Wednesday 17 July 2024

THE JIG IS UP, JOE

The jig is up, Joe.

I don’t mean to be disrespectful, Mr. President, for the most part you’ve done a great job but time catches up with all of us and you’re no exception.


Your natural instinct is to pick yourself up and battle on – that’s served you well in the past – but deep down you know the truth. And if by some small chance you don’t, then take a look at your recent debate with Mr. Trump.


It was a painful night for many, as it summoned up memories of beloved parents and grandparents who had suffered time’s relentless assault. They, at least, did not have their pride and dignity shredded in the glare of a televised stage.


With time, you will take your place in the top echelon of presidents, for in one term you saved the republic twice: by defeating your authoritarian predecessor, and then rescuing and reinvigorating the economy from the ravages of Covid-19.


In the worst of times you led the country with your pugnacious optimism and Irish- American fortitude. Many of us now fear these same qualities will prevent you from stepping aside and allowing a younger member of your party to contest November’s presidential ballot.


This will be one of the most important elections in the country’s history. Essentially, it’s a battle for democracy. Mr. Trump refuses to admit that he was beaten fairly in 2020; indeed, he will not promise to accept the result of the upcoming 2024 election – unless he wins.


It’s hard to fathom, but in barely eight years this venal fabulist has utterly changed the American political landscape. 


During the recent debate he seemed even more outlandish, lie-prone, and lacking in logic than during his presidency. His one strength was that he could string together a number of sentences in a loud and forceful manner – something you seemed incapable of doing.


There was one consolation - the realization that any number of your younger Democratic peers could have exposed his ranting and raving for what it was - typical Trumpian make-believe.


Of those who spring to mind, I mention Gretchen Witmer, Sherrod Brown, Wes Moore, JB Pritzker, Chris Murphy, Gavin Newsom and, of course, your Vice-President Kamala Harris.


How odd, Mr. President, that for four years you have neglected to counsel and help Ms. Harris, especially since you too served as vice-president. Nonetheless, she seems to have found her feet in the last months, and in an open Democratic convention she could well prove herself up to the task of leading her party.


Whatever, we need a new candidate to lead the democratic forces of this country in the coming election. Not just to beat Mr. Trump, but to face up to the challenges of the coming four years – and you are no longer that man.


You will leave the country in much better shape than you found it, low unemployment, lower crime figures, surging financial markets, but there are many problems: the lack of coherent bipartisan immigration and climate policies, a national debt that must finally be faced up to, and a need for new Social Security funding. 


That’s not even taking into account the coming reckoning with Artificial Intelligence, not only from the unemployment it will cause but the existential threats it may pose for humanity.


This will take energy, vision, and a willingness to compromise. As a younger person you would have been an ideal candidate to lead us through such times. 


In the wake of the debate, senior members of your party, Obama, the Clintons, Schumer, Jeffries, et al circled the wagons and supported your ongoing candidature. Hopefully, they are now privately reaching out to you to suggest ways for your dignified withdrawal from the November election.


As a political strategist, you cannot be unaware of the dangers to the country of a Trump administration supported by majorities in both houses of congress and a compliant Supreme Court.


You now have a chance to reinvigorate the political process by stepping aside and allowing the Democratic convention to choose a new candidate in August.


It’s time to put aside ego, family, staff, and well-meaning allies and do what’s best for the country, Mr. President. The clock is ticking and the jig, unfortunately, is up.

Thursday 27 June 2024

KEROUAC IN THE BACK SEAT OF A GREYHOUND BUS

 The great Chesterton remarked that “travel broadens the mind, but you must have the mind.” To which Mark Twain added, “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

I suppose they were saying roughly the same thing – get out of your burgh and air out your opinions.


Wexford was hardly narrow-minded in the early 1970’s – a port town with a strong merchant marine tradition, it was as open as any in Ireland and closest to Europe, in more ways than just geographical.


Back then, I had the good fortune to see Midnight Cowboy and read Jack Kerouac’s On The Road and, before I knew it, armed with a student visa, I arrived in New York City.


The Deuce (42nd Street) was an eye-opener, East Village rents were cheap – life could be too, but in general, New York in the 70s was both magical and regenerative.


It didn’t take long until On The Road raised its glorious head. At Malachy McCourt’s Bells of Hell I was introduced to composer David Amram, one of the Beats. He and Kerouac had not only been close friends, they had created the Jazz/Poetry fusion during a jam a quarter century earlier.


