Launch of ‘Songs from the Beautiful City’ Thursday, 9 December 2021

The launch of Jimmy Crowley’s double album of ‘Songs from the Beautiful City’ will be held at Cork Public Library at 19:00 on Thursday, December 9, 2021.The wonderful Niall Toner will perform the Cork launch. He’s a great friend and was a huge inspiration on the Cork folk scene in the ‘60s and ‘70s, being a founding member of Paddy’s Goatskin and String Band and the Lee Valley String Band. We hope to see ye there!

Forthcoming Album 2020

Jimmy Crowley is currently working on an album of Child ballads (with a few exceptions) with his partner, singer Eve Telford. These songs were collected by the American folklorist Francis James Child, and compiled in five volumes (originally eight) published in 1860, under the title The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. These ballads were not just confined to Britain, however; they were also found in parts of America and Ireland, among other countries.

Jimmy and Eve are focussing on Irish versions of these narrative ballads, and have garnered many rare versions from such Travelling singers as Mary McGrath, Mary Delaney and Joe Connealy. The album will showcase the simple and profound enchantment of the Child ballad, through two voices accompanied by bouzouki or mando-cello— taking the listener back to cobbled streets and narrow boreens, well worn by horse and cart.

CHANGING IRELAND

You could look at it like this: There seems to be a sinister force at work subtly trying of evince change, modernity and progress determined to rid Ireland forever of any vestiges of autonomous ‘values’; almost as if these old-fashioned values in themselves represent the final subaltern defiance to all that globalization stands for.

The current target is to legally establish abortion in Ireland by amending the constitution. But the interesting question is: what will ‘they’ strive to dismantle next if successful? for it seems there must be a new target in their determination; what are the remaining impediments to total hegemony? Are wakes safe? Certainly our unique attitude to death might be embarrassing. Could the Angelus bite the dust? Could the constitution of the G.A.A. or Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann rankle; statues of BVM in hospital corridors?

I always used to support so-called ‘liberal’ issues until gradually I began to grow fearful of the sirens, suspicious of their ulterior motives. Sirens who scream and feel uncomfortable about the older Ireland; people who get inflamed at any mention of the Catholic Church, of old hospitals, schools and institutions that did their very best against all odds. Sirens and shoneens who have no easy sense of being Irish; doing things the way we used to without apologizing to the world for it.

I have engaged with my conscience on the abortion issue. I considered giving my approval for change, for there are indeed some very good reasons for termination in dire situations. Then I heard a Fine Gael woman shriek, almost cracking my radio that we were ‘the laughing stock of Europe,’ and ‘years behind’ the rest of the world.’ That did it for me; over I hopped to the other side, realising that this amendment is not just a single over-and-done-with aspiration, but a paragraph in the larger chapter with red shading on the motifs, traditions and cosmos of an Ireland that many of us still love. Destined for destruction, the older cosmos and belief system is seen as an impediment to the culture of greed and hedonistic freedom which ‘they’ aspire to. It would be so tragic if people surrendered our unique enshrinement of protecting the unborn just for the sake of being ‘the same as the rest of the world.’

I lived in America for seven years and used to drive in my clapped-out Oldsmobile from my home in Dunedin, Florida, to Jackson, Mississippi where two members of the band lived. There was an abortion clinic on the street where they lived and every day there was strife, protests, hassles with the police, plackards and scuffles in the surrounding neighbourhood. That’s something else we can look forward to if the article is amended.

Promotion for the “Yes” campaign has been spun and hyped up to such a pitch that it is now totally ‘un-cool’ to disclose that you might even think about voting no. It’s not a good enough reason to change something so serious.

I would respectfully remind the Fine Gael lady that early in the mediaeval period, being ‘different from the rest of Europe’ actually saved us, saved them and saved literacy and learning in Europe when the Irish monks went abroad and struggled against the forces of barbarism. Thank God we were behind the rest of the world then.

Is there an outside determination on the machinations of change? It is proven beyond all doubt that Chuck Feeney’s altruistic operations donated 8 million Euros to the campaign to embrace same-sex marriages. Is that democratic? Is it interference? Would the result of that referendum have been different otherwise? Evidently there are people out there who are uncomfortable with the way we are.

