The debut of The Life & Times of James "The Rooster" Corcoran took place in the intimate setting of the Fireside Lounge in LIC, NYC.  It was a capacity house, and if you scrowl down you can click on the short film clip that has three edited tunes from that night. Thanks to Sam Harmet for bringing down the camera and setting it up. No film of the second night has surfaced yet. 

The first tune, "A Man After Me Own Heart" is taken from the 1899, New York Times article entitled:"JAME CORCORAN IN COURT: RULER OF CORCORAN'S ROOST GOES BAIL FOR A MAN AFTER HIS OWN HEART." The other two clips are well known 19th century tunes, "The Lakes of Pontchatrain'" and "Hard Times." As you can tell people were in fine singing form and that fire place was cosy indeed.


Come and hear newly composed & arranged broadside ballads about this 19th Century Irish-American truckman, gangleader & squatter colony chief. My 5-times great-grand uncle!

James "The Rooster" Corcoran was known for his "caustic tongue and ready wit," and was often stereotyped tabloid fodder for the newspapers of the 1800s. If you've ever seen the movie Gangs of New York, then this would be a musical accompaniment to the rogues, pimps, murders and thieves that inhabited New York City in the 19th century.

Guest performers include:

Erica Mancini - accordion/vocals
Shane Kerwin - percussion
Sam Hamnet - mandolin/vocals

DETAILS: * Both shows have a suggested donation $15 (no one turned away).




New World Folk Club: Guests: Hilary Hawke & Christian Apuzzo

Way back in May we had the last New World Folk Club get together, and it was a sweet evening of tunes and talent. 

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Hilary Hawke sang beautifully, and clawed her way through some Old-time banjo classics with Christian Apuzzo sharing his heartfelt bluegrass compositions.  We covered some ground over the course of the afternoon folks. Bringing these fine talented folks together over the course of the year was a real pleasure, and I must thank the Folk Music Society of NY for co-sponsoring. Also, the Scratcher for hosting. 


This summer I found some wonderful musical moments to share with you folks. The first event was held at Lincoln Center and was hosted by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary with a fine lineup of heritage artists including West African Sidiki Conde & Tokounnou, Afro-Colombian traditional band Grupo Rebolu, and Cherish the Ladies representing the Irish musical tradition.

Sidiki was stricken with polio as a boy and has reconstructed dance steps using his hands instead of his feet. You can read more about him and his music on his website here.

As the humidity bore down on us the Afro-Colombian traditional band Grupo Rebolu hit the stage with firey enthusiasm that had folks up and dancing in front of their seats to the infectious beats.  These folks perform a monthly residency in Teraza 7 in Jackson Heights.  You can check out more about them here.

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Representing the Irish tradition, Cherish the Ladies charmed the audience with their friendly banter and Irish dancers. I wasn't able to stick around for Andy Statman and his Klezmer Ensemble, as I wanted to catch George Ward at the Waterfront Museum in Red Hook for some 19th songs about the Erie Canal.  All part of the research behind my own project on James J. Corcoran. 

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Finally, Safia and I had the extreme honor of hearing Mavis Staples perform her soulful classics. Wow! She encored with "The Weight," which was truly amazing to hear. Her voice seeming to come from some deep place still sounded charged and ready for fight, and folks responded with an encore.



I bumped into Rick Massimo of I Got a Song in a nearby Thai restaurant at the 2017 Brooklyn Folk Festival. We chatted about our folk passion, and I attended his workshop in which he presented a lively discussion about the changes in the folk landscape extending back to the 1960s and as any good folkie knows the Newport Folk Festival has some serious historical value when it comes to how the public perceive folk music.

As the major folk event of the 1960s the Newport Folk Festival is usually remembered as the moment when the darling of the folk world Bob Dylan went electric. Of course there are many myths to the event, but the politics are still raw today, and any book about the folk revival cannot ignore this moment as the commercial world taking a bit out of the folk apple.  Questions still abound about the why and how the result of this moment and few books penetrate the surface of the debate, but many must at least attempt it. 

I Got A Song is a fascinating read as it both educational and entertaining. Two terms that seem inseparable to what a folk event should never forget, but in some part seem to missing from how it's being managed today. Some parts of the book I skipped over, such as those that went into the minutiae of the relationships of the various memory agents and bookers who control this platform. Other parts are very revealing in unexpected ways as Jim James, a regular performer now, waxes lyrical about what the festival symbolizes, and I couldn't help but notice that he is also on the board for selecting artists. I'm sure this is problematic in more ways than one. 

