The Craic is back - New York’s premiere Irish film and music event is firing on all cylinders
Preparations well under way for annual Craic Festival in NYC
“I’m expecting a big turnout on the night for this offering because it’s a terrific documentary that tells a story that not enough Irish people know yet.”
The closing night film of this year’s Craic Fest focuses on James J. Corbett, the legendary Irish boxer known as Gentleman Jim. Gentleman Prizefighter tells the story of how this determined athlete changed the perception of the sweet science, which in his era – the 19th century – was considered an completely unworthy interest for the upper classes.
But Corbett, through his dogged determination and charisma, changed the public perception of the sport and his rags-to-riches story and growing fame helped create America’s first national boxing hero.
“His fighting style, his influence on boxing, is still in play a hundred years later,” says Mulligan. “He has his thumbprint on all of it, he revolutionized the sport, and he made it legitimate.”
These two Irish related documentaries will educate and inform but they will also entertain, Mulligan promises.
“In some ways it almost goes back to our first year or two in the business when we had to rely on really strong films that pulled in audiences through word of mouth. We know that good movies sell tickets,” he says.
The Craic Fest is also a music festival and it helps, Mulligan admits, when you’re actually a fan of the performers who are playing. That turns out to be easy when the lineup includes singular talents like the Tossers and Julie Feeney.
The Tossers, a barnstorming bunch of alt rockers, have toured alongside the legendary Shane MacGowan and Irish favorites like Stiff Little Fingers, Clutch and the Dropkick Murphy’s. Opening for the band at the Mercury Lounge on March 8 this year are the Lost Brothers, whose music is – there is only one way to say this – beautiful.
But for Irish-born fans the biggest draw may well be the incomparable Feeney, who steps out at the Mercury Lounge on March 9.
“I’ll just go ahead and say this -- she probably the most original act we’ve ever had,” says Mulligan.
“She actually has an act in the sense that it’s part theater and part musical and part rock performance. The fact is that tickets to the night are way undersold. They’re $15 bucks and they should be way more. That’s going to sell out for sure.”
Feeney is backed up by some comparable talents that include Irish singer Colin Devlin and the Dublin-based Delorentos. Devlin, a vocalist and guitar player, is one of the original members of celebrated nineties Irish band the Devlins, and both are big draws for Irish fans.
“I look forward to introducing them all to the room. The energy the last time they played amazed me. These bands can really hit a home run,” says Mulligan.
This year there’s a special event called the Kids Fleadh (the part of the Craic Fest program dedicated to younger folk) which will be held during the festival run on March 9 beginning at 10:30 a.m. at the Irish Arts Center. It’s an opportunity for your American-born kids to connect with their Irish heritage and have a lot of fun in the process.
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