Kevin Barry Moore was born on 23 May 1955 to Nancy Power and Andy Moore of Newbridge in County Kildare, Ireland. He is the youngest member of the family and has three sisters and two brothers.
Barry was educated by the Patrician Brothers in Primary School and by the Dominican Fathers in Newbridge College. He formed a group with his brother Andy and best friend Pat Kilbride – Aes Triplex – while in Newbridge College. He went to College in Limerick where he studied Russian and European Studies. He dropped out after a couple of years in order to concentrate on his music.
Music was an intrinsic part of his life growing up. All of the family sing and play, but Barry had his own way and style of making music. From a very early age he was writing songs and honing his skills as a serious guitar player. He first went on tour as the support act to his eldest brother, Christy Moore, in 1969. This was a tour of English folk clubs. He was all of fourteen years of age. From then on Barry spent all of his time writing songs and playing guitar. Around this time he wrote ‘Jenny Of The Sun’ and ‘Wave Up To The Shore’ – which was recorded by Christy in 1976.
He did gigs around Ireland, from the Meeting Place (a hot spot for music in the 70s and 80s) in Dublin to McGanns (still one of the best pubs in Ireland for a traditional music session) in Doolin and all places in between, back and forth, up and down the country. In 1977 he toured Germany and England as part of the group Inchiquin, the other members being Noel Hill and Tony Linnane. Micho Russell was also part of this tour and Barry became close to Micho and still calls him a hero. His song ‘Hands of a Farmer’ is dedicated to Micho. In 1978 he released his first album ‘Treaty Stone’ which include classic Barry songs.
Barry was, and is, always sensitive around issues of injustice and protection of the environment. He participated in the Anti-Nuclear Festivals held in Carnsore Point three years running in 1979. Barry was a finger picking folkie, until the middle of 1979, when tendonitis did serious damage to his picking hand. This caused him to learn to play with a plectrum and change his style of playing.
In 1979 Barry moved to Groningen in Holland and was based there for a number of years. He recorded the album ‘In Groningen’ in 1980. One of the favourite songs on this album is the Felix Pappalardi song ‘One Last Cold Kiss’.
Barry spent some time playing with Manus Lunny before he headed off in another new direction.
1983-1986 Barry fronted the Dublin post-punk/pop band Red Square. It was one of 5000 bands in Dublin trying to become the next U2. It was great fun. “Got me off the stool, out of the folk clubs, taught me how to roar.”
Finally in 1987 he made the decision to head to America and check it out! Before he left the shamrock shore he made a serious decision. New country, new people, new everything – why not a new name? Luka Bloom became a possibility – Luka from the Suzanne Vega song ‘My name is Luka’ and the Bloom from James Joyce’s Ulysses. So on the long journey to New York – let the man tell it! – “EI104 the lovely old jumbo that brought me to America in 1987. Window seat: looking down from 35,000 feet at America, repeating quietly to myself, ‘Hi, my name is Luka Bloom. I’d like to play here.” By the time he landed in New York – LUKA BLOOM – was born! Now begins some serious work. As he says himself: “I made a conscious decision before I went to America to create a solo performance that would be exciting and relevant to rock audiences. I also decided that I was going to create an audience for myself, without the help of record companies.” He settled in Washington D.C initially and set about singing his songs. He trawled the city’s clubs for suitable venues, and was ultimately offered a series of weekend gigs in Dylans. He took Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday instead, and so set about drawing an audience who came out because they came out to see him. He also did a residency in the Red Lion in Bleecker Street in New York in the winter of 1987.
In 1990 Luka recorded the definitive ‘Riverside’ which features many of his classic songs not least of which is ‘The Man Is Alive’. Recorded in New York, many of the songs describe his experiences of New York City as in ‘Delirious’ or ‘Hudson Lady’.
1991 saw Luka back in Dublin to record the next album ‘The Acoustic Motorbike’. Luka covered the L.L.Cool J’s ‘I Need Love’ and as the Rolling Stone review put it “the prospect of a folksy Irish rocker covering a rap ballad may seem strange, but experimenting with different forms is precisely what keeps established traditions vital.” Indeed – and Luka defied tradition with his version!
In 1991 Luka appeared at the PinkPop Festival in Landgraaf in the Netherlands. He really caught the audience out when he cycled onstage with his guitar strapped to his back. This is considered the start of his breakthrough in Europe.
In November 1992 Luka headed down under for an extensive tour of Australia. He was very well received there as the following review tells: “Luka is a solo performer whose trademark is his thunderous and exhilarating acoustic guitar playing, his fine voice and his warm and passionate delivery. His songs reflect the experiences of so many exiled Irish people who have left for far shores in search of a new life, dreams and love. This is reflected in his song ‘Dreams in America’. As he writes there is always the hope of a “reunion in the progress of time”.”
In 1993 Luka came home to Ireland to record his next batch of songs. Over the year he worked with Ireland’s leading producer, Brian Masterson, and with sound engineer Paul Ashe-Browne, to try and capture the atmosphere and essence of his live performance. Using an audience who were begged not to make noise (!) he created the beautiful ‘Turf’.
“Turf to an Irishman can mean many things. It’s something used to fuel fires in the winter, it’s a treasured land often left behind. It’s taking a stand when your back’s against the wall. It’s sacred ground that is not meant to be messed with.” ‘The Fertile Rock’ was to become the anthem from ‘Turf’. The song is about a campaign to save the magnificent Mullaghmore in the Burren from developers.
In February 1993, Luka got a call from the Bottom Line in New York. Lou Reed has requested that Luka joins David Byrne, Roseanne Cash and Lou in a songwriter’s night to celebrate the club’s birthday. Needless to remark he jumped at the opportunity and had a terrific night gigging with these great artists.
