You call that busy?

Saturday was a very active day. I offered to go for a mooch as Emma calls it around Drogheda. A Mooch is Emma’s word for window shopping. Believe me! Window shopping for someone who can’t see the window never mind what’s behind it is as interesting as watching paint dry. But, Emma attempts to solve this by showing me every! Single! Item of clothing that she takes an interest in. Ah, it’s not bad actually. It’s worse when people don’t show you anything. You’re left standing there in a world of your own while the person you’re with ogles over things their looking at twenty feet away.

I took her for lunch in a small restaurant down a narrow pedestrian street later that day. For the life of me, I cant remember what it was called. But, they do the nicest stake ever!

While doing a bit more mooching, I got a call from a friend. He asked if I’d be interested in doing a gig with him that night. It gets interesting though. When he called me, he had no one else organised. He forgot he had the booking so didn’t have the usual line up. The couple hadn’t even asked for a piper but he knew he could rely on me to pull things together musically if he got musicians that hadn’t played music with us before. He had to organise a base player, a drummer and a guitar player / singer. Luckily, Paul, our usual base player was available. This fella is without a doubt one of the best base players in the country. He can make it talk! He can play everything from pop, rock, jazz, blues, and country to Irish traditional. On drums we had Gary. We hadn’t played with him at all before in fact, I don’t know where Conor found him at all! But he was fantastic. Aside from Alphrid, a drummer that I don’t get to play music with often enough, he’s probably one of the best drummers I’ve heard around Ireland. Some would call his style too busy but I liked it. It was very technical but there was a lot of great improvisation in his playing that really suited. Although he and Paul never met before their percussive styles matched very well. Finding a guitar player and singer was much more difficult. We called over 40 people between us. From Belfast to Dublin we exhausted all our contacts. At such short notice no one was available. An hour before we had to leave for the gig we got a call. Our normal guitar player already knew about the gig and because he knew he couldn’t do it he organised someone else that he knew locally to stand in for him. Olly was his name and he was brilliant. He had done his research and had a lot of our normal set list learned off. He made it his own though by throwing some others into the mix too. It all went very well. He was able to relax into our style very quickly.

So, with a replacement drummer and guitar player / singer, we still got the normal sound of the willing fools.

The bride and groom were ecstatic at the end of it. Very few people were not up on the floor dancing by the end as well so it was a great result.

But, as Connor said while we were carrying the equipment in, “ok, we’ve proven that we can pull a gig out of the bag within a few hours with everything going against us time and time again! Just once I’d like to turn up for a gig without putting together a new band.” He’s right! There’s nothing we haven’t had to plan around.

I’ll have to tell you about the five hour search for a guitar string in Israel during their Sabbath day which is a Saturday that resulted in a visit to some random person’s house and getting lost in a multi story underground car park that had been locked from the outside. But that’s for another boring morning while commuting to work on the train.

Back to this weekend, the wedding was in the most fantastic hotel I’ve ever seen. It’s a place called Darver castle and it’s about ten to fifteen miles south of Dundalk. Huge stone walls, ornate floors, massive archways and very large rooms make this place a site to behold. Getting to the castle is a funny drive. You go down nice main roads for a while then you turn down this road that is just about big enough for a car to get through. It is one of those very old roads with grass in the middle. You meet the three huge gates to the castle after a few minutes. When you go in through the gates you drive through a huge expansive driveway. It’s such a world apart from any other hotel I’ve ever been to.

A picture taken from the Darver castle website showing the side of the castle.  The lush grounds surrounding it are also seen.