BEYOND THE FIELDS NEW VIDEO AND TRIBUTE TO ALISTAIR HULETT

The new video from Swiss band Beyond The Fields is a fantastic cover of the Alistair Hulett penned classic ‘Blue Murder’.  Their fine homage to one of Scotland’s finest folk musicians was recorded live at this year’s traditional Grabenhalle Irish Night in St. Gallen, Switzerland on March 18th, 2017. Mixed by Eddy Sloof and filmed by Metunar.
By kind permission of The Alistair Hulett Memorial Trust.

They say it’s easy money
A full page ad in the local rag,
Always nice and sunny.
Come on lad, and pack your bag.
It’s off to West Australia.
Leave the old hometown behind.
Be a winner, not a failure.
There’s money to be made in the Wittenoom Mine.

Day in, day out, everyday they drive us harder.
Day in, day out, they’re getting away with blue murder.

They took me to my quarters,
A stinking bed in an old tin shed.
Got my working orders,
With a lamp, and tin hat on my head.

Day in, day out, everyday they drive us harder.
Day in, day out, they’re getting away with blue murder.

My girl she’s a cook and a cleaner.
Works all day in the canteen hall.
Six days since I’ve seen her.
Some don’t have no girl at all.

Day in, day out, everyday they drive us harder.
Day in, day out, they’re getting away with blue murder.

Sweeps the fine blue dust up.
Tips it into an old wool pack.
Never had a check-up.
If she did she’d get the sack

Day in, day out, everyday they drive us harder.
Day in, day out, they’re getting away with blue murder.

I feel my health is failing
Working down in the thick blue dust.
The kids play in the tailings.
The boss says work, and work I must.

Day in, day out, everyday they drive us harder.
Day in, day out, they’re getting away with blue murder.

For those who aren’t too familiar with Alistair Hulett’s (1951 – 2010) life and work, he was born and raised in Scotland but spent half of his life in Australia. He made a name for himself both as a solo artist and as the lead singer of legendary Australian folk rock band Roaring Jack. Apart from being a gifted singer/songwriter, Alistair was a committed socialist and a dedicated political and community activist. He was indeed one of those artists who consequently used his art trying to make a difference, to fight injustice and exploitation wherever and whenever he could. Alistair wrote songs about crimes against indigenous people, whether it was the British nuclear tests in Australia (‘Plains of Maralinga’) or human rights violations in Papua New Guinea (‘Good Morning Bougainville’). He wrote songs about the Highland Clearances (‘Destitution Road’), detention centres (‘Behind Barbed Wire’), the mistreatment of workers, you name it. ‘Blue Murder’ was one of two songs he wrote about the suffering of those who worked in the blue asbestos mine in Wittenoom, Western Australia. Countless miners and their families who paid with their health and lives after being exposed to lethal asbestos fibres, a health hazard well known to those who ran the mine.
Alistair originally wrote the song for a play while still in Roaring Jack. He eventually recorded it for his third solo album “Saturday Johnny & Jimmy the Rat”, together with folk legend Dave Swarbrick on fiddle!
To find out more about Alistair Hulett and his amazing body of work, visit
http://www.alistairhulett.com

BEYOND THE FIELDS

Eva Wey (Fiddle) * André Bollier (Vocals and Acoustic Guitar) * Marcel Bollier (Bass) * Uwe Schaefer (Mandolin) * Eddy Sloof (Drums and Percussion)

A Celtic folk rock band from the Lake Constance area, playing both acoustic and electric shows. Founded by singer/songwriter Andre Bollier, and featuring classical, folk, jazz and rock musicians from both Switzerland and Germany, the band offers its own distinctive mix of Irish and American folk traditions with rock, punk and other elements.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE GOBSHITES- ‘Some of The Best’ (2017)

The Only Folk’n’Irish Band That Matters!

The Gobshites hail from Foxboro in Massachusetts which is about 22 miles south of Boston and is part of the Greater Boston area making them part of celtic-punk folklore. Let’s face it everything Boston is worshipped in the scene and The Gobshites have certainly played their part in making Boston so. We have waxed lyrical about Boston before when we have reviewed albums form the Dropkick Murphys and Mickey Rickshaw but the story of Irish migration to the Boston area begins with those who were brought over unwillingly as indentured servants in the mid-17th Century.  The first real migration of the Irish began in 1718 with the arrival of the Scot-Irish or the ‘Ulster Irish’. The Irish continued to arrive throughout with the slow pre-‘famine’ trickle of the 1820’s onward of Irish Catholic immigrants as well as the corresponding increase in anti-Irish/Catholic sentiment within Boston beginning with the notorious Pope’s Day celebrations and the burning of the Ursuline Convent in 1834 in Charlestown and the Broad Street Riot of 1837. Finally the massive wave of immigration into Boston after the so-called ‘Famine’ and the rise of the Irish from poverty and discrimination into their assimilation into Boston culture. Mind you, The Gobshites ignore all that and sing about boozing it up!

Way back inn 2002 Irish-American punk rocker Pete Walsh, then the lead singer and rhythm guitar player for punk band Meat Depressed, decided he wanted to start up an Irish band and within less than a month later The Gobshites were supporting New York Irish legends Black 47 in their first gig. The band have been through many many line up changes but have been lucky to have had several periods of stability through their career where they have been able to release some of the best records in celtic-punk history. Their debut album, When The Shite Hits the Fans, hit the streets running and instantly gained them a legion of fans and led to them playing all over  the northeastern United States as well as the renowned Shamrockfest in Washington DC and having a float playing along the route of the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade. 2007 was a busy year with two albums released with Get Bombed and Another Round before 2011’s Songs Me Da Got Pissed To and the official live bootleg Poitin. It may have been six years without any new material but the lads had not disappeared and continued to play regularly around their home and further afield leading to The Whistle Before the Snap late last year which featured Ritchie Ramone on drums and for the first time consisted of solely Gobshites penned songs.

Some Of The Best is their new release and is typical of The Gobshites wicked sense of humour. The band are famed for taking unusual punk rock songs and turning them into Irish folk trad classics. In a scene where we are more used to folk songs being given a punk rock edge The Gobshites happened on something both really good and highly original. Transforming songs like Black Flag’s ‘Six Pack’ into good auld Irish Singalongs with The Ramones ‘Long Way Back to Germany’ becoming ‘Long Way Back to Ireland’ with fiddle jig incorporated.

Some Of the Best was released on June 1, 2017 and is sixteen of the best songs from The Gobshites back catalogue and is an absolutely fantastic album and the perfect introduction to the band if you have been unlucky not to have heard them yet! Beginning with a superbly ramshackle trad Irish folk tune ‘Anderson’s Reel’ showing that the lads can really play their instruments. A great version of celtic-punk fave ‘Star Of The Country Down’ follows and then ‘Cheers (Raise A Pint)’ which was the first song I ever heard by The Gobshites. It appeared on the famous celtic-punk compilation series What the Shite? Volume Two from 2006 which introduced the world to a whole load of new bands. Catchy is The Gobshites byword and though acoustic and folk its also punk as feck as well!

The Gobshites left to right: Stephen Feeney- Accordion * Corey Jobeau- Mandolin * Nina Ross- Fiddle * Peter (Peadar) Walsh- Vocals/ Guitar * Paddy O’Hare- Drums * Amanda McCue- Guitar/Vocals * Dave Vittone- Accordion/ Keyboards/ Hello Kitty Piano * Tom Hughes- Bass (various folk fill in on Whistle and Banjo but looking for full time applicants for both!)

Booze features heavily on the Gobshites play list and would come as no surprise seeing as they follow the two most beer friendly music scenes in Irish and punk. ’12 Steps’ has a “drink, drink. drink, drink, drink etc.,” chorus that must make it VERY popular at live gigs and again is a brilliantly catchy tune and has a Hello Kitty toy piano solo to boot! ‘Give Ireland Back To The Irish’ is a cover of the song banned by pretty much everyone on it’s release in 1972. Penned by Irish-scouser ex-Beatle Paul McCartney it was banned so thoroughly that its pretty much unknown in the UK despite it reaching number 16 in the Official Singles Chart.

“Tell me how would you like it
If on your way to work
You were stopped by Irish soldiers
Would you lie down do nothing
Would you give in or go berserk”

Written in response to Bloody Sunday when British soldiers ran amok in Derry in the north of Ireland murdering sixteen unarmed Catholic civilians. It’s a great song and we can’t imagine the bravery of McCartney to release it at that time. Again a brilliant version here with Pete’s voice giving it the right amount of emotion and The Gobshites stamp is all over it. Next up is possibly the album standout for me, ‘Friggin’ In The Riggin’. The Sex Pistols risque double-A side that reached No. 3 in the UK singles chart in 1979 and was actually the band’s biggest selling single and being three quarters sea shanty anyway it was ripe for covering. Over in a flash the celtic instruments rule and turn the Pistols song into the Irish standard it was always meant to be.

“It was on the good ship Venus
By Christ, ya shoulda seen us
The figurehead was a whore in bed
And the mast, a mammoth penis”

Not for the fair hearted, or your Nan, but great fun. Two great drinking songs next with ‘I Only Drink Stout’, a piss take version of The Queers ‘I Only Drink Bud’, and the simply titled, and apt!, Gang Green song ‘Alcohol’ keep up the tempo until a good and solid ‘Dirty Old Town’ hits the decks and yeah I know you’ve heard it a million times but a good version is still a good version and even a shite one can still have you belting out your lungs! Has a very good Clash tribute at the end to ‘London Calling’.  ‘Pubcrawling’ name checks the local bars of Foxboro (be interesting to know how many have survived the yuppie invasion) while ‘Pirates Life For Me’ begins with the sound of the ocean and sample galore as The Gobshites ham the theme tune to Pirates Of The Caribbean right up.

‘Trouble With Women’ is a funny wee ditty which slots in nicely with its slow and (yes!) catchy chorus. Another favourite of mine here is The Ramones track ‘Somebody Put Something In My Drink’, though this live version owes as much to The Meteors psychobilly version as The Ramones.

Pete is joined on vocals by Ritchie Ramone and what sounds like a massive crowd. The aforementioned ‘Long Way Back’ features another Ramone in Tommy and begins with uileann pipes and is another bloody corker. Boston based musician and sometime actor Lenny Lashley of The Street Dogs gives us a song simply called ‘Irish’ and its as good a homage to the homeland as any. Written by Lenny for his old band Darkbuster we are nearing the end and its time for the abso-fecking-lutely hilarious ‘Shane’s Dentist’. Written by country/punkabilly legend Mojo Nixon just watch the video for the story but yes it’s about you know who. For the final song we leave where we came in with a short and extremely well played Irish traditional tune ‘The Sally Gardens’.

So there you have it and there can be no surprise when I say that every song on this album is Premier League. The Gobshites have been at the forefront of the celtic-punk scene ever since they started and with a back catalogue to die for they could have made this Best Of thirty-two (or sixty-four!) tracks and the quality would still shine right through. They may not have toured Europe or even across America (yet!) but they have still managed to make quite the name for themselves. I haven’t played The Gobshites in quite a while but this is surely one of the most catchiest and cool as fk records I have heard in ages and not only that but they have made it a ‘Pay What You Want’ download meaning that it’s available for free if you so wish but get the Bhoys at least a Guinness won’t you? So drop what you doing, get downloading, get the beers in, only stout of course, sit back and relax and turn up the volume!

(listen to Some Of The Best for free below on the Bandcamp player)

Download Some of The Best

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Contact The Gobshites

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gob·shite  (gŏb′shīt′)

n. Chiefly Irish Slang  person regarded as mean or contemptible.

NEW SINGLE FROM FINLAND FOLK-PUNKERS LORETTA PROBLEM

 Finnish celtic-punks Loretta Problem have been together for over twenty years and are happy to offer up London Celtic Punks readers a free download of their fabulous new single ‘Welcome To The Circus’.

Not one of the most prolific bands in the celtic-punk scene but certainly one of the more interesting. Loretta Problem hail from the death-metal loving fjord’s of Finland and are the sole representative’s of celtic-punk in their country. Like the other Nordic countries there are well established and popular punk and metal scene’s so should come as no surprise that celtic-punk would make an appearance. Loretta Problem have released one album and two singles in their time together which admittedly is not a lot to show for over twenty years together but for over a decade Loretta Problem took a back seat while the various band members were working on other projects like families or in other bands. They still got together to play at a select handful of gigs and festivals every year but regrouped about 2-3 years ago, and have reached the point now where they are ready to fully relaunch the band.

Their new single ‘Welcome To The Circus’ was released a few weeks back but we were waiting on the accompanying video to give it a well deserved plug so here it it. Sounding better than ever the single moves away slightly from their earlier stuff which had a certain metal influence toward a more folky sound akin to what I use to call festival folk. These days that sound is represented by the likes of The Levellers, New Model Army and Ferocious Dog. Well played anthemic punk rock with great fiddle from Tarja throughout. Clear vocals sung in English that completely suit the music but don’t waste time listening to me just have a listen I’m sure you won’t be disappointed! The celtic tone still remains, as well as big hearted punk attitude with fistful of middle fingers!

Loretta Problem have been together now since 1994 and have never stood still but instead have had constant development as a band. You won’t hear the Fields Of Athenry here but instead you will get some great folk’n’punk which takes Celtic music and even celtic-punk and puts a different spin on it. A fantastic single catchy and full of energy and life that leaves us only wanting more. You can hear their back catalogue over at their Spotify account here but follow the link below to get a free download of Welcome To The Circus.

Download The Single

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Contact The Band

WebSite  Facebook  Spotify  ReverbNation  YouTube

  • We reviewed an earlier single from Loretta Problem back in 2015 which you can find here.

THE HISTORY OF CELTIC-ROCK MUSIC

Today the 30492- London Celtic Punks web zine is four years old today so what better way to celebrate our birthday than to give you this small but perfectly formed potted history of Celtic-Rock. We have never just wanted to be a place that only reviews new records we want to celebrate everything that makes us celtic-punks. Our love of our roots and our history and our traditions and the love that those with no Celtic ancestry have as well. Celtic-Punk is for all that share our common values of friendship and solidarity and the love of a good time. Music cannot change the world but it can certainly make it a better place to live in and in these uncertain times that is something we all need. The roots of celtic-punk should be important to us as that is where we come from and we must never forget that.

