River Drivers
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River Drivers

Bristol, Pennsylvania, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF | AFM

Bristol, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Americana Folk

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"Album Review of Big Oak Road"

Written by Robert Silverstein
December 25, 2019 - 5:11pm EST
5 Stars
I had to do a double take after hearing this CD as I thought the band called River Drivers was actually an Irish folk band from Derry. That’s not far off as the Philadelphia-based quartet is described as an Irish / Americana band that has many connections and a heritage as it relates to Ireland and of course the music from that country. Clearly influenced by music greats including Billy Bragg, Christy Moore as well as Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan, the music on the ten-track 32 minute River Drivers 2019 album Big Oak Road is equally captivating and engaging. The band spotlights the music of Mindy Murray (vocals, guitars, lap steel, bass, banjo) and Kevin McCloskey (vocals, mandolin, guitars, banjo), as well as multi-instrumentalists Meagan Ratini (fiddle, whistles, Irish flute) and Marian Moran (whistles, concertina, melodica, bodhran). The River Drivers features the strong vocals and harmonies of Mindy and Kevin. To these ears Kevin’s robust voice brings to mind the late great Phil Ochs while the subject matter is also quite socially relevant—their lyrics influenced by heartfelt stories portraying the plight of working men and women and their search for social justice. Kevin was also greatly influenced by U.S. and Irish history as well as his performing Irish standards with his father, Irish tenor Tommy McCloskey. Speaking about the message and content of the socially-charged lyrics, Mindy Murray explains, “We really try to perform and record songs that have a purpose other than purely entertainment value. Many of our songs are about hardworking folks and social issues. I wrote two of the songs using verbal history from my Dad about him growing up on Big Oak Road in Bucks County Pennsylvania (“Big Oak Road”) and about his parents losing their farm for back taxes on the eve of the great depression (“Going Once”). “Children's March” was written about Mother Jones as she marched through our hometown to fight against child labor and for the unions. “Si Se Puede” is about the formation of the United Farm Worker's Union and the grape boycott of the late 1960s. “Cumann na mBan” is about the role of the women who fought for Ireland's independence but then were lost to history until quite recently. The other songs, though not originals, were chosen because they reflected many of these same themes… and they are great songs!” The liner notes offers a glimpse into the band’s mindset as they blaze through this strongly socially relevant album. Riveting lyrics, soaring melodies and penetrating vocals separates River Drivers from the wealth of modern day Irish folk music. - Roots Music Report- December 25, 2019


"Album Review The River Drivers. "Big Oak Road"

THE RIVER DRIVERS
Big Oak Road
Own Label, 10 Tracks, 32 Minutes
www.theriverdrivers.com
Big Oak Road is the second collection of music from The River Drivers. Featuring 10 tracks, 5 of those composed by band member Mindy Murray (one alongside Kevin McCloskey), each one tells the story of someone who suffered or just tried to get by. Each one a tale in itself.
The album opens with Children’s March (Mother Jones). Penned by Mindy and Kevin, telling the story of the Irish woman, Mary Harris Jones 1837–1930 who fought for women and children’s rights in the USA. This particular event is a protest for a change in Child Labour Laws in Mindy’s home town early last century. Sung by Kevin McCloskey, and once heard, you never forget it. Following on is Going Once, again penned by Mindi and telling the story of her father’s farm being sold. Mindi’s voice singing here allows us to resonate very clearly of a harrowing time in the family’s life. Sí, Se Puede, again by Mindy, echoes the worker’s slogan from Dolores Huerta, organising boycotts of grapes and lettuce. At all times poignant to history, to people and to a cause. Isn’t it Grand Boys, that old Clancy classic, allows us to look at death in a comical and fun way. Kevin’s voice on this track ensures it’s one you’ll never forget and always sing with a smile on your face.
Big Oak Road, the title track is the name of the road Mindy’s father’s farm was on. Personal and telling a very private story once more. Cumann na mBán, penned once again by Mindy tells the story of women who inspire and continue to inspire us.The album goes on to completion with three tracks, that the band very much make their own; Moonshiner, Union Man and Farewell Johnny Miner.
To say this is a collection of new music mixed with old would be accurate. But there’s more than that. This is a collection you won’t forget for a long time to come, once listened to. One of the finest collections of music I’ve heard in years.
Grainne McCool - Irish Music Magazine. Accessed January 8, 2020


"Big Oak Road – River Drivers (reviewed by Dave Franklin)"

In a world where music seems to be ever more reliant on the tricks and gimmickry afforded by technology – effects pedals, samples, the dreaded auto-tune and other sonic manipulations – it is great to stumble across bands like River Drivers. Not that they make music with any sort of Luddite deliberations, it’s just that they make music of the sort which would sound pretty much the same unplugged in the corner of a pub or around a campfire. Not only that, they thread their songs with the sort of anthemic qualities that makes the listener feel the urge to charge the barricades, or failing that the bar. Rabble rousing music but done so with finesse and grace, the stuff of revolution perhaps but a quiet, polite revolution at that.

Their wonderful narratives, stories of workers rights and struggling farmers, the small folk just trying to get by in the face of adversity, not to mention the mill bosses and the landowners, link them to a host of bands throughout the ages. From the balladeers of old through to the likes of The Men They Couldn’t Hang and The Levellers, The Pogues and Billy Bragg and onwards to more recent musical agitators such as Ferocious Dog. Sorry if all my reference points are all from my own side of the water but if you told me that the band were from a small, ex-mining town in Derbyshire I wouldn’t have questioned it for a second!


The album kicks off with the two songs which have already been sent out into the world to test the water, Children’s March the perfect opening salvo jumping straight in to the fray with one fist in the air the other swinging a punch, at least musically speaking, and Going Once a more melodic yet no less poignant tale of being beaten by the system. Cumann na mBan revels in the tribal beats and brooding tones of the Celtic fringes from where it draws inspiration and more specifically the role women in the fight for Irish Independence and Moonshiner blends Old World folk charm with New World mountain music into a skittering jig dedicated to the demon drink.

River Drivers make music that has thread through my life for years starting, with the Cropdusters take on punky bluegrass in my formative musical years, right up to The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show‘s recent cross-Atlantic blends but unless you have ever hung out in small venues in the rural south of the UK (and if not, you should) such names drop with barely a sound. But it’s nice to know that people are making such great music on both sides of the Atlantic. - Dancing About Architecture


"A Torresdale farm that was auctioned off for back taxes inspired a song by this Celtic folk-rock quartet"

A Torresdale farm that was auctioned off for back taxes inspired a song by this Celtic folk-rock quartet
Though its members are not all blood relations, it’s no exaggeration to call the River Drivers a “family band.” For the local
Celtic folk-rock quartet, family extends beyond actual kin — though the trans-generational band does include the motherdaughter
pair of Mindy Murray and Meagan Ratini. The other two musicians are Marian Moran, a friend and collaborator of
Murray’s since high school, along with Ratini’s former classmate Kevin McCloskey.
The group performs Friday as part of the Philadelphia Ceili Group’s 45th annual Irish Traditional Music and Dance Festival
at the Commodore Barry Club in Mount Airy.
More family ties: McCloskey, who shares songwriting and vocal duties with Murray, is a second-generation performer, the son of Irish tenor Tommy McCloskey. Then there are the songs themselves, which often find inspiration in the travails of Murray’s family.

“Writing songs about your own family history brings them to a more personal level,” Murray said in a phone interview from her home in Bristol. “It just adds another dimension when you can associate with what happened and bring it to life now.”
Two of the songs on the River Drivers’ forthcoming second album, Big Oak Road, are drawn from Murray’s family lore. The title song, named for the Bucks County thoroughfare where Murray’s father grew up, recounts the hardscrabble labor and simple pleasures of farm life, while “Going Once” recounts her grandmother’s experience trying to find a new home for her nine children after the family’s Torresdale farm was auctioned off for back taxes.

While it broadens the perspective to a more familiar historical figure, the gut-punch opener “Children’s March” also hits close to home for area listeners. With its first line, “From Kensington to New York City,” the urgent song traces the march led by Mother Jones from Philadelphia to President Theodore Roosevelt’s home to protest the exploitation of child labor in Pennsylvania mines.
“When these big moments in history can be linked to your hometown, it really hits home a bit more and makes it more personal for everyone,” McCloskey said from South Philadelphia. “Obviously Philadelphia is filled with history, and so is Bristol, where we’re from, but I we always have to fight a lot harder to preserve labor and working class history.”

Punk influences, too
The River Drivers’ sound brings together its members’ experiences and influences in unusual ways. Though rooted in traditional Irish music via his father’s work, McCloskey also spent years playing punk music with the hardcore band Wrong Answer, and carries that aggressive vitality into the new band.

“In the hardcore punk world, people hold bands to a certain standard of authenticity,” McCloskey said. “You need those principles in the folk world as well, especially when it comes to songs of struggle and resistance. We sing a lot of songs about subjects that we’ve never lived or never had to live, but we believe in telling these stories and want to do it with some reverence.”
While Murray has played Irish folk music since her teenage years, she also experienced a firsthand encounter with its musical offspring in Appalachia while working with miners in the region during medical school in West Virginia. “I internalized a lot of those issues and put it into the music, and picked up a lot of music down there as well,” Murray recalled. “We may not have lived these things day to day, but we do know a lot about the things that we’re singing about, we feel them, and that translates into the passion that we’re able to bring into these songs.”

Along with their own music, the band draws on folk tunes from a variety of sources on Big Oak Road. Irish songwriter Dominic Behan’s “Crooked Jack” depicts the backbreaking conditions under which workers toiled at a Scottish hydroelectric plant, while “Moonshiner” relates the evils of whiskey. The Clancy Brothers’ “Isn’t It Grand Boys” provides a bit of comic relief, facing mortality with dark Irish humor.
Whether dealing with problems from the distant or recent past, the band sees their material as speaking to the present political moment. Murray says the River Drivers’ cross-generational collaboration adds perspective.

“I feel like our generation dropped the ball somewhere along the line,” Murray said. “Where did we lose this connection with helping people, with trying to help what’s wrong with society? Being in a band with a younger generation has been like working and playing with your conscience.” - Philadelphia Inquirer 9-10-2019


"New Release: River Drivers"

Below is a list of recommended books, songs and documentaries about coal mining and/or the labor movement that are recommended by the United Mine Workers of America. If you would like your work reviewed by the United Mine Workers of America, email journal@umwa.org.

