You can see why Damien Dempsey is happy to have Steo Wall by his side when he heads out on the road.
A kindred spirit, and an equally restless one, like Damien, Steo yells it like it is.
About to make his Greystones debut alongside Cork’s Sara Ryan for The Whale’s new Rising Stars series, Steo reveals those damn songs that can make him break down and cry.
But first, how did this boy from Dublin get all the way from there to here…?
Well, in 2016, I was quietly tippin’ away at a degree in U.L. – which I was then gonna use to get a real job in youth work – when I got the nod from Damien Dempsey to go on a national tour. It was people’s reaction to my songs at those shows that prompted me to record.
Once I made the decision to start recording, all these legends start coming on board to help.
Luka Bloom co-produced Where I’m From and features too, along with Davy Spillane and Damo. I launched my album in June 2018, at the Doolin Folk Festival, and it has been an amazing year. Now I’m back there again this year, on the main stage. And I’m also playing a festival in Marley Park in the summer, called Feile Nasc, and another in Kerry, called K-FEST.
So, it’s been a whirlwind. And it’s still swirling…
Ben E King Stand By Me Music has always been a part my family. At every social gathering, there would be a sing song. None of my immediate family members are musos though – still, my brother, Derek, is a great artist. My taste in music is so varied, just like my album. There’s a bit of everything in there. My introduction to music started with my uncle teaching me how to play Stand By Me on guitar, which will be my first song for that very reason.
2Pac Brenda’s Got A Baby I remember being in my mates gaff around ’96 and he stuck this song in his cassette player. And it just blew my mind. It’s about a drug-addicted mother having a baby in the ghetto. It’s the most vivid song, full of imagery. The way Tupac sang his lyrics was like nothing I’d ever heard. That started my love of words and poetry.
Luke Kelly Raglan Road If there was one era of music that I’d love to go back to, it would be the sixties and seventies, in O’Donoghue’s Bar, listening to Finbar and all the other giants of Irish folk. For me, Luke is the greatest folk singer of all time. And Patrick Kavanagh’s OnRaglan Road one of those songs that hits every emotion for me. If I’m sad, it’s a sad song; if I’m happy it’s a happy song. It’s just perfect.
Amy Winehouse Back To Black It’s her swan song. It just pains me when I think of Amy. She inspired a generation of artists. Such a huge loss to music.
Damien Dempsey The Colony The first time I heard Damo on They Don’t Teach This Shit in School, it blew me away. ‘Cause here was a dude singing about where I’m from. Stuff I could relate to. When I was on tour with Damo for this first time 2016, we were chatting away after the show and I told him that The Colony was the only song by another artist that I wish I had of wrote. And he said you and Shane MacGowan are the only two to ever say that. I take that.
The Beatles Eleanor Rigby Its hard to choose one Beatles song so I’m just gonna go with the first one that jumped into my head. Its Eleanor Rigby. I’m a fan since me teens. John, Paul, Ringo and George changed the face of music for ever. #legends
Johnny Cash Hurt Another swan song, this one from the man in black. And Johnny was the man. He had a bit of edge about him, and I like that. I also love that Trent Reznor wrote this masterpiece and gave to Johnny so he could go out where he belonged, on top.
Leonard Cohen Tower Of Song Next up is the master himself, Leonard Cohen. What a voice, what a song writer. I think Hallelujah is probably one of the best songs ever written but I went with Tower Of Song. Its the first song I listened to after he passed.
Bob Marley No Woman, No Cry Again hard to choose just one when it comes to Marley. This is another song of my teens, Bob one of those uplifting, true artists whose music has not only stood the test of time but inspires generation after generation.
You can find out more about Steo Wall on his website here, and grab yourself a €10 ticket to catch him and Christy Moore fave Sara Ryan at The Whale next Friday right here.
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