Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An interview with Eleanor McEvoy

It was a distinct pleasure to sit with Eleanor McEvoy recently to discuss her career, her adoption to the internet, the start of her career and her change from classical music to becoming one of the most popular singer-songwriters in the country.

We also discussed the Irish music industry, the labels and media and her involvement in IMRO. We talked about the upcoming Tradfest in Temple Bar (on this coming weekend) and her upcoming Australian tour.

We also discussed her charity work - the background of her "Oh Uganda" video with Oxfam Unwrapped, her massively popular online, but commercially poor single "Sophie" and her anger at society and where she finds her inspiration.

The video is 35 mins long - you can minimise and listen if that's easier. It was, genuinely one of the most interesting and candid interviews I've had the pleasure to do, and it's Eleanor's only media engagement before her trip to Australia.

It was a genuine pleasure and I'd like to thank Eleanor for her time and honesty and Good Seed PR for helping arrange it.

Eleanor is doing one more gig in Ireland before Australia, according to her website - the New Music Club in Brazil’s Cafe Clonmel, Co. Tipperary on Wednesday 17 February and then her Australia dates kick off on Feb 26 with the Nannup Folk Festival.

You can follow Eleanor on twitter here, find her new YouTube channel her and visit her website here.

She'll be appearing at the Temple Bar Tradfest 2010 this coming Saturday giving an IMRO masterclass. Tickets are selling quickly so I'd suggest you be quick!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The press release re Boards.ie being hacked today

Not a post I'm happy about posting (major deal internally, obviously) but here's the press release we sent out today regarding the incident we've had:

Today, Thursday 21 Jan 2010 at 11:20 GMT the Boards.ie database was attacked by source from outside the country. This breach was discovered during routine security monitoring. We discovered this intrusion and took the site offline.
In the attack, part of the database which includes our members usernames, email addresses and obfuscated passwords was accessed. We are currently working with independent security consultants to ensure our systems are secure.
We are advising all members to check the passwords they use with any online services and to change it if it's the same one they used on Boards.ie 
Our initial belief is that this attack was intended as a disruption to our service rather than to get member data. It may be possible for the attackers to read passwords and other data. At this early stage of the incident, members security is our primary concern.
Our basic message to members is:
If you have used the same password you used on Boards.ie on any other service, we urgently advise you to change it on these services. This includes any social networking account you may have.
Data stored by Boards.ie on members included only their email addresses, passwords, usernames and profile data. We did not store or have any record of home addresses, credit card details, online payment details or other personal financial data.
Boards.ie passwords are NOT stored in plain text, they are obscured with the standard vBulletin "Hash". While this provides strong protection, we have altered all passwords on Boards as a precaution and suggest you take this time to allter other similar passwords.
Like all large websites, we are regularly the target for disruption and take continual actions to proactively protect our member data. This particular attack was completely unprecedented despite our rigorous security measures.
We will keep you updated with any information you have about this, primarily for now via our twitter account at http://www.twitter.com/boards_ie. You do not need to be a member of twitter to read this.
We are extremely sorry for any inconvenience this has caused.
Members can contact us at hello@boards.ie 

Review: Little Gem at the Peacock Theatre, Dublin

"Love, sex, birth, death and salsa classes. Three generations of women. One extraordinary year"
I'm delighted I took the opportunity to go to tonight's opening performance of Little Gem, the award winning play by Elaine Murphy, running at the Peacock Theatre until February 27.

Starring Anita Reeves, Hilda Fay and Sarah Greene, Little Gem is a wonderfully touching, sentimental and - though I dislike the word for its maudlin overtones - heartwarming story of a year in the life of three women, three generations in the one family, told by each of them in turn.
"I loved this play, i went from laughing out loud to wiping a tear from my eye!  The characters are so real, you end up wanting to be part of their family!"
The Peacock Theatre really is an ideal venue for a play like this. Its intimate size means that you're close to the actors, close to the stage and quite part of the story, and indeed, the audience play a part in this by just listening. What do I mean?

Well, each character, first Amber, the 19 year old on her way to the debs, then Lorraine, her mother who works in retail on Mary St and then Kay, Lorraine's mother and Amber's grandmother all tell us their stories directly, stories of their days and their memories, which weaves itself into a very ordinary story told in what seems an extraordinary way - there's no interaction or dialogue shared between the actors.