New Release
The River Drivers have released a new record in 2019. Some of the UMWA’s favorite songs include:

CHILDREN’S MARCH (MOTHER JONES)
UNION MAN
FAREWELL JOHNNY MINER - United Mine Workers Union


"River Drivers Fire Up Social-Political Ammunition on New ‘Big Oak Road’ LP"

Lately Philadelphia has been known to be a city with plenty of music output that is finally gaining recognition on a lighter scale, whether it be nationally or internationally. A good case in point is the indie folk collective known as River Drivers. Not long ago, they presented two singles of their new album and today we have the pleasure of premiering their entire new album, called ‘Big Oak Road’. It releases on Friday but with got the full stream for you today. This was worth the wait as we will soon find out.
Here we have a bit of political commentary much of it based on historical events, bringing to mind the likes of Billy Bragg and The Pogues. On the other hand, we have upbeat fun make-you-want-to-dance rhythms with a Celtic flair, with elements reminiscent of the Vancouver-based band Spirit of The West and Scotland’s primary indie folk daughter Amy MacDonald.

River Drivers is a four-piece whose unique passion-infused style of music draws from Celtic, Americana and Appalachian influences and features powerful and distinctive vocals. Their repertoire strikes a fine balance of original songs and more obscure folk songs, resurrected from deep folk vaults.

Anchored by Kevin McCloskey (vocals, guitar, mandolin, banjo, bass) and Mindy Murray (vocals, guitar, banjo, bass) with accompaniment by Marian Moran (tin whistle, low whistle, concertina, melodica) and Meagan Ratini (fiddle, Irish flute, tin whistle), their high energy music explores pervasive themes of hard-working men and women and social justice.

They earlier offered a taster in the high-energy double A-side single ‘Children’s March (Mother Jones) / Going Once’, two tales rooted in U.S. Irish history – stories of what people suffered through and what they did to overcome.

“These songs are about two mothers from two different worlds, who each left Philadelphia with a group of children. In ‘Children’s March’, we see Mother Jones lead a bunch of young maimed and malnourished children from Kensington to New York to confront the wealthy businessmen who owned the factories where they toiled,” says Mindy Murray.

photo by Ron Donocoff
“In ‘Going Once’, Martha has to find a new home for her nine kids after their Torresdale farm is sold at auction for back taxes. This brave woman Martha was my grandmother”.

Influenced by the likes of Billy Bragg, Christy Moore, Ewan MacColl, Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Paul McKenna Band and Altan, River Drivers’ distinct flavour of music is a sum of its parts.

Kevin McCloskey’s passion for songs portraying the plight of working men and women was kindled by a childhood of performing Irish standards with his father, Irish tenor Tommy McCloskey.

Mindy Murray’s works are infused with the music of the mountains and the miners, having witnessed firsthand the struggles of day-to-day life in Appalachia during medical school. Years later, she and daughter Meagan Ratini formed the duo Port Murray. Meagan herself fell into Irish music over many years of mastering instrument after instrument. She became further immersed while helping to run the New Jersey Folk Festival.

Marian’s roots lie in Ardara, County Donegal, an epicenter of Irish traditional music. Whenever she can break away, she steals back to the rugged coastline village to recharge at its nightly sessions and music festivals, eventually bringing River Drivers over to perform.

As of October 18, the album ‘Big Oak Road’ will be available across digital stores and streaming platforms such as Spotify. It can also be ordered via Bandcamp. That same day, River Drivers commence a series of album release celebrations in Trenton and Waretown, NJ, as well as Philadelphia.

CD RELEASE TOUR
Oct. 18 Trenton, NJ (CD release concert) – Tir na nOg (8 pm)
Nov. 02 Waretown, NJ – Albert Music Hall (10 pm)
Nov. 23 Philadelphia, PA – Philadelphia FolkSong Society’s PFS Venue (8 pm)

CREDITS
Kevin McCloskey (vocals, guitar, mandolin, banjo, bass)
Mindy Murray (vocals, guitar, banjo, bass, frame drum)
Marian Moran (tin whistle, low whistle, concertina, melodica, background vocals)
Meagan Ratini (fiddle, tin whistle, frame drum)
Produced by Richard Hartline and Tom Murray of Tulipomania
Recorded by River Drivers and Richard Hartline
Engineered and mastered by Richard Hartline
‘Children’s March (Mother Jones)’ written by Mindy Murray and Kevin McCloskey
‘Going Once’ written by Mindy Murray
Crooked Jack by Dominic Behan
Isn’t It Grand Boys (Look at the Coffin) by Liam Clancy, Pat Clancy, Tom Clancy and Tommy Makem)
Going Once, Si Se Puede, Cumann na mBan, Big Oak Road by Mindy Murray
Moonshiner – traditional
Union Man by Tim Stafford
Farewell Johnny Miner by Ed Pickford

Keep up with River Drivers
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp | Soundcloud | YouTube | Instagram | iTunes | Spotify | Press contact - The Record Stache


"Celtic Minstrels River Drivers Present 'Isn't It Grand Boys (Look at the Coffin)'"

Philadelphia-based Celtic-tinged folk rock collective River Drivers present their new single 'Isn't It Grand Boys (Look at the Coffin)'. This traditional ballad foreshadows their new album 'Big Oak Road', to be released on October 18.

River Drivers is a four-piece whose unique passion-infused style of music draws from Celtic, Americana and Appalachian influences and features powerful and distinctive vocals. Their repertoire strikes a fine balance of original songs and more obscure folk songs, resurrected from deep folk vaults.
Anchored by Kevin McCloskey (vocals, guitar, mandolin, banjo, bass) and Mindy Murray (vocals, guitar, banjo, bass) with accompaniment by Marian Moran (tin whistle, low whistle, concertina, melodica) and Meagan Ratini (fiddle, Irish flute, tin whistle), their high energy music explores pervasive themes of hard-working men and women and social justice.
They earlier offered a taster in the high-energy double A-side single 'Children's March (Mother Jones) / Going Once', two tales rooted in U.S. Irish history - stories of what people suffered through and what they did to overcome.

"These songs are about two mothers from two different worlds, who each left Philadelphia with a group of children. In 'Children's March', we see Mother Jones lead a bunch of young maimed and malnourished children from Kensington to New York to confront the wealthy businessmen who owned the factories where they toiled," says Mindy Murray.
"In 'Going Once', Martha has to find a new home for her nine kids after their Torresdale farm is sold at auction for back taxes. This brave woman Martha was my grandmother".
Influenced by the likes of Billy Bragg, Christy Moore, Ewan MacColl, Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Paul McKenna Band and Altan, River Drivers' distinct flavour of music is a sum of its parts.
Kevin McCloskey's passion for songs portraying the plight of working men and women was kindled by a childhood of performing Irish standards with his father, Irish tenor Tommy McCloskey. The intensity he brings to his music was shaped by years with the hardcore punk band Wrong Answer.

Mindy Murray's works are infused with the music of the mountains and the miners, having witnessed firsthand the struggles of day-to-day life in Appalachia during medical school. Years later, she and daughter Meagan Ratini formed the duo Port Murray. Meagan herself fell into Irish music over many years of mastering instrument after instrument. She became further immersed while helping to run the New Jersey Folk Festival.
Marian's roots lie in Ardara, County Donegal, an epicenter of Irish traditional music. Whenever she can break away, she steals back to the rugged coastline village to recharge at its nightly sessions and music festivals, eventually bringing River Drivers over to perform.
As of October 18, the album 'Big Oak Road' will be available across digital stores and streaming platforms such as Spotify. It can also be ordered via Bandcamp.
Listen to "Isn't It Grand Boys (Look At The Coffin)" below.

ALBUM TRACK LIST

01 Children's March (Mother Jones)
02 Going Once
03 Crooked Jack
04 Sí, Se Puede
05 Isn't It Grand Boys (Look at the Coffin)
06 Big Oak Road
07 Cumann na mBan
08 Moonshiner
09 Union Man
10 Farewell Johnny Miner - Broadway World


"Song Premiere: "Children’s March (Mother Jones)" / "Going Once" by River Drivers"

Today The Big Takeover has the pleasure of entering unfamiliar, yet welcomed territory by featuring the band River Drivers. Offering a
mélange of indie folk, ethnic rock, and Celtomania, we find ourselves in the midst of generational influences and modern-day retrospective
explorations of the difficulties of yesteryear’s working men, women, and yes, even children.
Ahead of their forthcoming album Big Oak Road (out in October), we present you with their double A-side single ‘Children’s March (Mother
Jones)’ / ‘Going Once’. While they are clearly not short on passion, they’ve obviously also spent lots of time with pen and paper for these
songs. Injecting a healthy does of Celtic influences, they prove themselves to be rather clever, shining in their own self-created spotlight.
Time for us to pay attention. Literate and melodic, these songs are worth a listen for those who appreciate a healthy dose of substance,
but also want a mix of traditional roots and an invigorating style.
River Drivers is a four-piece whose unique passion-infused style of music draws from Celtic, Americana, and Appalachian influences and
features powerful and distinctive vocals. Their repertoire strikes a fine balance of original songs and more obscure folk songs, resurrected
from deep folk vaults.
Anchored by Kevin McCloskey (vocals, guitar, mandolin, banjo, bass) and Mindy Murray (vocals, guitar, banjo, bass) with
accompaniment by Marian Moran (tin whistle, low whistle, concertina, melodica) and Meagan Ratini (fiddle, Irish flute, tin whistle), their
high-energy music explores pervasive themes of hard-working men and women and social justice.
‘Children’s March (Mother Jones)’ and ‘Going Once’ tell the stories of people who were just trying to get by and on whose backs other
people made their fortunes – the stories of what they suffered through and what they did to overcome. The first concerns the Children’s
March in 1903, where child workers from various towns rallied to beat down the doors of mill owners in New York, marching all the way to
Teddy Roosevelt’s front steps in Oyster Bay.
“These songs are about two mothers from two different worlds, who each left Philadelphia with a group of children. In ‘Children’s March’,
we see Mother Jones lead a bunch of young maimed and malnourished children from Kensington to New York to confront the wealthy
businessmen who owned the factories where they toiled,” says Mindy Murray.
“In ‘Going Once’, Martha has to find a new home for her nine kids after their Torresdale farm is sold at auction for back taxes. This bravewoman Martha was my grandmother”.
As of August 16, ‘Children’s March (Mother Jones)’ / ‘Going Once’ will be available across digital stores and streaming platforms such as
Spotify. It can also be pre-ordered via Bandcamp. The album Big Oak Road is slated for release on October 18. Also catch them on tour
through the locations cited below.