The London Celtic Punks Admin Team

Celtic rock is a genre of folk rock, as well as a form of Celtic fusion which incorporates Celtic music, instrumentation and themes into a rock music context. It has been extremely prolific since the early 1970’s and can be seen as a key foundation of the development of highly successful mainstream Celtic bands and popular musical performers, as well as creating important derivatives through further fusions. It has played a major role in the maintenance and definition of regional and national identities and in fostering a pan-Celtic culture. It has also helped to communicate those cultures to external audiences.

Definition

The style of music is the hybrid of traditional Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh and Breton musical forms with rock music. This has been achieved by the playing of traditional music, particularly ballads, jigs and reels with rock instrumentation; by the addition of traditional Celtic instruments, including the Celtic harp, tin whistle, uilleann pipes (or Irish Bagpipes), fiddle, bodhrán, accordion, concertina, melodeon, and bagpipes (highland) to conventional rock formats; by the use of lyrics in Celtic languages and by the use of traditional rhythms and cadences in otherwise conventional rock music. Just as the validity of the term Celtic in general and as a musical label is disputed, the term Celtic rock cannot be taken to mean there was a unified Celtic musical culture between the Celtic nations. However, the term has remained useful as a means of describing the spread, adaptation and further development of the musical form in different but related contexts.

History

Origins

Celtic rock developed out of the (originally English) electric folk scene at the beginning of the 1970’s. The first recorded use of the term may have been by the Scottish singer Donovan to describe the folk rock he created for his Open Road album in 1970, which itself featured a song named ‘Celtic Rock’. However, the lack of a clear Celtic elements to the self-penned tracks mean that even if the name was taken from here, this is not the first example of the genre that was to develop.

Ireland

It was in Ireland that Celtic rock was first clearly evident as musicians attempted to apply the use of traditional and electric music to their own cultural context. By the end of the 1960’s Ireland already had perhaps the most flourishing folk music tradition and a growing blues and pop scene, which provided a basis for Irish rock. Perhaps the most successful product of this scene was the band Thin Lizzy. Formed in 1969 their first two albums were recognisably influenced by traditional Irish music and their first hit single ‘Whisky in the Jar’ in 1972, was a rock version of a traditional Irish song. From this point they began to move towards the hard rock that allowed them to gain a series of hit singles and albums, but retained some occasional elements of Celtic rock on later albums such as Jailbreak (1976). Formed in 1970, Horslips were the first Irish group to have the terms ‘Celtic rock’ applied to them, produced work that included traditional Irish/Celtic music and instrumentation, Celtic themes and imagery, concept albums based on Irish mythology in a way that entered the territory of progressive rock all powered by a hard rock sound. Horslips are considered important in the history of Irish rock as they were the first major band to enjoy success without having to leave their native country and can be seen as providing a template for Celtic rock in Ireland and elsewhere. These developments ran in parallel with the burgeoning folk revival in Ireland that included groups such as Planxty and the Bothy Band. It was from this tradition that Clannad, whose first album was released in 1973, adopted electric instruments and a more ‘new age’ sound at the beginning of the 1980s. Moving Hearts, formed in 1981 by former Planxty members Christy Moore and Donal Lunny, followed the pattern set by Horslips in combining Irish traditional music with rock, and also added elements of jazz to their sound.

  • THE POGUES AND IRISH CULTURAL CONTINUITY (here)

Scotland

There were already strong links between Irish and Scottish music by the 1960s, with Irish bands like the Chieftains touring and outselling the native artists in Scotland. The adoption of electric folk produced groups including the JSD Band and Spencer’s Feat. Out of the wreckage of the latter in 1974, was formed probably the most successful band in this genre, combining Irish and Scottish personnel to form Five Hand Reel. Two of the most successful groups of the 1980s emerged from the dance band circuit in Scotland. From 1978, when they began to release original albums, Runrig produced highly polished Scottish electric folk, including the first commercially successful album with the all Gaelic Play Gaelic in 1978. From the 1980s Capercaillie combined Scottish folk music, electric instruments and haunting vocals to considerable success. While bagpipes had become an essential element in Scottish folk bands they were much rarer in electric folk outfits, but were successfully integrated into their sound by Wolfstone from 1989, who focused on a combination of highland music and rock.

  • HOW THE IRISH AND THE SCOTS INFLUENCED AMERICAN MUSIC (here)

Brittany

Brittany also made a major contribution to Celtic rock. The Breton cultural revival of the 1960s was exemplified by Alan Stivell who became the leading proponent of the Breton harp and other instruments from about 1960, he then adopted elements of Irish, Welsh and Scottish traditional music in an attempt to create a pan-Celtic folk music, which had considerable impact elsewhere, particularly in Wales and Cornwall. From 1972 he began to play electric folk with a band including guitarists Dan Ar Braz and Gabriel Yacoub. Yacoub went on to form Malicorne in 1974 one of the most successful electric folk band in France. After an extensive career that included a stint playing as part of Fairport Convention in 1976, Ar Braz formed the pan-Celtic band Heritage des Celtes, who managed to achieve mainstream success in France in the 1990’s. Probably the best known and most certainly the most enduring electric folk band in France were Tri Yann formed in 1971 and still recording and performing today. In 2017 celtic-punk band Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs fly the flag for Brittany singing in their native language and playing regularly and often accompanied on stage by Louise Ebrel, daughter of Eugénie Goadec, a famous traditional Breton musician.

  • ALBUM REVIEW: LES RAMONEURS DE MENHIRS- ‘Tan Ar Bobl’ (here)

Wales

By the end of the 1960’s Wales had produced some important individuals and bands that emerged as major British or international artists, this included power pop outfit Badfinger, psychedelic rockers Elastic Band and proto-heavy metal trio Budgie. But although folk groupings formed in the early 1970’s, including Y Tebot Piws, Ac Eraill, and Mynediad am Ddim, it was not until 1973 that the first significant Welsh language rock band Edward H Dafis, originally a belated rock n’ roll outfit, caused a sensation by electrifying and attempting to use rock instrumentation while retaining Welsh language lyrics. As a result, for one generation listening to Welsh language rock music could now become a statement of national identity. This opened the door for a new rock culture but inevitably most Welsh language acts were unable to breakthrough into the Anglophone dominated music industry. Anhrefn became the best known of these acts taking their pop-punk rock sound across Europe from the early-80’s to mid-90’s.

  • TRIBUTE TO WELSH PUNK ROCK LEGENDS ANHREFN (here)

Cornwall and the Isle of Man

Whereas other Celtic nations already had existing folk music cultures before the end of the 1960s this was less true in Cornwall and the Isle of Man, which were also relatively small in population and more integrated into English culture and (in the case of Cornwall) the British State. As a result, there was relatively little impact from the initial wave of folk electrification in the 1970’s. However, the pan-Celtic movement, with its musical and cultural festivals helped foster some reflections in Cornwall where a few bands from the 1980s onwards utilised the traditions of Cornish music with rock, including Moondragon and its successor Lordryk. More recently the bands Sacred Turf, Skwardya and Krena, have been performing in the Cornish language.

  • ALBUM REVIEW: BARRULE- ‘Manannans Cloak’ (here)

Subgenres

Celtic Punk

Ireland proved particularly fertile ground for punk bands in the mid-1970s, including Stiff Little Fingers, The Undertones, The Radiators From Space, The Boomtown Rats and The Virgin Prunes. As with electric folk in England, the advent of punk and other musical trends undermined the folk element of Celtic rock, but in the early 1980s London based Irish band The Pogues created the subgenre Celtic punk by combining structural elements of folk music with a punk attitude and delivery. The Pogues’ style of punked-up Irish music spawned and influenced a number of Celtic punk bands, including fellow London-Irish band Neck, Nyah Fearties from Scotland, Australia’s Roaring Jack and Norway’s Greenland Whalefishers.

  • FROM OPPRESSION TO CELEBRATION- THE POGUES TO THE DROPKICK MURPHYS AND CELTIC PUNK (here)

Diaspora Celtic Punk

One by-product of the Celtic diaspora has been the existence of large communities across the world that looked for their cultural roots and identity to their origins in the Celtic nations. While it seems young musicians from these communities usually chose between their folk culture and mainstream forms of music such as rock or pop, after the advent of Celtic punk large numbers of bands began to emerge styling themselves as Celtic rock. This is particularly noticeable in the USA and Canada, where there are large communities descended from Irish and Scottish immigrants. From the USA this includes the Irish bands Flogging Molly, The Tossers, Dropkick Murphys, The Young Dubliners, Black 47, The Killdares, The Drovers and Jackdaw, and for Scottish bands Prydein, Seven Nations and Flatfoot 56. From Canada are bands like The Mahones, Enter the Haggis, Great Big Sea, The Real McKenzies and Spirit of the West. These groups were naturally influenced by American forms of music, some containing members with no Celtic ancestry and commonly singing in English. In England we have The BibleCode Sundays, The Lagan and others.

  • THE EFFECTS OF NEW DIASPORA CELTIC PUNK: THE CREATION OF A PAN-CELTIC CULTURE (here)

Celtic Metal

Like Celtic rock in the 1970s, Celtic metal resulted from the application of a development in English music, when in the 1990s thrash metal band Skyclad added violins, and with them jigs and folk voicings, to their music on the album The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth (1990). This inspired the Dublin based band Cruachan to mix traditional Irish music with black metal and to create the subgenre of Celtic metal. They were soon followed by bands such as Primordial and Waylander. Like Celtic punk, Celtic metal fuses the Celtic folk tradition with contemporary forms of music.

  • CELTIC-METAL’S TOP FIVE BANDS (here)

Influence

Whereas in England electric folk, after initial mainstream recognition, subsided into the status of a sub-cultural soundtrack, in many Celtic communities and nations it has remained at the forefront of musical production. The initial wave of Celtic rock in Ireland, although ultimately feeding into Anglo-American dominated progressive rock and hard rock provided a basis for Irish bands that would enjoy international success, including the Pogues and U2: one making use of the tradition of Celtic music in a new context and the other eschewing it for a distinctive but mainstream sound. Similar circumstances can be seen in Scotland albeit with a delay in time while Celtic rock culture developed, before bands like Runrig could achieve international recognition. Widely acknowledged as one of the outstanding voices in Celtic/rock is the Glasgow born Brian McCombe of The Brian McCombe Band, a pan Celtic group based in Brittany.

In other Celtic communities, and particularly where Celtic speakers or descendants are a minority, the function of Celtic rock has been less to create mainstream success, than to bolster cultural identity. A consequence of this has been the reinforcement of pan-Celtic culture and of particular national or regional identities between those with a shared heritage, but who are widely dispersed. However, the most significant consequence of Celtic rock has simply been as a general spur to immense musical and cultural creativity.

ALBUM REVIEW: CHEERS!- ‘Daily Bread’ (2017)

Snarling, swirling, raging, roaring Celtic folk-punk brewed in Pilsen and tempered by accordion, whistles and flutes!
Cheers! are a band I have heard about for a few years now but bar a couple of tracks on compilations and the odd video here and there I hadn’t yet got round to properly listening to them till Daily Bread popped through my letter box the other day. They released their first single back in 2011 and their debut album Wrong and Right in 2013 and since then have toured extensively across their home country and throughout mainland Europe. They hail from the city of Pilsen in western Bohemia in the Czech Republic which is about 50 miles from the capital city of Prague. Of course the city is most known worldwide for Pilsner beer created in the city in 1842.  The combination of Pilsen’s famously soft water, Saaz noble hops from nearby Žatec and Bavarian-style brewing produced a clear, golden (and delicious!) beer which was regarded as a sensation and is still a big hit today among aficionados of the odd drink or two.
(have a listen to the debut Cheers! album Wrong And Right below)
There have been a handful of Czech celtic-punk bands kicking up a storm with the most famous being the excellent bagpipe punk band Pipes And Pints, celtic rockers Benjaming’s Clan and the relatively new Pirates Of The Pub. The scene over there may not be massive but is in a very healthy state with many touring bands choosing to stopover and play, especially in Prague. That all these bands have proved popular outside their home country proves they all are doing something right and on listening to Daily Bread I can see why.

Cheers! left to right. Top: Pisek- Electric guitar * Mates- Accordion. Middle: Kata- Tin Whistle Maty- Drums * Fifa- Fiddle. Bottom: Laska- Bass * Pafka- Acoustic Guitar/ Vocals

I’ve noticed a trend recently of bands releasing videos for the opening song on their album’s. Maybe they always have and it just hadn’t clicked before but it does makes sense to kick your album off with one of your strongest songs and here Cheers! are no different opening with the great track ‘Chances’.

Fiddle and tin whistle provide the celtic side of foot-tapping and melodic punk rock. Celtic-punk is best suited to a pub environment and make a perfect place to film your videos and ‘Chances’ is no exception. The punk takes a back seat to some exceptional Irish folk music next in ‘London Days’. The story is of the many who come to London and fall through the gaps. The ones who don’t become rich and live their lives solely surviving. In my day it was the Irish, the Scots and the northern English and these days they come from across the world. A catchy, gang chorus and strong fiddle keep the song ticking over till the heartfelt ending.

“For life is quite short you know and to fall is not wrong at all”

This leads into ‘Misery’ and the accordion stands out here in an angry song about the faceless workers everywhere toiling away. The chugging guitar keeps it tuneful and ‘Dagger’ takes us down a different path with its upbeat Flogging Molly-esque Irish folk. Pafka’s vocals are strong and clearly sung in English. The CD has the lyrics but they are clear enough just from listening. ‘Here We Are’ is kind of Bad Religion meets Irish folk. Fast rapid drumming and accordion keep it going before next song, ‘Standard’, returns us to Molly’s territory and a song that starts acapello before familiar sounding fiddle takes over. Brilliant lyrics next in ‘Pie Of Shame’. Not about pie as you may think but the wish for a better and more peaceful world. It could be a bit cloying but isn’t at all especially as it lasts just a few seconds short of five minutes. I’m well jealous of songwriters with the ability to write like this. We haven’t had a slow one yet and ‘Saint Of The Scene’ comes at the perfect time. Poguesy accordion and a swirling sound surrounded by gang vocals and tin whistle and fiddle give it a perfect pint in the air feel. ‘Mr. Batter’ is a fast and furious tune with great funny story about a copper stealing bum who ends up on the wrong side of the law. Again Cheers! turn it on its head as just as your settling in they pull out something different to rouse you. ‘Hey Devil’ is next and the band this is most reminiscent of would be The Dreadnoughts fast as hell and completely led by Filip’s glorious fiddle playing.

