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A soul at home, an expatriate in Bloom
The Irish songwriter is gaining a following with his personal songs
By JENNIFER BUCKLEY
"It's a very tricky thing," explained
LukaBloom, "becauseI've been living
like this for so long, traveling and sing-
ing, that sometimes you feel that home
is where you happen to be singing on
any given night."
It's an uncharacteristic statement
for Bloom, whose most recent album
'Turf' is very much about his home,
Ireland. Addressing its political and
social problems, eloquently describing
its beauty andpleading forpeace, "Turf"
reveals in no uncertain termsjust where
LukaBloom finds the "Sanctuary" that
he sings of.
"Ireland is where I live. It's my
home. Having lived in America for
years I know there's nowhere else I'll
end up but Ireland. But you'll have to
pardon me. I tend to be cynical about
it," he admitted in his soft brogue.
"People ask me about my Irish con-
sciousness and subconscious and I just
crack up laughing ... They expect me
to start talking about James Joyce or
W.B. Yeats or Van Morrison or
Kathleen Ni Houlihan." He laughed, "I
can't take any of it seriously. People
ask, 'Where do your songs come
from?"'His voice acquired a hard edge
as his accent thickened. "From the
Celtic mists of Ireland! From the roll-
ing hills and the green woods and all
the sheep shitaround them!" He sighed,
"You Americans love that Celtic myth
bullshit. It's become a marketable prod-
uct, don't you know?"
Sarcasm aside, Bloom's songs cer-
tainly come from the heart. His warm,
This looks like a war-ridden picture, doesn't it?
Costner, Wood make peace with
*each other in Avnet's 'The War'
By PRASHANT TAMASKAR
According to the cinematic defini-
tion, war is the settling of a dispute
through the use of military force. How-
ever, to the majority of people who
have not participated in armed ser-
Directed by Jon Avnet;
with Kevin Costner
and Elijah Wood
vices, this is not a germane topic. To
them, war is the conflicts that they
undergo every day in their struggle to
survive. In Jon Avnet's "The War," he
addresses this issue by paralleling one
man's experience in the conflict in
Vietnam with the battles that he fights
as a father in rural Mississippi. By
doing so Avnet attempts to document
the fact that every single person takes
part in the biggest conflict of all - life.
Kevin Costner plays Stephen, a 34
year-old father of two, who is strug-
* glingtoreintegrate himselfintosociety
afterretuming from Vietnam. Although
he appears fairly normal, he is a victim
of post-trauma syndrome, a condition
that prevents Stephen from holding
onto a steady job. Throughout the
movie, he teaches his children (Elijah
Wood and Lexi Randall) about the
importance of avoiding conflict, citing
various misfortunes he encountered
overseas as evidence. However, this is
*a difficult concept for his children to
understand as they are constantly being
bullied by another group of kids.
Throughout the rest of the movie, war
is alluded to as various situations are
created and resolved.
Th performances of all of the lead
actors in this film are excellent.
Costner's character is sensitive and
sweetly optimistic for someone with
terrible luck. His refusal to give up
hopeendears him tothe audience. Mare
Winningham and Lexi Randall also
play important roles as the wife and
daughter struggling to cope with the
circumstances that have changed the
man they once knew. However, the
movie is stolen by Elijah Wood who
shines as Costner's young son Stu. His
character is rather complex for a 13-
year-old, and Wood has no problem
mastering every aspect. There is no
doubt that he could teach many people
in Hollywood about the art of acting.
"The War" relies heavily on emo-
tion, the majority of which is produced
by numerous subplots within themovie.
Although most of these do relate to the
overall motif of the film, the overabun-
dance of storylines takes away from
the deeper message Avnet tries to
present. It is also debatable whether
several of the resolutions of the main
conflict are consistent with the film's
Ultimately, this movie succeeds
based on the strength of its main char-
acters. They lead the viewer on an
emotionally unpredictable and drain-
ing ride through the lives of a Southern
family. Combined with Avnet's inge-
nious allusion to war, this makes for an
entertaining film that is more relevant
to the average viewer than any depic-
tion of military conflict could ever be.
