TOUCHLINE, JAN 2014

Folks, my very best wishes to everyone for the New Year. Welcome to my official site, the communications part of which has been sadly remiss for a long time.

‘Touchline’ has been dark for over a year; my regular, diary-like chronology of an artiste’s life thru which we kept in touch; it is my fervent hope and promise to write more regularly, at least every quarter if not monthly.

I had better explain my reasons for absence.

I re-connected with the academic world. I embarked upon an MA at the Dept. of Modern Irish, in University College, Cork, which took time and effort, especially from the second semester onwards. It is a draining, debilitating, all-consuming, yet satisfying disciple for a middle-aged man or woman who has another job, and must, by its very nature, impact on family, relationships and livelihood.

I choose to examine the work of three Munster (Ireland’s southernmost province) Jacobite poets in the light and influence of “Bonnie Prince Charlie”, the “Young Pretender” the final hope of Stuart restoration. This hope and aspiration fine-tuned the aisling or visionally poetry of eighteenth-century Ireland and became a beautiful,yet effective political tool. The three chosen poets were Aindrias Mac Craith, one of the Maigue poets (of Croom “of the merriment”) and Corkmen Piaras Mac Gearailt who brought us Rosc Catha na Mumhan and Seán Clárach Mac Domhnaill whose Mo Ghile Mear was once short-listed for the Irish national anthem. It shocked me to learn, through close study of the poetry of the period and and deeper cognisance of the Irish language, how much the native Irish suffered in that period with religious and language eclipse, loss of land and deprivation. The knowledge gained brought me to a hitherto unentered territory of Irish identity.

I slipped off to the sunny land of Spain about half-way’s through the year, to a good mate from Cobh, Ritchie O’ Rourke,who invited me down to the sunny south east to do a few gigs. Upon my return, I noticed a very ornate but agonizing ring around my lower belly, just above the belly button, which continued very gracefully in the same trajectory around my back, stopping midways. I was certain ‘twas a critter from the critter-rich seas around Alacante, where I had swam regularly over the last week, and thought it wiser to visit an old classmate of mine, Dr. Jim O’ Halloran, who within a second’s glance, exclaimed,”Shingles!”

It was a torturous few months of pain and discomfort and my tutor suggested I take another year for the thesis. The thoughts of another year only increased the pain! Thankfully I got on fine in the end as the shingles subsided somewhat and the work became more focussed.

But the last year or so wasn’t all study, shingles and reduced gigging schedule. There were some lovely outings and moments with my old mates in Stokers Lodge. We played a few folk festivals like Cliften Arts week and we had a wonderful night at Ballyshannon Folk Festival with brothers of the road, Dé Danann; we remarked during the sociable few drinks after the gig that both bands first collided in the road in the seventies. Then there was that wonderful trip to the Whitby Folk Festival in Yorkshire, a town and festival that I am very fond of which proclaims legendary fish and chips. And when the thesis was finally submitted, there was a lovely trip to America with my son James, who won day upped and said, “Da, I want to see where you lived in Florida and meet some of your snowbird neighbours. And maybe visit Donie Carroll in New York before we return.”

We booked the flights then and there. It was so wonderful to return to Dunedin, Florida and visit old haunts and my old condo with James who said: “What kind of an eegit were you to leave a place like this!’ It was 98 degrees end of October and he couldn’t believe it.

We hung with Patsy Dunlea, a great singer, guitarist and fantastic cabinet-maker and a good friend to me while I was there. Patsy hosted us decent. We met many old friends like Dublin folk singer Brendan Nolan who played some nice guitar with us on our Soldiers’ Songs album.

We swam, cycled up and down the Pinellas trail and had some gas nights at the Dunedin Brewery.

I played a few gigs in New York; places like The Landmark Tavern in Hell’s Kitchen, the Singers’ Club in Queens, and several taverns. We stayed with our great friends, singer Donie Carroll and Theresa, his partner.

A few weeks after I returned, I was invited to a terrific festival in Liverpool, England. An old friend in the University, Vic Merriman was incidental in booking me and setting up a gorgeous solo gig at a sweet 130 seater theatre. The pubs, attitude and accent of Liverpool all evince a solid ethnography, a fiercely autonomous town with open, friendly people.

