Jimmy Crowley has been a central figure in the Irish folk scene since the enthusiastic reception of his debut album The Boys of Fairhill in 1977. With his band Stokers Lodge their mission was to present the street ballads of Cork city complimented by the ornate folk songs of the rural hinterland of Cork and Kerry in an exciting orchestration of uilleann pipes, concertina, autoharp, harmonium, mandolin, bouzouki and guitar in their native accent.
The second album, Camphouse Ballads hurtled the band into the vortex of the folk scene; they were now performing at folk festivals and making tv appearances in Ireland, Britain and America .Both albums were produced by Micheál Ó Dómhnaill of the Bothy Band. Like Chris Twomey of Stokers Lodge, Micheál was a seminal influence in Jimmy's musical education.
Every Jimmy Crowley album after the demise of Stokers Lodge in the middle eighties has been imbued with an excitement and autonomy; has challenged conventions and has been totally different from its predecessor. Some Things Never Change, an eclectic, electric experiment featuring some of the most creative musicians in Ireland: Declan Sinnott, Keith Mc Donald and Christy Moore of Moving Hearts was applauded and voted album of the year by rock critic, Bill Graham. Jimmy's new band, The Electric Band released a reggae version of the Cork ballad, The Boys of Fairhill which went into the pop charts.
In between recording and writing his own songs, Crowley found time to taste the rich Gaelic hinterland of his native province of Munster learning his profession as a bard and falling in love with the Irish language. The songs he learned in the Irish speaking parts of Munster found a hearth in his first Irish language album, Jimí Mo Mhíle Stór, produced by Dónal Lunny for Gael Linn records. There followed a bitter-sweet amalgam of caustic urban ballads and sentimental parlour songs which Crowley had began to endorse. The album simply called, Jimmy Crowley for K-tel records was produced by Declan Sinnott.
Crowley's fascination with the theatre and in particular musical drama culminated in his ballad opera, Red Patriots. Set against the backdrop of Mao Tse Tung's cultural and social policies,it's the story of an apprentice musician who falls for a revolutionary girl. Actual events such as the mob-incited burning of the Marxist bookshop in Cork city in the early seventies induce fierce realism. The play was well-received and ran successfully at the Triskil Arts Centre in Cork City.