Since Planxty was probably my all time favorite band of the trad-folk revival many moons ago, it has been an unfulfilled dream to see them reunited and doing a U.S. tour.
While the starting four of Christy Moore, Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny and Liam O’Flynn did reunite back in 2004 for a series of concerts in Ireland, it never quite held together for a trip over here, so I have had to content myself with seeing the legends one at a time where I could manage it over the years.
Irvine and Lunny continue to be prolific performers, working with musicians of all types and ages in other projects, but last year they came together to produce the fifth in a series of solo CDs that Irvine has released in his own storied career.
That album, Abocurragh, came out last September, but this October presents the first opportunity the veteran troubadour has had to support it on tour in the Northeast U.S.
Growing up in England, Irvine was influenced by skiffle bands and Woody Guthrie. His early interest in acting gave way to musical interests which eventually brought him to Dublin.
It was the very early days of the folk music revival in the sixties that included the traditional music scene centered around the fabled O’Donahue’s Pub on Merrion Row. He joined with Johnny Moynihan and Joe Dolan to form Sweeney’s Men before linking up with the quintessential Irish folk band Planxty with Moore, Lunny and O’Flynn, fluidly mixing colorful story ballads and trad music in the seventies.
While the band was never as lucrative as the music they produced, they became one of the seminal influences for many musicians and groups that came after their mercurial climb.
Ever adventurous and curious, Irvine spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe also and it influenced his music in Planxty and afterwards until the present day.
For a time he paired up with Paul Brady and recorded an album which was recently re-released by Compass Records under the Mulligan Label where it originated.
Irvine still performs with Patrick Street as the lead singer with John Carty, Kevin Burke and Arty McGlynn on occasion, and he enjoyed a stint with MOZAIK, a cross-cultural band that formed in Australia some years ago.
But mostly it is has been about the solo work that this road-warrior embraces as a true folk singer over the global highways and byways where people still hunger for singers and storytellers who entertain in that fashion.
Irvine’s vocals are some of the most recognized in the Irish ballad canon as is his bouzouki accompaniment, and so he has managed to carve out a great career in that genre making frequent forays from his home in Abocurragh, Co. Fermanagh to sing his songs for and about the people.
The latest album produced by Lunny contains a host of wonderful musicians like his Planxty mates Lunny and O’Flynn, Mairtin O’Connor, Annbjorg Lien, Bruce Molsky, Rens van der Zalm, Rick Epping, Graham Henderson and others.
While it is a great studio recording, the wonder of a seasoned artist like Irvine is that he can take all these colorful songs on the road with him and render them to great effect as a solo artist.
Irvine begins his tour in New England with stops in Maine, Boston (October 6, Four Green Fields) and New Hampshire.
On Sunday, October 9 he is doing a house concert for the Shamrock Irish Traditional Music Society (shamrockirishmusic.org
) which requires reservations in advance via the website to ensure a seat.
Next week provides three opportunities to see him in New York City during the week. On Tuesday and Wednesday, October 11 and 12 at 7 p.m. he will be appearing at Arlene’s Grocery (95 Stanton Street; 212-358-1633) on the Lower East Side of Manhattan below Houston Street.
On Thursday, October 13, he appears in the Bronx at An Beal Bocht (445 West 238th Street; 718-884-7127. On Friday the 14th at 8 p.m. he will be in Madison, New Jersey in a concert hosted by Rose City Concerts (rosecityconcerts.com or 973-261-5191) at the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts at 9 Main Street.
For more complete details visit www.andyirvine.com.