If I Could Turn Back Time….

Virtual Gig
Barry Jay Hughes

Barry Jay Hughes

Welcome back to “The Barry Blog” 🙂 I know, I need to work on the name. Any suggestions?

Here’s a Lockdown update I thought I’d share with you all.


As you may already know, I play a virtual gig every Sunday called “Whiskey & Tunes” on Social Media. It’s a continuation of my residency gig in The Dingle Whiskey Bar, Dublin. I thought I’d stir things up a little last week…
I decided to put some ideas into play and went with a themed gig. The idea of “Girl Power” presented itself as I sat having lunch a few weeks ago and without thinking about it too much I set it up. I decided on a date, put the facebook event in place and committed to it straight away.

Then… I discovered what a task it would be. Being a male singer, most of my cover song repertoire is dominated by male artists. Although I do cover a certain amount of female singers, it transpired, I may have to add to this material.

Over the course of the week I pulled out some old favourites of mine by Mary Black, Wallis Bird, The Cranberries, Rihanna, Adele, Natalie Imbruglia, Avril Lavigne, Birdy…you get the idea. I worked through what I had, asked friends for other ideas, researched more, listened to some songs I previously disregarded and then compiled a list of roughly 45 songs. I was then faced with the task of deciding which ones I should pick for a 2 hour gig. And what would the criteria be?

I love putting setlists together – it’s one of my favourite things to do for my gigs. I try to bring the listener on a journey using song subject, tempo, feeling etc. But this time round I was faced with Kylie Minogue, Whitney Houston, Sia and tonnes more pop divas. I had no clue how to tackle this one.

It was a tough choice and I don’t mind admitting at times I felt I might not pull off this gig to the standard I wanted (the verdict is still out on that one actually).


As an artist, I do doubt myself from time to time. I reckon we all do. It’s just part of the landscape as an artist. Confidence in my music and performance is something that comes and goes in the last 2 or 3 years. It never drops to a worrying level but there are peaks and troughs without a doubt. If you know an artist that doesn’t experience this please let me know. 🙂

I’m sure every one of you are experiencing this Lockdown in many different ways and it wouldn’t be strange if you’ve had tough days in the last number of weeks. From what I’ve heard, I think we all have. I went through a couple of weird days quite early on in Lockdown. I’m used to moving around freely, interacting with different people every day, playing a different set in a different space every few days. All of this comes with the territory and that’s why I love being an artist everyday. So I think it hit me when I realised I wouldn’t be doing that for quite some time. I felt like a caged animal. Floor markings, perspex screens, face masks and social distancing just isn’t something any of us are used to.
Luckily, all that passed and I decided to embrace Lockdown and use this period in a productive way. I’ve filled my time with gigs, a healthy amount of social media (social media distancing is put in place at times), networking, building my fanbase, updating websites and basically working on as many aspects of my career as I can from the safety of my one bed apartment.

So with all that said, I did struggle a little with preparing for the “Girl Power” gig. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it and nothing was sounding right or good enough in my opinion. At one stage I thought I should maybe take a break and postpone the Sunday gig….that didn’t feel like the right option though.


I decided to draw inspiration from my fans. The people that send me positivity, encouragement and general good vibes, not just during lockdown but always. I thought of messages and tweets I’ve received. Messages like:
“we organise our Sunday around your gig now” and “you’ve no idea how much your music is helping everyone right now” or “I was dancing around the kitchen to your music”. Even reading words like “I bawled my eyes out during that song” lets me know that I am reaching people with what I’m doing. (And to be fair, I do sing a lot of sad songs). I always say that the emotion makes it all the more real. Whether it’s virtual tears or real life “in the room” tears, it’s all good. And thank you all for the love and support. We all need positivity in our lives right now. Filter out the negativity if you can.


I narrowed down the list of 45 to a list of 30 (3 of which I dropped during the gig for one reason or another). Songs that I felt comfortable performing. I got stuck in, stayed with it and the result was a setlist of songs that I couldn’t wait to share. Nervous? Yes! Excited? Even more so!!


I opened the show with “If I Could Turn Back Time” – I was pumped. I was ready for this gig and I felt more prepared for this than any other Lockdown gig. Yes, I realise we are talking about a covers gig here and any musicians and singers reading this will probably be rolling their eyes by now but… Bare in mind, there is almost more pressure doing these gigs online as people are more attentive and “tuned in”, you have their full attention. Plus, I’ve played to some of my biggest audiences during lockdown. Crazy but true!
I like to put my own twist on cover songs and I gave that Cher number a serious drive to get the blood flowing. The gig was almost 2 and a half hours and I felt like I could have done the same again straight away. Although I will say, it’s funny what happens when you come off stage or in this case, off camera. The adrenaline keeps flowing for a short while and then exhaustion hits. But it’s always a good exhaustion. You know that “I’ve achieved something” type of feeling.

So, what I have learned? I hear you ask!
I suppose I just need to believe in myself more. And keep reminding myself of the positivity that is there for me.
Oh and I need to remember to not take on with singing an Alicia Keys song (check the gig video…)


If you fancy watching the gig (warts and all) and finding out what the final setlist was you can just click here and you’ll be directed to YouTube where you can use the timings and setlist in the video description to skip to your favourite song on the list.

The next virtual gig is May 10th – Sunday @ 6.30pm (IST) and it’ll be a mix of “Lockdown Favourites”. I’ll be giving the viewers a chance to have their say by voting for their favourites from a list I’m compiling at the moment from the last 12 lockdown gigs. Keep watching my Facebook page for your chance to help me design the next “Whiskey & Tunes” setlist.

All the Sunday “Whiskey & Tunes” Gigs are streamed live from The Dingle Whiskey Bar Facebook & Instagram @thedinglewhiksyebar. I look forward to having your company at a Virtual Gig very soon.

Stay safe and please stay home as much as you can.

Barry Jay x