Interview: Musical tribute to heroes

Irish folk legend Andy Irvine (Planxty, Sweeney’s Men, Patrick Street) is coming to our pocket of regional Victoria to launch his latest album. Made in collaboration with Australian Luke Plumb, Precious Heroes is a tribute to his musical and political heroes who ‘‘stood up for the working people’’.

While the album cover is littered with the faces of trade unionists, rabble-rousers and singers, Irvine’s greatest musical influence — Woody Guthrie — is an absentee.

Irvine said for the first 15 years of his life he was looking for an unknown type of music which he could call his own. At this time, he said, rhythm and blues was enjoying a period of dominance before rock and roll took over, coinciding with the development of the 45 RPM record.

‘‘My friends all thought it was great . . . but it wasn’t me,’’ Irvine said.

‘‘Then I discovered Lonnie Donegan . . . and on the back of one of his EPs, it said the song was written by Woody Guthrie. So one day I was walking down in the West End of London, and there in a small shop was More Songs by Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston.

‘‘I bought it, took it home and put it on, and pretty much halfway through the first bar of the first song, I thought . . . I’d finally discovered the music I’d been looking for.’’

Fast forward to 2016 and Irvine, already a fan of Luke Plumb’s work as a musician, decided to enlist the Australian’s help as producer after appreciating his work in fine-tuning Declaration — the latest album made by Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton.

Irvine said Plumb leaped at the opportunity to collaborate and the pair went on to transform the house of a friend travelling abroad into something of a DIY recording studio.

‘‘We put mattresses up against all the walls and windows to deaden the sound and Luke and his computer and his microphones were set up and I played and sang into it, which is the way it is these days,’’ Irvine said.

‘‘Recording studios are slightly out of date, because you can record it yourself . . . if you’ve got good microphones, all you need to do is deaden the sound and it’s as good as a studio, except you’re not paying for it.’’

‘‘We recorded the songs there . . . and later he put on his own instrument, and then a couple of other people in different countries were added onto it. So you couldn’t say it was recorded in one place — it was recorded all over the bloody world.’’

Irvine said while his greatest musical influence has always been Woody Guthrie, he has never been able to write contemporary political songs like the American singer-songwriter.

‘‘It’s a shame . . . but I can’t do it . . . because you don’t know all the facts,’’ Irvine said.

‘‘So the songs that I write are about things that happened in the past, where nearly all the evidence you’re ever going to have is there. And that’s what a lot of these are — the strike in the coal mines in County Kilkenny and the Spanish Civil War.

‘‘It’s the same mix as the last few albums in that there are traditional songs and songs that I have written. But I do feel it’s a little bit further to the left than other albums, as a concept. I have never changed . . . but I’ve evolved at my own speed. I still have the same attitude to music I had all those years ago.’’

Andy Irvine and Luke Plumb are performing at Under the Sun Café in Strathbogie on March 17.

For bookings phone 0427 317 694.

Precious Heroes is out now.



Sunday with Miriam – Sunday 25 February 2018

 Founding member of popular bands such as Sweeney’s Men and Planxty, musician Andy Irvine spoke with Miriam and played a couple of tunes. 

Listen Now!

Music Played on the Show

The Blacksmith - Andy Irvine (Live in studio)

Here's A Health To Every Miner Lad - Andy Irvine & Luke Plumb (From 'Precious Heroes' album)

Archive Interview: 2004 – EMusic Interview – Andy Irvine – Mozaik – Event Guide

When East Meets West

As if reuniting with Planxty wasn’t enough, Andy Irvine continues with Mozaik, another musical project combining Eastern European sounds with Irish and American vibes. Úna Mullally spoke to him about the music.

‘Live From The Powerhouse’ is the new record. How do you feel about it?

I love it! I think it’s great. We were in Australia, coming towards the end of a tour and we had the foresight to rent recording equipment and record it.

The Eastern European influence – does that stem from your time in those parts in the 60s?

The Eastern European side definitely does but as well, that old-time American sound has always been a huge influence for me, and I think that comes across strongly too.

People have been predicting the death of trad for years, but it hasn’t exactly come about yet, has it?

No, not at all. There are an awful lot of bands out there keeping it going, and more. The state of Irish traditional music has never been healthier. People like Kíla spring to mind.

Of course, the big news was Planxty reforming. How did it happen?

We’d been meeting for about five years, just having dinner together and discussing old times. I think somebody just posed the question of reforming and everybody was into it. We all lept at it really. We went on meeting and recording and sometimes it seemed it would happen and sometimes it didn’t. I think the catalyst was Leagues O’Toole’s No Disco programme on us. We realised that if we didn’t get back to Planxty now, we’d all be dead in a while and never able to make that choice.

Were you disappointed when No Disco ended?

It was terrible. And RTE never explained it. I don’t know why they did it. Mr. RTE obviously has a mind of his own. They’re not doing what the people want. I just didn’t understand that decision at all.

Were you nervous about playing together after all those years?

It did occur to me that we’d get up and play it and it wouldn’t work. I thought people could’ve raised us in their memories and then be disappointed with what we actually played. But that absolutely didn’t happen. The music seemed so fresh again. 100% of the people I’ve talked to about the shows in Vicar Street were blown away by it. But, y’know, there’s no full-time about Planxty. We continue one step at a time. I suppose the CD and DVD were a last step but then we are doing 12 concerts next December and January.

What happens then?

There are no plans to record. We are going to get together for a meeting on the 1st of February and we’ll see what happens.

What’s the tour like with Mozaik?

It starts on July 18th and goes on to August 3rd. We start at the Erragail Arts festival, then Galway and so on, and it finishes at a show in West Belfast.

How do you feel about being labelled way up there as a ‘legend’ when it comes to trad?

It doesn’t bother me. If people want to call me that…well, I don’t know if I’m flattered by it. It doesn’t sway me. It’s kind of silly, really. Surely you can’t be a legend in your own lifetime?

Mozaik, with support from Dirty 3, play The Village, on Dublin’s Wexford Street, as part of the Bud Rising Festival on Tuesday 27th July. Doors 8pm, tickets €20. / / /
EMusic Interview - Andy Irvine / Mozaik. Event guide.

source:  [dead link]