Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem at Carnegie Hall

The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem In Person at Carnegie Hall

Saint Patrick’s Day forty six years ago: in March of 1963, John Kennedy was in the White House in America, the folk music revival was in full swing, and in Ireland, nobody had heard of Bloody Sunday or the Troubles. The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem played Carnegie Hall. The men from Carrick on Suir and the bard of Armagh found a happy, receptive audience for their songs, stories, and well planned banter. They were, you might say, the Riverdance, High Kings, and Celtic Women of their day all rolled into one, and indeed without the Clancys none of those mega quick hit on Irish culture events may have come to pass. Today it is sometimes forgotten what these men did , and how creative they were about it. “They were kind of innovators of Irish music in the sixties,” Donal Clancy, son of youngest Clancy Brother Liam and himself a professional musician, says. “They blended the old Irish folk song with what they were hearing in America at the time from the likes of the Kingston trio, and put a beat behind it, and added guitar and bass and banjo to some of the old traditional songs.” It was a sound that became as popular in Ireland as it was in America, as well.

This two disc project is the first time the entire 1963 concert has been released on record, though a wildly popular LP comprising eleven songs came out later in that year. This time around, though, there all the twenty eight songs in the order sung, as well as the talk and jokes and tales the men told between the songs, and the audience’s laughing appreciation of words and music. Times have changed, music has changed, and many of the songs that were so crisp with new arrangements then have been overdone and overlistened since But. as Liam Clancy writes in the notes, “How fresh these songs were then -- morning bread from the oven -- new lamps for old, making their magic.” That comes through very clearly here, on songs including Irish Rover, Kelly, the Boy from Killane, Galway Bay, and Brennan on the Moor.

two videos, from a PBS special in 1962, to go along

They did not sing Rising of the Moon on that night, but it’s a song I’ve known so long I don’t remember not knowing it. Oro Se Do Bheathe Bhaile, a song of hope, among other things, is what closes the collection on this project, and you may hear the audience singing along there, as the people do in this video.

you may also want to see

Voices: Cherish the Ladies

Aoife Clancy: Silvery Moon

Irish music, Irish landscape

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


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