The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

The Photo Shoot

Well this was a very, very exciting day for me. A photo shoot. Imagine me, me, having a photo shoot?! I had been trying on my outfits for weeks at home. Of course the additional weight gained over lockdown and holidays meant that a lot of clothes were tight and some were just too tight to wear. I had also spent months sourcing the jewellery I wanted. That Turquoise look, you know, it’s very ‘in’ in country music. I found some in very unlikely shops, thankfully, as the majority of what I wanted was only on sale in America and the cost of shipping was sometimes three times the amount of the item I wanted to buy. Thank you to Esty, Next and Amazon.

It was a dry day which was great as it had been raining most of the week before. We headed off to country park and we started the photo shoot. It was such fun once I got into it all. The photographer, Sean from Essay Photography https://essayphotography.co.uk/ was so good as putting me at ease and talking me through the various shots and directed me as to what to do, where to look etc. I had five outfits and had to run back to my car which was parked in the lane, to quickly get changed and update the jewellery I was wearing for the next batch of photos to be taken.

Once we had finished in the country park we headed into Digbeth in Birmingham to Norton’s Irish Bar. What a fabulous venue. I can’t believe I haven’t been there on a night out!!! The staff were amazing, so accommodating and eager to help with the photo shoot. Again, very exciting for me and at least this time I had the ladies bathroom to change my clothes in.

Standing and sitting up on the stage was amazing, I’ve not been up on a stage before. It filled me with such excitement and nerves. Once again, Sean was great at directing me and we have some absolutely fabulous shots from within Norton’s.

By the end of the day I felt like a real singer songwriter, almost like it’s not a dream anymore, I’m really making this happen and the right people are crossing my path to help me along in my dreams. We liked it so much at Norton’s we are going back there at the start of next month to film the video. There’ll be no talking to me I’ll be that hyper after filming a video.

Norton’s Bar https://nortons.bar/ If you are in Birmingham, drop in for a Guinness or a Jameson’s.

With love and sparkles xxx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

A Workout Gig

After just over two years I recently attended my first music gig since the start of the pandemic. I admit I was concerned about being in a sold out venue with at least 2,500 other music lovers singing and dancing. After what we have been through and how we so quickly got used to not mixing with others, touching others and dancing with strangers, what used to be the norm had become something of pure fear. I did wear my mask into the venue and soon realised that I was very much in the minority and once the show started, I didn’t see anyone with masks apart from a few staff.

The auditorium was large and airy, I had forgotten quite how large it was in the theatre. Once we had taken our seats the excitement was building and you could feel it amongst the audience. The most words I heard spoken all night was ‘I’ve not been out for two years’, we were all feeling the same sheer delight at being out at a Nathan Carter concert once more.

In the spotlight.

Claudia Buckley was the support act and this girl has come on in leaps and bounds since I last seen her in January 2020. Claudia has the most beautiful voice and a wonderful personality, she is well able to engage with the audience and sings a fabulous mixture of Irish country songs alongside old style country songs with a mixture of the newer country songs. Claudia had the audience well warmed up and happy awaiting the main event.

All the sparkles!

Next up was Nathan Carter and wow, was he on form and the band also. You could see how much they were enjoying being back on stage singing, playing their music and interacting with the audience. It was amazing to be there, to experience the sheer joy in the theatre from everyone. The staff that they were back at work, the band that they were out playing their music again, the audience singing and dancing and smiling and even the security, who try as they might could not keep people in their seats, from early on we were up dancing. It felt like freedom.

Talking about dancing, I have no idea what kind of jumping around I was doing but my Fitbit was convinced of the following…

It was a fantastic night, I think I was on a high for days afterwards. I did manage to get a few quick videos of the evening. Rather than be behind my phone taking photos and videos I decided to just embrace the whole show as it unfolded. Just like we used to. From what I could see around me, people tended to stay within the groups that they had attended the concert with. In the past we would have all joined hands and sang and danced but we were careful. I had antigen tests everyday for the next week and they were all negative. Bring on the next gig!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-4a2trg4SU

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/RzSAyod67S4

With love and sparkles xxx

Life Sparkles ✨

The First Night Out.

