Jerry Fish set for a rocking set at Westport FestivalJune 14, 2012 - 7:00am
The Westport Festival is, without doubt, one of the most exciting music events to happen west of the Shannon in recent years.
A line-up that includes Ray Davies, The Waterboys, Seasick Steve, Imelda May and Macy Gray will play in the grounds of Westport House on Saturday, June 23 and Sunday, June 24. Also on bill is the charismatic and entertaining Jerry Fish, whose career has spanned over two decades from his days with the band an Emotional Fish and more recently, The Mudbug Club.
Jerry is looking forward to the trip to Mayo.
“My wife’s family are from Westport, so I know it well,” Jerry says. “Beautiful place. I’ll be down for the whole weekend; it’ll be great to see Imelda May, and Jools [Holland]. And I’m a massive Seasick Steve fan – you’ll see me in the audience [watching him] if you miss my gig!”
Jerry has just finished recording a new version of Celebrate, a hit he had with An Emotional Fish, in aid of Barretstown Children’s Camp. The front man played with his old band at a fundraiser for the charity in March.
“Barretstown invited An Emotional Fish to get back together for a one-off – the band won’t be reforming, “says Jerry. “But it was such a successful night and Celebrate was such a winner, we finished off the night with that song.”
The new version of Celebrate was produced by Gavin Glass, a gifted songwriter who is also a member of Lisa Hannigan’s band. Jerry enjoyed working with Gavin, and believes the 1989 hit resonates in post-boom Ireland.
“There’s no better time to say ‘celebrate, the party’s over, I’m going home!’ It still speaks,” laughs Jerry. “To repeat it is an odd thing to do, but it was a lot of fun really. And it was great for me not to be at the controls, Gavin brought a lot of his players in. The only thing I insisted on was the original bass player from An Emotional Fish, Enda Wyatt. We still write songs together – in fact, Enda’s been in every band I’ve ever been in.”
Jerry Fish has been rediscovering his rock side of late, and has been working on new songs with his friend Grum for the past nine months. The resulting album will be released in autumn, and punters at Westport can expect to hear signs of this new direction.
“It will be a rocking set,” he says. “With a brass section – I do like my brass. I think a lot of people always think brass is that big thing, but they forget about bands like Dexys Midnight Runners, it can be used in so many different ways. Rock is something I’ve been missing, I guess.”
Jerry Fish & the Mudbug Club scored big hits with Be Yourself, True Friends and the sublime Back To Before, but Jerry decided to call time on the project.
“I just think you need to change,” he says. “The Mudbug Club was originally formed as an eclectic club of musicians – that’s why it wasn’t called a band. But because True Friends was the big hit, the crooner kind of kept in. Which is great, and you shouldn’t knock a hit, but it’s not all I am. It was never going to be Daniel O’Donnell!”
From An Emotional Fish to the Mudbug Club, Jerry has had some recurring lyrical themes. The Hole in the Boat, from the second Mudbug album was written just before the economic crash it and chimes with Celebrate.
“Punk is probably my ethic,” he says. “That’s something maybe I’m proud of, that I have managed to stick to my guns. I haven’t really changed much. The Hole in the Boat is a bit like Celebrate; ‘there’s a hole in the boat but still we row’.
“But look, you know, we’re still very lucky,” he adds. “I had something to eat in Yamamori [sushi restaurant] in Dublin last night, a Bento box. We live like kings, really, when you compare us to other people in the world, what’s happening in Syria, what’s happening in Africa. For me, my life has always been, as much as I can, counting my blessings.”
Jerry has been in the music business for over two decades, though he had a hiatus when An Emotional Fish ended. Is longevity something that’s hard to achieve in that world?
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.