Thereafter, I had a handsome train trip to “Dublin and the North” for smashing gigs like The Sunflower Folk Club in Belfast and the Clé Club in Dublin. Did you ever take that train ride along the northern coast through Ballymena from Belfast? At Derry, I was met by my host Neil McGrory who drove me to his family’s peerless hotel, “McGrory’s of Culdaff” with fascinating historical commentary from Neil as each headland, harbour beckoned to him like a lighthouse along the way. The session each Friday at McGrory’s in the very tip-top of Donegal near Malin Head is something every musician and lover of Irish culture must savour; not to mention their famous potted mackerel starter!

Christmas heralded a series of lovely dinner parties at my place in the Holy Ground,my ex-wife Evelyn’s, and in the homes of good friends which rang in the new year in gregarious company.

The year fifteen will hopefully release us all from the long wait for my song collection, Songs from the Beautiful City: The Cork Urban Ballads. I thank all those who have made pre-orders for the book which has helped greatly to defray expensed in the first print run as it’s a self-financed operation. Those altruistic souls will soon be rewarded by a special, hardback edition of the book.

I have a bunch of new songs ready; many written during my tenure in America which will make up my next album, Life, which will be out in the next 18 months,if the good Lord spares me. The LP is my observations on my own life with hopefully, many universal truths, for as Plato said, ‘The un-observed life is not worth living.’ So, observe your own life,dear friends, and some of you many even turn certain motifs, observations and episodes into art.

Watch out and listen up for my single, Feel Like a King from the Life album very soon where hopefully I have hit on the universal theme of a father who feels he hasn’t spend enough time with his son ,being lured by the seductions of fame and the road.Vide Harry Chapin!
Then, there’s me first and probably only novel, Hy Brazil, about a resurgent, Celtic Ireland in the near future. The work is completed; though it may need a serious look over.I’d love to release it for 2016 as it’s about the lost ideals of the revolution of 1916.

Unlike the politicians, I’ll get back in a few months and tell you what I haven’t achieved in the aforementioned artistic aspirations.If you feel like dropping a line,or making an ovservation, do so by all means through FaceAche—sorry, I mean FaceBook, of course or email: freestaterecords@gmail.com

Go dté sibh slán idir an dá linn agus ath-bhliain fé bhláth is fé mhaise.
Jimmy.

Irish Folk at its Best with the “Voice of Cork” Mr. Jimmy Crowley & Dublin’s newest export the Mr. Stephen Leeson:

Irish Folk at its Best with the “Voice of Cork” Mr. Jimmy Crowley & Dublin’s newest export the Mr. Stephen Leeson:

Music lovers are in for a real special magical treat this Thursday 12th of July when two very different but fantastic Irish Folk Singer/Songwriters Jimmy Crowley and Stephen Leeson come together in a production of “Irish Folk at its Best” for one night only, at The Civic Theatre, Tallaght, Co Dublin. Performance commences at 8pm with special guest Mick Dunne, Tickets for the event are €16, €12 concession and are available from the theatre or through their box office on 01 462 7477.

Click on image for larger poster

Known as the “Voice of Cork”, legendary singer/songwriter/storyteller Jimmy Crowley has been a central figure in the Irish Folk Scene since the enthusiastic reception of his debut album “The Boys of Fairhill” in 1977 which spreads over four generations.

“An uncorked bottle of delight overflowing with good spirits, effervescent vocals and brimfull of good bouzouki and guitar playing.”Dirty Linen.

Every album Jimmy Crowley has recorded and produced has been imbued with an excitement and autonomy; has challenged conventions and has been totally different from its predecessor and his new album “Irish Eyes” is no different.

After an extensive tour of the US Jimmy Crowley jetted back to his beloved Ireland in early January to release his thirteenth album “Irish Eyes” which breathes an uncommon freshness in 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”, you will be able to catch a glimpse of Crowley magically performing 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 and has been successful touring Ireland with the new album receiving tremendous applaud and a lot of national coverage from RTE Radio.

Whilst Jimmy Crowley is best known for his folk/Trad style ballads; on this occasion Jimmy has added the jazz chords suffused with caressing French accordion with the keening lap-steel and the Djanjo inspired guitar putting his own unique style to these beautiful almost forgotten songs.

A stupendous singer, songwriter, storyteller who’s presence lights up a venue the moment he takes to the stage.  With his magical stories which blend effortlessly into his many classic ballads, this well rounded entertainer will brighten up even the gloomiest of days, leaving his audience feel a sense of joy and happiness by the finale of every concert he performs.

