By Steve Edge, of the Rogue Folk Club in Canada:
I published the following album review in The Rogue Folk Club magazine, Rogue Folk Review. This is such a great CD that I have decided to post the review to the 'Net to try to spread the word about this amazing Celtic band.
Galway To Graceland is the third Alias Ron Kavana album, following 1989's Think Like A Hero and 1991's Coming Days, and this limited edition release is only available on the band's current North American tour. The official release will be remixed a bit, and one of the tracks will be chopped, so grab this incredible CD while you can. It was recorded "live, off the floor" as they say in the trade, and it features 14 songs running for well over 70 minutes. The range of styles is as you would expect from Ron Kavana -- the chameleon of roots music! There's everything from traditional Irish songs and tunes to Cajun tunes, electric blues, hard rockers, glorious waltzes, and even a looney toon or two.
The title track is Richard Thompson's great song flanked by two Elvis Presley waltzes -- "Lonesome Tonight" and "Love Me Tender" (which began its life as an Irish ballad called "Nora Lee" before being usurped by Tin Pan Alley). Another highlight is "New Rising Of The Moon" - a celebration of the first anniversary of the ceasefire in Northern Ireland. The old rebel song has been given new lyrics and a sense of joyful optimism.
"St. Patrick's Day in New Orleans" details the similarities between Cajun music and Mardi Gras and Irish music and St. Patrick's Day. Ron's life story is given a hard blues treatment on "Born With The Blues", The Stones' "19th Nervous Breakdown" is united with "The Blacksmith's Daughter", and there's a storming, rocking celebration of Ireland's Willie Clancy Week -- "Watch Out Willie" incorporating two sizzling Irish reels. Then there's Terry Clarke's "Shamrock City", the hilarious "Cap-Gun Kid" -- with a medley of American tunes including "Music For A Found Harmonium", "Caravan", "Over The Rainbow", and "I Got Rhythm" -- and the truly outstanding traditional Irish ballad "Martha, The Flower of Sweet Strabane" -- complete with scorching electric blues guitar.
This is a stunning CD, with surprises at every turn. It's not easy listening, background music; it's compelling stuff from start to finish, featuring superb singing and playing -- particularly from Andy Martyn on accordion and Ron himself on guitar, bouzouki, and banjo. Ron Kavana is the ultimate showman, a man who has played with musical giants like The Pogues, Dr. John, Clarence "Frogman" Henry, and The Bucks (with Terry Woods). This CD is not just recommended to fans of Celtic music or Folk/Rock, it has redefined the art of genre-blending. Essential listening for anybody who thinks they have heard a good folk/rock band. Now try the real thing; it doesn't get any better than this (until Ron's next CD comes out).
P.O. Box 77007
Calgary, Alberta T2G 5J8, CANADA.
Phone (403) 276-8267
Price is $20 in U.S. funds, cheque or money order.
Artistic Director of The Rogue Folk Club,
Vancouver B.C. Canada
Host/Producer of "The Edge On Folk", CITR FM 101.9 in Vancouver
[P.S. -- Also, if you'r a Los Angees resident, check out the folk section the Rhino Records store on Westwood Blvd.; I know Sam Epstein has ordered some. -- Chuck]
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Chuck Taggart (e-mail chuck)