The Irish Times - 18 January 2002
Shrugging off the paparazzi
He says his life would bore the media, but Luka Bloom is happy with the point he has reached, which includes becoming
a homeowner, writes Tony Clayton-Lea.
In a surreal conversational twist, Luka Bloom, aka Barry Moore, is sitting in a Dublin hotel talking not about his forthcoming
album, the excellent Between The Mountain And The Moon, but about the shape and texture of taps, sunken baths, mosaic
tiles and stoves. Such interior- design gossip does not sit comfortably with the rugged singer-songwriter, but with a new house
to step into any week now, it's clear he has been thumbing the pages of glossy magazines instead of sheet music.
After 30 years as a peripatetic performer, and about to be handed the keys of a house after decades of renting, Bloom doesn't
feel as if he's settling into a phase of cosseted domestication. He's viewing his move from flat-dweller to homeowner as
Soon to be based in a small village close to Kildare, three miles from where his mother and father are buried, four miles
from Newbridge - where he grew up - and close to familiar places and people, neither does he view it as a nostalgic move.
"Or even a settling move," he says. "I see it as an adventure. I grew up in a town, whereas where I'm
going to be living is very rural, so it's a totally new experience for me. I've lived in cities since I was 17, and now
I'm moving on. You could say I'm an aspirational bogman."
As Barry Moore, the younger brother of Christy, Bloom started his career at the age of 16, in 1972, supporting
Planxty - "a beautiful tour that I still remember well. I was a shy little fella, singing a mixture of my own and English
He was a very serious teenager, he says, too young to be a hippie and too old to be a punk. While other people were
listening to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, he was more attracted to solo singer-songwriters such as James
Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. He was also drawn to guitar stylists and what their playing sounded like, which
was as crucial to him as their songs. He developed a style of fingerpicking prevalent among folkies such as Nic Jones,
Bert Jansch and Davy Graham. "My guitar-playing was always more important to me than who was on Top Of
Tendonitis in 1979 put him out of action for a couple of years, and by the mid-1980s, having embarked on a further bout of
work, both solo and with the band Red Square - "we did great rehearsals, paying a mortgage or two in studio time, but
we never really amounted to anything" - Bloom felt he had arrived at a creatively interesting point. Yet because he had
been struggling for so long in Ireland, financially at least, he regarded himself as trapped.
No matter what he felt, Ireland wasn't particularly interested in his artistic endeavours. Hurt more than bitter, although he
could clearly see bitterness on the horizon, creeping in like a fog, he knew he needed to get away.
"Resilience is more important than talent," he says. "But talent is the spark, and without that there's nothing.
If your songs aren't generating any kind of momentum for people, then it's a sad, pointless exercise." So he took
himself off to the United States, where, thanks to Suzanne Vega and James Joyce, he landed as someone called
Luka Bloom, a moniker that was as pretentious as Iggy Pop, Bono, Sting or the Edge, didn't necessarily sound Irish
and was easy to remember. The name, he says, is a mask, literally a stage name, a trade name. (A nickname, too -
some of his family call him Luka.)
"At the time I wouldn't have seen it as a mask, but I've now come to see it as one. I can't really understand how this
happened, and I'm sure a psychologist would have a field day with it, but I know within months of having this name,
and being in America, I had more confidence.
A lot of self-consciousness slipped away from me, and I found I took myself less seriously, which was something
I needed to do. Somehow, using this stage name allowed me to do that. It also allows me to be onstage to do whatever
I have to do, and then to walk off stage and to revert to being a gobshite that one wants to be in daily life. It creates a
clear divide, and that's important."
The mention of the term "burden of self" elicits a shrug. "Not consciously. I don't analyse it at
that level; it was purely about making a living. It wasn't about escaping from Christy or my family. All I ever
dreamed of since I was 16 was living in Ireland, writing songs, playing gigs and making a living.
Somehow, becoming Luka Bloom, going to America, created the platform to make that possible. Luka Bloom
has proved to be a very lucky name for me, but I don't take it any more seriously than I suspect Paul Hewson
takes the name of Bono."
I ask him whether he is comfortable in his skin. He says the only way he can answer such a question is to say that
he lives alone and that he's very happy to be in that situation. "I regard myself as a sociable loner. I write songs
and for the most part it's a solitary process. I've always been like that. Loner sounds dark, but it isn't really. It's
important to be comfortable in your skin, because if you're not, how can you really enjoy the company of others?
"I like being alone, to be honest about it. I have beautiful friends and I love my family, my brothers and sisters, my
son, but I'm very comfortable to be with myself. That's a good thing."
Bloom has more or less come full circle in his 30 years as a performer, yet he describes his creativity as a work
in progress. Although he flirted with major-label record deals through his associations with Warner and Sony -
the former a relatively pleasant experience, the latter less so, he says - he is now the owner of his current labour.
Everything comes back to him, it seems, by asking what kind of a life he wants to lead. He says one of the things
he learned about his interaction with the music business is that he's allergic to contracts.
"There are two very clearly defined paths in the music world: one is the pop star/rock star route, which involves
contracts and heavy - hitting business people; the other isn't. Very often the dream - a person or a band wanting
to make a promise to themselves and to deliver it - is a noble one. But that way is not for me. There were times
when I courted it, when I was living in America and on Warner, on a bit of roll. But, ultimately, it wasn't the way
I wanted to live my life."
Bloom is into normality, he says, living a life so quietly in the public domain that its integrity is not impacted
upon too much. "From the point of view of media or celebrity, I'm a complete bore. There is nothing interesting
about my life to people in that world, and so I have to create a life that doesn't depend on fame or celebrity.
A life that involves connecting with people who love music."
Between The Mountain And The Moon is released at the end of the month. Luka Bloom plays The
Spirit Store, Dundalk, tonight.
The Irish Times - www.irishtimes.com
Irish Independent - 20 January 2002
Odyssey of lucky Luca
MAN ALIVE: Songsmith Luka Bloom, formerly known as Barry Moore.
Christy Moore's brother changed his name and left for the US in 1988. Now he's conquered his
demons and is coming home to Newbridge. Joe Jackson meets Luka Bloom.
There is the perception that Luka Bloom lives in the shadow of his legendary brother, Christy Moore.
And even changed his name from Barry Moore to escape from this shadow. Maybe, but far more fascinating,
to me, is the fact that for much of their lives both men dwelt in the shadows cast by the death of their father,
Andy, in 1956. Luka was only a baby at the time and it would be years before he actually faced, and felt,
that primal pain.
"I didn't even begin to understand the extent to which I was affected by my father's death until I was
35 and wrote The Man Is Alive, which is probably the most
important song I've ever written," he says, referring to a track from his breakthrough album, Riverside,
which Luka recorded after moving to America in the late Eighties.
