It was around the 2nd week in August 2015 in the middle of our 2nd ever U.S. summer tour. We had been playing a Dick Gaughan album on repeat during our long road journeys. Before we left home we were lucky enough to have seen the legendary Scottish singer-songwriter play in Limerick City and one song struck us in particular, ‘When I’m Gone’. It’s got powerful, honest lyrics about how to go about living life well alongside the ever-present prospect of death. The repeated words of the chorus “I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here”, kind of summed up our approach to perusing music as a career.
We were after played at the Dublin Ohio Irish Fest for the first time and we would soon be on our way to play for our 2nd year at the Milwaukee Irish Fest, the largest Irish Fest on the planet with up to 300,000 attendees. But this weekend at the La Crosse Irish Fest in Wisconsin was a lot more of an intimate and chilled affair. So we thought…
A lot of the bands on the Irish music scene tend to do the same festival circuit during the summers, so as it happened a lot of our friends were playing that weekend in La Crosse. We had Full Set, Gaelic Storm, We Banjo 3, Scythian and the The Red Hot Chilli Pipers to mention the main culprits!
The weekend started off lightheartedly enough with all of us performing our sets down at the festival grounds. Great vibes were helped by an air-conditioned trailer with a fridge full of drink.. and as you do, we drank to our hearts content.
Afterward we ended up strolling back to the hotel together, a troop of tipsy musicians entered the lobby and soon the word got around that the pool was still open. The was that. Madness ensued.
Martino, the trendy long haired Italian uillenn piper in Full Set was immediately set upon and continually dunked under the water, Scottish bag pipers ruled the Jacuzzi with an iron fist, the Irish contingent starting up a game of drunken water polo and those averse to water played poker on the sidelines.
All in all, not the type of scene where you would expect a quiet jam session to start up.. But there we all were, no less than 20 minutes later gathered around a fire-pit harmonising to some Dick Gaughan songs.
Andreas Transø, a great singer-songwriter from Wisconsin was there and to our surprise he started into ‘When I’m Gone’. As it turned out we hadn’t done our research on the song and it was actually written by the American protest singer Phil Ochs. We had to record it.
Before that summer ended we met a videotograper friend of ours named Kenny in Cleveland and we made the video for the song. Our version is a bit of a departure from the original with harmonised vocals, fiddle and accordion, but it was a really nice track to get down.
Before leaving Cleveland we of course went to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and it was kind of serendipitous when we saw mention of Phil Ochs beside Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger’s names. I think we’ll be researching our songs a bit further in future!
The video is not currently available anywhere else but as a THANK YOU for being one of our subscribers we want to give you access to it for free – no strings attached.
If you like the track you might also consider checking out our album ‘Without a Paddle’. It’s our latest album and it’s full of songs and tunes, some of which we wrote ourselves. We like to think they complement and do justice to the song tradition that came before us.