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This is a list of all the places where I’ve played and sung over the years. The list is vaguely chronological, although I’ve grouped them by country, so there are overlaps and outliers here and there. There are definitely a few gaps but I think I’ve covered most of the significant places and a few less significant.
- DCU Student Union Bar – my first gig in the student bar at Dublin City University (where I studied from 1994 to 1998) was particularly memorable and led to me playing regularly there while I was in DCU and even a few times after I graduated. For that first gig I was asked to do the “morning after” slot for the revellers who had been to the business society ball the night before. I started around 11am on a Friday morning and ended up playing for five and a half hours. I guess that was early in 1995. Those were the Britpop years, so there was lots of Oasis, Blur and the like. The song that always reminds me of DCU bar is The Day We Caught The Train by Ocean Colour Scene… a packed bar, people standing on tables and chairs, raising the roof for the chorus. Happy days indeed!
- Dicey Riley’s @ The Russel Court – I had a Thursday night residency here around (I think) April/May/June 1998. I was working one day a week for RTE FM3 (which would eventually lead to a job with Lyric FM) after which I’d head into Harcourt Street for my gig. The best nights were when friends, whether from Greystones or DCU, came in. I remember the night my friend Bill Coleman came up and played Where’s Me Jumper by the Sultans of Ping. He gave it everything for a pretty energetic performance…unfortunately duty manager didn’t appreciate it. “Get him off NOW!” (These days Bill is writing, performing and recording his own stuff – worth checking out.)
- Glasnevin Tennis Club – I was booked to play at a couple of parties here through a friend from the DCU Folk Group. (The folk group had a big influence on me in fact. I met with some really fantastic musicians that taught me a lot about music).
- Hedigan’s – The Brian Boru – I played here one night for a DCU Hockey Club party, probably around 1997 or so.
- The Gingerman – to be honest this is just a vague memory of playing for an 18th or a 21st at this pub close to Merrion Square. I could be imagining it though.
- Guinness Storehouse – I’m jumping forward to 2003 here when I played a series of corporate parties around the country for a pharmaceutical company…Pfizer I think. The events in Dublin took place in the Guinness Storehouse – they went surprisingly well despite it all feeling a bit contrived. And the money was good!
- Thomas Prior Hall – I was honoured to provide the musical accompaniment to the wedding of my friends Mairéad and Phil in May 2013.
Limerick (May 1999 – February 2002 – I was working for RTE Lyric FM)
- The Old Stand – after making our debut in Kilfeacle in early 2000, Hipster played regularly at this Limerick pub. Initially it was just Nigel Hughes and myself, later joined by David Graham who brought that missing ingredient…er, another acoustic guitar. The Old Stand was the place where we honed our act…kind of like the Beatles in Hamburg. (!) But we eventually knew we had to move on to bigger and better things.
- PJ’s – Hipster’s golden period. Friday nights at PJ’s on Little Catherine Street were, in their own small (tiny) way, legendary for a short period of time. The place was always packed and somehow we got away with it. Then I got a scholarship to do a course in Montreux, Switzerland, and by the time I got back to Limerick nine months later Nigel had moved on to Galway.
- The Savoy Bar – In Nigel’s absence myself and David couldn’t continue as Hipster, and so it was that Slideshow was born around August 2001. We tried to focus on playing things that were a little less well known, but just ended up playing Crowded House and David Gray. We played in the Savoy Bar just a few times. It’s a surprise that they asked us back even a second time, as on the first night there were more staff on duty than customers.
- Nestor’s/The Crow’s Nest – After an unimpressive debut for Slideshow in Nestor’s – not a single round of applause all night long – we moved downstairs to the cellar bar, The Crow’s Nest, where we were more successful. We had some good nights there, with reasonable crowds coming in. But then I decided to move on from Limerick and so we did our final gig on a Saturday night in February 2002.
- [?], Kilfeacle – The first ever Hipster gig, with Nigel and myself on guitars and Garret Daly on a drums, was in a little bar in Kilfeacle, about half an hour from Limerick.
- The Unicorn – One night only for Hipster in The Unicorn, summer 2000.
