FolkWorld Live Review by Eugene Graham; 09/2002

Gráda in Gutenbrunn
July 12 2002

Gráda, the latest sensation to emerge from Dublin`s seething session scene, finished off a tour of Austria and Southern Germany by playing at the 8th International Folkmusic Festival  in Gutenbruun , a village north of the Danube not far from Vienna.

The venue is out in a clearing in otherwise heavily forested terrain and the big stage and service stalls constructed of massive rough hewn wood give the site a wild west feel.  The evening began with a laconic performance of standard blues and self penned songs full of irony and delivered with a heavy Viennese smchee by Chris Peterka.When he finished he ambled down to join us in the crown and we were entertained by a rousing set  from Mario Prinz`s  band  The Roadie Rowdy Piper Band featuring Brian O`Shea on  banjo.

Grada in Gutenbrunn;  photo by GradaAfter a short break and sound check Gráda took to the stage and after a bit of banter fiddler Brendan O`Sullivan slowly led off with one of their typically laid back intros which gradually become more solid and lively till suddenly they`re off! Right from the start it was apparent that they had been playing practically every day since the launch of their acclaimed debut CD “Endeavour” on May 25th. Added to their fluid style was an eagerness to improvise and Anne Marie O`Malleys confident singing made them sound like a band that had been together for decades rather than one year. Anne Marie has chosen her songs with care and each one is a gem in its own right. From the poignant “I once loved a boy” to the dusty memories of the Australian  song  “Diamanta drover”   and on to   Kila`s trancelike “Cathain”  her supremely clear delivery  innovatively accompanied by the rest of the band ensured that at this Gráda concert the audience listened as well as danced. And dance they did.  New Zealander Andy Laking on double bass and guitarist Gerry Paul lay down a rhythm that swings and give Brendan on fiddle and flautist Alan  Doherty a great platform to launch themselves from.. Brendan`s lovely clear tone and Alan virtuousity  combined to get the crowd up on their feet and everyone was delighted when the encore turned into a longer  and longer set of tunes.Another feature of their performance was the quality and quantity of their own music including the title song. “Endeavour” from the new CD, written and sung by Andy Laking.Here is a song which appeals across the board because of its well crafted text and the low insistent timbre of Andy`s  voice.

After the concert those of us who couldn`t get enough ambled down to the Bühnenwirtshaus Juster in the village where a session raged on into the night.

GRÀDA  consists of: Brendan O`Sullivan – fiddle; Alan Doherty – flutes & whistles; Jerry Paul – guitars & bazouki; Andy Laking – double bass & vocals; Anne Marie O`Malley – vocals & bodhran.

Check out for further information or to by the CD


Eugene Graham, author of this article, is promoter of the described band, Gráda.

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