Neil Delamere

First Published December 2021

LIFE’S A DANCE

“Yeah, we’re about a week or so in. It’s very enjoyable, I have to say. You’re being trained by a world champion. I mean, how often do you get a chance to be trained by someone who’s so talented at what they do? It’s great fun. You get into it, you really get into it. The thing about me is I have nothing to judge it off from the start. I haven’t done as much as a dance class along the way, of any kind! So there’s no frame of reference for how quickly I’ll pick something up or maybe how slowly I’ll pick something up! But it’s been great fun so far.” 

With his journey as part of next year’s DANCING WITH THE  STARS IRELAND class just getting underway, there seems to be little doubt that comedian NEIL DELAMERE is taking it all in his stride. With the hit show finally set to return to our TV screens in January, Delamere – amazingly – is one of TWO Offaly men who will be aiming to get their hands on that prized Glitterball, with rugby star Jordan Conroy also looking to impress on the dancefloor. And Neil – who brings his LIMINAL tour to the Tullamore Court Hotel on March 5th next – has already seen the signs of his new sequined self beginning to emerge, as he explained when we caught up for a chat about DWTSIrl, and more, last week…

“Some things are coming easier than others, but it’s incredible how quickly you get into it, in terms of you’re doing steps when you’re walking around the house…or, I said this on The Late Late Show…I’ll put on the indicator of my car, and as it goes tick, tick, tick, I’m goin’, ‘One, two, three, four, five,six, seven, eight…!’ So the patterns are getting into your brain!” 

I suspect that Neil has a competitive side to him. Will we see that in this competition?


“Haha, well I have a competitive side to me IF I have the ability to compete! If it becomes evident very quickly that there are some people who are amazing dancers and the rest of us are just making up the numbers, well then you’ll just kind of enjoy it on that basis. But ah yeah, listen, I’ll give it what I can, and after that let the chips fall where they may!” 

Somewhere else I didn’t expect to see Neil showing up in the coming weeks was on Ireland’s Fittest Family. But sure enough, he’s taking part in the show’s Celebrity Special at the end of December. Also taking part is someone else I’m lucky enough to know pretty well, Grainne Gallanagh, who was Miss Universe Ireland in 2018. I put it to Neil that this – no more so than Dancing With The Stars – was definitely a different kind of show for him…


“Well, it came about because of Covid, and because my normal schedule wasn’t what it normally is. I was asked to do it and I said I’d love to. You have a couple of months lead-in time, about six weeks lead-in or whatever – and then you have some degree of focus, ya know. You know you have to get this done or otherwise you won’t be fit enough to do the show. It was as much about me saying this will give me some sort of structure on my weeks, because as you know, because of Covid we were restricted in what we were allowed to do and what we weren’t allowed to do. Comics, without a deadline, we tend to not be massively creative! It’s not like writing a book or doing a TV show, so you need something where you have to have a show done by X day. So, I had a lot of time, and I also didn’t have the usual structure on the year that I’d always have, so I went yeah, absolutely, I’m gonna do it. I got a team together, and it was us against Grainne, Sinead Quinlan, and the Happy Pear as well. We did it for the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland. I can’t tell you who won, but if you look at who’s in and judge the fitness of people on sight, you’ll probably be in the ball-park of who did! [Laughs].” 

In Dancing With The Stars and the Celebrity Special of Ireland’s Fittest Family, we’d already touched on two huge upcoming events in Neil’s life. But never a man to do things by halves, there’s something even bigger coming up in 2022. In fact, it’s Neil’s biggest solo show ever, and it’s happening at the SSE Arena in Belfast in March ??? 


“Biggest solo show I’ve ever done, yeah. I’ve done gigs to ten thousand people before, but on mixed bills. Can’t wait to do it. I was up having a look at the Arena the other day, the Belfast Giants Arena, and it looks spectacular. And again, that sprang from Covid, from wanting to give myself something to aim for in these weird times when we don’t know what’s going on, ya know. So ya kind of force yourself into, ‘Oh God, this is happening…write jokes, write jokes, write jokes!’ I can’t wait for it. I think it will change the way I do the show in some ways, because a big, big room might not have the usual messing and interplay that I would have with the front row if people can’t really see the front row! [Laughs]. I know from playing the really, really, big rooms that you have to do it in a different rhythm, you almost have to wait for the wave of laughter to come back. It’s a slightly different technique. And I’m very grateful that ‘The Blame Game’, which we’re doing at the moment, is allowed a small ‘live’ audience, and that kind of keeps the name out there in the north still.” 

