Liam Parke – Full Circle

by Mark Katzman

I spoke with Liam Parke at the Globe in Athens in January, 2020 right when the pandemic hit. Before that, in days of yore, we’d been bumping into each other at Hendershot’s Open Mic , both of us performing, and my filming many performers at The Best of Unknown Athens – a singer-songwriter showcase – Parke’s brainchild – a monthly event he hosted at The Foundry, where he acted as host to several singer-songwriters on stage playing single songs in rounds, with Parke first speaking to each performer from downstage a bit, introducing each one before performing and asking them a little about their life and songwriting process. It’s very personal, under the spotlight, live in front of an audience. And there was always an audience. He says that he has 4 years of monthly shows recorded on video, with many of Athens finest musicians, which he may turn into a Podcast series. He is also in contact with NPR about featuring the shows. Parke, along with many Athens cultural creatives, is an artist engaged in several projects (screenwriting, fiction, college summer baseball coach, getting financial support from Mike Mills (R.E.M., The Baseball Project)(“We are both baseball fanatics,” he says). Parke has strong family musical roots as you will see. He started out as a young songwriter and has rubbed shoulders with many of the finest musicians and bands. He’s seeking another venue for a revived Best of Unknown Athens since live music has returned to Athens with a vengeance, with new venues springing to life – Bolo Bolo, Buvez, The Root, Redline, International Bar & Grill, Work Shop, The Forum, Athens-Clarke Regional Library Auditorium and a slew of house shows – while some stalwarts of the Athens music and performance scene have gone the wayside – Go Bar and the Caledonia Lounge most visibly and lamented by many regular attendees at their shows.

Liam Parke started as a song writer, exclusively, and became a performer later in life, when he moved to Athens, playing solo and and then forming or playing with a string of bands. His latest band, The Fusiliers, morphed from his previous ones, True Born Sons and Repent at Leisure (an Irish rock band), as well as the duo O’Connell & Parke. He’s currently playing banjo, tenor guitar and singing with the Dixieland Five. The Fusiliers are morphing into an 8 piece “American” band tentatively called, The Senior Delinquents. The Globe reopened in April, 2022. The interview continued via email and at long last brings things to this present moment which is made clear when you reach the end.

Athens Uncharted: Where were you born and raised?

Liam Parke: I was born in Canada, of Scot-Irish parents, a little bit of Swiss in there. I have dual citizenship. I keep both citizen-ships. I like being able to go to Canada with no questions or get the hell out of dodge quickly if someone tries to contain me. My father had a business in the United States right along the border in Windsor, Detroit. We lived a couple of miles from each other on each side of the river, so we went back and forth.

Liam 1
Liam Parke, The Globe, 2020

AU: I know that you’re a multi-instrumentalist. What was your first instrument?

LP: My best friend got a banjo for his twelfth birthday and let me fool with it. But my family’s really deeply rooted in entertainment. My Mom and Dad (Bill and Betty Parke) were Windsor, Canada’s equivalent of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. They would perform all over Southern Canada. They danced for my Uncle Frank’s funeral. My Uncle Frank was Frankie Kaye, and he had a 17-piece orchestra for over 30 years. He was the host band at the Royal York Hotel whenever the Queen or Prime Minister came to Canada. He always played for them. My Uncle Frank always spent a lot of time with us because he travelled a lot and was divorced. He came and stayed with us whenever he played in Detroit, My Uncle Joe (Joe Knuckle aka Kaye) taught Frank how to play the saxophone. Both of them were among Canada’s best sax players. They were brothers. Whenever the big bands came to Detroit or Windsor, London or Toronto, they would pick the brothers up and it would be like a family harmony. The brothers knew how to harmonize with each other automatically. Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorse, Glenn Miller, Gene Goleat, Ray Noble etc. Uncle Joe’s first love was clarinet, where he played in a Dixieland Band. I’ve come full circle.

