Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What's The Story Frank ?

I spent a lot of time recording over the last five years. At the end of it all, I have nine songs. It might not seem like a very productive five years, but the process was somewhat interrupted by having 3 children, buying and renovating a house, and starting a new and demanding job. There is also the fact that the limited time I have for music is split between occasionally playing live shows, guitar lessons and the practice time that involves, and jamming with other musicians.

I had planned on releasing an album, putting it up on itunes and CDbaby, and playing some shows around it, but the energy required for getting and keeping a band together, rehearsing and finding shows is just too much at the moment. In fact,if it wasn't for the getting gigs part, I'd probably give it a go. That takes considerable time and effort when you are performing original material.

I joined the online A&R organisation Taxi. They let members know of opportunities: movies and TV shows that need music, performers looking for songs, labels looking for artists, publishers looking for music etc. One of the great and humbling benefits of this is that you get feedback from industry professionals. They don't hold back, so it can be fatal to the fragile artist's ego, but if you can handle it, and incorporate it, it's incredibly helpful. I have gotten generally positive feedback, but mostly I am told that my songs are not suitable for any given opportunity, or are not commercial enough, or don't fit any genre easily. The latter is a common theme. That's fair enough, they are looking for commercial music, (that doesn't necessarily mean Britney type pop, they look for a very wide variety of stuff), and I understand if I want to follow this route I need to tailor towards it. Also my music was recorded over a long period during which I was learning the recording process, so it's stylistically inconsistent. The way I look at it, it's 90% of the way there. I have already started a new project, and I am really working on making the quality 100%. The one thing I will do differently this time, is have it mixed by someone else. I love mixing, but I am too close to my own work to be subjective. I have noticed when I have mixed other peoples music, I do a better job.

I have decided to post some of my songs on the blog. The first one is called "Whats The Story Frank?" You can listen to it by clicking here, or right click and "save as" if you want to download it. The title comes from a saying a college friend had. We were both from Limerick, and we had this theory that most Limerick males were either named, Ger, or Frank. Every time I would meet my friend, he would put on a thick Limerick accent and say "Whats the story, Frank?" I always thought it would be a good title for a song. That said, the song has nothing to do with this story. Have a listen, tell me what you think.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Signs that your are gettting older #1

When you realise that Steely Dan are good - really, really, really good.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Thomond Park

This was taken at the Munster v Leinster game over Christmas. I thought it appropriate seeing as yesterdays game against Leicester was last game to be played in the old fortress before it is refurbished. I had planned on lionising Munsters phenomenal Heineken Cup history at Thomond. Unfortunately their sterling record did not survive the game. The unparalleled stretch of twenty six Heineken Cup wins at Thomond park is over. Although no trophies were on the line, and Munster were already through to the final eight, this was not the story the Limerick sports writers had planned on. Leicester will hang this scalp high on their totem pole.

Hopefully the old mojo hasn't been damaged, and when the new Thomond arises, it will be as daunting to all comers as the old lady has always been. Meanwhile the current holders of the Heineken Cup must take this as a warning that the path to this years final will be as difficult as ever, and they will surely remember the years of heartbreak that preceded last years victory.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Isn't Nature Cruel

This is a young male Peregrine falcon, and he owes his continued existence to my sister.

I noticed him sitting on our fence one morning early in the New Year. The day had not begun well. That morning we had discovered that our water supply was neither exactly legal, nor really illegal. Either way, it was going to cost me cash and heartache.

When our house was built, the original owner (and builder), and not gotten a tap from the county council water main. Instead he had tapped into his parent’s water main up the road. We never knew this when we bought the house - apparently this was pretty common in rural houses built before the 90's. Kerry County council has decided that this is an agricultural water supply, and as they are now metering water supplies and charging for agricultural water usage, it is a big problem. The original owner's mother is going to be charged a hefty fee for supplying us with water because her son couldn't have been arsed to pay a minuscule fee back in the ‘80’s to get a tap into the water main. The supply runs through a field and for some reason this means it is agricultural. We received a letter from the original owner saying that they would have to cut off our supply as the costs were prohibitive. Not good.

Anyhow, I began a round of detective work to figure out what to do, it’s €800 to get a tap into the water main, and then there's the cost to put a pipe up through the property to join our water pipes. It being a small country area, I was quickly put in touch with someone who, among other nixers, is responsible for local water supplies. It turns out the previous owner of our house is not a popular man in the locale. We dug up the driveway over the summer to put in a new one, and it would have been the perfect time to put in a new pipe. Anyhow at this stage we may have to pay for the new water tap, etc., and time will tell what route we next take.