Neil’s current tour is called Liminal (relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process) and from the meaning of the word, my guess was that it’s to do with the place the world finds itself in with Covid, amongst other things as well. I wondered if I was correct in that assumption, and if I was, where, in fact, does Neil think we – as a country and a planet – are with Covid at this stage? 


“I think overall Ireland has done very well. Our vaccine roll-out has been amazing, and I think our vaccine uptake has been amazing. Smaller countries in Europe tend to do better than their larger neighbours in terms of social cohesion. In terms of how many people passed away, our figures were much lower than say the UK. I don’t know how far we are into this. My worry would be that we may not be as far in as people think. And selfishly, I suppose, for people in the arts, we’re wondering what’s going to be left at the end of all this. My worry wouldn’t be for the people that are going ten or fifteen or twenty years, that they’ll be removed from the scene. My worry is for the younger people – either younger in age or in experience – doing their respective music, dancing, comedy, whatever it is. They may well have been washed out of the system by Covid. So we could lose all these important and exciting new voices. The rest of us will be fine. If we’ve built up enough touring, and enough TV shows, and enough radio, we can afford – almost – to take a hit. But my worry is that we would lose the next generation of people, ya know.” 

Neil mentioned how the way he performs his show in a bigger venue might have to change slightly, but I wondered if how he writes his material had to change over the last twenty months or so too. So much of what he does is observational, comes from being out in the world, around people and with people. Did the lockdowns, and Covid in general, change his creative process much? 


“That’s a very good point. I suppose it didn’t change the observation as much as much as it changed the anecdotal stuff. A lot of the time you’re telling stories and you’re animating the stories with observations and characterisations and stuff. But you are still telling stories about what had happened to you. If you haven’t done anything [laughs] – because most of us didn’t do anything for a fairly protracted period of time – what do ya talk about? ‘Dancing With The Stars’ and ‘Ireland’s Fittest Family’ have given me ten minutes of material sort of thing. It’s not why I did them [laughs], that’s a beneficial extra from the two of them. But it’s such a strange world to be thrust into, that you can’t fail to get some stuff out of them. Also, I probably have a decent closer for the SSE Arena and for the Tullamore Court Hotel and everywhere else, because I know Des [Bishop] when he did it years ago, I think he used to bring his pro dancer and they’d dance at the end. So, ya know something…I wouldn’t rule it out! I haven’t talked to my pro dancer about it yet, but it seems like a cool way to end a really big show. It’s something I would definitely consider if I was any good anyway [laughs].” 

Looking at everything that’s happened since March of 2019 when Covid kicked in – and even going back a little bit before that to when Neil and I last spoke – there’s been so much absurdity. From almost everything to do with Boris Johnson in the UK, to Trump and January 6th in the States, to the whole anti-vax movement here, and more. From a comedian’s perspective, what’s been the most absurd moment of it all? 


Well January 6th was completely off the wall, I thought. I almost couldn’t believe that was happening. If a couple of things had gone a different way, maybe if Mike Pence had made some decisions in another way, it could have been much more serious. That, in terms of one day, was bizarre. The Dominic Cummings thing and how he was supported by a Prime Minister who has since completely removed his support. I mean, Cummings driving to Barnard Castle to test his eyesight was so absurd! Boris Johnson is the gift that keeps on giving. All I’ll say is his testicles are as fertile as his imagination! As good as he is as a comedy source, I wouldn’t wish him as a Prime Minister on anybody. We criticise politicians in Ireland, but there’s a lot to be said about a steady, seasoned hand at the tiller, both in terms of Michael D. Higgins and some of the members of the government. I think we can be overly harsh on them in a very difficult – VERY difficult – scenario for them.” 

Going back to events on the horizon for Neil, he’s also filmed Pointless Celebrities


“I did! I love a quiz. Since we last spoke, I did Richard Osman’s ‘House of Games’, which is the big one, you do five episodes and you’re on for the entire week. I managed to nip a victory in that at the last minute. So you’re paired with somebody else in ‘Pointless Celebrities’, and all I’m saying is I DID ok! My partner, however…may be a different story [laughs]. So people can look out for that fairly soon as well [laughs].” 

Between getting himself ready for Ireland’s Fittest Family, and now for Dancing With The Stars, Neil – certainly from a fitness point of view – will definitely have been seeing some positive changes in himself over the last few months. Indeed, this whole period of humanity has changed many people, some in good ways, but some more – unfortunately – in bad ways. In a general sense, has Neil noticed any changes in himself and maybe how he sees life? 


