Monday, December 19, 2011

Patrick Sky, folk music legend

Full disclosure: I had probably worked with Patrick Sky for about six years before a co-worker pointed out that the bearded dude with the wicked sense of humor had, at one point, been one of the most respected folks music songwriters of the 1960s. Seriously.

Thankfully, it didn't take long to prove my co-worker correct. (Thank you, Google.) Yes, before he retired became an "IT guy" (he retired just a few years ago), Pat Sky was a legend in Greenwich Village and beyond.

From Wikipedia:

A contemporary of Bob Dylan and others in the Greenwich Village folk boom of the 1960s, following military service Sky released a number of well received albums from 1965 onwards and played with many of the leading performers of the period, particularly Buffy Sainte-Marie, Eric Andersen and the blues singer Mississippi John Hurt (whose Vanguard albums Sky produced). Sky's song "Many A Mile" became a folk club staple, and has been recorded by Sainte-Marie and others.

Becoming increasingly disillusioned with the music business and politically radical, Sky released the controversial and scabrously satirical Songs That Made America Famous in 1973 (the album was recorded in 1971 but rejected by several record companies before it found a home); to this day he claims to have received no royalties for the album. This album featured the earlier known recorded version of the song "Luang Prabang," written by Sky's friend Dave Van Ronk. Patrick Sky had honed his politically charged satire in earlier albums, but Songs That Made America Famous raised the stakes. The Adelphi Records website describes how the content was, indeed, shocking; yet, how several critics encouraged the public to rush to buy these timely and brilliant "explicit lyrics" while it could. Sky gradually moved into the field of Irish traditional music, founding Green Linnet Records in 1973. Today he is recognised as an expert in building and playing the Irish uillean pipes, often performing with his wife, Cathy. He has also published several books on the subject.

The same co-worker today alerted me to this piece from "Around Carolina" that catches up with Pat and his uillean pipe work (both musically and by trade). Glad to see Pat is still involved in the music business.

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