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Sports hero Mickey Coleman shows his musical side

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Mickey Coleman.
Mickey Coleman.

When you are the last one piped aboard a star-studded musical lineup that adorned last February’s Joanie Madden Folk ‘n’ Irish cruise, making a big first impression among the Irish music aficionados sailing the Caribbean waters that week can be a daunting task.

After stowing away my gear on the Norwegian EPIC, I joined Padraig Allen and his McLean Avenue bandmates Buddy Connolly and Tony Ryan in one of the dining areas above deck, and into an open seat sat a young performer whom I never met before by the name of Mickey Coleman.

Over the late lunch before pulling away from the Miami dock, he regaled us with stories about how he came to be onboard as last minute recruitment along McLean Avenue by Joanie Madden who always has an eye for gifted talent.

As the week went along the legend of Mickey Coleman from Ardboe, Co. Tyrone just sort of grew and grew.  This Saturday, November 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the New York Irish Center you will see how a first impression can become a lasting one in the presence of a very talented and genuine artist like Coleman.

Throughout the cruise Coleman, aided and abetted the already-rocking McLean Avenue Band, got the Irish contingent up and out on the dance floor at the poolside or aft deck. Madden made sure there was plenty of star-power like the Black family, Tommy Sands and Maura O’Connell along with her own Cherish the Ladies to fill up the floor shows.

Veterans of Madden’s first cruise in 2012 knew that the real fun was in the singing sessions that started up after the scheduled entertainment finished, where the songs and singers gathered in a pub that was relegated for the hearty Irish crowd who valued listening to fine singers more than sleep.

The big of hush around the room had nothing to do with being discovered “after hours” sharing a brew or two.  Rather it was that respectful reverence for the Irish song tradition, and Coleman was one lad who commanded respect all week as people heard many of his own compositions for the very first time when the circle came round to him.

For those who follow the Gaelic games like hurling and football, the name Mickey Coleman would have been familiar for a decade earlier. As captain, he led Tyrone to the All-Ireland championship at Croke Park over its Ulster rival Armagh.

While he excelled at sports, his cultural side was being well nourished also around Co. Tyrone.  He took to music as a way of expressing a “gra” for his surroundings and the people and the scenes that shaped his artistic side and the oral tradition.

For those whose cherish the folk song tradition as telling our history, seeing young men like Coleman embrace it and move it forward in a contemporary way is very reaffirming.  Coleman can deliver his songs with the tone they deserve and pack a punch or a punchline, easily drawing in his audience to his many charms as a performer.

Coleman has recorded two CDs, Carefully Crafted and A Mother’s Lullaby, displaying some of that form, and there is another CD in the works produced by Gabriel Donahue who will also be appearing with Coleman on Saturday along with Donie Carroll and Erin Loughran.

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. for a social hour, and the show starts at 8:30 p.m. at the NYIC (www.newyorkirishcenter.org or 718-482-0909) at 1040 Jackson Avenue.

This Saturday offers some pretty amazing choices when it comes to singer/songwriters because it is also another in the series of SongLives at the Irish Arts Center across town in Manhattan.  The highly touted singing sensation, Mick Flannery from Blarney is the main act with Casey Black opening the night.  Check details at www.irishartscenter.org.

 

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