“I’d be more inclined [now] to do something that’s a bit off the wall. Like, I have been approached about doing ‘Dancing With The Stars’ several times before, and either I couldn’t do it or I wasn’t ready to do it in some ways. This is the year where I kinda went, well listen, who knows what’s gonna happen next year in terms of what we’re allowed do ‘live’, but another part of me – that’s kind of the legacy of this last eighteen, twenty months – is just do something that scares the hell out of ya! Why not?! Life is too short. Particularly in the western world, we go through periods of thinking we can control things. If you get sick, you get antibiotics. If something goes wrong, well you can pay someone to fix it. If it’s something with your health, you can get an operation. We tend to think we can control things, but actually, every so often, God/ the universe/ whatever you believe in, throws a curve ball at us. And that’s what Covid has been. And there’s a freedom in relinquishing that control in some ways. Covid has made me more likely to take risks and do something brand new because who knows what the future holds really?” 

Neil has his huge show at the SSE Arena coming up next year, and he’s also had some gigs in gorgeous churches – of all places – in recent times. But, if he was to plan his perfect show, here’s what I wanted to know. Where would his venue be, what three guests would he invite along to chat to, and what musical act would he choose to close out the night? 


“Hmm. Let me see. I think in terms of places I’ve played before, I’d say Vicar Street. It’s a fantastic venue, and I’m playing there again soon. It has the roar of a thousand, eleven-hundred people, which is a great roar. But it’s physically intimate enough for everybody to feel connected to what’s going on on stage. So it would probably be Vicar Street as the venue. The three guests that I would like to interview, off the top of my head…David Attenborough would be one. I think he’s absolutely fascinating. There’s nearly a hundred years there of wisdom, and he’s such a brilliant communicator. I think he’d be first on the list. Second on the list, would be Mark Rylance who is an actor people would know from ‘Bridge Of Spies’, and from ‘Wolf Hall’, and ‘Dunkirk’. I’m actually going to see him very soon in the West End. He’s one of those magnetic presences on the screen, that you cannot take your eyes off. I’m hoping that he’d be able to replicate that if you were having a chat. I think he sees the world in an interesting way in his work. So I wonder would that be the same if you met him in person, ya know. I’ll come back to the third person, but a musical act to close the gig off entirely? I would reform Oasis! For one gig! Because first of all, nobody has ever got them to do that. And secondly, the music of when you were a teenager holds a special place in everybody’s heart. I think that would be…oh my good God! [Laughs]. What a night that would be! Just for one night only. And my third guest…let me see…I think I would pick somebody like Orla Guerin, the BBC war correspondent. I think she’s seen a huge amount of the world and what people do to each other, great heroism, great sacrifice, and great cruelty. So, assuming that the gig has been great fun, and assuming that at the end of it it’s going to be lifted in an amazingly unique way by the reformed Gallagher brothers [laughs], and assuming that David Attenborough is going to give us some wisdom, and Mark Rylance is going to give us some laughs and some wisdom, I think we can go fairly deep about humanity with Orla, knowing that that’s the light and the shade. I think that would be an unbelievably good night out!” 


Finally, and we didn’t know when we spoke that there would be another address to the nation only days later, I asked Neil to put himself at that lectern outside Government Buildings in Dublin. If either Micháel Martin had called on Neil to don the green jersey as it were, face the cameras and deliver a message to the people of Ireland ahead of 2022 getting here…what thoughts would he have shared with a weary nation? 


“I think we should be proud of ourselves and how well we’ve done so far. We do, as a small country, tend to compare ourselves to other countries, and broadly speaking, if you look at the figures, we have done very well. And we’ve done well because we’ve looked after each other. That’s what I would say. And let’s all continue to look after each other. The country is a much better place when we [all] consider other people. That old Irish phrase, ‘Ní neart go cur le chéile’ (There’s no strength without unity) is the thing that comes to my head. That’s all I’d say. The country doesn’t need me to preach to them. That’s the thing about comedy gigs. People go to them to get away from life. They go to get away from their troubles for a while. And when we have been allowed to do things, you could see that people were going to escape the news-cycle. So let’s just stick together, and this too shall pass.” 


DANCING WITH THE STARS returns to our screens in January. Before then, on December 29th, you can catch Neil in the Celebrity Special of IRELAND’S FITTEST FAMILY. Neil brings his LIMINAL tour to the Tullamore Court Hotel on March 5th, with tickets ON-SALE NOW. For more details, check out www.neildelamere.com 

ENDS

Chasing Abbey

First Published December 2021

BACK IN THE GAME

I was working away at my desk last Friday when I decided to turn off the news for a change and add some music to my day instead. Tapping into my Apple Music account and scrolling through my options, the playlist Today’s Hits caught my eye for some reason so I made it my selection. And a quick glance at what was on offer soon brought a smile as wide as the Shannon to my face. 

