When the Colombians took over Connolly’s…

Part 3 of the Year in Review is a story – from one of the more eventful Monday nights in Connolly’s this year.

All names have been changed. Except Seamie’s!

John wants to be a full-time musician. He has a day job (a good one in the City of London), but has written and recorded an album and really wants to gig it. One of the problems for John is that he’s shy and finds it difficult to get up the courage to perform in public.

Despite knowing all of the above about him, I don’t know John well. He heard about me through a mutual friend and came to me in the summer with his situation and asked me for advice. He was back in Sligo one week in the autumn and came to see Seamie and I play our regular Monday night gig. But this was no ordinary Monday.

Because it was the day that Maurice Lynch was buried. Maurice was from Sligo, but his wife was Colombian, and her two brothers, her daughter and her niece came to the pub that night to give Maurice a proper send-off. And they sat down at a big table near where we were playing. Beside John.

John’s idea of how to enjoy a gig proved to be markedly different to that of his new neighbours. And it was fascinating to watch.

Because despite what had happened that day, the Colombians were in great form. They took over the pub with their presence, charisma and dancing. And it’s not a dancing gig. But they were determined to make it one, and they did. And bit by bit they worked on the more reserved locals, including John, to see if they would get into the spirit of things with them.

Of course, some of the men were delighted to be asked to dance by these beautiful Colombian women, and they didn’t take too much persuasion. But John was uncomfortable. He had made conversation with these people at the start, seemed to be getting on with them OK, but now they were asking him to dance with them. And he was shy. Happy to listen to the music, but not to dance. So he resisted and resisted, but they weren’t taking no for an answer.

I can’t remember what the last song of the night was. We had done The House of The Rising Sun at one stage as a special request for Maurice, but it came to the end of the night and Seamie pulled something big out of his endless store of songs. It was something that started slow and then got fast, and the Colombians loved and lived every moment of it. However they were as surprised as I was when we began to pick up the pace and all of a sudden who was in the thick of it, dancing like no-one was watching, but John.

He became their hero and was the centre of attention for the two minutes of mayhem that followed and they left the best of friends.

I haven’t seen John since, but wouldn’t it be nice if overcoming this particular obstacle on this night brought him a little bit further along the road towards getting up and gigging his music. It would be great to hear of a gig announcement soon.