Mick Fitzgerald: An Appreciation
If anyone ever asked me to name the person most responsible for whatever success I have enjoyed in my musical career, I would have to name Mick Fitzgerald.
In one afternoon, having known me for only a few hours, Mick dumped over 20 original songs onto my tape recorder. Two original Mick songs and five other Tipsy Sailor arrangements, brazenly cribbed, became much of the early Caswell Carnahan repertoire and a large part of our first album. Micks tremendous songwriting talent, combined with the energy and confidence of his performances with Kieran and crew showed me what was possible to do with Celtic music but that had never been done yet out in California. Critics called Caswell Carnahan a ground-breaking band in the Celtic explosion of the 80s, but that was only because they had never heard the real thing in Dublin.
Mick’s own discography is sparse, to say the least. until recently the only LP I had featuring Mick was the 1983 Wild Geese album n Full Flight German release on Joke Records JLP215). The Wild Geese lineup at that time included guitarist/singer Manus Lunny and fiddler/banjo whiz Gerry OConnor, two tremendously talented musicians whose careers took off in the 0s. It’s a very spotty record, running from gorgeous to embarrassing, but worth a listen if you can find it.
Happily, in 2003 Mick released his first solo CD, Light Sleeper (Mogg Records, distributed by Claddagh). Backed by a spare trio and several guests including fiddler Maurice Lennon, Mick includes a couple of early classics like Rathdrum Fair as well as new songs like Ballad of Capel Street that rival his best work. He followed Light Sleeper with Damage Limitation several years after and finally with Streetwise in 2011, which includes the track “Breathe”, one of my songs he made his own. Click here to order a CD from Claddagh.
Mick turned to the stage in the 1990s. In about 2002 he landed a bit part in an Irish movie called How Harry Became a Tree, starring Colm Meany and Adrian Dunbar. If it ever finds US distribution, look for Mick as one of the exceedingly seedy-looking musicians. As he said: Damn typecasting! But he accumulated over 30 roles listed in his IMDB page, along with considerably flattering press. Sadly, Mick succumbed to cancer, dying in his beloved Dublin in 2016.
If you are interested in performing or recording any of Mick’s songs or would like more information about Mick, please feel free to drop me a line.