritime Festival 2014 – Gerry Simpson and the Augustinian Gospel Choir- we will be singing our hearts out and giving it all we’ve got at 1pm at the Ballast Sound Stage!

Come along, clap along, sing along- you will be uplifted and you will be feeling HAPPY! 😀

Gerry Simpson and the Augustinian Gospel Choir
Gerry Simpson and the Augustinian Gospel Choir
Sunday 15th of June 2014
Sunday 15th of June 2014

 

Between Horizons Launch Debut E.P

Attention metal heads!!!

2014 starts with an almighty BANG! with the long-awaited independent release of Dundalk-based heavy metal band Between Horizons self-titled debut E.P. The band released their astounding three-track E.P of original music this afternoon through BandCamp.

https://betweenhorizons.bandcamp.com/

The four-piece band are fronted by vocalist Lauren Murphy who hails from Monaghan. Ms Murphy is no stranger to Ireland’s gigging scene with an impressive string of gigs ranging from rock, jazz, acoustic and beyond under her belt. Her vocal performances are always mind-blowing as she commands the full attention of her audience in any venue, large or small. Lauren successfully combines a unique elegance, power, emotion and flawless musicianship in every performance. She is also a passionate songwriter and eminently accustomed to the studio environment.

The artistically gifted Lauren Murphy
The Artist. The Rock Star. THE Lauren Murphy.

The band are local accomplished and seasoned musicians- Stephen Hughes (previously of Valediction) on guitar, Shane Piper on bass (User Illusion) and Jay Ruddy (Subjected Reality) on drums. The trio of musicians make a sheer wall of sound, an absolute force to be reckoned with!

Between Horizons are relatively new to the Irish music scene having formed only 18 months ago but already have brought their tremendous metalcore sound to reputable venues including Whelans, Fibbers and The Brewery (Monaghan). The band have also played in various venues in Dundalk and Omagh.

Between Horizons energetic performances engage crowds
Between Horizons energetic performances engage crowds

Armed with their debut E.P and a whole new set of brand new material ready to go, Between Horizons are ready to raise roofs and blow minds, bringing a whole new side of heavy metal music to Irish audiences previously missing.

Between Horizon’s next gig is in the Dugout, Carrickmacross this Saturday night supporting acclaimed alternative metal band Words That Burn.

Get yourself to Carrick this weekend for one hell of a gig!!!
Get yourself to Carrick this weekend for one hell of a gig!!!

If you can’t for some unfathomable reason get to Carrick this weekend, make it your business to see Between Horizons next performance in Fibber’s, Dublin (Thursday 23rd of January).

For now wrap your ears around their E.P and for Heaven’s sake… PLAY IT LOUD!!!!!

Between Horizons Facebook band page: Between Horizons

Between Horizons Twitter: @Betweenhorizonz

Between Horizons Reverbnation: Between Horizons Music, Lyrics, Songs, and Videos.

Words That Burn Facebook band page: Words That Burn

Words That Burn Reverbnation: http://www.reverbnation.com/wordsthatburn

Trouble Pilgrims Secret Gig Goes Down a Storm in Drogheda!

Trouble with a capital “T” came to Drogheda last night! The Trouble Pilgrims played a secret gig and rocked Clarkes Bar!

Delivering high energy rock since 1974, the Trouble Pilgrims are the current members from the Radiators From Space- Steve Rapid (vocal and theremin), Pete Holidai (the Devil’s guitar and vocal), Johnny Bonnie (drums and vocal), Paddy Goodwin (bass guitar and vocal) and are joined by Tony St Ledger on rhythm guitar and vocal. The Radiators are without founder member, vocalist/guitarist Philip Chevron.

Trouble makers!
Trouble makers!

The Trouble Pilgrims live set includes material from all of the Radiators From Space albums, classic cover versions as well as songs from Pete Holidai’s solo album The Devil’s Guitar.

The band are playing small venues in preparation for their big performance in the Olympia this August.

Olympia

It was a personal delight to catch up with Pete Holidai and watch him rock out with his devilishly handsome leftie Burns Hank Marvin white electric guitar and red 1976 Fender Strat. Pete is a huge inspiration to me as a guitar player, music producer, song-writer and teacher.

Myself and Pete Holidai
Myself and Pete Holidai

I’m a huge fan of the sound of Pete’s white Burns guitar in particular, clean yet crunchy with plenty of sexy Rez-o-tube tremolo, it’s the unmistakeable sound of the Devil’s guitar! I’m MAD to own a Burns Hank Marvin guitar myself now (because the nine guitars I already have aren’t enough!).

Pete Holidai and his Burns Hank Marvin guitar and drummer
Pete Holidai and his Burns Hank Marvin guitar and drummer Johnnie Bonnie last night in Clarkes.