Back to the falcon...while flurrying around, I noticed the bird on the fence, sitting curiously still. He didn't budge even though I was only three feet from him. I went inside and grabbed my mother who adores animals. I knew it was either a hawk or a falcon, and it's a pretty rare occasion you get to see one up close. I didn't have time to linger as I was rushing into Tralee to figure out the water problem. While I was gone, my sister and mother quickly realised that the bird had an injured foot. Unsure of the SPCA number, the called the Gardai.* The following conversation, worthy of a Father Ted episode, ensued:

Sister: “Hello, I was wondering if you could help guide us to the right authorities, we have an injured bird outside our house."

Garda: "A bird, is it?"

Sister: “Yes."

Garda, slowly: ""

Sister: "Yes, but it’s a large bird, a hawk maybe, it appears to have an injured foot. Maybe you could direct us to the SPCA?"

Garda, in a soft slow voice: "Ohh, sure isn't nature cruel."

The philosophical Garda, true to his word, contacted the Kerry SPCA, and likity-split, they turned up, and captured the bird. They informed my sister that they only knew of one nesting pair on the Dingle Peninsula, and they believed this was their offspring. He had an injured and infected foot, and would need some antibiotics.

Last we heard, Mr. Falcon was well on his way to recovery, and was soon to be the scourge of small birds and rodents the length and breadth of the Dingle Peninsula.

My brother grabbed my camera and captured the proceedings

*Gardai Siochana - Irish police force, translates as Guardians of the Peace.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Happy Birthday, My Maya!

This is Maya (aka Maya Fantaya, Princess Maya, Her Highness, The Eaglet {not sure where that one came from}), and she is now three. Felicitations are a little belated, we celebrated her
birthday in Kerry last week, far, far from an Internet connection. She's actually celebrated all her birthdays in Ireland, and as a result, I have never posted a happy birthday to her, whereas the two boys have been publicly feted. This is a shabby way to treat one's only daughter so I am making up for it now. Santa Claus brought the above "Princess Dress." It was all she wanted for Christmas. The minute she would arrive in from cold, her clothes would be ditched and on went the dress, replete with a pair of pink, plastic high heeled shoes which she christened her "magically shoes" (see picture on the left).
Tash describes her best - she'll be wearing a tutu with matching she kicks your head in. Girly-girl she may be, but she is also the first one to climb up to the top of the jungle gym or jump off a high wall. Shane tests the safety of situations by sending Maya on reconnaissance patrols. If she survives, he'll give whatever it is a go. She is the one who tells the other kids that the playground near our house is HER playground, while we duck our heads and pretend we don't know whose child she is...

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I am catching up on work, so no time for falcon stories or water wars just yet. However, while at home, my sister cracked me up by recounting a conversation that she overheard between the proprietor of The Railway Bar and a German tourist last summer. Some of you may remember me waffling enthusiastically about The Railway Bar this time last year. Anyhow, in order for this story to be funny, you must imagine the German speaking in classic Tuetonic accented English, while Mike O’Neil, the proprieter of The Railway Bar, speaking in equally heavily accented Kerryish. Also, the German was the clichéd tall, serious blonde, while Mr O’Neil is more hobbit- like – small, rotund and genial, with a very long beard, and thick glasses.

German Tourist: “Mr O’Neil, tell me vy are ze mountains behind us named ze Sliv Meesh?”*

Mike O’Neil (who has lived below the mountains all his life), fixes him with a friendly stare: “Sure Jaysus, I haven't a fuckin' clue.”

*Sliabh Mish

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I Need a Holiday

That’s the problem with holidays in Ireland - you need a few days at a health spa to get over your vacation. My liver needs some tender loving care, it has put in a heroic effort over the last few weeks, but enough is enough. There will be no drinking for a few days... maybe.

We had a great, but wildly hectic time, and details will be forthcoming when I get over the cold I brought back with me. In brief, the highlights are:

-Seeing Rory Gallagher's battered Stratocaster at the National Museum of Ireland in Collins Barracks .
-The Munster v Leinster rugby match in Thomond park (I got tickets!).
-My twenty year secondary school reunion.
-Getting on the guest list to The Hitchers annual reunion gig.
-A week in Kerry at our house, during which we discovered that our water connection was illegal (long story), and we rescued an injured peregrine falcon, one of only three known to be on the Dingle Peninsula (who knew the Kerry SPCA was so magnificently responsive). We topped it all off by celebrating Maya's 3rd birthday, and teaching Natasha the intricacies of forty five (an Irish card game).

Oh... I also had one of the best vegetarian meals I have ever had at the Azur restaurant in Limerick (the carnivores with me raved about the steak). In Limerick, I tell you. Limerick. A meal worthy of a top San Francisco restaurant. In Limerick!

Then there was the awful flight home. Cian became fully ambulatory over the holiday, and was bound and determined to walk, climb, and wiggle for the whole 14 hour journey. He did somewhat make up for this by entertaining us during our lay over at O'Hare by toodling around like a genial, 15 month old drunk, calling"Hallo" (actually it was more like "Haddo"), to all and sundry.