Bill and Betty Parke

AU: Whoever came through.

LP: Whoever came through. They’d get picked up to be in the band, and also when they played in Canada, there were some funky rules about having so many Canadian musicians too. So they got picked up whenever the big bands went to Toronto, London, Hamilton, Windsor, all pretty good-sized cities.

AU: You grew up with a totally musical family environment.

LP: Whenever my Mom and Dad would have a tif, I would just put the music on the stereo and they’d be dancing and forgot about why they were angry at each other. (laughs)

Liam Parke, Woodstock, 1969

AU: When did you start writing music?

LP: I started writing songs on banjo. I wasn’t good enough to be in a band. I had some friends that were in bands. Some became kind of famous – MC5, Bob Tomlin and my catcher in Little League was Denis Tomich who changed his name to Dennis Thompson. I was too scared to go on stage. Petrified was more like it. And my Uncle Frank called some people he knew in Detroit and said, “My nephew writes songs, and give him a chance and see how he does.” So I made a company called, Solid Hitbound Productions, and they were owned 100% by the Jobete Music Company, and Jobete Music Company was owned by Motown Records, Hitsville USA. So I’m in the bull pen with a half dozen other guys beside Holland-Dozier and Stevie Wonder. Stevie Wonder and I have the same birthday. Marvin Gaye, these legends….we’re working on songs, and I’m in the bull pen, not necessarily as a finished product writer, but as idea guy. Starting off songs and getting paid a hundred bucks. Okay, we got a meeting going on, six people. Who worked on that song raise their hand? Two or three, okay you guys split that money. I’m in high school and I’m the youngest guy there. That’s how I met James Brown and Clyde Stubblefield of the Funk Brothers. We ran into each other at Live Wire in Athens about 4 yrs ago and I’m looking at Clyde, he’s looking at me, he says, “I know you,” and I said, “I know you.” Small world. And he’s produced a CD for me, though we haven’t released it yet. He produced my first CD 4 years ago, and we’ve got him set to do another CD, got a handshake and agreement to do that, and I just keep fluctuating with my bands. Regretfully, he passed away a couple of years ago. I’m not sure who’s going to record them. – (Note: for some history of the Detroit music scene see Motor City Flashbacks)

AU: How long did you stay with all of that incredible music activity?

LP: I was there until I was like 20, 21, living at home, flunked out of school, you know? Oh my parents were not happy with that. (laughs) I starting playing music with a guy named Les Halaszi. He was the soloist and the piano player for the Detroit Concert Choir in the University of Detroit. We just bumped into each other. I was not in the choir. I was not singing that kind of stuff. We just met each other wrote a few songs together and we were really happy with it, but we never got anywhere with it, you know, because I had walked away from all that stuff. I don’t give out my age. I play a game with that. I worked a part-time job and the boss was always trying to find out what it was. I said, “I was born in 1861,” but then I said but I did see Jimmy Hendrix as a teenager, so you can figure it out from there.

The Fusiliers new single “It’s Nice,” by Liam Parke, 2020. L to R: Brent Davenport (Mandolin/Vocals); Anna Steffl (Accordion); Liam Parke (Tenor Guitar/Lead Vocals); Scott Blackwell (Bass/Vocals); and Jason Elder (Lead Guitar/Vocals)

AU: You were sure immersed in the scene at that time.

LP: We weren’t playing. I was just writing songs. When you’re a song writer, people like you. Especially musicians, you know. I started hanging out with a lot of the guys from Detroit at the time. At Motown Records I got to know some of those people but I was more attracted to Chicago Transit Authority, Jethro Tull, Out of Time, So I got to meet a lot of those guys – Bob Seger and the Last Herd, SRC (Scot Richard Case), Meatloaf, Alice Cooper, Grand Funk Railroad, etc.

AU: Was it a sort of competition?

LP: No, not a competition, I never thought I’d be a singer-songwriter. You know, I have a decent voice, I just never thought I would do that. I didn’t do that until eight and a half years ago.