Stephen Leeson on the other hand is an extraordinary multi-talented Irish Folk Singer, songwriter, musician who has had a magical journey in his musical career since flying solo.  Best known for his unique voice, his impeccable stage presence and his versatility as a musician, Stephen has toured all over the world and played with some of the best and most well renowned singers/musicians in the folk industry.  His career has had him front man with bands such as: Porter Black, Dublin Legacy and for four years he played and sang with The Dublin City Ramblers.

Having just released his new album “Isle of Hope”, Stephen Leeson is an artist who is receiving great acclamation from some well renowned musicians in the folk industry.  According to Irish Folk Legend Davey Arthur, “Stephen Leeson is one of the nicest young men on the Irish Music Scene today and his debut album “Isle of Hope” will in time assure him his rightful place as one of the new crop of talented ballad singers emerging from Ireland today”.

Last year saw Stephen fulfil the role of special guest with Irish Folk Legends “The Furey’s and Davey Arthur” for a number of gigs in front of a packed audience, with another guest appearance with the wonderful Frances Black in December.

With such a mature, deep, powerful voice which is instilled with emotion coming from such a young man, it is hard to believe what Stephen has crammed into his musical CV in such a short spam.  With an ability to work the stage and captivate his audience, Stephen’s performance leaves an impressionable impact that is not only memorable but special for everyone that has been afforded the opportunity to experience his live shows.

While both artists are extremely looking forward to this performance, it will be a real special/joyous occasion for Dublin’s newest export Stephen Leeson who was born and reared in Tallaght and it will be quite amazing to see him play on his home turf in front of his community who should be extremely proud of his achievements since flying solo in March 2011.

Guaranteed to be a tremendous night of real Irish talent and Irish music at its best, this is a concert that is well worth checking out on a Thursday evening.

 

 

Jimmy Crowley’s Cork Folk Club – June 21, 2012

Fresh back from the USA Cork’s legendary Singer/Songwriter/Storyteller Jimmy Crowley will host the Jimmy Crowley’s Cork Folk Club every Thursday in the Windsor LV Cork from 8.30 pm commencing on Thursday 21st of June with a host of special guests and close friends within the folk industry.

Jimmy Crowley has been a central figure in the Irish folk scene since the enthusiastic reception of his debut album The Boys of Fairhill in 1977. With his band Stokers Lodge their mission was to present the street ballads of Cork city complimented by the ornate folk songs of the rural hinterland of Cork and Kerry in an exciting orchestration of uilleann pipes, concertina, autoharp, harmonium, mandolin, bouzouki and guitar in their native accent.  Jimmy Crowley’s Cork Folk Club with be an exciting experience for all music lovers especially those with a passion for folk and traditional music and it will be a pleasure to have Jimmy back in Cork a well renowned figure in the music industry, we anxiously await to see array of spectacular musicians that Jimmy will line up to Special Guest with him on a weekly basis.

“Since I have known Jimmy Crowley, which is quite a while, the qualities which I have admired most in him are his consistency, his integrity, and his ability to adapt and be receptive to all kinds of music, his uniqueness. And for me, he embodies the spirit and voice of Cork and he’s a great singer.” Ronnie Drew

With only 50 limited tickets available the folk club is set in a lovely setting which allows you to get up close and personal with the performers and you can relax in a candle light environment and enjoy the magical sounds of Irish folk music at its best.

Jimmy Crowley Cork Folk ClubEach week not only will you have the privilege of listening to some classic tunes and stories which are instilled with history from Jimmy but Jimmy will also have a special Guest with him on the night and an upcoming new artist to support the event. We are pleased to announce that the extraordinary Cork Singer/Songwriter known as the Gentle Genius Mr Ger Wolfe with be Special Guest with Jimmy Crowley on Thursday 21st of June.

Ger is a musician whose music and lyrics are the very embodiment of the Irish spirit and easily evoke the essence of the Irish character.

Ger Wolfe captures the Irish experience in his songs and gently reminds us of the joys of the rural landscape and the Irish condition. The pleasure of strolling by a river, the beauty of birdsong, the pain of loss, war or emigration, all the basic joys, hurt and wonder of life are touched on in a deep and meaningful, often simple, and always powerful way in Ger’s music. Ger Wolfe is a man who’s genuine passion for nature and the simple things in life has captured the hearts of those who’ve encountered him. (Taken from RTE’s Gentle Genius Forgotten Poet Programme)

In the words of Christy Moore “Ger Wolfe’s songs always raise my spirits”.

Tickets for the event are €10 and are available from the Windsor LV or on the door on the night. Doors open 8pm and show commences at 8.30pm sharp. Definitely a Folk Club not to be missed.