6th Annual Michael Troy Concert Celebrates The Late Fall River Wordsmith
After John Prine’s death last year, tribute concerts sprang up for the Folk Mailman poet laureate.
A tribute album, “Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine”, released last month, filled with friends and loyal Prine singers / songwriters.
Hopefully these tributes continue year after year to keep the sung stories of Prine alive – in the same vein as the concerts of Michael Troy’s music.
This year’s 6th Annual Michael Troy Music Concert will take place on November 21 at 1 p.m. at the Narrows Center for the Arts, featuring local and regional artists.
If John Prine had worked in factories in Fall River instead of delivering mail to Chicago, “Donald and Lydia” might have been “Talk Radio.”
I raised two children in the south of town, down the hill / The woman and I put them both in school, working in the mill / Now the woman is dead and the children are gone, and I still exist / Like the block of granite that shelters the space on the hill.
Troy was the Prince of SouthCoast. Turned simple words, simple truths and ordinary life into song-poems.
I’ve mentioned both Prine and Troy before in this review, because we’re not just book lovers here – we’re word lovers.
In song, Troy wrote sparse stories on the south coast, poems of bad luck. Short stories of closed mills, nights in a lonely bar, cool kids gone wrong. Songs about hard work, life at sea, aging.
After graduating from Durfee in 1970, Troy worked at Stella-Ann Frocks in the Quarry Street neighborhood to make buttons. He then fished off Point Judith, RI
It was only in the 90s that the mill and the fisherman began to write and play in earnest.
He quickly won songwriting competitions, including 2nd place in the Woody Guthrie Songwriter’s Contest in 2004.
Troy died of cancer at age 64 in 2015. The following year his friends gathered to celebrate his music in his hometown.
This event quickly became something of a celebration of love for musicians and music lovers from all over the South Coast and beyond. This year’s festival is a fundraiser for the nonprofit charity Michael Troy Memorial Music Foundation.
Performers include Joan Akin, Gary Fish, Tom Smith, Joanne Lurgio, Jim Palana, Chuck Williams, Johnny Botelho, Louis Leeman and Jeri Karam Kozak, The Flying Laureanno Bros and the Durfee High Faculty Quintet.
Donations will benefit Durfee High School music programs funded by the Michael Troy Memorial Music Foundation. Troy graduated from Durfee in 1970.
I think singer / songwriter Chuck Williams – Troy’s friend and former booking agent – best described this aspect of the show when he told me a few years ago, “Just like Neil’s Bridge School Benefit Concert. Young, we made the music work for the benefit of the students.
Born Michael Manuels, Troy lived and breathed Fall River – his war name itself was a tribute to his hometown: “Troy” was the official name of Fall River from 1804 to 1834.
“Fall River is in my blood. This is what I know. This is my life, this city, ”Troy told me in 2015, in what became his last interview.
“A lot of my songs are written around the history of this town, from Lizzie Borden to the old cotton mills in town,” he told me.
The third of four children born to Antone and Belmira Manuels, Troy’s father was a meat cutter; his mother was “a stay-at-home mom… They were both children of immigrants from Portugal doing their best for us,” Troy told me.
Troy’s hymns to his city were his bread and butter.
Listen to his third album, “Mill City Boy”, with songs like “Marlene”, which reminds me of “Oldest Baby in the World” by Prine.
“Life runs like day and night / Color your hair but it always turns gray / Color your face so your age doesn’t show / Stay inside and watch the hours go by.”
For more information: www.folkmichaeltroy.com. Proof of vaccination is required. Donations are also accepted throughout the year at www.paypal.me/MichaelTroyMusic or by check payable to: Michael Troy Memorial Music Foundation, c / o Bank Five, 79 North Main Street, Fall River, MA 02720
Lauren Daley is a freelance writer and columnist. Contact her at [email protected] Follow her on https://www.facebook.com/daley.writer She tweets @ laurendaley1.