- [?], Killmallock – Another once-off for Hipster, I think this was some sort of birthday party. It was a bank holiday weekend as we played that afternoon in PJ’s and then headed on down to Killmallock to play in this pub.
- Castletroy Park Hotel – This was another of the corporate gigs for Pfizer I mentioned above. Autumn 2003.
Greystones (early 90s – February 2004 – most of these were in 2003; and again in 2014 & 2016)
- The Beach House – I played a few times in the Beach House in 2003, the year before I moved to Geneva. I think these nights generally went well, although it was always a bit strange seeing familiar faces from school around the place. David Graham joined me one night for Slideshow’s only appearance in Greystones – that was probably the best night I did in The Beach House.
- Dann’s – Right next door to the Beach House and under the same management – a cosy little bar. I enjoyed playing there the few times that I did, again in 2003.
- Mack Bros. – I played here four or five times in 2003.
- Cooper’s – A restaurant above the Beach House. I was booked to do a couple of Christmas party nights here in 2003.
- Greystones Tennis Club – I played at a couple of parties in the tennis club, where my parents are members.
- St. David’s Secondary School – I’ve included this as all those times I played at the Greystones Summer Project in the early 90s were definitely key steps along the road to learning how to keep a crowd entertained. The fact that those crowds were between 8 and 12 years old just made it all the more difficult. It was at one of the GSP closing concerts that I sang harmonies with Chris Singleton on one of his first songs, When You Go. (I also remember playing rhythm guitar for a band Chris put together for a gig in Trinity College many years later, and I think we busked together on Grafton Street once. Chris writes, records and performs professionally these days – check him out here.)
- The Hot Spot Music Club – It’s great that Greystones now has a dedicated live music venue. I had the pleasure of doing a gig here just after Christmas 2014, and also of performing – with David Graham – for my good friend Becky’s 40th birthday in April 2016.
- Youghal International Busking Festival – I played at this festival, in my mother’s home town, every year from around 1990 to 1994 or so. I eventually won the competition overall which I was (and still am) really proud of. It was always an enjoyable experience to busk in the streets of Youghal. The year I won the final took place in the ballroom at the Walter Raleigh Hotel as it was raining outside. I remember getting so excited as they read out the names of the top three acts and my name was read out last. I still have a recording of it from the local radio station on a cassette somewhere.
- Maryborough House Hotel, Cork – this was the third and final venue for the series of corporate gigs I did in 2003.
- [some pub], Ashbourne – I did a set out here sometime around 1997 or 1998 as an audition to maybe get a summer booking in Spain or Portugal. In the end I didn’t get the gigs as they expected me to play with a drum machine or some sort of midi set-up, which I wasn’t in to.
- Bangor Busking Festival – I definitely took the train up north to play at this festival once, probably in 2003, but it could have been earlier than that.
- Arklow Busking Festival – Same story as with Bangor…I can’t remember when this was, but I definitely played there.
- Eyre Square/Shop Street, Galway – This was way back in summer 1995 or 1996 I think. I headed down to Galway for a weekend with my good friend Niall O’Connor and we did a bit of busking while we were there.
- [some hotel], Athlone – Dermot Lohan, who was president of the DCU student union, booked me to play at his 21st birthday party in a hotel in Athlone sometime around 1996/97. I did not enjoy this experience – a PA system that didn’t work, a wobbly mic stand and a very, very drunk bunch of students. I remember trying to fall asleep in the corner of a hotel corridor with the bass from the disco thumping through the thin walls.
- [some pub], Letterfrack, Co. Galway – A friend of Nigel’s had a bar in Letterfrack and he arranged for me to do a night there.
- [some hotel], Daingean – The original Jenny and the Crickets line-up was David Graham, Garret Daly, Martina McGlynn and her sister Jenny. I was drafted in to replace the unavailable David for a once-off performance at a McGlynn family party. (Some time later at Garret and Martina’s wedding David and myself got out the guitars for a memorable session in the residents’ bar at the hotel.)
Brittany (summer 1995 and 1996)
- Camping des Menhirs, Carnac – I worked on this campsite in summer 1994 (or was it 1995?) running the kids club for Campotel. I sang in the campsite bar a couple of nights.
