Luka Bloom » The Connection
The Luka Bloom Connection
Fan Magazine from 1990 to 1993
connection issue 3

Issue #3 - Autumn 1991
1. updates
2. Newport Folk Festival review 8/11/91
3. interview / Fok Roots magazine - July 1990
4. review from Knitting Factory 8/24/91
5. interview with concert promoter Michael Jaworek
6. interview with Nick Hill at WFMU-FM, NJ 8/18/91
7. CBGB's photos, 8/8/91

Publisher/Editor: June D. Sheridan


And welcome to Issue #3 of the Connection! Thanks to all who've joined since last time!

I had intentionally postponed this latest issue because I wanted to coincide with the release of the new record, which will be called The Acoustic Motorbike. The release date was originally set for September 24th, then moved back just a bit to October 1st. I was hoping to include some new record reviews, as well as some new interviews with Luka. But, unfortunately, the record release has been delayed further still, to this January, which isn't that far down the road, but has made me feel a bit anxious about getting this issue out to you before any more time has passed.

Although the record has been slightly delayed, I can personally tell you that I've had the opportunity to hear it, and that it's well worth the extra wait! You've no doubt heard most of the new songs at his shows, songs like "Mary Watches Everything", "Bones", "Exploring the Blue", and "Bridge of Sorrow". All those amazing songs will be on the new record, as well, as what has come to be a cult favorite, the Luka Bloom treatment of LL Cool J's "I Need Love". One song that took my breath away from the first time I heard it is the thundering "Listen to the Hoofbeat", a sort of paean to the American Indian, with an amazing display of rawness and power, much like hearing Luka play live.

Hopefully, all of you took advantage of the last flyer I mailed out with Luka's late summer tour dates and went to see/hear him play. Everyone I've spoken to has confirmed that his popularity is getting stronger by leaps and bounds, in that gigs are completely sold out, and that these shows are absolutely amazing. I can well testify to that, as I was one of the many who saw him play here in the New York/New Jersey area. Waterboy Mike Scott and Suzanne Vega were among those who showed up for the Knitting Factory show on the 24th. And I'm told that he went over exceptionally well at the annual Newport Folk Festival, in Rhode Island and that his environmental message in "The Acoustic Motorbike" (get up on your bike!), not surprisingly, was a real crowd pleaser. See the following page for a more detailed review.

I've also heard that the European shows were brilliant as well, especially the Feile '91 festival in Thurles, Co. Tipperary, in Ireland, where Luka played on the last day of the 3 day summer fest in the early afternoon. Also on that bill were Van Morrison, The Pogues, Elvis Costello, Transvision Vamp, De La Soul, Billy Bragg, and The Wonderstuff. This year's Feile was Ireland's biggest rock/music event since Lisdoonvarna, and one of the largest of Europe's summer festivals, attracting over 100,000 people from all over Ireland and Europe.

Luka also headlined at the Pinkpop Festival in Holland, back in the spring, along with Living Colour and Happy Mondays. And he headlined another European festival, playing to a crowd of 7,000, this time in Minnewater Park, in Brugge, Belgium this past July 13th.

Back in June, I read in an Irish weekly's entertainment page that Luka agreed to open the show for up-and-coming Dublin band the Dangerous Dance Act at The Attic, one of Dublin's newest venues. Arriving on stage in front of a packed house with just his guitar, he declared himself to the surprised audience - who had paid just two pounds for the rather special spectacle by simply joking, "Hello, I'm Luka Bloom. Give me a warm welcome now!" The article goes on to mention that the sound and lighting man at the venue, Andrew Bass, himself a musician who knew Luka in the days when he was Barry Moore and the pair of them used to play together at The Onion Field, a club in Ranelagh (on Dublin's southside) - found himself on the receiving end of some totally unsolicited and firmly tongue-in-check technical instructions from the stage. I read further on to find out that the audience was well taken with Luka's brand of stand-up comedy, especially when he asked that the lights be turned down because "...nobody wants to have a look at me..."

As to when Luka will be coming back to the US, it will most likely be in January, to promote the new record. As always, I will keep you informed of any new dates I find out about.

And in movie news, Irish independent broadcasters and filmmakers Gerald and Dave Hefferman, who own Frontier Films Ltd., are currently involved in a one-hour drama for Warner Brothers Music in Los Angeles, with Luka doing the music for it. Details are sketchy, but I will keep you informed on continuing developments.

Former Sex Pistols manager and great rock and roll swindler Malcolm McLaren is rumored to be working on a concert series for Irish television, beginning in October, featuring the best of new and established Irish acts, and Luka is said to be on the list. I believe it's called "An Eye to The Music". So those of you who get RTE, keep your eyes open!

Luka's won yet another award this year ... sort of. According to Devine Celtic Sounds, an excellent mail-order house that specializes in, what else, Celtic music (traditional and modern) their latest newsletter boasts results of a survey they took some time previous. Among the winners for their own Celtic version of the Grammy Awards were: Best Male Singer: Luka Bloom and Christy Moore (it was a tie!). If you're a fan of Celtic music or looking for a Luka rarity like I am at the moment, Devine Celtic Sounds is the place to find it!

