Daoirí Farrell has been lifting people’s spirits
A throwback to the folk-singing greats of old, with a modern flair, Dublin singer Daoirí Farrell has won over fans all across the world with his charm, storytelling and incredible talent, including a sold-out performance during Letterkenny Trad Week 2019.
With a musical career that has been on a big trajectory, 2020 was going to be one of Daoirí’s biggest years yet, following the release of his 2019 album, A Lifetime of Happiness, but the upbeat artist said ‘there’s no point crying over it’.
“There was so much happening this year. This was going to be one of the biggest years for me, and the crew, so it was a real gut-wrencher when things didn’t happen.
“There’s not point crying over it as everybody has been in the same boat. Not just musicians, but everyone behind the scenes had to down tools.
“If you see the cup half full, at least I still had music. I’ve been doing lessons, online concerts, working on an album and other stuff to keep me occupied. Whereas people who have devoted their lives to the promotion of musicians, everything has gone.”
Not a man who likes to sit idle, Daoirí jumped into the world of filming and online performance head first, doing no less than 25 free gigs from The Covid Corner, among many other things.
“Over the last months I have gotten to appreciate the amount of work that has to go into sound and camera work for these broadcasts. It’s another four/five years of an apprenticeship, but no better way than to throw yourself into the deep end.”
“It will stand to you, no matter what, coming out of this. Maybe the whole music game is going to change with people being so much more educated, as you had to, to keep things moving.”
For one of his biggest filming projects to-date, a full prerecorded concert, Daoirí called in the assistance of his father and a friend.
“I did the Daoirí Farrell Covid Corner Sessions for 25 nights, performing live on Facebook, and it was great craic, but I just felt like I needed to stop and give myself a break and have a look at where I am going to go.
“So I recorded a full-length concert with the help of my dad and a friend, who are fantastic photographers and turned their cameras into video cameras for a few days.
“We filmed the concert at The Teacher’s Club on Parnell Square and between filming, editing and getting it ready for last weekend’s premiere, it took me a few weeks to do.
“While it has been great craic, it has also been hard to go from playing in front of a live audience to playing to cameras. I wanted to see how this prerecorded concert premiere went at the weekend and take it from there.
“Things might not be cleared until next summer. Who knows, we could be back on the road in January, or next November. In the meantime, we’re just trying to keep the spirits up.”
These unusual times have also brought about some other opportunities for Daoirí, including once again joining one of his favourite bands, Lúnasa, for a special performance.
On 6th September, Daoirí joined the group for their first ever online concert to perform the classic, Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore, having previously joined them on Lúnasa’s 21st anniversary album, CAS, where they ‘finally embraced the world of song’, including a number of high profile singers.
He said: “It was really amazing to get to do that. They’re great pals and I get on very well with them. It was a real honour for me to perform with them. You have to remember, when I was only a young boy I was listening to Lúnasa. Now, I told them that and Kevin [Crawford] said ‘Don’t you ever tell anyone that!’,” he laughed.
“Now they were a couple of years older than me, but as a boy I saw them as superstars, which they are. At the time, they were a touring band, even before I had a thought in my head of becoming an electrician, so that’s years ago.
“It was great to be on their 21st anniversary album, featuring alongside the likes of Tim O’Brien, really amazing singers on there if anyone wants to check out that album.”
“So when they gave me a call and asked me to be on their online concert, I jumped at the chance of singing with one of my favourite bands. I was delighted with it.
“There have been times like that throughout my music career, where you get dizzy and think this is surreal that this is actually happening, as you’re playing with some of your heroes. They’re great memories to look back on and I’ll never forget them, especially playing with Lúnasa.”
As a result of the country’s first lockdown, Daoirí also delved back into teaching, attracting new students from all over the world.
“Teaching bouzouki was something I did before, but then the touring took over. It was great to be able to get back into it this year and they’ve been going really well. I’ve had a lot of regular students in both singing and bouzouki and it has been great watching them come along.
