From the Main Street to the Opera House
WEXFORD buskers moved off the Main Street and into the more intimate, plush surroundings of the National Opera House for a memorable night of music and song.
The 'Busking Heroes' concert in the Jerome Hynes Theatre gave four street performers - Ronan Morris, Megan Kate Doolan, Rachel Grace, The Frantics - a chance to showcase their talents onstage in front of an appreciative audience of over 150 people.
Megan, who is currently recording and producing her first EP, nervously took to the stage first but that soon faded when the 19-year old performed an impressive arrangement of covers, including 'Your Song and 'Only Exception', and her very own heartwarming lyrics and melodies.
The audience gazed in awe as her vocals were raw and expressive, often leaving the theatre in a pure silence as she sang songs about personal issues.
Her set included 'Falling', a song she penned three years ago, which turns the spotlight on teenagers who feel excluded and the various emotions they go through during that stage in their lives. It will feature on Megan's upcoming EP.
The highlight of her performance was an original song called 'Mother's Day' that pulled at many of the listeners' heart-strings, with some members of the audience becoming teary eyed.
Megan said: 'This is a sad song. I heard a story once in the news about a family that had been affected by suicide and I wanted to write a song for the young child involved who sadly passed away as well as the father who committed suicide. This is for the children who have not made it past a certain age.'
The deep, heartfelt lyrics were sung with soft and smooth dynamics and accompanied by her solid acoustic guitar playing.
'I wasn't going to play that song but Rachel Grace convinced me. I know it is a very sad song so to end I will do a cover of Paolo Nutini's "Rewind". I just want to thank everyone for coming out tonight and listening to my music,' said Megan.
Singer/songwriter Megan is currently studying for her Leaving Cert but will release her first EP this summer.
Megan was followed by Ronan Morris who delighted the audience with his presence and his distinctive style of musical cleverness which brought the audience to a standing ovation.
Ronan, who can be frequently spotted outside Penny's on Wexford's Main Street, opened with a rendition of 'All the Lonely People' on guitar. In contrast, he followed this solid performance of the Beatles classic with an amusing rap song of his own about society that had, at times, Christy Moore/Original Rude Boys influences.
Ronan, who originally wanted to be a priest but didn't like the idea of hierarchy, then sang a version of Gnarls Barkley's 'Crazy' with entertaining added parts of his own.
'Before I finish up I just want to take this time to thank everyone for coming tonight. And to everyone who has ever put money into my case, thanks for keeping me alive,' said Ronan.
He performed a medley of different songs with some improvisation and his own rap twist, before winding up with a cover of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' with 15-year old singer Rachel Grace.
After the interval, youngest performer Rachel took the stage on her own and blew everyone away with her rich voice and individual style of playing guitar.
The 15-year-old sounded at times like Eva Cassidy and a young Mary Black with her clear, powerful vocals and talented guitar playing.
Rachel, who has made it twice to the finals of Wexford Has Talent, sang a cover of Katy Perry's 'Roar', tapping out a beat on the body of the guitar and slapping the strings in a percussive style, to great effect.
'My next song is an original called "Nancy" about my grandfather and grandmother, Nancy, and their lives together. No, I didn't copy Ed Sheeran, I had this released a while ago,' said Rachel.
The phenomenal young musician, who released an album last year at the age of 14, sang of the love her two grandparents had for each other and of the times they spent at dances in Wexford.
The versatile singer did a cover of Britney Spears 'Hit Me Baby One More Time' before ending her performance with a strong rendition of 'I Dreamed a Dream' from Les Miserables.
The final act of the night was new exciting Wexford band The Frantics who sang a couple of covers along with some of their own material that will be released early summer.
Two of the three members, Dave Hastie on vocals and bass and Fran Greene on vocals and guitar, turned up to give the audience a taste of their sound. Drummer Colm J Hassett unfortunately could not make the concert.
Dave and Fran played 'Amen' and 'A Miracle Man' from their upcoming album 'River's End' which will be officially launched on Friday, May 5, at 8 p.m. in the Wexford Arts Centre.
The Frantics, who all have a lot of musical experience between them, have a distinctive mixed sound of ska, rock, blues and folk.
The band covered a 60s classic 'Blues Run The Game' by Jackson C. Frank and then old Irish folk ballad 'Spancil Hill', orginally composed by Michael Considine, which exhibited their versatility and the many genres of music they play.
The first Busking Heroes concert was very successful and the plan is that it will become an annual event, giving Wexford buskers a chance to perform to a large indoor audience, with Ronan Morris taking over from organiser Edward McCarthy, who was MC on the night.