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Date: Aug 30, 2011
Larry Kirwan’s “Rock & Read Tour” Coming to Hofstra
Esteemed Irish Writer and Black 47 Vocalist Larry Kirwan to Read From His Latest Novel “Rockin' the Bronx”
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY – Larry Kirwan, playwright, author, and lead vocalist and guitarist for New York City-based Celtic rock band Black 47, will perform songs and read from his latest novel, “Rockin’ the Bronx,” at Hofstra University on Thursday Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. in Helene Fortunoff Theater at Monroe Lecture Hall, South Campus. The show, part of “Larry Kirwan’s Rock & Read Tour,” is free and open to the public, but those interested should register online at Hofstra.edu/LarryKirwan. The event is cosponsored by the Hofstra University Honors College and the Irish Studies Program.
“Using an Irish storyteller's technique, combined with rock and roll chops, ‘Rock & Read’ is a very personable, one on one experience between performer and audience,” Kirwin said. “I employ only an acoustic/electric guitar, with occasional drum machine, to highlight the character-driven songs.”
The performance will combine readings from “Rockin’ the Bronx” with excerpts from his other novel, “Liverpool Fantasy,” an alternate history of the Beatles, as well as his memoir, “Green Suede Shoes,” which was published in both the U.S. and the U.K. Kirwan will also integrate relevant songs from Black 47's 12 albums. After the performance, he will take questions from the audience and sign books and CDs, which will be available at the event. To hear samples of Larry Kirwan’s solo work, visit myspace.com/LarryKirwan.
Published in February 2010, “Rockin' the Bronx” is an immigrant tough-love story set in 1980-82, circa the deaths of John Lennon and Bobby Sands. Kirwan’s naïve protagonist, Sean, travels to New York hoping to find his girlfriend, Mary, and returning to their native Ireland. But he soon finds that, en route to becoming a man, he must combat the harsh realities of unrelenting poverty, drugs, aids, racial tension and political unrest that plagued the Bronx during the 1980s.
“Although the show resonates with Irish-American audiences,” Kirwan said, “the story of emigration and assimilation is a universal one and appeals to both young and old, especially parents interested in introducing matters of a historical, social and political nature to their families.”
In its review of “Rockin’ the Bronx,” the Library Journal said: “The prolific Kirwan offers writing about the transformative and curative powers of music and performance that is brilliant on its own, but his lovingly rendered portrait of American and Irish social and political realties in the 1980s is both brutal and magical.”
Originally from Wexford, Ireland, Kirwan has written 11 plays and musicals, five of which are collected in the book “Mad Angels.” “Liverpool Fantasy” has been produced Off-Broadway and at the Dublin Theatre Festival. Additionally, Kirwan has published a collection of songs and stories entitled “Living in America,” hosts the popular Celtic Crush for SiriusXM Satellite Radio, and is a columnist for the nationally distributed Irish Echo newspaper.
"Larry Kirwan’s music and memoir dispel the plastic Paddy culture of green beer and Lucky Charms in favor of a raw and more layered emigrant history,” said Adjunct Assistant Professor of Irish Studies Patricia Navarra, who regularly incorporates Kirwan’s work into her classes. “There’s the goodbyes, the ambivalence, the guilt, the flashbacks, sweet freedom, the memories, the restlessness, the search for identity, the haircuts, what is said and unsaid, the politics, and always, religion and one’s mother. His political voice and music give Irish America a radical boot up the behind and answer to no one except perhaps his Wexford grandfather.”
In 1989, Kirwan and Chris Byrne formed Black 47, which built its reputation by performing an unblinkingly political and thoroughly Irish form of rock and roll, with songs covering topics from the Northern Ireland conflict to civil rights and urban unrest in contemporary New York. Merging rock, reggae, hip hop, folk and jazz influences, Black 47 is often recognized as the group that paved the way for the current Irish punk explosion led by bands such as Flogging Molly and The Dropkick Murphys. The band is currently celebrating 20 years on the road with its newest album, “Bankers and Gangsters.” To hear tracks from the album, go to myspace.com/Black47. For more information about Black 47, visit www.black47.com.
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