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Urban Trad & Me

Like thousands of other fans around Belgium and the world I was in awe of Urban Trad. The band seemed to explode onto the scene around 2001, a year after I had moved to Belgium. By 2003 and their second album, they were well and truly established as one of the biggest acts on the European circuit. The Eurovision song contest 2003 saw them end up in second place with a song called Sanomi which was unique in the sense that it was a song composed from a constructed language (prompting the famous remark of BBC commentator Terry Wogan “They’ve got 4 languages in Belgium and they’re singing in an imaginary one, the very essence of the Euro” (No comment) :-)

I remember politics also reared it’s ugly head during that time  as my friend, singer Soetkin Collier did not attend the event in Riga due to allegations which arose in the newspaper “De Standaard” as they said she had political sympathies with right wing organisations in Flanders. You can read her reply HERE. I want to also make it known that the  Belgian security council admitted later that they had made a mistake regarding their decision in not allowing Soetkin to take part in the Eurovision.

Having known and worked with some of the band’s musicians individually over the years I was first invited to do an opening act for the band in France with Marijke Peters from The Netherlands. It really was a super experience and a very proud moment for both of us.

Marijke and I opening for Urban Trad in France

Opening for Urban Trad in France

Soetkin, Marijke & Veronica

Soetkin, Marijke & Veronica

Mid July 2008 I got a phone call from the main guitarist Philip Masure asking me if I’d be interested in filling in with the band as their guitarist in Brittany for two shows later that summer. Jeroen Geerinck (who now plays with snaarmaarwaar) was their regular stand in guitarist and was not available as he was booked , believe it or not, at the same Dutch Festival as Philip himself was booked at with COMAS. Unreal I know.

I was flattered and I thought this was great until I met with Jeroen (as he was the one given the task of going over the show with me) and I saw the sheet music/guitar tablature. The nerves began directly and I began to think “What have I gotten myself into here?” I wasn’t going to have much time to learn this off by heart, though I rehearsed for many many days along to mp3s that Jeroen hade made up or me though I do like a challenge.

The weekend of the gigs arrived and as usual there was great fun on the road down as I got to know some of the members I hadn’t met before like Yves, Cedric and (Michel Morvan whom we tragically lost so suddenly in 2010, may he rest in peace) Usual drill…check into hotel and straight into afternoon soundcheck. Just to make things more interesting…Urban Trad was a SILENT STAGE SET UP…meaning no monitors on stage only in ear monitoring which (believe me) takes a lot of getting used to if you haven’t used them before….I was lucky I had. Although I was using Philips MIX which I hated (he knew the show already remember) so i was trying to figure out what mix I actually needed. Remember this sound check AND show was the first time EVER on stage with these guys who are, by the way all top top seasoned professional musicians. YIKES.

Now…… The band also worked with a rolling electronic drum machine pre programmed for each track (along with the live drummer) The button pressing was Cedric the bass players job, who incidentally was almost hurt that first day when some idiotic stage hand try to move a 20 foot lighting ladder all by himself. The ladder fell right on top of Cedric’s hand built 5 string bass which was on a stand luckily as Cederic was lying back on stage resting when it happened and the bass saved him) The bass was relatively unhurt also.

Yves and I

Yves and I

Dirk, Me. Yves & Sophie

Dirk, Me. Yves & Sophie

Once that button was engaged here was no turning back, you were on it or you were lost…The machine gave us all a count in French “Un, deux, trois, quatre”……which only the band could hear, then enter the drum machineThis had an amazing affect along side the brilliant live drumming of Michel Morvan who was always astounding to watch and hear.

I got HUGE sheets printed up which had the guitar tab in big letters gaff taped onto my drum riser…yes I was up on a drum riser at the back same height as the drummer (in case I wasn’t nervous enough) I remember keeping my right foot on the sheet at all times with my toe just under the track we were performing so that when I looked up to smile and pretend to be rocking out in sheer enjoyment I could look back down to where was foot was and try to find my spot :) It was terrifying!!

