If you’ve never seen Gold N’ Brown, then you’re missing out.
While Hoboken now fumbles with it’s Irish identity the first week of March every year, authentic acts like Gold N’ Brown carry the banner all year-round… and they wave it rather vigorously.
“For me I was listening to Irish music before I was born,” says Liam Brown. “My father was an amazing Traditional Irish Musician. There were always late night seisúns in the house growing up in Kerry and Cork, so I got to hear some of the best of the best trad musicians. That’s the thing with Irish music. It’s not supposed to be a show or concert. There’s no stars or egos. It’s supposed to be the purist form of entertainment.”
The importance of a seisún in Irish culture cannot be overstated. “Before there was electricity in Ireland there was Irish music. A few of the locals sitting around a table in a pub playing reels and jigs while others step danced to create the drums,” says Brown. “That’s the craic!!! I couldn’t in my wildest dreams have imagined that when I moved to Hoboken feckin’ New Jersey 13 years ago that I’d be doing the same thing in pubs with Lloyd [Gold], Dave Ribyat and Chuck Tumulty. It’s an absolute gift to play with these three lads.”
Lloyd Gold (Gold + Brown = Gold N’ Brown… get it?) has a different background, but an equally passionate appreciation. “To me, one doesn’t have to be Irish to feel the power of Irish music. Myself, being a Belgian/Jewish-American, I truly became a Celtophile,” he says. “I fell into Irish music when I was young after seeing U2 on MTV. Of course U2 is not traditional Irish music but they started me on the path of appreciating the music, culture and literature of the Emerald Isle. First I started singing and playing sea shanties. Then I studied traditional reels on my fiddle and mandolin, learned Celtic myths from Yeats and I’ve been playing Irish music ever since. I’ve performed on RTE radio in Ireland as well as many pubs there. As Gold ‘N Brown I believe we give the audience a piece of Ireland every time we perform.
When played well, traditional Irish music is the musical equivalent of Viagra. In that respect, Gold N’ Brown are legendary for their endurance.
“When it comes to GNB playing gigs it kills us when we only get to play one set,” says Brown. “We barely get going until mid way through the 2nd set. A typical GNB show is minimum 4 hours. And when it’s over it’s usually because it’s closing time not because we’re tired. You can’t get tired when you’re having the greatest time of your life—and we are, every single time we play.”
“I can play Irish music all day and all night,” says Gold. “Once that spirit is in you, there is no limit. I love the idea that this music has been played for hundreds of years in pubs before TV screens and cell phones. When I perform I’m not in this century.”
Hoboken’s strong Irish traditions have withstood a number of changes, oftentimes growing even stronger at their core.
“I met Lloyd in Mulligan’s in 2002 because we were both Manchester United fans. In 2010 I played Irish songs for 6 hours straight in northern soul by myself on the debacle that WAS Hoboken St Patrick’s Day. I started to unplug when all of a sudden Lloyd and Dave (Ribyat) walk in and they said, ‘we’re playing for the next five hours.’ I looked out to the crowd and saw drunk girls crying, drunk guys fighting, and just a scene I did not want to be part of. I asked Dave and Lloyd if I could sit in with them. I think we played together for the next 7 hours and the rest is GNB history.”
The Gold N’ Brown have some mighty support behind them. “Dave Ribyat is a music legend. He’s one of the original rock veterans of Hoboken,” says Brown. “It’s like having a music professor on stage with you, which is great. But like any professor he’ll let you when you hit the wrong note too. He sits back there holding it all together with his cup of tea beside him. Meanwhile, the music Gods gave us a gift in Chuck Tumulty. There aren’t many drummers that can play the Irish rhythm.” he adds. “Don’t tell chuck I said this but there isn’t anyone better than him at it.”
On Saturday, Gold N’ Brown come out of the pub for a bit of fresh air, performing at the Hoboken Irish Festival in Sinatra Park.
“Playing the hoboken Irish Festival is a completely different feeling than when playing the first Saturday in March—which we proudly do every year at Willie McBrides,” says Brown. “The Hoboken Irish festival is not a day of debauchery. And as an Irishman here in the states it’s nice to see that our heritage and culture is what is being celebrated. There’s step dancing, a Hurling match by my good friend Dave Cosgrove, who created the Hoboken Guards out of Mulligan’s pub, soda bread contests, bagpipes, and just all around Irish Culture.”
Gold N’ Brown won’t have quite as much stage time as they’d like on Saturday, but they still find a way to get it out of their system. “Long-time Hoboken bartender Eoin Finnegan opened Finnegan’s Irish Pub well over a year ago and gave GNB a place to play our 4 hour shows,” says Brown. “Himself and ourselves have agreed that as long as we’re all standing Gold N’ Brown will play Finns every March 17th—but those nights will probably go longer than 4 hrs. I know one local journalist who can attest to that.”