A master interpreter, Luka Bloom has continued to balance original songs with reinventions of tunes by a diverse range of songwriters. On THIS NEW MORNING, Bloom continues to shake up the folk genre with clever chord sequences and arrangements while still retaining folk’... more
“That he scales such emotional heights with just his voice, a guitar and a bagful of heartfelt songs makes Bloom’s achievements even more remarkable.” —Hot Press (Ireland)
“The soulful folk artist has chosen a range of songs from his back catalogue and turned them on their heads, creating a strictly solo-acoustic new batch of beauties.” —Rhythms Magazine (Australia)
Luka Bloom was born Kevin Barry Moore in 1955 to Nancy Power and Andy Moore of Newbridge in County Kildare, Ireland. He is the youngest member of the family and has three sisters and two brothers. Music was an intrinsic part of his life growing up. All of the family sing and play, but Barry had his own way and style of making music. From a very early age he was writing songs and honing his skills as a serious guitar player. He first went on tour at fourteen years old as the support act to his eldest brother, Christy Moore, in 1969. Around this time he wrote 'Jenny Of The Sun' and 'Wave Up To The Shore' - which was recorded by Christy in 1976.
He did gigs around Ireland, from the Meeting Place (a hot spot for music in the 70s and 80s) in Dublin to McGanns (still one of the best pubs in Ireland for a traditional music session) in Doolin and all places in between. In 1977 he toured Germany and England as part of the group Inchiquin with fellow members Noel Hill and Tony Linnane. Micho Russell toured with the group. Barry became close to Micho as a result and still calls him a hero. His song 'Hands of a Farmer' is dedicated to Micho. In 1978 he released his first album—the classic Treaty Stone.
Barry was, and is, passionate in regards to issues of injustice and protection of the environment. He participated in the Anti-Nuclear Festivals held in Carnsore Point three years running in 1979. He was a finger picking folkie, until the middle of 1979, when tendonitis caused serious damage to his picking hand. As a result he learned to play with a plectrum and changed his style of playing.
In 1979 Barry moved to Groningen in Holland and was based there for a number of years. He recorded the album In Groningen in 1980 which included the Felix Pappalardi song 'One Last Cold Kiss'.
1982 saw the release of No Heroes - all of the songs on this album are written by Barry. 'Remember The Brave Ones' was later recorded by Moving Hearts.
From 1983 to 1986 Barry fronted the Dublin post-punk/pop band Red Square. It was one of 5000 bands in Dublin trying to become the next U2. About the experience, Barry said, "[It] Got me off the stool, out of the folk clubs, taught me how to roar."
Finally in 1987 he made the decision to head to America. With the decision to start up in a new country with new people, Barry decided to take on a new name Luka Bloom—"Luka" from the Suzanne Vega song "My name is Luka" and "Bloom" from James Joyce's Ulysses. "EI104, the lovely old jumbo that brought me to America in 1987. Window seat: looking down from 35,000 feet at America, repeating quietly to myself, 'Hi, my name is Luka Bloom. I'd like to play here.'" "I made a conscious decision before I went to America to create a solo performance that would be exciting and relevant to rock audiences. I also decided that I was going to create an audience for myself, without the help of record companies."
In 1990 Luka recorded the definitive Riverside which features many of his classic songs not least of which is 'The Man Is Alive'. Recorded in New York, many of the songs describe his experiences of New York City as in 'Delirious' or 'Hudson Lady'.
1991 saw Luka back in Dublin to record the next album The Acoustic Motorbike. Luka covered the L.L.Cool J's 'I Need Love' and as Rolling Stone put it "the prospect of a folksy Irish rocker covering a rap ballad may seem strange, but experimenting with different forms is precisely what keeps established traditions vital." Indeed—and Luka defied tradition with his version!
In 1991 Luka appeared at the PinkPop Festival in Landgraaf in the Netherlands which is considered the start of his breakthrough in Europe. Then in November 1992 Luka headed down under for an extensive tour of Australia. The following review tells, "Luka is a solo performer whose trademark is his thunderous and exhilarating acoustic guitar playing, his fine voice and his warm and passionate delivery. His songs reflect the experiences of so many exiled Irish people who have left for far shores in search of a new life, dreams and love. This is reflected in his song 'Dreams in America'. As he writes there is always the hope of a 'reunion in the progress of time'."
