My Friends. Alot has happened in the past year. I had originally planned to share music with you back in March but the lockdown dashed all hopes. This was followed by the joy of my wife and I having twin girls in April. Inevitably some sleepless nights followed. Whenever I could, I went live on Instagram/Facebook/Youtube to keep in touch with you all. The new songs were ready to go but I wasn't!
The studio was calling. Eventually Breifne Holohan and I spent a week in Gerrards Church in August and tracked the new album. The album will be called Welcome to Ballsgrove.
Ballsgrove is a small terraced housing estate originally owned by Drogheda Council after being purchased from the Ball family estate in the 1950s. The project gave people the opportunity to own their homes. Much like in Liverpool or Glasgow, a tenants association was established and a thriving community was grown on the back of it.
My Father grew up Ballsgrove. My Granny still lives there. I was born and raised in Ballsgrove. We left when I was 15. If one place could be testament to the soar of the Baby Boomer generation then it is Ballsgrove. Countless families thrived here and the range of social backgrounds made it a place where you just couldn't be a snob. The 'pallet of colour' I talk about in the title track Welcome to Ballsgrove (out October 23rd) made me who I am today.
Probably the most unique part about Ballsgrove was how the green fields of the Boyne Valley stared at us all from in between the rows of houses. Rural countryside was two fields away when I was a child. We just called it 'the fields', my Dad or Godfather would say 'you coming the fields?'. This is what makes regional towns in Ireland so special. Killarney, Dundalk and Newry all have places like this where concrete meets the cows. You can have graffiti and green hills all in one eyeline. A friend mentioned to me how this was Patrick Kavanagh's kind of setting. The great Irish poet Kavanagh pondered the parochial and regional mindsets in alot of his work. Hearing this rekindled my grá for poetry again. And it put a bit of wind in my sails too!
So I'm about to start sharing all my hard work with you. And of course I am nervous about it in an almost child like way. My debut album Dreaming is Allowed was essentially a live album overdubbed with other instruments. Dreaming is Allowed was existential. Welcome to Ballsgrove is parochial. It will charge down the neighbourhood, take you away from there for a while and then slip you back there feeling good about the journey.
Keep your eyes peeled for the Video for the first single, "Welcome to Ballsgrove" on 23rd October.
Stay positive in all this virus nonsense. Your mindset will always win the day. Remember what people will remember you for.
Keep the faith brothers and sisters,