Helen O’Donovan sings at Mother Jones plaque, Cork

Helen O’Donovan sings “Black Flowers” by Lynn Miles at the annual toast to Mother Jones at the Mother Jones Plaque, Shandon, Cork on the final day of the sixth Spirit of Mother Jones Festival & Summer School 2017.

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Rory McCarthy sings “Valley of Jarama” at ceremony to mark centenary of Michael O’Riordan

Cork singer Rory McCarthy sings “Valley of Jarama”, a song from honouring the International Brigades . A short ceremony was held across the road from 37, Pope’s Quay, Cork where Michael O’Riordan was born was born in 1917. The young O’Riordan left from here in 1938 and travelled to Spain to fight on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, in opposition to fascism. Seriously injured, O’Riordan returned to Ireland as the war ended with the defeat of the forces of democracy. Later he was a leading member of the Communist Party of Ireland and served as its General Secretary for many years. O’Riordan died in 2006. His son Manus and daughter Brenda were present for the ceremony which was part of the 2017 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.

Karen Underwood Sings the Blues – concert at the Maldron Hotel, Cork this Wednesday (2nd August)

Karen Underwood

Tickets are still available for the Karen Underwood concert which takes place at the Maldron Hotel this Wednesday night at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival, starting at 9.30 pm.

Karen was born in Chicago in the early 60s at a time when the Civil Rights movement was gaining momentum. Her home was full of music and song and she absorbed many musical influences as a young girl from Nat King Cole to Church and Gospel music.

She arrived in Cork in her 30s around 1997 and settled in the city. Here she experimented with various musical genres however the music of her heroine Nina Simone was celebrated in her show “The Nina in Me” where she sings many of Nina Simone’s songs interspersed with commentary of life, her memories of America and the tragedy, joys and experiences of her life in Cork.

Karen’s version of “Mississippi Goddamn” is awesome while “Strange Fruit”, with its echoes of lynching in America resonate the growing fear in today’s Trump’s America. Her live performances are a tribute to her extraordinary versatility and her embracement of what life throws at one.

Karen has performed all over Ireland, including the National Concert Hall, the Olympia, the Gaiety and she has appeared on numerous TV and radio programmes.

Tickets for this festival fundraising show are €15 euro each (limited to 70) and are available from the Maldron Hotel, or from Nolan’s (Victuallers) 21/22 Shandon Street or phone 086 1651356. This show is highly recommended

Songs of the Spanish Civil War

Songs of the Spanish Civil War with John Nyhan, Mick Treacy and friends.

This event takes place at the Maldron Hotel on Friday night 4th August at 9.30 pm. All are welcome. Singers and songwriters are welcome to come along and take part but please contact John Nyhan beforehand.

Many people are aware of Christy Moore’s inspiring song and the words of Viva La Quinta Brigada, which he credited to the book, Connolly Column written by Michael O’Riordan, and read while Christy was on holiday in Spain. The words concentrate on the Irish members of the International Brigades who lost their lives during the war, however there is a huge rich vein of songs and poetry associated with the Spanish Civil War.

Mick Treacy and John Nyhan hope to explore this rich vein of songs, stories and poetry during the forthcoming Spirit of Mother Jones festival.

A recent note from Mick indicates their intentions

“I will be working from this list hopefully but not in this order

The Ballad of Kit Conway, Viva la Quinta Brigada, Hans Beimler, Jarama Valley, Venja Jaleo, The Peatbog Soldiers, off to Salamanca, O’Duffy’s ironsides, Jamie Foyer, The Thaelmann Column, The Bantry Girl’s Lament, Come you Anti-fascists, Viva la Quince Brigata(Spanish) and Bandiera Rossa as well as poems by Charlie Donnelly, John Cornford , Donough Mc Donough and others.”

Mick Treacy

Mick Treacy

Mick Treacy.

Mick came to folk music through listening to The Weavers , Delia Murphy, Joe Lynch, Connie Foley and the one and only Margaret Barry in the fifties and then the Skiffle movement in Britain which was spearheaded by Ken Colyer one of the leading exponents of the Classic New Orleans Jazz style in Britain. The revival of interest in Folk song and music happened to coincide with this outbreak of people’s music making and before long there was a natural fusion which led to Skiffle groups becoming Folk Groups like The Ian Campbell group in Birmingham or The Quarrymen from Liverpool becoming the Beatles.

Mick went to England in late 1960 became part of the whole folk revival first listening and learning from Ewan McColl, Bob Davenport, Alex Campbell, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot and many more.   By 1964 he was singing in Birmingham Town Hall in a fund raising concert for West Midlands Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and later joined an Irish Group called ‘The Munstermen’. This lead in turn to the founding of ‘The Holyground Folk Club’ which had three glorious years and hosted many of the world’s great folk artistes.

In 1967 he came to Dublin and sang in most of the venues of the day such as the Embankment, the Castle Inn, the Old Sheiling and many of the local Folk Clubs before returning to his native Mitchelstown where he settled down, got married and raised a family.  He has always had an interest in the songs of the working people collecting many down through the years.  He feels privileged to have shared the platform and stage with many pacifist and socialist poets, writers, singers and performers who shared his dreams.

 

 

John Nyhan.

 

John Nyhan

John Nyhan

John was born in Cork City and now lives in Lombardstown, North Cork, where he plays an active role in the local community. He was heavily influenced by the Folk revival and has been playing and promoting music for over 40 years.

