The Newhampton Inn, Wolverhampton (12th April 2012)
Promoting their new album Fourth Time Round, Two Time Polka played the Newhampton Inn, Wolverhampton. The term unique is often banded about glibly but there truly is nothing quite like Cork outfit Two Time Polka on the folk circuit. Their Americana-inspired music is gloriously foot stomping and wonderfully enthusiastic. Opening with Ode to Billie Joe the mix of mandolin and acoustic and electric guitars complemented each other and blended wonderfully with Aaron Dillon’s voice for the blues song of Hoist Your Windows high.
Superb mandolin player Ray Barron gave the first show of his musical prowess when he took the audience to Mexico with el Comancheros then handed over once again to the strong vocals of Dillon for the politically-barbed Brown Envelope. The band continued their musical journey through to Louisiana with the Wafus Two Step and even to The Promised Land. Weaving in between all these was Geraldine Barron who wields her accordion like a pump action shotgun. To banish any doubts about their originality the Dark Side of Macroom blends Pink Floyd with Greek and Jewish strands and though it shouldn’t work the band’s skill makes sure it does.
DANNY FARRAGHER: Walsall Chronicle
Reviews for All Roots
Shreds & Patches – Issue 49 Live Review. Easter 2010
Having noticed in Shreds & Patches that Two Time Polka were performing in Shropshire, I decided I would have to get to see them. Despite having visitors most of that week, I figured that Two Time Polka would have to take priority! They are a 6 piece band playing mostly Cajun and American music despite being from Cork. I already knew Ray Barron (probably the finest mandolin player I have come across) and his wife Geraldine (Cajun style one-row 4 stop accordion and concertina) but the rest of the band (Tomas on lead vocals and guitar, Dave on drums, James on bass and Leon on lead guitar) turned out to be not only superb musicians but a really nice bunch of guys too. I saw them play at Tilston Music Club, at the Carden Arms in Tilston, and having received one ticket in advance (I was ‘Billy-no-mates’ that night!), found it to be a good venue filled with very friendly people, with the only criticism being that it wasn’t big enough!
The band played two sets of virtually non-stop music, where even the sad songs were power-driven and foot-stomping. Each one of them played their leads faultlessly, they are obviously well rehearsed and having a good time. I’ve no particular favourite from that night, but I really liked their cover of Bobby Gentry’s “Ode to Billy Joe” (remember that line “…Billy Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge”?) which I don’t think they have recorded, maybe next CD? Check out their website www.twotimepolka.com and order all their CDs, you’ll have some great listening, dancing and driving music. If you see them playing near you, you are assured of some great music. Brilliant!
Two Time Polka review – All Roots
When you get an Irish band from Cork which sings in American and French and plays Cajun, you know you have encountered something different. Folk band Two Time Polka recently played at the Newhampton Arts Centre in Wolverhampton and are carving themselves a niche in playing a smattering of world music while focussing mainly on their version of the Cajun sound.
This is the sort of venture that could go seriously wrong unless you have the calibre of musicians to pull it off: Fortunately TTP have.
All Roots shows off superbly the skills of Tomas Dunne, Geraldine Barron, James O’Sullivan, Leon Barron, Dave Jones and the incredibly talented mandolin player, Ray Barron. This is one of those albums which defy you not to start tapping your feet. It is a wonderful eclectic collection of American-sound folk music from the depression-like ‘Hiriam Hubbard’ to the more honky tonk sound of ‘Too Hip’, Gotta Go’. Geraldine Barron’s skill with an accordion is excellently showcased on the opening track, ‘Bosco Stomp’.
To buy the album go to www.custysmusic.com and for more information on the band go to www.twotimepolka.com
13 May 2010
SHREDS & PATCHES
Some time back a customer brought his concertina to me for an overhaul, and left me with his CD, “From Pana to Louisiana” by Irish based Cajun band Two Time Polka. Recently I asked if they had recorded anything more as that CD had been the best music I had heard in a long time. I managed to scrounge their latest top quality recording, “All Roots“, a mixture of Cajun, Texas Swing and Latin. Tomas Dunne (vocals, guitar, washboard), Geraldine Barron ( accordion, concertina), James O’Sullivan (basses, guitar, vocal), Dave Jones (drums), Ray Barron (brilliant mandolin, fiddle, bouzouki etc) Leon Barron (electric and acoustic guitar) and a host of guest musicians, all noticeably well recorded and engineered. I could say how good they are, but you’ve probably gathered that already, I could say how lively they sound, but you would expect that too. With tracks like El Cumbanchero, One Less Trailer, Tico Tico, I should say how good the whole CD is. Great! Could someone please book them for a gig in Shropshire please?
