Kildare Nationalist - Breaking News - 12 February 1999
Tending the Flame of Justice and Peace
Christy Moore, Ireland's foremost balladeer, came out of his self-imposed
retirement for a time on Saturday to help launch Kildares annual spring festival Feile Bride.
Performing his own peace anthem 'North and South' to an appreciative
audience in the towns square, Christy then lit St. Brigids flame of Justice
and Peace with the help of Eleanor Vettiger, a peace worker who will be
attending the centenary Conference of Peace in the Hague next May.
The melodious voices of Theotokos, a group of Mater Dei undergraduates, who
came together under the baton of singer Noirin Ni Riain, heralded the
lighting of the flame. Feile Bride 1999 began on Saturday January 30 with a
pilgrimage from a Peace Pole, one of only 20 worldwide, which was erected on
the Curragh that morning. The first Peace Pole was raised in Japan during
The Feile which is organised annually by Afri, Cairde Bhride and Dearcan
Arts Group, has had Mary Robinson, Adi Roche, Claire O'Grady Walshe and
John O'Donoghue author of Anam Cara as guest speakers in the past.
As a forum where global issues of injustice and intolerance are voiced,
listened to and acted upon, the conference is growing from strength to
strength with each passing year.
This years conference, which had the theme "Tending the Flame of Justice and
Peace" focused on furthering the pace process in Northern Ireland, looked at
our country's deepening involvement with NATO, at Indonesia's militarisation
in West Papua and Third World debt.
Speakers included Robbie McVeigh from Carrickfergus, a research officer with
the West Belfast Economic Forum who has written extensively on racism and
sectarianism in Ireland. Brendan Forde, a Franciscan priest who worked in
Latin America for 25 years. Fr. Forde was deported from Chile during the
regime General Pinochet after which he worked in El Salvador and Guatemala.
He has been the topic of two documentaries, Friar in Blue Jeans and The
Clare O'Grady Walshe renowned for her work with Greenpeace International is
now an advisor on peace and environmental issues Joe Murray founder member
of Afri and co-author of the 1996 LINKS reported on Ireland's connections
with the international arms trade.
Other speakers included John Ondawame, a West Papuan representing the
Amuungme people who are exploited for their mineral resources and Tom
Hyland, a Dubliner, whos started the campaign to publicise the plight of the
people of East Timor.
Members of Crooked House Theatre group, performed excerpts from Donal
O'Kelly's play The Business of Blood centering on the trial of Christopher
Hunt who broke into and damaged the nose cones of British aerospace fighter
planes in the early 90s.
Luka Bloom, an unfailing patron of Feile Bhride for the past five years,
took time out from his Salty Heaven world tour to attend. Accompanied by
Theotokos, Luka closed the conference Sunday afternoon with a chant
specially written for the occasion 'Don't be afraid of the light that shines'.
The Feile continued on Sunday evening with Siamsa na Gallimhe in the CYMS
Club and, on Monday, St. Brigids Day, with a Pattern on the Curragh at
2.30pm finishing with a celebration of the living earth in music and poetry
in the Japanese Gardens at 8.30pm.
Los Angeles Times - Monday, May 31, 1999
Flowering in Forgiveness - Ireland's History of Tears Feeds 'Salty Heaven', on
which Luka Bloom Imagines Nightmarish Bitterness Yielding to Renewal and Reconciliation
Songs of Healing for a Tragedy 150 Years Past; Pop Music With 'Salty Heaven,' Ireland's Luka Bloom
addresses the potato famine as his homeland experiences a cathartic 'reawakening'.
"History," wrote Dublin's foremost artistic son, James Joyce, "is a nightmare from which I am
trying to awake." For Joyce, the Ireland of 100 years ago was so steeped in bitterness, defeatism and
religious narrowness born of too much tragic history that he had to escape. He decamped to the Continent
and wrote in obsessive detail of the homeland he had left. Luka Bloom's excellent new album, "Salty Heaven",
envisions an Ireland where tragic history need not hover like a permanent fog, where nightmares can give way to
reconciliation and renewal. The album climaxes with a song called "Forgiveness". An epic at nearly nine
minutes long, it begins as a dirge, balefully evoking the 19th century Irish potato famine, the source of
much of that historic bitterness. But then a dancing Celtic rhythm emerges, and Bloom rises from the horror.
