Sunday 22 September 2019

Jumping Jack waves his Magic wand

Jack Lukeman bares his soul about losing two dear friends this year - his co-manager Trish to cancer, and his cousin Nicola, who died suddenly

Jack Lukeman has vowed to live life to the full after this year's heartache
Jack Lukeman has vowed to live life to the full after this year's heartache
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

To paraphrase that massively annoying song by The Reynolds Girls in 1999, I'd rather Jack Lukeman than Fleetwood Mac.

The idiosyncratic showman from Athy, Co Kildare (who will release his new album Magic Days next month - his first new studio recording of original material since The Great Wall Of China in 2013) has never been one to take the ordinary route in his career. Or indeed at his extraordinary shows. Take, for instance, Jack's show in Brighton earlier this year...

"The venue was enormous and at the end of my set," Jack recalls, "I had the crowd singing along to a song of mine called Wicked Way - at which point I decided to jump off the stage and run through the audience to keep the vibe going and cause a bit of mayhem.

"Unfortunately, I got so far away from the stage that I couldn't quite find my way back. I also realised I probably couldn't get back up on the stage to take a bow because it was too high.

''So I opted for a side door in the hope I could run around and get back on stage to take that final bow, only to find myself locked out of the venue listening to the crowd still singing the refrain, God bless their hearts."

Jack laughs: "Not quite the finale I had hoped for!" His laughter soon vanishes when I ask him to look back on 2016 in personal terms.

"It's been tragic and ecstatic," he begins. "World weary but up for the eternal fight for the light as always. It's been a tough year as lots of loved ones were either sick or passed away.

''My dad had a stroke earlier in the year but is doing great now and showing us all how to bounce back and live every moment to the full. He's back singing in the local choir and is a force of nature to be reckoned with.

"My wonderful co-manager Trish Kavanagh passed away in June after a long courageous battle against cancer. She never stopped working all throughout several long bouts of chemo and all that goes with it. She taught us all a lot about grace and bravery. Then just last month, my cousin Nicola, whom I grew up with, died suddenly which was quite a shock to everyone - and most especially to her wonderful family.

''So it's been a sad year but I believe if the dead could speak to the living they would say 'Live every day to its fullest'. So I try to and I'm pretty sure we will see them all again some day, somewhere." Musically, Jack was in a better place mercifully this year. "I'm in the heart of the endless invisible landscape that is music," he explains. "It's the great river and giver that never lets me down." Jack then quotes the philosopher Heraclitus, who said 'you can never step in the same river twice'.

"And I think with music you can never step in the same river once because it's a constant learning curve playing, creating and listening to music. It stimulates both mentally and spiritually.

"Playing live is always a great buzz, as is writing songs. It's still a mysterious process no matter how much you try to pin it down in the material world. Some songs appear out of thin air like they were just waiting to be found. Others have a foundation that you build upon over time.

"I was pleased to hear Paul McCartney saying recently that it's still a baffling process for him too after all these years and all those classics," Jack says adding that his new album Magic Days is about finding the magic in the mundane.

"It's a step forward musically and song wise but also harnessing a lot of the different styles I've touched upon with the 10 or so albums I've released. It has varying musical influences - blues, rock, pop and swing - with themes varying from the wonders and woes of the world to the nature of consciousness."

Jack Lukeman plays Whelans in Dublin on December 21 and 22

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