Singer Joe Kenny on Damian Dempsey, Luke Kelly and how his blindness isn't holding him back

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, blind singer songwriter Joe Kenny

1. When did you think about a career in music and what were your first steps into it?

I don't remember a time when I didn't want to play music for a living. My first step was probably a school band called Hard Shoulder... we thought we were amazing. I suppose I was hooked when, after a sound engineering course in Leeds College of Music, I ended up running a recording studio with a friend for 10 years. Even now playing gigs around Belfast and Newry, I never get bored of witnessing how live music makes people feel so good.

2. Best gigs you've been to?

The Killers in the SSE in Belfast in 2014 - the crowd was so up for it that night. Another big fave of mine was Damien Dempsey in the Empire a year or two before that. The way the crowd just sang along, it was like a religious experience. And Lionel Richie in the SSE in 2017. He's just such a professional and knows what he's got and how to use it.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

On guitar I would have Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Brian May, the Edge and all the guitarists from Thin Lizzy. Fronting the band would have to be shared between John Martin, Luke Kelly and Christy Moore, with a song or two from Eddie Reader. I'd have Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, with the drummer from Bob Marley and the Wailers take over for those quiet reggae numbers. Oh, and I don't mind playing bass or triangle or something.

4. The record you'd take to a desert island?

On Raglan Road by Luke Kelly.

5. And the book you would take to a desert island?

Would there be electricity to allow me to listen to audiobooks? Or perhaps I'd need to take a braille book along. I'd love to take the yet unpublished sixth book of George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones series, but that's probably impossible.

6. Top three films?

Withnail and I, Good Will Hunting and Top Gun.

7. Worst film you've seen?

The Highlander sequels were the biggest pile of rubbish.

8. Favourite authors?

George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. I remember when I got my first talking book player from RNIB and ordering every Stephen King book they had.

9. Sports you most enjoy and your top teams?

Formula 1, and I'm a long-suffering Armagh GAA supporter.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

I think holidays are a state of mind. You can be on holiday anywhere if you can get away from the stresses and strains. That said, I love Galway and I remember going on a trip with work to the Gambia, West Africa and just thought it was a wonderful place. We have a lot to learn from them in terms of culture and looking after each other.

11. Pet hates?

Recycling bins, unending routines, adverts on YouTube, milky tea and when people say that being blind would be the worst thing they could imagine. I'm blind and I can imagine soooo much worse.

12. What's your favourite:

Dinner? Steak and chips with all the trimmings.

Dessert? Cake, cake, cake.

Drink? A good pint of Carlsberg

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?

I'm getting married in November, so my fiancée is my best friend of course.

14. Is there a God?

If there isn't, there should be. Look at the state of this place.

:: Joe Kenny's seven-track EP, Perfect Fool is out now. You can stream his music via Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon or visit Joekenny.hearnow.com/perfect-fool. You can follow him on social media by searching for Joe Kenny Music.