Barbara’s Memories!
Barbara and her friend Nina, both Americans, came to Dublin, Ireland in the 1960s where they formed a duo ‘Night and Day’ and became well known on the folk music scene performing in the popular folk music clubs and venues around the city.
This is Barbara’s story.

How ‘Night & Day’ came to be.
By Barbara Joyce
It all started in Dublin, Ireland on Sunday, August 20, 1967. Nina and I went to a place called “O’Mara’s Talk of the Town” It was a nightclub-pub and they had ballads almost every night. I asked one of the performers how he obtained his booking and explained that we were Americans looking for work. He gave us much advice including the suggestion to go to one of the folk clubs in town. The sessions usually started about 9:30 or 10:30 and continued until 2 am. Most were hired entertainers, but anyone could sing and play if they so wished. 
That particular night we went to the 95 Folk Club to see what it was like. There were three small rooms in a basement with weird paintings on the walls for an atmospheric effect. There was a small stage on which sat a bearded guitarist singing American slow hillbilly ballads. Beside him sat a girl with straight hair down to her waist. There were two rooms for the audience and a third for the performers. All rooms were filled with smoke. Bearded guys sat with long-haired girls. I might add that the hair on the men rivaled the girls!  Sometimes it was difficult to tell one from the other.
One thing that surprised us was how quietly everyone sat and listened. There was no rousing singing like we experienced in the pubs. On leaving I asked the owner, Cecil Frew, how we could obtain a booking. He told us to come back the following Friday, Saturday, or Sunday with our instruments. He said that if we were good he would give us a “spot”(gig).
We decided that we would go to another club called the Universal Folk Club and play on the coming Tuesday. Steve (the singer we met at O’Mara’s) said that he would be there on Tuesday with his manager. At this point we realized that we needed a professional name. Certainly ‘Nina and Barbara wouldn’t suit. 
We wanted something with a gimmick that everyone would remember. 
We decided to call ourselves “Night and Day”. This came about because many people on the Nieuw Amsterdam and in Ireland and Scotland commented on our contrasting coloring by calling us “Night and Day”. We practiced like crazy Monday and all day Tuesday. We finally decided to sing “Rum by Gum”, “Follow the Drinking Gourd”, “El Matador” (a great new song we just learned), and “Copper Kettle”. We were both nervous wrecks.
With the gimmick in mind we dressed with great care. You wouldn’t believe how odd we looked! Nina wore a black sheath dress and I wore my white dress with the green polka dots. That wasn’t bad but over this Nina wore her black cape, black gloves, black shoes, and carried her black handbag. I wore my white raincoat, white gloves, white shoes, and carried my white handbag. I can’t tell you how stupid we felt. We then picked up our guitars and trooped to the bus stop. We really stopped traffic! Pedestrians turned to stare and I thought the people on the bus would permanently damage their necks from craning for a better look. After tripping off the bus we had to walk down one of the main streets in Dublin. I think everyone figured we were two hippies. It did pay off in the end, because now nobody forgets our name.
We arrived early and made arrangements to play. This was when we began to meet our associates in the folk circle. We discovered that these long-haired, bearded guys were very nice, very interesting people. They were all interested in us and wanted to know where we were from, why we came to Ireland, and what songs we sang. They gave us a lot of encouragement and tried their best to calm us down. It is here that we met Michael Byrne (Emmet Spiceland). He came charging over, long blonde hair flying, and asked if he could see our guitars. Because the show had begun, we moved to a back room so we wouldn’t be heard and climbed to the top of the stairs. There the very talented Michael sat and played several songs for us. He tried to teach Nina a new strum and I wish I had a picture of her face. The chord was a difficult one involving four fingers. Her hand looked like a claw gripping the guitar. He then reached over and plucked the strings – all the while shouting directions to her. She looked completely bewildered. He was yelling “Hammer down here…now I’ll pick this string…you have to keep the bass going…you’ll know it in no time”. Needless to say, Nina still doesn’t know what he was doing.
