Luka Bloom’s style of guitar playing is very distinctive. In his early career as Barry Moore, Bloom used a fingerpicking style. However, tendinitis in his hands forced him to adopt a heavy, fast strumming style which is the one he still uses and is often credited with his success. He usually plays in the DADGAD tuning and plays his electric acoustic guitar through a bass amplifier and chorus pedal to produce a warm, haunting tone. In more recent years he has performed his sets entirely with a Spanish guitar with softer strings than his steel-strung electric acoustics: this has mellowed his tone somewhat. It is possible his change in guitar choice is related to his tendinitis.
History and touring
He began his career in the United States playing small clubs in Washington DC and later in New York City. He was a frequent performer in New York’s Greenwich Village at the Red Lion, where he played with Eileen Ivers backing him on fiddle, during his “Irishman in Chinatown” tour. (Ivers would also appear on the Riverside album.) His guitars were often introduced by name at gigs.
He toured America frequently through the 1990s, although his contemporary touring schedules take him mostly to Europe.