Singer-Songwriter Amo talks music and moving to Boston

Singer-Songwriter Amo, given name John Doyle, recently moved to Boston where he performs regularly on the local bar scene. Originally from Keadue in Co. Roscommon, he has released two albums of his own songs which are available for download on iTunes. The Irish Emigrant caught up with Amo prior to his gig at the Junction in South Boston to discuss his music, growing up in Ireland and moving to the U.S.

Irish Emigrant (IE) - How did you get your name?

Amo - My dad is also named John Doyle. By the time I was seventeen I was playing solo gigs, but I couldn’t use my own name as my dad was very well known in the west of Ireland. I picked the stage name Amarillo. “Is this the way to Amarillo” was a popular song in Ireland at one time and I would finish my shows with that song. Eventually people shortened my name to Amo.

IE - Is your family musical?

Amo - My younger sister Barbara was a Senior All-Ireland Champion Harp player, sadly no longer with us but here in spirit. She was extremely talented and traveled the world performing with Ceoltas. My dad plays seven instruments, so we all grew up with music. John Senior toured all over Ireland when he was younger in the showband scene.

IE - How would you describe your style of music?

Amo - I’m a Singer-Songwriter that is electric guitar driven and little bit more rocky. My influences would be Tom Petty, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Counting Crows, Crowded House.

IE - When did you first come to the U.S.?

Amo - I came out here in 1994 on a vacation when I was nineteen. I met a band called Wave Length in Upstate NY in East Durham at an Irish music festival. They asked if anyone in the crowd would like to come on stage and sing. I went back to my digs, grabbed my guitar and ended up playing that whole weekend with the band. That was my first introduction to the U.S. and I fell in love with it! After that vacation in New York I went back to Ireland to study business. I performed regularly in Sligo and Letterkenny where I had a fairly big student following. While I was in college I was lucky enough to get my green card through the lottery. I completed my business degree and flew out to NYC soon after.

IE – How was life in New York?

Amo - I started out doing residencies for about two years. That gave me enough savings to record my first album. I was offered a management deal, but the offer wasn’t right for me. I decided to record the album myself and distribute it at my gigs. The album was produced by a good friend of mine Paul Zunno, who played guitar for the late Wilson Pickett. I signed a production deal for my second album at Manhattan Center Studios in NY in 2003. Brian Hardgrove produced the album, he was the musical director for Public Enemy at the time. That album gained a lot of exposure through myspace if anyone remembers that website!

IE - What can people expect at one of your gigs now?

Amo – It’s a mixed bag of what I like to play. I enjoy trying to cover U2 because it’s such a huge sound. It’s just me and my guitar. I use quite a few effects to try to replicate the sound. I also cover Kings of Leon, Coldplay, Tom Petty and I do a hip hop version of Danny Boy which turns into a Rolling Stone song at the end!

IE - How did the move to Boston come about?

Amo - I moved to Boston last summer. I played a few gigs in The Snug in Hingham and I've been playing there once a month since. Later in the year I moved to Southie and I’m now playing at the Junction once a month. I also get hired to do a lot of private events. I came to Boston primarily to work in the family real estate business RGR Reality Group. I have a brother and sister in Boston and it felt like a good time to make a change. We just got licensed as a brokerage, so we are a fully fledged, full service real estate brokerage and management company. On the real estate side I’m primarily focused on sales, rentals and new development.

For more information on Amo and to view a schedule of his upcoming gigs visit www.amomusic.com

Amo