If the supergroup concept seems a tad stale, it's probably because few bands have lived up to that billing. And if a "supergroup" inflatedly titled the Legends of Irish Music fails to inspire instant confidence, well, we understand. But if the supergroup changes its name to Patrick Street and sticks together for a decade, the hype dissolves in the face of a band truly worthy of superlatives.
Individual prowess has never been an issue with Patrick Street. Start with Kevin Burke, master of the ornate Sligo style of Irish fiddling. When Burke joined the Bothy Band in 1976, he helped his mates push Irish music into an extreme zone that few have reached since. A remarkably fluid player who adds nary a superfluous note to the thousands at his fingertips, Burke dazzles almost by definition. Now relocated to Portland and borrowing freely from his contacts there, he's constantly building on the Sligo base to create a unique composite with the strength of titanium but elastic flexibility.
Andy Irvine, on the other hand, is more cortex than synapse. The idea man behind the all-time top Irish band Planxty, Irvine's strengths lie in finding, adapting, interpreting, arranging and creating. Among his many other innovations, Irvine has been superimposing Balkan tunes and structures on traditional Irish forms for years and is almost single-handedly responsible for what has become a flowering Balkan-Irish musical connection. He's a singer of renown, and the fact that he can also play the caboodle out of the bazouki is simply gravy.
Along with the Bothy Band and Planxty, DeDanann ranks among the highest in the "best-of" Irish category, so it's fitting that accordion shaman Jackie Daly represents that band in Patrick Street. A superior technician whose command of the two-row diatonic rivals Burke's fiddle expertise, Daly keeps the proceedings anchored in Ireland when the others stretch out globally. Patrick Street's newest addition, guitarist Ged Foley of the House Band, fills out the mix with syncopated rhythms and resonant bottom end.
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Patrick Street has never been a full-time thing, which is one reason why the group's early releases sound somewhat disjointed. But if its fifth and latest, Corner Boys, is any indication, the whole finally exceeds the sum of its parts. The vibe is almost supernatural. -- Bob Burtman
Patrick Street performs at 6 and 8:30 p.m. Sunday, May 12, at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk. Tickets are $15. For info, call 528-5999.
Kimmie Rhodes -- Not only does Austin singer/songwriter Kimmie Rhodes have a lot of famous admirers, she's big in Europe. I know, that tired line has been used more than once as the final defense of an artist who can't quite cut it at home. But in Rhodes' case, the Texas audience has actually been missing something. Happily, though, her situation as an unearthed treasure with the sad-sweet voice of a saddle-sore angel isn't likely to last long, especially if she keeps singing tunes as vividly detailed and bracingly compassionate as those on her first domestic CD, West Texas Heaven. Born in Lubbock, Rhodes spent her childhood singing gospel songs for her parents' friends and grew up listening to everyone from Buddy Holly to Bob Dylan to Aretha Franklin. As it should be, Rhodes does not sound like any of them; she simply sounds like herself. Friday, Rhodes will be celebrating the release of West Texas Heaven with a show at the Mucky Duck, and while Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Joe Ely and Townes Van Zandt lent their help and notoriety to the CD, it was hardly needed. Rhodes already possesses all the emotional and spiritual lift required to move her intimate rock/folk/C&W blend to a level that defies trends and aims straight at the heart. At McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, Friday, May 10, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $6. 528-5999. (Hobart Rowland)
Tablet -- It takes some musicians decades to burn themselves out living the rock and roll lifestyle, but Tablet's Steve Holt was able to do it in only a few short years. The 25-year-old lead vocalist for the Dallas quartet started playing guitar and writing songs at 22, and, a year away from finishing chiropractic school, he quit to become a rock star. Trouble is, Holt had a thing for hard drugs, which may have fueled his musical mission, but also nearly derailed it. Holt's been clean for a year now, and his turnaround came just in time for Tablet to regain its focus, leap to the forefront of the Dallas scene and sign with a major label. Armed with a new, and clear-headed, sense of bravado, Tablet's debut CD, Pinned, carries the gritty-clean sound of '90s product while also hinting at Holt's main influences, David Bowie and the Velvet Underground. On Pinned, Tablet moves impressively from hummable, simplistic power pop to more abstract '60s acid rock jamming. The CD contains plenty of autobiographical references, in which Holt addresses his troubles as an addict. Given music this lucid and powerful, it's clear Holt learned from those memories. At the Urban Art Bar, 112 Milam, Sunday, May 11. Rosebud and the Sonnier Brothers Band open. Tickets are $3, 21 and older; $6, 18 to 20. Doors open at 7 p.m. 225-0500. (Greg Barr)