Pam AND SIMON
Where do we begin. On Monday the 1st of August 2022 at 2pm Jon began the soundtrack to our life as a married couple. He created a version of Crazy in Love for me by Beyonce which made everyone cry when I walked down the aisle. If Beyonce herself was there I know she would have cried too. Jon involved the father of the Groom and got the whole room singing along to Hero, we honestly never imagined anything more perfect. Everyone afterwards said it was the best ceremony they had been to and we feel that was because of you. A wedding flows and you flowed with it. Amazing everyone with his talents during our reception even though it was a rainy wet day nobody noticed because our spirits were lifted with the melodies of Madness to Coldplay to Blackstreet No Diggity. We had a world wide famous trad singer in attendance who said who is that guy he is bloody fantastic! And he didn’t stop there, Jon joined up with the band then and got everyone to their feet. Our goal was to play a soundtrack to take people’s feet to the floor and their hearts through the roof and boy did he do that. Thank you Jonny from the bottom of our hearts for giving us memories to last us a lifetime and a soundtrack to be played each anniversary as husband and wife. For anyone getting married I would recommend Jonny because if you want magic, you want him. Love Pamela,Simon & Ava aka The Donnelly-Orr’s xx
Writing in a Genre
Hey folks, Haven’t written a blog for a while.
Im kinda struggling, its a new year so I have decided after years of not writing much music apart from the instrumental project I worked on for a year or two that is available on soundcloud. Its time I gave the popular music another crack. Thats just the thing though, popular music?? does that mean pop or just, music that is loved by so many, I dunno.
At this time I am currently writing songs, I am torn though on the genre I should or should not be writing in. Am I just doing what comes easy to me which is a pop ballad, Should I be challenging myself to come up with something new, exciting, or different. The first two songs I have done at home before I go to the studio is the same old easy 1 6 4 5 progression or whatever, The exact stuff I give out about. We have heard it all before.
What I would love to really do is get some of my friends, teachers away for a week and start fresh. Rock and Roll being the only word used! For a writing session, some pre production then. Early Oasis stuff being the mantra, thats what Im really after. Do I have the time. Yes, Do I have the money? I could save. Do I have the personal? I dunno. This is my dream! To write and record a full on rock album. What am I waiting for?. I guess I have been content lately, doing what I am doing and what I know is easy. Yes Im busy doing gigs but Is that what I really want! A man last week gave me 50 euro at the very end of the night in Fire to play my own song! I would’ve done it for nothing of course but insisted. Just watching this man enjoy my own song was way better than any cover gig I could ever do. Theres something else to it when its yours. I didn’t even know this man or how he even knew this song as I have never put it out there. He told I played it once in another restaurant and it struck a chord with him, no pun. That brings more joy than any other song I could get a reaction from.
So my goal is to get going on this album or Ep or whatever it may be no matter how long it takes I will get it done. I just can’t seem to find what type of genre I am best suited to. If anyone has any advice or can guide me down the right path please do.
Best Gig Ever
Hi folks, its been a while. When there is no good topic popping in then whats the point.
I have been to many gigs over the years, some good, some awful and some unreal. I used to love going to gigs years ago but something changed. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was but I think I am going to start seeing more bands play. I would actually listen to any music being played live. I love it.
The first gig I ever went to when I was old enough to drink was Stereophonics in the point depot, now Three Arena. I was blown away by the musicality of the band and at the time I wouldn’t have been a massive fan. After that gig I began my Indie buzz. Bands like Starsailor, Travis, The Kooks and The Killers came into the fold, some of which I got to see at Oxegen festival a few years later. Of course I was destined to like bands like that having listened to Oasis and the Verve for years before. I remember a singles box set of Oasis songs that my brother Conor would guard with his life but now and again I would sneak a listen.
All through my 20s it was just festivals really that you would gear up for but now again you would catch a new cool band coming to Dublin city. I remember distinctly seeing a band called Athlete in the Village venue and loved every minute of the gig. I wonder what they are at now!. The Rock Werchter festival in Belgium was outstanding. Coldplay, Oasis, Kings of Leon, Bruno Mars, Artic Monkeys, Chemical Bros, Kasabian, Linkin Park, Elbow, Underworld and there was one lad I had never heard of and he blew us all away Magnetic Man. Those days are gone now tho sadly.
The Coronas for me always put on a class show even when we were in school, I always admired what they were doing. Nowadays they are rocking the biggest stages in Ireland and smashing it! Their gig in Kilmainham last summer was epic.
