LIVING a sustainable life isn’t always possible when you’re a travelling musician.
But for Irish folk singer-songwriter Luka Bloom, the story of pro surfer-turned-sustainable living advocate Fergal Smith was enough to inspire the title track for his new album, Frugalisto.
Bloom first met Smith three years ago when he moved to the west of Ireland.
At 21, Smith stepped away from his life travelling the world as a competitive surfer to embrace a simpler way of living, growing his own food and inspiring his community to follow his lead.
His frugal ways impressed Bloom who penned the song Frugalisto – a variation on the word frugalista – in his honour.
“I found him to be a very inspiring young man, as have many other people in this area. I wanted to write song about him, so I decided to call him my original frugalisto,” Bloom says.
“He’s really gotten people in the area where I live into growing their own food and living a more sustainable life and thinking about waste and consumption and what we really need to live full lives.”
Among the tracks on the album is also an ode to the country Bloom has toured every two years since his first visit in 1992.
He wrote the song, Australia, last year after waking up on Easter Sunday and feeling a sense of longing after plans to perform at Byron Bay’s annual Bluesfest over the Easter weekend fell through.
“We had planned to do a tour last year but for various reasons it just didn’t happen and so I woke up on Easter Sunday last year and I was reflecting that if things had worked out different in 2015, I’d have been performing in Byron Bay,” Bloom recalls.
“But it didn’t happen and so I woke up in Ireland and suddenly felt this strange feeling of longing. I realised that I missed Australia [laughs] and it was really a beautiful feeling and I immediately went and within the next hour wrote that song.”
Bloom, 60, says Australia is the “one place” in the world that he misses when he’s at home in Ireland.
“I know it’s probably hard to believe that and I know that Aussies are often a skeptical, cynical lot and have very finely tuned bullshit antenna, but when I first landed in Australia in 1992 I just felt this great sense of connection and love for the place,” Bloom says.
“I made a conscious decision at that time that I would do my best to cultivate and nurture whatever the nature of the relationship between me, my songs and the Australian people is and I’ve remained true to that for 25 years.”
Growing up in County Kildare, Ireland, Bloom (then known as Barry Moore) had his first taste of playing live when he joined eldest brother and fellow musician Christy Moore on tour.
He released a string of albums but it was not until a life-changing decision to move to New York City in 1987 that he found his feet, changing his name to Luka Bloom and releasing his classic album, Riverside.
Making albums has become tougher in this era of online streaming services, Bloom says, and so he took to social media to put out the call for fans to support the recording of Frugalisto and was met with a “really heartwarming” response.
“I decided to be honest and say to people who know me and know my work that basically in this era of streaming and all that stuff that I can only make records if people actually buy the damn thing,” Bloom says.
“I really love this album. I think this is my favourite album that I’ve done for many years.”
And it has been a family affair.
His sister, Anne, runs his website and is responsible for shipping out copies of the album.
Bloom says the post office in his village couldn’t be happier.
“They love me now because they’ve actually had some business in January with all the stamps we had to buy,” he laughs.
“People have actually responded incredibly kindly to my honestly in saying that unless someone buys the records, I can’t afford to make them.”
- Luka Bloom performs at Lizotte’s on March 1. Bookings on 4956 2066 or online at lizottes.com.au