"Forgiveness" ends as a stirring benediction, speaking to any heart that clings to idealistic hopes for
humanity - not only in Ireland, but also in the Balkans, the Middle East or any other region - meaning
everywhere - plagued with historic nightmares.
For the ancient wounds still hurting
For the wrongs I've never known
For all the children left to die
Near fields where corn was grown
Like the ones who braved the ocean
In fever sheds to burn
Let all the hatred leave these shores
Never to return
Bloom, who plays a solo-acoustic show Wednesday at the Coach House, says "Forgiveness"
was inspired by a cathartic "reawakening" of Irish interest in the famine of 1846-1848.
While the famine's immediate cause was a fungus that blighted Ireland's vital potato crop, callous
economic policies by the nation's landowners, most of them British, turned it into an epic disaster in
which, out of a population of 9 million, more than a million Irish died, and another million emigrated -
many of them to die during the passage, or in impoverished conditions in America, Canada,
Australia and England.
"It never was talked about. We knew it as two or three pages in a history book in school," Bloom
said by telephone from his home in Dublin. "In the last five or six years, there has been an
outpouring. We have been coming to terms with it.
It's taken 150 years to talk about it and openly acknowledge the impact it had on our psyche.
There has been a lot of cathartic activity in Ireland, acknowledgment of the various mass
graves around the country, commemorative walks. It's a cry out for letting go of the blame."
With "Forgiveness", Bloom becomes part of that process.
"There have been many songs written describing the pain and suffering of this tragic time
in our history," he said. "I wanted to capture the horrendous atmosphere, the loneliness
and sorrow, but I didn't want to leave people in that dark and tragic place. People can hold on
to that stuff for centuries, and they do. The Irish are a very creative force in the world, but
there is a sadness and sorrow that will never leave us until we let go."
A hopeful thrust permeates the album, which came out a year ago in most of the world
but won't emerge here until August. Bloom, who was dropped by Warner Bros. after three
strong early albums in the early 1990s yielded no breakthrough hits, said he is almost
done negotiating a record deal with a solid U.S. independent label.
In a voice striking in its fervency and romanticism - there is no fashionable irony in Bloom -
he sings of being transported by natural beauty, of enchanting women who warm his soul
and of the musical calling that he finds redemptive.
In "The Hungry Ghost", he feels a horror from his own past - a near-fatal bout with
alcoholism. The singer feels his old weakness lingering as a devouring specter but finds
consolation in nature and realizes that the freedom he has won need not be lost. A similar
rise from darkness takes place in "Cool Breeze", which recounts Bloom's journey
to the seaside grave of Frankie Kennedy, flute player for the Irish traditional folk band Altan.
"I was standing there at the grave, fumbling for sorrow, and I started laughing in the wind,
realizing [Kennedy's spirit] wasn't having any of this [expletive]. There was a beautiful
feeling of appropriateness and resolution."
When it comes to his own life, Bloom says, history is on his side.
At 44, he has been a professional musician since he was 17. He began his career as
Barry Moore, a struggling performer overshadowed by his older brother, Christy, one of
Ireland's foremost folk singers. In 1987, he moved to New York City, assumed a new name -
borrowed from Suzanne Vega's hit song "Luka" and from Leopold Bloom, the hero of
Joyce's novel "Ulysses" - and saw his fortunes rise.
Bloom said the corresponding career reversal, losing his record deal at the end of 1994,
was not traumatic.
"I'm too old to be disheartened by anything a record company could do," he said.
"You get to a certain age and realize you do what you do no matter what's going on, and
when you're fortunate enough to have a job you love, you just go on." Singing Lessons
at 40 and a Triumphant Tour.
Maturity, he said, also is behind the hopeful vision of "Salty Heaven".
"Anybody who has been in the music world 27 years, it's an achievement and something
to be optimistic about. If I was writing the same kind of self-pitying songs now as I was in
my 20s, I would be in big trouble. [Hopeful songs] are harder to write. It's so easy to pick
up the guitar when you're feeling blue and touch people's hearts.
It's harder to express [happiness] and not have it sound like a Pepsi commercial."
Learning and changing as he goes along have something to do with Bloom's outlook.
Where his previous albums were sparsely produced, "Salty Heaven" is a lush affair.
Bloom said he recorded a first version with his usual, stripped-down approach, then
decided the songs needed more adornment. The production team of Peter Van Hooke
and Rod Argent (former keyboard player for the Zombies and Argent) outfitted it with
tastefully applied strings and atmospheres.
