Q & A with Dillie Keane
How would you sum up Love and Other Bad Ideas?
It’s a collection of songs about life, love and relationships… Most of them are my own compositions, but I’ve started to feel confident enough as a performer to include songs by other writers. I was lucky enough to meet some songwriters a couple of years ago in New York who write the same kind of quirky songs as I do, and I’ve included a few of these in the new show. I’m really excited by them, they fit into the set really well.
Michael Roulston will be on piano – how did you come to be working together, and how would you describe your dynamic on stage?
I saw Michael playing for a charming duo called Shoo Shoo Baby! in Edinburgh in 2007 and thought how incredibly talented he was: a superb musician with a very pleasing presence on stage, and a genuine understanding of comedy with an innate feel for a vast range of musical styles. I earmarked him for later… but then when I started to do solo work again, he seemed to be playing solely with Sarah-Louise Young, an artist I greatly respect, and I didn’t want to poach him from her. She got to hear of this and was horrified that Michael might lose good work and let me know that I was more than welcome to ask him to work with me. I did, and we haven’t looked back. In addition to his professional gifts, he’s incredibly thoughtful, kind and reliable - a real mensch - and a delightful travelling companion.
What do you hope audiences will take away from the show?
A memory of a happy, laughter-filled evening and a bouquet of good songs.
What’s your favourite Christmas song?
I have to admit that Christmas songs aren’t really my bag… BUT I will make two exceptions. One is a particular rendition of the beautiful Elvis Presley/Martina McBride song, Blue Christmas. It’s on the excellent McGarrigle Christmas Hour album - their long term collaborator Chaim Tannenbaum sings it, and it is utterly haunting and heartbreaking. Here’s the Spotify link. The other is our own Fascinating Aïda Christmas song - but it’s not for the fainthearted, so please don’t click on this link* if you’re easily shockable! (*contains extreme profanity)
What do you hope to find in your Christmas stocking this year?
World peace would be nice. I usually ask for plants - I’ve requested a pair of climbing roses - I’m particularly beguiled by this one called Chawton Cottage. But in fact, I don’t want anything in particular, I have so much already. All I want to know is that the people I love are safe and well. If that sounds syrupy, so be it. But I suspect that an awful lot of people want the same.
If you could choose anyone to be in your Christmas bubble, who would it be?
My best friend, Amanda Walker. She died in 1988 and I miss her still.
You’ve played at The Yvonne Arnaud before. Do you have any memories from previous shows?
Oh, so many memories… The Yvonne Arnaud has been a happy stamping ground for Fascinating Aïda for many decades now, and of course I did panto there with the wonderful Kit Hesketh Harvey. But it’s going to be my first time back since Jamie Barber died, so that will be a little painful. He was such a pal, a lovely man. He always left a welcome card and flowers in the dressing room. A prince amongst theatre managers.