Keith Donald is a renowned saxophone and clarinet player, best known as a founding member of Moving Hearts. In a career that has spanned over five decades, Keith has played on over eighty albums and worked with artists including Van Morrison, Christy Moore and Louis Stewart, among many others.
For more than thirty years, Keith’s musical career was blighted by addiction. Twenty years after getting sober, Keith sat down and wrote NewBliss, a one-man play which is an unflinching and emotional look back at his life and his desperate battle with alcoholism. It combines Keith’s words, verse and music to tell the story of his journey from addiction to redemption.
Here, Keith writes about the road to NewBliss.
NewBliss is more than a play, it’s a musical memoir, with 5 instruments, 10 songs and 900 lines of verse.
If I were to write a recipe for NewBliss, it might read: Take one troubled kid and let him escape from his problems when he finds music. Let him start his gigging life on BBC radio at the age of ten. Add a clarinet, then a saxophone. Marinate in gin and simmer on three continents for fifty years with a dozen bands. Add stories, verses and songs and enjoy!
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I've performed NewBliss in theatres and at festivals north and south of the border, and in Brussels last March. How come Brussels? The day after NewBliss played in The Market Theatre in Armagh, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland emailed me. I drove to Belfast and met the Drama Officer, Gilly Campbell, who said the ACNI worked with the Northern Ireland Office in Brussels to promote one-man shows and would I like to go.
At the beginning of March, Ollie and Joe - my NewBliss crew - went by road and ferry while Susan Slott, our director and cueist, and I flew. We played in the Bozar Theatre to an almost full house and attended a reception afterwards that was thrown by the NIO. On the flight home, Susan said, "You got a standing ovation there and it was an audience that didn't know you. NewBliss will connect with audiences anywhere."
That gave me great heart and encouragement.
Keith Donald’s one-man show NewBliss will be performed in the John Field Room in the National Concert Hall, Dublin at 8pm on Tuesday 28 February, 2017 - details here.