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lockdown blues PictureHouse singer Dave Brown says musicians got 'shafted' by Government during pandemic

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Singer Dave Browne of PictureHouse has surfed the ups and downs of showbiz for decades, but says the financial hit he's suffered in the pandemic has been "horrendous".

Famous for his upbeat songs, Sunburst and Heavenly Day, the legendary Irish rocker feels the music scene has been particularly badly treated by the Government.

"We are a business, and compared to every other business we really got shafted," Dave says.

"What they did was take your turnover and your business, flush it down the toilet on a Friday, gave you €350 a week and told you to go home.

"The cons have been incredible…we've been wiped out. The PUP, as much as it's welcomed, was the same across the board, it didn't matter how much you'd lost by losing your job.

"There's definitely a palpable feeling among musicians now that we were the first to go.

"We did our bit to protect everybody, we gave up our livelihoods and our careers to do that…and it's about time they gave us something back. Other industries were supported and we weren't.

"We understood the guidelines and the protection up to now, but, with the vulnerable and the frontline and everybody getting vaccinated, it's time to bring back live music."

However, the upside of lockdown for Dave was that it gave him the time to write new songs.

"Myself and my songwriting partner wrote loads of stuff, including a musical, so it's been really great that way," he says.

"But I did struggle with the motivation to do it.

"You'd wake up some days and go, 'What's the bloody point?'"

PictureHouse have just released a new single, Not Long Now, which Dave wrote recently, as the light began to shine through the cracks and gave him hope of good times ahead.

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"It's an upbeat song and it's the way I was feeling at the time," he says. "I did feel that maybe we're coming to the end of it and it's time we came up with something a bit more positive.

"I wanted to say, 'Hang in there everybody, it's nearly over.' As with most songs, I probably wrote it to myself.

"It does have a twist at the end in the lyrics. The planet has got a rest with not having all the planes in the sky. They're some of the positive things we may lose when we all go piling back into the sky."

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Looking back on the heyday of PictureHouse, Dave recalls European tours with major league acts such as The Corrs and Meatloaf.

"I remember singing Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad on stage with Meatloaf in the Wembley Arena, and I had told my mother, when I went to see Meatloaf with her in Dublin's Dalymount Park in 1980, that I was going to do that," he says.

"I said to her, 'I'm going to be up there on stage singing a song with him some day, Mam.' And I was… and it was Wembley Arena.

"There's a lottery kind of odds of that happening, but it did," he says.

"We're going to make a documentary called I'll Be Up There With Him Some Day and it's the story of how I came from Dalymount Park and through the whole Meatloaf days to where we are now."

Outside of his role in PictureHouse, Browne also rubbed shoulders with some of the music industry's biggest stars during his time as the resident singer and piano player in Dublin's famous celebrity night club, Lillie's Bordello.

"I discovered that the bigger the star the nicer they are," Dave says. "Really nice people, man. Tom Jones, Bono, Jon Bon Jovi… all sweethearts.

"I met most of them when I was playing the piano in Lillie's. People might have considered that a come down from performing with the band, but I had a ball. I honestly look back on those days as great times."

Lillie's has since been transformed into a live music venue called Lost Lane, where PictureHouse will perform on December 11.

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