( - The Big Takeover July 31, 2019


"River Drivers- Big Oak Road"

When one hears the phrase “Celtic-rock”, one may be inclined to think that the River Divers are another Pogues-inspired band, but there is so much more here. The songs on Big Oak Road are delivered with a rage for the mistreatment of those incapable of defending themselves. The opening “Children’s March (Mother Jones)” speaks of America’s great reformer of child labor laws who once led a march right up the front steps of President Teddy Roosevelt’s beautiful Sagamore Hill residence in Oyster Bay, NY only to have the twenty-sixth president “slam his door”. The band features shared vocals between Kevin McCloskey (who also plays guitar, mandolin, and banjo) and Mindy Murray (who additional talents include guitar, banjo, bass, frame drum), with Murray carrying “Going Once”, a song telling the tale of a farm sold out from under its owners in the style of John Mellencamp or Bruce Springsteen. The tales of woe may features subjects long dead or topics not relatable to many of those who listen to Big Oak Road, but the lyrics bring these individuals and experiences to life. The suffering of “Crooked Jack” illustrates the hardships of Irish immigrants who often spent all they had to voyage to America in hopes of a life for their children that was better than what existed in the motherland, and “Si, Se Puede” captures the demands of migrant workers in the West, led by Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez, striving for a union to protect them and allow for their labor to be viewed with the honor it deserved. Along with Marian Moran on tin whistle, low whistle, concertina, and melodica, and Meagan Ratini providing fiddle, tin whistle, and frame drum, the music has a poignant authenticity on the heartbreaking “Isn’t It Grand Boys (Look at the Coffin)” featuring the truly Irish philosophy of “the longer you live, the sooner you bloody well die”. The folksy title track rattles with the passion of Phil Ochs and Tom Paxton with Murray telling the story of a teenage laborer up working in the fields before “the school bell even rings”, while “Moonshiner” takes listeners into the deep American South for a beautiful, yet heartbreaking tale of hard drinking and equally hard living. “Union Man” is a quintessential work of Americana, due both to its musical structure and its lyrics of struggles the working poor. (“Which side are you on, boy?/Which side are you on? You’re either for the rich man or the union standing strong”) Closing with the delicate heartrending “Farewell Johnny Miner”, the River Drivers have created a masterful collection of gripping, romantic, and deeply impactful songs. - Jersey Beat


"River Drivers Music from "Big Oak Road""

RIVER DRIVERS’ MUSIC FROM BIG OAK ROAD

It’s been just over four years since I first met with the River Drivers to discuss their first album writes Grainne McCool
Just recently Marian Moran was back in Donegal and we caught up to talk about the release of their second album, due out this October, and a double sided single from the album to be released mid-August. Mindy joined us from Philadelphia via phone for our chat.
Prior to Mindy joining the conversation Marian told me what a prolific writer Mindy has been all her life. These two ladies have been friends since early teens so know each other pretty well. “Mindy has written 5 of the 10 tracks on the album. Two of which are biographical about her father”, Marian tells me. The album title itself Big Oak Road is named after a track from the collection. “Mindy’s father grew up working on farms on Big Oak Road. The track Going Once tells how the family lost their own farm in the 1920’s. And this story continues in the song Big Oak Road which tells of how the family with ten children then had to work other nearby farms just to get by”, Marian continues.
When Mindy calls she tells me why the new album is dedicated to her father. “Dad has always been a huge supporter of ours and he was so excited about our first album. He really did help formulate that album with us. He’s 89 now and he’s been telling me stories about his growing up. It was tough times then, and today we are once again faced with many people in need. I thought it would be nice to tell some of Dad’s stories in song, but they’re also sadly universal. People today are losing their homes, just as Dad’s family did back in the twenties. This makes these songs even more meaningful today.”
Another track on the album, written by Mindy and Kevin, is inspired from the work of Mother Jones, a prominent Irish-born labour representative who fought for men, women and children. “The Children’s March tells the true story of a protest through the band’s home town of Bristol for change in Child Labour laws early last century”, says Marian. “A lot of our songs on this collection are telling stories about past events that people don’t necessarily know about. The songs are talking about the battles of the everyday working man and woman.”
Mindy says, “entertainment is what we all want our music to be, but we want ours to be on another level too; we want it to have meaning and purpose. Cumann na mBán is another track we want to inspire listeners with. Other issues overshadowed these women at the time and we feel they are women who inspire and so we are using them to inspire others. Just as Mother Jones did.”
Was this album more relaxed in the making, as it’s the second, or was it more pressure, I wondered? Mindy admits there was an element of naivety going into the first album. “We didn’t expect it to be so successful. So there is an expectation with this one.” Marian agrees and says, “we’ve grown as a band and as musicians since that first release, so we want to fulfil our expectations now with this, our second collection of music.”
Marian, Mindy, Kevin and Meagan have been playing together for just over 6 years and already playing some of the biggest festivals across America. They are very excited to have been ‘picked’ to play the Philadelphia Folk Festival later this summer where their double-sided single from the album will be released.
Talking with Marian and Mindy about the new album was like a history lesson in itself. The women and men of the past and what they endured to survive is all told through music and song from the River Drivers. There is a real sense of storytelling to their music. A real sense of pride in their history. And a real sense of remembrance of the past. A past that is very clearly close to their hearts.
Big Oak Road is out this October and it will no doubt not only entertain, but also inspire on so many levels. Kevin from the band has a saying: “We like to take old songs and make them new again.” Here they have not only made the songs new again but they’ve made the stories of the past new again and they will continue to inspire future generations to come.

HIGHLIGHT
“A lot of our songs are talking about the battles of the everyday working man and woman.” - Irish Music Magazine Issue 288. October 2019. Page 28


"River Drivers / Big Oak Road – CD-Review"

Täuschend echt, aber dann doch nicht ganz wahr. Wenn man die Songs der River Drivers hört, denkt man unwillkürlich an Irland, die Grüne Insel mit der wunderbaren Landschaft und dem zeitweise so rauen Klima. Was unbedingt erstmal als Kompliment verstanden werden darf. Dieses Quartett ist allerdings im Nordosten der USA, um genauer zu sein in Philadelphia angesiedelt. Schaut man sich jedoch die Nachnamen der Musiker (beispielsweise McCloskey, Murray oder auch Moran) an, wird klar, dass da definitiv irische Wurzeln im Spiel sein müssen. Vor einigen Wochen erschien mit "Big Oak Road" das neue Album des Vierers, das sich zwar mit einer etwas mageren Spielzeit von nur einer guten halben Stunde Abzüge in der B-Note gefallen lassen muss, dafür aber über zehn wunderbare Tracks verfügt, die bei Eingeweihten und Fans umgehend Fernweh nach Eire (so Irland in der Landessprache) auslöst.

Stilistisch dominiert ganz klar die keltische Folk-Musik, der von der Band ebenfalls aufgeführte Americana-Einfluss tritt dabei deutlich in den Hintergrund. Und ganz passend stehen hier auch organische Instrumente wie die Akustik-Gitarre (sowie einige weitere Saiteninstrumente), die Tin Whistle sowie akustische Percussion im Vordergrund. Neben den sauber komponierten Songs gelingt es der Band auch ganz wunderbar, eine unheimlich dichte Atmosphäre nicht nur aufzubauen, sondern durchgehend aufrecht zu erhalten. Alleine schon dieser Aspekt führt den Hörer in eine andere Welt bzw. ein anderes Land, während er die besungenen Leben und Nöte der in den Stücken angesprochenen Protagonisten nahezu körperlich spüren oder auch mitfühlen kann. Neben der Vielzahl an Saiteninstrumenten wie dem Banjo, der Melodica oder der Mandoline ist es vor allem auch die Tin Whistle, die die starke Aura der Songs prägt.

Die Lead Vocals teilen sich Kevin McCloskey sowie Mindy Murray und beiden darf man einen tollen Job und viel Ausdruckskraft bestätigen. Die in der Mehrzahl sehr flott und mit jeder Menge Schmiss gebrachten Tracks (wie exemplarisch der Opener "Children’s March (Mother Jones)" oder "Union Man") werden aber auch sehr gekonnt von einfühlsamen Balladen wie etwa dem The Clancy Brothers-Titel "Isn’t It Grand, Boys (Look At The Coffin)" und "Farewell Johnny Miner" (klasse Schlusslied) gekontert. Beeindruckend ist auch, dass gleich alle vier Musiker mehrere und dazu so unterschiedliche Instrumente beherrschen. Aber all das würde natürlich nichts bringen, wenn die Songs nichts taugen würden. Tun sie aber und können somit jedem Freund keltischer bzw. irischer Musik sowie allen anderen, die sich an dieses Genre mal herantasten wollen, ans Herz gelegt werden.

Im handgeschriebenen Booklet erhält der interessierte Hörer weitere Informationen zu den Stücken bzw. Texten, wodurch er die überlieferten Emotionen noch genauer nachvollziehen kann. Nun ist "Big Oak Road" trotz vieler beschriebener Tragödien und trauriger Schicksale allerdings alles andere als eine triste Angelegenheit geworden, wofür alleine schon die vor Lebensfreude nur so strotzende Musik sorgt. Ein Merkmal, das sich seit jeher durch die irische Mucke zieht: Herrlich flotte und lebensbejahende Untermalung zu oft eher traurigen Geschichten bzw. Berichten von tragischen Lebensumständen oder historischen Ereignissen. Oder, um es anders zu formulieren: Selbst wenn man die Texte nicht versteht oder zu 100 % nachvollziehen kann, wird man mit "Big Oak Road" von den River Drivers einen Riesenspaß und tolles Hörerlebnis haben.

Ein klasse Album, das leider etwas kurz geraten ist. - The Rock Times December 6, 2019


"Social Justice Runs Through It"

Irish Music Magazine July 2015 Page 28
UP & COMING – THE RIVER DRIVERS

SOCIAL JUSTICE RUNS THROUGH IT The River Drivers are a quartet based in Bristol Borough, PA in the US, writes Grainne McCool.

