Black Irish Texas


In early June I had the opportunity to catch up with James Fitzsimmons (Singer, Guitarist) and Mark Maughmer II (Fiddle) of local Austin Rock-Steady act BLACK IRISH TEXAS! This is one of the most original sounding groups that I’ve seen come out of Austin in a very long time. Born out of the inspirations of The Beatles, The Popes, The Clash, and an upbringing of good ‘o traditional Irish music, BLACK IRISH TEXAS bring forth an absolutely fun and high-energetic performance of stringed instruments that is too contagious  to dismiss. We talked about the upcoming West Coast tour as well as a new EP, the follow-up to their debut To Hell with The King release; this is good, fun drinking music that just makes you want to be happy and jump around. For me, it makes me want to start drinking again! Hey bartender? Pour me one!

AUSTIN420: How did BLACK IRISH TEXAS come together?

JAMES: Well initially, in 2004 I moved here from California; I moved here looking to start a rock-steady band and got some guys together, one in particularly, Buddy, who played banjo. So we were trying to jam, but actually I was into him for his trombone playing in the first place. We just kept trying to play rock-steady music and realized it wasn’t working, and he picked up his banjo and this kind of sprung from that. I grew up on traditional Irish music a lot, and so it was kind of like a mix of the Kentucky stuff that Buddy was used to listening to, and the Irish stuff we were used to listening to, just kind of jamming on that level!

AUSTIN420: How would you describe the BLACK IRISH TEXAS sound?

MARK: I think I just read it in Celtic Punkabilly, its Irish punk rock. Depending on who you talk to, it’s a different description.

JAMES: It’s original music with string instruments that you can get drunk and party to!

AUSTIN420: Tell me of your new vinyl EP; any plans for a release party?

JAMES: Well, we sure hope to have a release party at the very latest by August. We’re hoping mid-July. We’ve got an appointment to go get the EP mastered, we’ve got great artwork from PAT MORIARITY of Seattle; he’s a great, great rock and roll artist in this country and he always does us a great job!

MARK: He did the artwork for the first album TO HELL WITH THE KING, and he’s done a few posters for us!

AUSTIN420: You guys seem to have a lot of fun on stage, what drives that energy?

MARK: The more fun the fans are having, the more we always feed off of the fans, but most of us kind of want to jump around anyway.

JAMES: It’s the most fun thing that I do, as I think these guys agree. Even when we’re on a tour or something and everyone’s high on edge, once we hit that stage together and down to when the first note happens, we look around at each other and we fuckin’ get it into gear to have a good time! It’s kind of like it just happens now. You know, no one would be there wasting their time if they weren’t really enjoying themselves.

AUSTIN420: How are plans coming along with the West Coast tour; what places will you be hitting?

JAMES: This is our first West Coast tour. Yeah, we’ve been up through the Midwest and the South a bit, but on our way to the West, we’ll be stuck in a van for longer than we ever have before together and it should be a great time! I know that we’re hitting Salt Lake City, Seattle, Portland, Denver, San Francisco, Berkeley, you know, down through L.A., and over through Phoenix, Tucson, and back home. It should be about 3 ½ weeks and we hope to WOW them enough to let us keep coming back!

AUSTIN420: How has the local support been for BLACK IRISH TEXAS here in Austin?

JAMES: It’s been amazing! It’s been amazing for a long time; we’ve been so lucky to have people, you know, sometimes we’re up there and we see people singing the words to our songs and that is amazing, you know, to me!

MARK: I remember the first-time we saw that, we didn’t even have a CD out yet and their singing, and we’re like how do you know these? (Laughs) I guess we had a few recordings; people had recorded stuff and put it online, but that is an awesome feeling.

JAMES: The local crowd has been really supportive and always, it’s been a joy to be a part of it for us!

AUSTIN420: Do you guys know anyone personally who has a legitimate condition and is using cannabis medicinally, and where do you stand behind that movement?

MARK: I’ve seen it help out a lot of people in enabling them to get throughout the day.

JAMES: Many, many people man, I think, use cannabis for good, for medicinal purposes, and the world is coming around to know that, and that’s exciting! Alcohol kills so many people unnecessarily every year, tobacco kills so many people, you know, and cannabis, the illegality of it, kills lots of people every year!

AUSTIN420: What makes Austin home for you guys?

MARK: The music is what drew me here, but then everything else about it too, the weather for the most part is awesome!

JAMES: I moved a lot in my life and somewhere along the way, I decided this was home. For sure, this is it! This is the coolest city in the country in many ways; I’ve been to lots of cities in this country and we’ve got a lot going on that people could learn from. And it deteriorates, like everyone talks about, it’s deteriorating you know; there’s lots of things missing from the city that were here. When I first got here, in the mid-90s, and nowadays, it still maintains something that I love and call “home”. You can wear a Keep Austin Weird t-shirt or whatever, but it’s something different! ~