I am always pleased when looking back on a year, if I can see that the seeds to any successful event were sown in the year before that. I suppose it’s that I like to see some momentum taking place, some cunning plan that may be coming to fruition.
2016 was such a year for me.
The year started off with the filming of a video for Restless Celtic Heart, one of five songs that make up a 5 track acoustic EP that I had recorded specifically to have as a physical CD to sell at gigs on my 2015 US tour; the video locations included towns, cities, mountains, pubs, and the Atlantic Ocean.
The EP had a very timely release on St. Patrick’s Day. I had very little time to nurse my hangover as I was back in the studio to record a song written in Kansas City MO in 2015 called Kansas City Won’t Let Me Go.
The print was barely dry on the CDs before I was off on a whistle-stop tour of shows in and around Kansas City. Once again, I underestimated the generosity of the American public and I ran out of copies of the album Songs From the Last Chance Saloon, the EP Restless Celtic Heart and the single Kansas City Won’t Let Me Go.
Other highlights of that visit included performing on two radio interviews, being beamed in to the homes of millions of people watching breakfast television, piloting a canoe down a fast-flowing Missouri River, and driving an 18-wheeler down the freeway. None of this would have happened if I hadn’t played in KC in 2015.
I just managed to get a few nights’ sleep in my own bed in the UK before heading back to Ireland for more shows that were the result of the earlier trip.
Halfway through the year, I found myself on a songwriting retreat in a village high in the mountains of Spain. But even this was the result of having attempted and embraced the idea of co-writing songs from my time in Nashville the year before. The week in Andalusia was both intense and inspiring. I met the most amazingly talented people there. I was even lucky enough to write with an award-winning producer and a Grammy-nominated songwriter. I also have great hopes for one of the songs which came out of Spain, the recording of which is currently a work in progress.
For the second half of the year the globe-trotting stopped and I knuckled down to fine-tuning 11 of the 16 songs I’d written on tour in the US. Some were now in different keys (you sing differently when you’re strumming quietly in a motel room in Memphis compared to belting out a song on stage in Dublin). Some had lost a verse or two, some now had newly-constructed middle eight sections.
I felt ready to make a new album, the recording of which takes me from 2016 into 2017. I’ll be debuting tracks from the new album at the Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City in February.
So that was 2016 … now let’s see what 2017 has in store…