The set is simple. Three chairs on a stage, one lamp, one tartan effect plastic shopping bag, the backdrop of a sitting room. It struck me while waiting for the play to begin that the three chairs were all very different, but put it down to a simple mismatch, rather than design. That assumption I made followed me throughout the play and surprised me in so many pleasant ways that at the end of the play I was giving a solo standing ovation.
"She drags me out. Haul Dean and his mate Lee onto the middle of the dance floor and gyrate like a pair of lezzers in between them. The lads are all over us like a cheap pair of jocks from Japan - Henry Street, not the country"
When Amber starts her monologue of debs preparation, we're immediately transported to the front room of a Dublin home - it's probably northside, definitely not D4. I loved listening to Sarah Greene, despite her accent slipping ever so slightly the odd time, because her mannerisms and her presence conveyed that certain energy that girls the age of her character tend to have.

The audience, all probably invited guests, chuckled along to some of the funnier lines but when Hilda Fay started her story of her day working in the shop is when the script really kicked into gear and the laughter resounded around the theatre.
"Is there anything you want to share with us, Lorraine?" He says. Afraid to say anything, don't want to stretch my mouth open wider to fit my other foot in. "Are you sacking me, Mr Grant?" Looks at HR bird and then back at me. Wonder if he's riding her?"
Stories written in a Dublin accent tend to be a bit hit and miss. While there's no denying the success of stories like Brendan O' Carrolls 'The Mammy' and Paul Howards Ross O'Carroll Kelly saga, there's also what I'd term the Sunday World version of Dooblin, where situations, personalities and especially use of language are exaggerated and you're left with a sense of knowing what the author is trying to convey, but being unconvinced because you've only heard of people like the characters, never actually experienced them.

Not so with Murphy's creations. While Amber and Lorraine are both wonderful characters, it was Kay, the granny, played by Anita Reeves that I adored. Reeves' performance is excellent, but the script shines through bringing this lovely, aging woman to life and delivering us laughter and loneliness time and time again. Telling us about her recuperating husband, she says
"He's not the easiest of patients. In fact, to put it mildly, he's a cantankerous oul' fuck. I don't mean to go down this road but sire I've started so I'll finish. I'm dyin' for me bit. We've always been very compatible in that department, which is a miracle by itself, because by the time you get to our age you'd normally be lacing the cocoa with arsenic not Viagra."
and by the time she described her journey on the 42B to Ann Summers to buy a certain object recommended to her by Marjorie Burke, not only was everyone in the audience laughing, but I could see the smiles of the actresses on stage, all who had no doubt heard the script hundreds of times, smiling at the audience reaction and knowing there was more to come.

Scribbling notes throughout, I scribbled one to Niamh beside me "This is VERY good" while a woman behind me whispered to her companion "She's great" as Hilda Fay took her seat after another brilliant delivery. Tonight's audience were a delight to experience - they laughed in the right places, were silent in the poignant moments and I'm sure more than me had a tear in their eyes at the particularly emotional and personal points.

There-in lies the charm of Little Gem - there's no high dramatic ideals here, no allegories or inaccessible language, no moral or intellectual lessons being delivered - it's a story of an ordinary family and what happens there, and that's why it has the power to affect people the way it did.

The applause at the end of tonight's performance was loud, sustained, well deserved and full of appreciation. While I'm sure the cast must be tired after their recent return from the run in New York, they put in a marvellous performance, one which, by the end, we wanted to continue, and to find out more about. "That was brilliant" I heard one person say on the way out, "Really surprised by how funny it was." Another woman was wiping her eyes, tears streaming down as she assured her male companion "I'm fine, love, it's just with dad passing, well, it's all so real".

In her author's note, Elaine Murphy, herself an actress (Prosperity, The Clinic, Pure Mule), whose playwriting debut was Little Gem, says
"When you start out writing, people always say: 'Write about what you know.' being an actress for the last couple of years, I always had a yearning to write something myself. Decent parts are thin on the ground and I rarely recognised any of the women portrayed on the stage in front of me.

I work part-time in a women's health organisation. Little Gem grew from there. It's a mishmash of all the women I've met over the years: hardworking, not particularly rich or poor, ignored by the Celtic Tiger, and the recession probably won't make much of a difference to them either, you know women like us, getting on with it."
Her play, staged in conjunction with the Civic Theatre Tallaght (21 years old this year!) by the multi award winning independent Gúna Nua Theatre Company, founded in 1998 by Paul Meade (who directs this production) and David Parnell has won the Fishamble award for best New Irish Writing and the Best Female Performance at the Dublin Fringe Festival, 2008. It also featured in last year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival where it won the Carol Tamber Best of Edinburgh Award and has just completed (on Jan 16) an 11 day run in the Flea Theatre in Tribeca, New York.

