Settled in the sunshine state!

Hey guys!

Apologies in delay in getting this blog up…So much is happening in the world of Na Fianna…It’s all good though! I’m enjoying every minute of it

So the last time I blogged we has just arrived off the plane from Ireland… 5 weeks later and so much has happened, all well documented by the Ross, Damian & Lee. The good news is that the band is still together anyways! I thought this tour would be a testing time for us all living and working together every day…our schedule is so full that we do spend a lot of time together, but thank god everything is running smoothly and we’re all in great form!

The house we have here in Florida is SAVAGE! We all have our own rooms, mine happens to be the master en-suite with hot tub and walk in wardrobe…NICE! We have a stylish open-plan kitchen/living room too and did I mention the pool?! LOL we have rented a car here too…We live about 20 minutes away from Raglan Road, (that’s at least 30 when Damian “Grandad” Walsh is behind the wheel!)

Raglan Road is a great place. It is the biggest Irish Pub I’ve ever seen. It has the three most important things required for a fantastic night out: GREAT FOOD, GEAT DRINK and GREAT ENTERTAINMENT!!! I have to say that all the staff have made us feel as part of the team also which is pretty cool. The first week was very tough for all of us…4 hours of playing music a night…That’s double the time for a night of gigging back home! We learned a lot that first week and I feel we’ve now cracked the set, and know when and where to play different songs and tunes! I believe people want to be entertained, this includes listening to songs and the story behind them…such as the story of Annie Moore in the song Ellis Island. People also want to have the craic (fun) and get involved in clapping their hands and dancing… People obviously also want to have a chat among them, eat their dinner and have a few drinks too! We have focused on the points above and I feel our show in Raglan Road accounts for all of them.

A few memories of the past week

On Friday night I witnessed a romantic moment when a man proposed to his girlfriend, we called him up to sing a song…then he turned around to his girlfriend and popped the question. I’m just delighted she said yes! Imagine the humiliation of getting turned down in front of a couple of hundred strangers! Congrats to the happy couple Natasha Rakitina & Dominic Palazzolo

On Sunday we got up early and went to Universal! Our good friends Katie Cox & Sionainn Crevoiserat Woodward organised tickets for us, they showed us all around both parks and basically made our day for us. Both knew every ride and showed us a great time…Thanks a million ladies… I really enjoyed the Rip-Rocket, the Mummy, the Hulk and the Spiderman… Harry Potter was another story! I felt hung-over after it so I retired to the village of hogsmeade to enjoy a glass of badly needed water! I have been so impressed with the precise detail in all the parks we have visited…they are so “real” and greatly adds to the magical experience! We also met up with Rob & Heather Robertson who were celebrating their wedding anniversary with us in Raglan Road. They are a very close, funny and friendly couple whom we have gladly gotten to know over the last few weeks! Many happy years’ together guys!

Na Fianna bless Universal Studios with their presence

On Thursday it was Damian’s birthday. Damian is now 27 + VAT years old! We had a few beers and were also joined on stage by Colin Farrell on the fiddle. Colin is part of the house band in Raglan Road…Creel. He is the finest fiddle player I have ever witnessed. He fitted into our style of playing with ease and greatly added to our set…a sign of a true musician! I would also like to acknowledge the in-house dancers of Danielle, Amal & Ivor; they have been very nice to us and put on a great show! Big thanks to Damien from Creel too for lending me a spare guitar to use for DADGAD…cheers lad, I’ll get you a few scoups the next time!

We have settled down very well here in Florida and I have thoroughly enjoyed our time here in Disneyworld & Raglan Road. We have met so many people and made a lot of friends on this tour so far…I won’t even start to name people but you all know who you are!

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it and hopefully I’ll see you again soon.

John 😉

John Walsh

Where’s me passport?

 Where’s my Passport?!

 Hey guys,

So I told you the next time you’d be hearing from me was from Orlando…well guess what…we’ve made it!! Only barely might I add…more on that later…

So I’m picking things up with our last week in Ireland. On Saturday night we were in Kytelers Inn…We had 3 different birthday parties…Ann Brennan, Wendy Doyle-Murray & Aileen Marnell…Happy BDAY ladies, hope ye had a good one!