We also met Denis McGrath, an excellent singer, who was the guest artist of the night. He came over saying “Your guitar is out of tune”. As usual, it was and he tuned our guitars. He sings traditional Irish ballads, has hair that is a reasonable length, and wears conservative clothing. His musical style reminded me of a traveling troubadour in the days of King Arthur. I could easily envision him singing and playing for the royal court.
We met many others and all were very friendly and helpful. We were the second “act” in the second half of the show. We were absolutely terrible. We forgot our words and chords and were complete nervous wrecks. Still the audience was polite and they applauded each futile attempt. We were completely crushed as we returned to the others. No one said anything about our singing – good or bad. As we stood there sullenly, a man, who had been with Michael earlier, approached us. He wanted our names and address and said he would help us get bookings. We didn’t know whether to be wary or elated. His name was Mick Clark. At one time he was the manager of the Emmet Folk Group. He got them started and then they arranged things on their own. Everyone seemed to think highly of him and he knew many influential people. Still he made no comment on our singing ability. As we were leaving the club, the proprietor, Laurie Grennell, stopped us and asked us if we would return next Tuesday and sing again. We were totally confused and didn’t know what was happening. Obviously everyone wanted us to continue performing, yet we knew we were very poor that night.
Not having been tossed out of the Universal, we decided to go to the Ould Triangle Folk Club on Wednesday. The owner, Gerry O’Grady, had been at the Universal, and had arrived after our singing. He invited us to perform there. We frantically practiced all day Wednesday and chose to sing “Brazos River”, “Pastures of Plenty”, “El Matador”, and “Rum by Gum”. This time we were a little more relaxed and the only song that fell apart was “El Matador”. Yours truly blew it! 
I might mention that “Rum by Gum” was a big hit. Evidently it hasn’t been sung here before and it really went over well. The big question seemed to be – were my hiccups intended or accidental?
Again we met many people who had been at the Universal, including Denis and Michael. Denis made a point of coming over to see if my guitar was in tune and strangely enough it wasn’t.
Thursday we spent the day practicing for our debut at the 95 Club. We were still confused about our talent or lack of it. No one had given us their opinion and we feared it was a case of “if you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all”. Yet they all continued to urge us to sing. In the end we decided to be on the safe side and just go to listen on Friday.
When we arrived at the 95 Club we were recognized immediately and the owner asked us if we were going to sing. When we replied in the negative, mumbling something about not having our instruments, he immediately told us we could borrow some and still perform. We still chickened out and Nina developed a severe sore throat. We were off the hook! All went well until Mick Clark came in and really scolded us! We pinned him down for his opinion and discovered that:
1.    He does not count a first performance.
2.    He thinks we have definite promise.
3.    We need experience.
4.    We must appear at the folk clubs to gain experience.
 Our morale boosted, we set forth on Saturday in our usual regalia which by then seemed natural to us.
 There was a fellow present who was at Lisdoonvarna the night we were raided. He is with the group ‘Mac Alpine’s Men’. He came over and said he was glad to have the chance to hear us again. He certainly lifted our spirits with high praise.

As it turned out we were the next to the last ones to perform. All the others were fantastically good and we fully realized what an anticlimax we would be. Surprisingly, no one got up to leave. Every one sat and listened to us. We had managed at last to get through the set without an obvious blunder. We sang only three songs, “Brazos River”, “Pastures of Plenty”, and “Rum by Gum”. Afterwards several of our compatriots said “good, good” as we returned to the musicians’ room. Most gratifying, to me at least, was Denis saying “That was much better than the last time. All you need is experience”. Mick also told us we were much better and gave some suggestions for improvement. It was announced that night that the Emmet Spiceland Folk would be the new resident group of the club. As we were leaving, Michael asked us to wait. He said he thought we were fine, but could be outstanding if we would harmonize. He said he would help us. After we learn that, he will give us a spot at the club. That means money! 
The evening ended with Michael and his friends escorting us home. We stopped at a coffee house on the way.
Read more memories: 2, 3
© Barbara Joyce 2006Blank1.htmlBlank2.htmlshapeimage_2_link_0shapeimage_2_link_1