John Kelly

A short extract from an interview I did with David Bowie in 1999. We were talking about how his generation of performers were all hitting the half century. And now the great man is 65. Happy Birthday David Bowie.

“I think it's going to produce an interesting kind of dilemma. There’s going to be a kind of a selfishness on the part of the younger audience because they’re not going to want to give up what they believe is rightfully theirs – and only theirs. But the feeling on the older side will be hey, it’s not just your music – we bloody invented it! So there’s going be a psychological conflict – an outbreak of ageism! I really do see that happening – but I hope it doesn’t become a schism!

One should realise that the reason rhythm and blues got to a place where it was perfectly acceptable for an audience to go and see Muddy Waters when he was seventy five years old, is that the music had been created and formed back in the twenties. By the time you got to Muddy Waters’ generation, there had been a natural progression - the artists were getting progressively older as the younger ones joined in. It had levelled itself out by then and this is precisely because the music was formulated many decades before. I would like to think that what we’re doing will formulate itself in the same way black rhythm and blues did. Where there really was no division between the ages.”

David Bowie. Interview with John Kelly. The Irish Times. 1999

Congratulations to Neil Hannon on winning Mastermind. Have to say that I'm not one bit surprised.

Here's one from the archives. The View Presents Neil & Duke.

I'll be one of the contributors to Dave Heffernan's Philip Lynott programme on RTE television tonight.

Watch The Philip Lynott Archive at RTÉ.ie →

Just thinking about that Philip Lynott show tonight and I found this:

 

On November 3rd, I'll be at the National Gallery of Ireland. I'm honoured to have been asked to deliver a lecture entitled – “Image of a Star: le Brocquy’s Bono”.

The event begins with a glass of wine at 6.30pm – the lecture starts at 7pm and is followed by discussion. Tickets  are available in advance from The National Gallery.

It’s a 40 minute talk and taking alot of time to prepare. We're not sure Bono will be there in person but I’ve promised to send him a copy if he can’t make it.  I’m a great fan of both Louis and Bono so hope to see you there on 3rd.  Please don’t ask me any hard questions!


Update: The National Gallery have added a video of the talk to their YouTube channel

 

Really looking forward to seeing Elvis Costello at the Sligo Live Festival on 29th October.

We had a lot of good times when he lived in Dublin – we presented many shows together on Radio Ireland, Today FM and RTE - which you can find here.

 

The JKE Sessions - Kate Ellis (Crash Ensemble, Ensemble ICC and Yurodny) performs Sondas by Niall Vallely

Kate Ellis - cellist, member of the Crash Ensemble, Ensemble ICC and Yurodny. Kate is also one of the curators behind the highly successful monthly musical salon Kaleidoscope which showcases Ireland's most exceptional talent by taking classical music out of concert halls and into late night clubs.

Here she performs 'Sondas' by Niall Vallely.

RTÉ Lyric Fm on Youtube.

Why Mahler? How One Man and Ten Symphonies Changed the World by Norman Lebrecht.

Why Mahler? by Norman Lebrecht is published by Faber & Faber.
Book review published in The Sunday Business Post in 2010.


Where to begin with a colossus like Gustav Mahler? According to Norman Lebrecht the best approach is to address him in the present continuous, as a man of our own time. Mahler, he argues, is a composer for today and his music is perfectly pitched for a world constantly adjusting to high-speed developments, many of which are carriers of threat, confusion and fear.  The music works in such a climate because it can mean several things at once, and yet it cannot equivocate. “It comes at you from afar,” says Lebrecht, “like the light at the end of a tunnel, an irresistible destination.” In short, Lebrecht is saying that Mahler speaks to us like no other composer, and his music is good for what ails you. Name your crisis and he’ll proscribe you a symphony.

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This piece was written when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in August 2005. I had just been there and would later return to see the devastation for myself.

But here is a piece which reflected how I felt as the news came through from the Crescent City. It’s not very polished. Hurried, scattered but heartfelt.


In Bob Dylan’s book Chronicles, he talks with a poet’s precision about the magic of New Orleans. He describes it as a place where there is something joyful behind every door. Either that, he says, or somebody with their head in their hands. The atmosphere, he continues, “pulsates with bygone duels, past-life romance, comrades requesting comrades to aid them in some way. You can’t see it, but you know it’s there.” After what has just happened to (or been inflicted upon) New Orleans, one can only wonder how something as elusive as this magic can possibly survive.

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Few musicians get through an interview without once referring to their brand new album.

Few interviewers get quite so engrossed in the conversation that they forget to mention it either, but that’s just the way of it with Brian Eno – smarter than your average sonic pioneer and far too polite for anything as brutal as a plug.

Eno is a one-man multi-media adventure and his CV would take the eye out of your head. A founding member of Roxy Music, producer of Talking Heads, Devo and U2, collaborator with everyone from Fripp to Bowie, inventor of ambient music, installation artist, painter, diarist and connoisseur of construction work. Quite simply, he never stops being Brian Eno.

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“The song is at the forefront,” he says, “it’s the only thing I think about. And I guess songs can be very, very deep – not in terms of meaning – but in terms of experience.

OK. Will Oldham is an acquired taste. His thin, quavering voice is that of someone without a note in his head. His production is lo-fi to the point of being lazy and slip-shod, and if that doesn’t finish you off, his subject matter will forever frighten the horses of your mind. In fact you’d be tempted to leave him well alone if it wasn’t for the fact that he writes songs that are beautiful beyond belief. His most recent recording Ease Down the Road made under the alias of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy is slightly more up-beat than previous offerings, but its still unmistakably the stuff of that uneasy Oldham imagination.

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