On Sunday we were on the road to Causeway Co. Kerry…The dance floor was hopping and even the security guard was dancing…UP THE KINGDOM!

Monday night was the last of our unplugged summer sessions in Egan’s…A great turn out as has been the case all summer. Thanks to one and all for helping us train for our US tour…you all know who you are at this stage but we certainly could not have done it without you…A special thanks to Darren Farrell from “Realta” for some great backing on the guitar and singing a fantastic version of “lawless”.

Tuesday night was our last Irish gig for over 2 months…This is easily the best live music venue in Kilkenny…We love it! We had a great crew there to send us off…Again Paris Texas has been great over the summer…

We will certainly miss all the resident gigs and the regulars around Kilkenny…I won’t start naming names as I’m sure to leave someone out but ye know the craic…Mad Mondays, Tremendous Tuesdays & of course Thirsty Thursdays…We’ll be back in no-time sure! J

I woke up Wednesday morning with 101 jobs to do…I had been out and about since 9 am and I only starting organising my clothes and things in the early afternoon…I definitely could not have done this without my flatmate Tracey and my mother Mary…Thanks very much ladies! I’ll bring ye back something from my travels! It was tough to pack for two months of touring…I had to pack clothes for Orlando in heat of 35 degree C & by the time we’re in Boston it will be turning cold and heading for winter…as well as clothes for gigging in and all my music equipment…Then making sure the weight was ok!!! You can be sure I’ll be making a checklist well in advance the next time!

“We’re going to America!”

I was so excited Thursday morning when I woke up…It was suddenly here and very real…We were leaving for our 1st American 2 month Tour…Every Irish musicians dream I would imagine…

We were flying from Dublin to Atlanta and then Atlanta to Orlando…After 8 hours on a plane we arrived into Atlanta, we had 1 hour until our connecting flight to Orlando. We thought we had loads of time but for those who don’t know…Atlanta is the busiest airport in the world!!! $45 billion dollars passes through Atlanta Airport every year and a plane takes off every 33 seconds! I had our entire travel itinerary for the two months along with my own passport and travel documents in a plastic sleeve. We were making our gate when we all needed to use the restroom (Hope you like my new American slang!)…I left down the plastic sleeve, my backpack and hoody on the ground beside all the rest of the lads things…That was grand…quick freshen up and away we went…we had to go to a different terminal…down a few escalators, onto a underground train and we arrive at the next terminal…S**T lads where’s my passport?!

This feeling in my stomach is familiar…I got it when I heard the tragic news about my good friend Colm passing… Straight away I knew I had put it down on the ground outside the toilet about 5 minutes previous. Lee and I raced back to the toilet while Ross and Damian searched all our bags…To say my heart was in my mouth would be the understatement of the year… We arrived back to the spot…No Passport! I asked a man cleaning the floor while Lee looked inside the toilets, He sent me to security…I asked them, they sent me onto another security booth…I explained to them and they sent me to Delta airlines…Delta airlines contacted the plane, and main office…neither had heard of any passport missing…(40 minutes before our connecting flight!) They sent me back to Security…A Security man made me feel even worse when he filled me in about lost and found being closed for the weekend!! This situation kept getting worse…We decided to try seeing was it on the underground trains which connected all the terminals…NOPE! My head was gone at this stage… Damian suggested pleading at the gate to let me on…While in the queue I felt terrible…I had ruined our first trip to America! What was I going to do? We needed to be in Kansas City in 36 hours…with no passport that wouldn’t be happening! I arrive at counter and tell air hostess the story… “You’re a very lucky man Mr Walsh!”… Someone had seen the Passport and travel documents on the ground, checked my boarding card and most kindly left it at the boarding gate for me…J WOW! In today’s world of violence and crime, a gesture of such magnitude gives hope to us all… I definitely owe that person a few pints!

So onward and upward…We arrive in Orlando to be greeted by Sionainn Crevoiserat Woodward…Sionainn kindly offered to pick us up from airport and bring us to our house….Thanks a million Sionainn! It definitely wasn’t going to be my day…all baggage and instruments arrive except my guitar…I go to delta and enquire…to find out it’s on the next flight which won’t be in for another hour!!! A few pizza slices later we finally arrive at our place of residence for the month…It’s unrail! We even have our own pool!!!