Right there in the middle of it all, keeping company with international superstars like Ed Sheeran and his recent gems Bad Habits and Shivers, Adele with I Drink Wine, boyband giants Westlife and Starlight, and Driving Home From Christmas by Dermot Kennedy…were three dudes from Tullamore and their newest banger, Close To You. What these guys have already achieved is immense. And the mind-blowing thing is that in terms of both their creative and commercial potential, they’ve barely even begun to jog yet. When they start running at full-speed…world watch out!

A few weeks back, before Close To You officially became CHASING ABBEY’s new single, I had the pleasure of catching up with the band. 

It was the afternoon after their first real-life gig in a long, long time when I sat down in the Brewery Tap for a catch-up with Bee (Jonathan Byrne) and Ro (Ronan Bell). Unfortunately, the previous night’s triumph had taken its toll on the vocals of lead-singer Ted, who wasn’t able to join us. The funny thing was, having viewed the band’s stories on Insta the night before, Ro was the one I didn’t expect to see! To say he enjoyed the band’s first night back doing what they love would be an understatement! And that was the note on which we began. 

What was it actually like for Bee and Ro to be back in the game again?

Bee: “It was…an adjustment. When Covid started, we were so used to gigs and being in front of people. Then when we had to start doing all the Zoom things, that was so strange. We had no clue what we were getting into and we weren’t able to feed off anyone. But then we got used to that. And now that’s been flipped on its head last night, trying to dust off the cobwebs. That was the feeling beforehand, but once we got into it, it was like we’d never left the stage…”

Ro: “It was carnage! [Laughs]. Even being back doing sound-check, being back on-stage, first time with a PA, just going through all those things, there’s a certain feeling that comes with all of that. And I hadn’t felt that in a long time. It felt special. And it was weird, because going into the gig, I thought it was going to be like a normal gig was before Covid. But once it started, with the crowd and everything, it felt like we were back to years ago. It was savage!”

Were there any nerves in the build-up?

Bee: “Yeah, but not nervous about being in front of people, more so remembering all the little things that you used to do, that would have been second nature to ya when you were gigging a lot. But now we had to start thinking about those all over again!”

Ro: “I think that was just before the gig, though, because halfway through the first song you kinda started shouting all the same stuff you would have done before, and jumping the same way [laughs], and we kinda slid back into what we always used to do. And I think we did that pretty early in the gig, which was fun.”

Bee: “A big thing for us as well, is that in the last eighteen months we’ve obviously been making a lot of music. Usually we’d make maybe five or six songs, pick our favourite one, and maybe try that one out at our next gig. But we had no gigs to try out any songs for eighteen months. And we had literally nearly a hundred songs to pick from. We played four or five of them last night, and just to feel the new songs ‘live’ was just…,  THAT was something we were really missing. Because you get to feel the way it went down with the crowd. And that’s a way you’d nearly pick what your next single could be.”

There’s always a certain performance high that comes with taking to the stage, but had the high of the previous night been a little bit higher than ever before?

Ro: “Yeah. It was the best we’ve felt since Covid began. We got off stage and we just said we feel alive again, ya know! It was just nuts.”

So does that mean the comedown is that little bit lower too?

Ro: “I think we’re still a little bit high! [Laughs]. Spirits were still high this morning!”

Bee: “You get a hangover from drinking, but there’s this thing called a ‘gig hangover ‘as well, where you’re just so drained. I’d say last night will go down as one of our favourite gigs for a while.”

Like everybody else, back in March of 2020, the world came to a very sudden halt for Chasing Abbey. I asked Bee and Ro to take me back to where they were as a band when that happened…

Bee: “We had just finished ‘Lately’…”

Ro: “’Lately’, along with three other songs, we had four songs ready to go.”

Bee: “And we had picked a release date for ‘Lately’, at the end of March, beginning of April, and we were going for it. Then all of this started to come up in the media and it was happening elsewhere…”

Ro: “Yeah, happening elsewhere, so we were like, won’t affect us…”

Bee: “Then it got a little bit closer to home and we were like, well maybe we’ll push out the release by two weeks, that should do it! Just until this dies down. But then it looked like we were gonna be in this for a month, so we pushed it out for another month. And we had been soooo busy up to that, for nearly two years, so in the beginning we were kinda like, well, this is kind of a nice rest [laughs].”

Ro: “Especially in the few months before that, because we’d been working on those songs, and writing all the time, and we had shows as well. So when that first hit, we were like, this is kinda…grand, like! [Laughs].”

