Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Legendary Irish group celebrates 20 years on the road


Black 47 brings back 1989 prices for anniversary shows

By John Lee

Black 47’s NYC shows have been described as “a rite of passage for all New Yorkers.” For the last nine months they have been touring the country, along with recording 13 new songs for Bankers and Gangsters, which will be released in February 2010. But for three consecutive nights they will celebrate their New York City beginnings with 1989 prices of just $10. Along with the new material they will highlight songs from all stages of their sometimes controversial career.

“New York was always the center of music for me,” said Kirwan. “New York was Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, The Clancy Brothers, The Velvet Underground, Television, CBGB's, Max's Kansas City. And right from the start with Black 47 we concentrated on creating our own scene. We didn't give a damn about playing anyone else's. Because that's not New York to us.”

Black 47 formed in the Bronx in late 1989 and burst onto the American scene in 1993 with their hit single, Funky Céilí. With a controversial eclectic sound as well as provocative lyrics, Black 47 fuses reggae, rock, traditional Irish, hip-hop, folk, New Orleans & modern jazz into a New York City gumbo. Their lyrics reflect the drama and black humor of a changing world as they see it, from Belfast to Baghdad, The Bronx to Kabul.

They have appeared on a slew of major television shows including The Tonight Show, The Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien and have been profiled by most national magazines and newspapers. They have released twelve CDs including last year’s IRAQ, hailed by Rolling Stone as “an important document, more a prayer than a protest.”

They have appeared in movies such as The Saint of Fort Washington with Matt Dillon and Danny Glover, and their music has been featured in Stephen Rea's The Break, Jim Sheridan's Into the West, and Timothy Dalton's Deterrence amongst others. They composed the music for and performed in the ITV film Victim 0001, a documentary about their friend, Fr. Mychal Judge.

Taking their name from the blackest year of the Irish potato famine, Black 47’s signature eclectic sound, socio-political lyrics and off-the-wall live shows paved the way for other Irish influenced bands such as Flogging Molly and The Dropkick Murphys. Their songs have long been used in political science and history courses in many high schools and colleges throughout the US.

Black 47 is led by Larry Kirwan (guitar/vocals) who has written ten plays published under the title Mad Angels, along with a novel, Liverpool Fantasy, an alternate history of the Beatles, and a memoir Green Suede Shoes. He is host of “Celtic Crush” on SiriusXM Satellite Radio and writes a weekly column for the Irish Echo newspaper. His new novel, Rockin’ The Bronx, will be published in March 2010.

Geoffrey Blythe (saxophones) was a founder member of Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Fred Parcells (trombone) has worked extensively in Latin/Jazz and big bands. Thomas Hamlin (drums) is a veteran of the Max’s/CBGB’s scene. Joseph Mulvanerty is recognized as one of the great innovators of the Irish uilleann pipes bringing a rare jazz and blues flare to this most traditional of instruments. The newest member, Joseph Bearclaw brings a wealth of funk/r&b experience as well as a dynamic stage presence.

For their 20th Anniversary shows, Black 47 plans to take the throng gathered at Connolly’s KLUB 45, 121 W. 45th St. on a thrilling journey through history and political struggle that will not only entertain but open up audiences to a new cultural experience.

“You come to Connolly's, you're in our hands,” said Kirwan. “We're New Yorkers. We're not trying to be anything else. We're in the center of Times Square. They may have changed the lights, the architecture, tourists gawl where pimps once prowled - all gone now but we're still right at the core of the beating heart of EmeraldCity.

"When you enter that door on the third floor of Connolly's and fork over your ten bucks, we'll turn your Saturday night head over heels," he added. "That's what we do. That's why we're Black 47. That's why we've played damned near every Saturday night over the last twenty years moments away from where the ball drops without ever repeating a set."

You can catch the band on Saturday, Nov. 28 and December 5 and 12. Doors open at 9 p.m. for just a $10 admission. The band will be onstage at 10:30 p.m. sharp. Advance tickets can be purchased online at www.black47.com.

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