Music Matters, with Chris Loughrey

By Conor Halpin

Chris Loughrey is a full-time songwriter and musician from Rochfortbridge who has relied solely on music for two decades. The business has taken a huge hit because of Covid-19, so I caught up with Chris to see how he has been getting on.

What challenges have you faced during the pandemic?

I was in Dublin before the pandemic at a business meeting – I had lots of new plans and gigs to do, but it was all just quashed a week later. When your livelihood has been taken like that overnight, it is very hard to take. It is difficult not to be doing what I do. Let’s hope it will be as consistent as it was when it returns, It is going to take some time.

How have you been finding the government support?

I think the government should have put in more additional supports for musicians as other sectors have been given support. It was unfair for the government to hand us the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, as it is challenging for all musicians, and especially for those of us who are doing it for a living.

What drew you to the music industry?

My parents were involved hugely in the music industry. My dad had a band called The Rangers in the middle of the 1980s, I used to go to all the gigs and see what he and his band were doing on the stage. I got so hooked up in all the action that I used to practise what they did the next day in my back lawn.

Tell us about that trip to a Mullingar music shop.

I went to Graham’s on Mount Street in Mullingar, where I bought my first quadruple album of Elvis, consisting of around 80 songs. I was hugely influenced by his performances and vocals. When I first discovered Elvis that changed me forever.

What music artists were you influenced by when growing up?

Elvis made me realise music was for me. My other music influences include Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Marty Stuart. I like the American country feel of the music.

When did you get your first gig?

I got my first gig 21 years ago when I rang John Cocoman to check if he was able to get a gig for me in a hometown venue. It started from there and kept building.

Have you done any gigs abroad?

I toured in Nashville 10 years ago and have gigged in Spain, Bulgaria and Lanzarote. I am so used to being on the road playing music and I have been dedicated to music over the last 21 years.

What is your favourite part about being a musician?

I love music, but the music industry is not always a pleasant industry to be in. I had to learn the hard way. You can overwrite that when you have your passion for music. It comes from the heart for me. Country music is my favourite of all the genres. It was once said that it was three chords and the truth, and that’s what it is to me.

What was the first song you learned to play?

The first song I learned to play on guitar was an old blues classic from Elvis Presley called That’s Alright Mama.

Do you have any upcoming plans?

I have been writing and practising and always keeping in preparation. I record a lot of my music in Belfast with Emerald Music, and the studio has been closed through the pandemic. I have lots more music plans, fingers crossed.

What would your advice be for an upcoming musician looking to pursue their music dream?

My advice would be to keep fighting and believing in yourself. It is not an easy trade and the industry can get you down at times. There are a lot of knocks, but if you are prepared to take them, you might go very far.

When you put your mind to it, you can do anything you want. Keep trying and don’t ever give up.

Draw a picture in your mind where you want to be in a couple of years and set goals. It is hard at the moment, but let’s hope the vaccine works.

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