Bee: ”Yeah, we couldn’t leave our homes, but that was what we needed”

Ro: “But then it set in with us – with everyone – that this was gonna be here for a while.”

So that time of suddenly being apart, having been together so much and so intensely for so long, what was that like?

Ro: “At the beginning, it was ok. We went home to our own families, and that was lovely because we wouldn’t always be at home with our families all that much. So, that was nice for a little bit, but then it definitely got weird [laughs], not seeing the other lads.”

Bee: “We have a group-chat and stuff, so we all kinda kept in touch a good bit that way. But sometimes then, there might have been a day or two without any message going in, and THAT was strange because…”

Ro: “…if we’re not all together in person then the phone is always just hoppin’!”

Bee: “I think we all found it difficult at different times. At the beginning, I think we were all fine. But then it hit us about how real it all was. Like, one of us might have been down for a month, but then you’d pick yourself back up again. And then someone else might feel that way for a while. But I think that was normal, I think everyone was like that.”

Ro: “I think everyone was going through that. Even with dad in here [Paul Bell, proprietor of The Brewery Tap in Tullamore], there was just so much uncertainty. As a band, we didn’t know what to do in terms of releasing, we didn’t know when we’d have another gig, or IF we’d have another gig. You didn’t even know if you were going to get Covid and die. There was that, never mind music! We all went through different periods where different emotions were the main ones.”

Bee: “And there were a few lockdowns as well. The first lockdown was fine. But then the second one came, and we had started to make plans before that one. Then those plans all had to be pulled again.”

Ro: It was that little bit of hope…gone, ya know.”

Having seen everything that they’ve worked so hard for, and everything that they love so much, taken away in the blink of an eye by something completely out of their control, has that changed everyone as individuals in terms of what they’ll bring back to the band now? Has it, indeed, even changed the band? Whereas previously, 110% was given to every show, from now on will that be 210%?

Ro: “There was a bit of that last night! When we were walking to the stage, we were just like, let’s just go nuuuuts out here [laughs]!”

Bee: “Just before we went on-stage, we said let’s see who can go the craziest!”

Ro: “I think there’ll definitely be a bit of that, but once we got back working we slipped back into a normal studio routine again fairly quickly.”

Bee: “But it has made us – and it will make us – appreciate the moments. So we will be a little bit more present, I think. Say with gigs, you’ll take out your in-ears maybe, and just listen to the crowd, really take it in. Rather than just going, that’s unreal, you might just take a minute to go…wow, this is incredible! But ya know, we did also realise a song during Covid and it’s one of our most popular songs, ‘Lately.’It wasn’t all bad either.”

Ro: “That was like a test release, because we had to really think outside the box, and it was actually exciting to do that, to do a release completely different to how we normally would. Like, we couldn’t go to a radio station. We couldn’t sit down with people. We couldn’t do anything!

Bee: “We did it all from a room!”

Ro: “Yeah, and it went so well that it’s become a very proud thing for us, that release. And I think it impressed a lot of people, too. We hear that a lot.”

Bee: “Even the music video, we had a period where the first lockdown lifted…”

Ro: “It was in between them.”

Bee: “Yeah, and inter-county travel was allowed. So we had one week to get the whole thing done. And we did. But, oh my God [laughs].”

Ro: “I think we were up in Dublin with one of the videographers, and that was just a day or two days before we couldn’t travel again. We JUST got it all done in time!”

Considering how much the band were able to write during lockdown, I wondered if the different conditions for writing – not being around each other, not being around people, not being able to gig – if all of that had affected them creatively, and changed how they write?

Bee: “All the music kind of stayed within the normal [way that we’d write]…”

Ro: “Yeah, it did. The only thing that would have changed was the inspiration aspect, because you’re just going through the same kind of mundane thing every day. That definitely made a difference, compared to coming off the high of a gig, when you could write ten songs! In lockdowns at home, well, myself definitely, we upskilled a lot, in terms of production. In that way, we’ve come on an awful lot in the last two years or eighteen months. That’s changed the way we go about things in the studio. Some things are done quicker, easier, and end up sounding better.”

Bee: “We can literally do everything just from a room now.”

Ro: “Yeah. Whereas before, it was at ‘a level’, ya know, but it wasn’t at THAT level. But having the time, and when there was no pressure of writing songs to release them, we were able to get lost in learning different skills.”

So if upskilling might have been one of the ways that Ro got through things by becoming something he could focus his attention on, what filled that role for Bee or even Ted?

Bee: “Initially, I suppose, because I don’t live with my family, so just coming back home to them. That took up a couple of months because we got to spend a lot of time together. I also got into cooking! I did a lot of that, and explored a lot of different diets, all that kind of stuff.”