The band recently spent a weekend in Donegal for the Cup of Tae Festival and I was fortunate to catch up with them on the night of their arrival. These four friends have been playing together for less than two years and come from very different backgrounds. With a hospital administrator, doctor, archaeologist and an occupational therapist, it is the most unlikely of unions. But a musical union it most certainly is, as I found out. Marian Moran, who has family ties in the village of Ardara, Co. Donegal became inspired by the trad music scene when she heard it played in pubs around Ardara. She purchased a concertina and a low whistle in Donegal and began playing the tunes she had heard. Mindy Murray, an old college room mate of Marians, has a folk/rock background and later delved into bluegrass and Appalachian. Her music reflected a lot of what she saw in the proud mountain mining folk whom she met in her clinics and visited with her work. Meagan Ratini, is Mindi’s daughter and a school friend of Kevin’s, started out playing the flute and dulcimer. She now also plays the whistle and fiddle. She enjoys playing tunes from Ireland, Scotland, Appalachia and elsewhere. Kevin McCloskey is the son of Irish tenor Tommy McCloskey and grew up playing guitar and banjo and singing with his father in pubs and venues around their home area. Kevin developed an avid interest in the songs that spoke of man’s spirit in the face of oppression and learned as much as he could about these songs and the history behind them. For the past year the group have been playing a weekly session at their local pub in Pennsylvania.They have just recently released their first album. Self-titled, this compilation is a collection of covers alongside Mindy’s Blair Mountain. I asked Marian about the selection of covers and why they chose the said songs. “We are all drawn to songs with themes of social justice and the undying spirit of humanity as a whole. We sought out songs that express the spirit of the working man as an individual and the power of the working men and women united. When we were putting the CD together, we wanted to include a note which would enable the listeners to understand why we chose the songs. Megan wrote this: “Hundreds of years of songs by and about the disenfranchised all say the same things, in the end, that everyone wants freedom and a fair shake. It just so happens that the road to getting there, makes for some damn good music. It’s no coincidence that a lot of these songs have strong opinions, political and otherwise. All the power people lack in life can come back tenfold in their music. We have chosen to respect that legacy and let the songs speak for themselves.” Kevin put the bulk of the song list together and says of his choices, “I’m inspired by stories of men and women standing up against oppression and exploitation, or having the determination to struggle through hard times. I usually sing the songs that tell those stories.” So just what songs are on this new album? It consists of 11 tracks including: Come out Ye Black and Tans; Tell God and the Devil; Dirty Old Town; Blair Mountain; Hot Asphalt; Erin go Bragh; Whiskey in the Jar; Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportee); Manchester Rambler; Billy O’Shea and If Ever You were Mine. The album is delivered with an honest, fresh intensity and from the onset, is set to raise the roof. It is an enthusiastic mix of rebel inspired folk/trad music and leaves you wanting to hear more. All four of these musicians are multi-instrumentalists. Whilst listening and watching them play in The Céilí House, Ardara, it really was mesmerising how they could switch instruments mid song. They clearly have a personal connection to their music. As Marian says “these songs are our roots” and this passion for such comes across as you watch them. What does the future hold for River Drivers? They are planning to write more original tracks, play local and regional festivals and are also planning a concert/festival tour later in the year through the Appalachians and possibly the Pacific Northwest. Having just left Donegal after a brief visit, Marian says of the weekend, “The Cup of Tae festival was amazing. We met so many wonderful people and musicians and most of all I got to play sessions with my fellow River Drivers”. The Donegal visit may have been short, but this is one quartet which is set to return. “We are all drawn to songs with themes of social justice and the undying spirit of humanity as a whole. We sought out songs that express the spirit of the working man as an individual and the power of the working men and women united” - Irish Music Magazine July 2015


"An Interview with the River Drivers"

INTERVIEW

An Interview with the River Drivers

by James G. Carlson
March 27, 2015

There is much to be said for the raw, organic and expressive elements of traditional music, both for its artistic quality and powerful conveyances. While it has earned itself an assured place in history, much of it is just as relevant today as it was when it was first written and performed, not to mention it can still teach a great deal about personal struggle, societal progress and decline, political truth, and the human experience in general. After all, times may change, but we remain inherently, irrevocably human. And this is human music. So it is important that some artists work to keep traditional music alive and sing the very human songs which mark our history. One such band, a traditional Celtic and folk quartet based in southeastern Pennsylvania, the River Drivers, has recently released its debut, self-titled full-length album, and it is certainly one deserving mention.


Employing acoustic instrumentation and rousing vocals, the River Drivers recorded one original and ten cover songs. "Blair Mountain," an original by Mindy Murray, has an Appalachian folk and protest song feel to it, and is essentially an earnest nod to the plight of the proletariat. Other songs on the album include Dominic Behan's "Come Out Ye Black and Tans," Seamus Egan and Mick McCauley's "Tell God and the Devil," Ewan MacColl's "Dirty Old Town" and "Hot Asphalt" and "Manchester Rambler," Dick Gaughan's "Erin Go Bragh," The Dubliners' "Whiskey in the Jar," Woody Guthrie and Martin Hoffman's "Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportee)," "Billy O'Shea," and Maurice Lennon's "If Ever You Were Mine."


Recently I had both the opportunity and pleasure to interview the River Drivers. What follows is that interview in its entirety.

To begin, how about a little introduction to the River Drivers?

We are four friends whose lives were on pretty divergent paths - working our day jobs (as hospital administrator, occupational therapist, archeologist and doctor) until one day almost two years ago, Kevin’s Aunt Kathy asked if we would get together and resurrect some obscure '60s folk music for a church anniversary. Playing together just felt right from the first time that we did it.

Kevin McCloskey grew up playing guitar and banjo and singing harmony with his Dad, Irish tenor Tommy McCloskey and other really well-known Irish balladeers in pubs and venues around the region. On his own, he sought out the songs that spoke of man’s spirit in the face of oppression culminating in a long stint with a hardcore punk band. During these years, Kevin continued to learn as much as he could about the songs he loved playing and the history behind them.

Mindy Murray took her folk-rock background with her when she started medical school in West Virginia. Once there, she got a chance to play with a lot of extraordinary bluegrass and Appalachian mountain musicians. The music reflected what she saw in the eyes of the hard working miners and proud mountain folk that she met in the clinics and visited on house calls. Years later, she would be playing a lot of these songs with her daughter, Meagan.

Marian Moran, Mindy’s best friend from high school, has deep family ties to the village of Ardara in County Donegal—home of the Cup of Tae and Johnny Doherty music festivals. It’s where her Mom grew up. Inspired by the trad music that she heard at the pubs and other venues in and around Ardara, Marian bought a concertina and a low whistle in a music store in Donegal and began to seriously recapture the tunes she heard.

Meagan Ratini, Mindy’s daughter and grade school classmate of Kevin, started out playing the flute and dulcimer. Later in college, while helping run the New Jersey Folk Festival, she met some of the best trad musicians in the region and was swept into playing Irish flute and whistles at local Irish sessions. She picked up the fiddle and expanded her repertoire to include tunes from Appalachia, Scotland, and elsewhere.

After a few months of playing house sessions, we all decided to host a weekly music session for trad musicians and ballad players in a local pub. So for the past year or so, we have had a chance to play with a lot of great musicians who come to our session. At about the same time, the four of us started playing and recording as the River Drivers.

The River Drivers are about to release their debut self-titled album at the end of this month. Most of the songs, I noticed, are covers, other than Mindy Murray's "Blair Mountain." How were these songs chosen? And what do you think these song selections say about the River Drivers as a band?

We are all drawn to songs with themes of social justice and the undying spirit of humanity as a whole—timeless songs with energy, heart and soul that are just as relevant today as they were when they were first written.We felt there was a void in modern music, so we went looking back into the past for songs that express the spirit of the working man as an individual and the power of the working men and women united. Music has had a huge role in social change – both in instigating the change and in documenting it. These are the songs we find, we play in session and we take on the road as the River Drivers. We are keeping a songbook that has over 250 songs so far that we play together as a band --some of the more powerful ones we have recorded for this CD.

It’s funny, we each have spent a lot of time listening to obscure recordings, reading books, streaming music, listening to the radio, going to house concerts, and so often we all come up with the very same songs. When you hear a song that really moves you, you know or at least hope that it will move an audience as well. We find the songs that complement the intensity, energy and emotion of our performances. We each bring new songs to the session every week and test the waters to see what the other band members think. Very often, a song will immediately resonate with all of us.

Many of the songs on the album fit into a few musical categories into which one often finds social and political protest songs, working class numbers, and the like. This is especially so in the covers of songs by Ewan MacColl and Dick Gaughan. What main points are the River Drivers trying to express through their music?

When we were putting together the CD, we wanted to include a note that would help the listeners understand why we chose the songs we did. Meagan wrote this for our liner:

"Hundreds of years of songs by and about the disenfranchised all say the samethings in the end—that everyone wants freedom and a fair shake. Just so happensthat the road to getting there makes for some damn good music. It’s nocoincidence that a lot of these songs have strong opinions, political andotherwise. All the power people lack in life can come back tenfold in their music.We have chosen to respect thatlegacy and let the songs speak for themselves."

Kevin, who has come up with the bulk of our song list says this about his choices:“I’m inspired by stories of men and women standing up against oppression and exploitation, or having the determination to struggle through hard times. I usually sing the songs that tell those stories. I tend to sing lesser known songs in concerts and session but a few well-known songs like Dirty Old Town, Deportees and Whiskey in the Jar ended up on the album because we really enjoy playing them and our close friends really like the way we do them. I’ve received quite an education by listening to the songs Ewan MacColl, Dominic Behan, Woody Guthrie and others have written or collected and hope that the songs we sing educate those who listen in the same way.”

What attracts you most to the musical styles you have chosen to embrace for this particular endeavor, namely Celtic music, Appalachian folk and roots music?

These styles intertwine beautiful melodies and rhythms with the intimate stories of people. We all have a deep personal connection to the music through our families, friends and our experiences. For all of us, they speak of places where our descendants came from, where we have lived and traveled, and where we have worked side by side with many good people. These songs are our“roots”.

How did you come up with the name River Drivers?

We were looking for a name that reflected the type of music we do, the people we sing about and the way we play the music. River drivers personify strength, hard work, grittiness and resilience. They did a dangerous a job steering logs down the rivers from the forests to the lumber mills. Many lost their lives or limbs trying to break up log jams.

It was also a good fit because a large part of each of our lives has been spent in the town of Bristol which is on the Delaware River. The river is a big part of the identity of the town and the people who live here. Although there were no actual river drivers historically in Bristol that we know of, it was a mill town for a good portion of its history and many people here trace their family history through the mills. The photos throughout our album weren’t randomly chosen places—they’re all parts of industrial buildings that were important to the town’s past and are threatened with demolition in the future.

All of the members of the River Drivers seem to be multi-instrumentalists. Is this sort of organic instrumentation your preferred direction, or might you branch out a bit in the future?

We let the music and the performance of the band members dictate what instruments fit best with each other and with each song. We often switch instruments in the middle of a song to get the right feel and sound. When we first finished the record, Tom Murray, our producer, told us it really needed bass. Since bass is not usually heard in most of the traditional recordings, there was some skepticism at first. But Kevin pulled out a U-Bass and spent the next eleven hours in the studio adding bass to the songs. It added so much to the feel of the music.

And we all have different styles of playing the same instruments…mountain banjo, bluegrass banjo…etc. We go with whatever style works best. We are also all still learning from each other. Marian and Meagan are session players who know trad music well, Kevin’s got his ballad style and punk edge, and Mindy often plays with a more mountain and bluegrass feel. There are quite a few instruments that we play that didn’t make it on the first CD—dulcimer, lap steel, flute, tenor banjo… We figure we have a lot of time and more albums to go before we are finished.

Speaking of which, does the band plan on writing originals for future releases and performances?

Yes. We do have other originals that we play and are working on some new ones but we will always be drawn to roots materials as well.

Sometimes an original just feels right to do. Blair Mountain was one of those songs. The recording we did of Blair Mountain was only the second time that we had played it together as a group.

