Jim Sharkey
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Jim Sharkey

Portland, Maine, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Portland, Maine, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Solo Folk Americana




"December CD Reviews"

Jim Sharkey, “Misty Morning Rain” • Sharkey, a Roscommon native now living in North Carolina, came late to the music biz after a number of years working as a US Navy photographer and special needs teacher, among other things. Since then, he’s become a fixture in the Mid-Atlantic and South, offering a mix of Irish folk and Americana, both traditional and original. “Misty Morning Rain,” his third album, is all-Sharkey material, some of it co-written with his accompanists (he plays guitar, harmonica, and bodhran).
Sharkey’s compositions are much like the voice with which he sings them: gentle, often introspective, a little melancholy, and attuned to the quieter, slower-paced rhythms of small-town life. He extols the virtues of seeking comfort and fellowship, away from the madding crowd and other sources of tension, such as in “Hot Chocolate,” “The Bar on the Square,” and “Nothing in Particular,” a therapeutic travelogue of sorts (“Carolina coast is where I go, to be alone, to think things through/In the morning, to the corner, I go down for coffee and a bagel too/and the news in the local publication, doesn’t bother me I’m on vacation”).
He muses on separation and the prospect of reunion in “The Blue Stars Above,” “Misty Morning Rain” and – in a retelling of the selkie legend – “The Enchanted Cap,” and on the promise and challenge of courtship in the comic, cheeky “Walk Her Home” (“I’d be up for walking her home/Recreating the romantic poems/she’s always reading/She’ll find me appealin’/If I walk her home”). There are also meditations on tragedy, both global (“Plight of the Yazidis”) and personal (“Song for Conor”), and a moving portrait of parental love and mortality in “Fiona,” conveyed through a father’s words of reassurance over the years.
Cumulatively, “Misty Morning Rain” doesn’t have a lot of variation in tone or pace, so you may find yourself checking out from time to time. But it’s hard to find much fault with a guy who’s telling you to, for goodness sake, take it easy, stop, and think a little. [jimsharkeymusic.com] - Boston Irish Reporter

""A Lovely Day" New Album Release"

Charlotte, NC | Singer-songwriter Jim Sharkey is an Irish and Americana folk musician. Jim grew up in County Roscommon, Ireland, and came to the US in 1982 when he joined the US Navy in London, England.
Jim eventually ended up in San Diego, California on a sub tender and spent five years as the ship’s photographer. He went to school at night for Film and Television production, and continued when he got out of the Navy. After graduating Jim worked for the City of San Diego making training videos. Eventually, Jim moved east and settled in North Carolina where he began working at WFMY in Greensboro and later WXII in Winston-Salem as a photojournalist. During this time, Jim made documentaries on several North Carolina potters while he lived in the area (www.folkfilms.com). He has received numerous awards for his work including 3 Regional Emmy nominations.
Next stop for Jim and his family was Maine. At the time, the TV market was so small and the pay was low so Jim looked for work elsewhere. He produced video documentaries of his own and volunteered a lot at his children’s schools and thought teaching would be something he might like to do.
"I told my wife one morning that it would be nice to teach a film class and from that notion I ended up earning a degree in social studies and special education and taught for several years," Jim shared.
He taught children with special needs in Westbrook, Maine; Roanoke, Virginia; and at The Arts Based School in Winston- Salem, North Carolina.
After visiting family in Ireland in 2014, Jim returned more eager than ever to play music.
"That was my original goal when I came to America - to get my footing and bearings while in the Navy for those first five years and then concentrate on music. But that didn’t happen. Such is life, and that’s okay because my wife and I raised our two daughters and now that they are grown I have the time to do it."
Today, Jim continues to play two or three times a month in Virginia, North and South Carolina, Maryland, and Washington D.C., accompanying himself on guitar, harmonica, and sometimes bodhrán. He also plays as part of a trio with Bill Moore, bouzouki/guitar and Andrew Nemchik, accordion/whistle/harmonica around the Triangle area of North Carolina. Jim's original songs blend Celtic traditional ballad influences with contemporary issues that are often set in the area he resides.
"Now I am building up my gigging again and working on the details of getting the new Album released."
The 14 original songs on “A Lovely Day” are diverse but all are rooted in the Irish traditional heritage Jim grew up with in Ireland. “The Old Piano” is the story of an Irish immigrant music teacher who finds herself fleeing the Oklahoma Dust Bowl in 1935. She ends up in California and continues to teach children familiar songs and songs from her past such as “Skibbereen” and “The Homes of Donegal”. “Mother Jones” recounts the story of Cork-born Mary Harris who grew into the labor leader known as Mother Jones. “The Beautiful Game” is a more contemporary song about the Women’s World Cup of 2019. It features Derek Hickey on button accordion who provides a French cafe feel to the song. The musicians on the album are top class with Colin Farrell producing and playing fiddle and whistles. His brother Shane provides banjo and mandolin; Alan Murray is brilliant as ever on bouzouki and guitar; Nuala Kennedy sings subtle and beautiful harmony on three songs; Will MacMorran plays accordion on five or six tracks, Cillian Vallely plays pipes on two tracks and Anna Colliton plays bodhran on two songs. Local North Carolina musicians Luke Boudreault, trumpet; Destiny Stone, piano; and Kelly Siske-Dunworth, vocals; round out the talent featured on this, Jim Sharkey’s fourth, album.
A Lovely Day, Release Date - December 21st, 2019.
Produced by: Colin Farrell & Jim Sharkey
Fun Fact: One of Jim's songs from a previous album was recently included on the North Carolina Gold Album which is a collection of songs about North Carolina to benefit the Gold Trail. The song is “Nothing in Particular” off the “Misty Morning Rain” CD.
Jim is planning an Album Release Party for his new music on December 21st at The Workman’s Friend here in Charlotte. - Creative Loafing

