“For the CD, we were lucky enough to have Gavin Rafferty come in the studio with us and put down a verse. We are careful where we play ‘Irish Pride’ live. We've gotten some confused looks in the past playing a hip hop song after ‘The Fields of Athenry.’”
For Dunphy, playing bass in Cruel Seamus allows him a reconnection with his roots that was lost once he stopped writing for the Irish Voice.
“When I was doing ‘Off the Record,’ I was a new father and recently married, and it was hard for me to really get into the scene,” he explains.
“The writing I did was a life line to people like Pierce Turner and Seanchai and the Unity Squad. They are all friends of mine that I really admired.
“At the time I met John about three years ago at Rocky Sullivan’s, we realized we were in the same band in different times. We pooled all of the people we mutually knew in the circles we travelled in and it was pretty easy to put the band together from there. I’m thrilled to be back in the scene again!”
There is much talk about how tough the economy has been on the live Irish music scene, but the lads in Cruel Seamus are upbeat, considering their downbeat band name.
“The Irish music scene a few years back was crazy in New York,” says Shea. “Back then, bands like Black 47, Speir Mor, and Gael Force were packing places. But things are definitely different now.
“The diaspora has had a diaspora, with not as many Irish in New York as there once were and an overall change in musical tastes. So it's not like what it was, but there are still some great bands playing around New York like Jameson's Revenge and Seanchai and the like. It just takes a little more work to find them.
“A lot of pubs are doing the deejay thing these days, but we have our regulars like Hurley's, Legends, Rocky Sullivan's and some pubs out in New Jersey that have been good to us.”
Whatever your tastes, there is something in the Cruel Seamus live set for you. If a traditional air puts a lump in your throat or dance music puts the lump in a more southern direction, this is your band.
“The sound of the band is very eclectic,” says Dunphy. “We all have very different influences in our musical tastes and that's reflected in the choice of covers in our live shows and in the writing of our originals.
“So where we may play some very trad sounding instrumentals and more traditional Irish covers, we also like to play Peter Tosh and the Clash. Where our originals have a lot of Irish influence, we also like to draw on hip hop, reggae, and country to inspire us. We're basically confused.”
For a good time, call Cruel Seamus. To pick up their CD, log onto CruelSeamus.com or catch their show on November 14 at Griffin’s in Creskill, New Jersey or in Manhattan at Legends NYC on November 21.