Letters, articles, reviews, photos, artwork (!) are always welcomed. Please feel free to contribute!

I'd like to take this space to especially thank Luka, Glenn, Tom, Tommy, Michael Jaworek, Jim Eaton, and Nick Hill. Until the next newsletter, which should be out by late December/early January, take care!

Love and peace,

The following is an edited reprint of Ken Hunt's interview with Luka back in July, 1990, that appeared in Folk Roots magazine.

Folk Roots
Read the interview here: Time For A Change...
Picture and article from Jolande Hibels

Dreams In America...

Michael Jaworek is a concert promoter with Chesapeake Concerts, Inc., located in Virginia. He's also a friend of Luka's, as well as being a fan of his music. I had the opportunity to speak with Michael a few months ago, and he recalled for me in vivid detail, the early beginning of Luka coming to America and establishing the basis for his popularity today.

l was in was totally by chance...and England, but mostly in lreland, on my honeymoon in June, 1986. Going first to England and then to Dublin; my wife Debi and I were staying in Dublin for three or four days and one day we were on upper Grafton Street, and Debi decided to go shopping. I said I would meet her an hour or so later at Powerscourt, which is sort of an indoor mall there. One of the first places I went into after we parted company was a ticket broker, similar to a Ticketron. I was curious as a concert promoter as to who was on sale, in terms of shows and venues and what the ticket prices were.

I wandered in to this one ticket broker and I was standing there, looking at the posters. I recall U2 was playing at Croke Park with a couple of other acts, Simple Minds being one of them. Anyway, this guy walked in, and he had a bunch of flyers. He put the flyers by the counter where I was standing, and out of the blue, I said to him, "Oh, who's this?" He basically looked at me, somewhat surprised, not totally amused, and said, "Well, it's me." There was a photo that was in the middle of the flyer, advertising Barry Moore playing at this club, the Colony Restaurant, and I said something like, "Well, it doesn't really look like you," and as it came out of my mouth, I felt like hitting myself in the head... And he said, "Well, it is me." Anyhow, we started talking, and one thing led to another, and I told him that I was "in the biz" and he invited me and my wife to come and see him that night....or maybe it was a couple of nights later.

So we went over there, to the Colony, which was, unfortunately for Barry, one of those, what I call a "human jukebox" jobs, where for three hours or so, for three or four sets, you provide background music competing with the people who are there or are in the club who are trying to get high or get lucky. In any event, he more or less held his own. There was only one or two times where he did a "Can you hear me in the back? No? Well, I can certainly hear you" routine. He did a certain amount of covers and a certain amount of his original stuff. It was okay, but it really didn't impress me as in "music for the ages," to be frank, and I hope I don't hurt his feelings in saying that, but it was alright, as many artists are who had worked at it for a long time, at the very least, were okay.

connection issue 3 So we talked and I told him, yeah, it was alright and basically said that if he had occasion to come to America, I certainly would do what I could to get him work, certainly in Washington (DC), because I knew I could do that. I felt life is difficult enough and why not and there may be someone, as we know, who will be crazy about what he does, and there's no reason why he shouldn't reap some kind of success, I felt.

The following fall, I believe in November, and from this point I'll refer to him as Luka, that Luka's lady friend at the time, Diana Theodoris, came to my office at the Warner's Theatre in Washington, DC, or at least where my office was located at that time. Warner has since then gone through major renovations. In any event, Diana came by, and said "Luka had asked me to talk to you when I came to Washington to visit my parents and discuss the possibility of setting up a gig for him the following spring, I think, April, May... something like that." So I said, "Well, give me an address, and all the rest of that stuff..."

He had some friends and contacts in the United States... Paddy Doherty, who has been a promoter up in Boston, as well as contacts in I believe, Toronto, and of course in New York. In any event, I made some calls to the lrish music community, and I rapidly discerned that there were about 5 or 4 places that I knew of. There was really one where I could get him a week long gig, where he would make decent money, had a relatively good environment, was relatively more of a listening room than just being the human jukebox... a place called Murphy's of DC, owned by one Frank Murphy. So I called him... no, actually I went by in person, I guess as was often the case at that time, the toe in the door was in the fact that he is Christy Ivloore's brother, that Frank Murphy did have a familiarity with the work of Barry Moore, a little bit, and there was a week that became available in mid-June. He said, "Sure, let's do it."

l got in touch with Luka, and let him know, locked it in and said, "you could stay with my wife and I, at our apartment," where we lived at that time, in Arlington, Virginia, and that was fine with us and fine with him and that was that. He found some other gigs to tie in with so that he was over here for l'd say, about a month.

