ALBUM REVIEW: TIR NAN OG – ‘Sing, Ye Bastards!’ (2021)

Love, life, death and lots of alcohol! Yeah the sort of themes you expect to hear on a Celtic-Punk album but in the hands of German band Tir Nan Og on their new album Sing, Ye Bastards! these traditional themes are anything but traditional!

Fifteen years and hundreds of gigs later sees the the sixth album from the Bavarian based Tir Nan Og. Germany is the epicenter for all things Celtic-Punk in Europe and if any North American bands are reading this forget about touring anywhere else if you want to actually play to more than 2 men and a dog! We’ve touched on the various reasons for why they love the music before so no need to go into it again suffice to say the mutual love of alcohol between the Irish and the Germany plays a large part in it. Tir Nan Og play a mean drinking song but by no means is that all they’ve got in their cannon and they are as likely to delve into Irish mythology as dive into a public house.

The album begins with ‘Fear Gorta’ and a story about the Great Irish ‘famine’ of 1845–1852. I say ‘famine’ because their was plenty of food available in Ireland at the time but it was being escorted by large military force outside the island while the Irish literally starved by the roadside. Numbers vary but millions died and many more were forced to flee overseas to escape death (sadly for many this wasn’t possible as the ships that took them across the Atlantic ocean were later to be called ‘coffin ships’). 

There are many legends about the time, one being the story of the Hungerman (Gaelic: Fear Gorta). A ghost that would collect the souls of the starving.

“God Almighty have mercy on our souls.
Save us from Fear Gorta and please fill our bowls.”

The song is fast paced and with great dual male/female vocals with a multitude of instruments smoking away. The best Irish Folk music tells a story and Tir Nan Og put many Irish bands to shame with this little known story. Robert sings in that very distinctive German way. Hard to explain but it is very clear and absolutely no need of a lyric sheet as every word is crystal clear and without even a hint of a German accent too! Most of the album is original material without any of the Irish standards beloved by most German bands. Maybe they got them out of their system in their previous albums but its original material that impresses us and here we have plenty to be impressed by. The quality of the music here is superb and on ‘Last Order’ a combination of piping and ‘poppy-country-ish’ Folk works well but the Celtic-Punk tag is maybe a tad too much for them as they are in essence a trad Folk band and no better on this album is that proved on the fiddle led ‘Maelstrom’, the upbeat ‘The Wanderings Of Oisin’ (a poem by William Butler Yeats) and ‘Green Pill’. Three songs which showcase the bands range from fast as hell right through to fast and then just catchy. Through all the songs different instruments are given the lead and used to perfection but no matter which is leading the songs still have that Tir Nan Og trademark sound. The first inkling of the band’s Celtic-Punk roots is the short (but sweet) ‘We’ve Been Everywhere’ and again Sarah and Robert work brilliantly together on vocals on a tongue in cheek song about dragons! I was thinking this may have been the start of the album turning in a heavier direction but ‘Sláinte’ is a bit too jolly for this gnarley faced old Punk rocker! Work on Sing, Ye Bastards! took two and a half years from beginning to end product and right when they might be thinking of a release date Covid lockdown appeared and everything was postponed or cancelled. Tir Nan Og rose to the challenge as drummer Volker said.

This album was created in difficult times and that’s why we were particularly able to empathize with the Irish attitude towards life, to stick together despite difficult times and to make the best of it.“

‘I Sold My Soul’ introduces a slight Ska beat to the bands repertoire with great bagpiping from Andreas. A song that would not be out of place in a Irish pub with the album’s title as the song’s chorus it’s a song to be played as fast as you can and shouted as loud as you can. It was often said that The Pogues were louder with their acoustic instruments than many Punk bands and this song shows that you don’t even need to pay particularly fast or manic to achieve that Punk ‘feel’ while playing what is in reality trad Irish Folk music. Sarah takes the vocal duties on ‘Stone Cold Heart’ and it kind of reminds me of the type of rock ballad (with a Celtic edge though) that Springsteen would have sung in his hey day. The second single to be released from Sing, Ye Bastards! was the ballad ‘Sea Of Sorrow’. The song was written about migrants crossing the Mediterranean sea.

A topic not too dissimilar to the ‘coffin ships’ mentioned earlier. The song completes the cycle for Tir Nan Og. Listening to the album so far the only thing is was missing was a hard hitting ballad and both lyrically and musically it delivers.

“You’re asking me, to sing a happy song
But how could I when happiness is gone?
See the tears and the world is going by,
Sing a happy song when all I want is cry”

We down to the last three songs and Sarahs voice is as strong and powerful as ever on ‘The Song Remains’. It’s the last of the Tir Nan Og compositions with the final two numbers covers from the Dutch Harmony Glen and fellow Germans The O’Reillys And The Paddyhats. ‘O’Hanlan’s Last Words’ is magnificent banjo led tune about a convicted criminal with one hell of a bagpipe solo and the album ends with a superb version of the Paddyhats ‘The Firestorm’.

So love, life, death and plenty of alcohol. It’s all here on an album that sees Tir Nan Og’s progression into a band that could oh so easily fall into the Irish Folk category. The quality of the music, songs, lyrics all point to a band that has outgrown the Celtic-Punk tag but we’ll hang onto them for a bit longer yet! Thirteen songs and eleven original Tir Nan Og compositions that come in just short of fifty minutes long. Songs that uplift in parts and make you think in others. The gloom sometimes descends but is soon followed by something to raise your spirits whether in anger or joy. Another great album from Tir Nan Og and considering the circumstances of its release a massive achievement. Well done folks.

Buy Sing, Ye Bastards!  Prosodia: CD or Download

Contact Tir Na Og  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

EP REVIEW: SEAN TOBIN AND THE BOARDWALK FIRE- ‘St. Patrick’s Day Forever’ (2021)

Influenced by local hero Springsteen and countless other country troubadours, Sean Tobin grew up in the New Jersey bar scene and owes his high-energy performances to his time spent busking on the streets of Galway. With a handful of releases behind him his excellent new EP celebrates his Irish roots and St. Patrick’s Day.

Born and raised on the New Jersey shore, Sean Tobin was influenced by Folk-song troubadours like Guy Clark, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, as well as high-energy rockers like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger and Tom Petty. Self-taught and trained by the New Jersey bar scene, Tobin owes much to his time spent busking on the streets of Galway, Ireland throughout 2015 and 2017. 
 After graduating college in 2017 and uncertain of which direction to take he undertook the El Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile trail through Spain, with his guitar tied to his pack. Upon completion, the future became obvious and on returning to New Jersey he worked hard to fund his music. He released his first album, This Midnight, in the summer of 2018, and in 2019 he played Frank Turner’s Lost Evenings III Festival at the House of Blues in Boston and soon after quit his day job.

In July 2019, Sean released ‘Dreams & Black Caffeine,’ a four-song EP recorded in Ocean, NJ with his band, The Boardwalk Fire. The group played several shows promoting the work, and had planned a tour for the summer of 2020, but were forced to cancel due to the Covid lockdown. The last year has seen the release of ‘East Coast Artifacts’, a compilation of his first EP, various tracks recorded through lockdown and three new songs.

“We’ve all played together as duos or trios in the past, but St. Patrick’s Day Forever really fortified us as a band,” said Tobin. “I just wish we could play live. That’s what we’re best at.”

Well he has a lot of catching up to do and on his new 4-track EP, accompanied by his band The Boardwalk Fire, he has made a pretty good start.

Released at the end of February, 2021 the EP features two originals and two covers and kicks off with the title track, a fast paced Irish trad influenced Celtic-Punk song about the lockdown and it’s first anniversary in New Jersey. It was after all the cancellations of St. Patrick’s Day events around the world that set the scene for what was going to follow. Lively, upbeat and catchy as hell Sean Tobin tells a great story with a brilliant accompanying video too!

‘St. Patrick’s Day Forever’ by Sean Tobin And The Boardwalk Fire

Directed by Jarrett Allen * Edited by Sean Tobin

It was winter 2020, we were playing on the roof,
Jack was slapping stand-up to another song by Bruce.
A mere twenty hours later, we heard it on the news:
the Jersey Shore’s in lockdown, so stock up on your booze!
*
Now it’s one, two, three fuckin’ months inside this house.
There’s not too much I need, but I need fuckin’ out.
So I make my way down Main Street, the flag’s on every door–
it’s St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore,
St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore.
*
Not long later it was Easter, I was sippin’ on some stout.
I’d horded fifty cases out of fear that they’d run out,
but I couldn’t taste a drop ’cause I gave it up for Lent.
So come Easter, fifty cases, up the field they went!
*
Now it’s one, two, three fuckin’ months inside this house.
There’s not too much I need, but I need fuckin’ out.
So I make my way down Main Street, the flag’s on every door–
it’s St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore,
St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore.
*
Murphy! Your laws are screwin’ me!
But frankly, I don’t blame you. If it’s what we gotta do,
to keep people from dyin’, then I’ll stay home for you.
I just miss my friends…and the bar…
*
So now it’s comin’ up on summer, and I’m still drinkin’ stout.
I would be switchin’ to Corona, but I don’t think that’s allowed…
So instead I’ve got a toucan on one can, three cans, five.
If Guinness makes you stronger, I’m the strongest man alive!
*
Now it’s one, two, three fuckin’ months inside this house.
There’s not too much I need, but I need fuckin’ out.
So I make my way down Main Street, the flag’s on every door–
it’s St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore,
St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore.
Now it’s one, two, three fuckin’ months inside this house.
There’s not too much I need, but I need fuckin’ out.
So I make my way down Main Street, the flag’s on every door–
it’s St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore,
St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore.
*

The EP’s other original song is titled ‘Ode to Anna Liffey’s’ a bittersweet love song to the now closed Irish bar Anna Liffey’s in New Haven, Connecticut. As with all of Sean’s songs and in common with Irish music in general the songs tell intricate stories and at over six minutes the song gives him plenty of scope in telling his story of days spent propping up the bar there. A swirling gentle song with Sean’s strong voice backed by accordion and percussion that soon enough gets faster and faster with Sean’s guitar and Sean-David’s fiddle smoking! A real Irish tinged bluegrass/country floor filler that ends on a sad note (especially for us Irish!) with the last chorus going out to all the bars that are forced to close but “go down swinging”.

Ending with two covers, the first ‘Dirty Old Town’ has seen it’s fair share of Celtic-Punk records but here Sean strays from the well trodden Pogues/ Dubliners versions and keeps it upbeat and catchy even, in fact the perfect speed to be belting it out at the top of your lungs in the pub or Celtic Park or just your living room. The EP ends with the traditional Scottish ballad ‘The Parting Glass’ and Sean keeps it simple with just his voice and acoustic guitar. Two popular covers with new life breathed into them. Obviously a difficult thing to achieve with such popular songs. The record was recorded, mixed and mastered by David Patiño at Tannery Studios and, as with everything here, is absolutely perfect. Sean has severl live streams planned over March but you can still catch his most recent stream from Watermark in Asbury Park, NJ on February 20th to celebrate the EP’s release via Sean’s Facebook page. A fantastic start to the Celtic month of March and can only say we glad he went to Spain!!

Buy St’ Patrick’s Day Forever  Here

Contact Sean Tobin  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp  Instagram

ODDS’N’SODS. CELTIC-PUNK ROUND UP MARCH 2021

Our regular monthly feature of all the Celtic-Punk news that’s fit to print. Band news, record releases, videos, tours (not individual gigs though yet sadly), live streams, crowd funders etc., send it into us at londoncelticpunks@hotmail.co.uk or through the Contact Us page. All will get a mention but I need YOU to help if it’s going to work.

Well it looks like St. Patrick’s Day is cancelled again this year. Still loads to keep us occupied during the ‘Celtic month’ of March. Here’s all the Celtic-Punk news that’s going on and a load of new music and videos to check out as well to forget your troubles to!

No question what the big news recently has been. The announcement of the release date for the new DROPKICK MURPHYS album. Turn Up That Dial is out on April 30th and is available for pre-order here. No doubt their will be multitudes of different packages and merchandise options so get saving now! They also put out the first song from the album, ‘Middle Finger’.

New Jersey Irish singer/ songwriter SEAN TOBIN is my new favourite artist and he played a Live Stream last week on You Tube well worth checking out. Blue-collar, working-class Irish American Folk music. Watch out for a review of his new EP in the next few days!

BROPHY’S LAW release their favourite live track ‘The Bachelor’, a traditional authentic Folk-Punk sound with an alternative edge. Neil Brophy says he wrote this aged 18 influenced by watching The Pogues performing in their glory days on the London scene. They sang about the drinking holes of London, a great recipe for ‘The Bachelor’ a song that paints a picture of a working class guy who surrenders his life to the devil in the jar and drinks himself insane.

FEROCIOUS DOG have signed to Graphite Records and are currently recording their 5th studio album called The Hope!

More news out of the Ferocious Dog camp is that FD’s Dan and Nick Burbridge (ex- McDermott’s Two Hours) have collaborated on a new album titled Icons. A year in the making now of 12 songs, maybe 13. Once the FD album is off for  mixing it will be finished and out by the end of spring/early summer. Jeremy Leveller is doing the album and t-shirt artwork. To pre-order the CD, t-shirt or bundle visit the web-site at  https://nickanddan.co.uk/

The Bandcamp vultures are waiving their massive revenue share on all sales next Friday, March 5, 2021, from midnight to midnight Pacific Time. If the greedy bastards really wanted to “support musicians during Covid-19” then maybe they wouldn’t take so much of their money the rest of the time. So only buy on that day for the next couple of weeks and you can support us here, we have a handful of releases where all money raised goes to support the Justice For The Craigavon 2 campaign (#JFTC2)

There’s a extensive interview from NY State Celtic-Punk band THE TEMPLARS OF DOOM in the new Winter edition of Punk N Praise. Its a new internet Christian Punk fanzine and is available for **FREE** simply by sending your email address to pamsbnb@aol.com or at tinasaol@aol.com. This issue also includes British Christian Punk band, Peter118.

Lockdown Lullabies is a 5-band compilation CD featuring four major kick-ass Celtic Rock and Punk bands THE SHAMROGUES, KILMAINE SAINTS, BARLEYJUICE, POEHEMIA and JAMISON. Twenty tracks from the Tri-state area’s best bands. Available from Ryf Records.

THE PLACKS from the Scottish Highlands and Islands are one of the most prolific bands around at the moment and not letting the lockdown hold them back too much! The Sabbath’ is their fourth single in the last 12 months and comes out on the 5th March but is available now for pre-order.

To France now and hot on the heels of the Toxic Frogs recent EP comes the Folk’n’Punk band THE MULLINS with a great new video. Lots of new music on their You Tube channel worth checking out.

Fellow Frenchies THE MOORINGS have a new album out soon and you are invited to help get it released here.

The first news out of the MATILDA’S SCOUNDFRELS camp in a very long while sees them release a new 7″ single/ download. Available to buy now on pre-release from Bandcamp. Also a new video featuring ‘Jousting Crowd’ from the single.

The legendary show that started PEAT & DIESEL’s sold out 2020 tour at Glasgow’s most iconic venue, The Barrowlands Ballroom. All the favourites from their first two albums Uptown Fank and Light My Byre played live in front of 2000 diehard fans and the atmosphere they brought with them that special night. It is not in any way recorded with any fancy tools to sort any mistakes or nonsense, its 100% raw, just the way Peat & Diesel wanted it!

THE RUMJACKS – Hestia

PEAT & DIESELLive at the Barrowlands 2020

MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS – The Devil’s Dues

THE PEELERS – Down And Out In The City Of Saints

SEAN TOBIN – St. Patrick’s Day Forever (reviewed soon)

THE FEELGOOD McLOUDS – Saints & Sinners (reviewed soon)

NEVERMIND NESSIE –  Another Sixpack Drinking Songs

Remember if you want your release featured then we have to have heard it first!

Thanks to Owen for putting me onto the Grand Rapids, Michigan band THE BILLIES. Dedicated to bringing Celtic music to a more main stream audience, blending modern Pop/Rock tunes and Celtic songs. Never heard this band before and I can’t find them on Facebook so we have to suppose that they are no more. Still they have left their mark and Who Wants Some is a fantastic album. Seven mostly original songs that includes one of the best (and surprising) covers I have ever heard- ‘Mighty And Superior’ by London anarcho-punk band Conflict!

Sad news from Australia and the demise of one of the countries best Celtic-Punk bands FOX ‘N’ FIRKIN. A bit of a cryptic announcement on their FB page but we wish the guys well and thanks for some bloody brilliant music. You helped make the Aussie scene the best in the world!

In light of a recent event and information we have only just been made aware of we are no longer able to move forward as a band. We wish to give no further comments on the situation. Robbie, Adrian & Leigh want to thank our fans for the years support.

Originally from Cork, Ireland, CATHAL COUGHLAN is the co-founder and singer of acclaimed 80s/90s groups Microdisney and Fatima Mansions. Widely considered to be one of Ireland’s most revered singer/songwriters, beloved by fans of caustic literate lyricism and erudite song craft. He has a new album, Song Of Co​-​Aklan, out at the end of March available for pre-order now.

A new song of high-octane Folk from Massachusetts (and a little bit Rhode Island) band THE KING’S BUSKETEERS. Traditional songs from the British Isles and North America shake the rafters, with some bardic acapella hollering and floor-stomping originals added in for flavour.

A new track from Dutch band THE ROYAL SPUDS over on Bandcamp. The Spuds were one of the bands whose tour we had to sadly cancel due to the original Covid lockdown last year. Available as a ‘name your price’ download is all you need to know. Well that and that it is brilliant!

Great new song/ video of ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ from Italian Celtic-Folk-Punk-Trad band PATRICK’S telling the story of Tim Finnegan the only man who escaped death thanks to whiskey and the incredible adventures of poor Tim and his drunken friends during his funeral wake!

Loads of live streams going on around St Patrick’s Day. The main ones of course being Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys of course. It will go live at 2am on the Thursday but loads of live music to take you up to then. Expect sets from 1916, Cutthroat Shamrock and more. Check the London Celtic Punks Facebook page on Paddy’s Day for what we will be watching and recommending!

A plug for some good friends of ours over on Facebook. The Dropkick Murphys- Fan Page and the Celtic Punk, Folk And Rock Fans are two of the best music forums on FB let alone Celtic-Punk. Ran By Fans For Fans. Just like and join in the fun!

and before we end something a little bit different. Celtic-Folk-Metal pioneers TUATHA DE DANNANN from Brazil release their 7th album In Nomine Éireann. Known for their merry Celtic dance rhythms, flute melodies and Celtic mythology-inspired lyricshere they pay tribute to Irish music and culture. Songs and Tunes taken from the traditional lore with special guests like John Doyle (Solas) and Keith Fay (Cruachan) making this album truly unique and special.

All we need to do now is for you to help fill this page with news and remember if you are new to the London Celtic Punks blog it is easy to subscribe / follow and never miss a post. Also if anyone is interested in helping out on the reviews front then let us know via the Contact Us page.

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: THE JOHNNY CASH SHOW (1970)

Songwriter. Six-string strummer. Storyteller. Country boy. Rock star. Folk hero. Preacher. Poet. Drug addict. Rebel. Saint AND sinner. Victim. Survivor. Home wrecker. Husband. Father. Son. and more…

FREE DOWNLOAD

I was rather fortunate to grow up with The Man In Black in my ear. It was thanks to my Mum who kept up a steady stream of Johnny Cash, Rock’n’Roll and Irish-Folk that me and my siblings all developed huge interests in music. Johnny himself may have passed away sixteen years ago but interest in him and his life still hasn’t waned and as new material is periodically released it is snapped up eagerly by fans old and new. He still remains the coolest man ever in Rock’n’Roll.

The Johnny Cash Show was Johnny’s 35th album and was released to tie in with the TV series that he was hosting at the time. From the summer of 1969 through to spring 1971, pretty much the whole of America sat down together in front of the TV set waiting for the famous opening line “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash”. The perfect gentleman with an indomitable spirit and down to earth grit the ever popular Johnny struck a chord with people right across the country. All creeds, classes and colours were united in their love for this great man. His willingness to take risks is what made his show incomparable. Johnny knew talent when he saw or heard it, and his word meant a lot. So, it was no small feat, nor beyond reasonable expectations, that many reclusive stars joined Cash on the pilot show. Though this album is one of Cash’s lesser-known records, it did spawn the highly successful single ‘Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down’, which helped kick start the career of singer-songwriter turned actor Kris Kristofferson with the song and album eventually both going on to reach #1.

This song is about the dreaded hangover, with Johnny singing about ‘coming down’ on a Sunday morning after being ‘stoned’ on a Saturday night. In the song, our hero puts on his cleanest dirty shirt, drinks a few beers, and heads out to face a lonely day.

Well I woke up Sunday mornin’, with no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad, so I had one more, for dessert
Then I fumbled through my closet, for my clothes and found my cleanest dirty shirt
And I shaved my face and combed my hair and, stumbled down the stairs to meet the day

I’d smoked my brain the night before on, cigarettes and songs that I’d been pickin’
But I lit my first and watched a small kid cussin’ at a can, that he was kickin’
Then I crossed the empty street and caught the Sunday smell of someone fryin’ chicken
And it took me back to somethin’, that I’d lost somehow somewhere along the way

On the Sunday morning sidewalks, wishin’ Lord, that I was stoned
‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday, makes a body feel alone
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’, half as lonesome as the sound
On the sleepin’ city side walks, Sunday mornin’ comin’ down

In the park I saw a daddy, with a laughing little girl who he was swingin’
And I stopped beside a Sunday school and listened to the song that they were singin’
Then I headed back for home and somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringin’
And it echoed through the canyons like the disappearing dreams of yesterday

On the Sunday morning sidewalks, wishin’ Lord, that I was stoned
‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday, makes a body feel alone
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’, half as lonesome as the sound
On the sleepin’ city side walks, Sunday mornin’ comin’ down

Before Johnny performed the song on The Johnny Cash Show, ABC censors asked him to change the lyric, “Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned” to “Wishing, Lord, that I was home” but never being one to accept being told what to do Johnny sang the song the way Kris Kristofferson wrote it, even stressing the word ‘stoned’!

( Sadly none of the series have been released officially so any that appear the sound and picture quality is definitely not DVD quality. What does appear are random performances some better than others. Here athough the possibility of a third season existed, Cash knew the writing was on the wall. The last twelve minutes of the last episode of the last Johnny Cash Show features Cash performing ‘I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen’, ‘He’ll Understand And Say Well Done’, The Statler Brothers singing ‘When You And I Were Young’, June Carter singing ‘Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes’, Carl Perkins playing ‘Your True Love’, the Carter Family singing ‘Come All Ye Fair And Tender Ladies’ and Cash’s final words to his television audience)

The ratings for the show were excellent (reaching #17 in the nationwide Nielsen ratings in 1970) and ABC extended the original 15 show run to a whopping 58 (fifty-eight!) episodes. The end of the series came in 1971 as the show was cancelled as part of the so-called ‘rural purge’ in which urban executives at all three major broadcast networks eliminated rural and older skewing programs. ABC viewing figures over all were in massive decline and so they cancelled one of their only successes a horrifying testimony to just how mismanaged the network was at the time. That the copies of all the shows still lay unreleased in the vaults is I think a terrible mistake and we can only hope someone pulls their finger out about it soon.

CLICK HERE FOR FREE DOWNLOAD

With the exception of the album’s obvious highlight, ‘Sunday Mornin’ Coming Down’, each of these songs sings of the history of the working man in the United States with the centerpieces of the album the two jaw dropping medleys: the first concerning truckers, the other concerning the cotton belt. Performed with backing vocals and music by the Tennessee Three, The Statler Brothers, and The Carter Family and Bill Walker’s Orchestra the closing performance of the spoken word ‘Here Was A Man” is a superb piece of Gospel and shows how easily Johnny could turn his hand to different styles.

To these ears though it sounds like classic Cash. His voice instantly taking me back to my childhood of sitting round the record player listening to my mammy’s Johnny Cash collection. All the adults I knew, especially the Irish ones, seemed to be a massive fan of his with their record collections bulging with his albums. it was impossible not to like him. The subject matter was so much darker than other country artists and lets face it he was as cool a fecker as ever there was in music! He was himself the quintessential Scotch-Irish American, with a bit of Native American too he use to say!

Johnny Cash  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  The Johnny Cash Trail  

(this amazing video popped up on my feed recently and it never takes much to set me off on The Man In Black so give it a twirl. Its great to hear Johnny just chatting away and the animation is top notch capturing Johnny perfectly)

for more like this…

INTERVIEW WITH WU WEI FROM CHINESE CELTIC-PUNK BAND SMZB

We here at London Celtic Punks have a passion for music but what about those who use music to try and achieve a higher goal than just pure enjoyment. The Chinese Celtic-Punk band SMZB are such a band and here Michael X. Rose interviews WuWei their lead singer/ songwriter and reviews their latest album, Once Upon A Time in The East.

