Archive: 27th Feb 1987 – Interview with Kevin Burke (Patrick Street)

Patrick Street: The Pluck of the Irish

“Someone once said that the Chieftains are pre-Beatles Irish music,” says fiddler Kevin Burke, “and that our bands are post-Beatles Irish music. There’s an element of truth in that.”

The “our bands” that Burke is referring to are De Danann, Planxty and the Bothy Band, the three great progressive folk groups that blossomed in Ireland in the ’70s. Following the lead of Bob Dylan and the Byrds in America and Pentangle and Fairport Convention in England, these Irish bands revitalized folk traditions with the more aggressive rhythms and lyrics of the ’60s.

Unfortunately, the bands proved rather unstable. The Bothy Band broke up for good in 1979, while Planxty and De Danann have been on-again, off-again affairs with constant turnover. Now, however, four alumni of these bands have joined forces as a group called Patrick Street, in hopes of reviving the tradition of progressive Irish folk bands.

The founding members of Patrick Street are Kevin Burke from the Bothy Band, singer Andy Irvine from Planxty, accordionist Jackie Daly from De Danann and guitarist Arty McGlynn from Planxty. They have just released their self-titled debut album on Green Linnet Records.

[According to Burke,] “Planxty was very influenced by Woody Guthrie and Eastern European folk music.”

Burke grew up in London with a family from western Ireland. “At that time you could hear more traditional Irish music in London than in any town in Ireland,” he insists. “There was just so much of it, both around the house and in the pubs. Meanwhile, the popular music at school and around the neighborhood was rock ‘n’ roll. I kept them very separate in my head until I was 15 and started seeing the links.

“Someone gave me a Bob Dylan record with a couple of ballads on it,” remembers Burke, “and I said to this fellow, ‘Hey, this isn’t so different from the traditional Irish tunes I know.'”

THE WASHINGTON POST, 27 February 1987, p. C7. From Geoffrey Himes
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