They slow it down again next with ‘Land Where Nobody Lives’ which suddenly erupts into life and the tale of the prodigal son returning home ends with a Flogging Molly burst of life. We are rolling up to the end of Daily Bread and ‘Once We Reach The Ireland’s Bay’ takes the album to premier league status. The wonderful sound of uileann pipes from album guest Zdeněk Bugoš blaze a trail through this fantastic ballad. The sort of song I would love to push down the throats of the folk purists (snobs!) who say celtic-punk bands have no folk tradition or feeling. Cheers! nail it here with this song. Daily Bread comes to an end with the short and sweet and punky ‘Only Thing’. Seventy seconds of Dubliners style punk rock wraps things up nicely.

Thirteen songs clocking it at an impressive near fifty minutes! The music is of a solid punk rock backdrop with fantastic celtic musicians driving it along and Pafka’s great vocals atop. Very hard to pigeonhole Cheers! as they change tempo and their sound quite regularly on this album but despite that they have still managed to make a album that flows along very nicely. On this showing it’s easy to see why they have become so popular already and with only one album behind them that is is even more of an achievement.

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  • A very nice review of the album and an interesting interview with singer/guitarist Pavel here on the Celtic Music Fan site.

EP REVIEW: BLACK RAWK DOG- ‘Suburban’s Folk Stories’ (2017)

Another top quality Indonesian celtic-punk band belt it out of the ball park with their new EP! Black Rawk Dog continue the Indonesia love in…

Just a couple of days ago we reviewed a great EP from an Indonesian celtic-punk band (here) and low and behold just like buses up rolls another one five minutes behind! As with Rain In Summer we first came across Black Rawk Dog on the absolutely superb Indonesian celtic-punk compilation ‘Wind From The Foreign Land’ from 2014. Fourteen tracks from fourteen different celtic-punk bands from across Indonesia and from right across the whole celtic-punk spectrum from folky traditional folk to celtic-Oi! and hardcore it’s all there and is definitely one of the best album’s I have ever heard. We described Black Rawk Dog then as

“fast paced fiddle and mando punk played at breakneck speed with gang vocals”

and on the basis of Surburban’s Folk Stories I can see no reason to change that!

(The EP teaser a collection of videos by friends of the bands showing them hanging)

The Black Rawk Dog story begins at the end of 2010 when a group of Sidoarjo friends become interested in and decide to take up an unlikely form of music for youths in their country. It takes a while to get going and in November, 2011 they begin their journey playing with another of Indonesia’s celtic-punk greats Skarockoi! They began to invite some of the other great bands from around the country to play in Sidoarjo and soon enough they were being invited to play around the country as well leading to their performance at the Jogja Celtic Punk Night. BY now the band had set out to find more about traditional Irish music and the wider celtic music scene in Indonesia and Black Rawk Dog were now firmly on their way to transform from a punk band with folk instruments to a fully fledged celtic-punk band. A skinhead mate suggested ‘Black Dog Conspiracy’ as a band name and somewhere along discussions they ended up as Black Rawk Dog and set out to take Indonesian celtic-punk to the masses!

Surburban’s Folk Stories was sent to me by an old mate on Facebook Jr Miko from the record label that released this and pretty much everything Indonesian celtic-punk related. The first thing that strikes you on listening to this EP is how much energy the band has. If it’s possible to tell how much fun a band has through listening to them on record then here is the best example I have heard it quite a while. They roll out all the celtic instruments to kick start ‘Brand New Day’ the opening track.

Tin whistle, bango, fiddle all leading the song with vocals shared among the band and a real Dropkick Murphys singalong going on. Now the band sound more like Flogging Molly than the Murphys but the songs do remind me of them more somehow. A fantastic start to the EP and the sound of quality Irish folk music fills the air on the second track too. ‘Work Proud’ is again sung in English and is nice and clear and just on the right side of punky gruffness. Again its fast but without losing the folky sound and the ‘Woah Woah’ gang chorus is great. The celtic instruments are out in force again but the whole band is on top form here with nice drumming and guitar. Now regular readers will know how i wax lyrical about the most under-rated instrument in celtic-punk, the harmonica. My uncle Pat bought me a mouth organ when I was a kid and though I never did quite master it I still love the sound. ‘Still One’ slows it all down a little and the harmonica kicks it off until more gang ‘Woah Woah’s come in and beautiful guest female vocals take the song slowly up in tempo into a fast and frantic hardcore celtic folk punk number. The song ends with a high kicking blast that comes with a tinge of country included. More than half way through the EP and I am absolutely loving it. Play this in a bar in Dublin, London or NYC and tell the regulars these are a local band and you’ll get no argument I am sure. In fact the way that Black Rawk Dog have taken to Irish music would put most Irish bands on the island of Ireland to shame. Indonesia is a 80% majority Muslim country so great to hear ‘Rumble In The Bar’. Celtic-punk as our header states is music of rebellion and resistance and great to hear Indonesian’s playing it as well as anyone else, and sometimes better. Starting off with banjo it all turns into a massive ceilidh and like some sort of Irish-punk-celtic-hoedown with more gang vocal chorus and fiddle to die for. Super production here on all the songs and the music is flowing as the beer is flowing out and sadly the EP comes to an end with ‘The Old Man Stands Alone’. Expecting a slow maudlin ballad Black Rawk Dog kick out the best song on the record that takes me right back to to the days of The Pogues. Whoever is sharing their record collection with these guys is doing a fantastic job and I’m left wanting to hear more from this great band.

All the songs here are penned by the band themselves and if I had any criticism it would be that it’s only twenty minutes as I am now desperately wanting to hear more from them. This EP is a perfect example of what can be done with a bunch of extremely talented musicians and a wish to move beyond playing bog standard punk music. This is easily as good as anything I have heard this year and I only wish that bands like Flogging Molly or The Murphys would put their hands in their pockets and get some of the bands from Indonesia over to the States for some exposure. How about getting them on the next Salty Dog cruise Flogging Molly?

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WLRV Records is a Yogyakarta based independent record label, focusing on celtic punk and punk. Started by YK Mass in 2012 we are here to support Indonesian Celtic Punk / Irish Folk Punk / Paddy Punk movement.

EP REVIEW: RAIN IN SUMMER- ‘Discordant Anthem From The Gutter’ (2017)

Formed from a grain of sand on baladewa streets in early 2008!

Indonesian celtic-punk of the punky variety.

Without going too far into the history of celtic-punk it can be said that the genre was back in the day originally a product of the Irish diaspora living in England and mainly in London. With the worldwide popularity of The Pogues it very soon spread across the Atlantic to north America to the Irish communities there and from there we had a couple of bands who went on to become absolutely massive and helped spread the modern day celtic-punk scene into every corner of the globe. In just the last few weeks on this site for instance we have published reviews of records from Hungary, France, USA, Netherlands, Belarus, Germany and Galicia  and now we have a band from one the biggest and best celtic-punk scenes in the world- Indonesia.  Yes it may seem strange and even unbelievable but the Indonesians have embraced celtic-punk and seem to have taken to it completely. Rather than go into the various bands of the scene you’d be better off checking out ‘Wind From The Foreign Land- Indonesian Celtic Punk Compilation’ from 2014. An album of fourteen tracks from fourteen different celtic-punk bands from across Indonesia. From folky almost traditional folk to celtic-Oi! and hardcore it’s all there and is one of the best album’s I have ever heard (here). Out in the Indian ocean and a thousand or two miles from Australia Indonesia gained independence from Holland after the second world war. The country itself has a population in excess of 230 million and comprises nearly 13,500 different islands and for a country that is 87.2% Muslim the scene has adopted one or two of celtic-punks better known subject matters, if you know what I mean…

Rain in Summer have been going almost a decade having formed in 2008 and this is their second release. It came out in a short run of 100 CD’s for Record Store Day in May just gone. That first release was a 6 track EP titled Untuk Kutaku which you can hear below on the ReverbNation player.

Discordant Anthem From The Gutter begins with ‘Suara’ and it sounds like about two dozen musicians locked in a pub! At least three singers giving it welly with electric guitar keeping time but with the sound (suara) of tin whistle, mandolin and fiddle throughout giving it that unmistakable celtic sound. A catchy as hell wee punky number to begin with. ‘Are You Okay?’ is up next and starts off in a kind of trad celtic-punk style before going punky and then returning, thanks to tin whistle, back into celtic-punk. The vocals are brilliant throughout and while it may not be polished it sounds all the better for it. Growing up listening to DIY punk releases means I can overlook some things and appreciate the rawness of others and the passion here shines through. Lyrics this time are sung in English while the rest of the EP is in Indonesian. ‘Semua Terekam Dalam Media’ follows and is a fast paced punk number with throaty vocals and mandolin. ‘Kita Semua Saudara’ is next and slows it down not that most will notice though. The electric guitar is still there as well as the gang vocals and heavy drums. It’s one of those moments when played live that you reach for the sky and grab your mates and your loved ones. A swirling and catchy as hell three minutes of perfection. ‘Eksploitasi’ (‘Exploitation’) is another fast paced punk song which slows down a couple of times only to get faster again. The EP is all over in less than twenty minutes. It grabs your attention and then just as quickly is gone. We are now onto the last song ‘ Warrior’ and straight from the off its reminiscent of Belfast punkers Stiff Little Fingers. For me the standout track of the EP with its perfectly paced fast punk rock and the celtic instruments just nicely accompanying. Again the tin whistle, fiddle and mandolin are all over this song and place the band firmly within celtic-punk. The production on the last song seems a bit clearer too to these big ears as well.

The EP was released on WLVR Records who not only released the Indonesian Celtic-punk compilation mentioned above but also fantastic records by The Cloves and The Tobacco, which we reviewed here, and Dirty Glass, here. Discordant Anthem From The Gutter places them firmly on the punkier side of celtic-punk and with a sound that straight away informs you they are a part of that blossoming Indonesian celtic-punk scene. As already stated it’s not polished but too many releases are tinkered with and all that manages to do is to remove that live feel that is crucial to any celtic-punk release. Here listening to this you could almost be in the pub sweating away with the lads on stage. Six songs of catchyness that will have you headbanging away and anyone planning on a holiday to Indonesia be sure to contact some of these bands as I get the feeling a concert out there would be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

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WLRV Records is a Yogyakarta based independent record label, focusing on celtic punk and punk. Started by YK Mass in 2012 we are here to support Indonesian Celtic Punk / Irish Folk Punk / Paddy Punk movement.

  • There is a fantastic Facebook group called ‘Indonesian Celtic Punk’ (here) we recommend you join. The Cloves And The Tobacco are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Indonesian celtic punk so invest a bit of time and find out a bit more about this great scene.

ALBUM REVIEW: FLOGGING MOLLY- ‘Life Is Good’ (2017)

“The one thing we are is a positive band. When people come and see our shows, it’s a celebration of life, of the good and of the bad. And we have to take the good and the bad for it to be a life”- Dave King

Life is Good!

It certainly is good for Celtic Punk fans around the globe. Here we have the release of yet another quality album in 2017. It comes from the third branch of the Holy Trinity of Celtic Punk, Flogging Molly. It follows on from outstanding albums from the other two branches this year, namely The Dropkick Murphys and Flatfoot 56. We really have been spoiled this year, especially when you consider that we’ve also had new albums from The Tossers, Damien Dempsey, Paddy and the Rats and so many more Celtic bands. Too many to mention here, especially as this meant to be a review of Flogging Molly’s Life is Good. So maybe just take a minute to think how lucky we all are to be part of such a dynamic and productive “scene”!!

Life is Good is the eighth album to have been released by Celtic Punk premier leaguers, Flogging Molly, and its class! That’s one of the things that went through my mind while I was listening to it, the class just stands out! It’s made up of 12 tracks and runs for three quarters of an hour.

That “class” is evident throughout all the tracks here, it shows how well the band works as a unit, complimenting each other. I suppose twenty years of performing together is going to give us that polished sound. Their last album “The Speed of Darkness” consisted of a, what some people might claim, more mainstream rock sound. I must admit it was one that grew on me, rather than hit me straight away, although now it is one of my favourites. Life is Good definitely sounds more Celtic influenced, with some beautiful fiddle work from Bridget and some rousing banjo from Bob. It is not as raw as Drunken Lullabies or Swagger, but the same feeling is still there, it’s just a bit more professionally produced.

It kicks off with There’s Nothing Left, setting a jaunty pace that is kept up throughout. The Hand of John L Sullivan is next. Many of you will have heard this one as it was a video released a few months ago. It shows how Dave King still has the knack for writing punchy and interesting songs to go along with his ballads and anthem like offerings. Welcome to Adamstown incorporates a great brass section to give some “oomph” to the baseline. It’s a tale of unfinished suburbia in King’s native Dublin. Next comes Reptiles (We Woke Up). Now this is one of those aforementioned anthems, I can picture the crowd at The Forum, at the end of June, having a great time with this one. A bit like the All of Our Boys / Oliver Boy singalong from Speed of Darkness.

Here it is:

The Days We’ve Yet To Meet is the next track, a good up tempo rock number. Then we have the title track, Life is Good. A bittersweet song dealing with death and illness, but also impressing upon us to live our lives and enjoy them. The Last Serenade comes next, it’s one that resonates with me, dealing with ailing fisheries that most of us who live on the coast have witnessed. It’s a slow tempoed ballad and might not really sit well with a Punk audience, but I love it! The slow pace continues with the intro to The Guns of Jericho which soon livens up to a foot stomper though!