Interview with Wu Wei, vocalist and songwriter for SMZB. January 2021.

I was discussing Once Upon a Time in the East, with him, the latest LP from SMZB released in August, 2020. It’s a great album and a fantastic follow up to 2016’s The Chinese are Coming.
If you haven’t heard SMZB before, their sound is a blend of classic Punk- energy and chords- with Celtic rhythms and instruments. They use bagpipes, tin whistle, banjo that give it the Celtic feel. They also add brass trumpets on some which give those songs a kind of totalitarian terror, like the Communists are about to kick down your door.
I asked WuWei about the band name, what does it mean? There is a microphone called an SM7B, was it related to that? I was curious. WuWei replied,

It is the abbreviation of the band’s earliest Chinese name Pinyin SHENG MING ZHI BING, Chinese name means “BREAD OF LIFE” or “BISCUIT OF LIFE.” In 2002, the Chinese name was no longer used, only the acronym was retained, and the band’s logo (attached) was a four-letter acronym, we love it!

Biscuit of Life, there you have it. I love it too!

If you go to purchase the album on Bandcamp, don’t be afraid of the 78$ price tag, that’s in Hong Kong Dollars, and is only about 10$ US/Euro or so.

Many of the songs on Once Upon a Time… are listed on in Chinese, so here are the translated titles, the * means its in Chinese only on the Bandcamp;

1. Red Riot
2. All Red the River *
3. Lumo Road
4. Slap Like Teen Spirit
5. Old Guns *
6. Great Hall of Rock ’N Roll *
7. Brewing Freedom *
8. Get the World Drunk *
9. Emma the River Dolphin
10. Mao’s Great Famine
11. Happiness Camp ( Slavery Manifesto) *
12. A New World Of Misery *
13. Three Women *

First, Thank You for doing this interview. I’m so excited about this. I am a big fan of SMZB ever since I heard The Chinese are Coming.
Red Riot, first song on the album. The siren intro is amazing, it’s like the Bell tolling Doom. You mention several times kids and parents ratting out on each other, and not being able to trust anybody. What is it like to live in a Police State?

My feeling is that there is no safety or dignity in China.

SMZB – Red Riot (Fight Or Die)’ Official Video

There are six members of SMZB, a large group. Where are you all from, is anybody Irish or of partly Irish descent? How did you get into doing the Irish Sound? Personally, I hear a Chinese influence you bring to the Irish Punk, and it fits well and adds a new dimension.

Our band members are from three different cities in China, Wuhan, Beijing and Changsha. None of us have Irish links but enjoy the music from the Pogues and the Dubliners. That began my interest in Irish Punk.

How many LP’s does the band have out? When did you switch from “plain” Punk to Celtic Punk and why? What converted you?

The band has 10 albums. I wanted to do Celtic punk from the beginning but it was difficult for me to find the instruments or the musicians. But in 2005 I met the bands bagpipe player and we toured Europe where I was able to buy some instruments such as the tin whistle. From then on we made the Celtic Punk music.

Who writes the songs, is it collaborative, or separately?

I write the lyric and melody and then work together with the band to complete the songs and get their input.

I hope you don’t mind me asking, your songs are so clearly and strongly against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) which is fantastic, how do you not get arrested? Are you worried about that?

Well so far I haven’t been arrested but my social media and phone is under surveillance. Probably my band is not big enough to cause the CCP much trouble, if I was too famous then perhaps I would be arrested by now. But it doesn’t worry me.

What do you think of the One Child Policy and the deaths that it caused? Is the Common Chinese person fed up with the CCP? Will there be Freedom for the good people of China anytime soon?

The one child policy was scraped a few years ago now, it was a stupid policy and of course had tragic consequences. Most Chinese people are content with the CCP, they don’t question them. I think one day there will be freedom in China but who can say when, although my thoughts and hopes are that it will be soon.

Where is the band from? I think it says Wuhan on Bandcamp, do you still live there? Sometimes it says you are located in Hong Kong. Do you think you need to defect? Where are you located currently?

The band began in Wuhan, at the moment there are two band members still living in Wuhan. I moved to Portugal last year and other band members live in Beijing and Changsha.

How has the Corona Virus impacted you in ways we may not expect? Is Wuhan devastated? Are you aware that it was made in a CCP lab as a Bio Weapon? Is the average Chinese citizen aware that the CCP created this virus?

Thankfully the virus has not impacted me or my family and friends very much. Other than we of course stay home more. Wuhan has recovered very well since last year and the virus rate is low, most daily life is back to normal. I believe the virus was created in the bio lab but most Chinese people do not think this.

Slap Like Teen Spirit, fourth song on the album is such a great song. My reflection on the lyrics is; Do you feel like China is one giant prison camp? Do you know about the Uighur prison camps and their extermination by the CCP? What advice do you have for Westerners now that CCP style censorship has come to the West?

Yes my feeing is that China is a prison camp, I know about the Uighur camps but most Chinese people are not aware of it.

Lyrics:
Sit around a table with your classmates,
Remember how people fight on the streets,
Watch violent videos on your cellphone,
No one is your friend, everybody is your enemy.

You can learn nothing, waste time in your school,
Make yourself brutal and cold-hearted,
Practice abuse, Insult and bully,
Laws and rules mean nothing to you.

Stand in a circle, rip off your uniform,
Slap each other, then kick kick harder.
Spit like a gangster, speak like a rogue,
Stare like a killer, hurt like an avenger.

Track 6, Great Hall of Rock ‘N Roll, the chorus musically references an Irish song The Waves Down in the Ocean. I love it. Can you talk about its inspiration?

I hadn’t heard the waves down in the ocean, but the song is inspired by traditional Irish music. This songs title translates to ‘Great hall of rock and roll’.

Emma the River Dolphin (Track 8). You sing a lot about pollution, Communist China is well known as one of the most environmentally polluted countries on Earth. What are your goals here? Can China be saved?

China is developing fast and it is destroying the nature. But nature is strong and it can be saved if things change. I hope they do.

SMZB – ‘Mao’s Great Famine Official Video

The song Mao’s Great Famine. I’m sure many Chinese know how Mao killed over 100 million Chinese and the horrors of the Cultural Revolution. Most Westerners don’t know this history and may even hang paintings of Mao on their wall by Andy Warhol or carry a Little Red Book. Tell me about the Lyrics for Mao’s Great Famine for the Westerners reading this interview.

Most people in China know about the famine but they don’t blame Mao, they have been taught it was a natural disaster.

Song 11, Happiness Camp. This song is so great. There is a slide guitar lead break in it, maybe mixed with a woman’s vocal on the breaks? It’s a very ghostly haunting sound. Can you tell me about the production of this song a little bit?

Track 12,this songs title is ‘Happiness camp’ with the camp referring to the prison camps. The women’s vocal is with the guitar solo, it’s a tribute to Ennio Morricone.

Lyrics:
HAPPINESS CAMP(SLAVERY MANIFESTO)
Cleanse your brain, or change its makeup, and use your anger as needed at all times.
No more extra complaints, no more words, let them play and emasculate you, cooperate with their hand-to-hand combat.
You suck what they exhale and eat what they shit, nothing is important, as long as you can flirt.
Even the cold will be proud, the hunger will be proud, and it is here that you will have equality and still feel the embrace of God.

Sign this declaration of slavery, there is no bottom line to happiness here.
Serve your master with all your heart and soul, and you will be happy in this concentration camp.

Be reluctant to open those doors and windows and let the sun shine in front of you, be infinitely loyal to your leaders and help them move bricks and build walls.
You say you are all sober, you are all calm, and say forget those sufferings and enjoy the happiness and peace that you have now.

Sign this declaration of slavery, there is no bottom line for happiness here.
Serve your masters with all your heart and soul, there is only happiness in this concentration camp.

Track 12, A New World of Misery. I really like the stripped down songs you do. They remind me of Spaghetti Westerns. This song is so great with just acoustic guitar, tin whistle, and fiddle, it refreshes between full punk blasts. Tell me about this one.

Track 13.This song is called ‘A new world of misery’. It was inspired by a visit I made to villages in the Sichuan province in China 25 years ago which had a huge amount of poverty. What really shocked me was that when I returned to the same area, the situation was the same.

Are there any other great Chinese Irish Punk Bands we should know about?

There are some good Chinese punk bands but no Irish punk bands in China. (Editor – China is a BIG BIG country so a big shout to Grass Mud Horse here!)

SMZB – ‘Happy Concentration Camp (Declaration of Slavery)’ Official Video

What does the band like to drink Guinness? Whiskey? What brand? Or is there a Chinese brand of Stout we should all look out for?

I like Guinness and whiskey, Jameson is my favorite for the price. Recently the craft brewery business is expanding in China, there are now many good craft stout made in China. But Guinness is unique.

1/17/21  Michael X. Rose

Contact SMZB  Facebook

Thanks to Wu Wei and the guys and to Michael for the interview. Michael also sings and plays guitar in New York state Celtic-Punk band The Templars Of Doom whose latest album Hovels Of The Holy is still available (and now out on vinyl too).

Ten years old but what a great show. SMZB play their 15th Anniversary Show @ VOX Livehouse, Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Christmas Day 2011.

NEW SINGLE ‘A Song’ FROM LUTON IRISH BAND MISSING THE FERRY

Four second-generation Irish lads, three brothers and their best friend from school write songs about identity and belonging.
With influences as diverse as Brendan Shine, The Pogues and The Stone Roses their mission is to get people dancing and thinking.

Missing The Ferry Left to right: Kevin Cunningham – Guitar/Vocals * Chris Anderson – Fiddle/Mandolin/Vocals * Kevin Anderson – Bass/Vocals (Lead vocals on ‘A Song’) * Paul Anderson – Whistle/Mandolin/Vocals *

Hot on the heels of their last single, the fantastic, ‘God Bless You And Keep You’, comes new music from Luton’s very own Missing The Ferry. Recorded mostly pre-Covid in Deptford, SE London and then remotely between bedrooms in Luton/SE London by the band then sent to our friend Luise (https://www.facebook.com/LuiseLondonAudio) in Germany to sprinkle some magic Teutonic Folk party Punk dust on.
A Song is about daring to dream; escaping from the box that the government, class and circumstance have shoved you in all your life.
A Song is about self-destruction, hitting rock bottom, temptation and redemption.
A Song is for the voiceless, the poor, the lonely and dispossessed.
But at the end of the day, it is just a song.

A song for all wise men, there’s not many left
A song for old Ireland that’s clearly in jest
A song for the workers, asleep on the dock
A song for the rich man who’s taken the lot
A song for the children, climbing the trees
A song for all housewives, God bless Mr Sheen
A song for the young ones, who just couldn’t wait
A song for the old one, who knows its too late
*
It’s a song, you won’t have to sing
Forget the words, sure they don’t mean a thing
It’s the dreams, that came just too late
And all the hearts, you just couldn’t break
*
A song for the lonely, living in chains
A song for the monarchs,  song for their slaves
A song for the weary, a song for the tired 
A song for all junkies, the stoned and the wired
A song for the living, a tune for the dead
A song for the dark thoughts that fill up your head
A song for all cowards, a song for the brave
A song for the secrets you’ll take to the grave
*
It’s a song, you won’t have to sing
Forget the words, sure they don’t mean a thing
It’s the dreams, that came just too late
And all the hearts, you just couldn’t break
*
A song for all wise men, there’s not many left…
*
It’s a song, you won’t have to sing
Forget the words, sure they don’t mean a thing
It’s the dreams, that came just too late
And all the times you just couldn’t fake
And all the lies you just couldn’t take
And all the hearts, you just couldn’t break
It’s a song…just a song
*
Words: Paul Anderson * Music: Paul Anderson/Chris Anderson *
Produced by: Luise London and Chris Anderson

(stream or download ‘A Song’ on the Bandcamp player below.  Only 90p!!)

Download A Song  FromTheBand

Contact Missing The Ferry  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp  Instagram

Anyone who has ever missed, or nearly missed, the Dublin-bound ferry from Holyhead will get the name.
Don’t be Missing The Ferry yourselves!

FREE DOWNLOADS FROM LIDDINGTON HILL!

Anyone fancy a bit of Punk and Metal tinged Celtic-Folk music? Well how about Liddington Hill hail from the South West of England. They have made their entire back catalogue free to download so get downloading!

Liddington Hill began life in 2015 when fiddle player Matt Meads and singer Emily Slinger got together to perform lively tradition Celtic and English folk songs. Taking their name from the hill that is home to the Iron Age Liddington Castle just outside Swindon in Wiltshire. The band went through a few different incarnations eventually settling into a much heavier darker sound. With their current line up of Tamzin Meads with her low fuzz bass, Ethan Meads with his roaring SG guitar, Liam Gallagher playing high leads and vocals, Chris Taylor bringing a dark metal undertone on drums and Matt Meads playing the melodies on fiddle takes the lead. Together Liddington Hill record and perform original and traditional, alternative rock and Celtic-Punk.

(The bands last single ‘With You’ from October 2020. Grunge, Punk, Love and Cider…)

The first time I clocked Liddington Hill on Instagram it instantly reminded me of the 1980’s Somerset based Anarcho-Folk-Rockers Blyth Power. A shadowy mix of Celtic and Folk tinged Metal and Punk giving them a rather unique sound for these days. One of the main differences between English and Irish Folk and traditional music can be where they share the same often depressing lyrics and themes the actual music is not as upbeat. This gives Liddington Hill that ‘dark’ feel added to which the dual male / female vocals gives them a further range than most bands we hear. That’s not to say it’s all downbeat but this is more Joy Division and The Pogues rather the usual Clash / Pogues we hear. With everything going on we haven’t had a chance to check them out live but they do have a rather good live video from The White Hart Inn in Swindon with clips of their set featuring original and covers including a great version of ‘Whiskey In The Jar’.

Liddington Hill: Front- Tamzin – Vocals / Bass * Left to right – Ethan – Rhythm Guitar * Liam – Lead Guitar / Vocals * Chris – Drums * Matt – Fiddle / Vocals *

Back in March last year Liddington Hill made all their recordings available to download for free. That’s three EP’s and a bunch of singles. Download link below but their songs are also available from Apple and Amazon if you choose to support the band. Alternatively check out their merchandise here.  

DOWNLOAD EP’S HERE

DOWNLOAD SINGLES HERE

(‘Long Lankin’ is a traditional English Folk murder ballad telling the gruesome story of the killling of a woman and her infant son. Recorded previously by Steeleye Span and, a band they share some similarities and influences with, Blackbeard’s Tea Party)

Liddington Hill  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

EP REVIEW: TOXIC FROGS – ‘My Lucky Own’ (2021)

From France it’s the Toxic Frogs. 5 girls and 2 Fiddles. Six fantastic new original songs with the Mahones Finny McConnell guesting on lead single ‘Thank You Humanity’.

The last thing we were expecting was a flurry of new releases to land at London Celtic Punk Towers in the first couple of weeks of 2021. With releases down to the bare minimum during the latter part of last year we were surprised and delighted to receive them and will be giving them all the LCP treatment in the following weeks! So far we have 1916, The Feelgood McLouds, Jason Stirling and Tir Nan Og to catch up with but first this six-track EP from the French band Toxic Frogs.

The most obvious place to start with the review is that they are Celtic-Punks only all female band (I had quite a good rant about the idea of segregating bands into female/male ones when we reviewed their last release The Mermaids Song so I will spare you that this time!) and with an EP and an album, Kill The Devils, behind them they have kept up a steady stream of well produced videos to keep them in the Celtic-Punk public’s eye. As I say to bands all the time a good way to keep your profile up when you are not actually recording is to put out videos. Toxic Frogs ones are always entertaining and well produced and they have become one of the better known Celtic-Punk bands through them. Formed in the east-central French city of Lyon in September 2014 it was Ella who came up with the idea of an all girl Celtic-Punk band so started to advertise and soon enough a team of girls was ready. Having already played fiddle for the excellent French Celtic-Punk legends Celkilt she already knew the scene well and as soon as they hit the practice rooms something gelled. The name is an obvious dig at the friendly nickname the English give to French people (well don’t they call the English “rostbif”!!) and within a few years they had made quite the name for themselves with their energetic and passionate live performances and soon developed their own musical style as well.

My Lucky Own is released today and the EP starts with ‘Beginning’. A short intro of wailing eastern style fiddle soon giving way to the EP’s first single the superb ‘Thank You Humanity’. Chugging guitars and I’ve always been a big fan of dual vocals and they are used expertly hear with Ella dueling with no other than Mr. Mahones himself Finny McConnell. Finny has been as busy as pretty much any musician alive during the various lockdowns and it’s really nice to see him helping out other bands. The vocals are quiet, almost whispered in parts and it fits perfect the song and it’s story of leaving your homeland to go on an adventure.

The lyrics are all in English here and Ella certainly has a great voice and you can barely hear her French accent at times. The two fiddles give them a pretty unique powerful sound and having added banjo to the groups sound giving them a more ‘gaelic’ sound than before especially on ‘My Lucky Own’. Tribal drumming and again rather subdued musically and not the raucous free-for-all we have been use to with previous Toxic Frogs releases but that is soon sorted out with ‘The Shamrock’s Jig’ instrumental and a full throttle Irish throwdown with fiddles flying and smoking I am sure! These girls can certainly play and top marks for making it all themselves. No ‘I’ll tell Me Ma’ here you know! The EP really gets into its stride with the final two songs and they Punk it up with ‘Bestie Life’ while ‘Go Back Again’, for me the album’s standout track, is about as close as they come to a Celtic-Punk ‘standard’. Tuneful and catchy with great vocals and them fiddles and banjo with gang “Hey Hey’s” and a brilliant chorus and a great way to end proceedings.

The EP is sadly only sixteen minutes long but I’m afraid we will have to get use to the idea that at the moment bands will find it much easier to record shorter releases and full length albums will I fear be thin on the ground throughout 2021. On top of all that is the much reduced opportunity to promote anything via live gigs and tours. Thankfully though new music is coming out albeit sporadically and we are lucky to receive My Lucky Life. The girls have recently signed to Otbox Productions ( a French record label and tour promoting agency) so hopefully those of us further afield will have a chance to see them play live at some point in the future. This EP shows Toxic Frogs are much much more than just a ‘all girl band’ and can quite rightly take their place among the continents best Celtic-Punk bands.

Buy My Lucky Life CD-FromTheBand  Download-Amazon

Contact Toxic Frogs  WebSite  Facebook Instagram YouTube

REMEMBERING STEFAN CUSH

Friday nights. The end of the week. The end of work and the thoughts of what you can do with your delicious two days of freedom ahead. Amiright?! I’ll tell you what Friday nights are not about; reading the dreadful news on Facebook that Stefan Henry Cush, a man at the very beating heart of your favourite band The Men They Couldn’t Hang, has suddenly died from a heart attack. How can this be? This was not supposed to happen, this cannot happen, surely, in a world with any justice in it. But happen it did. Cush passed away on 4th February 2021 and the news was announced to the world on the band’s Facebook page on the following day. And everyone who has ever loved this band mourns.

Surely everyone reading these pages already knows and loves The Men They Couldn’t Hang? From 1985 and their explosive seminal album Night of a Thousand Candles, right up their 9th studio album Cock-A-Hoop released a couple of years ago, Cush has been an integral part of the rebellious outspoken folkpunk powerhouse of TMTCH. The band themselves called him

“the life of the party and the soul of the band”.

But Cush was far, far more than just the sum of all the albums and gigs listed drily on a page and to understand this you need to know, as many of you already will, that TMTCH is not just a disparate bunch of accomplished artists, resting on the laurels of yesteryear or churning out formulaic music for the masses. From the mid-80s onwards they carried the flaming torch of rebellious, anti-establishment folkpunk passed to them by the dying embers of the punk and new wave luminaries. Not for The Men They Couldn’t Hang the supernova explosion of fame and popularity only to perish on the bonfire of a bored and fickle public. Fame and fortune did not come knocking for The Men They Couldn’t Hang, though they courted hard that fickle mistress and for a while it seemed they might be graced with a seat at that table.

Their first three albums, Night of a Thousand Candles (1985), How Green is The Valley (1986), and pre-eminent in the minds of many an aficionado, Waiting for Boneparte (1988), are certainly counted as some of the finest of the genre. Rightly so. Many lauded studio and live albums followed, many collections of demos and rarities. They were as hastily and perhaps haphazardly arranged as the many spinoff bands and splinter albums that arose as many of the band members joined up outwith the confines of TMTCH in solo and duo ventures, and endless gigs, with every combination of band member possible. The Men was always the central defining vehicle, but everything else was tried, dropped, tweaked and tried again. Because underneath everything, these boys are troubadours, entertaining the gathered citizenry with a spring in their step and ever a song to sing.

Central to it all has always been Stefan Cush, from start to finish, top to bottom. From his busking days around West London, to hooking up with the remnants of a band who had left Southampton behind to seek fame and fortune in the big city, and onwards to squatting around Hammersmith, fortuitously hooking up with song-writing genius Paul Simmonds and finally hearing the distant call of fame and popularity. He was famously a roadie for The Pogues and others, and the band’s early history is littered with fascinating stories and tales of derring-do in the seedy underbelly of London Town.

Somehow the band never quite made it and slipped quietly from mainstream public view. They carried on regardless, one way or another, and finally I can come to my point: the music, stirring, emotional, rebellious and articulate though it is, is not what sets The Men They Couldn’t Hang apart from others. It is their openness and accessibility to their fanbase, their lack of pretension, their love of partying and their goddamned normalcy that makes them different. They show it in everything they do. Different, ironically, because they are the same. The same and you and me. That is why we love them.

Cush was the most open and accessible of them all (though Swill often gives him a good run for his money on that account). He would very often be found at the bar with the fans. At the start of the night, at the end of the night and at literally any other time possible. He was a man of the streets, the bars, the bright lights and the shaded doorways of the city. Utterly grounded and without pretension he would talk and drink with anyone. He treated everyone he met as if they were his lifelong friend. Dean Davis recounts

At the Bristol Bierkeller in 1987, the second time I saw them, I got to the front and was crushed up against the crash barrier. Cush gave me one of his grins and looked away again. But I was in a bit of trouble and when he looked back, he came down to check I was okay. And then gave me his beer! Years later when I repaid that drink, I told him it was one I owed him for that moment. He pretended he remembered; but I don’t think he did. It meant a lot.”

Stefan Cush had time for anyone and everyone. Sally Booth, one of the organisers of the Bearded Theory Festival, said

In May 2010 I was five months pregnant and looking after backstage at the Bearded Theory main stage at Kedleston Hall. Cush asked if there was somewhere selling cigs. I told him there was and offered to get him some so he gave me £10. Remember this was almost 11 years ago so there was change. When I got back and gave him his fags and change he told me to keep the change to buy baby socks because “you can never have too many baby socks”. I did buy socks with it and thought of him every time she wore them.”

Cush with bandmate Phil ‘Swill’ Odgers

For my part, I will say that every time I met Cush it was a memorable occasion. Though I had always loved and bought their music from the first moment I heard it in 1991, I had never seen them live and I didn’t know anyone else who would go to a gig with me. In 2014 the band launched a 30th Anniversary crowd-funder to finance their forthcoming album The Defiant. I signed up to record some backing vocals along with a few others and we were all invited to a backstreet studio in Shepherds Bush to watch them rehearse then record our tracks. When I turned up, Cush was the first member of the band to say hello to me. But because I hadn’t met them, I wasn’t sure who he was and replied, as I remember, rather coldly. I was so embarrassed when I realised; it has stayed with me ever since in that way embarrassing moments haunt you forever. We pledgers watched a phenomenal private gig (aka. the “rehearsal”), recorded our backing vocals for Raising Hell and then of course, retired to the pub where all the fans and the band got royally smashed to oblivion. Then the next day we did it all again for the actual 30th Anniversary gig. If you are going to meet a band for the first time, that is the way to do it.

I met Cush many times after that, sometimes in the studio for Cock-A-Hoop recording sessions, with yet more fans, all of us pledging to be there, and sometimes at gigs. The Christmas Borderline sessions alone are legendary. Though sadly the demise of that great venue put paid to that a few years ago. The evening after the Metway recording session, in a hotel Brighton, is still talked about amongst those who were there, it was a hot dirty mess! And Cush was at the centre of it all, holding court, doing what he did best, drinking hard, rabble-rousing and taking the piss out of anyone and everyone who entered his eyeline.

Because of the hated lockdown we all find ourselves in at the moment, in a sad story arc, not only was Cush the first member of The Men They Couldn’t Hang that I spoke to, he was also the last! I went to the wedding anniversary party of his friends and management, Nigel and Marianne, and there he was. “Hello Marv”, he said, “How are you doing? Have you got any fags?”. I took out my packet and offered him one. “Thanks mate”, he said, “Can I take two?”. I, looked him in the eye but of course, gave him another one. He took them both, thanked me and said goodbye, then immediately left the party with a couple of acquaintances. That was Cush, blagger-supreme, force of nature, lovable rogue and singer/songwriter in The Men They Couldn’t Hang. A more magnificent man you could never wish to meet. The world is a duller and colder place without Cush in it. RIP mate.

