A Conversation with Chuck Brodsky
Puremusic: So first of all, you're just back from the UK, something I'm real interested in. How about telling us a little about that trip?
Chuck Brodsky: Well, mostly it was Ireland. I did a little bit in Northern Ireland, which is the UK. I've never actually played in England or Scotland before. I'm dying to.
CB: But Ireland is really fantastic. I've been over nine times now. I go twice a year.
PM: No kidding?
PM: And by now you've probably either got a good agent or you've made enough connections to book yourself. Which way do you approach it?
CB: I actually have an agent. The first time I went over was with a guy from Seattle named Jim Page.
PM: Ah, yeah.
CB: Jim has quite a following in Ireland, and he brought me along.
PM: He's a real political songwriter, right?
CB: Yeah, yeah. Terrific writer. Terrific show. He brought me the first time, and all the venues invited me back on my own, so the second time I booked my own tour. And then on that trip, in Dublin, the agent that I work with now saw me playing and offered to handle future trips. It's a nice arrangement. He sets me up with ten, twelve shows over the course of a couple weeks. I work hard. I don't usually play that often.
PM: So when you go over there, do you play all around the country, or is it mostly on both coasts?
CB: I've played everywhere except for the far west coast.
PM: Have you played Sligo, Donegal, or Galway?
CB: Well, I've played Galway, but Galway City. Let's see, have I played in Sligo? If I didn't play in Sligo, I know I played just across the county line. But I've never played Kerry, or the southwest.
CB: Everybody says, "Go to Connemara, the Ring of Kerry." I think that area is--for one thing, there don't seem to be any known singer/songwriter type venues there. It's real big for traditional music, which I love, but my agent is not aware of any venues out there that would be suitable for me.
PM: Playing the places that you have found that were singer/songwriter oriented, how were the crowds, and what are they like?
CB: Well, they're very into lyrics--in their own culture there, they're very much into stories and ballad songs, and spoken and written word. And because what I do is so lyric oriented, it seems to fall right into place over there.
PM: Because so many of your songs are story songs, it falls right into the tradition.
CB: Exactly. And I've been surprised that even the baseball songs, which I was a little hesitant to play, have worked well over there. The people who bought my albums on the first couple of trips would request them at gigs. So I started to play them. And I realize now that the Irish audience, they're not so much about baseball as they are about characters, and songs about characters. And apparently they translate well. So that was very unexpected for me.
PM: That's amazing. Imagine Paul Brady coming over here and playing a bunch of really good cricket songs.
CB: Or hurling.
PM: That'd go over like a lead balloon.
CB: I still limit it to maybe two in a show, if I do any at all. But I find that what I do just happens to work really well over there.
PM: Oh, yeah, I can see that.
CB: There are other people who tour through there and if they do something different, if they're less lyric oriented, they have a different kind of crowd that comes. But my crowd is very loyal, very intelligent, a lot of fun to play for. I have a great time.
PM: Have you played the continent yet?
CB: Denmark. I played the Toneter Festival.
PM: I've heard of that.
CB: And I've played that the last two summers. I'll be going back next summer. That's a fabulous world class festival. It's from that--an agent approached me and is setting up a September tour for me after the next festival. So I'll get a little taste of that. I suppose down the line I'll probably want to try touring a little in Germany.
PM: Yeah. And when you go, I've got a brother, Billy, who's a great slide player and a singer/songwriter in Heidelberg, so let's hook that up.
CB: Great. continue