Mickey Finns’ CD hits all the right notes

I was loving life one morning last week as I cruised down I-87 in the convertible I borrowed from my mom. The sun was shining and I had a new disc in my CD player. It was “Prayers and Idle Chatter,” the latest release from New York City Celtic Rock Band, the Mickey Finns. I’ve seen the band play live at Paddy Reilly’s a couple of times, but this was my first time listening to them recorded. I have to say, the morning commute ain’t bad with their music coming from your speakers.

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The Mickey Finns are Ray Kelly, Brian Tracey, Matt Mancuso and Eric Kaye. These guys are no strangers to the New York City Irish music scene. Kelly, the group’s lead singer and guitarist from County Clare, was one of the founding members of the Prodigals. Also a former member of the Prodigals, drummer Brian Tracey hails from New York City and contributes not only to the rhythm of “Prayers and Idle Chatter,” but he also wrote all but one of the songs for the album. New York fiddler and former Lord of The Dance performer, Matt Mancuso has played with Cathie Ryan, Raglan Road and the McCabes. A multi-instrumentalist and producer, Eric Kaye is the latest addition to the Mickey Finns and lends his production skills and musical talents on bass, mandolin, and guitar to the album. Add in a few special guests like the Screaming Orphans, Padraig Allen of the Whole Shabang and McLean Avenue Band, Gregory Greene from the Prodigals and you’ve got a sweet taste of the contemporary New York Irish music scene on “Prayers and Idle Chatter.”

With their rock/country/ Celtic sound, the Mickey Finns feature eight original songs and three grooving sets of tunes on their latest release. It’s the winning combination of great instrumentation, gritty and powerful vocals and beguiling new songs that make the album an obvious addition to my list of the best releases this year. “Prayers and Idle Chatter” has all the elements of a good Irish album – from the intoxicating rhythm of the lively instrumentals, to the band’s ability to weave in and out of party tunes and songs that uncover the sad and serious side of things like “Tanks and Barbed Wire,” their song about the struggles in Northern Ireland and “The Ballad of Duffy’s Cut” which tells the story of the 57 Irish immigrants who died in 1832 and were found buried in a mass grave near a stretch of railroad tracks 30 miles west of Philadelphia. The ballad, along with “Sweet Clare Girl,” are my favorites on the CD, because what would a Celtic album be without a song about a sweet Irish girl? You can pick up your copy of “Prayers and Idle Chatter” at CDBaby.com and catch The Mickey Finns live at Paddy Reilly’s Music Bar in NYC on this Saturday night, July 28.

If you like your Irish music outdoors, you're in luck this week. On 7/26 Runa performs at Irish/Celtic night at the Greenburgh Nature Center, and on 7/29 Joe Hurley will rock Lincoln Center at for “OurLand: Celebrating Irish Culture in America!” If you prefer to stay inside, head over to the Beacon Theatre on Manhattan's Upper West Side for an evening with Celtic Thunder on 7/29. That's the sound around this week!