So Luka came over and stayed with us and we went to the first gig and really didn't know to expect anything different from that which I saw in Dublin approximately a year previous. Well, I don't know what had happened in the intervening time, other than I guess, personally and professionally, Luka as they say, "got it together", but I was truly amazed. I had no idea that he had that kind of music in him, in that the Colony gig did not reflect it. As I often say, it's sort of like having a Jaguar or some other high-performance car and tooling along at say, maybe second and then finding out you have a fifth gear! That's what it was like. I was just knocked out! It had the same effect on the people at the club I believe from the first night, and the owner Frank Murphy, in a context where you might have the human jukebox syndrome... it certainly came closer to a listening room type quality because of the quality of his performance.

connection issue 3 That was it. I was just thrilled. It was a great performance. This would have been May of 1987. Then in the fall, approximately September/early October he came over, basically to make a stab at establishing himself over here. Though he did not stay with us at the time, Luka gradually found an apartment on his own, in the Georgetown area. At that point he tried to discover various places where he rnight play... though memory fails, I know I gave him work at a gig or two at the Birchmere Club that I book here in Washington, more accurately in Alexandria, Virginia, part of the Washington, DC market, but he was looking for and found what we call a residency gig, some place where you could see the artist on a regular basis, whether it's the first week of the month, or a certain day of the week, or whatever. He wandered into a place that held about 150, called Dylan's, in Georgetown. The owner/manager at that time was a guy named Nabil, and he went in during the day when virtually nobody was there other than Nabil and say, maybe two people that worked there, and said "l'd like to play here and play here on the softest night of the week so I'd be able to do what I want to do." So Nabil said, "Okay, let's see what you've got." And within fifteen minutes, Nabil was there with his jaw on the floor saying, "No, no. We want you on weekends!" And of course Luka said, "No, no, I want the Monday night because I want to establish something on my own, and on my own merits."

If that started in late October within no more than 8 weeks, early December, certainly by Thanksgiving, you would go in on a Monday and Luka would start the show around 9:30, after a string quartet opened, it was difficult to get a seat! I believe it was a case of proximity, not just being in Georgetown, but also in proximity to Georgetown University, which is in within walking distance of, and that the club was a bit of a hangout for college students from there as well as American University, which is just north of the Georgetown area, not within walking distance but certainly within close proximity.

Word of mouth just developed over time. It was only a $3 cover but it was something where the word of mouth was very, very strong and he would end up packing the place, and he would do 2 sets a night and they wouldn't want him to go homel At that time he would do a few more covers... not a lot, but a few more covers than you hear now. At that point he'd do, among other things, "This Is The Sea", by the Waterboys, "Holding Back the Years", by Simply Red... let's see, what else did he use at that time? ... Oh yeah, he used to do "New Year's Day", I think that was it before his penchants for more unusual covers like LL Cool J's "l Need Love" dawned on him.

So, the gigs at Dylan's were very, very successful, and he performed there for about six months. During that time, starting early October 1987, he made some forays into New York City, and gradually he established himself on Wednesdays at The Red Lion, which is a pub/listening room. During that time, he also began to make some inroads in the American music industry. I think it was then. I gave him a list of about 10 people, agents, some record company people, folks who I felt would have a sense for what Luka does, as opposed to "well, let's try this guy..." because that would be fruitless, to go see someone at a label or someone at a booking agency who deals only with, say, heavy metal acts, which of course he has little relevance to. And what was neat was that I gave him those names on a Monday, and about a week later he called me up and said, "l just had something unusual happen to me, that's rarely, if ever happened to me in the music business." And I said, "What was that?" And he said, "Everybody that I called, called me back." And I said, "Well, of course, that's because you used my name...." (laughs) which is vain, but... l was glad to see that the people that I dealt with over a period of time, that they had enough faith in me and I guess my value judgment that if I said to them or asked Luka to use my name in terms of talking to them... l really had not but rarely done that, I guess insofar as, for one thing, I haven't really been approached all that much for it, but secondly, in all the years that I've been concert promoting, which is 20, and been in the DC market for about 13 years, since '78, I haven't really come in contact with people who are at the so-called local level, or unrecorded level, that struck me as having the ability and talent to go all the way to get a major record deal and become a major artist, which is a wonderful thing.

connection issue 3 The various label folk, booking agencies talked to him. And I think that one of the people that I did give to him was Frank Reilly, who at that time had his own booking agency called Venture Booking and has now since basically sold that business and become part of the Triad Artists Agency in Los Angeles. Frank is probably one of the foremost booking agents in what I call the modern rock era, who had specialized in folks like Luka, folk singers in a traditional sense, or coming up through, if you will, the folkie/singer-songwriter rooms and coming up through the new wave ranks, if you want to call them "modern acoustic" or "new acoustic", musicians or bands... like the (10,000) Maniacs or (Suzanne) Vega or some other people. It was in a brief period of time, by playing at the Red Lion on Wednesdays and playing in Dylan's on Mondays, that he was able to have two solid gigs. I think the owner of the Red Lion was Irish also, and thus there was sort of the helping-out-someone-from-abroad, from the homeland, and gradually the word got outl Up in New York City, you started having the club getting stuffed as a result of his work there.