"Playing The Green Card"

SALISBURY — It’s difficult to put an exact label on singer-songwriter Jim Sharkey.
He’s definitely Irish, though he was born in the United States. You could call his music Celtic or Irish folk with equal doses of Americana. At his shows, beyond some of his own songs, Sharkey will mix in the likes of Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot and John Denver.
But let’s call Sharkey Irish and leave it at that, since we’re heading into St. Patrick’s Day. So how does an Irish singer-
songwriter end up in Salisbury?
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Almost two years ago, Sharkey and his wife moved here from Roanoke, Virginia, because Marie, a physician, was taking a new job at the Hefner VA Medical Center.
“In the end, this is probably a really good spot to be,” Sharkey says.
From his Salisbury home and serving as his own manager, Sharkey books himself at venues mostly in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and the Washington, D.C., area. The places could be breweries, clubs, restaurants, folk music gatherings, weddings, private parties, retirement homes and the like.
Given his background, he regularly plays at Irish pubs or restaurants such as The Workman’s Friend in Charlotte and the South Carolina venues of O’Hara’s in Lexington and McGee’s in Anderson.
Sharkey, 56, occasionally is asked to sing on radio and television shows, and he has recorded two CDs. This weekend — at 10:40 p.m. Friday and 8:40 p.m. Saturday — his music will be featured on the “Roots Down” show of WVTF public radio in Roanoke, Virginia.
It wasn’t until 2014 that Sharkey dived into music full time. He was attending a concert in Ireland when he made the decision. He thought the risks were minimal. Jim and Marie’s two daughters were grown and living in Maine. Marie was established in her work.
“It is something I always wanted to do,” Sharkey says.
Sharkey has a bachelor’s degree in film and video production, a field in which he worked for many years, and he also has a master’s degree in education.
Back in Roanoke, when he decided to go full in on his music career, Sharkey had been in the highly stressful job of teaching autistic children.
That’s not to say making his way in music has been easy.
“It’s hard work,” Sharkey says, describing it as a matter of pushing doors open a little bit wider with each performance. Things progress “in small, small steps,” he adds.
Sharkey has never been part of a band, and he recognizes the advantages in that when it comes to practicing and booking shows. There are no arguments.
“I can tell myself off,” Sharkey says.
Sharkey’s not-so-traditional path toward becoming this Irish singer-songwriter started when his parents immigrated to the States in the 1950s. His father was in the steel-erecting business, involved in building highway infrastructure such as bridges and overpasses.
Sharkey was born in Hartford, Connecticutt, in 1961. A brother also was born in the U.S. before the family moved back to Ireland when Jim was 6. So he spent most of his youth growing up on a family farm in the town of Ballaghadereen, part of County Roscommon.
Interestingly, the music that had a strong early influence on him took a similar route from the United States back to Ireland. The Clancy Brothers, a Celtic quartet in Ireland, came to the United States in the 1960s to become actors, but they fell into the music scene in New York’s Greenwich Village and became popular.
They revived a lot of Irish folk songs and played with Dylan. They eventually returned to Ireland and were part of a late 1960s revival of Irish music by bands of younger musicians, who brought the traditional Celtic music a step forward.
In his youth, Sharkey says, this contemporary Irish folk, standard rock and country music were popular in Ireland. He had few lessons and mostly taught himself to play guitar when he was a late teen.
Sharkey dropped out of school as a 15-year-old to become an apprentice plasterer. But in a few years, the economy in Ireland tanked, along with the construction job. Sharkey was out of work and listening to an American-born friend who was enlisting with the U.S. Navy in London.
“I said, ‘That’s a good idea, that’s an escape plan,'” Sharkey said.
He served five years in the Navy, mostly as a photographer on the USS Dixon, which was based in San Diego. For Sharkey, who was used to the frequent rains and ever-changing weather in Ireland, the monotonous warmth and sunshine in San Diego actually was hard to get used to at first.
“But it’s a lovely place,” he says.
The Navy stint helped pay for Sharkey’s college education. Through the years, he has lived in California, North Carolina, Maine and Virginia.
Sharkey plays guitar, harmonica and on rarer occasions a bodhran, an Irish drum. With his songwriting, he says he can hone in on what a song is about the more he works with it.
“I try and write stuff that’s fairly contemporary,” he says.
When Sharkey does record — his CDs are titled “Misty Morning Rain” and “Sweet Anne’s Road” — he relies on Windfall Studios in Floyd, Virginia.
Sharkey travels back to Ireland at least once a year to visit his sister and mother, who still lives in County Ronscommon. His brother lives in Pennsylvania.
As annoying as it must be, Sharkey tolerates the media who often seek him out around St. Patrick’s Day when they are looking for some kind of Irish connection.
“Any attention is welcome,” he says.
It’s funny, Sharkey says, but St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland was a much quieter holiday before Americans changed it. “It was more like a Sunday, like a holy day,” he says.
Now, even his Irish hometown has a St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Again, it’s that United States back-to-Ireland thing that Sharkey has witnessed many times.
Saturday, on St. Patrick’s Day, Sharkey will be playing in Floyd at Bella La Vita Inn. This appearance follows stops Thursday night at Jekyll & Hyde in Matthews and a retirement community Friday afternoon in Winston-Salem and a private party tonight in Hillsdale, Va.