Many people have mentioned to me that this year will now be a year of firsts.  The first time I do something without Dad, the first time we have birthdays etc without Dad.  I have experienced a year of firsts before, in 2006 when my sister passed away suddenly. It felt very different to how I feel now and of course back then, I had Mom and Dad to help me through it, we were there for each other.   This is different because Mom is happy in her own world and can’t support me and Dad is supporting me from his new home.  Yes it is all very different.

I had mixed feelings when my country music friends were messaging me about going to see John McNicholl when he played Birmingham three weeks ago.  I wasn’t sure I was up to it.  I know Dad would have been the first one to say “Go, go out and enjoy yourself”.  It was the emotional side of things that was affecting me.  Seeing that group of friends for the first time, crying, hugging, singing, dancing.  Was it all going to be too much too soon?

Once again my amazing man was there to help me by coming over to visit that evening and sit with Mom. If I decided to just go to the dance I knew Mom was safe and sound. I decided to go.  John had telephoned me about Dad and messaged me and I wanted to support him plus I felt it was better to get this particular first out-of-the-way.

I felt incredibly alone and vulnerable getting ready to go.  I felt physically sick leaving the house and I felt weak, barely able to walk when I arrived at the venue.  I never felt so alone as I did when I walked into the club. John was already on stage, people were dancing and I felt lost.  One of my friends appeared at my side, gave me a huge cuddle, a glass of wine and took me over to the table where everyone was.  One by one we hugged, had a tear and held hands.  The sense of support was wonderful.  A family friend who has known my parents forever was there to support me too.  When I cried he took me out waltzing on the dance floor and he tried so hard to make me laugh.  John as always was so supportive and lovely although I didn’t get to speak to him for long.  As usual I had arranged my taxi far too early.

One of the main things I missed was Dad worrying about me.  Whenever I went out alone to meet my friends at a dance he always worried about me travelling alone.  I missed that conversation so much.

Was I glad I went out?  Hmmm I’m still unsure how to answer that one.  It was lovely to see me friends, to see John and the lads and there was such a big turnout for a Sunday night I was very pleased for John.  I didn’t get my usual sense of excitement, I wasn’t my usual diva on the dance floor but how could I be, it was my first night out.

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Well it’s not a proper night out without a Snapchat filter!

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A little blurred but a lovely reminder of the support I received from a great friend of my parents.

John and the lads rocking St Anne’s with a Neil Diamond Medley.

 

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

This is like work!

Well a quick update, actually can I do a quick update? A quick update for me is something like 1,000 words!! I’ll do my best, honest.

There has been much going on, on the singing front.  The singing it appears is the easy bit, it all the other bits that take the real effort, organisation, research and time oh yes that precious commodity time.  So far we have the tracks recorded and all bar one is completed.  Everything is on course at the moment for the video shoot at the end of August.  I’m very lucky to be working with Rivermade Films   Mulk is so easy to work with, he is aware of my restrictions as a carer with regards to location being close at hand in case I get a call to come home, keeping things simple yet effective and listening to my thoughts on the songs and turning them into a vision.  Mulk has already provided me with lots of information on his thoughts and plans for the video shoot and every time I read them I get goosebumps. Mulk has such vision and creativity and I’m so looking forward to the day and also nervous about how I will be in front of a camera.

I had a very insightful and useful hour with Paul Dunphy Esq  Paul is a Social Media Curator who I “met” on Twitter some years ago.  His knowledge is incredible and to anyone looking for advice on how to use social media for their business or hobby I would highly recommend Paul.  Paul advised me to just be me, don’t bother with a separate Facebook page or Twitter account for the music, just use what I have already, be me.  Paul pointed out that as a full time carer I won’t have time to keep two lots of accounts going so keep it simple and keep it sparkly.

I told Paul I am not very confident in pushing myself forwards, self promotion but he put me completely at ease with this.  As Paul says, most people are nice, most people like to engage with people they like, people want to know more about the person, the back story behind the music or whatever passion it is you have.  My Instagram is already filling up with pictures of me.  It still doesn’t sit quite right but I would love to share the music with as many people as possible and this is the way to go.

