Open Mic Night in Dynamic Sound and Music Centre on the 22nd of March

The gig began with a small crowd that grew as the night went on.  The ambience created with clever lighting and soft tones set the mood for what would be an enjoyable and relaxing night of music.

Up first on the stage was Niall Cash.  A student at Dynamic, it fell on him to open the night and he didn’t not disappoint.  He began with a couple of covers most notably a note perfect cover of Ben Howard’s “Keep your head up”, a song that combines technical guitar ability with fresh melodic vocals, and uproarious applause greeted the nervous young man.  He then broke into an original song “Rainy days”, an intricately woven strum along song with cleverly written lyrics that clearly meant a lot to the singer and by the end, to the audience as well. He then covered “Delicate” by Damien Rice, and aware of the songs draining qualities Niall told us he would try to cheer us up, which he did with a foot stomping rendition of “Cooler than me” by Mike Posner.  Telling us that he was sure to make a mistake during his next song, “All I want” by Codaline, he made just one, and smiling at the crowd, he played on.  He played his last original of the night then, “Not Capable” and if “Rainy Days” showed his potential, “Not Capable” fulfilled it.  I cannot describe the beauty of this song; I can only say I would hear it again and again and again…  To sign off, and leave the crowd wanting more, as all great performers do, he sang his heart out to Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love”, with most of the audience singing along.  Niall is able to get a depth of emotion into his singing beyond his years and his is a name to look out for on chalkboards in Wexford in the coming months, and years, although I wouldn’t be at all surprised if his talents took him away from the sunny south-east and on to pastures new.

Niall was followed by a three piece band called Ning Street, comprising of Ning on percussion, James on lead guitar and his brother Stephen (that’s me!) on bass.  The band was without a singer and as this was their first public performance their nerves were clearly on show..  They began with a freestyle jam constructed around the theme tune for the popular children’s TV show “Pinky and the Brain” and lead into a cover of Modjo’s “Lady”.  With the audience becoming more and more relaxed, or perhaps bored with the lack of vocals, when the band started to play “Don’t Forget Me” by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers a helpful audience member jumped to the fore and accompanied them.  This is the atmosphere at Dynamic, audience participation, the fabled craic and collaboration is encouraged.  This was emphasised in the bands final song, Ben E. Kings “Stand by Me” for which Niall Cash was dragged up to show more of his talents to, and while he claimed not to know the melodies, it is the kind of song that is built into the DNA of modern musicians, and buoyed by the crowd the four of brought the song through its various fillips to a fantastic crescendo assisted by the whole room.

A short intermission followed, after which the audience was treated to a beautiful piece of music by the composer Schubert called “Ständchen” performed on piano by Imogen Robb, a teacher at Dynamic Sound and Music, and sang wonderfully by Rebecca Jenkins.  This classical piece stunned the crowd, who could not have expected such music to be performed by people whom we have seen walking the streets of Wexford for years, who would have thought that such noises lived inside these people and for a few minutes they lived inside them no longer, they lived in our ears and our minds.  Never mind that the words are in German, or that the music you are listening to was first constructed almost two hundred years ago, this performance was proof that true music is like true beauty, ignorant of time.

The final performance of the night was given by the Kenny’s Blues Band, although on this occasion the band consisted of just one, the man himself, Kenny.  He opened his set with a classic blues tune “Modjo Working” that old lament of a ladies man who just can’t get his lady, man.  Just as Kenny was getting settled into his grove, a request was called out from the audience, or as Kenny put it “heckled” for some Jonny Cash, and without missing a beat, we were pulled into a foot stomping, knee slapping rendition of “Folsom Prison Blues”.  Having sated the crowd for the moment, he began to play his own songs, which I am privileged to say I have heard before having been lucky enough to make it to his E.P. launch, and while the big band experience which the Kenny’s Blues Band provides for its listeners is certainly a great experience, a lot must be said for the way, unaccompanied, Kenny fills out the room with his voice, his strumming and his foot percussion.  He was joined on stage for the second half of these originals by Kelly Campbell on backing vocals, and while the crowds ears lapped up the music, their eyes were treated to the sight of two people very clearly in love with one another and loving what they are doing.  A rare privilege for the viewer indeed.  For their last song Kenny professed a need for percussion and called the drummer from Ning Street, its namesake, Ning up to the stage to help fill out the last song which was normally backed by brass, and his fresh take on a familiar blues stomp got the crowd all frenzied up and assured that the night ended to great applause and whistling.

So the night ended with a room full of happy ears, aided by the promise of another gig next Friday, and many more to come afterwards, but the truth of the situation is there will only be more if more people are going, though each time someone goes, they tell a friend and soon Dynamic Sound and Music will have the following it deserves.  It is a place for musicians and musically minded people to converge and socialise, to collaborate and network.  It is exactly what Wexford needs.

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