Tickets sell out fast these days, and it has become fashionable and successful, and as the book explains there is a new audience now as some of the old folks seem to dislike successful things. Really? Maybe that'd like to go to something that is less commercial? Maybe more educational?  Maybe you should have a read yourself and let me know you thoughts. Thanks Rick Massimo for taking on this difficult topic and providing us with grist for the mill. 


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It can be hard to put a finger on what is really hitting the musical spot at any one time, and it's only by habit that I notice what is hitting my turntable regularly. I take a conscious effort to make sure I know what music enters my waxy eardrums, and will not suffer poor musical choices without some kind of face pulling.

I listen to vinyl mostly as I really enjoy the ritual of selecting the record and listening to whole piece. Though listening to music is far less of a thrill than playing it, I still notice the difference in the experience of playing a CD or MP3 to spinning a record. The recent unearthing of NA FILI 3 in a old bookstore in Athlone over the Christmas was truly an epiphany for me, but one that was a long time coming.

Having lived in Ireland for most of my life, I was not always able to get my head around traditional Irish music. The music seemed to come from some other time, and the songs and music seemed to be separated as accompaniment, especially by guitar, was not encouraged. Not being an instrumentalist but a singer I was left wandering into American folk styles, which seemed more open and also more relatable to the popular music of the times.

Living Galway for many years I could not help discover young players with great passion and energy who were completely absorbed in Irish Traditional music; Harry Bradley, Dereck O'Shea, Declan Corey, and Jon Hicks (Gan Ainm) were the folks I followed around and looked up to and hassled and admired though I felt completely separate from them, I was in awe of how they played together, and I remember sessions in Mick Taylors Bar in which they played acoustic instrumental music that mesmerized my eardrums.  Here's a discovered link of a show they did in Iceland that really does capture some of the ambiance and energy. 

So that's sort of the round about introduction to the album I'm listening to right now. It spins and spins and I just keep listening. I feel it's all there. Everything I every wanted to know about Irish traditional music: The songs, the airs, the laments and the passion. I just hope some of it rubs off on me. Here's a clip of the boys playing that I hope you'll enjoy. 


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The New World Folk Club is set to run its final show on Saturday afternoon, May 26th, so if you've not managed to get to any of the great shows we've had this last 5 months, then now is your last chance. The two very special guests this month are Hilary Hawke (banjo/vocals) & Christian Apuzzo: (guitar/vocals).

Hilary Hawke, is a banjo/multi-instrumentalist, and teacher based in Brooklyn, NY. She plays banjo in Brooklyn based bands; M Shanghai Stringband, Dubl Handi(the Wild Goats), the Dead Sea Sisters, and she plays upright bass with Hopalong Andrew and with Chapin Sisters full band.




Christian Apuzzo, is a New York based guitarist/singer and educator who specializes in bluegrass music. You can catch him around town in various formations including, but limited to: Bluegrass Collusion, JCAM Country Band, Cole Quest and the City Pickers, and other concoctions.




Date: Saturday, May 26th

Time: 4-6pm

Location: The Scratcher Bar: 209 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003

Donation: $5





The New World Folk Club is a new intimate and educational folk music event on the last Saturday of each month at the Scratcher Bar, NYC. Hosted by Vincent Cross, two special guests are invited to collaborate on traditional and/or contemporary folks songs. Guests this month are Andres Jimenez (mandolin/pipes/vocals) & Naomi Sturm (guitar/vocals). They will be joined by a special guest for the second set to really give you a taste of Andean Folk Music.

Andres Jimenez, is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and musical director of Andean folk band Inkarayku based in Queens, NY. Over the years he has apprenticed and recorded with many of the New York area Andean music greats such as Guillermo Guerrero, Pepe Santana, Carlos Ambia, Walter Aparicio, and Jose Alberto Ruiz. He is well known and respected for the flexibility and precision of his performances with the traditional groups Tahuantinsuyo, Inkay, Wayramarka, Grupo Khana and Sumaq Punchau respectively.

Naomi Sturm, is a New York based folkorist who specializes in music of the immigrant experience. She initially joined Inkarayku in 2011 as the group’s manager and producer, and as a performer she blends this knowledge with that of American roots music, the Anglo-American ballad tradition, and East European folk melodies.


Date: Saturday, April 28th

Time: 4-6pm

Location: The Scratcher Bar: 209 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003

Donation: $5

Co Sponsored by the Folk Music Society of NY



Arriving at the beginning of April is the ever popular Brooklyn Folk Festival, which is presented by the Jalopy Theater and School of Music. Last year I  had a wonderul time hanging out watching shows, catching old friends and even participating in a workshop by Jan Bell about topical and political songwriting. This year I'll be hosting my own workshop on tradigional songwriting, that delicate branch of songwriting that is both traditional and original.  