"It was 1988, my first year as Luka Bloom, and for the first time in my life I was getting professional
acknowledgement and affirmation of my work. But I was, ultimately, alone. And something came over me,
after a telephone conversation with Christy. It wasn't that we had cross words but I realised I still had an
unhealthy emotional dependency on him, which was inevitable because of what he was thrown into.
Somebody actually said to him, when our father died, that he was in charge now. And when this big,
tall guy is 11 and you're this one-year-old baby and he's the only man, really, in the house, it's
understandable this mantle is going to be thrust upon him."
These, then, were some of the aspects of their relationship Luka had to confront after that telephone
call, suddenly realising "this wasn't about Christy at all, it was about my father."
He also "became aware of acknowledging loss" to himself "in an honest way, I
couldn't run away from." Prior to this, Luka had fled from such feelings, at times, through alcohol
and once told me he moved to America more to get away from his "problems with the demon
drink" than simply to escape Christy's shadow. Likewise, Luka conceded that his drinking
"led to my not always being taken seriously in Ireland" and that he was looking for a way
out of his "addiction to drink" and "addiction to a negative image of myself".
That's precisely what came to pass during his period of intense self-examination in America in 1988.
"I spent all that time asking myself, 'why am I feeling wounded in relation to my father?"' he
explains. "And, again, for the first time I cried about it and admitted I felt lost, deprived, confused,
even angry because, say, as a child, while other fellas were doing things with their dads, I couldn't. I
remember telling a girl in New York I felt I was betraying my father because I was angry at him dying
on me, and she said, 'you only feel that because you love him,' and that helped, so much."
But not as much as the woman who approached Luka after a gig in Vancouver, said, "I'd love to
talk to you, I don't know what your story is but I relate to something in your songs," then took him
to a Native American park and revealed that she too had lost her father as a child.
"When she said that, I felt this shiver going through my body," he recalls. "Then she
told me her father died tragically, in a helicopter crash. And mine died tragically. He went into hospital
with an ingrown toenail and died under the anaesthetic at 41. Her father was the same age. And she
and I had the same birthday.
"But she also said something that changed my whole attitude to my father. I noticed there was a
happiness in her that was missing from me. And she explained that 'actually, growing up was OK,
because even though he wasn't there I knew my father loved me.' Suddenly that shivery feeling
gave way to a warm glow. I realised all is well in the world and that my father actually loved me. A
month later I wrote the song."
"The man is alive / The man is alive and breathing / It's taken me so long to see / The man is alive /
Alive and breathing / The man is alive in me." Writing this song was "liberating" and
"life-changing", says Luka. "Not having any sense of your father's love, how can you
have confidence?" he suggests. Bloom also claims his "addictions" are now in the past.
"I wasn't a fun-loving teenager!" he jokes. "Fifteen to 26 were probably the least happy
years of my life and I don't remember an awful lot about it. Those were the days of my addictions. But
now I'm a complete bore!"
Who doesn't do drugs? "No." Drink? "No. But I have more crack now than I ever did
when I was drinking," he says. "If I go to a session I'll be singing till seven in the morning.
When I was drinking I'd either be unconscious or repeating the same story six times, telling the same
jokes. But now, living like this, free from drink and drugs, I'm living totally in the moment and it certainly
works for me."
Sadly, one thing that didn't work for Luka was a marriage (in which he had a son, now aged 19), which
ended a year before he moved to America. He once "made a vow" not to talk about this
relationship in public but one wonders was his feeling of being "ultimately alone" in the
States accentuated by this marriage breakdown. Was that part of what he was running from?
"The real reason I went to America was because I couldn't survive here, I couldn't pay the bills,"
he responds. "Outside Ireland nobody knew who I was, and inside Ireland nobody was interested.
I wasn't in America running away from a wife. I wanted to make it as a singer. And I don't just not talk about
that relationship, I don't write songs about it. You hear people say, cynically, 'so-and-so got divorced, we
should get a good album out of him', but the person who married me deserves more respect than that. I
don't have the right, because of my career, to drag her through all this. Besides, I'm separated since '86,
things are calm now."
Tellingly, despite critical acclaim from the likes of Rolling Stone in the States meaning he'd "made
it" as a singer Luka decided to come back home, which later led to him being dropped by his record
"I was on the crest of a wave, I did Riverside, Acoustic Motorbike, but I was working 24/7 on call to
Warner Brothers in LA," he explains. "And my son would have been seven, my mother 71,
so I'm saying, 'great, but is this life?' Thank God I wasn't one of those Irish people in America who got the
phone call telling me to come home for the funeral. Because I got home and had quality time with my
mother before she died. The last time she went for a drink was with me. She had her heart attack two
weeks later. Within six months I was dropped. But it was fine. I've a fabulous life now, a great relationship
with my son and I'd great times with my mother before she died. So I've no regrets."
Indeed, one of Luka's most precious memories involves being present at his mother's funeral and
singing that song.
"It was a beautiful wake but when the hearse came I realised, 'oh my God, she's leaving the
house and nobody's sung,"' he explains. "I asked everyone to leave the room, except the
family, and in front of the open coffin I sang The Man Is Alive. It was very special, because I had a real
feeling that day of giving my mother back to my father."
Another reason life is "fabulous" for Luka right now is the fact that he's obviously in love a
feeling that imbues his new, self-financed album, Between the Mountain and the Moon. There are songs
celebrating the lives of Christina Noble, Maura O'Halloran and Micho Russell, but most celebratory of
all are those tracks inspired by his Dutch girlfriend, such as the glorious Monsoon. Asked to tell us
"as much or as little" about his lover, Luka says: "Picture this. It's July four years ago,
an unbelievably sunny day and Gerry Adams is on the radio announcing the ceasefire, so I get out
of the car and stand on the Cliffs of Moher, look at this emerging full moon and feel tears welling up
in my eyes. It was a beautiful, amazing moment but I wished I could share it with someone. I hadn't
been in a relationship for three years. Then that night I'm gigging in Doolin, see this person and we
get talking, then drive back up to the cliffs. She'd just arrived from Holland and I said, 'you have to
see this.' So we looked out at that moon, clicked immediately and have been together ever since.
So she is on this record, in my music, I wouldn't have been able to write a song like Monsoon if it
wasn't for her."
Better still, agreeing wholeheartedly with John O'Donoghue, "who writes about 'coming home
to yourself"', Luka believes "part of making peace with yourself is coming home to who
you are", and is moving back home right now. In every sense.
"I, suddenly, feel so completely at home with myself that I'm building a little house four miles
from where my mother and father are buried," he says. "When I was 17 I couldn't wait to get
out of Newbridge, now I can't wait to go back. And that, to me, is a miracle, one of the many blessings
I've been given in life. Even if it took me some time to realise that. I'm a very, very lucky man."
