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Headshot of Cuchulain

Summer Series Q&A: Cuchulain

The NPR Music-featured folk singer Cuchulain is bringing his wry wit to the Hult Center as part of the free concerts during the Hult Center Summer Series.

Hult Center: For those who would be hearing your music for the first time, how would you describe your sound?

Cuchulain: A woman came up to me after my June show in Milwaukee and said, “You know, I had tickets to see Primus tonight, but I decided to come to your show because I didn’t want to wear earplugs.” So I guess we’re not really that loud, or heavy metal. Someone else came up to me after my show in Ann Arbor and said I played the “strangest blend of folk funk” he’d ever heard. Usually I just tell people I play folk rock / Americana / country. Maybe that’s not representative though.

HC: You have lived all over the place. Is there a particular local sound that influences your song writing, or is it a blend of all of these different flavors?

Cuchulain: I’d like to think that my many hometowns have left their unique mark on me equally along the way. But that would be a lie. I grew up in the Southeast, so folk and country and the music of the Appalachian states are the hearthome of my inner soundtrack. And of course the different music scenes in the other cities I’ve lived in – New Haven, Paris, DC, SF, and now Eugene – have seriously shaped my sound. I still feel like I’m figuring out what the Eugene music scene is about, so I’m not sure I can truthfully say it has influenced my sound yet. Though my song Good Morning Eugene is about this amazing city, so there’s that. 

HC: What folk artists resonate with you and inspire you? Is there an artist in particular you couldn’t imagine your life without?

Cuchulain: Joni Mitchell, John Prine, Randy Newman immediately come to mind. Johnny Cash. I am currently obsessed with the recent videos of Joni’s historic performance at this summer’s Newport Folk Festival. I’ve started crying every time I put on that version of Both Sides Now. The Randy Newman Songbook is always on heavy rotation in this house. John Prine is perhaps the reason I do what I do. And I wouldn’t know him without Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings, Old Crow Medicine Show…. the list goes on. I’m very into Dijon and Waxahatchee right now. Trying to get more into Leonard Cohen. If you haven’t heard the new Beyoncé, stop reading this and go listen.

HC: You have had a couple songs get noticed and featured by NPR. How have moments like these impacted your music career?

Cuchulain: It can often seem like there’s a lot more rejection than validation in the life of an independent singer songwriter. So moments of external recognition, especially by a media outlet that has shaped my listening since I was very little, feels very rewarding. It’s a nice little pat on the back. And sure, it definitely helps me book performances and get noticed by strangers who wouldn’t otherwise care much. 

HC: What can the audience expect from your upcoming live performance?

Cuchulain: To anyone still reading this blog post – y’all better hold on to your horses. We might blow your socks off. You think it’s hot in Eugene now? Think again. Remember last year’s heat wave? It’ll be kinda like that but worse. This music is about to raise the temperature of your fair city by ten degrees at least. At a bare MINIMUM. The sheer caliber of the horn arrangements might start to melt the pavement on the streets near the Hult Center. The magnitude of the indie folk grooves will start a chain reaction that’ll make the concrete sidewalks sizzle and fracture. Expect coordinated outfits. Expect dancing. Expect harmonies. Expect to laugh. Or at least chuckle or guffaw a little. Expect the best concert of your life. Actually on second thought, scratch that, don’t do that.