So that would be in the fall of 87/early 88. He had either just recorded the album on Mystery Records, just before he came over here... that was recorded in September of 87, so that was done before he came over here, and then gradually, by March he had copies of the album over here. Around that time, he played the Birchmere on several occasions. He played with a number of people. I think it was around that time that I put him on with the Dubliners, who are a very famous Irish group. That would be early 88.

And then, around March/April of 88, he went back to lreland for a while and I think it was June of 88 when he ended up on the Pogues tour. That was really fascinating to me because here you had someone who just had a domestic Irish release that had little or no contact in the United States... little or insignificant presence in the United States, but was carried by an internationally known group as their support act. That really, but very, very rarely, happens, even when it's somebody who's a major Iike the Pogues. They'll carry someone who has some kind of domestic release, some kind of repute in the United States, as opposed to someone who just has a name abroad or elsewhere. But they took him out with them, which is a testament to Luka's dedication in trying to get the gig and also his abilities. And I remember talking to him in early June/late May, when he was in the process of doing the west coast leg of the tour and I said, "Well, how's it going?" And he said, "Well, geez, it's going great. I'm getting standing ovations!" Well, he's not the sort of person to exaggerate, much less lie, about something like that, but of course, I was like... "Oh , geez, that's amazing... I can believe it, but it's hard to believe..."

Well, I had occasion to go to Atlanta, in so far as Luka was playing there with the Pogues. The show was not coming to Washington. I don't think it came to Philadelphia... I think the closest it came was New York City. But also at that time, Dwight Yoakam was touring and Buck Owens was on the date, and a friend of mine was living in Atlanta, and I figured, let's kill several birds with one stone and see what it's like. So I flew down to Atlanta, stayed with my friend, went to see Dwight and Buck play over at the Fox, which was quite wonderful, and the next night, we went to see Luka at the sold-out Center Stage Theatre, which holds about a thousand, and we're seated, and sure enough, about three songs into Luka's set, this woman leaned over from my left, who was in her early 20's, which I guess is your typical Luka Bloom fan, and asked, "Do you know who this guy is? He's greatl" And I'm saying, "Yes... yes, you're right." And I'm saying... "hmmm, oh geez, maybe he was right." And then, sure enough, by the time he got to the set closer, he got a standing ovation from the crowd... virtually everybody was on their feet, giving him a big hand, and I'm looking around and saying, "When was the last time I saw that?... When was the first time I ever saw this?" So that was really a wonderful thing, and I think indicates the power of his music, of his work, and of his communication with an audience.

At that time he was still "playing" with Walter, a blue... midnight blue Ovation guitar I think. [ed. note: it was a Washburn]. It was the first guitar I knew him to use when I saw him work, both in lreland, certainly when he was playing the Murphy's and Dylan's gigs. Anyway, he toured up with the Pogues and that tour lasted about a month, from late May through June of 88. And at that point I lose track of when he worked with the Indigos on tour and the Violent Femmes, and then did some work with the Hothouse Flowers after that. And on occasion he would come back to the States, not so much working at Dylan's, but odd things here and there... he played a couple times at the Birchmere; he played down at the lrish Brigade, which is a room in Fredericksburg, Virginia, about an hour south of DC...

And I guess that's about it as far as the early life and times of Barry Moore a/k/a Luka Bloom, when he came to the United States, and how I met him.

And the crickets sing...

Luka stopped by the studios of WFMU (Upsala College, 91.1) in East Orange, New Jersey, this past August 18th. The conversation was of the all-in-fun, tongue-in-cheek, bantering variety, and hopefully it'll read as well as it sounded that night. My apologies to Nick for the editing, but space was limited.

NICK HILL: Good evening, Iadies and gentlemen. Welcome to another Music Faucet. (the opening chords of 'You' in the background, as Luka gets ready to play live in the studio)

LUKA: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Luka Bloom. Would you give me a warm welcome, please. I'd like to sing a song for all of you. ln your cars, in your bathrooms, on the beach... it's a song called 'You'. (Luka proceeds on to a beautiful rendition of the song)

NICK: Hello, Luka Bloom! How are you?

LUKA: Very well, thanks. lf I was any better, I couldn't stick it. How are you?

NICK: Well, I'm sweatin' bullets, as per usual.

LUKA: You look fairly cool for a man who's sweating bullets. Not a bead of sweat coming from you, a hard working man.

NICK: Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating. lt's just all the technical wizardry that l'm surrounded with, and sometimes confounded by. But it's a pleasure to have you back on this particular frequency, in this particular town, once again.

LUKA: Well, it's wonderlul to be back on this particular frequency... lt really is. Particularly in your new salubrious surroundings.

NICK: Would you call it palatial, as I often do?

