Dublin 5 (Self Titled 2015 Studio Album)
Dublin 5: Ray Murphy (lead guitar/vocals), Jenn Belle (fiddle/vocals), Gary Hewitt (bass), Jim Martin (percussion), and Kevin Shook (Drums)
Engineered by Frank Marchand of Hudson Street Sound
By J P Brady
With a tip o’ the hat to our Kelly ancestors and a long-held love for Irish tunes, we were incredibly excited to get our hands on an advance copy of Dublin 5’s new self-titled album of eleven songs. We were in attendance when the band wowed crowds recently at the Maryland Seafood Festival and Annapolis Sail Boat Show, debuting select new songs and giving us a tease of what was to come – and we can’t wait to see them again on Friday night at Union Jack’s Annapolis for their formal CD Release Party!
Please forgive our momentary digression, but for some reason lately, we’ve found ourselves embroiled in lively discussions about covers and original music. It’s funny to hear sometimes that folks can staunchly argue 100% for one or for the other. With this new album, you’ll be pleased to know that we get both: Folk/Traditional Irish classics and brand new original songs. But mind you, when we say “classics,” we don’t mean sappy 18th century ballads. This is the genius of Dublin 5 – that the band can take a beautiful tearjerker like Song 1, The Pride of Petravore (originally Eileen Oge – The Pride of Petravore by prolific songwriter, Percy French, 1854-1920), pair it with hard-driving percussion, guitars, fiddle and vocals, and come up with something entirely fresh and feisty. It’s like a grand Sousa march, but footloose and free. This is the Dublin 5 “brand,” bringing modern rock to traditional Irish folklore, and we absolutely love it. On top of all that goodness, the band mates are incredibly professional and charismatic when performing live – they have fun and it conveys in their latest release. You can authentically hear it in recordings like Jenn Belle Garman's Song 8, There’s no eff in Irish. It’s a light song and nice to have in contrast with some of the more serious themes of war and romance.
So, what exactly is it about Irish music that drives fans into frenzy and causes them to travel long distances for festivals? What is it that brings folks together every March 17th (or thereabouts) to dress funny (yes, so there, I said it!) and latch onto any scant claim of Irish ancestry? Well, if you answered beer, you might have a valid point, and several of the songs reference the pint (check out lyrics for Song 10, Sure It's All The Same, by Glenn Simmons of The Fables here) – but truly, it’s ever so much more.
Perhaps it’s a respect for Irish resilience in the face of adversity, or that mischievous humor and wink of an eye that Americans love – or even the rebellious nature and craving for independence that mirrors our own. Several of these chosen songs relate directly to the Irish struggle, including Song 4, All Around My Hat, of 19th C. English Origin, about transportation to Australia for theft, which Peadar Kearney (1883-1942), an Irish Republican, adapted to relate to a lass whose lover has died in the Easter Rising. Song 7, Follow Me Up To Carlow, is an Irish folk song, celebrating the victory of 1580 of the Irish mountainpeople of Wicklow who faced an army of 3,000 English Soldiers in the battle of Glenmalure.
Of Song 9, Grace (a brilliant tune by Sean & Frank O’Meara), Ray Murphy (lead vocals and guitar of Dublin 5) recounts, “the GPO (mentioned in the song) is the General Post Office in Dublin where the main battle for Irish independence from the English took place in 1916. Grace is based on the story of Joseph Plunkett and his love, Grace Gifford, and his part in the rising and subsequent execution.” They were married only seven hours before his execution by firing squad, at the tender age of 28. This bittersweet history is all reflected in the indomitable and spirited passion of the music.
Another of our favorites is Song 6, So Here We Are, with lyrics by our very own local singer/songwriter, Tom Bowman (“Cowboy Tom”). This beautiful and patriotic song is a bridge (or lucky rainbow, if you prefer) that arcs from the Ireland of yore to our modern age, with a fitting and apt “So here we are, those days of war...long, long gone.” It’s a beautiful tribute, but also, a fine way to say, “Enough now – let’s make peace, move forward and have some fun!“
In conclusion, perhaps it’s the sense of camaraderie that is the irresistible and magical component that we all love so dearly, what we long for. When together, we are all part of something bigger and better. Certainly this will be the case on Friday night at Union Jack’s of Annapolis. To this, we toast Slainte!