A question of taste with John Spillane

CORK-BORN singer John Spillane recently released his new album, The Man Who Came In From The Dark. He also presents Spillane an Fanaí (Spillane The Wanderer), every Tuesday on TG4 at 10pm.

Best recent book:

Franz Kafka — The Complete Short Stories. I am revisiting this crazy bohemian writer, with his bizarre dream-like stories in which literally anything can happen.

Best recent film:

I haven’t seen very many good movies this year, but I did enjoy Boyhood.

Best recent gig:

A singer from Scotland called Kathleen MacInnes. I saw her perform at the Cultúrlann on the Falls Road in Belfast. She sings in Scots Gaelic, and has a cool velvety voice, with a hint of throaty hoarseness mixed with a very sweet melodic tone.

On what formats do you access music?

Usually by trading albums with other musicians. I recently visited a studio in Ring, Co Waterford, which is the home of Donal Clancy. Donal is the son of the great Liam Clancy and kindly gave me a copy of his new album, A Roving Blade. I love this album and have it on in the car a lot. It contains many Irish ballads, which seem to have fallen by the wayside in recent years.

Best piece of music you’ve heard lately:

A great traditional Gaelic song, called ‘Cois Abhann Na Séad’. It means ‘Beside the River of Gems’. I heard it sung by Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh. This is a big Gaelic Cork song, with an enchanting ‘big’ melody.

First ever piece of music or art or film or gig that really moved you:

The first movie that I ever went to to was Oliver. I was nine and it was a big, important trip into town and into the Capitol Cinema.

TV viewing:

I watch fairly random TV. In the last few years I’ve enjoyed Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Love Hate, Vikings, but I haven’t seen all of them.

Radio listening: I listen to the radio in the car. I listen to Raidíó na Gaeltachta, RTÉ Radio 1, Today FM, and various local stations around the country. I find Clare FM very good for Irish music. Like a lot of Irish musicians, I am often disappointed that Irish radio does not play more Irish music.

One to watch:

Mick Flannery is a world-class singer, with a big, soulful, sorrowful voice, and I think he will become very big in the future.

Best recent holiday:

A week’s holiday in Rethymo, on the island of Crete; lots of sunshine, beach, swimming, and eating really good Cretan food. Also, great Cretan music, soulful, highly ornamented singing and lots of swirling bouzouki playing.

Most expensive item of clothing you’ve ever bought:

I don’t think I’ve ever spent that much money on clothes. I do remember imploring my mother for a Wrangler jacket when I was 15. It seemed beyond reach but, eventually, I broke her down and she took me into town and I thought I was the bee’s knees going around in my brand-new Wrangler jacket.

Tech habits:

I have a Macbook laptop computer, which serves me very well, and a smartphone, and that’s it.

Weekend treat:

I like to visit the farmers’ markets and maybe have a bite of grub from a stall called Green Saffron, or Bouef a Lola, or maybe drop into Napoli, an Italian spot in Monkstown, Co Cork, for a killer cup of coffee from Antonio, or a pint in the Ferry Arms.

Health and fitness:

I have two Tibetan terriers and I take them for a good old walk almost every day. That’s my main form of exercise, but in the summertime I like to do a fair bit of swimming, in the sea and especially in the sacred waters of the River Lee. I have a lot of favourite spots, such as the Hell-Hole, the Elbow, Iniscarra graveyard.

Unsung hero:

Ger Wolfe released a really excellent album last year, called I Have Been Loved. It’s a pity that more people are not aware of this album, as I believe they would really enjoy it if they got a chance to hear it.

You are king for a day – what’s the your first decree?

Peace and friendship. Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion, too, all the people living life in peace.

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