‘Oh Boy!’ from JigJam “… bluegrass and Irish folk forging something splendid”(February 08, 2015)
The ever-evolving miasma of folk music has spawned yet one more definition, and for once it’s arrived with a point of unequivocal accuracy - it’s Celtgrass - a not altogether unexpected or unexplored fusion of Celtic and Appalachian music. The interplay between bluegrass and Irish folk music has long forged a comfortablejoining of bedfellows, JigJam however, with their album ‘Oh Boy!’ take it to another level. The words sparkling, innovative and infectious come first to mind, beyond that you get into 'an unadulterated display of accomplished musicianship, skill and talent'.
JigJam are Jamie McKeogh (guitar, tenor banjo, lead vocal), Daithi Melia (five-string banjo, vocal) and Cathal Guinan (double bass, fiddle, vocal). ‘Oh Boy!’ is their debut album, and that in itself is hard to comprehend because it exudes both confidence and excellence that commands attention. Their blend of influences and concentrations takes this album beyond the mix of foot-stompers you might expect, proving there’s far more to Jig Jam than raising the rafters, although they’re pretty good at that too. They also lay down some thoughtful songs drawing from the obvious influences of their natural and adopted heritages.
Naturally enough, they arrive with a pulsating opener in ‘Tickle Me Pink’ and continue to prove their talented dexterity with such delights as jigs ‘Ringing the Bell/Banks of Newfoundland’, hornpipe and reels ‘The Brown Coffin/ Monster Stormy Blues/ The Wild Irishman’ and the unrestrained vivacity of gypsy jazz and reels with ‘The Wolf/ Gan Ainm/ The Oak Tree’ - all delivering an opportunity for those that enjoy a good ‘step’ to indulge in some silly leaping. Absorb that, then listen as JigJam expand their scope breaking into a fine take on Ketch Secor’s hard hitting ‘Levi’, deliver a stunning version of Richard Thompson’s beautiful ‘Beeswing’ and a riveting rendition of Thom Moore’s ‘Cedars of Lebanon’ – powerful and thought provoking.
With their unrestrained integration of traditional and contemporary, Jig Jam have forged something splendid and ‘Oh Boy!’ turns it out in spades. Find both band and album here: www.jigjam.ie
Reviewer: Tim Carroll