Crushed (Hostile Nations) also starts slowly with some lovely pipes accompanying Dave’s opening lines, but it soon turns into a deep almost hypnotic heavy beat. There’s electric guitar solos and a pounding rhythm, I’m reminded of Horslips, but different! There seems to be a darkness to it, probably part of the “Hostility”. A great track!!After the angst of Crushed, we move into the optimism of Hope! Another one that will have the fans up and singing along to the chorus. The Bride Wore Black is a fine pacy tune that you could dance to. I don’t know who it’s about, but she sounds like a bit of craic anyway!! We finish with Until We Meet Again, another ballad with some lovely fiddle and accordion playing, that rounds off the album perfectly.

Flogging Molly have been together for twenty years now, having formed in 1997. Dave King, Bridget Regan, Bob Schmit, Denis Casey, Nathan Maxwell, Matt Hensley and Mike Alonso have combined to bring us six exceptional studio albums and two sublime live recordings. They have played some of the best live gigs that I’ve been to and I hope to see many more! What they bring to the music scene in general and the Celtic Punk scene in particular is an authenticity and intelligence. Let’s hope they (and me!) are around in another twenty years! Slainte.

Ger Mellon 2017.

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  • On Thursday you lucky folk Flogging Molly play at The Forum in Kentish Town, north London. Ticket information here.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE SCARLET- ‘Hardfolk Shanties’ (2017)

It’s been five minutes so must be time for another amazing Hungarian celtic-punk release from another amazing Hungarian celtic-punk band!

2015 was the year of the Hungarian celtic-punk band with a seemingly never ending succession of celtic-punk releases throughout the year that filled the end of year Best Of polls for not just ourselves but for all the other celtic-punk media. Well last year was a bit on the quiet side but the Hungarians are back in 2017 with a bang and already this year we have had Hungarian Celtic-Punk week when we reviewed three releases by bands old and new to the scene in Firkin, Crazy Rogues and The O’Neills plus as well as finding space for the excellent Jolly Jackers album and a new Paddy And The Rats release due any day soon its shaping up to be a repeat of two years back. The Scarlet’s singer/songwriter Dániel also plays in The O’Neills and while they are a much more traditional Irish folk band it seems he has chosen The Scarlet to take out his aggression on and their music has a much harder edge to it than previously. Which brings us to this release which came out in March (when else!) and is the debut long player from Budapest based band The Scarlet. They have previously released a Demo (available for free download from here) in late 2012 and in January, 2015 they released their first official record in Midnight Avenue. That was six tracks and twenty minutes of, mostly Dropkick Murphys style, quality celtic-punk that introduced them both to the celtic-punk scene and the world (here). A combination of pirate ‘Yo-Ho’s’ and metal guitar riffs accompanying the celtic instruments it left us itching to hear more and we were jumping for joy on the news that an album was coming out.

Now as is the case with music genre’s many overlap and while to the casual listener it may all sound the same but to those that like to label things this is probably more towards the pirate punk end of celtic-punk and maybe even celtic-metal as well.

The album kicks off with ‘Heroes of Our Future’ and even though it’s the shortest song on the album it’s still one of the high points. The Hungarians love the flute and The Scarlet are no different with Júlia’s flute competing with fiddle and metally punk electric guitar riffs. Dániel’s vocals as on that earlier EP are clear and even with his slight accent the English lyrics are easy to understand though sung in a more rock style than before.

The music has a urgent feel to it and ‘The Darker Shade of Red’ doesn’t let the pace slip while the sea theme continues with ‘We Plunder’. The heavy guitar and thundering bass, which sounds particularly good, give the song a hard feel but all the time the flute and fiddle keep it celtic. ‘Monday Morning’ is another album standout and one of the more ‘trad’ celtic-punk moments on the album. Gang vocals on the track are a nice touch and keep it interesting. We are halfway through Hardfolk Shanties and ‘Son of a Pirate’ keeps the pace up. I am a new convert to the use of flute in celtic-punk. I was never one for it but on seeing the mighty Firkin here in London on NYE 2015 I have to say I was totally won over. The Scarlet and Firkin share a lot of similarities except in sound and once again it’s pleasing that bands have managed to tread separate paths in a, sometimes, one dimensional scene.

Saying that if there was one song on the album that has a Firkin shadow looming over it then it is ‘Take the Wheel’. In a album of high points it’s not hard hard to pick out songs worthy of attention and ‘Heading to South’ is one. Great fiddle work and chugging guitar and a real catchy tune too. We coming up to the end of the album and ‘Battlefield Requiem’ keeps up the good work and another mention here for Dániel’s tortured vocals which fit perfectly with the sound the band are producing. ‘Runaway’ has a punk feel to it with that thundering bass back again and finally Hardfolk Shanties comes to an end with ‘Long Live the Dead’. The song begins folky acoustic style before moving into celtic-punk territory. Another class song and that The Scarlet can pack so much into their songs when the longest here is only just over three minutes long is remarkable.

So the album is over and you get ten songs all penned by the band themselves that comes in at literally just over half an hour long. If you like your celtic-punk a bit different then Hardfolk Shanties will be right up your street. More punk than most and with metal influences that keep it on the harder side side of things but thanks to the addictive flute and fiddle here it is firmly within the celtic-punk scene. Fiddler Dominika can be thanked for the superb pirate themed album artwork and the album was mixed by Zoltán Cs.Szabó, of the Hungarian garage rock band The Trousers, who has done a grand job and got the maximum out of The Scarlet. A great album and as already stated it sits proudly on the harder edged side of things but it is nevertheless still a fine concoction of both old time folk and more modern punk and metal. Heartily recommended ship mates!

(you can hear Hardfolk Shanties by pressing play on the Soundcloud player below)

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ALBUM REVIEW: Всё_CRAZY- ‘Мокрые слухи’ (2017)

no nonsense no frills just straight up fantastic celtic-punk from Belarus.

We been big fans of Всё_CRAZY (in English- ‘All Crazy’) for a while and Мокрые слухи is their second album and comes only a year and a couple of months after the release of their debut album По Морям. That album was reviewed on these pages here and we had this to say back then

“They have taken celtic music and added their take on it and made something really interesting. We have waxed lyrically before about how wonderful we find it that celtic-punk has gone international over the last few years. Gone are the days when celtic-punk was solely played in the places where the Irish or other Celts settled and these days some of the best bands in the scene are not only from Canada or Australia or the USA but place like Belarus or Indonesia or Brazil. They deserve a fair hearing and we really hope you give them a try you won’t be disappointed.”

The album also landed in the London Celtic Punks Best Album Of 2015 and received favourable mentions across the worldwide celtic-punk media.

left to right: Aliaksandr Hliakau – bass/vocals; Nikalai Kavalikhin – drums; Liudmila Navakouskaya – mandolin; Aliaksandra Halkouskaya – vocals; Sergey Lesnevskiy – accordion; Eugene Rakhanski – guitars; Anton Sirotin – guitar/vocals; Alexey Voryvodsky – sound engineering

Всё Crazy hail from Belarus which up until 1991 was part of the Soviet Union and is bordered by Russia to the north east, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the north west. They come from the capital city Minsk and has a tragic past. During WWII Belarus was devastated losing about a third of its population and more than half of its economic resources. Of course after the war came occupation by the Russians but the government and people remain on friendly terms with many speaking both Russian and Belarusian.

(Brand new concert video. Great quality and contains a good few songs from the album)

So why then have these band of merry souls decided to take up the music and culture of another country with a tragic past on the other side of the continent? Well Alex from the band told me

“We began celebrating St. Patrick’s day in our country about 10 years ago, it was a new experience for us. We found that Irish people have a lot in common with Belarusians, for instance, drinking a lot and eating potatoes! The same similarity we found between Celtic and Slavic folk tunes. Altogether, it resulted in the music we play today”

Belarus is a land locked country and again as on that debut album there is an inescapable longing both for the sea and alcohol as the two driving forces of the Belarusian people. No wonder they feel at home singing Irish tunes! The title of the album translates as Wet Rumors which is a local phrase for telling someone what they want to hear. Released just a couple of weeks ago it’s not been plain sailing for the band with the inevitable loss of band members as you get more popular and get offered more gigs and touring becomes a necessity. The mandolin player went on maternity leave but can still be heard on this album and two new instruments (violin and flute) appeared as one musician as Inna Perasetskaya-Malakovich joined the ship.

The album launches with ‘Liudmila’ which is a cover of a song by American folk-punk band Harley Poe. Never having heard of them I thought I would check them out and they were OK I suppose but not a fecking patch on Всё_CRAZY!! Hard as nails folk with the punk kept slightly in check and heavy on the accordion. A right knees up of a song with vocals, as on the entire album, sung in Russian but have a real nice sound to them. if you are the kind of person that is put off my celtic-punk not being sung in English then you in the wrong place. Next up is ‘The Factory’ and the first self-penned number. Have to say there is a nice balance of covers here among the bands own material and some interesting ventures within the song and all done with a great deal of style. One thing is for certain these are definitly not straight covers. ‘The Factory’ is about the limitations of man and his attempt to escape his problems through alcohol. A vicious circle. Most of the music here is joyful but there’s a slight menace here. ‘Wet Whores’ is really part one of a song where the second part follows later on in the album. The songs are getting faster and more and more punk is slipping in all time. ‘Mom’ follows and is a cover of a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club song but never having been a fan of them I can’t tell you much except I don’t think they were a folk-punk band and so it seems to me that Всё_CRAZY’s version walks all over there’s. The band have stamped their brand all over it as the song begins as a dirge, Slow and mournful before changing halfway into a upbeat tune with lovely male/female vocals and a gang chorus to die for. The familiar sound of ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’ makes an appearance and takes us into the albums first traditional celtic-punk tune ‘Over the Mountains (Bugger Off!)’. They do a grand version of The Real McKenzies song and the trad elements are a mixture of Slav and Celt and sound brilliant. Another trad song next and ‘Tired Me Out, Bastards!’ originates from the bleak lives of prisoners in the harsh existence in Siberia. We first became of Всё_CRAZY on the release of the fantastic Tribute To The Pogues compilation that came out in 2015. with twenty-seven bands from over a dozen countries it was hard to spot the standout tracks but their cover of the Jem Finer and Andrew Ranken penned ‘My Baby’s Gone’ was easily among the best tracks on the album. Taken from the underwhelming post-Shane album Waiting for Herb it was a brave choice of Всё_CRAZY to go with one of The Pogues lesser known songs but it completely worked. (Follow the link here to get a free download of Tribute To The Pogues)

(Всё_CRAZY re-recorded the song for the album but here’s the sweary version!)

Unsurprisingly it’s my favourite song of the album. Great m/f vocals again and mandolin and guitars work perfectly together. The unsuccessful search for the road to the sea is next in ‘Road To The Sea’ and is a reference to the topic of death and frailty of all things. You can hear the bones of a sea shanty here in a song that lasts over five minutes. Rather surprisingly the band actually formed in 2002 playing all sorts, from reggae to blues rock. Multiple lineup changes saw the band not settle until the release of an album ‘Телипыч’ (‘Telipych’) which became a turning point for the band. The end of that chapter and they changed course, lucky for us, to celtic-punk. The next track ‘Motorped’ was written back in 2002 but unexpectedly suited the concept of the album, and therefore got a place here. Another corker and another knees up with a hint of bluegrass/country wrapped inside. Nearing the end of the album and ‘Babe On The Shore’ keeps the catchiness and gang vocals going with flute taking the lead here. The final song here is another cover but ‘Some Day (When the Saints…)’ is anything BUT a straight cover and I would bet my house on it being a fan’s live favourite. The song lasts over six minutes and takes in several genres in a kind of well played mayhem.

So I can only give you my opinion on the music and what I have managed to piece together regarding the meaning of the songs. The upbeat sound here belies that many of the songs are permeated with a sorrow. Something else the Belarussians have in common with the Irish so. The violin, whistle/flute and accordion feature strongly here but is well balanced by the guitar. A very interesting album and the mix of folk styles from their home country and ours added to good ol’ fashioned punk rock makes for some absolutely great music.

( you can hear Мокрые слухи below by pressing play on the Bandcamp player before you buy. It’s only $3 so go on and splash the cash!)

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ALBUM REVIEW: ‘THE HANGMAN’S BLUES: Prison Songs In Country Music 1956-1972 (2016)

Grim tales of jailbirds, cutthroats, cuckolds, executioners, murderers and escapees.  Prison ballads form part of the historic lifeblood of Country Music and saw a resurgence after the 1960 execution of controversial convict Caryl Chessman. Here are some of the very best, seldom heard since their original release. Running the gamut from smooth balladeers of woe to ramshackle and plaintive backyard rockabilly.

While these days your more likely to find your folk music heroes went to Eton with Prince William or all met at Cambridge/Oxford/insert other posh university it’s not always been so. While it’s always been true that the music of the working classes has always been adopted by the well-heeled and the image of the bearded Green Party, Real Ale drinking, middle class ‘leftie’ singing away with his finger in his ear still rings true around the folk clubs. This also explains their reluctance to accept other genre’s like celtic-punk as part of the folk scene as at it’s heart is a snobbery to keep others out at all costs. Folk music was never a static thing with bands and singers always finding ways to keep the music alive and relevant though always with a healthy respect for the past. That the celtic-punk scene can be said to be partly responsible for the popularity of bands long gone like The Dubliners, Clancy Brothers and The Pogues butters no onions with these people who just want to keep things as they were at all costs. Happy to be big fish in small pools! What the artists on this album would make of four faux-ploughboy, waistcoat wearing members of the aristocracy representing folk music I don’t know (have to admit here I DO actually love Mumford And Sons!) but one thing is for sure they wouldn’t last five minutes in the company of people featured here and long to be be forgotten while these days be writ high.

One things for sure it has always been, and always will be, the poor that go to jail. Whether for a crime they freely admit (or not!) or through bigotry and lack of decent representation the jails of the world are full of the poorest of our society. Folk and country music has never been a stranger to the inside of prison walls right from the very start and this stunning compilation covers just about every country music offshoot musically as well as covering just about every reason why you could end up inside. The album opens strongly with ‘The Wall’, written by Harlan Howard, given a powerful performance here by Freddie Hart. Born to a sharecropper family in Alabama Hart left school at 12 but still managed to become one of country music’s biggest stars of the 70’s. I love the sound of the harmonica and there’s plenty of it’s woeful sound to be found here to keep me happy.