I have been researching the various licences I require in order to release a couple of my tracks commercially.  This is time consuming as I want to be 100% sure of what I am signing up to.  I have done hours of research over the weeks on music aggregation and I have narrowed it down to two organisations.  Digital music is changing all the time it seems and having the correct licences for what you want to do is very important. I’m still hoping to release “Summer Love” by the end of the Summer, it just all depends on how fast people get back to me, how quickly license applications are handled and how fast the music aggregator will work once things are in place.  I probably could have done this quicker with more time to hand but I don’t have that luxury so dipping in and out of things is how I’m getting things done.

I have located the Musicians Union website and located it is all I have done so far.  I switch the laptop on in the morning, access a website and then sometimes get no further and I end up switching the laptop off before I go to bed.  Just depends how the day goes caring wise.

I know the above all sounds like hard work and I suppose it is but I am really enjoying learning all about this industry and what you need to do if you want to do anything at all with your music.  I have scribbled a few songs, sudden inspiration would hit me and I’d reach for the phone to record the tune and lyrics whilst it is fresh in my mind.  I was brave enough last week to play two to my guitar tutor and he said they were good!! I was amazed.  He has given me the guitar chords to the tune in my head so that I can practice. It just is so exciting and it does give me an escape in my head to the stresses of the day and I think too brings peace to my soul.

I’m hoping to upload a song to You Tube this weekend.  It’s my cover of the Randy Crawford classic “Almaz”.  I love this song so much.  There isn’t a video, just a photo of myself.  I will do a quick post to let you know when it has been uploaded.

My chap has been practising his photography skills taking some photo’s of me in the garden, for social media purposes.  I have included some below, I do hope you like them.

With love and sparkles until the next musical update xxx

 

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Recording!

I can’t believe it is just over two weeks ago already, but I actually fulfilled a dream to record some songs.  What an experience.  The week before I was suffering with a sore throat, achy bones and felt I was definitely coming down with some horrible bug.  Why that week?!!!  Why the week I was due to sing my heart out?!!!  I lived on paracetamol, honey and lemon drinks, Lemsip (which is gross even with added honey to sweeten it) and some of Dad’s throat spray as advised by the Doctor.  I had ordered some VocalZone pastilles under recommendation.  They didn’t arrive until the day of the recording and I was advised not to take them on the day I am due to sing.  Happily my throat had recovered somewhat by Thursday evening.  I didn’t sleep a wink Thursday night I was so excited and also full of apprehension.

Friday morning I felt my throat was totally constricted, “just nerves” I kept telling myself. My boyfriend arrived early; he was going to look after M & D whilst I was singing.  My Guitar tutor arrived with his mobile recording studio and we made a sound booth with two music stands and a duvet…amazing.  Then my vocal coach arrived.  I wanted her to be there plus she was very interested in how the recording would all work out at home.

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I was really nervous but we got started with the songs that are easier to sing.  It was weird to hear myself singing in my own ears alongside the backing track.  To stop and start. to break in later in the song, to rephrase a lyric, to put my own sound on it.  In two hours we had managed to record seven tracks; some Irish, some Country and some from totally different genres…all will be revealed in due course.  I was hoarse afterwards and I was on a high.  This was one huge tick off my “dreams come true” list.  I am very lucky that I managed to choose such wonderful people as Christine (Vocal Coach) and Roger (Guitar Tutor).

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A week later I received the unedited tracks to listen to.  They sounded amazing, I really can’t believe that it is me.  The sound quality is excellent, you’d never think we recorded the songs at home.

Over that weekend my boyfriend took some photographs in the garden with a camera, rather than a mobile phone, so that I could start on my music social media work.  I had been out the night before to see John McNicholl so a tad tired looking but I do like some of the photo’s and have used them for my Music page.  I’ll use them for the You Tube channel when I get that up and going.  There is so much to do and so limited time to do it. However, I have no great expectations of ambitions.  Singing and music is my respite, my stress buster from the caring role which takes up the majority of my time. This is my hobby.  I have a lot to research regarding licensing, commercial obligations, royalties, CD’s etc but it will all have to be done in my own slow available time.

