What with having two children in three years and one thing and another, I didn’t actually take my guitar out of its case from the summer of 2003 until the summer of 2006, at which point I received an email from Seamie O’Dowd of the Strandhill Guitar Festival asking whether I’d be interested in doing a workshop on DADGAD with Dick Gaughan. The prospect of joining one of my all-time heroes (musical and otherwise) onstage was daunting, to say the least, especially given the rusty state of my skills. But I wouldn’t have been able to forgive myself if I’d said no, so I said yes and set about frantically trying to re-learn how to play the guitar. This task was made considerably easier by the discovery that practising tunes was a great way of getting my kids to sleep – if only I’d found that out three years previously!
Anyway, the big day finally came. It was damn scary at first, especially as the audience consisted almost entirely of bored-looking teenagers in Metallica T-shirts. But after a couple of tunes and songs it started to be fun instead of scary, and then it was all over and I was wishing we had time to try a few more numbers. I stood up, feeling a little shaky, and Dick gave me a big hug and told me to promise him that from then on the guitar would come out of its case on a regular basis. I did and it will. Big, big thanks to Messrs. O’Dowd and Gaughan – it’s thanks entirely to the two of you that my album is now reissued and my musical career starting to get back on track. I owe you both.