- The streets of Vannes – I spent a couple of weeks busking in the streets of Vannes in summer 1996. I intended to spend longer there but found that I’d lose my voice after a couple of hours and spent the rest of the day feeling lonely.
- Festival Interceltique de Lorient, busking – I left Vannes and worked my way back up to catch a ferry home from Roscoff. I stopped off in Lorient just as the annual interceltic festival was winding up. I busked in the street for an hour and was invited to a barbecue at a kind of farming collective in the middle of nowhere later that night. I was picked up from the hostel where I was staying and had a most amazing meal under the stars, with the sea visible in the distance. I had to sing for my supper, but it was well worth it.
Paris (February to June 2002; return visits between 2003 and 2005)
I left my job at RTE Lyric FM in February 2002 and set off on my travels with my guitar on my back. Paris was the first and fateful (I met Nadine there and married her seven years later) destination, where I ended up staying for over four months. I had access to an empty apartment in a dodgy part of the 18th arr. to stay, but I needed to get gigs quickly to earn some money.
- The Crúiscín Lán -The first place I played in Paris and I ended up playing there almost every Wednesday night. I had many happy nights there, well looked after by David, Orla, Oisín, Barry and the rest. If memory serves I played on St. Patrick’s Day to a very packed pub of French folk eager to learn some Irish ballads – and there was another good evening outside on the rue des Halles for the Fête de la Musique in June. The Crúiscín Lán has since closed down – there’s another bar there now. But it was my launching pad for four very happy months in Paris.
- The Shebeen – I dropped in one afternoon to talk to Earle, the South African guy that ran the place along with Anto and Killian from Dublin. I ended up playing there every Thursday night and always had a good time. It attracted a young crowd of local and ex-pat students (including, notably, a Londoner called Will Malcarne who introduced me to his stagiare in Paris for a year from the University of Bath Nadine. And the rest of that particular story is history. Good history.) From the girl that brought her pet rat to the pub to the famous house cocktail, the Adios Motherf*cker, to everyone in the bar sitting on the floor one night when I sang Sit Down by James…so many nights to remember.
The Shebeen closed down less than a year after I left and then reopened around the corner on the much busier rue du Pot de Fer. It wasn’t the same when I played there on a return visit a couple of years later. Where the Shebeen used to be there was some sort of private club the last time I checked. Earle and Anto are still running the new Shebeen – I hope they’re doing well. And Killian got involved with a bar called Rhubarb which I think is still going strong.
Update 23/04/2010: both the Shebeen and Rhubarb seemed to have closed down when we visited Paris last weekend.
- The Wild Geese – Another Irish pub that’s closed down since I played there, the Wild Geese was run by a nice guy called Seán Ó Conaill, who I heard died in India in the mid-2000s. I played there most weeks, usually on a Friday or Saturday. I recall whiling away the hours outside on the terrace discussing the Saipan situation with my good friend Diarmuid Ryan, the worst barman the world has ever known. (“Nah, we’re all out of orange juice” he’d say, just to avoid having to get off his arse and go into fridge in the kitchen.) There’s some sort of café bar there now.
- The Auld Alliance – A fine Sottish pub, close to the métro St. Paul, where I played regularly. It was owned by Stevie Graham, but I understand he’s now sold it. I always enjoyed playing here, not least for the pleasure of accompanying the one and only Jonathen Smith on An Evil Scotsman. Actually a few of the staff used to join me for a song…Gary on Just Like A Woman and Geraldine on Better Be Home Soon. I returned to Paris a couple of times in 2003/04 to play at the Alliance again.
- The Pure Malt – Also owned by Stevie while I was in Paris, I think this is the smallest pub I ever played in, at not much more than 3x3m. One of my most enjoyable gigs in Paris was a long and late one at the Malt on a bank holiday Sunday night.
- McBride’s – A bit of a tourist trap at the bottom of rue St. Denis, I never really enjoyed playing here. I did a series of Tuesday nights, but it never really took off.
