Kilbrannan,
Bedlam Boys
(McWhorter, 2001)

Kilbrannan is the kind of Celtic band that I want to see live. The four musicians from Buffalo, N.Y., put on such an energetic show in the studio for Bedlam Boys that they've got to rock like wild on a beer-soaked pub stage.

Starting with a great version of the title track, this album lays down 15 tracks of solid material, all aggressively arranged and dynamically produced.

Kilbrannan is Kirk S. McWhorter on lead vocals, percussion and whistles, Tim Leonard on acoustic guitar, mandolin and vocals, Glenn Bernardis on bass, fretless bass and vocals, and Paul Runfola on electric and acoustic guitars and vocals. Tracks range from the traditional ("Rantin' Rovin' Robin," "Humors of Whiskey," "Willy McBride," "Jon Barleycorn," "Jug of Punch") to the original.

McWhorter is the music-writing powerhouse in the band, setting up a diverse selection of songs from the tragic "A Simple Man" to the whimsical "Henry's Head." "Into Belfast" is a fanciful plea for peace in Ireland, while "Morrison's Field" is a rollicking tip of the hat to parties that will not die. "The Heart of Scotland" is a rousing tribute to the people who have fought for Scotland's freedom through the years.

The band demonstrates brilliant instrumental chops; Runfola in particular shows exceptional guitar prowess. And McWhorter has a great voice, injecting passion and real meaning into the songs.

For a band with edge and talent to spare, be sure to check out Kilbrannan.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 30 November 2002