Interview: End Of An Era For Teen Rockers As Music Project Finishes

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Total Cleaning Insert’s Fergus Dennehy talks to John Buggy about the end of a project which was important to the lives of many young people over the past 12 years…


John Buggy, a leading member of the LBP outside the KDYS Tralee . Photo by Fergus Dennehy

THE Live Band Project (LBP) which has entertained and educated hundreds of young people over the last 12 years has finished its long work for the foreseeable future.

While it may be a completely new term to some readers, the project has played an integral part in shaping the lives of many young people today, this writer included.

It gave teenage bands, from Tralee and beyond, a chance to play rock music in the company of friends at the KDYS in an alcohol-free environment.

The last of the LBP gigs took place two weeks ago so there is a sense of closure in the air as I’m welcomed into the office of co-ordinator of the project, John Buggy, deep in the heart of the Kerry Diocesan Youth Service (KDYS) here in Tralee.

We’ve met to discuss the recent end of the LBP that has become synonymous with both John and the KDYS in the town over the years.

I ask John, to tell me how the whole idea came about, what it was and what it meant to the young people of Tralee.

“It was an idea that was brought to fruition by the young people themselves, back in 2003,” explains John.

“It was just young people who were into music and who needed a place to play and a place to rehearse. With the assistance of my predecessor Tom Dillon, they put together this project.”

“We had a three strand approach. We had a studio here that was set up as a rehearsal facility for young people to come in after school or at weekends and rehearse. Out of that, we had the gig scene that was every second week where we would have a rota of bands that wanted to play and perform. The recording aspect then, we were able able to do simple demos and give young musicians an opportunity to get some studio experience.”

“There was workshops, and just a general sense of support and using music as a medium to connect with young people. Sometimes young people would have been feeling a little isolated and on the edges of society a little bit…we always had an open and welcoming aspect to our programme,” he said.

The reason behind the longevity of the project lay in its fundamental core principle; to try and sever the link between alcohol and music.

He goes on to state that in the past, the only place that you could play music was in pubs. This would lead to a gravitation towards pubs from a very young age and this would sometimes have a very detrimental effect on people later in life.

“We were trying to say that look, you can ‘rock out’, you can express yourself, you can gain experience and you can do it right here. There doesn’t need to be drink involved…that was one of the key reasons that we got funding,” said John.

He goes on to state that, although the project has achieved many of its goals over the years, with its final gig a few weeks ago and its subsequent coming to an end, it felt like a natural conclusion.

“To some degree, the project has faded in the last 18 months. There seems to be a change in what young people want and in the direction that young people are going…maybe the genres of music have changed. They might be less interested in rock, punk or metal.”

“Youth Work moves in cycles and we have to reflect what’s happening in society, If the young people aren’t responding, then we need to change tact.”

While it is certainly the end of an era with the finishing of the LBP, there are still notes left to play in the Tralee music song.

“We do still have one thing that we’re keeping running. It’s called the Wednesday afternoon music club. It’s going to be a largely volunteer led piece of work that happens on Wednesdays after school.”

“It’s an open door for young musicians or any young people who would like to try something out.”

So, while there is a sadness in the air around the KDYS and amongst all those who grew up during the the long rehearsal sessions, or the Friday nights spent ‘gigging’ that this project has played its final tune for now, there is still hope for music in Tralee.

The Live Band Project will ring long in the ears and in the memory.

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