Lenahan is a long-running Celtic rock band fronted by singer, guitarist, and piper Tom Lenahan. On Brand New Bag [Clandestine Celtic Records 2002], this New York-based group mixes straight bagpipe folk-rock that's based around rousing Highland pipes with assorted genre-mixing fusion music.The former is prime rock 'n' reel, the pipes joined by fiddle, electric guitar , bass, and drums on mostly original trad-style tunes, while the latter comes in several flavors. For example, "The Piper's Got a Brand New Bag" borrows tongue in cheek from the classic James Brown soul hit, "Marie" finds a Latin horn section trading leads with bagpipes on a tale of intercultural romance, and "Nothin' is a gritty electric blues, again with pipes wailing throrugh the breaks...on the whole, the concept is a lot of fun.
VINEYARD TIMES, February 20, 2003
CELTIC ROCK WARMS ISLAND NIGHT
The New York quartet Lenahan offered a welcome respite from the midwinter chill this past weekend with their rollicking brand of Celtic rock. Blending country, calypso, Irish jigs and reels, funk and power-chord rock, Lenahan turned the Offshore into a high-spirited haven from the gloom of an icy February night.
Lead singer/guitarist/bagpiper Tom Lenahan played genial host to the evening's festivities. He combined musical proficiency with comic insouciance as he switched between guitar, bagpipesm and tin whistle. His lyrics captured the trademark blend of whimsy and pathos inherent in Irish music. Fiddler Clarence Ferrari displayed stunning dexterity as he pulled off lightening runs up and down the fret board. Drummer Ryan Cavan pounded out muscular beats behind Brendan O'Grady's firm, melodic bass playing.
The band was able to pull of a melange of styles that might have sounded cluttered and incongruous in less skilled hands. "Guinness as Usual" is a country-twang number about the solace that can be found in a frothy brew. "Piper's Got a Brand New Bag" is a playful reworking of the James Brown chestnut, featuring a bagpips solo over chicken-scratch guitar riffs. "Marie" is a credible stab at ska, while several instrumental jams fuse reggae, blues, and country stomps that encouraged dancing.
The bagpipe may be the most under-appreciated instrument in rock; its ethereal drone and piercing melodies groove lock into the guitar-bass-drum groove with a mesmerizing effect. At times Mr. Lenahan coaxed the seductive squeal of the saxophone out of the instrument.
Lenahan's off-Island accolades have included six consecutive ASCAP Songwriter Awards, Best International Irish Band in Ireland & the U.K., and two sold-out concerts at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Their latest album, "Brand New Bag!" made the 2002 John Shelton Ivany Top 21 Albums list. Kudos to the Offshore for booking this talented band in the depths on winter. Hopefully this will be the first of many Lenahan performances on the Island.
THE IRISH EDITION, March 2002
by Jamie O'Brien
Brand New Bag!
What a way to open an album: Celto-funk-rap. Lenahan excels with a brilliantly conceived variation on James Brown meets the High Reel - a wonderful marriage of an arrangement. And that's just the start. Stand by for straight up rock, a \touch of ska, and a lot more as Tom Lenahan (various instruments), Clarence Ferrari (guitar, fiddle), Ryan Cavan (drums) and Jim Nordstrom and Brendan O'Grady (bass), along with a handful of guests, once again refuse to be categorized, and drawing on influences and styles from all over, stamp them with their own distinctive print and defy you to just sit there. Impossible.
There's an energy here that is catching. From rap to reggae to down-home country, I'm never sure how much of the music is tongue in cheek and how much is a statement. "Islands in the Storm" and the re-working of "New York Lullaby" set out successfully to make a point. But the honky-tonking "Guinness as Usual" and "Marie,"with its step dance accompaniment, certainly raise a smile. But more than that. The band show an incredible sensitivity to melody and acoustic sounds especially on a track like "Haven Green"as they join forces with harpist Debbie Brewin-Wilson and Justin Murphy (flute & whistle).
Lenahan set out to make another fine album, their fourth to date. And guess what - its worked.
