When you’re someone like Irish singer Gavin James, who’s taken the stage to front for the likes of Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, and Taylor Swift, hitting up a small pub in your hometown for an intimate singer-songwriter night is just what you need to strike a balance between your flourishing music career and keeping your relationship with the local music scene alive. Since winning the Choice Music Prize Award for ‘Song Of The Year’ with “Bitter Pill” in 2016, involving himself with The Diana Award Anti-Bullying Campaign, and giving Spanish electro house DJ and producer Danny Avila’s remix of “I Don’t Know Why” a proper release, at 25, James proves that roughing it up at the pub circuit to become a better musician was worth it.
On this edition of BillboardPH’s #SoundtripsAndJoyrides, Gavin James lists down the seven places you have to visit in Dublin to experience the best of Ireland’s local music scene.
Where did you play your first local gig and is the venue still around today? Do you remember how it felt to be on stage for the first time?
My first gigs were playing the pubs in centre of Dublin mainly in The Old Storehouse in Temple Bar; it’s where all the tourists go. I was nervous the first time, but back then I have my mate Craig singing with me, so it was a lot of fun.
What local venues do you frequent (or used to) for a fresh dose of the local music scene? Do you still have time to check it out?
When I’m home I always head into the Ruby Sessions, it’s a singer-songwriter night that’s been running for almost 15 years. Every Tuesday, four acts play an acoustic set, the talent is always amazing and you never know what other acts might pop in for a special performance.
Where did you see your first major concert? What band/artist did you watch?
My first concert was Velvet Revolver in Dublin. I was too young to buy a ticket, but I managed to blag my way in! Still one of the best gigs I’ve ever been too.
Are there certain places in Dublin where you feel songwriting flows the best? What songs did you write in those spots?
I wrote most of my songs back home in Dublin, and it’s usually in the middle of the night. I’m not sure why but there’s nothing like being home; most of the songs on the album were written there!
What are your favorite music stores (for gear, records, merch) in Dublin?
I’m always looking for new guitars or getting my ones serviced. There is a great shop on Aungier Street called Some Neck Guitars. I can spend hours in there checking out and playing their new and vintage guitars.
Give 7 places–from gig venues/clubs/bars, famous landmarks, busking areas, and museums people should visit in Dublin. Why should they visit these places?
1. Grafton Street for the best buskers in Ireland. It’s also the main shopping street in Dublin.
2. The Old Storehouse in Temple Bar–just tell Rob I sent you there.
3. Whelans Dublin has great music any night of the week.
4. The Olympia Theatre, probably the most famous music venue. I love playing there.
5. The Ruby Session every Tuesday for the best of singer-songwriters.
6. Bruxelles just off Grafton St. Check out the The Zodiac Sessions there every Wednesday night!
7. The Guinness Store House at the Guinness Factory for the best pint in Ireland.