Around here, Sharkey is booked to appear at Morgan Ridge Railwalk Brewery and Eatery on April 12. You can hear and read more about Sharkey at www.jimsharkeymusic.com.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263 or mark.wineka@salisburypost.com. - Salisbury Post

"Sweet Anne's Road"

Jim Sharkey will bring his Irish Americana music to a Leveneleven brewery in Greensboro
By Grant Britt Special to Go Triad
Jim Sharkey started out on the other end of the camera. Before his musical career blossomed, he was a photojournalist for Greensboro’s WFMY (CBS, Channel 2) and Winston-Salem’s WXII (NBC, Channel 12). One of his projects, 1996’s Karina’s Story, about a friend and her family adopting a child from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, was nominated for a mid-South Emmy.
But his path to becoming a full-time musician was a circuitous journey.
“I grew up in Ireland, and when I came over here, my thought was, ‘I’ll spend five years getting good at this music stuff,’ but it all fell apart when I came over here.”
Sharkey had joined the Navy for five years, but when he came out, he had to rethink his plan.
“You just start thinking. ‘Gee, I have to make a living now, and I don’t think music’s gonna do it.’”
After graduating from San Diego State’s film and video production program, he worked for WFMY and WXII in North Carolina, moving to Maine six years later. But that TV market pay was poor, so Sharkey became a special education teacher.
“I was also doing a lot of volunteer work at my kids’ schools, and I thought maybe it would be nice to teach a film class or a video class. Next thing you know, I was in the teacher training program. I had subbed for a few special ed teachers and liked it, so I got my credentials and taught in special education.”
He liked having a steady job, but the musical cravings he developed as a teenager fooling around with a guitar never left. He had gone back to Ireland on a visit, and had an epiphany at a concert there.
“I thought, ‘When I go back, I’ll book a few places to play,’ and that’s what I did. (I) started playing a weekly gig up in Roanoke where we lived, then started to book a few more places. And after that, I thought, ‘I’ve got to give it more of a serious go,’ so I stopped teaching, and I’ve done the music full time for about four years now.”
He’s now back in North Carolina, settled in Salisbury, touring regionally, with three albums to his credit, debuting with 2015’s “Black is the Color,” a collection of traditional Irish folk songs. He also released “Sweet Anne’s Road” in 2015. His latest, 2017’s “Misty Morning Rain,” is all originals.
Irish music is popular on a global scale now, but Sharkey recalls a time when it was an alien art form.
“The Clancy Brothers had a big influence on bringing it back, that folk revival was going on in the ‘60s up in Greenwich Village,” Sharkey says. “They had come over here, wanted to be actors, but they thought maybe we’ll go down to the Village and play and make a bit of money, and that took off — the four of them singing these songs from their hometown. Next thing you know, Irish people started buying the records, who were immigrants over here, too, because they were missing home and wanted any kind of connection like that.”
Sharkey’s family had all their records, and traditional Irish music is a big influence, but not his sole focus. His original music has an Irish traditional flavor but uses contemporary settings. His song “Sweet Anne’s Road” is about the effects of the war in Afghanistan on a young couple from rural Virginia.
“But it’s an Irish tune,” Sharkey explains. “The melody is very noticeably Irish, but it’s set in Virginia. I love to play just the old straight traditional stuff, but it wouldn’t be as
true to me to be doing that now, because I’ve