THE WAR is playing at Showcase.
rich tenor gives his gentle yet passion-
ate tales a sense of urgency even in
their quietest moments. The lyrical ter-
ritory covered by "Turf" ranges from
the desolate, lonely "Sanctuary" to the
hopeful "Right Here, Right Now" (no,
not the Jesus Jones song, kids). "Cold
Comfort" paints an uncertain picture of
an expatriate in New York City. "It's
bittersweet - new music, new faces /
There's always someone missing from
the scene /It's late at night, somebody
from home says /'You never had it so
easy / Taking in the world with your
guitar' / I swear that's cold comfort."
Bloom describes a similar situation
more hopefully in the gorgeous "To
Begin To." He sings, "Now a young
man sits alone /In a world of informa-
tion / Still he ploughs the song fields /
Looking for inspiration / Looking for
songs to begin to."
The angry "Background Noise"
specifically focuses on the "troubles"
between Ireland and England. "You
hear the cries of the different sides ...
our tears are all the same," he insists
over his ringing acoustic guitar.
Bloom finds the recent moves to-
ward a peaceful resolution of the ten-
sion "unbelievable. It's unbelievable,"
he repeated in a hushed voice. "The
potential for peace is greater now than
it possibly ever has been. And not just
peace in terms of the absence of vio-
lence, but in terms of people opening
up their hearts and minds." He feels
that "it's been leading up to this for
some time now. And what makes me
very hopeful is that it's coming from
the grass roots. It's not just politicians
mouthing off. It's coming from the
Bloom continued, "Ideally the goal
is that we can ... share the island. Of
course I'm making a very complex
problem far too simple, but I feel that
everyone in the world who has these
sorts of problems ought to be forced to
live in Manhattan together for about
After all, Bloom made his own exo-
dus to New York. After years of play-
ing under his real name, Barry Moore,
in Irish and European clubs with little
success. Still, music seemed like the
only choice for him. "I'm the youngest
of six kids. I'm the deprived, emo-
tional, sensitive one, don't you know?
Anyway, I wasn't very good at sports
or any of that sort of carry-on, so play-
ing the guitar and singing seemed the
only way I knew that I could get within
15 feet of any girls. There were a lot of
initiatives right there," he chuckled.
The novelty of the attention soon
wore off, though, and Barry Moore
grew restless. "It took me so long to
make that decision (to leave)," he re-
called. "It was one of those inspired
moments born out of total desperation.
I'd been struggling in Ireland and En-
gland and Europe for what seemed like
"I wasn't very good at
sports or any of that
sort of carry-on, so
playing the guitar and
singing seemed the
only way I knew that I
could get within 15
feet of any girls. There
were a lot of initiatives
lifetimes. I found myself at the tender
age of 31 at the end of my rope."
So Moore left Dublin to head for
the US. "I just said, 'I've got to go
somewhere new with a totally new
identity and create a new life.' And
where else in the world do you do that
... but America?"
As Luka Bloom, the singer quickly
"found an audience on the East Coast"
with his acoustic performances, always
solo. "Actually, I played with a really
awful band in Dublin about 10 years
ago. We were one of about five thou-
sand bands that wanted to be the next
U2. But I got wise to the limitations of
that very quickly." These days, Bloom
said, "I'm traveling with a band. My
black guitar is Rudy, my white guitar is
Judy, and that's the band."
And so Luka Bloom will redefine
his turf once again on Saturday night.
This time, the Detroitarea will feel like
home as he straps on a "band member"
and greets his audience.
LUKA BLOOM plays with special
guests Rootbox at the Magic Bag
Theater in Ferndale on Saturday at 8
p.m. Tickets are $14.50 in advance
through Ticketmaster or $17 at the
door. Call (810) 645-6666.
Luka Bloom is just another one of those crazy Irish men.
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