David resurrected Jack’s spirit in the back room of the Bells and at 93 years young, he continues to do so.


In On The Road Kerouac sets off to excavate the restless soul of America, and in the 1970’s many of us followed suit.


You didn’t need much money. All you had to do was sign up to deliver a car to Florida, California or some other state of place or mind.


You laid down a small deposit, the cars were in great shape, and off you went – into the mystic.

The car agency preferred you to take your time: you had a week to drive to Florida; so accompanied by friends or girlfriend, you headed down the Turnpike to find America.


The country was changing, 1960’s attitudes had leaked wholesale into the 70’s, music was bringing people out of their shells, races were mixing, even in the rigid South. There was friction too, but Miami was resurging, and Key West was an inexpensive paradise.


As money was tight, I always took the bus back. This was a revelation. Greyhound transported working and lower-middle class America. The back seats were filled with servicemen going home, Ratso Rizzos and Joe Blows sporting a bottle or a half-ounce, and you got to hear stories in the dark that echoed Kerouac’s soul-searching.


People talked politics, but respectfully, each person had their say, and we all listened. You soon realized that almost everyone had the same goals: help their families, and be treated with respect.


There was camaraderie among strangers on those buses, and in the rest-stops and the bars near the bus stations - nobody was carrying anything valuable, and we looked out for each other.


It was much the same all over the country, for I drove to California too on varying routes, and eventually I traveled all over this vast country with the various bands I played in.


A craziness began to set in during the Obama years. Was it a reaction to a Black man being president? It was probably more complex, but there’s little doubt that a native nuttiness and xenophobia have been fanned by the powerful tail winds of the internet.


People stay home now and spend long hours staring into screens. You can argue with a “friend” thousands of miles away, without ever having set eyes upon them. You may definitely speak your piece without caring that anyone else might feel insulted by your prickly, solitary honesty.


And you have politicians, influencers, and so many others ready to make a buck by egging on you and your fantasies.


The only thing you don’t have to do today is listen.


What would Mark Twain say? My guess is he’d advise us all to go somewhere out of our comfort zone, buy a beer and listen to the soul of America.


That soul is still out there somewhere – you won’t find it in some anonymous, clamorous chat room,  but you just might run into it in the quiet of night on the back seat of a Greyhound bus. And you’d be the better for it.

Thursday 13 June 2024

I GOT LAID ON JAMES JOYCE'S GRAVE

Who is this guy, James Joyce, and why does everyone go nuts about him around the middle of June every year?

Well, this most enigmatic of Irishmen had a first date with his future wife on June 16, 1904, which event helped inspire Ulysses, a book that most people have never finished.


This same wife couldn’t make head nor tail of his “auld writing” and would have much preferred if he’d “stuck to the singing” – after all,  he had a fine voice and came third to John McCormack in a Feis Ceoil for tenors in 1903.


But there was no talking to the man. He persevered with the auld writing through debt, despair, drunkenness, and near blindness; perhaps that’s why Nora Barnacle didn’t marry Joyce until she’d lived in sin with him for 37 years.


Nora was born and bred in Galway. James’s alcoholic father, John Stanislaus Joyce, was reputed to have noted that “with a name like Barnacle Jim will never get rid of her.”


Speaking of the drink, no less an authority than Ernest Hemingway declared that James Joyce was a rummy. His poison of choice was wine but he wouldn’t touch a drop of red with a forty-foot pole, for it reminded him of blood. That’s the kind of fellah we’re dealing with!


Nora deserves retroactive sainthood, for the Joyces are reputed to have moved house more than 30 times, often one step ahead of a stiffed landlord.


We shouldn’t think too badly of James though, since he learned this trick from his Cork- born father, God help him. 


James himself is reputed to have cadged the modern equivalent of a million and a half bucks from Harriet Shaw Weaver in the course of his lifetime. In fact, he appears to have borrowed from just about anyone he came in contact with. 


When asked about his inscrutable expression in one of his more famous portraits, he explained, “I was wondering if the photographer might lend me a few shillings.”


All that being said, James Joyce was one hell of a writer. Ulysses is considered by many to be the greatest novel written, although some feel it may be an inside joke foisted upon us by a seriously deluded man. 