"It was altogether a very long process, which I shan't repeat in a hurry," Bloom said.
"I love the record, but it was three years of my life."
No slouch as a vocalist, Bloom nevertheless decided at age 40 to take singing lessons.
"I went through two years of regular classes, and I'm much more aware of the endless
possibilities of my voice, rather than concentrating on the limitations," he said. Rather
than singing to avoid pitfalls, Bloom says he now sings more freely, with greater range,
power, spontaneity and confidence.
Bloom was not completely confident, however, about his recent return to performing
in the United States after more than four years away. He said he was "a bit trepidatious"
about how he would be received on a tour of Eastern cities with no label behind him
and no new record in the stores.
"The shows all sold out, and I was very happy and amazed. There was more buzz about
the shows I did in New York than when I was living there. The nice thing is, people don't
It's nicer still when an artist with a history finds ways, as Bloom has, to move forward with
fresh work that equals or surpasses the records that won fans' allegiance in the first place.
Luka Bloom and Kerry Getz play Wednesday at the Coach House, 33157 Camino
Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano. 8pm $15-$17. (949) 496-8930. Also Thursday with
Finn McCool at the Roxy, 9009 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 8pm, $19.50 (310) 278-9457.
- Mike Boehm [Times Staff Writer]
Daily Bruin Online - 3 June 1999
MUSIC: After a five-year absence from Los Angeles,
Irish folk-guitarist Luka Bloom gave a performance mixed with personality, while playing new
and old favorites, and promising to fulfill requests
In full bloom
The red and blue spotlights of the Roxy revealed a simple scene June 3. Three guitars rested on their stands alongside a
microphone, and a thick mass of sunflowers sat in a vase, looking out of place amidst the amplifiers and instrument cables.
The reserved, seated crowd chatted amiably, sipping beer and paying no attention to the unobtrusive looking man, dressed
all in black, who wandered onstage, back to the audience.
Poking at the white acoustic guitar and shuffling about, he looked like an average sound technician, making last minute
adjustments to the equipment before the headliner, folk guitarist Luka Bloom, took the stage. No one acknowledged his
presence, continuing to drink and relax. Once he turned to face the crowd, however, things changed in a hurry.
As the lights washed over the man, a few claps broke through the chatter, then more, then screams and soon the whole
room was cheering. Smiling, the no-longer anonymous equipment tech, now revealed to be Bloom himself, strapped
on a white acoustic-electric guitar and began to play. This less-than-ostentatious entrance was a sign of things yet to come.
"Get 'em, Luka, get 'em," a fan called from the back. "Alright, sir," he replied in his charming light Irish brogue.
He continued for two hours, never blowing the audience away, but instead applying a subtle touch. He had only his voice, his
guitars and warm charisma to hold the attention of the crowd. As it turned out, those were all that he needed. He offered ballads
one moment, protest the next, mixing both his message and his delivery. By doing so, he kept out of monotony and made each
song seem fresh and new.
Selecting from a catalog that dates back two decades, Bloom breezed through the set with ease, trying both old favorites
and new material from his latest project, "Salty Heaven". While he did not give the titles of the songs, he did provide
amusing anecdotes for many of the tunes, which made them all the richer.
"There's nothing worse than writing a song about a complete pain in the arse, then realizing that it's a little about yourself,"
he grinned self-consciously, strumming the opening notes of "Don't Be So Hard on Yourself."
Though it was his singing and personality that made the show come alive, his instrumental work was what held it together. He used
a wide range of effects, altering the tone of his three guitars significantly for each song. With a tap on a pedal, he changed the
sound from clean and straightforward to ethereal and light, coaxing tones from everything from mandolins to pipe organs. His
technique was impressive also, holding up equally well under fast and slow tempos.
Fans, long awaiting the show after Bloom's five-year absence from Los Angeles, were riveted. With outstretched legs, pleasant
smiles on their lips, and eyes closed, they let the songs absorb them. As he closed the show with "You Couldn't Have Come
at a Better Time", they sprang to their feet with applause, cheering until he returned for an encore. After awhile, he returned,
playing a few songs before pointing to a woman to the side of the room and asking what she wanted to hear.
"Could you play 'I Believe In You'?", she asked, her slight voice cutting through the now-silent air. Bloom hesitated,
seeming conflicted. "Could it be something else, please? I haven't played it in ages, and I'm afraid that I'd mess it up. I promise
that I'll play it the next time I come back. I promise", he replied.
