Stand by your mam - Cork family rockin' the web

Sat, Feb 27, 2010, 00:00

Crystal Swing are a YouTube and Twitter sensation, thanks to their exuberant versions of country classics

AT THE BEGINNING of this week, it’s doubtful if the name “Crystal Swing” meant anything to you. Astonishingly, it still may not. But that state of oblivion is unlikely to continue. On Wednesday alone, the band’s YouTube video – for Crystal Swing are a band – received more than 10,000 hits. Word of the country-and-western family band spread this week via Twitter and other networking sites. The question being most frequently asked was, quite simply: are they for real?

To understand this question, you must first go to YouTube and watch their rendition of an old cw song, He Drinks Tequila. In it, a mother – Mary Murray-Burke – and her teenage children, Derek (18) and Dervla (17), give a fascinatingly memorable performance. Mary, with her glamorous blonde updo and distinctive gaze, pumps the keyboards while siblings Derek and Dervla gambol about eagerly like hyperactive spring lambs, belting out suggestive lyrics that include the line: “He drinks tequila, and she talks dirty in Spanish.”

If you were being unkind, you might describe them as a spoof version of something, perhaps the Osmonds. But the fact is, He Drinks Tequilamakes for strangely compelling and addictive viewing, and when it’s ended, you immediately want to watch it all over again. You also feel an inexplicable urgency to instantly tell everyone else about it.

In case anyone was wondering, Mary, Derek and Dervla Burke, are all indisputably real people. Their home is in Middleton, Co Cork, and both Derek and Dervla are still at school, albeit dreaming of a career in music. “It was my dream as a child to form my own band,” Mary reveals. “I had offers as a teenager to be in bands, and I didn’t take them, which I regret.” About eight years ago, Mary finally started singing solo and for the last three years she has been performing with her children.

“I picked the name Crystal Swing myself,” she explains. “I thought it embodied our music. I’ve always liked the name Crystal, because of Crystal Gale. It’s a feel-good name, and we’re an upbeat and swinging band.”

To date, Crystal Swing have only played private functions, booked for one of their three “packages”: a wedding show, a party show and “social dancing”. They have two CDs of cover versions out, The Best Years of Our Livesand Sweet Dreams. They confess themselves “flabbergasted” by the response to the YouTube video. It was taken from a satellite channel, Rural TV, which regularly features a “Hot Country” slot, and which was filmed last month at the Blarney Castle Hotel. None of them are familiar with Twitter, which has been trending the band’s name all week. “Is that so? That’s news to me,” Mary says, amazed. “Twitter? I’m not sure what that is. I wouldn’t know how to go about it at all,” says Dervla.

“We seem to suit all ages and tastes,” Mary observes, correctly crediting Derek as “adding the comedy role to the show”.

Their website went up last autumn, and among the many heartfelt comments fans have been leaving is this one from Hugh Houston: “What a breath of fresh air you are. I have seen many new bands all over Ireland for many years but there is something about Crystal Swing that just clicks.”

This week, for the first time in their career, Crystal Swing were receiving requests for interviews not just from all over Ireland, but from the US, the UK and even from as far away as China. Crystal Swing’s He Drinks Tequilafor an Easter Number One, anyone? Hell, why not Crystal Swing for Eurovision?


Search Crystal Swing, He Drinks Tequila, on YouTube