By Patrick Daley, Chronicle Music Writer
Columnist’s note: This is the inaugural column of Pat’s Picks, my spotlight on local and locally linked music. Each column highlights music that I’m recommending, whether new or old. Feel free to write in with suggestions. Hope you enjoy!
Leading off Pat’s Picks is Saratoga Springs Irish and folk duo Drank the Gold — fiddler Oona Grady and her partner (in life and music), singer and multi-instrumentalist James Gascoyne.
Sipped the Silver is the pretty moniker of this group’s just-released album. The band name is a reference to Pat O’Shea’s children’s novel The Hounds of Morrigan.
Oona and James celebrate this release with a concert party on October 6 at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs.
Full disclosure: James is a sometimes bassist with The Daley News, my jazz collective.
Sipped the Silver is a fairly easily observed mash-up of Oona’s Irish heritage and James’s Kentucky roots. Leading off the album is “Cucanandy,” an instrumental slip jig attributed to Elizabeth Cronin of County Cork, which appropriately introduces the performance in a traditional Irish session (which Drank the Gold hosts locally on Tuesdays, by the way).
Next is “Dawning of the Day,” with James’s scratchy, endearing voice taking the lead, just barely evidencing his Appalachian upbringing, and “Gourd Season,” a Gascoyne composition with James’s deft banjo playing, a la Tallest Man on Earth.
Batting cleanup is the star of Sipped the Silver, “What Will We Do?,” a traditional tune in which the wife-and-husband duet shines. One verse goes: “What will we do if we have a young daughter?/ Oh, true lovers, what will we do then?/ I will take her in hand we’ll walk on with me man/ And we’ll yodel it over again.”
Other verses ask what we will do if we have no money, if we marry a soldier, and so on. It’s a hopeful and sweet tearjerker. You may have heard Drank the Gold perform it at Crandall Public Library’s folk music series. Lovely.
“Malibu Hill Williams” next brings us out of our reverie, another instrumental composition by James, which is starting to seem to be his forte. “Petaluma,” the final track, is another example of his wonderful musical wit. Both reference locations in California. Hmm…
I can’t let this nascent column expire without mentioning “Red Rocking Chair,” another keeper, this one a duple-meter bluegrass tune. Again, James and Oona show their resolve and love with this curation, which goes, “It’s who’ll rock the cradle/ It’s who’ll sing this song/ And I will rock the cradle/ Yes, I will rock the cradle when you’re gone.”
Band info at www.drankthegold.com.
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