As he prepares to release his eagerly-anticipated fifth studio album, popular Irish singer/songwriter Mark Geary is set to perform at Ireland’s best kept festival secret, Swell Music & Arts Festival on Arranmore Island off the coast of County Donegal.
The songwriter has just returned from a ten-day tour on the west coast of North America, starting the promotion of his new album The Fool, which is due for release in October.
Mark is no stranger to playing intimate venues around the States having lived in New York for several years in the 1990s from where he honed his craft as both a performer and songwriter.
“I was in Vancouver, Seattle and Portland for about ten days, slowly starting to bang on the drum to promote the new album and it was a real boost in the arm to play these new songs.
“It’s a lovely feeling, having a new body of work looking forward to an audience hearing them for the first time,” said Mark.
Mark loves having the luxury of being able to play new material while on tour. “Something happens with them on the road and when you go back into the studio you can recreate what they felt like when you faced the audience and committed to the song.
“I was very fortunate that I got to tour the States with my music very early in my life and always had myself pegged as a travelling musician turning up in a small town with the purpose of singing for the people, and I have continued to do that.
“A lot of bands and artists live in a van for years and just continue their extensive touring. What that does for you as a musician is, you really get your armor, it becomes so much more than trying to find an audience, it does something to you.
“You get so much better, even thought you haven’t slept properly, the muscle memory starts to happen on stage and it becomes very uncomplicated and you’re on a very different mind set.”
Irish music fans first took note of Mark when he returned to Ireland to perform his song Volunteer on a then new television series that had been developed for RTÉ Television, called Other Voices.
He said: “I had left Ireland on a one-way ticket and was living in New York when Glen (Hansard) asked me to come back and do this show.
“I’ll be honest, I had never even been to Dingle. It is only because of music that I got to go there and later would get to tour all of Ireland with my first album 33 ⅓ Grand Street.”
Having now toured all over Ireland for many years, this will not be the first time Mark performs on an Irish island, either, as he gets set to play at the not-for-profit festival on Arranmore.
“I played Inishboffin in the Arran Islands before. There’s something very potent about islanders, in general; We are islanders ourselves, and truly unique in that regard.
I remember coming back to Ireland and found myself in places like Dingle, West Cork or Letterkenny and being struck by the fact that the town’s night’s entertainment was you! The whole village would be out to see you for an evening of song and chat and I remember thinking I would really have to up my game from the sets I had to do in New York.
“I knew I would have to dig deep to make it magic. And maybe the challenge here in Ireland is the fact that there’s so much talent. You’re performing in a small room and suddenly a woman in the audience, who normally just works in an office, is singing the most beautiful harmony.”
“I’m sure that’s all multiplied on a little island off the coast of Donegal. There are people and personalities there, and they are just as important as you.”
Mark Geary and his band play Swell Music & Arts Festival which takes place on on Arranmore Island, Co Donegal from July 21 to 23. For all the latest news on Mark Geary go to www.markgeary.com; Tickets for Swell Festival are available at www.swellfestival.com