Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Meeting and Interviewing Black 47's Larry Kirwan


Most people do not get to meet the musicians they love the most. However, on the night of March 1, 2001 I got lucky. I met, shook hands, and interviewed Larry Kirwan, the leader and co-founder of the Irish-American band Black 47. This all came about in a rather odd way. After discovering the New York City band at a listening booth at a local Borders store I fell completely in love with their 2000 release Trouble in the Land. Prior to that January day I only knew the band by their name. I knew nothing else about them.

Later that year I was writing CD reviews for a local news website that my brother-in-law, Steve, launched with some friends. At year's end he asked me to submit reviews for my top five CDs of the year. Trouble in the Land was number one.

Steve decided to try and get some publicity for his website so he emailed my review to Kirwan. While the review was highly complimentary of the disc, the band, and Kirwan's songs, there was one "small" criticism. In a very ungraceful way I wrote that Kirwan's lead vocals could be problematic. He shot an email back to Steve with the following response: "Thanks, although I'm less enthused regarding his review about my voice. Tell the ********* to meet me on 42nd Street and choose his weapons." Trying to not act too offended he immediately sent a second email saying he was only kidding.

When I received the email chain from Steve I still had enough gall to send Kirwan an email asking him for an interview when the band came to Finnegan's Wake in Philadelphia on March 1, 2001. To my surprise, he agreed but he also wrote, "Nice to hear from you, even if you are the ******* who says I can't sing." Kirwan was very gracious all during the interview and he even offered to buy me a drink. You can read the full interview here.

The months went by. Steve's online news site never survived its infancy and he removed it from the web. I still had the interview and about a dozen orphaned CD reviews so I started a small website to give them all a home. That website eventually was replaced by this blog.

In 2003 Kirwan, who is also a playwright, adapted one of his works, Liverpool Fantasy, into a novel. It's an interesting tale about what may have happened to The Beatles if they hadn't become famous. Once again I wrote to Kirwan and asked if he would be willing to do an email interview about the book. Again he agreed. I sent him ten questions and within forty-eight hours the author replied with great answers to all of them. Here is my article and review of the book.

Granted Larry Kirwan is not a superstar, and he is barely known outside the Irish music scene, but Black 47 is a big enough act that he still could have pulled the prima donna routine and not fulfilled my requests. So kudos to you Mr. Kirwan and I thank you for your great music. To you and my late brother-in-law, Steve, I thank you both for this fun hobby known as Bloggerhythms. It would never have seen the light of day without the entire series of events chronicled here.

1 comment:

  1. Although I've never met either of them in the flesh it was a thrill to do a telephone interview with Joseph Williams (ex-Toto) and email interview with Danny Seraphine.

    I also treasure the email correspondences I've had with Bill Champlin, Steve Lukather, Jason Scheff, Dawayne Bailey, Neal Doughty (of REO Speedwagon), and Wayne Nelson (of Little River Band).

    It's quite a rush to correspond with the musicians whose music has touched our lives deeply. It's especially cool that you got to meet Larry Kirwan. Corresponding by email or even over the phone is one thing, meeting our musical heroes is another. Hats off to you!