The Seeger Sessions Revival took to the stage for the first time on April 28th this year at The Alley theatre in Strabane. This NW Cultural Gal was away and rather disappointed to have missed it. And then it was Portrush, then Derry and every time this gal was gone! But BINGO, they were coming to God’s country, Donegal on Sunday last. And yup, this gal was home and she wasn’t going to miss this gig.
From hearing about the revival ensemble I was excited to hear them. Any stage that houses 13 musicians and plays the music of Springsteen is bound to be worth hearing. You don’t copy The Boss unless you’re good. And having heard a number of these musicians in their own right, I knew they were destined to be good.
So, on Father’s Day last Sunday I was delighted to be sat in The Abbey Hotel in Donegal Town, to see/hear this group of talented, and very brave musicians. Brave to take on The Seeger Sessions!! The sun shone outside, but the music moved every corner of that function room inside.
The Seeger Sessions Revival–The 13-piece band ‘reviving’ the spirit, energy and musical exuberance that was Bruce Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions album and live shows. This diverse group of talented musicians deliver a high energy 2 hour-long on-stage celebration with hits including ‘Old Dan Tucker’, ‘Jesse James’ and ‘American Land’ to name just a few. Made up of Fiddle, Banjo, Accordion, Steel Guitar, Whistle, a thumping rhythm section, a superb virtuosic 4-piece Brass section and strong group vocal harmonies. It’s a mix of Traditional American Folk songs consisting of a Jambalaya of Bluegrass, Folk, Country, Dixieland, Gospel, Rock ‘N’ Roll and Rhythm & Blues.
It was mid-afternoon when they came on stage. And it set the town of Donegal alight with an extravaganza of musical genius. Straight into ‘John Henry’, it was fast, furious and fun. The Seeger Sessions was reviving not only the music of ‘The Boss’, it was reviving our passion for serious music. Two years of no gigs swept away with this tsunami of music. What followed was an intense two hours of that tsunami smothering us with the music of the past, but very much in the present. ‘Old Dan Tucker’, ‘Jesse James’, ‘When the Saints’ and many more from that infamous Seeger Sessions, just flowed.
But it was not the music alone that entertained. It was the passion that oozed from every single musician on the stage. All sections excelled but oh that Brass section just blew my wee mind. Everyone on the stage was enjoying performing every bit as much as everyone watching was enjoying the performance. It really was a candid, off the cuff, audacious performance.
The only downside to the afternoon was that the Sunday audience was a little reserved. But it did NOT detract from the music and the enjoyment. That goes without saying. An afternoon of sheer bliss in musical terms it was. One can only imagine the antics of a night-time audience to this. It must surely be simply awesome. And I for one look forward to just that when I next get to see/hear this outstanding performance again.
The Seeger Sessions Revival is the brainchild of Christopher Speer. A musician in his own right and right there at the heart of the band, he must be commended for this genius ensemble to revive this infamous collection of music.
Check out theseegersessionsrevival for future events and gigs and if you get the opportunity to go hear this music, just do it. You really won’t regret it.
The Seeger Sessions Revival group are: Darrell Nelson – Drums, Donal McGuinness – Trombone Robert Goodman – Trumpet, Matt Jennings – Sax, Amanda Koser – Tuba and flute, John Byrne – Fiddle, Anne Marie Devine – Accordion and whistle, Christopher Speer – banjo and ac. Guitar, Nao Cannon – vocals and guitar, Michael Gillespie – bass, Zara Montgomery – piano and vocals, Allan Cooke – Steel Guitar, Dermot McGee – Lead Vocals and guitar.