read the full interview over on hotpress.com
read the full interview over on hotpress.com
read the full interview over on hotpress.com
I interviewed Andy Irvine at Don Quixote’s in Felton on June 20th, 2010. Andy plays bouzouki, mandolin, and harmonica and sings in Patrick Street, Mozaik, and also solos. Andy is wonderfully unassuming, so full of experience and knowledge, and a joy to talk with.
Paul Edwards, Celtic Society of the Monterey Bay
I’ve been reading your recollections on your web site. What’s up with your book?
Well, it’s very forward in my consciousness. I do intend to do it, but I keep finding that there are things that have to be cleared away before I have a clear field. You know, I kept a diary from 1961 through 1963. I’ve been transcribing that. It’s got to be in the computer before I start. If you live long enough you have a story to tell.
There’s a fair amount on your web site about your mandolin and bouzouki. What about your harmonica?
The thing about harmonica is you can’t see what you’re doing, so it’s hard to describe. Teaching people to play harmonica, I’d be lost. If you’ve a whole range of diatonic harmonicas, the actual note you’re playing you wouldn’t be aware of. There’s a lot of feel to it.
I learned to play harmonica listening to Woody Guthrie, and I was good friends with Jack Elliott back in the very late Fifties and early Sixties, and he told me that Woody Guthrie played the harmonica upside-down. So I’m really glad that I learned that before I started playing harmonica. So I played it upside-down, and quite often people come up and say, “Hey! You play the harmonica upside-down!” And I say, “Yeah! Woody Guthrie did!”
So what harmonicas do you use?
Well, I generally use Hohner diatonic harmonicas, but I would have a lot of them tuned in what they call the Country Tuning, which means that the reed in 2nd position is sharpened, so it’s played in major scale. I discovered this guy in England called Anthony Dannecker, who used to work for Hohner. He makes up harmonicas out of Hohner components, and he became the guy that I use to tune my harmonicas. I also play an old Hohner Meister Class harmonica.
What drew you to the type of music you play?
It was a progression. The friends that I had when I was in my early teens – when 45’s came out; great music; early rhythm and blues, like Fats Domino; in the mid-Fifties — and they went, “Wow! Hey! This is fantastic!” And I thought, “Yeah, it’s OK, but it’s not what I’m looking for.” And then this fellow, Lonnie Donegan, appeared, singing kind of Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie songs. That was when I discovered the music I was interested in, and it was all American — “It Takes a Worried Man” and “Midnight Special” and all that kind of stuff. Then I discovered Woody Guthrie through Lonnie Donegan, because Woody Guthrie is mentioned on the back of one of his records. I was hooked on Woody. So then I got into an old Harry Smith anthology, old ’78s from the 1920s.
Then I belatedly discovered my own folk music. It was common in that day. We all started back in the late Fifties and early Sixties into American music, and then people like Ewan McColl said, “Yes, yes, yes, but there is a lot of good stuff here.” So eventually we all got into ours here.
Celtic Society of the Monterey Bay © 2016
Andy Irvine was born in 1942 and he started recording for his own enjoyment back in 1960 when
his mother bought him a heavy reel-to-reel tape recorder. ere are some very rare tracks from his
early days even before he became a professional musician and there are recordings of his busking
days in Germany by himself or with Johnny Moynihan. In the early 70s he made some demos for
Planxty in Dublin , one of them from this album, was never recorded. ere are a lot of recordings
from gigs that Andy has played over the last 50 years, mainly solo but some with his musical friends,
Dónal Lunny, Kevin Burke, Jackie Daly, Frankie Gavin, Rens van der Zalm and Gerry O’Berne, to
name but a few. Above all, this double album shows Andy’s remarkable ability to play highly complex
accompaniments at the same time as performing vocals of quality.
