- 28 Feb 17
A celebrated sax-player who’s worked with Christy Moore, Van Morrison and Rory Gallagher, Keith Donald's extraordinary one-man show recalls not just his musical exploits, but also his encounters with alcoholism, paramilitaries and the Irish Special Branch.
As the Morrisons cooed over the arrival in August 1945 of little George Ivan, the Donalds from round the corner in East Belfast were strapping their slightly bigger bundle of joy, Keith, into his pushchair. Both have gone on to have distinguished musical careers, Van as the purveyor of finest Caledonian soul and Keith lining up alongside the likes of Christy Moore, Donal Lunny and Declan Sinnott in the band that ripped up the trad rulebook in the 1980s, Moving Hearts.
“Yeah, I’m six months older than Van, not that he recognises my seniority!” Keith smiles. “We had it in common that while I was playing jazz in Sammy Houston’s as a teenager, he was literally round the corner playing blues in the Maritime Hotel. We often ended up drinking together. I’m going to preempt your next question by saying, ‘No, I’ve never had a difficult conversation or problem with Van.’ I used to visit him at his house in London, and he’s stayed at mine up in the Dublin hills. He’s a force of nature alright, but one I love being around.”