Eilis Kennedy 2020 new music "So Ends This Day"
April 2020 will prove to be a memorable one but it is an opportunity to spend time on projects which I have had on and off involvement with ! ( Apart from lots of creative baking , DIY-ing, dusting, lazing and eating )
My first cd Time to Sail was released 20 years ago now and , good lord , a lot has happened since ! In October 2018 I taught singing at the wonderful O Flaherty Retreat in Midlothian , Texas and made a detour on the way home to the city of New Bedford , Mass. I had been there on two occasions performing with A Christmas Celtic Sojourn and both times had a very quick visit to the Visitors Centre to read about the whaling history of the city .
This time , with a prearranged visit to the private reading room of New Bedford Whaling Museum, I spent days pouring over letters ,books and Captains Logs . It was poignant to have in hand the more than century old letters from Captains to families at home and vice versa. The neat handwriting of the log entries outlining the facts and statistics of a whaling voyage often times hiding the worry , fear and anxieties that surely were part of that daily life. As with all seafaring life , there were many songs relating to this precarious endeavour. People have been singing songs about whaling and whale ships for decades and the sea shanty genre mines this rich seam . In the 1800s people depended on whale oil for light and for a great variety of other reasons and commodities. Like many things , though , people are unaware or turn a blind eye to how their apparent luxuries , are brought to them . Its still true today , whether its in cheap clothing, coffee beans , diamonds or even avocadoes ( in some cases !) someone took risks so that these things become goods . I have imagined the barrels of oil are barrels of stories.
Rather than trying to go over old ground I have written new songs each about a different aspect of the life of whaling , inspired by and based on , the letters, characters and journals I read. These , along with a few related and what I consider fitting, traditional songs comprise the collection on my 2020 record So Ends This Day.
Another part of New Bedford and one shared with my home place is the presence of a historical fishing industry ( which still thrives there, compared to that at home). There is a lovely and informative fishing museum in the Historical quarter too , and that is something I would love to see in Dingle. The methods, traditions, dangers and lore of an industry that was more than anything a way of life and a mindset can be misunderstood by many outside of it.
No matter what , being separated from a loved one has always been a tough and challenging situation. So far , March and April 2020 certainly have given us pause! More anon . Be safe