Copenhagen November 2018 

 

We had just come off a very hard number of tours, starting in the USA in June. A 22-date tour which took us halfway across the States. We came home and straight into an into an Irish tour. It felt like we played nearly every festival in the country that summer. The road was long and hard, but the craic was good. Late nights, late nights and more late nights were the order of the day. We played Cork on a regular basis that summer. It’s a place we have gained a huge following. The Friars Walk is a great spot for the band. The seats are full from early afternoon. The two owners, Pat and Ger, look after us well. Loads of tea, biscuits and friendship. In August of that year, we headed north, playing Belfast and Derry. Two cities where we find a massive crowd at our shows; they know and feel the social context of the songs. 

In September we were back in the air heading Stateside again. A 20-date tour playing festivals and venues. That was a long tour. But we were a match for it. The band was humming, each man giving 100%. Each man facing the puck out with a drive in his eye. We did some TV and radio interviews on that tour. Then it was back home for the Ploughing Championships in Tullamore and then on to a Scottish tour. It never stops. My memory is that the boat crossing from Belfast was very rough. We were operating on about four hours sleep a night. The Sham was in top form and keeping the craic and slagging going as Zak was embracing his new lifestyle. Paddy and myself were delighted to have the two lads on board and our shows reflected this. We were a full-time band earning a living playing our music and singing our songs. Our dream had come through. But we were working so hard for it. People don't understand the work a band have to put in: the planning, the travel, the late nights, the waiting. It's a waiting game. Waiting to be picked up. Waiting to get to the gig. Waiting for sound check. Waiting for show time. Waiting for food. Waiting for home time. It is all a waiting game. 

We came off the Scottish tour and had one date in Denmark. We had played Denmark a number of times before but never Copenhagen. As frontman of the band, it's my job to have the audience in the palm of my hand. Over the years I’ve developed my own way of doing this. It's a different story though when English is not the audience’s first language. There’s more to consider. The slight jokes and side comments sometimes don't translate. It was an early start, 4.30am as we headed for Dublin airport. We checked in and headed to the The Slaney Bar for breakfast. We hopped on the plane and headed for Copenhagen. As we landed each man in the band was a bit apprehensive as we had no idea what to expect. It was a theatre show. We needed to put the ball in the back of the net. We were playing The Portalan venue just outside the city. We claimed our baggage. It’s always a relief to find your instrument has arrived with you and it's in one piece! As we made our way to arrivals, we spotted a man standing there with an iPad and The Druids needing out of it. We made contact and before we knew it, we were in a 7 Seater heading for the theatre. Denmark is a country I like. It's free and easy and its people are happy to be part of the system. They have ownership. As we travelled thought the streets of Copenhagen this was very clear. People have a sense of purpose and are happy to be Danish. Very little poverty or homelessness, very little anger or need was on show. As we arrive at this purpose-built venue we were struck by its deliberate shape. It stood out. We walked in and it was striking, its feel and atmosphere were noticeable with state-of-the-art sound and lights. It was built for performance. We had a look around and met the manager and sound engineer. Then we were straight into soundcheck. Zak's sound can be a bit hard to get at times as he makes a lot of noise. He plays guitar but with an octave and much more. It can be tricky.  But the sound guys had us fairly fast. We played a few songs in soundcheck. When each man was happy, we then started the waiting game again. Waiting for show time. To our surprise we were taken backstage to the bands area. Now, we have been in green rooms before many times. They can range from a few chairs to a dressing room with a shower and tea-making facilities. What we encountered was just unreal. Each member of the band had his own dressing-room and shower. There was also a common area with couches and chairs. A man could sleep if he wanted to. There was even cooking facilities and a huge cooler with any drink you could think of. There was fruit and all manner of snacks. There was also a PlayStation with games, tv and internet. Just then a tech arrived with a menu for dinner. This is without question the most welcoming and comfortable green room we have ever encountered. Show time arrived and it was a packed house. We were nervous for sure. Our first song had them clapping strangely in time. When the first song ended the clapping continued. This was a bit strange at first. I had picked up a few Danish words from our other visits to Denmark. I told the audience I was learning Danish and gave them my full arsenal of Danish words which amounted to a total of three words. Tak meaning thanks, Manu Tak means many thanks, and Manu Tosan Tak means many thousand thanks. They loved it. We had them. We brought them up and down with emotion. My formula for a gig is this: make the audience laugh, make them cry, tell them something they already know, and tell them something they don't know. Ball in the back of the net. It was a brilliant night. One we won't forget. We got a standing ovation at the end and played two encores. After the show we spoke to people at the merch stall for as long as they wanted to. Then back to our minimalist hotels. The beds were so comfortable. It was one of our best shows of 2018. 