Here's a link to the full schedule (LINK), but I'd like to recommend that you check out Bruce Molsky’s Mountain Drifters – Old time string band on Saturday 4:30pm. He has a 2:00pm Old Time Fiddle Workshop that will be well attended too. Also, at 4:00pm check out the film Linefork a documentary on legendary KY banjo player Lee Sexton, followed by Q&A with the filmmaker. Yes sir!

On Sunday, I recommend you have listen to Thomas McCarthy  at 4:15pm for some unaccompanied ballads from Ireland, and then at 5:00pm Pat Conte – Blues, gospel and old time songs and tunes. These two back to back will be an amazing contrast. On the evening show you can't got wrong with  The Down Hill Strugglers w/ John Cohen  at 7:00pm with some Oldtime string band sounds, then 8:30pm   Michael Daves & Chris “Critter” Eldridge  for some Bluegrass duets!. I've not seen  Pokey LaFarge , but at 9:15pm he'll be picking some original, blues and folk songs! What a weekend!!


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The New World Folk Club is a new intimate and educational folk music event on the last Saturday of each month at the Scratcher Bar, NYC. Hosted by Vincent Cross, two special guests are invited to collaborate on traditional and/or contemporary folks songs. Guests this month are Sam Harmet (mandolin/clarinet) & Erica Mancini (accordion).

(Thanks to Kimberlee Piper (LINK) for this pic from last month)


Sam Harmet (LINK) is a mandolinist, composer, improvisor, and music educator based in Brooklyn, NY. He can regularly be found performing with the Walter Thompson Orchestra, Karl Berger's Improvisers Orchestra, Mob Job, Erica Mancini, and other various jazz, klezmer, and experimental groups.


Erica Mancini (LINK)  is a Chicago-native born to Argentine parents who moved to New York City in 2009. She has performed in jazz bands, marching bands, gypsy jazz ensembles and other original and world music projects such as French reggae, original folk music from the Dominican Republic, and traditional Bavarian polka music.

Date: Saturday, March 31st

Time: 4-6pm

Location: The Scratcher Bar: 209 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003

Donation: $5

Co-sponsored by The Folk Music Society of NY



Before the Christmas I was in touch with Brian Lofthouse (LINK) a master instrument builder who now resides in Co Mayo, Ireland. The plan was to see if he might be able to make a cross between an Irish bouzouki and Gibson mango-cello- a  tall order indeed. The results of this experiment have finally been unleashed upon the world, and I cannot be happier with this interesting hybrid. Take a look at the process of construction below and the final outcome.  

Check out the images below to see the evolution.

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I'm very excited to share the news that the project The Life and Times of James "The Rooster Corcoran has received a grant from QAF New Works, which is  funded by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Greater New York Arts Development Fund. The project is to write a new collection of songs about this colorful Irish character who moved to NYC in the 1840s, and who I seem to be related to (LINK). An underground figure who was known as the King of the shantytown in his time, and is referred to in Gangs of New York. Stay tuned folks!



The New World Folk Club is a new intimate and educational folk music event on the last Saturday of each month at the Scratcher Bar, NYC. Hosted by Vincent Cross, two special guests are invited to collaborate on traditional and/or contemporary folk songs.  First guests are Gene Yellin (guitar) & Clarence Ferrari (fiddle).


Gene Yellin, a 40 year veteran of the New York bluegrass scene, has played with Hazel Dickens, Breakfast Special (Kenny Kosek, Andy Statman, etc), Yellin Grass (with his bluegrass banjo playing brother, Bob), Eastbound Freight and American Flyer (with Ben Freed). He is critically recognized as one of the best bluegrass singers to come out of the New York area.



Clarence Ferrari has performed with countless musicians including Pete Seeger, Tom Chapin, Tom Paxton, Roswell Rudd, Davey Arthur of The Furies, Les Binks of Judas Priest, and The Brooklyn Philharmonic. He has established his “fast and floating fiddle” to both Irish and bluegrass music.



Date: Saturday, Feb 24th

Time: 4-6pm

Location: The Scratcher Bar: 209 E 5th St, New York, NY 10003

Donation: $5

Co-sponsored by The Folk Music Society of NY



In Concert for Puerto Rico: Jan

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It's a pretty serious mistep by the present administration and a misuse of power in against the folks in Puerto Rico. Months after Hurricame Maria, 60% of the power has not been restored. Pretty sad response overall with food aid and medical supplies. This concert is to aid that effort.