With most performers, this would seem like a stupid gimmick, but Bloom sounded so genuine in his speech, it was impossible to
dismiss as a mere stage trick. He instead settled on a cover of LL Cool J's "I Need Love".
Though American rap and Irish folk don't normally go hand in hand, Bloom nailed the song dead on. A longtime favorite of his
live sets, the lyrical blend of sex and romance was a perfect way to end the evening. He performed a few more songs, but none
could top the passionate treatment of "I Need Love".
He finished, he thanked fans and disappeared backstage, leaving a wholly contented crowd. Even if it's another five years
before his next local appearance, it's a safe bet that they'll be back, hungry for more.
- Brent Hopkins
Philadelphia CityPaper.Net - critic pick|rock/pop - September 9-16, 1999
Luka Bloom is a guy who considers himself "a performing artist who records, not a studio artist who tours to
support the record." The attitude explains the spare production on past albums, often mimicking his live show.
But if you've heard the frankly lush production of the juicy, 44-year-old Irish heartthrob's soon-to-be-released
Salty Heaven (Shanachie), you may wonder if he's going to beef up his live show as well.
"You're talking to the band," Bloom says on the phone, laughing, promising that he will not
attempt to recreate the studio sound on the road. Bloom had jumped at the chance to work with Rod
Argent and Peter Van Hooke, figuring it was time to learn the arts 'n' crafts of the studio. So while the
sound of Salty Heaven is different, Bloom’s attitude remains the same. He doesn't mind challenging
the middle-of-the-road folks' preconceived notions, hoping to inspire thought and growth. "The
Shape of Love to Come" boldly challenges us to look to Ireland's St. Bridget for confirmation
that religion can occur outside a stone-and-stained-glass church setting. On "Forgiveness"
he sets the scene of the Famine, challenging his countrymen to both forgive and remember.
Don't lose track of history, he counsels, but do forgive and invest hostile energy in your own
Though his magnetic charm has won him a devoted following in America, he was glad, recently, to
discover that the appeal goes beyond looks. A Chicago gig earlier this year, ending a five-year
absence from the states, drew 50 people from an informal chat list alone. "They actually
have lives!" he jokes again. "I was kind of disappointed to learn that they had more
to think about than speculating what color of underpants I’m wearing today!"
- Mary Armstrong
Luka Bloom, Mon., Sept. 13, 8:30 p.m., Tin Angel, 20 S. Second St., 215-928-0978, www.tinangel.com.
Borders Online - September 1999
Luka Bloom: Salty Heaven
By Monique Montibon
In the mid '70s, a young musician named Barry Moore struggled to emerge from the shadow of his brother,
legendary Irish folk singer Christy Moore. After four albums and several years of trying to forge his own identity
as a songwriter in Ireland, he moved to New York in 1988 for a fresh start. On the plane ride over, he decided
to rename himself Luka Bloom, after the protagonist of Suzanne Vega's song, "My Name is Luka",
and James Joyce's alter ego, Leopold Bloom. He established residencies at Dylan's in Washington DC, and
at the Red Lion in New York. His memorable songs, engaging performances, and unusual style of playing guitar
caught the attention of Reprise Records, which in turn led to a recording contract and three critically acclaimed
albums. "Riverside" set the tone for his modern, folk sound. "Acoustic Motorbike"
continued that tradition, and featured a rather sensual version of LL Cool J's "I Need Love", one
of the most popular requests at his live shows. "Turf", which Bloom recorded alone in a darkened
room, captured the energy and intensity of his live performances. Around the time Turf was released, Bloom
moved back to Ireland. His latest album, Salty Heaven, features
lush arrangements that accentuate his passionate vocals.
Bloom recently stopped by the NetCafe to discuss his new record and his return to America.
- I really enjoyed the new album.
Luka Bloom: Thank you!
- It's a bit of a departure from your earlier albums, which were mostly just you and a guitar.
This one includes some wonderful string arrangements by Rod Argent. How did that relationship come about?
Luka Bloom: This is very strange how all this came about, really. I never intended this to be such a
produced record. I intended it to be quite a simple record, and it ended up being the most complicated thing
I've ever done in my life, mainly because when I recorded my performances of the songs, it felt incomplete to me.
