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There is nothing finer than a celtic design with various repeating shapes and forms and lots of interweaving lines taking your eyes all around. The tracks on McBurney's Songbook are much like a Celtic button, intricate in shape and form and no two are exactly the same. Songbook is comprised of original folk music with a strong celtic edge. Celtic Button Records was formed in 2005 as the final stages of McBurney's Songbook were being recorded at Scarey Clown Studios in Bethesda, Md.

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McBurney's Songbook

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The McBurney's were living south of Galway and came to America much like many other Irish families during the great potato famine in the mid 1800's. Robert McBurney and his family eventually moved to Pennsylvania and this is where the ancestral farm is still run and operated. Robert was very active in politics and became the Mayor of Washington Pennsylvania. he married late in life to Mabel and they had 4 children. The McBurney's were a strong Irish protestant family and many of the tunes on Songbook were inspired by the strong family ties that Robert's children carried on to their children. The centerpiece of Songbook is the aptly titled "Ballad of Robert McBurney" complete with a lush harp intro. The celtic harp sets the mood for this somber song about the life and death of its namesake.

The album kicks off with the bouncy dittie entitled "Down at the Glen," a song that Rob wrote about his childhood memories of the Kilgore family trips to the Glen Echo Amusement Park. If you grew up in the DC area back in the 50's and 60's, then you would have certainly heard about Glen Echo. The Coaster Dip was a great old wooden roller coaster, and the Kilgore kids were always pestering Mom and Dad to take them to Glen Echo to ride on the Dentzel Carousel or go to the Crystal Pool. This track gives the listener a brief history of the park and how it came to its demise in the late 60's.

One of the strongest tunes on the album is the infectuous "Beauty of Ireland," inspired by a trip to the homeland that Rob and Cheryle made back in 1987. Cheryle was pregnant with Jeannnine, but this didn't stop the couple from taking in all the splendor of the Emerald Isle. The song beckons back to all the glorious green pastures, the statues and fountains, the great music and customs of the Irish people. "Och Aye" is an old Irish saying that Frank McCourt used during his childhood growing up in Ireland. If you've read Angela's Ashes or Tis, then you know the saying Och Aye. It works as an expletive as well as an affirmation. This is a well written tune about one night at Mrs. O'Leary's pub in Gaithersburg. McBurney's Songbook finishes with the haunting Turf Fire. Its a song about a relationship that has gone bad and the poor soul that is left alone to his own demons.

If you like folk music performed in a traditional manner, you will certainly enjoy McBurney's Songbook. If you love family life, the album will also appeal to you. Songbook is filled with all the sounds of Ireland, and Rob Kilgore's extended Irish musical family appears throughout. The Penny whistles, Euillean pipes and flute were executed tastefully by Charlie MacVicar from the Dogs Among the Bushes. CB Heinneman, the leader of the Dogs, added his expert touches to the mix as well on mandolin and bouzouki. Other local Irish illumiinaries include fiddler extraordinare Bob Spates. Pat Garvey, owner of Mrs. O'Leary's Pub, also added his beautiful accordion on several tunes. Celtic harpist Emily Reid played the lovely harp intro on Ballad of Robert McBurney. Steve Churchill played the gorgeous English horn on "Ballad" as well as "On the Shore." He also graced "The Beauty of Ireland" with the piccolo. Dave Johnson played the Steinway and Hammond on many tracks and came up with the signature lick that Och Aye is built around. Rob and Dave attended grade school together and were neighbors back in the day. And to keep things all in the family, Rob's sister Kathy sang backup on several songs.