Words and Photos Marvey Mills, Marvellous Gig Photography.

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS 2020 READERS POLL WINNER ANNOUNCED

Well that has blown us away. To say we have been delighted with the response to this years Readers Poll is an understatement. For the first time ever over we had 1000+ votes cast. That’s an incredible 600+ more on 2020. Last years winners Mickey Rickshaw would only have placed 5th place this year! It was a three horse race right from the very beginning and we knew it was going to be a good year with over 200 votes cast in the first few hours. It stayed that way until the final day the poll was open and in the last 24 hours one band came from nowhere to sweep to victory!

The winner of the 2020 London Celtic Punks Readers Poll is (drum roll!) Aussies The G-Set with an astounding 25.4% of the votes cast. McScallywag looked odds on for victory leading from day 2 from early leaders Finnegan’s Hell. Black Water County moved into 2nd place and it stayed that way till the Aussie vote turned up. Most of the votes came from the UK with the Netherlands, Australia, Sweden, USA, Canada and France following.

The ‘other’ (the write in part) section was interesting with 22 releases gaining votes with two that I hadn’t heard (The Bonny Men and The Roughians). The Top 5 in this section were

  1. CLOVERS REVENGE – Truants And Absolution
  2. THE NEW RUFFIANS – Shenanigans
  3. 7 STOUT CLAN – 7 Stout Clan
  4. PADDY WAGGIN- Race To The Bottom
  5. BARBAR O’RHUM – Journal de B’O’R

the top three here would have all finished above Ogras in the main poll in 5th, 6th and 7th place.

So cheers for taking part in our poll and congratulations to The Go-Set. A wonderful band and proof that they mean an awful lot to a lot of people. You may not know it but they played a massive part in the existence of London Celtic Punks too so we owe them our thanks as well. Hopefully 2021 will bring all these bands the recognition they deserve and things will settle down to normal soon. You can check out the official London Celtic Punks Best Of 2020 list here. Hard to predict what the following year will be like but we do know several releases from ‘big’ bands were delayed from last year so hopefully we will see them emerge soon. Why not consider subscribing and never miss a post (the box is on the left when viewed full size) we promise not to bombard you too much!

NUMBER ONE

Buy Of Bright Futures…and Broken Pasts Download

Contact The Go-Set  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

NUMBER TWO

Buy Songs For The Wicked  Bandcamp (CD or Download)

Contact McScallywag  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

NUMBER THREE

Buy Comedies And Tragedies CD- FromTheBand  Download- Spotify  AppleMusic 

Contact Black Water County  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

*

READERS POLL 2018   READERS POLL 2019

ODDS’N’SODS. CELTIC-PUNK ROUND UP FEBUARY 2021

Our regular monthly feature of all the Celtic-Punk news that’s fit to print. Band news, record releases, videos, tours (not individual gigs though yet sadly), live streams, crowd funders etc., send it into us at londoncelticpunks@hotmail.co.uk or through the Contact Us page. All will get a mention but I need YOU to help if it’s going to work.

We kick off this months Odds’n’Sods with two London-Irish bands. The first is the latest from CLAN OF CELTS and ‘My Eternal Tomb’. Their first single in three years a haunting tune of a strickened deportee ship leaving Ireland heading towards the penal colony in Australia, with a cargo of chained prisoners getting caught in a typhoon and being hauled to the bottom of the ocean and perishing. Available on all platforms to stream and download.

Next a new song/video from one of our most favourist bands CROCK OF BONES. ‘Nothin Worse’ is an original song and it’s mighty fine of course!

So nice to hear a band that you thought had split up is still active and one of my favourite bands KITCHEN IMPLOSION from Novara in Italy have indeed been constantly releasing music since the last I heard of them the brilliant ‘Pretty Work Brave Boys!’ album from 2014. They put out an EP Analfabeta Esistenziale in 2019 and the single ‘Coprifuoco’ last year available for download for a Euro.

Scots band THE CLELANDERS formed in 2017; with three brothers and a mate of theirs, bringing together a love of Irish and Scottish Folk music and throwing in a bit of Punk and Rock. All members grew up in the small mining village of Cleland in North Lanarkshire. They’ve a load of music up on their Facebook page but soon as they can are going to be recording more. They’ve a single out ‘Favourite Son’ about local Bhoy and Celtic (and Manchester United) legend Jimmy Delaney in benefit of their local Celtic Supporters Club Charity Fund named in honour of Jimmy. The song has been played at Celtic Park and is available for download for only 99p.

More from Scotland with the new video from THE CUNDEEZ of ‘Horo Gheallaidh’ one of the highlights of their recent album Teckle An Hide. A cover of a track by fellow Scots band Peat & Diesel. Fast, thrashy guitars telling the tale of a night out in the Highlands. Brilliant!

German band THE O’REILLYS AND THE PADDYHATS have long become one of my favourite bands and they follow up last years cracking album Dogs On The Leash with a Christmas release for the single ‘Joy Of Life’ that passed us by at the time. The Bhoys kick out a ballad which they are equally good as the kick arse Celtic-Punk they more famous for.

Pogues legend Terry Woods has contributed banjo, mandolin and veillette to a new song ‘Wide Eyed Lady’ by Irish/singer songwriter LOU McMAHON. Originally released in 2010 it has been remixed, re-mastered and released as a single as part of an album release in 2021. ‘Wide Eyed Lady’ is a dark folktale that interweaves Goth-Rock with Folk, guided by mythology, folklore and fantasy.

The fantastic Texan Celtic-Punkers THE DEAD RABBITS have a new album out soon on Roach Guard Records. These guys have the best graphics in Celtic-Punk!

London based RANAGRI (pronounced Ra-na-grye) release their new single ‘Follow Me Up To Carlow’, on February 8th. Pre-release here.

If you are looking for quality Celtic-Punk and for the bargain price of absolutely nothing then Oxford based LIDDINGTON HILL have only gone and made their last three singles free to download over on their web-site.

MICK McLOUGHLIN aka ‘Mick The Busker’ has been busking along Henry street in central Dublin for the last 10 years and has finally got some songs down on disc. The Busker is his third release but his first featuring his own material. It’s available on CD from him and download from Bandcamp.

TIR NAN OG – Sing Ye Bastards (Album)

BARDS FROM YESTERDAY – Demia (EP) -See Reviews

YE BANISHED PRIVATEERS – Drawn and Quartered (EP)

JASON STIRLING AND THE BLUE MOON BAND – Locked Doors And Lost Keys (EP)

TOXIC FROGS – My Lucky Own (EP)

Remember if you want your release featured then we have to have heard it first!

A new project out of Brittany with influences sometimes trad, sometimes rock. The BRETONS collective is 15 musicians on stage evolving on stage like a storm, ready to bewitch the halls of Europe!

More from the forthcoming new Rumjacks album with the release of title song ‘Hestia’ last week. Out in early March and available for pre-order here.

The debut studio album from Jay Terrestrial and the Firepit Collective dates back to 2014 and the band continues to play and record today. Recently they have had a string of sold out dates cancelled-rearranged-cancelled- rearranged-cancelled in London due to the ‘clampdown’. Jay is better known as the singer from London Punk/Dub band the Inner Terrestrials while the Firepit Collective has become his folky side project. This album combines new arrangements of trad songs and tunes along with original material. Here Jay and Chezney Newman are joined by friends Jess Cahill, Jez Hellard, David Garner, Rosie Nobbs, Chris Bowsher and Del Wilson.

German Celtic-Punkers MUIRSHEEN DURKIN have announced a St. Patrick’s Live Stream free on Facebook. Playing live from the Sauerland Theater in Arnsberg at 6pm on Saturday 20th March. Join the FB event to reminded nearer the time.

Canadians THE PEELERS have a new album out in March called Down And Out In The City Of Saints on Stomp Records.

MacSLONS IRISH PUB RADIO have announced the next installment of their Raise Your Pint compilation album series titled Corona Sessions. They are looking for 20 bands that have recorded songs during the course of the pandemic. If you want to take part in this please contact them at raise.your.pints@macslons.com

A plug for some good friends of ours over on Facebook. The Dropkick Murphys- Fan Page and the Celtic Punk, Folk And Rock Fans are two of the best music forums on FB let alone Celtic-Punk. Ran By Fans For Fans. Just like and join in the fun!

All we need to do now is for you to help fill this page with news and remember if you are new to the London Celtic Punks blog it is easy to subscribe / follow and never miss a post. Also if anyone is interested in helping out on the reviews front then let us know via the Contact Us page.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE NEW RUFFIANS – ‘Shenanigans’ (2020)

A heady mix of traditional Celtic music and Punk for late night pubs and afternoon garden parties alike!

The New Ruffians are the type of English band that usually comes from the rolling hills of Devon or Somerset. Alcohol loving folkies playing spirited covers at 110mph and totally enjoying themselves! Instead they come from the West Midlands town of Wolverhampton home of Wolves FC, the mighty Slade and the even mightier Kevin Rowland of Dexys Midnight Runners. The New Ruffians were formed in 2015 by four multi-instrumentalist ‘Wulfrunians’, as natives are called, and have been playing a chaotic mix of traditional Irish, Celtic-Punk, vintage Ska and leftfield folk to inebriated locals since.

These are not yer typical Celtic-Punk band by any stretch of the imagination and I don’t just mean because they include a trombone player! A seasoned live band and popular on the local pub scene they recorded their first album ‘Shenanigans’ in early 2020 but thanks to you-know-what (!) wasn’t released till the end of November. Still it snuck into the London Celtic Punks Best Album list at #28.

The New Ruffians left to right: Dave Dunn – Guitar / Bass Guitar / Backing Vocals * Paul Dunn – Cajon / Bongos / Trombone / Vocals / Guitar /Banjo / Harmonica / Percussion * Daran Crook – Vocals / Guitar / Mandolin / Banjo / Cajon / Harmonica / Tin Whistle * Rich Harvey – Piano Accordion / Melodica *

Shenanigans is the bands debut release and features seventeen songs with the emphasis on covers and most of those Irish songs. Its a good selection but as usual we would have liked to have heard a few more originals but with the album lasting a 3/4’s of an hour there’s no denying you get great value for money but what about the music?

The album kicks off with ‘Wake Up’ and true to form it’s a song about being at a music festival (probably in Devon or Somerset!) and trying to get up despite a sore head. The music is acoustic guitar, accordion and thumping heavy bass line and that trombone! To say the mix is unusual is a understatement but somehow it works but it always helps to have a strong vocalist and Daran is that. Loud, perhaps a tad too loud in the mix, but if you’re looking for an album that will transport you mentally to the boozer then this is it and there is nothing wrong with that! This is followed by a bunch of covers, ‘Waxies Dargle’, the instrumental ‘Lark In The Morning’ and the lively ‘Courtin’ In The Kitchen’. These three songs pretty much sum up the band. Full of energy and passion and emphasise their link to Irish music and especially the kind made popular by The Pogues/ Dubliners.

Another new one ‘Tipsy’, a classic take on that staple of Celtic-Punk the drinking song witha unusual Ska-ish accordion beat and even featuring the gibberish chorus of

“fol deedah, fol deedah, fol deedah fol de hey fol de ho, fol de alley alley oh! Hey!”

‘Millionaires’ is a cover of Cornish buskers Phat Bollard and again is a lively song, easy to singalong to and next a bunch of Folk songs some better known than others, but all played with gusto. The Irish trad instrumentals ‘Father O’Flynn’ and Siege Of Ennis’ along with ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy’ and the Scots tune ‘Come By The Hills’ before we are treated to a couple of originals. ‘The Parkdale Jig’ is short and sweet catchy instrumental while ‘Daddy Was’ my favourite song on the album is definitely the sort of song to get your feet moving despite its sparse arrangement. The spirit of Shane and Ronnie lives on in The New Ruffians final few songs with ‘Rare Old Mountain Dew’ leading into the original ‘Merry Hell’ with more tales of drinking and its effects. Matthew O’Reilly’s ‘To The Devil With Your License’ is the longest track here and the most elaborate. Another standout while the album closes with two Celtic-Punk staples ‘All For Me Grog’ and ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’.

Not a bad effort at all by The New Ruffians. Their debut album and you get the sense they tried to cram as many of their songs onto it as possible! I think the last two were probably not needed and it would have been better to finish on the great ‘To The Devil With Your License’ but I guess they wanted to leave the album exactly how they came in. With upbeat humour and plenty of shenanigans. There is no other genre of music that fits the pub quite as much as Celtic music does and The New Ruffians are made for the pub and treating everyday as St. Patrick’s Day. This is as faithful a copy of a pub set as I think any band has managed and I bet they can’t wait to get their raucous drunken table dancing mayhem back to the pub!

(You can stream or download Shenanigans on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Shenanigans  Bandcamp (also iTunes/Apple, YouTube Music, Amazon, Spotify)

Contact The New Ruffians  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

EP REVIEW: BARDS FROM YESTERDAY – (EP)DEMIA (2021)

The first review of 2021 features the new EP from Italian band Bards From Yesterday. Five young, capable and multi-talented musicians , originally from the areas of Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta, in northern Italy have chosen to embrace an ancient and distant culture, just as the bards did, Celtic minstrels who wandered from land to land, looking for as many incredible stories to retell and entertain.

And so 2021 carries on from where 2020 left off… Nevermind we get on with it and carry on the best we can don’t we? The Bards From Yesterday emerged over the last twelve months onto the Celtic-Punk scene despite being formed originally back in 2015. With 300+ gigs behind them and two official releases: Barney! their studio debut an EP with their favourite songs and Live In Brintaal! This was the culmination of over sixty gigs across northern Italy and Switzerland, ending at the Brintaal Celtic Folk Festival where the album was recorded. The album also contains the first song entirely written by the band, ‘Johnny Is Ainm Dom (Johnny Is My Name)’. So there you go this wee site carries just a drop in the ocean of all the bands out there and it is a battle we are more than happy to keep losing as it shows the scene is in a healthy state!

On (EP)Demia they have again recorded five songs and they are all covers bar the opening track. I was a bit disappointed initially as this is a band with undoubted talent and potential so it would be nice for them to take a risk and push their own material. I am sure they are more than capable of doing it and doing it extremely well. Still that disappointment subsided when I played the EP. Instantly a band we are very fond of’s influence can be found. That of fellow Italian Celtic-Punk band Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards. Both bands strive for as authentic as possible Irish music. One of the most beautiful and powerful instruments in the world are the uileann pipes and similar to Uncle Bard they are used to tremendous effect here and they give the songs that authenticity missing from some Celtic bands. Giovanni (who also plays the flute and tin whistle here) really is an excellent player, as are all the members of this great band!

(the Bhoys blasting through three traditional polkas as recorded in their homes in quarantine during while they should have been on their St. Paddy’s Tour Of 2020. Titled ‘The Unlucky Paddy’s Set’. Enjoy)

The EP opens with the trad instrumental ‘Pali’s Jig’ and the sound of the uileann pipes is a truly wonderful thing. How their aren’t more players in the Celtic-Punk scene I don’t know as it adds so much to the songs. Here the band go ‘hell for leather’ and it just emphasises they they should try and branch out with their own material if they can write songs like this. Utterly brilliant. Next up are a couple of live favourites and Irish music staples ‘Rocky Road To Dublin’ and ‘Star Of The County Down’. Both have almost been done to death but their is no denying they are fantastic songs and really when it comes down to it I never tire of hearing them. Especially of course when they are done with a bit of flair and individuality and Bards Of Yesterday give them plenty of both. Mattia’s vocals are clear and ‘Rocky Road’ is hard enough to keep up with in your native tongue so he does a great job not missing a beat while ‘Star’ starts off nice and slow before becoming exactly what you’d expect! A nice jolly upbeat romp to bump into people on the dance floor to. Next up is the pipe heavy Irish trad tune ‘Mick O’Connor’s Reels’. The song, written by north-west London based banjo playing Mick O’Connor, is quite simply superb and has an Horslips/Planxty feel to it. It also reminded me of the great late 80’s Yorkshire band You Slosh. Turning away from from Irish music for the EP’s final track with a song titled ‘Hector The Hero’. A beautiful song and one I first heard by The Bothy Band but the Bards Of Yesterday again give it their own stamp and refuse to just give us a straight cover but do their own thing. Which is exactly how it should be! It may also be familiar to any Mickey Rickshaw fans out there! Composed by Scots fiddler James Scott Skinner to honour Major-General Hector MacDonald, who had a distinguished career in the British Army, rising up the ranks from enlisted soldier. He tragically committed suicide in 1903 in Paris.

Bards Of Yesterday from top left to right: Mattia Gavin – Vocals, Guitar * Alessandro ‘Pali’ Lovisi – Greek Bouzouki, Mandolin * Glauco Guala – Drums * Giuseppe ‘Geppo’ Mastria – Bass, backing vocals * Giovanni Davoli – Low whistle, Tin Whistle, Uilleann Pipes *

So our first review of the year and already an absolute corker. Much more trad and less ‘punk’ than Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards but cut from the same cloth as regards how they treat and play Irish (and Celtic) music. One great thing the band do is a series of videos where they play a song like ‘Drunken Sailor’ or ‘The Parting Glass’ and tell of the history of the song and how to play it. Sadly for me it’s all in Italian! The friendly links between Ireland and Italy go back further than anyone can imagine and their have been many great Italian bands who play better Celtic music than the Celts do and Bards From Yesterday could just be another one.

“We’re storytellers that tell myths and legend about alcohol and shenanigans.
From the fairy tale of the drunken sailor till the mad dance of the premier bootleggers of Connemara.”

Buy (EP)Demia  Amazon  Apple

Contact Bards Of Yesterday  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

REMEMBERING MICHAEL KILROE 1957-2021

It was with great sadness that on last Saturday morning I woke to the very sad and shocking news that Mike Kilroe had passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home in New York state. At a time when the Celtic-Punk scene was floundering Mike started the Celtic Punk, Folk And Rock Fans group on Facebook. Pleasing everyone in such a diverse scene would prove impossible but I doubt anyone else would have come as close as Mike did. His regular postings and light handed but firm management kept the group on track and would prove massively successful with the group growing to over 8,000 members. We chatted regularly about all sorts of things but what shone through our conversations was his passion and enthusiasm for music (not only Celtic-Punk) and his Irish heritage. Ireland has lost one of her own. Back in May last year I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike for this site where we talked about music, being Irish. the Irish community and sports. Besides music Mike was a massive sports fan particularly baseball and the NY Yankees. He was especially proud that his cousin pitched for them in the 1950’s. Mike was also a coach in the little leagues teaching kids for many years. He had a hard life losing his Mother as a teenager and struggled somewhat after that but found peace in nature and music and was incredibly gifted with numbers. When I did the interview he was absolutely adamant that he did not want a picture of himself to accommodate the interview. Instead he wanted the ‘My Nation My Heritage’ graphic as he thought that summed him up. This I found very endearing and yet another reason, if I needed one, to like the man! A very sad loss for the Celtic-Punk family and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

Go n-éirí an bóthar leat
Go raibh an ghaoth go brách ag do chúl
Go lonraí an ghrian go te ar d’aghaidh
Go dtite an bháisteach go mín ar do pháirceanna
Agus go mbuailimid le chéile arís,
Go gcoinní Dia i mbos A láimhe thú.

May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

HARLEM VALLEY NEWS OBITUARY

Michael J. Kilroe, Sr passed away at his home in Millbrook, NY on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at the age of 63.

A resident of Millbrook for 28 years, he was born in Sleepy Hollow, NY on April 25, 1957 and was the son of John and Jean (Haines) Kilroe.  Mike attended and graduated from Roy C. Ketcham High School.

Mike was a groundskeeper for Hallmark Farm, a horse farm in Millbrook.  He had a great passion for music and baseball and was an avid amateur ham radio operator.

He is survived by his son Michael Kilroe and his wife Nina of North Adams, MA; his grandchildren, Mia Dillmann of Centereach, NY, Max Dillmann of Kenai, AK, and Dylan Nastasi of Marietta, GA; his brother John Kilroe of Highland, NY; his former wife and close friend, Marybeth Kilroe, and step-daughter Katie Nelson, both of Pawling.

“I’m glad that we met man, it really was nice talking and I really wish there was a little more time to speak” – Lou Reed.

Thanks to Mikes cousin Karen for the wonderful photo of Mike and his daughter-in-law Nina on her wedding day.

CELTIC PUNK, FOLK AND ROCK FANS

INTERVIEW WITH MIKE KILROE FROM THE ‘CELTIC PUNK, FOLK AND ROCK FANS’ GROUP

2020 ROUND-UP’S. THE MAHONES, RUNA, ALESTORM, MAGGIES FLOCK, BARBAR O’RHUM

2020 was by and large a shitty year for music. Sure their were a few bright spots… off the top of my head the many Live Streams but it was never going to replace live gigs for the Celtic-Punk scene where live gigs are everything. Even in a year with much fewer releases we still couldn’t keep up with everything! At London Celtic Punks we pride ourselves on giving detailed and extensive reviews but sometimes this isn’t quite possible so here’s the ‘Round-Up’s’ of some of the records we missed first time round.

THE MAHONES –  ’30 Years And This Is All We’ve Got To Show For It’

Just a couple of weeks ago we reviewed the 30th anniversary album of German band Fiddlers Green and around the same time was released another album by a Celtic-Punk giant on the other side of the planet celebrating thirty years in the game this time from The Mahones. Yes 30 years. THIRTY. Hard to believe isn’t it? Popular throughout the world they have recorded eleven studio albums, two live albums, an acoustic album and a compilation marking their 25 year anniversary and have covered more miles than British Airways! Here they have carefully chosen nineteen tracks of their best from across the 30 years of their career. The album is available as a ten track vinyl release (on green!) and also on CD and download with nine bonus tracks from True North Records. As for the songs they are everything you would expect. We may have heard them all before but their really is something for everyone here as The Mahones flit from raucous Irish Punk rockers to maudlin and sad ballads. The mix of songs is perfect and the balance between the harder songs and the ballads is as well. For a band that tours as much as The Mahones do 2020 must have been a particularly difficult year for The Mahones but already with dates released for 2021 (see you in London in February!) they are well prepared to take their 31st year by the throat when it arrives.

Contact The Mahones  FacebookPage  FacebookGroup YouTube  Instagram

RUNA – ‘The Tide of Winter’

American Irish ‘supergroup’ Runa are one of the best Irish Folk/Trad bands around. This is due in no small part to the beautiful voice of lead singer Shannon Lambert-Ryan (who also plays quite a mean harp!) and that they also have the ability to weave other influences into their signature sound without you even noticing. Several LP’s in Runa have become famous on both sides of the Atlantic now and continue their path with The Tide Of Winter. Now by rights this ought to have been done pre-Christmas but it slipped the net and we ran out of time. A beautiful, at times haunting and at others spirit lifting, collection of thirteen Christmas themed songs and carols. All the favourites are here (‘In The Bleak Midwinter’, ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’, ‘Silent Night’) as well as a few new ones including a stunning version of ‘The Wexford Carol’ (also known as ‘Enniscorthy Carol’) recorded in its native Irish Gaelic.

It was in May 2019 that Runa got together for a weekend to get into the Christmas spirit and started working on arrangements for the album. Highlights beyond those already mentioned include the track ‘Instrumental’ which features the songs ‘Hark the Herald / Dixie Hoedown / Red Prairie Dawn / O Come Emmanuel / Road to Cashel’ seamlessly joined together with some amazing musical work from Fionán, Chery, Caleb and Jake. One for next Christmas I suppose but hopefully by then Runa’s joyous album really will be something to celebrate.

Buy The Tide of Winter  CD- FromTheBand  Download- Here

Contact Runa  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

ALESTORM – ‘Curse Of the Crystal Coconut’

From traditional Christmas folk music now to Heavy Metal! Founded in 2004 in Perth, Scotland by Christopher Bowes Alestorm are one of the pioneers and certainly the leading light of Pirate Metal! Basically the combination of Heavy Rock/Metal and Pirate music. Now Pirate music is often confused with Celtic music and for good reason too. The similarities are obvious to anyone with a pair of ears with plenty of the same melodies (and even some of the same songs) criss-crossing the genres. Alestorm have been together for fourteen years and they may have toned down the Metal side of their music a little but their popularity seems set to continue with this their sixth album. Now I don’t claim to know much about this genre but it does seem to be growing and their have been a few high profile gigs in London over the last couple of the years with Alestorm headlining some of the towns biggest venues. Released in May on Napalm Records and recorded in Thailand this is as good a place as any to start if this genre interests you. Songs like ‘Treasure Chest Party Quest’, ‘Fannybaws’ and ‘Pirate’s Scorn’ give you an idea but it is the epic eight minute ‘Wooden Leg Pt. 2 (The Woodening)’ that really stood out for me showing there’s more to Alstorm than gimmick.