Your music is more on the traditional side than the many bands out there in recent years whose music only touches on Celtic music to varying degrees, typically combining it with punk and other such genres and subgenres. This is the case with bands like Flogging Molly, Meisce, Catgut Mary, Dropkick Murphys, The Real McKenzies, etc. What are your feelings regarding such musical hybrids?

Kevin wanted to tackle this one: "Liam Clancy once talked about how the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem would take very long songs that were normally sung very slow, and shorten them down and play them in a more energetic way. So maybe each generation is looking for ways to make things more interesting and there is nothing wrong with that. In the end it can introduce folks to traditional/folk music who may not have listened to it otherwise. I just hope whoever is playing and singing it (and whatever instruments they’re using), puts their soul into it. But I don’t see us adding a drum kit and electric guitars anytime soon."

What's next for the River Drivers after the release of the album?

Besides playing local and regional festivals, the River Drivers will be taking a few days off and visiting the Cup of Tae festival in Ardara, County Donegal in May of this year.

We are also planning a concert/ festival tour for later this year through the Appalachians and possibly into the Pacific Northwest.

And as soon as we left the studio, we started talking about songs we want to put on the next record.

Lastly, if there is anything I failed to cover, or if there is anything you would like to express or discuss, please feel free to do so now. The floor is all yours.

We’ve been playing together for about a year and a half now, and when we look back , we realize how very far we have come. I don’t think any of us were really thinking that we would be getting as much radio play or press as we have been getting. It’s like there was a void that we were able to fill with the songs that we have chosen. It’s a neat feeling to rediscover these songs and we really want to give them the daylight that they deserve. We just want to do a good job by them.



ArtistRiver Drivers
Other tagsCelticfolkAmericanatraditionalroots - No Depression


"A Bristol-based Irish folk group gains international exposure"

A Bristol­based Irish folk group gains international
exposure
By Elizabeth Fisher CORRESPONDENT | Posted: Wednesday, May 27, 2015 12:15 am
Before the River Drivers were called River Drivers,
they were a small band of musicians who met for jam
sessions at Mindy Murray’s Bristol home.
There was no inkling the group would eventually be in
demand at special civic events, a church anniversary
performance, or a trip to an international music
festival in Ireland.
Sandwiched between all those activities is their new
CD featuring their signature Irish music, played by
radio stations across the United States and in Ireland.
Recently, a German station requested a copy of the
self­titled CD.
Despite international exposure, the group — Kevin
McClosky (vocals, guitar, mandolin, banjos, bass),
Mindy Murray (vocals, guitar, banjo), Marian Moran
(tin whistle, low whistle, concertina) and Meagan
Ratini (fiddle, Irish flute, tin whistle) — has no
“illusions of grandeur,” McCloskey said.
Instead, their major goal is to break into the music
festival circuit that will allow them to work their performances around their day jobs. McCloskey
coordinates work programs for autistic adults, Murray is a physician, Moran is vice president for
Trinity Health, the parent company of St. Mary Medical Center, and Ratini is an anthropologist.
No divas here, though. Talent goes hand­in­hand with modesty. They’ve been playing together for
the past couple years — mainly at weekly sessions at the Kelch House restaurant on Mill Street in
Bristol — but they invite any and all musicians to bring an instrument, take a seat, and join in.
The CD features 11 songs, including “Come Out Ye Black and Tans,” which commemorates the Irish
war of independence; “Erin Go Bragh” (“Ireland Forever”); “Whiskey in the Jar,” an Irish song about
a highway robber who is betrayed by his lover; and “If Ever You Were Mine,” an instrumental
selection considered one of the more beautiful Irish melodies.
Mindy Murray sings and performs on
banjo.
The CD was recorded at a studio in South Jersey over a three­month period. Murray recalls her
naivete in thinking the “Drivers could rip thorugh one 10­hour session and voila — a CD.”
Ratini, Murray’s daughter, said the first rough cut took 11 hours, followed by a second recording
session before work could begin on mixing and sound levels.
The finished product was ready in February.
The CD costs $10 (prices may vary at online sites) and is available at Mignoni Jewelry, 200 Mill St.,
Bristol; the Princeton Record Exchange, 20 S. Tulane St., Princeton; and through Amazon and
iTunes.
With their focus on simplicity and entertainment, one would wonder why the River Drivers would
travel across the sea to perform at Ardara, Ireland, where 1,000 world­class performers from the
United States, Japan, Wales and Germany descend on that village of 900 residents.
Credit Moran, who goes every year to the rugged coastal community to recharge in the revelry of
various festivals held at pubs like Caeli House, the Beehive Bar and the Corner House.
That the festivities energize its participants was evident upon the arrival of McCloskey, Murray,
Moran and Ratini at the end of April.
After flying to Ireland and dealing with baggage claim and check­ins, they immediately picked up
their instruments and headed for the Caeli House, where they played ’til the wee hours of the
morning.
“It was just a lot of fun to be in a town where you see instruments going in every direction,” Ratini
said. “It was a great celebration of music.”
Murray added that many young people help to keep up the festival tradition. The concerts are
informal and other musicians frequently join in.
“They knew the kind of songs we played; we knew the kind of songs they played,” Murray said.
Meanwhile, dozens of radio stations across the country are playing the River Drivers CD. Each song
on the CD has been played on one channel or another, including ethnic stations, NPR and stations in
Washington State, Ohio, Missouri, Texas, Nebraska and Massachusetts, to name a few.
McCloskey said the players are taking notoriety in stride, one day at a time.
“We still get so excited about all this,” Murray said. “We’re a work in progress.” - Bucks County Courier


"US Band The River Drivers to launch new album on 4th April"

US Band The River Drivers to launch new album on 4th April
Posted by TradConnect on March 11, 2015 at 13:00

The River Drivers are a four-piece band from Bristol Borough, PA in the US and this is their self titled debut release.
Its a rousing mix of rebel inspired folk music reminiscent of The Wolfe Tones at their best. The band include Kevin McCloskey on guitar and vocals, Mindy Murray on guitar, banjo and vocals, Marian Moran on whistles and concertina and Meagan Ratini on fiddle.
They deliver their material with a raw and honest intensity and the opening tracks which include Come Out Ye Black and Tans, Dirty Old Town and Tell God and the Devil a composition by Seamus Egan and Mick McAuley, should give you some indication of where what lies in store.
Whiskey in The Jar, Woody Guthrie's Plane Wreck at Los Gatos and Dick Gaughan’s Erin Go Bragh follow on quickly. This is a late night, raise the roof type outing, delivered with an energy fitting to such occasions.
Visit www.theriverdrivers.com.
Check out the launch event www.facebook.com/events - TradConnect


"The River Drivers"

THE RIVER DRIVERS
River Drivers
Own Label, 11 Tracks, 34 Minutes
www.theriverdrivers.com
For four friends based in South Eastern Pennsylvania, The River Drivers has evolved into a platform for which to combine their various musical influences and instrumental abilities into an energy source of Celtic and Americana soaked sound. Kevin McCloskey, Mindy Murray, Marian Moran and Meagan Ratini are intertwined through friendship and a musical empathy for delivering a strong message through vocal lyricism and they have documented that message with their self–titled debut offering that includes songs of assurance from a variety of ardent artists.
The track choices include one original yet the covers performed within the album are of interest as even though there is a diversity of style in the creative composers, there is a common thread of a strong message within all whether that is for justice, fairness or political reasons. It’s interesting to see Ewan McColl, Dominic Behan and Guthrie interspersed with the Solas lads, Seamus Egan and Mick McCauley and the crafted compositions of Stockton’s Maurice Lennon under the one roof which makes for an intriguing variation.
These diverse songs are sung with a raw conviction and intensity that tell the truth of the passion felt from within the band, revel in the powerful messages that are driving factors behind the lyrical origin of the songs themselves. If you want to rouse yourselves out of the slumber of apathy and get lyrically motivated in united, invasive, proletariat passion then take a listen to this.
Eileen McCabe - Irish Music Magazine


"River Drivers"

Friday, 1 May 2015

River Drivers
As a contributor to Irish Music Magazine I am very fortunate to meet, greet and hear the very best of Irish traditional music and its musicians first hand. Nothing prepared me for how appreciative I would be of this over the past two years. Always a lover of the trad scene, I was however inclined to delve more into my rock devotion and somehow trad got lost in the background. I still enjoy my rock but in recent times, trad is definitely at the fore. Over the past 18 months I've had the great pleasure of interviewing the best traditional musicians worldwide. I've even had the honour of welcoming Hanz Araki and Colleen Raney to my home village of Muff, here in Donegal.
Last night I was privy to yet another breakthrough in traditional music. The Cup of Tae festival 2015 got underway today in Ardara, Co. Donegal. This festival is in honour of a renowned player John 'The Tae' Gallagher (generations of his family before him made 'teas' on Fair Days and other days of local importance), hence the name of the festival. The festival wishes to provide first class tuition on a number of instruments, starting with the fiddle and flute. Later it is hoped to incorporate more instruments, singing, dancing, recitation and storytelling. The folklore of each tune will be passed on as well as the tune.
Last night there was a session in The Céilí House Bar in preparation for the weekend ahead. I decided to make the 3 hour round trip for the said session. A reasonably new American trad group had just flown in from the US and were hosting the session last night.

River Drivers were in the house and for the two hours I was present, they were very much part of the said house!!! Musicians from England, Japan, joined locals, alongside River Drivers and a riveting session ensued.

Mindy, Marian, Kevin and Megan were right at home in this special little corner of Donegal, Ireland. Marian is fortunate to be the daughter of an Ardara native and has enticed her newly formed band to this haven. Mindy and her family were making their first visit to Ireland, and one would never have guessed. These folk were sensational in every way that Irish traditional musicians should be. They appeared right at home.
Their aptly named debut album 'River Driver's is out now and well worth a listen. More details of the said group and their music will feature in Irish Music Magazine very soon.