AU: What brought you to Athens?

LP: I came with an ex-wife. She’s gone, I’m still here. She’s been gone twenty five years, and I’m still here. I’ve spent about thirty years in and around the music scene, movie business, writing screenplays and working with many people.

AU: When did you decide to perform?

LP: I came to Athens not knowing anything about performing and got up on stage nine years ago. It was right here at the Globe. Well, on St. Patrick’s Day of 2013 or 2014. I took my wife – we were still married to each other – to the Globe to see the Irish bands. They had 3. And Dan Everett’s Band were all instrumental, very little vocals. And I brought my spoons with me. I play Irish spoons – nobody in Athens plays real Irish spoons – they have clankers and the bones, and I brought them and went up to the rafters and Jeff Clark was up there bartending and I’m just quietly playing along with each band and he comes over to me and he says, “Why aren’t you on stage?” and I said, “I don’t know.” I never thought about being a performer, I’m just having some fun. And he says, “Well keep it up, keep doing it so they can hear ya,” he says, “everyone wonders what that is, the clanking and the rolls and the other stuff, like basically a drummer, a rhythm section.” So I stayed there a couple of hours and the very next day was the St. Patrick’s Celebration in here, and somebody said go to the Irish session. I’ve lived here some 30-odd years and I had never stepped in the Globe. In fact, I ran a college baseball team where I had to police the players ‘cause they were always getting in trouble. But I was a songwriter, there’s a big difference. I was not a performing musician.

Joe Willey, Liam Parke (on spoons) and friends jamming at private party, Jan. 31, 2019

AU: When did you start singing?

LP: I started singing with the spoons and I said well, they didn’t have but 2 or 3 people, no banjo player, so I said, “Well, I play the banjo.” So I started playing the spoons and the banjo and then I brought my guitar, played my guitar, too, and did this for about a year and a half and I played here all the time, and that’s how it all got started. And then I joined Repent At Leisure, 2 months into my career and then Dan Everett and Kate Blane go to Colorado on vacation, and the band dies. And Dan says to me, “You know, Kate and I have talked about it. We want to give you the band, why don’t you just perform as the band manager, it’s your band now, and you can use the name, as long as I can still play with ya if I come back.” And I said, “Sure.” And I built the band, by invitation, one person at a time. (I’ve had 15 people in the band) People have gone on to perform in their own bands, but I’m on good terms with every person in the band. And I’ve had interesting people like Lisa Mende who was in the band for 6 months. She sang and danced. She loved it. And others. Danny Cottar played with Time Toy, which is featured in Athens, Ga/Inside Out. I didn’t ever dream about playing The Foundry right away, but then it became our home stage for The Best of Unknown Athens and was a success.

AU: What were you looking for when you had the initial idea for The Best of Unknown Athens?

LP: You look for a combination of things. Most people I asked at the beginning I knew a little bit about already. About a third of them I had no clue except for listening to a song or 2 on the Internet or read things about them or know them by their name and reputation. We’ve had people in this town like Daniel Hutchins (Bloodkin). We’ve had Mike Mantione (Five-Eight), The Moonshine, Jacklyn Steele. Sara Zuninga, Nathan Shepphard, Claire Campbell, and Levi Lowery (one of the best singer songwriters in the state of Georgia or the south for that matter), Dana Downs (Cosmo Jr.), Fester Haygood who is also well-known, Cortez Garza, and many others. People who have come and gone to Nashville. (eg. Betsy Frank, Michael Coast).

Nathan Sheppard, Best of Unknown Athens, The Foundry, November 30, 1916

AU: I see the next one is an all-woman line-up.