Western People - Wednesday, January 30, 2002
He's a 'Bogman'
That Luka Bloom is a bogman was never in doubt. Despite jaunty beats that occasionally delve
into foreign traditions, such as in 'Perfect Groove', and 'Im a Bogman', there's a strong essence
of Irishness to his new album 'Between the Mountain and the Moon'.
That Luka Bloom, aka Barry Moore, brother of Christy, will find his new album falling comfortably
into the 'world music' category there is no doubt.
This romantic collection of ballads has already been on the shelves in Holland, Belgium and
Germany, where Luka will spend much of February on tour, and in Australia, to where he goes
in March. We Irish will, however, have to wait until May.
Leinster Leader - Thursday, January 31, 2002
Kildare's Luka Bloom's back with a top class album
Friday 1 February 2002 sees the much anticipated release of 'Between the Mountain and the Moon' -
the great new album from Newbridge native Luka Bloom. Recorded in Windmill Lane, Dublin and
produced by Luka and Brian Masterson, all of the tracks on the new album were written by Luka.
Among the many standout songs is 'Love is a Place I Dream of' - a stunning duet with Sinead O'Connor...
Following European live dates in February and an Australian tour in March, Luka Bloom returns to
Ireland for a nationwide live tour in May. A series of live dates is also scheduled for the USA in
June. Luka Bloom in on stage at The Riverbank on Thursday 31 January.
Hot Press - March 2002
Cirque Royal, Brussels
Sunday 10 February 2002
The Cirque Royale is a three-tiered theatre close to the centre of Brussels, with clearer sight
lines and better sound than any venue we have in Ireland, despite its high domed roof.
That roof lifted a few feet off the ground several times during the opening night on Luka Bloom's
European and Australian jaunt, not least after a truly stunning rendition of 'Raglan Road'.
The three thousand Brusseloise in the audience were already well familiar with Bloom's new
album Between The Mountain And The Moon, to judge by the welcome meted out to the
opening bars of 'Monsoon', I'm A Bogman' and the rattlingly percussive 'Perfect Groove',
in which Bloom becomes a one-man Talking Heads.
Sally, from Brooklyn-based Hem, depped admirably for Sinéad O'Connor on 'Love Is A
Place I Dream Of' and our man dipped into his own back pages for a rip-roaring 'You
Could't Have Come At A Better Time', 'You' and the poignant 'Gone To Pablo', as well
as a thought-provoking interpretation of Dylan's 'Make You Feel My Love'.
Not a pin dropped during the emotional song to his son in 'Gabriel', whereas they sang
joyfully along to a sublime 'Sunny Sailor Boy' and danced like queens to 'Dancing Queen'.
Armed with just his guitar and emotive voice, Bloom magically transformed a large theatre
into an intimate bedsit, for this was not just a gig but a celebration of life, love, sex and the
Irish weather. Freed of the pressures of major labeldom, Bloom seemed much at peace
with himself and at one with a good-humoured audience who demanded four encores. So
he will sing his songs around the world and be back for a home tour in April. Get the red carpet ready.
Hot Press - 03 May 2002
30 years a Bloom-in'
With an Irish tour approaching and a new album in the shops, Luka Bloom
looks back on three decades that have taken him from busking in a pub in
Newbridge to the big stages of Europe and America. In this candid interview
with Jackie Hayden the man also known as Barry Moore talks about
brother Christy, overcoming stage fright, finding an original voice, dealings
with the music business, the need to combat racism - and why he remains
a wannabe bogman.
This year, Luka Bloom celebrates 30 years as a professional musician. Over
those three decades he's fought many a demon (both internal and external),
reinvented himself, struggled for and won universal acclaim, survived record
deals with two major labels, saw the naked racism of the Irish at home and
abroad and overcome the 'Christy Moore's brother' tag. Here, we look
backwards and forwards with the artist formerly known as Barry Moore.
Jackie Hayden: What were you doing in 1972 when you became a
LUKA BLOOM: I was preparing for my last year in school and in the
summer I was invited by Christy Moore, Liam O'Flynn, Andy Irvine and Donal
Lunny, who were nearly called Clad after their initials, but who wisely instead
opted for Planxty, to be the opening act on their Irish tour, including
unbelievable gigs in Inisheer and Inishmore. They were my first paid gigs.
JH: But you had been playing before that?
LB: Well, I grew up in Newbridge hearing lots of music from my sister Eilish
and brother Christy, and my mother was also a great singer. I had started
learning the guitar, but when I heard Donovan, James Taylor, Neil Young and
so on I immediately started to write songs. I even started to experiment
with open tunings which mystifies me to this day.
JH: After Joni Mitchell perhaps?
LB: Maybe. I'd just gotten the Blue album and probably recognised the chords
couldn't be achieved with normal tuning. But I'd heard English folkies like
Martin Carthy who also used open tunings.
JH: Had you been gigging before the Planxty support?
LB: I knew fellas in a company called Rotary Screens in Newbridge, and on
Friday nights we'd go into a back room in one of the pubs with guitars and
the rest of the lads would finance the drinking and we'd play. I had a local
audience when I was fifteen or sixteen.
JH: Were you a folkie singer-songwriter with a bit of Irish trad then?
LB: There was no trad played then. You were more likely to hear 'Stairway To
Heaven' than 'Follow Me Up To Carlow'. I was a singer-songwriter from day one.
JH: Did you have a long-term music plan? What did you see ahead of you?
LB: I suppose I was hoping that one day I would record an album that would
be as significant to others as James Taylor's Sweet Baby James was to me.
When I heard that album I was at boarding school with a guitar hidden away.
Sometimes I'd get so excited that I'd skip off between classes and work on
songs like 'Carolina In My Mind'.
JH: Do you think you've made that record?
LB: I'm not really the best judge of that. I don't know. When I go to
Australia or wherever I meet people who are moved by my albums, and that's
gratifying in itself. I know I have a very privileged life.
JH: Were there surprises when you started?
LB: It was very difficult. I think I suffered from the Nick Drake syndrome, but thank
God I survived. I loved writing songs and playing and singing casually for small
groups, but I just couldn't deal with professional performance. I was utterly terrified.
JH: Was it a fear of rejection?
LB: I never analysed it. But the early days in Newbridge had a beautiful
innocence about them and I have really bright memories, but once I made the
decision not to become the solicitor my family hoped I'd become I instantly
felt this unbearable pressure and I couldn't really cope and I took solace in drink.
JH: Yet by the mid-'70s you had the Treaty Stone album on Mulligan.