Sometimes tho its not always the biggest gigs that are the best. U2 in Croke park was alright. Sometimes one lad on a tiny stage can top that. Why is that?. Getting to see Sigur ros in the Alexander Palace London was exceptional. They actually made it rain inside. Although Coldplay last year was different gravy. The spectacle alone was out of this world.
The best live Irish band for me at the moment is The Hot Sprockets. They just ooze with swagger and their tunes are banging.
The best single day and worst rolled into one had to be Slane one year. We had Kasabian followed by The Prodigy then Oasis. The sun was Shiiiiiiining and it was an amazing summers day. The walk to the bus after was quite possibly the worst thing ever and I will never go to Slane again because of it. The day I got to see Metallica in Marley park was amazing and I loved every minute, trance like for 2 hours. Some bands should never play outdoor huge gigs for example Mumford and Sons should only ever play indoors. I was right in the middle of the crowd and I could have a full conversation with the people around me. That shouldn’t happen.
So here is my top 5 gigs I ever went to. What are yours??
- Hanz Zimmer – Three Arena
- Coldplay – Croke park
- Oasis – Slane
- Sigur ros – Ally Pally
- Metallica – Marley park
A day in the life (teacher/musician)
Blog no 6
Its been a while since I’ve written a blog so here is what its like being me. Aside from anything personal, I am just talking about a day musically and what happens. Its great!. Anyone who has the slightest bit of talent or is thinking about moving away from the 9-5 with that awful boss nagging you. Don’t be afraid!. As Nike says “Just Do It” Its the fear that drives you. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t a condescending blog of “oooh look at me” not having to take orders off some pencil nosed shite suit wearing corporate slug, well it is a little but its more an opening of the mind that you don’t have to slave away.
Ive been out of my old job in the bank 4 years now and I haven’t looked back. In the beginning it was tough getting to know people in the circuit and finding teaching jobs etc but as I said the mortgage is coming out next week I better get my shit together. You earn your way through it. Giving a person a great lesson will create more work. I initially spent 1000 euro on flyers for my music school. 10,000 FLYERS. I got 4 phone calls and one of them was a man telling me not to post stuff in his letter box when it says no junk mail. From those 3 students I grew my school to 15 in one summer. Having a relationship with the parents or the adult student I believe is the most important thing, then theres being a good teacher. Its not about being the best musician. Imagine Michael Jackson being your teacher. “Mum he keeps replacing his G string”.
Anyway an average day goes like this….
Morning: A lot of the time this is missed due to a gig late the night before or the auld “Ah no lesson till 3pm, ill be grand in bed here till 12” When i do get up early its to either learn some new material, work on my guitar playing, walking the dogs or just a little hungry.
Afternoon: Mostly golf in summer as students tend to be away a lot but when September hits its back to business and full on lessons. Making lesson plans and helping students progress as much as possible. I am always thinking of new things to enhance or change the way things have been done previous, this summer we just started the teen jam sessions (just watch school of rock). “No more secret songs” Always time for a bit of netflix too or youtube to see how others play songs etc. Highly recommend the History of the Eagles. Even if you not a fan its great. Songwriting (This doesn’t happen in the afternoon) possibly too tired from golf and a lot of writers block of late.
Evening: At weekends some Thursdays and some Sundays its giging. I like to mix up the venues so it doesn’t get repetitive and thats also what the venue wants so it works fine. I also like to mix up who I am playing with so the style of gig changes because it can get very monotonous easily. Keep it fresh. I know some bands who won’t change their music and it can seriously impact the people in the band and even a venue or audience. Change is always good. Except for Mumford and sons they struggled with it 🙂 Look at Coldplay, a great example of how to roll with the times. You may not like the band but you must admire a group who can cater to the masses year after year. If I’m not giging then its teaching til 7 home for a movie with the wife or out to dinner maybe a pint with the lads. Bed around 12 every night unless your playing in Sligo until 2:30 am and have to then drive home.
One of the few important things to be able to live life like this is firstly to have a wife or girlfriend whatever that is super supportive and doesn’t mind you sending her a picture of a golf course every day while she works her ass off. Drops you too gigs and waits when you brake your leg or puts up with your face on a Sunday when you’ve done 8 hours giging the night before. The other important thing is to have the courage to go out and do it. put “normality” as they say to one side and work hard to build up a report with managers and bookers, teachers and students. Its the best life. I rarely have a bad day and I genuinely think most people can do it.
“You put your mind to it you can accomplish anything” George Mc Fly
There are only very few places I feel comfortable, one is on my lazy boy couch eating gunk and drinking red wine, the other is the recording studio.
