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Irish Voice Entertainment
November 19, 2008
Off the Record by Mike Farragher
THERE was a seismic shift for subscribers of satellite radio last week as the impact of the Sirius/XM merger played out in the programming that goes over the airwaves.
You knew the 25-cent stock price was going to make someone decide that listeners really don’t need two reggae channels, but the changes went
deeper than that. Unfortunately, some of the more eclectic channels got the axe, including Sirius Disorder. This channel, the brainchild of Irish American radio legend Meg Griffin, has been collapsed into the Spectrum channel (channel 18 on Sirius, channel 45 on XM). That’s also where you will find Celtic Crush, the green programming put together by Black 47’s Larry Kirwan.
While the demise of channels like Sirius Disorder is a crushing blow to music lovers, the move means the Irish music on satellite radio essentially doubles its audience to 30 million.
“SiriusXM is committed to Celtic Crush and feels it will have a big future on the combined channels,” reports Kirwan. “Personally, I’ll miss Disorder and I’ve enjoyed working with the other hosts like David Johansen, Lou Reed and Vin Scelsa, all of whom will move to The Loft (XM folk channel). There will be no change in the format of Celtic Crush. It will still feature my very broad definition of Celtic music.”
Many of the new artists that you read about here each week have counted on columns like this one and outlets like Celtic Crush to find an audience in an era of terrestrial radio intolerant to diversity — unless your name is Kanye or 50 Cent.
“It’s important for musicians like Damien Dempsey and Lisa Hannigan to know that if they’ve written and recorded a great song that there’s a chance that a huge audience will get to hear it. With the tightening of radio, that’s becoming rarer and rarer,” says Kirwan.
In other Kirwan news, he will be bringing Black 47 back to Connolly’s in Times Square for their 19th winter residence there.
“We began in the recession of 1989/90,” recalls Kirwan. “The music was brash, challenging and very much of the streets. Chris was a pipes-playing cop, Hammy and I were veterans of the CBGB’s scene, Geoff was from Dexy’s, Fred from Latino Jazz ensembles.
“We took no prisoners, and the idea was to not look back at Ireland but create a new form of Irish music that reflected life in New York. We were political then and we’re still that way. Our CD IRAQ is a favorite of US troops both in Baghdad and Kabul.”
The band traditionally uses the Connolly’s residency to work out songs for the next album, so don’t be surprised if you hear new tunes like “The Long Lost Tapes of Hendrix,” “Rosemary Nelson,” “Izzy’s Irish Rose” and “Red Hugh O’Donnell” next to your old favorites.
“People come from all over the world to see us and it’s one big Saturday night party at the crossroads of the world,” enthuses Kirwan. “Connolly’s Klub 45 (their third floor concert venue) has one of the best PA systems in the city and we’ll shake whatever cobwebs have built up since we played there last February.”
Sounds like a plan, all for $10! For more information, log onto black47.com.
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