Singer Songwriter Siobhán O’Brien: You Can’t Run Out of Love

Cleveland Comhrá: Singer-Songwriter Siobhán O’Brien:
You Can’t Run Out of Love
by Bob Carney

Limerick native Siobhán O’Brien relocated to the Washington D.C. area in the spring of 2017. Within six months she had secured an opening slot at the famed Birchmere Music Hall and has been selected as a North East Regional Folk Alliance Folk-DJ Showcase Artist by DC radio icon, Mary Cliff.

Siobhán’s solo work blends traditions of American song, including folk, blues, rock and country, as well as English, Scottish and Irish traditional music. Her latest recording, “You Can’t Run Out of Love” has just been released.

I was invited to her Cleveland performance at P.J McIntyre’s last October and have become a big fan. Siobhán took time from her hectic schedule to speak to us as she prepares for the launch of her new cd, You Can’t Run Out of Love.

OhioIANews: Did you grow up with music in the house?
Siobhán: Oh God yes! My dad had a huge record collection, a lot of crooners and good singers, he was into good singers. On my mom’s side, she’s a singing teacher, her dad was a conducter, composer and a music teacher. His parents had an opera company; they used to travel all around the English speaking parts of the world.
I think the talent comes from both sides really. My dad played a bit of the guitar too. He got me into Bob Dylan when I was thirteen. I was surrounded by music.

OhioIANews:  When did you decide to pursue music as a career?
Siobhán: I got the guitar when I was sixteen, and after learning some chords, I wrote my first song about four months after that. I never thought that I would be able to do that. I thought that was like a godly thing that these people that write songs do; I didn’t think it was possible for me to do it!
I got my first gig at eighteen. I saw Tracy Chapman perform when I was in the south of France and I wrote home to my father and told him I was going to play music the rest of my life. So that was the point it happened.

OhioIANews:  There are some great songs on your new CD, “You Can’t Run Out of Love.” I really like “Love is the Holy Grail.”
Siobhán: That song got an honorable mention in American Songwriter this year and is also in the running for the International Songwriting Competion in Nashville as well as, “The King’s Fool,” also on the CD. I’m really happy about that!
“The King’s Fool” is going to be the first single and “Love is the Holy Grail” will be released second. Everyone here seem to be converging on those two, but my Irish friends seem to prefer the last two songs on the CD, “Sanctuary,” co-written with Eamonn Hehir, and “Mother.”

OhioIANews: They seem to be very personal.
Siobhán: They are, maybe that’s why the people that know me prefer them. I’m really looking forward to them coming out. Hopefully it will bring me to another level of touring. I’d love to get on the road with my band. I recorded the album in Austin and the band is down there. We launched there Jan.17, and the radio play should be happening around then too. Public radio, Sirius XM, everything and anything! I’m looking forward to what comes out of it.

OhioIANews: This is your third full length CD, isn’t it?
Siobhán: It is. I did a lot of EP’s and tapes when cassettes were still around; my first cassette was under the name “Millie Tumblweed,” (laughs). I was romanced by the western movies, that was when I was nineteen or twenty.
I had another tape after that called, “What’s it All About,” then “Mumbo Jumbo Bla Bla Bla.” They did pretty well on Irish National Radio.
The first full-length album was a cover album called “Songs I Grew Up To,” featuring Paddy Moloney of The Chieftans on the pipes; that’s been a very successful one. I never thought I would do an album of covers, but it happened quite by accident.
There’s a producer in Co. Clare, Martin O’Malley, who has a great sense for folk music and traditional music too. It just evolved, I was putting the songs down to send to my aunt and uncle in California, who had loved me singing them when I had visited them.

When I came back to the studio, Martin started messing around with them and I was like, “ Oh my God! What is going on here!?” So we decided to go forward and invited Paddy Moloney along and he was delighted. He invited me to sing with The Chieftans as a guest vocalist at the Boston Symphony Hall. That was really cool!
After that came my first all-original full length album in 2013. It sounds crazy that it took so long, but that’s the way music is now; we can’t always give it (recording) our full attention because we have to make a living; plus it takes a lot of money to do these kind of things. I’m the Little Red Hen, trying to do it all on my own.

OhioIANews: Will you share your story about meeting Bob Dylan?
Siobhán: I saw him coming out of a hotel in Dublin, and I walked up to him and asked him to take a tape; he wouldn’t. I told him I didn’t want to annoy him. I said “ I just want you to listen to my music, I sing!”
So he said, “So sing for me. I did a verse of an old spirtitual that Joan Baez used to sing. He said, “Sing another verse.” I did, and he told me to walk with him.
I was singing him bits of old folk songs as we walked. I think he was amused, he brought me along to the gig, at some point I must have sung “The Fox.” He said, “Maybe you’ll sing that with me.” He was really really nice to me, that was 1993 in Dublin.

OhioIANews: Will your tour bring you back to Cleveland?
Siobhán: I would love to, but it’s hard to book in cities where people are unfamiliar with you. Even when you send out CD’s, most people won’t even look at them unless you’re highly recommended. I hope from the radio and PR campaignthat I can come to the attention of some of those types of people.
I’m trying to get out of the bar scene, but it’s a Catch 22, because I need to make money, but that’s what we all do. I hope next year I can elevate, that’s not to make little of the bars; I’m trying to move to the next level.
That’s what “The King’s Fool” is all about. I literally left everything I loved to do this; it’s a burning desire I just can’t get away from. Every disappointment I say, “Oh I just can’t do this,” but it’s a curse. But that song came from those frustrations and it turned into something great, so I’m delighted.
You can listen to Siobhán O’Brien on Amazon Music, Spotify, Facebook, or YouTube, or visit her website: www.siobhanobrien.com, to purchase a CD of your own.

*Bob Carney is a student of Irish history and language and teaches the Speak Irish Cleveland class held every Tuesday @Pj McIntyre’s. He is also active in the Irish Wolfhounds and Irish dogs organizations in and around Cleveland. Wife Mary, hound Morrighan and terrier Doolin keep the house jumping. He can be contacted at carneyspeakirish@gmail.com

*Bob Carney is a student of Irish history and language and teaches the Speak Irish Cleveland class held every Tuesday @Pj McIntyre’s. He is also active in the Irish Wolfhounds and Irish dogs organizations in and around Cleveland. Wife Mary, hound Morrighan and terrier Doolin keep the house jumping. He can be contacted at carneyspeakirish@gmail.com

class held every Tuesday @Pj McIntyre’s. He is also active in the Irish Wolfhounds and Irish dogs organizations in and around Cleveland. Wife Mary, hound Morrighan and terrier Doolin keep the house jumping. He can be contacted at carneyspeakirish@gmail.com

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