January 2015: I have been back on Coney Island again, returning to the lovely artists’ house with my friend and colleague David Lyttle. I co-wrote the Barinthus Suite there with David a couple of years ago, it was an arts council commission from the Hawk’s Well Theatre for that year’s jazz festival and was very inspired by the landscape, the area of Strandhill, Culleenamore and of course Coney Island and Rosses Point. This time we again had fun writing without any constrictions. The highlight was a quirky little song about the Metal Man, a famous Sligo Bay landmark, standing between Coney Island and Rosses Point, which we could see from our window. His story is interesting, he’s been standing out there since before the famine, guiding ships to port.
Coney is a very inspiring place to work. It is near home for me, but yet when the tide is in, you know you are going nowhere and the sense of isolation can be very powerful. I certainly find it works in getting creative juices flowing. I spent two periods of work there with NoCrows, writing and arranging for our last CD, and fell in love with the place. David has a new CD coming out soon, he’s very excited about that, and it has a lot of great collaborations including Joe Lovano and Duke Special. He’s a great guy to work with, immensely talented but extremely humble and a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to our next trip to the island.