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Legacy: A Conversation with Celtic Thunder’s Neil Byrne & Ryan Kelly, Chatting with Kathy Black, Plus Devin Sinha and Leland Sundries from the Huffington Post:
So guys, I thought I would drop in and give you a little bedtime read of “life on the road” for this 2015 US tour.
I must say thinking back on driving across the Navada desert after picking up our mobile home tour bus and stopping off in Vegas seems like just a fortnight ago! I’ll never forget the blistering heat the day we stopped to enjoy the marvel “Hoover Dam”, it was as though somebody was holding a blow tourch over my head!!..however, I did manage to swap my pale Irish complection for a very temporary sun blushed, red!.. Lol
We settled into our new moving home in no time. Our motor home had many nicknames, “the beast” was popular. Honestly, I slept so good in my slim cozy bunk, the best in months really. Cabin entertainment consisted of the first series of “24”. It was virtually inhaled by Peter and I during which the tea-kettle was in hot pursuit meeting our Barrys needs. Kiefer Suderland was a class act!
I was more excited about this tour than any other as we were about to debut our new original compositions. Its a big deal for any song writer – exposing your songs, your honesty and passion! When it came to performing these songs live it was so exciting with some nervous anxiety rolled into one. I am more than happy to say that the American people have given me greater confidence in what I do. It’s so possitive to hear and read peoples stories and tweets of how our music has impacted in their lives. The thing is, it’s a two way street. I have been in bands my whole life which has been great, but now I’m travelling the world doing so too. Im a lucky man and it has changed my life. To anyone reading this, seriously, thank you for listening!
Starting on the west coast this time was nice to revisit some of the venues we wanted but couldn’t get to in recent years. Kansas Ciry Irish Festival was a great buzz! Being the 2nd consecutive year I really hope there are many more to come. It is run so well and the people running the festival are literally angels!! It was such a pleassure to be there. Soon we were on our way to the big cities of the east coast which for Byrne and Kelly just gets better everytime. People showed up to the B&K shows in bigger numbers than ever before which is playing a substanial role in the enjoyment aspect of this tour. After 22 B&K shows played we had a five day break in NYC, my good friend Emmett O’Hanlon kindly put us up too. You know, he was so hospitable, he wined and dined us, he really knows how to look after pals – what a generous guy!! He gave us our home from home. Also, my sister Gill flew in from Co. Wicklow joining the team for a week which made it super fun too! Broadway shows, Starbucks stops and bike rides was our style this NY trip. For some reason every time I revistit NYC it always feels like its my first time there. The novalty never wears thin.
At the end of our five day break it was back to business in no other than “Rory Dolans” and honestly I was ready to work again and needless to say our NY crowd sent us on a merry way!
Another pit stop on this tour was the scheduled 2 x Celtic Thunder shows, which I was a gear change to say the least from our Byrne and Kelly routine but as aslways we all had great fun. I played lots of guitar all through the show. I was very busy but that’s the way I like it! We played to huge audiences 5,000 and the craic was running high with all the guys, it was great to see everyone in high spirits.
B&k were left with two shows to play before embarking to Australia.
Wilmington Irish festival was an exciting prospect as we were asked to headline then taking us to show 27, the finale in Minneapollis for Byrne and Kelly USA 2015. I always feel that the last show on a tour brings mixed emotions. For me there is a sense of satisfaction in feeling people gained an experience that they still want to talk and share with friends while at the same time the realisation that it’s now past, a history – but the beauty of been able to reminisce about these great days captured in our memories.
Till the next time.
Sixteen shows into the 2013 Mythology tour concludes our Canadian leg and has been a wonderful start to our new project. Recording Mythology over a year ago now was one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable projects I’ve ever been a part of. Taking Mythology on the road and performing it to hundreds of thousands of people was the real test… From the first show in Abbotsford Canada I was on a complete high as a standing ovation at the end of the show filled the arena. It brought mixed emotions of pride, satisfaction, relief and being very happy to have got through the first show remembering all of the details!
