A question of taste: Dirk Powell, musician

Dirk Powell is from Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, and has family roots in the mountains of Kentucky.

A question of taste: Dirk Powell, musician

He grew up playing the traditional music of those areas, the Cajun bayous and the Appalachian mountains, and has made that his life’s focus.

He plays the White Horse in Ballincollig, Cork, on Thursday, Jan 26, as part of the Winter Festival (Jan 24-29).

Best recent film you’ve seen

Not long ago I watched one of my favourite movies again, Big Night.

It’s quite a moving film about many things, one of which is the way immigrants to America fit into the so-called American Dream in different ways, even within the same family... even as brothers.

In terms of recent releases, I’ve mainly gone to films my kids can see, so I have to say Sing!

Best book you’ve read recently

The poetry of Rumi.

Best recent gig you’ve seen

A Christmas choir concert in the local church. It was so beautiful to experience all the effort everyone put in.

As someone who makes music professionally, I’m always inspired by how much it means to people who do it purely for the love of it, and who make time in their busy lives to rehearse, perform, connect, and bring something expressive and beautiful to their community.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately

I’ve been playing early Toots and the Maytals on repeat.

First ever piece of music or art or film that really moved you: One of the first films that really moved me is The King of Hearts.

I still love the spin on the definition of ‘sanity’... from many perspectives, our tendency to want to destroy one another would have to be considered the most insane thing of all.

The best gig or show you’ve ever seen (if you had to pick one!)

The best gig I’ve ever seen was in a tiny club in Sao Paolo, with no sign out front, at 2:30 in the morning on a Monday.

Small and full of people dancing intimately. Life. I loved it, so much. Grateful for the opportunity to experience things like that.

Radio listening

Mostly just local Cajun and Zydeco stations.

You’re curating your dream festival — what three artists are on the bill (living or dead)? Beethoven, Bob Marley, and Robert Johnson.

Your best celebrity encounter

Nicole Kidman held my one-year-old daughter on a film set. The reason it’s my favourite is because it taught me a lot about what really matters in life.

I realised that people who are that famous have to put up so many walls, and so often any other human being who looks them in the eye is looking for something from them, something based on awareness of their fame.

When Nicole Kidman looked into my baby daughters eyes, I realised I actually saw her eyes for the first time.

And that was a good lesson.

You can portal back to any period of human cultural history — where, when, and why?

Ancient Greece, if I wasn’t a slave or something.

Do you have any interesting family or ancestors?

A few rapscallions and codgers and moonshiners. One of them was banned from church for playing the fiddle and then died in a whisky still explosion, so that basically sums up a lot of what my ancestors were up to.

Unsung hero — individual, organisation or group you think don’t get the profile/praise they deserve

In this bizarre land [USA], teachers do not get the profile or praise they deserve. Somehow, they are considered less important, in their selflessness, than those who act with selfishness alone as a goal.

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

Make voting mandatory.

Make it required to get a driver’s licence, or required when paying taxes, so that everyone has to be involved, and everyone’s voice is heard... and to make the simple popular vote total that which elects the president... and then I’d take the rest of the day off and campaign for someone worthy during the first truly democratic election in American history.

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