“It’s not exactly a passion,” says Mick Flannery. “But it’s certainly a very rewarding area to be in.”
Funnily enough, the man whose album Red to Blue has just topped the Irish album chart wasn’t speaking about music, but stonemasonry.
“I don’t do it that much these days, but I certainly try to keep my hand in. Nothing fancy like gravestones. Fronts of houses, patios, that sort of stuff. “
And when he socialises, Mick is as likely to go out on the town with other stonemasons as he is with musicians.
He is pretty much a no-nonsense sort of guy.
Of course, stonemasonry would never have taken him to the giddy heights of fame he now enjoys, although perhaps ‘enjoys’ is too strong a word.
For as well as being no-nosense, Mick Flannery is what one might call a reluctant rock star.
His debut album Evening Train resulted from his time spent studying music and management at Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa in Cork.
After his stint at the college, Mick travelled to the U.S. where he “wandered around for a time.”
He entered two tracks from his debut album in the International Songwriting Competition in Nashville, and won two categories in the competition, becoming the first Irish musician to have notched up success in this prestigious event.
The Tender took the top prize in the Lyrics Only category and his song In the Gutter won the award in the Folk Singer-Songwriter category.
The judges were Loretta Lynn, Sonny Rollins and, best of all from Mick’s perspective, Tom Waits, one of his musical heroes.
“Yeah, he’s probably way too much of an influence on my songwriting,” he says wryly, because despite his reluctance to emerge into the limelight, he’s an engaging sort of guy to talk to.
No side to him, would be the description that springs to mind.
See this week’s Irish Post, out Wednesday April 25, for the full interview.