Sound a bit Irish? Truth can be stranger than fiction …
For any working musician who can string together ‘Whiskey in the Jar’, there are two days in the year you tend to wish could happen more often: New Year’s Eve and St Patrick’s Day. Not only can you probably command significantly higher rates then than at any other time, you’re likely to turn down more enquiries due to already being booked than you would in the rest of the year.
This year, Elaine and I managed to get our wish in a small way under the Kindred Spirit brand. The two of us, as a duo playing almost entirely Irish material with a scattering of country and crowd-pleasing pub-rock (not so pub-rock when you do it with just female vocals, guitar and violin!), played on St Patrick’s itself (Friday) at the Swan Inn in Isleworth. It was what I’d call more or less the best of what bar gigs can be: people attentive and enthusiastic despite not having paid to get in, a few who probably hadn’t come for the music audibly being pleasantly surprised by what they heard, reasonably paid, and a raucous good time all round. The following night, being Saturday, was the date North Hants Golf Club had chosen to bump their St Patrick’s social on to – with sit-down meal, quiz and live band, in the shape of the full five-piece Kindred Spirit lineup. There were a few more originals on the set list this time, but the overall tenor was broadly similar. Here too, I certainly can’t complain as a matter of business – a very good fee even once split between five, food rider on top, and proper dancefloor. However, we were a little at the mercy of overrunning dinner and a crowd who were more inclined to talk if they didn’t reckon they could dance to this one. No lairy Black Velvet Band singalong second time round alas, nor yet audible shouts from the crowd of ‘Devil went down to Georgia!’ (I love it when there are requests for songs we know. Particularly when they were on the set list anyway … ). It was a good gig, but it felt a bit more like a function one; even though on paper it was a better way to make a living, and I am full of admiration for the older gent with the very authentic Irish dancing and the couple who I reckon must have done ballroom competitively at some point, I know which gig I had more fun doing!
Looking forward, it’s now less than a week to a big event for this same band (again going out as the full quintet): our self-promoted full evening’s feature concert at All Hallows Church, Twickenham. This will very much be ourselves in action as a folk-rock act in our own right, with Elaine’s songwriting front and centre, duelling violin and flute / sax solos, all the effects out and a full programme. If you’re not convinced already, let me leave you with a genuine testimonial from one of Friday’s audience:
I thought Nigel Kennedy was the man, but now I’ve met you.
Need I say more?