Pub Domain

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Pub Domain is a sextet that admittedly does their best work when they're performing live, which is why the group recorded their debut album, Sin Sceal Eile (that's another story), in such a setting. No…
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Pub Domain is a sextet that admittedly does their best work when they're performing live, which is why the group recorded their debut album, Sin Sceal Eile (that's another story), in such a setting. No two shows are ever the same for the band, which includes vocalist, fiddler, mandolin, and concertina player Tahmineh Gueramy; vocalist, guitarist and octave mandolin player Michael Cutler; vocalist, guitarist, bouzouki and spoon player Kitty Donohoe; fiddler and viola player John Sands (aka Dishrag); percussionist Barry Salem; and bassist, mandolin and cello player Jef Reynolds. Their set lists are often ignored in favor of going for an off-the-cuff approach to keep themselves, and their audience, on their toes. Cutler -- a native of Des Moines, MN -- met Gueramy in 1992 while they were both at school in Boulder, CO. Gueramy was from Midland, MI, and was the daughter of parents from Scotland and Persia. Prior to moving to Boulder, she was classically trained on the violin. Upon her arrival, Cutler exposed Gueramy to Cajun music through his band, the Zukes of Zydeco, as well as Irish music. After returning from a trip to Galway, Ireland, shortly thereafter, the duo pieced together the Celtic group the O'Malleys and country-rock band the Weepers. It was during the latter part of 1996 when Gueramy and Cutler moved to Lansing, MI, in order for Gueramy to pursue a law degree. To keep their musical chops up, the couple began performing once a week at a venue dubbed the Dancing Goat. It was there that Gueramy and Cutler teamed up with Royal Oak, MI, folksinger Donohoe and southeast Michigan-native Sands in November of 1998. Since the focus of the band's style was performing old traditional Irish songs that weren't under any kind of copyright, the group called themselves Pub Domain. The reason for this was the music they played didn't have a copyright and anyone could play the music, which meant it was public domain. At their first gig, the band was two songs into their set when an unknown man approached the group about playing the Irish bodhran drum. The band figured they'd give him a chance after he pulled a bodhran beater from his pocket. By the end of the night, Salem was a full-time member. Salem was also splitting his band duties with the Ann Arbor-based ensemble Jo Serrapere & the Hot Tail Section and Detroit musician Michael King. As soon as the lineup was concrete, the band added the Heinzman School of Irish Dance's step dancers to their live shows, which added to the group's visual presentation. After the Dancing Goat closed its doors in mid-1999, Pub Domain decided that it was time to make their name known to a wider public audience. They traveled to the East Lansing Art Festival in May of 1999, the Saline Celtic Festival in mid-summer, and the Erin Feis festival in Peoria, IL, that August. By the end of the year, the group had begun talks of doing some recording.

It was on January 22, 2000, when Pub Domain set up their equipment at the Creole Gallery, located in Old Towne Lansing, to lay tracks down for their debut CD, Sin Sceal Eile (That's Another Story). The group decided to record the disc in the gallery's live setting after recording some rough tracks there on a previous date. Three months later, the band returned to the gallery to hold their CD release party. That summer found the quintet returning to play at the Saline Celtic Festival and Erin Feis once again, as well as being booked at the Michigan Irish Festival in Muskegon. The group created a buzz in the Midwest that led to their invitation to perform at Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center Irish Festival on September 2. Two months later, Reynolds was added to the lineup. He was a friend of Salem's and a bandmate in Jo Serrapere. At the start of 2001, Pub Domain performed at the East Michigan Art Festival following their appearance there in 1999. They also prepared to release their sophomore album that May.