The Killdares,
A Place to Stand
(self-produced, 2000)

I received the Killdare's CD A Place to Stand without any clue what their music was like. Well, it's rock. Hard rock, actually, of the sort MTV might broadcast if America's "music television" still played music. They are often listed as Celtic rock because they use a fiddle, mandolin and bouzouki in their arrangements -- only at times overtly -- and there are fragments of traditional-sounding tunes scattered hither and yon in their music.

Beyond that, don't look for much that's Celtic-sounding on A Place to Stand. Lead singer and drummer Tim Smith doesn't belt out Irish rebel or Scottish war songs, although his voice would be well-suited to that style. The songs, many of which are original to the band, don't pine for misty moors and green hills, nor do they celebrate the merits of a frothy pint.

Besides Smith, the Killdares are Linda Relph on fiddle and backing vocals, Ed Walewski on bass guitar, mandolin and bouzouki, and Roy Fletcher on electric, 12-string acoustic and 6-string classical guitar, piano and backing vocals. Guests musicians are Jim Folstad, who adds bagpipes to one track, and Sara Miller, who adds cello to two.

This is a hard-rock band, acoustic stringed instruments notwithstanding, although the way those traditional instruments are employed with the electric guitar, bass and drum set is refreshing and exciting -- check out the "Cutting Bracken" set for a great example. Other highlights include "Fields of Fire," "The Likes of You and I," "The Story of Mickey Free" and "Answer My Fall."

Looking for something remotely traditional? Look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you like well-executed, hard-driving rock, the Killdares are for you. (I still can't help wondering what this band would do with an album of traditional material.)

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 1 December 2001

Buy it from