LB: 1978. It was produced by Christy. I was always very shy, but you can oft
en feel very ambitious to make the album and be terrified about the ensuing
attention. It might have suited me better if I'd copped out and just written
at home. You must also remember that at that time the thing to be in Ireland
was an interpreter of songs. It's wonderful today that everybody's writing
songs, but in the 1970s if you weren't doing Abba, or The Eagles, or Dylan
or Randy Newma or Kris Kristofferson songs, you didn't get a look in.
JH: But you were earning enough to live.
LB: Barely getting by. But it was a process I had to go through. I did
another album in Groningen in Holland called (laughs) No Heroes which took
me up to '81 or '82. But I wasn't a happy camper. The work wasn't great.
JH: Christy was obviously helpful to you starting off, but what are the
advantages and disadvantages of being the brother of someone whose profile
has always been ahead of yours?
LB: There are two levels to that. People forget they're talking about my
brother irrespective of whether we're plumbers or carpenters. There's a side
to our relationship to which our careers are irrelevant, and that's the most
important part and it's very beautiful. So it's like asking me about the
advantages and disadvantages of having a right leg. It's a tricky question,
not that I want to be defensive about it, and not to be in denial of the
JH: But can it be a disadvantage that people are always comparing you?
LB: Yeah. That was a huge problem and a pain in the arse for him too. But he
didn't produce my first album because he was my brother. He did it because
he thought I was great. He didn't offer. I asked him. But it pissed him off
when I didn't do as well as I could have.
I learned a lot from Christy's attitude, particularly his attitude to
people. He's very singular in his devotion to his audience and has an
unbelievable work ethic as the eldest in the family, and that was a huge
difference between us. I was basically a spoiled brat who wanted to get the
best possible results from a minimum of input. It wasn't until the mid-'80s
that I saw it wasn't going to work like that. I now attribute all the
difficulties I had to my own shortcomings as a person and as a professional.
JH: Isn't that an unusual attitude for a musician? Don't musicians usually
blame others for whatever goes wrong with their careers?
LB: Blame is not a word that I'm comfortable with. But if anybody reaches a
point in their life where they are experiencing problems and can only see
the faults in others, that person is destined for a life of misery.
Resentment and bitterness are not options anymore for me.
JH: Were they ever?
LB: I always wanted to be what I am. I just didn't do a very good job at it.
For somebody who would have talked the talk of being very devoted I was
actually quite lazy. I wanted to be discovered and then mollycoddled. But
when people came along and didn't do a good job I blamed them for my lack of
success. As many people do, I managed to sabotage a lot of my own potential
through being terrified.
JH: How did you eventually deal with that fear?
LB: By 1982 I realised I was in deep doo-doo. I wasn't generating interest
in my music and I wasn't getting repeat gigs. There wasn't a big circuit and
I wasn't very good. I was writing songs that people didn't want to hear and
I was sick of them and sick of my gigs. Then I began to hear bands like The
Blades and Tokyo Olympics and U2. There was something happening that was
completely removed from my previous experience.
JH: And that's when you formed Red Square?
LB: Yeah. We were one of about 5,000 bands who wanted to be the next U2!
Dublin was coming down with A&R men. We were rehearsing in Date Studios in
Parnell Square at the same time as Cactus World News and I think they got
signed six weeks after they formed. We were beginning to come together but
we weren't making any money and by 1986 it was obvious it wasn't going
JH: What did you learn from the Red Square days?
LB: I learned how to sing standing up! That was an enormous transition, to
go from being a folkie semi-apologising for himself to standing and moving
and singing out loud. I loved it!
JH: After the band broke up, was changing from Barry Moore to Luka Bloom the next step?
LB: Yeah. I went to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annamakerrig and within two
weeks of Red Square breaking up I wrote about five songs that ended up on
the Riverside album, 'Delirious', 'Over The Moon', 'Gone To Pablo', 'Rescue
Mission'. I thought, "Oh my God. These are great songs!" I knew they wouldn'
t work with the band.
I had this new energy I'd gotten from the band and listening to The
Waterboys, U2 and so on and I felt totally rejuvenated. But in Ireland there
was this perception of me as a guy struggling in folk clubs. So I went to
America and soon felt a draw and a sense of the possibilities you get in
America and which is really infectious.
But I was a bit scared that I might drift towards the Irish community and
get sucked in as the brother of Christy, particularly as he was beginning
to do work in America.
JH: What psychological effect did changing your name have?
LB: One that I was totally unprepared for. I arrived in Dylan's, a tiny club
in Georgetown in Washington DC and auditioned for the Lebanese owner and
introduced myself as Luka Bloom. Naturally he accepted it and I persuaded
him to give me the quietest nights of his week. I did that and the Red Lion
on Bleeker Street, New York, right through the Winter of '87, packing people
in from the jungle telegraph. It gave me enormous confidence for the first time.
JH: What about people here who might have said, "will you feck off with your
Luka Bloom nonsense and stop messin' about"?
LB: Oh I got all that! I had to talk to my family about it. My mother was upset.
JH: So what do they call you now?
LB: Gobshite! (laughs). They know I don't take it seriously. It's a
nickname. It's a pretentious, anonymous, logo, brand name and it helps me to
stop taking myself so seriously.
JH: Is it something you can hide behind?
LB: Quite the opposite. It's allowed me to come out and be myself. It's like
an actor who's naturally shy but who can turn it on on stage. There's an
explanation about theatre where they use actual masks, that not only does
the mask disguise the person but it allows the person to come forward, and
that's what happened to me. I had to get rid of all the baggage that was
dragging me down, not wanting to be ignored, or get a bad review in
hotpress. I had to let go of all that self-conscious shite. In time with the
Luka Bloom persona I actually reached a point where I didn't like having
become a bit too cocky on stage, so I've pulled back from that.
JH: After the name change you got a deal with Warners.
LB: Yes, in 1989. I was the first Irish singer signed to Warners in LA since
Van Morrison, and that was without any demos. They wanted demos but I told
them they could hear me at the Red Lion. I did Riverside, The Acoustic
Motorbike and Turf with them.
JH: How did that relationship end?
LB: It was fine and I was expecting it. By the time The Acoustic Motorbike
was done I was concerned that my son was growing up in Ireland and my mother
was getting on and I wasn't seeing enough of them, and I was concerned that
my life was coming second to my work.
JH: So why did you then get back onto another major label with Sony while based in Ireland?
LB: God, there's a story! I was actually aware of Ani Di Franco and Loreena
McKevitt looking after their own affairs and I was thinking of taking the
independent road. But my manager Mattie Fox had unbelievable enthusiasm for
me and got a similar response from John Sheehan in Sony so I went with it.
It's so easy to say you regret something, but you learn from everything. I
did one album Salty Heaven with Sony. I love it but it died a death.
JH: So you took the independent route then?
LB: Yes. I wanted to have a working structure that felt at ease with the
life I wanted, make my own records, finance them, license them. The first
test was the covers album Keeper Of The Flame. I was scared, but it worked.
