It was a cold wet day in Kyoto yesterday, but if you look hard enough you can always find some brightness, whether in a friendly smile or happy tune. Mewby and I braved the weather to attend a wonderful show at Eiun-in, a lovely little sub-temple deep in Kurodani. As we arrived the rain stopped and we could enjoy the scent of fresh autumnal air coming in off the garden. Irish musicians Niamh Ní Charra & Sean Whelan were performing, and it was an absolute joy to watch them. Sean’s guitar playing is immaculate, and Niamh, who plays both concertina and fiddle, regaled us with songs sung in Irish and stories about them. It may seem odd that a song can move you even when you can’t understand the words, but perhaps even more so when the words have no meaning to begin with! In one song, Niamh had us all join in with a chorus of Irish mouth-music: rhythmical but meaningless lyrics that employ the voice purely as an instrument. It was a gentle tune and there was something very touching about a room full of strangers all singing along together.
the rain lifts briefly
and grace drifts from Eiun-in…
Irish tongues lilting
Niamh also has a mischievous streak though. Here’s a crowd-selfie that she took just before the show started. If you look carefully between Sean and Niamh’s heads you can see Mewby and me right in the middle!
Altogether it was an absolutely brilliant show. I’m just sad they only played once in Kyoto, but hopefully they’ll be back. Niamh and Sean are very fine musicians who clearly enjoy playing together, and I pray that in the not too distant future they bring out a CD together – because I want one!
Here’s a final picture of Niamh Ní Charra and Sean Whelan playing a rousing encore with local musicians Hatao and Nami.