 

During the 70s he was a founding member of The Shandon Folk Club in Eason’s Hill, within an earshot of the Shandon Bells. Today he continues his voluntary involvement as a promoter of concerts and festivals.  He is especially well known for the Bluegrass and Folk concerts he runs at The Village Arts Centre, Kilworth Co Cork. John is an avid collector of folk, bluegrass and songs of the people and has an encyclopaedic recall of singers and songs.

 

In the 1970s he worked as a peace campaigner in the North of Ireland as a member of Voluntary Service International. He was also a worker with the Simon Community.

 

A regular contributor to the annual Mother Jones festival, John organised the legendary session “The songs of Joe Hill” in 2015 and in 2016 performed his vast repertoire of mining songs along with Mick Treacy.

 

 

Sweet Olive String Band makes sweet music

 

Sweet Olive

Mike and Pat from the Sweet Olive String Band

 

The Sweet Olive String Band will play in concert at the Maldron Hotel on Saturday night 5th August from 8pm.

 

Woodbine, a bluegrass band from Athy, Co Kildare is the support act.

 

This concert will bring the 2017 Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School to a pulsating end.

 

Tickets at €10 each can be obtained from 087 7921771 or during the festival at the Maldron Hotel. 

 

 

The New Orleans based Sweet Olive String Band is heading to Europe this summer for dates in the UK and Ireland.   Formed in 2012, The Sweet Olive String Band creates music that harkens back to an authentic and rarely heard sound from those early Grand Ole Opry days that conjures up the sounds of the early pioneers of the genre like Hank Williams, early Bill Monroe and the Stanley brothers.  Founders Mike Kerwin and Pat Flory are talented multi-instrumentalists who swap between acoustic guitars, mandolins, Steel Guitars and Stand Up Bass, and specialize in the high lonesome harmonies first made famous by the bluegrass and country brother duets of the 1940s and 50s. They will be joined on this trip by fellow multi-instrumentalist Jeff Burke, formerly of Jeff & Vida fame, who will pitch in on banjo, guitar, and mandolin. Irish audiences may remember Burke and Kerwin from their multiple tours with The Jeff & Vida Band, but this will mark the first appearance of Pat Flory outside of the US and the debut for the Sweet Olive String Band.

Jeff

Jeff from the Sweet Olive String Band

Pat Flory is the quintessential elder-statesmen-Old-Time-Country-and-Bluegrass-musician in New Orleans.  The 69 year old has been keeping the flame of bluegrass and country music alive in New Orleans for over 4 decades.   His deep love and expert execution of the genre come from a life steeped in exploring, playing, and preserving country music in Southeast Louisiana.  Pat was a mentor to Bela Fleck and spent a good deal of time performing with Bill C Malone, the historian and writer of Country Music USA-one of the definitive histories of Country music in the United States.  .

 

Mike Kerwin has been a successful singer songwriter and acoustic musician for over 20 years in New Orleans.  His original compositions have received widespread praise in the city and beyond since the release of his solo album Rowboat.  Mike is a sought after sideman on Stand Up Bass and guitar and has been performing with some of New Orleans best known roots acts including The Jeff and Vida Band, Johnny Sansone, Ingrid Lucia and others.   Mike’s passion for acoustic bluegrass and country music has seen him emerge as one of New Orleans most active performers, preservers, and champions of the style in a city largely dominated by jazz and blues.  That passion led him to Pat Flory and the formation of the Sweet Olive String Band, where he bends his own instrumental and vocal talents with Flory’s to create their authentic and compelling sound.  Their show also feature a number of Kerwin’s original compositions which feel right at home in the style.

poster

Sweet Olive String Band poster

Jeff Burke, co-founder of the Jeff & Vida Band, has been collaborating with both Kerwin and Flory on and off for the last 20 years.   A move to Nashville in 2005, took Burke away from New Orleans but he has returned often for musical collaborations with the Sweet Olive founders.  Burke’s move to Nashville allowed him to immerse himself in that city’s pulsing bluegrass and country roots and to spend time picking with and learning from some of the best known talent in the business.  His deep love of bluegrass led him to begin teaching in 2013 and in addition to becoming a sought after sideman in Music City, he has become a well-respected bluegrass instructor, leading group classes, workshops and lessons in Nashville and at festivals around the country.

 

 

Karen Underwood sings the Blues in Cork

The Cork Mother Jones committee announces that singer Karen Underwood will appear for the first time at the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival on Wednesday night 2nd August at the Maldron Hotel, Shandon, at 9.30 pm.

Karen Underwood

Karen Underwood concert at Spirit of Mother Jones Festival

Karen was born in Chicago in the early 60s at a time when the Civil Rights movement was gaining momentum. Her home was full of music and song and she absorbed many musical influences as a young girl from Nat King Cole to Church and Gospel music.

She arrived in Cork in her 30s around 1997 and settled in the city. Here she experimented with various musical genres however the music of her heroine Nina Simone was celebrated in her show “The Nina in Me” where she sings many of Nina Simone’s songs interspersed with commentary of life, her memories of America and the tragedy, joys and experiences of her life in Cork.

Karen’s version of “Mississippi Goddamn” is awesome while “Strange Fruit”, with its echoes of lynching in America resonate the growing fear in today’s Trump’s America. Her live performances are a tribute to her extraordinary versatility and her embracement of what life throws at one.

Karen has performed all over Ireland, including the National Concert Hall, the Olympia, the Gaiety and she has appeared on numerous TV and radio programmes.

Karen Underwood Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard

Tickets for this festival fundraising show are €15 euro each (limited to 70) and are available from the Maldron Hotel, or from Nolan’s (Victuallers) 21/22 Shandon Street or phone 086 1651356. This show is highly recommended.