Splendid E-zine reviews: Lenahan: Brand New Bag! April 8, 2002
Although St. Patrick’s Day has passed, it’s never too late to break out the Guinness and the bagpipes and join in the festivities. And what could be a better combination than that? How about adding a little James Brown and Bob Marley into the mix? Take a leap of faith with me and hear me out: these unusual pairings of traditional Irish instruments and reggae/rock/ska elements make Brand New Bag! a stunningly unique listen.
Ever wonder what the Godfather of Soul meant when he said "Papa’s gotta brand new bag"? I'll assume that he probably didn’t mean bagpipes, per se, but it works for Lenahan. The disc's first track, "The Piper’s Got A Brand New Bag Pt. 1", is a bizarre revision of the James Brown classic. Bagpipes blare through the intro, with the rest of the funky rhythm section strutting and swaggering along behind them. While it seems unusual to combine classic funk tunes with bagpipes, Lenahan pull it off, drily delivering the quirky lyrics over a myriad of eclectic instrumentation. "The piper's got a brand new bag / And now he’s got it made / He ain’t getting up at no 7 o’clock to march in no parade." Lenahan might be on to something: Pipers are the pimp daddies of the Emerald Isles.
What would a Celtic-rock album be without a classic drinking song? No worries, lads, there won’t be any tears shed over last call. Take "Guinness As Usual", a timeless break-up tune that uses business jargon to explain why the protagonist had to close-up shop on the relationship. Never mind the heart-ache and pain; Guinness will always be there for you, even after your sweetie ditches you for some other football hooligan.
"Rebel Song" starts off with a catchy tin whistle and quick drumming, but slows into a melancholic battle cry. This track stands out as Brand New Bag!'s most typical Irish tune, with the violin playing in unison with the tin whistle. While Lenahan demonstrate that they can fuse the most unlikely musical genres with ease, "Rebel Song" pays homage to their primary influence, Irish culture.
Instead of relying on the luck of the Irish, Lenahan demonstrate magnificent musical craftsmanship through their skillful playing and genre-fusing creative talents. Brand New Bag! will leave you wondering what the next big musical crossover will be: Bach and Billy Ray Cyrus? Ray Brown and Matmos? Leave that to the experts. -- Melissa Morris
CELTIC BEAT MAGAZINE
Lenahan, Brand New Bag
Clandestine Celtic Records, 2002
Lenahan’s new CD Brand New Bag! is his finest and most diverse yet. Musical influence from a wide variety of genres such as Blues, Celtic, Reggae and more are masterfully arranged in this CD where tunes which range from fierce instrumentals to expressive vocals…and then there’s the piping. Indeed, Tom Lenahan has got to be the most creative piper ever! His piping abilities and repertoire are incredible.
Is there any genre of music that he cannot play on the bagpipes? I don’t think so…and this CD really reinforces that. Check out the exotic pieces such as “Marie” (where Lenahan also does vocals Jamaican style) and a grand tune called “Bernoulli’s Feet” fastpaced and really rockin’ as it progresses. His piping really shines on “Phukktifano” and on the title cut “The Piper’s Got a Brand New Bag” with it’s wild, and interspersed with vocal rap. Country and Western come in on “Guinness as Usual,” a catchy tune to even line dance to and the emotions run high on “Haven Green,” one of the most beautiful pieces on the CD with pipes and harp playing a gorgeous melody that will surely move your heart. And on the other side of town, there’s the tough guy song, “Nothin” where Lenahan’s connection to Blues is evident.
Yes, great artistry and
diversity reign here.
Lenahan’s “Brand New Bag”
This CD is truly an uncanny mix of multicultural influences. From bagpipes, guitars, trumpets and drums, these groups of musicians truly can say that their influences span the globe. It’s an interesting blend of songs picked for the CD. The change in musical genres might be a bit too much for those music listeners who can’t run and chew gum at the same time. However, the scope that is shown by the group is very interesting. From “The Piper’s got a Brand New Bag” and it’s country sound, to the reggae guitars flavoring “Marie”, the state-fair rock feel of “Guinness as Usual”, each spiced with a kick of bagpipes.
The ‘traditional’ Irish songs are truly worth the CD for those who love basic meat and potatoes type music. “No Go” is one of the best songs on the LP. The lyrics stream a fun loving story, placed right on top of a music that will take you right into a pub on the shores of Ireland. Along with delicate musical instrumental pieces like “Haven Green” this is music for any Celtic lover.