Video Blog coming very soon from Orlando!! Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it and hopefully I’ll see you again soon.

John 😉

John Walsh

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun!!!

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun!!!

Firstly, I would like to apologise for the delay in getting this up… Wow, it only seems like yesterday since I wrote my last blog…we’re so busy at the moment I don’t even know what day it is! We are not complaining however…we love it!

Last Friday week 29th July we headed out to The Ranchers Return in Coon Co. Kilkenny to play for Sinead Meaney’s 18th Birthday Party. This was a gig we had been looking forward to… When we arrived the party was already well underway with the DJ playing some cracking tunes to a full dance floor! We started where the DJ had left off keeping her lively… It was so hot that we kept the back door wide open behind us! On a personal note, it was great to see and chat to Aishling Holohan and all the Shores (especially BIG Sheila!) …It was a great night enjoyed by all and the very best of luck to Sinead in the future…see you in 3 years for your 21st!!!!!

Happy Birthday Sinead

On Saturday night we had the pleasure of playing in The Orchard Suite in Hotel Kilkenny for the wedding of Ciara Davis & Gary McCaul. These two families were very welcoming to us…thanks for the few pints Tom! This was a great gig to play in the intimate function room and I believe it was one of our tightest gigs we have ever played! The dance floor was full all night…one of the highlights for me was on our last song…Little Lion Man, the DJ who was about to start did a remix of “Everyday I’m shuffling!” into the instrumental…Pure Genius! We are not your obvious wedding band but I believe everyone had a great time! It is clear to me that Ciara and Gary are madly in love with each other and I would like to wish them the very best for the future!

On Sunday we had two gigs, first in Egan’s Bar John Street and then onto Napper Tandy’s Stradbally. There was a nice crew in Egan’s with a few lads nursing hangovers from the Aviva Stadium the night before…Celtic were playing Inter Milan in the Dublin Super Cup. Our gig in Stradbally was in conjunction with the local steam rally. We were out the back in the lounge…Brendan was worried about numbers being down from last year, I don’t think so!!! The place was jammers and we rocked it out of it with a good few lively numbers…The Best part of the night for me was when Damian sang “The Town I Loved So Well”…this song holds a very special place in the hearts of the community in Stradbally and as Christy Moore would say…”You could hear a pin drop at the back of the hall!”.

Our new Monday night madness sessions in Egan’s hit a new “high note!” last Monday with a MASSIVE crowd… 80 people there according to Sam Ryall! We also had a new musician on the whistle… Gerry from Cavan was down in Kilkenny for a few days with his wife and had seen our poster and he decided to come along. A pure gentleman and what a great whistle player! He really added a lot to our night…Thanks Gerry! Other memorable performers were Tracey O’Sullivan singing “Jar of Hearts” and a wonderful debut to Nicole Meaney singing “Too lost in you”… our few mins of practice really paid off ladies…WELL DONE! It was great to hear our good friend Sharon Dwyer singing too…It was my first time to hear Sharon sing…a great version of “Irish Soldier Laddie”

Tuesday night we were back in Paris Texas again…This gig has been fantastic for us…We’re playing a lot of new songs to a fresh audience every week… I’m really enjoying these gigs as the venue is a dream to perform in…The stage, the sound, and the atmosphere is something special.

Paris Texas

We are meeting a lot of new people…and Last Tuesday night was no different! Question: What do you get when you mix 4 mad young men from Fermanagh + 5 crazy female school teachers = A GREAT PARTY! A big Thanks to Pat and the entire bar staff in Paris Texas for making us feel so welcome.  I would like to thank our Kilkenny Merchandise Manager Laura Gaffney and her P.I.C. (partner in crime) Sharon for their continued great work selling our CD & DVDS…T-shirts, hoodies, Wrist-bands, Key-rings all on the way…YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST!

Last weeks Thirsty Thursday in Lanigan’s was another special night…We got to meet up and play with a good friend of ours…Santa Bob Mitchell. We first met Bob in Newcastle last February when another friend Alan Kelly invited us over to Tyneside to play a few gigs. We have since kept in touch via facebook and I was delighted to hear of him coming to Kilkenny… Santa as he’s called (I wonder why!) is one of those genuinely nice, happy people who put a smile on your face…a true character, great bodhrán player and always has a story to tell!

