(reprinted from the Springfield Union 3-24-2005) "The CD features 11 songs that range from traditional tunes to original compositions . The band does a stirring take on the Foggy Dew and offers a rousing rendition of "Lanagan's Ball". Original songs "Gone to the Wars" and "Back When the Craic was Grand" fit nicely into the package."
Here is the song list and a little bit about each tune. We are proud to be able to introduce several original songs for the first time here and hope they will take their place amongst the classic tunes of the genre.
1. The album opens with a traditional tune called Lanagan's Ball - this is a shortened version of what is originally a very long song! Jim sings the main vocal with help from Jon and Chetz. The instruments are: Jim guitar, mandolin and 4 string banjo, Jon, 6 string guitar, Chetz, bass, Pete, fiddle, bouzouki and bodhran. The song comes to a rousing finish with the jigs Ten Penny Bit and Road to Listoonvarna.
2. Jon's original tune Gone to the Wars is next up. This powerful tune was written a few years ago during the first Gulf War and unfortunately remains just as relevant today. Part of the makeup of a great song is that it is open to different interpretations. This tune has been embraced by those who oppose the war- at the same time it was adopted by a squad of Special Forces soldiers in Baghdad as their "theme song". Jon sings lead vocals with backups by Jim. The instruments are: Jon 6 string guitar, Jim, bouzouki, Robbie, fiddle, Chetz, bass and bodhran.
3. The Minstrel Boy...to the wars has gone. This classic tune by Sir Thomas Moore was borrowed by Brahms for a symphony and it's good enough for us! This was the first song recorded for the album. Years later we liked the recording but felt it needed a little "pumping up" when heard alongside the others- we actually got better at this as we went along!. So we recorded new vocals and instruments around and over the original production to give it more depth and power. Lead vocals by Jim, background vocals by Jim and Jon. The instruments are: Jim, 6 string guitar, bouzouki and 4 string banjo, Chetz, bass, fiddle, Pete. Jim and Jon toured for years as an acoustic duo and this tune features their style of 2 finger-picked Martin guitars played in different fingerings with capos.
4. The naming of places- from towns and counties to lakes and even large rocks, has been a constant feature in Irish literature and song from the ancient tome The Tain to the more modern Take me Home to Mayo. Does a place called Vertigo follow in this tradition??? Here Jon sings a well known homage to the Star of the County Down. The instruments are: Jon, 6&12 string guitar, Jim, mandolin, Pete, fiddle and bodhran, Chetz bass.
5. During the early 1980's Jim lived and played music in New York city with an Irish showband called the Paddy Noonan Band. Paddy's drummer, Johnny Hanley, was a wonderful guy and a great drummer. He was once the drummer for the Ringling Brother's Circus. Band. During a late night ride home from a gig in the Catskills, Johnny suggested that someone should write a song called, "Come Back to Me Darling, and I'll Wear Our Ring." He said it would be a bit hit in Ireland. Jim took him up on the chalenge and the result is I'll Wear Your Ring. Jim, lead and background vocals, guitar, bouzouki, Jon, 6 & 12 string guitars, background vocals, Chetz, bass, accordian.
7. A few years back, the band had a few oportunities to open shows for the Clancy Brothers and Robbie O'Connell. Watching them work an audience was like going to school. Here is one of their signature tunes from the traditional rebel song catalog, Foggy Dew. Jon opens the tune with some traditional unaccompanied singing. Instruments are Jon, vocals, 6 string guitar, Jim, mandolin and tenor banjo, Pete and Robbie, fiddles, Chetz, bass, Dale, bodhran and snare drum.
8. Back When the Craic was Grand is another tune from Jim's days in New York. During the 80's there was a bar on Lexington Avenue, across from the Armory, a corner briefly made famous when a prominent former Yankees player was arrested following an altercation with a lady of the evening. And he said he was just there for the Irish music! According to Jim, "I was a member of the house band at O'Rielly's, which although I didn't know it at the time consisted of some very renouned traditional players, including Andy McGann and Johnny Cronin on fiddles, Joe Burke on accordian, (another) Joe Burke on tenor banjo and a man whose name I don't remember playing bodhran. I played guitar and sang the occasional ballad. I remember there was a march to commemorate the death of Bobby Sands (from a hunger strike in prison) down Lexington Ave. and it ended in a session at O'Rielly's. This song is a tribute to those players, (Andy and Johnny have passed on) and to my wife Judi who attended many sessions there with me."
9. Royalty and Rules is a powerful original song by Jon. The song provodes a historical context to the "Troubles". It ends with a modern day plea for peace and an end to the violence in Northern Ireland. We had hoped that by the time this album came out, this struggle, which has gone on intermidably, would have been brought to a peaceful conclusion. Unfortunately, though nearly there, there are a few more steps left on the road. Instruments are, Jon, lead vocals, 6 string guitar, harmonica, Jim, background vocals, 5 string banjo, Chetz, bass, Dale, drums, Robbie, fiddle.
10. There have been many great songs written about the emmigration (Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore is oneof them) that occurred during the Potato Famine and this is one of them. Chetz's tune Queenstown follows the grim trip to America and concludes on a note of hope for the future. Jim, vocals, bouzouki, tenor banjo, Chetz, piano, bass, guitar, pennywhistle, Jon, 12 string guitar.
11. Jim's song Time Lads is in the tradition of closing time songs such as the Clancy Brother's Parting Glass. It is also the phrase often used in Irish pubs to move folks along at the end of the night. The band often closes their shows with this tune, which tries to capture some of what it is like to be a working musician.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Lanagan's Ball
2. Gone to the Wars
3. The Minstrel Boy
4. Star of the County Down
5. I'll Wear your Ring
6. Chicago/Trippin'Down the Stairs
7. Foggy Dew
8. Back When the Craic was Grand
9. Royalty and Rules
11. Time Lads