Vermont-born singer-songwriter Sam Amidon will be in Cork next week to performing his tribute to Harry Smith and “his wild and woolly Anthology of American Folk Music”. The gig takes place at Live St Luke’s as part of the Sounds From A Safe Harbour festival on Sunday, Sept 15, at 5.30pm.
Best recent books you’ve read:
Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood, The Idiot by Elif Batuman, and The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple.
Oh but is 1805 recent? Then it’s definitely The Saragossa Manuscript, by Jan Potocki!
Best recent film you’ve seen:
Is 1984 recent? OK then it’s Running On Empty, directed by Sidney Lumet. Deep film!
Best recent gig you’ve seen:
The Murphy Beds (Eamon O’Leary and Jefferson Hamer) at the Green Note in London in June.
Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old):
These are all recent: Brighde Chaimbeul, ‘The Reeling’; Sam Gendel / Sam Wilkes ‘Music for Saxofone and Bass Guitar’; and ‘Ready Reckoner’ by Courtney Hartman.
First ever piece of music that really moved you:
An album called Sometimes When the Moon Is High by the New England folk music group Nightingale.
The best gig or show you’ve ever seen (if you had to pick one!):
Arthur Doyle’s 15-minute solo set at Tonic in NYC circa 2004... it was like a kaleidoscopic history of America coming out of one man’s voice / saxophone / whistle.
You’ve been to Cork before... could you pick a stand-out memory:
When I came to Cork as an 18-year-old backpacking around Ireland, I played fiddle tunes at a wonderful session with the late great fiddle player Seamus Creagh, left, along with Aidan Coffey and Mick Daly, at An Spailpín Fánach. At one point an older man stepped in to complement the musicians, and what he said was, “The precision of the music — it is as if you are surgeons in the operating theatre!”
Tell us about your TV viewing:
Radio listening and/or podcasts:
Proust, Remembrance of Things Past, on audiobook at 2X speed on my Audible app. Is that a podcast?
Your best ever celebrity encounter:
I once had an in-depth conversation about Bach with Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers at a kid’s birthday party. Flea knows a lot about Bach!
You can portal back to any period of human cultural history or music event — where, when, and why?
Probably New York in the late 1950s / early ’60s, to hear all the music happening there then and wander the streets.
You are curating your dream festival — which three artists are on the bill (living or dead)?
Thelonious Monk solo, Almeda Riddle solo, Jimi Hendrix-Flea duo.
Do you have any interesting ancestors or family?
My grandmother, Frances Amidon, was a total badass.
Unsung hero — individual or group you think don’t get the praise they deserve:
Eamon O’Leary [Dublin-born, New York-based singer/songwriter]— a secret weapon of the universe.
You are king for a day — what’s your first decree?
I HEREBY DECREE that you can’t stand closer than two metres from the baggage claim luggage belt until you can see your bag!