We have now finished the Canadian leg of our tour and have just started our US leg being very excited to share our new music with all our Celtic Thunder fans, new and old. It has been quite a whirlwind year so far, spending so much time back at base in Ireland was really nice to be with family and friends so often but it proved to be one of the busiest years I have had… It was time to start a new project, one that myself and my friend and partner in crime Mr. Ryan Kelly had been talking about for quite some time… The “Acoustic by Candlelight” album. Whilst touring in Australia, US and Canada 2012 we had been asked if there would be an “ABC” album on the way. With the support of the fans and the CT down time it felt like the ideal moment to start making the album a work in progress… And so it began, what we wanted to achieve was to record our favorite Irish songs in “ABC” acoustic fashion, with a mix of Irish classics such as “On Raglan Road” and “The Fields of Athenry” and modern contemporary classics such as “Don’t Go” and “Beautiful Affair”. Giving all eleven tracks a new sound-scape and injecting some youth into the productions… I mean myself and Ryan is not over the hill just yet ay!!!
Almost every day and night of the summer was spent arranging and recording the tracks… Some of which did not make it to the album but it’s always good to have choices. After the bed tracks and guide vocals where down it was time to get our amazingly talented friends in. First of all, I made my way to Galway and spent a few days with Declan O’Donoghue our CT drummer and close friend… Declan brought his ‘A’ game to the table as always… So between us we came up with the percussion patterns needed for each track and Deco nailed it as usual! The next color to be added was the most important lead instrument “violin” and who else to give us the sound that was to be a mix of traditional fiddle and classically trained violin playing… The only one to fit the bill was CT’s Nicole Hudson. She is the most talented violinist I know, not only having a naturally beautiful tone and feel, she has a fantastic ear for melody, so to record Nicole is a joy in hearing back the magic she provides. You will also be familiar with Barry Kerr who plays tin whistle on there as well. Seamus Brett played piano on two of the tracks and I played the rest of the piano tracks myself – in addition to bass, mandolin and guitars. Final mixes where engineered in the studio Van Morrison used to own… “Windmill Lane Studios” in Dublin. Spending some late nights there was a must to get it polished off before tour. Knowing that I was mixing in an old haunted Dublin studio kept my eyes open in the early hours… I fill you in on that another day Wink We are just one day away from tangible release… I am so excited to have it in my own hands and for you to have yours more importantly!
I hope we have answered your call and you have many hours of listening enjoyment.
Much love for now… Catch you later.
You can find out more about the album here as well as purchase links:
There could be worse ways of passing time than watching Anthony Hopkins playing Alfred Hitchcock as I am flying from Dublin to Atlanta for Celtic Thunder promotions. To be honest, promotion time was never my favourite part of it all but since filming Mythology I have never been more proud, excited and eager to show the world what I think is the best show CT has produced to date.
One of the hardest tasks over the last year was keeping Mythology under wraps. Naturally, all I wanted to do is release our experience from the concept to song choices, rehearsals, blocking, song arrangements, studio recordings, filming of B roll footage and the filming of the show Mythology on the night. Building Mythology upon collaboration brought the best out in everyone; whether it being song choice, choreography and musical arrangements. Over two hundred songs where put forward as suggestions, taking a couple of weeks to narrow it down. The songs that where picked stood out on the page, as they say “what’s for you won’t pass you”. When David and Sharon confirmed our solo song choices, I can safely say we where all more than very happy. Every song that made it to studio fit each of us like a glove and that set us up in mind and body to get out there on that stage in The Helix, Dublin and completely embrace our new show Mythology.
My dad’s band used to tour with another band called Bagatelle. Way back in the 70′s, Bagatelle where and still are today a very well known Irish pop/rock group, who had many hits one being “Summer in Dublin” a song that I have some close connections with. Written about the memories of Dublin city and escaping to the countryside when the hustle and bustle of the city got a bit too much.