- Andrew Norman
Review – R2 (Rock ‘n’ Reel).
Two time Polka is an Irish band playing American roots – anything from Cajun to Latin American. All Roots is their third album and it’s a great party record although ‘Hiram Hubbard’ provides a stark contrast to the good time style. Play loud and serve with bourbon and tequila.
REVIEW on AMAZON 2008
I stumbled across this band on You Tube, completely by accident. Their from Ireland, but they don’t play Irish music. They don’t play polka, they play Cajun, and it really is awesome. My favorite cuts are “Hound Dog” and “The Promised Land” but I don’t think there’s a weak one here. I haven’t been this enthusiastic about an album in years. Buy it, you won’t regret it.
THURSDAY JULY 17th 2008
‘Cork’s Two Time Polka are an internationally renowned Roots and Americana band, who have been invited to play throughout Europe and the United States. Their last two albums have been released worldwide and there has been a lot of anticipation for their latest record, All Roots. It was launched last week in the Crane Lane Theatre to a tremendous reaction…I really must say that this album is a real gem, a definite contender for Album of the Year for 2008…I really recommend picking it up’.
- Ronan Leonard
WEXFORD HOOVES ‘n GROOVES 2007: (Two Reviews)
Red-hot and steamin’, straight from the Louisiana swaps (via Cork delta) come Two Time Polka. “Irish cajun bluegrass rockabilly neo-folk” said No Depression magazine. It shouldn’t work but it does. No one comes close for sheer entertainment. Always a huge favourite in Wexford.
Cajun band Two Time Polka had their annual festival jamboree on a packed Charlotte Street Sunday afternoon. The sun shone, the children danced and the beer flowed. Probably the best fun of the weekend.
STRAWBERRY FAIR, ENNISCORTHY, CO. WEXFORD 2005
What is a band from Cork doing playing such goddam, sweet-sounding Louisiana Cajun? A perennial favourite in Wexford the Cork-based band has a reputation for turning out great live performances. Their music comes soaked in the humid swamp heat of high Summer Louisiana. They sound so good that they are play-listed on a number of American stations. Get ready for a little New Orleans style partying.
THE IRISH TIMES
THURSDAY, MAY 8 2003
TWO TIME POLKA
About Time Two ****
Embarrassingly eclectic or wilfully unfettered? Two Time Polka, Corks’ homegrown answer to Dewey Balfa, Bill Monroe and Chuck Berry (all rolled, Mexican wrap-like, into one) follow up their grandiloquent début, From Pana to Louisiana, with another fine collection that waltzes, two steps and washboard shimmies its way from the Bayou to Kentucky, Roanoake, Virginia and points south, east and west. Although its compass occasionally ricochets disturbingly far from base camp, it still manages to assert its’ identity with suitably crazed Cajun tunes such as Eunice Two-Step and Bayou Pompan. Be not distracted by a misguided cover of Elvis’ Hound Dog because it yields manfully to tunes of far greater integrity. High yodelling, box-pleating delights.
HOT PRESS 67
TWO TIME POLKA-ABOUT TIME TWO (self produced)
Blending Cajun music with bluegrass and old-timey sounds, this Cork-based band have been around since 1994; their debut album, From Pana To Louisiana, was described in this very magazine as “a magnificent achievement”. About Time Two follows it up with a wildly eclectic selection of material ranging from classic Bill Monroe tunes to a Louisianified version of Elvis Presleys’ ‘Hound Dog’ and a cover of Chuck Berrys’ ‘The Promised Land’ that ventures into straight-ahead rock and roll (albeit featuring accordion and mandolin). Singer/guitarist/washboard player Tomas Dunne also does a convincing job an Bob Dylan’s ‘Blind Willie McTell’; most commendably, the group revives ‘Tokyo Rose’. a great song written by Joe Dolan back in his Sweeneys Men days.
