From Diddley-Aye To Bo Diddley

With pretty much all of his adult life – and teenage wildlife – dedicated to rock agus roll, ahead of his night with Tom Dunne at The Whale, we asked Fiachna Ó Braonáin where and when did that music bug first bite…

Music has always spoken to me as if it were a family member! It’s just always been there…

Early memories of coming downstairs on a Saturday morning to find my parents’ vinyl records scattered all over the floor after having friends over the night before – The Chieftains, O Riada, Alan Stivell, Brendan Behan Sings Irish Folk Songs, Na Filí and many more. Is it any wonder then that when I first went out to buy records it was the music of Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan and the Who that first ended up sneaking its way onto the trad turntable at home!

And ahem…. The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack!

These were quickly followed by The Beat, The Specials, Led Zeppelin and Elvis. But traditional music was in my blood and I never really forsook it in favour of rock n’roll Music is music – that’s all there is to it for me.

As I grew up my father took me to trad sessions and tin whistle classes. I really loved those nights. The pin-drop silence as someone sang a sean-nós son, the whoops and yelps propelling the jigs and reels along, the stomp of the set dancers to the Kerry polkas. The chats, the conversations, looking up to the older fellas who had an encyclopedia of tunes at their beck and call. I tried to learn them as I played along. Listen first, then play on the second round through, off by heart the third time round. Forgotten until the next time!

They were exhilarating sessions for a young Fiachna. At the same I heard the blues wail of BB King and Muddy Waters somewhere, the psychedelic dreamings of Jimi Hendrix, the moody snarl of the Rolling Stones and the a-changing times of Bob Dylan.

I never really imagined I would or could do anything else other than play music. My careers guidance officer once handed us a questionnaire in and around 5th or 6th year, and all my answers pointed to a life in music. I went off to study law in UCD for a year, but spent my time organizing gigs for Hothouse Flowers or the Incomparable Benzini Brothers.

And 38 years later I am still doing just that!

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