Shortie Reviews K-O @ Score!
Lenahan - Brand New Bag
Notable Lyric “I’ll not be singing songs tonight, like The Rising of The Moon. In fact my entire repertoire’s gone badly out of tune. For it’s peace broke out in Belfast, just this very afternoon and who wants a rebel song now boys. Who wants a rebel song now?”
Factoid Lenahan recently
sold out two concerts at The JFK Center for the Performing Arts in DC.
Serve With A pint of Black and Tan and that hot Irish brogue. Comments Everything from bagpipes, folk and reggae to rock, blues, rap and country. Probably one the most diverse CDs I've ever heard...It's pretty darned amazing! Best yet, I received this CD just in time for St. Patrick's Day! - Reviewer Kimmie (03/02)
ALBUM: Brand New Bag
LABEL: Clandestine Celtic Records
RELEASED: March 2002
There's a little switch on the side of the Neumann U87 microphone for a setting called "unidirectional." Once enabled, the mic is capable of capturing sounds from all sides as opposed to just those directly in front of it. There's a grand correlation between this setting and NYC-based artist/group Lenahan.
Tom Lenahan has gained notoriety for his adept piping and vocalizing; his band, for its proficient execution of Celtic jigs, reels and singing songs... The musical genres visited are represented with expertise and talent, as if each one was the artist's lifework.
Brand New Bag," the title track, is 60's funk ala James Brown, fused with traditional-sound bagpiping, the hook, of course being a paean to Papa himself - "Piper's Got A Brand New Bag". ...the song is lyrically clever...an entertaining blend of two opposing musical paths, and that's not an easy task.
"Marie" follows and takes us to tropical islands where pipers lazily sway under palm trees with their Guinness & rum chasers. "Islands in the Storm" brings us back to this comfortable setting, after first swingin' through Texas, ("Guinness as Usual"), and then lilting over the motherlands with two Celtic-flavored numbers, "No Go," and "Haven Green." "Bernoulli's Feet," "Phuktifano" and "One For Davy" keep us across the pond with plenty of Irish/Scottish spirit, obviously where this band started. But no sooner do I assume that than I'm dunked in slow blues with "Nothin," fast blues-rock with "Candle and the Flame," and finally laid to drip-dry with a western Willie-type thing called "New York Lullaby." Whew!
Some listeners will no doubt run drooling for their Ipods and turn this collection into three separate successful shorties. But I have to say let it roll. There's enough 12-song albums out there that put me to sleep after the fourth tune. ...this one keeps you alert, wondering about the next stop. Rock, reel, sway, and roll on, Lenahan.
And, oh, how they danced...
DIRTY LINEN, U.S.A.
Lenahan Hooligans in Suits
[Musikfolk, Ltd. MFCD515 (1998)]
In many ways Lenahan defines the word Celtic rock. For this particular set of tracks, the New York based band reeled out in a captivating performance which was recorded live at Britain's Gosport Easter Festival.
On a few of the sedate selections, Tom Lenahan's piping swirls with channeling passion as if to nudge pagan dieties from their sleep. On the other tracks, the rousing, spirited piping, along with the joyous guitar and rhythm section, ensures that these dieties aren't about to return to their slumber.
It's an intoxicating set of tracks-fiddles dancing with pipes, pipes dancing with fiddles, guitars come thundering in while the pennywhistle spins & pirouettes.
A couple of tracks are straight-ahead Chicago rhythm 'n' green rockers, without the attitude, but mustered with enough grit to bring back memories of wet T-shirt contests and $3 pitchers.
Lenahan achieves a perfect balance - they're not Americans pretending to be Irish, nor are they banal rockers striking ridiculous poses in spandex. Simply put, Lenahan is Celtic rock. (DW)
HOOLIGANS IN SUITS
(Clandestine Records CR 218)
It starts with a very different "Teetotaler," moves through "Maid Behind the Bar," shifting gears upwards the whole time. There is no let up - it even takes to the end of track five to get to the introductions on this live album!
Not clever tricks and the like, but just downright great playing. One moment, its Ireland all the way, the next you could be in a club on the Southside. From reels to twelve-bar blues and back to jigs, Lenahan knows which way is right.
