Anto Morra is like no other artist. A deep knowledge and love of the folk song tradition coupled with a London Irish punk rock rebellious streak (aquired through his roots and upbringing) gives him a unique perspective on making art and music. Between his first singing performance in 1988 and his first album in 2013 he taught himself to play guitar and bodhran while fliting between one job and another and one band and another until he eventually gained access to art school where he got a BA (Hons) in Graphic Design / illustration before returning to his first passion of music.
Venues played include such varied locations as Norwich Cathedral to Glastonbury festival, Cropredy Festival, The Guinness Museum Dublin to An Old Clipper Ship On the Norfolk Coast as well as London’s legendary Hope & Anchor, Dublin Castle, Water Rats, Cecil Sharp House.
Inspiration comes directly from his life and love of popular culture. Irish folk songs were what his parents sang and listened to and never really interested Anto until the early 00’s when he was working with a Dublin man who suggested he should learn a few Irish songs. Taking to them like a duck to water he started getting booked to play all the old Irish Folk Standards. He joined a ceili band in 2003 and played all over Norfolk until he left in 2011 to concentrate on his solo career and songwriting.
London born and bred his formative years were gripped by punk rock and seeing Sid and Nancy, Joe Strummer and Mick Jones in the streets where he lived had a profound effect on his teenage outlook but London Irishman John Lydon was and still is a real inspiration. Though purely a music fan it was always singers that grabbed his attention and those that sung with his accent appealed most Tommy Steele, David Bowie, Ian Dury, Paul Weller and Suggs have all been important in the journey to find his own voice.
Ireland is a place Anto would spend the Summer holidays each year. Bored in his Mothers hometown in rural Co. Cork and in his element in his Dad’s Dublin. The music was all Boomtown Rats at the time once they’d all got over the Bay City Rollers. Anto’s favourite band at the time were Stiff Little Fingers so although very much a Londoner there was a strong Irish understanding and appeal. When it came to learning some Irish songs it was The Dubliners, The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem and Planxty that he turned to.
Norfolk was the place Anto’s family came to escape the city. Long weekends and half term breaks were spent visiting family there so when Anto decided he needed a slower pace of life Norfolk was the obvious choice. Settling in Norwich city where in the mid 90’s he formed Indie guitar band ‘Fountain Head’ and played all the main venues in Norwich and around Norfolk before disbanding in 1996 when Anto was accepted into Norwich Art School.
Ceili band Whirligig recruited Anto in 2003 as a rhythm guitarist and to sing a few traditional folk favourites between dances. Anto got well and truly hooked on Folk. Chris Holderness is a leading light on the Norfolk Folk scene and has a deep knowledge and understanding of the history of the scene around Norfolk and Anto learnt a great deal from him to the point that when Chris left Whirligig Anto kept the band together.
Folk & Mayfest. Once Anto had caught the folk bug and started regularly attending folk clubs and so on the way home from one he called into a good pub close to his home in Norfolk and after striking a great rapour with the (ex DJ) land lord Anto started his own monthly folk session. The next few years saw his folk session go from strength to strength and the landlord was so happy that he converted an adjoining building into a custom made music venue and so between 2008 and 2011 Anto organised music for ‘The Mayfest Acoustic Weekender’ hosting over 40 acts over 2 days and an evening. The landlord retired just before the 2011 weekender and so the monthly session and annual weekender came to an end. In 2019 he returned to the same village to stage FAR (FOLK & ACOUSTIC ROOTS) Festival which also turned out to be a great success.
Never Had To Shout was Anto’s critically acclaimed debut album released on his late father’s birthday in 2013. The record was 18 months in the making and employed the cream of the Norfolk Folk and acoustic scene, many of which Anto met while organising Mayfest. The reason it took 18 months was that once Anto had found a studio (The Foundry) he liked and could afford then recruitment started and dates set up with Fiddlers, Banjo, Mandola players and prucusionists backing singers. The studio building was owned by Tim Flaxman and run by John Child of acoustic punk band ‘Badly Worn Boys’ there was a couple of songs that Anto felt would benefit from a full ’77 style punk rock arrangement and so Tim (Bass) and John strapped on a Gibson SG and with some also imaginative Cajon from LongShoreDrift’s Luke Horncastle The Punk Folk sound was born and the title track was in the bag.