Resident Focus: Even Cowgirls Get The Blues
July's Resident Focus features Deirdre, the mastermind behind the very long time resident, Even Cowgirls Get The Blues. Deirdre has brought her flavour of all things Country and Folk for many years, earning herself a staple in the Noods family.
Tell us a little about yourself, where you are in the world, one fun fact about yourself.D
My name is Deirdre, I’m from Belfast but currently living in Cambridge. One fun fact about me is that I was meant to be born on Christmas day, but I was born four days early on the Winter Solstice - it’s giving ‘pagan’.
How are you spending your days at the moment?D
I’m about to go into the third year of my PhD so I’m pretty much doing that all day at the moment, nose in the books either cosseted away in the library or working from home with the dog at my feet when I need to be comfy and close to the kettle. My brain is feeling a little fried.
Favourite thing to hear in nature?D
My absolute favourite right now is the moment that big droplets of rain begin to fall on a hot humid summer’s day, hitting the big fresh leaves and hot tarmac. My winter favourite is the sound of muffled footsteps in fresh snow.
Three artist’s you’re excited about at the minute?D
I am really excited about ØXN, a new band made up of Radie Peat (of Lankum), Katie Kim, Elly Myler and John ‘Spud’ Murphy. I think they are about to unleash something extremely haunting.
I have also recently discovered a collaborative project headed up by Rhiannon Giddens of Carolina Chocolate Drops. It’s an album called ‘Songs of our Native Daughters’ which tells forgotten stories of the African diaspora in North America with women at the forefront.
My third artist is Brìghde Chaimbeul, a phenomenal Scottish smallpipes player from the Isle of Skye. I have a real thing for pipes and piobaireachd, they tap into something otherworldly and Brìghde is an absolute maestro.
What is inspiring you outside of music right now?D
Shocking myself with such an adult answer, but it’s DIY home renovations. Me and my partner Jack are doing up a place at the moment and I’m obsessed with materials and colour charts. Jack is the brains behind the operation and I’m learning a lot from him about sustainable materials and building methods, and also looking forward to lots of reclamation yard visits.
How has where you grew up informed your taste?D
Ha! Hugely. Country music is big news in Ireland, in 2022 Garth Brooks sold out 5 consecutive nights at Croke Park stadium in Dublin (one of Europe’s largest with a capacity of 82,300). One of my earliest material memories is of my mum and dad returning from his 1997 concert in Dublin with matching caps for me and my two sisters. My dad is a big fan of all the greats – Johnny Cash, Kris Kristoffersen, Dolly Parton – and my mum has a soft spot for Reba McEntire and Martina McBride. I have such a vivid memory of hunting in HMV for the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack with my dad when the film came out, that was a big time for us! Shania Twain’s ‘Come on Over’ was also on repeat for a long time on the car radio.
My family also have a very proud Irish identity, bolstered I imagine from growing up in a place where such a thing was often contested and denied to people. So, I was also brought up on a heavy diet of Irish folk music and Irish language music – artists like Christy Moore and Altan. One album in particular has had a huge impact on me in the way it broadened my musical horizons, ‘The Diamond Mountain Sessions’ by Sharon Shannon & Friends. We listened to this CD the whole drive from Belfast to Kerry and back one year (at least) so it holds a lot of nostalgia for me, but it still feels fresh and vibrant every time I listen again
Dream retirement regime, set the scene.D
Lakeside eco-home in the Ring of Kerry, very old pub within walking distance for an evening pint of Murphy’s and a bowl of fresh scampi. Swim in the lake every morning, waft of coffee drifting from the kitchen on my return and big gang of scruffy dogs running around the place (including Jack). Sitting together on the porch at night in the summer and watching the storms roll over the mountains.
You’re about to do karaoke with someone famous, who are you doing it with and what are you singing?D
I would much rather do karaoke with a big group of my friends than with someone famous – I’m far too nervous a person for that! And the song would be ‘Dweller on the Threshold’ by Van Morrison.
Where does the name of your show come from?D
Jack’s Granny Flo was from Houston, Texas, and a few years ago he came back from visiting home with her copy of the Tom Robbins novel ‘Even Cowgirls Get the Blues’. It’s a story about a woman called Sissy Hankshaw who was born with enormously large thumbs and capitalises on this by becoming a hitchhiker. It’s a really wild ride. Rodney Crowell also wrote a song named after the novel that was recorded by Emmylou Harris on her Blue Kentucky Girl album which is a favourite of mine.
Go check out the Even Cowgirls Get The Blues show for us and listen to a deep selection of all things folk and country!