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Back Then: Tommy marks the sands of time by taking his songs on the road

Troubadour's latest show has already been a smash hit across the Atlantic

By Eddie McIlwaine

Folksy Tommy Sands, who turns 70 later this year, will celebrate the sands of time moving on by touring Northern Ireland with a new show called Ballad of a Songman.

It has already been a smash hit in Manhattan, from where Tommy has just returned. And with one or two additional spots, Tommy is hoping for a repeat success here at home.

He sums up the musical - directed by Martin Lynch - like this: "We will travel along on the wings of a song,

With a mind that is open and free,

If we close our eyes to the other side

We're just half of what we can be."

Which explains Tommy's career in music and song... and his role as a peacemaker.

Ballad of a Songman has Tommy taking a thoughtful walk through his career, bringing to life many of the stories told back in 2005 in the pages of his autobiography.

In the Irish Arts Centre in downtown New York the night belonged to the man from Co Down.

The production opens with movie footage of Sands walking in the Mournes, which overshadow his native Mayobridge, with a backdrop of one of Tommy's best-loved compositions - Let the Circle Be Wide Round the Fireplace.

Homage is paid in Ballad of a Songman to the people from all sides whose lives were turned upside down by the Troubles and to storytellers, like Mick Quinn, who passed away at 88.

I can guarantee the audience at every stopping-off place on this tour - the dates are still to be arranged - will have plenty to think about and applaud as they listen to Tommy revealing the heart-wrenching story behind his There Were Roses.

Belfast Telegraph


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