SEVEN POINT FIVE/TEN
29th April 2003
MANDOLIN and fiddle player Ray Barron sums up the Two Time Polka sound by saying, they’re a band who just “love to play good music”. It’s a simple mission statement but one which underestimates greatly the talents of a collective of imaginative musicians who celebrate Cajun, bluegrass, rock’n'roll and other convivial music variants – all with their own distinctive polish and panache. Two Time Polka launch their second CD About Time Two on Thursday. Their obvious penchant for witty titles (their first offering, four years ago,was called From Pana To Louisiana) mirrors their philosophy as a fun live band. “The beauty of Two Time Polka is that, it can thrive in venues where more regular cover bands are the norm” says Barron. “People can have a really good time while also being introduced to new music” About Time Two treads the same pathways and back roads of American roots music that From Pana to Louisiana started out on. All the signposts are still there, whether they’re pointing towards the bluegrass of Kentucky or the swamp pop of south Louisiana. The music on About Time Two resonates to the sound of Saturday night dancehall whether through the joyous vibrancy of the two-step or the sepia-toned nostalgia of its waltzes. It’s a studlo album but doesn’t betray the band’s approach to their live performances. All the essential Two Time Polka ingredients are here; tunes that wiII want to make you get up and dance and song settings that will linger with the listener long after the first hearing. A typical Cajun dancehall intro to the opening track leads unexpectedly into Hound Dog and the course is set fair for fun. The band together with a bunch of Cork-bases musicians making guest appearances, throw themselves wholeheartedly into everything from Cajun classics to Chuck Berry, tipping their hat to Bob Dylan and Joe Dolan -the Sweeney’s Men Joe Dolan lest there be any confusion. Authenticity and integrity are at the heart of everything Two Time Polka do. First-time listeners to About Time Two could be forgiven for assuming that these musicians hail from the American South rather than from the south of Ireland. Tomas Dunne’s singing is particularly evocative, as is the accordion and concertina ploying of Geraldine Barron. Barron’s fluid mandolin, notably on the Bill Monroe compositions Roanoke and Jerusalem Ridge is a particular joy. The choice of the haunting Azalea Waltz as the valedictory track recalls the close of The Band’s farewell album The Last Waltz and Martin Scorsese’s film of the same title.
#48· November-December 2003
Two Time Polka:
Dance This Mess Around
Saturday night is a universal thing. So notes Ray Barron, the mandolinist and visionary creator of the Irishy band Two Time Polka. He’s an expert on the subject: Two Time Polka is an Irish Cajun band. In fact, it’s Irish Cajun bluegrass rockabilly neo-folk, playing music ranging from Bill Monroe’s to Chuck Berry’s to Bob Dylan’s to, uh, I. Lejeune’s. Two Time Polka does all this while employing Cajunesque instruments- accordion, concertina, washboard- and singing some of the songs in (almost) Gallic-sounding Louisiana-ese with requisite Swamp sizzle. Barron has plied his musical trade from Cork to Australia but has yet to visit Louisiana. Except for one quick New York vacation, he hasn’t even been to North America. Yet, despite its availability in the U.S only online, Two Time Polka’s recently released second CD, About Time Two, has been getting a few plays on NPR-ish radio in Los Angeles, Chicago, and even Baton Rouge. Titles include Monroe’s hot “Roanoke” and “Jerusalem Ridge” as well as his plaintive”Roxanna Waltz”. There’s also Dylan’s “Blind Willie McTell” and Berry’s “The Promised Land” ( and an aberrational “Hound Dog”, but skip that) alongside lesser-known Kathy Chiavola’s beautifully churchy “Azalea Waltz” and a chilling paean by J. Dolan called “Tokyo Rose” about the World War II Japanese radio vixen. Especially effective are “Bayou Pampon”,”Lacassine Special”,”Eunice Two-Step and “Another Lonely Night”, Cajun songs that moan and writhe with the sweat of Spanish moss midnights. But…how? “We really didn’t know what people would think at first,” Barron confides digressively. “But once you start up with the cajun Music, three notes in, it’s happy.” Truly. Possibly nobody knows more about making a Saturday night worth a Sunday morning than Cajuns and Irishmen. Theirs, though, was a twain unmet until now. How did Barron ever hook up with the french-singing Tomas Dunne? “The whole thing started quite casually,” Barron answers. “We had a friend