Howard To Join Black On US Tour

By Andrew Brasier, Irish Echo, Page 12

Australian singer/songwriter Shane Howard is set to join popular Irish vocalist Mary Black on a tour of the United States.

Howard, who has written several songs for the Irish performer, is scheduled to appear on stage with Black as she and her entourage embark on a three-week national tour beginning this week.

Black and Howard are due to perform at venues in cities such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Savannah.

The Australian, who had a huge hit with Solid Rock in the 1980s, has indicated he will play Farewell Dan and Edward Kelly during the tour.

One of the most requested songs from his recently released Beyond Hope's Bridge album, Farewell Dan and Edward Kelly is Howard's evocative reworking of a traditional tribute to Ned, his brother Dan and fellow gang members Joe Byrne and Steve Hart.

"I figure a lot of the audience I will be playing to will be Irish-American so by playing this song it might be a good introduction to my work for them," Howard said.

The former rocker turned folk singer/guitarist will also accompany Black on songs he has penned for her as well as singing duet with her on a Jimmy Choi song, If I Gave My Heart To You.

Howard has praised the Irishwoman's support.

"I met her in Australia in late 1992," he said.

"I was supporting her on tour and we just hit it off and we have been great mates ever since."

Three of Howard's songs feature on Black's recently released "best album".

They include Flesh and Blood, Don't Say OK and Give A Little.

"Mary is good to all her writers and very supportive," he said. "She appreciates being put in touch with new material. Mary understands that by doing my songs she is empowering me."

Howard added that Black was generous with her time on and off stage.

"She is no princess in terms of being precious. She is a really good mate and always up for a drink and a few songs after the show. She loves the craic."

The Australian is currently enjoying modest success with his Beyond Hope's Bridge album.

He has been "pleasantly surprised" by public reaction to what he describes as a "relatively obscure CD" which was released independently.

Howard explores a range of themes - love, immigration, history, the ups and downs of life - in his work with its mix of Irish-influenced tunes and contemporary storytelling. Another song with an Irish twist is his version of a traditional song, Na Conneries (about convict Irish boys longing for home). Other tracks proving popular are Feathers and Simple Things, according to Howard.

For sales visit the website www.shanehoward.com.au The CD is also available from JB Hi-fi and independent retailers.