Contact Alestorm  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram

MAGGIE’S FLOCK – Party At The Cemetery

The debut release from Dutch Celtic-Folk-Rockers Maggie’s Flock. The six-piece band from Nijmegen / Arnhem that play a style of music that veers from Celtic-Rock to traditional Folk with more than a little Celtic twist. The band had the novel idea to release a video/song a month on You Tube from January 2020 through to December and then compile the songs into an album and release it. We have tracked these videos over the last year and it really is worth checking them (the Party At The Cemetery YouTube play-list) out yourselves as the work the band put into them deserves it. So quite a novel idea in quite the ‘novel’ year! The Netherlands has quite the cool Celtic scene and one of our gigs last year that Covid killed off was a Dutch Celtic-Punk double-header with Pyrolysis and The Royal Spuds. Musically Maggies Flock come across to me as a ‘mature’ Dropkick Murphys. I mean the Dropkicks sound of recent rather than their punky years. Catchy, tuneful songs with chugging guitars and superb whistles and accordion. ‘The album opener ‘The Poguey Club’ is one of the many highlights here and you can tell this album has not been rushed into. The idea of releasing a song a month has worked perfectly here as the balance of songs is great and the music is not solely Celtic veering into more Folk-Rock/Punk at times. Personally I love me Tipp songs so I especially loved ‘Travelling Laddie’ but the fast ‘Bored Beyond Death’ is sure to get the toes tapping.

A lot of effort then and not just in the music with the vinyl version coming in a luxurious fold-out cover with all the lyrics while the CD has an extensive 24 page illustrated booklet.

Buy Party At The Cemetary – Vinyl/CD FromTheBand

Contact Maggie’s Flock  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

BARBAR’O’RHUM – Journal de B’O’R

Drawing in inspiration from sea-shanties, traditional music, Celtic-Rock and Celtic-Punk, Irish-Punk and Folk-Metal, Barbar’O’Rhum inhabit an area that sits somewhere between Alestorm and The Mahones. Founded in 2014 in the South-West Of France the band offer up their own style of music they call ‘Rock ‘n’ Rhum’. The musical style here owes much to theatrics making them more a band you would want to witness live but they have captured the sound of the band here rather well and also the atmosphere too which I would think is a lot harder. From beginning to end it’s an accessibly joyful Punk Rock stomp from album opener ‘Pirate des Champs’ which brings in some offbeat but delightful influences to eight minute epic ‘Freres de Bitte’ which brings down the curtain on the album and manages to capture all the various parts of Barbar’O’Rhum in one bombastic theatrical campy triumph. Yet in a album that lasts over an hour and the majority of the songs are around the five minute mark it’s that opening track that stand outs head and shoulders and one listen to that will tell you all you need to know about whether you would like this album or not. Me I fecking loved it!

Contact Barbar O’Rhum  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

So their you go our ‘last’ post of 2020. Apologies to all the bands that we weren’t able to give each album the full London Celtic Punks treatment but was just not possible this time. Remember if you are in a band then we cant do a review if we haven’t heard your release!

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THE CELTIC PUNKCAST 2020 TOP TEN

It’s January so time for the yearly retrospectives. Ours is due in a fortnight but in the meantime here’s a special edition of the Celtic Punkcast and their Top Ten Celtic-Folk-Punk  of 2020. Follow the link below and stream live or download to listen to later and enjoy!

Hello friends! Welcome to 2021! I think we can all agree that although 2020 was an absolute shit show of massive proportions, it did give us some fantastic music for us to listen to while in various states of lockdown. Here’s the Celtic Punkcast’s best of list for the year, I hope you guys like it and let me know what your favourites were on the socials. Here’s to a better 2021 and here’s the 10 best of 2020:

10 – THE LANGERS BALL – ‘APPETITE FOR TRADITION’

The Humours Of Glendart/The Lilting Banshee/The Connaught Mans Rambles’

9 – ALESTORM – ‘CURSE OF THE CRYSTAL COCONUT’

‘Pirate Metal Drinking Crew’

8 – THE O’REILLY’S AND THE PADDYHATS – ‘DOGS ON THE LEASH’

‘Beautiful Fear’

7 – BLACK ANEMONE – ‘CHASING THE SUN’

‘Drinking On A Sunday’

6 – THE REAL McKENZIES – ‘BEER AND LOATHING’

‘Death Of The Winnipeg Scene’

5 – THE DEAD MAGGIES – ‘MORE THAN JUST GHOSTS’

‘The Tale Of Martin Cash’

4 – THE MUCKERS – ‘IRISH GOODBYE’

‘Building Up And Tearing England Down’

3 – GRASS MUD HORSE – ‘BEIJING BIKINI’

‘It Makes Me Feel Alive’

2 – OGRAS – ‘NO LOVE IN THE CITY’

‘Showmens Rest’

And the number one album of 2020 is…

1 – THE GO SET – ‘OF BRIGHT FUTURES…AND BROKEN PASTS’

‘Sleepy Little Town’

CELTIC PUNKCAST BEST OF 2020

Contact The Celtic Punkcast  Facebook  WebSite  Shop  Twitter  E-Mail

Check out the London Celtic Punk interview with Gareth the ‘Podmaster’ here and find out what possessed him to join the #OneBigCelticPunkFamily. Also worth checking out was the special article written by Gareth for people who haven’t yet experienced the joys of Celtic-Punk- Bring Your Mates To The Hooley: A Starter’s Guide To Celtic-Punk here. In August 2010 they did a Special Edition to celebrate our tenth anniversary with a episode dedicated to the bands here that helped form and shape the London Celtic Punks from 2009-2019.

REMEMBER TO TUNE BACK IN ON JANUARY 17th WHEN THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS BEST OF 2020 LISTS ARE REVEALED!!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM LONDON CELTIC PUNKS. 2020… THE STATISTICS

Well not much to say about 2020 is there. The pandemic and the subsequent lockdown was a disaster for music in general but for Celtic-Punk especially. In a genre where bands have many more members than ordinary bands it was harder to get together and with the cancellation of gigs its been even harder. Still though we have got through it and finally the light at the end of the tunnel is not the light of an oncoming train (for now!). During 2020 we here at London Celtic Punks have published a whopping 122 posts which is the most we ever had in a year. It’s also the fifth year in a row our number of posts has increased. Most of these posts have been reviews and we also introduced the popular Odds’n’Sods feature making us the only place to find out what’s going on in the Celtic-Punk world. We have again had fantastic feedback from bands that our reviews have had a positive effect on music sales and things like Facebook Likes so we’re even more grateful that you seem to be listening and acting upon our recommendations.

TOP TEN COUNTRIES VIEWING

(2013/2014/2015/2016/2017/2018/2019 in brackets)

1. United Kingdom ( (1/1/1/1/1/1/1)

2. USA (2/2/2/2/2/2/2)

3. Ireland (4/7/4/4/5/4/3)

4. Germany (7/3/3/3/3/3/4)

5. Canada  (6/6/7/8/9/5/5)

6. Spain (8/8/6/7/6/8/8)

7. Italy (9/10/9/8/9/9/9)

8. Australia (5/4/8/6/7/7/6)

9. France (3/5/5/5/4/6/7)

10. Norway (29/22/18/19/26/23/18)

11. Netherlands 12. Sweden 13.Belgium 14. Indonesia 15. Finland 16. Japan 17. Czech Republic 18. Brazil 19. Switzerland 20. Poland

To go to the relevant article/review simply click on green link.

TOP TEN ARTICLES VIEWED

We tried during 2020 to steer the site away from just doing reviews and we achieved that somewhat as you can see from our top ten. Thanks to all who contributed and we welcome articles so please get in touch.

1. The Day The Fighting Irish Took On The Ku Klux Klan

2. London Celtic Punks Presents The Best Of 2019

3. Let The Music Keep Your Spirits High – Part One

4. Pogue Laurete – The Lyrics Of Shane MacGowan

5. The Irish Soldiers Of Mexico In Film And Song

6. The Best Song Ever Written

7. ‘Return To Camden’ by Terence O’Flaherty

8. Top Ten Anti-War Songs

9. Let The Music Keep Your Spirits High – Part Two

10. Film Review: Clash Of The Ash

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TOP TEN MUSIC REVIEWS VIEWED

1. UNCLE BARD AND THE DIRTY BASTARDS – ‘The Men Beyond The Glass’
2. OGRAS – ‘No Love In The City’
3. KRAKIN’ KELLYS – ‘Burn Your Flag’
4. THE POGUES – ‘BBC Sessions 1984 – 1986
5. BATALLON DE SAN PATRICIO – ‘Hermanos De Guerra’
6. PADDY WAGGIN – ‘Race To The Bottom’
7. 1916 – ‘Meant To Be’
8. THE MAHONES – ‘Unplugged’
10. PADDY MURPHY – ‘Rams Rebels Goats And Girls’
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2013 THE STATISTICS 2014 THE STATISTICS * 2015 THE STATISTICS * 2016 THE STATISTICS * 2017 STATISTICS * 2018 STATISTICS * 2019 THE STATISTICS *

Despite 2020’s problems (!) live music continued to come out and this Christmas has seen a flurry of releases the like of which we have never seen before and as we never like to miss a chance to give you some new music so here’s Rover MacChroi, better known as The Irish Rover- the essential Irish Punk singer and lyricist and his brand new track based on you know what!

IRISH ROVER – Fairytale Of Cov!d Flu

Irish Rover  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube 

REMEMBER TO TUNE BACK IN ON JANUARY 17th WHEN THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS BEST OF 2020 LISTS ARE REVEALED!!!

ODDS’N’SODS. CELTIC-PUNK ROUND UP JANUARY 2021

In a attempt to get away from just doing ‘ReviewReviewReviewReview…’ we started a monthly feature of all the Celtic-Punk news that passed us by. All will get a mention but I need YOU to help if it’s going to work. Any band news, record releases, videos, tours (not individual gigs though yet sadly), live streams, crowd funders etc., send it into us at londoncelticpunks@hotmail.co.uk or through the Contact Us page.

In case you missed this month has seen a flurry of Celtic-Punk Christmas song releases from across the world. Anti-Depresants from Ireland, Grass Mud Horse from China, The Feelgood McLouds from Germany, Batallón De San Patricio from Mexico, Nova Scotia’s Stanfields and London’s very own Clan Of Celts all putting out new songs and videos in time for Christmas Day. These were featured in a special post just after Christmas Day so if you missed it then click below to find it.

NEW CHRISTMASSY CELTIC-PUNK SONGS FROM MEXICO, GERMANY, CHINA, IRELAND AND LONDON

One band that would have featured in that post was London’s MAN THE LIFEBOATS Crimbo song ‘Whisky For Christmas’. Sadly I didn’t hear it until recently so be happy I could sneak it in here.

..by the way that aint how you spell whiskey!!

A compilation release of northern Irish Oi!/Punk/Ska/Reggae bands in the memory of Desi Cush and Colin Riot. Dancing With The Fallen normally organise a charity all-dayer but as the pandemic has ground everything to a halt it was decided to raise money through a compilation of bands that would normally be on the festivals bill.

LORETTA PROBLEM are back with another wonderful song and video (please take the time to watch their 2019 smash hit The Waltz Of My Drunken Dream featuring Juha Lagström on vocals. As close to Poguesy perfection as anyone has ever got!). 30 years old this year this bunch of Finnish Punks and Celts just keep on getting better and better and just to prove it ‘Another Kind Of Love Song’ is a remake of one of the songs from an LP they made about 25 years ago.

A new Folk release from DECLAN MILLAR recorded in the back of a caravan with a 30 year old microphone. Produced and recorded by Jay Terrestrial from Punk/Dub legends the Inner Terrestrials. As Jay says

“This LP is about one bard with his voice and instrument, grass roots and no frills. I’m really impressed with the result, the man’s still in his early 20’s and is a songsmith with a voice that speaks from the heart.”

Boston singer/ songwriter BRYAN McPHERSON has a new double album in the planning stage titled How to Draw Everything provisionally set for release in September 2021. You can get on board at the very beginning by checking out the Kickstarter Campaign and pledging. Therefore keeping Bryan out of the hands of record company vultures!

KIRK McLEOD of the bloomin’ brilliant Celtic-Rock band SEVEN NATIONS has a solo album out. He has released A Time For Pilots earlier than expected and even though I’ve not heard it I am sure it will be his usual brilliance. The album is available on his website now, and will be available on streaming services soon!

Official video for the new song ‘Away’ by IRISH STEW OF SINDIDUN from Belgrade, Serbia. Founded in 2003 this band is massive at home and are one of the best known bands in Eastern Europe.  ‘Away is their first release from their album, City of Grigs.

CALLUM HOUSTON fresh from his two summer London Celtic Punks Live Streams is still knocking them out the ball park and he recently recorded The Pogues highly under rated classic ‘Tranmetropolitan’. Callum is back playing live gigs in Brittany so give him a shout if you’re nearby.

MAGGIES FLOCK – Party at the Cemetery

THE MAHONES – 30 Years and This Is All We’ve Got To Show For It …

DROPKICK MURPHYS – ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’ Single

DROPKICK MURPHYS – ‘I Wish You Were Here’ Single

Remember if you want your release featured then we have to have heard it first!

Now not only is the accordion the backbone of Irish music but also of Celtic-Punk as well and their are plenty of fantastic players around but I only recently came across the album Roaring Accordion by STRANGELY. He is based in Bellingham, Washington and plays oddball Folky drinking songs. Think along the lines of a higher pitched pirate Tom Waits with Celtic roots. Strangely performs this music usually as part of a solo show that incorporates theatre and comedy and is joined here by a whole host of mates.

THE RUMJACKS recorded an acoustic version of their new song ‘Sainted Millions’. The proper version will feature on their new album Hestia. Out next March and available for pre-order now.

Dutch Celtic-Folk-Punk band MAGGIES FLOCK recently performed for the on-line People 4 Music Festival which has now been uploaded onto You Tube.

Absolutely stunning new video for ‘I’m Free’ taken from THE CELTIC SOCIAL CLUB album From Babylon To Avalon which we reviewed recently and heartily loved.

A plug for some good friends of ours over on Facebook. The Dropkick Murphys- Fan Page and the Celtic Punk, Folk And Rock Fans are two of the best music forums on FB let alone Celtic-Punk. Ran By Fans For Fans. Just like and join in the fun!

All we need to do now is for you to help fill this page with news and remember if you are new to the London Celtic Punks blog it is easy to subscribe / follow and never miss a post. Also if anyone is interested in helping out on the reviews front then let us know via the Contact Us page.

NEW CHRISTMASSY CELTIC-PUNK SONGS FROM IRELAND, CHINA, GERMANY, CANADA, LONDON AND MEXICO

Well that’s it. Christmas is over and done with and hopefully you all had a festively good time despite everything.  BUT if you are still in need of some good cheer though then wait no more as we here’s a selection of six brand new 2020 Christmas-ish Celtic-Punk songs for you to delight over.

Craic open what’s left of the Jamesons and enjoy!

ANTI-DEPRESANTS – ‘If It’s Gonna Be Cold’

Anti Depresants are four piece Rock‘n’ Roll band coming from the hills of Armagh in the north of Ireland with a lot of Punk attitude an’ a sprinklin’ of Ska to get your ass movin’, your heart beatin’ and your mind racin’ with their diverse sound embracing heavy rock, reggae, male and female vocals and blistering guitar work.

Contact Anti Depresants  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp

GRASS MUD HORSE – ‘Christmas Time In China’

Possibly the busiest band in Celtic-Punk this year (and definitely the busiest on these pages!!) Grass Mud Horse have been making, and releasing, music throughout the ‘clampdown’ to us lucky folk. Led by award-winning musician Chris Barry, a Scouser living in Qinhuangdao, China. They blend together the traditional Folk sound of Chris ancestors in Ireland with an distinctly raw and untamed Punk-Rock energy. 2020 while being quite the lame year has seen Grass Mud Horse become quite the name on the Celtic-Punk scene with their last single released dually across North America by Paddyrock and Europe by us! The song is available for download over on Bandcamp for next to nothing.

Contact Grass Mud Horse  WebSite  Facebook   YouTube

THE FEELGOOD McLOUDS – ‘Driving Home For Christmas’

St. Nicholas is on his way and The Feelgood McLouds have come up with a little present for you. Are you bored of long dark winter nights without pubs and concerts? Then here’s the solution the brand new Christmas song from these fantastic German Celtic-Punkers. Imagine if the Dubliners were only in their mid-twenties, very, very thirsty and had discovered punk for themselves. Then punk rock anthems would merge with bagpipes, banjo, tin whistle and accordion, there would be a good smell of beer and whiskey and sweat would drip from the ceiling. And that’s exactly what The Feelgood McLouds is all about. With their energetic punk rock show, the 6 Saarlanders make every concert room shake and everyone to empty their beer glass. In a nutshell: Sounding like NOFX and the Dropkick Murphys are meeting in an Irish pub for an endless party!

Contact The Feelgood McLeods  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

THE STANFIELDS – ‘(I’ll Stay Home) With Bells On

The Stanfields trod a well trodden path to 2020 from the Seahorse Tavern in their hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia to where they are now. Their trajectory from full on their Celtic-Punk to “the bastard child of AC/DC and Stan Rogers” where their music blends Working Class Hard-Rock with the many strands of Folk that make up traditional Canadian music with much of it heavily influenced by Scotland and Ireland. Here they massacre pay tribute to the great Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers song. Stanfields front man John is joined by his Mrs Shannon on this cheeky number that follows on from our review just a couple of weeks ago of their fantastic new album Welcome To The Ball.

Contact The Stanfields  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

CLAN OF CELTS- ‘A Christmas Quarantine’

Fusing together all their musical experiences & influences ranging from, Rock, Metal, Country, Punk, Classical and of course traditional Irish. Clan Of Celts have created a unique style and an unmistakable sound that is brought to you with Celtic pride, passion, commitment and respect for our traditional roots. The new team on the London Celtic-Punk scene bring you a classic cheesy Christmas song out now and available to download through Spotify and all decent streaming services. Will they ever complete the interview I sent them? Who knows what 2021 will bring!!!

Contact Clan Of Celts WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Soundcloud

BATALLON DE SAN PATRICIO – ‘F*ck Merry Christmas And F*ck You’

And finally the new single from Mexican Celtic-Punk newcomers Batallón De San Patricio. Why they got such a downer on Christmas is anyone’s guess but ding-dong merrily on high here it is anyway! It’s been a busy year for these guys with a hit album Hermanos de Guerra under their belts as well as making themselves known right across the Celtic-Punk world. The band’s name comes from the famed St. Patrick’s Battalion (see The Irish Soldiers Of Mexico In Film And Song). A group of immigrants, mainly of Irish descent, who deserted from the US Army because of anti-Catholic bigotry and went to fight for the Mexican Army during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). It’s a tale of great adventure and heroic valour. Batallón de San Patricio were formed in 2017 in Guadalajara and right from the start the idea was to pay tribute to their namesakes. In many ways the name was a obvious choice for a band whose chief aim was to play Celtic-Punk mixing Irish and Mexican culture.

Contact Batallón De San Patricio  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

So that’s almost it for 2020. Tune in on Wednesday for our final post of the year. A fun packed Odd’n’Sods – Celtic Punk Round Up full of the most recent videos and news from around the scene.

CELEBRATING A CELTIC CHRISTMAS 2020. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS FAMILY

Each December we pick the best Christmas themed song we’ve heard that year to showcase in our end of year message. Their was a time when it was a easy choice but over the years its become quite common, so much so that we will have a special feature on 2020’s Celtic-Punk Christmas songs on St. Stephen’s Day (or Boxing Day to you Brits!).

Celtic-Punk is about embracing the traditions of the past and bringing them to the present so you also get a chance to check out the Christmas customs from each of the Celtic nations. 

The PoguestrA – ‘Fairytale Of New York’

The PoguestrA have created a rendition of Fairytale of New York that includes an amazing 71 musicians from around the world. The PoguestrA community was established in May 2020 during the lockdown with musicians playing together remotely. While we agree with Shane with regards the changing of the words the song still packs a punch. If you are interested in joining the PoguestrA for future songs then get in touch with the gang viaYouTube orFacebook

CELEBRATING A CELTIC CHRISTMAS

According to long standing theory, the origins of Christmas stems from pagan winter festivals. One main reason early Christians were able to spread their religion across Europe so quickly came from their willingness to embrace celebrations already common among regional populations. One such example is the Celtic ‘Alban Arthuan’, a Druidic festival that took place around December 21st. the Winter Solstice. This traditional fire festival celebrated the re-birth of the Sun. Although a celebration of the Son’s birth replaced that of the Sun’s, still a number of ancient Celtic Christmas traditions remain today.

As we look across the Celtic nations, it is interesting to note some similarities among Christmas traditions that cross geographic boundaries. They include, for example: Holly (a symbol of rebirth among Pagan Celts, but also of hospitality—it was believed fairies sought shelter inside the evergreen leaves to escape the cold); Mistletoe (believed to have healing powers so strong that it warded off evil spirits, cured illnesses and even facilitated a truce between enemies); fire and light (most notably the Yule log or candles placed in windows to light the way for strangers and symbolically welcoming Mary and Joseph); and door-to-door processions, from wassailing to Wren Hunts.

Each of the seven nations possesses its own variations of Celtic Christmas customs. Surrounding cultures and local identify shape theses practices as well.

SCOTLAND

Christmas was not officially recognized in Scotland for nearly four centuries. The Puritan English Parliament banned Christmas in 1647 and it did not become a recognized public holiday in Scotland until 1958. However, according to Andrew Halliday, in his 1833 piece Christmas in Scotland, Scots were not discouraged from celebrating Christmas. Halliday wrote

“We remember it stated in a popular periodical, one Christmas season not long ago, that Christmas-day was not kept at all in Scotland. Such is not the case; the Scots do keep Christmas-day, and in the same kindly Christian spirit that we do, though the Presbyterian austerity of their church does not acknowledge it as a religious festival”

Halliday’s 19th century account went on to describe festive sowens (sweetened oat gruel) ceremonies, “beggars” (actually “strapping fellows”) singing yule song, dances and card parties and children’s teetotum games. Despite Puritan rule, some long-time Christmas traditions are preserved. These include burning the Cailleach (a piece of wood carved to look like an old woman’s face or the Spirit of Winter) to start the new year fresh; or on Christmas Eve burning rowan tree branches to signify the resolution of any disputes. The Celtic tradition of placing candles in windows was also done in Scotland to welcome “first footers” (strangers, bearing a small gift) into the home. Traditional dishes also continue to be featured at Christmas lunch and throughout the holidays, including Cock-a-Leekie soup, smoked salmon, beef or duck, Clootie dumplings, black buns, sun cakes, Christmas pudding and Crannachan.

Because Christmas was not an official holiday until the late ‘50s it is no surprise that today, for some Scots, Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) is the most important event of the season. Arguably, locals ring in the new year with much more gusto than any other place on the planet.

IRELAND

An Autumn clean up was a common practice in Irish homes to prepare for Christmas. Women looked after cleaning the interior, while men took care of the outdoors, including whitewashing all exterior surfaces. Then holly, grown wild in Ireland, was spread throughout the house with cheer. Contemporary Ireland also highlights this clean-up ritual; once complete, fresh Christmas linens are taken out of storage.

Other customs include the Bloc na Nollaig or Christmas Block (the Irish version of the Yule log), candles in the window (perhaps one for each family member), and leading up to Christmas, ‘Calling the Waites’ where musicians would wake up townspeople through serenades and shouting out the morning hour. Christmas Eve Mass is still a grand affair; a time for friends and family to reconnect. It is not uncommon for churchgoers to end up at the local pub after service to ring in Christmas morn. On Christmas Day, traditional dishes include roast goose or ham and sausages, potatoes (such as champ), vegetables (such as cabbage with bacon) and plum pudding, whiskey, Christmas cake and barmbrack (currant loaf) for sweets. Traditionally on December 26th, St. Stephen’s Day, Wren Boys with blackened faces, carrying a pole with a dead bird pierced at the top, tramped from house to house. Today the custom sometimes sees children caroling throughout the neighbourhood to raise money for charity. It is also quite common to go out visiting on this day.

WALES

Music was and still is a major part of Welsh holidays. Plygain is a Christmas day church service, traditionally held between three and six in the morning featuring males singing acapella in three or four-part harmonies. While today this may be mainly practised in rural areas, Eisteddfodde (caroling) is abundantly popular in homes, door-to-door and as part of annual song-writing competitions.