I loved the songs, but I felt [the record] just wouldn't work, and I realized that I needed the experience of a producer
to help me. So it took about six months for me to locate Peter Van Hooke, who was Van Morrison's drummer for
ten years and became a producer. He had this partnership with Rod Argent, where Peter is the producer of the
record and Rod does string arrangements, plays piano, has an overall look at the songs. So they're a good little
team. And having heard what they did to that first Tanita Tikaram record, I thought these guys might be able to
help, and that's how it all came about.
- What have they brought out in your music?
Luka Bloom: I'd like to think that on some of the songs they have brought out the sense of rhythm
that's pretty intrinsic to my songs, which people experience when [they] see me live, but isn't always apparent
on my records. I think that there's a certain kind of a groove in existence in Salty Heaven that's consistent throughout
the record that is missing from my previous records. I have it in myself, but I've never been able to translate in on
record, and that's the challenge of a producer. I'd like to think that that's one of the things they brought out. Also,
in the way that Peter and Rod produced the record, I'd like to think they brought out the songs. I'd like to think that
they brought out a certain quality that's in the songs that you don't often necessarily hear when you're a guy on
[your] own with a guitar. It's always good to have an objective ear. It's not just good, it's crucially important. The
best actors in the world need good directors. And usually it's a great director [who] brings out the best in the actor.
Most of the great actors when asked about a movie will instantly begin to talk about the director.
- You have a great voice that was complemented particularly well by these fuller arrangements...
Luka Bloom: Thank you!
- Sure! How do you work on your vocal technique?
Luka Bloom: Well, it's funny that you're saying this to me, because after making Salty Heaven, I began
to take singing lessons. And since Salty Heaven was recorded in '96, I feel like my voice has been completely
transformed. But I think what happened is that over the years I've been developing a style of singing unconsciously,
and I was coming into it with Salty Heaven, and I just wanted to expand on it and enlarge it. I made a conscious
decision to try and find the truth in every song, and the simplicity in every song. Every journey I make with my
singing is a journey to simplicity. I want to find the direct path to the audience's ear, and if there's any work that
I do in my singing it's in that area. I'm only really beginning to discover my voice. I'm only beginning to feel in
any way confident about my voice. Salty Heaven is possibly the first record I made that focused on my voice,
because I always in the past attempted to hide a little bit behind my big guitar sound. I don't know if you've ever
seen me live.
- I have, yes.
Luka Bloom: Well, you know my guitar sound, and it's pretty big. Salty Heaven was the first record I
made where people said to me, "Well why don't you really try and bring out your voice?" And we
did that with this record, but subsequent to that, I've begun to really, really focus on my singing, and the next
record is much more about my singing than it is my guitar playing. So the next record I make might not be
quite as produced as Salty Heaven, but it will be much, much more about my voice than any of my records.
- One of the things that has made your records very unique is the overall sound of your
guitar playing. How did that develop? It's strikingly different.
Luka Bloom: In the mid '80s I went through a tragic period of being in a band that was one of 5,000
bands in Dublin that was going to be the next U2. That was the bad news. The good news was that from it I
learned how to "rock out" a bit, as you say in America. [Laughs.] Prior to that I was very much a
finger-picking folkie who hid behind his guitar. But that couple of years with the band taught me that I could
have more fun if I performed and expressed myself a bit more openly. I realized after a couple of years that
I just didn't like the band format. I felt it wasn't coming together. And so, from about 1986 on, I decided to
explore the possibilities of a guitar sound that was big enough and strong enough and bold enough that I
could perform in rock arenas on my own. And I've really managed to achieve that, particularly in Europe.
Now during the summertime I play festivals with up to 60,000 people, and very often everybody else on the
bill is a band and I'm the only solo artist. It's really enjoyable. And it's given me this broad working life where
I can perform in small clubs, big clubs, theaters and big fields, and it's all really enjoyable.
- Your shows are always incredible. What do you enjoy most about playing live?
Luka Bloom: I think it's the relationship. I use the word very deliberately because it's the possibilities
of the relationship between myself, my songs, and the people who hear and then respond, and are affected
by the songs. Particularly if you walk on stage in a place where you've never been before. Currently, on this
tour for example, I'm playing some places I've never played before. I have a body of songs now from all
the records, and from stuff that I've just recently written, and I'm bringing the material to people. It's that challenge
initially, you know, it's like meeting somebody for the first time and the excitement that can take place in the first
hour or two of a conversation with somebody that you've just connected with. That's what it is about live
performance that moves me.
