I often get sent images of instruments that were bought in Crowleys Music Centre back in the day, and sometimes I think about how that instrument might have changed a person's path in life. The ultimate instrument will inspire greatness and will often outlive the owner. The instrument's journey can be as interesting as the owners. At 29 Mac Curtain Street, we had a wall of acoustic and electric guitars and basses down the back of the shop, with the finest Gibson's, Fender's, Rickenbackers, Santa Cruz and so on. By the time recession hit in 2008, we called it expensive wallpaper, but there had been nearly half a century of customers looking up in awe at the wall (in the days of Merchant's Quay it was pipes and accordions). Many times we saw customers stopped dead in their tracks, imagining themselves playing one of the instruments in a top venue. They would drink it in visually first for a few moments and then they would ask could they try it. Either Paul O'Byrne or his successor Noel Curran strummed the guitar and ran a few riffs over the fingerboard before handing it over to the customer who was standing there eagerly waiting with anticipation.
You could feel their excitement and appreciation, as they lost themselves in those moments of playing the instrument. The decision was already made. They were going to buy it! Many of them struck up a deal with Mick to pay it off every time they had a gig which could take a year or more. Others went to their parents, the bank or they did double shifts at work. These instruments are a big deal in the life of the musician and still to this day they are treasured. One of these instruments is owned by Emmett Christie who has played with Fred, Niall Connolly, Metaltech, The Last Days of Pompeii and more. He shared his memories about his Fender precision bass.
Emmett's 1972 Fender Precision Bass which he bought from Noel Curran at Crowley's Music Centre around 1998.
"Hi Sheena, I hope you're well. Just thought you might like to see these photos and hear a little bit about the bass, maybe not. I just get very excited about it. :) I was the original bass player of the Cork band Fred and I bought this 72 P bass from Crowleys in 98 (or thereabouts) when I was a student in Colaiste Stiofan Naofa. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it, and I think Noel realised that and drove a hard bargain. I think I paid £600 for it, I phoned my dad and asked to borrow money for it (not sure I ever paid him back). The bass went on to play a lot of gigs and albums with Fred and Niall Connolly before I moved to Edinburgh, since then it's been involved in my career as a musician continuously for years. It was recently refretted and it's ready for decades more use. It turns 50 next year and I hope it keeps being used long past that. Anyway, I know it's only a tiny part of the Crowley's legacy, but it's really important to me. I had worked in a guitar shop in Edinburgh, 'Red Dog Music,' until last year when we were forced to close, we just couldn't survive in such difficult circumstances. I hope it's not the end of local music shops, but it's not looking good. Anyway, thanks for the bass, and many years of helpful advice and trying instruments. Emmett."
Emmett Christie playing his acoustic bass which was handmade by the late Chris Larkin.
A very dapper looking Emmett playing his Sandberg bass with his wedding band Corra.
Emmett Christie at the workshop of luthier Chris McIntyre, Edinburgh, picking up his pink custom-built bass.
I love that Emmett personifies his Fender bass when he says it will be 50 next year. Almost all musicians would acknowledge their instruments like that. Emmett has 9 basses at this stage and they are all special to him in one way or another. He is kept very busy studying psychology, being a fulltime parent and before Covid, a fulltime musician. I like that he got to work in a music shop, in my mind, there is no greater buzz. It is sad to hear that it is no more like so many great businesses that have gone before and after Crowleys. Support local. At the Island of Music, we provide luthier supplies, instrument accessories, secondhand instruments, Irish handmade instruments and albums of Irish artists. If you want to rent, trade or sell an instrument on commission contact me personally at email@example.com or just give me a ring at 085 1506831.
The old wall.