This interview was originally published on LaoisToday in 2018.
John Davidson, Shane Booth and Ros O’Meara are three Laois men who have taken their love of world folk music to England, Holland and France and look set to do even more incredible things this year.
They are performing at the Limerick Fringe Festival in April and dream of one day headlining Vicar Street.
Here the band talk about personal sacrifices, new recordings and a strange incident which involved playing a gig in a dairy farm.
How did you get involved in music?
It’s something that starts as an interest and develops into an obsession over time. We have all been involved in music from an early age with friends and family, radio and bought music over the years.
Most, if not all, people are involved in some way in music but those who become musicians get caught by or fascinated by the inner workings of the sounds and instruments that they hear.
We were all very lucky that we were given instruments and exposed to music.
There is definitely an element of support that keeps you going and makes the journey more sustainable. Encouragement and support from family and loved ones over the years is a big part of what helps to keep you going.
There’s a lot of personal sacrifice made to maintain the creating, recording and touring processes involved in trying to get your own music out of the practice space to concerts goers and other listeners.
What are your fondest musical memories?
As a group we’ve been privileged to have played support to Andy Irvine, The Fureys and Hazel O’Connor.
Organising and touring our England, Holland and France in 2017 – from the venues played to the people met along the way was an amazing experience.
But top of the bill has to be the recording and subsequent launch night of the new album. It was a particularly special moment to share what we had created with such a large showing of support from our locality.
The fans of the music, family and friends combined with the setting of the venue and the help of all who made the show possible. It was magic.
What is your favourite thing about being musicians- recording new music or performing live?
It’s being able to write music. There’s a lot to like and most aspects of being a musician are very positive but the creative process definitely jumps to the fore.
It’s great to share this process as a group.
What has personally been your biggest achievement to date?
Where we are right now is a very exciting time for the band. We are receiving incredibly flattering reviews and radio play and just general positive attention as well as some great upcoming gigs.
The sense of achievement comes with the fact that we have done all of this ourselves.
It’s such a rewarding feeling to experience something that you have created develop and be accepted and understood by an audience.
How do you perform in front of large crowds?
It’s all in practice and preparation. There is always nerves and worries but that is when you completely rely on the hours of practice to get you through the excitement and gather a flow in the performance.
Has there been any particularly funny or interesting events that have happened to in your career?
There have been lots of interesting people and venues. Doing overnight and day long driving on a three person rota makes for some funny pit stop changeovers. We get some unusual onlooker moments at toll bridges.
The most interesting would have to be playing a gig in a dairy farm full of mannequins and prams which included an on sight horror tour and a clock and iron museum.
Most memorable performance?
Our last album launch in the Dunamaise Arts Theatre. Thanks again to everyone involved.
Who has had the greatest influence on your career?
We couldn’t possibly pinpoint it to one person or people. Everyone you listen to, speak to and play with contributes to your developmental experience. From artists to teachers to family and friends.
If we had to mention a particular artist or group it would probably be Planxty or the Johnstons. The latter definitely opened our minds to a capella performance as a folk group.
If you could sing with any musician, alive or dead, who would it be?
If we had to pick two each on the spot…..
John: Kate Bush or Nick Drake
Shane: Joni Mitchell or Led Zeppelin
Ros: John Martyn or Foy Vance
If you could play any venue or event, what would it be?
To headline show Vicar Street.