PAULINE Scanlon did not hesitate when she was invited back to Australia to be in Exile Songs, a theatrical musical journey into the Irish Australian soul. “It’s an amazing show,” the Dingle singer said of Shane Howard’s Exile- Songs and Tales of Irish Australia show which chronicles the Irish impact on Australian life.
Scanlon will join Shane Howard, beloved Cork singer John Spillane and a host of other artists from both Ireland and Australia for two exclusive shows at the Port Fairy Folk Festival.
Howard is a passionate Irish Australian who first came to prominence in the 1970s with his band Goanna. “It’s really moving and Shane is amazing. It’s really powerful, really powerful imagery. Shane’s married the two elements together really beautifully. It’s kind of the truth of how it all unfolded and what happened after they came and all of that.My favourite thing about it is meeting all the Australian musicians, the band is amazing.”
Irish musicians Andy Irvine and John McSherry, well known for being founding members of the great bands Planxty and Lúnasa respectively, will also be part of the show.They will be joined by Australian country singer Troy Cassar-Daley, Darwin singer-songwriter Leah Flanagan, Lynelle Moran and Shane himself.
“It was great the last time to make new connections because I’ve always felt connected to Australians.
“I went out in 1998 on the one year visa and I’ve been back so many times and I’ve lots of friends there. Lots of Australian friends and lots of Irish friends who subsequently emigrated there so I find it an amazing thing. “John Spillane is my favourite songwriter in the whole world. I absolutely love him, he’s a very close friend and also I’m just a fan, a complete fan of everything he does. I’m delighted we’re going to be doing a couple of duo gigs because he’s great craic, he’s great company on the road.” Pauline and John Spillane made the trip down under when Exile toured Australia in 2016 with big names like Paul Kelly, Declan O’Rourke and the Australian-based Irish singer Áine Tyrrell taking part.
When she was a teenager, Pauline herself spent time in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. “I loved it. Had an absolute ball, had a whale of a time and I’ve been back every couple of years since. I’ve never left it too long to visit Australia. “There’s been different migrations to Australia. There was people going because their parents gave them money when they finished school. “It was a bit of a rite of passage to go to Australia and then there’s another strand of people who go because they have to but I think most of the people, in my life anyway who have done that, are very happy there.” A singer with Sharon Shannon’s band for three years, Scanlon is also well known as one half of celebrated singing duo Lumiere with Éilís Kennedy.
As a solo performer, she has built her traditional following but added enough contemporary style to attract a broader audience since her debut album Red Colour Sun in 2004. Pauline had the pleasure of playing engagements for the New Zealand leg of Michael D Higgins’ recent trip down under, when the Irish head of state also toured Australia in October. “It certainly was an honour and he spoke so eloquently all the time and we were so proud of him.
I heard lots of things about his trip to Australia and how people felt the same about him. He does us proud anywhere he goes.” Port Fairy have a distinctively Irish feel to the line-up this year. In addition to the Exile show, there is also a tribute to Shane MacGowan’s Pogues. “There’s always a good spread of Irish acts.
My husband [Belfast musician Eamon Murray] is in a band and he’s played in it loads of times, all pals of mine have played there. Every time I’ve played there myself, there’s always been one or two people that I know.” Exile, featuring Pauline Scanlon and John Spillane plays for Port Fairy Folk Festival on 9 and 10 March.
Pauline also plays on 11 and 12 March as the festival runs 9-12 March. Pauline and John play as a duo at Petersham Bowling Club, Sydney on 15 March, Canberra Irish Club on March 16 and Blue Mountains Folk Festival on 17 and 18 March. For more information on Port Fairy or to buy tickets, go to www.portfairyfolkfestival.com