who ran a pub on an island off the south coast, and he phoned up and said, “Look, we need some music for the weekend.” The singer I’d been working with was playing with another band at the time, so I phoned Tomas and said, “Hey, do you fancy going down there for a small kind of get-together, playing for people on the island Saturday and Sunday Night?” I had known Tomas on and off from playing in Irish sessions. I’d always wanted to work with him, because whenever I found him a gig he had a great stage presence.” That was ten years ago. Dunne said yes to the island hop, and bad weather then stranded them there for an extra three days. They came home friends and for the next couple of summers teamed in a four-piece group to do small-time shows around Cork and Kerry. “Then,” Barron says, “It started to get popular.” They got asked to play bigger venues, then festivals. After they recruited a drummer to help with the larger shows, they found themselves playing not just “semi-acoustic traditional Irish music” anymore. Their sound had taken on a “dancehall” feel. Barron recalls, and they found a distinctive within a Cork music scene that Barron describes as uniquely influenced by American as well as Irish traditional sounds. It must be. He says he already was well into bluegrass and Monroe by the time he got introduced to Cajun sounds through such movies as “Southern Comfort” and “Heaven’s Gate”. His initial reaction to the Louisiana sound was curiosity; “What is that stuff?” The more he heard, the more curious he became. After the band learned to play the Cajun instrumental “Cherokee Waltz”, he remembers, he realised vocals were also important in Cajun music, but he had no idea how Two Time could pull that off. At first he had no clue what the words even meant. Then, he recalls with a brief laugh, he “realized that Tomas could have another use for his school French”. ” We kind of gradually got into it, little bit by little bit,” he goes on, then succinctly explains why they went so far: “It’s very Infectious”. a friend helped by giving them a book of Cajun lyrics- Raymond F Francois’s “Ye Yaille, Chere”. So after that, they understood what the songs were saying,right? “Weeeeellllllll, yes, sometimes,” he says, with another small laugh. “The singing is so strange, you know. Even French friends had kind of… difficulty with it”. Which, on reflection, may help explain the appeal of Cajun music, and of Two Time Polka. Listening to the band’s brand of Cajuness, the singing is very important, but the words aren’t. Dunne’s sweaty voice, Geraldine Barron’s emotional accordian, her husband’s lightening mandolin, and the rest of Two Time’s six excellent pieces are what add up to this unlikely equation’s fiery sum. You feel all you need to know. Jack Hurst
IRISH MUSIC MAGAZINE
Volume 9 No. 1 Sept. 2003
TWO TIME POLKA
ABOUT TIME TWO
TWO TIME POLKA TTPOO3CD
Corks Two Time Polka are regular Inhabitants of my musical world especially during Cork Folk Festival time. This intriguing and interestng band has crossed Irish, American and European roots styles with a courage and conviction rarely seen anywhere else. The fact that they’ve managed to make a success of it artistically and otherwise is both pleasurable and exciting. Now they are on album number two following some three/four years on from their sophomore collection ‘From Pana to Louisiana’. ‘About Time Two’ another pun on their name and displaying their talent for witty album titles take on from where their debut set left off-more border crossing with some Irish bravado and swagger intermingling with wistful Cajun waltzes and up tempo stompers. Their tightnes and spark has been copper fastened by years of playing together and their choice of material includes everything from the Cajun traditional ‘EunIce Two Step’ (written In 1929) to Elvis’ ‘Hound Dog’ with Tomas Dunne’s laconic vocals topping the proceedings. Chuck Berry’s stomping ‘Promised Land’ recalIs Johnnie Allan’s seminal recordIng from 1974 issued on Charlie Gillett’s Oval record label while Geraldlne Barrons’ concertina shines on the closing “Azalea Waltz’.
Fronted musically by Ray and Geraldlne Barron’s mandolin and box & concerti the sound is highly evocative and aurally pleasing. ‘Roanoke’ and ‘Jerusalem Ridge’ dispIay their musical traits while solid backing and tightly efficient playing with judicious choice ofrepertoire make Two Time Polka a good time band. it was about time for album number 2 from this Cork powerhouse and on the evidence of’About Time Two’ this reviewer is, In the words of Taj Mahal, ‘saisfied and tickled too’. Roll on no 3.
