It's a baladeer's job to comfort disturbed people and to disturb comfortable people.
Self-taught learners are known as autodidacts. They learn because of their curiosity, desire, and love for learning. Well, so here I am... an autodidact guitarist and singer, a baladeer, longing to play for you.
The songs I play are not what I am, they reflect who I am. Emotionally. Music is the only real magic I have encountered in my life. It keeps me sane when I'm surrounded by insanity. If I am happy, I enjoy the music. If I am sad, I understand the lyrics. So, I inevitably just had to turn to Irish music sooner or later.
My first guitar - a nylon string guitar - was a gift from a dear uncle. For years I could do little with it, and I let it collect dust between a cabinet and the wall. One day, however, already being a late teenager, I curious (or out of boredom?) picked it up...
Practized for years, enthusiastically, as I remember, drove my folks and my sister (and probably some neighbors who shall remain nameless) nuts, until at the age of around 17 or so, I - inevitably - joined my first band. We created a lot of noise, which we believed was music... Punk, Psychedelic, Rock we called it. But we did it with passion and emotions, and that's all that counts.
For almost 2 years I then joined a Southern German entertainment music band called "Pharao" (I resent being remembered, though). They kinda liked my then high-pitch voice, so they dragged me out from the back rooms of dark, smeary, badly ventilated youth houses and placed me on well-illuminated stages with an audience of more than 5 to 10 stoned and/or drugged youngsters.
A job involving worldwide travelling for about 9 months a year prevented me from climbing the stairway to heaven. Instead, I took the highway to hell and tried to make a living by earning money doing reputable and serious work. For about 13, 14 years years to come, music played the second fiddle, only.
Then one day, being on home leave, a close and dear friend, now long deceased, introduced me to the first Irish tune I had ever consciously heard in my life... "Down by the Sally Gardens" (Irish: Gort na Saileán), the lyrics a poem by William Butler Yeats, published in "The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems" in 1889, performed by Paddie Bell & Tom Smith.
I cannot exactly recall what happened and why and how... but with each additional Irish song I heard from his vinyls, I lost a teeny little piece of my heart to Irish music. To a music genre I never had emotional bonds to. To a country I had never seen. To people I had never met. I just knew, no... I felt(!), I cannot go on living without it. So I practized...
Living out my new love proved to be a challenge. Situated in an area where German is the native language, where the oom pah pah music of brass players or the "German Schlager", the bratwurst turned into music, represents the lowest common musical denominator, and where it is extremely hard getting a gig opportunity when not complying with the "musical mainstream", I look back to only a few, yet wonderful and fun performances in Irish Pubs in the near and sometimes also farther vicinity (the craic was 90, fellas! I'll never forget any of the gigs ... or you great people).
After boobing around in the irrelevance of pubs and playing in front of people who take free-of-charge heart blood and unconditional passion for granted, a personal, very emotional and deeply affecting exceptional situation induced me to launch the apokalyse: I gave up up music "for good" and sold everything I owned and loved. Everything! Among that an Ovation 12-String 1758-4 Elite that will simply remain irreplacable for the rest of my earthly life. Talk about dumb things to do and a bleeding heart...
A break followed... for roughly 15 years. Other interests and a new job in a different country took over.
Visiting the West of Ireland in 2015 turned out to become another milestone in my life. A performing musician in Fitzpatrick's Bar in Doolin, Co. Clare, became the reason for me buying a guitar right after the trip and picking up playing Irish songs again. And so, once again, I became a cantaire bailéad, a baladeer.