Celtic Thunder star Colm Keegan is about to start a solo tour down the East Coast of America with the support of talented cellist Laura Durrant.
Irish Music Daily’s Pat Kehoe caught up with him to get his thoughts on performing alone without his bandmates, and what his hopes and expectations are for the tour.
Congratulations on the upcoming tour. Tell us all about it. When do you start and where are you playing?
Thanks Pat! Yeah it’s been such a hectic few weeks. A tour like this has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time now, so I spent a lot of time on the Australian tour with Celtic Thunder a few weeks ago chatting with various people who have done the solo tours in the past for the “do’s” and “don’ts”. It’s extremely daunting to think about everything, but since coming home from Australia I’ve just decided to take each step as it comes, hopefully things will pan out alright and people will turn up to see the show!
What are you looking forward to most about it?
It’s a really exciting new challenge! I absolutely love being on tour with Celtic Thunder and I feel this is part of the CT experience that I haven’t seen yet. Being able to choose how we travel, what music we perform, where we perform, merchandise, organising literally everything is a completely new line of work to what I’m used to, but I’m really loving every hour of it.
What kind of venues are you playing? Will you be closer to the fans and perhaps be able to interact with them more easily than at Celtic Thunder shows?
I’m sure interaction with the fans is a guarantee for the shows!! We’re mostly playing Irish bars, bars that are quickly becoming second homes to us CT lads, but our setlist that myself and Laura are choosing is more of a slow, pop-ballad set, similar to our version of the Tony Arata classic ‘The Dance’ which completely overwhelmed us with it’s success when we released it a few weeks ago.
What kind of material will you be performing? Will there be Celtic Thunder songs or will it be completely different repertoire?
Myself and cellist Laura Durrant have spent hours and hours trying to work out a good setlist, and we’re still not happy with it yet!! We want a fine balance between the audience fully getting to know us as well as having a good time. We will definitely throw in a few ‘well-known’ songs that hopefully people will sing along with us, but I also think personally I’m such a fan of the sound between a piano and cello that I would love to take things back and just deliver some heartfelt songs that mean a lot to us as performers.
Will you be unveiling new material we haven’t heard before?
I suppose this is a question of time. I would love to write new material and perform it live, if we are ahead of schedule or even on the road itself, it’s something I would love to do. We are also hoping to have an album of a select few songs from the our show only available at the shows itself. This again is a timing thing so if we have time in the next few weeks it would be great to have a “memories from tour” CD available at the gig, the only place the CD will be available for purchase.
What kind of shows are you planning? Will they be acoustic or is there a band?
This is a completely acoustic set. What you see is what you get, just myself and cellist Laura Durrant, who is such a joy to perform with. We play together loads on tour and have toyed with the idea of touring for months now, so we really can’t believe it’s actually happening! We will be using piano, cello and guitar.
You’re used to performing on stage with Celtic Thunder. What will it be like being up there on your own?
This tour will be a completely new experience, both for me and the audience who have seen me in CT before. What I’m really relishing with the upcoming weeks is the chance to stand in front of an audience and for them to learn a lot more about me as a person and performer, rather than a couple of solos in a CT show. What I’ll be choosing musically is numbers that I feel I love listening to as a musician, but also songs that bring out my personality as well.
Would you prefer to perform solo or as part of a group?
I suppose maybe being brought up in a family of 5 boys I’ve always enjoyed the ‘craic’ with a group! All the singing I’ve ever done has either been in a choir or as a ‘soloist’ in Celtic Thunder where I’m still in a group. So this is literally the first time ever I’ll be completely on my own to sing! It’s something I’m sure I’ll miss, I love the banter on and off stage with the lads, but we’ll definitely have our fair share of laughs during the weeks ahead, that’s for sure.
Just looking back to the success of your single, what did you think of the reaction it received and what difference has it made to your career?
I really couldn’t believe it. The Dance is a song I’ve always loved, and I really thought I’d love to perform it one day. On the North American tour myself and Laura played a number of versions of it, tried to make it country but then we felt we should just be ourselves and sing it as ourselves rather than trying to play a style that isn’t us. To do that to such a classic song and for it to have had the number of weeks at #1 on iTunes World Music, and over 20k views for the video on YouTube was an incredible feeling. I know for a fact it was the extra bit of confidence that actually a tour might work, had I not have released that single I doubt I would have felt I could sell out venues across the US!
As well as your own tour, you also have a long list of dates with Celtic Thunder. Do you like being that busy or is it exhausting?
I’m definitely someone who can’t sit still! I need to be busy and if it’s not with touring I’ll definitely find something to do, either teaching/working on local musical projects/singing myself locally. I suppose I am a bit of a workaholic, I love long days of work and can’t really switch off, so I’m loving the challenge at the moment to complete all the different tasks.
What will you be doing to relax in between shows while you’re on the road?
We’ve given ourselves a nice, heavy schedule! It’s definitely not a holiday anyway!! It’s all a learning curve really, but I wanted this premier solo tour to be as busy as possible, covering as many cities and venues possible so I can build from there in the future. It’s all trial and error so I’m really anxious to see how it will pan out…
Finally, what would you say to people wondering whether or not to get along to see you?
Ha, I don’t want to be trying to convince anyone to be coming along!! This is a completely brand new experience for both myself and Laura, hugely petrifying and hugely exciting! I suppose what I love about seeing someone live, especially if I know them from a group beforehand is that I’ve now the opportunity to hear their musical tastes, learn more about them, learn about their interaction skills with the audience etc, that I may not have seen with others on stage. The aim of this solo tour is to allow people the opportunity to further their knowledge of who ‘Colm Keegan’ is, and hopefully by the end of August I can come back here to my place in Glasgow or Dublin, sit back and feel like I’ve achieved that. If you’re free this August, it would mean a lot to me to come along and experience all of this with me first hand.
If you would like to go and see one of Colm’s live shows next month, then click on the tour dates below to buy tickets.
15th August, Rory Dolan’s, New York
17th August, Hard Rock Cafe, Philadelphia
18th August, Harp & the Fiddle, Pennsylvania
20th August, Acorn Theatre, Michigan
22nd August, Galway Hooker Pub, North Carolina
23rd August, Hard Rock Cafe, Atlanta
24th August, Culhane’s, Atlantic Beach, Florida
25th August, Nolan’s Irish Pub, Cocoa Beach, Florida