In the run up to the forthcoming Concert at Queens taking place at Easterbrook Hall on the 4th June Local Music and Frestival aficionado ‘Sid Ambrose’ interviewed Ken McCluskey who is the lead singer with The Stars From the Commitments and who also appeared as Scully in The Commitments movie back in 1991.
Kenneth was born and raised in Dublin. At the age of 13 he received his first guitar and by the time he reached his early twenties he had formed and joined several bands. Ken co-wrote several singles, all of which reached respectful places in the Irish Record Charts. At 24 he won the role of Derek “The Meatman” Scully in the Alan Parker film The Commitments. After this he earned a small part in the Tom Cruise film ‘Far And Away’. In the early 90’s Ken Lived in NYC and won a scholarship to study acting and the famous Lee Strasberg School of Acting, also know as the Actors Studio. While in NYC he performed in several plays and independent movies, before returning to Dublin to form The Stars From The Commitments with several of the other original cast members.
This has been a long road lasting almost 20 years. The Stars From The Commitments have performed approximately 2,000 world-wide gigs and are still going strong. Along the way Ken has had the pleasure of performing with soul legends such BB King, Wilson Pickett, Ben E King , Steve Cropper (The Blues Brothers) and Sam Moore (from Sam and Dave).
Sid Asked Kenneth – Why do you think The Commitments movie was so popular and has an enduring appeal ?
The film is about the economic conditions in Dublin and the raw appeal of soul music but more than anything it is a movie about how hope alone can be the ultimate salvation of those who have nothing else to look forward to. The film shows the rise and eventual fall of a band that was on the verge of a record deal. The bands manager is told after the band breaks up. “Success of the band was irrelevant,” “You raised their expectations of life and you lifted their horizons!” the lesson being that the band members had achieved a greater level of personal achievement than they had hoped for before they had joined the band. The music plays a huge part of why the film is enjoyed, and no mistake the acting is certainly creditable. It is about the hopes and dreams of a bunch of working class kids from the north side Dublin struggling to make something of their lives.
Why did you decide to take the characters from the movie out into the real world so to speak with a real life touring band?.
We didn’t actually take the characters from the movie. When people see the band on stage they recognize the faces. Prior to the film I played in bands and had a successful career but when the opportunity to tour with The Stars From The Commitments arose it seemed very interesting and the opportunity to continue performing the soul music to live audiences was very appealing.
You have been involved in two art-forms music and cinema, what benefits do you see art having in communities and or for individuals?
From the beginning of mankind music and art has played a major role in our evolution. We have evolved to be social and interactive and the capacity of people to act together on matters of common interest makes a greater difference in the health and well-being of individuals and neighbourhoods…..
We are very proud of our region Dumfries and Galloway, do you have any knowledge about or connections to our area ?
Unfortunately I don’t have any connections, although my name is McCluskey which is a Scottish name, so if I was able to trace my family tee I am sure there would be ancestry there. If I am not mistaken the poet and writer of traditional Scottish folk songs, Robert Burns hails from Dumfries
Can you sum our area up in one sentence as if you were trying to recommend us on trip advisor?
There is a glorious rocky and sandy coast line and lots of activities to choose from,you’ll be greeted by rolling hills and glorious green countryside
I recently spoke to Rick Buckler from the Jam, he is now an antiques restorer, do you ever see yourself retiring from the music industry and if so what would you do instead?
I am very interested in Irish History. So if I do decide to retire I think I would like to study/ teach History
Lastly what album would you take if you were to be stranded on a desert island?
Please, Please Me, By The Beatles,, ( fantastic)
The stars From the Commitments will be supporting ABC at the gig which kicks off at 6pm on the 4th June in the Easterbrook Hall Dumfries.
Get Tickets here http://www.qosfcstore.com/abc-commitments-concert-ticket
You can find out more about The stars From The Commitments on their website by clicking here http://www.starsfromthecommitments.com/bandbiogs.html
Article written by Sid Ambrose.