- Are you doing a lot of touring in support of Salty Heaven?
Luka Bloom: Well, I don't really tour to support albums, I just do gigs when I feel like it. [Laughs.]
I'm afraid I have a slightly atypical career going on here. [Salty Heaven] was released in Holland and
Belgium and Ireland 16 months ago. I'm on tour at the moment here and I'm just having fun.
- Why did it take so long to come out in the U.S.?
Luka Bloom: I was signed up with Sony for the world, and Columbia in America passed on it. It took
me six months to find the right label, so it's been a long struggle to get the record released in America. But
I'm very happy with Shanachie because it's a label that cares about music and there are good people there.
- Particularly in the past, you've touched upon elements of all kinds of music while
maintaining a folk sensibility. In what way has leaving New York and moving back to Ireland affected your
Luka Bloom: What New York did for me was open my mind to possibilities, to musical possibilities,
creative possibilities. I moved back to Ireland and I tried to bring the New York mentality home with me. I think
that moving back home, I've continued to listen to music from all over the world, in fact even more so, and I
continue to be influenced by music from around the world. In some ways, more and more I want to tap into
the influence that this so-called "world music" is having on people. I think that it is one of the
exciting developments of recent times, that I'm getting to hear people from Africa, I'm getting to hear
people from North Africa, from India, and this music is really affecting me, and it's affecting the way I
write my songs. It's opening up parts of me to myself, which may sound a bit strange, but I'm just
discovering new possibilities in my music all the time. I think you can sense that to some extent on
the rhythms of Salty Heaven. The next record is even more open in that sense.
- Is there anything in particular that you've been enjoying?
Luka Bloom: I'm listening to a lot of music from North Africa. Not necessarily a lot of music
but particular artists, like this guy Abdelli, who is a very beautiful Algerian singer/songwriter who was
sort of discovered in Brussels, and he lives in Brussels now. He made a record on Real World, which
is just stunningly beautiful. It is an interesting time in music. I think that I'm discovering artists all the time
who are experimenting. I just got this record yesterday by this Indian guy who's living in England.
He describes himself as a British Hindu. His name is Nitin Sawhney, and it's a new CD, and it's very
beautiful. I just got the new Terry Callier, I like that. You know, having said that, most of what I tend to
listen to is along the lines of Miles Davis, and Ben Webster and some of the jazz heads, but I like some
reggae. Singers, as well. I love singers. I love singers who challenge me to look at the way I sing and
- And who might they be?
Luka Bloom: The usual suspects: Ella. Billie. Chet. [Laughs.] Nina. You don't need second
names here. And Van, of course.
- Going back to the album, you wrote "Cool Breeze", which is one of
my favorite songs on the album, about Frankie Kennedy of Altan...
Luka Bloom: Frankie was more to me than just a musician. He also was one of the great characters
of Irish music. He was a very young man when he died, but Frankie had a really remarkable spirit, and
obviously in his partnership with Mairead [Ni Mhaonaigh], they were a very unique team. It was a very
visible musical love affair and it was very beautiful to behold. The first time I saw Frankie and Mairead
together was, I think 1978, at a little festival in Ballyshannon, in County Donegal. And my first thought was,
"My God, she's so beautiful!" And my second thought was, "My God, he's so lucky!"
I became very friendly with Frankie and I know Mairead very well. I'm very proud of Mairead, who recently
just got married again, which I'm very happy about. Frankie had incredible optimism. He was one of these
people who had that magnetic personality which instantly endears people to him. And he's also one of
those people whose music has continued to grow after he died. But the reason I wrote the song was that
I was on tour in Germany when Frankie died and I wanted to cancel my tour because I was so devastated,
but of course you can't do that, you just go out and you do your gig and you do the best you can. And it
was in September when he died, and the following January, they had this Frankie Kennedy memorial
weekend in Donegal and it's an annual event now. And I went to it, and that was going to be my moment
to visit Frankie's grave. I went there feeling very sorrowful and feeling almost a sense of foreboding,
of visiting the scene of someone's passing. You feel a sense of great loss. But when I got to his grave --
I mean, his grave is right on the edge of the Atlantic. It's overlooked by Mount Errigal, which is covered
in snow. The whole thing was so beautiful that I stood there and literally, the song describes it, [waited] for
tears. And I just found myself breaking up laughing. I started to laugh, and I said, "This is
f**cking ridiculous! I can't be sad about this! This is ridiculous!" And I had a great sense of his laughter,
and I haven't felt sad since about Frankie dying.
