Long Series of Memorable Nights Forgotten: The Bel
On the second day of my first visit to Ireland in 2002, I hitched-hiked from Dublin to Dingle. That evening, I stumbled into An Droichead Beag where Tony Byrne, Gary O'Brien, Dessie Kelliher, Aoife Granville, and Eoin Duignan were playing in the corner. The room pulsed and heaved the pipes sucked smoke and the banjo sipped spiritual elixers black beer and strong whisky danced with the gigs and reels i shared a rolled cigarette with a beautiful Basque girl we stood and swayed she shouted in my ear Irish music is good i was in love My weekend turned into a week as I biked over O'Conner Pass, slept on the beach, busked in front of Garvey's, swapped songs at McCarthy's, swam nude on Ventry Beach, and spent many more hours in An Droichead Beag. I sent a postcard to my father reading 'I'm on the west coast of Ireland dancing with a Spanish girl while an English man sings the blues' When I finially did leave, my first lift dropped me only three miles from town. As dusk approached, I flipped my thumb around and walked back into Dingle. It isn't easy to get to, but it's easy to stay. Two years later, I was hitching from Castle Gregory to Dingle in search of another mighty session. A couple picked me up who turned out to be Tony Byrne's parents. They drove me straight to the gig. In Jan of 2009, I arrived in Ireland for a six week stay with only a handful of gigs booked and a vague notion of recording with Irish musicians. James Rider offered his couch in Belfast and I took a long windy bus ride up from Athone. I wrote Tony Byrne and he put me in touch with John McSherry. We rehearsed in a sitting room-John playing low whistle and Francis tapping his knee. At the end of the session, John rang Tina and asked her to come sing. The next day we went in the studio.