(including shipping costs)
This is the first volume of recordings I made since 1961. They are not in any way intended as my latest albums and indeed, are issued as a limited edition, meant mainly for the ardent fan! The recordings are not always of studio quality in spite of the masterful sound manipulation of my dear friend the late Tim Martin who did a marvellous job of making even the most dubious old recording listenable. Many thanks to Leon O’Neill who also improved some difficult tracks.
I started recording for my own enjoyment back in 1960 when my mother bought me a heavy reel-to-reel tape recorder. Later I recorded songs so that I wouldn’t forget them and could go back and re-learn them. There are also many recordings made at gigs I have played around the world in the last 40 years. I would like to make special mention and give special thanks to Ray Barron of Cork who recorded so many of my shows in The Lobby Bar in Cork in the 90’s.
The bulk of these recordings are solo but there are some with great musicians I have played with over the years. Many thanks to Dónal Lunny, Rens van der Zalm, Johnny Moynihan, Frankie Gavin, Rick Epping, Kevin Burke, Jackie Daly and Gerry O’Beirne, all of whom appear on this first volume.
Thanks also to Jeremy Kearney for letting me use the Foxrock Folk Club recordings. More from that club in that period, with singers like Ronnie Drew and Luke Kelly, are available on “Live at Foxrock Folk Club – The Parish Hall Tapes 1970-72” (Cornelscourt Records CR 001).
If this album is well received, there will be a clatter more!!
Produced by Andy Irvine
This video was captured from VHS or Beta Recording Tape, and uploaded straight to You Tube, if for any reason this video contravenes any copyright, or you have any issues with this being broadcast, please contact me and I’m happy to assist you with any issues.
MUSICIAN INTERVIEW: Andy Irvine / 3 April 2008
Q&A with Andy Irvine and Nicola Murphy, Draíocht’s Marketing Manager
Andy appears in Draíocht on Saturday 12th April 2008 at 8pm with his group Mozaik, truly a World Music band, which fellow musicians Donal Lunny (Ireland & Japan), Bruce Molsky (USA), Nikola Parov (Hungary) and Rens van der Zalm (Holland, soon to be Australia). He chatted with Nicola Murphy by email from Japan ahead of the gig next week.
Andy Irvine: Forty Years on the Road
Andy Irvine has been hailed as ‘a tradition in himself’. Musician, singer and songwriter, Andy has maintained both personal integrity and highly individual performing skills throughout his 40-year career. From Sweeney’s Men in the mid sixties to the enormous success of Planxty in the 70s, to THE Irish super group, Patrick Street, in the 80s, Andy has been a world music pioneer and icon for traditional music and musicians. Irvine occupies a unique place in the musical world, plying his trade as archetypal troubadour, with a solo show and traveling lifestyle that reflects his lifelong influence, Woody Guthrie. Few others can equal his repertoire, Irish traditional songs, dexterous Balkan dance tunes, and a compelling canon of his own material that defies description.
Taken from: http://www.andyirvine.com
Q: Tell us a little about yourself, your background, where you’re from and where you live?
I have been playing music for my livelihood for over 40 years. I was a very good child actor who became not such a good juvenile actor. I play the Irish Bouzouki – an instrument that bears little relationship to its Greek origins. I also play Mandolin, Harmonica and Hurdy Gurdy. And I sing. I live in Dublin, though I spend most of my time traveling elsewhere. I am in Japan at the moment.
Q: What or who inspired you to become a musician?
My first inspiration was Woody Guthrie, the Oklahoma balladeer and song writer. Subsequently I became interested in all folk music.
Q: How old where you when you started playing?
I was 13 when I received my first instrument – a very poorly made guitar. I studied classical music for four years but decided it was not for me.
Q: Why did you choose your particular instrument to learn?
I wanted to play all the instruments that Woody played. The mandolin became my foremost instrument but after my good friend, Johnny Moynihan introduced the Bouzouki into Irish music, I gradually became more drawn to that.
Q: If you weren’t a musician, what would you like to be?
Q: What is the hardest thing about being a musician?
