I have been like a child in a toy shop these past few 4 Corners Festivals as I had the great joy of interviewing some of my favourite singers. Known as In Conversation With… I have thoroughly enjoyed talking to Iain Archer, Ricky Ross from Deacon Blue, Brian Houston and Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol.
I love the music and love being an interviewer. I love delving into the songs but more the stories behind the songs and the influences. I love finding out what makes an artist tick.
So I am excited like my 7 year old self waiting for Christmas Day as I prepare to have this year’s In Conversation With Duke Special.
I have known his Dukeness for a very long time. Long before he was a Duke! I not only gave him rehearsal space when I was living at Derrvolgie Hall, while a Chaplain at Queens University but I am pretty sure that I gave him his first live radio session on my show Rhythm and Soul.
So, I have been interested in his music from the very beginning and have followed him all the way through. Duke’s catalogue of work is deep and varied, from radio hits to photographic exhibitions to theatre. He was collaborated with Irish Trad band Ulaid, reconstructed the poems of Michael Longley and written theatre scores for Tony Maculey's Breadboy and Paperboy as well as Patrick McCabe's Breakfast On Pluto.
Currently the Duke is doing a PhD at Queens University about songwriting as a form of translation.
There is lots to talk about and after a Zoom chat with him yesterday I am even more enthused about such a night. Duke Special is thoughtful and articulate, sensitive and honest. His music is not only of great quality but resonates with place and the issues of his time.
I will attempt to take us through the Duke Special catalogue without going up too many blind alleys into the ideas that perhaps fascinate only me. We will go deep and seek how grace and imagination can infuse art but much more than that emanate from art into a wider society. We might even find that Belfast is much more in the lyrics, melodies and arrangements of Duke Special songs than the artist himself thinks!
If you are a Duke Special fan, I really hope that this will be an essential evening and if you are not I think you will gain insight into art and music if not be heading out afterwards to stock up on records you missed!
Join us… Friday February 5th at 7.30… https://4cornersfestival.com