Out of the Mailbag, Comes Songs and Stories: The Druids Just Grateful to Be Here

Out of the Mailbox Comes Songs & Stories

By John O’Brien, Jr. @Jobjr

The Druids, Just Grateful to Be Here 2021 11 Tracks

I have had the pleasure of hearing The Druids in person at Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival, online on posts and Facebook pages, and in person again in Toledo last month. They have evolved in to a whole new level.  You will recognize most of the songs on Just Grateful to be Here, but the arrangements, the vocals … WOW.

Traditionalists may balk at the concept but will bow down at the arrangements themselves. I truly believe that some people have taken a song and made it their own – others will perform it well, but, not the same.  Tommy Makem’s Four Green Fields; Paddy Reilly singing Fields of Athenry; Alec De Gabriel singing Patriot Games; Mary Black singing Song for Ireland … are just a few examples.

The Druids pay homage to the spirit of the song, and bring out the highlights, in beautiful pre-song narratives that teach, entertain, and illuminate, followed by such stirring vocal and instrument performances, I can only shake my head in admiration, and appreciation.

These guys are from there; thy live there; and they capture that spirit and passion by the way they tell their story, about this story, in verse and song. I had a two-hour drive back home late that night, but had no desire to leave, or for the show to end. The concert kept going on in my head, as I listened to the new CD on repeat all the way home.

Featured songs ranged from those written Shane McGowan, Dougie Maclean, Kevin McKrel, Luka Bloom, Bono, The Edge, and Christy Moore. The selection was deliberate, and even told a story all on its own. 

The Druids are Mick The Banger O’Brien; Zack Zeebo Moran; Gary The Sham Lawlor; Denis The Big D Moran; Neil Harnz Harney.

The Druids are Mick The Banger O’Brien; Zack Zeebo Moran; Gary The Sham Lawlor; Denis The Big D Moran; Neil Harnz Harney.

From the Liner Notes:
Just Grateful to be Here signals a new era for The Druids. With the addition of Neil Harney and Denis Moran, along with the old guard of Zak Moran, Gary Lawlor and Mick O’Brien, the band has developed a new look and a new sound.  The songs on this album give a glimpse in to the lives if The Druids; where they currently find themselves, and the journey they have taken to get there.

“‘Hard Days’ deals with the plight of addiction, an issue close to each of our hearts. ‘Something Inside So Strong’ reflects the different struggles we face together and as individuals. The poignant lyrics in ‘Rainy Night in Soho’ hint at the loneliness we all feel at times. ‘Come My Little Son’ was recorded to echo the emigration and countless hours on the road we endure to earn a living.

“But most of all the album title says exactly how we feel: We’re Just Grateful to Be Here”

The Hope, the self-awareness, inspiration, gratitude – the bards are just grateful to be here, indeed.

  1. Go Lassie Go – This beautiful song as been recorded by hundreds; I’d rank The Druids version with any I have heard before.
  2. Colours – I wasn’t familiar with this one, but loved it, and could see them identifying with the story, they felt it deep within, but are courageous enough to share it anyway.
  3. St. Patrick’s Battalion – You’ve heard of the ballad, the San Patricios, or St. Patrick’s Battalion, before, but this song is different one; it broadens the story, another perspective of coming to the U.S. and feeling obligated to fight for Mexico, against the U.S.
  4. Rainy Night in Soho – Shane McGowan’s song of what could have been, and my favorite line of all: You’re the measure of my dreams.
  5. North and South – Bono, The Edge and Christy Moore wrote this one, Paddy Reilly had a huge hit with it, The Druids do it beautifully.
  6. Caledonia – written by Dougie Maclean, Caledonia has been recorded by thousands of gifted singers, and a few others too. You sway in the beat, and again feel the pain of another someone, having to emigrate from home.
  7. Something Inside So Strong – a moving story of resolution, I kept repeating it to pick up the words, and add it to the top shelf CD collection that travels with me wherever I drive.
  8. Hard Days – Kevin McKrel penned this story of redemption, hope, and surviving the battle, moving on to and with hope. We’ve been through hellish times, we have survived, and hope for today, and tomorrow, sings out.
  9. Come My Little Son – such a beautiful song, written by Ewan McColl, beautifully sung by the boys.
  10. South Australia – Fast, joyful, fun, a sprint – Heal Away, Haul Away.
  11. City of Chicago – Written by Luka Bloom, made famous in the recording by his brother, Christy Moore, this tale centers on the hope and inspiration Irish immigrants escaping from An Gorta Mor (The Great Hunger) to America found in the music of their home:
    In the city of Chicago, as the evening shadows fall, there are people dreaming, of the hills of Donegal.
    1847, the year it all began, deadly pains of hunger, drove a million from the land. They journeyed not for glory; their motive was not greed, a voyage of survival, across the stormy seas, to the city of Chicago.

    They spread throughout the nation, they rode the railway cars,
    Brought their words and music, to ease their lonely hearts…

Check out The Druids on Facebook: thedruidsfolkband and to add their works to your own Great CD’s collection.  Tell them OB sent you.

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