Finnegan Ridge possesses a rare gift among Celtic bands: Rather than simply entertain, they transport a listener from couch to distant pub counter. You can taste the beer, see the céilidh dancers. A Pint for your Troubles, their second CD release, is travel non-fiction for the ears.
The Bozeman sextet should be no strangers to music-goers in Montana. From Sean Kelly’s to the An Ri Ra Irish Festival in Butte, the eclectic group of educators, students and die-hard musicians certainly gets around. Not a member in the lineup takes music lightly, and it shows.
A Pint for your Troubles wanders from the blue-green hills of Ireland to the cafés of Spain. There’s the thumping of the bodhrán, the wail of the concertina. Every one of these traditional tunes promises a trip to another country, another culture, another pint of beer. The pace of A Pint for your Troubles rises and falls appropriately, but never loses steam. The album’s crown jewel is “The Spinster,” an original written by Finnegan Ridge’s own Marlene Schumann. If not for the track notation, her work could melt into the fabric of these established Celtic staples. And with travel costs what they are, Finnegan Ridge offers a much-needed affordable alternative. (Alex Sakariassen)