For nearly any singer/songwriter on the planet, the idea of collaborating with Mark Knopfler would be the stuff of fantasy.
But for Bap Kennedy, it was just the latest in a long line of projects with musical legends.
After working with Steve Earle and Van Morrison, in came an offer to record an album in the Dire Straits frontman’s own studio
The Sailor’s Revenge was to be the album written by Kennedy and produced by Knopfler featuring songwriting that grows stronger with every listen.
Bap’s first encounters with the record business were as rhythm guitarist, lead singer and songwriter for Belfast’s Energy Orchard.
During his time in Energy Orchard, Kennedy first worked with Van Morrison, who gave the band support slots to supplement their hectic touring schedule.
Bap said: “Van is up there with Jimi Hendrix and Neil Young. One of those guys. He was around at the start of all this and he’s still here!
“He comes from the same place as me in Belfast. I know the same streets he grew up in in Belfast, and you just have to put aside the hero worship thing. He’s a musician, a songwriter and so am I, so we have to meet at that level. You couldn’t write a song with him if you let that stardom thing get in your way”.
After the breakup of the band, alt-country superstar Steve Earle soon contacted him, offering to produce Bap’s first solo album.
Kennedy agreed, and soon found himself on the plane to Nashville, TN, where he would record Domestic Blues, which made its way into the top ten of the Billboard Americana chart.
The follow-up, Lonely Street, was an artistic project based on two of Bap’s childhood musical heroes, Hank Williams and Elvis Presley and his next album, The Big Picture, would see Bap returning to work with Van Morrison.
For Howl On, released in 2009, Bap recorded in his native Northern Ireland for the first time in his solo career and returned to writing a series of songs on a subject that had fascinated Bap in childhood.
The Sailor’s Revenge features Kennedy’s most mature and sophisticated songwriting to date. Bap is joined by guest musicians such as Jerry Douglas, Glenn Worf and Knopfler.
Highlights include album opener Shimnavale, inspired by old photographs of a family who lived there and Bap’s own experience as an immigrant.
Bap plays King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut on Saturday. Tickets £10. Phone 08444 999990 to book.