- The Highlander – I think this Scottish place opened while I was in Paris. Jimmy from Donegal via Glasgow (I think) booked me to play there, mostly on Sunday nights I think. I don’t recall particularly enjoying the gigs there, but it was a good spot for a late night drink as they stayed open until 5am. It was also the bar where, in the small hours of the morning on January 1st 2009, Nadine asked me to marry her!
- Flann O’Brien – This was taken over around April 2002 by a (I think) Belgian guy, having been run successfully for many years by Jamesie (Donegal/Derry?), who moved on to manage the Auld Alliance. I did one or two nights here, which I didn’t really enjoy. Fortunately the opportunity to play at the Alliance and Malt more regularly came along. It looks like it’s closed down now.
- Carr’s – I played just one night here.
- Hotel Concorde LaFayette – Paul Lynch from Ballybough (who also used to join me for a song or two in The Auld Alliance – usually U2) runs a big gala charity event in Paris every year, the Goal Ball. I was honoured to be asked to be one of the entertainers in 2002 and 2oo3. (Paddy Sherlock, who’s a bit of a legend in Paris, provides the music at this most years.)
- Seine river boat to Stade de France – Through one of the guys running McBride’s I was booked to play at 9am on a Saturday morning on a river barge taking Irish rugby fans down the river to the Stade de France for the France v Ireland game in the 2002 Six Nations. It was a unique experience – singing at that time of the morning isn’t easy, but a drop or two of whiskey helped things along. I didn’t get the match ticket I was promised, but Ireland were hammered that day, so I was better off watching the match in the Shebeen.
- The Coolin – I did a set here one night at an open mic night. I would have liked to play more here, but it never happened.
- Le Galway – A smallish bar close to the Place St. Michel, where a great musician and singer, Barry Johnson, who also used to work at the Crúiscín Lán, did (does?) a Sunday night gig. I was passing by one evening late and popped in to do a few songs.
(Mostly July 2002 – January 2003)
- Rorbua, Oslo, Norway – Someone in Paris told me about an agent called Tom Dycus who booked musicians for pub gigs around Scandinavia. I contacted him and got signed up. My first booking for all of July 2002, was playing six nights a week at a restaurant and bar by the harbour in Oslo. I stayed in an apartment above the Dubliner pub. (The thing I recall most about the gigs was that a large group of deaf people would come in on Thursday nights. I was very popular with the deaf community in Oslo it seems. Not sure if that’s much of a compliment.) The weather was beautiful and so was Oslo.
- Fisken, Copenhagen, Denmark – The next Dycus booking was the first two weeks of August 2002 in Copenhagen where I played every night in Fisken, a bar at Nyhavn, below Skipperkroen restaurant. Copenhagen is great at that time of year, with loads of people sitting out along Nyhavn drinking beer. And I really enjoyed the gigs.
There were usually about 12 musicians playing for Dycus around the town, all staying in a big apartment outside the centre of town. Mick from Cork, Dave Cook from Wagga Wagga, Duncan from Scotland. I did a few duo gigs in Fisken with Duncan at the weekends – he’d been around long enough to have written some songs for Billy Fury in the sixties and it was a joy to play and sing with him.
- M/S Mariella, Viking Line, Stockhom, Sweden – Helsinki, Finland – The second part of August 2002 was spent travelling to and fro between Stockholm and Helsinki singing on a Viking Line booze cruise. The ship stopped off at an island called Mariehamn, an autonomous territory controlled by Finland, but not part of the EU – hence duty free alcohol. I didn’t get to see much of Helsinki or Stockholm, but it was a fun gig to do.
- The Irish Embassy Pub, Boston MA, USA – In September 2002 I flew to the USA for what started as the end of a relationship and ended as the start of an epic road trip that took me from St. Louis to Boston to Chicago to LA and finally on up to San Francisco. In Boston I stayed for a couple of weeks at a hostel above a bar called the Irish Embassy, near the Bruins stadium. I played in the bar the night that Bruce Springsteen played up the road in the stadium, catching some of the post-gig crowd. (I also busked for an afternoon out near Harvard…and saw Paul McCartney playing live in the stadium too.)
