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.

 

 

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.

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