Missoulian

“Tap ‘er Light” is a musical excursion into the heart and soul of Butte…full of intensity, emotion, sentiment and strain, but brimming with hope that the hard work and struggles of underground miners will somehow be balanced out by the joy of family and fight.

 Butte’s Irish minstrels: Dublin Gulch (Tom Powers, Mick Cavanaugh, John Joyner and Jim Schulz), have been at it for 25 years. Jim Schulz’s music, when combined with his lyrics, reveals Butte and the Butte experience so well that the Mining City’s Chief Executive Matt Vincent recently recognized Dublin Gulch and made Schulz and Joyner Honorary Butte Citizens.

 Whether you still live in Butte or are a Butte survivor elsewhere awaiting the opportunity to return; whether you’d secretly like to experience Butte or you are a little afraid of the overpowering myth of Butte; as a Montanan you need to know the depth of Butte to know your state. You will know Butte better after spending an hour with Dublin Gulch and “Tap ‘er light.”

Americana Backroads

Dublin Gulch’s “Tap ‘Er Light” ought to be in everyone’s knapsack this summer. It is absolutely delightful. The original material is excellent and the singing and musicianship are outstanding. Plus (and this is a VERY BIG plus!) the history shines through like a new copper penny.  

Tap ‘Er Light, boys. This one is on Repeat, since I done throw’d out my remote! 

Rik James “Americana Backroads” (KGLT-FM, Bozeman, MT – www.kglt.net

Myrna Loy Center

Mile high and a mile deep, just like Butte, America. Dublin Gulch is the voice of the miner, the lilt of the Irishmen, the rhythm of the Montana landscape, and the spirit of the hopeful heart. They hold their own with the Celtic best across the world, with a sound so true and rooted it could only come from Butte, Montana.

Lively Times

Perennial purveyors of Celtic favorites, Butte’s Dublin Gulch has released their first studio album, Dirty Old Town. Besides containing that hit by Ewen MacColl, the references to Butte are unmistakable. Dublin Gulch has for a long while extolled the populace of Montana’s most colorful city in story and song.

The album contains traditional ballads as well as jigs, reels, and even some polkas. The foursome (Tom Powers, Mick Cavanaugh, Jim Schulz and John Joyner), flesh out their sound here with guest artists, including the late John “the Yank” Harrington, Butte’s most famous button accordion player, to whom they dedicate the CD. The cover features Harrington as a young man.

Schulz contributes a couple original songs. “The Streets of Sligo Town” he wrote after a trip to Ireland; and “Fill the Glass” is a wistful Irish toast of reminiscence, featuring just him on guitar, with John Joyner providing fiddle accompaniment.

Both Schulz and Powers have that spot-on baritone burr so necessary on musical tales. “A Miner’s Life,” sounding old-timey with rousing fiddle, moves quickly. The title cut comes out jazzy and rockin’, with an almost western flair.

“My Darling Asleep” is the first in a dynamic three-jig set. It’s got fine mandolin chops and a cool drone-y undercurrent. Cello (from Janet Haarvig) and whistle kick off “The Blackbird,” a pensive air.

An inventive arrangement pervades “The Yank.” It begins with the elderly Harrington playing his signature tune, “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” from his recording, “A Celtic Century.” Sparse and authentic, it segues into a fiddle and bouzouki version, played as a waltz. The group played that arrangement at centenarian Harrington’s funeral.

The finale is a “bonus cut” recorded by Ken Willson (of Willson and McKee, Montana music veterans living in Colorado) several years back in his home studio at 2 a.m. It’s a barn-burner that features Schulz kickin’ it on bouzouki while Cavanaugh plays the ever-lovin’ life out of the whistle on a set of reels (“The Bergin Set”). Yowza! Play that one a few times!

Terrific engineering, as usual, from Dan Nichols at Soul Tree Studio in Helena.

Missoula Independent

There's a joke that goes, "How do you tell one Irish song from another?" The answer: By the name. But, while this everything-sounds-the-same phenomenon might be true for some Celtic bands, such is not the case for long-time Butte favorite Dublin Gulch. They stick pretty close to traditional fiddling, picking and penny whistling when covering classic Irish tunes such as "My Darling Asleep," but there's also a certain country swing, like the title track.

The album displays as wide a range of flavors as pints in a pub. "Rosin the Bow" is nothing but a good, old-fashioned drinking song. On the other hand, "Blackbird" is a beautiful, haunting lament that could be straight from the soundtrack of Braveheart (wrong country, true, but the same melancholy ethos). There's no shortage of bawdy innuendo either, with tunes such as "The Dirty Bastard's Daughter" and lascivious lyrics like "If I had Maggie in the woods I'd keep her there 'til morning."

People fall into one of two camps: Either you like Irish music or you don't. If you're the type to fancy a good jig every now and then, you couldn't pick a better band than Dublin Gulch.