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Chasing the dream with Ryan Sheridan

RYAN Sheridan is a different type of man without his guitar. Sitting over a glass of lemonade in a Dublin hotel, everyone's favourite song and dance man from Monaghan doesn't do loud conversations.

Quite often, it's a struggle to even hear the bloke.

Perhaps the magic is in his trademark cap - which he isn't wearing today. Or maybe he's just saving his energy.

Either way, he's still a very likeable chap. And that pretty much sums up the 30-year-old troubadour - a simple music-maker with a likeable if somewhat unchallenging set of songs under his belt.

Yet, despite what critics have to say, Sheridan's rise to the top has been nothing if not extraordinary.

Riverdance

Having spent six years in America as a dancer with the Riverdance ensemble, Sheridan was in the middle of a two-year Broadway stint when he realised what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.

He'd started dancing at the age of three, took up the fiddle at seven, and finally got himself a guitar when he was 16. But it was when he set up home in New York that a part-time hobby began to take hold.

"That's when I started writing music," he smiles, "in the toilets of the Gershwin Theatre."

The show finally over, Sheridan stepped away from Riverdance and began sharpening a new set of skills in New York's East Village. Until his visa ran out.

Homeward bound, he had every intention of returning to the States -- that is, until he found himself in Glasgow.

"I started a band there," he recalls, "and partied away in Glasgow. The music scene was brilliant at the time. Franz Ferdinand and Snow Patrol had just come out - it was great for a while."

Returning to Ireland once more, he tried to restart the band in Dublin, but it wasn't to be. Besides, the opportunity to open a venue in his hometown surfaced and he grabbed it with both hands. But there was still something missing.

"That was a turning point for me," he explains. "I was there for six months and there were people playing music and I was pulling pints, and I was like, 'right, I gotta get out of this'. So I got out of the bar, came down to Dublin, gave up everything and called Artur and we went busking."

Challenge

Ah yes, Artur Graczyk - the Polish percussionist with whom Ryan had previously joined a band. As it turned out, Artur was already busking in Temple Bar and was looking for a new challenge. Handy, seeing as how Sheridan needed a drummer.

"I thought I was gonna p**s everybody off," says Sheridan of his busking debut.

He didn't. In fact, it was "the best training ground".

One day, his future manager was passing by and dropped his card into Sheridan's guitar case. And that was that. Hundreds of gigs

followed, not to mention a record deal, support slots with Bryan Adams and The Script, and a top-five, best-selling album, The Day You Live Forever.

Folks just can't get enough of Ryan and Artur's jaunty, melodious tunes; those punchy, hands-in-the-air choruses that have made the exuberant guitarist and his right-hand man a permanent fixture on Irish radio. And hey, the US president might be a fan.

After all, Sheridan was one of the artists chosen to play at the Barack Obama concert on College Green last May - a career-defining moment?

"The Obama gig was absolutely crazy," he nods. "We were backstage in this little area, and everybody that was doing something that day was in the room, so you had Brendan Gleeson, Stephen Rea, Daniel Day-Lewis, Brian O'Driscoll, and Imelda May.

"I was thinking to myself, 'Jesus, you're supposed to meet these people over the span of a career - not in the one room,'" he laughs.

"Then the President of the United States walks in. So yeah, that day was kind of surreal. Definitely a defining moment..."

Ryan Sheridan plays the Olympia Theatre on Friday, April 20


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