Sunday, May 1, 2011
Thom Moore at the Island Music Club Clare
We enjoyed a lovely gig in Tulla tonight where a trio combining a good blend of youth and experience entertained a gathering in the backroom in Minogues pub .
Elder statesman of contemporary Irish Singer songwriting Thom Moore ( not to be confused with the other prodigious Thomas Moore, 18th century songwriter of many classic Irish songs)* was joined by young Australian singer Aminah Hughs and multi instrumentalist Shamie O Dowd . The group threaded their way through a range of tuneful material , mostly original taking turns to introduce and lead a number and offering sympathetic support to each other's selections. The mix was eclectic opening with a Robbie Burns song and finishing with A Rory Gallagher number As the Crow Flies which had the mature bespectacled , bearded brigade if not exactly rocking in the aisles at least humming along mouthing the lyrics and smiling to one another at the shared reminiscence .
Songs by Thom Moore were recorded by many chart topping Irish and International artists and got many plays on popular radio programmes like the Ronan Collins show. Carolinaruadh , Cavan Girl , The Scholar, Gorgeous and Bright perhaps the most familiar of his songs. At the height of his success, he returned to states and to academic work as an English professor in the States and intriguingly as a translator for the US Govt in Russia before returning to Sligo and to the Irish Music Scene. Moore is the second academic hailing from California to entertain in Clare this year that I am aware of and something about the pace of the unhurried drole delivery reminded me of David Chase ( see review of the year blog post )
Three is a magic number . A solo performer can cut a lonely figure and a duo relies very much on finding that resonance with an audience. With a trio , there is a sense that the ensemble relies less on the audience and draws some of its energy from the resonance within the ensemble itself and as we were the 4th type of audience, the subdued type that likes the performers , the trio needed to source that energy from within its ranks. There was much variety in timbres and playing styles within the ensemble with Shamie O Dowd proving his versatility on harmonica and with good firmly accented bowing on fiddle . There were some problems in setlling the pitch in the numbers using close harmonies but the songs were nicely varied and looking at his back catalog his influence on the contemporary songwriting scene is striking.
The venue is a surprisingly spacious room at the rear of Minogues, Tulla but regrettably the size of the audience did not require all of it. Given the stature and skill of the performers and the excellent publicity in the local press and information website, I couldn't but be surprised that this trio did not attract a capacity attendance in an area of the county that boasts a strong live musical tradition. One couldn't fall back on the weather as it was a gorgeous evening for a drive . Was I missing some very exciting other event locally that had siphoned all the local gig goers? .Maybe there was something compelling on the Late Late . Somehow I doubt it . Again well done to Frank Hayes of the Island Music Club for bringing these excellent performers to Clare and to a convivial venue.
** I note the 18th Thomas Moore lost an 'as' and was referred to in a footnote piece to an article on Declan O Rourke as 'Thom Moore' in the Irish Times today - a subliminal reference to the contemporary TM perhaps?.