‘A Tribute to Luke Kelly’ by singer/songwriter Chris Kavanagh has played a three month residency at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre and went on to tour the UK, Switzerland and Australia.
One of Ireland’s finest singers and an outstanding interpreter of folk songs Luke Kelly passed away in 1984 at the young age of 43. His gravelly voice and musical inflections continue to inspire generations of notable singers including Shane McGowan and U2’s Bono and Fontaines DC.
From his early days busking around the folk clubs in England and Scotland, inspired by the recordings of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger to his recordings with The Dubliners his musical achievements have became points of reference in Irish music, most notably his renditions of ‘On Raglan Road’, ‘The Springhill Disaster; and Phil Coulter’s ‘Scorn Not His Simplicity’.
Offaly based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Chris Kavanagh has been performing the Tribute to Luke Kelly for over a decade. “It was the music I grew up with, I was playing keyboards with a lot of rock bands and cover bands. I saw a documentary on Luke on RTÉ years ago so I took up playing the long neck banjo, and took me back to the roots of Luke’s music,” says Chris. “My mother had me singing, ‘The Galway Shawl’ when I was three so folk music was always playing in the house.”
Chris joined The Dubliners on their German tour and made a guest appearance at their Christmas concerts in Vicar Street concert venue Dublin for the recording of The Dubliners 50th Anniversary DVD.
“In 2011 I got a call from John Sheehan to ask if I could play with The Dubliners in Germany for two weeks, it was like winning the musical lottery. It was a dream come true to play with John and Barney McKenna.”
The Dubliners revived many of Luke Kelly’s standards for Chris’s involvement on the tour. “Fans in Germany were going mad for this, they are big Luke Kelly fanatics over there. He is an icon in Holland and Germany.”
Chris will be on stage with his backing band featuring uilleann pipes, bass and guitar. “Its amazing to see all the young people in the audience that seem to know every single word of Luke Kelly’s songs, its music that they have carried learned from their parents, it’s in the blood obviously.”
‘The Legend of Luke Kelly’ with Chris Kavanagh plays Belltable this Saturday May 18.