G'day! What a brilliant couple of weeks Ive had. To be honest when Sharon asked me to take part in the promo work in March, I was very hesitant. Simply because I had a lot to do myself and that taking, essentially a month out to go back promoting Celtic Thunder wasnt on my schedule at all! However, the thoughts of having the craic with Neil for a couple of weeks on a bus alone and a trip to the Southern Hemisphere was too hard to turn down. I also knew that I would be able to get the majority of what I needed to get done, done whilst on the road. The rest could wait!
When first we started the trip in Seattle, it was evident from the get go, that I was going to be the quiet one of the pairing on air........NOT!! Neil and I, were like a good cop, bad cop combo! He was calm collected and chatty, whilst I was like a raging lunatic, desperate for people to pick up the phone and pledge. I was also a man who had no boss no more, so was totally up for having a laugh on air. Honestly, Im not sure what some of the presenters thought. A lot rolled with it, others were very scared! Either way, we both had a lot of fun going from Seattle all the way across to the east coast. It was also a great chance to catch up with many fans. I also enjoy the banter with the fans and often feel it would be great fun to mix it up with a couple of bottles of wine at the stations! Could you imagine! PBS would never be the same.
Whilst out and about a lot asked and wondered about what my plans were. I was delighted to be able to tell all about my pending album and plans for some gigs in the Autumn. One thing I said was that as soon as I know anything, ye will know everything!
In the throws of going from one PBS station to the next, I was off to Boston for a very special gig! On the 16th of March I was asked to perform the American national anthem in the world famous TD Gaaaaden! Although I had performed anthems for a number of countries to large audiences on many occasions, this was different. Im not sure why. Maybe it was because it was my first major appearance in America on my own, or maybe it was because I hoped it symbolized the beginning of some fun times ahead. Either way, before I walked out on the court to perform, I was more nervous than I had been for a long time. It was at this point I realised that there is definightly a chemical imbalance in my head. Why in Gods name would anyone in their right mind want to walk out infront of 10's of thousands of people and sing a countries national anthem. No normal person would want to do that. To stand with a big spotlight on you, like a scene from Basic Instinct, and have all these faces looking at you waiting. Waiting for you to perform something they had all grown up saying nearly everyday of their life. Something that, if messed up, would be totally unforgivable. Something that, after a certain Super Bowl performance, was now at the point of people just wanting it to be sung as written and meant. All these things were running through my mind At a million miles a minute! Then I was announced and I was on my own. Heart thumping and stomach churning. When all of a sudden I was half way through it, and absolutely loving it. The adrenalin was pumping through every vein in my body, the crowd was cheering, the vibe was electric from the crowd to myself and back at them. I sang it like it was my own anthem. With pride and passion, and I didnt care if anyone liked my version or not. I just gave it welly! Then at the end, the place went wild. At which point, I realised exactly why I do what I do for a living, and wouldnt change it for a moment. I was buzzing after it. Definightly a highlight in my career. Hopefully the next time I go to do it, I wont be as nervous, and will give an ever better rendition. Never, straying from how it was written though. This I can promise you! Word is, I will get that shot for game one of the playoffs......ooohhh yea!
The following day, I was already back in NY for the St.Patricks day celebrations. I had a lunchtime engagement on the Adrian Flannely radio show in the city and then was free for the remainder of the day. Its hard to put into words the celebrations in New York on this day. Ive seen nothing like it ever. Everyone is bloody Irish, and half are drunk but lunchtime! Fun times for a lot of people, however part of me dislikes the fact that us Irish are associated so heavily with drink. I myself enjoy drink and a good time, within reason. However, I also know that drink has a very dangerous side, and has turned many a good person into a wreck of a person. Alcohol should be enjoyed, but respected. It can be quiet a dangerous thing when not respected. Some of the scenes I saw that day were hilarious, but one or two sad scenes too. I hope that for some of these people, it was only a once off event. Although my senses tell me different. Ireland is a wonderful country. Full of culture, music, literature and history. I hate that so many associate getting drunk with the Irish. But no amount of ranting by some tenor in a wine bar (ironically) is going to change that! Either way, we had a lot of fun in New York on Paddy's day, and one where I was proud, and VERY proud to be from where I am. It makes me smile and beam that so many that are not Irish, want to be. That for such a small country, we have spread the shamrock far and wide, and that so many are doing so much good for our little nation. We are small in number, but large in heart!
With that pride, I boarded a plane to New Zealand to promote Irish music in the Southern Hemisphere. I had never been down there before, but many of my friends and some of my family had been and I was hearing nothing but great things about the countries and the people down there. When we got to New Zealand, all I wanted to do was go meet the Maori people. They are so steeped in history and culture I just wanted to sample some of it. So I rented a people carrier and drove a small group of us 3 and a half hours out to meet them. This was one hell of a day. Great laugh and great sites. The one thing that occurred to me was how similar it was to Ireland. Truly green and full of sheep and cows! Although the moo from the cows had a different accent!
After four days we headed to Sydney, and I couldnt believe the fact our hotel was right by the harbour. I was going to do as much as I could in the short space of time I had off. The schedule was going to be full on as the buzz and excitement from the tv and radio stations down there was impalpable. They all wanted a piece, and we were totally on for giving it to them!
On day one I showered quickly and grabbed my camera and ran out the door. Then went back to the room to get dressed......I was that excited!! First stop for me was to go to the Sydney bridge. Then when I heard you could climb it, there was no stopping me. It was $200 to do it, which I thought was very OTT, but I felt it would be a once in a lifetime experience and that I would regret it if I didnt. Needless to say when I reached the top, I was delighted and proud of my achievement. I was in a nice group of ten climbers, but oddly enough, one was afraid of heights! I thought, darling, have you not read the memo? What are you doing up here!??!!! That being said, she was very brave and got up and back without a panic attack.
Later that evening, Emmet called my room and suggested we go to "The Barber of Seville" in the Opera House. I love Rossini, so thought, brilliant, lets do it! Needless to say, there were no other takers on the offer, so off the two of us went! AMAZING is all I will say on this.
After a couple of days of touristy things it was time to work, and work we did. We met many presenters and hosts and all were really fun and so laid back. Very similar personalities to the Irish and exact same sense of humour. All they do is take the mic outta each other, much like us. It made the whole experience so much fun.
As the trip was winding down, I knew it could be a long time before I saw the boys again, so a night on the town was on the cards. Needless to say we had some great laughs, and right in the middle of it all was Sharon. She maybe the boss of CT, but she is also a friend and some good times were had with her over the last month or so. She works very hard for Celtic Thunder, and I am delighted it is paying off for her.
The flight back was going to be long and one I wasnt looking forward to. Especially when I saw an infant sit two rows in front of me. I knew from the way he looked at me, that he was not happy about being on a plane. Then for 14 hours, he would often let us all know how unhappy he was. Frustrated as I was, I was also sympathetic to the parents who tried everything to keep him happy. Its a tough job being a parent, so those of us who are not, need to give them a break sometimes and just get on with it, in the hope than one day I will travel with a minnie me, and that those around will understand how tough it is.
After nearly a day and a half of travel, I got back to New York and back to the one I love. Im also back to start pressing those who have promised much and are yet to fulfill. No more mister nice guy. its time to get Byrom out there!
Love you all, and appreciate all your support. Please dont ever give up on me