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Jinx explores 'jovial madness' of Border life in Cafe Sessions tonight

Story by Damian McCarney

Thursday, 15th November, 2012 12:49pm

Jinx explores 'jovial madness' of Border life in Cafe Sessions tonight

Jinx Lennon shines his light on the Cafe Sessions tonight.

Damian McCarney

"Totally opposite to what you'd expect," Jinx Lennon agrees after the Celt expressed disappointment that for a singer so far out there his real name is so conventional - David. "Should be Hannibal or something," he says laughing.

Providing the opposite of what you'd expect is what's helped him gain his reputation as one of Irish music's enduring outsiders. One of the contributors to Kevin McCann's excellent radio documentary on Jinx aired on LMFM recently noted through the various attempts to pin him down, most notably a cross between Ian Paisley and Bob Dylan! The Celt sees him more as Louth's answer to Mark E Smith: a tolerate/hate voice deliering a poetic punch to the lug.

McCann's documentary, 'Respect Yourself: The Punk Poetry of Jinx Lennon' wasn't the first to cover Jinx - RTE TV series, Arts Lives covered his work too - but it's the Dundalk man's favourite.

"I didn't think it was meaty enough," says Jinx of the Arts Lives show. "I didn't think it got into what I was doing enough - there was a lot more surface. Kevin's documentary put it a lot better."

Having condensed 50 hours of recording into 50 minutes, McCann's documentary features Pat McCabe, Christy Moore, fans, friends and family opening up on what Jinx's work means to them.

"It's nice to hear artists of that calibre describing your work in terms that you hope for. You always hope to have someone talking about your stuff in ways that show you how important your work is to other people - I feel that it is important work."

Jinx isn't blessed with a conventional singing voice, yet has forged a career as, well not quite a singer, but as a bawler with poise. Although it's not how he delivers his lyrics in his distinctive Louth accent that's important, rather what he sings.

"The message is the most important," he agrees, "the first thing that has to come out. The lyrics to me are the whole meat of it. The music comes secondary."

However he says that the music is becoming more important and he aims to have "more proper songs" on his next album.

"I've come out of the 1960s, I grew up with the Beach Boys and the melodic music of the times, that's in my blood. I can understand the beauty of an ABBA song," he says, maintaining the 'unexpected' theme.

He then proceeds to reject the Celt's assertion that his message is political.

"I wouldn't consider my stuff as political, I look at it as social commentary, because I'm more interested in the people rather than the politics of the times. And in writing social commentary there is of course going to be a political aspect to that.

"People like Captain Moonlight, a rapper from Kilkenny - he does a lot more political songs than I do. He gets very angry with stuff to do with banks. I'm totally disappointed. I'm cynical about things like that because there will always be an alpha male aspect of the human race. The people who feel they're blue blooded - that they've got better genes than other people, and it's survival of the fittest, and other people do not matter. I think the banking system are actually fulfilling the role the British aristocracy to the Catholic people say 100 years ago - they've taken over that role. It's like the landlords haven't gone away."

Surely Ireland's difficulty is a social commentator's opportunity? Is this not Jinx's time?

"I don't feel that because I would be like this no matter what time. There's always going to be inequality around. There was just as much inequality around seven years ago as there is now, it's just that the country is going through a time when it is more obvious."

His commentary is specifically aimed at the Border area, and he's determined to "keep it real".

"It's a geographical thing," he says. "I just want to write about real stories, real things that happen but maybe with a surreal slant. Pat McCabe would understand that. There's an underlying energy beneath everything that's dark - you can't see on the surface.

"I like to write about that, about the things that drive people. The little strange things that happen - especially around the border areas, there is that jovial madness. In our hometown there's a fella, he'd be hitting you and he'd be smiling at the same time. This sort of thing where there's a hilarious enjoyment of violence and darkness."

So apart from the unexpected, what can people who catch the gig in Cavan's Chapter 1 on Thursday night expect?

"It's a show that if you're feeling pissed off with the world, on Thursday night you'll come out feeling like every atom of your body is glowing when you walk out into the night air after the show."

The gig will be recorded for a new DVD, produced by Cavan TV, Maccana Teoranta, Joe Keenan and Niall Walsh. Artist Paul Galligan has designed and created new artwork to feature in the live show. If you can't make it, the gig is live streamed at and

Meanwhile, 'Respect Yourself: The Punk Poetry of Jinx Lennon' is available as a podcast on the website.

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