Sam Clague will release his second EP at this year’s Clonakilty International Guitar Festival in September. ‘Good Morning’ is a follow-on from Clague’s successful debut EP ‘Balloons’, which he released at the festival in 2015. He chats to Mary O’Brien about how it all started and future projects.
The Clonakilty musician, 25, has received much praise for his songwriting talent and musicianship. Carl Corcoran, former Presenter of The Blue of the Night had this to say: “Sam’s writing is unique. He writes from the heart and creates his own world – his own sound world and lyric world. As well as that his musicianship is beyond reproach – capable of capturing many genres with multi-instrumental abilities.”
‘Good Morning’ features four of Sam’s original songs. Playing acoustic guitar on all tracks, he is accompanied by well-known Cork musicians Tom Crowley on violin and Niall McGuiness on double bass.
The only musician to be awarded funding from Cork County Council’s Artists Bursary Scheme this year, Sam has been holding a guitar for most of his life. The funding made it possible Sam to go ahead with his EP, which had been in the pipeline for some time.
“I heard my paps doing that sweet-sounding finger-picking in the kitchen all my life, so I always enjoyed listening to solo guitar music,” he explains. “When I was about 11, I made a decision to learn it. Coincidentally the Clonakilty Guitar Festival started that year so I was this small annoying kid picking the brains of any guitarist I saw doing something I wanted to do.”
Now living and working in Cork City, Sam plays primarily as a jazz guitarist but also has his own unique brand of original music. Jazz and folk influences blend together to make a form of kaleidoscopic chamber music, driven by intricate guitar arrangements and accompanied by psychedelic orchestral sounds. “My inspirations are Leonard Cohen and Charles Mingus, the angry man of Jazz,” he says.
‘Good Morning’ was entirely recorded in Sam’s bedroom. “I see it as the second half of the Balloons EP, so I’m getting Vinyl printed with Balloons on one side and Good morning on the other. That way it plays like an album. I feel lucky to have such great musicians and friends to record on it.”
He’s looking forward to the release of the EP at this year’s Guitar Festival in Clonakilty.
“I’ve played there with different groups over the years and I play a gig with my dad there every year. It’s sort of special for me really, lots of craic and lots of music all within five minutes of my home. I might try and make a tradition out of releasing EPs at it!’
The ambition is to start on an album soon.
“I’d like to maybe go about it a different way, like record in a studio or something. I’ve also been enjoying recording friends of mine this year. Elaine Malone has just released an EP that we made and Cara Kursh is releasing one soon too. I really enjoyed both of those projects and I think we got a good sound even with my very limited gear, so I might put more work into my studio so I can be a better producer.
Catch Sam at this year’s Clonakilty International Guitar Festival or on Culture Night in Cork City, where he will perform before John Spillane in County Hall, on Friday, September 21.