James McCarthy

James McCarthy

 Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
BandPopChildren's Music

I write originals that catch the ear the heart and the wit in equal part. I am deeply rooted in American and Celtic acoustic traditions and skilled at performing with an electric focus and presence. A trained actor and storyteller, I reach audiences with skilled humor and infectious participation.


James McCarthy is a modern troubadour. “I want people to remember that the music, the songs, the stories, come from real humans.”
McCarthy regularly fronts the 'Celtic beat' rock ensemble he founded with powerful vocals, driving guitar and infectious audience interaction. And he is equally, if not more, at home as a solo performer as evinced in his well received performance at Philadelphia Folk Festival last year. A veteran PFF couple, after dancing and singing along to his wild version of Leadbelly's 'Relax Your Mind',
remarked,"That reminded us so much of Gamble Rogers. Thank you so much."
The songs James composes run a gamut of styles - folk, Celtic, rag, jazz, gospel, old-timey, Western- with lyrics by turn hilarious, evocative, heart-rending, political, and just plain singable. James performs solo regularly at festivals and cafe settings. He grew his musical wings in what he calls the “campfire kitchen and backyard orchestra of the worlds spontoneously combusted get togethers’. That is clear from his resume which includes singing with Cajun bands, Renaissance Choirs, gamelan ensembless, African-American congregational ensembles, jug bands, rock band, jazz trios and a wide variety of folk outfits.The Philadelphia native has made Hawaii his home the last 15 years and in the process has become one of the best singer/songwriters, storytellers and actors in the state.
He is currently working on a new completely original release, entitled Nows the New Later, due out this summer. From the wacky western tune Bug Wrangler to the poignant Five Points and the country inflected Piece of Heaven his song run across styles but are united by his strong melodic sense and creative use of lyrics.
He has six other releases to his credit. The first , a mostly instrumental outing titled Spring Rain has recently been re-released online by Yoga Records. Flying Singin’ , a solo recording is mostly original music with his other solo release Emerald Shores highlighting his Celtic repertoire. Friends of the Bride, a jug band dedicated to ‘a demented sense of American music’ recorded two releases in a ‘down-home ‘ setting:
Shivaree and Ruckus in Cabin 53. McCarthy’s songwriting skills are evinced by his adaptation to this format both in his originals Nearer to Me and Summer as well as his beatnik parody of “The Cat Came Back”.
Doolin Rakes “Irishman in Paradise rounds out his catalogue while dozens of other tunes await final production. In the works are an album of family music, another purely original release and a collection of winter-tradition songs.
James McCarthy feels a deep appreciation for the opportunity afforded him by attending the Philadelphia Folk Festival starting when he was in high school In his first year he met and heard Joan Baez, Phil Ochs and John Jackson and heard the Chicago Blues All Stars, Joni Mitchell, and John Denver for the first time. . McCarthy recalls, “My world was rocked. I began playing and writing songs. I learned and told stories. The following year, Fairport Convention went straight into my Celtic/folk-rock/progressive/rootsy/transcendent neurons.”
And that inspiration continues.
HIs music has taken him from the North Atlantic to the South Pacific. Once in Hawaii he set out to create an ensemble that would build on what he had heard since he was in his teens.
James is the founder of Doolin Rakes penning original songs in the Irish idiom, singing lead and playing acoustic and electric guitar, tenor banjo and mandolin. The Celtic outfit’s poly-rhythmic approach, exceptional musicianship high-energy and “leave nothing behind’ attitude has earned them one of the longest runs of any band in Honolulu, playing to packed houses every weekend for the last seven years. The band was honored with a prestigious Na Hoku Hanohano nomination for their release “Irishman in Paradise” (McCarthy’s songs Land of My Forebears” and “Pride of the Island” can be found in song list on this EPK.
As the frontman McCarthy ‘b


Natural Man

Written By: James McCarthy

Somewhere off the Antarctic Coast
There's a penguin just rollin in the ocean
He doesn't care about New York City
Or its problems with perpetual motion
He's as cool as he need to be
He doesn't need a fan
Got his tuxedo on
Doesn't worry 'bout a tan
He's just a natural man Yeah yeah
Just a natural man