“It’s not even really about teaching people how to play the bouzouki anymore, it’s about how you would approach performing a song or coming up with an arrangement for it, either vocally or with the bouzouki. It’s been amazing watching these students turn into musicians.
“I’ve had students from all over the place, Ireland, the UK, America, Australia, Canada, Germany and all over Europe, contacting me and asking me for a lesson, or more.
“I was very surprised, but delighted. I didn’t think anyone would want to come to Daoirí for music lessons,” he laughed, “It’s working out well and people seem to enjoy the easy manner in which I teach.”
If you are interested in taking a lessons, or two, with Daoirí, you can contact him via his website HERE, or by direct message through any of his social media channels.
Daoirí said while these are ‘crazy times’, he is hopeful that artists have been making good use of their time in 2020. “I know I’ve tried to,” he said.
“There have been some really creative ideas passed around this year. Some people have come up with fantastic ideas of getting themselves out there, while still being in lockdown.”
While he does sit down from time to time and works on original material, Daoirí still sees himself very much as a song collector, in the old tradition.
“Song collecting is something I am really into and you’re never really finished doing. I am actually doing a bit of collecting at the moment and I am getting that itch to get them recorded soon.”
Daoirí has compiled a beautiful playlist of songs which he hopes you enjoy!
1. Heart In Hand, Ushers Island (John Doyle)
I first met John during my time studying music in college. I went to his home one day to learn some guitar and bouzouki tricks and I was fascinated by his approach to backing music and writing songs. He wrote lots of songs that I love and listen to all the time, but this song is probably one of my favourites.
2. Anachie Gordon, Sinead O’Connor
I’ve always loved listening to Sinead O’Connor singing and I would regularly listen to her songs, no matter what the genre, but for me this one is a really beautiful song.
3. Woodstock, Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell wrote this song about the great congregation at a music festival in the USA called “Woodstock”. I first heard Joni singing this song as I was looking for another song of hers on YouTube one day and when i heard it, it immediately became one of my favourites.
4. Bush In Bloom / Drogheda Bay / Jenny’s Chickens, Matt Molloy, Dónal Lunny
Unbelievable mastery of the flute here in every single track on this album, but for me, this track is not only my favourite on the album but probably one of my favourite of all time.
5. Farmer Michael Hayes, Planxty
As far back as I can remember I think I’ve listened to this album and this track is one of my favourites.
My dad had this, among others, on various different tape cassettes around the house and in the car. This is what I grew up listening to.
6. Judy Blue Eyes, Crosby Stills and Nash
My next door neighbour and pal, Gussie was a little older than me and so he got a guitar before me from his wages from his first part time job.
I remember him playing really cool guitar riffs but never folk or trad. He was more into Nirvana and bands like that but I could never thank him enough for introducing me to CSNY.
7. The Unquiet Grave, Luke Kelly
Luke Kelly is one of my favourite singers. Of all his songs, this one is among my favourite.
8. Dennis Murphys / 42 Pound Check / John Ryans Polka, Planxty
Ever since I was a small boy I’ve loved Planxty but this track stands out for me. It has an amazing energy and is so uplifting when everything kicks in and goes to the third tune. This is probably the track that sent me on the journey to find out more about the bouzouki.
9. It Suits Me Well, Sandy Denny.
I remembered hearing some friends of mine singing this song years ago in Aras Cronain in Dublin. They were a band called Srón. When I got home, I found Sandy Denny singing this version and I’ve loved her singing ever since.
10. The Blackwater, John Blek.
I met John a few years back properly for the first time in America and when I heard him perform I was very impressed. He is an amazing singer, guitarist and songwriter and he is a really great guy. This is the first song on his album, Thistle and Thorn. If you don’t know of John, go check him out.
The Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny is proudly funded by Donegal County Council and Arts Council Ireland.