At the Racket,
Mirth-Making Heroes
(Racket, 2001)

With so many good Irish bands out there these days, how does a band distinguish itself from the competition? In At the Racket's case, they play traditional music but use the saxophone to give the music a slightly distinctive edge. With their second CD, Mirth-Making Heroes, At the Racket creates a CD that will make a very nice addition to an Irish collection.

The band consists of five musicians: John Carty (fiddle and banjo), Brian McGrath (banjo, piano and keyboards), Seamus O'Donnell (flute, saxophone and occasional vocals) and Garry O'Briain (guitar, mandocello and piano). Brid Dooley has a very pretty voice that is unfortunately used on only a few songs since most of the CD is instrumental.

Since I really like Brid's voice, I will first mention my favorite track on the CD: "A Chuisle Mo-Chroi." The liner notes state that this piece "is from an old recording by the Irish American tenor Charles Kennedy." I haven't heard the original, but Brid's vocals go perfectly with this song. The song is about true love and most of the lyrics are in English.

Another song is "Little Bridget Flynn," with vocals by Seamus. The singer has a crush on little Bridget Flynn, but doesn't know how to approach her; Bridget doesn't even know the singer exists. The melody is simple, yet catchy. The chorus is definitely one to sing along with.

One of the best instrumentals on the CD is "Dancing Dustman." According to the liner notes, this military two-step originated in Scotland around the 1900s. The banjo and sax aid in making the familiar tune sound dated.

At the Racket is a strange name for a band, but I find Mirth-Making Heroes to be a solid Irish CD. There is a certain quality about At the Racket's sound that compels me to recommend it. I would prefer more vocals from Brid, but I was satisfied with the jigs and reels that comprise most of the dozen tracks on the CD.

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 15 March 2003