- Monday OZone is all over the gaff today -- or rather all over GAF TV. As mentioned last week (several times), I've landed the gig as chief interviewer for the Galway Arts Festival's online TV channel. Last week, I was mostly filming previews, blagging free tickets, and fruitlessly flirting with the prettier young volunteers, but the festival officially kicks off today so it's full steamed ahead. . .
I briefly bump into Ryan Tubridy and his identical twin brother at the launch party in the Radisson. Unfortunately, I've had too many double Absoluts to think of asking him for any advice.
- Tuesday Morning telephone interview with Gary Lightbody. OZone first met the Snow Patrol frontman when the band were hanging out in Galway for rehearsal sessions for their A Hundred Million Suns album.
Following its release, I accompanied them on their private jet for the whistle-stop Take Back The Cities tour, playing four gigs in four cities in 24 hours. Unfortunately, the cities were Dublin, Belfast, Edinburgh and London. I was pissed off it wasn't Paris, New York, Tokyo and Sydney.
With a major London show to play tomorrow night, Gary sounds in somewhat manic form. After the Snow Patrol tour ended last December, he put together a side project called Tired Pony -- a supergroup consisting of REM's Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey, Belle & Sebastian's Richard Colburn, Editors' Tom Smith, Troy Stewart, Iain Archer and producer Garret 'Jacknife' Lee.
Their newly released, country-inspired debut, The Place We Ran From, was recorded in just one week in Portland last January.
"I wanted to write a twisted love-letter to the States," Gary explains. "This is the first record I've written that isn't about me and my love life, primarily. These are all stories told in the first person I guess, but not necessarily with me in the central role, just me talking through various characters. It's certainly different to Snow Patrol, that's for sure."
In the afternoon to the City Museum for a GAF TV interview with acclaimed Galwegian singer-songwriter Adrian Crowley. His superb fifth record, Season of the Sparks, deservedly won the Choice Music Prize for Best Album of 2009 last March.
Although there's a couple of years between us, Adrian and I were near neighbours growing up in Barna. Even as a teenager, he was a quiet, likeable and unassuming type. However, his Wikipedia entry erroneously claims he was born in 1979. Adrian denies all charges of shaving a decade off his age. "That has nothing to do with me!" he laughs. "What kind of journalist are you anyway -- using Wikipedia as a research tool?!"
- Wednesday After almost 14 years in business, it's the end of the road for Road Records. The Fade Street shop nearly closed last year, but received a reprieve when musicians and other friends put together a rescue plan and investment club. Sadly, in this musical era of internet downloading and declining physical sales, the store just couldn't survive indefinitely. There's a major clearance sale on at the moment that'll run until Saturday.
- Thursday Afternoon GAF TV interview with the Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon, who's playing a show tonight. I've interviewed Neil on a couple of occasions previously, so it's a very relaxed chat over a couple of pints. He tells me that his most disastrous ever gig happened in Galway on the night of his birthday some years ago. "It's sort of legendary in Divine Comedy gigs because it's twice as drunk as I've ever been for any show in my life. And eventually, after about an hour of terrible music, my tour manager and percussionist came and put arms around my shoulders and led me offstage. It was Duke Special's fault. He kept putting Sea Breezes on the front of the stage."
"Maybe he just didn't like you?" I suggest.
Shortly after the interview, I get the shocking news that legendary Irish music promoter Derek Nally -- best-known in recent years for his work with Juliet Turner and Ham Sandwich -- has died suddenly of a heart attack. I had various dealings with Derek down through the years and always found him to be a total gentleman. My deepest sympathies to his family and friends.
Derek Nally, RIP.
- Friday Morning GAF TV interview with New York-based newspaper publisher Niall O'Dowd. He's visiting the festival to publicly discuss his new book, An Irish Voice, with journalist and broadcaster Dave O'Connell. In the week in which it was announced that 120,000 people are expected to emigrate from this near-bankrupted island over the next two years, I ask O'Dowd should they consider going to America. Unsurprisingly, his advice is not to go without the proper work visa.
Our chickens have left home to roost . . . in the immigration departments of other countries.
In other cheery national news, it's reported that three lawyers working for the Moriarty Tribunal have earned more than €25m between them to date. Their pay claims testify that they've been tirelessly working six and seven day weeks (at rates of up to €2,500 per day).
It just goes to show that if you're honest, dedicated and hard-working, you can still make an indecent living in this country. Even in a crippling recession, some individuals are raking in €17,500 a week. Fair pay . . . to them.
- Saturday Slightly cringe-inducing moment on the Tommy & Hector Show on 2fm this morning. Responding to a listener's text, Hector (broadcasting from the Basque country) asks Tommy (broadcasting from London) in a challenging tone, "When was the last time you were in the grounds of St Mary's Church in Navan?"
"When I was burying me mother," Tommy replies, deadpan. "Jaysus, you've an awful short memory."
- Sunday Scary statistic in the paper today. Apparently, Irish suicides increased by an alarming 25pc last year to 527, while 11,966 people presented to hospitals after attempting to take their own lives.
What was it Bertie Ahern said people talking down the economy should do again?