Jim Shakey

Jim Sharkey tells us the myth behind The Enchanted Cap and about songwriting from the heart

It’s difficult at times because not only are you alone when you are writing and creating songs, but then you try to sell yourself and your music and that can make you feel even more alone because inevitably you are going to come up against rejection. And that’s more often than not because your musical genre may not fit a certain program, or venue you want to play at, or the perception may be that it doesn’t fit.

 

Listen to the live interview on Wednesday December 27 at 8:20 pm et 
Episode #548: A.V.A Live Radio Behind The Music with Jacqueline Jax : http://tobtr.com/10470003

Jacqueline Jax logo photoInterview by Jacqueline Jax
host of A.V.A Live Radio

Band Name: Jim Sharkey

Song name: The Enchanted Cap

Music Genre: Irish / Celtic Folk

This song is about loss and longing for a life left behind.

The Enchanted Cap is based on a myth I heard a storyteller from County Kerry in Ireland tell twenty years ago about a mermaid who was captured by a man as she sat on a rock on the shore. He stole her little ‘cáipin dreáchta’ (capeen dree-uk-ta), her red cap, which prevented her from returning to the sea. She had no choice but to wed this man and she had three children by him but she always longed for the sea.

One day she found the cap and she did return to her home under the waves. After I finished writing the song it began to dawn on me that, indeed, she could be a mermaid. However, she could also be a woman who was psychologically damaged after years of being in a place where she did not want to be.

My music draws a lot of the Irish ballad tradition. I grew up with that but I also grew up with American country music and folk songs in general, as well as sixties and seventies rock music of Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, The Band and the like. So, a lot of influences, but the root would be the Irish ballad.

 

 

How do you think this release represents your current direction?
This song tells a clear story. It is a straight narrative and yet it evokes feelings of sadness and tragedy, as well as hope and determination to survive in a strange world. I want to tell stories that have a depth to them and, I’m not saying this has achieved all of these things, but that’s what I strive to do.

Jim Sharkey
Jim Sharkey at The Floyd Country Store

The tools…

The iPhone is kind of indispensable with its ability to simply record as soon as I get a melody or a lyric. It’s so handy for capturing things I might intend to do later put will have forgotten by the time I do get a chance to sit at a laptop say, or some other device, to record an idea.

I often have a lyric, a phrase, or sometimes a melody that will come to mind. But, I think that even though it might appear as if the melody comes first a majority of the time when I write, in fact the lyric is already in the back of my head. I have hit upon it before, either by chance or by some memory that stirs.

Recording demos on Garageband or on Logic Pro is my typical process. I have recorded my last two CDs at Windfall Studios in Floyd, Virginia, a small independent studio that is excellent in its quality as well as production values and musicians available.

Colin Farrell, who plays with the Irish group Lunasa played low whistle and fiddle on several of the tracks and it was so great to have him play on this. He is just a brilliant musician, as is Alan Murray from Glasgow, Scotland, (but now living in the US) who played bouzouki.

Then there was Mike Mitchell who who has more of a classical and bluegrass fiddle/violin background; an excellent musician from Floyd, Virginia. Also Dave Fason who plays several different instruments, as well as produces and a young lad from Mooresville, North Carolina, Colin Shoemaker, who played whistle on two of the tracks. Kari Kovick, backing vocals, Jennifer Brooke, TK Wimmer, Olivia Hunter and many others who contributed in many ways.

 

 

Balancing act…
It’s difficult at times because not only are you alone when you are writing and creating songs, but then you try to sell yourself and your music and that can make you feel even more alone because inevitably you are going to come up against rejection. And that’s more often than not because your musical genre may not fit a certain program, or venue you want to play at, or the perception may be that it doesn’t fit.

I find the best thing to do is to not take any of that personally and just get on with writing and performing as much as I can. Keep focused on what I’m doing and appreciate that no one thing is make or break. You learn from everything. Even the things that seemingly go wrong. Just keep working hard and be kind and generous to others.

 

The best advice I’ve ever received..

Write what you know. This isn’t exclusively song writing advice. I think we all hear this in school writing assignments and it is such a tightly packaged little phrase but it means so much. When you weigh it up it means trust yourself and your voice, trust your instincts, know that your experiences are translatable and can touch others.

This unravelling of the phrase is all well and good but, basically, for me it is this – if I can stand in front of people and not feel hollow by a word or phrase that I’m singing then I know the song is expressing my truth. I have tossed out songs that were close to being finished because I would get this physical sensation of it being a lie. A sensation that I know nothing about what I’m singing about so why am why even singing it. So, “Write what you know” and find your singular voice. You’ll know when you are on the right track.

I live in Salisbury which is about 30 miles north of Charlotte, North Carolina and also about 30 miles south of Greensboro.

I play in a lot of breweries; Irish restaurants/pubs; as well as music venues and house concerts. There are quite a few venues in the area but there are also quite a few musicians and bands looking to play gigs too. But that’s typical of most places. I will often visit places I want to play and inquire about any availabilities or opportunities. I also use email and call occasionally. The thing is to connect with the person doing the booking. Finding places to play can consume an enormous part of your time, but once you get a gig the chance of playing as a regular is usually good if you work hard.

Website & social media links:
www.jimsharkeymusic.com
www.jimsharkey.com
https://www.youtube.com/user/folkfilms
https://www.facebook.com/jimsharkeymusic

 

 

 

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