“…a superb effort – clean, tight, professional.” – The Ceili

Buttered Side Down - 5 Second Rule

Take a group of obviously talented veteran area musicians add me jazz fusion, modern folk and a rock number here and there and you have “5 Second Rule” – NOT your average traditional Celtic quintet.

Based mostly in Plano, the group’s first CD, “Buttered Side Down,” is a very pleasant addition to the local Celtic music scene, leaving the listener yearning for more. 5SR is led by David Lovrien (versatile on Irish whistles, keyboards, tenor and soprano sax, and even the didgeridoo) and longtime fiddler Michelle Feldman, who come to the quintet from the band, Gallus.

Lovrien is a triple-threat musician, also playing saxo­phone with the Dallas Wind Symphony and a local rock band, The Fins. He has also been a staff member at the annual O’Flaherty Irish Music Camp since 2006.

They are joined by percussionist Rick Holt, who has been drumming for 40 years, lead vocalist/guitarist Mike Tidwell (more than 35 years), and guitarist Paul Dryer (also with 40 years experience).

At the heart of 5 Second Rule is a tight in­strumental group, mixing its desire to play traditional Irish music with whimsical threads of jazz and pop music. You will hear the late Vince Guaraldi’s clas­sic, “Cast Your Fate to the Wind,” (one of MY per­sonal favorite jazz pieces) intertwined with Feldman’s original “Our Way Was Hard” and “Johnny I Do Miss You.” Two tracks later, up pops the Beatles’ “I’ve Just Seen a Face” with a jig and a reel.

One sandwich track spotlights the group’s love for Galicia and Asturias music, featuring Lovrien’s didgeridoo and Tidwell’s Irish bouzouki.

5SR plays it straight down the traditional bluegrass line with its version of “Man of Constant Sorrow,” which most people remember from the Coen Brothers’ cult classic “0 Brother Where Art Thou.” Tidwell’s vocals don’t deviate much from Dan Tyminsky’s recorded version for George Clooney to lip sync into that “tin can” but Lovrien’s jazzy tenor sax, and Holt’s djembe beating, do, in fact, take it a step higher and stronger.

While the reels and jigs are mostly tradi­tional Celtic or bluegrass in nature, there are three original compositions penned by group members. “Gracie’s Waltz” is Lovrien’s tender, sweet love letter to his wife… and in keeping with the spirit of the album, was made to fit a Bob Dylan arrangement of “Farewell Angelina.”

Feldman wrote “My Cup of Stars” in college English class sonnet, but Lovrien turns her effort into a funky Latin-jazz ballad and, as he writes, makes it “nearly indistinguishable from the original.” Indistinguishable should not be confused with quality as it has you tapping your toes by the end of the track.

Tidwell is the composer for “Hold On” and the idea came to him during a heavy snowstorm while he was living in the North­ern Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Feldman’s solo fiddle solo is among several standout efforts from her on the CD.

The last track finds the band getting its traditional “Irish on,” playing two numbers (“Fraher’s,” “The Humours of Ballyloughlin”), normally finding bagpipes at their core, without such pipes. Instead Feldman’s top-flight fiddling and Lovrien’s whistle playing are spotlighted. 5SR closes with the classic “Christ­mas Eve.”

“Buttered Side Down” appeared just days (if not hours) before the 2010 North Texas Irish Festival, which was a coming­ out party for 5 Second Rule. Unlike most local recordings done in studios, this album was cast inside Windsor Park Baptist Church in the southern Dallas County community of DeSoto, known in the area for its acoustic prowess.

The album is titled after Jennings’ Corol­lary to the Law of Selective Gravity, which states, “The chance of the bread falling with the buttered side down is proportional to the cost of the carpet.” Any group employing that kind of deep thinking is sure to employ an identical process into the music it produces.  5 Second Rule holds true to that concept from start to finish with a superb effort – clean, tight, professional – that befits the cumulative years of it’s members’ experience.  It’s one of the better efforts you will find in 2010, or any other year.

Chuck Bloom

Performer Product Coordinator, Southwest Celtic Music Association