With the month of Thanksgiving upon us, I thought I’d start a series of posts updating you with some of the cool things that have happened us over the previous weeks.
I don’t really share enough on a regular basis and a lot of those cool things are because of you guys - and that needs celebrated.
As it’s the first one, we’ll cover the year to date.
The year kicked off pretty with a solo show that I had the idea for at the end of 2017. I performed it for the first time at The Warming House in January. My History Of The North was a show based around the musical influences I had while growing up - The great punk music that was coming alive in the late 70’s and the country and traditional Irish that my mum would sing to me at home. The show sold out and the feedback made my insides glow! And not only that, Mr Henry Cluney from Stiff Little Fingers showed up to watch. We haven’t really seen each other since I did some shows with his band Ground Zero back in the 90’s. It was an amazing endorsement to the show, as I featured a number of songs from Belfast bands, including Alternative Ulster by SLF.
We were quiet for a little while, due to Jay needing to take a break and Pete was having some sort of horrific eye surgery done (It wasn’t horrific… just sounded gross!). While that was happening I played a show with my good pals The Drunk Uncles at the local venue, The Acadia. It’s good to crank the music up with the three piece, but it’s also good to carry it solo, now and again. It was fun.
March, of course, used to bring a few shenanigans and so I reconnected with the Hounds Of Finn and we played a bunch of shows up at Charlie’s Irish Pub. I’m not much for the relative mess that St Patrick’s celebrations bring, but on the Friday night, I got together with Pete McCauley. With zero rehearsal, we played as a duo and did a great couple of hours, with plenty of laughs and any number of soul affirming moments. It was good to look out into the crowd and see people singing along to their favorite Hounds songs.
Later in the month, I also headed out with them to a wonderful little venue in Illinois called the Maple Street Chapel. They have some fantastic artists come through there and I was glad to be part of it. Plus, I genuinely enjoy long drives with Mrs Rich - We talk, plan and change the world on every car journey!
At the end of April I took a trip home to see the folks. The best part of this trip by far, was taking a vacation within a vacation to Rathmullen, up on the north coast of Ireland. My mum got interested in the logistics of posting a video to the world, the results of which you can check out here - https://youtu.be/FU-RW39cLzg. I’ve never captured my family and myself singing before, even though we do it quite regularly when I’m home. It still puts a smile on my face!
Of course, with May being my birthday month, I got to be birthday KING for 31 days, so….
On June 1st the second show of History Of The North was performed at the Celtic Junction in St Paul. Turnout and response just blew me away. So much so, that we spent 2 hours singing songs and telling stories and time just disappeared.
During the summer, Jay stepped down after 21 years of being the RSC’s bass player. We’ve been with him on his journey for three years dealing with some family sickness and he needed to take time. From that one heavy duty downer though, we’ve met some outstanding musicians that want to step in to the void. We’ve had a great time playing rock’n’roll with them and although we haven’t made our way through all the auditions yet, we’re confident that we’ll find someone that feels like part of the family and we’ll make some great music together.
August brought Irish Fair. This year I amazed myself by forming a band specifically to perform on the River Stage. IFMN gave me a really sweet spot on the River Stage at 6pm - A perfect time of day. So, I wanted to make sure I did something special. Myself and Pete Boulger got together with Michelle from Hounds Of Finn and Kelsey Hannington and Neil Gunn from the Gunn Slingers. We put a set together of some Leslie Rich originals, some classic Belfast punk music and some high energy Celtic tunes. I really wasn’t sure how it was going to go as we only had two full band rehearsals, due to everyone’s schedules. But on the day, it was pretty magic - You get a bunch of passionate professionals on the stage and it’s pretty cool what you can accomplish. The stage was packed and the audience made us feel invincible!
The amazing, Jennifer Rich designed merch sold well also, with about half of our t-shirts selling through and a good couple of dozen CD’s over the course of the weekend.
The following week, Pete and I had another highlight. We had a show booked at the Hook & Ladder and we made the decision to just perform as a duo. I hooked up a pretty cool stereo guitar rig to try and fill out the space and the show was great! We were pretty pleased with ourselves at being able to pull it off. There weren’t a lot of people there, but we were playing for ourselves anyway. When you do something like that, it makes you feel like you can do anything - A nice cap on the summer!
That’s everything up to date I think. Pete and I will plug away, writing and finding our new guy. I’ll check in with you again next month, but meanwhile, look after yourself and the ones you love!