New York-based singer-songwriter Niall Connolly was born in Cork. His upcoming gigs include Coughlan’s, Cork, September 8; The Marina, Bantry, September 9; Pine Lodge, Myrtleville, September 11; and Whelans, Dublin, September 14

Best recent book: Barkskins by Annie Proulx. I am reading The Brendan Voyage’ by Tim Severin too.

Best recent show/exhibition/gig you’ve seen: A couple of weeks ago I curated the 3rd Big City Folk Festival in New York. We had 23 acts I really admire, spread over two days.

Despite the mayor warning everyone to stay at home because of a heatwave it was a great success.

What formats do you access music? I still buy CDs. I listen to them primarily in the car. There’s a great record shop, Music Matters, down the road from us in Brooklyn. I always try to stop into Plugd Records when I am home in Cork. Also, there are various record shops in places I pass through touring, that I love to go and kill time during the day.

I do use Spotify and iTunes too, but where possible I try to buy from directly from artists or use and which offer better percentages for artists.

Best piece of music you’ve been listening to lately (new or old): Mick Flannery sent me five songs from his forthcoming album and it is nothing short of phenomenal. It comes out in October. I’ve been enjoying the Case/Lang/Veirs record. That’s a collaboration between Neko Case, Laura Veirs, and KD Lang.

First ever piece of music or art or film that really moved you: ‘Mid-Term Break’ by Seamus Heaney. I remember reading that maybe in first year at school and being devastated by it. Musically, REM, The Frank and Walters, James, Nirvana helped me daydream my way through a lot of homework.

The best gig or show you’ve ever seen (if you had to pick one): Leonard Cohen at Kilmainham and Glastonbury in 2008. It was his first tour in 15 years and my first and second time seeing him live.

Tell us about your TV viewing: We don’t have television but watch stuff online. When I want a bit more terror in my life I’ve been enjoying Happy Valley and Broad Church. When I want to laugh, the Cork cartoon Martin’s Life is truly priceless.


Radio listening: I tune into RTÉ for sports and occasionally to hear the wonderfully varied selections from the likes of the Creedon Show, the Late Date etc. WFUV is best for music in New York. I listen to a lot of podcasts too.

You’re curating your dream gig. Name the three artists on the bill: Leonard Cohen, Nirvana, and I’d abuse my power and put myself on the bill so I could meet them.

Your best/most famous celebrity encounter: I met Bruce Springsteen on the street outside an open mic I was hosting in Manhattan a few years ago. He was incredibly friendly and stayed and chatted for ages. I was with a friend from Meath and they were talking about Slane. I jokingly added, well, you’ll have to play Cork next time. He did play Cork next time. I like to pretend that that’s why.

Favourite item of clothing: Doc Martin boots. I have dragged them through hurricanes, blizzards, across the mountains and cobblestone streets, from San Francisco to Romania. They tend to last about two years. I wear them till they fall apart and when they finally do, I marvel at the fact that I have outlasted another pair.

Tech habits: I have a very basic flip phone, as I am trying to keep the internet out of my pocket. However, I also have an iPad mini, that was a gift from a 70-year-old fan.

I use that for everything from responding to these questions, recording song ideas, maps, podcasts, tour blogs, TV, radio.

Unsung hero. Individual, organisation or group you think don’t get the profile/ praise they deserve: Ger Wolfe.

You are king for a day— what’s your first decree? Hand over power to Ger Wolfe.


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