Ro: “I started running as well. We all went through a bit of a running phase. Our house is down by a canal, so I used to do quite a bit of running around there, which I never did before. We’d meet up outdoors and go running.”

Bee: “But mainly, I think, what we did was just chilled out through it all. Just took a breather.”

At this stage of their careers, Chasing Abbey is a brand, a machine in a way. How do the lads plan on bringing that machine back to life after a lay-off like this?

Bee: “Well we have loads of music there. And we didn’t put any pressure on ourselves to release the next song, because we really want to find the one that can bring us to the next stage. That’s why we wrote so much. We have a few contenders now, so when the right one hits we’re just gonna put everything into it.”

Ro: “New music will really help with that, and then the introduction of more gigs as well. One thing we’ve all loved from the start of Chasing Abbey is the ‘live’ shows. So that mix of new music, and playing those songs at ‘live’ shows will ramp it back up pretty quickly.

Bee: “And once the music is out, we’ll go back on tour.”

Aside from what the band had done online, was there anything else they’d done to stay connected to their fans over the last eighteen months?

Bee: “We started making Tik-Toks, not music related ones, more kind of sketch based.”

Ro: “At the very, very beginning of Covid, Tik-tok was really taking off because everyone was at home, it was the new app. We jumped on that with ‘Lately’.”

Bee: “And it’s funny, we have our most social media followers on Tik-Tok.”

Ro: “And that’s mad, because that’s a lot of new people. Obviously it’s a mix, a lot of people did know of us, but we’ve definitely made new fans as well. It’s a different way of interacting.”

Bee: “We went through a stage with it where it was all music, then it was all promoting ‘Lately’, then a stage where it was all sketches where there was really no music involved.”

Ro: “For our next release, we’ll definitely have a Tik-Tok campaign, because it’s huge. Huge!”

So what is next for the band?

Ro: “I think right now, we’re just looking at singles. So a single, and then the next single. We’re not even thinking too far ahead. Just the next one that feels right.”

Bee: “And feels right in every aspect, the timing, the story, the sound of it. Is it gonna take us a step forward to what music sounds like now? Will it be fresh? There are so many different things to consider. But we think we’re nearly there…!”

CLOSE TO YOU, the brand NEW single from CHASING ABBEY, is OUT NOW, available to stream and download from all platforms, and to request from radio. 

ENDS

Deirdre Keane

NEWS

Press Release via AS Written, December 2021

DEIRDRE’S LATEST SINGLE GIVES THANKS FOR AWARD NOD, TV, & MORE

Rising country music star DEIRDRE KEANE has revealed that the follow-up to her summer single – her version of the Tom Paxton classic Last Thing On My Mind – is a re-release of her hit from this time last year, I JUST WANT TO THANK YOU, LORD. But she has a very good reason for that being the case, because it’s Deirdre’s way of giving thanks for all the good things that have come her way in the past year. 


          As the Banagher based singer continues to win new fans on the country scene, she already had plenty of reasons to be grateful for all of the support that she’s received over the last year or so, even before the invitation to take part in next year’s series of the hit TG4 show GLÓR TÍRE came her way too, courtesy of singer/songwriter CIARAN ROSNEY who will be her mentor. But as of last week, the Galway native has yet another reason to look back fondly on what 2021 – even in a year as tough as there’s ever been for entertainers – has brought her way…an international award nomination! 


          “It’s funny”, observes Deirdre, “because it had actually been on my mind that I’d like to do something with this particular song again. I originally released ‘I Just Want To Thank You, Lord’ last year, and it received such a wonderful reaction, with people really taking it into their hearts. And I think as well, the sentiment of the song – just being thankful for everything we do have, even when times are hard – that really resonated with people. In the year since then, even though it’s obviously been extremely difficult for all of us in the music world, for me personally, the support that has continued to come my way from people is what has kept me going through it all.” 


          Deirdre continued, “So I wanted to find some way to say thank-you to everyone for that. It felt like the right thing to do, and an important thing to do. And that was before Ciaran got in touch and sprang Glór Tíre on me [laughs]. When that happened, I said right, I need to acknowledge my good fortune here, definitely, and do something to let people know there’s so much that I appreciate. But I suppose the fact that I had just released ‘I Just Want To Thank You, Lord’ last year made me think I probably couldn’t release it again so soon.” 


          That decision was pretty much taken out of Deirdre’s own hands last week, however, with the news that I Just Want To Thank You, Lord has been nominated in the Gospel/Christian category of the Holland based FAIR PLAY COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS. And, taking it as a sign to follow what had been her natural instinct anyway, Deirdre has sent the song back to radio for a second time. 