“The years gone by since he made his try
But I can still recall how hard he tried and the way he died
But he never made that, wall he never made that wall”

All the tracks were recorded between 1956 and 1972 and although I have heard several prison -themed album’s in the past I seriously cannot remember one that came anywhere remotely close to the quality found here. I could wax lyrical about every artist but this review would then run for pages and pages. Suffice to say that all the artists here know what it means to be hungry and many indeed did cross swords with authorities and some others saw the other side of a prison gate. Tennessee born, early rockabilly star Jaycee Hill’s  fantastic ‘Crash-Out’, is typical of many here with the acceptance and regret of a life of crime. Most of the artists here are American but one of the album highlights is the London born Marty Robbins with his intense performance of ‘The Chair’. Inspired by the controversial execution of Caryl Chessman in 1960.

Chessman was an unsavoury character that much is true and something he was intelligent enough to recognise within himself but he was convicted and charged on a law that was later repealed though not retroactively meaning his death sentence still stood. He became the poster child for the anti-capital punishment cause and the most recognizable face on death row. In May 1960 Chessman choked to death in San Quentin Prison’s gas chamber while the phone outside rang, just too late, with his stay of execution. His story is also dealt with in songs on this album by Country Johnny Mathis, one of the album highlights with its sheer, haunting poetry, Ronnie Hawkins and Jimmy Minor. The full story of Caryl Chessman is also told in a fine performance from Hoyle Miller notable for the last line of his song

“you see I too Hoyle Miller was once too on death row”

Dirt farmer’s son Porter Wagoner gives us a compelling version of the Hank Williams penned ‘(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle’. Known for his flashy suits and for giving Dolly Parton her big break Wagoner never forgot his working class roots often touring in rural areas where many would not perform and was also famous for his friendly relationship with his fans mingly before, during and after gigs with them. The jauntyness of ‘I Always Did Like Leavenworth’ belies the subject George Kent is singing of. Eddie Noack was a honky tonk singer influenced by Hank Williams and his superb version of ‘Invisible Stripes’ tells of the stigma that jail carries throughout  the rest of your days. Named from the stripes of the uniform prisoners were made to wear. A subject also visited here by Howard Crockett who turned to singing after a shoulder injury ended a promising baseball career. He performs a excellent cover of the famous Johnny Cash penned song ‘I Got Stripes’. Artist jailbirds like Johnny Cash, David Allen Coe and Merle Haggard are notable by their absence but the music that inspired them more than makes up for it. There are simply too many great songs and artists here to give justice to and the album comes to an end with ‘A Prisoner’s Dream’ by Charles Lee Guy III. When he was 16 he was convicted of manslaughter and sent to jail. During his imprisonment he learnt to play guitar and started writing songs. He sent a tape to Capitol Records who were sufficiently impressed to bring their studio equipment to Vacaville Prison in December 1962 to record him. Charles’ album, The Prisoner’s Dream, was well-received and in October, 1963 Time Magazine reviewed the album:

“Charles Lee Guy III has been an inmate of California State Prison since he was 16. The songs he has learned to sing there all reflect his sorry circumstance – and among them is the latest composition of a prison chum, country music’s Spade Cooley [himself a wife killer]. Guy’s woeful voice and guitar accompaniment fit the spirit of his music, and in this remarkable album he has the power of a young white Leadbelly.”

One of the songs on that album was titled ‘Wishin’ She Was Here (Instead of Me)’ thought to refer to his mother who many thought had committed the murder that Charles had been found guilty of. A moving, emotional and chilling way for this album to close.

All the tracks here were first issued on long forgotten 45’s often on obscure, tiny or private-press labels. All are incredibly rare and many are reissued here for the first time since release and are remastered from the original master tapes giving the album a sound that is as clear as crystal. Their are twenty-eight tracks here and just under eighty minutes of music. Pretty much all of the songs come in around the two minute mark and the pacing on the album is also well thought out. Available on vinyl and CD the amount of care put into this album is to be applauded including the incredibly handsome twenty page, full colour booklet that comes with informative liner notes by Alvin Lucia and rare photos and label shots. This amazing package has been put together by Bear Family Records who also gave us Hillbillies In Hell- Country Music’s Tormented Testament, another timeless compilation telling of Satan, drugs, murder, suicide, demonic visions, infanticide and redemption. Their were plenty of prison songs before the era (1956-1972) chosen here on The Hangman’s Blues but these songs begin from the early days of rock’n’roll and though most are straight up country songs all have a dark edge to them, of course, and some have that raw rock’n’roll sound that many of you will love I am sure.

Declarations of innocence, profound diatribes on capital punishment and mournful odes to the Last Mile. The Hangman’s Blues will chill, thrill and bedevil the dreams of all who hear it. Feel the penal pain. Like the album liner notes say…we are all prisoners in one way or another.

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ALBUM REVIEW: RESTLESS FEET- ‘Homeward Bound’ (2017)

German celtic-punk band Restless Feet’s second studio album playing fast Irish folk from Traditionals to more asskickin‘ stuff about sailing far away and returning home.

In a genre that most music fans would probably think of as being extremely small its heartening when you come across a band that you think is new only to find out they have been around a while and this is not their debut album as originally thought. That after all is a sign of a very healthy scene and long may it continue that I don’t know every band out there!

Restless Feet originate from the beautiful old town of Freiburg in the south-west of Germany and were in fact formed back in November, 2011. Their debut album Almost Irish contained seven tracks of which but two were covers but did contain the amazing track ‘Empire Of Gold’. If I had come across this song back then then I can tell you with all certainty that I would have been following them ever since.

The mini-album also contained a couple of Breton songs showing that Restless Feet know their onions and were not content to just rattle out the old favourites. That’s not to say they can’t play the old faves as it also contained a couple of Irish folk standards but it set the pace for their following album, which was about to hit the streets over three years later, just in time for St Patrick’s Day 2017.

I have mentioned on this site before the special affinity that German’s hold for the Irish. Time and time again when I have met German folk I have been impressed by their knowledge of Irish culture, music and history. That Celtic are by far the most popular foreign team among German football supporters is testament to that affinity. There are several theories for this but my guess is that the Germans love a drink and a good party so it has got to be between us and the Mexicans aint it? Here Restless Feet offer up six self penned tracks and seven carefully chosen covers that go to show that the German love for Erin still shines strong and shows no signs of abating either.

Homeward Bound begins with ‘I Hold Sway’ and gets proceedings off to a great start. All acoustic but with a real punk rock feel. The Irish/celtic sound is supplied by the energetic fiddling of Marcy and Kai on tin whistle and banjo while the rest of the lads, Maggu, Arthur and Alex, supply a steady and sturdy back drop.

(the first single and official video released from Homeward Bound)

Fast and over in a flash and leads into ‘The Cabin’ a very short accordion number used as the intro to the following song ‘Wake’s Souvenir’. Slowish but still tuneful and catchy that speeds up in the middle and its not often you will hear an acoustic guitar being thrashed so loudly! Many Euro celtic-punk bands include flute and I was a late convert to the idea but here, as it usually does, it sounds fantastic.The first cover is ‘The Shores Of Botany Bay. First time I ever heard this was by the legendary Irish folk band The Wolfe Tones and Restless Feet do it justice with a wee Irish trad tune slapped into the middle making it extra bit special. Restless Feet have two main vocalists and they slip from song to song so forgive me for not which is Kai and which is Maggu. They both sing in a distinct German style with the accent strong but at the same time absolutely clear as crystal and while the CD does come with the lyrics included you don’t need them at all. ‘Sailor’s Yarn’ is a great tune with superb fiddle and backing gang vocals. In the search for the song that represents celtic-punk the following, ‘Waste My Throat (On Irish Folk)’, song is a worthy contender. A real footstomper and one for the crowd to join in with cries of “yeah” peppered throughout. Would have maybe perhaps benefited from some driving electric guitar but still a album high point. Restless Feet next show us that their is more to their band than just punked up folk songs with ‘Tuneset’ which is in fact two and a half minutes of full on Irish trad folk with three superb reels- ‘Irish Washerwoman’, ‘Cooley’s Reel’ and ‘Maid behind the Bar’. Banjo, fiddle and flute giving the impression that what you got here is a trad band not an actual celtic-punk one. Next we have ‘Greenland Whale Fisheries’ which I am sure most of you will know as it has been covered by most bands between The Dubliners and The Pogues and has even been taken as a name for one of the celtic-punk scene’s most popular bands. Now I love this song but would have preferred something a little more off the map but we have to remember that to audiences not accustomed to Irish music this is a song that will get people off their bar stools and up jigging. On that first album Restless Feet showed they weren’t adverse to playing the odd rebel song and here they serve up the glorious ‘The Boys Of Wexford’. The song commemorates the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and, more specifically, the rebellion in Wexford.

“We are the Boys from Wexford
Who fought with heart and hand
To burst in twain the galling chain
and free our native land”

Made famous by The Clancy Brothers and The Wolfe Tones its a great version and sure to get the blood pumping of any freedom loving patriot. The last self penned number is ‘The Ballad Of Johnny Doran’ and bejaysus it’s an absolute corker. Loved it. Slowish and catchy with the backing minimal and the fecking brilliant chorus telling of a traveller’s life.

“I’m the Everywhere Man, slán and I’m gone”

The album standout and not just for me either (see the review on Celtic Folk punk here). We are back in Pogues/Dubliners territory again next with version of ‘The Irish Rover’ and not much to add but its as good as you will hear and the Bhoys stick fairly close to that most famous version. We are shipping up to shore and I feel I really must take off my hat and salute Restless Feet for including ‘By Memory Inspired’ here. Growing up with Irish music I thought I had heard just about every rebel song but this had passed me by. Again it’s a song commemorating the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Slow and quiet and beautifully played and sung from the heart.

“By Memory inspired And love of country fired, The deeds of Men I love to dwell upon”

The tragic defeat of that rebellion is remembered and the brave men who gave their lives names are sung with a poignancy that many Irish bands could learn from. Daniel O’Connell, William Orr, John Mitchel, John McCann, John and Henry Sheares, Fr Thomas Maguire, Robert Emmet, and others are recalled. Homeward Bound comes to an end with ‘Rolling Down To Old Maui’ and I was actually dreading another acapello version of this but the Bhoys turn it into a great tune with brass instruments and superb fiddle turning it into one of the best versions I have heard straight up!

So forty minutes of class acoustic Irish folk punk from a bunch of Germans with a real feel for what they are playing. Whether it’s playing their own material, classic Irish standards or even lost and forgotten gems of Irish folk, Restless Legs are a great addition to the celtic-punk scene and to landlubbers everywhere. With recent gigs supporting some of the scene’s biggest bands, including our own Ferocious Dog, the future is looking very bright for them.

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ALBUM REVIEW: McSCALLYWAG- ‘Dirty Water’ (2017)

Celebrate the good life with Dutch celtic-punkers McScallywags. Influenced by traditional Irish folk music, sea-shanties and good ol’ drinking songs McScallywag are on a mission to put a smile on everyone’s face!

Got this album in the post from Waldo over at Celtic Folk Punk And More web-site (always worth checking out here) but with such a backlog of reviews its taken me till now to have a listen and I’m kicking myself for waiting so long!

McScallywag describe their sound as “Dropkick Murphys meets The Pogues” and while live they they provide a healthy mix of classic traditional Irish folk songs and McScallywag originals here on Dirty Water they gone for the originals approach with every song one they have penned themselves. The band are based in the Dutch city of Groningen, an area of the Netherlands renowned for its music and arts. Formed in 2013 when local hardcore punk band De Klootviolen parted ways with their vocalist and the rest of the band decided to continue but in a completely different direction. Armed with new instruments they continue to blaze their way through life celebrating their love for that life through alcohol and folk music. The Dutch scene is particularly strong at the moment with such great bands as Circle J and Bunch Of Bastards , who have both featured on these pages extensively as well as touring these shores, as well as the likes of LQR, Drunken Dolly and The Royal Spuds who we are hoping to catch up with at LQR’s ’10 Pinter’ festival next January.

McScallywag left to right: Tom Kootstra– Guitar, Vocals * Frodo Bosma– Accordion *  Ruud Platje– Drums, Vocals *  Arian Sikkens– Banjo, Mandolin, Vocals * Peter Janssen – Bass Guitar * Talitha Barelds– Cello, Vocals * Ashley Buitenwerf– Guitar, Vocals. Not in picture Sebastiaan Hidding– Violin

So what do we get here. As I say its nine original songs so that is already a plus in my eyes and the whole album comes in just shy of half an hour. the album starts with ‘Billy’s Curse’ and you not sure which way the album’s going with acoustic guitar and accordion swirling round while Arian’s voice sings out both tunefully and strong. The song doesn’t get much faster but does get louder and you can hear the cello here and it sounds great. Not yer typical celtic-punk instrument but all the better for that. Needless to say of course that Billy’s curse was in fact alcohol! ‘Days of Travel’ is up next and the band start to show what they can do here. Fast and furious acoustic celtic-punk party music. Stop and start fast music that owes much to hardcore punk in many ways.

The video gives you a great example of what McScallywag do. That they are acoustic, except for bass guitar, is incredible and reminds me of what was said about The Pogues that they were louder than any punk band! next up is ‘The Road’ and a real Poguesy feel to this. A slow ballad that speeds up near the end with gang vocals and is a real catchy foot-tapper. Some great positive lyrics here too that had me belting out the words in me living room.

So get up while you can, stand up and be a man.
Cuz there’s no such a thing as getting old,
you’ve got to live it up while you can.
So even when this world is at its darkest,
And your just clinging and holding on to that light.
You’ll find again and again that when your drinking with friends,
you’re gonna make it through the night,
shining bright”

Definitely one of the album highlights without a doubt. ‘Letter to Megan’ is about a subject that crops up quite often in celtic-punk. Hopefully as a warning to others? Screwing up your life and hurting the ones you love. The song starts off slow before bursting into life and ending in typical celtic-punk fashion and while the video below shows the song done to perfection it is annoying hearing people talking throughout BUT…

this is music for the live setting and McScallywag come into their own live from what I can see. That’s not to say that they haven’t managed to transfer that sound onto disc as they have done a brilliant job here and the production is perfect. ‘St. Paddy’s Anthem’ is up now and McScallywag’s tribute to that day where indeed

“It’s Saint Paddy’s anthem keep singing along,
as loud as you can, cuz tonight, everybody is an Irishman!”