The right to live in an Irish reality is enshrined in our constitution. We used to have a Third House like they did in Athens in ancient Greece, philosophers who looked and considered everything that came and went and gave advice on morality and truth and evinced a belief system that shaped the way we are for hundreds of years. It went beyond the Checks and Balances of the Second House, Seanad Éireann, which ‘they’ also tried to destroy.

And they weren’t that different, the Athens House and the Romish House, on the big issues such as life and death.

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.

Touchline February 2017

Folks, folkies, friends and fans, lend me your eyes for just a moment. I’ve been up the walls, like all just people in this fascinating planet, and here are a few of the fascinating and engaging projects that have taken my time and energy (now very limited) since last we spoke on ‘Touchline.’

Some time in February, we’re releasing the new single, Feel Like A King, and you can view it now on the video section of this site. The physical single, because I still believe in such things, is an all-right, pretty attractive envelope style presentation with the A side, the B side, Easter Week, 2016 on one disc and then, across the way, find a second disc bearing the video, Feel Like a King. The pack sports some recent photography and credits, as you’d expect.

Feel Like a King is a cry from the road, a road ballad confessing too much time away from the family in America, Europe and all over Ireland, England and Scotland. The intention was to write a simple song for my son James’s twenty-first; but something invisible grabbed my wrist and said, ‘No, you don’t! Tell him the truth! About how long you were away following your dream and missing so many wonderful stages!’

And so, the song was born and I’m getting nice response to it. We shot the video, almost exclusively on location in Cobh, Co. Cork with the band in Dave Murphy’s studio in Blarney; he’s the cove playing the piano.

My Celtic Utopia, Hy Brasil, positing a Cultural Revolution in Ireland in the near future and an Artists’ Party will be finished at the end of February-it has to be! I’ve been laboring on this novel forever and I can do no more. I am delighted to announce that the brilliant, distinctive, Canadian artist, Derdriu Ní Ceocháin has agreed to illustrate the book.

The rest of my creative time (you don’t need to know about the other bits- and I hate when singers expect us all to be attentive to their petty personal addictions and shortcomings-far too common place!) was spent in writing newspaper articles, new songs the creation and execution of such must be a beautiful gift, surely. I’m listening more to the Muses, especially the lady Muse who said, ‘No you don’t: tell him the truth!’ and a new album bearing the simple title Life is coming soon (ish). My observations on Life, in America and Ireland, for, as Socrates (or was it Plato?) says, ‘The un-observed life isn’t worth a shite.’

You will notice, dear friends, that I’m not overwhelmed with live work: that’s because I have drawn the line with pub gigs. Now, that doesn’t include folky listening rooms in pubs apart from the open bar, not will it exclude me from favourite sessions; or indeed, from pubs I particularly adore or landladies, landlords that I have long friendships with me. But from now on, audiences will no longer have to endure giant soccer screens, blaring music, loud talk, etc.

But they mightn’t see me as often. That’s all right.

I hope you all have a great year, enjoy the lovely spring, be active and don’t eat too much.
Yours, Jimmy Crowley, The Cove of Cork, last day of January 2017

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

 

TOUCHLINE, END OF OCTOBER, 2015

New York is comforting as the Autumn advances and the fall colours stir our hearts. Having just returned from my New York book launch of “Songs from the Beautiful City: the Cork Urban Ballads,” I marvel again at how stimulating and energising the city is. Like, as we Cork people like to say, ‘tis not too big; Manhattan, the epicentre of the Earth in many ways, is circumnavigable on a bicycle in a short time! ‘Tis only eleven miles by about five or six; yet the halls of poetry are attended most nights; there are  jazz sessions that would frighten me, folk, drama, art films,book launches and rakes of events where almost all ethnic  groups are represented. True, this can be a ballix as hosts scramble for work and dollars, but once an artist has attained some street credibility and the aroma of staying-power, there’s a fertile gregarious road open and positive reaction to one’s artistic needs.