Snack Slingin Sam

Written By: Jamss McCarthy

All the kids they'd smack their lips
When Sam come by with their favorite chips
There was corn and potato of every kind
Even some of taro....that's Hawaiian

He's the best snack slinger that what am
Sittin around not doin' a thing,
He'd just pick up a snack (snap, snap)
And give it a sling

Out on the mountains and all ;cross the prairies
Stoppin in small towns and slingin' at dairies
Through terrible storms that got really scary
Sam slung the snacks that wuz necessary



Pride of the Island

Written By: James McCarthy

You've your green tam-o-shanter and your leprechaun light
You bark out the old songs on Saint Paddy's Night
You're glued to your barstool but you're itchin to fight
You could be the Pride of the Island,,,,
You're a Mick so you fight it
But you've got a choice
Put down your bottle
And pick up some Joyce
The ghosts of the Fianna are seekin' your voice
You could be the Pride of the Island



For two days shot and sword and steel had fed the martial beast
But on the third it thirsted still as the sun streaked red the east
we knew that we would fight them but we never would have guessed
how manyd lay before us when the sun died in the west

in the fields of Pennsylvania where the land was rich and good
Death drew a drink like none before on that third day of blood
From Carolina , Tennessee and the Old Dominion state
They shouldered up their weapons, boys, and sealed their nation’s fate

Fly fear and trepidation! dim misgivings rise and go! Come courage and surround us as we face the grim eyed foe
In the fields of Pennsylvania where the golden flowers grow

The air was still and heavy no bird was heard to call
The sun flung down its hammer without mercy on us all
Everyone among us was sweltering in our sleeves
As they set out across the filed like wheat waiting to be sheaved

The grey coats moved in endless lines as tides across the sands
We waited for our orders with our rifles in our hands
The cannons tossed them cruelly like things of bone and rag
Their comrades died on every side. Their courage never lagged


We knew it as they knew it - they were marching into hell
Then as one man they broke their ranks and screamed their rebel yell
The cannon fire it split the earth the gunfire cracked the sky
like wheat fields at the harvest time hey lay down in rows to die

They flooded up across the stones and grabbed us by our coats
with out their shot or bayonets they grappled for our throats
but we were all the man for them and so at last prevailed
we pushed them back across the walls their mighty stroke had failed

and as we mounded up our dead I stopped to watch them go
Wounded worn and weary with painful steps and slow
I felt a great elation that we had withstood their blow
But I knew that but for fortunes fling I too might that way go

They sing of Fenian Boru and Cuchullain the great hero
But courage and blind loyalty the world may never know
As the young men from the southlands who let their blood to flow
In the Fields of Pennsylvania where the golden flowers grow



NOWS THE NEW LATER, in production 2012. To be released Summer 2012. Songs range from the acapella Fields of Pennsylvania to the cheerful Piece of Heaven and bluesy Shape I'm In and Nothin That I Want.
Spring Rain, 1980, Meta World Publishing. An album of ;acoustic music for meditation"commissioned to be composed and recorded in a six week period.
Originals: Boulders in the Stream as well as title track
FLYIN SINGIN Solo and original. Original tunes: My Eyes, Nearer to Me, Season of the Squall, Questions, Source of It all, Natural Man, Carry It.
Adapted: Relax Your Mind, Willie o' Winsbury
EMERALD SHORES Songs from the Irish tradition performed solo on voice and guitar.
SHIVAREE by Friends of the Bride. Clarinet, dobro, ukulele, washtub bass,mandolin, accordion renditions of such songs as "Supersitition" and Stealin"
Original parody: Da Cat Cane Back.
RUCKUS IN CABIN 53 also Friends of the Bride (before the anti-accordion ordinance went into effect in the valley of Maunawili)
Originals: Nearer to Me, Summer. Of note: When You Wish Upon a Star
IRISHMAN IN PARADISE - Doolin Rakes. Na Hoku Hanohano nominee for best rock album.
Originals: Land of My Forebears, Pride of the Island

Set List

Natural Man
My Eyes
You Say What
Relax Your Mind
Pride of the Island
End of the Rope
Fields of Pennsylvania
The Classical Greeks
bug Wrangler
Nothin That I Want
Piece of Heaven
Carry It