Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A great night at a Concert for Hope

It was intended to be a general fundraiser for the Maintain Hope work in Kenya, a project very familiar to Kilcullen people and others from the wider area, writes Brian Byrne.

But, as charity founder Gerry O'Donoghue said when he opened the concert last night in the Town Hall Theatre, ten days ago something changed all that.

"Tonight's concert is for Hope, the name given to a four hours old baby left on the doorstep of the orphanage in Kenya," he said. "The money raised will be for her, so that she can get the care every little baby is entitled to."

The concert had been organised by Roy Thompson, who enlisted the aid of local friends in the music business which he loves so much. So those of us who were there enjoyed a really class night of acoustic music and songs ranging all the way from American roots to Irish trad. While there were four notionally distinct acts, everybody seemed to be pitching in to help out each other ... just like a gig night in The Spout!

Opening with Robbie Fahey and Elle Leon, backed by ubiquitous Kilcullen bass man Bernard Kavanagh, the vocal half of that duo gave us songs both spirited and tender, including 'Somebody to Love' and 'These Boots are made for Walking'.

Fenton Blue were down a man because of a hand accident suffered by Stephen Clare, but rocked it out with 'Rolling on a River' and more that's familiar to anyone who frequents the local pub music scene.

Next up was Bernard Roche, a country/blues man transplanted from Dun Laoire to Naas 16 years ago and still unable to find his way back ... helped by Jim Devlin on bass, Tomás Ó Póil on dobro, Spanish guitar, mandolin and more, and Deirdre Starr from Wicklow. Some lovely stuff there, and one of Bernard's own compositions, 'Your Guardian Angel' about missing young women, heart-wrenchingly sung by Deirdre. Bernard's 'Juke Box Man' was wonderful too, rooted in his own youth and family. The 'Stick Together' rendition about commitment — eventually — resonated.

After the break it was Roy Thompson's own turn, only his second public gig in five years ... and the second one in just over a week, talk of waiting for a bus! But he's 'Back on the Road Again', 'Walking with Me', 'Keeping it Real' on 'The House of the Hill' all highlighted his own talent that it's great to hear on stage again. Backing him up (making him sound good?) were Gordon Turner on guitar — who also operated the sound systems for the night, while Frank Mitchell did the excellent lighting — and Bernard Kavanagh again.

The final act was local group Cathú, also down a man as our own Kieran Behan has gone off to Kenya to do volunteer work. ButTomás Ó Póil, Mary Young and Aidan Flynn carried on regardless with a lively mixture of jigs, reels, and 'a few Carolan type yokes' as well a tune written by Paddy Ó Riada.

A set with all the acts ensemble was a fitting finale to an evening which deserved the last applause of a very appreciative audience. And maybe someday, little Hope in Kenya might read all about it. (Maybe even hear some of it, if I can round up the permissions to put a few clips from the evening under the pictures at the top of this piece.)

Individual pictures available here.