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Captain Mackey's Excellent Adventure

The extended band - Valerie Plested, Don Penzien, Jimmy Crowley, Máirtín de Cógáin - having a serious moment. (Photograph courtesy of CMGSB)
Tag(s): Live event

So, what's in a name? Especially a band name. Well, here's the thing - sometimes they confuse, and sometimes they defy explanation, but sometimes they convey something very real about the band itself.

Captain Mackey's Goatskin and String Band - try saying that three times really fast - while being a name that on the surface might confuse the casual folkie, has hidden depths, both musically and historically. They will be sharing those depths with Irish music fans here in New Orleans at the Deutsches Haus, 200 S. Galvez, on February 27.

To explain their unusual name, Captain Mackey, AKA William Mackey Lomasney, was an Irish American who served in the American Civil War, and later became involved in the nationalist movement in Ireland. Paddy's Goatskin and String Band was a sixties folk band from Cork. It is these links between American history and Irish traditional music that inspired the founding members of Captain Mackey's, native Corkmen Máirtín de Cógáin and Jimmy Crowley, to dust off old classics from both sides of the Atlantic, and breathe new life into them.

According to Máirtín, who is also a member of the ever more popular Fuchsia Band, Captain Mackey's aim is not just to entertain but introduce audiences to the different aspects of traditional music, in particular the historical story-telling aspect.

"There was all these great old songs, and nobody doing them," Máirtín said. "The Fuchsia Band is very light-hearted and happy-go-lucky. Half tunes, and half songs, and a bit of stories thrown in between the halves. We're four boys, and kind of a boy-band, in the traditional sense. Nothing like Boyzone, kinda like Fellazones. Captain Mackey's is more based in the ballad tradition, and right now we are focused on soldier's songs, about the Irish abroad and soldiering. It is more based on the story of the song, and the spirit of adventure."

Joining them, as recent additions to Captain Mackey's, are fiddle player Valerie Plested and guitarist Don Penzien from the Mississippi-based Irish band, Legacy.

"The gigs just got too big," joked Máirtín. " And we had to flank either side of the battalions to take on the big gigs. And who else would you get but Lady Val, and Doctor Don?"

Máirtín is currently based in Minnesota, but has great memories of past visits to New Orleans.

"Even the way people talk in New Orleans, and the type of craic they have there, it's very Irish," he said.  "You know the wildness there, the wildness of New Orleans especially. I had the pleasure of being in Mardi Gras a couple of years ago, and it's wild and it's daft, and it's crazy, and that is the way that the Irish people have always been, you know? I love New Orleans, it's a great place. The culture is just fantastic. It's very open, and the music is very much part of the society. It's not all about work."

Despite having to split his allegiance with the Minnesota Vikings, Máirtín was enthusiastic when discussing the recent Saints Superbowl victory.

"What a game," Máirtín said. " I couldn't help backing the Saints. Go Saints. Who Dat!"

Captain Mackey's Goatskin and String Band will be playing at the Deutsches Haus, 200 South Galvez Street on Saturday,  February 27.  Further information is available at (985) 259 0882.

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