Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Irish musician Damien Dempsey headed to Chicago


Irish musician Damien Dempsey has been called one of the greatest songwriters of his generation.

Dempsey,, will perform Sept. 4 at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Hall, Chicago.

Nicole Maguire also is on the bill. The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, available at

I had the chance to talk to Dempsey about his latest album, "Almighty Love."

Q - Great to talk to you. The last time I talked to you, you had just released your 2007 album, "To Hell or Barbados." How do you think your music has evolved since then?

It’s become more personal and less historical, although there is one historical song on the album about the Highland Clearances in Scotland.

Q - You posted a letter to your fans about how difficult it was coming up with the songs for "Almighty Love." I thought you were quite honest in the letter, probably more honest than most musicians would be. Did you feel compelled to write that letter to your fans? In retrospect, does the album live up to your vision for it?

I wanted to let the fans know why the fifth album was taking so long. They were waiting with baited breath for it which was great in one sense but terrifying in another because the songs weren't up to scratch for a few years. 

I really didn't want to disappoint them with a wish washy offering because I know how much the lyrics mean to them,and me.

Q - People have called you one of the greatest songwriters of your generation and that you are a real working class hero. How does it feel to be described like that and do you find it hard living up to the hype? What would you like for people to take away from your music?

People call me all sorts of things so I try not to live up to anyone's hype whether good or bad, but I would hope people take away positivity and spirituality from my songs and the fact that there is always hope and your never alone.

Q - You recently opened for Bruce Springsteen in Ireland. He also is seen as a voice for the working class. How was that experience and do you consider him to be a musical influence?

A true gent, and one of the greatest living poets. He's a great inspiration, the true love that emanates from him on stage is the bar we musicians should reach for and attain to in my eyes.

Q - In your songs, you address problems facing Ireland and the world. Do you think there aren't enough musicians these days talking about the issues of the day? Who are some other musicians that you admire?

There are loads of musicians talking about these issues but they're being pushed more and more to the edge and out of the public eye. Kids want fast food fast access, no brainer, visually pretty sexy chewing gum music.

I reckon the best music is in the Third World and it's helping and healing people, and that great music would help a lot of mentally distraught disillusioned folks in the First World.

Q - Of course, Sinead O'Connor appears on "Almighty Love." I understand she has been a musical mentor to you. What do you think she brings to the album?

She brings the spirit of everything beautiful about the voice. You want the real deal in popular music, look no further than Sinead, a goddess, ha! She might bust me for calling her that!

Q - In recent years, you have dabbled in film, earning rave reviews in the movie "Between The Canals." Do you need both in your life? Do you ever see a time in your life where you will step away from the music world and just do acting?

Art eases our journey through this life, it's good for the soul and good for getting you out of your own head space.

Q - Do you have any dream projects or collaborations?

I'd love to go around the world playing with indigenous musicians and record what we did and make an album