Sunday, 14 September 2014

Dervish in conversation - What to expect at Bush Hall this Sept!

We’re gearing up for Dervish’s Bush Hall intimate gig at the end of this month, and we wanted to catch up with the guys and see how they’re getting on! Our general manager Kelly O'Connor had the honour of doing just that this week with Cathy Jordan and Brian McDonagh. 

For Bush Hall tickets click here

Photo courtesy of BBC Radio 2 Folk Show: Cathy Jordan 

ICC: We tuned in to hear you on BBC Radio2 for Mark Radcliffe’s Folk Show this week and absolutely loved your session. You started off with a fast paced collection of reels, signalled with a bodhran count in, almost like a call to battle. One of the show’s callers said it kept him going on the treadmill! Do you usually kick things off with a fast paced track to get everyone moving from the start, or do you sometimes try to ease the audience in?

CJ: Not always, we usually try to tease the audience by starting with something more pensive and wind up the show to a frenzy. The Show is usually a journey through all the the different moods shades and emotions present in  music.  On the Mark Radcliffe show we had only three pieces to play so we decided to start with an explosion to get people’s attention and then the next piece was much slower to give contrast.

Dervish behind the scenes in Birmingham's mac
ICC: We’d love to have heard more of you guys. Did you feel you had more to talk about? For instance we wanted to hear more about Trad for Trocaire.

CJ: It was an honour to be asked to be part of the show, but as with all shows, time is limited so you try as much in as is possible, unfortunately you don’t always get the chance to talk about everything you might like to, but thats the way it goes.

ICC: Cathy, you gave an intro to one of your songs, telling of the tale of love lost and won. Do you find performing songs that tell these kinds of stories has a cathartic effect on you as you deal with life’s ups and downs?

CJ: I love singing the songs of our ancestors they travel down through the generations and I feel a connection with the past and with the people who sang them down the ages. There so much we can learn from them and the life’s and struggles of all those people.  Also one is reminded that when it comes to some of the subjects of love, loss and longing, nothing really has changed to the present day.

Brian McDonagh album cover for The Thrush in the Storm, and a glimpse in his studio

ICC: Brian, can you tell us a little about the cover for the new album?

BMD: Well, I’m not really an illustrator, I just paint for my own satisfaction and most of my work wouldn’t really be suitable for a cd cover. But when we were preparing the material for the CD I was struck by the name of one of the tunes and it sent me on a path towards an image that I felt might work as a cover. I felt that the Thrush singing its heart out in the midst of a storm was a good metaphor for Ireland and its recent travails. Once I had the basic concept in my mind it was really just a case of getting the feeling right.

ICC: Brian, on your website ( you have photos of your studio, which looks like its somewhere you spend a lot of time. Do you find it hard to leave the studio, and your own space when you go on tour?

BMD: I spend as much time as I can there, but I am fantastic at coming up with excuses not to go there. I find painting very difficult and quite terrifying! I’m always surprised when I manage to create something worth looking at. Touring is a very different experience and it’s interesting how the two aspects of my life fit together. I always use any free time we have while on tour to visit galleries and learn from other artists.

ICC: After 25 years, has being on tour together gotten easier?

Photo courtesy of Joanne Davidson: 
Dervish played Glastonbury's Avalonia Stage this year
CJ: Absolutely, the older you get the more you get to appreciate how lucky we are to be able to travel the world and have wonderful experiences through the music which has been handed down to us by our ancestors. We get to play and nurture it while we’re here but it will, I have no doubt be around for many generations to come.

ICC: You played Glastonbury’s Avalon Stage this year. Did you stay for the whole weekend? We heard some of you ‘embraced’ the mud! Did you get to enjoy any of the other acts?

CJ: Yes got to see Dolly Parton, who I’ve been a fan of for years. She is an absolute inspiration at nearly 70 years of age and still as amazing as ever. Also saw Gold Frapp, Metalica, Massive Attack, Clannad, The Henry Girls and of course my personal favorite Suzanne Vega.

ICC: The gig you’re playing at Bush Hall is a fundraiser for the ICC. Do you have any thoughts about the ICC’s new venue, and what they’re trying to achieve with this modern performance space for Irish Arts in London?

CJ: I think its brilliant that {there will soon be} a new venue for the ICC in London, this is very positive for all the Irish in London to keep in touch with all things Irish while abroad. It’s important from a community point of view as well as been educational.

I wish it all the very best and can’t wait to play there. 

Dervish will play Bush Music Hall, West London on Sunday 28th September, 2014

ICC: You’re off to the States in the New Year and playing the Community Arts Centre in Williamsport on St. Patrick’s Day. Do you find you get an even more Irish welcome when you play abroad on the big day?

CJ: There’s so may Irish all over the world now, that it doesn’t really matter where you are in the world, everyone wants to be Irish, even if they’ve never been there. The USA is incredible on St Patricks Day, its like green Christmas and everybody embraces it.

ICC: And finally, can you tell us what to expect at Bush Hall on the 28th?

CJ: Well we’re really looking forward to playing in the the Bush hall and seeing all our old friends, and we promise a great night of great tunes, songs and banter, and after 25 years on the road we’ve finally mastered the craft!!

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, best of luck with the upcoming dates and we'll see you on the 28th! 

For more info about Dervish visit their website 

For tickets for Dervish's upcoming intimate gig in London, the last chance to see them before their tour of the USA, click here