Pat McGuire is back with a great collection of tunes, Hunger Is Good Sauce Pt. 1. Through his work with Eileen Ivers and Chris Byrne in the legendary Paddy A Go Go, McGuire was instrumental in ushering in the vibrant Irish American scene we have today.
It’s been a while since we heard from him, but his husky and soulful voice is like revisiting an old friend in this collection of mature, introspective rockers and ballads.
“I remember all these things so clearly/like a movie show inside my head/Utopia Highway is calling to me/to a place it will never ever be,” McGuire sings on “Utopia Highway,” a shuffling rocker about the road that makes for great driving music (trust me, I tested it!)
“Julie” starts with pensive acoustic strumming that is the perfect backdrop for the loss and longing in McGuire’s voice as he searches for a girl lost on 9/11.
“This is a tale of a man whose love has gone off to work on that day and never came home,” McGuire says.
“It’s a song I wrote years ago and recently finished it because it is still difficult to talk about specifically because there is still so much pain for people. He eventually finds some peace in the understanding that she is everywhere.”
Songwriting and singing rarely go together better than this. Check it out for yourself at patmcguiremusic.com.
I spoke with McGuire about the new disc (part two is coming later this year) and thoughts on his lasting contribution to music. Here’s how it went.
How would you describe these songs to a fan that hasn’t heard it yet?
They are a group of dreamy little songs that try and tell the story of the things that have influenced and affected me over the last decade or so. I find I am at a stage in life that is somewhat reflective and wistful.
My thoughts these last couple of years in particular often return to my childhood, New York and the people I know and love there, as well as my life here in Ireland and my family’s history. All these things have left their mark on the imagery of the songs.
It also bears the message to keep going, fight and enjoy life no matter what is thrown your way. The entire body of work, both Hunger I and what will be part two, is also an attempt on my part to understand my working class background and the continuity of hardship that seems to exist.
You split your time between New York and Galway. Do you play for audiences over there often and if so, what are the differences between the crowds there versus here?
To me Galway is a funny place if you’re a musician who does all original music. There is no real scene here for that and you are much better off in Dublin or Cork.
There’s a great trad scene here in Galway but otherwise it’s cover band heaven. So the only real venue to do what I do is Roisin Dubh because people will come in there to listen to music.
Now that I have a new album I’ll be trying to perform much more here, and if you play the right venue there’s not much of a difference. Having said that, New York is always a special place for me to play because people are so receptive to original music. For me New York crowds are fantastic, and it’s where my roots are.
Your work with Paddy a Go Go along with Black 47 has been credited by some to have ushered in a genre of music now known as Irish American rock. That has since spawned a whole scene. What are your thoughts on the scene? Do you still keep in touch with it?
I don’t really keep in touch with it as much as I would like because I’m so far removed from it now living in Ireland that it’s hard to know what’s going on frankly. I also believe that having been around in its heyday and seeing that whole scene explode my expectations are pretty high.
I’m glad to see Black 47, Pierce Turner, Seanchai, etc. still out there and making music that’s relevant, and when I come back I would really like to make some time to check out what new bands are around on the scene.
I would also like to catch people like Eileen Ivers and Joanie Madden too and see what they’re up to! I’ve heard about some other good bands but have just not had the chance to get out and see them because I’m usually gigging myself.