Strumming away from home | Daniel Martin Moore and Joan Shelley

We speak to American folk musicians Daniel Martin Moore and Joan Shelley, who will be performing at Kazin San Gejtanu, Hamrun on October 12.

Joan Shelley (left) and Daniel Martin Moore.
Joan Shelley (left) and Daniel Martin Moore.

Daniel Martin Moore

Daniel Martin Moore: 'We all have some kind of deep feeling for the place from which we spring'

"My first musical experiences were very comfortable and easy. I grew up singing in choir and bopping around the house to all sorts of tunes coming out of the stereo. But as a performer, or as a person who began to practice and really think about writing and playing, those steps were much slower. For several years, probably beginning at about the age of 10, the only song I knew how to play with an instrument was Amazing Grace, and I could just barely pick out the melody on the piano. My piano skills haven't progressed all that much, but it was definitely the piano that first drew the idea of writing/composing out of me. 

"I never envisioned that I'd become a touring, album-releasing musician. So this path has been an unexpected but wholly welcomed surprise, and I'm ever thankful for the work and the opportunities it has presented to me."

"As for the future, who can say? I love making music and hope it will always be a part of my life, personally or professionally."

"We all have some kind of deep feeling for the place from which we spring. I love my Kentucky homeland and can't imagine leaving it, but I also think it's interesting that some folks feel the need to flee their birthplaces and somehow strike out on their own, as if to create an identity separate from it. I'm reminded of a lyric by the great songwriter Haley Bonar: "Don't forget where you come from, but don't let it get in your way."

"Getting to travel and experience other cultures (and all the good foods therein) and meet interesting people, while having the opportunity to share our music along the way is a true blessing in this life, and probably my favourite part of the career of musician. I'd also add that sharing those adventures with friends and collaborators is great, too. There's nothing like the bonds you make with your bandmates on the road and through the process of making albums and music together. The hardest parts of this job also spring from the travelling, though. Sometimes the schedule is ruthless and demanding, and keeps us away from home and our loved ones for long stretches. It's a trade-off. But I find that it can also make time at home that much sweeter, because being away from it, we begin to see it more for what it is, as a precious thing."

Joan Shelley

Joan Shelley: 'I'd rather keep origins a mystery'

"Words and melodies come from the subconscious in my writing process. I can only guess at their origins. But I was raised on rock, blues, pop, and all kinds of music, though only in the past five years did I encounter old-time traditional music. Now the musicians I surround myself with are also steeped in that music and know lots of the old songs and imagery. In the end I think I'd rather keep the origins a mystery."

"The internet makes it easy to lose focus. It is also a beautiful thing, allowing so much sharing between artists, genres, and cultures. But focus is one very important thing for a creative person to maintain in trying to carve out their vision, develop something unique. I don't believe in cutting yourself off from it, but I do find it very hard. I try to remind myself that my inspirations and tools are around me, and that's where I can do my thing. I will never play guitar like Fela Kuti, and I have to deal with that."

"The best thing about being a musician is that the job makes you tune in, be intuitive, gives you emotional insight that would cost thousands at the therapist's office. So many people will go through life not following their creative instincts, and I get to play there all the time. Not to mention I get to do that with other wonderful musicians.

The worst thing is being away from my loved ones at home. Also, the entire business end of music."

Daniel Martin Moore and Joan Shelley will be supported by Claire Tonna. Doors open at 20:00. Tickets are at €8. Bookings: [email protected].