A few thousand people attended both open air shows and although It was a very intense couple of days it was magical.

one of the crowd shots

All weekend the whole band were so kind and considerate to me as they knew I had an unenviable task but we all got through it and I’m very grateful to all involved and for the invitation to stand on stage with some of the most amazing musicians and singers in the world. Urban Trad

Urban Trad and Me

Urban Trad and Me

Members

  • Yves Barbieux: flutes and Galician bagpipe
  • Veronica Codesal: vocals
  • Soetkin Collier: vocals
  • Sophie Cavez : diatonic accordion
  • Philip Masure: acoustic guitar
  • Michel Morvan: drums (died 3 July 2010)
  • Dirk Naessens: violin
  • Cedric Waterschoot: bass

WATCH URBAN TRAD LIVE HERE

Post script:

Last I heard, Urban Trad are going to reform but not with the same line up. I wish them all the very best but I’m not free for gigs :-)

Folkroddels.be: Daithi Rua De Cultuurloft Gent 26 april 2014.

Daring to Dream

Daithi Rua:

Great article by Leah Plotz

Originally posted on Vic Uni Journalism ACG5203:

By Leah Plotz

Dream; never fear.

It is an ideology most people only dare to take on in certain parts or in particular times of their life. Daithi Rua, 40, lives by it.

With the release of his last album, “Dream, Never Fear,” Rua celebrated 25 years in the music business. Has he survived doing this for so long because of his mantra? Maybe it has something to do with turning 40. Or maybe it is just Daithi being Daithi.

Any which way you look at it, there’s a lot of dreaming to be done in that long of a music career.

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Photo courtesy Daithi Rua

In just chatting with Rua for ten minutes, it becomes apparent that Rua has always just dared, always just dreamed.

When he was seven, he was in a community talent show back home in Ireland where he grew up. He sang a classic Irish…

View original 1,074 more words

Dream, Never Fearmethods of payment
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It was a dry and mild Christmas day when we packed the van in Gent and set off just after the crack of noon with guitars, sound equipment, food and enough clean clothes for two weeks.

It was sunny enough to wear sunglasses but you’d need a jacket outside.

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The journey ahead would take us through the countries of Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Sweden, finally Norway.

 

We put winter tires on the van for that bit of extra grip should we experience snow or ice on the roads and of course it’s a legal requirement in this part of the world.

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The highways were busier than we expected them to be on Christmas day but so far the weather as far the Netherlands was dry and ideal.

We spotted lots of Buzzards and Kestrels en route, a sure sign of good weather according to Pluim (my friend/driver/roadie) who has knowledge on these types of birds and he told me that they generally only appear in dry or sunny weather

(I know some humans like that too I said) 

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A Rainbow Day

There are some crazy speed mongers out there.

A small stop near Hamburg for refreshments and sleep for the driver.

I called home to wish my family a Happy Christmas and it was lovely to hear them all having fun. I joked and laughed with them and tried to convince my mother that I had my Christmas dinner in McDonald’s. She wasn’t falling  for it

(I really missed her cooking though)

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Xmas wishes from wi-fi central

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Tea for the roadie

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Checking if we were on the list

We’re used to this ferry going every 20 minutes but hey It’s Christmas.

We were glad it was going at all.

One lonely looking Christmas tree with it’s lights dancing in the wind stood in a ridge of snow which seemed to have been left over from a previous flurry.

A taste of things to come perhaps?

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smooth 45 minute crossing and hello Denmark. The time was about 2.30am and I was beginning to doze off. I remember the red tail lights of a truck that we seemed to be behind for hours and waking up in time to pay the bloody expensive toll (43 Euros one way) to cross the famous Øresund bridge 8 Kilometers of manmade brilliance that crosses the Øresund strait and takes us into Malmo, Sweden.

The lady collecting the money handed us some pink and white Santa Claus sweets though which were delicious. We were strip searched at the Swedish customs on one of the last trips. This time we continued un-interfered with. 

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Denmark

 

IMG_2248We ploughed on as far as sleep would allow and as dawn approached we settled down near Göthenburg and I managed a few cold hours sleep in the cab of the van in a sitting position. Glad I had a pillow with me.

Pluim has his own in-built bed in the back of the van so at least he got a proper rest and he is the sole driver so his rest takes priority anyway.

Some morning tea and coffee and we were off again this time feeling the pinch of a December wind and admiring the whiteness of the Swedish countryside as we left Göthenburg and finally crossed that beautiful high bridge that spans the water that separates Sweden and Norway.

No stop at Norwegian customs this time also so in we went Oslo bound.

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A truckload of reindeer?

IMG_7159Snow suits Norway very well, It always looks like a winter wonderland, scenes from a book or postcard surrounded us though it was well below freezing outside every so often I’d lower the window and take photos and feel the pure cold on my face. wakey wakey.

