Patrick Freeman – Q&A
Ex-pat Irishman (it’s the diaspora, innit – Ed.), and sometime Cork resident, Patrick Freeman is back on the old sod this week, playing a bunch of live dates to launch his Perfect Fit EP. We decided a few further questions were in order…
N: Can you tell us a bit about your background, where you’re from, early musical activity? And I believe you’re based in New York at the moment, can you sketch the music scene over there as you see it?
I was born in New York and did most of my schooling in Ireland, I’ve been between the two places my whole life. The music I got from my father who is a guitar player. I remember claiming all his Beatles albums when I was about six, he’s probably still looking for them. I lived in Cork for about five years playing in all sorts of bands before moving to Brooklyn a little over a year ago.
It’s impossible to really define a “scene” in New York because in reality it is lots of individual scenes. There is such a huge population of artists that nearly every genre and sub-genre can have its own little autonomous community. I suppose a lot of the guys I fell in with were into folk and country, singer-songwriters etc.. I’ve met some great musicians and great people in the last year.
N: Congratulations on the EP, which you recorded with O Emperor at their studio in Cork. They’re friends of yours, is that right?
We actually all went to the same school in Waterford but they were a couple years ahead of me. I would have been a teenager going to see them playing in various bands around. O Emperor is something of a Déise supergroup, they were all just the best players on the scene at that time. We didn’t get friendly until we all ended up in Cork for college, a few of us shared an infamous house on the Lough.
N: There’s a bit of a 70s AM rock vibe from the EP with a really strong songwriting core – George Harrison, Harry Nilsson, people like that. Would any of that be an influence on you?
Most definitely. Paul actually kept calling ‘Perfect Fit’ the “George Harrison number” during recording and Alan’s brilliant slide solo really consolidated that. Depending on my mood I could be listening to that polished 70s stuff like Steely Dan or Gerry Rafferty or it could be rough old blues records and Neil Young’s Zuma.
N: You’ve got a number of Irish dates on this visit. Is it just yourself playing live? What’s the line-up?
Most of the tour will be done solo, just myself and the acoustic guitar. For the launch in Coughlan’s (7th Feb) we’ll have the band that plays on the record, that is O Emperor and David Murphy (John Blek & The Rats) on the pedal steel. We might try and sneak in another full band show somewhere if we can (full tour dates below).
Patrick was also kind enough to send over a playlist reflecting his listening interests and various influences over the years…
Preface: Due to restraints of space, time and man’s limited attention span, I’ve attempted to pick only the works that most clearly influence my songwriting.
1. Dear Prudence – The Beatles
I know I’m not the only one but I grew up listening to The Beatles. Pretty much nothing but the Beatles until I was 7 or 8. The White Album holds a special place in my proverbial heart. Every track is another world, equally as strange as the last one, with new things to discover every time you visit.
2. Daniel Rossen – Waterfall
In my opinion Daniel Rossen is one of the most interesting things happening in American music at the moment. An inventive guitar player, quality songwriter with a real command of the studio (this track being a great example). I chose this relatively obscure Judee Sill cover to demonstrate how everything this man touches turns to gold.
3. Alan Hull – Breakfast
I discovered this album Pipedream last year and played it for a few months non-stop. Alan Hull’s songwriting is honest, down-to-earth and at times very funny. An overlooked gem!
4. Townes Van Zandt – Like A Summer Thursday
This song can speak for itself I think. He’s the latter-day Hank Williams, extending the poetic vocabulary of American country music.
5. Davy Graham – I Just Can’t Keep From Crying
I’m hugely influenced by the British acoustic guitar heroes of the 1960s and 1970s such as Bert Jansch, Dick Gaughan, John Martyn, John Renbourn etc.. Graham was the forerunner to them all. In Ireland we had Rory Gallagher (whose acoustic work is often overlooked), Arty McGlynn, Freddie White, Paul Brady…we probably would have had a few more if the rest of them weren’t off playing bouzoukis.
6. Pete Seeger – Times Are Getting Hard
I spent a lot of my teenage years listening to Pete Seeger, along with Woody Guthrie, Sonny & Brownie and all the treasures on the Anthology of American Folk Music. An outstanding musician behind all the folksy accouterment, his achievements are a great example to us all.
5th Feb, Cork, UCC – Capriccio Lunch Time Concert
7th Feb, Cork, Coughlan’s
8th Feb, Dublin, The Cobblestone
12th Feb, Waterford, Sal’s
13th Feb, Galway, Kelly’s Bar
14th Feb, Waterford, Central Hall, Red Kettle Sessions
15th Feb, Meath, Darnley Lodge Hotel
19th Feb, Dublin, The Globe Bar
20th Feb, Belfast, The Black Box
26th Feb, DeBarra’s, Clonakilty
27th Feb, Galway, Kelly’s Bar
2nd March, Cork, Gulpd Cafe