But for now this gang are hanging out in Ardara, Co. Donegal over the coming days for the Cup of Tae Festival, and if you have any spare time, you really should pop along and see for yourself what an amazing group of musicians they really are. And there's lots more to experience and enjoy this weekend in Ardara.
A huge thank must surely go out to Aoife and Sean for their delightful welcome to myself and friend last night and here's wishing them both every success with their new venture at The Céilí House Bar, Ardara, Co. Donegal. - North West Culture


"On the Radar: Wednesday May 6, 2015--The River Drivers"

River Drivers (from the album River Drivers) - The plan for River Drivers was to cultivate a style based in Americana, Celtic, and Mountain music. What you can hear on the band’s self-titled release is a passion and love for the music that surrounds tales of traditional pub life. Kevin McCloskey is the vocal growl, delivered as a whiskey-soaked shout, playing guitar, mandolin and bass. The lady River Drivers are Mindy Murray (vocal, guitar, banjo), Marian Moran(tin whistle, low whistle, concertina, bodhrán) and Meagan Ratini(fiddle, Irish flute, tin whistle). The young boy leading the chargeof words stands behind Dublin barriers in “Come Out Ye Black and Tans”, an Isle traveler introduces as “Erin Go Bragh”, a reel follows “Billy O’Shea” out to sea and The Pogues “Dirty Old Town” have the stamp of Ireland on the stories and the sound. River Drivers strum a beat for the union on “Blair Mountain”, honor miners as the brave men they are in “Tell God and the Devil”, and raise a glass for a story of ancient deceit in “Whiskey in the Jar”.
Listen and buy the music of River Drivers from AMAZON or iTunes
- See more at: http://thealternateroot.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3335:otr-050615&catid=208:what-s-trending&Itemid=268#sthash.Gu5rgrjH.dpuf - The Alternate Root


"Dirty old towns: The River Drivers’ debut album fuses Irish and American folk and protest songs"

WireENTERTAINMENT: Dirty old towns: The River Drivers’ debut album fuses Irish and American folk and protest songs
Jack Firneno / March 17, 2015
Jack Firneno, the Wire

The River Drivers include (from left) guitar, banjo and bass player Kevin McCloskey, fiddle player Meagan Ratini, guitar and banjo player Mindy Moran and Marian Murray, playing whistles and concertina.
The River Drivers include (from left) guitar, banjo and bass player Kevin McCloskey, fiddle player Meagan Ratini, guitar and banjo player Mindy Murray and Marian Moran, playing whistles and concertina.

The River Drivers hail from Bristol Borough, but their music spans continents. A quick listen to the traditional Irish folk quartet’s eponymous debut album reveals its influences from the Emerald Isle before crossing over to far-flung Appalachian towns and eventually the U.S.-Mexican border.

But through all those places, the songs, some hundreds of years old, carry a common thread: freedom, and a fair shake, for the workingman.

“We went for the most powerful songs we had, and the theme came out organically,” noted fiddle player Meagan Ratini.

The album opens with Come Out Ye Black and Tans, easily the most overt Irish rebel music offering here, and runs through spirited versions of other Irish folk standards like Erin Go Bragh and Dirty Old Town.

Then there’s that smattering of American music. Guitar, banjo and bass player Kevin McCloskey’s years in a hardcore punk band that toured America and Europe finds him channelling bands like Rise Against more than, say, Cisco Houston, when he sings Woody Guthrie’s Plane Wreck at Las Gatos (Deportees), a song about migrant Mexican workers.

“I started out listening to Irish music, then got into punk,” he said. “I was still in my teens when I went back and realized the connection. [Irish groups like] The Clancy Brothers, the Dubliners have that raw punk feel.”

Meanwhile, songs like Tell God and the Devil and the album’s sole original composition, Blair Mountain, explore the history of mining and union movements in Appalachia — particularly West Virginia, where guitar and banjo player Mindy Murray worked as a medical student.

“We did rotations through hospitals near the mining towns, places where they’d put on TV which mines were open when. There was a lot of poverty,” said Murray. “The things you see get under your skin.”

The tracks, all recorded mostly live in a 12-hour session, are often as much tempests as they are songs. Guitars, banjos, fiddles, and whistles and the last-minute addition of a bass guitar swirl in each one, evoking the communal approach of a traditional Irish session, or maybe a hootenanny.

The approach is even similar to how the players got together in the first place. In what the band calls “an act of God,” the multi-generational River Drivers formed when Murray and McCloskey were asked to play some ‘70s folk music for a church event in early 2013.

McCloskey was a childhood friend of Murray’s daughter, Ratini. Soon, Ratini and Murray’s old college roommate Marian Moran, playing whistles and concertina, were brought into the fold.

The chemistry was instant and the band stayed together, gigging casually and settling into a residency running Irish sessions at the Kelch House.

But it wasn’t until they started recording, said Murray, that it all truly came together.

Hearing the playback during that long recording session was the first time the band heard the songs as a whole, not just what they were playing or the instruments closest to them.

“It took us to another level, being able to listen to each other,” she said. “Once we noticed we had a sound, that’s when we figured this was all real.”

And, as of last week, it’s becoming even more so. Even before the album came out, the River Drivers were making a splash on both sides of the Atlantic.

Already, a handful of radio stations from Missouri to Maine have their songs in rotation. The BBC is also playing them, and they recently drew a favorable review from the prominent Trad Connect magazine in Ireland.

It’s much more than the group planned on when they started out, and even more than they expected as they finished their recording. And, it’s changing their approach as well.

For now, the band is playing some familiar haunts: Saturday night at Albert Hall in Waretown, New Jersey, a release show at the Ancient Order of Hibernians lodge in Bristol on April 4, then the Delaware Canal Fest in June.

But after that, the group is eyeing up the festival circuit and a tour of the Appalachian states. There’s also the possibility of a group trip to Ireland, where Moran already visits regularly.

“At first we just wanted to put out a good product. It was all about the music,” she said. “We’re proud of this album, and now we’re looking for ways to create opportunities for more people to hear it.”

For information, visit www.theriverdrivers.com. - Midweek Wire


"WVSOM alumna takes inspiration from the Mountain State on new album"

Published On: Fri, Feb 27th, 2015
Entertainment | By admin
WVSOM alumna takes inspiration from the Mountain State on new album
By Sarah Mansheim
A WVSOM alumna is set to release a CD with her band, the River Drivers. Mindy Murray attended WVSOM in the early eighties, and now lives in the Philadelphia area. She says a lot of the River Drivers’ music reflects the spirit of West Virginia and its hard-working people. The CD will be released on Mar. 31.
The River Drivers are a Celtic/Americana band with roots in traditional Celtic music and political folk tunes. Anchored by Murray (vocals, guitar, banjo) and Kevin McClosky, their self-titled album respects the legacy of “hundreds of years of songs by and about the disenfranchised… (that) just so happen to make for some damn good music.”
The Mountain Messenger spoke to Murray about how her time in West Virginia informs the music she makes today.
When did you attend WVSOM? I attended from 1980 to 1984.
Did you graduate? Are you a DO? I graduated in 1984 with a DO. I still practice in Bristol, PA, in family medicine and geriatrics with my husband, Angelo, who was a classmate at WVSOM. We met in med school there and married during our sophomore year.
What brought you to WVSOM? I worked at a teaching hospital that hosted students from WVSOM for clinical rotations. I learned about the school and its mission from these students. When I came down to interview, the two doctors who were on my interviewing committee were also musicians. We talked about music as much as we talked about medicine. I knew from that interview that I wanted to come down to Lewisburg to learn medicine and to play music.
You speak of your connection to the mountains – can you elaborate on that? A quick story on the writing of the song, Blair Mountain – because the song has a Lewisburg connection. My daughter Meagan (fellow River Driver) is an archaeologist who was working down in Virginia this past summer. She had been to Lewisburg several times as a child, and decided to make a side trip over to visit the town. She stopped in a used book store and found a copy of Shogan’s The Battle of Blair Mountain. She gave it to me one afternoon after she got back from VA. Before that night was over, I had written Blair Mountain. The history of the battle just seemed to fit in so well with the type of songs we do as a band – songs about hard working people, worker’s rights, unions. Many of these songs were written about miners from both sides of the Atlantic. When I was at WVSOM, I can remember hearing the public service announcements that would come on between television shows, telling the miners where they were to report for work for the next shift. We worked with the miners and their families in our clinics throughout the state. Songs like Blair Mountain and Tell God and The Devil serve to remind us all of the sacrifices that these mining families have made. Another song on the album, Manchester Rambler, tells of the beauty of the English mountains as seen through the eyes of “ramblers” who would take to the mountains on the weekends to escape from the hardships of their lives in Industrial England.
Can you elaborate on how Appalachian culture has informed your music? My father is a wonderful wood carver, and when I graduated from high school he made me a dulcimer. It’s a beautiful, large walnut instrument with heart-shaped inlay and sound holes and a deep rich sound. At that time, dulcimers were not very common up in southeastern Pennsylvania (and there was no YouTube) so I had to learn from books and records by people such as Jean Ritchie and Richard Fariña. Some Celtic bands from that same time period also used dulcimers (Steeleye Span, Faiport Convention). So a lot of the music I grew up with was a crossover between Appalachian and Celtic. My band mates, Meagan and Marian are well versed in the genre of “Irish trad” music – tunes that have been handed down from generation to generation in Ireland, England and Scotland. Kevin has a vast repertoire of Irish, Scottish, English and North American ballads. As the River Drivers, we perform music that draws from all of these influences – Celtic, Mountain and Americana – and infuse these songs with arrangements that blur the line between the genres – adding a hint of bluegrass and edginess to the mix.
The River Drivers debut CD will be available on Mar. 31. Go to theriverdrivers.com for more information about the band. They are also on Facebook at Facebook.com/TheRiverDrivers.

The River Drivers - Mountain Messenger


"Wire ENTERTAINMENT: River Drivers announce debut album, show this weekend"

Wire ENTERTAINMENT: River Drivers announce
debut album, show this weekend
Jack Firneno / January 22, 2015
By Jack Firneno
Wire Editor
The River Drivers, Bristol Borough’s own traditional Irish
folk music quartet, is wrapping up production of its debut
album. The self­titled release, due out in March, features a
mix of traditional Celtic, Irish, English and American folk
songs, along with one politically informed track penned by
the band.
“It’s a diverse record that will hopefully appeal to a broad
range of people,” said Mindy Murray Ratini, who plays
guitar, banjo and lap steel, along with contributing vocals,
for the group.
The original track, “Blair Mountain”, is a recounting of the
history of mining and union movements in West Virginia.
The topic is pertinent now, said Ratini, as that area
grapples with debates about mountaintop removal.
“We hope we’ll find some receptive people down there who are trying to preserve that piece of history,” she
predicted.
The album was recorded mostly live by producers Richard Hartline and Tom Murrary, mirroring the River Drivers’
usual “Irish session” approach to performing. Here, well­known songs are introduced as the band improvises over the
basic framework.
“We have a lot of energy when we play live and we wanted to make sure we captured that when we recorded,” said
Ratini. “I think we were able to do that.”
Local audiences will have the chance to see that live show this weekend, when the River Drivers perform at Albert
Hall in Waretown, in Ocean County in New Jersey on Saturday night. The night features four bands, and then an
open jam session once the River Drivers finish their set.
Ratini said fans will hear some tracks from the album, among other well­known songs, on an intimate, unique stage:
“It’s a neat venue, like Nashville in the Pine Barrens. Definitely different from what we’ve done before.”
The River Drivers will perform on Saturday, Jan. 24, at Albert Hall, 131 Wells Mill Road, Waretown, NJ 08758. For
show information, visit www.alberthall.org.2/9/2015
For more information, visit www.theriverdrivers.com. - The Midweek Wire


"Irish music drives the crowd to popular Bristol restaurant"