LP: We’ve got Lily Hern, who is well-known, Jacklyn Steele – it’s her second time on the show, Erin Campbell, Betsy Frank, Sylvia Rose Novak. It’s like money in the bank. Some day I’m going to get it out there on our terms, and there are some fabulous performances. I have a year or 2 worth of stuff easily. Or I can just save them like Betsy Frank was saying on the show. She’s been on the show 2 or 3 times. I’m loving it. NPR, podcasts, on-demand video; now we’re combining the video with a separate audio track and substituting a stereo track for each show so we get actual studio quality sound. We’re doing that now. And have now for at least a couple of years, maybe longer.

AU: How far ahead in the future do you see? Are you booking all the time?

LP: Before the pandemic I booked 2 or 3 months in advance. Part of it is I haven’t had a vacation in 5 years, and I’m trying to get away. I don’t want the show to skip a month, but who do I ask to do it? Part of the reason this works is because my insight into the singer-songwriter, just talking with them, asking them questions the audience would like to know, is this a new song, old song, whatever, and things they want to talk about in the songs. And maybe a few uncomfortable questions that occasionally come up. The late Mark Wilmot was a “guest host” 3 years ago when I caught shingles.

AU: The performers are really in the spotlight since it’s a recorded conversation live on stage. A real tightrope.

LP: And I tell them we are unscripted, unrehearsed, and totally ad-lib and extemporaneous, and no editing. And that’s that. It’s a live show and when you’re live, anything goes. So that’s a hell of a lot of pressure on me and them. With every single person I’m hearing new music I’ve never heard before and I’m talking about it. It ain’t easy. But I have the capability of even rearranging some things like going into the studio bringing in 2 or 3 different songwriters and talking with them. Totally different show. Or, I’ve got recordings lasting fifteen minutes to a half hour of one person, and that could easily be edited into talking about singer-song-writers maybe going direct to their music and then having them comment on the music after the performance, what’s going through your mind, what do you think about it? There are so many multiples you can do with that, it’s got the raw material right there. The songs are there.

AU: Are you continually impressed by the quality of the performers?

LP: Yes, it’s never-ending. I’m getting calls from all over the country from people that want to be on the show. People want me to change it to The Best of Unknown Georgia. The songwriters of Georgia is another show. I’ve got a foundation willing to back me, it’s in discussion right now, providing all the equipment we need. I’ve had people who say that look it, let’s have a swap. Bring the show to Toronto and I can cherry pick our young people and bring them to Athens. My goal is to make this known as a song-writer town. And I don’t care, I love the bands, God bless them, but I want this to be a song-writer town. I want them to discover that there’s gold in them there hills, you know, and it’s right here. And the gold ain’t just one song written, you have to dig deeply. The gold are the hundreds of song writers who just don’t know how to present their music to get it recorded. And that’s my goal. That’s my real goal in life, my real passion, to put a few hundred bucks into the pockets of every singer-songwriter who wants to be nationally or internationally signed. I want to do a composer show for The Best of Unknown Athens.

O’Connell & Parke, November, 14, 2017. Introduced by Hanna Zale (far left)

AU: How would that work?

LP: Playing a composition that is instrumental and even extemporaneous stuff like what we got. Unscripted, unrehearsed, no singing. I want to do an all-ukulele show. There are a lot of good musicians that play ukulele in Athens. And we might be able to get people like Michael Stipe to come and play ukulele.

AU: That would be…

LP: A stitch. (laughs) We’d have people play some original music and then we’d ask everybody in the audience to bring their own ukulele and have a-sing-along with the audience singing the chorus; the whole place singing!

AU: The Best of Unknown Athens opens up so many possibilities.

LP: You could take the show anywhere, local musicians, anywhere. Someone has asked me if I would go on to do like another Austin City Limits – Athens GA. And I could do that, I know I could. But, I’m retired man, you know, I’m not a young kid. I don’t want too much to do. (laughs) What is retired, it rhymes with expired. I told Troy Aubrey (Aubrey Entertainment) 4 years ago that I wanted to do a live old time radio reading of my movie, Black Beat. 6 microphones scene-by-scene, with a narrator. Old time radio, not a play in costume. He jumped on it, loved it, but I just sort of let it die a little bit ’cause it’s a hell of a commitment to direct one of those suckers. I’m writing my first play right now. I’ve got screenplays – many. Screenwriters get paid. (laughs) We get paid but we get no credit for anything, generally. And the actors always change everything up. They never read your words. They would never think of when you write a play and you give them a part they are not going to change one word.

