Let’s face it, Black 47 guitarist-bandleader Larry Kirwan isn’t really much of a vocalist. But what he lacks in the vocal nuance department, he more than makes up for with his sheer overpowering passion.
You can read my review of the Black 47/Kevin McKrell Alive at 5 show from Albany’s Riverfront Park in the Times Union.
Back in 1993 when Black 47 made their Nippertown debut at Bogie’s, they whipped up quite a swirling mosh pit in the crowd. On Thursday, the beer-soaked audience played it considerably cooler with only a bit of a jig or an occasional bout of step-dancing breaking out in front of the stage.
Which is not to say that Kirwan and company played it safe or toned it down any for their free, family-friendly performance. In fact, it was a bit of a surprise when they launched into their encore – the hilarious but definitely not G-rated “I Got Laid on James Joyce’s Grave.”
Meanwhile, Kevin McKrell – the Capital Region’s King of All Things Celtic – put together the Hard Road Ceili Band, a real all-star group of musicians featuring his daughter Katie on vocals and bodhran, exotic percussionist Brian Melick, bassmaster Rick Bedrosian, guitarist Brian Gibney and fab fiddler-vocalist Sara Milonovich.
They’ve all played with McKrell at various times over the years, but all six musicians had never actually played all together until this show. And as an opening act at a free outdoor concert, if you can get the crowd to sing along, as they did on “All of the Hard Days Are Gone” – an original song, no less – then you know you’ve got something special going on. Quite an auspicious debut, indeed. Expect to hear more from them in the coming months.