emotions

The Saw Doctors at the Boulder Theater - 03.21.11

KGNU & The Boulder Weekly are proud to present The Further Adventures of The Saw Doctors at the Boulder Theater on Monday, March 21st, 2011.


The Saw Doctors are known in Ireland for ridiculously catchy songs and for rocking the road week after week from Galway to Melbourne—and, come March 2011, from New York to Las Vegas. They’ve hopped up countless crowds, including at two inaugurations of Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, with upbeat anthems to everyday people.

A fun-loving reputation precedes the band thanks to their zany hit “I Useta Lover” or the recent sneak Irish radio chart-topper, “Red Cortina A Cappella.” But it belies a more reflective side with deep roots, a side sometimes forgotten even by the group’s biggest fans.

“That one-sided perception of the band haunts us, even in our hometown here in Western Ireland,” chuckles Saw Doctors singer and guitarist Leo Moran. “A few months ago, in a pub here, I sang one of my favorite songs, 'Same Oul Town', the title track of our third album.  It's about a small town in winter, where everyone knows everyone else's business. Another local singer, who has known us forever, came up and told me, 'That's a lovely song; you should record that!'"

Bittersweet portraits of everyday people and the landscape that surrounds them are what the band does best. The Saw Doctors have a Springsteen-like ability to get at the poignant perspectives of ordinary folks: the lovesick pub regular, the guys on the corner, the wise old woman who greeted all comers with a slice of bread and butter.

This ability flows from the roving group’s strong ties to Tuam—and to the lives and stories of the people in it. It’s a town of wits and eccentrics, folks like cartoon artist Squigley McHugh, who humorously sketched the Saw Doctors as superheroes for their stage backdrop. Tuam is known for its gregarious, sometimes overly curious conversationalists. It’s a place where people still pop down to the pub in the afternoon, looking for a pint and a good gossip.

But don’t be surprised if you can’t make out a word: Tuam, explains Moran, has its own secret code, a slang and a love of peculiar turns of phrase incomprehensible to outsiders. “In Tuam, there’s a great interest in language and words. A lot of the Travellers, itinerant Irish traders and tin-smiths, settled around Tuam and had their own language they used while trading. We’ve adopted it as core citizens of the town.”

Tuam’s citizens relish slang and constantly invent new words. Expressions like “Well-Byes,” the greeting of choice among young guys in jogging suits, speak volumes: “you know where you are and you’re from Tuam,” Moran says. Soccer players use local slang when playing against other towns to keep their next moves under wraps (as the band recounts in “All the Way from Tuam”).

Yet words, like the band itself, have a far more winsome side, connecting people with their history and the land. In “Friday Town,” the Anglicized place-names in the chorus hint at a lost Irish past, as Moran sings of people long gone, either overseas to America or to their graves. “When you study the names in Irish, they carry meanings, some feature in the landscape or the memory of something that happened there,” Moran notes. “But all these lovely meanings have been lost. We’re trying to celebrate them, as well as the people who left forever for the States, on an epic, courageous journey.”

More introspective moments still ring with bright guitars, catchy melodies, and upbeat energy, which make The Saw Doctors shows fun, even at their deepest. Sometimes when playing live around Ireland, the exuberant singing from the audience has nearly drowned out the band. The group loves to drop their vocals out altogether, providing only instrumental accompaniment for the chorus of enthusiastic fans, who seem to know every song by heart.

The down-to-earth feel—and the Tuam wit—have universal appeal. “People sometimes say that a song about Tuam or Galway or Ireland won’t matter to people abroad. That’s like telling Bruce Springsteen that he is wasting his time writing about the Jersey Shore,” Moran reflects. “Songs are about sharing feelings and emotions and ideas. If you have ideas and emotions that people can relate to, then it works no matter where you play.”

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meniskus | Live At The Walnut Room | 2010

The unique sound of meniskus is hard to classify. They have been labeled as Latin, European, House, Trance Rock, but none of these really pinpoint what their music sounds like. At times you can hear a mystic Middle Eastern influence, at other times hints of Ukrainian Punk and ancient ancestral harmonies. The only way to really understand is to see them perform live.  Meniskus's live stage performance is what makes this band great. They have finally caught some of the live energy on their latest release 'LIVE at The Walnut Room' recorded in Denver, Colorado in early 2010.

The opening track 'Morocco' is drenched in the soft nylon strings of  Venezuelan-born Bardusco's guitar and Eric Ostberg's howling violin.  Cris Ryt builds the tempo on the drums until the song eventually erupts like an exploding volcano. This transitions smoothly in to the second song, 'The Equalizer'; a driving, strong riff built on the passionate moans of Ostberg's voice. Track three, Latina really reflects the true sound of meniskus. Ryt provides a tantric techno beat as Ostberg and Bardusco trade leads that lift the soaring strings from high down to crashing bass chords below.  'Again', is one of my new favorites, the march of the drums and shouts of Again providing the attitude of a punk song.  'Sheik Don't Mind' is another reflection of the way these three band members play so well together. The feeling and emotions of each person combine in such a way that the song can sound different from night to night. Their world trance classification can be explained by the next track called 'Nightly Erotic'. It flows like the silken dress of a Persian belly dancer as she dances across the floor.  If ska is polka, and polka is punk, then 'The Partyer' is fun as funk. This is a song for everyone; I could easily see it get plenty of air play on KBCO.  'Brigade' is the anthem of this CD, it reminds me of the strong messages sung by U2 in the 80s.  'Combo' is another quick moving song built on forceful emotions and played as fast as a speeding train; by far my favorite song on the CD.  Last is a bonus studio track called 'Greed'. If this song is any indication of where meniskus is taking their music, we have lots to look forward to from this band in the future.

This band has perfected their skills from years on the road and polished their sound by days spent in the booths of Coupe Studios. It’s good to know the energy of their live shows has finally been captured on their CD.