Luka Bloom has a pretty good plan for his current east coast tour of the U.S. He’s timed it to coincide with the turning of the leaves from summer’s green to their full burst of autumnal glory. The Irish singer-songwriter, who spent a good number of years living in New York, knows his fall foliage.
The man who was born Kevin Barry Moore, and re-purposed himself as Luka Bloom when he launched his career in the States in 1987, was en route from Maine to Vermont when we talked on the phone about his tour (it’s a brief two and a half weeks), his latest CD (“Dreams in America”)and his nephew Donnacha Rynne’s recently published book (it was his idea).
Although a short one, his tour includes a stop at The Sellersville Theatre on October 7. “I’ve always had great shows in the Philadelphia area,” he said. “I’ve played at The World Café, The Tin Angel, The Chestnut Cabaret. I’m really looking forward to this one.”
He’s bringing with him some old songs that have been reinvented for his latest CD, “Dreams in America.”
“It’s really a celebration of twenty years of writing songs and recording them. I’m not a huge fan of nostalgia,” Bloom acknowledged. “I think it’s highly overrated. But it’s okay to take a look back and reflect. It’s like hitting the pause button.”
The songs on the album, eleven of them including the new incarnations of “The Acoustic Motorbike,” “Bridge of Sorrow” and “Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself,” represent Bloom’s determination to “live in the nowness of life,” a thought borrowed from his wheelchair-bound nephew.
“This gave me the chance to go back and revisit where I was when I originally wrote the songs. I didn’t necessarily want to re-record the ones that became popular. In some cases, I loved the song but not the original recording. They’re more stripped down, raw versions on this album. I recorded it in my living room in Ireland last December.”
And Bloom felt it was time to include a song new for him as well: the traditional “Lord Franklin.” A very beautiful, simple interpretation, he sings it as a tribute to a late friend of his, Micheal O’Domhnaill, whose rendition he considers “the definitive one.”
Two live tracks, “I Hear Her, Like Lorelei” and “Love is a Monsoon,” recorded in the National Concert Hall in Dublin in August 2009, round out the CD that Bloom ultimately wants to be a thank you to “the places and people who opened their hearts and minds to the songs of a Kildareman…The period of 1987 to 1991 was an unbelievably exciting one. Things took off for me in America, particularly in New York. It’s a very nice exercise to reflect back on that time and be grateful.”
There’s another current project that is close to Bloom’s heart: the publication of his nephew’s book “Being Donnacha” (read the story in this week’s irishphiladelphia). Donnacha, born with cerebral palsy, and later diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, is a source of inspiration to Bloom. In fact, he wrote a song, “Doing the Best I Can” for him (the lyrics are included in the book).
“It’s a very important book, there are so many levels to it. It will be beneficial to so many people to hear his voice; he gives a voice to people who haven’t been heard. People who are themselves disabled, their families and their carers will all find it meaningful.”
“Donnacha lives constantly in the nowness of life. He gives a voice to living with a disability that needs to be heard. He has tough days but his strengths have always been very apparent. And something about writing this book has given him fresh strength to go on.”
“There’s something very poignant in seeing the first American article about Donnacha’s book published in Philadelphia. A very dear friend of the family, Lester Conner, lived most of his life in Philadelphia. He died about five years ago. He was a professor at Chestnut Hill College for a number of years, a great literary giant and highly academic man who was an expert on W.B. Yeats. He published “A Yeats Dictionary.” My sister Anne met him back in 1967 when he lectured at Trinity College, and he became godfather to her oldest son. He would visit every year, and Donnacha was very important to him. He would have loved to have seen Donnacha’s book.”
“It’s an important bit of serendipity.”
Visit Luka’s website for more information on his CD and his upcoming concerts: http://www.lukabloom.com/