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January 2001 Pick of the Month

Out of the Fertile Crescent
Artist: Ballydowse
Label: Grrr Records - 2000
Length: 12 songs / 59:36

Weapon of Mass Destruction


Indubitably Ballydowse's eclectic brand of music is an acquired taste, but not nearly so difficult to acquire as it might at first seem. However, a behind-the-scenes glimpse of their pitch session to a major corporate music executive illuminates the difficulty of their unique situation. The top-secret transcript of that first pitch session follows:

Ballydowse: Hi. Thanks so much for your willingness to meet with us.

Executive: You're most welcome. Who are you again?

Ballydowse: Ballydowse.

Executive: Bless you.

Ballydowse: I wasn't sneezing.

Executive: Whatever.  Look, my time is short. Let's cut to the chase. What's your band all about?

Ballydowse: Okay, well, I use to front this Christian punk band called Crashdog, and....

Executive: Christian punk?  Isn't that an oxymoron?

Ballydowse: No more so than a compassionate major music corporation.

Executive: Was that a jibe?

Ballydowse: No, just a personal opinion. Maybe a foreshadowing.  Take your pick. Anyway, I use to sing lead for Crashdog, and I was living in a close knit community with some good mandolin-playing friends of mine who have this really cool Celtic folk band. And we got together one night over coffee, because we don't drink alcohol, and thought it would be really cool if we joined forces and formed a new band. So we're sort of a Celtic punk folk band.

Executive: That's interesting. Celtic punk. I kinda like the sound of that. Sort of like Clannad meets The Clash. You know the Celtic and punk scenes have been kinda big the last few years. I haven't heard of anyone really bridging the gap between them. I'm not sure it's a good idea, frankly. But it's really interesting. Yeah. Okay, I'm with you.

Ballydowse: Oh, it gets better. We also knew this highland pipe player, so I suppose you could say we have both an Irish and Scottish vibe undergirding our music.

Executive: That's great. Bag pipes and big guitars. Sort of like an aggressive Big Country for the 21st Century. I can dig this.

Ballydowse: Well, we also signed up some friends who play traditional aboriginal instruments like the didgeridoo and the bodhran.

Executive: Is that why that guy has a bone through his nose? Can I touch it?

Ballydowse: I don't recommend it.

Executive: Okay.

Ballydowse: So we all got together to gig, and found out that more than a few of us really enjoyed the writings of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and listening to Klezmer and Oi music like Di Naye Kapelye.  We had a violin player, so jumping into Oi was a joyful little leap for us. Not to mention our pal Brian who really rocks with his Tibetan throat singing.

Executive: Whoa. Slow down. You've lost me with the whole Yiddish thing.

Ballydowse: To be honest, you kinda just have to hear it. I think it's a fair estimation to say we have a pretty unique sound. It's both melodic and anthemic. We generally mix things up by going from quiet and thoughtful to really loud, fast and enthusiastic, but always with a nice melody you can yell along to. The best part, of course, is that we take our energetic sound and use it to rail against the various spiritual, political and social injustices in the world today. For example, we are very passionate about the
plight of the Iraqi's suffering under unfair economic sanctions, as well as support of the Kosovo and Sierra Leone relief efforts, to name a few.

Executive: (Blank stare...jaw dropped open.)

Ballydowse: Excuse me, sir? Are you okay? You look a little pale.

Executive: You people are positively nuts! You're Bally hooey...whatever you call it...will never float! You'll never sell a single record! Not one, you hear me! You are so wasting my time. Get out of my office! And don't call us again.

Ballydowse: Alright, well, thanks for your time.

Gratefully, Ballydowse survived their pitch session, and went on to sell plenty of records through Grrr. The new album, Out of the Fertile Crescent builds on everything that worked on their first album, The Land, The Bread & The People and either continues in their own unique potpourri of established musical traditions or improves upon them. Don't let those cocky corporate music execs keep you from quality music. Let's prove them dead wrong, join the revolution, and turn the world upside down. A double dose of Ballydowse is a great place to start to get your motor running, heart pounding, brain thinking, and spirit soaring.

Steven Stuart Baldwin   12/20/2000



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