- That's a great story.
Luka Bloom: It's the story of the song. I'm glad you like it.
- In light of the fact that you've moved back to Ireland, do you still find people
comparing your music to you brother's, or do you feel that they're more accepting of the
fact that you've established your own identify as an artist?
Luka Bloom: It'll always be an issue as long as I live in Ireland, so it's not something that's a
problem for me. I think going to America and working as Luka Bloom was a very practical thing to do,
and it's given me a working life for myself independent of my family. But when I go back home, you know,
when you're in Ireland, family is family. It's a small country, everybody knows who you are. So the fact
of the matter is, if I have number one hits all over the world, in Ireland I'll still be Christy
Moore's brother. And that's okay.
- Any final thoughts?
Luka Bloom: When you leave a country like America and move back home, you don't assume
that people are going to (pardon the French) give a sh*t. So four years later you release a record in America,
and people are contacting me and people are asking, "When are you coming touring?" And it's
nice to know that some people remember and others discover you for the first time. So I'm very happy that
I can resume a working life in America, I really am. I'm looking forward to touring again in March.
- Monique Montibon - NetCafe Editor
© 1999 by Borders Online, Inc.
The Irish Eyes - Issue 08 - November 1999
Luka to Bloom in Paris
"I can resist everything except temptation" quips Luka Bloom in true Wilde spirit, which is why every year or so this
Irish singer/songwriter célèbre, chooses to disappear to a remote part of Ireland and write his inimitable songs.
'Stadium folk for the bedroom', is how he enigmatically describes his unique brand of music, and in November the charismatic
Luka will be transporting his boudoir to Paris, after a break of 7 years, to play two concerts at the Hôtel du Nord (22nd and 23rd Nov.).
Luka Bloom, aka Barry Moore, younger brother of the legendary Christy, made his touring debut in the early 70s, playing support
with the acclaimed Planxty, starring his older brother. Then in 1987, he left Ireland for the USA, and re-invented himself as Luka
Bloom. "I wasn't comfortable in my old self", he confesses, "so I adopted a new name, something memorable
but not necessarily Irish. In fact it's totally pretentious, with no Joycean connotations whatever, it has as much literary significance
as Bono or the Edge!" The Luka part came from the Suzanne Vega song. Since then, he has recorded four excellent studio
albums each charting a particular period of his life. His first three albums "Riverside" (1990), "The Acoustic
Motorbike" (1992) and "Turf" (1994), all released on the Reprise label are written from his experience of living
In 1995, Luka moved back to Ireland. "It felt right and still does, even though the Celtic Tiger has brought out a different
side to the Irish people. I feel it's important for them to remember the value of community spirit which has always been the
foundation of Irish life."
In 1998, he released his latest album, the excellent "Salty Heaven", on the Sony label, to popular and critical
acclaim. Luka chooses personal themes for his songs and "Salty Heaven" covers subjects from Luka's private
battle with drink in "Hungry Ghost" to the controversy surrounding the French nuclear tests in the South Pacific in
1996, with his song "Rainbow Warrior". "It was incredible how people all over Ireland were in uproar about
this nuclear testing happening thousands of miles away. I really felt proud to be Irish, part of a people expressing solidarity
with a community at the other side of the planet against this moment of folly. "Rainbow Warrior" is a song about
people who care about the planet. The people of Inisheer in the Aran Islands, actually twinned with one of the islands in the
Mururoa Atoll and raised money to erect a sculpture, as their symbolic protest against the 'essais nucléaires'."
In the song, Luka directly addresses his 'amis français' but insists "no, of course I do not blame the French
people, but their government, for this testing done in their name". Salty Heaven also includes the powerful "Holy
Ground", where Luka sings of the importance of the sacred places of Ireland, like the Hill of Tara, where he feels the
awesome power of history and tradition. He talks of 'being charged with fantastic energy' when walking there, and it is this
sense of attachment and connection with his Irish heritage which keeps him in Ireland.
So what of romantic attachments with Paris? "Ah now, there is a story there", Luka laughs, "but in fact it's
all about unrequited love, a beautiful woman from Geneva, a lost weekend, a mislaid telephone number and she was
ex-directory! C'est la vie!"