I spent much of my life commuting in and out of the city and returning to County Wicklow. One of the descriptive lyrics sings “I jumped on a bus to Dun Laoghaire stopping off to pick up my guitar and a drunk on the bus told me how to get rich, I was glad we wher’nt going too far” my mam grew up in Dun Laoghaire and I’m from there originally before moving to Bray, County Wicklow… I have jumped on many a bus from Bray to Dun Laoghaire every week of the summer growing up with my mam brother and sister. Thank god we didn’t meet too many drunks. I remember that summer in Dublin
Meeting up with friends for a dinner party three years ago, I was introduced to a very talented songwriter named Declan O’Rourke. He had written one of my all time favourite Irish songs “Galileo” I commended him on creating such a beautiful tune and lyric, it always stuck in my thoughts that one day it might make the stage and I would be very proud to sing it.
When David came to me with the song suggestion “Perfect” from the Scottish band Fairground Attraction he told me to take it away and decide on what style we would record the song in. I wanted to give the song a very acoustic vibe, so using collaboration myself and David came up with the Mythology version of “Perfect”. It felt like putty in my hands getting out on that stage with my guitar and singing a Pop song that fit like a glove.
Ireland has no shortage of great songwriters and performers one of which being Mary Black. Going back to the 90′s Mary Black was at the height of it all including an album called “A Woman’s Heart”. One of my favourite songs was one Thom Moore had written for Mary named “Carolina Rua” – Carolina with the red hair. A beautiful love song… I changed the chords in the chorus to a more suitable feel for myself and arranged the song with David.
It was the first completed solo track for me and I felt we where off to a great start with our own version of a lovely Irish tune.
I think there is huge strength in the ensemble pieces chosen for Mythology, “Turning Away”, “The Rocky Road to Dublin”, “Star of the County Down”, “She Moves Thorough the Fair” to name but a few. One of my favourite ingredients in the whole Mythology ensemble sounds are the orchestrations composed by David Munro and Fiachra Trench. When David told us that he was bringing in a friend to work the orchestrations he told us how Fiachra had a back catalogue of over one hundred feature film scores and songs such as “Fairytale of New York” and many more. It was such an honour to have Fiachra conduct the orchestra on the night. It was a real joy for me to chat to him after the filming about his works, and a lovely man he is.
Shooting the DVD in Dublin felt like we where going back to where it all started and I suppose it’s the start of a new era for Celtic Thunder; new members, a completely new show and a look to the future as CT expands.
When we had performed the last song on the night “My Land” we all could feel in our hearts the beginning of something special and although the work was done it had only just begun. Bringing our new show on the road is what we are completely focused on now.
I hope you feel as passionate as I am when you experience Mythology.
The Alfred Hitchcock film just finished, really good. I was always a fan of his stories… And to have Anthony Hopkins play Hitchcock, well, even better.
The new Celtic Thunder CD and DVD “Mythology” are now available and can be ordered from the Celtic Thunder webstore:
Returning home for the holidays and avoiding the demon jet lag was the main objective this time as I was pretty much landing on home soil the foot of Christmas Eve. Following a 78 show tour just two days before Christmas, I was not expecting the 15hr flight delay!!! Partner in crime RK and I were a sight for sore eyes in Washington airport, two lost souls some might say! This said, my heart goes out to anyone that gets stuck in any airport during holiday time. We were extremely lucky that the weather allowed us to make it home!
The last thing I wanted was to doze off on mother Byrnes amazing Christmas day dinner she had prepared for me. One of the most important learning curves my job has taught me about is simply, prospective. The importance of spending time with my family, especially when it is so limited these days is vital for me. Surrounded by family on Christmas day I find myself asking a million questions. Mam & Dad, Paul, Grace, Gill and I gleaming to sit around the table together again. Not forgetting the apple of my eye, Sophie! What a girl! So hilarious She has become the family comedian!! I always see a difference in her each time I return home, getting taller, becoming smarter and so much wiser, more than I give her credit for sometimes. She knows every word to every track on the “Faces” album, her favorite being, “Let ‘em in”.
