Don Baker was born in Whitehall, Dublin in 1950, but by the time he was in his early teens he was already showing his natural talent on the harmonica and guitar.
Living in the Corporation Buildings in inner-city Dublin he was attracted to blues music, and by 1973 he was playing all over Germany, Austria, Holland and France, earning a living from the music he not only loved, but was supremely proficient at. He spent a decade on the road, paying his dues, travelling on trains, and sleeping on floors.
Don became a significant Irish musical figure in 1979 when he was invited by the Late Late Show to compose a song about inner city Dublin. ‘Dublin’s Inner City’ was the outcome, and the version by The Jolly Beggarmen reached No. 2 in the Irish charts.
Over the years since then, Baker has built a solid reputation as a singer, guitarist, harmonica player and songwriter. Many of his own compositions offer disarmingly honest reflections on aspects of his own life and personality, and he has openly spoken of his deeply spiritual approach to life and people.
He has recorded several acclaimed albums, including Almost Illegal, Born With the Blues, Duckin’ & Divin’, Miss You, No Regrets Live in Concert, Born With the Blues, Just Don Baker, No Nonsense and Rain On The Wind. His DVD/video releases include Don Baker Live and Don Baker In Profile.
Mark Feltham (who has played with Oasis, Joe Cocker and Rory Gallagher) rates him as the greatest acoustic harmonica player in the world, and similar acclaim has come his way from both Nashville session musician Charlie McCoy and U2’s Bono. He has written several instruction books for harmonica players, and several tutor videos. The esteem with he is viewed on the international circuit is shown by the fact that he is a regular adjudicator for the World Harmonica Championships (blues section).
Baker’s harmonica influences include blues legends Sonny Boy Williamson and Sonny Terry, as well as the afore-mentioned McCoy who recorded Baker’s composition, ‘Jordanna’. His guitar playing was, by his own admission, inspired by Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Blake and Robert Johnson, but others also see the influence of more modern players of the calibre of JJ Cale and Mark Knopfler.
Baker made his screen debut in 1993 in the film In The Name of The Father directed by Jim Sheridan, and starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Emma Thompson. He also appeared in Mia, Liebe Meines Lebens in 1998 with Claudia Cardinale, and in 2001’s On The Nose with Dan Ackroyd and Robbie Coltrane. Don recently picked Best Supporting Actor at the 14th Melbourne Underground Film Festival, which premiered his “apocalyptic crime thriller” The Late Men, from director Van Poynton. The film’s title sequence – featuring Don’s electrifying harmonica – was nominated for Excellence in Title Design in SXSW, Texas, 2013.
His 2013 album, My Songs, My Friends, features a selection of his own songs sung and played by a star-studded line-up of guests including Liam O Maonlai, Brian Kennedy, Gemma Hayes, Finbar Furey, Sinead O’Connor, Eleanor McEvoy, John Spillane, Mick Pyro, Clara Rose, Rob Strong, Pat Collins, Martin Furey, Paddy Casey and Declan O’Rourke. It also contains three live bonus tracks recorded by Baker at The Olympia.
My Songs, My Friends was released Friday 18th October, 2013
Strictly over 18′s, I.D. may be required.
AFTER THE GIG
Whelan’s Indie Club w/ Late Bar from 10:30pm or check out the bands playing The Midnight Hour in the upstairs venue (FREE ENTRY, 12am).