It was exciting finding out how to do all the business stuff and I was
surprised to find I was more capable than I thought. I had to learn to talk
to people who have been dealing with the logistics of the music industry for
20 years as a complete gobshite.
JH: Why do most musicians avoid having to deal with the business side?
LB: I think musicians think that what they do is the only creative part of
the process, but I've found that's not true. Finding the people you trust is
the big thing and it's enjoyable too. I sent Keeper Of The Flame to about
ten record companies in Ireland and not one of them responded, yet I had no
problem getting deals for it all over the world.
JH: Might there come a time when you'll feel that you've said all that you want to say?
LB: I'm open to that. I believe there's already enough music in the world. I
sometimes wish there was a moratorium on new material so people could catch
up on what's been recorded over the last hundred years. I don't want to make
an album unless I think I've something to say.
JH: Your new album Between The Mountain And The Moon features many elements
of foreign culture. That's in sharp contrast to the racism in Ireland.
LB: The racism that has emerged in Ireland in the past five years came as no
surprise to me. I experienced horrendous racism among the Irish communities
in America. It really shocked and saddened me.
JH: Who was that racism directed against?
LB: Anyone with a different skin colour. Very specifically, the Irish
community in Boston was notoriously racist. When Bernadette McAliskey (nee
Devlin) went to tell the story of Bloody Sunday to Irish-American audiences
she was so horrified at the racism of the Ancient Order of Hibernians that
when she was given an emblem as a memento she gave it to the Black Panthers
to show her disgust.
JH: So was it latent in Ireland?
LB: We never had a migrant population before. There's a societal problem in
Ireland which is frightening. When children are born in Ireland and their
families are not allowed to stay here, that's institutional racism. But the
only way I can respond to it as a performer is to articulate through my
music a love of other cultures. I find North African music very
inspirational. The percussionist on the album (Mohamed Bouhanna) is Algerian
and he drove the rhythms. He had to leave Algeria to avoid conscription as
the Algerian army is a notoriously scary place. So he moved to Holland where
I met him.
I don't know if my music has any bearing on racism in Ireland, but
personally I can't wait for more and more immigrants to come to Ireland. I
think there are places in Ireland where the gene pool is just too small and
we've very short memories. I've just come back from Australia where the
racism is even more rabid.
JH: By responding to it do we give them an importance they sometimes don't deserve?
LB: We don't have that luxury, because it's life threatening. People are
being beaten up, insulted and abused because of the colour of their skin.
The highest number of people from another country living here are white
Americans and they don't suffer any of these difficulties. The same for
Germans, Dutch and so on. For me there's only one race, the Human Race.
People go on and on to me about the importance of being Irish, well I'm
sorry, this is a great place but I'm first and foremost a human being.
JH: What about being proud of one's nationality?
LB: I'm not proud of being Irish. I'm no more proud of being Irish than I am
of having pink skin.
JH: That wouldn't be a popular view in some quarters. Aren't we supposed to
be patriotic and proud of our country?
LB: Love and pride are two different things. I love living in this fabulous
piece of turf called Ireland. I love the different accents. I love the small
town world of Ireland, nature, the sea, the people. But being proud of being
Irish, that's different.
JH: To borrow a song title from the new album, are you a bogman?
LB: (laughs) I'm a wannabe bogman, about to become an apprentice bogman,
relocating to the bog about five miles from Naas or Newbridge.
JH: So how will you know when you've achieved complete bogmanhood?
LB: I'll never achieve it. It's beyond the reach of every townee. You have
to be born to it, but I'm willing to learn.
JH: Is 'Gabriel', also on the new album, about your son?
LB: No. It was inspired by my son when he was very young asking me if I
believed in angels. I gave one of those unsatisfactory mumbly-type answers
parents often give when their baffled by a question. But I was so
dissatisfied by my response that I puzzled over it for days. Then I
remembered when I was five or six having an awareness of an Angel Gabriel.
On my recent tour of Australia I played it when Gabriel Byrne was in the
audience and he was quite chuffed.
JH: There are aggressive rhythms running through songs like 'Monsoon'. Were
they influenced by the punk days?
LB: Oh yeah. When I went to America first I played support to The Pogues and
you can't do that and be reserved and shy and quiet. You can't play gentle
ballads to 4,000 rabid Pogues fans and survive. I was also influenced then
by the rhythms of post-punk bands like U2, Simple Minds, Aztec Camera and so
on. I still employ that in my live shows.
JH: And you're still standing up!
LB: (laughs) Yeah, I'm still standing up!
The Celtic Connection - Denver, Colorado - May 2002
Luka Bloom -
Between the 'Colorado' Mountain and the Moon
Colorado with a guitar case full of songs, old and new. The consistenly engaging live performer
will be in concert Monday June 10, at the Boulder Theater.
Luka's sixth album, Between the Mountain and the Moon, is his
first collection of new, original material since Salty Heaven, released in the U.S. in 1999. Not that Luka has
left his fans wanting: in between, he managed to put together Keeper of the Flame, his highly acclaimed
2001 homage to his favorite classic and contemporary songwriters, and he also found time to tour the
world, playing to sold-out crowds in Australia, Europe, and the U.S. while road-testing the tunes that would
make up this gorgeous new set.
Luka Bloom is traveling toward Luka has truly lived with this material, refining it on tour and gently
polishing it to perfection in the studio. Although the process took almost two years, the songs
show no signs of wear and tear, Between the Mountain and the Moon sounds like one seamless
session - intimate, impassioned, and musically, lyrically, and thematically unified, an album in
the classic sense. While Luka was concentrating on the cover songs he radically retooled for
Keeper of the Flame, he said he learned "to trust myself more as a singer". And it
shows: here he fearlessly stretches himself vocally, as well as instrumentally, especially on
tracks like the otherworldly 'Gabriel' and the hushed 'Moonslide', which he delivers in a beuiling
Most importantly Luka has learned how to enjoy life in the recording studio. He's always been
comfortable on a stage with just himself, a couple of guitars, and maybe
a vase of flowers. The challenge for him in making records has been how to capture both
the exuberance and the intensity of his performances. Luka has tried various
approaches, from the stunning, live-in-the-studio simplicity of Turf in 1994 to the lush,
labored-over orchestrations of Salty Heaven. He channeled New York City edginess
to make his 1990 in-your-face debut, Riverside, then went to the emerging bohemia of
Dublin's Temple Bar in 1991 to create Acoustic Motorbike, importing Manhattan
musicians to mix up it up with some of the coolest locals.
Despite his innovative tactics, Luka was never quite satisfied. Until now. "This is the
first time I feld confident in a studio," he confesses. "I've finally found a relationship
with a studio and an engineer, where I feel capable of expressing myself without (too much) fear."