AU: Any change in a play must be approved by the playwright. Screenplays are different and likely are worked on by other writers, but you’ve at least been paid, which screenwriters generally are up front, as you say. I’ve sold one myself though it hasn’t yet been produced.

LP: They respect the playwright. I’ve got a play based on my childhood, it’s called, Holy Hell : A Life Sentence In Catholic School. It’s all about experiences of what happened while we were going to school with the Catholic nuns.

AU: That’s way out of my experience range. (laughing) You called Repent at Leisure an “Irish Rock Band.” Were you trying to reach a different audience? Having a lark?

LP: To get different people, plus the thing I did with Tim O’Connell. He’s taking a hiatus for a little bit. I love Tim. We’re still friends, and we were a pretty good duo! Jason Elder and I just did a duo at #3 Railroad Street and played our 2 songs loud and we had fun. And with 2 instruments we had never performed with before. I played a Tenor Arch Top Guitar and Jason played a Quatro, which is the national guitar of Puerto Rico. It’s like a bass mandolin, and it was fantastic! We rehearsed once. Yes, terrible. When I did the first gig for the band which has become True Born Sons, the first gig we did we called ourselves: The No Name Ensemble Band, and we had 6 people in the band, including Evan Bradford of The Moonshine, Adam Poulin, Jason Elder, David La Coco, myself, and Norman Harden on drums. We practiced three times and did a gig at the Foundry.

Athens GA Live Music) Filmed & edited by Gregory Frederick

AU: What makes a great singer-songwriter? You’ve seen so many perform. What really hits you?

LP: That’s a really good question. Passion.

Sylvia Rose Novak, Best of Unknown Athens, the Foundry, September 28, 2018
Joe Cat, Best of Unknown Athens, the Foundry, September 29, 1918
Dana Downs, Best of Unknown Athens, the Foundry, November 28, 2017

AU: You’re working hard in so many creative areas.

LP: If you don’t take care of what’s in here (pointing to his head), you’re just going to end up frustrated and not wanting to live. How many people have left us in the last few years? People that are gone forever,

AU: Tom Petty hit me really hard. But there are so many, sadly.

LP: What if they could make you five-hundred or a thousand dollars extra a month writing some of those songs. He should have been doing that. I only know one or two people in this town who have made money with their songs. I’m on ReverbNation, but I haven’t gone to Nashville and camped out and said, I’m not going away until you listen to me. And I’ve got a track record, you just don’t know it.

AU: The open mic night at Hendershots, where we met, went virtual and just recently returned to a monthly Wednesday open mic. The open mic, in whatever form, seems to be near the only the way for both new performers or seasoned performers to try out new material.

LP: Yeah, the open mics, we never had such a thing when we were younger. We had to wait forever to get a chance to sing at a mic. And the venues love it because they don’t have to pay a damn thing. They already don’t pay hardly anything for entertainment. Maybe things will improve eventually when all of the venues re-open. I want to go back to Ireland.

AU: Do you still have family there?

LP: Oh, yeah, and guess what they do? They own pubs. (laughing) I’m dying to go back.

AU: How many songs are in your song book?

LP: Sixty songs over the last 6 years. I play every one of them. There are a couple in here that are not mine. But almost all of them are mine.

AU: What’s your process for writing songs?

LP: The hook is the idea or title of the song. It’s like a butterfly landing on your shoulder. You treat it very carefully and you write it down as fast as you can and then it’s gone. And you look at it afterwards and you say shit, where did that come from? (laughs) I wrote a song for my daughter who has struggled with an eating disorder and we play it all the time now. I wrote this years ago and now I’m playing it. I also write political songs but I don’t play them too often.