Denmark we will be back. 

Mick O Brien

Covid brings us to our knees.  

Covid brings us to our knees. 

It’s a tough time at the moment, with the news that our cruise out of Florida USA is cancelled, we were expecting it for sure. its like another nail in the coffin of the slow and painful demise of musicians during this pandemic. 

The van doesn’t roll anymore, the gear is locked away, the leads are in storage , the merch only has a small trickle from online sales , the banter on the way to shows has stopped , the fast ironing of shirts is not more, the serenity prayer before the show is silenced and the music is turned down low. 

I fell into a hole in august and could not get out, 12 years of movement across the world studently on March 14th stopped. Its as dark as it has been for many years. Hope evaded me, light evaded me, the struggle was real. I crawled my way out of it in September as there was no where else to go. Its hard to explain our lifestyle, the movement, the brotherhood, the backs against the wall, the dreams of the dreamer, and to the dreamer they are real.  

As a traveling band member our norms are that of a subculture for many of us we don’t fit in the real world, nor do we want to, for many of us the idea of been normal doesn’t sit well on our restless shoulders. It is not that we are irresponsible, in fact quite the opposite, as many of us have huge responsibility. nor is it that we do not care, as we all have the ability to care deeply. We live our life’s differently. The ritual of the show is where we come alive, the sound check is magic, the dressing room is our home, the road is where we are at peace within our soul. The coffee shops, the late-night service stations, the 4am home time is where we live. 

The making of music is such a powerful thing, the development of a song or a set is like building a house. Bit by bit, stage by stage, and then to play it in front of an audience is like , people seeing your new house you built with your own hands for the first time its nervy and exciting . 

We have started the process of recording and studio album which indeed was a great move it is moving along nicely. It is keeping our hands in the pie. The truth is this we do not know when we will play in front of an audience again will it be 2021, I really hope so. live music part of the human condition, it feeds the soul. 

We hope and look forward to that day . 

Mick

21 years of Sin E on the Radio 

Radio is my first media love, I love listening in the car as I drive on long trips to gigs or other places. Late date on Radio 1 is a favourite of mine. In particular Angus Mcnally presenting. I love local radio too. It's parochial, and current. At 13 years old I d take our big radio out., Rob battaries from other appliances and head for the field beside our council housing estate. It was two fields up towards the watch house hill. It had a tree in the middle of it. That's where I'd be on a Sunday afternoon when the waters were choppy at home. I get lost in Larry Gogans top 30. Madness were my band, little did Sugges and the boys know that in ballycanew Co Wexford there was a young lad willing them on. As they toured the world. That's the power of radio. 

A few years later on a Saturday night as I'd be getting ready for some serious drinking, I'd listen to Tony Keogh on South East radio, hoping he'd play a ballad or a folk song.  Christy Walsh on CKR was my favourite presenter. He had a magic way of bring the listener in. It was a morning show with many different items on it. From making Christmas pudding to current news stories. His ability to make everything local was impressive. 

Gay Byrne was also a presenter of interest for me. I would not have signed up to any of his own views but he was the master of the Interview. He would land a question which was out of the blue. It would force the interviewee to drop their gaurd and get Honset. For example I heard him ask christy Moore one night on the late late show, they were in a conversation about how he tours now. Our of the blue gay asks, in the old days did you put up the posters your self?. This question brought the interview to a different level. Christy going on to explain. Now a days everything is done for me, even the guitar is restrung for me, everyday. That was the power of gay been able to get those insights. 

I first was on radio way back in the 1980s, on South East Radio. It was a. Programme about young people's views. My next time on Dublin South Community Radio. I fell in love with radio presenting. I then moved to Dublin City Fm and 21 years later, its still my retreat, my ecaspe, my platform expression, my place to develop and learn.  I love it.  Sin E has taken on alive of its own, there are no play lists, I'm greatful for the freedom I have to play the music I want to. 

