Long live the blues! – An interview with the Dublin guitar player Luke Mulholland

Vithoria Escobar

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For over a century the blues music has been a part of musical culture and it inspires many artists across the world and it still has a strong presence in the music today.

The interview with Luke Mulholland and another artists are also compiled with some great blues tunes in the documentary The Blues Music. You can check below and give it a listen on Soundcloud. 🙂

The blues has its origin in the 19th century plantations in the South of the USA, where the slavers sing music during their terrible and exhausting work under the hot sun. When the Afro Americans community learned how to play the guitar, they used it to accompany their sentimental and spirituals songs and that ended up leading to the blues music.  The blues became known only after the American Civil War and represented the essence of the Afro American spirit.

Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, BB King, Robert Johnson and other many great artists marked the blues scene through the years. The blues changed the music history and is considered one of the strongest influences for bands as The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin and Rolling Stones it is still with us to this day with an amount of new artists and inspiring music across the world.

It is quite easy to find good blues music or even pubs dedicated to blues; and Dublin is not different. The Circular interviewed Luke Mulholland, a blues guitar player who used to perform at Dublin pubs as Hennessy’s and The Blue Light, to try to understand what the blues represent for so many artists and to learn more about the blues scene in Dublin from a local artist.

V.E. : When did you start getting interested in blues and why did it make you so passionate about it?
L.M.: I started getting interested in blues music probably when I was around 7 or 8 years old. I always liked the sound of it, it just did great with me from a really early age. My parents and my second oldest sister always listened a lot to blues as well, and they listened The Eagles a lot, that was kind of blues and kind of country (bluegrass, I suppose), so I was exposed to it and through then I started discovering new blues artists. Well, and my favourite thing about blues music is that is simple and  it’s more real than music you get nowadays: it’s just one person and an instrument. It’s simple and good music.

V.E.: What was your main influences?
L.M: When I was learning mostly of my influencers was metal musicians. Dimebag Darrel, from Pantera, got me listening to Garry Moore, Brian May and Stevie Ray Vaughan, which were big influences on me as well. Same with Doc Watson, his fingerpicking style influenced the way I play directly. But the biggest influence would be Tommy Emmanuel and Garry Moore and Stevie Ray Vaughan, those were the big three. Through listening Stevie Ray Vaughan‘s albums I learned how to play guitar, I played them back over and over again and tried to remember note for note. So when I was about 12 or 13 I played all his records, so it was quite helpful.

V.E.: What’s your view about the Dublin blues scene?
L.M: In my opinion the blues scene in Dublin is kind of low key,  is not like a very large scene. I think it’s more selective and it focus more in the older generation. I noticed that when I played some gigs, the audience was mostly older people , around their 40s or 50s and it had only a couple of young people, most of the audience is older.

V.E: Where can we find good blues in Dublin?
L.M: In Dublin I think you can find the best blues music in pubs like Whelans, Fibbers Magees, The George is nice as well and the pubs around Temple Bar, but it appeals towards tourist, more commercial and modern blues like Eric Clapton, but not really old classic blues.

Rory Gallagher corner in Temple Bar. Photo credit: Vithoria Escobar

V.E.: Can you remember your favourite gig?
L.M.: My favourite gig was one of the times I played at The Blue Light on Christmas eve, around two years ago when people actually came and played with us at the stage and it was really relaxing. It’s nice when the music brings people together like this, because it’s exactly what’s music it’s supposed to do.

V.E.: What do you think it’s gonna happen with the blues in the future?
L.M.: I think it will get harder and harder to be original. It’s already hard to be original nowadays with modern blues, because old musicians has done better things. And the whole reason is that blues music is about expressing your feelings in a more raw and emotional ways, and the old and traditional blues musicians came from poverty and actually lived those experience, so the old blues it’s more real. So I believe that the blues won’t survive for long in its original form, it will be adapted and changed.

Luke Mulholland. Photo credit: Vithoria Escobar

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Vithoria Escobar