In town a month ago for her musician brother Shay’s 60th birthday party, Dublin-based diva Mary Black looked fit as a Celtic fiddle at 55.
But she says she has been slowing down a bit, careerwise. Her San Francisco gig Saturday marks her first American tour in three years, she has not released an album of new material since 2005’s “Full Tide,” and lately she has been ditching her bustling hometown for a rustic cottage retreat in rural Kerry, where she has started painting with acrylics.
“I go down there for peace and joy,” she says, sipping a glass of wine. “There’s no television, it’s in a lovely Irish-speaking area that’s steeped in tradition and music, and you can go sit in a bar with six other people and just sing songs and play music.”
Retirement, however, is out of the question, thanks to an unassuming greatest-hits collection, “Twenty-Five Years, Twenty-Five Songs.”
Two years ago, Black was averse to releasing it — she had already put out four.
“Then someone told me, ‘You know, Mary, you’ve lasted for 25 years, so you should really celebrate it!’” she says. “So we brought this album out, and it went straight to No. 1 for five weeks in Ireland, then stayed on the charts for 40 weeks and sold incredibly well. And as soon as I started touring, suddenly we were having these huge sellout concerts with lots of young people coming.”
The two-disc set features remastered versions of the former De Dannan warbler’s crystalline signature tunes — “Sonny,” “Song for Ireland” and “Only a Woman’s Heart.”
“It’s given me an injection of energy, absolutely reignited my career and made me feel like, ‘Wow! There are all these people out there who still like me and want to hear me!’ Black says. “So now I’m even looking at the possibility of recording another album.”
After hearing that fellow countryman Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol praised her recently, she blushes for a minute but quickly regains her composure.
Black will soon record with old friend Sinead O’Connor, and she has been co-writing with her 25-year-old son, Danny of the red-hot Irish outfit The Coronas.
“I’ve been meeting a load of artists like Gary Lightbody who come up to me and say, ‘Oh, my God, it’s so great to meet you!’” says Black, who is considering an album of collaborations with younger artists.
“So I’m not bad, considering,” she says, staring at her empty wine glass. “My health is good; I’m trying to keep fit, and I try to eat well. But I, er, do drink a bit more than I should!”
IF YOU GO
Where: Bimbo’s 365 Club, 1025 Columbus Ave., San Francisco
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Contact: (415) 474-0365, www.bimbos365club.com, www.ticketfly.com