Most of the plot lines on reality TV shows are paint by numbers -- a fat guy emerges from The Biggest Loser camp with six pack abs here, a drag queen lip-synchs for his life and transforms into a gender confused butterfly on RuPaul’s Drag Race over there. And of course, American Idol is the mack daddy of them all.
I wish I had a camera to capture what has been going on with Beannacht over these last few months. I could sell it as Irish American Idol to one of the networks!
Faithful readers of this column will remember the story I wrote about Thomas Johnston, my mild-mannered accountant and financial planner who told me at tax time that he was going to pursue his lifelong dream of performing music. He raved about his niece, Deirdre Margaret Forrest, 21, and how they would combine their love of Irish and contemporary music in a folk milieu.
“Beannacht is the Gaelic word for blessing, and that’s what this is,” Johnston says. “For this opportunity to come my way at this stage of my life is amazing.”
Since our chat, the duo has become a whirling dervish of music! What started out as a few gigs near their Readington, New Jersey base has snowballed into gigs on the main stage of the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, perhaps the most famous stage in the Garden State.
I caught up with them at that gig. Their set was peppered with both traditional (“Foggy Dew” and “The Parting Glass”) and twisted -- a slow burn acoustic read of Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” was a particular crowd pleaser.
“We like to do these familiar songs our own funky, twisted way, and people really respond to that,” gushed Forrest after their set at the Pony.
Johnston says the duo was so excited by the praise they got for their harmonies and unique approach to music that they have been writing songs that combine their love of rock and culture. A backstage chat with Clannad’s Moya Brennan gave them a sense of urgency.
“She encouraged us to move forward and wants to hear our music when it comes out, so we better get her something before she forgets who we are!” jokes Johnston. With that, recording begins this week on the first Beannacht release.
“Lead you to the promised land/flaxen haired vision I see you in my dreams,” sung Forrest from the stage. The hippy poetry has flourishes of Dungeons and Dragons in it, just like a good Robert Plant song should!
“This year pushed me out there to just go for it,” she says with determination.
What’s your excuse for not going for it? Reality television may not always intersect with reality, but they do have something in common -- the best things in life are achieved when you step outside your comfort zone.
This reviewer tips his hat to the birth of Beannacht! Become their friend on Facebook or visit their Myspace page and follow them following their dreams!
Guess the only state in the US where an Irish last name ranks in the top 3