AU: Is there a way you get these licensed if somebody else wanted to do these songs?

LP: I’m going to go to Nashville with my book. I’ll show you one song that I did. I did this song on It’s Friday, with Robb Holmes. He retired years ago. I was on his show 3 times. One song got almost 3,000 hits. That’s more than most anybody else at his site.

AU: Couldn’t you sell it to some big entertainer and make some money?

LP: There are people in Nashville who want to put their name on that particular song. So that’s where they collaborate. I’m going to have to go to Nashville and be willing to give up half the rights. This is a political song. One of my political songs, The Good Old American Way is about where money talks and bullshit walks in the good ole USA. This is a tale of human greed. And I wrote another one called America has Changed. Powerful song. I wrote this from an obituary word for word. And Remember Me. Word for word. The first part of it is an obituary from an Irish Newspaper. I don’t know if anybody else has wrote a song from an obituary, word for word.

AU: That’s a unique idea.

LP: I took this up, just myself playing the guitar, it got fifteen-hundred hits and it’s just a simple song. Tim O’Connell says I’m the most prolific songwriter he’s ever met. He’s been around music all his life. I could write all day long, if I just stop and do it. That’s been my thing. And Tim says I’m noted for my melodies. I like my lyrics, but he said the melodies are so damn haunting, ya know? And they are. But they’re gifts. I don’t know where they come from. I do “Danny Boy,” a couple of the standards. This is Evan Bradford’s favorite song. But I’ll go a month or to where I don’t write anything. And other times I’ll sit down and write 3 or 4 songs back to back. But if I don’t write them down, I use my recorder on my cellphone and I actually videotape so I can go back and hear the vocals and if I’m mumbling I can at least look at my lips to try to figure out what the hell I said.

AU: What other projects are you working on?

LP: I’m on a screenplay project right now called, Black Beat, a true story of actual events of the first black cops in Athens, GA, how they had no power not authority whatsoever. They couldn’t even write a person a traffic violation, or even write a parking ticket, and yet they helped solve a civil rights movement.

AU: When did you start writing screenplays?

LP: I’ve always been a writer. I wanted to be a reporter. When I was a kid that’s what I always wanted to do. I had a little printing press my parents bought me and I’d crank it up like this (demonstrates), and it’s called Up-To-The-Minute news, local gossip in the neighborhood you know? Johnny likes Sue and Nancy doesn’t know about it and and I saw them the other day with so-and-so. I didn’t know you could make money at it, like The National Enquirer. I got a jump on them, I didn’t know it, didn’t know it. Five cents a copy. (laughing) I’ve got like half a dozen projects in the works right now that I’ve been threatening for the past twenty years to go back and make a couple of films. If you get a film deal, they don’t want just one film, they want a nice product they can count on for 3-5 years. One film a year for 3-5 years. It’s a different ballgame now. I was raising 2- 5 million dollars to make movies and now you can make a decent film for a hundred thousand dollars. Just bump it up on 35 mm afterwards and get a theatrical release, but you don’t have to get a theatrical, you can still make money, all the actors always work on a commission if they like your stuff. I’ve got twenty-five actors under contract for my movie Black Beat; 25 actors. This was ready to go in 2000, I’ve done 8 drafts of it, and it was ready to go and I had the best actors in Atlanta including a couple who have died like, Afemo Omilini and his wife Elizabeth. She’s Hosea William’s daughter, Donna Biscoe, one of the best actors in Atlanta, people in town, you know Stephanie Astolos-Jones, who is a great actress. I was a baseball coach for fifteen years. I wrote a baseball movie, and I just immersed myself, started a team – a college all-star team. All the players were drafted by major league baseball or had the potential to be drafted. We played in the southern state area from Virginia to Florida state area. I became president of a twenty-five team league ranging from Virginia to Tennessee to Florida. I’ve got players still playing in the major leagues that I coached. I’ll tell ya how smart I was: I had just made a film with Larry Locke called, Uncertain Fates. It’s a period piece set in the 1930s, a story about a mill town closing, a cotton mill, and how the effects went to the entire family – a multi-generational film. We won first prize at the Atlanta Film Festival for the best drama.

