The Baltimore Sessions is exactly what it says on the label, an album of 11 tracks fine tuned in 18 months of Sunday sessions in Jacob's Bar in Baltimore West Cork. It's a hard one to categorise as it's neither a Trad or Roots Americana package. Instead it brings me back in fond memories to the thriving folk club days in Dublin in the 60's and 70's when the current heroes of Irish Folk and singer somgwriters honed their performing skills on the willing ears of many a late night audience.
Sean and Brendan have pulled in all their regular session buddies and added the extra talents of one of my favourite visiting bands "The Foghorn Trio" to bring us their own particular read on some fine Americana tunes. I found the lack of sleeve notes a bit of a problem as I had to dig into the memory bank for writer and background details. The album opens with 1952 Vincent Black Lightning culled from either Richard Thompson or Del McCoury and sets the trend for the rest of the set. In a similar vein you'll find Midnight Special, Poncho and Lefty and Evangeline. All folk club favourites over the years. The rest of the CD is made up of some fine instrumentals showcasing all the musicians' obvious trad backgrounds. I would have liked a little bit of frailed or 3 finger banjo on some of the tunes as the flatpicked banjo style held some of the tunes in a very Irish mode but this is the way of the Irish Pub session and in a live performance the enthusiasm on athmosphere takes over. All in all this is a perfect memory of what is obviously a very popular regular session and should be viewd as that. The musical skills are there with some excellent Guitar, Fiddle, Box and Banjo breaks to kep the listener happy and to provide a great rememberence of the sessions or to entice a new potential audience.
It finishes with a rousing version of Steve Earle's Dixieland and left me wishing for a pint in my hand, a seat in the corner of Jacob's Bar and my trusty Martin D-35 nearby ready to jump in whenever a gap in "The Baltimore Sessions" allowed.