Pete’s solo album The Devil’s Guitar is a personal favourite of mine, it being the main album I listened to the second half of 2011! The Trouble Pilgrims treated us to “Jack of Hearts” which was the very first song I heard from The Devil’s Guitar before the mix was even finished in early 2011!

My favourite song from The Devil’s Guitar (that baritone guitar gets me every time!):

Wonderful live sound, wonderful performance and a wonderful atmosphere! If you get the opportunity to see the Trouble Pilgrims in an intimate venue near you, I urge you to go! They rattle cages and pull chains!!!

Trouble came to Drogheda!
Trouble came to Drogheda!

For news and gig announcements of the Trouble Pilgrims on their WordPress: Trouble Pilgrims | High Energy Rock Since 1974.

or go to their Facebook: Trouble Pilgrims.

Another Music Production Project Tracking Completed!

It’s that busy time of the semester again! The time where time itself is running out and the assignments are piled high! Recording projects are wrapping up and are in the final mix stages, essays are full speed ahead and how I wish there were more hours in each day!

Tonight I finished tracking my Music Production Project for semester 4. I haven’t blogged about the production process like I did last semester, so apologies for that! This semester FLEW, I think the Erasmus trip to Norway accelerated that, where does time go when you’re having fun, eh?!

I have been working on one of my own songs for this semesters’ production project. It is a song I started working on over Christmas, inspired by Electronic/Dance music I had been listening to a lot (and still am- I’m also currently enjoying various Dubstep tracks while walking, the Sound City album while driving and Evanescence while running!). I have been writing New Age/Chilled Electronic for a few years now as I really have been enjoying creating music “in The Box”. Logic Pro 9 is my little getaway place!

While I was in Norway I continued working on the piece of music, structuring and shaping the sounds and taking deep inspiration from the emotions and experiences of the Erasmus Programme and the natural beauty of the cold, snowy, sunny, fjord and mountain landscape. The programme was very intense emotionally as I struggled with homesickness for my friends, college, home and family, I felt slightly lost at times as workshops made me close my eyes, look inside myself and think about sound, light and creativity in new ways.

Inspirational beauty in Norway which inspired me
Inspirational beauty in Norway which inspired me
Random sign on my long walk through a Norwegian wood ;)
Random sign on my long walk through a Norwegian wood 😉

When I came home I had a draft mix of synths, beats and ambient nature recordings, which I was very happy with. There were only 2 lines of lyrics, which I tracked at home “Close your eyes/What can you see?”. I listened to my mix on the lovely Genelecs in the college studio just for fun and it was suggested that I make the the music into a song, go write lyrics and melodies and think about bringing the song to a whole new level, record acoustic drums and other instruments! Make it my production project! I was skeptical at first as I was rather attached to this piece of music (music for thinking to- as I saw it as), which I composed entirely by myself.

Enter Keith Caffrey. If you have been following my blog, you’ll already know that Keith is like the other musical half of me! He is my songwriting partner and close friend, the music I’ve written with Keith through the years has always had deep, personal meaning and a creative enjoyment I never experienced before. I sent Keith the draft mix and emotional ideas I would love to communicate through lyrics (closing of the eyes, looking inside myself and being more aware of myself yet still feeling slightly lost).

Very quickly the music turned into the song. Keith came down to my bedroom studio and we tracked the entire vocal idea. The lyrics were so deep, personal and emotional, Keith understood perfectly what I had been feeling (as spiritually close friends, there are few who understand me so well!). It was also as if Keith KNEW we had only been studying the art of vocal expression in college, he felt the song should have lots of aspirate on-sets and releases, creaks and shakes.

Keith writing lyrics in my bedroom studio during a late night recording session
Keith writing lyrics in my bedroom studio during a late night recording session

With minor structure adjustments and a guide vocal done (and a huge migration into Pro Tools 10!), the song was ready for addition instrumentation. I’m not going into the nitty-gritty details of my sessions but I recorded drums in session 1, harp, piano and electric guitar in session 2 and female vocals in session 3.

Craig Sullivan on drums
Craig Sullivan on drums

During my time in Norway I made lots of new friends and valuable contacts, Fiona McErlane being one of them. We met in the airport and sat next to each other on the plane from Dublin to London and hit it off straight away with giggles over drinks! I heard her singing in the music performance workshops in Norway and was blown away by her pure, crystal clear, angelic voice. I knew back then I wanted to work with her in the future but didn’t know for what project!

Having the craic with Fiona in Norway!
Having the craic with Fiona in Norway!

I asked her to sing on the project and play a little bit of traditional harp. She was excited about the song and the inspiration of the music and lyrics (she was actually present when I made the recording of the fjord shore in Norway).

So tonight was our final recording session, we tracked lots of vocals and had a very productive session. I was so happy with her performance, she gave it 110% emotionally and technically, she jumped right in with suggestions and gave it her all. I was also happy that I got to finally track using the Distressor compressor (gentle 2:1 ratio) and got to try out the Rode K2 valve mic, it sounded sweet!

