Liner Notes

1. Irish Rover

While this old classic has been recorded many times by many artists it certainly stands the test of time.  When people come to hear our band live, this is still one we can count on to get the crowd into it.  It's as close as we get to having a signature song, so we just had to record it here for you.

2. Old Fashioned Tune

This is a great waltz we learned from the Irish singer Johnny McEvoy.  It tells the story of a veteran recently returned to Ireland from the Boar War in Africa and the beautiful woman who sweeps him off his feet.

3. Taste the Best of Life

This is a fun song that Denis wrote one night after practice with the band.  It wasn't really intended for public consumption (pun intended) but once people hear it a lot of them seem to identify with it!  While Denis is very delighted with the real title, the rest of the boys just call it the 'Cheesies and Flakie' song.

4. Leaving of Liverpool

This is a fine sea shanty that we first heard from the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem.  While it's another song that has been recorded by many bands in many different ways, we try to keep it up-beat and have some fun with it.

5. Whiskey in the Jar

There's not much we have to say about this one other than it's another classic that we have a great bit of fun playing.  If you don't have fun listening to it, sure that's yer own fault!

6. Grey Foggy Day

As fond as we are of playing Irish music, there's nothing makes us happier than to be sharing the music of great Newfoundland and Labrador song writers and musicians.  There is no denying that Eddie Coffey has created a song here that stirs the soul, and thanks be to God, the feet, of so many of us.  Doug does a great job on the accordion with this so it's impossible for us to play a full set without including this one. 

7. That Old Stage

Although born high and dry in the airport town of Gander, Carl spent many summers and weekends in his Mother's hometown of Greenspond.  One of Carl's fondest memories of his visits to Greenspond was hanging out with his Dad and the other menfolk down in his Uncle Ron's stage during the evenings. During those times, the men would chat about the people and happenings in the island community and tell tales.

There would always be shavings from the latest building project and scraps of wood to carve and hammer together. Meanwhile outside, the boats would be moored for the evening and the Arctic Terns, known locally as "Steerins", would be flying about and dipping in Pond Head devouring their evening meal.
It doesn't sound like much compared to XBox and Wii, but looking back over the decades it certainly was a special time.  This song is inspired by that very special place, the old stage which was created by hand from the sticks of wood that were hauled to the island by his Grandfather and Uncle.

8. Black Velvet Band

This is another song that we heard in the crib so it is hard to say who we learned it from but we try to model our version after the late, great, Luke Kelly and The Dubliners (an impossible goal as that is).  The main objective however is to get people dancing or singing along which we're sure Luke would approve of.  'What about her hair!?'

9. Excursion Around the Bay

This old standard from Johnny Burke has long been an acapella favorite and usually can be counted on to get the audience clapping hands, tapping toes and singing along.  And such has been the case with us for many years so we felt compelled to include it on the CD.  Enjoy – and sing along!

10. St. Olav’s Gate

This is a relatively new song compared to many included on the CD but we’re pretty sure our fans will enjoy it.   It was written by a great American folk singer/song writer by the name of Tom Russell.  We first heard it from a recording by Chris Hennessey and it’s become a favorite at every sing-song we’ve been at since.   If you don’t know it already, we bet you’ll be singing the chorus before the song is over.

11. Measure of a Man

At the behest of his mother, Denis wrote this song about his father, Rob Sullivan.  Denis had previously written a number of what he calls 'silly, local' songs just for a bit of fun or to capture some local history.  His father had died in 1980 at the age of 66 when Denis was just 16.  His mother Alice (known in Calvert as 'Alice Rob' to distinguish her from other Alice Sullivan's in the harbour) suggested he write a more serious one about his father.  Denis agreed.  However, early in the writing process it became clear to him that this song would speak to many more  fine men he had known growing up in Calvert and indeed many he had met since.  But much of the philosophy prevalent in the song comes from direct quotes and actions of Rob Sullivan.  A bit of background might help you understand some of the lyrics.  Rob Sullivan was a veteran of World War II.  He was part of the 59th Newfoundland Heavy Artillery Regiment and served throughout Europe from 1940 to 1945.  But he didn't fight for the glory of war.  He served from a sense of duty.  In the few times that he talked about the war he had said that as his father at the time was becoming elderly and was a widower with 11 children and could couldn't go overseas, then as the eldest son and being of sound mind and body with no family of his own at the time that it was his duty to represent the family in this defense of King and country.  While such sentiment might seem far-fetched in these days, such was the frame of mind for Rob Sullivan in 1940.  He would freely admit that there was also a sense of adventure associated with the notion, but the sense of duty was clearly his main motivation. This sense of duty was prevalent throughout his life and was instilled in his children in terms of service to community, church, and family.  The other key point to know about him is that he couldn't understand greed in others.  He couldn't understand how people could fall out with family members over a tiny piece of land or how a man could cheat another to get a few more dollars for himself.  One comment Denis heard more than once when he'd complain that he thought one of the other lads was getting something more than him at supper time was 'Do you have enough on your own plate to fill you up?  Yes father.  Well then don't worry about what's on the other fella's plate, be happy that you have enough to satisfy yourself'.  

One of the other things that Denis is happy about with this song is that parts of it were 'co-written by his mother, Alice, and his wife, Pam. His mother had given him the basis for the line about the fact that while he wasn't given much from his father in material wealth, he had been instilled with the values of truth and honesty which is far more valuable.  And Pam gave him the best line of all.  Late one night, very late, as Denis was just about finished the song, he was pacing the floor of the bedroom where poor old Pam was trying to sleep.  She came to and said 'b'y go to bed out of it!' to which Denis replied, 'Pam I can't.  I nearly have the song finished but I want to finish it with a strong line and I can't get anything to work'. 'Oh go to bed b'y, all you're trying to say is that you've become the measure of the man'.  Nite, nite.

12. Skellara Hat

The old classic from the McNulty Family has been revived of late by one of our favorite Newfoundland and Labrador Bands, Shanneyganock.   This lively number features Curtis on lead vocals and always brings the crowd to life.  Try not to tap your toe, go on, try it...

13. Sweet Forget Me Not

It’s hard not to sing along to this classic waltz!  This is another one that is a fan favorite of our ‘regulars’ so we felt we needed to put it on the CD in part to thank them for supporting us for so many years.

14. Cock of the North/Brothers Jig

Just a fun set of tunes that we love to practice and try our best to keep up with Doug on the accordion. 

15. Close B’y to Heaven

This is a song Denis wrote back in 1992 for a contest to write a song for Newfoundland and Labrador.  He describes it as a ‘visual song’ so if you’ve been lucky enough to travel through this wonderful province you’ll have flashes of some of these images come back to your mind.  By the way, he only won a t-shirt in that contest, but now you get to be the judge!