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Bring Yer Wellies, Lads

Music shops do their customers an enormous wrong by hiding the World Music section all the way in the back of the store.

To wit: Gaelic Storm. They’re a five-piece Irish pub band (the one shown in Titanic). The group has been playing since 1996—they started in O’Brien’s Irish Pub in Santa Monica, which was managed by Patrick Murphy, the band’s lead singer—and they’ve released five albums in these past ten years. Why only one every two years? Because the band is a band. They play at hundreds of venues every single year, from bars to Houses of Blues and stadia. Folks consider Gaelic Storm to be a live band.

But the albums are fantastic products. Spaciously mixed and sonically pristine, you can pick out every fiddle draw, every push on the Great Highland and pull on the accordion, the fingers scraping the toms, and the uncontrollable hand-clapping that seems to attend the background of every track. “People are hungering for good music,” Patrick Murphy said in an online interview, adding that explained, to an extent, the unanticipated success of non-mainstream albums like the bluegrass soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou and the open ears Gaelic Storm has found in America.

He’s right. Unfortunately, stores stick albums like Bring Yer Wellies, Gaelic Storm’s latest, in the World section, muffled behind stacks and stacks of pop albums more the work of Mountain Dew-driven computer engineers than any musician. Bring Yer Wellies is a trove of real, live music about Ireland, the sea, drinking, and living. Like all of Gaelic Storm’s albums, the songs are interspersed with instrumental tracks—medleys of traditional celtic music creatively rendered on modern instruments. Even more enjoyable though are the originals, all of which are written with such timeless wit that they seem to be centuries-old Irish standards themselves.

A longstanding Gaelic Storm tale, for example, is that of Johnny Tarr. He’s “a hard-drinkin’ son of a preacher” who’s always at the bar. In concerts and on their 2001 alubm Tree, Gaelic Storm sung about Tarr, who, to gasps, fell down and died after drinking only fifteen pints. Died of thirst, that is. For years they’d been singing about Johnny Tarr. In the latest album, we get to hear about his funeral. (“So if it starts rainin’ and the thunder rumbles loud, Johnny’s fallen up in heaven; landed on a cloud. His tears are fallin’ as he laughs, for he knows that when you die, in the big pub way up in sky, you’ll never, ever, ever, ever, ever drink ‘im dry.”)

OK, perhaps it sounds silly. But it’s good.

CLIPS: From Drink ‘Em Dry (Johnny Tarr’s Funeral).



From Don’t Go For The One.


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