When I asked Larry Kirwan of Black 47 what the band experiences on St. Patrick’s night playing in the heart of New York City, he answered “I’ve always equated St. Patrick’s night with riding a wild stallion – you just hang in there and jump off when he stops! “
I hear you Larry. I feel that way about the entire month of March. It’s an exciting time — the parades, the music, the pride. So hold on tight everybody, and don’t be afraid to over book yourself. Because as Larry sings in the Black 47 song “Those Saints,” “this ain’t no dress rehearsal!”
From the Celtic Tenors and Altan to Black 47 and Dropkick Murphys, New York is bursting with all kinds of Irish music this month. Now is the time to buy your tickets, hit the town, and feel the fire that is live Irish music in NYC.
Nobody knows about that fire, that spirit, better than Larry Kirwan, who has played nearly 2,500 shows with Black 47 since the band’s beginning in 1989. Black 47 will spend their St. Patrick’s night this year at BB King Blues Club and Grill where the crowd will hear the band’s unique blend of rock, reggae, folk, and jazz with a Celtic influence that puts the icing on the cake. You can also catch Black 47 at the Boulton Center in Bay Shore on March 10th, at Pier 17 at South Street Seaport on March 18 (at the starting line for the half marathon at 10:30 am), or at Murray McGregor’s in Rumson, N.J. on March 24.
What else is new with Larry and Black 47? Their most recent album, “A Funky Ceili,” is now available on their website, black47.com. The inspiration for the album, a collection of their liveliest songs, was a late night drive from Boston to New York. As Larry Kirwan fought to stay awake behind the wheel, he realized the need for a compilation of the band’s most energetic songs, and voila! A great party album was born. I’m listening to it now, and though I’m committed to finishing up this article, I have one foot out the door, in a cab, headed to the nearest live music venue. It is virtually impossible to stay in your seat while listening to “A Funky Ceili.” As if the band doesn’t keep him busy enough, Larry has written a one-act play, “Blood,” on stage now until March 17 at the Cell Theatre on West 23rd Street.
Some might equate Larry’s vigor and energy to pure madness. After all, his music combines reggae and reels, uilleann pipes and saxophones. He sings of late nights, lust, wild characters, and debauchery. But in fact what Larry Kirwan does seems quite natural – tapping into his deep, deep, well of creativity, making music, telling stories, writing plays, and keeping fans on our feet. Doesn’t look like Larry or Black 47 will be bucked off that wild stallion any time soon. And I’m thankful for that.
For other Irish sounds around town this week head to City Winery in NYC for an evening with Altan on 3/8 or the Celtic Tenors on 3/13, check out the Chieftains at NJPAC on 3/10, or take a trip to the Paramount Theatre in Huntington to see Dropkick Murphys on 3/11.