Howayiz my friends, Happy New Year to yiz, like the fox I'm gone to ground at the moment trying to come up with a deadly fifth album, been a while since the last one, needed a bit of a recharge and rethink after the 6 full on years that followed 'Seize the Day' and what years they were, ganzey loads of incredible gigs, meetin mind blowing people and experiencing strange, dangerous and wonderful places and situations. I feel like a sailor sometimes coming home to shore now and again, spendin on land what I made out at sea then headin off to sea once more as I have salt (music) running through my veins and its siren song calls me away again even though I'm enjoying the break and being home in one place and enjoying my own bed, although I often wake up during my first week home not having a clue where I am for around 30 seconds. When I get home I usually try to get into a healthy routine of 8 hour sleeps and sea swimming and park jogging to recharge and give the organs brain and nervous system a little breather and my nieces and nephew come to remember my smile again and I bond with family and friends, yet I know that out there on the ocean of sound awaits adventure and magic and tumultuous wild roaring waves of singing that will carry me upwards towards the blissful heavens then pitch me as quickly back down into the thruf of a 6am hungover airport with hundred yard queues and facist security then up and away into terrifying turbulence with the recycled air and chemical microwaved snack and back down into the rush hour rain jam and the silent 5 hour stomach churning spirit spent journey to the next soundcheck. But the people you've yet to meet and the food you've yet to eat and the sights and sounds and smells that await you with baited breath are too strong a lure for you to drop anchor too long anywhere.
Can't remember how long it is since my last letter but last year was some year for one year. I done the Sydney Opera House as part of a festival there curated by Brian Eno and sold it out, the crowd was half curious Australian opera fans with season tickets, and the other half were crazy drunken homesick Irish heads who drank the bar dry (it had to close), stood up on the seats and sang arm in arm like it was their last day on earth, and in the middle of these was Brian Eno sporting an impish grin. The staff told me they'd never seen nothing like it in there, the Australians in the crowd were shocked to begin with but by the end were on their feet singing, if you can't beat them join them was their thinking I reckon so we blew the roof off the Opera House which is a moment I'll always cherish. We also opened up for U2 in the historic Croke Park (we slotted in 'Serious' to the set so half of Dublin heard my foul language because you can hear gigs in there ten miles away, and we got John Sheahan up from The Dubliners for 'The Rocky Road to Dublin'). I dedicated our gig there to my little buddy who passed away last summer when i was in Thailand, the brilliant and sorely missed Danny McDonnell aka Lunitic, the young poet laureate of ballymun, a great inspiration to me and one of Irelands best ever lyricists and rappers. I spoke to Danny when he went into hospital from Thailand and the first thing he says to me was 'how's the beardrash Damo'. Danny needed a new heart and lungs and doctors were amazed that he reached the age of 24, when he was born he wasn't given much time by the doctors, they certainly never thought he'd live as long as he did bit he was a warrior see and one of the bravest I've ever met. I told him on the phone to hold on, i was doin the U2 gig in Croke park in a couple of weeks and I said to him try and stick around and I'll get you up to rap on 'Patience' (Danny samples the song on his classic album 'Based on a True Story), doesn't matter if we have to carry you out on a stretcher with your mic I says to him, and he was buzzin about this but he just couldn't hold on no longer and this beautiful young man slipped off and it broke my heart but he was by my side anyway that evening in Croke Park so thanks for being there with me Danny, see you on the flipside brother, Lunitic Forever.
We done my local in October last year,the Donaghmede Inn Cellar bar, I checked myself out of Beaumont Hospital to do these shows in a shoulder sling. I was on an I.V. drip but took it out for the gigs, nearly collapsed a few times on stage but the buzz off the crowd reefed me on through, the Cellar Bar was where at 15 I saw the worst punch up I ever seen (glass up would be a more accurate description, around 50 people fighting, Garda from Coolock came in and baton charged them). There was only one mini fight the first night of the two gigs and peace in the valley the second night, great vibe down there and 2 minutes home. I was in hospital from a nasty infection in my hand called cellulitus. If it goes into your major organs its curtains, you can get it from a bite or a nick or if you're run down, hmm, thats an easy one, in the middle of a tour like. Oh and I also sang Dirty Old Town arm in arm with Shane MacGowan at Sharon Shannon shows in Mayo and Donegal, sang School Days Over with The Dubliners in Vicar Street, scuba dived off the great barrier reef, got five feet away from a crocodile who was practising the ancient art of photosynthesis on a Queensland river bank (when it exploded into the water i had to change me kacks coz i never seen nothin so big move so fast), had a close encounter with a ladyboy (gave her a jockey back down the ko san road but had to put him down as her mobile phone was digging into my back), visited the full moon party in Ko Pang Yang and sampled one of their bull excrement mushroom shakes (I learnt of the ingredients afterwards, yuck) and after a colourful couple of hours watching the fire shows that the Thai teenagers put on I thought it a great idea to run into the sea fully clothed (bye bye nokia) and the sea felt warm and pleasant until i looked down the beach and saw people squating down in the water (are mushrooms a laxative?) and throwing up their buffalo conconcotions into the surf, no wonder the water was warm, jaysus. In australia i met lots of aborigines with Irish last names, and my buddy Dan Sultan who is half-Irish half-Aboriginal and an amazing singer, writer and performer (destined for great things) stopped me one day when I said 'that's deadly man', he thought only aborigines said 'deadly' as a positive. I had to inform him that they very well might have poached it off us, but I told him through me, on behalf of Ireland, yiz can have it. I'm all heart wha.