- Kearney, Flagstaff, San Francisco, USA – I didn’t sing that many times on my way across the States with my travelling companions Gerry and PJ from Limerick, and Dave the milkman from Coventry. There was one night I sang a couple of songs with a band in a bar in Kearney, Nebraska. I was alone again by the time I reached Flagstaff, on the other side of the San Juan mountain pass, where I did a set at an open mic night. I can’t remember or find again the place where it was. I also remember a couple of late night jams at the long-stay hostel in San Francisco where I stayed for a couple of weeks at the end of October 2002.
- DFDS Seaways, Gothenburg, Sweden – Newcastle, England – My next booking for Tom Dycus was in late November 2002 for another two weeks on a ferry, this time between Sweden and England with DFDS. Stormy seas, few passengers and no alcohol while singing added up to a not very enjoyable couple of weeks.
- Strecker’s, Copenhagen, Denmark – January 2003, back in Copenhagen for a couple of snowy weeks playing nightly on Stroget. It was very quiet as the snow kept people at home, but I was happy to play for the bar staff.
- Strecker’s, Berlin, Germany – I moved on from Copenhagen to do my last Dycus gigs, a couple of weeks at a Danish-owned place on Oranienburger Strasse in Berlin. Didn’t enjoy playing there – the manager was obnoxious. (The rest of the staff were friendly.) It’s not there any more.
- Robinson Club Alpenrose, Zurs am Arlberg, Austria – In March 2006 Nigel’s buddy Heiko booked Hipster to be the Irish house band for the week around St. Patrick’s Day at the very posh ski resort hotel he was running. We did a couple of evenings outside in the aprés ski bar, and a couple of nights in the hotel bar, playing a lot more Irish stuff than usual. In return we got free accommodation, as much food and drink as we could manage, and free skiing for the week. Fantastic! The gigs went reasonably well, but I think we were probably a bit rough around the edges for the well-heeled clientele.
- Molly Malone’s, Singapore – My work for DVB took me to a trade show in Singapore for a week in June every year between 2004 and 2008. Gerry Cox was the resident musician at Molly’s, a bar he’s now managing. He was always happy to have me do a set or two whenever I was in town and we had some memorable late night sessions after the doors closed.
- Actors’ Bar, Singapore – Gerry introduced me to this late bar where the musicians that play in the bars around town gather to jam together on a stage that’s always set up with guitars, drums, keyboards, mics, etc… I played here on a few different occasions, probably never covering myself in glory, given the time of night and the fact that it was usually at the end of a long night. A cool place though.
- ReJAVAnate, open mic, Las Vagas NV, USA – My work for DVB also took me to Las Vegas every year from 2004 to 2009, for a week in April. On at least three occasions I sang with Darby O’Gill and the Little People in McMullan’s, but I don’t think the performances were anything to be proud of. (They’re a great band though – a good excuse to get away from The Strip in Vegas.)
In 2009 I found an open mic night way out of the centre of the city in a coffeehouse called ReJAVAnate. I was made to feel very welcome by the locals, who couldn’t really understand how I’d ended up playing at their open mic night.
- Gidibauer-Hof Hotel, Hauzenberg, Germany – This was the venue for the wonderful wedding in June 2007 of Pamela and Martin, our German friends living in Lausanne. We spent a very nice weekend in the area and I really enjoyed playing.
Geneva/Vaud (March 2004 to date…)
- The Clubhouse – formerly Heaven (where I played one ill-fated gig in 2006 or 2007 when about a foot of snow fell on Geneva about an hour before I started), now a great place to watch sports with excellent pub grub too. I played some really fun nights here towards the end of our time in Geneva, including my “farewell gig” with Mark Lawrence. I wish I’d started playing with Mark sooner as he’s such a talented musician that makes me sound 100 times better and makes doing gigs 100 times easier. I played there again with Mark in March 2010 on a visit back to Geneva and will probably do the same again in future if possible. (I always appreciated the fact that this place was smoke-free even as Geneva couldn’t decide whether or not to implement a ban.)
I’ve played in The Clubhouse a few times since our return to Geneva in 2011.
