Tom Conway: He Comes From Everywhere


I first saw Tom Conway a couple of years ago. Outside Dunnes Stores.1 The day was bitterly cold. Tom sat hunched over a Yamaha keyboard.2 A microphone jutting from his chest (held there by some contraption or other). Head down. Intense expression. Focused on the job in hand. He sang:

They come from here,
They come from there,
They come from everywhere,
Galway, Tipperary, and the county of Kildare.

"They" were congregating somewhere, this motley crew, but I've no idea where. Or why. Or what the song is/was called.3 The keyboard stylings were very much of the plinky-plonky (synthesised Country 'n' Irish) kind, but there was something about Tom's delivery, and his fractured/warbly voice, that stayed with me.

I've seen Tom 3 or 4 times since. Always with the same plinky-plonky intensity. Always in artic conditions. Not reaching out to a (largely indifferent) street audience, but wrapped up both in a warm coat and his own performance. The snippets of song I hear as I float past have a distinctive flavour. First impression: Maudlin or jaunty. Second impression: Drenched in melancholy. Or maybe it's just the cold.

I saw Tom again today (it was cold and damp, of course). Chucked him a few coins. Bought his CD.

There's Tom (from a few years back I'd say). Messing about with boats, enshrouded in an eerie green glow. The fingers of his right hand are…not quite there. He's like a time-travelling accordionist – phasing between realities. Which seems about right.

A few samples.4 Here's Tom channelling his inner (Australian) yodelling cowboy.

And here's Tom in satirical mode (taking a few swipes at parish pump politics).

So that's Tom Conway. Freezing his ass off for all us sinners.

  1. Henry St, Limerick. [back]
  2. Well, it may not have been a Yamaha keyboard. But all such keyboards are Yamaha keyboards (at least in my imagination). [back]
  3. Google reveals nothing. [back]
  4. Tom will forgive me for sharing, I hope. [back]

March 23, 2013

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