Tell us about your show. Why should we go and see it?
You should come and see my show because it’s about harps and trucks. Also I play mean harp. A hybrid style I invented myself. A cross between Paraguayan and Celtic techniques. I have always used the harp for self-expression and writing many styles of songs. I called myself “The Dangerous Harpist” as a joke but writing this new show made me realize that in my 28 years of breaking new ground, I have been breathing life into a forgotten art and very authentic original form of bardic harping. Back in the days when Judy Dench was Queen Elizabeth they used to hang the harpers and burn their instruments because they were mixing with all members of society and they stood for freedom and sovereignty. They were considered dangerous. In my 28 years playing the option for harpists is classical and traditional. I am neither. Neither of these channels were my destiny. I am self taught and about Self expression. I am breathing life into a very old and authentic tradition. I am bringing elements of Comedy, Theatre, Storytelling, Social Commentary, all wrapped up in some very dangerous harping. What is not to LOVE ?
Are you flying solo or are you part of a team?
I am flying solo and I love it. Yesterday was my first show and I flyered all day. I thought no one turned up. I asked David at Whistlebinkies – “Is there no one here”? He said you have to open the curtain and bring them in. I opened the curtain and OMG there was a crowd there. I recognized every single face. Flyering Works. There is an art to it – you have to enjoy it as much as your show! I like to try find the connection with people and have a laugh in the street. I was so happy.
What are your hopes and dreams for the Fringe?
I wrote a new show. That’s it! I’m happy with that. After the traumatic experience on Britain’s Got Talent in 2019 I could not write. During Covid I was paralized at what I saw happening. I have had 4 bereavements in my family this year. In the last 3 weeks, I wrote this show. I am so relieved I have found a way to express what I see. I reflected on my previous 4 years and realized that the fringe I enjoyed the most was the PBH free fringe. That was the most fun! I want to surpass breaking even. I would like a good review- or two. I want people to come and I want them to see clearly the 28 years it has taken me to do this.
What makes you laugh?
I don’t know. I laugh a lot. Even when I’m sad. I got my sense of humor from my dad……He used to make me laugh…..
What is it that made you a performer?
There is a comfort and a control onstage. If someone picked me out in an audience, I would climb under the chair to escape or run out the emergency exit. I can’t cope with lots of normal things. On Stage I let myself out. It is a happy place to be. Easier than parking. Easier than Machines. Easier than Spelling. Easy!
How will your audience think/feel differently after an hour in your company?
I don’t know them. I am not people pleasing in this show but I am trying to deliver a balanced set that covers all aspects of the skills I have developed over my 28 years onstage. The topics are challenging but I have found away to embrace the elephant in the room- lightly. I am not sure if what I am saying will be deeply understood.
Whose show – apart from your own – are you looking forward to seeing at the Edinburgh Fringe?
There are lots of acts from NI and I will try to catch all of their shows. https://linktr.ee/nirelandedfringe2022 and the Tiger Lillies……
What’s the most useful piece of advice you’ve been given?
When I arrived for my first fringe (with my child who was 8 at the time) to an over 18s venue. The manager said “Hide the child under in the harp case till the inspector goes”…….That was good advice. We only needed to hide him once. The run went great!
Do you have a favourite Fringe memory?
Meeting John Fleming the first year I arrived and playing at the Malcome Hardee Awards that year I got nominated. They were wild. All of them. Nuts. Mental. I had no clue what was going on. Lots of them were naked – Juggling and stuff. And there I was with a harp……I knew in that moment I was on the right path!
Who is your showbiz/Fringe idol and why.
I don’t watch tv since 1987 and I don’t do idols.
The Trucking Harpist, Whistlebinkies, 18.30, August 7-16, PBH Free Fringe
(Not in Fringe programme)