         “That news came out of the blue! I was stunned, actually, because I’m still at that stage of my career where I’m not even thinking about anything like awards. I just want to make sure I keep recording great songs, and releasing the kind of music that I love, and that I hope people will enjoy. To suddenly be nominated for an award, anywhere, nevermind in Europe, that left me speechless. But coming on top of everything with Ciaran and Glór Tíre, it just made me realise again how lucky I am to be doing something I love so much. So I wanted to say thank you for that, to everyone who makes it in any way possible. And luckily, I had the very song to do exactly that!” 


          Written by Judy Marshall of the Marshall Family, I Just Want To Thank You, Lord became Keane’s third single when it was first released a year ago asthe follow up to that September’s radio-friendly take on the Sara Evans 2004 country-chartopper Suds In The Bucket. That single reinforced Keane’s undeniable emergence as a vocal powerhouse, something which first became clear on her 2019 debut single, 57 Chevrolet, taken from the Billie Jo Spears songbook. 

          With 2022 just around the corner, Glór Tíre shortly to hit our screens, and work continuing on her highly anticipated debut album, all the signs are on it that this could be a break-out year for Deirdre. 


I JUST WANT TO THANK YOU, LORD is now available to request from radio stations nationwide. To stay up to date with Deirdre’s Glór Tíre journey, and all the latest news on her music career – including that Fair Play Country Music Award nomination – you can follow her on both Facebook and Instagram by searching ‘Deirdre Keane Music.’ 

ENDS

Brendan Kelly

NEWS

Press Release via AS Written, December 2021

NEW SINGLE ‘BROTHER’ WINS BRENDAN NASHVILLE SEAL OF APPROVAL

Singer/songwriter BRENDAN KELLY has just announced the release of his brand new single. And not only has the midlands man gone down the road less travelled at this time of the year, he has something that’s a little different in store for his fans this time. And, what’s more, it even has a touch of Nashville stardust sprinkled over it, thanks to a BILLY RAY CYRUS and GRAND OLE OPRY connection. Already at radio, BROTHER – another original from Kelly’s own songbook – became available across all platforms on December 10th. 


        A powerful, driving track with an instantly anthemic feel to it, Brother showcases the energy that has long been a feature of Kelly’s ‘live’ shows, a fact that won’t surprise many given that Brendan is well-known as ‘the entertainer’ in his native Longford. With a definite country-rock vibe pulsing through the number and giving it its heartbeat from start to finish, Brendan describes Brother as a, “song based on the bond between brothers and friends growing up”. 


        He continued, “It’s a song about always having each other’s backs, never running away from whatever was in front of us, always being there for each other. As time goes by, even when life gives you a hard time – whether it be mental health, financial or family issues, anything – we will always be there for each other, ready and willing to give advice and support to each other. It’s about being able to remind someone, especially when it’s what they really need to hear, that things will get better for them, and not to worry about it because until it does, you’ll be right by their side.” 


          While written from the perspective of his own life and experiences, Brendan is quick to point out that the sentiment is what’s most important about the song, and that he hopes it’s one everyone will be able to relate to and apply to their own lives, and circle of friends. 


           “Listen, we’ve been through – and we’re still in – the strangest of times, and it’s tough for everyone. So if ever there was a time for people to know that they’re not alone, then it’s now. And that’s the feeling, the sense of reassurance really, that I hope people will get from this song. Sometimes a song can be the one thing that somehow changes a person’s mood, or gives them a lift when everything is just getting on top of them a bit. If ‘Brother’ can be that song for even one person somewhere, then for me as a writer – and for me just as another human being too – that’s a feeling of gratitude that’s really immense.” 


          Indeed, when it comes to gratitude, well that’s a subject Kelly knows a thing or two about. When he was just six years old he was involved in a road traffic accident that saw him pronounced clinically dead. Although miraculously revived in hospital, he was left paralyzed and informed that he would never walk again. However, neither life nor those doctors could have foreseen the strength of character that was – after numerous surgeries over many years – to defy all the odds. As Brendan now laughs, “You could say that it was good preparation for a life in the music business!”.   

