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Developing Your Own Theme
The culmination of a decade's passion and commitment.
In December 2011, Kieran Quinn invited some musical friends to join him in celebrating Christmas at his regular Thursday night gig in Sligo, Ireland.
Sensing that they’d somehow captured lightning in a bottle, Kieran took this idea - creating opportunities for people to gather and celebrate great music - and ran with it.
What began as Kieran and a few mates evolved again and again over the next ten years. The “Theme Nights” now play theatre-sized venues in multiple-night engagements and have become a platform for hundreds of emerging and established musicians.
In 2021 Kieran wanted to acknowledge a decade’s worth of accomplishment and produced a commemorative book called “10” and an album called “How Can I Keep From Singing?”
I love observing how Kieran operates in the world. He inspires me.
With the Theme Nights, he had an idea that worked fine the first time, but he didn’t stop there. He iterated the idea, building upon the concept as his vision for it grew.
A sense of community was baked into the Theme Night premise from early on. Musicians were sourced from the local community and the performances were designed to celebrate that community.
From a musical standpoint, the Theme Night album is infused with love. Love for the songs, the musicians, and for Sligo, the place Kieran calls home.
She’s Always a Woman is a wonderful example. This recording honours the integrity of Billy Joel’s song, sharing the original melody between guitar, violin and flute. Then it evolves into a sound that is quintessentially Irish. (I’m going to step outside my realm of musical expertise and call it an Irish Jig. Kieran, please correct me if I’m wrong!) A great song, with wonderful musicians and an arrangement that celebrates their musical and cultural heritage.
Other tracks include musical styles from pop, country, soul and folk, culminating in a beautiful choral arrangement of the title song “How Can I Keep From Singing?”
While Kieran might be the coach or even the owner, the Theme Night is most definitely a team effort. And like a sports team, non-players get a lot of fulfilment from being associated with the ‘the club’. Kieran sees individuals and businesses from the Sligo community step forward to offer support and encouragement. I think this inclusive approach means that whenever Kieran and the Theme night has any sort of success (a great performance, releasing a commemorative book & album) the whole community can celebrate and share in the win.
Though it might seem counterintuitive to focus less on how our personal contributions are recognised, choosing instead to celebrate everyone who makes our work possible, it might just be the best way to generate and sustain the momentum and karma that will make your next project flourish.
You can stream or purchase the Theme Night album for yourself, and I encourage you to sign up at www.kieranquinn.ie/letter to learn more about Kieran, the people he works with and the beautiful part of the world in which he lives.