One of my favorite places in Ireland is a picturesque little town in the west called Leenane. It's situated at the head of Killary Harbour in the midst of Ireland's only fjord that separates County Galway and County Mayo. Perhaps the town's biggest claim to fame was that in 1989 the Irish film director, Jim Sheridan shot The Field in and around Leenane. But my favorite story about the town, as told to me one night sitting 'round an old turf stove and sipping Guinness in The Crow — one of Leenane's two pubs — goes all the way back to World War II. Ireland remained neutral during the war — a policy the government honored at the overwhelming wish of the Irish citizens. Because of it neutrality, it was apparently not uncommon for both German and Allied forces to sail into Kilary Harbor in the evening just so they could go drinking in the towns pubs. After a night or a few days of this rest and relaxation they'd sail back out of the harbor's neutral waters and blast the hell out of each other again. Who knows if the story is entirely true or not? It's so typically Irish by virtue of its irony and outlandishness that I'd like to believe it's true.
Tonight my friends and I had the distinct pleasure and honor of being entertained by one of Ireland's finest musicians, Luka Bloom. The first, and only other time I remember seeing Luka perform was back in 1983 when he was the opening act at the Bayou for The Waterboys. At the time, I don't even know if his first album, Riverside, had been released yet, but that's where most of his spellbinding set list was coming from. Luka was so impressive and captivating that night I can vividly remember thinking “Phew! The Waterboys are gonna have to kick ass to top that guy's show.” (They did — but in a much different way from one guy with a guitar). Tonight's show at The Barns was a more mature and mesmerizing performance that featured songs from a career spanning ten albums and sixteen years. The Happy Medium Song of the Day is “I am Not at War With Anyone” by Luka Bloom, from his album entitled Innocence. Finally a voice of dissent. Finally a musician speaks out! Slainté.