The studio is the legendary Windmill Lane, where
everyone from U2 to the Rolling Stones has recorded. The engineer is Brian
Masterson, a veteran of sessions with the Chieftains and Van Morrison, among many
others, who first worked with Luka on Turf, bravely allowing him to bring a potentially
unruly live audience into the studio of a handful of evenings. Brian subsequently
co-produced Keeper of the Flame; those sessions resulted in arrangements of well-known
songs that were as unexpected as they were austere.
"I began recording some songs in September 1999, did a week or so in Windmill,
maybe nine songs," Luka recalls. "No plan, no rush. Then in 2000, I decided
to make a CD of other artists' songs and recorded Keeper of the Flame. Every now and
then I'd quietly slip into the studio and do a day or two with some of these songs.
Little by little, the songs took shape, different musicians coming in to play, all very
relaxed, no pressure. Right up to the end I kept my mind open for new songs and
for new ideas. Each person who plays on this CD brought something very special
to the songs. Almost every note people performed remains in the mix. Every
session was essential, and something beautiful happened each time."
"Between the Mountain and the Moon" is a collaboration among several
musicians, including Luka's gifted nephew Conor Byrne, a flautist and recording artist
in his own right who accompanied Luka on Salty Heaven. Perhaps the most noteworthy
participant for many will be Sinead O'Connor, a significant but last-minute addition to
the lineup, who came in to lend her voice to one track but, following the free-form spirit of
the project, stuck around to contribute subtle but stirring vocals to a few more. As Luka
told an Australian reporter, "The record was finished and I was listening to the
songs and I thought, 'God, wouldn't it be great if Sinead could sing on this.' I happened
to have her number, and I phoned her to ask if she'd do it, and she said, 'OK.' It's not
always possible to take the direct route, but I was lucky with Sinead ... To have her
on the record is quite blessing for me."
He was also lucky to find a room to record in that felt more like a second home than a
utilitarian studio, a place where he felt he belonged. "It's a beautiful room to sing
in," he reveals. "If you listen to some old jazz records, like Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald,
you can hear the drums, the bass, and the brass. You can hear the session. You can hear
the room. That's the reason why Windmill Lane is important to me, because you can
capture the sense of people performing."
Luka's Australian fans got a jump on their compatriots around the rest of the world because
he decided to release the album there in late 2001, in anticipation of an early '02 down-under
tour. The critical response has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic, a harbinger of things to
come around the rest of the globe. A reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald called
Between the Mountain and the Moon "arguably the best and most coherent album
Bloom has ever produced". "A starkly beautiful recording," declared a
critic from the Herald Sun. And a writer for The Green Guide rhapsodically described it as
"a majestically romantic collection of ballads that, from the opening paean to love,
'Monsoon', just sweeps you along on its powerful, poetic current."
Love is definitely on Luka's mind here, be it sensual ('Monsoon') or spiritual ('Gabriel'). But
Between the Mountain and the Moon is about more than that. It's about a playful pride for a home
and a heritage ('I'm A Bogman'), the courage of commitment to faith ('Soshin', dedicated to Maura
O'Halloran, an Irish-American woman who became a zen Buddhist monk in Japan) or to a cause
('Love Is A Place I Dream Of', dedicated to Christina Noble, a Dubliner who has devoted her life
to sheltering homeless children). It's about extraordinary characters in an exotic land ('As I
Waved Goodbye', inspired by the book Seven Years in Tibet) and humble heroes in a more
familiar place ('Hands Of A Farmer', a tribute to County Clare singer and storyteller Micho Russell).
Finally, it's about the simple pleasures of picking up the guitar ('Perfect Groove') and of those
moments when everything just feels right ('Rainbow Day').
"Between the Mountain and the Moon" is full of those moments when everything just feels right.
It's Luka Bloom's most mature work, yet it's as fresh as debut - a soulful, occasionally joyful, consistently
moving album that was definitely worth the wait.
Luka Bloom will be at the Boulder Theater, 14th & Pearl St. Mall,
Monday June 10th at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $18.90 for General Admission and $25.20 for Reserved Seats.
Price includes Boulder tax, subject to outlet / box office service charge. Boulder Theater Box Office is
303-786-7040 or call Celtic Events at 3030-777-0502.
Irish Music Magazine - Vol 7 No 10 - June 2002
"Everything in the world is new," Luka Bloom sings in "Soshin", an observation
that is fitting for both the time in which we live, and the seeminlgy re-awakened state that Bloom
celebrates on his new album "Between The Mountain And The Moon" writes John
There is quite a distance to be travelled between the mountain and the moon and Luka Bloom's new
album does just that. A subtle mix of sense and sensuality with some compassionate wisdom thrown
in for a good measure. "Between The Mountain And The Moon" returns Luka Bloom to the
frontline. Released through Cog Communications, recorded at Dublin's Windmill Lane Studios and
produced by Luka Bloom and Brian Masterson, the album features guest spots from Mairtin O'Connor,
Sinéad O'Connor, Eamon Murray, Ray Fean, Conor Byrne, and bassist Joe Csibi, one time
Riverdance musical director: A big discovery is percussionist Mohamed Bouhanna from Algeria now
living in Galway. Luka says "I met him in a restaurant and I was so blown away by him playing
that I asked him to come to Ireland and to play on the album, his exotic touches add a pronounced
Eastern/Oriental feel to the album itself."
While "Between The Mountain And The Moon" was recorded piecemeal over a three
year period, the Newbridge man hasn't exactly been taking it easy. There was concentrated
touring in 2000's to promote "Keeper Of The Flame" but the release of "Between
The Mountain And The Moon" is his first self penned album since 1998's "Salty Heaven"
signals a return to form. The ingredients are in the right place, Bloom's distinctive voice and New
York purchased electro-acoustic guitars which can alternate between Phil Spector productions
one minute and quietly rippling acoustics and sound like a full band, are aligned to modest
arrangements with shadings of wind instruments, strings, keyboards, as well as such rare
instruments as the mandola, darabouka, and bendir. These frame his expressive voice on
a collection of tales of love, travel, commitment and social concern...
The Colorado Daily - June 07, 2002
Despite high cultural visa fees, Luka returns to America.
It's been a long time since Luka Bloom graced the stage of the Boulder Theater.
The Irish singer/songwriter used to make regular trips to Boulder in the early '90s, but with the new visa fees for
entertainers coming into this country, it's taken Bloom two years to make a trip back to the States.
More a poet than a songwriter, Bloom is one of the best-loved performers in Ireland. His razor sharp lyrics are
fused with melodies that range from Old-world ballads to modern rockers, and he is constantly re-inventing
his music and exploring new musical stylings. Not everyone can blend rap with Irish rock tunes.