- Mulligan’s – This was kind of my spiritual home in Geneva, being the first place I played there back in 2004. I must have played there more than 30 times through the years, with many, many happy and memorable nights with John North and AK behind the bar, and loads of good Geneva friends drinking too much and singing their lungs out. I played a couple of busy St. Patrick’s Days here, but two of the best memories were the night Munster came to town for the Heineken Cup match against Bourgoin (I’m sure they’ve never before or since squeezed more people into the place) and my 30th birthday when I tried to have 30 different people up to sing with me. (I only made it to 28 or 29 I think.) I played less often here towards the end of our time in Geneva, mainly due to the fact that smoking continued here after it stopped in many other places.
Since our return to Geneva in 2011 I’ve played in Mullie’s again a few times, once with David Graham to celebrate the release of A Perfect Christmas and solo on St. Patrick’s Day 2014.
- Charly O’Neill’s – Another of Donal O’Neill’s establishments (along with Mulligan’s and Da Vinci’s), I played here less often as it’s a bit bigger and always felt like harder work. Still I probably played ten or fifteen times here over the years, and always had a good night.
- Da Vinci’s – Formerly the Big Ben, of sticky carpets and dodgy customers, Donal turned it into a kind of café bar. I played a few quieter gigs here, doing a mix of my own songs and some more singer-songwriter type covers. I would have liked to do a few more nights there but there were some issues with getting a music licence for a while and it just never quite came together.
- Tiki’s Pub – an American diner-themed rock pub run by Luc and his mates. They heard me playing in Mulligan’s one night (his wedding night I think?) and had a good time, promising to book me for the bar they were planning to open. True to their word I played a couple of nights at Tiki’s in 2008 and at some open mic nights they ran too.
- Restaurant Le Parc des Bastions – I played here for Clare and Ben’s wedding party; it was an honour to be asked to play and it went really well…lots of dancing and singing.
- Domaine des Bossons – venue for both Damian and Ruth’s wedding, and Peter and Tonya’s. Hipster (just Nigel and myself) played at the former…lots of fun and we just about managed to make our set list stretch out to last long enough. For Pete’n’Tonya it was a little more difficult as the sound system wasn’t working properly – but they danced and sang all the same. Again, an honour to be asked to play in both cases.
- Port Gitana – the venue for Mike and Rebecca’s wedding, where I did a set while the Crazy Candians took a well-earned break. I did a few Irish songs and some classic singalongs that seemed to do the job. Once more it was an honour to be asked and I glad to oblige.
- Seven Arts – I only played here one time due to a misunderstanding about what was expected.
- Fête de la Musique, Geneva & Nyon – I applied to be on the official programme for the Fête de la Musique in 2007 and was alloted a slot on the Ancien Manège stage in the old town. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and I played a mix of my own songs and a few covers for about half an hour. I was accepted for the programme again in 2012, this time on a bigger stage in Parc des Croppettes. Again lots of fun. It was particularly nice to see so many familiar faces enjoying the evening sunshine – thanks friends! I played only my own songs this time around and I think it went pretty well. There were certainly a lot more people there at the end than at the start, which is a good sign. And then in 2015 I was selected for the Fête de la Musique in Nyon, where I played a set of my own songs at the lakefront stage.
- La Scène – A songwriter called Célune played just before me on the open stage in Parc des Bastions at the Fête de la Musique in 2008. We kept in touch and she subsequently invited me to play as her support act in this venue near Plainpalais. Mark Lawrence kindly played with me, for what I think was the first time I ever did a full set of just my own songs.
- Central Perk – This was a the venue for a couple of editions of a short-lived Geneva Online open mic night. I remember my friend Marc Brondex playing some of his own songs, something that happens very rarely in public.
- Lady Godiva – The GOL open mic was on here a couple of times too.
- Paddy’s Pub – Strictly speaking this is in France, as it’s just over the border from Geneva. My first couple of gigs after Robert’s birth were here, filling in for Mark Lawrence on his regular Monday night slot during February 2012.
- Usine Kugler – I played here as part of the RMLL 2012 festival, doing an hour of my own songs with Mark Lawrence accompanying me again. Small crowd, but fun nonetheless. There’s a video here. In 2013 and again in 2014 I played in George Leitenberger’s atelier here as part of the wonderful SOIR BLEU events that he and his wife Nadine run there.
