LIVING LEGEND Andy Irvine plays in the Ballina Arts Centre on Thursday night. Pic: Kása Béla
IRISH folk music legend Andy Irvine is all set to play the Ballina Arts Centre this coming Thursday night, October 4, at 8pm. The gig comes hot on the heels of the news that Irvine is to receive a lifetime achievement award at the inaugural RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Awards, which takes place at the end of this month, Throughout his 50-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 Irvine has been a world music pioneer and icon for traditional music and musicians.
In reflecting on the recent news of this impending honour, Andy had this to say: “I am pretty thrilled by it! When it was put up on Facebook and Twitter, nearly a thousand people congratulated me over the weekend. Blown away!”
Like his hero Woody Guthrie, Andy is the archetypal troubadour and has toured extensively and remains to do so like his song ‘Never Tire of the Road’.
“I seem to have to live up to it!” he laughs. “ I got so many things from Woody and ‘the road’ seems to have been one of them. Too late to stop now. Paul Brady and I hit it off immediately when he came into Planxty in 1974. I think we learned a lot from each other musically. The Andy Irvine/Paul Brady album might well have formed the basis for Planxty’s fourth album if the band not broken up in 1975.”
Andy recently released the album ‘Precious Heroes’ with Australian mandolin maestro Luke Plumb earlier this year. How that came about.
“I had heard Luke many years ago in Tasmania where he comes from. Later I met him at ‘Zouk Fest’ in New Mexico where he was teaching bouzouki and mandolin players how to play the parts that Donal Lunny and I had played on Planxty albums. He produced an album for Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton which I greatly admired and I asked him if he’d produce an album for me and play on it.”
That album has many great guest musicians; a hallmark of Andy Irvine’s approach to making records over the years. “Apart from Luke, I’m more in the habit of asking players of my own vintage or a generation earlier. It is very exciting to work with the likes of Mike McGoldrick and John Doyle and I’m currently working on an album with Lindsey Horner – an American Jazz Bass player – we have recorded nine or ten tracks with a guitarist and a drummer of songs my mother used to sing. I’ve no idea what my fans will think of that in this country.”
Andy has a number of bands on the go all the time, such as Mozaik and Patrick Street. These projects are very much still alive and we can expect to see plenty from them in the future.
“Mozaik has a third album coming out soon called ‘The Long and the Short of it’. We recorded it in Budapest about three years ago and it’s taken all this time to get to the stage of launching it. I‘m not sure if Mozaik will tour again though. Similarly with Patrick Street. Usher’s Island is my number one band now ... Donal Lunny, Paddy Glackin, Mike McGoldrick and John Doyle. All wonderful musicians!”
A lifetime achievement award only goes half way towards saluting what Andy Irvine has done – and continues to - for music in Ireland and around the world. Don’t miss the chance to see him in concert at Ballina Arts Centre this Thursday night. Tickets available on www.ballinaartscentre.com.