Dylan Thomas’ story ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’ is renowned around the world. An excerpt offers a glimpse of a traditional Welsh festive season:

“Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang ‘Cherry Ripe’ and another uncle sang ‘Drake’s Drum’… Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-coloured snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night”

Other intriguing Welsh traditions include toffee making; drinking from a communal wassail bowl of fruit, spices, sugar and beer; children visiting homes on New Year’s Day looking for their Callenig gift; and Mary Lwyd (Grey Mare) featuring wassail singers going door-to-door carrying a horse’s skull and challenging residents in a contest of mocking rhymes.

ISLE OF MAN

Carolling also holds a special place in Manx Christmas celebrations, but traditionally an unconventional twist characterized it. On Christmas Eve, large numbers attended church for Carval. While the congregation sang, all of a sudden women would begin the traditional food fight, having peas on hand to throw at their male counterparts! Accounts from the 1700s and 1800s describe 12 days of non-stop Christmas celebrations where every barn was filled with dancers accompanied by fiddlers the local parish hired. The Reverend John Entick recorded in 1774

“On the twelfth day the fiddler lays his head on one of the women’s laps, which posture they look upon as a kind of oracle. For one of the company coming up and naming every maiden in the company, asks the fiddler, who shall this or that girl marry? And whatever he answers it is absolutely depended on as an oracle”

As in Celtic fashion, Hunting the Wren processions occurred on the Isle of Man and today the practice is going through a revival, characterized by costumes, singing and dancing.

Other Manx customs include Mollag Bands, wearing eccentric clothing, swinging a mollag (fishing float) and demanding money (a practice since outlawed); the kissing bush (a more elaborate ornament than a sprig of mistletoe); and Cammag, a sport that originated on the Isle of Man traditionally played on December 26th and/or Easter Monday. In older times but even as recently as the early 20th century, Christmas decorations were not taken down until Pancake Tuesday (when they were burnt under the pancake pan). Now holiday décor tends to be packed away on Old Christmas (January 6th).

CORNWALL

As a result of Oliver Cromwell banning Christmas, authentic holiday carols began to fade through much of Britain. However, throughout the 1800’s, Cornish composers and collectors sparked a revival of local Christmas song.Certain carols well-known around the world, such as Hark the Herald Angels and While Shepherds, are credited to Cornish origins.

“Contrary to the effect Methodism might have had on the English carollers, in Cornwall its impact was to stimulate song,” states the Cornwall Council (Cornish Christmas Carols – Or Curls, 2011). “In those areas where Methodism was strongest, music and signing had their greatest appeal, and notably so at Christmas. The singers would practice in chapels and school-rooms, some of them walking miles to be there”

Today, Cornwall erupts in festivals, fairs and markets during the holidays. The Montol Festival in Penzance (named for Montol Eve on December 21st) is a six-day celebration highlighting many Cornish traditions. These include Mummers plays, lantern processions, Guise dancing (participants dress in masks and costume, such as mock formal dress, to play music and dance).

Montol is also the time for burning the Mock (yule log). A stickman or woman is drawn on the block of wood with chalk. When the log burns, it symbolizes the death of the old year and birth of the year to come.

BRITTANY

Brittany boasts a wealth of folklore and supernatural beliefs around Christmas time. Christmas Eve was known as a night of miraculous apparitions from fairies to Korrigans, and at midnight, for just a brief moment, waters in the wells would turn into the most sweet-tasting wine. It was also at midnight, when families were either at mass or in bed, that ghosts would surface; traditionally food was left out for deceased loved ones just in case they visited.

During the holidays, Christmas markets come alive in many Breton towns vending hand-made crafts and toys, baked cakes and bread and ingredients for Christmas dinner. You can also buy Gallette des Rois at stalls, as well as bakeries, which is traditionally eaten on January 6th (Epiphany). A tiny figurine (the fève) is hidden inside the puff pastry cake; the person who finds the figurine in their piece gets to be king or queen for the day and wear a crown. Another special tradition through all of France is a meal after Christmas Eve’s midnight mass, called Réveillon. Specifically in Britany, the traditional dish for this occasion is buckwheat crêpes with cream.

GALICIA

Galicia has its own unique Christmas gift-bearer that pre-dates Christianity. He is called Apalpador, a giant who lives in the mountains. For Christmas, he descends into the villages below to make sure each child has a full belly. He brings treats, such as chestnuts, and well wishes for a year full of delicious sustenance. While Apalpador may not be widely observed in Galicia, his legend is seeing a revival.

Food is very important during the Galician holidays, featuring at least two feasts (on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Not surprisingly, seafood is on the menu, including lobster, prawns, shrimp, sea bass, and cod with garlic and paprika sauce. Other culinary delights consist of cured meat, cheese and bread, roast beef with vegetables and for dessert tarta de Santiago (almond cake), filloas (stuffed pancakes) and turrones (nougats). The children of anticipate the coming of the Three Kings or Magis by filling their shoes and leaving them outside on Epiphany Eve, January 5th. Many Galician’s communities also parade on the 5th.

So there you have it the old traditions just like the traditional music we all love live on…

Nollick Ghennal as Blein Vie Noa (Manx Gaelic)

Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath ùr (Scottish Gaelic)

Nollaig Shona Dhuit agus Bliain Nua Fe Mhaise (Irish Gaelic)

Nedeleg Laouen na Bloavezh Mat  (Breton)

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda (Welsh)

Nadelik Lowen ha Bledhen Nowyth Da (Cornish)

Further Christmas themed fun with this London Celtic Punks Top Twenty

GET IN THE FESTIVE SPIRIT WITH THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS CHRISTMAS CELTIC PUNK TOP-TWENTY!

CLICK HERE

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Now go have a drink…

ALBUM REVIEW: CELT AND PIPER – ‘No Mercy’ (2020)

Breton Celtic-Punk group Celt And Piper unleash their debut album No Mercy. Eight songs of bagpipe heavy rocking Celtic music!

What could be a more Celtic band name than Celt And Piper I wonder? Answers on a postcard please but this newish band from Nantes in Brittany (NOT France) certainly nail their colours to the wall and their debut release No Mercy has to be one of the most authentic ‘Celtic’ Celtic-Punk releases of 2020.

Most of the band have played together before Celt & Piper so an actual start date is a bit vague but they reckon on October 2018. Put together by lead singer Fabien and his drummer brother Hervé who had both plenty of experience playing in native Breton and Celtic bands. Joined by Alain, Jean Jacques, Maxime and Jonathan the band was not only complete but every base was covered and looking for a name that conveyed ‘celtitude’ that also had a bit of an memorable and original feel to it and so they settled on Celt & Piper. Gig offers flooded in and the Celt & Piper sound was soon heard at home from Nantes to the Côtes d’Armor moors and Penn Ar Bed while also crossing the border into Vendée, Paris and even eastern France. Their march was sadly soon halted by the dreaded ‘clampdown’ and like a lot of bands whose major concern is playing live they decided to record instead and on the evidence here I’m very glad they did and look forward to a few more too.

https://youtu.be/87dJlpyzIP8

No Mercy begins with ‘Go Hard Or Go Home’ with AC/DC style guitars followed in quick succession by bagpipes it’s a real foot tapper about a St. Patrick’s Day night out in a Irish pub.

“Go hard or go home you’re all in a Irish pub”

Not clear if this is a Irish pub or Ireland or Brittany but as they are all closed anyway at the moment it don’t matter so much. Fabien’s vocals remind me instantly of Jesse from legendary Baltimore Irish Celtic-Punk band the Charm City Saints. A kind of hoarse growl that gives the music a Punky edge and with the pattern set by the opening track Celt & Piper continue in the vein with firm Irish Folk favourite ‘The Wild Rover’. It’s impossible not to think of this song as a rabble rouser. We use to sing this in school music lessons as it was one of only a handful of songs they could get the boys to sing as we could beat up the desks with our fists in the chorus! Here it’s Jonathan’s fiddle that leads things along as Celt & Piper breathe new life into this well known song.

‘It’s Gone Again’ is up next and you can hear influences from across the Rock scene here with the song taking in several genres. Catchy as hell with some cool chugging guitar work and piping. Title track ‘No Mercy’ is my standout track here though the album is a good mix of covers and originals it’s always the original songs that get my juices flowing and their is of course nothing like the sound of bagpipes to stir the blood and in Maxime they have a superb piper.

‘The Last Day’ starts off as another Dropkicks/AC/DC flavoured but has several Folky interludes along the way. Time for another trad Folk song and the raucous ‘All For Me Grog’ may have started off as a sailor’s song before being adopted by the Irish. Made popular by the Dubliners the song tells of a man who sells everything, and even his wife, to buy drink and tobacco. As is the way in Irish music a man’s life is ruined by drink but the song is celebratory rather than regretful. Celt & Piper play in ‘pub style’ win a ska-ish style. Great fun and nice to hear this standard done in a unusual manner. The pipes reign again during ‘Brace Yourselves’ and No Mercy comes to an end with the brilliant Irish Folk standard ‘The Foggy Dew’. Nowadays quite common on the Celtic-Punk scene (any idea who was the first to record their version of it?) not many songs suit being ‘punked’ up like this one. Celt & Piper again give it a respectful thrashing and once again the superb piping takes it to another level. A great way to end proceedings.

No Mercy came out on November 1st and was mixed at Garage Hermétique in Rezé by Nico and Pierre who have done a fantastic job. Only eight songs but still over thirty minutes, Celt & Piper have produced a great record here though I would like to hear more of their own compositions as they are the standout tracks here for me. For lovers of harder edged blue-collar style Celtic-Punk and bagpipes Celt & Piper have leapt into the list of best European bands with No Mercy and I can’t wait to hear more.

(you can stream or download No Mercy on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy No Mercy  FromTheBand

Contact Celt And Piper  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

DECEMBER EPISODE OF THE CELTIC PUNKCAST #43 OUT NOW! CHRISTMAS SPECIAL IV

“It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid, at Christmas time, we let in light and we banish shade”
Yes ding dong merrily on high it’s Christmas and time for the new Celtic Punkcast and an hour of the best Celtic-Folk-Punk out there. Follow the link below and stream live or download to listen to later and enjoy!

Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas ya punks! Welcome to the fourth annual Celtic Punkcast Christmas Special! I have some stuff I’ve never played and also some suggestions of some other stuff you may have heard in the past from some of you lovely people out there on the socials, so grab yourself some eggnog and unwrap this festive gift for your ears!

ALTERNATIVE ULSTER – ‘Ode To Joy’

CELKILT – ‘Christmas Would Never Be The Same If You Were Not Around’

THE LANGERS BALL – ‘A Christmas Lullaby’

THE RUMPLED – ‘Let It Snow!’

BLACK ANEMONE – ‘Christmas Day On First And Main’

DARBY O’GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE – ‘Whiskey Christmas’

GRASS MUD HORSE – ‘Christmas Time In China’

THE NARROWBACKS – ‘Prodigal Son (I’ll Be Home For Christmas)’

THE TOSSERS – ‘Merry Christmas’

BLAGGARDS – ‘Fairytale Of New York’

DROPKICK MURPHYS – ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’

THE RUFFIANS – ‘Christmas In Killarney’

NO MURDER NO MOUSTACHE – ‘Teimlad Nadolig’

FIDDLERS GREEN – ‘Auld Lang Syne’

THE CELTIC PUNKCAST #43

Contact The Celtic Punkcast  Facebook  WebSite  Shop  Twitter  E-Mail

Check out the London Celtic Punk interview with Gareth the ‘Podmaster’ here and find out what possessed him to join the #OneBigCelticPunkFamily. Also worth checking out was the special article written by Gareth for people who haven’t yet experienced the joys of Celtic-Punk- Bring Your Mates To The Hooley: A Starter’s Guide To Celtic-Punk here. In August 2010 they did a Special Edition to celebrate our tenth anniversary with a episode dedicated to the bands here that helped form and shape the London Celtic Punks from 2009-2019.

Merry Christmas all!

ALBUM REVIEW: FIDDLERS GREEN – ‘3 Cheers For 30 Years’ (2020)

30 years after the band was founded Fiddler’s Green have released a collection of the most well known traditional Irish Folk songs! And all in the ingenious Fiddler’s Green sound: honest and direct, playful and brutal, dreamy and drunk.

Two of the Celtic-Punk scenes giant bands celebrate their 30th anniversary this year. One is The Mahones from Canada whose non-stop touring has garnered them fans around the world while the other is the biggest and probably the most popular band in Europe – Fiddlers Green. Since their formation in 1990 Fiddlers Green have released an incredible fifteen studio albums and just in case that wasn’t enough their have also been a further six live albums plus EP’s and DVD’s galore earning them the reputation as one of the busiest acts in Rock music let alone Celtic-Punk! Already during 2020 they have released the Acoustic Pub Crawl II – Live in Hamburg album back in March. 2020 was set to be a busy gigging year for them too with an extensive ‘unplugged’ tour playing an acoustic set in intimate settings across Germany. Sadly as we know Covid has caused the cancellation of live music so the band has kept busy instead  writing new material and recording. On Acoustic Pub Crawl II Fiddlers Green picked sixteen of their favourite tracks from across their extensive back catalogue played as if they were in front of a roaring fire in a cosy wee Irish pub. The tour has been put back to 2021 so keep a well peeled eye out for that.

So here’s one band that haven’t let the ‘clampdown’ keep them down and they celebrated their anniversary with a live stream last week live on both Facebook and You Tube. The set was recorded at The Dubliner pub in Bayreuth in northern Bavaria, Germany. Interspersed with songs from 3 Cheers For 30 Years while Alexander Prinz, aka ‘The Dark Knight of Parables’ interviews the guys from the band with stories from their three decades together. They welcomed many friends and guests to the stage as they played live old and new Fiddlers Green classics.

The event and album release was financed through the Crowdfunding web-site and supported by their legions of fans ensuring that Fiddlers Green stay true to their DIY roots and out of the clutch of greedy businessmen! Their are still some amazing merchandise packages available if you fancy grabbing one.

The album itself is everything you could expect from Fiddlers Green. A polished, well played, exciting romp through the national music archives of Ireland as played by a band with a Celtic soul. Irish music, especially Celtic-Punk, is very popular in Germany and if this was a court of law then the evidence presented would be this album! The eleven songs here have all been played to absolute death of course and are well known to everyone who has ever set foot in an Irish pub or walked past a busker but as ever the achievement is to breathe new life into ancient songs and keep them alive. This is something Fiddlers Green have no problem achieving. The list of songs are all new to the Fiddlers Green set-list and swings from Dubliners faves like ‘The Wild Rover’, ‘All For Me Grog’ and ‘Seven Drunken Nights’ to ones that The Dubliners recorded but became better known through others like ‘Whiskey In The Jar’. Several songs have been become mainstays of the Celtic-Punk scene for decades now like ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’, ‘The Drunken Sailor’ and ‘Molly Malone’ while their is even room for the ‘newest old song’ in the Irish pub singers repertoire ‘Galway Girl’. The album ends with a spirited version of ‘Greensleeves’ and while their are no massive revelations here it is nevertheless another great album from the Bhoys as these old songs take on new life in the hands of these fabulous musicians.

3 Cheers For 30 Years sees against all the odds Fiddlers Green’s year end in style and shows the rest of the Celtic-Punk scene how to handle and interpret an old song and turn it into a modern ‘speedfolk’ classics.

Buy 3 Cheers For 30 Years CD – FromTheBand  Download – Here

Contact Fiddlers Green WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

NEW SONG AND VIDEO RELEASE FROM OGRAS

Ogras are a six piece Celtic-Punk band from Norway that shot to fame this year with the release of No Love In The City acclaimed as one of the best Celtic-Punk albums of 2020.

Back in April an album dropped through the digital letterbox at London Celtic Punks Towers that’s fair to say blew us all away. No Love In The City, the second full length studio album from Celtic-Rockers Ogras from western Norway, hasn’t been off our stereo since! On Friday they released their new single recorded in the world renowned studio Ocean Sounds Recordings and accompanied by a music video, shot in Aalesund. Joining Ogras on bagpipes is Anders Norudde, from the famous Swedish Folk music band Hedningarna/The Heathens.

OGRAS – ‘SIDESHOW HALLELUJAH’

Hear the Big Top windjammer
(Hear the screamers, all you dreamers)
I play the very sound of sin
To the drum beat of the sledgehammer
(Hear the screamers, all you dreamers)
The euphonium will lure you in
And as I sit there, I observe
Your angry eyes, I think we struck a nerve
This masquerade is challenging your faith
It’s hard to love when you’re so full of hate
And you all scream hallelujah,
You say that we sin, but it’s the world we’re living in
We’re tired of “How do you ya do” now!
It’s one – two – three, and we’ll punch you on the chin
You think you caught us by surprise
(Hear the screamers, all you dreamers)
Surrounded by your ragged friends
We play the Stars and Stripes Forever
(Hear the screamers, all you dreamers)
We know how the story ends
*
Ogras last album No Love In The City while not quite a concept album told varied stories of travellers. Those who up sticks and take to the road. Tales of outcasts, freaks and other round pegs in square holes. Most of the songs centred on circus performers and their difficult and lonely life on the road. ‘Sideshoe Hallelujah’ tells of a fictional travelling circus in the USA about 100 years ago and the hypocrisy in cheering for the sideshow freaks during the show and mocking them afterwards. Payback is due!

The song will be available for download (on iTunes Music Store and others) as well as for streaming.

*

No Love In The City stands out as one of the highlights of 2020 and it’s great to hear new music from the guys. They promise another single release in early 2021 before their next album, due next year.
 
“No Love In The City came as a complete surprise to me. Expecting wild Poguesy style Irish Folk what we actually get is on of the most imaginative and novel Celtic-Punk records of recent years. With it’s tales of circus strong men and disasters and bleak dark themes all wrapped in music that stays firmly in its own lane with influences from the American scene that we don’t often hear in Europe and from the East that Ogras incorporate into their own sound. A truly magnificent record and one that be can already be guaranteed to be one of the albums of the year.”
Not only that but they also had one of the standout Live Streams since the ‘clampdown’ playing a full band set aboard the MS Progress a 1914 built former fishing boat these guys showed why are they rapidly gaining a name for themselves in the Celtic-Punk scene. Well they just re-mastered and re-cut the show and put it up on You Tube so please I implore you to make yourself comfortable and feast your eyes and your ears on this magnificent production.

Contact Ogras  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

‘RETURN TO CAMDEN’  BY TERENCE O’FLAHERTY

Beautiful song from London based Irish singer/songwriter Terence O’Flaherty name checking memories of a bygone era in the north of London. This original recorded version is due to be released on Terence’s upcoming album Backtracks with the Claire Egan, Eoin O’Neill and John Kelly accompanying.

Terence is a traditional Irish singer and songwriter from Ennistimon, County Clare on the west coast of Ireland. He comes from a traditional music background learning his earliest songs from his family as well as local musicians and travelling storytellers and singers. Playing guitar and bouzouki in the early 1970’s, he emigrated to London and joined the thriving Irish music scene in the capital as part of the popular band Crusheen. He has spent many years involved in the traditional music scene in London playing with all of London’s leading musicians and touring across Britain, Europe, and America playing with everyone from the Chieftains, Planxty, The Pogues,The Fureys and De Danann. He has collaborated with musicians from a variety of other genres and from across the world playing at many major festivals including Cambridge Folk Festival. Terence has released three albums (Crosscurrents, Ghosts, Trace) with a fourth on it’s way soon titled Backtracks which will feature ‘Return To Camden’.

When I first arrived in Old London Town
Along Camden High Road I did walk down
Fell into the back of John Murphy’s van
Full of youth and vigour and white bread and ham
By ten that first morning I thought I’d expire
Stuck down a hole with Connemara Seán
Who for an extra ten bob a week
Set out a pace that would kill Hercules
*
Then the ganger man came and says ‘lads take a break’
Old Seánín jumped out with a ballerina’s grace
I felt I was climbing the Post Office Tower
My poor legs and arms like wilting flowers
He wolfed down his sandwich and before I did know
Old Seánín was back down in John Murphy’s hole
Diggin away like an Olympian
Twas with great reluctance that I rejoined him
*
I crawled out of the hole at the end of the day
All of my senses in terminal decay
Crawled into the back of John Murphy’s van
Too tired for talk or for white bread and ham
To the favourite in Holloway Seánín did go
To hear Bobby Casey, Con Curtin, John Bowe
Roger Sherlock, Brian Rooney or Finbar O’Dwyer
Danny Meehan, Raymond Roland or Brendan Mulkere
*
And as I was sleeping the sleep of the dead
Old Seánín was lilting to reels and to jigs
Firing back pints and singing Sean Nós
Where he got his energy God alone knows
And early next morning fresh as a rose
He’d be back down one of John Murphy’s holes
Lobbing up muck in his trousers and vest
Such was the life that the Irish possessed
*
And at the weekends we would all go
To The Forum, The Gresham, The Galtymore
The Harp and the Shamrock, the Garryowen
The Bamba, Hibernian or Buffalo
Waltzin and jiving and singing along
To Joe Dolan, Larry Cunningham or Big Tom
Or horsin’ out sets till too tired to stand
To the Tulla or Kilfenora Céilí Bands
*
When many years later I met poor Seánín
His energy spent and his back bent and lean
He smiled and he said ‘Ah sure times they were lean’
When we worked for the man from Caherciveen
For although times were tough, sure the craic it was good
In Camden, in Kilburn and Cricklewood
And we could escape for the nights they were long
Far away from the cruel, brutal Elephant John
*
But to work on the building sites now you and me
We’d almost need to have a degree
For with health and safety and the CSCS
You need method statements and assessments of risks
There’s not too much craic now in John Murphy’s vans
Albanians Poles and Lithuanians
Have taken the place of the likes of Séanin
*
The craic once was ninety but now it is lean
So here’s to the music we did enjoy
In the pubs and the clubs with a tear in our eye
And fair play to the players and the singers of songs
Who lifted our hearts when our hearts needed them
Tom O’Connell, Martin Byrnes, Andy Boyle, Lucy Farr,
Seán O’Shea, Julia Clifford and Tommy Maguire
Michael Hynes, Tom McCarthy, Jimmy Power and Reg Hall
Raise up your glasses now here’s to them all
*

ALBUM REVIEW: THE STANFIELDS – ‘Welcome To The Ball’ (2020)

London Celtic Punks favourites Nova Scotian Folk’n’Rollers The Stanfields have just released the incendiary live album Welcome To The Ball.

The Stanfields trod a well trodden path to 2020 by beginning their career back in 2008 playing cover songs during open mic performances at the Seahorse Tavern in their hometown of Halifax in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. As the years rolled by The Stanfields may sound like have taken some dramatic turns but to any long turn fan (ahem!) it’s been easy to follow their trajectory from full on their Celtic-Punk to where they are now. Influenced by the many many strands that make Canada and the description of them as “the bastard children of AC/DC and Stan Rogers” their music blends Working Class Hard-Rock with the strands of Folk that make up traditional Canadian music with much of it heavily influenced by Scotland and Ireland.

So far the guys have released seven albums, multiple singles, and have toured extensively throughout North America and Europe – sharing the stage with many of the Rock scene’s most popular bands. So, despite the Covid lockdown, they have been especially busy compared to a lot of bands with the release of the critically acclaimed Classic Fadeout, a bunch of great video releases (be sure to check out their You Tube channel) and now they have returned with their second full-length release of 2020, Welcome To The Ball. Band frontman Jon Landry says

“Since Covid-19 has effectively made it impossible for us to play live shows safely, and on our own terms, we thought that the time was right to release a live album. Luckily, we had this performance in the can, it’s fun to see how much the songs have evolved over the years, although it’s been a stark reminder to us of how much we miss our natural habitat.”

Welcome To The Ball documents The Stanfields performance at the 2019 Blacktop Ball and includes tracks from across their career along with an added bonus track. Welcome To The Ball begins with the aptly titled ‘Blacktop Blues’ from their 2012 album Death And Taxes, as do the first three songs.

The first thing to say is that the songs here are well chosen and include not just the fan favourites but also some important songs from the bands history. The other thing is that many of these songs are quite lengthy (notice I said lengthy NOT boring!) with three over seven minutes long! The sound recorded, mixed and mastered by Darren van Niekerk (hats off!!) and is absolutely fecking brilliant. Taking you right into the heart of the mosh pit! Nothing is spared as the band steam along at full pelt with the traditional anti-war Folk ballad ‘Mrs. McGrath’ given the epic Stanfields treatment next followed by ‘The Road to Guysborough’. Now I’ve never been much a fan of live records but when they are done well like here they can be explosive, capturing the very essence of a band. Next up are firm fan favourites ‘Fight Song’, taken from 2015’s Modem Operandi, and ‘Hard Miles’ from 2013’s For King And Country. Both songs saw the band tweak their original Celtic sound and bring in more harder Rock elements. 

