It all began with a blindingly sunny day, the first to show its face for weeks, the sort of sunny day that turns anaemic skin tones flushing pink and makes ladies perspire. Then Katie Taylor did her thing later in the day, pucking the head off of her fellow competitor to gain a coveted wadge of gold. As I stepped from the car onto the street outside The Red House on Thursday evening, a gentle heat rose to meet me, with a slow coming night sky turning the remnants of the blue into a hazy, dusty, harvest.
The end of the day fell lazy, despite the bands turning up in super good time to sound check over pints and banter (and chips).
For the first time since the sessions began, I had a particularly nervous wait for Medicinners, the sunshine and Olympic gold, stupefying senses and halting people from venturing away from their chairs. But all went well in the end, by ten o'clock, the room had built to a nice bustling level again, ensuring that Polly Barrett ended her set to a nicely full room.
Polly is a lovely human. This is evident in her off stage persona as well as her on-stage one and shines through her songwriting, which are lovely, quietly quirky things, full of snippets of personal experience. She manages to write about the very small aspects of relationships that usually get ignored. The secret crush on the owner of a bookshop, walks in countryside whilst reminiscing, the second guessing self doubt after a broken relationship, nothing hugely intense of screeching of passionate lovehate, just lots of gentle commentary about life stuff. She happily informed the room of the context of the story she was about to sing, delighting in the process and genuinely enjoying the act of performing, smiling, gently dancing sometimes with her particularly lovely sounding Martin. With a voice of warm, sweet honey.
Joe Power has been a regular 'open floorer' at the sessions since we started and does the job so well that I had to book him. Although he doesn't deliver his own material, he performs the work of others with such passionate, enrapturing ability, that he passes the originality test. Joe is a born performer and as close to a medieval minstrel as you will find in modern Ireland, hitching from session to session, collecting stories, songs and poems, new and old, all of which he keeps stored in his head for later use. For the sessions, he deliberately chose some crow based pieces to perform, the character of crow moving through his body as easily as his blood. "a black rainbow" he inhabited Ted Hughes' words as he lived them out on stage.
By now, the room was bustling, a table of revellers had moved in, looking for craic and luckily, on this night, we had just what they were looking for. The Buachaills, a raggle taggle crew of young fresh faces and a couple of hardened, well gigged ones, wielding Uillean pipes, a Cajun, a mandolin, a guitar and an accordion, ready to raise shouts and whoops and clapping in time with their delivery of hoolie inducing music. They tore out tunes, all four of them crushed together in the bay window, the nighttime street outside back lighting their frames while the blue stage light shone on their sweating, beating brows. This is a band that plays for its keep and is about as genuine Paddy green as you will find. When the world goes tits up and money becomes valueless and unattainable, this band will grow fat thanks to their playing, with pies and pints being thrown at them by the poverty stricken plebs who's houses they will enliven with sound.