Looking to keep that St. Patrick's Day feeling going all weekend long? Try picking up some modern rock with celtic overtones from these groups:

 

Black 47 Black 47
New York Town
(Gadfly)
½


 

Back in 1992, New York's Black 47 scored a minor left-field hit with "Funky Ceili (Bridie's Song)" with their Ric Ocasek-produced debut on EMI. The band sounded like a manic updated version of Dexy's Midnight Runners (and includes a former member).

The novelty of Irish rock didn't last long, though, and Black 47 soon slipped back to their club roots, where they were known as "the house band of New York City."

A decade later, the band is still making records, albeit on minor record labels. Their latest CD listens as a series of character-portrait postcards from the band's home city. It also pairs energetic frontman Larry Kirwan with a host of duet partners, from avant folkster Suzzy Roche to gravelly voiced David Johansen (who belts a Satchmo-flavored vocal on the "In The Mood" horn rhythms of "Staten Island Baby."

And Rosanne Cash and Eileen Ivers contribute to the disc's most melancholic and most traditional-sounding Irish ballad, "Fiona's Song," which tells the tale of a lost love.

Punchy horns, Kirwan's signature vocal style, traditional Irish folksong roots and unabashed energy make New York Town the band's first CD in five years a cross-cultural treat.

For more information, check www.gadflyrecords.com.

 

The Waterboys
Universal Hall
(Minty Fresh)


 

The Waterboys are another Celtic rock band from the early '90s who flirted with fame before slipping into obscurity. Frontman Mike Scott has also released solo work but now has reassumed the mantle of head Waterboy.

Universal Hall is a quiet, folky album with occasional Celtic overtones probably the most introspective batch of songs Scott has released. Filled with spiritual hymns "The Christ In You," "This Light is for the World" and "Peace of Iona," fans of the band's earlier incarnation will likely be disappointed that the band's rock flame has gone out. But for a background batch of slower, spiritual songs, Universal Hall offers a relaxed listen.

For more information, see www.thewaterboys.com.

 

Taxi ChainTaxi Chain
Smarten Up!
(Northern Blues)
½


 

Canada's Northern Blues label has been unearthing lots of interesting bands lately, and their latest offering, Taxi Chain, mixes a roadhouse blues feel with some instrumentals that are unabashedly Irish.

Opening with the blues organ and horn-punctuated ode to "Memphis," the disc then moves into two St. Patty's Day-read instrumentals. The first is a guitar pickin', traditional Irish whistle-driven reel in "Smarten Up!" followed by a funky fusion of Celtic bagpipes and blues in "James Brown Ate My Bagpipe."

Then it's back to sax-punctuated bar band fare with a classic 50's-sounding slow rock 'n' roll tune in "Cut Me A Key," about a troubled relationship ("I broke free so many times I'm gonna cut me a key").

Smarten Up! offers a well-polished bar band who craft a nice mix of blues, old style R&B and that odd but effective extra flavor of Irish folk.

For more information, check www.northernblues.com.