‘Dagger Woods’ is the first of three tracks here from debut album ‘Vanguard Of The Young And Reckless’ from 2010 and is over eight minutes long and while that may displease the Dead Kennedys it fully deserves the word epic. A fantastic song that literally spills emotion and while it’s not just worthy it’s catchy as hell too. ‘Ship To Shore’ is relatively short at just four minutes while ‘Ghost Of The Eastern Seaboard’ at almost eight returns us to epic territory along with the final song from their set that night, the outstanding ‘Fox in The Heather’ at over eight.

‘Welcome To The Ball’ brings the curtain down as the bonus track and the only new song and sees The Stanfields accompanied by the Hatchet Lake Reverb Choir (Heather Harris, Sasha DeSouza, Brad MacDougall, Craig Eugene Harris, Trevor DeSouza) in a song that fully deserves to be the curtain puller at any future gigs.
“Take a look at the one beside you
Let the power of us provide you
The means to guide you, right beside you
Welcome to the Ball”
Written as a tribute and in the spirit of the Blacktop Festival which was sadly cancelled this year but The Stanfields love for the fest grows and they will return for their annual visit next year. Written as an over the top, 80’s-style Pomp-Rocker it comes with the most brilliant video you really ought not to miss. 

The line up for the gig that night was Jon Landry – Vocals, Guitar, Calen Kinney – Fiddle, Vocals, Jason MacIsaac – Guitar, Vocals, Dillan Tate – Bass, Vocals and Mark Murphy on Drums and the show is that kind of rambleshackly perfect that Celtic-Punk bands seem to be perfect at. Their may not be a better band around doing what The Stanfields do. Combining hard rock music with Celtic and Americana in a perffectly acessible way. Not only that be here they proove they can do it in style on the stage too. As they say themselves 

“we play what we want, sing what we feel and leave nothing on the table”.

Buy Welcome To The Ball FromTheBand

Contact The Stanfields  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

EP REVIEW: PENNILESS TENANTS – ‘Lockdown Session’ (2020)

Traditional Irish scally Punk!

Penniless Tenants are a five-piece from Liverpool, playing traditional and Irish Folk music and probably the best Irish Music in Liverpool. No Folking About.

The Irish community in England is supposedly shrinking I hear but only just a couple of weeks after we reviewed the debut release of Luton Irish band Missing The Ferry we have the pleasure of doing the same for another new band to us Penniless Tenants. The band hail from another hotbed of Irishness in Liverpool. Their is plenty written on the history of the Irish in Liverpool and unsurprisingly immigration from Ireland to Liverpool has been ongoing since the year dot and the city could possibly even lay claim to being the most Irish city in England.

With no shortage of Irish bars in the city a band playing Irish music would be pretty damn busy except for this poxy clampdown but Penniless Tenants have responded perfectly with a EP of five self written songs (with a few varied influences!) unsurprisingly titled Lockdown Sessions. They did actually already release a few songs over on Soundcloud way back in 2013 called the Penniless Tenant Sessions of a few covers of Irish Folk standards made famous by The Pogues, Dropkick Murphys, Christy Moore and The Dubliners among others. Their they keep it respectful and played the songs close to their origins so nice to her them let loose a bit on the recent release. Like all the best bands they are too proud to play anywhere and they have from Liverpool Anglican Cathedral to the Baltic Market and St George’s Hall to the corner of Pilgrim Street!

Lockdown Sessions begins with ‘The Hare And The Fainleog’ and a slow fiddle led mournful Irish tune which soon becomes a bit of a foot stamper and in Benjamin Hughes they certainly have a highly talented fiddler player. Superbly played leading us into ‘Green And Red Paper Planes’ which, while keeping in line with the Irish theme of the EP, expands beyond the opening few lines taken from another well known second-generation Irish band and takes us on a surprising, though bloomin’ brilliant, direction taking in modern Pop with a song that I must have heard a 100 times but I’ve no idea who sings it. It’ll probably come to me 10 minutes after this review is published. These Bhoys got a knack for an unusual cover in a way that reminds me of their London counterparts The Bible Code Sundays. ‘Jiggin’ Up To Boston’ is another fiddle led trad Irish tune until the half way point and BANG in comes the banjo and mandolin and we get the full Dropkicks style Folk version. This is followed by the Eric Bogle penned ‘My Youngest Son Came Home Today’. Eric is perhaps most famous for writing the well known anti-war ballads ‘The Green Fields Of France’ and ‘And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ two absolutely stunning songs covered by The Pogues and the Dropkicks, among others, in their time. Here the theme is visited again except in a more modern setting in a tale of a young man killed during the war in the north of Ireland.

“My youngest son came home today
His friends marched with him all the way
The pipe and drum beat out the time
While in his box of polished pine
Like dead meat on a butcher’s tray
My youngest son came home today
And this time he’s home to stay”

Penniless Tenants play it slow and respectful and Billy Hughes voice portrays exactly the right amount of emotion this great song needs. The EP comes to an end with the Country/ Bluegrass influenced ‘Trouble In Yer Mind’. Fast and furious Banjo plucking and fiddling and more foot stampin’ to see the EP out the door.

Penniless Tenants: Benjamin Boo – Fiddle * Billy Skank – Laud and Vocals * Dr Rosa – Flute and Whistle * Jay G – Tenor Banjo * JDillon – Bass * Paulie O’Riley O’Hanrahan – Banjolele * Tom Jones (not that one) – Bodhran * REGFX – art *  (actual lineup may vary)

Lockdown Sessions was released on November 10th and was recorded live at the Liverpool Irish Centre (suitably social distanced of course!) a and mastered by Jeff Jepson. It’s available on Bandcamp and can be got as a ‘Name Your Price’ download meaning you can pay anything from a fiver to the cost of a couple of cans to sod all if you would like but with the way things are it would be nice to throw a few coppers their way. The music here is totally acoustic but just going from what I heard here I reckon they can tear it up when required too so lets not forget The Pogues were once called “the loudest acoustic band on the planet”. They have a new EP, A Penniless Christmas, out very soon in time for Christmas and they promise “festival mashups and winter warmers”.

(Stream or download Lockdown Sessions on the Bandcamp player below)

Download Lockdown Sessions  FromTheBand

Contact Penniless Tenants  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

ODDS’N’SODS. CELTIC-PUNK ROUND UP DECEMBER 2020

In a attempt to get away from just doing ‘ReviewReviewReviewReview…’ we started a monthly feature of all the Celtic-Punk news that passed us by. All will get a mention but I need YOU to help if it’s going to work. Any band news, record releases, videos, tours (not individual gigs though yet sadly), live streams, crowd funders etc., send it into us at londoncelticpunks@hotmail.co.uk or through the Contact Us page.

So much has written about it but here is our one and only take on FONY and it comes from the man himself. The Pogues’ Shane MacGowan brands decision to censor Fairytale of New York ‘ridiculous’  from The Irish Post, 25th November 2020.

We may have heard it a million times before but here’s a different spin on FONY but with a New York Puerto Rican influence by ST. DOYLE AND THE LAST CALL PHILHARMONIC.

‘Johnny Depp Presents’ it states right at the beginning of this feature length documentary on the Godfather of Celtic-Punk the legendary Shane MacGowan. Featuring unseen archival footage from The Pogues and Shane’s family, as well as animation from Ralph Steadman, Julien Temple’s rollicking love letter spotlights the iconic frontman up to his 60th birthday celebration, where singers, movie stars and Rock’n’Roll outlaws gathered to celebrate the man and his legacy. Available everywhere December 4th!!

The BRICK TOP BLAGGERS are a wicked band and here’s a full band live performance originally streamed on the internet but shown here on You Tube. The Blaggers been as active as any band can over the last few months and we’ve enjoyed some great Live Streams from them but this one, performed for the 2020 Samhain Celtic New Year Festival, is one of the better ones regarding sound.

We’ve seen plenty of the DROPKICK MURPHYS since Paddy’s Day but each time with no one there so here’s a recently released video of their storming full set from their last tour at Zenith in Paris on the 9th of February.

Two new songs have been released by the DROPKICK MURPHYS. A cover of Darlene Love’s ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) and a new song ‘I Wish You Were Here’ are out on limited edition 7″ flexi-discs available from the Murphys store. They, unsurprisingly, have some wicked new merch available too and just in time for Christmas! At the same time it was announced that the new album will be out in mid-January.

BARBAR’O’RHUM – Pirate Des Champs

EFA SUPERTRAMP – Rhyddid yw y Freuddwyd

LQR – Barrel-Aged

PYROLYSIS – Alotsle

PENNILESS TENANTS – Lockdown Sessions (review next week!!)

Remember if you want your release featured then we have to have heard it first!

Love these daft feckers! They done the Murphys ‘Shipping Up To Boston’ a while back and now they turn their attention to The Rumjacks absolutely-mega-fecking-internet hit ‘An Irish Pub’. I’ll not go into it but sit back and have a listen and again top marks for destroying the ridiculous notion of cultural appropriation. Yes lads it is bollocks.

Life goes on and THE RUMJACKS have a brand new video out seeing them performing ‘McAlpine’s Fusiliers’ dahn an Irish pub in Milan, Italy with new vocalist Mikee from Mickey Rickshaw.

French Pirate Punkers BARBAR’O’RHUM have a new album out and also released the epic ‘Pirate Des Champs’ video. Nearly ten minutes of Pirate themed fun!

Mariner Rock, and Celtic Shenanigans, homebrewed on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. Even doing this we still come across stuff we missed from the past that is worth another look. This time we turn once again to Nova Scotia where we turn our attention to THE STAB ROVERS. Nova Scotia is home to vast amounts of Celtic folk and Celtic folk Folk bands and the area has featured here regularly. The Stab Rovers debut album came out in June, 2018 and is available as a ‘name your price’ download. The Bhoys are happily still together and looking forward to recording soon.

Now I don’t pretend to know anything about Hip-Hop and I do know what I like and here’s a couple of new releases that got me. The first video is ‘Back Around The Way’ featuring a bunch of rappers from Boston and New England including our auld favourite SLAINE and American Irish bhoy MILLYZ.

Another rapper to feature on these pages before is the Manchester born Irish D’LYFA REILLY who has a new single out available as a ‘name your price’ download. If you remember he performed with DANNY DIATRIBE on the utterly fantasticPaddys Cure’. Irish immigrant Hip-Hop at its finest!

The Polish band PIJUN have released their debut release, a 5-track demo called Jigra. The band play Slavic Folk which I’m sure you’ll hear is close to Celtic in both sound and vibe.

Dutch band PYROLYSIS had to postpone their dates in England earlier in the year but have just released a mini album of six songs. They play an incredibly joyful mix of Celtic music and Folk and are still not wearing any shoes!

Swedish Celtic/ Folk/ Irish Punk-Rock band PUNK MAHONE performed a bloomin’ brilliant Live Stream on Facebook at the end of October and it has just come out on You Tube. Not to be missed!

A plug for some good friends of ours over on Facebook. The Dropkick Murphys- Fan Page and the Celtic Punk, Folk And Rock Fans are two of the best music forums on FB let alone Celtic-Punk. Ran By Fans For Fans. Just like and join in the fun!

All we need to do now is for you to help fill this page with news and remember if you are new to the London Celtic Punks blog it is easy to subscribe / follow and never miss a post. Also if anyone is interested in helping out on the reviews front then let us know via the Contact Us page.

NOVEMBER EPISODE OF THE CELTIC PUNKCAST #42 OUT NOW

Cutting it fine again! With just one day to go here’s the November edition of The Celtic Punkcast with just over an hour of the best Celtic-Folk-Punk Podcast anywhere on the t’internet.

Follow the link below and stream live or download to listen to later and enjoy!

G’day again from Moyston here in the beautiful Grampians in Australia. I’m back with another show jammed full of some of the best Celtic Punk, Folk Punk and Celtic Rock from every corner of the globe, some new stuff and some old favourites. Let’s get into it!

THE CURRENCY – ‘Buckley’s Tattoo’

THE RUMPLED – ‘Grace O’Malley’

THE TOSSERS – ‘USA’

CLAN OF CELTS – ‘Clan Of Celts’

KRAKIN’ KELLYS – ‘Roots Radical’

THE CHERRY COKE$ – ‘Drunken Pirates’

THE STUBBY SHILLELAGHS – ‘The Year With No St. Patrick’s Day’

BEAVER SECRET HANDSHAKE – ‘Captain John’

DROPKICK MURPHYS – ‘Rose Tattoo’

PADDY AND THE RATS – ‘One Last Ale’

THE CUNDEEZ – ‘Bow To No One’

THE RUMJACKS – ‘Sainted Millions’

THE THINGAMA JIGS – ‘The Unforgiven IV’

BLACK RAWK DOG ‘Work Proud’

REDHILL RATS – ‘Sailing ’round The World’

FORGOTTEN GENERATION – ‘Drinking Team’

THE KREELERS – ‘Salvation’

THE CELTIC PUNKCAST #42

Contact The Celtic Punkcast  Facebook  WebSite  Shop  Twitter  E-Mail

Check out the London Celtic Punk interview with Gareth the ‘Podmaster’ here and find out what possessed him to join the #OneBigCelticPunkFamily. Also worth checking out was the special article written by Gareth for people who haven’t yet experienced the joys of Celtic-Punk- Bring Your Mates To The Hooley: A Starter’s Guide To Celtic-Punk here. In August 2010 they did a Special Edition to celebrate our tenth anniversary with a episode dedicated to the bands here that helped form and shape the London Celtic Punks from 2009-2019.

Be sure to tune in next month for The Celtic Punkcast Christmas Special!!!

ALBUM REVIEW: THE CUNDEEZ – ‘Teckle An Hide’ (2020)

Dundee is a truly unique place in Scotland becoming known as YES City after 57% voted in favour of Scottish independence in 2014’s referendum – the highest proportion of Yes votes in Scotland.

Like their hometown The Cundeez are also unique. Unashamedly Dundonian Working-Class with a fast and heavy sound, straight out of the Punk-Rock tradition, but with pipes and kilts!

The Cundeez are back with their fifth album of Highland bagpipes driven Punk Rock hot off the presses. One of the London Celtic Punk favourite bands they safely saw off their 10th anniversary recently and never ones to rest on their laurels five minutes after finishing Teckle An Hide they began work on their next album!

Teckle An Hide kicks off with the simply titled instrumental ‘Dundee’. The first of a trio of home town dedicated songs dotted through the album. Now every town needs an anthem, one to play as the local football team comes out and with two teams, Dundee and Dundee United, I hope one or both take the opportunity as the song is a belter. Building up slowly (for them anyway!) before Gary’s brilliant piping comes in and you can tell why for years opposition forces on the field of war recoiled in fear as the sound of pipes filled the air. This takes us into ‘Peat & Diesel’ a song dedicated to their friends in Peat & Diesel, a three-piece band from Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the Highlands of Scotland. They are a young band that have been steadily on the rise over the last couple of years so great to see this solidarity between an experienced band like The Cundeez and a band just setting out. The song itself shows The Cundeez wicked sense of humour as new drummer Shaun Kerr stamps his arrival in the band with fierce tribal drumming while long time members Stevie and Trotsky on guitar and bass supply the perfect backing. At nearly six minutes it’s the albums longest track and sways from Gothic in places to hardcore Punk and back to melodic rock while the pipes are again in evidence.

Never afraid in throw in a bit of Ska and with ‘Teckle’ an obvious comparison here is with early Rumjacks when they were based in Oz. Now we are three songs in and my Dad was Scots but a lot of this is passing even me by! The Dundee accent has a very particular sound and is integral to the band’s identity. The band take their name from the Scots word ‘cundie’, meaning a drain, which comes originally from the French word conduit. Having said that piper and songwriter Gary’s vocals are very clear despite being delivered in trademark Punk Rock shouty sneer. ‘Scooby Dubh’ tells of a serious pub crawl delivered in speedy breakneck form. They follow this with the first of the albums three cover versions and ‘LWTUA’ is a fancy unexpected instrumental Ska version of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ with skanking guitars and piping. Who would have thunk it possible and it may have hardcore JD fans writing to their MP’s but I bloody love it! The Cundeez have always enjoyed themselves and their sense of humour is legendary but they also have a serious side and in ‘Bow To No One’ they take the well trodden Punk path of anti-religion.

They continue the combativeness with ‘Them And Us’ as the band unleash on the divides in society that leave the working classes at the bottom while pumping out a 1981 style UK Punk classic. Another cover next and after two Punk thrashers it’s time for Gary to get out the pipes for ‘Horo’, a cover of ‘Horo Gheallaidh’ by the aforementioned Peat & Diesel. Now this is another highpoint with the catchiest track on the album. Fast, thrashy guitars telling the tale of a night out in the Highlands. Brilliant!

Another hometown anthem next with ‘Made In Dundee’ but perhaps not one for the Tangerines to run out to. A warts an’ all expose of Dundee in all it’s misery and glory wrapped in a dark plodding ‘dub’ number. Next up is ‘Rebellion’. Originally released as a 7″ vinyl single on Urinal Records in early 2016 and at the time The Cundeez were on a bit of a high performing at Punk festivals in England and even travelling all the way down from Dundee to London town for a couple of gigs in north and south London. The single was limited to only 300 copies and sold out in no time so its fair to say it probably passed most fans by seeing as it was just before the return of vinyl as a popular format.

The album continues with ‘Up For The Craic’ a jolly Punk Rock ride that again shows the bands lighter side before they again tackle something a bit darker in ‘I Am Gangster’ about the desperate life of a poor soul destined for jail. Appearing on the album listings as ‘Buzzcocks’ the lads next tear into ‘Ever Fallen In Love’ and it’s another corker of a cover with the pipes lifting it out of this world. We’re steering towards the end and if I was to have one wee quibble it would be that the album is a tad on the long side with sixteen songs with a running time of almost a hour. You certainly get yer hard earned worths but I wonder if the album could have been trimmed a little with the album closing with two reworked versions of ‘Sehturday Night’ from 2011’s ‘Lend Wiz Yir Lugz’ and ‘Gangs O’Dundee’ from 2010’s album Radio Cundee taking us into the anarcho styled curtain closer ‘Austerity’.

Released on the American Punk label Tarbeach Records and recorded at Seagate Studios in their hometown the album is an outstanding success, especially considering that a lot of it was done under the restrictions placed upon the band because of the Covid ‘clampdown’. Make no mistake it may have been very tempting for us to rope The Cundeez in with other bagpipe heavy Celtic-Punk bands but they are no Real McKenzies and, more importantly, have never tried to be. The Cundeez are a Punk band with Celtic roots but even then there is much more to them as they are never afraid to stray off into other genres. Teckle An Hide is possibly their most accessible album to date. It still has their trademark fast, punchy, catchy Punk-Rock and the same shouty vocals delivered in that raw Dundee dialect but their Celtic and Ska influences see them moving into new territory without ever watering down their music or their identity.

(The Cundeez playing a socially distanced Facebook Live Stream from the end of last September. As Gary said afterwards “a crazy surreal experience doing a ‘gig’ all split from band members but thankfully we got there. It was rough and raw and absolutely nerve-wracking.”)

Buy Teckle An Hide  TarbeachRecords

Contact The Cundeez  Facebook  YouTube  Spotify  Twitter

EP REVIEW: BEAVER SECRET HANDSHAKE – ‘Beaver Secret Handshake’ (2020)

A new band on the Celtic-Punk scene Beaver Secret Handshake from Finland may have formed at an awkward time but their excellent debut release a 4-track EP manages to capture both their energy as well as their great live sound. 

The days are long gone when anyone would be shocked by a band from Finland playing Celtic-Punk music. Yes their was a time when only the offspring of the Irish diaspora felt the need to affix traditional Folk music to Punk Rock to express their identities. Even a country like Finland, where the sole public face of the Irish diaspora is the Finnish defender Daniel O’Shaughnessy, who plays his football in the land of his birth but also would have qualified for Ireland through his Irish father, has while not quite a thriving Celtic-Punk scene but a very good one nevertheless. Bands like Loretta Problem and & Stout Clan represent both ends of the Celtic-Punk scale and are both pretty active (when they are allowed to be!). The new band on the Finnish scene then is the rather interestingly named Beaver Secret Handshake who hail from the country’s capital Helsinki. I was tempted to ask them where they got their name from but I think a bit of intrigue does no harm at all. This four-track self/titled EP is the band’s debut release and was recorded at the end of 2019 at Sonic Pump Studios in their hometown. The band were gigging regularly right up until clampdown with a lengthy set made up of originals and Irish themed covers.

Beaver Secret Handshake left to right: Samppa Salminen – Guitar * Perttu Ruotsalainen – Lead Vocals, Mandolin, Banjo * Jukka Polvi – Bass, Backing Vocals * Petra Vedenpää – Fiddle, Backing Vocals * Olli Ruotsalainen – Drums, Backing Vocals. Photo – Kuutti Haapanen

The EP begins with ‘Captain John’ and its high tempo dancing music from the off. Fiddle led but not too in yer face it’s produced excellently with all the instruments complementing each other. Perttu’s vocals are clear and sit nicely between the Punk and Folk styles. This is music to get down to and in ‘Sins Of Our Fathers’ a slight Country influence is added and the song while slower still has enough of a bounce not to empty any dancefloor. Nay ballads here and ‘Walk Of Shame’ takes us to the embarrassing world of going home in your clubbing clothes after spending the night ‘out’. The music has that Irish/Country feel but not an Irish Country feel. That last sentence may only make sense to anyone who grew up listening to Brendan Shine, Margo or Big Tom! The EP comes to an end with the rather Poguesy ‘Last Day Of The Summer Sun’ and perhaps the EP’s standout track for me. Catchy as hell and reminiscent of not just The Pogues but also The Levellers and more recent English Folk-Punk bands like The Jamestown Brothers. The whole release is a foot-tappers dream and after several listens I get the feeling that it is pretty much how they would sound live which as you know in Celtic-Punk that is not a bad thing.

All in all an outstanding first release and just a pity it’s confined to just four songs and thirteen minutes. Beaver Secret Handshake are very much and a band that I will be checking out in the future when normality returns. Scandinavia has produced more fantastic Celtic-Punk bands than I care to mention and already this year Ogras have captured my ear and now I can add another one to the list too.

Now to find out what their name means???

(You can hear the EP in its entirety on the Soundcloud player below)

Buy Beaver Secret Handshake EP  DaddyKoolRecords  Amazon

Contact Beaver Secret Handshake Facebook  YouTube  Spotify  Instagram

FREE DOWNLOAD OF JOE STRUMMER’S LAST CONCERT

Viva Joe Strummer!

A *Free Download* of the last ever concert performed by Joe Strummer before his sad death on this day in 2002.

I remember exactly what I was doing when I heard of Joe Strummer’s untimely death. It was Sunday 22nd December 2002 and myself and a mate had spent the whole night listening to Punk records and boozing and carousing at the home of a close friend. In the morning when we were saying goodbye at the door I thought I heard the radio say that Joe Strummer had died. “Bloody hell” (I exclaimed or something stronger) “I think the radio just said Joe Strummer had died”. We all instantly dismissed it as not possible and probably a result of my delirium tremens and all went on our separate ways. It was later that day recovering from an insane hangover the news was confirmed when I saw the news.

Joe died at home in Broomfield, Somerset suddenly due to an undiagnosed congenital heart defect, He had collapsed after returning from walking his dog and he could not be revived. He was survived by his wife, two daughters and a stepdaughter. Now almost twenty years after his death it’s fair to say his legacy still lives on through his music and the Joe Strummer Foundation charitable trust which continues to do good works in his name.

https://joestrummerfoundation.org

Joe’s last concert was performed at Liverpool University on November 22, 2002 just a month before he sadly passed away. The set was recorded and is of a very high standard and is available for you to download today on the 18th anniversary of that gig. Joe chose a cross selection of songs from his extensive career in the twenty song set but with the majority from his days in The Clash and his more recent project Joe Strummer And The Mescaleros, whose final album, Streetcore, was released posthumously the following year.

Joe once said

“When you meet people who say you had an effect on their life, you realise it was all worth it. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the music. Remember, The Future Is Unwritten”.

(You can stream the whole set lasting just over ninety minutes over on You Tube)

To download click on either of the following links

LINK ONE   LINK TWO

THE POGUESTRA WITH **EXTRA SPECIAL GUESTS**

The PoguestrA is a flexible group of musicians from around the world who are also fans of The Pogues. It was established in May 2020 during the lockdown with musicians playing together remotely.
A community powered by passion, diversity and inclusion.

