CELTIC ROCKERS BLACK 47
Bring The Green to B.B. King's Blues Club
A SoundPress.net Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

It was the Saturday night before St. Patrick's Day 2013 and what better way to commemorate the Irish than rocking out with Black 47 at B.B. Kings in the heart of Times Square. New York City's annual St. Patrick's Day parade was held earlier in the day so many fans were in green and in a mood to celebrate.

Black 47 Brings the Green to B.B. King's Blues Club in New York City

Formed in 1989 and choosing a name to memorialize the Irish Famine of 1847, Black 47 started their journey playing at Irish pubs in New York. Over time, with touring and the release of over a dozen records Black 47 has reached a wider audience but they remain popular in The Big Apple.

Their music is rooted in Ireland with a NYC rock attitude branching out into hip-hop, jazz and reggae. Many of their songs are politically charged. They have penned tunes for Irish Republicanism (James Connolly, Bobby Sands & Vinegar Hill) and in the 2000's Black 47 took a strong stand against America's wars in the Middle East .

Their concerts are rowdy affairs and Black 47 allows multi-media recordings as no two live shows are ever the same. This performance at B.B. Kings was aired nationally on Sirius XM Radio. As Black 47 took the stage they gave a shout out to New York and stated that "things are still going on in Ireland".

Black 47 Brings the Green to B.B. King's Blues Club in New York City
Black 47 takes the stage at the BB King Blues Club and Grill in New York City.

They opened their energized set with an engaging "Green Suede Shoes" an autobiographical Irish rocker that had fans clapping and dancing along. "Celtic Rocker" added to that momentum with spirited playing punctuated by elements of punk rock music.

"Thirsty work up here," stated Larry Kirwan guitarist and lead vocalist. Larry declared that they were going to have an Irish dancing competition and the winner would get a Black 47 T-shirt giving fans another reason to dance and jump around. Black 47 jammed on an "edgy" instrumental that had a U2 vibe and invited a few fans on stage to jig.

Black 47 Brings the Green to B.B. King's Blues Club in New York City
Larry Kirwan is the fiery and energetic front man of the legendary Celtic rockers.

"Irish reggae from Jamaica, Jamaica Queens that is," Kirwan jested as Black 47 added an Irish spin to Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" that flowed into the hook line "desperate" and a sassy sax solo from Geoffrey Blythe. The next pairing of songs were about great Irish men with different struggles. "Big Fellah" and "Danny Boy" shared elements of Celtic rock with the later moving into a rap and jazz sequence.

Alluding to their political positions Black 47 performed "Fire of Freedom" a feisty Irish flavored tune with fiery lyrics. Larry also mentioned that they took a stance against Bush and Cheney with their Iraq album that some fans liked and others did not. They played a song from that record complete with helicopter sounds and aggressive Irish instrumentation.

Sticking with the theme of rebellion they moved into "James Connolly" singing about the universal struggle of the working man and injustice. Fans were jumping in support as a blue and white flag was brought out. Drummer Thomas Hamlin and another player on a hand held drum pounded their important message home.

Black 47 Brings the Green to B.B. King's Blues Club in New York City
Scenes from the Black 47 concert in midtown Manhattan.

"40 Shades of Blues," had a boozy feel and was followed by "Izzy's Irish Rose" a rocking blend of Irish and Yiddish music telling the story of a Jewish cantor attracted to an Irish girl whose father owned a pub. Black 47's encore included the hopping and humorous "I Got Laid on James Joyce's Grave" and their take on "Gloria" was glorious as it flowed into a lively "I Fought the Law."

They finished with a crowd-pleasing and green-tinged but moss-less "Like A Rolling Stone". After the concert the band was available to talk and sign items. Thus ending or perhaps for some starting a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

B.B. Kings Blues Club and Grill hosts a wide range of acts such as Black 47. The venue is located at 237 West 42nd Street and it is central to many NYC attractions. Depending on the band a concert may be general admission or seated in which patrons can sit and have food and drinks before and during a show.

BLACK 47:
Larry Kirwan - guitar and lead vocals
Fred Parcells - trombone
Geoffrey Blythe - sax
Joe Burcaw - bass
Joseph Mulvanerty - pipes and flute
Thomas Hamlin - drums

Black 47 Brings the Green to B.B. King's Blues Club in New York City
St. Patrick' Day Parade - the annual New York City tradition marched up 5th Avenue once again in 2013.

Related Links: For more information on BLACK 47 and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Black 47 | BB King Blues Club | St. Patrick's Day Parade

(Originally Published on March 21, 2013)

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