Philadelphia-based Celtic-tinged folk rock collective River Drivers has announced their new album ‘Big Oak Road’, be released in early October. Ahead of this, they are offering a taster of this high-energy blend of Celtic-Americana via the double A-side single ‘Children’s March (Mother Jones) / Going Once’.
The release coincides with the band’s appearance at this year’s Philadelphia Folk Festival.
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 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 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.
‘Children’s March (Mother Jones)’ written by Mindy Murray and Kevin McCloskey
‘Going Once’ written by Mindy Murray
Produced by Richard Hartline and Tom Murray of Tulipomania
Recorded by River Drivers and Richard Hartline
Engineered and mastered by Richard Hartline
Photos and single cover by Ron Donocoff
Aug. 08 ‘Philly Folk Scene’ session on WPPM 106.5 FM (3 pm)
Aug. 10 Bethlehem, PA – Musikfest 2019 (9 pm)
Aug. 18 Schwenksville, PA – Philadelphia Folk Festival (4:30 pm)
Sept 13 Philadelphia, PA – 45th Annual Irish Festival (8 pm)
Sept 21 Buckingham, PA – The Peace Fair
Oct. 18 Philadelphia, PA (CD release concert) – TBA
Nov. 02 Waretown, NJ – Albert Music Hall (10 pm)