LUKA: Well, l'm standing here, in front of the most beautiful fireplace I've ever seen in East Orange... probably the only fireplace I've ever seen in East Orange.

NlCK: lt's a fake. The real one's behind you.

LUKA: Oh really... (laughs) I'm impressed, anyway.

NICK: Well, Luka, what brings you to these shores?

LUKA: lt's a very good question. The pursuit of madness.

NlCK: Really?

LUKA: Yeah... the pursuit of nonsense.

NlCK: You're playing a bunch of dates in this region.

LUKA: I've been doing a couple of dates. I was up in Newport, Rhode lsland last week. I did CBGB's the week before, which was a first for me. That was a blast.

NlCK: Great sound system, huh?

LUKA: Well, to be honest with you, that was a bit of a letdown. I mean, I've been looking forward to playing in CBGB's for a long time because of its famous sound system... but I'm afraid it hasn't been maintained for a while... they decided to just kind of let it go. But it was great fun. I had a great time... I was so excited about the prospect of making noise through that sound system The larger than life guitar, y'know.

NICK: (upon looking at Luka, sporting an extremely short, marine-recruit haircut) Are you punk rock?

LUKA: Ah sure, can't you tell by lookin' at me? (both laugh) Far from punk rock I was reared, now.

NlCK: Have you been spending a great deal of time in lreland?

LUKA: Yeah, that knocks all the punk out of me, you see... l'm sort of back into the old romantic groove again. l've been in Ireland for the longest period in five years. I've been there since November... riding a bike... writing songs... having a great time.. seeing my son..

NICK: So not playing quite so publicly...

LUKA: I suppose not, really, no. Playing very privately... with myself... {pauses, then laughs) l've had a really great time, to be honest with you, but it was time to get back into the pursuit of madness, and so it's appropriate for me to be back here in this place. lt's not that I could get too soft in lreland, but you could get kind of... I spent a long time just hanging around Dublin, just walking around talking to people... it's a great town to do that in, but you have to be careful. You can turn into a bit of a potato after a while...

NICK: The madness is now being actively pursued on the air, with your music.

LUKA: Yeah? (segues into 'l Believe In You')

LUKA: (after finishing song) ...You won't forget to remind me that I'm playing in Maxwell's in Hoboken, tomorrow night, on Washington Street at 10 o'clock, after Freedy Johnston.

NICK: I wouldn't dream of letting you forget that important engagement, performing at Maxwell's tomorrow night, at 10 o'clock, following Freedy Johnston... Maxwell's being the club in Hoboken on Washington Street... at 11th and Washington.

LUKA: I'm really glad you thought of that, cause I definitely would've forgotten...

NICK: Well, some people don't know Maxwell's.

LUKA: There're actually people in this world who don't know Maxwell's?... Everybody in lreland know Maxwell's, never mind in East Orange Everybody knows Maxwell's... Do ya know something else about Maxwell's l'm gonna tell you... l'm even gonna have my own set of monitors.

NICK: You're buying them and bringing them in?

LUKA: No we're not buying them. We're bringing them in. They've the worst sound system in the world. But l'm really excited about it. Usually when I play in Maxwell's everybody tells me how much they enjoyed the gig, but I always feel a bit weird because I can never hear what's going on, 'cause the monitors are so messed up in there. But tomorrow night I'm gonna have this amazing set of monitors. And I'm gonna have half the audience sitting on stage so they can hear the sound that I'm listening to.

NICK: l think you should do that. You've got enough room. I mean, you're a single person... and it's a small stage...

LUKA: I'm not so much single... I'm with someone... (laughs)... a man who plays with himself...(laughs)

NICK: (laughing too) ..speaking of which...

LUKA: I'm not ready to sing a song yet... Waff along for another minute...

NICK: Oh... waffle, waffle...

LUKA: (laughs, amused) | always enjoy talking to you, Nicholas. l feel I can say anything.

NICK: You can say anthing. And you could probably talk all night, but we have very little time left in this evening's program.

LUKA: I'm gonna sing you a song called 'Mary Watches Everything'... (clears his throat) Alright?

NICK: (after Luka finishes the song) You're laughing. Luka, I wish... I'm sitting here in our production room studio, and I have the door open, and I hear the crickets...

LUKA: Yeah, it's beautiful, isn't it? Can the people hear that? (the mike is turned up, enough to really hear the crickets singing loudly, enough to make you feel like you're outside, and not beside a radio)

NICK: Well, I think the next time you come here, we should really plan on you playing out in the backyard with the crickets, under the stars...

LUKA: Why can't we do it now? (laughs)

NICK: l think it might be a little complex.