Everything in moderation. Catching up with friends has become more like a round of golf or a game of pool, rather than always meeting in the pub. However, last night there was a gathering in a well known Dublin bar with the CT gang. Ryan, Colm, Emmet and I were there along with David, Nicole, John, Belinda, Ger and Sharon and many more. It was 5.30am when I got home! Yes, we had more fun!
Thinking back on the last four months on the road having met thousands of CT fans, many familiar faces and so many new ones too throughout the US and Canada has yet again given us memories that stay with us forever. The atmosphere at the CT shows were electric this tour. Thank you for that.
Needless to say, only home a week left me with itchy fingers to create new music. So I cranked up the studio and recorded some new demos with no time constraints! I plan to continue working on more material later in the year. Now the Australian tour is literally a sip of tea away. Well rested? I guess… But definitely raring to go
New Year’s Resolution… I will use my treadmill for something other than resting my guitar case on it
April showers is right… it’s lashing rain, another good day to work on some up and coming “Pale blue Jak” compositions… now is the time because come May 6th myself and Ryan will make our way to Dublin airport to fly to the Big Apple to start another of our acoustic tours. It has been an exciting time putting together our own travel plans, venues, hotels etc even though a bit stressful sometimes. Everybody has been so helpful posting up and emailing venue recommendations, thank you so much for that, it has helped no end…
The only problem myself and Ryan have been left with is that we cannot get to every place that has been suggested. We will be starting our venture and finishing on the East Coast of America due to some promotional interviews. We have made provisional plans to tour the West and South US and also Canada between CT tours, plus we would really like to take in some parts of Europe and even Australia if possible. We really want to give everyone a chance to get to a gig.
Last night I sat up late reading letters and cards sent from all over the world to my PO Box. I can’t begin to tell you all how appreciative I am of your support… because of the large volume of mail it is pretty impossible to write back with the time given but just to let you know that I do read everything and I know the rest of the guys do too.
Mr John will be uploading more post box videos as we go.
Well guys, it has stopped raining, the sun has come out, I think I’ll get a stroll in the park before getting back to the recording, I can always hear things much clearer on my return, but sure isn’t that the same for everything
Back in Dublin’s fair city.
I cannot believe how fast the first leg of the 2011 Heritage Tour has gone. I have to say it has been such a great time had by all. The biggest crowds we have ever had and amazing atmospheres in the packed out venues.
I am sitting here in my house in silence reflecting on our last show in Denver singing “Ireland’s Call” along with George, Ryan, Keith, Emmet, Daniel and four thousand screaming CT fans, smiles on everybody’s faces as we all stand together and celebrate not only a fantastic show but a super tour.
It always seems to take me a week at least to adapt to home, sometimes waking in the morning thinking I am on the tour bus or a hotel room. It really has become a way of life and a life I feel blessed to lead.
I have been overwhelmed by the response to my new venture “Pale blue Jak”!
The support has been amazing and I am so grateful to all of the Pale blue Jak followers.
In fact with the launch of PBJ going so well the first thing I did on my return to Ireland was to get straight back into writing more compositions and ideas.
Coming back home to Ireland is always great, as I do miss spending time with my family.
For the first time in five years I will be home for my birthday, so a night out has been arranged with all my folks, bit of a novelty, it makes up for the age difference!!
I have to say I miss the CT family even though we spent the last few months living together, but you know how amazing they all are…I think that’s what makes light work of a tough itinerary.
One of the highlights for me when I come home is driving my car through the Dublin/Wicklow mountains… no traffic, no sound, no music just me and my thoughts, usually reflecting on the shows, the road, the crowds, the laughs, the hurdles and wondering where the last few months had gone. The contrast can be quite surreal, touring life and home life… how lucky am I to have both, something I love so dearly.
