Wake the Dead: Blue Light Cheap Hotel

Wake the Dead
Celtic Grateful Dead Jam Band

Wake the Dead Personnel

Maureen Brennan ~ Irish harp
Cindy Browne ~ double bass
Danny Carnahan ~ vocals, octave mandolin, guitar, fiddle
Kevin Carr ~ fiddle, uilleann pipes, Galician pipes, tin whistle
Sylvia Herold ~ vocals, guitar
Paul Kotapish ~ vocals, mandolin, guitar
Brian Rice ~ percussion
Bobbi Nikles ~ fiddle
Joe Craven ~ percussion

CD Review

To compartmentalize Wake the Dead’s music is a sheer impossibility; to simply call it the Grateful Dead meets Planxty or Patrick Street or Bothy Band does this intriguing musical aggregation a deep injustice. Their latest effort is musical “eclectricity” gone joyously wild, and the more I hear their sound, the more I find it literally grabs hold of me. The band includes Sylvia Herold, Cindy Browne, Kevin Carr, Danny Carnahan, Maureen Brennan, Brian Rice and Paul Kotapish on an assortment of instruments such as Celtic harp, jaw-harp, fiddle, guitar, hand percussion, mandolin, Uillean pipes, double bass, octave mandolin, and delightful vocals, with some of the tightest harmonies you’ll find anywhere.

For me, highlights include two beautiful Herold renderings of “Lady with a Fan” and Bob Dylan’s “Farewell Angelina,” the kickoff “Sugar Magnolia,” Danny Carnahan’s “Down the Days,” and the old-timey based medley “Boll Weevil—Highlander’s Farewell—Mr. Charlie.” Several instrumental pieces deserve special mention, including the Penguin Café Orchestra’s “Music for a Found Harmonium,” the waltz-like “Soir et Matin,” and the sprightly “Martin Wynne’s Reel.” From the rock-and-roll sounding “Don’t Let Go” to the traditional “March of the King of Laois,” this music covers a lot of territory.

But what emerges in the final analysis is an effort that deserves great praise and cheer. Whether it is “Tennessee Jed,” “Stella Blue” or “He’s Gone,” the musical result is the happy same: a fine recording by a band that defies artificial definition or arbitrary description. This CD may not come off my player for quite a long time to come. Very highly recommended: no brag, just fact.

~ Robert Rodriquez, The Folknik