Bloom (who's real name is Barry Moore) began his career in County Kildare, Ireland. He sang back-up vocals
for his brother Christy Moore - one of Ireland's legendary singer-songwriters. Wanting to create his own niche,
Moore changed his name on an airplane flight, and Luka Bloom was born.
Bloom's music hit Colorado in the early '90s with his re-working of L.L. Cool J's classic rap number
"I Need Love". The song was featured on Bloom's "Acoustic Motorbike", and the same record
offered his haunting rendition of Elvis' "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You".
A regular artist on Colorado radio during those early years, Bloom was a special guest at a 1994
Gavin Radio conference in Boulder. He was gaining note from national radio, but radio was changing
at that time, and Bloom's singer-songwriter genius didn't falling into the grunge or jam band genres.
His label, Sony was looking for hit-makers and eventually dropped him in the late '90s. Bloom was left
to devise his own career and he figured out that he would be much better off by creating his own
record label and music company.
"I do remember playing the Gavin Convention back in '94," reflected Bloom. "I shared the stage
that night with Lyle Lovett and then played a show downtown with Paula Cole."
But those days, says Bloom, seem like a lifetime ago.
"I've been mainly playing in Ireland and Europe since then, and I started my own cottage music industry -
just like Ani DiFranco. This way I own my own records, I still have a good working life, and I can keep
His company released "Keeper of the Flame" in 2000. A man with a knack for turning covers tunes
into new and intricate pieces of music, that record featured Bloom's versions of tunes by U2, Bob
Marley, and The Cure.
But Bloom wanted to record a new original CD, so this year his label released a stunning new album,
"Between the Mountain and the Moon". In the past few years Bloom has made extensive trips to
North Africa, and after falling in love with the land and the people, he wanted to capture some of
those influences on the new project.
"I wanted to make a record that wasn't complicated, and I wanted to reflect the kind of music I've
been listening to. I explored reggae on my last record, and I've been visiting North Africa, so I
wanted to add an exotic feel to my new music and project the songs in a new way," explained Bloom.
"Between the Mountain and the Moon" was recorded in Ireland's famed Windmill Lane studios,
where everyone from U2 and the Rolling Stones have produced legendary albums. And from
the pulsating rhythms of the record's opening track "Monsoon", to acoustic ballads like "Gabriel",
to the Irish rock-rap beats of "I'm a Bogman", Bloom proves that he is still one of the best
storytellers in the songwriting world. And it didn't hurt that Bloom had a little help from his friends
for this record. Controversial singer Sinead O'Connor came out of semi-retirement to sing back
up vocals on this project.
However, Bloom just wants to get his music to America. The Irish singer says that in the past
two years it has become a nightmare for European artists to get entertainment visas to play
the States. Bloom is only coming to our country to play six dates and he had to pay through
the teeth to get cultural admittance to America.
"They're making it very hard to come to this country," says Bloom, who's 2001 tour of the U.S.
was stopped visa issues. "They used to separate the entertainment visas from regular ones,
but they don't do that anymore. I was then asked to pay $2,000 to "fast-track" my application,
and suddenly I was in. This is taking a cultural toll. A lot of artists can't afford or won't pay the
fee, and now all these European acts aren't coming to America anymore," said Bloom.
Bloom is particularly bothered by the fact that Americans can freely enter European countries,
and he isn't the only one offering those sentiments. Patrick McCullough is the promoter for
Bloom's show and the head of Celtic Events. He brings many artists to the United States
from the British Isles and he is very frustrated with the Immigration and Naturalization Services'
(INS) blocked-door to entertainers.
"You would think that if someone painted by numbers long enough they would see the whole
picture," says McCullough. "Apparently not our Immigration and Naturalization Services.
Since 9-11 it is shameful what they have been doing to performers who are trying to tour the U.S."
Specifically, McCullough says The INS has a 'premium processing fee' of $1,000 or more
per person for foreign artists.
"Great, now our foreign guest artists have to grease-off our INS just to get efficiency," says
McCullough. "I have been told by several booking agents that even if they pay the fee there
are no guarantees the artist can make his U.S. tour on time."
McCullough says that this is happening to booking agents around our country, and it is
adversely affecting the entertainment business. He said that one American agent is on
the verge of "pulling the plug" on all her European acts because it's so hard to bring
them to the United States.
If you want to check out the other side of the coin, you can call the INS office in Washington.
When the Daily tried to get through to a representative it was patched through to recorded
phone messages. After five wrong numbers - courtesy of the INS operators - the Daily was
referred to the INS Web site where they state in plain English that there is a $1,000+
"fast-track fee" for foreign entertainers.
Bloom wants to get the word out. He claims that there are many more Irish performers that
would love to come to America. But, for now he's happy to place his six dates in Boulder
and major music cities.
"All I want to do now is to go out and play my songs for the people that want to hear them,"
said Bloom. "It shouldn't have to be that complicated. It does create a strange kind of
psyche for a European, and I just want music lovers to be aware of this."
But don't worry; locals will get their money's worth at Bloom's Boulder Theater show. It will
just be Bloom and his guitar, and with this artist that's all you need.
Hopefully he'll play his version of "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You". That song is
probably paying his entrance fee to America. The tune was just put on a Martha Stewart
compilation disc on Bloom's old Warner Brothers label. So you could say that Martha's
royalties are allowing Bloom to tour our country. Ain't that America.
FYI: Luka Bloom at the Boulder Theater, Monday, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $18.90. And Bloom
will appear on KBCO's Studio C, Sun. at 4 p.m.
Wendy Kale - Colorado Daily Music Writer
Dublin Xtra - 10 July 2002
Ireland can proudly boast many fine musicians who have attained huge success, acclaim and
accolades on both home and world stages. Many Irish musicians, with styles ranging from U2
to Enya, have brought musical joy to millions of devoted fans around the globe. Standing
shoulder to shoulder with these musical giants is the unique talent of Luka Bloom.
The Barry Moore / Luka Bloom phenomenon began almost 50 years ago on May 23rd 1955
in Newbridge, County Kildare, where Barry Moore was born and raised.
Moore began his musical career early, and in the seventies, together with guitarist and schoolmate
Pat Kilbride, he played in the band Aes Triplex. In 1976 he began playing the clubs in and
around Dublin and one of his first songs, 'Wave up on the Shore' was recorded by
his folk legend brother, Christy Moore. He sang backing vocals on Christy's album, 1978's
The Iron Behind the Velvet, and also wrote songs performed by Christy and the Moving
Hearts, such as 'The City of Chicago', and 'Remember the Brave Ones'. After touring the
UK and Germany as member of the group Inchiquin, he then made three solo albums,
now highly prized by fans - Treaty Stone, In Groningen and No Heroes. The mid eighties
found him playing with Red Square, a Dublin post-punk / pop band, and that year he
also sang on Christy's Unfinished Revolution album (1987). The next album was
called simply Luka Bloom and was recorded for an independent label, Mystery
Records in 1987. Unfortunately it was withdrawn immediately, due to legal difficulties.