I will be back on the road in a matter of days to continue what I love to do the most and hope to see those wonderful smiling faces enjoying the CT spirit.
Nothing lasts forever but I hope it will be many moons away till I can only call it
“A Life I Once Had”
Hey everyone, hope you are all doing great.
Not quite sure where to start this time…. It has been quite an
exciting and somewhat surprising past couple of months…. even though days have been long there never seems to be enough time for everything and everyone. I have been working so hard on new tracks for my album. I’m trying to make time for other projects too, such as writing for other artists and performing live with various acts and some session work along the way. When I am home from tour or from doing promos for CT, I always look forward to spending time with my family and friends. I always seem to have deadlines to meet and my social time suffers, I am certainly not complaining, with the present economical climate at such a low I count myself lucky to be so busy.
Preparation seemed to going quite smoothly for our 2011 Fall Tour with CT until another bomb-shell was dropped. I received the call to tell me that Ryan had decided to go his own way. I have to say i really didn’t see that one coming. Just as is Paul, Ryan is such a big part of CT in character and spirit. Off stage, I always enjoy having a chat and a good laugh with Ryan, I will miss that too. With a talent like Ryan’s, he can only do great things and I wish him all the best.
When Sharon asked me to come forward as one of the 5 singers, it was not a straight forward decision. For one, I was trying to get my head around Ryan’s exit and two, I have been very comfortable with my role in the show as guitarist and singer which is what I am and what I always have been. I guess I was concerned about losing my identity. Having said that… to be asked to front and sell the show as a
principal is a very positive thing and I am very proud to be flying the flag with the guys a little more than before.
I have been reading loads of the comments on the various websites and would like to thank all of you guys for your amazing encouragement and kind words. I hope you realize how much your positivity helps us all to perform and to be stronger in what we do.
I am really looking forward to sharing my new album with you all. Its coming down to details and which songs will make the cut. Time is of the essence but I will get there and when I do you will be the first to know.
For now, I had better get back to work and will be counting the days till I am packing the cases, tuning the guitars and heading to America and Canada for the first performances of Fall Tour 2011, meeting you guys and seeing your smiling faces once again.
Take good care.
So that’s 61 shows down with 5 to go on this three and a half month tour.
Just like the last three tours, I have made some new friends, met great folk at the “meet and greets” and stopped to have a quick chat with hundreds of CT fans outside the venues. It’s also brilliant to bump into those who have been following since the very start.
We have managed to fit a lot in… we filmed two new shows and performed four different show set lists, all in these last three months.
Since I started with CT, my role has always been a busy and unique one: guitar changes on nearly every song, drum battles, backing vocals and choreography especially within the instrumental songs – each element of the role has its own challenges. I have to say that I have enjoyed this Fall tour the most. The busier the better!
Singing has always been a big part of me and I thoroughly embraced the opportunity of taking centre stage and singing some beautiful songs like “Hallelujah”, “When You Wish Upon a Star”, “Noirin, Mo Stoirin” and “Amazing Grace”. What really makes it so special is the reaction you give us everywhere we perform, all across America and Canada. Thank you so, so much for your support not to mention all the well wishing cards and presents you send to us. It is quite overwhelming and so kind of you. CT fans are the best.
I am trying to get my thoughts around an Irish tour I will be a part of after Christmas. It will be a completely different style of music with a four piece band. A number of things will be different about this compared to Celtic Thunder. I guess the main one is that I will be driving home after every show. That is an advantage of Ireland being so small. I always try to come home to a cup of tea after a show – not very Rock n Roll!
Even though I am looking forward to getting home to my family and friends very soon, I can’t wait to come back to my home from home to perform to my American and Canadian friends and lap up the good times and make many more great memories. For now I will head home and thank you all for sharing such an amazing time together.
See you soon,