Album title – “Last Call”
Group – “Black 47”
Of course “Last Call” is a fitting title for this Black 47 album, as this is their last CD, they have announced. After 2500 shows, 14 CDs, and a wild ride since 1989 the band is calling it quits. The disbanding is scheduled for November of 2014. “Last Call” went out to the public on March 3rd.
Black 47 played their fist gig in the Bronx in 1989. The band was formed by Chris Byrne, an NYPD detective and Larry Kirwin, a playwright. Their music is original, fresh and political. The name Black 47 comes from the worst year of the Irish potato famine. They have been called the “House Band of New York City.” Over the years they could be heard on FM radio and seen on MTV, David Letterman, Leno and O’Brien. It is no understatement to say many a teen grew into adulthood with Black 47 in their hearts and now, memories. The other three original band members are Geoff Blythe (saxophones), Fred Parcells (trombone/whistle) and Thomas Hamlin (drums). Joseph Mulvanerty (Uilleann pipes/bodhran) joined when Chris Byrne left in 2000. Joseph “Bearclaw” Burcaw (bass) joined in 2005.
Larry Kirwin says that “Last Call” is “a very up,horn driven celebration of American and Irish Life.” The Irish Voice says it is a “200 proof cocktail made with a shot of funk and two fingers of Irish malarkey.” The songs are all arranged by Black 47 and written by Larry Kirwan except for the popular Stephen Foster tune, “Hard times”. The song “Johnny Comes a’Courtin” features Oona Roche from the popular group “The Roches.” It is a reggae Irish fusion piece that is our personal favorite on this CD.
Black 47 and Rocking Irish Music
Black 47 comes through again on “LastCall” with a punky, funky, rocking, salsa dancing feast for the Irish ears and the Irish minded. Listen to the lyrics. That is half the fun of Black 47. The first song on “Last Call” is “Salsa O’Keefe” which is a rock and salsa driven groove that describes the sassy daughter of an inter-racial couple from Bayamon, Puerto Rico and Cultimagh, Co. Mayo. Always one to explore new territory the song “Dublin Days” explores love and international student exchange.
There are a host of other musical talents on “Last Call.” Christine Ohlman adds vocals on tracks 1,3,7,10,13. Mary Ann O’Rourke, Thomas J. Marlow and Jim O’Donnell contribute vocals on track 9, and Stephen Gabis does so on Track 5. Mike Fazio plays Atmospheric guitar on tracks 4 and 7.
Larry Kirwin leaves an ending note inside the CD jacket (which is quite a long foldout). He ends it by saying, “Take care of yourselves, it’s been a great trip, and I think we’re well within our rights in saying, Ni beidh ar leithead ann aris.”
If you didn’t get the chance to see Black 47 live during their illustrious career , all is not lost. Catch them at Celtic festivals across the states before November. They are scheduled to appear at the Dublin Irish Festival in Dublin Ohio on August 1-3, 2014. This is one of the finest and largest Irish festivals in the United States.
Buy this CD now at Amazon, on iTunes or at www.black47.com.
The tracks list is:
1. Salsa O’Keefe
2. Culchie Prince
3. Dublin Days
4. US of A 2014
5. The Night the Showbands Died
6. Johnny Comes a’Courtin
7. Let the People In
8. Lament for John Kuhlman
9. St. Patrick’s Day
10. Queen of Coney Island
11. Shanty Irish Baby
12. Ballad of Brendan Behan
13. Hard Times