As we got closer to Oslo we were met with freezing fog which made it difficult to navigate but we were not under time pressure so we made it safely and soundly. 1700 Kilometers later we arrived et the door of The Dubliner Irish bar which would be our home for the next two weeks and where we’d ring in 2013 among friends of all nationalities.

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IMG_2254IMG_2253Then when it was over we packed the van and drove back home……

Happy new year

The Ghent Office

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The T-shirt models

The T-shirt models

Just about seven and a half minutes walk up the street from where I live is my “Ghent office” or my local The Celtic Towers  (click for web site)

I’ve been hanging out there annoying the friendly staff and the owner John Kearns for over 10 years now, I mainly hang out there during the daytime as I’m  a great fan of pubs when I have them mainly to myself :-)

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with John Kearns

I’ve probably had more cups of coffee in this place than I’ve had hot dinners (though I’ve enjoyed lots of delicious hot dinners there also) :-)

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It’s a warm friendly bar that you can bring your family to for an afternoon or drop in to to watch your favourite soccer or rugby team on the big screens in the evening. It harbours many’s the local character also and you’ll find some of them in the photo’s below.

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Daithi says “STOP”and take a look at yourself

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many great friendships have been formed here over the years too as well as quite a few memorable nights of music.

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Photo by: David Taylor

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Lots of  staff came and went over the years

The mighty Emma. Keeping it all going

The mighty Emma. Keeping it all going

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Lauren’s back down under

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We miss Ellie too

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Put it on my tab… :-)

itchy and scratchy. (photo by: Valentin Pribilovsky)

Pluim the roadie and me (Photo by: Valentin Pribilovsky)

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Liverpool John

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some beermat art

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Some fool with a pink elephant hat

I wont ramble on here about it but go and check it out for yourself next time you’re in Gent (St-Michielshelling 5-6) 

Tell them all I said hello xx Daithi

Social networking

According to Facebook if you have over 2000 friends you can be classed as popular. What a load of shite. I know people with No friends who are more popular than I’ll ever be.
“He’s on that damn facebook again posting crap about his gigs” :-) facebook pages (fan site and regular) , reverbnation, Ustream, myspace (my what?) web site, blog, the mobile app, twitter, you tube etc etc etc on and on.

when all that’s updated and your one good typing finger is aching how are you going to strum a guitar for a few hours to nail that new song you’ve been working on since your career began? I don’t know. Social networking is a necessary evil these days kids whether you like it or loath it. With the demise of record labels us independent artists are embracing the power of the internet like never before, some of us are even investing in things other than instruments or studio time like PC’s and macs.. :-)

Apple mac

Bands and artists on every level in today’s industry are spending more and more time on the internet updating tour dates and trying to get their music out there and their fans interested that I have no idea how we ever find the time to write, rehearse, and find new gigs these days.

Did you know that 7 years worth of new video footage gets uploaded to you tube every day? 7 YEARS WORTH EVERY DAY!!  so if you or your band think you’re going to get discovered on you tube then think again. I DO recommend having a you tube or vimeo account though as people who want to book you want to see and hear what you do live and it’s a very useful tool. Stuff like mobile Apps seem to be becoming very popular also as more and more people use smart phones to access the net than ever before. I’m trying this one out which is free (to the user, not to me) and powered by reverbnation  http://www.reverbnation.com/daithirua (another handy tool to check out)

My free App

Finding ways to capture an audience even when you’re not on stage is also something I became fascinated with some years ago with the introduction of live streaming. Using something like Ustream http://www.ustream.tv/channel/daithi-tv really is an effective way to do that. It incorporates a live chat room where fans, friends and family can watch a performance from the comfort of their own home while you perform from the comfort of yours or indeed at a live event.

I like the fact that it takes place in real time but it also gets recorded if you wish for people to re play or share at a later time. Below is a really cool photo of some friends enjoying a live stream show the next day on their i pad during breakfast. :-) 

As an independent artist of any kind. Social networking is the only way forward unless you happen to be financially backed by a major investor or record label. Even then I don’t believe that anyone big or small can do without the power of the internet for promotion in this cyber world we live in. I’m finished updating my blog now the status and tour dates are done. I’ve twittered enough for one day. Same time same place tomorrow? or is it today already?  Confused dot com.

live stream for breakfast.

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