February 2005

Tommy Makem
February 4, 2005 Hugh's Room Toronto
I’ve been waiting since 1965 to be in a room where Tommy Makem was performing, and it finally happened. Hugh’s Room was filled, and like myself, a lot of us knew the words to “The Wild Colonial Boy” (Jack Duggan was his name). What a thrill to bathe in Makem’s baritone broguish intonations unfolding ribald tales like the one about the Irish boy who wanted a bicycle but his mother said,” where would I get the money for a bicycle?". So he decided to pray to Jesus, saying, “Dear Lord, if you get me a bike, I’ll…”, but he desisted because he knew it wouldn’t work. Better write to him. So he started a letter: “Dear Lord, please let me have a bike…” and then he stopped because he recalled writing to Santa Claus for things these three years and he'd got nothing at all. Looking around the room, his eye fell on a statue of the Virgin, and he was inspired. He got down on his knees and prayed:” Dear Jesus, if you ever want to see your mother again…”.

During the 60’s, when Tommy worked America with the Clancy Brothers, he went in two years from the Ed Sullivan Show to Carnegie Hall to the White House of the Kennedy’s. Now, after a night in Toronto, he goes to one-night stands in New Brunswick, P.E.I. and Nova Scotia, before a tour of US cities. He will also do a Caribbean Cruise and a six-day tour of Ireland with the Makem Brothers and others. He will likely tell one of my favourite short jokes, which goes like this: “Some people came around to my house collecting for an orphanage, so I gave them four orphans.”

Whatever it was that turned me on during the 60’s folk revival has devolved into pub songs—great fun because you know the words, however banal. One can only resolve this apparent downfall with another telling Makem tale. He was once confronted by a female fan who asked him, ” Mr. Makem, what is music?” He thought for a while and had to answer, “I really don’t know.” Then he added, and bless him for this — “ Do you?” “Yes I do”, she came back: “It is the soul of the world expressed in sound.” There it is.

Report and Photograph by Stanley Fefferman
We welcome your comments and feedback – reporters@thelivemusicreport.com

| Home | Archives | CD Reviews | Photo Galleries | Concert Listings | Contact |

Please contact us to secure permission for use of any material found on this website.
© The Live Music Report – 2005