Story by Sharon Armstrong.
The thing about Jimmy Crowley --consummate storyteller, songwriter, song collector, musician, and ethnographer -- is that you never quite know what you will get.
Crowley has been at the center of the Irish folk music scene since the seventies, when his debut album The Boys of Fairhill was released to enthusiastic acclaim, showcasing the street ballads of Cork City, Co. Cork. This mission has remained close to Jimmy’s heart to this very day.
“History was written by the winners,” Jimmy told WWOZ. “And the ballads are written by the losers. They are really the undocumented history of the people, you know. The folks song, they are the songs of the street, the songs of the people. They tell the truth, in a very unambiguous way, they are not lyrical, they are just narrative, just kind of take-it-as-it-is, you know? They are not politically correct, but real. That is what a ballad is.”
Currently touring along the West Coast with Máirtín De Cógáin, of Fuchsia Band fame, Crowley is making sure that New Orleans is on his schedule on his way home to his adopted home town of Dunedin, Florida. Crowley and De Cógáin can be found playing many of the major Irish music festival here in the States, under the intriguing name of Captain Mackey's Goatskin and String Band and, true to form, their songs are not always what one might expect from two Irish singers from Cork City.
“It started just about a year ago, and we did an album called “Soldier’s Songs”, tracing the fortunes, good and bad, of Irish men who got involved in all the altercations in the history of the world in the last hundred years or so…the ballads tell the real stories.”
Captain Mackey’s Goatskin and String Band debut album, "Soldiers Songs: The Irish Abroad and Soldiering" was voted best Irish Album by a New Band in 2009, and with nine other albums to his name, with titles that range from "Camphouse Ballads" to "Sex, Sca and Sedition", multi-instrumentalist Crowley feels right at home here in New Orleans’ rich and varied musical traditions. He remembers New Orleans fondly from previous visits and says he is delighted to be playing here again.
“I am so lucky that I have made some true friends in America. I remember O’Flaherty’s Pub, that was great, and I have great memories of New Orleans always. It’s a place apart, it’s autonomous, it’s sort of strong cultured – it’s just unforgettable, really.”
Further information on the upcoming Jimmy Crowley concert, which will take place on Friday, November 20, is available at (985) 259-0882.