Irish folk star makes move to the coast after touring career
He’s played the Irish countryside, New York City, the west coast of the USA, Canada and the Caribbean too. He’s even performed for former President Barack Obama and Prime Minister of Ireland Enda Kenny.
But after a long and illustrious international career on tour, Irish folk artist Gerry Timlin is ready to rest his guitar case and take the stage in Slower Lower, now calling Delaware his new home.
“I was coming in from Pittsburgh around two weeks before Christmas on an absolutely glorious morning,” Timlin recalled of a particularly affecting early a.m. road trip taken shortly after making the move to Frankford from Philadelphia.
“When I got into Bethany for some reason I turned left at the totem pole, parked the car, put on my coat and went up the boardwalk. The sun was just starting to come up, the ocean was calm as it could be — I just found incredible peace and serenity there and then I thought to myself, ‘yeah, I’m home.’”
While he may be a newer full-time resident of first state, Timlin is by no means a stranger to the Delaware beaches, spending past summers at venues including the original Irish Eyes on Wilmington Ave. in Rehoboth and Shenanigans on the boardwalk in Ocean City, Md. starting back as early as the mid-’80s.
More recently he’s played gigs at Cripple Creek Country Club, and even made an impromptu appearance at the Freeman Stage at Bayside to sing guest vocals for long-time friend and flute-wielding front-woman Joanie Madden of the Grammy-nominated super-group “Cherish the Ladies.”
With upcoming performances at the Dickens Parlour Theatre in Millville scheduled later this month, Timlin will get a chance introduce some of his new neighbors to his own personal mix of classic and contemporary folk style and baritone vocals, all amped with selected poems, tales from the touring days, and his signature ice-breaking humor.
“The performance itself is the most important thing to me, playing and singing, but I like to get people involved with what I do,” Timlin said. “It’s part of the act. I like to try and get people to laugh so they can sit back and say ‘alright then, let’s see what this guy can do,’ and enjoy the show.”
Most of the poems and musings that Timlin picks out to share with his audience include works from the long list of bohemian-artist types that he’s developed friendships with over years, Timlin going on to note his particular appreciation for and amazement with a variety of non-medium specific virtuosos.
That appreciation was realized long ago as a young boy back in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, on a day that Timlin remembers well.
“It was one of the first live folk performances that I ever went to see. I was 13,” he recalled. “After the concert a teacher friend of mine asked me what I thought of the show. I told him, ‘That’s what I want to do.’”
It wasn’t long until he was borrowing a guitar from his oldest brother, Shane, who ended up landing Timlin his first gig soon after, unbeknownst to him.
“Within a year or so Shane entered me in a talent competition,” Timlin went on to recall. “I had just been there to watch but he told me to come backstage then said, ‘Listen, there’s your guitar, here’s a sweater, you’re on tonight.’ I didn’t know anything about it.”
Surprise or no, Timlin ended up winning the whole thing, eventually going on to start touring with an Irish folk group at the age of 17 before making his way to the states and landing in New York City during the early 1970s.
Though his music has always been his primary focus, throughout his career Timlin has still managed to get back to his former four-leafed stomping grounds on the regular, thanks in part to the small group tour business of the Republic that he started 27 years ago and that he still owns and operates to this day.
He also makes the time for the occasion nine as a new member at Cripple Creek, trips down to North Carolina to see old friends, and the casual four to five sets during summer cruises of Caribbean where he and some of his former musician pals get the chance to put the band back together again.
“We’re all always criss-crossing the country and not running into each other very often, so when we’re able to get together again it’s wonderful to be able to perform with them,” said Timlin.
“I’m also grateful that I have so many great friends who have written such great things that I’m able to use in my own performances. It’s a thrill for me to be able to do that and to be able to share their work.”
Even after settling down in Delaware, Timlin may never say goodbye to the rock star life and his touring days completely, but for now, he’s ready to slow down the record and enjoy performing on his latest of a long-line of stops, the place he now calls home.
“We love the water and we love the beach. This a just very nice community,” Timlin said. “I really do like it.”
Timlin’s performances at Dickens are scheduled for Friday, April 28, and Saturday, April 29, starting at 7:30 p.m. For tickets, visit www.dptmagic.com.