If I could offer you five reasons to see the play, they are, in no particular order:
  1. It will make you laugh long and hard because it's a great script.
  2. It will make you want to hug someone after, because it's a story you'll recognise
  3. Anita Reeves as Kay
  4. Sarah Greene as Amber
  5. Hilda Fay as Lorraine
I'll be back to see it. Genuinely. I'll be bringing my parents. I'll be going with my friends.

It plays at the Peacock, as above, until February 27. Tickets are from €20 and can be booked online or from the Abbey Box office at +353 (0)1 87 87 222.

Following its run in the Peacock Little Gem will tour to 5 venues around Ireland: Draíocht in Blanchardstown; The George Bernard Shaw Theatre in Carlow; The Belltable in Limerick; The Axis, Ballymun and back to the Civic Theatre, Tallaght.

Thanks as always to David in the Abbey Press Office for the tickets. I owe you a pint.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Nominees for 2010 Meteor Irish Music Awards announced today

I've been invited along to the launch of the 2010 Meteor Music Awards (Facebook link here) and here, as I've just posted on Boards.ie, is the list of the nominees as I have in front of me:

(EDIT: To vote in each category, just click on the category headline below)

Best Radio DJ - National (vote here)

  • Ian Dempsey - Today FM
  • Damien Farrelly - 2FM
  • Tony Fenton - Today FM
  • Ray Foley - Today FM
  • Larry Gogan - 2FM
  • Dan Hegarty - 2FM
Radio DJ - Regional (vote here)
  • Leigh Doyle - BEAT
  • Jim & Niamh - FM 104
  • KC & Lenny - Red FM
  • Michelle McMahon - Spin SW
  • Jon Richards - Galway Bay FM
  • Shona Ryan - Spin 1038
Best Irish Band (vote here)
  • Bell X1
  • The Coronas
  • Delorentos
  • Snow Patrol
  • U2
Best Irish Male (vote here)
  • Colin Devlin
  • Jerry Fish
  • Jack L
  • Christy Moore
  • Mundy
Best Irish Female (vote here)
  • Wallis Bird
  • Julie Feeney
  • Valerie Francis
  • Laura Izibor
  • Dolores O' Riordan
Best Irish Pop Act (vote here)
  • Delorentos
  • Laura Izibor
  • The Blizzards
  • The Script
  • Westlife
Best Irish Album (vote here)
  • Blue Lights on the Runway - Bell X1
  • Tony was an Ex-Con - The Coronas
  • The Duckworth-Lewis Method - The Duckworth-Lewis Method
  • Up to Now - Snow Patrol
  • No Line On The Horizon - U2
Best Irish Live Performance (vote here)
  • Bell X1
  • Christy Moore
  • The Script
  • Snow Patrol
  • U2


Best Folk/Traditional
  • Kathleen Loughnane
  • Kila with Bruno Coulais
  • Christy Moore
  • Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh
  • Sharon Shannon
Best International Band
  • Black Eyed Peas
  • Florence & The Machine
  • Green Day
  • Kasabian
  • Muse
Best International Male
  • Michael Buble
  • Jay-Z
  • Morrissey
  • Paolo Nutini
  • Bruce Springsteen
Best International Female
  • Lily Allen
  • Lady Ga Ga
  • Little Boots
  • Pixie Lotts
  • Taylor Swift
Best International Album
  • Lunatic Asylum - Kasabian
  • Lungs - Florence & The Machine
  • Sigh No More - Mumford & Sons
  • Sunny Side Up - Paolo Nutini
  • The Fame Monster - Lady Ga Ga
Best International Live
  • Leonard Cohen
  • Coldplay
  • Florence & The Machine
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Take That

Awards will be held at the RDS Friday February 19 2010, presented by Amanda Byram. Performing on the night will be Westlife, Snow Patrol, the Script, Florence and the Machine, Paolo Nutini, The Coronas, Pixie Lott and "many more to be announced".

Voting goes live from today apparently with Most Promising New Artist for 2010 going live from January 15. All details over on the Meteor Music Awards website.