- Théâtre de Grand-Champ, Gland – I got in touch with the Service de la culture in Gland, the town nearest to where we live, and as a result was invited to sing at an after-work reception as part of a series of “café concerts” they ran in spring 2014. It looks like this will open other doors in the region.
- International School of Geneva – Running the Alumni Office for Ecolint has led to me performing at various school events, including a couple of times in the amazing Greek Theatre at the La Grande Boissière campus.
- Vich – As of 2015 I have been asked on occasion to perform in the village where we live, whether for the annual fête du village or the Swiss National Day celebrations. It’s such a pleasure to sing for friends and neighbours.
- Le Box, Carouge – I played as part of an acoustic showcase evening at this intimate venue in Carouge, just outside Geneva, in November 2015. A recording of my set is available on SoundCloud.
- Little Green House, Gland – My youngest audience ever.
- Collège des Coudriers, Geneva – supporting Luka Bloom for GLAS in April 2017
- Café du Cerf, Neuchâtel – Caitríona, Stephen, Conor and Donal did a fine job of gradually turning this watering hole in the middle of Neuchâtel into a proper pub, without having to change the name to Dirty McNasty’s or whatever. Lots of good memories of playing here even though I think I only did three nights in all. There was the crowd-surfing, the random rapper than joined me on stage, the rendition of I Kissed A Boy….
- Brasserie des Alpes, Montreux – this one dates back to 2000/2001, when I spent a year doing a broadcast management course in Montreux. They had great pizza at this place and I did acoustic sets there a couple of times.
Amsterdam (September 2008; June 2009 to September 2011)
- Molly Malone’s Pub – Friendly pub close to Central Station; I play here about once a month these days. Neil McKenzie runs an open mic here once a month too and he gave me a lot of pointers about other places to play around town. St. Patrick’s Day was the best so far – the pub was rammed all night.
- Backstage Hotel – The current venue for the Amsterdam Songwriters Guild weekly open mic night on a Tuesday. I try to head along to play once or twice a month.
- Café Sappho – The former venue for the ASG open mic and the location for some very gezellig evenings. I first played there on a Tuesday in September 2008 when I was in Amsterdam for work and had my guitar with me. Ro, Maarten and the rest were friendly and welcoming from the start.
- Skek – A popular student hangout with good food and better beer where they have a featured songwriter on Thursday nights, usually from the ASG, followed by an open stage. I did the featured slot in October 2009 and enjoyed it very much.
- Café de Doelen – A traditional “brown café” between the Nieuwemarkt and the Amstel where Rufus Kain takes care of the bookings for the Sunday night singer-songwriter slot. I played there in March 2010.
- The Waterhole – This was the first open mic I played at after we moved to Amsterdam. It’s more of a jam session than an open mic night and I haven’t played there since. I met Ken Parsons (musician and bard extraordinare) here and he was a mine of information about opportunities for playing around Amsterdam.
- Mulligan’s Irish Music Pub – A really excellent Irish music pub with lots of great live music every week. I played a couple of nights here in September 2008 when I was in Amsterdam for work.
- ASG Garden Sessions II – Hosted by Max van Remmerden at his wonderful home in North Amsterdam. I shared the bill with a bunch of ASG regulars including Case Mayfield, Bo Terry, Anna Roos de Carvalho, Chin Up, and, of course, Max himself. (May 2010)
- WestergasTerras – another ASG “featured artist followed by open mic” venue. Tough gig! (June 2010)
- Mick O’Connell’s (Utrecht) – I provided the musical entertainment and took care of MC duties for the Utrecht leg of the Charity Chicken Run, which involved Matthew McGurn and friends from Molly Malone’s in Amsterdam cycling across Belgium and the Netherlands dressed as chickens, all in aid of a Down’s Syndrome charity in the Ukraine. (September 2010)
- Café de Kade (Zaandam) – The lovely Bo Terry invited me to play some of my own songs at the monthly Café LP evening she runs in Zaandam, just outside Amsterdam. The other guest act was Stead, an Italian/English duo on tour. Bo herself also played, with Jacky van Tongeren on bass. A very nice gig – the most enjoyable in a long time for me. (November 2010)