LUKA: You think it could be done? Even if you sort of mike them a little bit up so we could hear them a bit more clearly... l got a perfect song to do with crickets in the background... they're even in the people's key of D, y'know... I stay in a hotel out in San Francisco when we play out there, a hotel called the Phoenix and during the day they have all these beautiful birds singing and at nighttime in your room you can hear these amazing cricket sounds the whole time and the second morning I woke up there I was wondering how come they have all these crickets in the center of San Francisco and I subsequently learned that they taped them... in the hotel... for the sake of giving people that lovely relaxed feeling... Can they hear the crickets out there? That's deadly... Here we go. (Luka segues into 'Dreams ln America', with the sound of real crickets turned up quite loudly)

NICK: (after Luka finishes the song) ...ah... just sitting out here... round the campfire with Luka Bloom...

LUKA: The campfire tapes, huh?

NICK: (laughing) speaking of the campfire tapes, Luka, that song was from your last record, Riverside, was it not? Your first long-playing record in a manner of speaking... in America?

LUKA: Well, my first long-playing record in this incarnation... That's true... I sort of regard Riverside as my fifth debut album.

NICK: (laughs) That's a good idea. Y'know, many people have done that... just re-invent...

LUKA: Nothing wrong with it at all... I decided I'm going to change my name every 32 years...

NICK: Now what about this next album?

LUKA: lt's going to be out in January. I've finished it. I recorded it in Dublin in a grand little studio, with a grand little producer (laughs)

NICK: What's it called?

LUKA: lt's called 'The Acoustic Motorbike'.

NICK: And it'll be out this coming January.

LUKA: You know like the way the Harley Davidson is the symbol of rock and roll?

NICK: Yeah.

LUKA: Well, the mountain bike is the symbol of what I do...

NICK: Really?

LUKA: Yeah.

NICK: You mean you're not playing rock and roll as we speak?

LUKA: (hesitatingly) lt's kinda dead, isn't it?

NICK: Rock and roll?

LUKA: Yeah.

NICK: Oh, I don't know... people use these words for too many different things... what about that guitar, though... it sounds like it's rolling it sounds like a sitar sometimes...

LUKA: Sounds like all sorts of things to me... yeah, I suppose...

NICK: You get a lot of ...sort of a...big sound...

LUKA: I can make a lot of noise with this thing now.

NICK: Yeah, how come?

LUKA: I don't know how it is, really. I think it must be just... I sort of pray to it every morning... (laughs)... I have great fun with Peter, my sound engineer... we get all these guys coming up and trying to figure out how we get this sound... and Peter tells them all these mad stories about how I lock myself away in the dressing room with a little black box and... nobody knows and it's kind of... this mad secret and all that... it's really very simple. l just turn it up. (pauses, then laughs)

NICK: (laughs) Folks... folks... out there... all you guitar players in the world... turn your guitars up! That's the key!... lf you're listening to this program, right now you can't see that Luka is dancing wildly...

LUKA: lt's true... you're not getting the full experience, alright...

NICK: And you don't get to see the crickets...

LUKA: I don't even get to see the crickets...l don't think there are crickets there... you taped them, Nick...

NICK: These are real crickets, I'm telling youl

LUKA: These are real New Jersey crickets?

NICK: Real live New Jersey crickets... and what are they doing? Rubbing their legs together?

LUKA: Sounds like they're having a good time, whatever they're doing.

NICK: (laughing)'s kinky, I'm telling you... Are you playing anywhere else besides Maxwell's?

LUKA: I'm playing in Baltimore on Wednesday. At Max's on Broadway... there's a bus just after driving through the crickets therel Tell them to get out of the field! They're not supposed to be driving across the field killing the crickets! Jesusl What's he doin' there? That's terrible!

NICK: Luka, do you want to talk to any friends out there?

LUKA: Yeah, I'd love to. Are there any friends out there?

NICK: I don't know. l think we should invite them.

LUKA: Yeah, I'd love to! l've no friends in New Jersey... apart from my manager Tom in Hoboken...

NICK: Well, we're here.

LUKA: I could classify you as a friend, after doing two interviews with you?

NICK: Sure!

LUKA: Really? I could be your friend?

NICK: Yeah. Not just me... the whole station! There's a lot of friends of WFMU... and you are one, evidently.

LUKA: Wow, that's brilliant. Well, I'm happy to be a friend of WFMU...

NICK: We're here with Luka Bloom, our guest... Why don't you play us another song?

LUKA: I wrote this song in Switzerland last year. lt could be about anywhere, but it just happens to be a bridge in Switzerland, in Lausanne, on Lake Geneva squeaky clean Lausanne, in squeaky clean Switzerland... where you have to go looking to find the some of the funky people... but they're there, alright... this is a song called 'The Bridge of Sorrow'.

NICK: (asking after Luka's finished playing) You miss the crickets?

LUKA: No... not for that song... nope.

NICK: I didn't think so... We're here with Luka Bloom... Luka's our guest here on the airwaves, the miracle of radio transmission, where he sits in a room in East Orange, New Jersey, and can be heard 50 miles all around... in cars, automobiles, trucks...

LUKA: Beaches...

NICK: Beaches, bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens, bars... it's crazy.

LUKA: Bicycles...

NICK: Well, it's probably a rarity.

LUKA: There's somebody listening to me on a bicycle right now.