On 1993's Turf Luka came home to Ireland to record a batch of songs with Ireland's leading producer, Brian Masterson, and with sound engineer Paul Ashe-Browne. Turf used a live audience in the studio to try and capture the atmosphere and essence of his live performances.
"Turf to an Irishman can mean many things. It's something used to fuel fires in the winter, it's a treasured land often left behind. It's taking a stand when your back's against the wall. It's sacred ground that is not meant to be messed with." 'The Fertile Rock' was to become the anthem from Turf about a campaign to save the magnificent Mullaghmore in the Burren from developers.
Luka returned to the heart of Ireland, Birr, Co. Offaly, in 1995 and wrote the songs which fill the CD Salty Heaven. Just as "I Need Love" could only have emerged from his time in New York, these classic songs could only have come from this landscape he calls home.
The following is an extract from the Joe Jackson's Irish Times review of the album:
"But from the achingly reflective opening song 'Blackberry Time' through relatively inconsequential tracks like 'Ciara' to the epic, famine-based closing tune, 'Forgiveness', this album will either seduce the hell out of you and take you to, yeah, a tearful heaven or leave you cold. Depends on whether or not you are open to art that is quiet and caressing, rather than screaming to be heard. Not just a wonderful album but an album filled with wonder. And that is a real accomplishment."
The launch of 'Salty Heaven' saw Luka embark on another world tour to all the familiar countries again culminating in Vicar Street in Dublin.
Keeper of the Flame, released in October 2000, is an album of other artist's songs. As he said himself at the time: "I have always believed that it is possible for a solo artist to sing songs from any area and the only limitations are in people's minds. Rather than covering these songs as a novelty, I was determined to convey my love of these songs and the artists who created them."
2001 saw another departure for Luka. He became an independent artist and revisited his early work by releasing The Barry Moore Years. This album is a compilation of songs written between 1975-1986.
On St. Brigid's Day 2002 he released Between The Mountain And The Moon. This CD holds a special place in Luka's heart. It is the first album of his own songs that he owns. He took his time writing and recording the songs over a two-year period. He again took to the road and toured extensively in Europe, America, Australia over the next six months.
In February 2002 in the beautiful Carre Theatre in Amsterdam, Luka played to a large audience of devoted fans who had travelled from as far as the West Coast of Clare, Cork, Kildare, and Boulder, Colorado. Luka's performance is summed in his own words—"Every gig is precious. Whether the Spa in Lisdoonvarna, Carre in Amsterdam, or the Melbourne Concert Hall, the privilege is the same, as is the commitment to the gig."
Amsterdam was released in 2003 which was recorded from a live performance in the Carre Theatre in Amsterdam. In 2004 nine soft songs were recorded for insomniacs for Before Sleep Comes.
Luka spent the ensuing 18 months launching Innocence in Australia in February 2005, touring constantly in Europe and the US.
In 2007 Luka headed to France to mix Tribe—a collaboration with Dubliner Simon O'Reilly. Throughout the remaining months of 2007 Luka worked with two young producers, Niall Rynne and Usna Tunney on The Man is Alive— a film of two live concerts in Dublin and at Luka’s home. The package includes a documentary ‘My name is Luka’, which was made by a Dutch tv company, and a live cd.
Interested in returning to the raw live sound of his earlier records, Luka headed o Grouse Lodge recording studios in County Westmeath set about to work with David Odlum (ex-Kila and ex-The Frames) to record Eleven Songs. It was launched in early October 2008 with numnerous four and five star reviews.
Luka's latest album, Dreams in America (available on Compass Records), is a refreshing 15-track storytelling opus that highlights two Bloom strengths: his affecting vocals and the immediately identifiable guitar style he’s made his own since the late 1970’s. He devotes the album to creating vibrant new versions of some of his most notable songs, re-interpreting them to suit the modern day Luka Bloom and the way he now hears them. Dreams in America shows Luka Bloom to have a history that’s worth celebrating.