Here is the last track, Turf Fire, for your listening pleasure

Turf Fire

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Scary Clown Studios

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There really wasn't any other choice for a recording studio other than Scary Clown in Bethesda, Md. Philip Stevenson is the mastermind at Scary Clown and has been recording using traditional means since his days in California recording some of the old Blues musicians in Los Angeles. Rob and Philip recorded previously and the old style folk music leant itself to the techniques occupied at the Clown. It's hard to beat that sweet analog sound and Philip is the master producer and engineer. Rob wanted to keep things stripped down and less is more was the prime directive during the recording of McBurney's Songbook. Philip was not only running the sessions but also playing on them adding drums, bass, organ, and anything else that was needed. Many of the instruments used on Songbook were from Scarey Clown's mighty arsenal of acoustic guitars. Philip has one of he best sounding Martin D-18's going. It's a 1959 and it just rings and rings. The 1927 Gibson L-0 also added a nice old fashioned sound to several of these folk tunes. Scary Clown gives McBurney's Songbook that authentic feeling. It's a traditional album recorded using traditional methods and it sounds all the better because of it.

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Rob Kilgore

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Rob Kilgore is an artist/musician who grew up in the Washington DC suburbs. Art and music came naturally since Rob's Mom was also an artist and a singer/pianist. Marian sang in a trio styled after the Andrew's Sisters. Music was an important part of the Kilgore household and Rob started piano lessons at the age of 8. It was tough fighting his two sisters for practice time and his Dad, George, bought him a guitar on his 10th birthday. Thus started a love affair with the instrument that is still going strong.

After years of singing in the church choir, glee clubs and chorus lines, Rob started playing gigs in High School and began his professional career in 1969. Those first gigs were with his sister Kathy as he accompanied her on the guitar and sang backup vocals. Most of these performances were at wedding ceremonies as the duo found work providing music for friends that were tying the knot.

While attending college, Rob was already playing full and part time at the local clubs. The art career took off at this point as he found part time work at Vitro as a graphic artist. Rob's first group was called Fractious which morphed into the Cashell Road Band. From here it was agency work with Barry Rick and the band changed personnel and became Fury. Fury played with most of the agencies in the area - Productions Unlimited, Washington Talent, Bialeks, Capital Entertainment, and Cellar Door. Agency work meant weddings and higher pay and the band became known as Evergreen and pretty much played weddings exclusively for the next couple of decades.

The only respite from the wedding circuit was a 4 year stint as rhythm guitarist in the Celtic group Dogs Among the Bushes in the mid 80's. Rob met CB Heinemann while the two were working for Fairchild Publications. The Dogs played mostly original tunes written by CB, and this opened up Rob's eyes to original music. He also started playing the mandolin at this time and found out that Irish music came naturally to him. The Dogs were constantly touring overseas, but Rob stayed with Cheryle and his jobs as an artist and musician in the states.

After years of playing in a wedding band doing covers, Rob decided he had played at enough weddings and began writing original songs. The general line of thinking was to take what he had learned from the multitude of songs he had sang over the years and see what he could come up with on his own. It was also Rob's dream to form a Blues band. After several trips to the Crescent City, and knowing that no one was playing Louisiana R&B exclusively in the DC area, he formed Sookey Jump - the purveyors of Louisiana blues in the DC area. The band performs regularly - the second Friday of the month at one of DC's best blues venues, The Zoo Bar.

As the new millineum approached, Rob formed an Irish duo with the multi-talented Pat Puglisi. The two took their Irish Mums maiden names and called themselves Doherty & McBurney. After a couple of years playing in the pubs and clubs, people kept asking if Doh & Mac had any original material or a CD of their cracking good tunes to sell. Into the studio and the results were McBurney's Songbook.

Rob's musical career has been going strong for almost 40 years now. His strong point is definitley his vocal ability. He is also a fine guitarist and mandolinist. Always pushing the envelope, Rob has now added mandola and octave mandolin to his arsenal of sounds. Starting off on the acoustic guitar and sticking with it through the years has proved to be a blessing. Although he owns many electrics and plays electric giutar in many of his bands, acoustic music is still his favorite - always has been. Acoustic music has always been there and has carried him through the tough times as well as the good ones. Here's to the good times!

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Buy the Album

You can purchase your own copy of McBurney's Songbook which is available on CD Baby. Just go to the following address and pick one up today!