Irish Examiner: Jimmy Crowley is bringing it all back home to Cork

Jimmy Crowley has started a new folk club in his native city, writes Pet O’Connell

“I want to give people a true flavour of Cork and I want them to hear some of the songs that are in my book Songs from the Beautiful City which is the folk narrative of the harbour and city, and give people an authentic connection, a piece of entertainment that’s based on history and research, as well as promoting fellow bards.

Read the full article at: http://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/artsfilmtv/jimmy-crowley-is-bringing-it-all-back-home-to-cork-452294.html

Two Bits of Urgent News

Jimmy asked me to pass along to you the following news. It’s not a proper write up so I’ll just post it with minimal editing:

First of all, I’d like folk to be aware of a pretty important (Ireland) TV program on me, my relationship with my new community of Cobh on Cork Harbour, my art etc. It’s called “Nationwide”, on at 7PM tomorrow, Monday.
 
The second piece of news is that my single, “Feel LIke a King” (see vid) will be released on Patrick’s Day. It’s available on the digital format thru Spotify, etc.

New York Book Launch

Pictures from New York book launch of “Songs from the Beautiful City: the Cork Urban Ballads,” See Touchline, End of October 2015 for details.

Jimmy Crowley America

Jimmy Crowley with Consul-General of Ireland, her Excellency Barbara Jones at the New York launch of ‘Songs from the Beautiful City.’

Jimmy Donie

Donie Carroll, Kerry singer Claire Horgan & Jimmy Crowley

Jimmy Crowley Launch USA

Liz Hanly and Mick and friend

Mick maloney us

Mick Moloney

 

Being a summary of Jimmy Crowley’s exile in America and the realease of his new album, “Irish eyes.”

During the height of the Celtic Tiger dynasty, Jimmy Crowley found himself single and with a Green Card courtesy of the U.S Government in his back pocket. Having released his acclaimed album The Coast of Malibar,  it seemed that what remained of the fraternity of the folk scene was no longer healthy enough to sustain an artist whose spirit was spun from the gregarious loom of the folk revival. Ireland was changing fast but not the way Jimmy Crowley wanted it to change. He became an middle-aged emigrant settling in the, beautiful old town of Dunedin, near Clearwater in Florida. It was a good move from a creative standpoint as new songs began to simmer bearing a  diverse concoction of contemporary plasma from his life in retrospect and from the American experience; songs that will shortly find a home on his next album, Life.

Regular forays to New York to team up with seminal figures like Mick Moloney shaped his American experience, honing and revising hitherto closed concepts of musical forms through an ethnic journey of re-discovery. He was searching for a fresh musical pasture and America seemed to be a place where you could think in an untrammeled fashion at a safe remove from the Irish context. Jimmy struck up a friendship with Mississippi folk musicians Valerie Plested and Don Penzien and another dissident Corkman, singer and actor Máirtín de Cógáin. As Captain Mackey’s Goatskin and Stringband, they played all the major American festivals including Kansas City Irish Fest, Milwaukee, Boston “Icons” festival, Jackson Celtic Festival, N.E Louisiana Celtic Fest and North Texas Irish Festival. The highways and skies of America were well used to the ceaseless meanderings of the Corkman as he plied his profession in his adopted country. In their debut album, Soldiers’ Songs, Captain Mackey’s Goatskin and Stringband tapped in to the power of the ballad as a social document, explored the fortunes and misfortunes of Irish soldiers, caught in the tragedy of the war theatres of history.  Free from the delightful distractions of Ireland, Jimmy finally finished his major ethnographic work, Songs from the Beautiful City, being the first collection of Cork Urban ballads embracing the universal precept of his friend, the late Frank Harte, who deposed that, ”history is written by the victors while the ballads are written by the people.”

This fruitful Tropical exile also teamed Jimmy with influential Californian mandolin player Marla Fibish. Together they recorded The Morning Star, an instrumental album that exclusively staged the double-strung mandolin family instruments like bouzouki, mando-cello, mandolin, mandola and dordán, exploring their interesting if recent role in Irish music.

