Out of the corner of my eye I spot this camera, and then move on.
Out of the corner of my eye I spot this camera, and then move on.
Martin Nolan and I are doing a series of five concerts in ten days while he's over here from Dublin in March for a few weeks. We've just played to a nice audience at the Brentwood Bay Village Empourium - a full house, and are looking for some place to grab a bite to eat. I usually don't eat much before I sing and stay away from dairy products and cider as they tend to gum up the vocals.
At 10:30pm or so on the Saanich Peninsula there isn't much of a choice, actually nothing is open, so we follow the long and winding road back towards View Royal on the outskirts of Victoria. The only place open seems to be a Mac's so we pull in. I'm just about to grab a tuna sandwich when Martin spots a sign. "Hot Dogs 4 for $10". After about 15 minutes slathering various condiments on mostly ourselves, we depart and head for Chris and Betty's (in-laws) place where we have graciously been offered a bed, as we play a house concert in James Bay area the following night.
So there we are at 11:30pm chowing down on a pound each of rubbery who-knows-what washed down with red wine and already feeling the possible onset of the roaring farties. Surprisingly we don't die in our sleep and set out for a day of rambling and adventure in Victoria once Martin does a patch job on his uilleann pipes which seem to be losing air faster than he can pump it in.
Martin is happy with his emergency purchase of a shirt for tonight's concert. His own is sitting proudly on the back of a door in Nanaimo. Obviously the check list of essentials was not very thorough. So we're almost ready to set up for the concert but again have to attend to wants of nature and we are in search of grub. We drive around a bit and Martin has a yen for fish and chips. We're in James Bay area and I spot a place, a tiny little hole in the wall just up from the liquor store. I tell Martin that although I know the area, I've never heard anything about this place. So we take our halibut and chips to the Dallas Rd. waterfront and with a million dollar view in front of us we wade through possibly the worst bundle of grease and grunge we've ever experienced. "You can't eat scenery" is an expression from back home, but in this case we'd have been better off.
Life on the road can be a great experience but I'm reminded again that to do it well there's a certain amount of thought and planning involved to avoid the heebee-jeebees and to stay healthy.
Onwards and upwards.
Somewhere in my head a faucet gets turned on. Both hands are occupied so the luxury of a quick blow, wipe and chuck away of a kleenex is not on the cards. This is definitely an oh-oh moment. I can feel the slow trickle starting inside the bridge of my nose, the left nostril beginning to itch as a tiny trickle follows its gravitational pull and loiters momentarily beyond view. Then, even as I try to be inconspicuous about about snorffling it back home to safety, it makes its descent to the tip of my lip before dripping onto the stage. Oh my God, I can't stop now! I'm in the instrumental part of "The Streets of Derry". I can see Kelly, the organizer looking anxiously in my direction as I begin the next verse with sounds of burbling suffocation between the words. "I thought you were done in at that stage", he says to me afterwards, "and I was wondering what the hell I was going to do."
So, gratefully for all concerned, I get to the end of the song wondering how many in the audience noticed. How could they not notice? So I turn my back to them, give the schnoz the old finger and thumb squeeze, a discreet wipe on the jeans... what the hell else do you do when the nearest paper towel is somewhere at the far end of a corridor... turn back into the lights and say "My nose is the only part of me that's got any exercise lately. It's been running for the last two weeks."
Next song. The voice somehow manages to behave itself , not having to compete for air with a litre of whatever. And so on to the end of the gig. I perform "Trucker" live for the first time and it goes down well. I do "Cuckoo" to show off and "Could it be Love?" so folks can join in. As an encore I do "Look at Yourself" another quite new song and follow up with the sing along "Wild Mountain Thyme" which seems to be the song in which even non singers, young and old, babies and battle-hardened, boozers and banana juice drinkers can join.
I'm happy to have survived, Kelly is relieved that I survived, and the good folk of the Cowichan Folk Guild are probably somewhat unaware of being this close to entertaining themselves for the last hour of the night. Onwards and upwards.
A bright, chilly, sunny Sunday morning, when most active musicians are probably still blissfully unconscious from Saturday night's exertions, and I'm stepping out of my car parked in front of the Queen's in downtown Nanaimo. Sad to see a form huddled asleep under blankets beneath the building overhang and an old guy with his trolley scavenging butts along the sidewalk. But that's the area - a lot of homeless and hopeless people in this gritty area.
With my two guitars, I hustle around the corner, down the China Steps at Lois Lane to the gated doors of the studio where I can see Pam, at the controls since 9:00, and wait to catch her eye. She's already played a couple of songs from my 1997 CD inspirationally titled "Terry Boyle" as part of her "Songwriters' Circle" gig. She's a great promoter of local music.
A wave, and a hug once she unlocks the door and I'm dragging my guitars out to acclimatize them, wondering what format the interview will take. She asks what song I'd like her to play as an intro and I suggest "Rider to the Sea" - not the usual ones from the CD like "Cuckoo" or "Could it be Love". We chat about the song which describes a fishing tragedy and i add a few details to flesh out the story.
Live off the floor I sing "Loop" a new song for the first time. It's about the people who are left behind when a loved one is finally overcome by their demons. "Not every soul has a wish to be saved".
We chat away as "To the Beat of a Drum" plays in the background and i mention a couple of other songs I've written. Pam takes a particular interest in "Young" dedicated to a couple of teens who took their own lives after enduring prolonged bullying on social media. I hadn't intended to sing it but that's where the ball bounced.
To change the dynamic which is becoming a bit too "down" I then do "Life's Too Short", a song about the mad times playing sessions in the pubs of County Clare. I'm also plugging my upcoming gigs with Martin Nolan in March. I've put up posters about our concerts in St. Andrew's Church, Nanaimo and also in Ladysmith's First United Church. She plays a track from Martin's CD of uilleann pipes music.
I can't believe I'm so chatty, almost hyper during the interview. For someone who prefers to play and listen rather than talk, I've more than used up my daily quota of words, as I'm told when i get home. But Pam makes it easy with her relaxed, philosophical style of presentation and interview. She opens the door and provides a mood which invites conversation.
Has it been an hour already? She'd asked for thirty minutes and I feel like I could go on for another hour. She's already invited me back to showcase the new CD or EP which I've said is at the preliminary stages, meaning I still have to record and choose the best of the bunch on my extravagant budget.
We hug, say goodbye and Pam is off into hour three of her Sunday morning. A lady who has just arrived to volunteer asks me where she can get a listen to "Young" again and I direct her to my website, where you are now. Slan go Foill.