The PoguestrA is a flexible group of musicians from around the world who are also fans of The Pogues. It all started in May 2020, during the lockdown, when Daniele Rubertelli, an Italian fan who plays accordion, launched a ‘Call For Musicians’ to perform (remotely) Dirty Old Town within the Facebook community of Pogues fans. As a result, sixteen musicians from the UK, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands and USA contributed to the cover of the great Ewan MacColl track. The song even reached the ears of Peggy Seeger, the late Ewan’s wife and renowned singer/songwriter in her own right, who sent over words of appreciation. Since then The PoguestrA have covered other songs of The Pogues, always using “public calls” on Facebook to ensure inclusion for all the musicians moved by the same passion. They recently covered the Shane MacGowan penned ‘The Broad Majestic Shannon’ with an amazing twenty-eight musicians from around the world and featuring Cisco, the founder and former frontman of the legendary Italian band Modena City Ramblers. Their latest video release is ‘Misty Morning Albert Bridge’ from The Pogues fourth album, Peace and Love. Written by banjo player Jem Finer about the famous Albert Bridge that connects Chelsea on the north bank to Battersea on the south and features scores of brilliant musicians from right across the world including Irish international Kevin McManamon on mandolin!!

For their new song the PoguestrA has recruited Celtic-Punk royalty to their ranks with Jem Finer and James Fearnley from the faraway shores of London and Los Angeles respectfully. Anyone interested in joining the gang then get in touch with them through their Facebook page.

Misty Morning Albert Bridge (Jem Finer) performed by The PoguestrA

Recorded in November 2020

I dreamt we were standing
By the banks of the Thames
Where the cold grey waters ripple
In the misty morning light
Held a match to your cigarette
Watched the smoke curl in the mist
Your eyes, blue as the ocean between us
Smiling at me
*
I awoke so cold and lonely
In a faraway place
The sun fell cold upon my face
The cracks in the ceiling spelt hell
Turned to the wall
Pulled the sheets around my head
Tried to sleep, and dream my way
Back to you again
*
Count the days
Slowly passing by
Step on a plane
And fly away
I’ll see you then
As the dawn birds sing
On a cold and misty morning
By the Albert Bridge
*

Jem Finer: Hurdy Gurdy (London) / James Fearnley: Accordion (Los Angeles) / Daniel Al-Ayoubi: Mandolin (Bonn, Germany) / Moisés Álvarez Rodríguez: Ukulele (Madrid, Spain) / Juan Brown: Vocals, Tin Whistle (Shetland Islands) / Brendan Burke: Tin Whistle (England) / Brandon Caylor: Mando-Guitar, Melodica (CaliforniA, USA)/ Dana Caylor & Samantha Caylor: Vocals (California, USA) / Helena Cooke: Renaissance Recorder (England) / Chris Cunningham: Banjo (Indiana/USA) / Tijl Delannoy: Vocals (Belgium) / John Dunne: Vocals, Trumpet (England) / Leigh Fowler: Fiddle (Chicago, USA) / Chris Goddard: Fiddle (England) / Matt Goddard: Drums (England) / Elizabeth Harman: Fiddle (California/USA) / Robin Hiermer: Vocals (Germany) / Dave Keating: Guitar, Vocals (Chicago, USA) / Jeff Ingarfield: Vocals (England) / Erwin Lemmens: Trumpet (The Netherlands) / Heather Macleod: Harp (Isle of Arran) / Mattia Malusardi: Bouzouki (Italy) / Vince Martini: Stand-Up Bass (California, USA) / Kevin McManamon: Mandolin (Dublin, Ireland) / Sean McManamy: Vocals (Chicago, USA) / Rick Nuttall: Vocals (England) / John O’Donnell: Guitar, Vocals (Chicago, USA)/ David O’Donoghue: Vocals (Ireland) / Daniele Rubertelli: Accordion, Vocals (Italy) / Frits Sieswerda: Vocals, Harmonica (The Netherlands) / Marcel van Bergen: Guitar (The Netherlands) / Tim van den Hombergh: Low Whistle (The Netherlands) / Paddy Vervoort: Vocals, Bodhran (The Netherlands) / Zac: Vocals (Italy). Dancers: Lian and Hans-Jürgen Klischat (Göttingen, Germany) / Rick and Heather Nuttall (England) / Jeff Ingarfield and Justine Stampton (England) / Daniele Rubertelli and Simona Rossi (Italy).

Audio & Video editing by Tim van den Hombergh.

If you are interested in joining the PoguestrA for future songs then get in touch with the gang viaYouTube orFacebook

NEW SINGLE FROM LUTON IRISH BAND MISSING THE FERRY

The sound of a second generation…

Four second-generation Irish lads, three brothers and their best friend from school write songs about identity and belonging.
With influences as diverse as Brendan Shine, The Pogues and The Stone Roses their mission is to get people dancing and thinking.
Anyone who has ever missed, or nearly missed, the Dublin-bound ferry from Holyhead will get the name.
Don’t be Missing The Ferry yourselves!
 

Released November 13, 2020
Music and Lyrics by Paul Anderson.
Produced by Chris Anderson and Luise London

A barely heard phrase spluttered over the noise of a dimly lit Hackney Irish bar. A snatched image of an old fella nursing a pint and a chaser in a backstreet, Luton boozer. Just a couple of influences that lead to the creation of this tune.
Remembering a generation fast dying out along with their stories of love, loss, heroism and the mundane.
Our small tribute also this November to the bravery, senseless loss and sacrifice induced by war.
“God bless you and keep you.”
An old man leaves the pub his final farewell, coughing into the cold night air his breath still visible for a few moments before disappearing into the darkness.

(stream God Bless You And Keep You  on the Bandcamp player below)

Download God Bless You And Keep You  FromTheBand

Contact Missing The Ferry  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp  Instagram

ALBUM REVIEW: THE STUBBY SHILLELAGHS – ‘Glass To Mouth’ (2020)

High-Energy northern Colorado acoustic Celtic-Folk-Punk Band The Stubby Shillelaghs release their fifth studio album, Glass to Mouth, to celebrate the band’s tenth anniversary.

The Stubby Shillelaghs new album (out this week!!) is self-produced and self financed as well as being recorded and mixed as a result of quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a great risk to put out an album in these bleak times as their are no proper chances to promote any new releases but life must go on and for many music is one way to help get through the dark times. As Shaughnessy McDaniel, the bands songwriter and guitarist says

“I think this album really sums up what we are about, this year has been tough for everyone and I hope that a little of our band’s aggressively positive attitude and slapstick sensibilities can shine a little light on people’s days,”

Glass To Mouth celebrates the bands 10th anniversary together and you have to go back to June, 2010 to the very start when the small northern Colorado town of Greeley saw three long-time friends Andrew Mithun, Ryan Knaub, and Shaughnessy McDaniel looking to start a Celtic influenced band as a small side project. Later that year Greg Farnsworth, owner of local Irish bar Patrick’s, was looking for an act to play a Halloween show and took a chance on the as-yet unproven Stubbies. The success of this show led to what became known as ‘Stubby Tuesdays’, a weekly residency at the bar and in the process becoming a staple in Colorado nightlife with their four hour sets legendary. The following year saw the release of their debut album Stubbies Assemble! (available as a free download) and also the band gigging further afield into neighbouring states. They went on to release further studio albums Whiskey Business, Celtic American and Critical Fail in 2015, a live album Parental Advisory Live!, a Live DVD Uisce Beatha: The Water Of Life and a greatest hits release Bangerz! the Greatest Hits (2010-2019).

For Glass To Mouth the band continue on the DIY path setting up a Kickstarter appeal that raised all the necessary money to both the record Glass To Mouth and to also release it on vinyl, something that the band have always wanted to do, and with the growing popularity of vinyl among music fans who can blame them. Glass To Mouth kicks off with the instrumental ‘Butter Up That Jig’. A short acoustic fiddle led song to open proceedings that leads into ‘Buyer Beware’ and demonstrates the Stubby Shilleaghs eclectic nature, influences, and musical style perfectly. Laid back Folk music with an American-Irish flourish warning people against buying the CD as they are much better live. I don’t do the lyrics justice as they made laugh out loud on hearing this song! They continue along the same route with ‘Sails And Sorrow’ which features fellow Colorado band Bolonium an American comedy-rock band famous for their satirical style parodies and music soundtracks. Accordion and the fiddle led Pirate song and we’re only four in. Plenty of Aaaarrrrgggghhhh! but they do resist the urge to shout “Ahoy, Me Hearties!”.

Title track ‘Glass To Mouth’ is up next and begins with the band telling us

“People ask us, “Stubbies, How are you so positive and cheerful all the goddamn time?” Well here’s our secret. Now listen up, cuz this is some Mary Poppins-ass shit!”

Anyone out there remember Tenacious D? Well these guys are the Celtic-Punk equivalent of them! Not much serious shit so far on this album and sometimes that is exactly what we need. I mean life would drive you up the wall and as someone i knew once said ” We are here for a good time not a long time”.

After saying that they go and play a political number next which for me is the album’s standout song ‘Rebel Heart’. Catchy as hell and and a real footstomper to beat the floor up to.

We back on more humorous ground next with ‘Shagnasty McHammerhands’ about the bands guitarist and songwriter. 2020 will go down as the ‘The Year With No St. Patrick’s Day’ and personally the first since I was a teenager that I went to bed sober. The song features another Colorado band, Keep Britain Irish, helping out on the chorus. One of the albums fastest songs it still keeps to the albums style that would see them being able to be enjoyed by all. Punk enough for the Punks, Celtic enough for the oldies and irreverent enough for the Dads!

We steering towards the albums end and we have the interesting Sobermen Trilogy up next. A three-part song set that tells the story of the meeting in 1783 of the great Irish alcohol suppliers Arthur Guinness and John Jameson. Part 1 is ‘Prophecy Conspiracy’ a Country influenced song that also takes in Irish and sea-shanty along the way as the tale is regaled. Part 2 is the Scots tinged ‘The Fall Of Speyside’ while the final epic part is ‘The Siege Of St. James Gate’, with St. James Gate being of course the home of delicious Guinness Stout, and the guys rock the hell out of it with a Celtic-Metal finale. Over ten minutes of brilliant storytelling with all the humour we have come to expect from The Stubby Shilleaghs. That’s not the end though as the final song of the album is ‘Merry Bards Of Metal’ and a gentle and tuneful way to bow out.

Glass To Mouth was recorded at Crunchtronic Studios in their home town and marks the Bhoys tenth anniversary of goofiness and irreverence that has made the band a popular feature on not just the Celtic scene in Colorado. An album with instant appeal to anyone and everyone who enjoys a laugh with their Folk music.

Buy Glass To Mouth  CD/Vinyl

Contact The Stubby Shillelaghs  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

LET THE MUSIC KEEP YOUR SPIRITS HIGH – PART THREE

Welcome to the final installment of Let The Music Keep Your Spirits high. Over the last three Sundays Andy Nolan of the most popular and influential Irish band in England over the last 20 years – the Bible Code Sundays – has shared with us the history and meaning behind some of his songs. A fascinating trip through the Irish diaspora in England, Ireland and the USA and their historical figures. So here is Part Three (links to the previous two are at the bottom) so get yourself a cup of tea (or maybe something stronger) and sit back and enjoy.

GHOSTS OF OUR PAST

I wrote this about growing up in Hammersmith, West London during the 1970s and 80s. Most of the pubs around Hammersmith, Fulham and Shepherds Bush were Irish back then – ‘The Hop Poles And Swan’.
“You’re not wanted here, stopped by the law, comin out of the station, just like before”.
My dad used to get stopped by the police all the time going to & from work simply because he was Irish. ‘What’s in the bag Paddy?’ they’d bark, referring to his work bag holding his sandwiches & tea. The truth was they were looking for guns and explosives or to fit someone up. But for the grace of God go I – look what happened to the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven. My dad and his mates sometimes worked seven days a week on the buildings back then and were in the pub every night sinking back 15 pints. They’d still be up for work in the morning of course and they worked their fingers to the bone rebuilding this country. The ‘riverside strolls’ refers to our walks by The Thames and Hammersmith Bridge when we were kids and all the down and out winos (who were mostly Irish or Scottish) we’d meet along the way –
“the broken old men, battered and down, down by the riverside falling around”.

NOW WE’RE PRINCES

I wrote this as the soundtrack for my crime drama feature film project Clan London, which unfortunately didn’t receive the industry funding it required to go into production. Looking back, it wasn’t the right time for that movie to be made for several reasons which I won’t go into now. Rest assured and God willing it will be made one day with a fantastic cast and crew on board! The money we did raise through crowdfunding was used instead to make my two short films Tax City (Steve Collins, Jon Campling, Razor Smith) and Jack Mulligan (Terri Dwyer, Steve Collins, Dean Smith, Ruth Adams). Both films were premiered at BAFTA, Piccadilly to sold out screenings. Jack Mulligan won Best Overall Film at the Ambassador Reel Film Festival in Cork, Ireland and was premiered on the London Live channel in 2019.
We filmed the music video itself with Darren S Cook around Ladbroke Grove, West London where the Clan London storyline is set and also at Under The Bridge, Chelsea and Roughrockers Studio, Uxbridge. The lovely Lorraine O’Reilly sang on this track too which featured on our album New Hazardous Design!

NIGHT CROSSING

Next up – Night Crossing. I wrote this about the Syrian refugee crisis & the photo of the little boy Alan Kurdi RIP washed up dead on the shores of Turkey after his boat capsized while trying to reach Greece with his parents. I wanted to open peoples minds with a song written from the viewpoint of a refugee family embarking on a desperate & perilous journey to Europe. All too often we witness deplorable comments on social media such as ‘good, that’s one less of them coming over here’ when these tragic stories break. Where’s your humanity? Where is your solidarity? Imagine if this was your family living in a war-zone trying to escape being blown to bits on a daily basis, what would you do? Of course, you would do exactly the same thing & try and escape to give them a better life. And who sells the weapons of war to these governments – making profit from innocent people’s heartbreak? Yes, quite probably your own government so think before you judge!
We got the brilliant Brian Kelly in to play banjo & mandolin on this track which featured on our most recent album Walk Like Kings. Enjoy, rethink, reflect X

THE PITTSBURG KID

Well I couldn’t just write one song about an Irish American fighter could I? There’s so many to chose from! Our good friend Gary McDonald was onto me for ages to write a song about his adopted home of Philadelphia. The nearest I could get was Pittsburg (sorry Gary) because of my love for one of its finest sons. My affection for Billy Conn goes back to when I was a kid and the boxing stories my dad RIP used to tell me. He’d always be raving about Conn, Gene Tunney, Jack Dempsey, Gerry Quarry and Rocky Marciano:

‘My father told me when I was six
Of Billy Conn, the Pittsburg Kid
And as he spoke I wished that I had been there
To the Steel City his parents came
From Ireland’s shores in search of fame
The streets of S’Liberty became their home where –
William David Conn was born,
A tough street fighter, hands of stone
With film star looks and a left that fighters dream of….’
Conn really was a great looking dude and Morrissey even put a photo of him on the front cover of his 1995 single ‘Boxers’. He wasn’t just a pretty face though that’s for sure and in 1939 he met World Light Heavyweight Champion Melio Bettina in New York, outpointing him in 15 rounds and winning the World Light Heavyweight title. Conn defended his title against Bettina and twice against another World Light Heavyweight Champion, Gus Lesnevich. He also beat former World Middleweight Champion Al McCoy and heavyweights Bob Pastor, Lee Savold, Gunnar Barlund and Buddy Knox in non-title bouts during his run as World Light Heavyweight Champion.
But he will forever be remembered for coming so close to beating arguably one of the greatest fighters of all time – Joe Louis. In 1941, Conn gave up his World Light Heavyweight title to challenge the brilliant Louis who was now the World Heavyweight Champion. Conn wanted to be the first World Light Heavyweight Champion in boxing history to win the World Heavyweight Championship and to do so without going up in weight. The fight became part of boxing folklore because Conn held a secure lead on the scorecards going into Round 13 – unlucky for some! According to many experts and fans who watched the fight, Conn was outmaneuvering and outboxing Louis right up until that point. In a move that Conn would regret for the rest of his life, he tried to go for the knockout in Round 13 and instead ended up losing the fight himself by knockout in that very same round. Ten minutes after the fight, Conn told reporters ‘I lost my head and a million bucks.’
‘Of all sad words of tongue & pen
The saddest are ‘what might have been’
One night in ‘41 in New York City
For 13 rounds he outboxed Louis
Blew away The Bomber but his Irish pride for once was his undoing’
Sleep well Billy RIP.

RUNNING FROM OUR SHADOWS

This will be the final Bible Code Sundays track I’ll be posting written by myself with a brief description about the song. I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings on here over the last three Sundays. Thanks for all your very kind words and for taking the time to listen to the songs X
Next up – Running From Our Shadows. I wrote this as a submission for the movie Black Mass which starred Johnny Depp as the notorious, real life Boston gangster Whitey Bulger. Although they really liked the song, in the end the producers decided to go with one specific musical piece throughout the film. It is written from the perspective of a fugitive on the run from the law, his reflections on the life he has chosen, how it brought him to this point and how it has affected the ones he loves:
“I can hear the bells of home
As I whisper down the phone
It’s a Black Mass, baby
It’s that ancient Irish code
I will always be a part
Of your New England heart
So don’t stop lovin now the Feds are on us”
We shot the video for this with Adie Hardy at Panic Studios, Park Royal literally weeks before we lost our dear Carlton RIP. I couldn’t watch it for a very long time. It was hard to go back to that day when we were all together and having the craic as usual. Little did we know what the following few weeks and months would bring. We deliberately went for a dark, moody shoot to tie in with the film’s subject matter but it took on a whole new meaning when we lost Carlton. It’s like watching a moment in time now where darkness would soon descend on us all. Very surreal.
Once again we asked the brilliant Lorraine O’Reilly to sing on this track. Her beautiful vocals on here sound angelic. I wanted a female vocalist because the song is about the relationship between a fugitive on the run and the girl he left behind back in South Boston:
“I’m remembering the air
The colour of your hair
Those Old Colony girls
With their tough & friendly stare
The projects where we ran
Our dreams held in our hands
They were right from the heart
Letters written from my…”
We love and miss you always Carlton but we know you’re around us all the time. Until we meet again, save us a seat at the bar buddy.

The Bible Code Sundays have been regulars on the London Irish circuit for over a decade and continue to pack them in across London. You can catch the band or some variation of them on most days of the week somewhere in the capital. The best place to find out their gig dates is on their Facebook page. Their records are still available on Spotify above or Amazon and iTunes or at their gigs. Most recently they starred on the compilation album Quintessential Quarantunes featuring six bands, three from Ireland and three based in London and recorded during the lockdown.

ODDS’N’SODS. CELTIC-PUNK ROUND UP NOVEMBER 2020

We want to move away from just being ‘ReviewReviewReviewReview’ so we have started this monthly feature that comes out on the last day of each month. All news items that we otherwise miss will get a mention but I need YOU to be the eyes and ears if it’s going to work so send over to us any band news, record releases, videos, tours (not individual gigs though yet sadly), live streams, crowd funders etc., to us at londoncelticpunks@hotmail.co.uk or through the Contact Us page and it will go in here!

We start off November’s Odds’n’Sods with the shocking news that the classic FLOGGING MOLLY album Swagger celebrated its 20th anniversary (yikes!!!!) last month and it is now available remixed and remastered in a limited edition vinyl box set that includes a bonus LP, a never-before-seen DVD documentary plus full live performance, expanded lyric booklet featuring many unseen before photos and much more! Orders for the box set are now available at floggingmolly.com/swagger!

More news from FLOGGING MOLLY was the recent announcement that they will be returning to these shores next Summer for gigs in Manchester, Birmingham and north London. Tickets on sale here.

One of the best and productive scenes in Celtic-Punk is the one in Indonesia and one of the best of a great bunch is THE CLOVES AND THE TOBACCO who play Irish music just as if they were raised on the Emerald Isle itself. There’s not many who play Celtic-Punk and Irish music with this much talent and passion. Enjoy their great new video a bit subdued for them but still outstanding. ‘Denting Gelas Akhir Pekan’ from their new album Jalan Pulang.

The new album from Doyle Duff and his band has landed. Mistakes Were Made by ST. DOYLE AND THE LAST CALL PHILHARMONIC is available for download below.

Dutch Celtic band MAGGIE’S FLOCK continue to release a song a month through 2020. Autumn is upon us! Check out this atmospheric beauty!

BEAVER SECRET HANDSHAKE are from Helskini and have a EP out on YouTube and Spotify.

RUNA have released a cover of Hoagy Carmichaels auld hit ‘Buttermilk Sky’. The video was filmed in the French Quarter of New Orleans and I defy anyone not to enjoy it. Shannon has after all one of the best voices in Irish music.

THE PLACKS one of the brightest new bands in the scene released a new video/single ‘Sail Away’ about the Highland Clearances. Shot in Dunoon and Gourock and filmed in the first week of September. It’s been likened to an ad for Visit Scotland! Available for download for the princely sum of a fifth of a pint of beer here in London or under half a pint in Bonnie Scotland!

There was a time when SMZB were the sole Celtic-Punk band in China but since the arrival of Grass Mud Horse we could even start to claim their is some sort of scene now!! SMZB have a new album out of Punk with Pipes and its bloody great. Try and support this great band.

Speaking of GRASS MUD HORSE they have released a download only version of their debut album Beijing Bikini featuring ten songs never released before. These songs are from the band’s first year and are described as “very eclectic” and is made up of songs written in their first year together before they settled in as one of the best Celtic-Punk bands around.

Not Celtic-Punk but I really enjoyed the debut track from Scots band BRòGEAL. As they say themselves ‘four wise boys on that folk noise fresh outta Falkirk’ and it really is quite superb Celtic music. Send the lads a ‘like’ over at their Facebook Page as they just getting started.

Remember if you want your release featured then we have to have heard it first!

THE CUNDEEZ – Teckle An Hide

THE STUBBY SHILLEAGHS – Glass To Mouth (review later this week!)

ST. DOYLE AND THE LAST CALL PHILHARMONIC – Mistakes Were Made

SMZB – Once Upon A Time In The East

THE CLOVES AND THE TOBACCO Jalan Pulang

STEVE WHITE AND THE PROTEST FAMILY – The Debased Street Music Of The Vulgar

KILMURA – Hybris

Even doing this we still come across stuff we missed from the past that is worth another look. This time it’s something again a bit different… well a lot bloody different! Irish Meet the Blues by ANTONI O’BRESKEY is the first and as far as I know the only album ever recorded on piano where traditional Irish music meets Blues and Jazz. For Antoni “musical cultures are not defined by borders, but by historical roots that reach deeply across all areas of the globe.”

Another interesting band we just came across is ‘The American Irish band’ BEGORRAH. Celtic Punk/Metal band that formed in 2010 in New York City by music veterans Kevin Patrick Corrigan and Shane O’Connor. Begorrah have two albums out Molly B’gee in 2012 and Tough Guy Prayer in 2017 that you can listen to and download on Bandcamp.

Aussie band FOX’n’FIRKIN have a new song out ‘Get On The Boat’ urging us to get behind a fellow Brisbane Punk band they are mates with called Flangipanis. It’s out on Folk Til Ya Punk Records and is available for download here.

A plug for some good friends of ours over on Facebook. The Dropkick Murphys- Fan Page and the Celtic Punk, Folk And Rock Fans are two of the best music forums on FB let alone Celtic-Punk. Ran By Fans For Fans. Just like and join in the fun!

All we need to do now is for you to help fill this page with news and remember if you are new to the London Celtic Punks blog it is easy to subscribe / follow and never miss a post. Also if anyone is interested in helping out on the reviews front then let us know via the Contact Us page.

OCTOBER EPISODE OF THE CELTIC PUNKCAST #41 OUT NOW

You may have thought he’d forgotten but Gareth over there in Australia just managed to slip the October Celtic Punkcast out in time! It was released on Halloween so we are a couple of days later bringing it to you ourselves so dig in and enjoy just under an hour of the best Celtic-Folk-Punk Podcast anywhere on the t’internet.

Follow the link below and stream live or download to listen to later and enjoy!

G’day all and Happy Halloween (although let’s face it, 2020 has been a nightmare all year). Here is the October show, featuring some great new tunes, a couple of Halloween tracks and of course the best Celtic Punk, Celtic Rock and Folk Punk from all over the world. Here’s what’s on this months show:

BRACE YOURSELF BRIDGET – ‘The Rovin’ Scotsman’

GREENLAND WHALEFISHERS – ‘Halloween’

FIDDLERS GREEN – ‘The Galway Girl’

McSCALLYWAG – Coming Home’

THE GRINNING BARRETTS – ‘Armstrong Ave’

BENNY MAYHEM – ‘Mother Nature Will Have Her Revenge On Old Fatty’

CHARM CITY SAINTS – ‘Half Past 10’

FOX N FIRKIN – ‘Get On The Boat’

HUNKY DORY – ‘Panjang Umur Pekerja Keras’

THE GROGGY DOGS – ‘All For Me Grog’

BLACK ANEMONE – ‘The Devils Merry Go Round’

DIAMONDS AND GUNS – ‘The Lonesome Man’

GRASS MUD HORSE – ‘Loser Back Home’

LEXINGTON FIELD – ‘Win The Day’

SELFISH MURPHY – ‘Break The Silence’

THE POGUES – ‘Rain Street’

NO MURDER NO MOUSTACHE – ‘(Serial) Killer Product Placement’

THE CELTIC PUNKCAST #41

Contact The Celtic Punkcast  Facebook  WebSite  Shop  Twitter  E-Mail

Check out the London Celtic Punk interview with Gareth the ‘Podmaster’ here and find out what possessed him to join the #OneBigCelticPunkFamily. Also worth checking out was the special article written by Gareth for people who haven’t yet experienced the joys of Celtic-Punk- Bring Your Mates To The Hooley: A Starter’s Guide To Celtic-Punk here. In August 2010 they did a Special Edition to celebrate our tenth anniversary with a episode dedicated to the bands here that helped form and shape the London Celtic Punks from 2009-2019.