One of the social highlights for the week for me was a lovely sail around Long Island Bay on my cousin, Smiley (Martin) Daly’s sloop, the good ship Nugget. The engine farted to a smokey halt before we left the mooring; the same kinda smell as a frying-pan emits without oil or fat; in fact, the same problem! But being true tars, we scoffed at such modern decoys and hauling up all canvas, sailed out magnificently into the bay with a fine following wind. A wind, God knows, that accommodated our homeward bound journey as it backed slightly to the the quarter allowing us to sail right up to our mooring without the engine. Nugget is a fine, stiff, weatherly boat, old-fashioned two inch thick fibre-glass with nice brightwork and a large sail area.

The patron saint of Manhattan, singer Donie Carroll hosted me and promoted me way above the call of duty. ‘Twas the same Donie who liaised with all the essential actors who combined magnificently to make my Fall  trip such a success, the US launch of my life’s work, Songs from the Beautiful City: the Cork Urban Ballads.

I’m eternally grateful to the people at the Cork Association of NY, in particular Mae O’ Driscoll who promoted me and fielded the event on Sunday the 25th of October at their cosy premises in Long Island City. We were blessed by no less a personage as the Consul-General, her Excellency Barbara Jones who made a memorable speech about collecting oral history and the process of achieving.

Another man whom I can never thank  enough for support, acknowledgement and friendship is Mick Moloney from the Irish music dept at NYU. Mick wrote a foreword for the book, launched it at City Library in Cork and lined out a second time to launch the book and make a  stimulating speech in NY. We have played quite a bit together over the years and after Mick’s address, we sang and played some of those ballads that work so well with our chosed instruments: Nil ‘na Lá, The Forty-Foot Trailer,Down Erin’s Lovely Lee,etc.

Donie Carroll then joined me on stage for a few of his songs that he contributed to the book, The Night the Goat Broke Loose and the piquant Isle of Maris. Then it was time for Heather Bixler Martin to join me with her stunning fiddle playing. Heather had a special status that day as it was she, no less, who struggled with the native inflections in my singing to capture in musical annotation some one hundred and seventy odd songs in the book. Other friends took the stage, including Martin Daly who sang harmonies on some earlier songs, also included in the book and who was part of the original three-piece Stokers Lodge as well as Dan and Bonnie Milliner who have a blessed and original repertoire of traditional broadside ballads.

Among other unforgettable gigs during the week was a nice house concert at musician Gabe O’ Donoghue’s house in Philadelphia which I shared with Donie Carroll and a concert at Ireland House in Greenwich Village which was hosted by my favourite “Irish” harmonica player, Don Meade, a man, like Donie and Mick, who has been so kind to me,not just for this trip but all my life!

It was an honour to be asked to contribute to both Mick Moloney’s classes in NYU on no less engaging a topic as to how,in God’s name, the bouzouki entered the Irish traditional music orchestra. I lied to the students and told ‘em that that long ago, in pagan Ireland, the High King, Cathub had a beautiful daughter, Emer Foltchain. She was so lovely there were courtesans and suitors sailing up from Greece and Macedonia to try and win her hand. The king of Greece, (I continued to lie,) made an appearance himself and to strengthen his son’s hopes of winning this Gaelic charmer, he offered in dowry: the full retinue of bouzoukis from the Royal court at Athens. That meant that Greece was now bereft of bouzoukis. Now, the match was made and the  High King, good enough out of him, made the Greek king a present of three sevens of the  Royal Harps of Tara, an instrument still played in Greece to this day.

The Irish musicians took some time to find their way around this new fretted instrument, but in time, they played beautiful barndances, airs, strathspeys as well as the usual jigs, reels and hornpipes. However, when the Vikings came several hundreds of years later, the second thing they pillaged (after the women) were the Irish bouzoukis that by now were glittering with gems of bijouterie and vertu –none of your ould gold leaf and precious stones.

The norsemen cleaned out the zuke arsenal and it wasn’t until my dear friend, Johnny Moynihan took a bouzouki home from a Greek holiday in the middle sixties that they began to ‘catch on’ in Ireland again.

In fact, Mick Moloney told us in class, that he was there in Dublin, on that fateful night,when musical history was made.

I will be back before Christmas with another Touchline. Murach é ,go raibh Nollaig fé mhaise dhaoibh go léir, agus táim lán buíoch as ucht na tacaíóchta.

Beir slán,
Jimmy

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.

 

 

An unCorked bottle of effervescent music…