Great vocals here and as loud a song as any on Dirty Water. Close your eyes and you can forget your not still listening to De Klootviolen and a band containing banjo, accordion, cello and mandolin.

“And the pubs around the corner there,
said: open all night.
There was Dropkick Murphys on the jukebox,
shouting, drinking what a sight.
They passed me down a bottle, and I bought a round of beer.
We raised our glass to the drinking class,
and we all sang and cheered”

This is hardcore punk-folk! Then  we have ‘Eye of the Storm’ and a dramatic shift in style with cello-player Talitha taking over vocal duties for a slow ballad about losing your love at sea. The mandolin accompanies her beautiful voice in a very under stated song where you can smell the salt air. ‘Ashes to Ashes’ is another stand out track for me. As I often say man cannot live on punk rock alone and he needs to slow down occasionally. It’s good for the soul. Vocals are shared again by Talitha and Arian and this is the moment on the album where you must raise your pint to the air. Every half decent celtic-punk album must have one and this is it. Love this song. We nearing the end of Dirty Water and ‘Whiskey I Love You’ is a singalong/clappalong folky number with gang vocals and a catchy chorus. Think Dropkicks ‘Boys On The Docks’ and you’ve got it. The album wraps up with ‘Johnny Went Away’ and it’s more of that stop and start hardcore folk that I love. The mandolin is in overdrive and the band all join in on vocals and bring the curtain down leaving me out of breath!

Having always been a fan of punk music it’s really refreshing to hear a folk band play as though they were a punk band. Its mostly very fast but incredibly tuneful and still folky despite the speed it’s played. They don’t sound like any of the scene’s favoured bands which is something I have said before about Dutch celtic-punk groups and that is something special. A great debut album and a band to watch out for. All the lyrics are on the bands web site (here) and are well worth a look while you listen to the album.

(have a free listen to Dirty Water below)

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(not quite a full length concert but great video with good sound)

ALBUM REVIEW: BLACK IRISH TEXAS- ‘The Good, The Bad And The Indifferent’ (2017)

Black Irish Texas are not just another Irish punk band. They may be influenced by the giants of the scene but this seven piece brings plenty more to set them apart. With Guinness fueled lyricism Black Irish Texas navigate you between psychobilly and Texas two-step all in one show. With a new album to promote they are touring Europe later this year so I hope you’ll be lucky to catch them.

Now long, long ago before there was Facebook existed a thing called My Space. It was similar in many ways and took off in a way that nothing before it had ever done before. Music orientated it introduced us to bands across the globe who you would never knew even existed. Sadly it was bought by Rupert Murdoch and his massive media empire who from the go set about messing around with the format and ended up destroying it and so everyone left in dribs and drabs and migrated to Facebook which had stolen all the best bits of My Space and well the rest is history. I mention this because the first band I found on my first ever computer on my first visit onto My Space was Black Irish Texas. A bunch of songs that took in all my favourite genres of music and chewed them up and spat back out some of the best music I had ever heard. Psychobilly, punk, Irish, Americana, country all flow through their music and combined with the intelligent and thoughtful and often hilarious lyrics I knew this band was going to be a favourite of mine for a LONG time.

The band hail from the fastest growing city in the Unites States, Austin in Texas. It’s an area famed for it’s vibrant and exciting music scene that has spawned such luminaries as Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison in the 50’s and 60’s through to the hippie days and then punk bands like The Dicks and MDC in the 70’s. More recently it’s been mainly college rock and indie being churned out. In fact the official Austin slogan is ‘The Live Music Capital of the World’ and emerging out of that highly competitive music scene comes Black Irish Texas.

Formed in 2004 and with untold amount of line up changes and trials and tribulations. So many in fact that I have often thought the band were no more but again and again they kept cheering me up with their return. Their debut album To Hell With The King released in 2009 was just about the most perfect celtic-punk album I had heard at the time. Spaghetti western/Americana/punk infused Irish American music that still now feels completely fresh and original. A mixture of brilliant originals and some choice covers of The Pogues and a couple of trad songs, ‘Rocky Road To Dublin’ and an outstanding ‘Come Out Ye Black and Tans showed they were a force to be reckoned with. With a welcome (hic!) sponsorship from Jameson Irish whiskey and growing local support Black Irish Texas began to play further afield and within a few years they had covered most of America gaining devout followers everywhere they ventured.

To Hell With The King was followed by the six track EP An Ode To Saint Cecilia in 2013 and again was received with tremendous reviews. St Cecilia is of course the patron saint of musicians so who better to have on your side in the world’s most competitive music city. Another album followed with Lifetime Problems and Short Term Solutions but as i haven’t heard that one (hint hint) I cannot tell you anything about it!

(here’s the title track from An Ode To St. Cecilia)

Now with a settled line up of some of Austin’s best musicians and with a European tour on the horizon which will take them across Europe as well as back to their ancestral home in Ireland (but alas won’t see them coming to play here in the belly of the beast) things have never looked rosier.

So the new album hits the floor running and shows Black Irish Texas have lost none of their flair for interesting and original Irish music. After all it is Irish music that underpins everything they do. Whatever they throw in that mix at the base of it all is the music of Ireland but distilled through a bunch of Irish-Americans with a list of influences as long as your arm. The Good, The Bad And The Indifferent (great title by the way) begins with ‘G.B.U. Theme’ and is the Black Irish Texas take on the unofficial anthem of their home state. A spaghetti western tune played nice and slow but with tin whistle. They up the tempo next with ‘Ain’t Gonna Last’ and vocalist/guitarist James has a natural voice for celtic-punk and veers nicely between singing and shouting.

(the official video for ‘Ain’t Gonna Last’)

Over in a flash of just 102 seconds it’s fast and furious with the band going at full pelt. Black Irish Texas have never shied away from playing the odd rebel song and it’s no different here with one of the best appearing. ‘Join The British Army’ is a old trad Irish folk song dating right back to Victorian times and concerns a young Irishman who regrets his decision to volunteer for the British army.

“Too-ra loo-ra loo-ra loo,
Me curse upon the Labour blue,
That took me darlin’ boy from me,
To join the British army.

Corporal Sheen’s a turn o’ the ’bout,
Just give him a couple o’ jars o’ stout,
He’ll bate the enemy with his mouth,
And save the British army.

Too-ra loo-ra loo-ra loo,
I’ve made me mind up what to do,
Now I’ll work me ticket home to you,
And fuck the British army”

Now regular readers will know that as much as I love it speedy I’m now getting on a bit and slowing down. Those 8-hour gardening sessions are a thing of the past without a few days recovery so I loved ‘Richcreek’. A slow and ponderous celtic/country instrumental led by the banjo with very nice backing from the rest of the band until the fiddle comes in late on. I love this song, right up my street. The Bhoys turn it on its head next with ‘Yates’. Another top notch song, great guitar and thundering double bass and dynamite banjo and fiddle. One of only a few bands in celtic-punk who use a double bass and boy (or should that be Bhoy) does it work well. The sound is incredible and when played well as it is here by Shannon McMillan then it can make a mediocre song brilliant. Not that Black Irish Texas have to worry about that. James comes in at the end with some vocals but by then the Irish tune has got hold and it is flying. ‘No One’s Having Any Fun’ starts slow with that western feel to it again but soon speeds up and sets Trump in their sights. Most of the anti-Trump protest’s we see are usually of very rich people whining about white privilege (sorry idiots it doesn’t exist) but these guys are actually working class and their protest is sincere and real and not designed to upset their parents or assuage their guilt at being rich. They cover the famous anti-war track ‘And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ next and play it with a gusto that I haven’t heard with this song before. Eric Bogle’s legendary tune takes in folk and rockabilly and while it does seem strange to hear this song in a way you could mosh to it’s still very respectful and James reciting of the lyrics are very clear throughout. The album ends with the imaginatively titled ‘Don’t Too Ra Li To Me’ and they save the best for last with every influence they ever picked up layered on top of an Irish/country tune. The bands famous sense of humour has been missing up till now and they more than make up for it here. Imagine a Irish folk punk  hoe down with James spitting out line upon line that will make you smile and/or shout yourself hoarse!

(here’s a stripped down concert at The Hideaway, Johnson City, Tennessee Aug 2016 of the band playing some old faves and some new album tracks)

So there you are. Eight songs that come in just short of a half hour and every single one a bona fide winner! Black Irish Texas are dead right when they say we should NOT try and pigeonhole them as an Irish pub band. And while it may be (!) possible you will hear them singing ‘Danny Boy’ one day i can guarantee it will be the best fecking version you will ever hear of it. In these times of uncertainty the Irish-American community is safe with bands like this at it’s forefront. Some of the most original celtic-punk music I have heard this year and as 2017 is shaping up as the scene’s busiest ever year that is some compliment.

Buy The Good, The Bad And The Indifferent

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ALBUM REVIEW: IN FOR A PENNY- ‘One More Last Hurrah’ (2017)

The new album from the hottest band in celtic-punk at the moment. All the way from Georgia, USA and recorded live in the back room at The Sand Bar on Tybee Island, GA in about seven hours including lunch break!

The last few months have seen the American band In For A Penny making waves right across the celtic-punk/Irish folk music scene and deservedly so. We have featured them a couple of times recently reviewing this year’s EP (here) and the lead single from One More Last Hurrah! (here). Plenty about them clicked with me and the plaudits have rolled in since with praise from the various celtic punk media and a support slot with The Rumjacks on their recent US tour.

(This year’s EP release ‘Every Day Should be Saint Paddy’s Day’)

This is In For A Penny’s second album after 2016’s The Guardian Angel Sessions and all the releases have trod pretty much the same path since. A smattering of Irish standards butting up against self -penned songs. Needless to say I much prefer their own songs. Now there is nothing quite like a song like ‘The Foggy Dew’ to get the blood pumping and the ales flowing but it’s in their own songs that In For A Penny’s talents shine through. It’s been an age old problem for Irish/Celtic-punk bands since the first time someone pulled out a fiddle in a pub and got given a beer for it . Many bands are quite happy to keep singing the standards and let the bookings roll in keeping everyone happy but every musician must have the urge to get some of their own material out there and when it’s as good as In For A Penny’s then I’m afraid it is a necessity!

Sean McNally is the visionary behind In For A Penny. An Irish-American with both the words, the voice and the abilities to take this band far. Amazingly he only began playing the mandolin in 2014 but after only a few open mic performances Sean realised something. The response he was getting to stripped down cover’s of The Dubliners and The Dropkick Murphys on just mando and vocals was so great it seemed the only logical next step was to form a band. Roping in old friends in Henny ‘da butcha’ on drums and Jeremy Riddle on guitar and Sean’s son Bryce on bass In For A Penny have certainly taken their home state by storm and are now making waves everywhere.

Here on One Last Hurrah! its again the same pattern with nine tracks that include both bold covers as well as a couple of standards that they have stamped the In For A Penny brand onto. The album clocks in at an impressive thirty-two minutes. The album begins with ‘On The Dole’ and their great sense of humour shines through. Straight away Sean’s raspy Irish-American accent is what hits you square in the jaw. Fast paced and punky with mandolin that could have been perhaps turned up a wee bit louder. Blue collar Irish working class rock’n’roll from the very off. A tale of getting your cards as we call it here or made redundant and not letting it get you down. We all been there! ‘Tattletale’ follows and begins all folky before the drums kick in and we’re off. It’s rough and ready and feels like a live gig and no surprise as the Bhoys simply recorded themselves playing in the back room of a local bar. There’s no audience so not sure if you could call this a live gig or a practise but anyway the sound is easily passable and the passion and feeling is through the roof so don’t start whining about the sound quality ok! Here a tattletale is an informer whether at school or to the fuzz. Made me remember our wee gang’s mantra at school

“The kid that tells on another kid is a dead kid”

here it seems to just mean some bar-room loudmouth who won’t shut up. ‘Here We Go’ is an album highlight. Again it’s superb with a real catchy tune and like with all the best celtic bands it’s a song you can imagine yourself leaping round to like a right fecking eejit spilling your pint doing that strange can-can dance to that is so popular at celtic-punk gigs! Of course drink features heavily and so f**king what. I don’t hold with all that bollocks about drinking and stereotyping the Irish. It’s part of our culture and if you don’t get it then fair enough. I have plenty of relatives who never touched a drop and many more who touched too much but the pub made the Irish of my generation and listening to this I think Sean’s too. And anyway if you listen to the lyrics of 90% of these songs its clear that us drinkers are in the main losers and these are warnings to others to not become like us! ‘Derry’ is next and if you like what came before then this cover proves what I been saying about them has been right. Written as a poem by the legendary Irish revolutionary Bobby Sands while in prison it has since been covered by such illuminaries as Christy Moore, Neck and Damien Dempsey and others but i don’t think I ever heard it played better than this.

“In the rusty iron chains we sighed for our wains
As our good wives we left in sorrow.
As the mainsails unfurled our curses we hurled
On the English and thoughts of tomorrow”

As moving and passionate version of this song as you will ever hear I tells you and proof that these lads wear their hearts firmly on their sleeves.

(not the album version but still well worth a listen)

Bobby was a member of the IRA jailed for possession of a handgun and jailed in the infamous H-Blocks where he would die on hunger strike in 1981. A terrorist for some but for others worldwide and for ever more an iconic rebel and inspiration. While imprisoned he wrote many articles, poems, letters and songs. One of these was ‘Back Home in Derry’ telling of the forced deportation of Irish people to Australia by the British between 1791 and 1853, when the sentence of penal transportation was commuted to a prison sentence in Ireland.