To have had the oppertunity to interview all the greats of Irish folk music over the years has been an honour. From christy Moore to Damien Dempsey, from Jimmy Mccarthy to Christie Heneessy, from Luka Bloom to Frank Harte and the list is a who's who's of the folk sence. We have also started many bands and singers over the years. Many of them getting their first radio experience with Sin E. 

Tonight we celebrate 21 years. I've no idea what's hapoenening on the show as Lar Flynn is driving tonight. All I can say is its been. My pleasure.

The Druids Live at The Motor City Irish Festival ,, New album 

It was warm, very warm indeed . Hitting about 36.c  There was a real sense of welcome for us in the great city of Detroit . This city feels right to me . There's a kindness that hangs in the air . It has a name for been a tough city and I'm sure it is , but so is Dublin or Cork. Poverty is the great remover , it removes common sense . People act in a manner which they would not in the normal run of things . Crime and law breaking are for the most part a result of poverty. The justice system is there to deal with the poor , as it does not apply the same law to the wealthy.

 
We have always found a very strong welcome and comradeship in The Motor City . Henry Ford who people were from Cork has left his mark on this town . Indeed there is an area in Detroit called Corktown . 


Our decision to record a live album at The Motor City Irish Festival was a no brainer . The audience there love what we do . We interact with them and they responded . We provide narrative and they come with us , we provide tears and they cry them we provide humour and they laugh . They provide a sense of welcome and belonging and we dive in . 


When listening to this live album , you will feel like your in the audience , Eric from Solid Sound done a fantastic job . The waves of emotion , when Gary sings Back Home in Derry is palpable. The joy in The Irish Rover is powerful , The sadness in North and South is felt by all . 
The is live album has exceed all our expectations. Order you copy today on www.paypal.me/thedruids    18e including p&p from Ireland and Europe  20e including p&p USA 2

Hard men for the road Ten years ,  

This month we celebrate Ten years on the road. We played our first gig as The Druids  on May 9 th 2009. It was bar in Gary's home town.The Corner House in Clane Co Kildare . The place was packed the local crowd coming out to see one of their own in action . We were a 3 peice band Paddy Gary and Mick . We rocked the place , and many times after that . Huge crowds attended that first gig and many of them are still coming . We had no idea what was in store for us . Scotland , Spain , Belgium , Germany, England , Denmark , and up to 25 states in the USA . We have clocked up huge mileage . 13 hour drives in the states come to mind . Magic drives up throught the Hudson valley , crazy night drives in the Highlands of Scotland . Very late nights in Ireland . They are all part of the journey .

We have had 8 members of the band over the ten years .  Mick ,Zak , Paddy, Gary, Broz, Darren , Jim , and Fran .All of which brought the own brilliant talent and personality. We thank them all for their contribution. The motivation is still the same the drive is still there the idea is the same . Been in the band has not been easy at times , as we made life difficult for our self's now and then . In fact there has been times when we were close to been no more , but some how with the support of good people we struggled on. Big thank you to you all . You know who you are .

Today the band is in good shape , working on new songs and music . Some great things are just around the corner . So thanks to our families and friends to the venues who book us to the agents who trust us to the people who come to see us .

Thanks . Here's to the next ten years

The Road Diary March 2017 

A bright New York Friday morning March 18 th . We load up the van and point it to Detroit Michigan . The GPS says it 9 hrs 48 mins . The lads are in good sprits after a marathon gig yesterday over 7 hours of playing to people who numbered in their thousands . There were people at the show from back home Kildare Dublin Galway the usual Mayo crew and two young girls from Kilanick Wexford who broke my heart looking for Dancing at the cross roads . Others in the crowd came from Spain , Brazil , Boston , Glasgow, Queens and the list goes on . Flippy was our sound man and has been for the five paddys days . He has all the musicians jokes . But he's good and get us to where we want to be fast . St Patrick's Day is an interesting one for us as we celabrate irishness every show we play , we are part of its culture , we respect it's history and its developments .  There was a lot of drink consumed yesterday . Many people crashed and burned while many others didn't . There is a great respect for the Irish in New York our taxi driver last night told us how here loves Irish fares . They tip well and are good fun . We are now two hours outside of New York as we cross New Jersey . 

