Well deserved recognition

My grandmother received the Hall of Fame Award from RTE Radio 1 for her contributions to folk music. Here's to Sarah Makem. Her legacy lives on.


sarah and peter

Time to enjoy the good things

It’s quite likely that I’ll never be “on the road” again, and I’m content with that. Playing music is one of the most enjoyable careers there is, but don’t be fooled, a lot of it is a pain in the rump. The traveling will kill you. I dreaded airports more than most people probably do. It was just such a huge task packing up instruments, lugging everything through overcrowded terminals, hoping no one in our party would get bumped from the flight, waiting in interminable lines of irritated fellow travelers, many of whom were just plain rude and then nestling into the middle seat on every leg of a journey. Then you had to hope your instruments all came out the other end and that they were all in one piece.

Driving was a whole other experience. A bunch of men in a van for twenty hours can be fun when you’re young, but after two decades of it, it wore a little thin. We’d often travel for an entire weekend to play for a half hour or forty minutes. The shows were generally full of merriment and jollification. Generally. When the crowd’s with you, there’s nothing like performing on stage, but when they aren’t, it can be downright painful. I’ll admit there were a few times I couldn’t wait to be finished.

I’m still playing music, getting out to the occasional session here and there and singing around the old apartment, but it’s all on my terms now, which is a great stress reliever. It’s really put a lot of the joy back into music. There was a time when my life was completely upside down that I wondered if I’d ever enjoy it again. I guess I figured I eventually would again, but it didn’t always feel that way, if that makes any sense. I’ve also hit the airports a few times over the last couple years and let me tell you, it’s a lot easier traveling with just two people and backpacks. I take back roads instead of highways whenever I can now, even if it makes the trip a lot longer, and that, as Robert Frost might say, makes all the difference.

So I guess what I’m saying is that life throws everyone curve balls. I never thought I was capable of depression, but I discovered it a few years back. And then things got better.

Good craic for a great cause

A few songs all together

I spent Wednesday night with the better half at the Port Tavern in Newburyport, Mass. at a benefit for Irish performer extraordinaire Patsy Whelan. Patsy wasn’t there, but my good friend Tom O’Carroll (who was with his lovely wife Debbie) hosted the evening’s performances and I was thrilled that he asked me to sing a few songs.

The joint was packed with Patsy well-wishers, and a number of fellow musical performers joined in to complete the festive atmosphere. I played three or four songs, as did the rest of the musicians and singers and Tom kept the night moving like everyone’s favorite uncle. Much appreciation to the folks who cheered me on and to the other singers and players for helping out Patsy when he needed it, including, above clockwise from left, EJ Ouelette, Debbie O’Carroll, Frank Landford, Tom O’Carroll, Shay Walker, Tommy Courtney and me. Missing from the photo was the kindly and talented Brian Corcoran.

Conor singing a few

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