Thursday, January 29, 2009

Back from Malawi 29 Jan 09

Hey, just returned from Malawi last night after a 12 day visit. I have been sponsoring a music teacher for Umoza Childrens group at st John of Gods Centre, Mzuzu Malawi. These are street kids that are being educated at St John of Gods.

Last year I recorded a CD with Umoza and Justin Adams (producer of Tinariwen and guitarist with Robert Plant) added some percussion courtesy of two Zimbabwean percussionists, some guitar parts and Sharon also added some accordion parts.

I also brought over a film crew to cover some dance performances from the group as well as a documentary on the whole St john of Gods centre in Mzuzu and the associated Wells4Zoe project.

My youngest daughter Emily,accompanied me as part of a project for transition year at her school, Newpark Comprehensive in Blackrock, Dublin.

The ultimate idea is to bring these talented kids to Ireland in 2010.I will be getting some photos up soon and in a few months time, I will stick up a DVD of one of the tracks.

I returned last night and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of coverage given to Sharon and her Meteor Lifetime Honour Award.

More updates later.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sharon Shannon's Christmas Tour

January 2009 by John Dunford
I am just surfacing now after an absolutely brilliant Sharon Shannon Xmas tour. Eight spectacular shows in a row in Ireland. Great audiences everywhere ... thanks to everyone who turned up at the shows despite bad weather and a raft of illnesses.
The touring party was badly hit by stomachs bugs and flu’s too. Hannah who was supposed to run tour merchandise had to pass the baton to her cousin John for the tour. When I arrived in Castlebar for the first show, tour manager Damian McCollum had succumbed to a back injury. Worse was yet to come as Sharon arrived and had to go straight to bed, getting out about 10 minutes before the show started! Crew driver Sean Staunton, sound engineer Leon O’Neill, monitor engineer Mini Moore and Lighting designer Liam McCarthy all succumbed to one ailment or other during the course of the tour. While sharon recovered after 24 hours, Shane MacGowan, Dessie O’Halloran, Richie Buckley and Jack Maher were also casualties over the 8 days.
However the show must go on... and it did every night with a great result. Shane MacGowan was in great form as was Mundy and Dessie O’ Halloran. Stage technician Decky Hogan (Decky the Techie) made his Irish debut; fronting the band with on stage each night with terrific versions of Dancin’ in the Moonlight and Land Down Under. Confusion reigned as Decky is now a crew member and special guest.
The circus moved from Castlebar to Donegal and then onto Cork, and from there to Galway. Don Stiffe made a surprise guest appearance at Leisureland ... and then it was onto Killarney where New Years Eve was celebrated in rare fashion. Mundy led the band tan audience through a rousing version of Auld Lang Syne while Liam McCarthy covered the audience and stage in snow-flakes courtesy of snow machines borrowed from Pat Shortt’s production team. Thanks Pat!
On to Wexford where Sharon and co were joined by local man Kelvin Busher on stage. Kelvin gave a great version of the gospel classic Old Time Religion. Then on to Ennis where Sharon’s parents and Shanes mum showed up. It was brilliant to see Mrs. Shannon and Mrs. MacGowan holding hands and singing along to Courtin’ in the Kitchen!
We finished up in Kilkenny at The Hub, the cattle mart... what a great venue.
My thanks to all of you who came to the shows. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as Sharon and the gang did.
Special thanks go to the following people....who made the whole event possible - Sharon and all the guests, Shane, Mundy, Dessie, Joyce Redmond, Decky the Techie and Joey Cashman. The Band - Jason Duffy, Aongus Rawlston, James Delaney, Jack Maher, Richie Buckley, Jim Murray, Gerry O’ Connor, Mary Shannon. The Crew - Damian McCollum, Leon O’ Neill, Paul 'Mini' Moore, Ger Kearney (Who loves ya baby?), Liam McCarthy, Decky Hogan, Sean Staunton. Merch - John Patrick Dunford. Shane’s driver - Brendan, Shane’s manager - Joey Cashman, Mundy's manager Dave O’ Grady. Martin Nolan and his staff at MP (Sharon and Shane’s agent). A special thanks to Murt Whelan ,Dan, Dennis, Mike and all the crew. And to Hannah Dunford and Dave Turner at Daisy Entertainment. Also to all the promoters and venues.
And finally again to you .......the ones who make it all possible...the audience.....HAPPY NEW YEAR!