One of the lads is asleep while our minds think of food . Paddy likes to push on he would drive all day and night . Been in a band is all about understanding each other . Give and take . I think we do that well. Patrick Johnson has brought us to Detoirt  he believes in us he sees our conviction and our commitment . His love of our culture shines through . It's amazing where music has brought us from working class  council estates in both wexford and kildare to crossing multi states to play a show . The Druids started out as an idea which at best we would play a few gigs locally . How wrong could I have been . There has been tough days for sure .days when people turned their back on us days when our future looked bad . Some how or other we struggled on. Now as we drive route 80 and the GPS reads 7 hrs 49 mins to Detroit it all feels worth it . Because we stuck to what we feel is right . Worth it because expressions of culture should not be confided to what the establishment wants it to be . Worth it because it feels right . 

At this point we are fed and watered.  The music on is Makem and Clancy live in Dublin  on I tunes so it's lashing out in the van . Tommy and Liam are class I'm a big fan this album in particular is outstanding it captures the live contcert great . my understanding is that Tommy never drank in his life just like paddy . Laim stopped drinking and died sober . Laim is now singing the band played waltzing Matilda , what a great story teller he is . Did they ever think when they recorded that concert in Dublin in the late 70 s that 40 years later that group of shams would be listening to them as they crossed the states 

The GPS reads 6 hrs 26 mins to Detroit . Place names like Danvile and Sunbury flash as we belt it down the I 80 at 80 miles an hr. The landscape is changing , open spaces dotted with traditional shaped barns and water towers . Eagles fly at tree level looking for their dinner.  so yeah more Makem and Clancy . 

GPS reads 4 hrs 59 mins to Detroit half way there . The lorry convoys are getting longer . I counted 19 trucks in a row .they bomb it down the highway 75 miles per hour .  we are now looking for another Wal-Mart.  The road kill is made up of raccoons and small deer. The road signs read Penfeild exit 11 . The Furyes are now playing on the van . Eddie and Geogre two of the most underrated Irish singer . They are just class . 

GPS reading 3 hrs 40 mins to Detroit . Another Wal-Mart stop . I got a mp 3 player for $20 .  The chat in a he van about Slim Shady , Paddy is thinking about looking him up for a mug of Tae. Brier are on the I pod a band from the 80 s not to bad at all . 

GPS reading 2hrs 35 mins to Detroit . Paddy back in the driving seat . As the light gives way to the dark the Ohio sky looks majestic . For those who know . I'm very aware that my friend Bill W set up camp in these parts and I'm very glad he did . The time now reads 20 .09 hrs we left NYC at 10. 30 this morning . The spirts are good . Detroit is in reach and the bed is calling . The trucks roll on the cars rush to and from work and we are going to sing some ballads . Just got word from Patrick Johnston our man in Detroit the gig is sold out . That's a great feeling it's a far cry from when we came to the states first. Are we doing ok . I think so 

GPS reading 1 hr 16 to Detroit .just made another stop at a highway services . Hundreds of trucks line the car park they have a tough life those truckers . The cops Hoover around the car park . Are we kindred sprits truckers cops musicians . We live at night move from place to place . We are now listening to Semuse McGroary a singer from Donegal now living in Philadelphia. He played at the after party of our gig in Ardmore Music Venue earleir this week . I like his version of home to my Donegal great song . The boys have just now turned on a local radio station it's called Outlaw Country . I'm not a country fan . The chat now is as follows , is there a time difference in Detroit we don't have an answer . The lads seems to think there is . I don't think so . 

GPS reading 31 mins to Detroit . As we roll into Detroit I'm thinking about how many other Irish bands have made this same trip in . The Clancys , The Wolfe Tones , The Furyes, Paddy Reilly or Brendan Grace . How many Irish people made their way here to build a new life . How many failed . How many made it . The lights of Detoirt burn the skyline as the sign posts read Rockwood .  We are live at the AOH Hall tomorrow night Saturday March 19 th . 

Hope you enjoyed the read . 

Mick