Duke Special Tour of the Highlands and Island 2014 (The Ceilidh Place, Ullapool)
Upon arrival at the hotel the warm friendly atmosphere was very welcoming and I was enjoying the mental image of watching Duke working his magic in these pleasant surroundings when we were informed that all musical events took place in the building opposite the hotel itself. Back outside we were presented with a building that looked a bit like a scout hall that had seen better days. We decided to case the joint before the evening’s performance and entered with a hint of apprehension, fearing that just maybe the less than luxurious surroundings were less than a Duke Special gig deserved. Our fears quickly disappeared. The barman was the only person in the place at that time of day and he was a very pleasant guy.
The audience was definitely the smallest I have encountered at a Duke Special gig but I suppose that was to be expected in a small town like Ullapool. We were then a bit taken aback and embarrassed to see our names on two pieces of paper lying on seats directly opposite Dukes keyboard thanks to the kindness and hospitality of the barman we had spoken to earlier in the day (who, by the way, also kept his word and saved me the concert flyer). Embarrassed or not we were more than happy to take our seats in such a prime location.
Alice Mccullough, performance poet, stand up comedienne and all round entertainer from Belfast kicked off proceedings reciting amusing poems including her brilliant award winning poem “Love”. This poem was to prove significant later in the evening.
Duke moved over to an old, beat up, upright piano that was in the corner of the room “That thing hasn’t been played in years” commented my friend the barman. Undeterred, Duke launched into “Our love goes deeper than this” directing audience participation for the chorus. That beat up old piano was given a new lease of life and was sounding pretty good!
Duke then asked people to gather round the piano for the final, final, final song, Tom Waits’ “Martha”. Duke asked everyone to sing along to what he said was “one of his favourite songs in the whole world”. A magical end to the evening that was filmed almost in darkness as some of the hall lights had been turned off by then (though I can still make myself out in the background of the video. I am the tall dark handsome one suffering from afterglow).
Duke was leaning against the doorway as we left, taking in the night air, and we thanked him for yet another wonderful night’s entertainment and for singing my request. We had a short chat about our shared interest in Shellac records and about the Bowie tribute show in Dublin. Hugs and handshakes from Duke this time, but before leaving I asked him who the female backing vocalist with the incredible voice was who sang Some Kind of Love with him on the Revival in Belfast live recording. ”Liz Taylor” he replied. We agreed that the name of such a famous movie star was not one we would forget. Duke Special in Ullapool was also something we would not forget.
...And Just Recently
11/14/2014 (Friday) - Duke Special performed "...Gramophone Clubbing at the launch of Brian Ballard's incredible art exhibition at Ormeau Baths, Belfast."
11/15/2014 (Saturday) Tweet - "What a great night! People were out to party for sure! @DukeSpecial popped in & shared his talent & humour at the nights end. Only at Teatro"
11/16/2014 (Sunday) - RTE1 radio broadcasted the first part of DS's September 11 2014 concert. The second part will be broadcasted on Sunday the 23rd. In the meantime, go to RTE Radio player. Thanks to Martin Harris for the tip - Type in Duke Special and You'll find Harry Nilsson and much more!
Announcement of Gramophone "finale" at Columb's in Derry on November 21.