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I also have the opportunity later in the year to make a video or two for a couple of the recorded tracks.  I’m very excited about this and yet this too will pose problems to get around.  I can’t not be at home in the morning so a full day out is out of the question. I will need cover whilst I am out so I’m looking at £20 per hour before I do anything with a video. Location is another question, I can’t be too far from home in case I need to get back quickly. I want to keep things as simple as possible as I don’t have people who want to appear in videos and I don’t want to have to hire rooms, theatre’s, bars etc.  So before I start I have some obstacles to overcome but as the saying goes, where there’s a will there’s a way.

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I spotted some dresses on Instagram in June and when I visited the website I was amazed that they were so reasonably priced, plus there was a sale and a first purchase discount. So I bought two, one in Black and one in White. They arrived at the end of last week…from China.  The Black one is huge but I can work with it, that’s what we have clothes pegs for 🙂  The White one is a perfect fit.  These are for photos and also for wearing in the videos.  How exciting life has become.  I am so grateful and blessed to be getting the opportunity to do these things albeit at a very slow pace.

Dad made me laugh the day after the recordings when he asked me what was going to happen to him and Mom.  I asked him why he asked that question and he said now that I’ve recorded the tracks things will change.  I laughed and said that I had only recorded a few songs, I didn’t think I would be taking on a World Tour next week and in any case, him and Mom are my priority.  I’m here 100% for them and that won’t change, global stardom will have to wait.

Pictures are mine or via Pinterest.

With love and sparkles xxx

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Musical Vibes.

Somehow, throughout the last three months of illness here at home, I have managed to keep some music going in my life.  Music is my respite. I can escape into it. It brings me peace, harmony, balance and happiness.  Even if I am wallowing in the saddest of songs, it brings me comfort.  I can dance around the kitchen to trance music and lose myself in the words of a country love song or the lyrics of old Ireland.  I am lucky that my guitar tutor comes to me for my lessons and I have been having my vocal coaching sessions online also.

So, the story so far…

I have all the backing tracks I require in order to record seven tracks.  It has been a steep learning curve so far.  License agreements – the two companies I have bought my backing tracks from work very differently.  One based in the UK has far superior tracks, a one off fee and job done, I can use it.  The other, head office in France, has excellent backing tracks, no charges initially, I think I need 100,000 downloads from Facebook…can you imagine that…I’ll be ecstatic if I get one download from anywhere!

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I’ve been practising when I can, I need to be note perfect plus I need to come in on que. I do have a habit of getting lost in the intro music and forgetting to sing.  I’ve also been making a list, which is becoming a never ending list of things to do.  I think of one thing which leads to another, then another and another.  All things which I know little or nothing about and with being a full time carer, time is premium and these items on my to do list need to be researched fully and properly.

Mom, Dad and I decided that my “Professional” name will be Dawn McDermott Music. I already have cousins in Ireland using my surname professionally so we chose another family name for my foray into music.  Last weekend I set up my Facebook Music Page 

There isn’t much content yet of course and I think I mentioned before, self promotion is not my thing.  After much thought about this I decided that in the end, I just have to be me.  I can’t let the unknown scare me.  I have no grand expectations of overnight stardom, number one on iTunes etc.  I am doing what I love as my hobby and respite. I am making a few dreams come true for myself.  I just want to sing the songs I love and if in turn they make people happy then that will be such a huge bonus for me.

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I have also set up my Twitter Music Account. If you would like to follow me on my musical journey on either Facebook or Twitter I would love that. Thank you.

All being well, recording date is set at 22nd June and again I am fortunate in that my guitar tutor has a mobile recording studio and can come to me.  My Vocal Coach will also be here and my chap has taken the day off work so that he can be here to help with Mom and Dad whilst I am recording for two hours.  I would think the recording will be ready two to three weeks later and then hopefully I’ll be shooting a couple of video’s in late Summer. Even as I type this it is all unbelievable.

A very good friend for many, many years is shooting the video’s with me.  He is a fabulous short film maker and this is a new project for him also and we are both really excited about this.  Check out some of Mulk’s films here Mulk Raj.