Practising when you haven’t played for a while. It’s like running through a field of porridge.
Q: What type of music do you enjoy playing the most?
Q: Are there any famous musicians that you would really like to work with?
Yes, Woody Guthrie but unfortunately he’s dead.
Q: What’s the most unusual place you’ve ever played a concert or made a recording?
Kilmainham Jail with all the ghosts looking down from the cells above.
Q: Have you ever tried other art forms like drawing, painting, sculpting or dancing for instance?
No, no good at any of these.
Q: What other musicians or people have influenced or inspired you, and in what ways?
I have been inspired by many people who rose up and fought against injustice. People who spoke for those with no voice. From James Connolly to Joe Hill.
Q: How do you keep motivated if you’re having a bad day?
Imagine myself to be in a worse position.
Q: How have you handled the business side of being a musician, promoting yourself and getting exposure, selling your gigs to promoters etc?
Like most musicians I am not a big self promoter. My first band, Sweeney’s Men was a minor success but my second band, Planxty was a major success. I have never felt the need to sell myself since then.
Q: Do you have any advice you could give to a musician just starting out?
Don’t expect to be a success. But believe in yourself and keep doing what you believe in.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Still battering around the globe with any luck.
Q: What are your interests and hobbies in your spare time?
Football, Cricket, Rugby. Anything with a ball except Basketball.
Q: Could you tell us a little more about your forthcoming performance in Draíocht?
It’s with Mozaik, a fiery blend of Irish, Balkan and Old Time American music that should keep the audience in excitement. Between us all the band plays over 20 instruments with Nikola covering a bewildering range of East European instruments that many people will never have seen before.
I started the group 5 years ago, and we rehearsed for the first time in Australia and finished the tour that followed with a live recording at the Powerhouse, in Brisbane. That album conveys the exciting sounds that the band creates on stage. Since then we’ve played at many of the world’s major festivals and concert halls in Australia, Japan, USA, Ireland, Italy and the UK. (Vicar Street, National Concert Hall, Cork Opera House notably). Each member of the band has recorded extensively during their musical careers – Nikola solo and with numerous Balkan bands in Hungary; Bruce with solo albums and collaborations with Pete Seeger, Martin Hayes, Bill Frisell and many others; Dónal with bands ranging from Planxty and The Bothy Band to Moving Hearts, and more than 100 albums that he has produced and played on for other artists; I’ve played with Sweeney’s Men, Planxty and Patrick Street, solo and with Paul Brady; Rens has also recorded with me, and many Dutch bands like Wolverlei and Fungus.
Q: Do you have any performances coming up after this one in Draíocht?
Yes, Draiocht is the second gig of a nine day tour in Ireland with Mozaik.
What the Press have said:
“This was glorious music that raised spirits, roofs and not a few pulses along the way. Yet another magnificent musical detour that unleashed our imaginations and our energies, free to roam where passports and language barriers hold no sway.”
Siobhan Long, The Irish Times
Further info about Andy Irvine & Mozaik can be found on his website:
Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, Bruce Molsky, Nikola Parov, Rens van der Zalm
First envisaged by venerable vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Andy Irvine (Planxty, Patrick Street), Mozaik is the ultimate global string band- a truly international ensemble who can not only perform music from a wide array of cultures, but interweave their myriad influences into an entirely new sound. Mozaik moves effortlessly from Celtic to old-time to Eastern European music, with intricate string arrangements complementing Andy and Bruce’s vocals. The line-up boasts musicians as versatile and eclectic as the music created between them, whose traditions and styles are distinct, yet blend beautifully to form a cohesive work of art. Long time fans from Irvine’s Planxty days, will be aware that he has been experimenting with Eastern European melodies and rhythms for a long time now, which is a style he incorporates magnificently into this band.
Sat 12 April 2008, 8pm
Tickets: €22 / €20 conc
For media information please contact:
Nicola Murphy, Marketing Press & PR Manager, Draíocht