Back in February Johnny reviewed Chewing the Fat for Folk Radio, the latest album from James Patrick Gavin (TEYR, Jez Hellard’s Djukella Orchestra). We followed up the review with a live video performance of Mena’s Teapot from his Union Chapel album launch back in February, a gig that he poured his heart and soul into. We’re now pleased to offer the second in a series of three videos – Lady O’Dreams.
Over to James:
Whenever someone asks me “where are you from?’’ I unhesitatingly reply, “London”, although I’ve never felt English. Indeed, I do not feel either Irish or Spanish, both of which I am in equal parts, genetically and culturally. However, being born and raised in London has afforded me different perspectives on issues of personal identity.
In the last few years, I’ve come to the realisation that the only way to describe this personal experience of three separate and different heritages is to call it cultural purgatory.
The diverse backgrounds of many of the friends I grew up with in London and with whom I played music has always fascinated me. This transcultural experience is one of the focuses of the album and something I tried to explain on the night of the album launch – that although I am translating an Irish story, the narrative is not unique to Irish people. It is a universal story.
As the UK prepares for Brexit and the world is bent on building walls rather than bridges. It is essential to remember that is wasn’t so long ago that both Irish and British people crossed seas in search of work, safety and happiness. They often experienced uncertain and hostile receptions, permanent separation, exile and alienation.
When I hear the stories of my father Seamus and those of my late grandfather Jim, I always imagine their arrival in London as an overwhelming experience. So, when I first heard J Eoin sing Lady O’Dreams it profoundly resonated within me. Here is where the human aspects of the emigrant’s / immigrant’s story is most important to tell and commemorate. This is the wider message of Chewing the Fat.
Lady O’Dreams was written about a pub that once stood in the Angel, Islington, called the Lady Owen Arms and which finally closed in the 1990s. It was everything from a small music venue to a late night Shebeen and hosted many famous, as well as infamous characters during its checkered history. J. Eoin worked there as a sound engineer and wrote this song in memory of the many characters that lived both by and for the Lady O’.
My father, like his father before him, made the journey to London in their youth to find work and I’ve always imagined their experience would have been similar to the sentiments in J. Eoin’s song.
Order Chewing the Fat via Bandcamp: https://jamespatrickgavin.bandcamp.com/album/chewing-the-fat
For more details and live dates visit: http://jamespatrickgavin.com/