A week from now, I play The Sugar Club in Dublin city. I last played this beautiful venue in 2006, almost ten years ago, for the release of my first record “Wood”. It’s crazy how much has changed since then. It’s a whole new cast of characters, a whole new bag of atoms, instruments and songs! I was 22 years old then and bringing my very first record into the world. It was a good night and an exciting time. I must have been nervous as hell because I remember breaking a string on the very first song! I never break strings.
Sadly, two of the musicians that played on that night in 2006 have passed away in the last years – Vinny Baker (who was my musical mentor and great friend, and who produced the album we were launching that evening) and Cani Bruton, a fantastic bassist and long time friend who played on my first two albums. Both are hugely missed and have left deep holes in man peoples lives. I’m sure some of their spirit will be in the music next week. In fact, recently I had the opportunity to acquire one of Vinny’s acoustic guitars, It’s a stunning instrument and I’ll be playing it next week, trying to do the great man proud!
The venue is beautiful with a great vibe and warm, clear sound. I’ve seen some great shows there in the last years. Among them Jazz singer Gregory Porter (one of the most amazing singers I’ve ever heard in the flesh), fellow Irish songwriter Rhob Cunningham, and most recently the mind-bendingly good Snarky Puppy. The room has the feeling of a classy old cinema or theatre, with it’s comfortable tiered seats, oval tables and wood pannelled walls.
For this gig on June 20th, I have the good fortune to be joined by the stupendously talented Nicky Brennan on electric gutar and Darren Sweeney on Bass. We’ll mostly be playing songs from the “Outlines” and “Overhead the Stars” records, along with a couple of brand new ones that I’m enjoying playing recently.
With a week to go I’m starting to feel that usual mixture of and excitement that comes with putting on a big show. On a Saturday night in our Capital City… I’m not nervous about the performance, the stage is where I feel the most at home and comfortable… the most relaxed. The songs are in good shape after two months of touring here and abroad. The guitars have just been re-strung. I’ve done good advertising, having put probably more money than is sensible into postering in the city and online stuff too… I’ve individually reached out to almost everyone I know and told them of the gig.
But yet, there is still the worry. The nervousness comes from that little voice in my head that Steven Pressfield calls “resistance”. Resistance appears whenever you try something bold, whenever you create something, whenever you go out on a limb… For me the voice says things like “
1. Nobody’s coming to your show.
2. Nobody cares what you have to sing about.
3. Bob Dylan already wrote all the songs.
4. Everybody is going to see the Script instead.
5. Acoustic guitars are stupid.
6. Art is stupid.
7. Why don’t you get a real job.
8. Nobody’s coming to your show.”
But that’s not real, it’s just the resistance talking, the fear. As an artist you can’t let the fear get to you. Instead we do the show, we keep believing, we make the art, we sing from our f**king hearts and no matter what we a never ever give up. That is the only thing that matters. To have the chance to sing to people and to bring some joy to their evening is a very special thing and I’m thankful for that.
I’m so excited to sing some songs with friends in the Sugar Club next week.
Hope you can be there with us and bring all your song loving friends along.