Wednesday, 31 August 2016

TWO TIME POLKA

CD Review

New Road


One of Cork's best kept secrets must be Cajun/Americana/zydeco band Two Time Polka. Fronted by hometown boy Ray Barron, the collection of musicians is built around Barron, his wife Geraldine, Aaron Dillon and Dave Jones. 

Aaron Dillon, Geraldine Barron and Ray Barron
who make up part of Two Time Polka
This album has become more of a family affair with Leon and Robbie Barron involved and completing the line up is James O'Sullivan.
If you have never encountered the band either on album or live then you are missing a real treat because they do Americana and Cajun as well as anyone and what's more they do it with gusto and an obvious sense of enjoying every note they play.
New Road gets things off to a flying start with Zydeco Two Step with Dillon's familiar, raspy style of singing giving it that swamp party feel. It's all pushed along with the superb accordion playing of G Barron. This is a song which aims to get the foot stomping and fingers snapping.
R Barron is a maestro on the mandolin and Diadem only gives you a hint of what he is capable of producing. The instrumental from Sam Bush is mixed with concertina, electric and acoustic guitars with some really playful nuances throughout that make it a great piece to listen to. This Cat's On A Hot Tin Roof transports you back to the fifties with the early sound of rock 'n' roll created perfectly mixed in with some swing and a sprinkling of doo wop.
Dillon's change of style creates the perfect atmosphere for the song too.
In Going To Hell as well as providing the vocals, Dillon also wrote his version of a traditional folk murder ballad which tells of a marriage going sour.
It has almost a spiritual feel to it with a strong hint of the Delta blues. There are subtle strands from G Barron on accordion, David Murphy on pedal steel and Dillon on the "bone" which add character and texture to the dark tale.
Dillon is centre stage again for Ay Tete Fee with a track which is almost like a signature style for the band, it's Cajun but with TTP's stamp on it. Dillon provides the main holler lyrics while O'Sullivan provides the call, which are pushed along at a foot-stomping pace by some seriously good accordion playing, blues harp and mandolin. It even has the occasional crashing wave thrown in courtesy of Jones' cymbals.
They slow things right down for Como Llora Una Estrelle. The Venezuelan waltz seems almost like a breather between all the foot stomping and the band get the laid back Latin feel just right.
R Barron puts his spin on a song which claims to be one of the most recorded blues songs around. Baby Please Don't Go has been around since the 1930s and over the years has been covered by Them, Muddy Waters (also with the Rolling Stones), Van Morrison, AC/DC and Aerosmith. So Barron had no mean feat to come up with something fresh.
Here Dillon's slightly muted voice keeps the grit of the song which meshes with the almost lazy execution and the accordion featuring heavily, Barron has lightened up the blues a little to great effect.
The Latin dance is back with El Choclo but this time it's the tango and R Barron gets to flex his fingers on his mandolin and give the tune an almost playful feel while you can just see the Argentinian couples whirling around the dance floor.
The band are back doing what they do best for Woman Or A Man as they put a Cajun coat on the Richard Thompson song. O'Sullivan takes on the vocals and whether intentional or not sounds remarkably like Thompson.
The album goes out on a bit of a damp squib with a Lennon & McCartney song, Across The Universe, which they play as an instrumental. Unfortunately it does have the feel of muzak and is a little incongruous. It seems a strange choice to add to the album and certainly to end an album which have so much verve and character but it's a fact of life sooner or later every musician or band will play something from the acclaimed writing duo.
It would have been good for them to go out with a bang. This aside TTP do Cajun/zydeco so well you can pretty much forgive them anything.

New Road is out now through the band's website and you can catch the band live at the
Appalacian & Bluegrass Music Festival, Ulster American Folkpark, Omagh, Co. Tyrone
on Friday September 2. They will be in the main concert hall with the show starting 10.15pm.
Then on Saturday September 3, the band is on the Folkpark Trail where they will do two sets starting at 2.30 and 5.30pm then the next day they again play two sets this time starting at 1.30 and 4.30pm.
On Friday September 9 you can see them at Sandinos Bar, Water Street Derry. The show starts 10pm and admission is free. Tel: 02871 309297
You can find them at Dunfanaghy Jazz & Blues Festival on September 10 and 11 where first they play Ronnies, Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal. Starting 9pm and again admission is free. Tel: 074 9136101.
The second show is at Molly's Bar, Dunfanaghy, Co. Donegal. Starting 2.30pm. Admission is free. Tel: 074 9100050
They are back on home turf on Friday September 23rd when they play Coughlans Live Music Festival, Douglas Street, Cork. The show starts 10pm and again admission is free.  Tel: 021 4961751
Finally on Saturday September 24 they play the Che do Bheatha Festival, The Greyhound Bar, Kilkee, Co. Clare. Show starts 10pm and admission is free. Tel: 065 9056555.