I have been recording music you could say from the age of 7 as was proven when my best man Jimmy at my wedding pulled out a tape cassette of our band “The Lazer Boys” recording a song called “Flyin in the air”. Priceless stuff!
My first real experience with this was back in the Draft days when the night before what we thought was our biggest day in the music industry we went to a place called Tramco and got absolutely hammered. Anyway we arrived to the studio as immature and ignorant of the process of music making. Donal was at the helm in what can only be described as a trailer inside a portable building. “Its a different wordled” were some of his phrases using the north Dublin accent. He also used words like Midi which back then we hadn’t a breeze what he was saying. The producer was awful the recordings were worse but the highlight of the whole two days was our Bass player Duffer puking at the window in front of the kitchen while he shouted “rock n roll” through the glass.
Many years past and when my girlfriend gave me recording time as a gift for my birthday, that sparked new passion to go for it. She had sorted out studio time in Driftwood studios in the temple bar music centre. Myself and Hughie had a new guise “The Ambertones” I required the services of my brother Dave (Bass) and his good friend Paul Donnelly (Drums) older brother of the lead singer in Draft Jim. We were to record an EP of 4 tracks written by myself and Hughie. Again we were a little ignorant of how things are done but we went with it and left the producer/engineer to his our devices. The tracks came out bare as we never had any pre production which is where you spend weeks in a room playing all the songs knowing what instruments are in certain places. Thats why the on the Ep there is just 4 instruments on each song with nothing sitting behind it or adding to it. The whole experience though was amazing and we had such a brilliant time. David Brent quotes for 2 straight days.
2 years later and we really thought we hit the big time. We saved up and spend a crazy amount of money booking Grouse Lodge. This studio had been home to likes of Michael Jackson, Snow Patrol, Will I am and many more, It was basically a big mansion with a heated swimming pool its own bar and pool tables etc. Amazing stuff, we really thought we had made it. It was November 2013. We were there to record 2 tracks with the help of Dave and Paul again. This time we went and got our own producer Nick Brine whom we heard had a long list of talent that he worked for. I literally looked him up and saw Oasis and didn’t need any other names. That weekend was remain with me forever, It was magical. The worst part though was being the singer all you do is wait around till the very end and you can’t drink or anything because you need to keep your voice safe. Having said that running in and out of the pool and going outside in nov destroyed me and I got sick, Lorcan and Doireann constantly running out to get me hot lemon drinks. The tracks came out great and the memory will last forever.
In the last few years myself and Hughie had been working with Scott Halliday a long time friend of Hughie at Orphan Studios owned and run by Gavin Glass. What a pleasure it is to work with Scott, He has a massive future in my opinion. So down to earth and really easy to work with, He knows your strengths very quickly and is a genius around the interface and protools etc. We had a plan to complete an album with Scott but it just never got finished and things have fizzled out sadly. Some of the recordings we have done with Scott have gone to get playlisted on RTE 1, 2FM, 98FM, 104FM and many more local stations around the country.
Lately, from my experience in studios over the years, it has made me try my hand at a few things myself. I enjoy the experience even more when I have full control but I have so much to learn and I am really only scratching the surface of engineering and producing myself.
You control your future, your destiny. What you think about comes about. By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands – your own. Mark Victor Hansen
Please leave a comment.
This topic is undoubtedly the reason I wanted to become a musician. From a very early age, probably around 7 or 8 I have been performing either in Music or Drama. The Laser boys being my first venture of live music albeit only playing in the street garden to around 20 people, even then it was a rush.
For me its never been about the size of the crowd although it does help. In 2015 I got to perform on the main stage at Independance festival. Leading up to this it was incredibly exciting, I would finally get to feel what some of my friends in the Coronas feel like regularly. Unfortunately it was a bit of disappointment. We played in the middle of the day and not too many came out to see us. Sometimes a session in a house party can top that. Why is that?.
What can go wrong?. Plenty of things can and have gone wrong, making sure you show up especially if the gig is far away with everything you need and more. Breaking a string can easily happen but I have become quite fast at replacing them now. Always test your equipment and keep maintaining its quality if needs be. I have some fond memories of the (Draft days) when we wouldn’t have a clue what we were doing setting up speakers and amps etc. Huge feedback every 30 seconds. Anytime that happens now we call it a “Ballyboden” One of the worst things that almost happened was when playing a Whelans gig with the lads. I walked out on stage thinking I was Jim Morrison with a shot in my hand, necked it. The bloody thing was stuck in my throat for the first 3 songs and I was gagging between vocal parts.
Of all the venues I play weekly I feel the candlelight bar suits what I do the best. Its the only place where I get to show my full range of background piano, ballads, oldies then mix it up with some 90s and chart stuff. It can get mad in there sometimes too which is always great for me.