       

And as for that Billy Ray Cyrus and Grand Ole Opry connection, Brendan himself takes up the story there…


“During my trip to Nashville back in 2019, I had the pleasure of meeting loads of people in the music scene out there. And out of that, I ended up chatting to members of Billy Ray Cyrus’s band. After hearing me sing ‘Brother’ they loved it, and actually wanted to be part of the production for the song. So, not only do I have a gentleman called Chris Condon, who is Billy Ray Cyrus’s musical director, playing on ‘Brother’, but he’s joined by a man called Mark Beckett, who is regularly the man behind the drums at the Grand Ole Opry as well.  I was even invited to play the Grand Ole Opry in 2020, but as we all know now, Covid had other plans. But I’m a strong believer in the old saying that delays are not denials. So we’ll see what 2022 brings! No matter what, though, ‘Brother’ is already a song that has blessed me so much, something I’m very grateful for. And the beautiful thing is that it’s only getting started.” 


          In every genre of music, creation is the real life-force that drives everything forward. On the Irish country scene, a landscape too often handicapped by a reluctance to step out of the past and give new music a chance, Kelly remains one of those troubadours intent on blazing his own trail nonetheless. Brother is the latest example of this, and indeed, is a further example of the depth of Brendan’s determination to shape his own identity in all he does. 


          Not only will Brother win him new fans, and deservedly so – something it’s already proved in the home of country music itself – it will inspire new artists to seek their own true voices, too. 


BROTHER, the brand NEW single from BRENDAN KELLY, is OUT NOW, available to request from radio stations nationwide, and also available on all digital platforms.

ENDS

Hot Country TV

NEWS

Press Release via AS Written, December 2021

FREE HOT COUNTRY SHOWS TO MAKE IT A MERRY CHRISTMAS FOR FANS

It’s been a long twenty-two months or so for country music fans in Ireland, but HOT COUNTRY TV is about to make it a very merry Christmas at least, with founder and host HUGH O’ BRIEN announcing that SIX FREE hour long HD STREAMING shows are on the way. 

Beginning at 5pm on Christmas Eve on the official Hot Country TV website – www,hotcountrytv.com, the shows – titled AN IRISH COUNTRY CHRISTMAS –  promise fans a wonderful mix of chat, storytelling, and even some very special Christmas videos that have never been seen before. Featuring some of Irish entertainment’s star names, including

Daniel O’ Donnell, Nathan Carter, Olivia Douglas, and Sabrina Fallon, the shows will be presented by Hugh and Eilish O’ Sullivan. And the Corkman sees the shows as a way to bring some cheer back into the lives of fans who – for the most part – wouldn’t have been able to see all of their favourite artists ‘live’ this year…

          “The Irish country music scene, for as long as its existed in any form at all, has been built around people coming together to enjoy the artists they love. Live shows and gigs, days and nights like that have been the heartbeat of the scene, and of so many peoples’ lives. So everything that’s happened since March 2020, or should I say, everything that hasn’t been able to happen, has been a complete shock to the system for so many people. We thought this year would be better, and that things would all go back to normal, but unfortunately that’s not how it turned out to be. And that’s why we’ve decided to make our ‘An Irish Country Christmas’ shows free for everyone to enjoy this Christmas.” 

Set to be the biggest country music event of the festive season, An Irish Country Christmas will also bring to our screens artists from Nashville (including the great songwriter Max T. Barnes), Scotland (accordion maestro Brandon McPhee), Malta (Marisa D’ Amato), Russia (Larissa Tormey, now living in Ireland), and Sweden (Ellinor Springstrike). 

“Not only are we making all six of these shows free for everyone”, remarked Hugh, “we’re also making them easily available, so that as many country music fans as possible can enjoy them over the Christmas. Each of the shows will be available FREE and in FULL HD on our website, www.hotcountrytv.com, and people at home will also be able to cast them to their Smart TVs when the website is entered using Google Chrome browser, this is a must. Another great idea is to log onto the website through all Smart TV’s in-built browser.”

Hugh went on to point out that the shows would also cast directly from laptop and desktop computers – and Android phones such as Samsungs, to all Android Smart TVs, and to all Smart TVs when using a Google Chromecast dongle (about €25 to buy), and that there are millions of Chromecast devices in operation around the world.

“For at least an hour on six different occasions over Christmas”, continued Hugh, “we’re looking forward to bringing top-class artists like Margo, Dominic Kirwan, Derek Ryan, and Cliona Hagan – as well as some rising stars of the scene like David James, Aishling Rafferty, Claudia Buckley, Alex Roe, Colin Kenny, Dae Allen, Jamie Donnelly, Simon Peters, Norman Borland, Liam Kelly, Eimear Furlong – and so many more, into peoples’ homes and back into peoples’ lives again.” 


~ For more information on the AN IRISH COUNTRY CHRISTMAS shows – which begin at 5pm on Christmas Eve – please visit the official Hot Country TV website, www.hotcountrytv.com

Hot Country TV has been broadcasting for over twelve years and is available on all digital devices worldwide.

ENDS