Interview: Velvet talks to Irish folk legend Cara Dillon
Irish folk legend Cara Dillon continues to captivate at Christmas. As her Upon A Winter’s Night tour comes to The Apex in Bury, Peter Mann chats to her
Cara Dillon’s Christmas tour is an annual fixture for many a music-lover; a traditional outing which lights up the winter calendar. Taking to the road again this December with Upon A Winter’s Night, Cara says she and husband-producer-musician Sam Lakeman “absolutely love going out at Christmastime”.
“It’s been a massive part of our family’s December for the past three years now, she says. “This year though we’ve shortened the tour as we wanted to enjoy some festivities ourselves.
“Every Christmas gig we’ve done though has been sold out, which I still can’t believe, but the shows we do are very special ones and we genuinely go out there and enjoy ourselves.”
Originating from Dungiven, Northern Ireland, the folk sensation has remained very true to her Irish roots, irrespective of where she, and husband Sam, may be. It’s music that has served her so very well during what has been a near 20-year, award-winning solo career, as she continues to thrive both in and out of the studio.
A self-titled debut, Cara Dillon, was released back in 2001, while her latest, Wanderer, arrived “accidentally” two years ago, with another release simmering away in the background.
Although spontaneous, Cara has continued to take everything in her stride, pushing boundaries with her music as far afield as The People’s Republic of China - her 2001 debut was, quite randomly, and surprisingly, picked up by followers in the Far East, the Chinese going as far as including the album into their National Curriculum.
“We never had any idea that there was any kind of following simmering away in China,” smiles Cara. “Upon knowing this, though, we just knew we had to try and go over there for a few shows but when we did, that first show that we performed, there was over 2,000 people there.
“The music has grown quite rapidly in China and we’ve been over four times now; it’s a real commitment going all the way over there though, but it’s worth it, a truly brilliant experience.”
A pair of music-lovers having quite similar tastes, and that overwhelming drive to succeed, Sam has been by Cara’s side throughout the release of her seven albums, Cara Dillon and Wanderer being joined by Sweet Liberty (2003), After the Morning (2006), Hill of Thieves (2004), A Thousand Hearts (2014) and Upon A Winter’s Night (2016).
For Cara, her path in music, well, just happened. “I really just fell into all this,” she explains. “I used to play music every day with my friends and thought that it would be a good, easy way in which to make money.
“There was pure enjoyment being up on the stage, absolutely no pressure at all, so I thought I’d just go out there and just do it and see what happens.
“The music is your Irish traditional folk and Sam is from the background as well. When I first met him, at what, 19, it didn’t take us long to discover that we would work rather well together.
“Essentially, we are actually a duo [when on stage], however, we made the decision years ago that it would be myself that was at the forefront of it all.
“He likes to be just grafting away behind the scenes and that suits us, works well for us both really.”
Cara Dillon: Upon A Winter’s Night comes to Bury’s Apex on December 10. For details and to book, visit theapex.co.uk
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