About

Well… where do I start!

The very night I arrived into this world my dad was touring with an Elvis Presley tribute show around Ireland.

I can remember as a child, the old guitar case that was in the hall against the wall everyday and gone by night. My dad and his guitar on the road again to provide for us three kids, while mam worked at home and looked after us so well, we were very fortunate.

I was always intrigued by that guitar case in the hall. I even remember the old leather scent mixed with thousands of miles of road and hundreds of venues. It is a scent you can only get from a well seasoned instrument. Once in a while, dad would take out that beautiful Fender Telecaster to change strings or to give her a well earned polish. Unlike current times, in the early 80`s a musician would usually have one instrument. So this Fender Telecaster was the holy grail for dad and for me, I guess.

It is hard to describe the emotions that came over me, when I would hear Dire Straits, Billy Joel and Michael Jackson being played on our Toshiba stereo, the crackling of the needle off the vinyl and the magical sound that came from those big wooden cabinet speakers. I would turn the lights off and sit in the dark listening to Goodnight Saigon written and performed by Billy Joel. “I WAS GRIPPED”. Music did something for me that nothing else could. I can safely say from the age of four or five, music was my thing. One of my fondest memories was sitting on my bedroom floor with two wooden spoons as drum sticks and four old cases I had found in the attack for my drum kit. I would play along to Michael Jackson and Abba records, I would stay in my room for hours on end in another world, mam would come in and ask me if had got my homework done. I would just look up at her with much disappointment.

Christmas had come around again and I had asked the big man for a drum kit and my brother wanted a guitar. Thankfully, I received exactly what I had asked for. There was now another guitar in the house, the only difference being – this one I was allowed to pick up! I had found my new love and one that I would stay faithful to till this day.

Dad taught me my first few chords and like my relationship with the drums I was not seen very often in the house without the guitar. I was progressing very quickly and mam and dad encouraged this.

As you can see from this photograph, my brother and I playing together after school, there was no time to change out of our school uniforms, we where far too excited for that!

I am pictured here at one of my dads live shows, the very first one for me. Dad would have his band rehearsals at least once a month and I was finally of age to tag along. I still remember hearing dad and his band playing for the first time, I was blown away by the energy and live interaction of musicians. There was no way back now – I was hooked!! This was it for me, I loved it with a passion.

For my birthday my folks bought me an amplifier. In this photo I am holding the guitar I went on to name “Jane”.

My brother, my cousin and I started my first band and we called ourselves “Chase”. Please don’t ask why, maybe it was because most musicians are chasing a dream. We performed at the interval of one of my dads shows. It definitely gave us the taste for live performance.

We went on to audition some lead singers from our school and found the perfect contender. His name is Andre and he was quite the showman, just what we needed!

Reaching the age of fourteen, I was in my second year of high school. One of my teachers took an interest in the band and suggested that he enter us in a National battle of the bands competition. We rehearsed night and day.

This photograph shows us on stage performing in the first heat.

We made it through and went on to the second heat which would determine whether we would get to the final. We played our hearts out.

We went on to win the band competition and then unknown to us we where judged against the winners of all arts competitions and took the overall prize too for the first time the competition’s history. We did so well out of 33,000 participants.

Pictured here is us guys rehearsing for the Bray Summer Festival, we played a live show to our home town on a lovely summers night.

By the age of 15 I began playing with my dad’s band and gained a lot of experience as a working musician.

At this time, dad had wanted to semi retire so by the age of 16 I had taken over in his band as the guitar player and singer.

Pictured here is a gig we performed at for my brother’s prom.

Here is a photo of myself getting up for a song or two at my own debs. Check out the wig!! Just kidding it actually is my own hair!!!

For the next ten years I was in and out of original bands and pub bands.

Always wanting to visit the “Big Apple”, I made my way over for a short holiday and went to some great shows such as the Christmas spectacular in Radio City, thinking to myself, “what an amazing venue, what would it be like to play on that stage???”

I was also fortunate enough to meet one of my idols “Stanley Clark”.

Writing music began to take up much of my time because I loved it and I had an originals band called “Hipple Street”. It gave me a lot of encouragement. After entering the song “Havana” into a worldwide songwriting competition and reaching the semi-finals. Releasing a couple of our tracks was good for us as we gained a lot of feedback and even entered the Irish Top 30 Singles Chart. We gigged all around the country and were play listed on a number of radio stations.

Unfortunately, not all was rosy, it proved to be a hard gig to travel up and down the country every week promoting and trying to earn a living at the same time. It lasted about five years when other interests and realities kicked in.

It was through a mutual friend how I met one of Ireland’s best producer, song writer “Phil Coulter”. Phil asked me to perform at a family function at Phil’s residence. I have to admit, I felt nervous before playing in front of such a musical icon and influence, but to my surprise, Phil joined us for much of the night and it was one of my most memorable nights and this was the beginning of many years working for Phil.

My first venture with Phil was playing bass guitar on his U.S. tour and various shows around Ireland. Phil asked me to sing all the backing vocals in studio for a new show called “Celtic Thunder”. He also required a guitar player and I was so fortunate to be asked if I would like to be the guitar player for this great new production. Since that time I have really enjoyed touring the U.S.A. and Canada extensively, playing in some amazing venues, such as Radio City.

This brings me to now. I am just about to release my debut EP, called “Sensitive Souls”. The title comes from my own observations of many musicians being sensitive souls. My writing style usually begins with a piece of music, the lyrics follow later. I don’t feel like a song is finished until it has been recorded, so I delighted to have these tracks finished and available.

I hope you have enjoyed reading all of this and of course listening to my music. I hope to meet you some time – some place, on my travels.

All the best,

Neil

September 2010

Update

October 2011

The story continues here:

http://www.neilbyrnemusic.com/2011/10/pale-blue-jak/