Na Fianna meet Santa

Right…That’s me done for another month… Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it and hopefully I’ll see you again soon. The next time I’ll be blogging from Orlando!!

Slán go Foill

John Walsh

The Merry Month of June

“In the merry month of June…”

I always feel June is the start of the real summer…Schools and Colleges are finished, there is a great stretch in the evenings and Kilkenny (where I am living now) is thriving with tourists. We’re really enjoying our resident gig every Thursday in Lanigans Bar Kilkenny. We have a great balance of regulars such as “Thirsty Thursday Crew!”… NO NAMES MENTIONED! YE KNOW WHO YE ARE! And also a load of new faces that are in Kilkenny as part of their tour of Ireland. Damian likes to ask after a few songs where people are from… One night in particular we had people from USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, Spain, Belgium, UK, France Czech Republic & Switzerland…Ross came out with a cracking line… “This is like a United Nations Summit!” We are using this gig to try out loads of new songs…at least 2 every week.

We have been travelling around the country promoting our new album; we’ve been to Dublin, Limerick, Galway, Kilkenny and Portlaoise. We’ve had some mighty craic on the road doing these PA’s. Personally my favourite was in Laois Shopping Centre (not being biased at all!)… It was great to be playing a few songs in our local, meeting and greeting everyone. I got such a buzz out of it…felt like a celebrity signing autographs and posing for photos… we got such a great welcome from everyone, there was a fantastic atmosphere which I think everyone could feel. I was delighted to meet Jenny Mulhall and Sile Carter in particular. These two ladies had been to the Hazel Hotel to see our DVD recording, back again for the launch and now were over to see us again to get our latest merchandise…

We had another eventful day in Galway on Shop Street… We arrived up, the sun was shining. We discovered we had to carry all our equipment down the pedestrianised street for about 200 metres (600 feet for our American friends!) through a sea of people… that was ok…after a few loads each we had all the gear outside the shop ready to set-up…you guessed it…IRISH weather at its best…Flash floods within seconds!!! WHOOPS! In the end the rain did stop…and we had mighty craic playing to another brand new audience…it’s a special feeling and very hard to describe when playing music together in a band, we are giving out this energy to the audience and they’re giving it back in leaps and bounds…UNBELIEVABLE! The funniest thing about our trip to Galway: We had played and talked to loads of people over our time there and not one of whom was from Galway! We had Mayo, Clare, Limerick, Roscommon as well as loads of international countries but not one from Galway… This is certainly one of my favourite places in Ireland… I’m looking forward to the Galway races!

Another Highlight of June was playing Moynalty Music Festival in Meath. This was the first year for the festival to take place and we were delighted to be on the bill. We arrived up for our sound check around 3… I have to give great credit to Alan Wheelan on sound. He was definitely the most professional engineer we have worked with…apart from Kevin Broderick of course! LOL! Ah we do love you Rory. I mean Kevin! It makes such a huge difference knowing the sound going out to the audience is good quality, this means we can just relax and enjoy playing. After having a good chat with Johnny McEvoy, we head off for dinner in the local parochial house. We’re greeted by Fr. Joe who is sporting an apron… He leads us into the dining room…this was a massive room with a huge table all fully set to 5 star hotel standards! It was cool, and the food was fantastic… 4 courses served by Fr. Joe… a lovely pleasant, genuine man. After the feast it’s back to the festival to get ready… We go on and ROCK IT! We’re all in the zone; the 50 minute set feels like 5 minutes… I don’t want to leave the stage when we’re finished… it was that good… I want to play more songs! After the gig it was nice to talk to our friends and colleagues; Paul O’Reilly (Dolphin Music Group), Derry (The Branding Idea), Ronan Collins (RTE) and of course Christian and Karen (Sigma Productions).

These are just a few small memories shared from me for the month of June. It would be wrong if I did not acknowledge the death of my close friend Colm Barry. Colm has helped out a lot with Na Fianna over the last year of his life in particular, selling CD’s, carrying equipment etc… Ar dheis De go raibh a anam. May he rest in peace.

I would like to thank our manager Darren Farrell for his continued hard work and support.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it and hopefully I’ll see you again soon.

John Walsh