Songsmith O’Rourke promises a bit of old and new at Sandwick

Irish musician Declan O’Rourke is “absolutely looking forward” to making his third visit to the isles next month.

O’Rourke first delighted music fans in the isles when he visited as part of the Transatlantic Sessions ensemble in 2012. Two years later he returned for a headline show at Mareel which was described at the time as “spellbinding”.

Now the Irishman looks forward to once again playing for a local audience.

He said: “I’m actually considering coming up the long way – driving up to Belfast taking a ferry across to Scotland and then driving up the Scottish coast to Aberdeen and catching another ferry.”

June is a busy month for the poet, singer and multi-instrumentalist (with shows in Jersey and Iceland already penciled in for his schedule) but he hopes that, time permitting, he will be able to take a day or two to drive around the isles as well.

“It would be lovely to see a bit of the place. My last two visits were all too brief.” he said.

It seems that not only do Shetlanders respond to O’Rourke’s art but his art responds to Shetland.

He said: “The last time I flew to Shetland we were delayed in Edinburgh due to fog. We made it to Shetland in time for the show, just, but while sitting in the airport I ended up writing some poetry about Shetland’s fog.

“And the first time I was up, with the Transatlantic Sessions, I was sitting in my hotel room listening to birds outside my window which inspired me to write a song about seagulls.”

When asked whether the Shetland audience could expect to hear
either of these pieces O’ Rourke said: “You never know. Or maybe
they’ll hear something new. It’s always an adventure coming to Shetland.”

Since his previous visit O’ Rourke has released his fourth album Gold Bars in the Sun. This album, he explained, began life “as an experiment to combat the changing environment of the music industry.”

The album was released as one track per month downloadable only by a link sent to people who had signed up to his mailing list. This allowed O’ Rourke to build up a mailing list of over 10,000 fans, who he felt responded well to the album.

“Then afterwards they gave me some healthy criticism and said they would like to see the songs released as a collection so that’s what we did.”

He added: “It was a funny way to make an album but it was a very enjoyable experience. I was pleased with how the songs all ran together despite being released separately.”

Punters who hope to see a song they enjoyed from his last set could be in luck though, as O’ Rourke stated that he has no plans to play all new material.

He said: “My shows are always half and half, new and old. And I’m always playing even newer material from future releases. I like to keep it mixed up for myself, I don’t want to just get into a routine.”

O’Rourke will play at Sandwick Carnegie Hall on 17th June.


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