Luka deals easily with the ubiquitous question about his relationship with Christy. "We were brothers long before
we were famous, and we relate on that level. If people abroad connect with Ireland through the music of Christy, then that's
a beautiful phenomenon." He has written several of Christy's songs, including "The City of Chicago" but
he does not specifically write songs with his brother in mind. "Every now and again, I write a song and I think, Jaysus,
Christy might like that, but it’s never intentional." Luka continues, "when Christy retired in 1996, I was surprised at
how emotional I felt about it, and now with his return, I am equally emotional, especially since his new album Travellers
went to number 1 in early October. He's put so much into his music, he deserves every accolade and reward."
Luka Bloom likewise, is a man who has put much of his soul into his songs and music. When asked about his plans for
the future, the affable Luka apologises for seeming trite but insists, "for the future I really, really hope that I enjoy
the next gig, it's just that I'm very focused on each performance." It is this 'earnest' approach which makes his live
performances so legendary and his ability to achieve a 'sitting-room intimacy' in a large venue is awesome.
This temptation is definitely irresistible. A night in Luka's boudoir - it should be Wilde!
- Mick Walsh
© Irish Eyes - www.easynet.fr/irish-eyes/991108.htm
FolkWorld - December 1999
An Interview with Luka Bloom
The Irish singer/songwriter Luka Bloom toured once again Germany in November.
Marcus Metz went to meet him for an interview at his last gig in Germany, on
Thursday, 11/11/99 at the Tollhaus in Karlsruhe.
Where have you been recently?
- "This tour started in Oslo on the 3rd of October. We were in
Oslo and Copenhagen. Then we did about eight shows in Germany. And then I went in and
did two weeks in Belgium and two weeks Holland - and then back into Germany again.
So it's nice. I continue on till the 1st of December."
Are you content with the audience?
- "I seem to have a core audience in Germany that's not
necessarily very big. I have that interesting relationship with Germany: I've never got things
right. When I've had a great promoter I didn't have a great relationship with the record
company. Earlier on when I had problems with the promoter I had a good record company.
But next year I'm going to get it right. This is very difficult. It's very important to have a good
relationship with people you work with particularly in Germany because it's a very big
country and a lot of people want to come here. But I'm very fortunate in that. I seem to
have a core audience. I coming to places like to Karlsruhe tonight. I've never played
here before and there'll be 250 people here which - I think - it's amazing. So I just keep
coming back in the hope one time I come back everything will be in place. I have a great
promoter in Karsten Jahnke but the next time I come I am going to pay more attention
Do you think the audience in Ireland is different?
- "Oh yeah, yeah! It's completely
different. It's a even a difference in the audience in Holland - never mind Ireland. I find it
amazing. It's a bit more predictable when you tour America. Cities don't change so much.
But playing in Amsterdam is completely different from playing in Hamburg which is
completely different from playing in Munich. I mean it's not just the difference Hamburg
audience and Munich audience. I mean people are the same and they feel similarly.
But just the way they react is different. There's a phenomenon in audiences in
Germany that I find really amazing. There's a certain kind of warmth, it's a surprising
warmth. In Holland and in Australia and in Ireland I'm used to people shouting all the time.
But in Germany I find audiences really, really listening to you. But the way they respond
is with this long applause at the end of a song. People don't shout or whistle so much
but with this applause that sometimes goes on for ages (laughs) and you just have
to stand there and wait for it to end... It's very kind actually."
You just released an EP - it's a duet with you brother (i.e. Christy Moore)...
- "Yeah, it's a song that I wrote last year which I wanted to record with my brother,
and I did it last May. We really just recorded it. I wanted to have something for fun
for summer in Ireland, it's like a summertime song for Ireland. But Karsten Jahnke
liked it so much he wanted me to let some people hear it. That's no big deal, it's
just something for fun."
But this is the first time you did some recording with him...?
- "No, I played on a record of his in 1981."
But not a real duet ...?
- "No, never. That's the first time. That's true. First
time we've done that, that's correct. It's difficult for us to do anything together 'cause
we're quite different and our style of playing is different and the style of my singing
is different. So it's not easy for us to get together in studio and for something really
good to happen. When we get together at home with the family we sing songs
together. But it's not a natural chemistry for us musically. I knew it would work with
him playing bodhrán, drum and me singing, playing guitar and he sang a bit also.
It's good fun!"
Will that be on the new album?
- "Yeah! I don't know if he'll be on it but the song will be."
- Marcus Metz