AU: Did it get distributed?

LP: There was an hour-long film made for public television when the format used to be sixty minutes, fifty-eight minutes actually and when it came time for airing. They said well, we don’t have enough money to deal right now, I know we’ve got a deal and everything, but we’d like you to donate it. And I said, no way in hell am I going to donate it. We had a premier in Athens at the Tate Center Theatre and we had a full house the 4 or 5 times we ran the film. I’ve got it in the can. I could sell it right now.

AU: You could do it as a series. Anything goes now.

LP: And we did another film that was set in the Appalachians, but it never became a film. Larry Locke was writing it and I was producing it and we worked together real well. In fact, his brother, Charles Locke, is working with me now twenty, twenty-five years later. So I had some film credits. They say, well, Tony Gayton is doing a movie on Athens music called Athens, GA:/Inside/Out. It’s going to be R.EM. and a few other people and bands, and in my immutable insight, we – feature filmmakers – looked at people that do documentaries as step-children. wannabes, but that’s the elitist attitude I had at the time. I don’t have that anymore. In fact, I’d like to do a documentary.

AU: Now there are two filmmakers who have done things recently. Athens, GA: Over/Under, by Thomas Bauer and James Preston who did Athens Rising: The Sicyon Project: Volume One with more volumes to follow. And the Elephant 6 documentary is playing all over the world.

LP: I’m thinking I’ve had over two-hundred people do my show Best of Unknown Athens. I want to do something about it. Do a docu-film. I’ve been getting ready to do this more than 8 years. I’ve got the material, it’s all written between my ears. Almost like a reality show: these are the Songwriters of Athens, this is what they’re doing, this is who they are, what they do, where they live and what they eat, what drives them and why are they eternally optimistic, and you know, nobody gives up and this town is cranking out songwriters.

AU: Has Best of Unknown Athens been re-scheduled yet?

LP: Not yet.

AU: What are your upcoming projects for the rest of 2023?

LP: I have a new band, tentatively called, The Senior Delinquents, along with the reunited Fusiliers and I’m also playing with the Dixieland 5.

AU: Tell me about the Dixieland 5?

LP: I’m having an absolute ball playing/singing with the Dixieland 5. We play a regular monthly gig the third Friday of every month at the International Grill & Bar in Athens. I’m dying to play the Georgia Theatre Rooftop and the 40 Watt Club.

Liam Parke playing Irish Spoons with the Dixieland 5, International Grill & Bar, March 11, 2022
The Dixieland 5, “When You’re Smiling,” International Grill & Bar, Athens, Ga., March 11, 2022
The Dixieland 5, International Grill & Bar, Athens, Ga., March 11, 2022

AU: You’re off and running again, with a packed house tonight on St. Patrick’s Day. I never knew if we would get to this point.

LP: The Fusiliers are back with just the 3 of us tonight. We’ve played 3 times this week. We’ve got a bodhrán player who plays bagpipes and penny whistle, who just had a new baby. So he’s brand new with us.

Liam Parke, Fusiliers, Authentic Brewing Company, Athens, Ga., March 17, 2023

We’ve truly come full circle with Liam Parke’s return with the Fusiliers, becoming the longest start to finish interview of my 17 years of interviewing. This interview saga began when I was at the Globe ready to video the Fusiliers back in 2020, when Parke called out sick. He started performing at the Globe. We eventually first spoke there. And now here we are with the Fusiliers on none other than St. Patrick’s Day, 2023, at a packed house at Authentic Brewing Company. Full circle, indeed.

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