Clancy Brothers' Liam - the last man standing
The final link to the fabulous Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem
The boyos took it from there while also making a fashion statement at the same time with their Aran-knit jumpers that kept the wool industry in Ireland bustling for decades.
No one who grew up Irish on either side of the Atlantic escaped their spell, and even the trad purists had to admit that they were opening doors of opportunity for all Irish musicians around the world.
If one recording could be said to encapsulate the charm of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, it is certainly this new release. The package includes a wonderful 3,000 word essay by Princeton academic Sean Wilentz putting the group and the concert in historical context.
This is valuable for those of us who lived through those times and, perhaps, more importantly for the younger generations who may not understand the massive role the group had in the evolution of Irish music as it is played today.
For instance, Wilentz tells us that the Clancys and Makem visited with President Kennedy just the month before the 1963 Carnegie Hall concert which fueled some of jokes in the live show.
Tragically, Kennedy left us in November of that year but this formidable band did much to keep the spirits of Irish America raised while building air bridges to their native home that jet airplanes traveled with increasing frequency from the 1960s onward to establish direct links with Ireland and abroad.
Even for a veteran warhorse like me who was too young to be hanging out in Carnegie Hall that night in 1963, but who was fortunate to see all four perform at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall in 1984 to mark their 25th anniversary reunion tour, it helped explain the grasp of Ireland’s Beatles had on Irish Americans.
Donning their white Aran sweaters once again, they had the entire hall of almost 3,000 singing each and every song along with them throughout the night in rousing, humorous or reverent fashion, and with a touching familiarity that came from a devoted following.
Whether you are of an age where you still buy and listen to CDs or are more in the digital mode, this is one recording you want the entire CD package for your library.
The folks at DARA Records can help make that happen, and it makes a perfect Mother’s or Father’s Day gift. Call 212-628-8251 or visit www.dararecords.com. They have a huge catalog of other Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem CDs as well as loads of other essential recordings.
Last June at the Bitter End Café in New York City, Liam Clancy used that opening line as the “last man standing” for an unusual solo concert at the quintessential Bleecker Street folk club that I wrote about for the Irish Voice at the time.
The concert was cobbled together to provide a nostalgic Greenwich Village backdrop for some video footage being assembled by documentary producer Alan Gilsenan for a biography on Liam Clancy. Rather than being one of those tedious stop and shoot and setup again affairs, it turned out to be an extraordinarily entertaining and intimate concert for those 200 or so crammed into the venue.
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