A strange magic happened at the legendary Bottom Line in New York City on the night of October 23rd, 2002. Rory Gallagher, the Irish blues guitar great, had been gone seven years, lost unexpectedly and far too young, but his potent legacy sprang back to life this night, in a glorious convergence of SONGS AND STORIES.
This celebration of Rory’s life and work was a labor-of-love for Seamus Kelleher, a fan of Rory’s since his own boyhood in Ireland. He brought together a crack group of fellow musicians to remember the man who put Ireland on the R&B map at the height of The Troubles.
“He was a huge influence,” Kelleher says. “During a career spanning 30 years he sold over 20 million albums. He was not only a great blues guitar player, but also a wonderful songwriter and a favorite of Bob Dylan and John Lennon.”
The event was captured by Home Team Productions, which is proud to have created an hour-long documentary around the performance, about Rory’s life and work. The film, also entitled SONGS AND STORIES, tells Rory’s story through his songs; through the words of the musicians so inspired by him; and most poignantly, through his brother Donal, who was his manager and confidant.
“He achieved every goal he set out to achieve,” Donal recalls, with pride and not a little rue. “Had enormous silent influence, if you like. Still waters run deep as they say. That’s the blues isn’t it? He literally lived and died the blues.”
Rory Gallagher married the soul of the Mississippi Delta to the heart of rock and roll – he recorded with Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, whom he revered. As a performer, he was transported, shamanistic, at one with his music, transcendent, possessed. But at the same time, this extraordinary artist was connected with his fans in a wholly human way. Fiercely independent, he rejected the trappings of the rock star. The lives of those lucky enough to see him play were touched forever. And, he threw open a door for the many Irish artists who were to follow in his footsteps, such as U2 and the Boomtown Rats.
The performers interpreting Rory’s work in SONGS AND STORIES, among them Pierce Turner, Larry Kirwan of Black 47, Matt O’Ree, Sean Fleming, and of course, Seamus Kelleher of Blackthorn, along with many more, channeled him that night. Call it unfinished business. The music; the man; the memories of those who loved him – an alchemy that speaks to the depth of Rory Gallagher’s contribution, and to the enduring nature of his art.