By Jack Firneno
The River Drivers, Bristol Borough’s own traditional Irish folk music quartet, is wrapping up production of its debut album. The self-titled 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, well-known 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 well-known 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.
For more information, visit www.theriverdrivers.com.