Those of us in New Orleans who are up on our Irish mythology might recognize ‘Áine’ as the name of the Irish goddess of summer, wealth and sovereignty, but those of us up on the Irish musicians playing in New Orleans might recognize Áine O’ Doherty as the name of one of the newest, and best additions to our city’s Celtic music tapestry.
Red-haired, fine-featured, with a wicked sense of humor, and a strong, expressive singing style Áine hails from Bundoran, Co. Donegal. She started her career very young, singing in her father’s bar, The Chasing Bull - a name that commemorates a parental misadventure involving a country road, a speedy intact adult male of the species Bos Taurus and her luckily even-speedier mum. Following the impromptu race, in typical Irish fashion, the bull’s owner suggested that The Chasing Bull was a great name for a pub, and so was born a bar which in 2008 won the IMRO (Irish Music Rights Organisation) Live Venue of the Year Award. At eighteen Áine found herself in charge of hiring bands and organizing music in the Bull, and also taking the first steps on the road that would lead her to New Orleans.
“We always had music,” she said. “Tradition sessions, rock bands, Irish rock bands, travelling bands, and that kind of thing. Dad always moved with the times, and tried to have music that fit every genre and generation, from people under 20 to people over 60.”
While attending college in Co. Mayo she entered a couple of song competitions and, after being approached by various music venues, decided to take a year off college to, in her own words, ‘check out this music thing, and see if I could do it’. With the help of her father’s PA system and car, she never looked back, receiving the Brendan Graham songwriting award, placing fifth in the Irish version of American Idol, winning a summer scholarship to the Berklee College of Music, touring the U.S. as half of the duo Surfchixxx, and releasing two solo albums ‘Secrets and Lies’ and ‘Little Diva’.
“I use the road a lot for metaphors,” she said. “I have travelled a lot over the last few years, and I wrote a lot of songs about being on the road, and how hard it is to have a relationship, because you are there one night, and then you are gone. Yeah, just being on the road, love, sex…no sex…and drinking! I have a song called ‘Johnny Depp’ which is about somebody who has just been dumped and having to spend a few nights alone, and keep your own self company.” She paused, smiling. “It gets a lot of laughs.”
“I came to New Orleans for the first time last year while doing a tour with Surfchixxx,” she resumed. “I wanted to pick a city, and when we got to New Orleans it just ticked all the boxes. The ideal thing would be that you could have everyone that you love in the one place, but that is not the way life is. You have to go and reach out for something. In New Orleans there is something new, not every day, but every minute. You can have good days, and bad days, but you always have something to put in your diary.”
Áine O’ Doherty will be performing at the Kerry Irish Pub, 331 Decatur St on June 10, 21, 24 and 30, and at the Irish House, 1432 St Charles Avenue on June 8, 16 and 22.
Further information is available at 504 527 5954, and 504 595 6755.