Murray Leith and Jo Laing
WITH the lockdown still upon us, we at Glasgow Irish Bands And Gigs thought it would be a good time to get up close and personal and find out a bit more about some of the singers and bands whose contribution is so valued. This month we caught up with well-travelled and much-respected Roy Buckley (above).
Who or what inspired you to get into the music industry?
I have been around music my entire life. I come from a family of singers and songwriters going back a couple a generations—singing songs from Ireland and beyond is all I ever wanted to do. My mother bought me my first guitar when I was 9 years old and I began playing in traditional music and ballad sessions since when I was 14 years old. As a teenager I used to spend all my pocket money collecting the albums of many of my folk heroes—Luke Kelly, Jim McCann, Paddy Reilly, Liam Clancy, Finbar Furey, Christy Moore and groups like The Dubliners, The Fureys, The Clancys, Stockton’s Wing, all of them! I went out gigging as a solo artist at the age of 17 when my dad bought me my first PA system.
How would you describe the music you typically create?
My latest single was classed as folk, contemporary folk or singer/songwriter on the download and streaming sites, I suppose that’s accurate.
You have performed with some fantastic artists. If you could collaborate with any musical artist who would it be and why?
I have been very fortunate in my career to have performed with and worked with lots of legendary Irish artists like Phil Coulter, Pete St John, Finbar Furey, Liam Reilly, Mike Hanrahan and more, but I would have loved the opportunity to collaborated with Ronnie Drew, Luke Kelly or Liam Clancy because of the indelible mark they left on folk music. I really enjoy talking to songwriters and other artists about their songs and life in music, it’s why I set up The Song Collector Podcast with Irish radio ace PJ Coogan (Cork’s 96fm). We chat with Irish legends like Christy Dignam, Finbar Furey, Phil Coulter, The High Kings, Mike Hanrahan, The Black Donnellys and others about their journey in music.
You have played in some fantastic venues what has been your favourite and why?
Again, my music life has brought me to so many stages all over the world, from Murphy’s Rock in Ballyvolane to Holland, Norway, London, New York and Washington DC. Some of the most memorable times for me have been playing the Cork Opera House for the first time in 2009 with Finbar Furey, another is bringing Phil Coulter to play on my Song Collector Sessions concert series for the first time, and another memory that springs to mind is performing The Fields of Athenry with the man who wrote it, Pete St John, on board the Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship in 2016. One final one would be my first time touring the USA with world record-breaking guitarist Dave Browne.
What would you be doing now if it wasn’t for your music career?
I honestly don’t know, I love being around people so I would probably be working in some sort of job that has me interacting with the public. It’s hard to imagine myself doing anything outside of music though, so I think I would be involved in some aspect of the music industry or the performing arts, maybe acting.
What is your favourite song to perform live?
That’s a tough question because I love singing them all—songs mean a lot to me. Most songs I sing have a memory or a story attached to them. I go in and out of phases with songs, for example, lately I’ve been singing The Reason I Left Mullingar, because it’s stuck in my head again since I saw Pat Cooksey himself singing it. Another song which has become an ear worm lately is Waltzing On Borrowed Time, a new song that Pete St John has called upon me to sing
What was the best musical advice you’ve been given?
Phil Coulter told me one time: “Talent is what gets you into the music business, hard work is what keeps you there.”
What was the craziest thing to happen on tour?
I’ve had a few crazy moments with many great friends. Probably one of the wildest times was when we broke a Guinness World Record in Las Vegas for longest concert (372 hours, 10 minutes) with The Black Donnellys, Liam Reilly (Bagatelle) and a host of other great artists at RÍRÁ in Mandalay Bay, or the time I played for Irish Olympian Rob Heffernan when he received his Olympic medal. I’ve had the pleasure of playing some private events for Irish footballers like Paul McShane, Robbie Brady and Stephen Quinn in London and Ibiza with Dominic and Stephen Leech from the Leech dynasty of traditional music. Recently I had a cameo in a new movie that has just been released about The Black Donnellys called An Irish Story: This Is My Home, so it’s a bit crazy seeing myself on Amazon Prime!
If you could turn back the clock is there anything you would change or do different?
I wouldn’t change a thing. My music journey has brought so many great people into my life and has taken me to places I would never have seen had I not taken the path I’m on. I wouldn’t want to trade that for anything.
Your new single the Old Man On Patrick’s Street is currently Number 2 in Irish charts can you give us a bit of history to your story for the song?
There is a long story behind that song. The narrative is centred around the main streets of Cork, my hometown. It’s about a fictional character who is living rough and down on his luck with his untold story that nobody seems to care about. The message is universal as homelessness is an issue all over the world. It was produced at Wood Street Studios as part of an album by my late great friend Lawrence White, who passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 46. The studio closed and the album stopped. Some time later we got back on track at Kitten Late Studios with Keith Clancy and Aidan O’Mahony in the control room. It was mastered in the USA by Grammy Award winning mastering guru Adam Ayan at Gateway Mastering Studios. I was thrilled to see it go to Number 2 in the Irish charts and just recently I found out it has been submitted for consideration on the 63rd Grammy Awards. I think that Lawrence would be proud of that.
Check in with Glasgow Irish Bands and Gigs Facebook page—www.facebook.com/GlasgowIrishBandsAndGigs—regularly for gig listings, guides, features, exclusive streams, playlists, news and more
For more on Roy’s work visit his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RoyBuckleyMusicOfficial, follow him on Twitter: @roybuckleymusic and take in his YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVR6ajW-mraJYcAZ_Gffpqg