It has been a life long ambition of mine to see the ancient walls of this great city. And from the watery wake of the Bosphorus, ‘Sailing to Byzantium’, the great poem by W.B.Yeats came to me on a memory, from my way back when school days. Like the city’s long shadows, the poems language hangs on the air. Like whispers on older winds.
Istanbul is big. It’s busy and it’s impressive. Staring spellbound at the eye of the world, as it was once known, and gazing upon the great temples of old and new, I couldn’t but wonder in awe as their great shapes shone in the sun as the sounds of the old city resonate. Constantinople! Byzantium! Names and echoes that cross continents and timeless corridors of faith, belief and wonder, leaving us with a legacy, that to me, is as unwavering and unending as the tide. Orthodox Church Istanbul
This was my first tour of 2014 and it took in three countries over four weeks – Austria, Hungary and Turkey. Beginning in Istanbul I spent a weekend discovering streets and stones of older worlds and with time to acclimatize I hung out for a few days before heading across the Sea of Marmara to Bursa. Here I spent a week with new friends writing new songs. I played shows in local schools and spent days developing a new working model for musicians in Europe. All of which with the support of the European Union and the Leonardo program. Encountering a new culture is always an eyeopener. But my time in Turkey with Turkish people was incredible. I was truly moved by the hospitality I received and ever in awe of their history and the things I learned from new friends who I know will become old friends.
Leap Frog – Schwedenplatz:
Vienna was next on the agenda and Café Tachles . To kick off proceedings a did a wee gig with the floorspot crew. A nice songwriter night run by Jonnie and set to up to encourage and promote the craft in Vienna. A cool night in. I then hit Innsbruck and Die Baeckerei. A great art venue, great hosts and the veggie is good pretty good too. I then found myself in The Claddagh of Klagenfurt where I played over the St Patrick’s Day weekend. Another big night in the best bar south of Die Scherbe! Great people down that part of the world.
Now I have played in Austria a fair bit over the last four years and it is safe to say that is has become my spiritual home away from home. It is also safe to say the Austrians know how to party. Which can be a distraction when you’re trying to work… and sleep for that matter. And it should be known that very little sleep was had as many mountain passes were managed on route around this beautiful country. Spirits soared, hearts were lifted and as always Austria… you do it again. Fantastisch! Oesterreich… Ich komme wieder!!!
The Alps – Austria
For those of you who don’t know Europe by train you should. The Cities, the people, the scenery. The world changes before you. Language and sounds twist and tease the ear, keeping the eyes ever open. There’s so much to see on this the smallest of five continents! I love it! And I love Europe by train. Set for Budapest I left Klagenfurt main train station and with Hungary now firmly in my sights… Szeged was the next destination.
Full Moon – Szeged.
Hungary is great! With old friends I spent a week playing music and doing shows. I even managed to jump on board a workshop with Hungarian Shamans and Folk Singers. Also in the mix were singers from Finland, France, Germany, the UK, Poland and Latvia. Ireland was also well represented as traditions were presented and in turn explored. We sang, we danced, we chanted and we swam. Hot thermal baths are all the rage in Hungary and as you’d expect we dived right in. Whacky fun stuff! You gotta love it. Seven days spent in great company and it stays with you. I took a lot of great things home from my time with the Magyars!
Café Tachles – Vienna – Photo by Moriz Kopetzki
It is a cliché I know. But time travels all to quickly on the road. Four weeks flashed by and came to a head with an end of tour show back in Vienna and Café Tachless. Support on the night was from the amazing Kathrin Kolleritsch and Alice Felis Manul. David Spoerrer joined me on stage as the crowd sang along to every tune. It felt like home. Kathrin and Alice joined us on stage for some encores and in total we played a blistering three hour set to a full house. An incredible night and a huge thank you to all the Vienna crew, Sabine, Emil and Tachles for making it possible! And for every song and all that crazy singing!!! Danke sehr!
Star – The Highlander and what turned out to be a night on the tiles in Vienna, ended up becoming an impromptu gig in The Highlander on the Garnisongasse. We set up shop, lashed into some tunes and in timely fashion closed off proceedings in style! Songs were sang! Some old, some new. And as oft times before, we played well into the early hours… and some more!!!
And so it goes, another European tour comes to a close. Many miles and kilometers have passed under foot since Februarys end. Faces changed as did the seasons and the scenery. Great moments were made and many have already turned into sweet memories. Souvenirs that will make for great stories in another time for the telling.
With that in mind I would like to say a huge thank you agus mo bhuíochas arís faoin gach rud. I am eternally grateful for all the support, the singing and help along the way.
From the Naschmarkt in Vienna.
Slán go foill… See you all in the summer!
Shane Ó Fearghail – April 2014
For information on live shows:
Caruso Live in Europe – Summer 2014