“A beautiful ballad shouts a vivid and modern sentiment of sorrow for losing freedom and fierce rebellion at the same time: a rebellion not bent by imprisonment or raw conditions which will continue after the death of many” – Marco Principia

You may recognise the tune to ‘Jimmy’n’Jenny’ but all the best bands(and not so great) in Irish music have been recycling the melodies of each others songs for decades. Half the time listening to a Dubliners album you never knew what song it was till the vocals started! Time for some Irish standards next and blimey they couldn’t have picked any better if that was what you are after. It’s a 10 (yes ten!) minute mash up of the two most widely covered songs in celtic-punk  with ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ and ‘Black Velvet Band’ but with a extra bonus bit tacked onto the end I won’t tell you much about except it again is fecking brilliant. Catchy as hell but they save the best for last with ‘Easter Mourn’. A simply superb song that deserves to lift In For A Penny to superstar status. Released as the lead single for the album just a few weeks ago it so impressed us here that we even did a feature on it. About the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916 when a band of Irish volunteers fought the might of the Empire beginning the road that led to full on war with the British. A beautiful song that evokes the spirit of rebellion and the band never sound better.

One Last Hurrah! is an utterly fantastic album and the spirit of Ireland flows right through it. When people mock us foreign born Irish in the future I’m going to give them a copy of this album as proof of the passion and commitment the foreign born Irish have to our ‘home’. So good is it. The Bhoys have made the album available as a Pay What You Want download meaning that it is free for all and sundry but if you got a few quid don’t be a mean bastard and send them a couple of bucks/quid/Euro so they can continue their good work or even just to have a beer on you.

(you can have a listen to One Last Hurrah! by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below before downloading!)

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EP REVIEW: FOLLOW THE CROWS- ‘West is East’ (2017)

London based Celtic folk rock/Irish/bluegrass band with hard-driven vocals fused with guitar and mandolin mayhem, underpinned by riotous folk rhythms of rebellion, redemption and downright recklessness!

Formed in August, 2012 Follow The Crows are the latest in a growing line of bands playing in the London Irish-folk scene that have embraced some of celtic-punk’s harder edges. They have been playing regularly around London for a good while but so far apart from coming across them on Facebook we haven’t had the opportunity to check them out live in person as it were. Then this arrived on the doorstep, their new EP released last January and after just a couple of listens they have swiftly risen to the top of the list of bands I want to see.

Follow The Crows (left to right): James Cannon- Vocals, Guitar * Ben Sumner- Mandolin, Banjo, Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals * Dan Ferguson- Fiddle * Lawrence McNamara- Bass, Backing Vocals * Karl Hussey- Drums, Percussion

East Is West is Follow The Crows debut release and begins with the kind of song that our description at the top of this review fits exactly. ‘Lay It Down’ starts with the sounds of the ocean before slowing morphing into a song combining elements of trad Irish, bluegrass and Americana that makes this EP a real winner. Catchy as hell and a real foot tapper.

Extremely well played by very good musicians and while there are no thrashy guitars, or even drums, it’s given that bit of edge by singer, James raspy vocals.

“Freedom songs don’t say anything
When you’re out on you’re own
With those big wheels turning
Those bridges burning
West is east high is low”

They follow this with the soft rock edged ‘As The Night Comes Falling’. Threatening at any minute to go flat out, and part of me does wish they would, but they reign it in and keep it nicely subdued. Coming off here as part Tom Waits- part Mumford with a dash of rock’n’roll it’s another great number. Third track here is ‘Black For The Crows’ and if you’ve ever heard the Murder Ballads album by Nick Cave then that’s the territory we are in here. Great song and though underpinned by Irish/celtic music influences seep in from everywhere.

“They rose up their banners for glory on high
Sounded the bugle beneath the blue sky
‘Freedom will follow when the day is o’er”

The EP comes to an end with ‘Quiet Land Of Erin II’ and for me they save the best for last. Ever so reminiscent of The Waterboys here I think. With James sounding a real ringer for Mike Scott. The vocals are almost whispered while the Crows get plenty of guests in to give the song a real full band sound once it gets going. More proof that Follow The Crows are fantastic musicians and with the songs to match to bring the curtain down.

“Oh father now she said
The curlew and the cuckoo’s fled
Troubled is the heart that you’re hearin’
Oh father now she said
They buried you among the dead
On the quiet, quiet land of Erin”

At the moment East Is West is only available as a digital download for now and priced at a very reasonable £3. It’s a great introduction to the band and if they want to stray away from the London pub circuit then a follow up album of more like this is a necessity and will surely achieve it.

(listen to East Is West by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)

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ALBUM REVIEW: JAMIE CLARKE’S PERFECT- ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ (2017)

New album from German based ex-member of The Pogues Jamie Clarke’s Perfect.

Pioneers and purveyors of Folkabilly Rock- rockabilly and punk mixed with a dash of Irish folk and a belly full of beer!

The name Jamie Clarke will be known to many of you due to his membership of a certain band in the 1990’s. Yes he was only a member of the bloody Pogues!!! Londoner Jamie grew up in London and happened to be in the right place at the right time being a teenager at the time of the original punk rock explosion in the capital sparking off a lifetime interest and involvement in music. Passing through many bands until he became Philip Chevron’s guitar technician while The Pogues were literally touring and conquering the world. In 1994 ill health forced Phil to leave the band and in the spirit of The Pogues they chose Jamie to replace him. Sadly this was also the time of Shane’s most wild excess and he soon left the band as well. Jamie played on the final Pogues album Pogue Mahone and wrote, what was always for me, the best song on the album ‘The Sun And The Moon’. On the break up of the band Jamie moved to Germany and formed Jamie Clarke’s Perfect, the band he’s been playing and recording with ever since.

Jamie Clarke’s Perfect left to right: Johnny Rebel- Bass * Pierre Lavendel- Banjo/ Mandolin * Jamie Clarke- Vocals/ Guitar * El Diablo- Drums. Accordion on the album- Andy Schnapps (not pictured)

With a slew of album releases behind them I have to make the confession that this is the first LP I have ever heard and I have been suitably impressed to want to check out the back catalogue as well. The last couple of years I have got bored with the seriousness of punk and started to listen to more and more rockabilly/psychobilly so I was more than pleasantly surprised to find Hell Hath No Fury laced with more than a little rockabilly alongside the folk, or as the band themselves call it- ‘folkabillie rock’.

The album begins with ‘Back From Hell’ and straight away one band popped into my head. With a very distinctive banjo and accordion sound it was early Blood Or Whiskey that leapt out the speakers at me. Even Jamie’s vocals reminded me of the original BOW vocalist Barney. Needless to say this ain’t a band that’s copying them as their sound is still incredibly original. Incredibly catchy opener and it don’t change throughout. This band got some real good tunes and considering how long they been going/how many releases they have that is some achievement. ‘Monster’ and the album’s first single ‘Change The World’ keep up the foot stamping and again excellent accordion/banjo stand out as well as Jamie himself.

The first sign of that Folkabilly Rock start to appear next in ‘On Your Feet’. I literally could not keep me feet still listening to this. Catchy (there’s that word again…) as hell with a great chorus and some great rock’n’roll banjo from ex-Frantic Flintstones guitarist Pierre. Several songs here also take in The Pogues and ‘Waking Down The Road’ is one of them while title track ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ nails their sound completely. One of the album highlights and a word here for Jamie and his vocals. As I already said he may sound like he has a sore throat and I do wonder how many fags a day he’s on! He sings with a real passion that while not overstating does in fact stand right out without you really noticing. In the old Irish traditional the voice as an instrument. His lyrics help of course as they tend to take up most of the length of the song. I Would have liked to have seen the lyrics as even though they are clear it is hard to keep up. ‘Eve Champagne’leads us up to the first cover and ‘La Bamba’ the old Mexican folk song made famous first by Ritchie Valens in 1958 and Los Lobos in the summer of 1987. Another solid number ‘Gun In My Hand’ leads us into a great Irish trad/rockabilly instrumental ‘Un Hoyo Es Un Hoyo’. We coming up to the end of the LP and the final three songs fly past in a flash of brilliance starting with the frantic ‘Rollercoaster’ while ‘Rockabilly’, not surprisingly, takes that rock’n’roll sound and plays it right up before Hell Hath No Fury ends with another album high point, ‘Protest Song’.

Thirteen great songs. Unlucky for some but not for us! The album clocks in at a very healthy forty minutes and shows enough individuality and originality to make sure it never drags or sounds jaded. Germany has a real love of alternative music and has produced many many great celtic-punk band psychobilly bands so it should come as no surprise that they have embraced a mixture of the two. After all it was only a few weeks ago we reviewed the new album from another German  band, Pitmen (here) who mix both genre’s to great acclaim. So with over twenty years behind them and thousand’s of gigs well done to them for putting out such a consistently great album that may veer off from celtic-punk in several directions but always keeps at it’s core the sound of celtic folk. Punk, rockabilly, psychobilly, celtic-punk and country all raise their heads here on an album I was completely taken aback from and I can’t understand why more isn’t known about this great band even within the celtic-punk scene.

Discography

Perfect Liar (1997) * Perfect Live (1998) * Sickly Men Of Thirty Or So (1999) * Live Too (2000) * Nobody’s Perfect (2002) * Live Free (20004) * Psychic TV- Single (2006) * You Drove Me To It (2007) * Fucking Folkabillie Rock (2010) * Beatboys (2011)

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REVIEW: THE MOORINGS- ‘Unbowed’ (2017)

The Moorings. As recommended by The Dubliners!

An ultra-energetic French quintet delivering a fantastic mix somewhere in the middle between celtic folk and alternative rock.

So I was always told my auld fella that you should judge a man by the company he keeps. He used to say this to try and get me to stop hanging about with some rather unsavoury characters in my home town. If you can apply the same to bands then The Moorings are a band that any parent would be happy to see you associating with. They are basically the first port of call for any of the celtic-punk scenes major bands when they arrive in France and  are looking for supports. They have played with just about every decent sized band going and as says above recommended by The Dubliners. They have toured with just about all the greats of Irish punk from The Pogues to the Murphys to The Dubliners. Their last EP even had guest vocals from Frankie of The Rumjacks.

The Moorings (from left to right) : Anne Darrieumerlou- Violin/Vocal * Renaudet Matthieu- Bass/Vocal * D. Phil Jelly- Lead Vocal/Guitar * Didier Strub- (Ex-Drummer) * Nicky Sickboy- Banjo / Guitar / Vocal

Formed in 2011 in the small town of Sélestat in the north-west of France on the border with Germany The Moorings assent has been spectacularly quick and without even having released an album. Their debut EP ‘Pints And Pins’ from July 2011 introduced them to the wider celtic-punk world and received praise from all and sundry. Five mostly self penned tracks including the brilliant ‘Working Class’ which gave up plenty but promised so much more as well.

This was followed up with a live album La Cigale Unplugged. Again mainly self penned its eight tracks that show how good The Moorings are as both a band and as individual musicians as well. The superb production helps and on hearing the album it’s easy to see why they chose to release it. Their third and final release was another EP. This time ‘Nicky’s Detox’ EP from December 2014 really showed what they could do. Five tracks all written by the band that again received glowing tributes from all the regular celtic-punk press including ourselves here. The song that really raised interest in the band, ‘Shandon Bells’ features Frankie McLaughlin of The Rumjacks on guest vocals and made it onto just every celtic-punk podcast in existance.

So Unbowed is the band’s first proper studio album but will it live up to all the hype? The answer is of course most certainly. Twelve tracks that last over forty minutes and show The Moorings haven’t rested on their laurels and continue to make utterly brilliant music. The album kicks off with the hilarious ‘Another Drinking Wound’ and anyone whose ever had a, what we Irish call, a “very good night” can attest to waking up the next morning with unspecified bruising and a lack of memory of how you got them.

“Where does the pain in my butt come from?”

The song starts with some great rock’n’roll guitar and a brilliant catchy start. D.Phil.Jelly sounds just like our Shane even including his cockney sneer! It’s fast and not particularly folky but ‘Captain Watson’s Gang’ introduces the first of that quieter numbers. Be moaning the turn of the world to the worship of money. I say quiet but not really. Great drumming here that keeps the song flowing along. They enter a world unbeknown to me next with ‘Amsterdam’. Originally recorded by the Belgian singer, songwriter, actor and director Jacques Brel. The song is in French and has that ‘Parisian’ feel to it due to the style of accordion playing. A lovely song and picked wisely as it would please both their audience at home and abroad who are jaded at hearing the same old covers over and over again. Delivered with The Moorings stamp it’s a great song and builds to a crescendo before the banjo slows it all down and takes us into a instrumental, ‘The Dancy Cargo Hold’s Dance/ Mermaid’s Jig’. As was showed with that live album the y can certainly turn their hand to a traditional folk song and I’m sure live this is a guarantee to get the audience on their feet. Both part’s are fiddle led with subdued quiet backing except for military style drumming. Great stuff! The Moorings like the name suggests like a sea bound song and here’s the first one, The Mariner I Used To Be’ begins with tin whistle and it’s a slow’ish’ ballad telling of a sailor whose had enough of the hardships of the sea and decides to settle down with his new love. Another song in French follows with ‘Les Bras Piqués’. Can’t tell you what it’s about but it’s a fair corker of a song moving at a fair old pace once it gets going. ‘Drink Up Fast’ was the first release from Unbowed and came accompanied by the brilliant video below.

It’s no wonder that celtic-punk gigs are so beloved and greedily anticipated by landlords with this amount of drinking going on! Shouty vocals and fiddle led folk-punk that’s a real thigh slapper.