Irish music drives the crowd to popular Bristol restaurant

Posted: Friday, May 23, 2014 12:15 am | Updated: 11:14 am, Fri May 23, 2014.
By Elizabeth Fisher Correspondent
A bit of the Emerald Isle steals into a Bristol restaurant every Tuesday night, and for a few hours, everyone in the packed Kelch House on Mill Street is Irish.
Those who have been to Ireland fall back in time, letting the heady pub experience seep into their souls. Those who haven’t yet traveled the land of leprechauns and shamrocks claim to be no less charmed by the environment created by a small band, the River Drivers.
There’s nothing formal about these sessions. On or about 7 p.m., the four musicians take to their regular corner table, tease their instruments until perfectly tuned, and lose themselves and their audience in an eclectic array of music and song in tribute to the Celts.
But Mindy Ratini, her daughter Meagan, and friends Kevin McCloskey and Marian Moran don’t limit their repertoire, and at times, break into bluegrass and American folk music.
Restaurant owner Dawn Kelch said the River Drivers are the best thing that ever happened to her restaurant, which offers a wide view of the Bristol Wharf and the Delaware River.
“Our menu is very casual on Tuesday nights so the customers can enjoy the entertainment. The best thing I ever did was say yes to this music,” Kelch said, as she sat at a table among some of her regular customers.
McCloskey said the once-unnamed quartet was born of weekly in-home sessions, then segued into public performances.
Appreciative listeners spread the word and the River Drivers spread their wings.
The name of the band is derived from what is a very dangerous job. River drivers in logging communities balance themselves on floating logs to break up gridlock. The name seemed appropriate because the River Drivers’ music celebrates the common workingman.
Thanks to a bit of name-dropping and an increasing number of fans, the band’s invitations have increased over time: a recital at the Grundy Library, a performance at the gazebo at Lions Park on the Delaware during Bristol’s recent cleanup day, a folk Mass when St. Mark School celebrated its 125th anniversary last year, and an invitation to play for Historic Bristol Day come Oct. 18.
The River Drivers are realizing their ambition of entertaining at more venues.
None of the frenetic cacophony of bigger bands or tight schedules will do, said Mindy Ratini, as she tuned her guitar and diners waited for the action to begin.
“Everybody’s laid-back about this. If we had an agreed structure, maybe it wouldn’t work,” she said. “We’re doing something we want to do. No pressure. Anybody can come in to join us.”
The River Drivers are not the only ones who get to do what they want to do.
Have an instrument? A singing voice? You’re welcome to bring your talents to the Kelch House and join in.
That’s what Dennis McCole did on a recent night. Not a River Driver or a regular part of sessions, McCole said he just wanted to play his guitar with some people, so he did.
Sitting nearby on bar stools, John and Mary Anne Roche drank beer and swiveled around to watch and listen. Mary Anne’s hands moved and her feet tapped along as “I allow the music to fill my heart,” she said.
“It’s a pleasure to have this kind of music here; it brings out the flavor of what Bristol is,” her husband added.
At a nearby table, Amy McIlvaine and her friend, Karen Dopson, ate and listened to music that both said serves to celebrate their Irish roots. They agreed the pub environment, the music and the camaraderie put them in mind of their ancestors’ homeland.
“I’m Irish, and the music is part of my history. This is just a nice place to come when I need a break,” McIlvaine said.
The backgrounds of the musicians vary. Mindy Ratini is a physician; her daughter, Meagan, who plays the Irish flute, as well as other instruments, is an archaeologist. McCloskey, son of popular local Irish singer Tom McCloskey, works with autistic adults at Eden Autism Services in New Jersey; and Moran, — who was absent this night, but excused because she was returning from a trip to Ireland — is vice president of client services at CHE Trinity Health, the parent company of St. Mary Medical Center.
Careers faded when the performance began and the music flowed over the room. When McCole joined in, the beat and the volume picked up. Other musicians were expected to join in later.
“A lot of good Irish musicians know hundreds of songs, but not all the same songs,” said Meagan Ratini. “When we come together, we find common ground and it’s nice to have people from a lot of different backgrounds to share this experience.”
Elizabeth Fisher is a correspondent. - Bucks County Courier Times


"Brogues by way of Bristol"

Brogues by way of Bristol
Jack Firneno / July 9, 2014
JACK FIRNENO / WIRE PHOTOS

The River Drivers play a session in the main room of the Kelch House in Bristol Borough on Tuesday night. The group comprises five local residents but as the session goes on, more musicians join. “It’s very communal. That’s part of how Irish music works. You bring people in, and all levels are welcome,” explained Meagan Ratini.

The River Drivers invite everyone to jam with them.

By Jack Firneno
Wire Editor

Usually it’s impolite to talk while the band’s playing, but every once in a while it somehow seems appropriate.

That’s the case at the Kelch House in Bristol Borough on Tuesday nights. There and then, the River Drivers hold sessions in the main room, tucked cozily in a corner near the back bar that overlooks the Delaware River just a block away.

The group comprises five local residents: Meagan Ratini and Kevin McClosky in their 20s; Meagan’s mother, Mindy Ratini; Marian Moran, Mindy’s old college roommate; and Paul Notwick.

The quintet alternately plays acoustic guitars, bass, mandolins, banjos, fiddles and flutes with a repertoire consisting of traditional Celtic music, American folk and bluegrass.

But at the Kelch House, they don’t stay a quintet for long.

“It’s very communal,” explained Meagan. “That’s part of how Irish music works. You bring people in, and all [skill] levels are welcome.”

As the session goes on – they start at 7:30 and last as late as 10:30 – more people join: a few more guitar players, a gentleman with a frame drum. Sometimes the band greets them as they approach, other times a warm greeting for a player who slipped in mid-song is saved for right after.

“It’s very traditional for Irish sessions to work this way,” said Meagan.

It’s in keeping with the “trad” music, as they call it, that’s played at traditional Irish sessions. Modeled after the meetups in pubs in Ireland, the group draws from a seemingly bottomless catalogue – “Kevin knows about 350,000 songs,” laughed Meagan – for songs where everyone can join in.

It’s an informal affair, where etiquette dictates that players unfamiliar with a song lay back until they become comfortable with it. Those who know it better take a prominent role in embellishing on the melody or maybe singing harmonies.

In this casual atmosphere, the focus isn’t on performing for the crowd or any one player taking a spotlight. Sessions like these are more like conversations, dialogues between the players as different people weave in and out of a song, interjecting when necessary and laying back other times.

And, that informality and sense of dialogue is supported by the other restaurant patrons, who act almost as another instrument.

The group’s low volume – other than a vocal microphone on a table-top stand, all the instruments are played acoustically – allows the people sitting at the tables even just next to them to carry on conversations as the music permeates the entire space.

That’s not to say the River Drivers are ignored. Rather, the crowd regularly stops and warmly applauds each song before returning to their food and chit chat. And when they do, their light chatter adds to the music, the hum of the voices and clinking of silverware filling out the performance like light orchestration in the background of a pop song.

“The Kelch House has been great, they’ve been very supportive since the beginning,” said Moran. “We were trying to describe to them what an Irish session is… that’s a leap of faith for a restaurant.”

Of course, it’s been working out well since the group set up shop in January. And, the Kelch House isn’t the only place taking that leap on the group. Since forming last February, the River Drivers have performed regularly in and around Bristol this year. But instead of formal venues, they’ve generally played community events like Canal Fest, performances at the Grundy Library and even an appearance at the Bristol Clean-Up Day in early May.

In fact, their first performance, the one that brought them together, was at St. Mark’s Church early last year. They were brought together to play at Mass there, and, recognizing their “immediate chemistry,” as Mindy put it, have stuck together since.

“We just liked playing together and we sounded good together, so we kept doing it,” she explained.
But for the most part, the River Drivers prefer events like festivals, local events and restaurants – places where the performers and audience don’t stop and start at the end of a stage.

“It’s not about performance,” continued Mindy, “It’s about participation.”

Even if it’s a little light chatter to accompany the light music.

For information, visit http://www.theriverdrivers.com - Midweek Wire


"Bristol Celebrates its History Saturday"

Posted: Monday, October 13, 2014 12:00 am
By Beth Fisher Correspondent
Historic Bristol Day, an annual event sponsored by the Bristol Cultural and Historic Foundation, will focus on life on the Delaware River this Saturday.
A sailboat regatta, a riverfront tea and river-themed activities will spotlight this year’s theme, “A River in Time.”
Events will include a wide variety of activities, such as a yoga and fitness demonstration at the Bristol Wharf, and a Colonial cooking demonstration at the Friends Meeting House at the corner of Market and Wood streets. A car show will be held at Snyder-Girotti Elementary School. Musical entertainment throughout the day will include The River Drivers and Kathy and Nick at the gazebo at Lions Park.
Kids can participate in various river-related activities at the Children’s Corner, also at Friends Meeting House. Sammy the Sea Otter, the mascot of the U.S. Coast Guard, will greet visitors next to the wharf. Belgian draft horse-drawn wagon rides will begin at the Bristol Riverside Theatre for $3 per person.
Children will also demonstrate their talents throughout the day. St. Mark School students will be stationed throughout St. Mark Cemetery at the corner of Radcliffe Street and Lincoln Avenue. They'll present portrayals of some of their ancestors buried there. An art exhibit of the Historic Bristol Day Student Art Contest entries will be on display along with the winning entries at the Snyder-Girotti school.
Costumed Snyder-Girotti students will perform musical selections from “The Little Mermaid” at the Lions Park Gazebo. And four houses will be open for tours this year, as well as one backyard with operating model trains.
Tickets are needed for the house tours and the tea. Advance tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12. They're available at the Bristol tax office, Great ID’s by Anne, the Grundy Library, Mignoni Jewelry and the Mill Street Pharmacy. Tickets purchased on the day of the event will be $12 for adults and $6 for children ages 6-12.
Many events are free, including a dedication of engraved bricks at the Mill Street Crossing Gateway Arch at 2 p.m. at the corner of Old Route 13 and Mill streets. The Loch Rannoch Pipes and Drums will perform at the dedication.
More information: www.bristolhistory.org. - Bucks County Courier


"Bucks County Residents Head Over To Canal Festival"

