While most regular nights in Cork would be doing well to last 6 months, John Hennessy and Barry Walsh's monthly "Sunday Times" isn't far off it's second birthday. Their ability to draw consistently good crowds and create a fun atmosphere without compromising their music policy has people wondering how exactly they pull this off. Any success they've had has to be put down to the hard work the lads have put into the night from day one (I say "night" but that's not really a fair description considering they kick things off around 4 in the afternoon).
Every month John and Barry go to the trouble of decorating the entire pub with random posters, vintage record players, reel to reel tape machines, bowls made of melted vinyl, decorated wine bottles, etc, etc.. Knowing how annoying it can be to just bring two decks, a mixer, and some records into a bar, I have the upmost respect for the lads for continually making the effort to bring the little extras that make their night unique.
They do a lot more than just decorate though. An Realt Dearg got nice new sound system earlier in the year, but before they did, John and Barry went into their own pockets to rent quality amp and speakers each month. Clear sound has always been a top priority for both of them. They also provide great food (I'm not talking about sausages and chicken nuggets). Think bbq, sushi, pizza, freshly baked cakes, etc.. and it's often free of charge.
The lads are equally hard working when it comes to promotion. They maintain a great website/blog (www.sundaytimessoundsystem.com) with regular mixes and other random writings, photos, etc related to the night, as well as the usual social network/forum/flyer work.
All these extra touches are nice, but what "Sunday Times" is really all about is the music. John and Barry both fall into the category of obsessive collectors when it comes to vinyl. All the decorations, food, websites, etc are provided in the hope that they can share these records with you, and maybe make you dance.
While "Sunday Times" would have to be considered one of the most successful monthly nights in Cork, this wasn't always the case. I played with the lads at two of their early nights, I think I was their first guest actually.. (correct me if I'm wrong boys). The first time I joined them we pulled a crowd of about 8 people. I don't remember any of us being too disappointed, we play obscure music (most of which is over 30 years old) in Cork... this obviously wasn't the first time any of us had played to an empty room. So we just saw it as an opportunity to have a few drinks and listen to some great music with a couple friends. The numbers may be more these days but the attitude towards the night remains the same.
The lads invited me to play with them again the following month. There was a much better crowd this time around. It was far from packed, but there have been few times I've enjoyed DJing as much. It was quickly becoming clear that the lads had something special.
Almost 2 years later it's amazing to see how far the night has come. Most of the best DJ's in the city, and many from around the country, have played up there at some point. John Daly, Greg Dowling, Stevie G, Lunar Disco DJ's, and Colm K, are just a few of the names who have played over the last couple years. The success of the monthly night has also got John and Barry gigs around the country and last year they were even invited to play in Berlin.
As I'm sure it does to many, the night means quite a bit to me personally. I've had some of my favorite nights DJing in there. My brother has been a regular fixture of the night as well, either as a DJ, running his Hobo Records stall, or as a drunken spectator. My parents have made it several times and are fans of the atmosphere, even my son has made a few daytime appearances! For us "Sunday Times" is indeed a family affair.
So I'm delighted to be playing with the boys once again on Easter Sunday. It will be a Little Things Radio special, meaning of course that I'll be playing nothing but 45's. It's a bank holiday weekend too so there will be an extra hours drinking time and no worries about work the following morning! This could get messy...