Jimmy Crowley - the Bard of Cork - to perform Songs from the Beautiful City at Triskel

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September 19, 2018
Songs from the Beautiful City is an evocative celebration of the history of Cork performed by Cork’s very own Bard, Jimmy Crowley. Jimmy will perform this unique show of story and song at Triskel Christchurch from Thursday 27 – Saturday 29 September. He has compiled a powerful cache of urban ballads depicting life as lived by the working people, their pastimes, labour, hardship and loves, a true history of the people of Cork from the turn of the 20th century. These will be complemented by archive images and footage of Cork.

Keen to spread the rich song tradition of his native city, Jimmy will sing his ode to Cork, ‘Beautiful City’, his anthem to sporting heroes and champions ‘The Boys of Fairhill’ and ‘The Ballad of Christy Ring’, poignant love songs ‘I Know My Love’ and his World War 1 parody ‘Salonika’ along with a good sprinkling of the humorous with ‘Johnny Jump Up’.

Sit back and be immersed in this unique story of Cork told through nostalgic archive photos and footage brought to life by the mesmerising storytelling of the legendary balladeer in his own inimitable style, filled with quirky observations and quaint turn of phrase. Jimmy’s unique singing style accompanied by his mastery on bouzouki and guitar together with archive images make his city come alive. A show to be experienced, there are three evening performances and one lunchtime.

Cork the Beautiful City is Jimmy’s true love.

Tickets are €25 from www.triskelartscentre.ie or 021-4272022

Show Dates
Thursday 27 September 8pm
Friday 28 September 8pm
Saturday 29 September 1pm & 8pm
About Jimmy
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, his mission was to present the street ballads of Cork city complemented 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. The second album, Camphouse Ballads, hurtled the band into the vortex of the folk scene; they were now performing at folk festivals and making tv appearances in Ireland, Britain and America. Both albums were produced by Micheál Ó Dómhnaill of the Bothy Band. Like Chris Twomey of Stokers Lodge, Micheál was a seminal influence in Jimmy’s musical education.

Every Jimmy Crowley album after the demise of Stokers Lodge in the mid-1980s has been imbued with an excitement and autonomy, challenged conventions and been totally different from its predecessor. Some Things Never Change, an eclectic, electric experiment featuring some of the most creative musicians in Ireland, Declan Sinnott, Keith McDonald and Christy Moore of Moving Hearts, was applauded and voted album of the year by rock critic, Bill Graham. Jimmy’s new band, The Electric Band, released a reggae version of the Cork ballad, The Boys of Fairhill, which went into the pop charts.

In between recording and writing his own songs, Crowley found time to taste the rich Gaelic hinterland of his native province of Munster, learning his profession as a bard and falling in love with the Irish language. The songs he learned in the Irish speaking parts of Munster found a hearth in his first Irish language album, Jimí Mo Mhíle Stór, produced by Dónal Lunny for Gael Linn records. There followed a bittersweet amalgam of caustic urban ballads and sentimental parlour songs which Crowley had begun to endorse. The album simply called, Jimmy Crowley, for K-tel records was produced by Declan Sinnott.

Crowley’s fascination with theatre and in particular musical drama culminated in his ballad opera, Red Patriots. Set against the backdrop of Mao Tse Tung’s cultural and social policies, it’s the story of an apprentice musician who falls for a revolutionary girl. Actual events such as the mob-incited burning of the Marxist bookshop in Cork city in the early 1970s induce fierce realism. The play was well-received and ran successfully at the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork City.

By now Jimmy Crowley had established himself not just as a tradition bearer, ethnographer and Gaelic language enthusiast but also as a stylish songwriter. His song about the sailing ship Asgard, My Love is a Tall Ship, was adopted as an anthem for sailors everywhere and was used in the documentary film on the Tall Ships’ Race made by the National Television service, RTÉ. The eponymous album that followed presented all original songs backed by a small string orchestra, subtle rhythm section and songwriter Dave Murphy’s piano skills. Her Excellency, Mary Robinson was the subject of the quasi-bassanova style skit, Mrs President, which finally proclaimed to those who pigeon-holed Jimmy Crowley as being the “voice of Cork” and nothing else, that there was much more to this man.

Disheartened at the demise of the Irish language and Celtic traditions and the endorsement by the Irish government of cultural globalisation, Crowley began work on his Celtic Utopian novel, Hy Brazil. It’s the story of a new resurgence and autonomy set slightly in the future; exhorting Plato’s Rule of the Wise, a poetical, didactic dismissal of everything the Celtic Tiger stands for.

There followed his first live solo album, Uncorked, and the establishment of his own record company, Freestate Records. The Coast of Malibar endorsed both his love for the sea and his affection for the double-string instruments like bouzouki, mando-cello, dordán, mandola and mandolin. Jimmy is joined here by an old friend, Tríona Ní Dhómhnaill of the Bothy Band.  His new album, Irish Eyes, is a swing-jazz reverential treatment of John McCormack, Bing Crosby and Flanaghan Brothers. Irish-American sentimental songs which Crowley feels are part of the legitimate legacy of Irish song. Here he breathes fresh life into old chestnuts like Danny Boy and When Irish Eyes Are Smiling and displays creditable crooning skills.

Fellow Bards’ Words on Jimmy Crowley
“The test of any singer is whether or not you listen to him – I have Jimmy Crowley’s ‘Jimi Mo Mhile Stor’ in the car at all times.” – Liam Clancy
“Jimmy and I have been on the one road for many’s the long mile and my journey is always shortened when I meet him.” – Christy Moore
“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
“Jimmy Crowley is a musical icon in Irish tradition. He sings out from his own ground to a world of listeners. And the lift and lilt of his voice is the listener’s joy.” – Micheál Ó Súilleabháin, Irish World Centre, University of Limerick
“He remains a unique interpreter of songs both traditional and contemporary with a special gift for communicating with his audience.” – Mary Black
“For me, he embodies all that is good and true about the music in which we are involved.” – Martin Carthy
“Jimmy is a living legend in Irish Folk music. He comes from Cork, in the south of Ireland, a city whose musical richness mirror’s the city’s diversity – a great trad music and song heritage as well as a legacy from music-hall vaudeville and high art musical traditions. Crowley draws on all of these traditions in fashioning his own unique performance style and repertoire and has collected extensively in the south of Ireland both as a ballad singer and as part of his academic degree. He is a consummate stage performer as well as a song writer, adding colour adding colour to his songs by weaving stories about Cork characters, maritime exploits and daily life into his act. His singing style is truly unique – nobody hearing Jimmy could possibly mistake him for anyone else.” – Mick Moloney
About Triskel
Triskel Arts Centre is a vibrant cultural HUB in the heart of Cork City celebrating 40 years in 2018. The main auditorium Triskel Christchurch is a multidisciplinary space housed in a fully refurbished neoclassical Georgian Church. This state of the art venue which launched in 2011 is programmed with a rich bill of live music – with a focus on Classical and Jazz concerts, cultural cinema, visual art exhibitions and literary events. Triskel runs a second contemporary art room Triskel Gallery Space. Unique in Ireland, Theatre Development Centre is the only fulltime operation dedicated to the development of theatre, this is managed by Corcadorca Theatre Company. Cork Traveller Women’s Network relocated their Headquarters to Triskel in 2018 and the film and theatrical makeup training academy The Makeup Bar opened their Cork branch at Triskel in February of the same year. Scrypt Café Bar is an atmospheric casual dining and coffee space with a great brunch and lunch menu and a tapas style evening offering.
Gillian Hennessy, PR and Marketing Manager
(021) 427-2022