My Weekend: We celebrate the story and lives of major movie and musical icons

Linda Kenny performs in The Everyman Sunday Songbook on February 23, now in its 17th year. As well as entertaining Cork audiences, the performers are hitting the road with their concerts at 30 other venues nationwide.
My Weekend: We celebrate the story and lives of major movie and musical icons
Linda Kenny.

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

My name is Linda Kenny and I have been married to Mark for 24 years this May. We met in UCC where I did an MA in English. We have two boys, Dylan, aged 16, and Calum, aged 12, and we live in Innishannon. We also have a little dog called Sally Ann.

In a previous incarnation, I was a book publicist (I had my own publicity company New Leaf Publicity) and promoted some incredible works by the likes of Roddy Doyle, Joseph O’Connor, Alice Taylor, Dermot Bolger, Maeve Binchy, Colm Toibin, Anne Enright, Niall Quinn, chefs Conrad Gallagher, Domini Kemp, political heads David Irvine, Gerry Adams, and Fergus Finlay and many many more. I loved the nine years I spent as a publicist.

But when kids came along, I went back to the singing. I started working alongside Cathal MacCabe in the National Concert Hall in Dublin producing popular music concerts but with our twist: the break down of the 4th wall between us and the audience by asking them to sing along. The concerts were a huge success. We piloted them in Cork’s Everyman Theatre, under the title Sunday Night at the Palace, gave the audience word sheets and the rest, as they say, is history. Now in our 17th year together, working as the Everyman Sunday Songbook in Cork (the Great Singalong Songbook around the country) we have had added to our band of merry men: first was the addition of our fantastically versatile MD, Alan Carney, who not only sings and plays but sets the hearts of the ladies a-flutter! We get regular correspondence asking who the ‘hottie’ is! No kidding! And, after the passing of our beloved Michael Twomey, Alf McCarthy joined us. He is a massive addition to the family. There are nine of us now, including our band members (John McGrath on guitar, Jimmy Hynes on percussion and Brian Hyland on bass), Yvonne Cronin our stage manager and Cathal MacCabe our writer and director.

We have finessed our product now: We celebrate in song and story the lives of major movie and musical icons. Using a giant screen to project the lyrics for the audience, we also sometimes use video and photos. 2018, after 15 years of doing them in Cork, three to four times a year, we decided it was time to dip our toes in the waters elsewhere and we have been overwhelmed by the audiences’ reactions all over the country. We have about 30 dates already in the diary up to the end of the year and continue to seek other venues for our unique brand of entertainment. We are currently touring with Who’s Sorry Now? The Story of Connie Francis and Bobby Darin. Audience reactions in Birr Theatre and Theatre Royal Waterford has been ecstatic so we can’t wait to bring it to Cork’s Everyman Theatre on Sunday, February 23. After that it’s on to the NCH where there are only a few tickets left, and the Civic in Tallaght (March 22, which is sold out already!).

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

My ideal Friday evening would be to have a glass of chilled sauvignon blanc on the island beside me, some equally chilled music playing, while I rustle up something yummy to eat for Mark and me, followed by Netflix in front of a blazing fire. I say ‘ideal’ because it is generally hijacked by other priorities.

Linda Kenny. Picture: Miki Barlok
Linda Kenny. Picture: Miki Barlok

Lie ins or up with the lark?

Unfortunately with two very active and school going boys, lie-ins are a mere dream for me. I am up at 7.30am almost every single day. Last year, I was getting up at 6.30am so, for me, 7.30am is a lie in.

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

My weekends are usually when the concerts happen, though of course I would sing at weddings, funerals and gigs mid-week too. As I’m self employed, my week/weekend is a seamless tapestry. I never really switch off but try to fit my work around the family.

When I’m not singing, I’m on the laptop and phone working ahead with theatres on all the shows we have running with them. I write press releases and articles for the print media, set up radio interviews, hire any personnel or equipment we need for our concerts, work on marketing materials with the designer, and manage the day to day running of our little musical family.

If money was no object where would you head to on a weekend city break? And who would you bring with you?

There are so many cities that I would love to visit: Chicago, Venice, Sydney. The real issue would be the flying! I have a mortal dread of flying. However, if I could be magically transported somewhere, without the necessity of flying, I would be so predictable and say London. It has the perfect balance of great culture, delicious dining, accessibility and a feast of theatre. I would like to spend my afternoons and evening gorging on theatre so my travel companion would have to be a theatre-lover like me (I can’t see my boys tolerating so many shows but for me it would be nirvana)!

Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries?

I’m a sucker for the sea so I do head there when I can during the summer. But Killarney is probably my favourite spot all year round. It has everything. The hotel selection (though my preference is the fantastic family run Lake Hotel) and the spa (The Europe Spa is the best spa I have EVER set foot in). Two nights in the Lake Hotel being looked after by Niall Huggard and his team and I feel like I have been away for a week!

Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend?

I try to meet my friends mid-week for a walk-talk or a catch up over a quick coffee. Life is so busy, I’m just grateful to see them, however sporadically. The weekends are generally full on with the boys but my hubby and I love to meet up with friends when we can.

Do you get to indulge any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

I’m one of the lucky ones I guess as my hobby is actually also my work. And I get to work alongside some of the nicest, most generous-spirited and talented group of musicians and creatives every day. My other hobby, if I had time to invest in it, would be cooking. It is so relaxing and therapeutic for me and I would dearly love to be doing more with this but never really have the mental space to be really creative. Life is too busy.

Entertain or be entertained? If it’s the latter do you have a signature dish?

Oh I am so happy when we have lots of friends coming for dinner. The dish depends on my mood and who is coming along. I have realised that I am a Feeder. I always buy and produce a lot of food. I love a dinner table that has lots of different dishes to choose from. Personally, I am a picker so I love choice. A bit of this and a bit of that. That’s how I like to eat so that’s how I like to prepare for dinner too.

We have so many places to eat out in Cork — where are your go to spots for coffee/ lunch/ special meal?

The Pavillion in Ballygarvan is one of my favourite spots for coffee and lunch. And I’m also partial to Twelve Tables in Douglas. For dinner, I came across this stunning little Spanish restaurant last year and just can’t wait to go back again: The Iberian Way in Douglas Street. Highly recommended.

Sunday night comes around too fast ... how do you normally spend it?

When you put it like that, it seems I don’t have a ‘normal’ anything. Sunday night could be commuting home from an afternoon concert, singing on stage at a night time concert, dinner with the boys and Netflix by the fire. It really depends on the week.

What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning?

7.30am every morning Monday-Saturday.

UPCOMING SHOW

Linda Kenny will be appearing at the Everyman in Who’s Sorry Now: The Story of Connie Francis (& Bobby Darin) written and directed by Cathal McCabe and also starring Damien Smith & Alf McCarthy on Sunday, February 23rd at 7.30pm.
Booking on (021) 4501 673 or www.everymancork.com.

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