Old Town Music Company is the latest venture by singer songwriter Peter Doran and his wife Therese, who aim to bring a new wave of contemporary artists and music to Mullingar.
“My first thought was ‘if I should I start booking gigs for the Stables’ because there wasn’t much happening there, and then quickly I thought that sounds like an awful lot of work,” said Peter.
But a year later, the thought popped up again and Peter brought Ed Romanoff to Canton Casey’s.
“There’s something nice about bringing someone in who doesn’t know the town, you’re hosting them and making a gig happen, and I really enjoyed it. And it took off from there.
“The idea was that it would be fun for us and we’d have something interesting happen. So far there’s been a mixture of Irish musicians, Ultan Conlon, Mick Flannery, Rhob Cunningham Síomha, Scott Matthews from the UK, but I’d be scanning for people on tour of Ireland and having them stop off here for a night.”
The mood is as important as the music.
“We bring in little lamps and things, simple stuff to set the stage and make it as homely an atmosphere as possible.”
The reaction to Peter and Therese’s new venture “has been surprisingly good”.
“I’m interested in what the audience think and what the artist thinks. It’s a mixture of artists that are well known and others that might not be known at all and I think have something special. The reaction has been positive from both Mullingar and the people coming through.”
Coming up on the Old Town Music train is Watson Ace, a six-piece band fronted by songwriter Slow Moving Clouds (Friday March 22); Ye Vagabonds (Friday April 5) and Amber Cross, a US songwriter on her debut in Ireland and the UK (Thursday April 11).
“Therese is a music fan, I don’t think I could get away with booking something that she wouldn’t like. We give the option of having the artist stay with us at home so that’s where it becomes personal. On the night, Therese does the door, meeting and greeting, and she stages it, dressing the stage to give that intimate feel.
“As a fan of music, you always have your ear out, but now it’s much more heightened. When we started I looked at who I know, who I had contact with that I could bring in.
“I do a couple of gigs a year here in town and I felt like I was playing to a similar pool of people. I remember when I was younger I was going to gigs in the Stables and you’d see somebody new every week, it was almost like a habit to catch a live gig in Mullingar. But not so much in recent years, and I wanted that to start happening again.
“If this works it has to be consistent time-wise and quality-wise. Everyone we book has a certain calibre. One thing I don’t want to do is only book singer songwriters, because that’s what I listen to and that’s what I am. But people would get bored and so would everyone else.
“It comes back to me wishing there were more live bands on in Mullingar for me to go and see, and to me thinking ‘I wish someone would do that’ and you look at yourself and think well, why don’t I do that.
“In Ireland it’s so small for music, if you’re doing a tour, you do Dublin, Cork and Galway, but it would be nice to have Mullingar on that map. And we’re not locked in to any one particular venue, so it’s generally the Stables, and the room upstairs in Canton Casey’s – they have different vibes. But we even have a view to staging something in the Chimera Gallery if we get the right act.
“At its core is that I’m a musician first and foremost, but I also love going to gigs, I love the live experience. So I guess we’re just trying to nurture that and have a place in town where that can happen.”