image12 image2 image11 image10

Live Reviews

"The annual Kansas City Irish Festival is a great place to broaden one’s musical horizons, which quickly became clear after I took a seat Saturday afternoon for only the second American performance by Tupelo, an eclectic band from Ireland that pumps out original music as thoughtful as it is exciting. Tupelo shows its Irish roots often and proudly, but it draws heavily from American influences and occasionally exhibits the improvisational instincts of jazz players. The band members aim to be a crowd-pleasing band, and they are, thanks to their visceral, unpredictable music and an infectious sense of humor exhibited by charismatic lead singer James Cramer. He worked overtime to involve the initially listless crowd but by the end of a 90-minute set he had most of us on our feet and singing along.

The band worked its way through about 12 tunes, many of which could rightly called pop/rock ballads. But Cramer’s commanding vocals and his band’s superior musicianship gave every song an edge — not gritty, exactly, but performed with a directness that made you pay attention.
Kevin Duffy, who contributed vocals and some fine work on the fiddle and mandolin, played with a virtuoso’s authority, mixing traditional Irish riffs with bits of bluegrass and American mountain music. Damien McMahon, who also supplied backing vocals, was equally strong and on bass (both electric and standup). Sitting in was Kian Byrne, the Elders’ drummer, who made a vital contribution to the Saturday performance. The arrangements sometimes allowed Byrne, Duffy and McMahon to turn in precise solos that never became self indulgent.

Tupelo is a fun band to watch and the music makes you listen. Next step for this critic: Buy some of the band’s CDs"



"The darkness was now shining menacingly through the trees and all around the forest was black but as you made your way under the confines of the Main Stage, the colour of both light and sound would soon hit you direct in the face. Tupelo were the band and they stood a dominant figure upon the stage. Harking back to folk giants of old, the band somehow manage to create an impressively modern sound amongst the output of old school fiddles and traditional music. Tupelo are what every stereotypical American thinks all of our music sounds like; a raucous onslaught of traditional chaos. A chaos in the most polite sense of the word however as the band marry a tight and expertly played set together, all topped off with the heroics and showmanship of James Cramer. It is with Irishman, with it’s lyrics “I am an Irishman, this is my land,” that the crowd get their full dose of rebel rousing and a fully fledged modern ceili erupts at the main stage. If you want original, modernised and relevant Irish traditional music done well; then look no further than Tupelo."




"Tupelo turned a mellow, chilled, laid-back festival Friday evening into a rip-roaring, foot-stomping frenzy that nearly brought the tent down, in the best possible way.  A delightfully unexpected and unforgettable end to the first night."




"People of all ages are on their feet, dancing like there's no tomorrow and singing 'baby baby' at the top of their voice. When frontman James Cramer promised to convert us all to Tupelonians, he really meant it.

But let's take things from the start, Tupelo's acoustic roots music reminds you of something you might hear in a tiny pub, yet doesn't seem remotely out of place in a jam-packed Whelan's. James is a naturally gifted showman, jumping around and interacting with the crowd. Not that it's a one-person show in the slightest, all five band members get their moment of glory when the hyperactive frontman steps back and lets them take centre stage for a solo. The sheer variety of musical instruments on display is impressive: saxophone, fiddle, double bass, guitar, banjo, mandolin, tin whistle, all masterfully played.

There's plenty of variety, from the upbeat 'Dirty Money' and 'Blue Gardinia' to the deeply emotional 'I'm An Irishman'. "This is a song about history", James warns us before starting to sing the story of Joseph Plunkett, recounting the Easter Rising. The next minute he's back into happy mode, dedicating songs to the ladies in the audience. Yes, he's actually forcing us to participate, but we're all enjoying it. One great tune follows another: the beautiful banjo and mandolin duet in 'Family's Land'; the exhilarating 'Firefly'; the super-catchy 'Bad Man'. It doesn't get any better."




"Dublin bluegrass act Tupelo really get things though, with a fiddle-heavy set which temporarily transforms this sleepy crowd into a frenzied, straw-chewin hoedown."