Info: Dublin folk and blues musician Steve Duffy has been on a hiatus of sorts over the past while, a regular on the music scene for many years, he shared the stage with Irish music luminaries such as Wallis Bird, Kila, Aslan, Mary Coughlan, Mic Christopher, The Mary Janes, The 4 Of Us to name but a few. Time away from live performing hasn't meant time away from music however, with Duffy dedicating the last couple of years both learning and immersing himself in the recording and production side of things, until now. Steve Duffy Raw is ready to return to the stage and also release his debut album in 2016, a comeback gig has been set for the 12th of March at the legendary Cobblestone Pub in Smithfield, with a single due for release the following month in April.
My own introduction to Duffy's music was a special one, the above video for his song 'Tippy Toes', bringing us back in time, his youthful vocals echoing 60's & 70's folk songwriters. The video was shot when Duffy and photographer Anto Kane were searching for a unique location that was off the beaten track in the Wicklow mountains, and slipped discreetly into an old church, the resulting acoustics and resonance creating the wonderful sound to be heard from the Dublin songwriter and his guitar. Far from hiding away himself though, Duffy has been quietly honing his song-writing and preparing a whole new set of songs for a whole new audience.
I was able to catch up with Steve and pick his brains on all things music from the last few years to new happenings and beyond.
Remy: I suppose a good place to start would be with a bit about your background in music, where it all started out and how long the gap has been since you were last gigging / writing regularly up until now?
Steve: I grew up in the old Ballymun flats and for as long as I can recall I always had a big love for music since a very young age. In terms of song-writing I put my first song together at the tender age of 10 years old and I have been gigging in pubs since I was 13 years old with my first band. After that I was constantly in and out of bands as I was growing up over the last 20 years.
R: During that break was it constantly on your mind to get back to playing live again and writing, and did you find it hard being away from it? Music is certainly something that runs through our veins and can't just be switched off with the flick of a switch after all!
S: I think a lot about music, whether it's writing, recording, or just simply listening, performing is a very big part of it for me, and the longer you're off stage, and not playing live, the harder it gets to be away from it. It can really eat away at the soul, it's so important to perform live from my perspective.
R: Have you noticed any changes in Irish audiences since you last played and today? A lot of people complain regularly about talking during performances, as one example.
S: Yeah definitely, look..I really don't wanna demand anybody's full attention at
all, the truth there for me would be, if they like it.? Great. If they don't like it?Great! I'll do a few tunes and enjoy it myself as much as possible but I do find most people just go with it, but ya cant please everyone haha!
R: You recently recorded a lovely impromptu video of one of your songs 'Tippy Toes' in a church in Wicklow, did you have an idea of where you wanted to shoot a video or were you just heading out to see where chance would take you?
S: Doing the video for 'Tippy Toes' was a great day, a cold day, we had no idea what we where going to do exactly. It was only when we pushed open the door of the old church (didn't pick any locks!), we realised from the natural reverb and acoustics inside that, yep...this is where it will happen, it just fell into place really!
R: You'll be releasing your debut album shortly, can we expect songs written over a long period of time that you've saved up for this moment or will they be fairly recently written material?
S: Most of the songs for this record will be hand-picked, some a little more recent than others, but I'm just picking the best 11 of the sack a songs I've built up over the years, who knows, I think I might even have a few albums of songs there!
R: Your main style of song-writing would be the blues, which is my favourite genre, just ahead of soul and rock, are there any of the American greats in particular that turned you on to it? I'm thinking of the likes of Son House, Muddy Waters & Robert Johnson etc.
S: Yeah sure, it would have to be R.L Burnside for me in particular.
R: Your first live performance itself is going to be in The Cobblestone, in Smithfield on the 12th of March, a great venue with a long tradition of hosting the best of Irish musical talents, without getting too far ahead of ourselves do you have enough songs written to start thinking about album number 2 or do you want to take time to let things settle down after this release before writing in earnest again?
S: As I've mentioned earlier I think there's a lot of material to work with but for the time being I'm focusing on the come back gig, single to come, EP and then the album launch itself when the time comes. For now let's just hope the first one goes good..ha!
R: Finally, if there was one musician past or present you'd love to collaborate with or share a stage with, who would it be?
S: I'd love to share a stage with Randy Crawford, she's amazing, what
For more info on Steve Duffy Raw's music, event details for The Cobblestone comeback and everything else, head along to the below links;