Date: Sunday, January 21, matinee show, 2 to 5 pm

With Bomba Yo, The Peace Poets, The Real Stormin’ Norman, The Brooklyn Women’s Chorus, Bev Grant, Frank Negron, Vincent Cross, Judy Kass, Mike Glick

Location: Hostelling International, 891 Amsterdam Avenue @ 103 Street, Manhattan

Cost: Donation: $15 in advance; $20 at the door ($17 for seniors, students)



Greenwich Village Showcase: Jan 19th


Jeremy Aaron runs this very cool and old world/new world gig in the village. Yes the village! That place that seems to have spun a myth about itself and everything to do with folk music. There will be folk music I'm sure about that. I will be joined by US! (Judy Kass, Amy Soucy, Glen Roethel), Belle-Skinner, and Francis Falls (there pics are below). I'm sure there is something here to appeal to everyone.

The show runs from 7-11pm. I'd love to see you there! RSVPing to the Facebook Event

Location: Caffè Vivaldi: 32 Jones Street, New York, New York 10014

Cost: Donation

Time: 7-11pm

Last of the Year: Scratcher Sessions, Sunday Dec 17th

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Come celebrate with us on the Lower East Side on Sunday, December 17th.  It will be my last show for 2017, and it should be cracker. My very special guest will be none other than Safia Jama! She will be reading some of her recently published poems. The decorations are up, the Guinness will be flowing and I'll be performing some upbeat murder ballads with some new experimental tunings. Come early as it's a short 45 minute set and we'd love to see you there.


Location: 209 E 5th St New York, New York 

Call (212) 477-0030

Cost: Donation $5

Time: 7:15pm (45mins set)

** Followed by Chris Riffle 8:15pm

Facebook: Check out who else is coming and invite yourself.

Songs of Granite (movies)


Recently, for research on my new recording project about my colorful distant relative James 'the Rooster' Corcoran, I picked up the vinyl album, Joe and the Gabe, a collection of songs and tunes from Galway, I was taken by the sean nos (old style) singing of Joe Heaney. Having lived for many years near to his home-town of Carna in Galway myself, I was intrigued how he emerged out of this region, onto the stages of America and back again to bring Irish traditional music (500 songs) out to the world. This movie (not a documentary) is a fascinating glimpse into the possible world he inhabited: Stark, uncompromising and as mysterious as any story that has emerged from the West of Ireland. Not your typical type of movie, but it is worth checking out over the holidays.

The Young Tradition

I couldn't believe my good fortune the other day, as I was perusing the bins of a West Village record store (there is still hope) and I pulled out a perfect copy of So Cheerfully Round So Cheerfully Round. It was the perfect find as the singer Heather Woods, a veteran from the English revival some 50+ years ago, was scheduled to play a show at Christopher St a few blocks away. I knew this as Heather, like myself, is involved with the Folk Music Society of New York. 

What a fabulous night of ballads, historical songs, love and agricultural songs, and a lot from the humorous side. I particulary enjoyed 'Chicken on a Raft,' which is loaded with old navy phrases and colloquialisms. In addition to the old songs, she has written some dynamite new ones. Over the years, Heather has also acted as agent for other artists, run folk clubs, organized weekends and other events, and written about folk music for an assortment of publications. She was joined by some powerful singing friends, which included David Jones and Andy Wallace.

5th Annual Woody Guthrie: What a Hoot! (past event)


The 5th Annual Woody Guthrie Hoot brought together Guthrie fans from the Brooklyn Borough for a night of sing along choruses and dusty refrains. Not a seat was left vacant for nearly two hours of Guthrie's songs: From daunting political ditties like 'All You Fascists are Bounds to Loose,' to 'Hobbo's Lullabies,' 'Dust Storms' and any amount of 'Old Dusty Roads.' Thanks to Beth Kotkin, Joel Landy, Nancy Moccaldi, Anne Price, Kim Maier and Steve Suffet, all performing songs that former Brooklyn resident Woody Guthrie sang. The six performers will take turns leading songs, while providing instrumental and vocal accompaniment for each other. Please come prepared to sing along on choruses and refrains.

New Album: The Life & Times of James Corcoran


I wasn't on the road this year--as many of you noted. I needed time to write more material, so that I can have some new tunes to share with folks--always a good reason to tour.  I've been researching a colorful distant relative James 'the Rooster' Corcoran. Known to many as "King Corcoran of the Roost." He was an infamous character around the mid to late 19th century in NYC (he's mentioned briefly in the movie Gangs of New York. He immigrated to New York in 1844 from Balbriggan, Ireland, and set up a shantytown in Manhattan. The songs are coming along and the hope is to start recording new material in the new year. I'm not sure when it'll be finished, but the hope is that 2019 should be a good bet. Stay tunned!