NICK: I hope so.

LUKA: I hope so too. Cause I'm gonna sing the next song for 'em when we get around to it.

NICK: An acoustic motorbike?

LUKA: Yes... The acoustic motorbike.

NICK: That's not this tour... that's the tour coming up next year? Are you playing songs this evening from your upcoming album?

LUKA: Yeah. Everything I do this year is about the acoustic motorbike.

NICK: You're gonna have to explain that to me a little more clearly...

LUKA: (joking) lt's a fun thing, Nick! (laughs) You can relate to that... It's just that... this was the year when people sent their sons out to... all sorts of weird places in the world... to go out and blow people's brains out so that Americans could keep the democratic right to sit in traffic jams and gridlock... for the entire day... and so I wanted to... that's one of the reasons I worked on this song... also, touring last year... I did an awful lot of touring last year... I played in an awful lot of cities. And the thing that probably freaked me out more than anything else traveling, apart from the boredom of waiting around to get to travel somewhere was the realization that the whole world is just choked with cars... there's just too many cars, Nick. There's too many cars... do you know how long it took me to get from the hotel in Manhattan up to Northhampton, Massachusetts, 150 miles, last Thursday week... how long would it take you now, regularly, do you think?

NICK: Well, it shouldn't take much longer than 3 and a half, 4 hours...

LUKA: 8 and a half hours

NICK: Was it traffic?

LUKA: Just traffic There was nothing else going on... there was no earthquakes... nothing...

NICK: So, are you doing this whole tour on a motorbike, is that it?...

LUKA: On a bicycle, yeah.

NICK: I just bought myself a brand new... well, I shouldn't say a brand new... but it's 1972 Chevrolet lmpala...

LUKA: Yeah, they'll drink up the juice, alright... I don't have a problem with cars, you know... it's just too many of them... my motto for the year is sorta 'Burn cars, not oil.'

NICK: Well, l tell ya what I'm gonna do with mine. I'm gonna take it out to the middle of Kansas... and drive along some back roads... And then the woods, and then on through Colorado and drive along a few more back roads and then back up around Montana up where fewer and fewer cars are...

LUKA: lt's the people in Los Angeles and places like that who sorta get in their car and drive 3 miles down the road to an aerobics class... Do you know what I mean? That's the kinda carry-on. Do you want to hear this song then?

NICK: I think you'd better. We'd better not talk about it anymore.

LUKA: I could be waffling on... I could get very boring. I probably have gotten there. This song is dedicated to everybody out there listening to this radio show on a bicycle tonight... give us a call on your portable phone on your bicycle. (Luka launches into 'The Acoustic Motorbike')

LUKA: (after finishing up) ...l'm wrecked after that, Nick.

NICK: Luka Bloom, coming in last in the Tour de France, here on WFMU, Upsala College, East Orange, New Jersey. Luka Bloom, all the way from across the Atlantlc Ocean...

LUKA: Far across the Atlantic Ocean...

NICK: ...comes to East Orange, New Jersey... Podunk, United States...

LUKA: Podunk?

NICK: Podunk... it's a colloquial term meaning small, insignificant village.

LUKA: Hmmm, Podunk... it's a good word.

NICK: (chuckling) Well here we are in Podunk, United States, with Luka Bloom who is preparing, warming up for his performance tomorrow night at Maxwell's, in the fair city of Hoboken.

LUKA: I'm really glad you said that...

NICK: I know you are.

LUKA: Because I definitely would've forgotten to mention the gig tomorrow night at Maxwell's in Hoboken on Washington Street at 10 o'clock after Freedy Johnston.

NICK: Wait a second. Does that mean that Freedy Johnston is playing at nine ? Or he's playing at ten?

LUKA: I'm not sure, Phone Maxwell's for details.

NICK: Oh, well. Come early for dinner. Relax.

LUKA: Come the food... hang out with the stars...

NICK: Have a bowl of cherries.. (Luka laughing in the background)... it's certainly a pleasure that you've strolled into this mansion of a household and strapped on your guitar, singing us all these new songs...

LUKA: Well, it's always a pleasure for me to do that. Always. I love it. My favrorite thing to do is to strap on Rudy and sing a few songs.

NlCK: Rudy is your guitar.

LUKA: Yep.

NICK: Where did Rudy come from?

LUKA: Rudy's in West 48th Street.

NlCK: Oh. A good old trusty friend, Rudy.

LUKA: Oh, yeah. Not that old, but fairly trusty. They don't last too long, unfortunately.

NICK: So you've been riding a bicycle around lreland...

LUKA: Yeah, I've been riding a bike around lreland, yeah. As much as possible. As much as I can. Between writing songs and having an operation on my knee and...

NICK: A bicycling accident?

LUKA: No, it was a very stupid accident. l fell off a couch watching a football match. Actually sat on my son's head and I jumped up wlth such a shock that I fell over and... You have to be very careful. Well, football is a very dangerous game to watch, y'know.

