The Irish-American odyssey of a joyfully noisy rocker and writer
There used to be a Greenwich Village bar called The Bells of Hell which during the late 1970s functioned as a sort of literary clubhouse for an eclectic mix of novelists, journalists, even rock critics (including this one). During its brief-but-memorable heyday the bar’s back room featured music, and the soundtrack for many a lost weekend came courtesy of a young duo called Turner and Kirwan of Wexford. Their seemingly cultured nom-de-guerre belied keyboardist Pierce Turner and guitarist Larry Kirwan’s boisterous mélange of Irish-stewed folk-rock—pungent sounds perfectly suited for the club’s careening clientele.
Several (relatively) sober decades later, Larry Kirwan is still boisterous and still rocking, not only as a musician—he’s the leader of the long-running, much-acclaimed Irish American band Black 47—but as a prolific author, too. His latest project, a memoir, follows his journey from Catholic schoolboy in Ireland to adult troubadour in the U.S., and does so with a storyteller’s eye for detail and a musician’s ear for rhythm (and it should be noted Black 47 has a new CD of the same name with songs that follow the narrative). Featuring portraits of artists like Joe Strummer, Cyndi Lauper, Ric Ocasek and Lester Bangs, Green Suede Shoes vividly chronicles the makings of a true believer, and his ever-loudly beating rock ’n’ roll heart.