Cork singer-songwriter John Blek launches his fifth album, The Embers, with a gig at Triskel Christchurch on Saturday. His song Salt in the Water was nominated for “International Folk Song of the Year” at the Folk Alliance International 2018 Awards and his previous record Thistle & Thorn reached number 1 in the Independent Irish album charts.
Best recent book you’ve read: Don’t Skip Out On Me by Willy Vlautin
Best recent film you’ve seen: Uncut Gems. An unsettling and hectic piece of cinema.
Best recent show or gig you’ve seen: Richard Thompson at Moseley Folk Festival 2019.
Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old): Song : “Scapa Flow 1919” by Kris Drever or Album : Bonny Light Horseman by Bonny Light Horseman.
First ever piece of music that really moved you: ‘Clare to Here’ by Ralph McTell when I heard it sung by a stranger in a pub in Dingle. I was only 7 or 8. It took me away.
The best gig or show you’ve ever seen (if you had to pick one!): The best show I’ve ever seen was The Flaming Lips at the Marquee, Cork a few years ago.
Tell us about your TV viewing: Narcos is getting a good going over lately again. Really enjoy that series.
Radio listening and/or podcasts: I’m often driving home late at night so Late Date on RTÉ Radio 1 always gets a listen. The only podcasts I listen to all the time are Marc Maron’s WTF and the Blindboy Podcast.
Your best celebrity encounter: I met Michael D Higgins a few years ago when I played Áras an Uachtaráin. Does that count?
You can portal back to any period of human cultural history or music event — where, when, and why?
I would go back to the early 1990s and go see Townes Van Zandt in the Lobby bar in Cork. It always gets to me that he was dead before I ever had a chance to see him play live.
You are curating your dream festival — which three artists are on the bill (living or dead)?
Bert Jansch, the aforementioned Townes Van Zandt, and Joan Shelly
Unsung hero — individual or group you think don’t get the praise they deserve: Small venue owners and promoters the world over. Just doing their best to bring something good to the public.
You are king of the music business for a day — what’s your first decree?
I would love if travel/work visas were not needed for artists touring in certain territories.