BY SEÁN P. FEENY
LAST WEEK a Letterkenny native who has received a lot of praise for his song-writing was invited to perform on of his original songs on stage with an Irish folk legend.
On Wednesday night Mick Blake played his song, Leitrim (A Brief History), on stage with Christy Moore and Declan Sinnott at Lough Rynn Castle, Mohill.
Christy has been learning the song over the past six months to add to his repertoire, but what was particularly fitting was that Mick performed it in the very building Lord Leitrim, the subject of the song, once called home.
“A couple of days before the show, Christy contacted me and asked if I’d like to sing the song at the show myself. So last week, I had the surreal experience of performing Leitrim with Christy Moore on bodhran and Declan Sinnott on guitar.
“The lyric about the Nama hotel had me a bit worried in case the hotel management took offence, but I suppose there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” he laughed.
The Leitrim-based national school teacher will tell you that he was happy just writing songs and posting them online for people to enjoy and never expected to be performing them. “In February I got asked to perform at a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association in Leitrim. I asked whether there was anyone else performing and the organiser said ‘well’ there’s Charlie McGettigan, Eleanor Shanley and yourself’, that was my first gig performing my music,” he laughed.
Mick’s second ever public performance was also a very impressive one, when he was invited to perform on the Jeanie Johnston at the official famine memorial service in Dublin last May, sharing the stage with Pete St John (The Field of Athenry, Dublin in the Rare Oul’ Times).”
In April Mick released a song that received great attention, getting over 7,000 hits in the first two days and nearly got him onto Liveline, but the ‘Iron Lady’ got in the way.
He said: “I stumbled upon a clip of an American bondholder and wrote a song about him to try to highlight where the money from the cuts to our education and health services is going.
“On the morning of day three of the song Mr Tepper being online, a researcher from the Joe Duffy show rang me to tell me that they had been inundated with calls and emails from furious Liveline fans about the video and song, and would I come on the show to talk about it that afternoon. Unfortunately, Margaret Thatcher chose depart this earth around noon that day, and I was bumped off the show. Even in death, her timing was impeccable.”
Mick has become known as a protest song writer and he says there is still plenty of material you could write about. “You could get a double album out of The Anglo Tapes, but I think I am going to break away from the protest songs and will try not to complain for a while,” he laughed.
This is John's first trip to the World Championships where he will come up against full-time professionals.