The spirit of John Lennon was alive and well on Cork City’s northside yesterday when a mobile sound studio was laid on for some talented local musicians.
A John Lennon Educational Tour Bus has criss-crossed the US for the past 16 years, but a second bus built in Germany is now three months into a European tour, having been launched in Liverpool by Yoko Ono.
Yesterday it pulled into the carpark in front of the Terence McSwiney Community College in Holyhill and became home for a day to eight talented, local musicians.
Teacher Phil O’Flynn and principal William McAuliffe of the college were understandably proud to have the bright, shiny new bus parked outside the school, while inside its hi-tech interior three students were among those writing songs and making videos.
Darren O’Leary and his regular bandmates Josh Crean and Deana Purcell were chosen for the session in the Lennon Bus due to their longstanding interest in music, as were five students from the County School of Music. The three budding musicians from Cork’s northside were selected because of their interaction with the U2-backed Sound generation programme.
Deana, 16, has been singing since she was eight years old and has previously performed in front of her classmates at school.
“It’s brilliant,” she said of the bus set-up, while Darren, 15 and from Gurranabraher, said of the pristine drum kit: “This makes my drums look old.”
Josh, a 14-year-old bass player and guitarist, said the dazzling sound system was “unbelievable”.
The bus certainly attracted some local attention and the chief executive of the Cork Education and Training Board, Ted Owens, said “the idea is music as a tool for social inclusion”, while Phil O’Flynn said she hoped having the bus in Holyhill would inspire young people locally and help those involved to “stick with their music”.
Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Catherine Clancy, said the Lennon Bus reflected the city’s tradition of providing the opportunity to young people to learn and make music.
All eight teenagers were being put through their paces by the onboard crew and had already written a verse by 11am. Sound engineer Hans Tanner explained how the equipment on board — ranging from Gibson guitars to electronic music software — meant the bus was a kind of musical sweet shop, even allowing people to develop video game ideas. The finished song, accompanying video and any other material was to be posted on the Lennonbus.org Facebook page after the recording session.
Violinists Ellen Carroll from Ballincollig and Niamh O’Sullivan, both 16, and Afric O’Riordan, a 17-year-old flautist from Inniscarra, want to play in an orchestra, but they also knew their Beatles music. Ellen had even studied the music of John Lennon for her Junior Cert.
Deana, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure. “I didn’t even know him,” she confessed. No matter — thanks to the bespectacled Liverpudlian, she might just be on her own path to stardom.
The bus plays host to students today from nearby Gaelcholáiste Mhuire at North Monastery and tomorrow it will be visited by members of the Music Generation programme, before spending three days in Dublin from Aug 5.
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