BUILT in the 1960s, Shannon Town has long since battled hard to build a strong music scene that is more prevalent in traditional towns and villages across the county.
Taking the bull by the horns, Cuppa Tea TV has certainly began to create a long-lasting and original music scene, bringing many household names to the county’s second largest town in recent times.
Noticing and sharing local youth’s passion for music during a series of successful ‘Youth in Music’ concerts, Cuppa Tea TV founder, Damian O’Rourke decided to get singer-songwriter David Hope and performance coach Dora Gola on board for the first-ever ‘Youth in Music Workshop’.
Entering the workshop with an open mind, Damian said it was all about giving young people in Shannon another platform to express themselves in a non-competitive environment.
“Because it was the first one, I wasn’t sure what to expect,” he said. “I just knew that it was something that was needed and it was something that I wanted to do”.
As part of the initiative David Hope covered songwriting and Lahinch-based Dora Gola taught those in attendance how to deal with performance development and dealing with performance anxiety, a “huge” reoccurring issue facing many bidding artists.
Delighted with the outcome of the workshop and the resulting ‘Youth in Music’ concert, Damian said the opened structured day showcased his belief that you can’t put a timeframe on creativity.
“We went in with a general structure and just kind of flowed with whatever was working. We got Dave and Dora working with them [participants] for over four hours. It was supposed to be three hours but it ended up at about four and a half hours,” he explained.
Parents watching on and waiting didn’t mind though, with many buying in on the enthusiasm on show as they eagerly awaited for the concert which the Cuppa Tea TV founder says “exceeded expectations”.
“Lots of good feedback from parents and the youths that were involved as well,” smiled Damian.
A total of 13 bidding musicians took part in the workshop and Damian says a standout moment of the day was when Dora Gola told the youngsters that despite many years of experience she still gets nervous before gigs.
“It was like a flower blooming out of the wall with all the different post-its and then we brought it all together”.
She is set to perform on the main stage at the Doolin Folk Festival in June and reminded the ‘Youth in Music’ workshop participants that those who go to music concerts are there to see an artist do well and not to see them fail.
As the youngsters gathered in Hope Cafe in Shannon, Dora emphasised the importance of realising that the feeling of excitement and the feeling of nerves are both the same when it comes to performing music, a point that Damian said “hit a nerve with everyone”.
“We are looking to build it and make it a more regular thing – that was a kind of a taster,” said Damian.
“There is seems to be interest there. I am going to meet with Dora and Dave again, sit down and have a cup of tea and chat about structuring it over a period of time.
“Instead of trying to squeeze everything into one [workshop] we can look at breaking it down, do little bits at a time and then have a gig afterwards so they [workshop participants] can perform in front of people and get used to that buzz,” he added.
During the workshop Damian took a step back and took it all in, a proud moment which saw young people in Shannon develop their confidence instead of “just playing [music] in their room”.
“The kids were all taking notes. It was cool to see the engagement – the laughs and the chuckles,” he said.
One of the standout projects carried during the workshop was one in which David Hope encouraged the youngsters to write down their thoughts on varying topics on colourful post-it notes, a useful songwriting learning initiative.
“It was like a flower blooming out of the wall with all the different post-its and then we brought it all together,” Damian explained. “We all got into groups and you had to write a song with the words that were written. It was really cool.”
Praising the connection with Hope Cafe, Damian says he is “loving” how far Cuppa Tea TV has progressed in recent months and hopes to build on the positive image created by the Love Shannon movement which aims to “change the culture and focus on Shannon”.
“I’m glad to be part of that,” he said. “It is needed and it something that I am passionate about as well”.
“The gigs are starting to roll, there are a few coming up over the summer but for me the workshops are the core because for me it all starts with the youths,” Damian concluded.
Cuppa Tea TV hopes to create a regular outlet for young people in Shannon to “have something to look forward to” in a bid to “keep them focused” and continue their passion for music.
One thing is certain; the future is bright for a progressing music scene in Shannon Town and its surroundings.