Quick Q and A with Honor Finnegan

 Honor Finnegan is a force to be reckoned with!  As John Platt of WFUV’s “Sunday Breakfast” show says of her:  “Honor Finnegan’s clever songs, powerful voice, and endearing stage presence have made her standout on the fertile NYC folk scene. Don’t miss her!”  I couldn’t agree more.   Her voice is one of the most distinct and powerful instruments I’ve heard in a long, long time.  She captivates the audience once she walks onto the stage and holds them in the palm of her hands throughout the performance.

In addition to her solo work, she’s part of the Chicks with Dip group who are tearing up the east coast with their tribute to Joni Mitchell’s  Blue album.  They also entertain with their own songs and it’s a great evening of special songs.

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What was it like touring with “Annie”as an 11-year old?  

 I loved being on tour 90% of the time. It was a dream-come-true. I missed my family at first, but there were lots of fun and interesting people and I loved the show. We had a tutor, but I don’t think I did much school work on the road. I didn’t have any trouble getting back into regular academics when I got back home. In fact, I was in the top class. I’m smart 🙂

Tell us about your improv days.  I understand that you studied with Del Close who has an extraordinary resume including work with Second City and Saturday Night Live.  What did you learn from Del and has the art of improvisation helped you in your music career?

 I studied and worked with Del from 17 years old to 22 or so. I learned a lot from his work and a lot from our relationship. He was a Svengali figure to me. The rules and goals of long-form improv have definitely shaped my thinking as an artist. Just trusting the creative process, taking a leap, and being courageous were great lessons. 

I definitely want to know about “Honor Finnegan Versus the Brain of the Galaxy.”  

 I was on an improv team called, “Baron’s Barracuda’s.” We were the house team, and we put a lot of work into the Improv Olympic at Crosscurrents. Del wanted to do something special for us, so he decided we would write and stage a show. He was really into Japanese anime, sci-fi, and comic books so the idea for the show came from him. I was the heroine who saved humanity from the Brain of the Galaxy. I sang a love song to Godzilla where I had to drop to my knees. I bruise easily so I was black and blue for the entire run of the show. 

 What prompted your switch to music and a move to Ireland? Was that a pivotal moment for you? Singing with various kinds of bands during that part of your life must have been life-changing. Was it?

The move to Ireland was a spiritual thing, I felt pulled, drawn. I wanted to find an Irishman to marry. I wanted roots. I did musical theatre in there, too. Sweet Charity, The Hot Mikado, and The Hired Man. I sang trad songs in Buttermilk Lane off Shop Street. I sang in blues bands, jazz bands, big bands, and I was even asked to join DeDannan, but it didn’t work out. My son was a newborn at the time. Moving there totally changed life, and I still have a lot of affection for Galway. 

 Joni Mitchell.  Tell us about your thoughts about her as an artist.

 I remember hearing her on the radio as a kid. She made me happy. She was unique. No one else sounded like her. Sunny and soulful.   I like that combination. 

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You belong to the Jack Hardy Songwriter’s Exchange.  Has the opportunity to belong to this group helped you to concentrate on your songwriting in a more serious way?  What’s a typical session like?

 I love the songwriter’s exchange. It’s definitely helped me as a writer. It reminds me of my improv days. We do it just for the love of the art, and we dig each other’s work as much as our own. That’s such a turn-on if I can use a 60’s expression. It’s also a place to push yourself artistically without regard to convention, which is so much fun. 

 What’s the history of your song “Internet Junkie?” Are you, in fact, an internet junkie?  It’s all right if you say you are. We’re all friends.

 Pretty much. It started with Facebook and YouTube. Now that I’m single, I spend a lot of time on a dating site called Ok Cupid, or as I like to refer to it, Ok Stupid. I thought I’d get a funny song out of the ridiculous things I’ve seen and read, but nothing so far. I did get some dates, and some songs came out of that. 

 Some of the fun quirks in “Internet Junkie” came out of live performance so that’s why I like to take a song for a long walk before I record it. 

 What’s up next for you, Honor?

 I’ve had such a great year, and I feel very supported by my fellow folkies, especially the Chicks. 

 I have another CD in me waiting to get out so hopefully I’ll get some funds together this year. I am playing more and opening for some cool acts. If you know any eligible guys you can fix me up with, give me a jingle!

 For additional information about Honor Finnegan, check out her website.

The Chicks with Dip will be playing at the me&thee in Marblehead, MA on March 8.

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