Steve Wall is an actor and singer from Galway, best known as lead vocalist in The Stunning. As part of Mick Flannery’s ’’Mini Gigs at Mick’s’’ online concert series, held in association with PlayIrish, he will perform a live stream gig via Flannery’s Facebook and Instagram channels, next Monday (May 11) at 7pm.
Best recent book you’’ve read and what you liked about it:
I was recommended a book by the Galway writer Mike McCormack called ’’Mend The Living’. It’s by a French author called Maylis de Karangal and concerns a family dealing with a sudden tragedy. There were many similarities between it and a situation that befell my own family three years ago. The writing is exquisite. She manages to put into words a lot of the feelings I had, and still have, but have been unable to articulate.
Best recent film:
I really enjoyed the Irish film A Bump Along the Way starring Bronagh Gallagher and produced by her sister Louise. It’s funny, heart-warming and original. You can rent it from Volta, a great Irish streaming service.
Best recent gig you’ve seen (in the pre-covid months):
Tinariwen in the Olympia Theatre, Dublin around February last. They’re Tuareg tribesmen from Mali, nomadic herdsmen. They play hypnotic desert blues. I listen to them a lot, they’’re amazing.
Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old):
Paul Brady’s ’’Nothing but the Same Old Story’. There’s a great version on YouTube with just Paul accompanied by Donal Lunny on bouzuki. The song deals with the attitudes that Irish people faced working in the UK over many years. Thankfully times have changed, but the song is a powerful reminder and there are still many Irish people today who experienced it, such as my own father.
First ever piece of music that really moved you:
Probably when I first heard The Beatles ‘She’s Leaving Home’ from the Sgt. Pepper album. I was only around 10 years old I’d say and the song painted such a vivid picture, like a mini-movie.
The best gig you’ve ever seen (if you had to pick one!):
I’ve seen so many over the years but not as many as people might think. I have friends who have seen hundreds more gigs than I have. But perhaps Motorhead in Vicar Street a long time ago. They brought in their own PA system and it was so loud I had to stuff my ears with toilet paper. But they were fab, it had all the energy of a punk rock gig.
Tell us about your TV viewing:
Not much to tell. I never watch reality TV and have never seen a soap or a talent show. But I’m totally loving Normal People. I read the book last year and I think Sally Rooney is a brilliant writer. Her style is beautifully succinct and she doesn’t labour the point, which I like.
Radio listening and/or podcasts:
I do listen to the radio. I switch around in the morning a bit between the stations and in the evening it’ll often be Dan Hegarty, John Creedon or Paul McLoone. I love Late Date too, with Cathal Murray and Fiachna Ó Braonáin, and I usually try to catch Arena for the latest news in the Irish arts world.
You’re curating your dream festival – which three artists are on the bill, living or dead?
Ah….that’s a short festival, I’ll keep it rootsy. How about Howlin’’ Wolf for some gut-wrenching rhythm and blues; Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys to get the party swinging, and then Mahalia Jackson to take us to heaven.
Your best/most famous celebrity encounter:
Meeting Johnny Logan in TK Maxx. He said he’d just tried on a fabulous jacket but it was too small for him. He insisted I try it. So he brought me to the rail by the changing rooms and the girl handed it over. It was really more Johnny’s style than mine and wouldn’t have looked amiss on Liberace either. Johnny helped me into it and to my relief it was too big. I’d dodged a bullet but I could see he was gutted it didn’t fit him. I love Johnny Logan, by the way.
You can portal back to any cultural event or music era – where, when, and why?
It would have to be America from the mid to late 1950s. Music was changing and developing at an incredible pace. All the blues artists were still gigging in small clubs, while jazz was breaking new boundaries and rock’n’roll was being born. The wealth of blues, soul, jazz and gospel music was going to have an influence on everything we hear today, far beyond anything those artists could have imagined.
You are king of the music biz for a day – what’’s your first decree?
I’d get music streaming services and big tech to pay more to creators. YouTube pay around 0.001 of a cent per view for example. You’d need a thousand streams to earn one euro. I would legislate for more Irish music on the radio and support those artists who are out there trying to get bums on seats, trying to fill venues, while employing van drivers, PA companies, technical crew, paying recording studios, PR companies, etc… the list goes on. Artists are responsible for creating more jobs than people realise but get none of the supports that more traditional business models can avail of. It’s all about the show now… that’s why support from radio and television and the music industry itself is key. TV shows like The Young Offenders and Normal People are to be applauded for using so much Irish music.