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Jack L - Doing it with a Sixty-Piece Orchestra If there is any justice in the world, Jack Lukeman is going to be huge. Sorted magAZine charts the growth of his career.

[image: jack l] At 24 years of age, Jack L is already on the way to becoming Ireland's hottest musical property. His live shows are a constant sell-out as he gradually moves through the ranks of Ireland's music venues. At the moment, his career is primed for international take-off. Talking about the recent past, the present and the future, the ex-mechanic from Athy in Kildare seemed as excited about it all as his fans.

His biggest break yet came recently with the inclusion of his voice on an Iarnrod Eireann (the Irish train company) ad. The song was an old Frank Sinatra number, "Summer Wind", not one of Jack's favourites, but the opportunity was too good for him to pass up.

"They were doing it with a 60-piece orchestra, being paid to fulfil your dreams is not a bad thing, so that's kinda why I did it. It's every singers dream to do it with a full orchestra."

Jack was not the first choice to do the ad, but like many others in Ireland, they were won over by his voice.

"They tested out a couple of people for it. They told me they were looking for Nick Cave to do it, couldn't imagine that myself. And Naimee Coleman, she went for it, but they liked me, so that's kinda how I ended up doin' that."

The ad lead to a hit single in Ireland that was released on Sony, however Jack's future label status is still in negotiation. "Sony were willing to put up the money to see what the result was. It was just for the single to look at a deal for an album. Something that's going to be on TV constantly - it's good. People get to hear ya and whatever. In this day and age we're livin' in, it's hard to get people out of their fuckin' houses. It's a logical step just to be on the telly and let them hear you, or they never fucking will."

While negotiations with Sony are still in progress, Jack wants his future releases to be on a more global scale. There are a few different proposals being put to him at the moment.

"If they like it and I like it, whatever the proposal is, yea of course. If not, if needs be, it'll be independent. I suppose I'm independent again now."

He has enough material recorded already for 2 albums, which are ready and waiting for release. In the meantime, he has released a cassette of acoustic numbers, called "Acoustico", available at his gigs. The new material is mostly original, but that does not mean he's decided never to do another cover version (his first album, "Wax" contained mainly Jacques Brel numbers, see the article in issue 1).

"There's still a fucking mountain of songs by other people I'd like to sing. It's not like I go - 'Oh, no man, I'm singing my own stuff'. If they're good enough, most definitely. In the gig now, I'm still doing a couple of Brel numbers. I'm not planning on putting any covers on the new album, but maybe there could be."

The band at the moment is largely a return to the Black Romantics line-up, the band with whom Jack recorded "Wax".

"We got the core of the Black Romantics back, they disbanded, the timing was right, so they came in and we got back together."

The former Romantics are: Ginger O'Keefe on bass and double bass, Derek Harrison on drums and Brian Lynch on keys and piano. Added to that is Darlene Sovran, the Canadian singer-songwriter, who plays guitar for Jack as well as playing her own gigs around Dublin. Finally, there's David Constantine on acoustic guitar and, of course:

"Some other cunt's singing. We had an accordion player in and we've been using a bit of violin and stuff, depending on the gigs, but we've been getting away with it just as we are. It's a nice tight little unit now."

The band have been doing, as the man himself puts it, "heaps of shit in England, so much that there's almost too much going on." This 'shit' included playing at the London Mean Fiddler anniversary gig at the end of last year. But it was the Summer of '97 that started off much of the diverse projects Jack has become involved in. During the Galway Arts Festival in July, he started one project with Pat McCabe, the writer of the Butcher Boy, a project that's still going on. Pat reads from one of his books and after each reading, Jack does a song.

"It's a break from the usual thing. You're getting these massive intros into the songs, it's really fuckin' good. You can never get an intro like it and I get to do songs I normally wouldn't do. I'm doing a couple of originals and, 'cos a lot of his books revolve around songs, like the Butcher Boy is a song title and all his books have songs in them, I come along and sing them. I've really enjoyed that, I'm going to do a lot of stuff around Europe and stuff like that as well."

In the same vein was the Lios Ard Festival in County Cork, an environmental festival in August, headlined by Nick Cave and Patty Smith. Jack supported Nick on the 100 acre estate in Lios Ard, where the woodland is being preserved by the owner who lives in a big mansion in the middle. At midnight, those taking part would either do a gig or read poetry around rings of fire in the ruins of burial grounds.

"It was really fucking cool man, it was a break from the whole festival drinking, getting off your head kinda thing."

And finally, from the recent past to the far future. Will Jack follow his idols to Vegas?

"I'd like to go, that'd be cool. Actually, I met a woman from the States one night and she was talking about it, but I never heard anything else. At the end, I'll probably end up doing that or fucking playing weddings."
Jack Lukeman - metropolis blues
Jack L - Whelans, 17th March, 1997
Streetwise - In the City 1996 Special
Jack L - Tivoli, 14th November, 1998

by Donnacha DeLong.

For a bit of light relief, here are some of the titles we considered for this article, but were rejected by our Sub, Olivia:

The L-evation of Jack
By L or high water
Out of Athy
The Luckiest man in the world
A lot of talent and a little Luke, man
Jack L is alive and well and living in Kildare
Viva L's Vegas
'Train'-ing for success