I had a sing song with Morrissey and his gang in the Four Seasons Hotel before his show in the National Stadium coming up to Christmas there, his crew were in awe when I walked in first followed by my older brother Gar who's a little bigger than me and behind Gar was the oldest brother Emmet who's bigger than Gar again, the Russian dolls some folks call us. Morrissey sang a bit of Gilbert O'Sullivan and I sang 'Paddy on the Railway' and Gar sang 'Go to Sea no More'. Morrissey was lovin it but they all had to shoot to bed for the impending show and they left the three of us with the barman who promptly bid us goodnight and left, we sat in silence lookin at each other for a second, stood up collectively as instinct kicked in, treaded towards the bar with our dwindling guinness's and...etc etc.
I've been in to Saint Patrick's Institution and Mountjoy Jail over the last few days with Maser (amazing Dublin graffitti artist) and Johnny Moy (legendary dublin DJ), we were sussing out walls that Maser can spraypaint some of my lyrics on in there, some positive lines for the inmates. I saw where Kevin Barry was hanged and got to hit the old triangle. The main jail there was built in 1850 in Victorian Dublin for around 500 prisoners but there's now around 800 prisoners in there, 3 to a cell and they have to 'slop out' which means the three of them have to go to the toilet in a bucket in the corner that they empty the next morning when the cells get opened. They get locked in at 7pm so you can imagine. Maser's doing workshops and paintings in both placesand is getting prisoners to help him with these pieces teaching them some of his skills as he goes along and he'll probably get some lines off the inmates aswell to spraypaint around the place. This is all part of a project that meself and Maser and Johnny are working on called 'They Are Us' (details and pictures will be up on the website soon about it). Masers going to spraypaint my lyrics (that i came up with especially for this project) all over Dublin city centre on permanent sites that Johnny's securing, then Johnny has a pro photographer who'll snap them and get prints of them done up, then there'll be an exhibition where we'll sell the prints. 100% of money raised will be donated to the homeless in Dublin. I'm gonna do a show in early march in Johnny's club on Store Street across from Busarus (formerly the Isaac Butt) to raise money for the materials maser will need for his pieces around the city so hope to see a few of yiz there.
So to recap,because i wanna make a good 5th album the only shows I'm doing that I know of at the minute this year are, 6th march Mountjoy Prison TBC (hopefully i wont see any of you at that), 12th march in The Good Bits for the homeless in Dublin (across from Busarus on Store street,formerly the isaac butt), the Pavillion in Cork city on the 17th of March (early show at 6pm), and the Luminare in Kilburn, London on the 18th March, and there's also the possibility of a major Festival just outside Dublin in July, you all know the one so fingers crossed.
I done a days acting last year for the first time on a movie set around Sheriff Street and Sean McDermott Street (most of the cast would be locals which is great) called 'Between the Canals'. Its about 3 small time hoodlums and what happens to them on Saint Patricks day in Dublin. I play a gangster called Paul Chambers who runs a drug gang out of Noctors pub on Sheriff Street. The lad who plays my hench man is Clinchy, a great fella from out my way who went to school with my brothers and is the real deal, prison and hard drugs and all that but is into the acting now, I thought he should have played the head man as he'd be more convincing than me but I'm no director so hopefully it turns out well. It got accepted into the Jameson Dublin Film Festival so it must have something.
Another great moment of last year was The Proclaimers covering 'Sing all our Cares Away' in their deadly Leith accents on their album 'Notes and Rhymes', I was over the moon because they're two amazing songwriters, I got to know many of their less famous songs when i toured with them, amazin. I'm heading over to see Father Shay Cullen at the PREDA centre in Olongapo city, the Phillippines in June for a week to see the great work he's doing there and meet all the kids he's rescued from the brothels and paedophile rings and prisons. I done another gig in december for PREDA in Galway so thanks to everyone who came down and supported and everyone at PREDA Galway. Bits of the gig and an interview i done are up on YouTube.
Heading out to Howth now for an icy dip in the Irish sea, I wonder about meself sometimes, so, my friends, I'll bid you adieu for the moment and try and make my corresponding a little more frequent in the future if possible, all the best to you wherever you may dwell on this beautiful planet and I wish you health and happiness and music for 2010. See youz along the road somewhere, keep the faith in love and the great spirit, slainte mhaith mo chairde, Damo, Dublin, 31/01/2010.