Our session was the first official night time recording session in DkIT 6pm-9pm. Yes! Finally! A night time recording session!!! I’m a big fan of working in the evenings/nights (last semesters’ Monday 9am-12pm were not to my liking!). Energies are high, vocals are warm, people tend to be more relaxed in the evenings I find! So please, for next semester, more night time sessions please!

I better go to bed, it is 12:30am now and tomorrow is a new day of vocal editing! I will of course share the song “Close Your Eyes” when it’s mixed. Special thanks to Keith Caffrey, Fiona McErlane, Craig Sullivan, Gavin Clarke for their creative input and help and to my friends for their support!

I’ll leave you with this fun snap from tonights session!

Fiona gave it socks! ;)
Fiona gave it socks! 😉

Norway Adventures! Boats, Ghosts and Statues :)

Yesterday we had a tour around Kvaerner, the biggest oil rig on the planet! It was really interesting! The tour guides were so nice and welcoming, they even gave us gifts of fruit and 4GB USB sticks! Sooooo many people work there!

After this I had some free time to shop and walk around Leirvick town centre!

Loved this!
Loved this!
Leirvick at the harbour
Leirvick at the harbour
I enjoyed looking at the boats in Leirvick harbour
I enjoyed looking at the boats in Leirvick harbour
Shoppers! Tim from Belgium, Emma from Dundalk IT and myself :)
Shoppers! Tim from Belgium, Emma from Dundalk IT and myself 🙂

After that we had a great museum trip! We visited Sunnhordland Museum, there we carved our very own key-holders like the ones used in the old days (travel was mainly by small boat! so if a person dropped their key into the water, it would float!)

Making the key-holders :) we keep them now :)
Making the key-holders 🙂 we keep them now 🙂
DkIT students proud of their finished key-holders!
DkIT students proud of their finished key-holders!

We also reconstructed a boat like this, sang a boat building song and learned the names of the parts in Norwegian! Here my recorded audio below!

build the boat
build the boat
finished!!!!! lets set sail hehehehe
Finished!!!!! lets set sail, hehehehe

We had a quick tour of the rest of the museum which was about living standards in ye olde Norwegian times!

Traditional outfits from different regions of Stord
Traditional outfits from different regions of Stord
Very pretty
Very pretty 🙂
Typical old Norwegian house
Typical old Norwegian house
Leirvick
Leirvick

The rest of the evening included deep, reflective discussions about what has inspired us the most about our trip so far and a lovely salmon dinner.

Today we had more intense workshops and beautiful weather! It’s much colder today, about 1 degree Celcius but the scenery is very beautiful. The college campus goes right to the shore and has a lovely forest walking trail which I got to explore 🙂

The first workshop was sound massages! What is that?! Basically we made various sounds while walking around a bunch of students with their eyes closed… we were pretending to be ghosts! It was fun and very interesting! We also played a game called Statues and Ghosts, where half the group became statues and had to mimic the movements that the ghosts displayed to us! I made most of my statues hold Yoga poses, hehehe! This was also great fun. After that we told ghost stories.

There is a ghost story belonging to the college. The college is over 170 years old, when it was first built, a man with strict beliefs ran the institute. He believed in proper living, no drinking, no babies outside of wedlock, etc. When the college was running about 5 years or so, there was a young student who got a local girl pregnant. The dean was appalled and expelled the young man straight away, telling him to never return. The young man could not understand this and felt he did nothing wrong, but nonetheless he rowed away (transport as I mentioned earlier was by rowing boat). But the next day he came back, desiring to continue his education. The dean saw him rowing and went to meet him at the shore. Many boys saw the two in deep argument but no one ever saw the young man again. It is said perhaps he slipped into the water or something more sinister happened. No one ever found out. The child was born soon after and when he was old enough, he asked his mother where his father was. She told him that he was rowing to the college every day and there, the boy waited in hope every day…

Sad story!

The shore
The shore
Deep sorrow
Deep sorrow
The path leading to the campus
The path leading to the campus
College
College
The harbour to the college
The harbour to the college
Sunshine
Sunshine

Inspired by this ghost story, we created a short film and recorded live audio using musical instruments non musically. Very interesting experience!

The next workshop was pinhole photography. We learned how to use a pinhole camera and the history of this art form. We were then invited to walk around the campus and take photos, exposure time was 2:30 minutes because of the bright weather. I haven’t got the scanned photo here but I will share it as soon as I can! This very interesting also for me!

The rest of the evening we spent preparing for our performance in Bergen tomorrow! We will spend the weekend there and return to Stord Sunday night for more intensive workshops and preparations for our final performance next weekend.

Snow!
Snow!
Pretty
Pretty