Still, if you make it towards the end, you will be exposed to Molly Bloom’s soliloquy, arguably the most riveting and heartfelt piece of literature. Not to mention, it is essential reading for any gentleman who wishes to get to the bottom (figuratively speaking) of a lady.


And now, some advice before you set off to explore the wonders of Ulysses, for Bloomsday, is at hand.


I would suggest beginning with Dubliners, Joyce’s short story collection; it’s accessible and contains The Dead, perhaps the finest novella in the English language. If pinched for time, you can always substitute John Huston’s lovely film of the same name, starring his daughter, Anjelica, and the immortal Donal McCann.   

   

If you’re still in a Joycean frame of mind, get thee to Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Joyce’s first novel. Again, this is a relatively plain-spoken book and features a Christmas dinner scene worth all the tomes devoted to the tragedy of Charles Stewart Parnell, “Ireland’s uncrowned king.”


You now owe yourself a stiff congratulatory drink. You have successfully negotiated two Joycean hurdles and Ulysses looms ahead. 


Instead of opening this Dublin odyssey at page one and lurching logically forward, I suggest you close your eyes and dive in at any other page – your choice!


Take a read, if it appeals to you continue from there, or close your eyes again and like a bee surveying the petals of a flower let your instinct direct you. If nothing should catch your fancy, then flip forward post-haste to Molly’s final cri de coeur. The very stones in the street have been moved by her soliloquy.


The idea is to get a feel for this wonderful book. Once you’re hooked you can always begin at the beginning and plough on relentlessly to the end.


For Ulysses is a true celebration of life and it brings everything you might ever want to know about the city of Dublin to the fore. All you have to do is find a line, a sentence, or a chapter that will gain you entry. From then on, your heart too will glow in the middle of June every year.

 

Bloomsday Celebrations Sunday June 16th:

 

Ulysses, 58 Stone Street, NYC – Colum McCann curates the 21st Anniversary Bloomsday Celebration on the street, featuring Aedín Moloney as Molly, Larry Kirwan as Gerty & a cast of 1000s. 2pm Free!

 

Blooms Tavern, 208 E. 58th St. NYC – Origin Theatre’s annual Bloomsday Celebration. Featuring Terry Donnelly, Allen Gogarty and friends. Period attire optional. 6pm, tickets, origintheatre.org 

 

American Irish Historical Society, 991 Fifth Avenue, NYC - Molly Bloom by James Joyce performed by Eilin O’Dea. 3pm, tickets, aihsny.org

 

Saturday, June 15th,  3pm Irish American Writers & Artists, Shout in the Street, at Dive 106, 938 Amsterdam Avenue, NYC,  Free, rip-roaring & a day ahead, for information iamwa.org

Wednesday 29 May 2024

THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND - HOW LITTLE HAS CHANGED

On a recent Celtic Crush/SiriusXM show, I featured songs about James Connolly and Joe Hill, along with This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie.


As I was listening I realized just how little has changed. Immigration was the big polarizing issue in their early 20th Century, just as it will be ours in this year’s presidential election.


And yet it would appear that much of our political establishment has no intention of hammering out an acceptable compromise to this existential American problem. No, far better use it to enrage sensibilities and get themselves re-elected!


What has James Connolly, martyred leader of the 1916 Insurrection in Ireland, got to do with US immigration anyway?


Well, between 1903 and 1910 he too was an immigrant, living in Troy, Elizabeth, and The Bronx.

A full time organizer for the International Workers of the World (The Wobblies), he sought to unionize textile workers then living under wage-slave conditions in the US.


Many were Jewish and Central European women fleeing the pogroms of Tsarist Russia, along with Italians and others from Southern Europe.


Most could not speak English and were despised by the Nativist Know-Nothings of the time. Like modern immigrants they too were accused of “poisoning the blood of our country.” 


Ironically, the great-grandchildren of those 20 Century disadvantaged immigrants are now the backbone of middle-class America.


What about Joe Hill?  Born Joel Emmanuel Hagglund in Gavle, Sweden, he didn’t even begin to speak English until after his US arrival in 1902 at the age of 22. He took whatever underpaid day labor he could find in New York and eventually made his way to the West Coast, where he narrowly escaped death during the San Francisco Earthquake.


What a brief but meteoric life! A soldier of fortune in an invasion of Mexico, a free-speech advocate, and eventually a galvanizing songwriter. He became the voice of all Americans,  immigrant and otherwise, who sought a living wage working 60 hour weeks in the direst of  conditions.


