Interview with Wallis Bird, Rob Foley (One Horse Pony) & Jo Perry – Glebe Gardens, Baltimore

A shorter version of this article was first published in The Evening Echo [Cork] on 2017-07-06

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Baltimore’s beautiful 5-acre Glebe Gardens, features a café, restaurant, shop and one of Ireland’s most unique concert venues – an outdoor amphitheatre. Run by the Perry family, this summer The Glebe features a series of concerts by artists such as Lisa Hannigan, One Horse Pony, The Hothouse Flowers, Booka Brass Band and The Vespertine Quintet, with Wallis Bird playing there next on Sunday 9 July. 

Jo Perry, the booker of the concerts and a member of The Vespertine Quintet, explained it’s history and ethos, “our parents bought the property in the late 1980’s, over the last 28 years they’ve developed the organic gardens that now provide the produce for the café and restaurant that my sisters and I run. The concert venue setting is a man-made amphitheatre overlooking Church Strand, so all the concerts are outdoors – weather permitting. If the weather isn’t great we bring the gigs up to the café courtyard.” 

The acts that play there are picked in keeping with the venue itself, “we try to book people that will suit playing in the meadow by the sea; as the sun sets it’s a very special place. The concert goer has to walk through the vegetable garden, lit by candles to get to the venue, so it can be a magical experience for everyone. We are very excited about this year’s line up, it’s a good example of the sort of acts that work well here. We have had many great people pass through The Glebe, from Seamus Heaney to The Hot House Flowers to Tommy Tiernan. Tommy actually filmed his ‘Stray Sod’ DVD here because it’s such a beautiful and unique venue.”

Wallis Bird is looking forward to her concert there as she’s heard so much about the place, “it’s supposedly paradise, so my friends who are in the know say! When I’ve mentioned this gig to people their faces light up, I’m going to call that the Glebe Gleam!”

Rob Foley, singer and guitarist in One Horse Pony who play on Sunday 16 July, knows how special the venue is, “there’s something truly magical about the Glebe and the people responsible for it. The Perry family are truly passionate about their art, be that the beautiful layout of the gardens, the magnificent food they serve up, the music they make, or the shows they put on. Like any venue the soul is not in the building, but in the people populating it.”  

The energy of the audience is something that is also on Wallis’ mind, “the people down there should be fuel enough. I find West-Corkians to be a open minded, fun, wild and thoughtful kind of people, my kinda people, we’re gonna have a right night!”

Wallis feels the concert’s setting will inform her performance and setlist,  “I love playing outdoors, I always think that’s a touch more unique. Outdoor gigs, especially in a beautiful setting, make people feel uplifted, they can grasp the nature and the surroundings. The weather affects people as well, it all depends on the person, the rain can be a deterrent or a playground! I think I’ll begin the set on a vibrant piece, feel my way through after the first few songs, have a bit of banter and take it from there!”

Rob knows well how the variables that come with live performance keeps a band on their toes, “very often, it’s the things you don’t expect that’ll make a show unique. In The Glebe last year, the show started in the sunshine, and the last half hour was played itself out under the moon, as the mists crept in. The change over everyone in that clearing surrounded by trees was palpable, for performers and audience alike.” 

Having recently spent time in the recording studio with Gavin Glass [who has worked with acts such as Lisa Hannigan, Paul Brady and the Young Folk], Rob says One Horse Pony are eager to get out playing live again, “we’re looking forward to showcasing the new material at a bunch of shows over the coming summer months, we’re particularly excited about this show in the Glebe Gardens. Setting up and playing tunes in that amazing amphitheatre they carved into the ground, with the sea behind us and the barbeque fired up, it is definitely the place to be!” 

Jo finds the differing tastes of the local area to be a welcome challenge when it comes to how the family run the Glebe, “Baltimore is such a seasonal village that it forces us to be creative about what we do. West Cork and especially Baltimore is such a diverse place that there is plenty of scope to keep people interested and we are fortunate enough to be able to employ a few people within the community. We try to make the most of the garden and the seasons.” 

Show times & ticket information for all the events can be found at  www.glebegardens.com

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