And so for now, that is where I am with the music hobby/project.  Still lots of research, broadcasting licenses, iTunes, Amazon Music, CD’s etc…once you start these things you realise there is a lot more to it than you originally thought.  I’m just going to go with the flow and do things as and when time allows.  Thank you for your support so far and I hope you will continue to support me as I travel along this path.

Pictures via Pinterest.

With love and sparkles xx

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Life Sparkles ✨

All At Once.

Nothing for ages and then a flurry of activity in a short space of time. I was very lucky in that once again some of my favourite Irish Country Music stars were appearing in Birmingham and I was able to attend. My fabulous boyfriend stayed in with Mom and Dad so that I could get out to see my absolute favourite John McNicholl.

It was the Eve of St Patrick’s Day that the dance was on hence the heart shaped, shamrock tattoo ☘️

My friend and I had a little Snapchat fun before we left for the dance, I just love how it removes wrinkles.

We also celebrated Mom’s birthday that weekend, so many flowers, just beautiful and they are still around the house looking good.

Derek Ryan, absolute class singer, songwriter, entertainer had a sell out concert on the Sunday night and it was just fantastic. A great mix of his old material and the newer material and we were up dancing in the aisles. I hear he will be back in November for a dance so that’s a definite date for my diary.

The beautiful Tipperary Songbird, Louise Morrissey, who celebrates thirty years in Country Music this year is touring with Derek Ryan. A real treat to see and hear her amazing voice.

No further gigs now until April. I have three planned; Nashville, Daniel O’Donnell and Michael English. I make the plans in the hope I get to carry them out. As you know, if it wasn’t for Country Music I might possibly go crazy!

Snapchat Hippie Mode…

Life Sparkles ✨

Catching up yet again!

Once again I find that time is flying by and I’m not getting an opportunity to keep my blog updated. I have amazing ideas that pop into my head, subjects to blog about, songs to include on my blog, blogs I want to catch up reading and yet nothing gets done. I seem to be constantly on the go from the moment I get up until I get into bed…if we get into bed. Daily I am surprised that I get to 9 pm and not had a chance to do anything on my own “to do” list as I had more important tasks to do for my parents. Life as a carer is like this and I have noticed that I have become calmer within this role. If the past few months have taught me anything it is to just go with the flow. Don’t try to force anything, Mom will do what she wants to do when she wants to do it and everyone only gets stressed if I try to make things happen. It hasn’t been easy, I still silently scream inside when it can take fifteen minutes to cajole Mom into the kitchen to eat. Poor old Dad has had to get used to going with the flow also, we are all on a continual learning curve.

I have managed a couple of outings since early January and there has been some progress on my music dreams which I’ll share in another blog post…which hopefully won’t be in another six weeks time!

Lucky me, my favourite Irish singer John McNicholl was in town and my fabulous boyfriend came over to spend the evening with my parents so that I could go to the dance.

A friend I have made through going to see John McNicholl over the years had bought me some beautiful flowers. A wonderful surprise, I was spoiled.

Back on track with my healthy eating again. It took a while after the Christmas excesses, once I get the taste of the chocolate I’m done for.

I purchased a wholly unsuitable pair of sparkly shoes. I’ve not worn high heels for years, I need to get some practice in. Not bad for £25.00

Beautiful Roses which I bought for my Beautiful Mom.

A little Snapchat fun after a quick catch up lunch with my friend.

Absolutely amazing, incredible, fantastic concert from the brilliant Nathan Carter. This lad just keeps getting better and better and lucky me I got a kiss, swoon. Oh yes I was the cat that got the cream.

This is my little Bitmoji from Snapchat complete with hearts for Valentine’s Day. I like the whole Bitmoji thing, it’s fun, expressive, confusing and I could even add my lack of sleep lines to my eyes, result!

And finally, my Snapchat Valentine’s Day post. How I love these wrinkle removing filters. I was just about getting used to using the Snapchat app and they have now changed it…oh well, time to start learning all over again.

Huge sparkles to all, hopefully I’ll be back to the blog very soon.

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

Dancing Feet and Cowboy Boots.

It’s a while since I managed to post a catch up blog, it’s on my to do list. However, last night I managed to get out to see my favourite Irish music star, John McNicholl and I just had to post a few pictures tonight.

