Music provides us with wonderful opportunities, not least to travel the world.  While I am very used now to following an institutional calender - be it teaching in a secondary school or now at Dundalk Institute of Technology - I am fortunate to still have the opportunities to perform and tour.  This Easter I joined two of my great mates from the Kingdom, Conor Moriarty and Leonard Casey, to form the band Southbound.

Last year was significant for the three of us as individuals as we each released albums.  Leonard's band Oracle released Life Changes, a contemporary music album featuring songs written by various members of the band. Conor, the 2010 All-Ireland senior button accordion champion released his debut solo recording All in a day’s play and I recorded a duet album with John Cronin entitled Midleton Rare (see Tony's review here:  While these were separate projects, we have been playing together for years - everything from local pub gigs and céilís to a memorable tour to Venezuela with Siamsa Tíre.

The National Folk Festival in Canberra is something else entirely! Indeed we hardly left the festival site for five days (or nights).  The organisation, facilities and audiences were incredible and it was wonderful to appear on the billing alongside some of our musical heroes including Paul Brady, Andy Irvine and Finbar Furey.  We also enjoyed being in the audience for more than one performance by Alasdair Frasier and Natalie Haas!

Added to that were the wonderful and sometimes crazy sessions that ran through the night - Irish trad in this corner, klezmer over there, a sing song by the bar and then the brass section erupts with something from eastern Europe.  We were so fortunate to meet and make friends who have emigrated and had come from Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth - some abandoning real life for an annual adventure akin to the Fleadh here at home.

Home again, it's time to start planning our next adventure - once all the essays, assignments, assessments and exams are corrected.  And despite all the wonders of travel and the thousands of people who turned out to cheer us on in Aus, one of the most amazing gigs was our almost accidental reunion in Seán Óg's in Tralee last Saturday night where, without pomp or ceremony we played our set and enjoyed our music.

So the music goes on...

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Comment by Mick Hughes on May 18, 2013 at 0:49

Great to meet you lads in Canberra! 

Comment by John May on April 14, 2013 at 1:05

Thanks, guys, for a memorable time.

I would just like to say that the claim to have been extreme contributors to the hilarity of the session bar would have been, for these guys, well and truly substantiated.

Most of ther night, every night, and Full On.

Good On You - Slain !

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