Glengarry Bhoys,
(self-produced, 2002)

There's no limit to the number of things this band does right. They managed to put 165 days of touring on the 2001 calendar (roughly three shows a week) and have sold more than 65,000 CDs in the five or so years they've been together. Their first two CDs sold completely out, but demand was still strong, so instead of just closing the door on the older recordings, the band re-mixed, re-mastered and re-released both. With all that and a fan base that seems to grow daily, they steadfastly remain independent and appear to more than capable of packing their own gear.

Taking its place as album number five, Juice is their best effort to date. It is smooth and clean, shining like a new quarter. The play-list is well balanced, mixing white-hot, fully energized tunes with soft-voiced, sweet-tempered songs and holding your interest and curiosity from beginning to end.

In a time when being called "Celtic" is sort of like having multiple personality disorder, the Bhoys manage to remain true to their roots without being your daddy's Celtic music band. The oft-recorded "Bonnie Broom" is an excellent example. Everybody's done this song, but nobody does it like this. Laced throughout with a crisp combination of whistle and fiddle, the song snaps along at a little quicker pace than usual, giving it a commanding new presence.

One of the signatures of the band is front-man Graham Wright's exceptional talents as a songwriter. He manages to speak from the heart without being sappy, but also projects the agelessness of lasting love and companionship. His "Deep Inside" could be as much a song for a young couple having their first serious conversation as it is for the elderly couple on the park bench who know their time together is ending. "I like everything you do to me, I like the way you walk away from me, I want to hold your hand, I want to write our names in the sand ... I want to be the only one you let inside."

Aside from his stellar songwriting, Graham sings and plays whistles and guitar. New to the band, both in tenure and gender, fiddler and step-dancer Shelley Downing adds the freshness of a crisp breeze. Her spirited personality comes through in every tune. Playing bass and adding vocals, Gibby Bazinet, provides a solid background while infusing a bit of spice. The newest member of the group, James Libbey, brings his incredible skills on whistles and Highland bagpipes to the party, but adds piano just for good measure. The band's anchor, Gaye Stuart Leroux, best known as "Ziggy," adds his voice to the mix along with his exceptional skills on percussion.

[ by Sheree Morrow ]
Rambles: 29 June 2002