Mike Kilmer, bass, and Rich Graziano, drums, lay down perfect rhythms, moving easily between the blues and the greesm giving space for Clarence Ferrari's fiddle and guitar and for the man himself, Tom Lenahan, to stretch boundaries and inflame audiences with his vocals, bagpiping, guitar and whistle.
Hooligans in Suits is a live recording. The clear production manages to offer the atmosphere of a red-hot, rocking performance and shows just what a superb band Lenahan really is. The subtitle, "Captured LIVE in Gosport" (last Easter at a music festival in the English town) is a misnomer. Lenahan is not for capturing and they take no prisoners either. This performance's power and brilliance will engulf and carry along all who listen!
CELTIC BEAT MAGAZINE,
Lenahan Hooligans in Suits, (Lenahan Live in the UK)
Musikfolk, Ltd. MFCD515, 1998 UK Clandestine Records CR218, 1999 USA
Lenahan's new CD will surely capture the interest of a broad audience whether it be Celtic, Blues, Rock or Cajun. This CD incorporates it all very, very, well.
Listeners will enjoy "The Mind Reels," spirited and fastpaced with mean interplay of fiddle and electric guitar. Equally fiery is the tune "Green Grooves" featuring dynamic tin whistle and fiddle. Lenahan's piping in "Geese in the Bog" clearly shines. Another tune demonstrating Tom's superb piping is "The Exempt Fireman's Dance"-- a fast paced piece that will surely get you moving. Or, for those who prefer waltzes, there's "Look to the Mountain," a bluesy waltz soulfully sung by Tom Lenahan.
"Dudelsack Blues" truly wins the "Coolest Celtic Tune I Ever Heard" award. Piping set to Blues (and Celtic Blues) -- unique and so clever! Also unique are "Islands in the Storm," (Celtic reggae --a must hear tune) and the title cut, "Hooligans in Suits" which is different indeed.
Lenahan has the incredible talent to mesh traditional Celtic music with other genres such as Blues and Rock in such a polished transition within the blink of an eye. If that isn't musical mastery, what is?
Joanne Gagnon-Celtic Beat (Imbolc 99)
THE LEDGE, U.K.
LENAHAN - HOOLIGANS IN SUITS
MUSIKFOLK MFCD 515
Shouting about a band you may not have heard. Recorded live at last year's Gosport Easter Festival where the band had everyone on their feet. Play the blues with a Celtic feeling, and Irish tunes with a bit of blues and you're partly there. A four piece group with bass, drums, fiddle, guitar all led by Tom Lenahan's lead vocals, guitar, tin whistle and Highland bagpipes. The second track, "Lanigan's Ball"/"Hideaway" starts out as a Celtic song, changing to Chicago blues for the instrumental. Clarence Ferrari plays a fast floating fiddle, with Rich Graziano and Mike Kilmer a solid rhythm section behind. "Geese in The Bog" brings out those Highland pipes for the first time, this time Clarence duelling away on electric guitar. This the album continues, many different changes, mixing up the blues and greens on a mixture of traditional and self written songs and tunes. "Drink Takes a Man" being an out and out rocker, "The Exempt Fireman's Dance" a traditional piece, including some familiar tunes, led at times by bagpipes and fiddle. The title track another rocker, about many office workers commuting home from work. They can fill large clubs, etc., in America. It would be great to see them get success here too. Preferably soon."
IRISH AMERICAN POST, USA - JUNE/JULY 1998
Anyone who loves rockin' 'n rollin' Highland bagpipes, backed by strong accompaniement, should dash to the closest CD shop and pick up Contrary Motion: Lenahan Plays Acoustic. Headliner Tom Lenahan, who also plays guitar and bodhran on the album, gives this round of haunting tunes a special touch.
Second guitarist Clarence Ferrari and drummer Richard Graziano complete the Lenahan sound. The best tracks were supported by Cherish The Ladies' Mary Rafferty on button accordion, especially with "The Road to Lisdoonvarna."
The CD is a Clandestine Records release (CR217). War pipes never sounded so smooth! This is definately a "wow" release that boosts Lenahan's reputation as a masterful music-maker. - By Tommy (Digger) Russell
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