Tuesday, March 2, 1993
Easily one of the hardest-working bands in its field, Four to the Bar is beginning to taste the sweet fruits of success, boasting an ever-growing mailing list of over 200 loyal fans and advance orders for an upcoming recording debut that number in the dozens.
All of this, the boys say, made it easier to see the light at the end of the tunnel during their most recent upheavals, during which they discovered a gifted fiddle player named Keith O'Neill. Signing on in early October, O'Neill helped maintain the all-but-seamless progress the band managed to develop in spite of revolving-door personnel changes. Keith brings with him years of traditional Irish music fro the streets of New York, and an All-Ireland solo fiddle championship title in 1985.
Four to the Bar are currently recording with Henry Gorman, who produced 1992 releases by Paddy Holmes and Tommy Goodwin. The project is eagerly anticipated, and in many minds long overdue. The tape's four cuts showcase all aspects of the band's considerable talents.
They anticipate a mid-March release date.
November 2, 1994
Though very well received all over the New York City area for the vibrant, homespun quality of its production, Four to the Bar's March 1993 cassette EP debut was consistently greeted with one criticism: It failed to capture the infectious energy of the band's performances, during which, it would seem, virtually anything can happen. Spontaneous, rhythmic hairpin turns will appear in the midst of a traditional Celtic jig or reel; lead singer David Yeates might take his bodhran out for an impromptu sprint atop the bar counter.
Not surprisingly, like other artists who have built their reputation out of providing outstanding live entertainment, Four to the Bar was besieged by demand for a live recording. On June 16, 1994 at Sam Maguire's Pub in the Bronx, with the help of the 400-or-so fans in attendance, Four to the Bar addressed that demand. Craic on the Road is the result.
The album's 11 tracks pay cheerful tribute to the rich musical heritage of Irish folk from which the band springs. The recurring themes that form the foundations of "Irish music" are all here--emigration and fortune-seeking (on "Murshin Durkin"), the trials of courtship (on "Mr. Maguire"), and, of course, the culture's enduring fascination with drink (on just about everything else).
On the more serious side, the haunting "Germany" is a widow's keening lament for the husband she has lost in another man's war, and serves as a dramatic preface to the album's most pleasant surprise, a inspired version of early-60s folk legend Phil Ochs' "I Ain't Marching Anymore," in which the band turns Ochs' defiant prophecy into an exuberant call for an end to all war.