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Bucket list: Manage a band – Check

Time flies.  It feels like it was just last week (when it was really December 2014), that I was sitting at the bar at Boar’s Cross’n with Vivienne at the helm and Justin and Paul beside me. Paul reminiscing over the days of playing music with Ned. Justin musing over the idea of starting an Irish music band.  Wheels turning in my head as their words soaked in and started to take form like a Reese’s peanut butter cup commercial…

I sent a text to Brad saying we’d be coming over the Sunday after New Year’s to play some Irish music.  Took but a few seconds before the enthusiastic response, “YES!” came back.

(LtoR) Paul, Brad, Justin, Ned and Len

If you don’t know Ned, you missed out.  He and his wife owned an Irish pub in Carlsbad (CA) village (Escondido and Fallbrook) from 2000 until around 2009.  Ned was head of the house band.  Not only a talented musician, but he knew how to work a crowd like no other.  No two shows were ever alike, because he often shared the stage with a random selection of musicians and singers who popped by.  If you played or sang and he saw you, you were likely to get called up. Brad, Len and Paul were in the band. Brad on drums, Len on the Bodhran (Irish drum) and Paul on just about every stringed instrument known to man as well as a young guitarist/singer from Ireland and then later, Ned’s nephew John Dawson, but Ned was the force that made it all come together. When he and Bren moved back to Ireland back in 2012, he left a bigass Ned shaped musical gaping hole in our corner of the world that no one else could quite fill, so the band fell by the wayside. Some playing in other bands, some dropping the Irish playing altogether.

Fast forward to 2014…Enter Justin.  A Berklee trained musician come home to Escondido. He showed up for the weekly Irish sessions at the pub in Esco and that’s how he met Paul.  In the spring of 2014 I finally took Paul up on the long standing offer to work on my guitar skills by jumping into a session and that’s how I met Justin and convinced him to join in on my project to record a full length CD of my original music (bucket list item #8).  Brad, Len and Paul all joined us in the studio to record the song I’d written for Ned and Bren as their going away present (See You Around) and that’s how we all got to know each other.

Which brings us to the Sunday after New Year’s 2015. Justin, Paul, Brad and myself at Brad’s place, running through some of the old songs with Justin.  It’s a tricky thing bringing in a new one.  Finding the balance between the sound before and whatever the new energy brings.  Sometimes it clicks, sometimes it doesn’t.  That’s why we held off bringing Len in until the 2nd practice.  Didn’t want to get his hopes up until we knew we had something.  An hour into it we knew and it was time for me to pipe up.  Paul had asked if I wanted to be in the band.  I did, but with the uncertainty of my situation, going in and out of remission and the effects of chemo on my voice and body, I just wanted the opportunity to sing a song once in a while with them (as I did with Ned), but mostly I just wanted the magic back.  To look forward to the evenings in the pub when the band would play.  That, and I needed to do something with my time.  My brain and my body couldn’t handle a “real job” but I needed to do something to fill the space in between treatments, so I offered up my services to launch, promote and manage the band for a year (ish) before moving onto my next bucket list adventure (12 Adventures).

DSC_2329-the-whole-gangJanuary through February, we practiced weekly, had a couple photo sessions and I worked on a website and logo for social media and t-shirts.  Our first gig was in the back patio of the Wrench & Rodent, a unique and brilliant seabastro pub.  We also got a request to play an Irish pub on St. Paddys’ day which is pretty good considering we’d only been together for a couple months.  Unfortunately, Paul was already booked.  This was a challenge from the beginning, because unlike the others, Paul didn’t slow down on the music.   He was regularly seen in almost a dozen different bands, often having 2 gigs in a day, so if the band had any shot at longevity, we couldn’t count on Paul to be available for all gigs.  Justin grew up with a girl that played violin.  We asked her to jump in on a practice and voila, another spark of magic.  You could almost hear the fairy dust whirl across the room as she played.  I’ll never forget the look on the guys’ faces when she first played, “Could this get any better?!” Sure, she wasn’t a Bastard Son, so we came up with a more pleasant nickname; our “Distant cousin” and it fit Anna Stasia to a T.  She’s cool as a cucumber and is the caliber Ned would expect in a fellow musician.
Justin-and-NedThe motto of the band was to follow Ned’s tradition to keep the heart light, the Guinness flowing, the gigs professional and foster the vibe that all are welcome.  We weathered the rumor mill (two guesses), the differences of style, opinions and sense of timing. We played for small crowds, big crowds, for charity and for children.  We are worn around by hundreds of people and have shared the stage with other local musicians like: David Sias, Clay Colton, Johnny Dawson, Joe Doyle, Steven Reno and Shelby Ingram. We even got Justin out to Ireland to meet and play music with Ned Giblin himself in the self proclaimed “Road to Da” tour.

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Friday, the day after St. Paddy’s was the last gig being their quote, unquote manager and it couldn’t have happened in a better place, at the Fallbrook Brewing Company. A great place, great vibe, beer and full of great people (thank you very much for the t-shirt :). Still, I felt a little down afterward.  I wondered if I’d failed because I wasn’t convinced these guys would stay a band or even a band of brothers.  Not because they need me.  They don’t.  The brand is solid and it’s out there.  Just google: DSC_5829The Bastard Sons of Ned Giblin and you’ll see for yourself, they fill up the screen. They have access to the FB page, see and respond to msgs and the email for booking: gigs@thebastardsonsofnedgiblin.com. It’s because I wonder if I failed to instill in them just how magic they are. Not as individuals per say (though they are all uniquely talented and I do love each one of ’em), but because I don’t think they’re fully aware that every time they play together, share the stage with others, laugh and bond over a pint, put the music first and the differences aside, they each bring a bit of Ned with them, enough to fill the stage. And that my friends is the je ne sais quoi  they bring to the table the other bands can’t. That’s not a diss on the other bands. Sorry, you lot are good, but my heart belongs to the Bastard Sons of Ned Giblin, though the door is closing on being their manager, the window is wide open for being one of their biggest fans who’s on the ready whenever they need any help or if I’m invited up for a song. And my heart will jump just a little every time I see a new event added to their calendar because I know there’s a great night ahead to look forward to…

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