NICK: Are you an angry young man?

LUKA: No. No... it's too late for that. lt's over, y'know what I mean? No, it's just too late in the world to be getting angry.

NICK: Oh yeah, you've gotta deal with everyone's problems in a more constructive way. Like pedaling.

LUKA: Yeah... I don't know... l just think it's gone beyond getting angry over it. Y'know what I mean?... (pauses, then tunes up Rudy and goes into 'Exploring The Blue'. As the song comes to an end, Nick turns up the mike on the crickets from outside.)

LUKA: Ah, Nick, you're so cool... that was such a nice touch, fading up the crickets there at the end of the song. That's lovely.

NlCK: Real crickets, too!

LUKA: How did you get them to start cricketing there, just at the end of the song? Were they Iistening?

NICK: They've been listening all nlght.

LUKA: They've been listening and taking it all in... and maybe they're just applauding... Very cultural crickets I'll tell you you've got out there... culturally inclined...

NlCK: They're fans. They were here last time you played, too. ln February...

LUKA: The last time I played here was February 19 flippin' eighty-something or other...

NlCK: Something or other... a long time ago... But here you are, right now.

LUKA: Nobody's phoned either, have they?

NICK: Oh, yesl Hellol greetingsl

CALLER #1: Hi, greetings!

NICK: You're on the air with Luka Bloom.

CALLER #1: l just wanted to congratulate you on writing a song that glorifies the joys and virtues of bicycling. Because l, too, am an avid bicyclist.

LUKA: Good man, yourself. Fair play to you. What sort of a bike have you got?

CALLER #1: I have 3 bikes. I have a mountain bike, a racing bike, and a touring bike. And, like Luka might have alluded to, I think the personal automobile is responsible for many of the ills that plague our world today.

LUKA: Well, good man yourself. Y'know, it's a funny thing the way the car has been sold to us over so many years. Something which could be symbolic of power and of sexuality... and nobody will ever persuade me that sitting in a traffic jam for four hours is a sexual experience, y'know? But the car companies still try hard to ram that stuff down our throats. Keep cycling, sir... pedal on Fair play to you.

NICK: Thanks for your call.

CALLER #1: Thank you.

NICK: Greetings. You're on the air with Luka Bloom.

CALLER #2: Hi, Luka. I saw you play at Minnewater Park in Brugge not too long ago, about a month and a half ago...

LUKA: Oh my God! That was in the square...

CALLER #2: And I don't know if you noticed the crowd or not... but it was the closest thing to Woodstock... and... (laughs) ...well not really... no one gave birth (all laugh) lt's funny because just the whole crowd was so into it and y'know, no one spoke the same language. I was there with backpackers from all over the world. And walking away from the park after the show, walking through the rain, it was just this kind of magical night, because we were walking through this old town with the cobblestones, and I'm hearing your songs sung with these heavy Flemish accents... it was just... it was the best night.

LUKA: Wow, that's really great! Thank you very much. Sometimes I think it's actually better when they don't understand what you're saying... Anyway thanks for calling. Maybe I'll see you in Brugge or Holland or somewhere like that...

NICK: Or Maxwell's...

LUKA: Are you gonna come to Maxwell's tomorrow night?

CALLER #2: I m gonna try... yes, I'll try to make it.

LUKA: Fair play to you. I hope I see you there.

NICK: Thanks for your call.

CALLER #2: Okay. Take care.

LUKA: (really surprised) Bruggel Be the holy... beautiful town... gorgeous town.

NICK: Speaking of Brugge, how was the Newport Folk Festival? You performed there.

LUKA: (laughing) I like itl 'Speaking of Brugge, how was Newport?'?! This man gets around! (both laugh) lt was actually... Yeah, it was I remember when I was asked to do it last year and I was a little blt skeptical of it because y'know I had visions of people who might have been at Newport 25 years ago, coming out to relive the experience on their deck chairs... d'ya know what I mean? Not exactly kind of y'know like Jane's Addiction, like the Toobaloosa or whatever they're calling that festival tour... I tell you it was great. The day I played, Richard Thompson was on, John Hiatt was on, the Staple Singers were on...

NICK: You can't beat a bill like that.

LUKA: I tell you, it was... it was... (sarcastically) it was rockin'! (laughs)

NICK: Y'know, Luka, I hate to say this, but we're rapidly running out of time. I wonder if you've got one more song that will tickle our earwigs...

LUKA: Speaking of rapidly... l'll sing a song rapidly. (begins 'l Need Love')

LUKA: After finishing up the song) ...He fades up the crickets and the man pedals off into the distance... and says farewell to East Orange... onward... to Hoboken...

NICK: Luka Bloom, thank you, thank you very much for coming out to this radio station and blessing us all with your tunes.

LUKA: Thanks for having me back, Nick.

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Special thanks to Vicky Romani for the issues of The Luka Bloom Connection!

© Rena Bergholz - Luka Bloom Page