The more I search the more I am convinced that there will not be another Luke Kelly emerging on the Traditional Irish Folk music Scene. Now granted, it’s a high caliber of singer who even approaches the combination of talent, passion, and feel for the music that was Luke Kelly. Some came close but they are no longer with us either, the likes of Ronnie Drew, Jim Mccan, Paddy Reilly, they sing no more. Where is the next great Irish ballad singer? I search like Diogenes to find an honest Irish folk singer who besides having a talented voice can spill his guts out into a song.
Last night I spent three pints time in the local Irish center pub listening to a singing session, the music wasn’t what prompted this post but the conversation with the fresh faced barman come over to the States on a J1. He was a personable young man doing his studies in real estate management and hailing from Tipperary named Mark. The session lagged and was asking for some requests (never a good sign) so Mark chimed in “Seven drunken nights”, “no”, “well how about Hills of donegal”, “really, well you know Raglan road”. So as a guitar wannabe butchered Raglan road, We had a little chat about Irish folk music.
The talk started like most but was turned into a decent discussion when Mark mentions that ‘they were no Luke Kelly”. I say back ” who is”?, there were some who came close, and one fellow tried to say that the Three Kings who are popular to day were an equal. His words were tolerate but met with disgust, not on the same planet as luke Kelly or Ronnie Drew for that matter. Now the sad part, I ask this young fella from Tipperary, who is replacing the Irish folk singers that have passed, are there any Young Luke Kelly types on the horizon, maybe someone who is tearing up the Irish countryside being true to traditional Irish folk music. His answer was no. There were a few bands playing for a bob or two, but none he could think of that cared as much as the former generation of musicians. Probably has do do with border relations and the rebel songs causing problems, or maybe a loss of appreciation for the Irish ballads, whatever. So here’s to hoping there is a group of players that love the old songs, and connect to them, like the players of old, but until they make it, I thank God for recordings and I’m breaking out my best of Luke Kelly cd.