Jimmy Crowley has been a central figure in the Irish
folk scene since the enthusiastic reception of his debut
album The Boys of Fairhill in 1977. With his band Stokers
Lodge their mission was to present the street ballads
of Cork city complimented by the ornate folk songs of
the rural hinterland of Cork and Kerry in an exciting
orchestration of uilleann pipes, concertina, autoharp,
harmonium, mandolin, bouzouki and guitar in their native
accent. The second album, Camphouse Ballads hurtled
the band into the vortex of the folk scene; they were
now performing at folk festivals and making tv appearances
in Ireland, Britain and America .Both albums were produced
by Micheál Ó Dómhnaill of the Bothy
Band. Like Chris Twomey of Stokers Lodge, Micheál
was a seminal influence in Jimmy's musical education.
Every Jimmy Crowley album after the demise of Stokers
Lodge in the middle eighties has been imbued with an
excitement and autonomy; has challenged conventions
and has been totally different from its predecessor.
Some Things Never Change, an eclectic, electric experiment
featuring some of the most creative musicians in Ireland:
Declan Sinnott, Keith Mc Donald and Christy Moore of
Moving Hearts was applauded and voted album of the year
by rock critic, Bill Graham. Jimmy's new band, The Electric
Band released a reggae version of the Cork ballad, The
Boys of Fairhill which went into the pop charts.
In between recording and writing his own songs, Crowley
found time to taste the rich Gaelic hinterland of his
native province of Munster learning his profession as
a bard and falling in love with the Irish language.
The songs he learned in the Irish speaking parts of
Munster found a hearth in his first Irish language album,
Jimí Mo Mhíle Stór, produced by
Dónal Lunny for Gael Linn records. There followed
a bitter-sweet amalgam of caustic urban ballads and
sentimental parlour songs which Crowley had began to
endorse. The album simply called, Jimmy Crowley for
K-tel records was produced by Declan Sinnott.
Crowley's fascination with the theatre and in particular
musical drama culminated in his ballad opera, Red Patriots.
Set against the backdrop of Mao Tse Tung's cultural
and social policies,it's the story of an apprentice
musician who falls for a revolutionary girl. Actual
events such as the mob-incited burning of the Marxist
bookshop in Cork city in the early seventies induce
fierce realism. The play was well-received and ran successfully
at the Triskil Arts Centre in Cork City.