Needless to say, this Nordic immigrant and his hobo tribe, who rode the rails up and down the West Coast in search of work, were treated as disposable cogs in an unfettered boom and bust economy. 


Joe was executed in Salt Lake City in 1915 for a crime he didn’t commit, despite the intervention of President Woodrow Wilson.


Woody Guthrie, born a generation later, was no immigrant, though along with thousands of Okies he drifted west during the Depression in search of work. One of his finest songs, however, is Deportee, an ode to the plight of migrant workers. 


He also wrote This Land is Your Land in answer to God Bless America, because he felt Irving Berlin’s anthem did not reflect the reality that the vast majority of Americans was experiencing.


One can only wonder what Woody, Joe Hill, and James Connolly would think of Mr. Trump’s proposal to involve the US Armed Forces in rounding up 8 million or more illegal immigrants for deportation.


One could rationalize this threat as Donald simply being Donald, but this is no longer the garrulous hero of the NY Post’s Page 6, but the man who sat on his presidential hands while his “patriot” supporters attacked the US Capitol Building on January 6th, 2021.


Though it’s unlikely that the US Army would allow itself to be used in such a manner, these are strange days.


This is a country of laws and a person who gains entry and petitions asylum is legally entitled to remain here until their case is heard. 


And yet, there’s little doubt the current immigration system has broken down on the southern borders.


So, fix it. Though it won’t be easy and will take compromise, that’s why we elect representatives.


The US has faced slavery, a civil war, and a host of other problems, and time after time our politicians have risen to the occasion. 


Ours is a big booming economy, with an aging population; until our politicians summon the courage to act, we need workers for the many jobs Americans won’t touch.

Though they look and sound different, there are Connolly’s and Joe Hills among the current asylum seekers, and you can be sure many of them are already singing their version of This Land Is Your Land. 

Sunday 19 May 2024

FRANK HERBERT, DUNE & A BOTTLE OF GLENFIDDICH

Have you gone to see the movie, Dune – Part 2 yet?

I’ve seen both, though I regret to say I remember nothing about Part 1.


That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy either movie, but Frank Herbert’s novel is not easily transposed to the big, or little, screen. The book is a riveting mélange of adventure and mysticism, hard edged environmentalism, and down & dirty politics. It features Paul Atreides, a reluctant hero for the ages.


Then again, Frank Herbert was a mighty man, original and driven, and an amazing storyteller. I met him once, we had a slight argument, and I fell under his considerable spell.


This happened in 1979, at a Science Fiction Convention held in The Sheraton Hotel, Boston.


I was a member of Turner & Kirwan of Wexford in those days. We’d had some success with our album Absolutely and Completely and were shopping around Adoramus, a “science friction” follow-up.


David Bowie had come to see us perform Adoramus in NYC and given it a thumbs up. On the strength of this, and some adroit canvassing by our fans, we were invited to play the Boston convention.


As befitted our newly exalted status, we were given a suite of rooms that our rowdy following immediately occupied, with sleeping bags and bodies strewn everywhere. Ah well, it was the 70s!


I remember little about the gig itself except that Isaac Asimov (I, Robot) loved the band, while the esteemed fantasy writer Anne McCaffrey (Dragonrider)  did not. Talk about Donald Trump being a great polarizer, there was no middle ground for Turner & Kirwan of Wexford. 


That being said, I was gravely disappointed that Frank Herbert, the convention guest of honor, hadn’t bothered to check us out.


However, I heard through the grapevine that his publishing company was throwing a reception for the great man.


Security was tight, but I had learned from knocking around New York that judicious name-dropping allied with muchos cojones could get you in almost anywhere.


The reception was a tame affair, considering that the convention itself was fueled by amphetamines, psychedelics, and God knows what else. Mr. Herbert was holding forth to a small circle of publishing people.


The bar, though well stocked, was deserted, so I poured myself a stiff one and joined the admirers.


The talk was about Dune and the novel’s deep moral and psychological underpinnings. Within minutes I was ready to chuck the music game and follow this prophet wherever he might lead. 


Then someone inquired what current politician came closest to Paul Atreides, the savior of Dune.


Without missing a beat, Herbert stated, “Ronald Reagan” – then Governor of California.

In deep shock, I chimed in, “You gotta be kiddin’ me!” and all eyes turned my way.


