A few months after Letterkenny-born singer-songwriter Mick Blake posted his song “Leitrim” to You Tube, he said he “got a phone call from someone claiming to be Christy Moore”.
Actually, it was Christy Moore. He was ringing to say how much he enjoyed the song.
“You really get great confidence from that sort of thing,” Mick said. “Leitrim” was the first song he posted to You Tube.
More recently, Christy recorded Mick’s song “Oblivious” on his last CD and performed it on “The Late, Late Show”, and Christy has contributed liner notes to Mick’s first CD, which Mick will launch at 8pm this Saturday, April 8th, at the Balor Arts Centre in Ballybofey.
“I have been looking forward to this album for the last two years – Mick Blake is a true modern-day bard,” Christy said in the notes.
Mick has joined Christy in a few concerts, including the SIPTU 1916 Commemoration concert in Liberty Hall, and a 2015 fundraiser for Medicare in Gaza held at Vicar Street in Dublin.
Paul Brady is also a fan of Mick’s work and singer-songwriter Steve Wall has called him “one of the finest song writers in the country”.
"Leitrim" offers a comparison between Ireland during Famine times and today; another song, "Mr Tepper", looks at the life of a hedge-fund billionaire alongside the chaos his decisions have caused. “Oblivious” asks, “What does it take to make you angry? Where is the line that can’t be crossed?”
“The kind of stuff I’m doing seems to have struck a chord with people,” Mick said. “I find it very hard to write about flowers and sunrises and that sort of thing.”
While much of the material he is doing now is in the protest vein, he added, “I prefer to think of it as raising awareness.”
Mick only began writing songs about five years ago and posted the songs he wrote to You Tube. In those short years, he has built up a following of about 4,000 people on Facebook. The response to the CD has already been strong, with sales coming in from around the world.
Mick said he believes his music also appeals to the Irish Diaspora, people who have been forced to leave the country for economic reasons. “It seems to speak to them as well.”
Mick is a teacher at Leitrim National School, near the home he shares with his wife, Mary McEneaney, and their children, Matthew, 18, Mia, 16, and Milo, 13. Mick, son of John and Kathleen Blake (Kathleen passed away in 2013), grew up in Lower Ard O’Donnell in Letterkenny and still gets to Donegal regularly.
He met his wife at the Shandon Hotel, where she was a chef, “and I was the piano player”, he said. Mary is from Letrim, “and that's how I got the visa for here”.
Mick’s CD launch on Saturday will be his first solo gig in Donegal, “so that means a lot”. He has described the gig as “a full audio-visual extravangaza”, with videos and slide shows projected at the back of the stage while he sings. The concert will include a performance of the entire CD, with a few new songs as well.
“Oblivious” is available online through the Mick Blake Music Facebook page and https://mickblakemusic.com.