Q&A with Galway's country music singer Mike Denver
The Irish country music king, who is originally from Galway, will be conquering Glenarm Castle next month as part of this year's P&O Ferries Dalriada Festival
What can fans expect from your show at Dalriada?
We're planning for it to be a really relaxed day, a family day. You can bring the granny, you can bring the kids, you can bring whatever you want! Hopefully, it's going to be an exciting day, as well. There's going to be a lot of people out to have fun and enjoy themselves, and that's what the gig is all about.
You're a regular face on the touring scene here. Why do you think Northern Ireland is such a hotbed for country music?
I don't really know. I've been on the road for just over 11 years now, and country music, from the day I started, has been huge here. It's probably a little bit bigger than in some other places because it's a very mixed age group, from young people right up to older people. It's acceptable to be into country music up here, whereas further south, sometimes it isn't.
Not many Irish country artists can say they recorded a duet with the late, great George Jones. Were you starstuck?
It was definitely starstriking! George Jones is probably the biggest country artist right across the globe. He's recorded with all the big stars. So, for me to get a chance to hop into the studio with one of the all-time greats, it was a very frightening moment, but also very exciting.
Last year marked a decade since your first gig. Did you think you would have such a successful career to date?
When you're starting out, you're not really looking at where it's going, but touch wood, I've been very lucky. We've recorded 14 albums and four DVDs, and we're back in the studio at the moment. We've never been stronger than we are now. It's great to be still on the road – and still enjoying it, which is the most important part.
Are you comfortable being away from your family for while gigging?
It's just like going to the office at eight o'clock in the morning and not getting home until eight o'clock at night – it's something you get used to. I've got used to the routine of going out at four or five in the evening and not getting home until four or five in the morning. There's no one could deny that the hard part of the music game is the travelling. You can be tired, you can be not feeling well, but you still have to go up and perform. But once you're up on that stage, it's two hours of enjoyment.
Mike Denver will be performing on Monday, July 14, as part of the P&O Ferries Dalriada Festival, which runs in Glenarm from July 13-19, and includes the Highland Games, as well as crafts, celebrity chefs and family fun. For details, visit www.dalriadafestival.co.uk