After a brief semi-heated exchange, Mr. Herbert then enunciated in great detail how Ronnie shared Paul’s libertarian leanings. It was a tour-de-force, particularly since I’d never been introduced to the concept of  libertarianism.


There was no anger in the great man’s expansive explanation, everything sounded perfectly logical, even poetical, to this James Connolly radical. And when he had exhausted the topic he excused himself.


I returned, somewhat depressed, to our suite where a very real environmental disaster had occurred. Booze had run out and the Sheraton was sticking by the draconian Boston 1am closing time.


There was only one thing for it. Inspired by my new-found libertarianism, I hastened back to the Herbert reception and slipped in unnoticed. Like Paul Atreides I was a man on a mission. I went straight to the bar, lifted a very large bottle of Glenfiddich and returned again to our suite – a redeeming hero unto our Turner & Kirwan following.


We partied ‘til dawn, then decided “To hell with Boston and it’s early closing” and drove back to New York. All the way down Route 95 I could hear Mr. Herbert’s insistent voice describing the new America that Ronald Reagan would soon usher in.


Turner & Kirwan never released Adoramus. Reagan’s 1980s were soon upon us, everyone wanted to dance away this new reality, and as one record company executive enigmatically pronounced while dismissing our science friction opus, “Did you ever try dancing to Pink Floyd?”


I don’t believe so. But I did get a lesson in libertarianism from Frank Herbert - and Dune continues to inspire.

Monday 6 May 2024

A TREE HUGGER'S LAMENT

I’ve always been a bit of a tree-hugger. And why wouldn’t I, after spending so much time on my grandfather’s farm within a mile of Wexford town?

Since he was a cattle dealer the land was given over to fattening bullocks rather than growing grain, fruits, or vegetables. The lush fields were green and hushed, for cattle are  generally quiet, docile beasts. 


Late at night on  long journeys back to New York with Black 47, I’d often take mental strolls through those peaceful fields, stopping to admire trees, ponds, bunches of wild primroses, thrushes’ nests hidden amid the long grass, or views of the nearby meandering main road.


I’d sometimes wonder how I ended up living on heroin row in the East Village where the cries of dealers and junkies mixed seamlessly with police and ambulance sirens.


In general, though, I was at ease with the choices I’d made. As a man from Gweedore once put it to me in The Bronx: “Scenery is all well and good but you can’t eat it.”


As the years raced by, I was always busy on one creative thing or another, in fact we had just closed a successful run of Paradise Square in Berkeley CA, and were heading to Broadway, when the pandemic struck.


I don’t remember being particularly disappointed - life is full of ups and downs in music and theatre, and you learn to roll with the punches.


A friend had died early on from Covid, so I knew this disease was serious, and took every precaution. I even moved outside the city to a house near a beach and a state park.


The first week was strange; it was like stepping off a speeding treadmill – no meetings, phone calls, deadlines, just quietness.


Soon, the ospreys returned from the south, and for once I had time to devote to them. I had always admired these beautiful, tireless birds as they dived from on high into the nearby Long Island Sound.


Soon egrets, herons and piping plovers arrived and took their place among the seagulls, mockingbirds, crows, pigeons, doves and robins.


The birds seemed oblivious to us humans – stalked ourselves now by an invisible foe. It behooved us to keep away from other people, for who knew who was infected. And so I took long walks and, like everyone else, kept my distance.


That summer I relearned the value of silence and the solitary life. With so many humans barricaded indoors, the nearby state park hummed with wildlife. I saw foxes, coyotes, skunks,  racoons and deer, all exploring areas they had long ceded to humanity.


And high above, birds of all kinds were ever-present, reveling in their own harmonious cacophony.


After a year or so, I returned to the city, but my life had changed, I had been touched again by nature, much as had happened on my grandfather’s farm all those emigrant years ago. I resolved to hold on to my connection and, for the most part, I have.

 

On recent visits over March and early April to my pandemic refuge, however, I was stunned by the lack of birds and a new foreboding silence. There were seagulls, ducks and Canadian geese aplenty, but no robins, mockingbirds, blue jays, cardinals, and a scarcity of even crows and doves.


The egrets, herons, plovers, and ospreys returned as the days grew longer, but the local birds I just mentioned only began to trickle back in mid-April and in much fewer numbers than in previous years.


A nearby copse of holly trees still sports some red berries; these delicacies used to be devoured by ravenous birds by mid-March at the latest.