As a young musician in Ireland he seemed doomed always to be in the shadow of
his famous older brother, and the young Barry found himself floundering. He quickly
discovered that people on home soil found it difficult to get past his background and
his family connections. His career as Barry Moore seems inextricably linked to Christy's,
and escaping the shadow of Christy Moore, a founder member of Planxty and already
a legend, was a formidable task. Moore developed something of a drink problem
and began suffering professionally. Realising that drinking did not make him more
creative or, indeed, a better performer, he swore off it and went about trying to
further define what he did as a performer - what worked and what didn't.
It was in this context that, on a flight to America, he transformed himself from a singer-songwriter
named Barry Moore to an itinerant ex-pat troubadour named Luka Bloom. 'Luka' came
from Suzanne Vega's song of the same name; 'Bloom' is from Leopold Bloom the hero
of James Joyce's novel 'Ulysses'. This assumed identity and change of lifestyle allowed
him to move on from being 'Christy Moore's brother', and gave him the freedom to
develop individually as a musician.
With a new identity and guitar in hand, Bloom traversed the East Coast of America,
presenting his unique electro-acoustic folk sound to many an appreciative audience.
He spent two year in the States playing standing gigs in bars in New York and Washington,
D.C., shuttling between the two cities and perfecting the dynamic performance style he's
now become well known for. Based initially in Washington he got a six month residency
gig on Monday nights at Dylan's in Georgetown and then Wednesday nights at the
Red Lion, New York. The Birchmere in Washington was another regular venue.
Ultimately he signed for Reprise Records in 1989, and the following year he made
his second 'Luka Bloom' album, the twelve track Riverside in the US. The next two
Acoustic Motorbike (1992) and Turf (1994) were recorded in Ireland.
Salty Heaven (Sony) was released in June 1998 in various countries and on
the Shanachie label in the USA. In 2000, Keeper of the Flame was released
on a variety of labels in various countries; this was Bloom's first collection of songs
exclusively written by other people. Following the launch of an official website,
in August 2001 a retrospective album, The Barry Moore Years, was released and
is for sale at gigs and from the website.
The latest release, Between the Mountain and the Moon, was gradually
released around the world on various labels and was released in Ireland
on February 1st. Undoubtedly, the transition from Moore to Bloom has been
very successfully chartered, with Luka Bloom now a formidable musical force
in his own right.
America continues to draw him. "I love working in America. I love being in America.
I love travelling in America. I like being around American people. There's an energy
here that really works for me. I love it," he has stated. "When I left Ireland
in 1987 and came to America, this became my home, my working home and still is.
I'm very comfortable with it."
Bloom's stage performances are legendary. Pacing the stage like a caged animal,
with only the support of his two electro-acoustic guitars he is a dynamic and vibrant
performer. He likes his audiences and frequently before taking the stage he will
announce himself - "Hello. I'm Luka Bloom. Please make me welcome."
He connects with the audience with a look or a comment in ways that few acoustic singer/songwriters can.
"I'm sharing something with them. That's one of the reasongs I like those European audiences,
the Dutch audiences. They don't just sort of sit back and wait to be entertained. From the very
beginning they want to be a part of the whole thing. A lot of Amercian audiences are like that,
too," he says. The shows are most often a mix of his own original material and covers.
A richly romantic voice, Bloom manages to give his vocal cords an enthusiastic workout with
The energy and spirit of his live performance is retained while recording. Luka Bloom albums
are the equivalent of going to one of his shows blindfolded - all that's missing is the visual
of the man and his interaction with the audience.
"I play on the album the same way I play live. I just put on record the same intensity I have
on the stage, except here you can't see me playing it," he says.
His recordings and writings are fresh and innovative, and difficult to categorise. While he
sings of many issues particulat to Ireland, he does not one use his Irishness as a
promotional tool. Though much of his songwriting does have political overtones, he sees
himself more as an observer, insisting that he doesn't profess to know how to make the
world a better place and declaring that he wouldn't be the one to do it anyway.
"I do believe I have a responsibility to myself to be honest with myself and, as another
human being who makes overservations, I sometimes communicate my observations
and people can choose to get off on the guitar or get off on the sound or get off on the
voice or get off on the lyrics or not get off on any of it if they choose not to," he has said.
He is also unafraid to experiment. One of his bigger 'hits' was his 1992 cover of LL Cool
J's 'I Need Love', which appeared on Acoustic Motorbike. Accompanied by a thumping
bodhran and fiddle, Bloom adds a whole new dimension to the track and takes the tune
to new heights. With the track Bloom forays into the world of rap. "Why not? I love
hip-hop and thought I could do something with it. It's been a part of my live show for a
long time... I don't know if LL's heard it, though."
'I Need Love' is also one of several tracks that Luka and brother Christy Moore
have united on. Christy plays bodhran on 'I Need Love', and it is perhaps a symbol
of the fact that Bloom has left his youthful moniker of being 'Christy Moore's Brother'
far far behind him.
Turf is the album which exemplifies Bloom's performance style more than any other.
Recorded in studio, the studio was set up as if Bloom was actually performing a
live show complete with stage monitors, concert lights... and a small and carefully
selected audience. However, it is a studio album, and the audience were forbidden
from making any noise during or immediately following each song. That's asking
a lot of any fan at an up-close-and-personal gig, but they complied fully, and the
resulting album gives the listener the distinct feeling that they are the sole member
of the audience. 1998's Salty Heaven is another example of Bloom's fine song
writing and performance skills. Produced for Sony, it was not an experience that
Bloom particularly enjoyed... This friction between artist and record company
led to the independent release of 2000's Keeper of the Flame. Comprised
entirely of covers, from Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell through to the more unexpected
such as ABBA's Dancing Queen, Keeper of the Flame is an album of tranformation,
rather than simple interpretation, Thus, the featured tracks are rendered wholly Bloom's,
regardless of their originsm rather than becoming copies of other people's work -
an astounding feat in the much maligned world of cover versions. Keeper of the
Flame was the first record Bloom actually 'owned' and the experience was, by
all accounts, a highly enjoyable one.
And so to the latest new release. Between the Mountain and the Moon, another
independent release, is a distinctive Bloom record. Featuring a number of tracks
dedicated to various individuals - such as 'Love is a place I dream of' dedicated
to Chernobyl Children campaigner Christina Noble - the album will satisfy old
fans and should encourage some Bloom novices to listen a little more closely.
A musical force to be reckoned with, the young Barry Moore has surely fully Bloomed!