Saturday 24 March 2018

Gabriel Byrne's son picks stage over screen

Richie Taylor

The son of Irish actor Gabriel Byrne won't be following him onto the silver screen -- as he has already kicked off a career as a roots musician in the US.

Jack Byrne, 21, the son of Dublin-born Gabriel and American actress Ellen Barkin, has formed a blues band supergroup of sorts called The Dough Rollers with Harrison Ford's son Malcolm, 23, and they spent last summer touring the US with Bob Dylan.

Bono and Bob Dylan sang Knocking On Heaven's Door to Jack when his dad and his heavily pregnant mum Ellen were in the audience at the Point Theatre when the two superstars performed together.

Bono said: "This is to a little boy who hasn't been born yet and is sitting inside his mother in the fourth row. Jack Byrne, this is for you."

Many years later, Bono enquired of Gabriel about Jack's musical tastes, saying he hoped that he wasn't "too into Limp Bizkit". Gabriel told him that he wasn't a big Limp Bizkit fan -- and also wasn't a big fan of U2 either.

Jack frequently visited Ireland as a child and as a teenager with his dad. But instead of Irish music he became interested in the blues when he was only 12, after being given a book by a family member about the music which recommended 10 essential blues albums.

He revealed: "That was the beginning of the end of rock music for me. I went to the store and bought them all -- Robert Johnson, Son House, Blind Lemon Jefferson . . . the lot.

It definitely marked the end of Jack's interest in shock rock.

Jack also got his first guitar around the same time and this kicked off a fascination with writing and playing blues, old-time music, country and gospel. But he didn't get serious until two years ago when he struck up a friendship with another Hollywood descendant, Malcolm, son of Raiders Of The Lost Ark star Harrison and his second wife, the screenwriter Melissa Mathison. Harrison later married actress Calista Flockhart.

Malcolm joked: "I like to say that Jack kind of ruined my life by turning me on to this sort of music because it's a hard thing to love. For me it's the primitive aspect of it and the fact that there's no cheating with it that appeals to me. It's music that's entirely dependent on the song."

Ford had never sung live or played, and learned to play the mandolin, taking lessons from Jack.

He added: "I was so nervous before our first show I thought I was going to throw up."

The Dough Rollers have just released their first album -- recorded rough and ready in a single day.

The band are currently recording a follow-up, splitting their time between Los Angeles and New York, where both of Jack's parents and his sister Romy, 18, are based. And this time around they're busy writing original songs.

"It will hopefully be more approachable for people who aren't necessarily incredibly interested in our pre-war blues music," said Ford.

Sunday Independent

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