Experts agree that since 1970 almost 3 billion birds of virtually all species have vanished from North America, mostly because of climate change and encroaching humanity.


After much fear, suspicion and misinformation, we humans have survived the pandemic, but will the birds survive us?


How awful to think that on our watch the disappearance of birds could speed up even more, so that eventually it might be a rarity to hear their lovely songs.


And yet, despite all the damning evidence, we continue to vote for climate change deniers. How sad to think these misguided souls are so oblivious to their heritage and surroundings they would never even notice if the birds stopped singing.

Sunday 21 April 2024

Monsignor Steve Duggan - The King of Second Avenue

They don’t make them like Steve Duggan anymore. The question is – did they ever?

The Monsignor was like many immigrants – neither here nor there. His heart was back in Ireland, while his soul was firmly entrenched on 2nd Avenue.


He lived for the present with a hawk-eye on the future. He rarely dwelt on the past, except on long drives, when it would come pouring out in a darkly humorous torrent.


He was no saint, nor did he ever claim to be, like many of us he delighted in the company of rogues - the merrier, the better!


He never spoke about his education, but he could have been a great mathematician, for I never knew a man with such a command of the comings and goings of money.


An acclaimed right half forward for County Cavan, yet one of his rare regrets was that he could have been a star soccer player had the times been different. 

 

He had been a greyhound trainer, a bookmaker, and most importantly, he co-owned and successfully promoted dances in the Cavan Sports Center Ballroom.


While Country and Irish was the most popular dance music in the 1970’s Steve recognized the pent-up local demand for the harder-edged pop showbands.

 

He also promoted Horslips and other Celtic Rock groups out of Dublin, like Spud. Thus did he become friends and associates with Paul McGuinness who would go on to manage U2.


In the end though, rural Ireland was too repressive and unaccommodating for larger-than-life individuals, and Steve joined the exodus to New York in 1983. 


With Paddy Reilly and manager Jim Hand, Steve opened Paddy Reilly’s on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 28thStreet.


Their idea was to create an upscale lounge bar, but that concept gained little traction in the swinging 80’s. Eventually, the pub settled into a sedate neighborhood center for darts, and Reilly’s team was formidable. 


Steve continued to book Paddy Reilly around the US along with other acts managed by Jim Hand, one of Ireland’s great showbiz characters.


Contrary to popular lore, Steve did not book Black 47 at Reilly’s, his head bartender, Monaghan’s Dympna McDonald did after discovering us in The Bronx. We were causing an unfavorable stir up there back in early 1990, because of our insistence on playing originals and a refusal to accept that “the punter is always right” - seditious behavior at the time.


Reilly’s was just what we were looking for, an open space - as I once stated in an interview, “the place was doing so bad, even the cockroaches were leaving.”


From playing the various boroughs, we had amassed an audience of music aficionados, ne’er-do-wells, and Irish Republicans, who brought a very different vibe to Reilly’s.


Steve could read cash registers better than anyone and recognized that Chris Byrne and I had come up with a very different take on Irish music and weren’t shy about sharing it. The Monsignor’s genius was the realization that if this could work in Reilly’s, it could take off all across Irish America.


And thus, with a little help from Leno, Letterman, O’Brien, and EMI Records, Black 47 became a national phenomenon. Steve masterfully handled all the Irish pubs & festivals, while The Agency Group looked after the rock clubs and colleges.


Within months we had lines around Reilly’s block, and soon Joe Strummer, Matt Dillon, Danny Glover, Brooke Shields and a slew of celebrities arrived. 


In short order, Steve became King of Second Avenue with a beaming smile and a welcome for everyone. He booked great bands like Spéir Mór, Paddy A-Go-Go, Rogue’s March, Eileen Ivers, Joanie Madden & Séamus Egan, Tony DeMarco’s Seisiúin, and The Prodigals who still play Reilly’s on Friday nights.


Steve was an amazing booking agent. Should there be a problem all we had to do was dial his number, and the offending  promoter would blanch at the thought of verbal combat with this ferocious Cavan competitor. 


There were no deals - every cent had to be collected. As he once put it, “What owner gives you a bonus on a good night?”


Actually you did, Steve, occasionally.


Some weeks back we laughed at old times, despite Steve being sorely tried by the recent death of his son, David.


Good night, old friend. We changed the way Irish music is listened to in America, and from humble monsignor you went on to become King of Second Avenue.