Brendan Loughrey and Bluestack Music, 2013.
Brendan Loughrey: http://www.bluestackmusic.com/
In preparation for Saint Patrick’s Day, Brendan Loughrey is releasing a new solo album, To Those Who Fell. The album is available now as a digital download, and physical CDs will be out on St. Patty’s day itself. Born in County Donegal in 1970, Brendan Loughrey grew up in the midst of the North/South Ireland divide and at a contentious time in modern Irish history. This perspective runs throughout his music, and shaped who he is today. Musician and swimmer, Loughrey came to guitar at the age of 15, when his father encouraged him to reach out to people with music instead of violence. Once here in the US, Brendan started touring as a musician and was soon hired by The Seanachie Irish Pub in Nashville as the house musician. Loughrey has toured with Bluestack off and on to various Celtic festivals over the years and now plays in Chicago on his own. In his off time, he swims and writes, and is interested in advancing the cultural history of his homeland.
While Loughrey has shared the stage with the likes of Chuck Berry, he is very much an Irish musician. Similarly to the Carolina Chocolate Drops, his music consists of both original and traditional work, and often has a story in the song that speaks to actual events and the oral tradition of keeping history records. While his style is vastly different from Carolina Chocolate Drops, both are great sources of music outside of the norm, and wonderful resources to tap into as a starting point for learning about the past. His newest CD is stripped down to the bare bones- a guy with a guitar- which really lets one focus on the words being sung. It’s a crisp, clean sound that works nicely as background music for a St. Patrick’s party, or night in with friends.
The songs on To Those Who Fell generally fall into two genres- Loughrey’s original work, and classic Irish songs, but with a predominance of the latter. His own work tends to be very angry, but I suppose that happens when a nation has been divided and a part of it occupied by a foreign entity for centuries. Not all of Loughrey’s songs tell a tale as embittered as Tiocfaidh Ar La or Go On Home British Soldiers (from Last Set of the Night). He also has more comical tunes like F*ck Kenny Chesney, and Please Don’t Die Willie Nelson (both from Last Set of the Night) and songs of solidarity like On the One Road and A Nation Once Again. The traditional tunes on To Those Who Fell include Back Home in Derry, The Green Fields of France, and Fields of Athenry speak of a commoner’s view of historic events in Ireland, including World War I, the potato famine, and being shipped to the debtor’s prison in Botany Bay among others. Only Our Rivers Run Free is a universal song of desire for sovereignty, while Black is the Color and Black Velvet Band are quintessential broadsides.
All in all, while there is not much brand new material on To Those Who Fell, the new interpretation more than justifies giving this at least one listen, preferably with a computer or smartphone nearby so you can learn a little while enjoying the music.
Personnel: Brendan Loughrey (guitar and vocals)
Tracks: Boolavogue, Living in the Heart of Ireland, A Nation Once Again , Back Home in Derry, On the One Road, Tiocfaidh Ar La (Chucky Ar La) “Our Day Will Come”, Sean South, Ten Sips, The Saxon Cage, Come Out Ye Black & Tans, The Green Fields of France, When You Sign (On the Line With the Devil), Black Velvet Band, Fields of Athenry, Black Is the Color, Donegal Danny, Broad Black Brimmer, Grace, Boys of the Old Brigade, Only Our Rivers Run Free,