From its title (From Pana to Louisiana slips a sly tongue-in-cheek reference to Two Time Polka’s origns, Patrick St., Cork) to its sheer joie de vivre, this is a CD for the downhearted and the party animal alike.
To suggest that Two Time Polka have eclectic taste would be to render their palates a disservice. From the leisurely confidence of ‘J’ai Passe Devant Ta Porte’ to the measured knowing glances of Senan Quinlan’s original ‘Dust Bowl Blues’, Two Time Polka give it heaps, with washboards, accordions and fiddles thrown into the melting pot. ‘From Pana to Louisiana’ is part cajun, part country and part zydeco, all wrapped into one. From Tómas Dunne’s effortlessely high-pitched vocals on ‘Diggy Diggy Lo’ to the dancehall frenzy of ‘Tit Galop Pour Mamou’, they transport the listener right into the heart of Lafayette or Baton Rouge.
This is magnificent achievement. It’s seeped out of the Cork swamps. God only knows what other fabulous creatures lurk in her murky depths, though there can hardly be too many gems like this one.
ROCK n’REEL MAGAZINE
The Cajun winds blow down Leeside way in the shape of Two Time Polka. “From Pana to Louisiana” is the first album from Cork merrymakers and good time band par excellance. However, Two Time Polka are more than just a bunch of enthusaists playing tribute to the bayou greats, there is a genuine sense of purpose and originality brought about by a seamless mix of Irish/American/French idioms. Ray Barrons mandolin shines on ‘Tom and Jerry’ and with Geraldine Barrons accordion and concertina they form a collosal musical front line. Tómas Dunne’s laconic vocals and Liam Murphy’s tasteful electric guitar add extra melodic strength on ‘Dust Bowl Blues’. Two Time Polkas strength is to capture their on stage effervescence in the cold studio confines without sacrificing their multifarious abilities. ‘From Pana to Louisiana’ finds these Corkonians revelling in their good time conviviality. Well worth investigating.
IRISH MUSIC MAGAZINE
Ray Barron is originally from Waterford but he is firmly set in Cork now with a studio in Douglas, and his band, successors to one called Bone Idol. The ‘Pana’ in the title is the slang term in Cork for the main street, ‘St. Paricks Street’.
The band is a 5 piece with vocals, washboard, mandolin, mandola, fiddle, bouzouki. concertina and accordion on the front line. As the title also suggests, this is a cajun perspective, with loads of accordion in lazy waltzes and songs in French. I’d have loved the words of ‘J’ai Passe Devant ta Porte’, and there are other waltzes like ‘The Cherokee’, ‘The Festival’ and ‘The Moonlight’. The last named is by the legendry Bill Monroe.
This is good time music, professionally arranged and produced, played with a good tight lilt. You know the time when the official fleadh or festival has ended and new found friends begin swapping tunes other than Irish. That’s the time when you’ll be wanting stuff like the tunes on this one. Well done, oh stars of Munster.
THE IRISH EXAMINER
Pana is the pet name for Patrick Street, in Cork, and Two Time Polka specialise in the cajun music of the Southern States. The tunes lean towards the Louisiana end of the spectrm. But Ireland has always had a grá and a ready audience for interesting music from far flung parts. From the opening drum roll of ‘Diggy Diggy Lo’ to the closing strums of ‘The Festival Waltz’, Pana is as infectious as swamp fever. Listen out for the pleasing vocals of ‘J’ai Passe Devant ta Porte’, the railroad clatter of the Stones’ No Expectations, and the washboard of ‘J’etais au Bal’. What the Louisianaians will make of it is anyone’s guess, but the crowd in Pana will love it.
THE BIG ISSUE
Long been associated with the cream of jazz, country and folk, Cork band Two Time Polka have released their debut album ‘From Pana to Louisiana’. The music on the album features an astounding array of styles ranging from stomping cajun two-steps, beautiful waltzes and the inimitable bluegrass fiddle, all mixed up together with a hint of Eastern spice to give it an extra kick.The album will certainly rouse a party spirit at any barbecue this summer. A lively album which takes inspiration from around the world. Songs like ‘J’ai Passe Devant ta Porte’, which is a Cajun equivalent of a waltz, exemplify the worldliness of this fine album.