The legendary Irish traditional music innovator Finbar Furey will play at Joe’s Pub in Manhattan on March 16 in a one night only show. It’s a terrific choice of venue for a singer and songwriter who has been at the forefront of Irish traditional music for over four decades. Furey will also be performing this week at Rory Dolan’s restaurant in Yonkers on March 4, to promote his new CD Finbar Furey, his first release in the U.S. in six years, containing both new and previously recorded songs. The album has been carefully designed to showcase Furey’s vocal performance, his musicianship and his song writing and story telling skills. As his devoted fan base knows, Furey has been making his mark on Irish traditional music from his very earliest sessions. As the lead singer and uilleann pipes player for the Fureys, a group he shared with his brothers Eddie, Paul and George, he helped to revitalize Ireland’s traditional music scene in the early seventies and thereafter. Since leaving the band to pursue his solo career in 1993, Furey has continued to attract attention with his gutsy, innovative approach to Irish music. “I’m just over to promote the new album before the summer starts,” Furey tells the Irish Voice. “I’m going to be very busy soon. I’m finishing a piping album which I’m doing with the uilleann pipes — I’ve been putting it together for the last six to eight months — and then I’m part of a new folk show in Dublin that is based around the events and the aftermath of the Great Famine. The show includes music, which I will be a part of, and that’s for two months and five nights a week.” This year Furey will showcase some new songs when he arrives in the city, including “Peace One Day in Time,” which addresses the timely theme of how greed can destroy nations, and other new songs like “Shannon Baby, You’re a Star,” which captures the feelings of a returning emigrant. “You know that feeling when your plane is finally over Ireland and you can’t wait to land down there, you know? The Shannon shining like a star? That’s my inspiration,” says Furey. “Good songs are what I’m after. If you’re sitting in a car for a long drive these are songs that you’ll want to play loud and sing again and again. I’m very proud of my new album, and I wrote and produced it as well.” Furey’s fans know that the renewed spirit and wildness he brought to traditional music has left a lasting legacy, and they honor him for it. “The singer Paddy Reilly told me last night something I’d forgotten. In the seventies in England John Peel was the biggest disc jockey there was. When he heard our song ‘Her Father Didn’t Like Me Anyway,’ Peel chose it over the Beatles’ ‘Get Back’ as the single of the year,” recalls Furey. “We came first over the Beatles in 1970. We shook the folk world up.” Tommy Makem, the much missed Bard of Armagh, was in no doubt about Furey’s achievements too, once telling him, “You came along with this incredible sound that opened up the whole form. People like U2 and Christy Moore grew up on you. You should be proud.” “The Fureys took Irish music out of the fridge and put a bit of heat under it,” says Furey, proudly. “The whole world is feeling its warmth. That was a lovely thing for Makem to say, and it was typical of him, you know?” The secret to a long career, Furey says, is to take the music seriously, but not yourself. “I just sit down and play music. I never wanted to be a star; I don’t even know what it means,” he says. “My father used to say you don’t own this music, you pay your rent from it, and you move on. After that it becomes heritage.” Fans attending Furey’s upcoming concerts are in for a special treat. Expect to hear all he hits like “Sweet Sixteen,” “The Green Fields of France,” “The Red Rose Café” and “The Praties They Grow Small.” “All this wonderful music pulls us together. You have to experience it to see what it means to people,” Furey says. Furey will be at Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street in New York, on Monday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m. For more information and tickets contact www.joespub.com or call 212-539-8777. Rory Dolan’s is located at 890 McLean Avenue, Yonkers. Call 914-776-2924 for more information.
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore