Boston Blackthorne County Kerry to Kerry Park in Celtic MP3 Music Magazine
Hailing from New England, Boston Blackthorne has put out a winner with its CD, “County Kerry to Kerry Park”. Award-winning songwriters present original music for the lover of traditional Celtic music with a fresh set of eyes (or should I say ears?) and interesting perspective.
The title of the CD is sort of a play on location–County Kerry, obviously a spot in Ireland, but then Kerry Park is a place in Holyoke, Massachusetts. This sets up a theme for the album of changing tunes and tone, as the band takes a trip across the distance, exploring different musical influences along the way. Kind of a neat idea! Sometimes you get the feeling that a band was throwing darts at ideas for a title and just picked one for the heck of it. Here, it was all part of the grand plan.
The evolution of the music takes the CD out of the traditional Celtic waters, so to speak, and begins to explore the sounds of early American music such as country and folk sounds as well. You can hear the transitions and for me it called to mind all those who have taken that trip from the Celtic lands to wind up here on the shores of the USA.
I really liked the concept for this album, and the music fit beautifully. Sometimes things just come together and make sense on a CD, and this was one of those occasions. As far as a concept goes–this one was sound, and the music that made it come alive is also quite lovely. It was kind of nice to hear an album that made me think as well as kept me entertained. Very unusual–and enjoyable too.
Catherine L. Tully specializes in writing about the arts, lifestyle and travel. She is the Owner of 4dancers, a blog for those who love dance, and Editor for Freelance-Zone, an award-winning site for freelance writers. Catherine also reviews music for Celtic MP3s Music Magazine.
Boston Blackthorne Springfield Newspapers Article
Award-winning songwriter Jim O’Connor and members of the five-piece Boston Blackthorne Band will be picking up instruments like the guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo and bodhran as they perform at the third annual Summer Picnic Hibernian Style on beginning at 6:30 p.m. on June 25 at the Wherehouse? at 109 Lyman St.
The Boston Blackthorne Band, a Celtic and Irish-American traditional and original music band, will perform traditional Celtic music with a rock-and-roll heart, featuring music from the band’s second and newest CD, “County Kerry to Kerry Park.”
It was named one of the top CDs of the year by Celtic MP3, an on-line magazine.
Kerry Park, named for Ireland’s County Kerry, was located where Pulaski Park is now at the end of Maple St., Hennessey pointed out, saying appreciating Irish heritage is important because “we remember who we are and where we came from.”
“County Kerry to Kerry Park” features original songs and jigs in a traditional Irish motif with driving rhythms, instrumentation including fiddle, bouzouki, guitar, mandolin, four- and five-string banjos, bass and drums and tight vocal harmonies.
The theme running through the new CD is the transition of traditional music as it followed the Irish diaspora from County Kerry in Ireland to Kerry Park in Holyoke, where thousands of Irish immigrants, including O’Connor’s family, made their home
Boston Blackthorne is named after the wood from which the Irish shillelagh is made, blackthorne wood.
Its members are Jon Lees from Westhampton (guitars and vocals), Jim Keegan from South Hadley (bass guitar and vocals), Peter McAvoy from Lexington (fiddle and mandolin), Dale Monette from New Salem (drums and bodhran) and Jim O’Connor from Natick (guitar, banjo and bouzouki).
The band has been together in different forms since the 1970’s when Lees and O’Connor used to trade tunes in O’Connor’s father’s kitchen in Northampton.
The band was featured at the St. Patrick’s Day block party at the legendary Rosie O’Grady’s in Orlando, Fla. for several years, playing for more than 10,000 people.
Boston Blackthorne has been performing throughout New England for more than 10 years and makes periodic appearances in Holyoke.
“We’ve played a lot of Holyoke clubs over the years,” O’Connor said.
Some of their music is based on Holyoke-inspired stories.
“Not too many CDs can boast a tune incorporating the history of Holyoke in the early 20th Century,” said O’Connor, one of the founders and lead singers of Boston Blackthorne.
He credits his father, Holyoke native William “Bill” O’Connor, with the stories and inspiration behind two Holyoke-related tunes, “Big Old City” and “Billy in the Lowlands.
” “My dad was the Hampshire County treasurer for many years but was better known as an Irish seanachie or storyteller,” he said.
“When he died a few years ago I worried that some of his great stories might be lost, and they really deserve to be told. Being a songwriter, I tried to put several of them into song.
” Hennessey especially enjoys the Holyoke songs. “I like that Jim wrote about his dad and his dad’s experience growing up in industrial Holyoke,” he said.
O’Connor’s newest song, “September 11, 2001,” is a solo performance he said was selected for inclusion on
He was a grief counselor after the terrorist attacks and spent several months helping people in New York City. His brother, Tom O’Connor, was a first responder at the Pentagon after the attack there.
O’Connor said last year’s Hibernian-style picnis was fun for the band members.
He enjoyed seeing extended family and meeting people who knew his father. One man introduced himself and said he used to practice his saxophone when he lived beneath the elder O’Connor’s family.
“I remember my father telling me about him,” Jim O’Connor said in an isn’t-it-a-small-world tone. “They knew the Irish music and sang and danced,” he said of the audience at last year’s picnic. “It’s a very participatory event.”
The cost of the summer picnic at which the band will perform is $12 for adults and $8 for children under 12. The price includes hot dogs, hamburgers, salad, dessert, soda and entertainment.
The event, which will include the awarding of The Maurice A. Donahue Scholarship, will take place rain or shine.