Off The Recordby Mike Farragher
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You always hear plenty of stories about Irish grit and determination, but you don’t actually feel it until you rub your hands through the ash of the main hall of the Blackthorne Resort of East Durham. The Handel family has been running the place for a couple of decades before a fire consumed one of their main buildings last month.
When I caught up with Dale Handel, a stained glass manufacturer by trade, he was fashioning the red hand of Ulster into a glass piece to go into the bar he plans on replacing.
He will be getting help this weekend as a number of Irish musicians stage a reunion concert at Blackthorne to help the family get on its feet. Black 47, Kilrush, MacCana, the Kitty Kelly Band, Brother Moon, Jimmy Gallagher, Peter McKiernan and more will lend their support to the cause. The pavilion out by the swimming pool has already been converted into a temporary dining hall/restaurant/bar/performing space.
“Black 47 has played every Memorial Day/Labor Day weekend in the Blackthorne for the last 15 or 16 years -- no one remembers exactly,” jokes Larry Kirwan, the principal organizer of the event.
Manhattan over the weekend, I hooked up with Pierce Turner and talked about the summer sun.
“It was a very good summer in Wexford, with weather astoundingly good,” he says of his time in Ireland (he splits his time between New York and the auld sod). “You rarely get perfection; summer days with sunshine are like myths.”
He played the Kilkenny Arts Festival and produced a musical group of Wexford natives.
Luka Bloom is just wrapping up a tour behind his newest release Dreams in America. Because life is so busy on the road, he and I weren’t able to connect until this tour was over.
Bloom is one of the most gifted singer songwriters in Ireland today, with a confessional, passionate delivery that is a thrill to see live.
That Notorious B.I.G. He’s a sage.
Isn’t there something so cool about being a “playa”? We want to be deep and dark, but most Irish guys can only dream of the ghetto pimpin’ life that is in stark contrast with our cheery pub cherub realities.