Tony Christie and Ranagri to tour The Great Irish Songbook


WHILE he might be better known for asking Is This the Way to Amarillo? legendary singer Tony Christie is encouraging UK audiences to join him On Raglan Road or even marvel at the Star of the County Down.

This is because he, along with top folk band Ranagri (above) are joining forces once again not only to tour The Great Irish Songbook Vol I album, but to record its follow-up, which will feature even more traditional songs that will resonate with Irish people and the diaspora all around the world.

“We had so much fun and there are so many great Irish songs that we couldn’t fit on the first album back in 2015 that we’ve decided to do another!” Tony said.

The album, which is being released this month is supported by an eight-date tour that began in Glasgow’s Òran Mór on November 1, before heading to various venues south of the border.

Dónal Rogers, from the band Ranagri, spoke to The Irish Voice about how the fascinating link-up between his band and Tony came to be.

“Last year we fulfilled a project which had been brewing for over 20 years,” he said. “It was the 1990s and I was at a concert where Tony Christie was singing and I was blown away by his voice. A chat after the gig led us all back to Tony’s house.

“Tony, whose real name is Anthony Fitzgerald produced a beautiful old melodeon from the shelf. He explained how the melodeon was brought over from County Mayo, in the West of Ireland, by his grandfather to South Yorkshire when he came over to look for work.

“We sat around the kitchen table until the early hours of the morning, having a few drinks and singing old folk songs from a shared heritage; the songs we remembered our parents singing; songs of great joy and deep sorrow, many of which we would go on to record on the album.

“As we sang the old songs, we wondered if there’d ever be a way that we could shine some new light on them. In the morning we laughed and said ‘maybe, someday.’ Throughout the following years we would often return to the subject, but the time never seemed right until a chance meeting in a studio in Germany with record producer Gunter Pauler who shared our love of traditional Irish songs and also had a fantastic state of the art recording studio.

“We recorded The Great Irish Songbook at Stockfisch Records with some amazing people and whilst it was great to finally make the album that we’d spoken about 20 years ago, it seems the only conclusion we can draw is that the journey hasn’t ended, it’s merely begun.”

He added: “The ability to tell a story is a great asset to any singer and in folk music it’s essential both in song and around it. Tony has that skill by the bucket load.

“We wanted to be true to the songs, to keep their integrity and to hopefully pass the message on to new generations who might also find themselves singing around the kitchen table.”