When the first lockdown swung into effect last year, online gigs became quite a phenomenon.
However, musican Peter McLoughlin, better known as Peco, wasn’t so keen on the idea. The Ellistown man just wasn’t into it.
As the weeks passed, there was a lull, lockdown number two arrived, a lull, Christmas...
Now, six weeks in to lockdown number three, it’s the afternoon of Friday, February 12 and Peco has changed his view. Having performed his first live gig on Facebook the previous night, he is keen to host a gig from his home once a month.
“It went really well. We got a great response. You can still see it on the Facebook page. It was really great.
“I have friends in America and England and they were all tuned in. They were chatting and sending messages to each other, it was like a real gig. People were even sending me pictures of themselves sitting on their couches, having a drink.”
In his 25 years of playing music, he admits this has been the longest time he has gone without playing a gig in front of a live audience.
“When the first lockdown came, loads of people were doing live online performances but I just didn’t get it. It was sort of a funny time. I think I was just focusing on the family,” he explains.
During the past few months, he has been writing and recording a lot and has completed a new album titled Miniature Leaps of Faith. The first single off the album, Three Deep Breaths, is being released next month and the album is due out at the end of the summer. Hoping to release a new single every five to six weeks, Peco had big plans to film a live video at a country house at Christmas. With social distancing rules in place, this had to be cancelled.
Not daunted by this, the musician still has a few plans up his sleeve.
Peco emphases he had a good few songs on the backburner prior to lockdown, as well as sprouting new creations.
His phone and notebook are never far away, as you never know where inspiration will come from.
The lockdown has lead to a different way of working. Normally an album is recorded in a studio with all the musicians present. However, this time around, Peco sent a demo to the band to give them an example of what he wanted. They all recorded their own individual pieces. Then Peco sent them off to Martin Quinn at Jam Studios to have them mixed and mastered properly.
“It’s turned out really well. You can have a chat with Martin and tell him what you want. Jam Studios have been brilliant,” adds Peco.
Featuring on the album are some of Kildare’s finest musicians — Dave Robinson, Monasterevin; Con Dunne, Prosperous; Todd Doyle, Rathangan; Mick Cross, Rathangan and James Kearney, Peco’s manager.
The dad of three is married to Fran and apart from sharing the home schooling, Peco is also a support teacher at a disadvantaged school in Dublin. Learning new IT skills, he helped set up a special You Tube channel where he uploads all the teachers’ videos for the pupils.
“Sorting out WiFi and getting devices for kids was a huge problem in the first lockdown, but this time round, we have that sorted,” he says.
With two children in primary school and one in playschool, its fair to say the Ellistown household is a busy one. “I suppose you have to change the way you do things when the kids come along. Before I had kids, I was working full time and the biggest thing outside that was music, but that had to change,” he explained.
Now he timetables his music slots into his week built around his family life.
“Music is a great outlet. It gives me a kind of focus. I’ve been doing a lot of writing and recording and that’s great but its very different to perform live,” he says.
Peco feels there is an element of fatigue setting in general in the country as this lockdown carries on.
He acknowledges the situation is very hard on people.
“Don’t get me wrong. We are very lucky. We have a house in the country but it is hard going in lockdown,” he adds.
One thing he really misses is meeting up with friends to play music. When lockdown is over, he is looking forward to getting together to play a few songs, go to a few live gigs and bring the kids.
You can tell Peco is buoyed by the previous night’s gig. A passion for music and love of writing is instilled in his DNA. Embracing the natural echo of his hallway, he is looking forward to getting back behind the mic again next month for his second live Facebook gig.
Check out Peco Music on Facebook and Instagram.
His brand new single will be available next month on all the usual sites as well as Bandcamp, iTunes and Spotify.