various artists, |
My favorite spot in all of Dublin is the Oliver St. John Gogarty Pub in Temple Bar. Sure, the name is unwieldy. And the restrooms are way up on the fourth floor. But, while nightclubbers pack the first-floor barroom for loud dance music, the second floor is where the real music is happening. That's where the musicians -- some traditional, some not-so-traditional but in the general ballpark -- gather each night to fill the room with their craft. Yeah, it's crowded. Oh yes, it's smoke-filled. Of course, chances are fair you'll be jostled at some point and slosh Guinness on your shoes. So what? The craic, as they say, is grand.
For anyone who's had a similar experience there, Gogarty's Music is like a musical postcard to remind you of the times you were there.
It's a solid album by a varied crew of musicians. Not everything here is a complete success, and one or two tracks should have been left on the engineer's floor, but overall I like what I hear. Standout tracks include "Lament for Spilled Porter," featuring composer Paul Leech on uilleann pipes, Stephen Leech on banjo and Martin Denning on guitar; the lively duet "Maids of Mount Cisco" with Paul McNevin on fiddle and Peter Browne on accordion and guitar; the dramatic "Across the Water" set with Laura Forrest Hay on fiddle and keyboards and Daragh O'Reilly on guitar; and "The Breton Breeze," featuring Tommy Keane on an astonishingly good low whistle and, as the pace picks up towards the end, Mick McNamara on guitar.
OK, there are some complaints. The biggest flaw of this album is the recording studio -- and that's nothing against the folks at Dublin's Pulse Studios. But hell, people, this album should have been recorded on the second floor of Gogarty's, with pints all around and the sounds of the happy crowd right there with the music. The Gogarty's experience is what I was looking for on this CD, not a polished studio outtake. Also, a few tracks are cut off too abruptly, ruining the effect just slightly.
But I shan't complain long. Instead, I'll invite some chums around, set up the pints and put the disc on repeat. Maybe we can make our own Gogarty's in my living room -- at least until next time I make it to Dublin.
[ by Tom Knapp ]