been gone from Ireland for so long, and also, I figure you should write what you’re a part of right now.”
His sets are mixes of originals and covers, depending on the venue. He favors John Prine and Kris Kristofferson,
songs he says have good stories to them, and does a moving version of Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love.” But if the
venue is a brewpub, he’ll play more Americana stuff just because he believes people want to hear familiar songs
that they may have heard before that spark something in the listener.
But small listening rooms work best for originals. “That’s why I like the gig at the Leveneleven brewery, because
I get to do mostly my own stuff,” he says. “If it’s a music venue, I do a lot of my own stuff. But in a brewery or a
bar, I’ll do much less. It’s nice when people come hear stuff they’ve heard about.”
He’s a big fan of Prine’s songwriting, his ability to capture a mood or write a mini-novel with just a few well-
placed words.

I’d like to be known for songs that speak to everyday moments in our lives: a grandfather telling his
granddaughter a bedtime story in ‘The Champion,’ or a piano teacher spreading her love of music as in ‘The Old
Piano.’ Even though they may seem like ordinary, everyday occurrences, they’re somewhat extraordinary, too,
but they might be so common that we overlook them.” - Greensboro News and Record

"Bringing The Luck of the Irish To Floyd"

Bringing the luck of the
Irish to Floyd
Article & Photos by Colleen Redman, March 25, 2018
“Folk music is a voice of the people,” said Jim Sharkey during his St. Patrick’s Day house concert at Bella La Vita Inn in Floyd. It was the fifth time that the singer-songwriter has
performed at the award- winning Inn, where he has built a reputation and has made connections that have furthered his musical career.
Sharkey, who grew up in County Roscommon, Ireland, was initially recommended to Inn keepers/owners Lisal Kayati and Matthew Roberts by one of their regular guests. His first performance was a hit, and he was welcomed back. .
Bella La Vita is where Sharkey met Floyd Countian Dave Fason of Windfall Studios. Fason went on to produce two of Sharkey’s CDs, “Misty Morning Rain” and “Sweet Anne’s
Road.” Sharkey has played at The Floyd Country Store and was recently featured on WVTF’s Roots Down show.
“We watched him go from singing karaoke to being a full-time musician,” said Kayati, who has become good friends with the musician. Sharkey, who recently moved with his wife from Roanoke to Salisbury NC, left a teaching job in 2014 to focus on playing music. Kayati
reported that he loves playing at Bella La Vita because, unlike some loud pub scenes, people happily listen and “are here just for him.”
The St. Patrick’s Day concert audience of about 30 was mostly dressed in green. They were held in rapt attention by Sharkey’s melodic and emotionally engaging voice, and by his light-hearted storytelling. He played two sets of original and traditional folk music that included ballads, laments, sea shanties and contemporary songs. His rendition of the bawdy Seven Drunken Nights resulted in an uproar of
laughter from the crowd.
Sharkey’s original songs
included The Enchanted Cap,
a melancholic song about
longing, taken from a myth of a
mermaid that was tricked to live on land “... She had eyes like wine / She had eyes that pine / She had eyes of burgundy...” His Sweet Anne’s Road was inspired by Sweet Annie’s Drive in Copper Hill.
Along with his original songs, Sharkey performed John Prine, Johnny Cash, John McCutcheon and John Denver songs. Requests for the evening included the traditional Star of County Down and Danny Boy. During intermission guests gathered outside when
a large rainbow was spotted in the sky. “The luck of the Irish,” someone said. “Should we look for the pot of gold?” said another.