1994 began with a short tour of Holland and then off to America, Canada, Belgium, America, Germany, Switzerland, America and finishing in the Everyman Palace in Cork City in Ireland on 5th December 1994. One busy year!
1995/96/97 saw more of the same with Australia thrown in for good measure in ’95 and ’96.
Luka decided to come home to Ireland and get the feel of the place again. Writing songs, doing some shows, walking in his favourite place, the Burren, basically preparing for new beginnings. He spent some time of 1995 in Birr, Co. Offaly, in a little cottage among the trees between the rivers Camcor and Brosna. Here in the heart of Ireland, he wrote the songs which fill the CD we now know as Salty Heaven. Just as ‘I Need Love’ could only have emerged from his time in New York, these classic songs could only have come from this landscape he calls home.
The following is an extract from the Joe Jackson’s Irish Times review of the album:
“But from the achingly reflective opening song ‘Blackberry Time through relatively inconsequential tracks like ‘Ciara’ to the epic, famine-based closing tune, ‘Forgiveness’, this album will either seduce the hell out of you and take you to, yeah, a tearful heaven or leave you cold. Depends on whether or not you are open to art that is quiet and caressing, rather than screaming to be heard. Not just a wonderful album but an album filled with wonder. And that is a real accomplishment.”
The launch of ‘Salty Heaven’ saw Luka embark on another world tour to all the familiar countries again culminating on the 29 of December 1998 in Vicar Street in Dublin.
1999 kicked off in the Red Hot Music Club outside Newbridge in County Kildare and culminated 99 gigs later in the HQ Hall of Fame in Dublin on the 9th of December.
In October 2000, Luka released an album of other artist’s songs. As he said himself at the time: “I have always believed that it is possible for a solo artist to sing songs from any area and the only limitations are in people’s minds. Rather than covering these songs as a novelty, I was determined to convey my love of these songs and the artists who created them.” And so ‘Keeper Of The Flame’ hit the shops. It was very well received.
2001 saw another departure for Luka. He became an independent artist and developed his own website – www.lukabloom.com – it was launched in August 2001.
In early 2001 Luka revisited his early work by releasing ‘The Barry Moore Years’. This album is a compilation of songs written between 1975-1986. It is only available on his website – www.lukabloom.com.
On St. Brigid’s Day (February 1) 2002 in both Ireland and the U.S. he released ‘Between The Mountain And The Moon’. No doubt Luka had Brigid in mind when he set the release date, as he has always been active in the Feile Bride (St. Brigid Festival) held in Kildare town for the last 10 years. With the patron saint of Kildare on your side, how could you go wrong!!
This CD holds a special place in Luka’s heart. It is the first album of his own songs that he owns. He took his time with it – writing the songs and recording them over a two-year period. ‘Gabriel’ and ‘Love Is A Place I Dream Of’ are two of the favourites on this CD.
He again took to the road and toured extensively in Europe, America, Australia over the next six months.
Luka Bloom in Carre in Amsterdam:
Reading Luka’s biography in no way conveys the power, energy, atmosphere, downright magic of his live performance. In February 2002 in the beautiful Carre Theatre in Amsterdam, Luka played to a large audience of devoted fans, who had travelled from as far as the West Coast of Clare, Cork, Kildare, Boulder Colorado and Germany to be with the MAN for this concert. It was just brilliant. For over two hours he held us all in the palm of his hand and played his heart out. We hung on his every word and lapped it up. The atmosphere was electric. The audience was singing, laughing, crying, (and even Wolfe was howling!). One man, his guitar and his beautiful music and songs. GO HIONTACH! – AWESOME!
Luka’s performance is summed in his own words – “Every gig is precious. Whether the Spa in Lisdoonvarna, Carre in Amsterdam, or the Melbourne Concert Hall, the privilege is the same, as is the commitment to the gig.”
This brings us right up to date. As we write – Luka is preparing for a major European tour in the autumn.
He is gone back to the bog, back to his roots and as the song goes
“No matter where your travelling takes you
Sure the bog will never leave you
Some people look for God above
But down in the bog I found love
Where the heather and the moss grows
The turf lies row after row
Out there in the sun to dry
I breathe it in as I pedal on by
With the kids and the dogs mucking together
Bringing in the turf
No matter what the weather
I’m a bogman
Deep down, it’s where I come from.”
Rena and Anne.
In 2004 ‘Before Sleep Comes’ was recorded, nine soft songs for insomniacs.
Luka spent the ensuing 18 months since launching ‘Innocence’ in Australia in February 2005, touring constantly in Europe and the US.
He then finished the DVD which consists a live show in Dublin, and a small gig in his home filmed that summer.
Luka then headed to France to mix his new CD ‘Tribe’, a collaboration with Dubliner Simon O’Reilly. The album was completely different from anything he has released before. It was released on 14 February 2007.
Throughout the remaining months of 2007 Luka worked with two young producers, Niall Rynne and Usna Tunney on The Man Is Alive project. This incorporated filming a live concert in Dublin and another live concert held in Luka’s home. The package also includes a documentary ‘My Name Is Luka’ which was made by a Dutch tv company and a live cd.
In 2008 Luka headed down to Grouse Lodge recording studios in County Westmeath to record his latest batch of songs. He was interested in returning to the raw live sound of his earlier records and brimming with his usual enthusiasm set about the work with David Odlum (ex-Kila and ex-The Frames) assisting the production of the now named Eleven Songs.
It was launched in early October 2008 and was very well received with four and five star reviews pouring in. Luka has been touring extensively with this latest work, Europe, Australia, United States and closer to home in the UK and Ireland.