Although it was a mild winter, I was laid up by an unidentified virus for a long chunk of January and February. Sad news of the death of old friend, Iain Campbell, took me to London in March. Campbell was a great Scottish singer and multi-instrumentalist (and fellow lifelong socialist) probably best known as Stealers Wheel bassist on the classic Stuck In The Middle With You. Several of my fellow band members from Juice On The Loose, LILT and the Alias band turned up for the funeral. Despite the circumstances, it was a joyous affair - a real celebration of life of which Iain would have thoroughly approved - and ended up on stage a few nights later as a delightful gig with Charlie Hart, Les Morgan, Frank Mead, Jimmy Roach and Phil Scragg. These five occasionally play together in London as the Equators with my old pal and fellow Juicer and LILTer, Ed Deane, and have a superb CD called Masansani Club. Great to play with you guys again. Speculation about a Juice reunion felt somewhat premature but it was a super band and we're all still friends so who knows? Watch this space...
Juice On The Loose
Dan's piping session
April brought much disappointment that the Doran weekend - one of the highlights of Ireland's trad music calendar - was to be discontinued. However, by way of keeping the Clare piping scene on the simmer, Blackie O'Connell commenced a weekly session at Dan's in Ennis which, in its first couple of months, has featured guest pipers inc. Mickey Dunne, Mick Coyne and Leonard Barry alongside Blackie himself (all four of whom have appeared on recordings of mine). I have enjoyed playing these sessions so much that I will continue to do so as long as other commitments allow. Now, if only John Rooney could make it over...
The Fleadh Nua had several very memorable moments not least of which was the tribute concert to the late, great fiddler Bobby Casey. At Bobby's daughter Angela's request I participated with a group of musicians known to each other from years on the London scene - Danny Meehan, John Carty, Angela Creehan and Paul Gallagher. A great pleasure and privilege to perform on stage with such wonderful players who have helped create and perpetuate the London Irish tradition. From the first open round-the-table sessions which originated in Camden Town in post-WW2 London, musicians such as these have created a unique potpourri sound which brought together different regional instrumental and singing styles from every corner of Ireland and shaped the modern cross-regional style which has developed in Irish music over the past seven decades. That's all for now...
Slain go foill,
Ruarai O Caomhanach (Alias Ron Kavana)
The "Jig Is Up" concert, Left-to-right: R.K., Siobhan Peoples, Niamh Parsons, Paddy Keenan, Lunasa (behind), Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny & Sharon Shannon Trio.