“The road to destiny is just as empty
As the days passing by sloggin’ in a fact’ry
Turning around mostly going nowhere
Leaving the dreams for someone else to have
So as boredom sets in and wears me out
I cannot help but stand my ground
By filling up my glass to the very top
And drawn the little bastard in one single shot”
Most of the words here are written by banjo/guitarist Nicky Sickboy and they are clever, thoughtful and often hilarious and often within the same song so it’s good that the CD comes with lyrics included though the singing is very clear and easy to understand. ‘Brandy Bell’ is the highlight of the album for me. Not quite sure what the song is about. Honest. Sung half in English , half in French it’s a real catchy banjo number with the fiddle in the background exactly right. We are slowed right down again for ‘Posy Of Lily’ which is basically just D.Phil and acoustic guitar with fiddle. A lovely interlude between the punkier stuff and the words of a man desperate to make things right with his true love only add to the beauty of the song. Luca from the ever amazing Italian celtic-punk band Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards takes up whistle duties next in ‘Mutins’ and it’s another French song and I have to say it never bothers me that bands play in their native language I think more should do it. What an amazing musician this man is and even greater to see two band helping each out this way. The chugging guitar is back and accompanied by lovely fiddle too and of course Luca’s top whistling! The pace is back up for ‘Ice Cold Jar Of Whiskey’
“Some people need to fight to let their anger out
Some might need to bribe to find an easy way out
Some people might get thrilled with anything crazy
When all it really takes is a ice cold jar of whiskey”

and then we are finally at the end and Unbowed comes to end with the album’s longest track ‘Invictus’, starring Marikala on guest vocals. A great song with positive life affirming lyrics that begins with tin whistle this time supplied by Lolc from fellow French celtic-punkers Celkilt. Mainly accordion led but as has been the way throughout D.Phil’s voice stands out in particular. Another album highlight here and a simply fantastic way to bring down the curtain on Unbowed. If this album has one lighter/ pint in the air moment then this it is.

Singer/guitarist D.Phil Jelly has done a great job on this album overseeing just about everything here and the sound is crisp and never once over produced. The biggest danger in celtic-punk is that the folk instruments are completely submerged or else turned up so high to compensate that all you can hear is the tin whistle. No danger of that here as the balance is perfect between the punk and the folk. the songs are never straight forward celtic-punk and there is plenty influence of their home countries indigenous music also. The Moorings have always been one of the more interesting bands in celtic-punk with their appeal overlapping several genre’s I am sure. This is a great album and one that will further cement there place as one of the best, and more innovative, bands in the scene.

(you can have a free listen to Unbowed by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below. Before you buy it of course!)

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INTERVIEW WITH WOLVES FOLK-PUNK BAND UNDER A BANNER

With just over a week to go before their biggest ever London date London Celtic Punks interviews Under A Banner. Purveyors of passionate, powerful and poetic folk-rock and with a new album to plug and a headline tour we wanted to find out a bit more about them.
First things first can you give us a history of the band? The who, what, why and how? Were any of you in any other bands previously and what happened to suddenly make the leap to forming Under A Banner?
Under A Banner began as a duo around 6 years ago and other musicians were steadily gathered to fill out the sound and make the band a more viable proposition for recording and performing the music I always envisaged the band making. I am the only original member of the band now. I started the whole thing as I desperately wanted to return to performing original music live. I’d previously played in a fairly short-lived band called Approach and have also played acoustic covers in pubs; the termination of the latter course of action triggered a visceral response to what I saw as virtually non-existent local scene for original music. Although I hail from Wolverhampton, the five of us live in three different counties.
You’re from Wolverhampton in the West Midlands. Can you tell us a bit about what its like there to be in a band round there. Is there much of a music scene? What about for celtic music?
The unfortunate demise and subsequent closure of Wolverhampton’s Varsity venue hit the local live scene quite hard. We still have the Newhampton Arts Centre, The Slade Rooms and, a little further down the road, Bilston’s popular Robin 2 venue. Each of these regularly play host to both tribute/cover and original music. Without deriding the former too much, it seems that original music (in particular folk infused genres) is once again spearheading a palpable fight back against the nostalgia or copycat music market in the Midlands.

How would you describe yourselves. Folk-punk, English-folk, celtic-punk? Do you think it matters in particular. Who has been your biggest inspiration for Under A Banner?
When asked about Under A Banner’s genre we normally plump for ‘alternative folk-ish hard rock’. This is because we fit into a number of brackets and exist outside of them simultaneously. We draw our inspiration from a very far-ranging and eclectic pot of music. The single unifying genre is metal, which presumably explains the heaviness of a lot of our material, but my own personal influences include New Model Army, Tori Amos, Loreena Mckennitt, Tool, Ambrozijn and Alestorm – to name but a few. Other sources for inspiration include Opeth, Rush, Iron Maiden, Clannad, The Stranglers and Thin Lizzy. A number of these bands and artists have made significant contributions to the continuing popularity of music with a Celtic flavour.
I think it’s fair to say that you are a part of the same scene of big ‘folk-punk’ bands like New Model Army and The Levellers and more recently Ferocious Dog but do you think it’s more important to connect with their fans or get away from the folk-punk ‘ghetto’ altogether and get your music out to new people? What has been the reaction from their fans so far when you have played with them? Do they give you a fair crack of the whip or are they only interested in seeing the headliners?
We were fortunate recently to support TV Smith (formerly of punk heroes The Adverts) and a week later New Model Army. It’s often been noted by fans, reviewers and bloggers that we belong in the ‘Celtic folk/punk’ ‘club’. However, we’ve picked up as many new fans playing to rock and metal crowds. We went down well with the New Model Army crowd, in spite of an incipient chest infection which had begun to weaken my voice a couple of days before the gig. I managed to sing over and through the congestion and got the audience- quite a number of whom at least knew who we were- singing along. I have always known that followers of long standing cult bands like NMA are very devoted to their favourite bands, so, under the circumstances I think we did rather well.
Traditional folk music obviously influences Under A Banner so which individuals or bands do you think have been the important links between rock and traditional folk music in the past?
 In my opinion bands like Steeleye Span and Oysterband did wonders for the synthesis between folk and rock. Speaking personally, I prefer it when bands step out of genre boundaries so frequently that critics can’t pigeonhole them.

What themes do you write about for Under A Banner? Do any of you have backgrounds in folk music and if so does this influence your writing and performing? The folk music scene is very stuck in the mud in my opinion and not very open to change so how has the folk scene been towards Under A Banner?
When writing new songs (I pen the lyrics and chordal skeletons of our songs) we draw upon a number of themes. Not all of our songs are agit-socio-political commentary, and not all are angry. I suppose we write about the same things (life, the universe and everything) as a lot of other bands do; the trick is in being able to express these ideas and abstractions in new and original ways. We at least try. Regarding the repetition of themes on the folk or folk-rock ‘circuit’, there’s something of a tradition within these genres to rage against the system, whatever that actually means.
One thing I have been very impressed with is the connection the band has with it’s fans. Do you think its important to foster a sort of family relationship? 
It would appear that in today’s musical climate, the most successful of bands – especially those without significant financial backing of major labels or other benefactors – are those who foster an ongoing two-way conversational relationship with their fans. This is something that we are acutely aware of and happy to participate in. We make regular use of both a Facebook band page and a gig group as well as Twitter (which appears to be on the decline actually) and a mailing list. The maintenance of each of these is key keeping people abreast of the band’s plans. We have made quite a few friends this way, so it doesn’t feel too arduous.
Now Wolverhampton is a very working class town and like most of the industrial parts of England outside the south-east has suffered under both Labour and Tory governments over the last few decades. How has this changed the town. It’s still massively pro-Labour and was pro-Brexit but what is the town like. Has regeneration achieved anything for the ordinary man and woman in the street. What is their that makes you proud to be from Wolves?
As I previously touched upon, being from Wolverhampton is a mixed blessing. The city doesn’t have such an active and enthusiastic live scene for original music as other places we’ve played, although metal bands seem to have plenty of opportunities to combine forces and work with local promoters. Having said this, Wolverhampton is far from a cultural dead zone. The resurgence in the popularity of real ale and craft beer here has begun to improve the city’s nightlife experience, with several new real ale bars and micropubs springing up in and around the city centre. When these venues host open mic nights at least some small gesture is made to revive part of the live music scene. The recent regeneration projects in the heart of the city’s shopping complex are also beginning to gentrify my hometown. The expected and ubiquitous giants of commerce are still very much the major players, but while some smaller independent retailers have given up their long-held plots under the hammer of ever increasing ground rent, some have clung on and continue to flourish. Metamorphosis has to happen in cities, whatever their size; there are of course winners and losers in this process. On the whole I’m happy to be part of it all. If we, as a band, can make more of a mark with what we do then I could definitively say that Wolverhampton has played its part; it is, after all, where we draw our largest crowds outside of festivals and big support slots.

Now the question that’s caused more rows on the London Celtic Punks Facebook page than the “who hates Maggie Thatcher the most” one. What do you think of Frank Turner? Folk-punk troubadour or spoiled posh brat who hangs around with the royal family?
In answer to your Frank Turner question, from what I’ve heard he’s done quite a lot to give less wealthy musicians a platform. I do like some of his music too. I think it would be churlish to dislike someone on the grounds that they may or may not have had a ‘leg up’ in their chosen cultural or artistic field, that is, if their own brand of art is worth taking heed of. I do, however, have a problem with vapid and vacuous celebrity, especially when its derived from equally facile junk TV shows. Now there’s something to kick against!
That’s it then Under A Banner. Anything you would like to add and people you would like to thank…
 Under A Banner have just embarked on a Spring tour with folk/punk comrades Headsticks. We are also playing festivals right up to Autumn and will continue to write new material. As ever, massive thanks to all the people who’ve connected with us and travelled to see us play live. See you out there.
(have a listen to the latest album from Under A Banner ‘The Wild Places’ by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)
Contact Under A Banner

2017 LONDON MEMORIAL TO THE GREAT HUNGER

On Sunday 14th May 2017, it will be 170 years since the beginning of An Gorta Mor (The Great Hunger) in Ireland. This year there will be a memorial event outside TUC Congress House. This location has been chosen because the Parish of St. Giles was the first recorded ‘Little Ireland’ in London. Many Irish people who lived in this parish endured overcrowding, poverty and squalor and many died of typhus. For this reason, a number of us will be campaigning for a memorial statue to ‘An Gorta Mor’ in this part of London. Unlike Liverpool, no other such statue exists in the capital city. We like to seen the statue dedicated to all the Irish and other migrant workers who made Britain, the most industrialised nation in the world through their concentration of cheap labour!

LONDON REMEMBERS THE GREAT HUNGER

SUNDAY 14th MAY- 1pm SHARP

OUTSIDE TUC, CONGRESS HOUSE, GREAT RUSSELL STREET, LONDON WC1B 3LS

(nearest tube- Tottenham Court Road) 

The event will last for about 40 minutes. Invited speakers are as follows: Austin Harney will speak on the callous administration of Lord Trevelyan who was Head of the Treasury in 1847. This administration under its prime minister, Lord John Russell, denied the vital imports of grain supplies to Ireland, thus causing many Irish people to die of starvation. Niall Mulholland will speak on how An Gorta Mor devastated the people of the North of Ireland and Mick Gilgunn will speak on how the poverty stricken Irish immigrants in London built the British Trade Union movement and the prosperity of the capital of Britain since the days of An Gorta Mor! After the speakers, we will have a minute’s silence for all the Irish people who died and forced to flee from Ireland as a result of this “Great Hunger”.

THE GREAT FAMINE LIE

When I was a kid I grew up taught that the Irish famine was a natural catastrophe caused by crop failure. That I was taught this at a school in England where I’d guess well over 50 % of the children had Irish parents or Grandparents is quite simply wrong. The books I was given in History class of course didn’t tally with the accounts I was hearing at home and as has been the way with the Irish abroad it was that passed on history that won the day. While it is true that the main crop for the Irish and especially the working class Irish was the potatoes the truth as ever is far more startling.

Failure of the potato crop began in 1845 and this impacted on the Irish population as other crops had to be purchased at a very high price or forfeited to their landlords. Hence, the starvation took effect in 1846. During the following year, it was the beginning of more than a million deaths as Britain refused to supply grain to the starving Irish population. In addition, many workers on the roads contracted typhus and it led to the ‘Road Fever’, that spread as far as Belfast, killing many workers. It is estimated that of the British Empires 130 army regiments a staggering 67 were in Ireland during the time of The Great Hunger. Over 100,000 soldiers at any one time. Don’t be fooled into thinking that these soldiers were there on a charitable mission to help the poor beleagued Irish. they were there with only one purpose. Their job was to subdue any Irish resistance and to remove food by force. AT any one point forty shiploads of food, rising to double that some days, were removed from the island of Ireland at gunpoint. Ireland starved as its food was confiscated. The British police and soldiers seized tens of millions head of livestock, tens of millions of tons flour, grain and poultry and protected these shipments from the starving and dying Irish. All the while those in charge knew full well that these huge quantities were more than enough to feed those dying of starvation. When the quantity of exports leaving Ireland could no longer be concealed, George Bernard Shaw wrote in Man and Superman 1897:

“The Famine? No, the Starvation. When a country is full of food and exporting it, there can be no famine.”‘

In the best book ever written on the subject, The Great Hunger, British Historian Cecil-Woodham Smith exposed the removal of food to Britain and became a pariah in academia for the next 30 years. Historians and their books maintain the lie that only potato’s were cultivated and anyone bringing the genocide out in the open is smeared as a “republican sympathiser”.

While it is no surprise of an Irish politician it is still to her eternal shame that former Irish President Mary Robinson referred to the genocide as

“Ireland’s largest natural disaster”.

In 2005 while Prime Minister Tony Blair said,

“Britain stood by while the Irish starved to death”

but again did not acknowledge role of the British Army in forced food confiscations.

The official figures posit a two million drop from 1841-51 due to famine and emigration but it is believed the 1841 census wildly underestimated the real population of over Ireland meaning the figures for both the dead and emigration would be much much higher. The genocide was a deliberate attempt to exterminate the Irish people and their cultural and national identity. Queen Victoria’s economist, Nassau Senior, voiced his fear that existing policies

“will not kill more than one million Irish in 1848 and that will scarcely be enough to do much good”.

During the “famine” years, Irish foodstuff received high prices on the agricultural and commodity markets of the world. The British Empire covered half the globe; why else would it keep half its armies in Ireland at great expense? The Irish were an obstacle to Britain’s world power. They were Celtic, Catholic with their own rich culture and traditions, namely strong: National identity, Family, Culture and faith. The Irish have a strong Celtic consciousness giving the people the ability to think critically, morally and be self-sufficient. It’s in our DNA no one can ever extinguish it.

Further Recommended Reading:

Let Ireland Remember  Irish National Famine Memorial Day

but the most extensive resource on Facebook about this period is to be found at

Irish Holocaust –Not Famine: The Push To Educate In Facts

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