Posted: Saturday, June 21, 2014 5:30 pm | Updated: 8:53 am, Mon Jun 30, 2014.
By GEMA MARIA DUARTE Staff writer
Andrew Reid turned his canoe into “Levittown Duck” in four days with help from a $1 beach ball and a lot of yellow duct tape.
The Bristol Township resident paraded down the Delaware Canal this weekend as part of the Delaware Canal Festival’s boat parade — Friday in Bristol and Saturday in Yardley.
“This will definitely become a family tradition,” Reid, who participated in the parade for the first time, said Saturday after the Yardley parade. “It was so much fun decorating and getting in the canoe and parading down the canal.”
The Friends of the Delaware Canal, Landmark Towns of Bucks County, and the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor sponsored the three-day celebration of the historic waterway, which runs between Bristol and Easton.
The event, which shows off the natural beauty of the Delaware Canal, kicked off Friday in Bristol at the Lagoon Park. The fun included a decorated boat parade, a decorated duck contest and a concert by “The River Drivers.”
Then, on Saturday it headed to Yardley during the day, where the boat parade was also hosted. Additionally, there was another decorated duck contest, music by Caribbean Steel Rhythms Ensemble, a Canal Critter Race and booths operated by food and community groups.
In the evening, the festivities made way to Morrisville with another duck contest, an art exhibit, live music and food and vendors.
The event ends Sunday in New Hope in conjunction with the town’s Liberty Festival. The day will involve a 5K Run/Walk, a guided tour of the borough and canal towpath, decorated duck-making sessions and a string band concert to benefit the New Hope-Solebury library.
Reid used a plastic cup to make the duck beak and covered the canoe in yellow mesh for the rest of the body. His special decorating touch was three fish bowls with live goldfish on top of the canoe.
His son, “Amazing” Andrew, 8, participated in the decorative duck contest. He won for most creative, using broken crayons to decorate his yellow duck. His prize was $20.
“Oh man, my crayons are melting,” he said.
Another boy, Lucian Mihalics, 10, won for the Ugly Duck category at the Yardley competition.
The duck was meticulously spray painted green and turned into “Duckzilla” with yellow eyes and a gray fin. He also won $20.
“It took two days,” Lucian said, explaining the process of painting, the drying period and details it took to make it look so good. “My dad helped.”
“It was his idea, I did all the dirty work,” his father, Brian Mihalics, said laughing.
Ducks were decorated with straws, flowers, feathers, crayons all used to make them look like Elvis, princesses, clowns or superheroes.
“It was fun doing it together,” Brian Mihalics said.
Gema Maria Duarte: 215-949-4195; email: gduarte@calkins.com; Twitter: @deadlineduarte - Bucks County Courier


"Three Day Canal Festival Begins Friday in Bristol"

Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 6:45 pm | Updated: 10:41 pm, Wed Jun 18, 2014.
By Joan Hellyer Staff Writer
Decorated boat parades, decorated duck contests and a Canal Critter Race will take center stage beginning Friday during the Delaware Canal Festival, organizers said.
Admission is free to the three days of activities in Bristol, Yardley, Morrisville and New Hope.
The Friends of the Delaware Canal, Landmark Towns of Bucks County, and the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor are sponsoring the celebration of the man-made waterway that runs through the Delaware Canal State Park between Bristol and Easton.
The fest begins at 7 p.m. Friday at Lagoon Park in Bristol and will include a decorated boat parade, a decorated duck contest and a concert by “The River Drivers.”
The celebration then heads upstream to Yardley on Saturday, organizers said. Activities will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. along the canal between Afton and College avenues.
They will include a decorated boat parade at 12:30 p.m., a decorated duck contest, music by Caribbean Steel Rhythms Ensemble, a Canal Critter Race at 3 p.m. and booths operated by food and community groups, the organizers said.
Then the canal fest heads up to Morrisville on Saturday night for another duck contest, an art exhibit, live music and food and vendors. The activities run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Williamson Park.
The celebration wraps up Sunday with a full day of activities in New Hope in conjunction with the town’s Liberty Festival, the organizers said.
Events run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will include a 5K Run/Walk, a guided tour of the borough and canal towpath, decorated duck making sessions and a string band concert to benefit the New Hope-Solebury library.
Participants are being recruited for the various boat parades and duck contests as well as the canal critter race, organizers said.
Rubber critters can be purchased ahead of time at several locations in Yardley before the Critter Canal Race on Saturday. A list of participating locations is at fodc.org. Proceeds from the sales will benefit the Friends of the Delaware Canal maintenance and improvement efforts, organizers said.
Joan Hellyer: 215-949-4048; email: jhellyer@calkins.com; Twitter: @BCCTintheknow - Bucks County Courier


"Dozens of Volunteers expected for Bristol's Clean Up"

Posted: Sunday, April 20, 2014 4:00 pm | Updated: 10:29 am, Mon Apr 21, 2014.
By GEMA MARIA DUARTE Staff writer
Come early May, Bristol could be as close to spotless as possible.
At last count, some 175 people have volunteered to clean up streets and parks on May 3. And there’s still time to sign up to help.
Just show up at the Bristol Wharf at 8:45 a.m., and volunteers will be given T-shirts, gloves, trash bags and safety vests courtesy of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
Community volunteer group, Raising the Bar, along with the Bristol government, is sponsoring Keep Bristol Beautiful, the borough-wide cleanup and flower sale and planting event.
Residents, church and service groups, and firehouse members will adopt a block in their neighborhood and pick up litter and assist neighbors in bringing unwanted items from yards or public places to the curb for bulk pickup, organizers said.
“We wanted residents to know that while we support economic development through tourism, the arts and historic preservation, Raising the Bar’s mission extends to every street and neighborhood. The Keep Bristol Beautiful campaign is a great way to demonstrate that, and the response has been tremendous,” said Bill Pezza, chairman of Raising the Bar.
Besides cleaning, the group is encouraging people to plant.
About 1,800 small plants will be for sale at $1 for a six-pack and $5 for a flat.
“The goal isn’t to make money. The goal is to encourage people to plant,” said Shirley Brady, a group member.
To keep the day entertaining, the Irish group the River Drivers will provide music. And Bristol Lions and Bristol Rotary will provide water and snacks for participants.
“The kickoff gathering and the entire day is our way of capturing the community spirit we know is out there and putting it to good use,” said Mycle Gorman, a Raising the Bar board member and chairman of the Mill Street Crossing arch project.
The plan is to make the event yearly, but some participants believe it should happen more often.
“This is something that should happen year-round. It takes less effort to carry a bag and pick up litter in the neighborhood than it does to complain about it,” Jose Acevedo, a volunteer said.
Participating children must be accompanied by an adult.
Construction materials, such as cinder blocks and drywall, are not part of the bulk pickup program. To discard tires, call borough hall at 215-788-3828 by May 2.
For more information or to donate, visit raisingthebsarbristol@gmail.com.
Gema Maria Duarte: 215-949-4195; email: gduarte@calkins.com; Twitter: @deadlineduarte - Bucks County Courier


Discography

CD- Self titled "River Drivers"   Released  March 31, 2015

  1. Come Out Ye Black and Tans (Lyrics: Dominic Behan, Music: traditional)  2:59
  2. Tell God and theDevil (Seamus Egan, Mick McCauley) 2:28
  3. Dirty Old Town(Ewan MacColl) 2:41
  4. Blair Mountain (MindyMurray) 4:25
  5. Hot Asphalt (traditional)  3:15
  6. Erin Go Bragh(traditional) 2:51
  7. Whiskey in the Jar (the Dubliners)
    3:15
  8. Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportee) (Lyrics: Woody Guthrie; Music: Martin Hoffman) 3:34
  9. Manchester Rambler (Ewan MacColl) 4:19
  10. Billy OShea
    (traditional) 2:17
  11. If Ever You Were
    Mine (Maurice Lennon) 2:32

CD- "Big Oak Road" Released October 18, 2019
1. Children's March/ Mother Jones (Mindy Murray/ Kevin McCloskey)
2. Going Once (Mindy Murray)
3. Crooked Jack (Dominic Behan)
4. Si Se Puede (Mindy Murray)
5. Isn't It Grand Boys/ Look at the Coffin (The Clancy Brothers)
6. Big Oak Road (Mindy Murray)
7. Cumann na mBan (Mindy Murray)
8. Moonshiner (Traditional)
9. Union Man (Tim Stafford)
10. Farewell Johnny Miner (Ed Pickford)


Photos

Bio

Hundreds of years of songs by and about the disenfranchised all say the same things in the end—that everyone wants freedom and a fair shake. Just so happens that the road to getting there makes for some damn good music. It’s no coincidence that a lot of these songs have strong opinions, political and otherwise. All the power people lack in life can come back tenfold in their music. On their self-titled debut album, the River Drivers have chosen to respect that legacy and let the songs speak for themselves. Following on the heels of their first successful record, the River Drivers now have released "Big Oak Road" which is filled with more stories of hard-working men and women. 

The River Drivers are a band with roots that run deep in a number of musical genres. Anchored by Kevin McCloskey (vocals, guitar, mandolin, banjo, bass) and Mindy Murray (vocals, guitar, banjo) with accompaniment by Marian Moran (tin whistle, low whistle, concertina) and Meagan Ratini (fiddle, Irish flute, tin whistle), the River Drivers have cultivated a passion-infused style drawing from Celtic, Americana and Mountain influences.

At a very early age, Kevin was playing guitar and banjo and singing harmonies to Irish standards with his father, Irish tenor, Tommy McCloskey. In his early twenties, he cut his teeth playing weekly at a Trenton pub alongside his father and “Irish Billy” Briggs. Kevin developed a passion for songs portraying the plight of working men and women and all the places they toiled. Kevin’s musical tastes are broad, and he toured North America and Europe extensively with his hardcore punk band. He brings the intensity of that genre to River Drivers.

Mindy was in her early teens when she started singing and playing guitar and dulcimer in coffee houses, pubs, and campus radio stations. Life took her to medical school in West Virginia where she witnessed firsthand the struggles of day-to-day life in Appalachia. The music of the mountains and the miners infused into her repertoire.  Years later, she and her daughter Meagan would play music together long into the night and eventually formed the musical duo Port Murray.

Marian’s family roots lie in the town of Ardara in County Donegal--known throughout the world as an epicenter of Irish traditional music. Whenever she can break away from the office world, she steals back to the rugged coastline village to recharge at its nightly sessions and the many music festivals held there--including the famed Cup of Tae and Johnny Doherty festivals. Having played the organ in her youth, Marian jumped at the chance to learn the concertina - a much more portable instrument with reeds and bellows.

Meagan grew up in a house that seemed like it had more musical instruments than practically anything else. She learned how to play the flute and dulcimer when she was quite young and then moved on to other instruments, eventually picking up the fiddle and the tin whistle and falling into Irish music. While helping direct the New Jersey Folk Festival in college, Meagan was introduced to the world of the traditional Irish session by some of the best trad musicians in the region.

In what has been unironically called “An Act of God,” Mindy was asked to resurrect some ’70s folk music for an anniversary at a local church along with Kevin, a grade school friend of her daughter Meagan.  Marian, Mindy’s best friend from high school and college roommate, was also brought into the fold. All four quickly sensed a deep musical connection. House sessions evolved into the formation of River Drivers--a band that continues to experiment and find ways of making the traditional visceral again. Their music is now heard at many festivals and other venues throughout the United States and abroad.

Band Members