John doesn’t visit Birmingham too often and as I am unable to travel to see him in other parts of the UK or Ireland, I have to wait for him to play my city and hope I can get out to the dance. It takes some strategic planning these days to do so, especially as it entails a late night but things worked in my favour last night and Cinderella did go to the ball. Cinderella also checked her phone every five minutes but that’s how it goes these days. I was so glad I was there. John has a fabulously rich voice and sings not only Irish and Irish Country music but also some Rock and Roll, Sixties and last night we had some Neil Diamond too. John has boundless energy on stage, a real entertainer. He has a great band of musicians with him, the music is wonderful. I was up on that dance floor almost all night, I made the most of the freedom I was enjoying, I felt like me again, if that makes sense? My knees are paying the price today though…

There are a lovely bunch of people I meet at John’s gigs and I’ve made some wonderful friends over the past four years. I was really feeling the love last night from them all. They had missed me posting on Facebook (I had no idea I hadn’t posted there since August), they were concerned about me, was I ok? Was I getting out? I’m still feeling emotional from the genuine concern and caring about me from these friends. I feel so loved by them and that feels so warm and comforting.

John himself is a true gentleman and I am so happy to count him as a friend also. Rumour has it that he is back in Birmingham in January so fingers crossed I’ll be pulling on the cowboy boots and heading for the dance floor again then.

So, a few photos from last night, I was so happy, I made them all have their photo taken with me.

John McNicholl

John McNicholl

John McNicholl

Shane who plays Guitar in John’s band.

Johnny who plays the drums in the band.

My friend April and myself.

I’m wearing the dress I bought for my Graduation which I ended up deferring until next year. However, I’m so happy with how I look for a change, that 22 lbs weight loss makes such a difference. No wonder I was a diva on the dance floor, I had the energy to do so!!

© @aurorasparkles 2017

The Music Sparkle ✨🎶

A Happy Night Out.

Louise Morrissey

I’m a little late in blogging about the Stars of Irish Country concert I attended at the end of September; it’s been a challenging couple of weeks on the sleep/home front but I’ll leave that for another blog post.
The concert was fantastic. Four very different artists, different styles of singing, different types of songs and a wonderful backing band in Keltic Storm made for a fabulous night of Irish/Country music.

First up was Frank McCaffrey, a lovely man with a long career in Irish music and a gentle, musical voice. He sang traditional and modern songs; “When I was a Lad”, “I’ll take you home again Kathleen”, “The clock in the Tower” and “Look at us” to name a few of his hits over the years.

Frank McCaffrey

Then came the Tipperary Queen Louise Morrissey. Oh what a voice this lady has. Not a note out of place. Next year celebrating thirty years in the business Louise sang songs new and old from her latest CD, “What’s Another Year” a three CD set each celebrating a decade in the world of Irish music. I got a signed copy for Mam and Dad and it is just heavenly to listen to the voice of such a beautiful songbird.  Louise is touring with Derek Ryan next year and I already have my tickets for that concert in March.

Louise Morrissey

Next up was Mick Flavin who is this year celebrating his thirty year anniversary in the business. He spoke to people in the audience who have been attending his concerts and dances in Birmingham for thirty years. Mick has a wonderfully deep voice and can hit extremely low notes with little effort. “Wildflowers don’t care where they grow” and “The old schoolyard” are favourites of ours at home and he sang both.

Mick Flavin

Next up was Stephen Smyth who I knew nothing about but wow, was I blown away by this man’s voice. He was incredible. He sang, he danced, he played the fiddle and the tin whistle. He sang new songs, old songs, songs from the Irish Showband era of Joe Dolan and Brendan Bowyer. It was extremely difficult to stay sitting in my seat I wanted so much to dance. His rendition of “Noreen Bawn” gave me goosebumps. I would most definitely go to see him perform again.

Stephen Smyth

And of course a couple of pictures of me with Louise Morrissey and Stephen Smyth.


It was a very happy night, I’m so glad I managed to get out to attend the concert. My next Irish music date, all being well, is with the gorgeous gentlemen that is John McNicholl which is in November. Fingers crossed there will be plenty of dancing that night.

© @aurorasparkles