Back in Dublin, I played some Balkan tunes to Bill Whelan and said how I'd love to make an album of them. Bill, a great man to get things done, rang John Cook at Tara records and before I could believe it, we were rehearsing with Davy Spillane and others and then recording East Wind. Another album that I'm very proud of!
It turned out to be a difficult album to pigeon hole, John sent off copies to major record labels in the hope of placing it at a higher level than Tara records could attain. Letters came back saying ''This is some of the best music we have ever heard. Unfortunately we're going to have to pass on it!''
Balkan rhythms were more than the market could stand and most of the people who appreciated it were other musicians! Sorry John. It will be a long time recouping its costs but thanks for taking the chance…
I was becoming a frequent visitor to Australia. I had first been there in 1984, playing festivals and gigs and gradually began to regard the place as a second home. Sometime later, I made a conscious decision to be there every year for a couple of months and this continues to the present day. I love the wide open country, the huge drives through empty spaces. ''Lonesome'' is a word that always meant a lot to me, whether it be Farewell to Ireland played by someone like Mairtin Byrnes or the feeling of being utterly alone in the middle of nowhere. Australia is the epitome of the word ''lonesome''.
I also have a great grá for the people. Perhaps Australia reminds me of earlier times in my life, where people were more friendly and less inclined to think of time as money.
Whatever. It's a place that I look forward to returning to, year after year.
I've probably seen more of Australia than most of the people who live there. I've driven that long mile across the Nullabor two or three times, always marveling at the the nature and the gradual geological changes. To take a dip in a river at dawn, all alone, or view some strange marvel like the Devil's Marbles in the Northern Territory, where the early morning sun and the complete solitude makes you feel like you are alone in the Garden of Eden.
I recorded my song My heart's tonight in Ireland on a very prestigious CD that Donal Lunny was putting together for EMI-Hemisphere. Common Ground was it's name and most of us later played on ''The Late Late Show’’ tribute to Donal.
In 1997 I finally decided to break with recording companies, distributors and record megastores and release my own albums. I made a CD called Rain on the Roof which is the nearest I have got to making a solo album.
Now I have just self-released an altogether more ambitious CD called Way Out Yonder that I recorded with Steve Cooney as co-producer. I have a lot of my favourite musicians on this one and it’s being well received.
Thanks to all the people who have influenced me during my life. I'm still learning, still enjoying myself and when people sometimes say to me ''Jaysus, it's well for you''.
I smile and nod my head.
Because they're dead right.
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