Prescription Filled: Upcoming Saw Doctors Show Offers Promising Prognosis

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​The call comes in five minutes early, but no matter. Leo Moran, one of two singers, guitarists, and songwriters for the Irish band the Saw Doctors, is on the phone from his hometown of Galway.

The soft burr of his Eire accent automatically evokes an uncommon air of affability. In a way, that's to be expected.

The Saw Doctors' prescription for melodic allure has always reflected their Irish roots, evoking images of the lovely emerald isle with its rural villages, lush rolling hills, wind-swept beaches, and idyllic innocence.

Likewise, they dispense hooks that are so irresistible, the defy sitting still, the sort of melodies that sound both seamless and spontaneous, all chock-full of instant appeal.

"When you're doing something that you love doing, it's like playing a sport you love," Moran comments in response to his interviewer's effusive praise. "I'm always asked why I think people love the band, and I say that's one of the major reasons. It's because we love it, and that enjoyment is infectious. It seems to come across to people."

Their recent cover of that old '60s chestnut "Downtown" (featuring a guest appearance from Petula Clark, the original singer) aside, Moran and the band's other longtime mainstay, Davy Carton, have always had a knack for writing great original songs. They draw from a full range of heartfelt emotions, from dewy-eyed sentiment to infectious celebration. While the rest of the lineup has steadily transitioned through the years, Moran and Carton have kept constant their ability to fuse invigorating melodies with a knowing perspective. 

"I've been very privileged to write with great songwriters in the Saw Doctors," Moran surmises. "Davy and some of the other people over the years have just had a great knack for that catchy chorus and knowing what is catchy. I'm a kind of ballad fan myself in a lot of ways, and I would probably be the person who would come up with most of those sentimental verses, or a lot of them anyway.

"There are two dimensions to the Saw Doctors, and we do our best to cover the full spectrum of emotions. Very often, we're recognized for the upbeat and the humorous-type tunes, and very often, we're ignored for the more serious and sober songs." 

That may be so, but certainly there's no ignoring their knack for tossing out earnest anthems, including no less than 18 Top 30 hits in their homeland alone. There are the rowdy, infectious rockers like "I Useta Lover," "N17," "Hay Wrap," and "She Says," as well as the tender, wistful ballads of reflection and affection, "To Win Just Once," "Me Heart Is Livin' in the Sixties Still," and "Clare Island." Then there are their seven studio albums, three live efforts, and various compilations, all of which provide the ultimate affirmation of the Saw Doctors' charms.

Despite their parochial perspective, the lovely lilt of their vocals and the colorful imagery that enriches their songs convey a homespun charm and cheery effervescence that reflect their Irish origins. 

"They call Ireland the land of saints and scholars," Moran suggests. "The Irish definitely have an interest in people, in language, and in coming up with new ways of saying things. Creativity is accepted and respected, and that's especially true in Galway. Everybody you meet is in a play or writing or acting or in a band. I suppose you see other people doing stuff, and they're always around you, and when you like what they're doing, it encourages you to do it as well." 

Still, Moran admits his original inspiration came from abroad. "We grew up loving America, because that tradition of rock and country and punk music is second to none," he asserts. "And America was home to all those giants of songwriting that we attempted to emulate. Obviously we weren't in the same league, but if you're going to try to emulate the little people, you might as well attempt to emulate the greats as well." 

At this point, it's likely there are those that would like to emulate the Saw Doctors. And if that's the case, hopefully Moran, Carton, and company will continue to pursue the path they've traversed for the better part of the past 25 years.

"Sometimes, I think I'll never write another song again," Moran muses. "I can't try too hard because it doesn't work like that. These songs are very elusive creatures. They're like little birds. They don't always land on your shoulder. Sometimes you have to be very still and patient. We're very delighted when one sticks and we can see that people relate to it. But we rarely know the difference. It's the audience that tells us the difference.

"We have a critical mass of songs that do connect with people, and you're just delighted when you write a song that works. But history has a habit of becoming history before you expect it to. So you're even more delighted when you can write the next one."

The Saw Doctors perform on Thursday, February 23, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $20 in advance, $22 day of show. Call 954-727-0950.

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