Follow Colleen Redman's blog at http://www.looseleafnotes.com - Southwest Virginia Today

"A Lovely Day"

This probably couldn’t have been a more opportune time for the fourth album from this Roscommon native and current North Carolina resident, who embarked on a later-in- life career as a singer-songwriter, melding Irish roots and American landscapes. If you’re into unbridled anger and existential dread – not that those emotions
aren’t understandable these days, of course – you’ll have to look elsewhere: Sharkey’s songs celebrate the unhurried life and the merits of contemplation and remembrance, with tone and tempo to match.
On “A Lovely Day,” Sharkey once again animates Irish and American history through the lives and experiences of individuals, fictional and real-life. “My Home in Roscommon” is the most personal reminiscence, evoking local sites and people from his youth while also acknowledging them (and himself) as links in a very long chain: “My home in Roscommon where the Beaker Folk of old/settled round Aughurine 4,000 years ago.” Along similar lines is “The State It Has Me In” – based on an earlier incarnation of “My Home in Roscommon” – which strongly suggests that personal history might best be left alone where modern technology and social media is concerned (something with which more than a few Facebook users might agree). “Mother Jones” is a perfectly good account of the Cork-born American labor leader – hard to improve on Andy Irvine’s “Spirit of Mother Jones,” though – while “The Old Piano” revolves around an imagined biography of another female Irish immigrant who becomes part of the Dust Bowl migration, her life – and the Irish-American legacy itself – epitomized through the music she played: “Of Galway Bay; and The Homes of Donegal/Skibbereen; and The Derry Air/Shenandoah; This Land is Your Land/Songs that helped our country grow.” Going further back in time, Massachusetts is the setting for “The Highwayman,” a light- hearted Revolutionary-era ballad definitely not to be confused with the Alfred Noyes poem of the same name. Other songs on “A Lovely Day” were inspired by events close to Sharkey’s heart – including the weddings of his daughters, just a few months apart – but he depicts them as containing lessons and revelations that are universal: trying to fix something that seems beyond repair (“Just Try It”); finding one’s muse through repose instead of stress and anxiety (“Father of the Bride”); how childish imagination can build adult confidence (“The Champion”); the richness that people often euphemistically dubbed “characters” bring to our lives (“The Christmas Comet”). And lest you think Sharkey is irretrievably nostalgic and set in the distant past, he shows his appreciation for modern-day women’s sports, and the 2019 Women’s Cup in particular, in “The Beautiful Game.” The quality of musicianship on the album is quite impressive, what with the supporting cast around Sharkey (who plays guitar and harmonica), among them Colin Farrell of Lúnasa , who served as co-producer and appears at several junctures, including on his “Manchester Reel” at the end of “The State It Has Me In”; Farrell’s band mate Cillian Vallely, playing uilleann pipes on two tracks, including “My Home in Roscommon”; Nuala Kennedy, lending harmony vocals on “The Old Piano” and two other songs; and current Bostonian Alan Murray, with solid guitar and bouzouki accompaniment.
Sharkey’s songwriting is straightforward and plain-spoken, with an obvious affection for home and hearth, but doesn’t come across as mawkish or cloying. Hard-edged polemics and rhetoric just aren’t his style, and this is no small consideration in a time of very loud voices. [jimsharkeymusic.com]
Copyright 2021, Boston Neighborhood News, Inc. All rights reserved. - Boston Irish Music Review


Sweet Anne's Road - 2015

Misty Morning Rain - 2017

A Lovely Day - 2020

Our Old Village - in production



Singer-songwriter Jim Sharkey is an Irish and Americana folk musician. Jim grew up in County Roscommon, Ireland, and came to the US in 1982 when he joined the US Navy in London, England. Jim's original songs blend Celtic traditional ballad influences with contemporary issues that are often set in the area he resides. His third CD "A Lovely Day" was released in December 2019.

Band Members