Influenced by the sizzling potpourri of American music; from Brazilian Bossa Nova, through jazz standards, Motown, Old Tymey, Outlaw country music to Texas Swing, Crowley was beginning to forge a resolution to a musical dilemma that haunted him. With the exciting extension that America brought to his voice, Jimmy began to experiment with the nostalgic parlour songs of Ireland and Irish America; songs that had been side-lined by the folk revival: the songs of Percy French, Thomas Moore, John McCormac, Delia Murphy, the Flanaghan Brothers, Charlie McGee, Bing Crosby and  Joe Lynch. “The songs our fathers loved,” as the legendary Leo Maguire described these effusions on the famous Waltons’ Sponsored Radio Show.

But Crowley wanted to sing these songs not in the dinner-jacket formulaic style of the classic Irish tenor nor yet in the unconvincing pecuniary whine of the Showbander; but rather  in the relaxed way his hero Willie Nelson did the American standards on his Stardust album. Jimmy wanted to add the jazz chords suffused with caressing French accordion with the keening lap-steel and the Django inspired guitar and make it all come out right.

A chance encounter with Australian jazz guitarist Ian Date brought Jimmy’s concept nearer to fruition. With Ian and his brother Roger on guitars,Ger Harrington on double bass and his old friend and colleague Pat McNamara from East Clare on accordion he found the nucleus of his new band. They recorded Irish Eyes at Donagh Long’s Spain Studios near Baltimore in West Cork. Among lesser known love songs, Crowley breathes an uncommon freshness into jaded classics like Danny Boy, When Irish Eyes are Smiling, Who Put the Overalls in Mrs Murphy’s Chowder and The Isle of Innisfree from the movie, The Quiet Man. The album is supplemented by guest appearances of Mary Black, Tony Davis, John Fitzgerald and Clive Barnes on lap-steel guitar.

Irish Eyes will be launched in Dublin following with a tour of Ireland featuring The Blue Macushlas, the band that Jimmy has formed for this exciting divergence from his folk repertoire. The  Blue Macushlas are Ian Date on guitar, Pat McNamara on accordion, Brian Crowley, Jimmy’s nephew on bass and Jimmy on vocals, folk guitar and bouzouki. Details of launch and tour to be announced soon.

 

Carol Rice, manager

The Morning Star — Jimmy Crowley and Marla Fibish

Jimmy Crowley and Marla Fibish are a unique and compelling duo in the world of Irish music. Jimmy, the bard of Cork, has been a central figure in the Irish folk scene since the enthusiastic reception of his debut album The Boys of Fairhill in 1977. He is well known for singlehandedly focusing well-deserved attention on the songs of Cork City at that critical time in the folk revival. Jimmy is also a brilliant song-writer, writing new music that has now entered the body of great music to come out of Cork. Marla is a San Francisco native and a long-time feature of the Bay Area Irish music scene. She is known for her uniquely vibrant and driving playing on mandolin — an instrument not always associated with dynamic playing! They joined forces in 2010, on one of Jimmy’s rare trips to the bay area. They launched a CD together – The Morning Star — in April 2011, unlike any other, featuring Irish music played only on double strung instruments — mandolin, mandola, bouzouki, mandocello, and Dordan– a big bass bouzouki. Jimmy and Marla are a compelling combination in performance. Their sound evolves from their shared love for the mandolin-family instruments. They take delight in the playful dialogue between their instruments, filled with happy harmonies, frivolous fills and colorful counterpoint. Jimmy sings from his extensive song repertoire and Marla pulls out her favorite jigs, reels, and party pieces to deliver a sparkling variety of traditional music, songs, stories and good humor.

Lots more information, including sample tracks from Marla and Jimmy’s CD at www.marlafibish.com.

Praise for The Morning Star

“Absolutely stunning…a thorough winner.” – LiveIreland

“Great recording by two of the best; a must have CD for any mandolin or bouzouki player in Irish music.” — Dennis Cahill

“Unique and delightful…a joyful romp” –Fiddlefreak Folk Music Blog

“A must for all who are interested in the mandolin family of instruments, in Irish music in general, and in exquisite duet playing.” –Folkworks

 

Audio Samples

Eleanor

Humours of Bandon

Saucy