There are a lot of musicians who use gimmicks, backing tracks or loop pedals which doesn’t bother me too much but for me I always like to play it straight and keep it a bit more authentic.
I suppose my biggest weakness would be that I never practice, any new song I chose to perform is always along the same lines as the rest so its quite easy for me. I would maybe have to have the lyrics on my phone for the first few gigs but then I’m all good. Thats another thing that spoils the performance for me is having sheets in front of you. Get rid of them!. I will always start with the piano. You need to ease people in. You cannot start your set with lively stuff unless of course its a massive venue and thats what you are there to do. I will always switch back to the piano after and hour or so of guitar for two reasons. 1 It gives people that wow factor that have maybe come in mid set and you can literally see them say “he plays piano too, wow” 2. The final 3 or 4 are massive sing along songs and its the best way to finish any set.
If I was to put my favourite gigs Ive ever done in to a top 3 it would be as follows
- The Ambertones – Whelans
- Hunting the Brave – The Village
- The Mash up – 5th on Teeling
Minds for Moulding
Minds for Moulding.
This is my second blog. I wanted to talk a little bit about teaching students guitar and piano, what kinds of students I have come across, my methods and how I think the teaching industry is doing and will do in the future.
I first got into teaching when I decided enough was enough in the bank and I was tired of the rightful abuse customers were giving us, Banks are a joke who are in the “Service industry” haha, they couldn’t care less about customers. Anyway my 5 years served awarded me with a chance to go and become a teacher so thats what I did and enrolled in the Higher Diploma course of Music Teaching at Griffith College Dublin. This was a decent course, it had its good things like a Jazz piano class (bit unfair on singers, flautists etc who hadn’t a notion) but excellent for me being a pianist already. Some bad things like Phycology ‘Nature vs Nurture” yeh yeh we’ve done this lark before, ill settle it now. Kids to Adults that are unreal at music for example Mozart, Chuck Berry, Prince and Michael Jackson etc., they are all pure Nature the ones that practise every single day for 20 years will never be as good its just a fact sorry. Its very easy to see when a student comes in even after one lesson who has it or not already.
Piano is my first instrument, i have been playing since I was 6. Although it is my favourite, it is not my favourite to teach. The system is so dated its beyond belief. The Royal Irish Academy should be rebranded and the syllabus needs to be thrown out. It hasn’t changed in over 100 years. Myself and my mum both learned Fur Elise, As much as I love it, that is crazy to think my mother had it on her syllabus back in the 60s. the kids today couldn’t give a rats about Shubert or Handel. I am one of few who enjoy classical music but I can see when I am teaching the majority of kids can’t stand it, They want to play Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. What is more important? In my view to be able for them to get better at playing their instrument you need to keep them happy and love what they are learning so they will intern practice more often. Any first lesson I have with a new student is “What do you like” and “Who is your top 10”.
Music will never go away, Its always changing, the same way fashion never dies. More and more people are trying new things out. Shows like X factor and the voice do not help. Children don’t see the music they just see the fame. There was a study done in the UK in which they asked children at school. What do you want to be when you grow up??. 54% of them said “I want to be famous”. Non specific. You can be famous for anything today with Viral videos etc. Anyone who idolises groups like Steps or the Spice girls or Boyzone have been conned with excellent marketing and exact same chord progressions churned out in a different sequence. We need to give these children an outlet to challenge themselves and work hard and create create create. There is one kid I teach whom is 9 and I can tell you right now he is genius and will become something special if given the right guidance, remember the name Hugh Morgan.
All my lessons are based around these topics Rhythm, Ear, Sight, fingering, theory and games. Sadly some teachers do not use all of these and are doing their students a disservice. From a business aspect, engaging with the parents is massive. Having a relationship with the parents can bring in big business and word of mouth spreads. I spent 1,000 euro on 10,000 flyers for my school and I got 4 phone calls. From the 4 student I have turned it into 25 through word of mouth.
I have to say though its the most enjoyable job I have ever had, to watch students progress and perform from nothing is a wonderful feeling. Some of my students are now writing their own songs and they are awesome, I might post one of them here some day, I am always buzzing coming out of a lesson, after that though its down to the student and their parents to practice and get better.
Lastly, Music should be in ever school in the country, I mean why not? It is a lot more useful to people than Maths and Irish to name a few. Especially teenagers who are largely unhappy with school and the pressure, Music gives them a platform to express and a healthy escape from the already massive stresses they go through.
“One good thing about music is when it hits you, you feel no pain” Bob Marley