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Last Updated On
Saturday, November 4, 2006


Press Coverage

1)..Hot Press Singles Review || 2)..CBC Canada Review||3)..Dan's Ambitious Musical Plan || 4)..Hear The One About The Irish Latin Band? 5)..Big Sound Big Ambition - Rockin' In Yonkers || 6)..The Oyster Festival

Hot Press Singles Review

Celtic Salsa Express Sweet Freedom (Frontier Records)

Opening with a familiar horn riff, this is the lind of summery sound that makes a lot of sense in an open-air festival atmosphere. The influences are diverse, a soupcon of Marley and a dollop of Santana, with Irish vocal inflections thrown in for good measure. Have fun while the sun shines!

Hot Press August 2003

CBC Radio Canada Review

Right-brains come to appreciate good writing, whatever it's form, like a fine wine. As unlikely as a delightful journey liner notes in an album might make, Dan Toher's song descriptions draw postcard-perfect circles around you from romantic Irish cottages to the sultry thick evenings of Egypt and Spain. A torrid mix of Celtic and Latin, reggae and flamenco, with a side of rock and even R&B, you'd be hard pressed to find a group that blends so many different world influences in such a delicious way as 'Dan Toher and the Celtic Salsa Express'. They don't dabble with crossed genres, they invent them, own them, master them. Collaborating with musical giants ranging from Riverdance's Robbie Casserley, Commitments singer Karen Coleman, the Corrs' guitarist Anto Drennan, Ray Charles' singer Angie Workman, and the late Audrey Collins who lead the Irish National Symphony Orchestra, Celtic Salsa seems right at home in any musical circle. The hard part? Picking just one song to share here, since each burns a uniquely demanding signature in your soul. Do yourself a favour and make you next vacation a click on this group's link, and indulge yourself with each and every one of these patently exquisite scores. Intimate and imaginative, provocative and profound, terminally brilliant.

Sue Braiden, CBC Radio Canada

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Dan's Ambitious Musical Plan

Dan Toher doesn't do things in a small way. His band - ambitiously called The Dan Toher Rock & Salsa Express - sports nine members, and that may swell to ten or eleven if he adds the second -guitarist and conga player he's itching to.

"You've got to go wherever the song takes you," he says It's now taken him to Gotham, after stints gigging in Ireland and Spain. Toher, a Dublin native, found it difficult to sustain a musical career in Ireland in the mid-nineties, especially with a large band. "The recession was hitting there, I couldn't really make it work," he says. "One of my singles, called 'Hope,' got some decent airplay - but 1 couldn't really make that pay on the road in Ireland."

"Ireland is a great place to play, especially around Christmas and the summer - but you might as well hibernate during the winter months," says Toher. "It's changed a great deal since the economic boom happened - I'm delighted to see that - but in other ways, only cover bands like U2 tribute bands, or the Australian Doors, are raking it in. It's still difficult enough on the local scene in Dublin - which is surprising when everybody is driving around in a BMW'

Toher later went to Spain to live and play music. There, he absorbed Iberian and Flamenco influences that have helped define his sound. He's also a fan of the blues. "I think there's a closeness between Irish music and the blues," he says. "Perhaps it's because both have a simple form. But in a way, they're both profound."

Toher is most interested in crossing musical boundaries. "I think over here [in the U.S.], there's pressure from the record companies to find your sound and stick to it. But I'm not afraid to move out across different genres, into reggae, into latin," says Toher. "I'm definitely a fan of melodic music."

A listen to Toher's material bears that statement out. "Avoca" is a breezy groove oriented song with hints of latin influence. "Red Cross" develops from a laid back intro into a pushy ska-flavored beat. And Toher displays impressive vocal chops on the jazzy "Slip Away." Some of Toher's band members have impressive credentials as well. Backup singer Angie Workman was one of Ray Charles' famed "Ray-lettes." The horn section has worked with Kevin Eubanks' Tonight Show band. And two members of Toher's studio ensemble, drummer Robbie Casserly and guitarist Anto Drennan - have recently moved on to touring with Riverdance and The Corrs, respectively.

So he's struck out into NYC, taking his big band into the pubs. Some have tried to dissuade him, but Toher will have none of it. "I've had people take me aside and tell me, 'Don't bring a classy band into a bar, they just want pub rock' I don't believe that. People always appreciate good playing - that's what I'm finding so far".

'Off The Record' column by Tom Dunphy originally published in 'Irish Voice'

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Hear The One About The Irish Latin Band?

The Celtic Salsa Express, Red Lion, Bleeker Street, Friday 26th May

Well! This was quite a surprise. Here I was expecting standard Bleeker Street fare. In the sixties this was THE place - bars and coffee houses teeming with budding talent. Dylan, the Doors, Hendrix cut their teeth in these clubs. Sadly that was then, now it's all students and tourists with cover bands fresh from the day job. Let's say the place has lost a little of it's intensity. Thankfully there is always an exception to the rule.

Just as I'm about to join my friends at the bar, on march a pro nine piece act, visually stunning, who launch into a rock samba with note perfect harmonies, infectious horns - suddenly this fabulous diva is singing Yeats "He wishes for the clothes of heaven". A truly magic moment. They throw the audience a bone with Latin dance classics. The next piece starts Irish, almost reggae, horns kick in like a hot salsa - then, bang! it's back to reel time, before we're off again. The girls are in R&B heaven, the audience are on their feet. Next we're treated to a Riverdance type rhythm commandeered by Ivano on congas until the guitarists rock it out one moment Irish, next Caribbean. Fantastic! The leader opens on a slow rock ballad, "New Dawn", building and building until he hands it over to his diva which she takes by the scruff of the neck and sings to the rafters. Awesome!

It's all good from here - funk rock to calypso and ska, with an Irish reel on flute that gets given the rock treatment. Everyone's on their feet, you want to hear more, you gotta. I saw a video crew - send me a copy guys a.s.a.p.


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Big Sound Big Ambition - Rockin' In Yonkers

The Celtic Salsa Express, Rory Dolan's

Once in a while you come across an act that could literally go all the way. You follow their progress to see how they handle the ups and, more often, downs of the business, wondering if they've got what it takes.

So it was is Rory Dolan's last Monday - a new contender set themselves for a shot at the brass ring. Fronted by Irishman Dan Toher, I counted nine musicians onstage. Toher used the band to great effect. Duetting with his backing singers, it really opened up when handing over Ray Charles singer Angie Workman and letting the powerful horns (two saxes and a trumpet) rock out. The material was a clever mix of styles written with breathtaking arrangements. Real hip and some great songs too. They only played one encore - shame, they should have milked it more. I had so much fun. More!

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The Oyster Festival

The Celtic Salsa Express, Lafayette Street

Down on Layfayette a sunny Saturday in October fortified by oysters washed down with Guiness. The undoubted highlight of the day for me was the multinational multiracial Celtic Salsa Express. They seemed to radiate a sense of fun. Although I hadn't heard their album I found myself drawn in by their high energy mix of horns, percussion and clamorous black divas. The were followed on by Riverdance worthy Eileen Ivers whose rootsier mix kept the pot boiling.


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