OíCHE SHAMNA SHONA DAOIBH! NEW HALLOWEEN SINGLE FROM GRASS MUD HORSE

Chinese Celtic-Punk band Grass Mud Horse release a special Halloween themed single today but do you know that Halloween is a lot more than trick or treating and fancy dress? It’s origins go back to Ireland over a thousand years ago. Regarded as time of ‘The Celtic New Year’ marking the end of summer and the end of the harvest period. 

Woah Oh Woah Oh feed the hungry ghost
*
Come to the sea and swim at night
Where the darkness keeps us out of sight
We’ll drag you down and hold on tight
accept your fate don’t try to fight
When your spirits gone and I’ll let myself in
I’m free to walk about inside your skin
Come swim with us late at night
Where the darkness keeps us out of sight
*
Woah Oh Woah Oh feed the hungry ghost
*
When you’re walking home late at night
Try to keep yourself in the light
If you hear your name whispered slight
Don’t turn around don’t respond take flight
When your spirits gone and I let myself in
I’m free to walk about inside your skin
So don’t go walking late at night
Where the darkness keeps us out of sight
*
Woah Oh Woah Oh feed the hungry ghost
*

The Dead are literally rising from the grave

It’s pure chaos mass hysteria
The gates of hell have been thrust open
The souls of the hungry and forgotten march forth to exact their revenge
We’ll stay with you to the very end
May God have mercy on us all
*
Woah Oh Woah Oh feed the hungry ghost
*
Our new album Beijing Bikini is a collection of recordings we made in our first year, most of these where written before we had a band name or any musical direction. Many of the songs deal with life in China from a foreigners perspective. One of the songs I’m particularly proud of is the Hungry Ghost. I wrote it during the Chinese Ghost Month festival. It’s actually a really annoying time of year, cos people burn paper money, cell phones, e-bikes, and even little paper guitars and houses and things in the middle of the streets. We have to close all our windows in the height of the summer.
Anyway I was told some stories about why they make these offerings and I thought it was some of the spookiest shit I’ve ever heard! They burn these paper offerings to keep the ghosts of their ancestors happy and satiated, because during the ghost month the gates of hell open and they (the ghosts) can return to earth. Ghosts who have been forgotten by their families or committed evil during their life return as really dangerous hungry ghosts.
One thing they warn is not to swim during at night as the hungry ghosts are waiting to pull you under and drown you. But the story I thought was really cool and spooky, was if you’re walking home late at night and you hear someone calling your name behind you, DO NOT look behind you…it’s a hungry ghost who wants to eat your soul. Me and Rocco wrote some lyrics and I put it to music in the style of horror-punk for obvious reasons. We’ve made this video for the song to reflect the halloween season and the times we’re currently living in. I hope you enjoy it very much and Happy Halloween! 饿鬼👹
Chris from Grass Mud Horse. Qinhuangdao, China

Beijing Bikini is available on download only from the Bandcamp link below. You can support the band by buying the album or even just the song if you wish for just a measly dollar!

To find the origin of Halloween, you have to look to the festival of Samhain in Ireland’s Celtic past. Samhain had three distinct elements. Firstly, it was an important fire festival, celebrated over the evening of 31 October and throughout the following day. The flames of old fires had to be extinguished and ceremonially re-lit by druids. It was also a festival not unlike the modern New Year’s Day in that it carried the notion of casting out the old and moving into the new. To our pagan ancestors it marked the end of the pastoral cycle – a time when all the crops would have been gathered and placed in storage for the long winter ahead and when livestock would be brought in from the fields and selected for slaughter or breeding. But it was also, as the last day of the year, the time when the souls of the departed would return to their former homes and when potentially malevolent spirits were released from the Otherworld and were visible to mankind.

SAMHAIN AND ITS PLACE IN THE CELTIC CALENDAR
The Celts celebrated four major festivals each year. None of them was connected in anyway to the sun’s cycle. The origin of Halloween lies in the Celt’s Autumn festival which was held on the first day of the 11th month, the month known as November in English but as Samhain in Irish.

The original Celtic year 

Imbolc: 1st February, Beltaine: 1st May, Lughnasa: 1st August, Samhain: 1st November

The festivals are known by other names in other Celtic countries but there is usually some similarity, if only in the translation. In Scottish Gaelic, the autumn festival is called Samhuinn. In Manx it is Sauin. The root of the word – sam – means summer, while fuin means end. And this signals the idea of a seasonal change rather than a notion of worship or ritual. The other group of Celtic languages (known as Q-Celtic) have very different words but a similar intention. In Welsh, the day is Calan Gaeaf, which means the first day of winter. In Brittany, the day is Kala Goanv, which means the beginning of November. The Celts believed that the passage of a day began with darkness and progressed into the light. The same notion explains why Winter – the season of long, dark nights – marked the beginning of the year and progressed into the lighter days of Spring, Summer and Autumn. So the 1st of November, Samhain, was the Celtic New Year, and the celebrations began at sunset of the day before its Eve.

THE ORIGIN OF HALLOWEEN’S SPOOKINESS

For Celts, Samhain was a spiritual time, but with a lot of confusion thrown into the mix. Being ‘between years’ or ‘in transition’, the usually fairly stable boundaries between the Otherworld and the human world became less secure so that puka, banshees, fairies and other spirits could come and go quite freely. There were also ‘shape shifters’ at large. This is where the dark side of Halloween originated.

To ward off the evil let loose at Samhain, bonfires were lit and people wore disguises to confuse the spirits and stop the dead identifying individuals who they had disliked during their own lifetime. They also made a lot of noise to unsettle the spirits and drive them away from their homes. The timid, however, would leave out food in their homes, or at the nearest hawthorn or whitethorn bush (where fairies were known to live), hoping that their generosity would appease the spirits. For some, the tradition of leaving food (and a spoon to eat it!) in the home – usually a plate of champ or Colcannon – was more about offering hospitality to their own ancestors. Just as spells and incantations of witches were especially powerful at Samhain, so the night was believed to be full of portents of the future.

DOWNLOAD A FREE BOOK ON HALLOWEEN

The National Folklore Collection, which is managed at University College Dublin, has published a free booklet for Halloween. It explains the origins of Halloween and explores old Irish tales, legends and customs. You can download it (pdf 950Kb) here: Dúchas – Halloween.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE POGUES – ‘BBC SESSIONS 1984 – 1986 (2020)

The first ‘new’ release from The Pogues for quite a while compiles all their various BBC Sessions between April 1984 and July 1985. This CD/ digital release includes two sessions not included on the recent vinyl version of this album. 

The Pogues – BBC Sessions is the definitive complete collection that The Pogues recorded for the BBC during that era. All the tracks date between 1984 and 1986 and thirteen of the recordings are previously unreleased. That is not to say they are unheard as apart from their initial airing they have long been available on bootleg tapes back in the day and CD’s plus most can be heard on You Tube too. The album is available on CD, digital and streaming platforms and will be released on October 30. If you have already heard of it then that is because a special vinyl only version was released for Record Store Day on Saturday 29th August. That release was limited to 5000 copies and only includes sixteen songs which begs the question why not make it a double album and include all the songs that would be on the CD/ digital release? The vinyl version was available for Record Store Day only but is still readily available around the net but shop around as it varies in price quite considerably.

Record Store Day is an annual event inaugurated in 2008 and held on one Saturday every April and every Black Friday in November to celebrate the culture of the independently owned record store. The day brings together fans, artists, and thousands of independent record stores across the world.

This twenty-three track album features a collection of songs from six separate live sessions from BBC radio shows: The John Peel Show (April 1984), The David ‘Kid’ Jensen Show (July 1984), The John Peel Show (December 1984), The Phil Kennedy Show (March 1985), The Janice Long Show (July 1985) and The Janice Long Show (November 1986). The album groups each session together in chronological order from their first session recorded in April, 1984 when they were still called Pogue Mahone.

TRACKS 

Broadcast  April 17th 1984 (as Pogue Mahone) on The John Peel Show
1)      Streams Of Whiskey*
2)      Greenland Whale Fisheries*
3)      Boys From The County Hell*
4)      The Auld Triangle
Broadcast July 9th 1984 on the David ‘Kid’ Jensen Show
5)      Dingle Regatta*
6)      Poor Paddy On The Railway
7)      Boys From The County Hell
8)      Connemara, Let’s Go*

Broadcast December 4th 1984 on the John Peel Show 
9)      Whiskey You’re The Devil*
10)    Navigator*
11)    Sally MacLennane
16)    Danny Boy
Broadcast March 2nd 1985 on The Phil Kennedy Show 
13)    A Pair Of Brown Eyes ***
14)    Muirshin Durkin ***
15)    Sally MacLennane ***

Broadcast July 11th 1985 on the Janice Long Show
16)    Wild Cats Of Kilkenny*
17)    Billy’s Bones
18)    The Old Main Drag
19)    Dirty Old Town*
Broadcast November 5th 1986 on the Janice Long Show
20)    If I Should Fall From Grace With God ***
21)    Lullaby Of London ***
22)    The Rake At The Gates Of Hell ***
23)    Turkish Song Of The Damned ***
     *** Not featured on RSD vinyl release  * Previously unreleased

The collection captures The Pogues sound as heard through their first three albums: 1984’s Red Roses For Me, 1985’s Elvis Costello-produced Rum, Sodomy & The Lash, and 1986’s If I Should Fall From Grace With God along with a handful of single B-sides and novelties like the immortal ‘Danny Boy’. Ten of the album’s twenty-three tracks were previously collected on the career-spanning box set Just Look Them Straight In The Eye and Say…Pogue Mahone!! released in 2008. From the first chords of ‘Streams Of Whiskey’ when they were still going by the Pogue Mahone moniker. They were fresh from a tour supporting The Clash and had recently signed to Stiff Records but the BBC were reluctant to play their debut single due to their name. Being a rough Irish translation of ‘Kiss My Arse’ had the BBC clutching their handbags and so the band reluctantly changed their name to The Pogues. Throughout the controversy John Peel was the only one to use their original name. The album covers The Pogues great range from moving ballads all the way to the raucous punk they were more than capable of and ends with a selection of songs that would appear on If I Should Fall From Grace With God released two years after the session they appear on here.

Buy The Pogues BBC Sessions  AppleMusic  Amazon  iTunes  Spotify

LET THE MUSIC KEEP YOUR SPIRITS HIGH – PART TWO

Our short series on the songs of Andy Nolan continues today with another five of Andy’s masterpieces. As a past member of Shane MacGowan And The Popes and Spider Stacy’s Vendettas he has a great musical legacy but it’s as accordion player and songwriter for London Irish musical tour-de-force The Bible Code Sundays that Andy’s songs have defined a generation. The words to these songs are now known and sung by fans across the world and their influence is immeasurable with many bands trying to capture the Bible Codes sound. No band since The Pogues have helped define what it is to be London Irish and it is a common feeling on watching The Bible Code Sundays that these songs speak directly to the heart of the listener and encompass the same feelings and much of the same upbringing and beliefs that we had too! As we said before Andy is also a talented screenwriter, artist, producer and author. He was born in Hammersmith, West London surrounded by immigrants from across the world and, of course, a more than healthy contingent from Ireland but as you can see here from his songs about Irish-America he knows the Irish diaspora very well. Among his many achievements are the short films Tax City, and Jack Mulligan. And if anyone out there has spare few hundreds of thousands he is still raising funds for the feature film Clann London. So without further ado and again with Andy’s kind permission here is Part 2.

McBRATNEY FROM THE KITCHEN

About the notorious Westies gang that operated out of Hell’s Kitchen, NYC from the 1960s through to early 2000. There had always been dangerous Irish gangs on New York’s westside since the 1840s, going right back to the Gangs Of New York era but none were more ruthless than the Westies. A favourite pastime of these volatile Irish American hoods was kidnapping Mafia guys and holding them to ransom until they received payments of roughly $150,000 each time. On most occasions the ransom was paid and the wiseguys were released relatively unharmed. On one occasion however, James McBratney along with Eddie Maloney and John Kilcullen kidnapped Vincent D’Amore a capo in the Gambino crime family and during the commotion on the street someone noted their licence plate & handed it over to the Mafia who by this stage were at their wits end with the wild, uncontrollable Irish mob. On 22 May, 1973 John Gotti along with two henchmen entered Snoopes Bar on Staten Island where, after a furious struggle with the 6 foot 3” 250 pounds McBratney, they finally deposited three bullets into the Irishman’s body at close range killing him instantly. This did not spell the end for The Westies, far from it. A new breed of bloodthirsty Irishers in the form of Mickey Featherstone and Jimmy Coonan soon followed in their predecessors footsteps. Rudolph Giuliani, a federal prosecutor at the time who would later become the mayor of New York announced a devastating RICO indictment against Coonan & the gang for criminal activities going back twenty years. Featherstone testified in open court for four weeks in the trial that began in September 1987 and concluded with major convictions for the gang in 1988. Coonan was sentenced to sixty years in prison on assorted charges while Featherstone remains in the witness protection programme.
I remember Spider Stacy telling me about the time The Pogues played at the NYC launch of TJ English’s famous true crime book ‘The Westies’ and the Westies gang threatened to bomb the event! The movie State Of Grace starring Sean Penn, Ed Harris and Gary Oldman is based on Coonan and Featherstone.

WHITEY

This caused quite a stir when we released it back in 2006 especially in Whitey’s home city of Boston! Some people loved it while others viewed it as a glorification of Bulger who had recently been outed as an FBI informer. Being a rat in the criminal underworld is of course unforgivable. The truth is I wanted the song to be a raucous foot stomper laced in both glorification and hatred, so while Whitey’s meteoric rise through the Boston underworld is revealed, there is also a dark undercurrent of menace in the chorus from his associates who wish to lure him to his death:
“Whitey, Whitey where the hell are you?
There’s a barroom of poitín here waiting for you,
All the boys here in Southie with Tullamore Dew,
For the South Boston chieftain a right loyal crew”
Whitey was at one time second only to Osama Bin Laden on the FBI’s Most Wanted List after he fled Boston and went on the run for 16 years! Karma eventually caught up with Boston’s most infamous gangster when he was finally captured in Santa Monica, CA in 2011 then murdered in his Virginia prison cell in 2018. The movie Black Mass starring Johnny Depp, Kevin Bacon and Benedict Cumberbatch is about Whitey and The Winter Hill Gang. Enjoy the song, or don’t fuckin enjoy it, the choice is yours!

MY TOWN

I originally wrote this for a Boston based mob movie called ‘Townies’ which was set in Charlestown MA and I wanted it to sound like The Rolling Stones with an Irish twist. The opening guitar riff is very ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ and we deliberately went for that vibe from the outset. It is written from the perspective of a young street hood working his way up through the ranks of the Irish Mob to become top dog in the city. The path he has chosen is a very dangerous one as he negotiates his way through age old, bitter mob family feuds but his lust for money and power knows no bounds. This kid will take out anyone in his way in order to become the King of Charlestown. ‘The Town’ starring Ben Affleck is also set in Charlestown and had a similar storyline to Townies which unfortunately never went into production

THE BOYS OF QUEENS

A tribute to the FDNY, I wrote this song about an Irish American family steeped in the tradition of the Fire Department of New York – but from the words of one son, a US marine, who finds himself behind enemy lines during the Iraq war. Just before he dies he recalls how he lost his father and brothers in 9/11 and longs to be back with his wife and children in his native Queens. No one has a monopoly on grief, but 9/11 hit New York’s Irish community hard. The Irish were the rock on which the FDNY and NYPD were built during their inception many years ago and sons traditionally followed their fathers and grandfathers into the ranks of the fire department and police – a tradition still prevalent to this day. When everyone else was running out of the Twin Towers, these guys along with their Italian, Puerto Rican and black American brothers were running in.
May they rest in peace.
The song was used in the CBS TV show Unforgettable in 2012.

THE LORDS OF WINTER HILL

The Winter Hill district of Somerville MA has a long, bloody history of deadly Irish gang wars played out primarily between The Winter Hill Gang originally led by Buddy McLean, Howie Winter and Joe McDonald and the Charlestown Mob headed by brothers Bernie and Eddie McLoughlin. The bitter feud began in 1961 and lasted until 1967 resulting in the deaths of more than 60 people. The song also outlines the arrival of the Famine Irish into Boston during the 1840s and the dramatic rise and fall of their descendants including the Kennedys via bootlegging and politics and Whitey Bulger who eventually became leader of The Winter Hill Gang. In typical Boston Irish tradition, Whitey’s brother Billy was a former Democratic politician, lawyer and the President of the Massachusetts Senate for 18 years. The long tradition of war veterans from these working class neighborhoods is celebrated too:
“We gave to you our sons
For the Stars And Stripes they stand
They fought in North Korea and they died in Vietnam
Shot down on the beaches, butchered in the fields
Then carried home to Boston and their homes in Somerville’
The chorus then is an anthem of adoration for the city of Boston from the hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrants who were forced to flee Ireland and make it their new home:
‘You opened your arms to me
We’re home from the sea
Boston, we love you still
Now forever the Lords of Winter Hill’
The outro details the age-old blood ties with the old country through Boston politics and gangsterism:
‘The Gustin Gang, the Mullens, The Provo’s and Killeens
Their blood ran down The Mystic and far across the sea,
Celtic cross and tombstones, a monument there still
To Ireland’s sons and daughters and The Lords of Winter Hill’
The reel featured throughout is written by the late, great Tommy McManamon who played with the legendary Shane MacGowan And The Popes. I swear I can hear his banjo on this track, can you hear it too? RIP Tommy.

The Bible Code Sundays have been regulars on the London Irish circuit for over a decade and continue to pack them in across London. You can catch the band or some variation of them on most days of the week somewhere in the capital. The best place to find out their gig dates is on their Facebook page. Their records are still available on Spotify above or Amazon and iTunes or at their gigs. Most recently they starred on the compilation album Quintessential Quarantunes featuring six bands, three from Ireland and three based in London and recorded during the lockdown.

LET THE MUSIC KEEP YOUR SPIRITS HIGH – PART ONE

ALBUM REVIEW: McSCALLYWAY – ‘Songs For The Wicked ‘ (2020)

McScallywag are an Dutch Celtic-Punk band. Influenced by traditional Irish Folk music, sea-shanties and good ol’ Drinking songs their second studio album Songs For The Wicked sees the light of day tomorrow!!

This year has been a tough one on all of us but has hit the music industry particularly hard. Most bands have had their album releases shelved, tours cancelled, and plans for world domination put on hold. It must be an extremely difficult time keeping the band members motivated when there is little chance of live performances or releasing new music. It isn’t easy for bands in the Celtic / Folk Punk genre to release a new album in normal times so to do so in the current climate is an exceptional achievement. Well our friends from the Netherlands, McScallywag have defied all the restrictions, lockdowns and other obstacles to deliver their new album Songs For The Wicked. What a brilliant achievement and what an excellent album!!

McScallywag top left: Ashley Buitenwerf – Electric Guitar * top right: Arian Sikkens – Lead Vocals, Banjo *bottom left to right: Ruud Platje – Drums * Talitha Barelds – Bass * Tom Kootstra – Acoustic Guitar * Frodo Bosma – Accordion *

McScallywag are based in Groningen, a city in northern Netherlands. The band was formed in 2013 when members of the hardcore punk band De Klootviolen decided to go in a completely new direction having fallen head over heels with Irish music. They describe themselves as “Dropkick Murphys meets The Pogues” McScallywag’s songs are full of what you would expect. Obviously the subject of drinking comes up but the band don’t confine themselves to being a stereotypical Celtic-Punk band and they intertwine songs about getting pished with the everyday struggles of staying sane in modern day society. Songs vary from mellow and acoustic to Punky and fast and as evidenced by their You Tube channel they are a pretty explosive live act as well.

Their debut album Dirty Water was released June 2016 their debut album Dirty Water was nine songs and half an hour of high tempo original Celtic-Punk that came out at a time when Celtic-Punk had never been as popular in the Netherlands. Circle J, Bunch Of Bastards, LQR, Drunken Dolly, Pyrolysis and The Royal Spuds are all plying their trade over there and we were even due to host a special Dutch Celtic-Punk night here in London till you know what happened! All these bands exist side by side with a sense of co-operation that ought to exist in every music scene. The music may be fast and furious and though acoustic it still owes much to Hardcore Punk in many ways. McScallywag are one of them Folky bands that plays as loud plugged in as not!

Mc Scallywag are a 6-piece band whose original roots come from hardcore punk but have developed into more traditional celtic folk but keep the raw punk edge. With a mix of guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, cello, drums and accordion Mc Scallywag make perfect drinking music. The accordion on the new album really catches your ear more so than on any other album I can remember. Its exceptional.

All songs written by the band themselves (no ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ here!) and were recorded at Twang Wolf Studio just outside Groningen. The excellent artwork for the sleeve has been done by Steven van Calcar and is crying out to be whacked on a t-shirt (hint hint!).

Although the band is less than 10 years old the new album has a very mature sound. It’s a mixture of high tempo tunes such as The Ballydesmond Polka, Out of Sight Out of Mind and Remember Me along with the slower pace of Run Away and Coming Home. A well-balanced album all round. Unfortunately, due to our current situation it’s not likely we will be able to join the McScallywag guys for a live gig anytime soon which is a real shame. So for now its hat’s off to the guys on the new album and hopefully well be able to catch you at the bar next year.

(you can stream or download Songs For The Wicked via the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Songs For The Wicked  Bandcamp (CD or Download)

Contact McScallywag  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

LET THE MUSIC KEEP YOUR SPIRITS HIGH – PART ONE

Photo- Paul Gallagher

Andy Nolan is best known on these pages as the accordion player and songwriter for the London Irish musical tour-de-force The Bible Code Sundays and as an ex-member of Shane MacGowan And The Popes and Spider Stacy’s Vendettas but there’s a lot more to him than just being an expert accordionist. Andy is also a talented screenwriter, producer and author. Born in Hammersmith, West London at a time when the Irish influence on London was at its greatest his songs speak not only of home in London and Ireland but stretch across the worldwide Irish diaspora with an special a focus on the United States. Among his many achievements he wrote and produced the short film Tax City, and the London Irish crime drama, Jack Mulligan, which premiered on London Live. Here over the last few weeks on his Facebook page he posted a brief description of a few of the standout songs he has written and the history behind the words. Well we thought it was too good not to share with you lot so with Andy’s kind permission here over the next couple of Sundays is Part 1 with Part 2 to follow next week.

THE SWAMP RATS OF LOUISIANA

A tribute to the 30,000 Irishmen who died in New Orleans digging out the New Basin Canal – a navigational waterway linking Lake Pontchartrain with the Mighty Mississippi. Over a four year period from 1832, thousands of Irishmen jumped into the swamps & dug in a straight line towards the lake. Many of them had been tricked by cotton brokers back in Liverpool that they were being transported to Philadelphia, Boston or New York which by now were already overflowing with poor Irish immigrants. Yellow fever and unforgiving heat ravaged workers in the swamps of Louisiana therefore the loss of black slaves doing such work was judged too expensive. As a result most of the work was carried out by Irish laborers who could easily be replaced at no cost with more and more now arriving by the boatload on a daily basis. Many were buried without a grave marker in the levee and roadway-fill beside the canal itself.

Abject poverty gave birth to New Orleans first criminal gangs such as the Corkonians, the United Irishmen and The Live Oaks. Sheehan, our hero in this song, becomes so demoralised at the hell-hole he now finds himself in that he throws down his work shovel for good and instead rises up through the ranks of the powerful Live Oaks Gang. I strongly recommend the book ‘Paddy Whacked’ by TJ English who covers this period in American history in greater depth!
A big thank you to Stephen Gara for his fantastic uilleann pipe playing on this track!

SEE YOU AT THE CROSSROADS

I wrote this song about my dear pal Noel Stephen Smith after reading his autobiography ‘A Few Kind Words And A Loaded Gun’ for the very first time many years ago. The title of the song was inspired by the opening pages where Noel dedicates the book to his son Joseph Stephen Smith RIP – ‘See you at the crossroads, kid’. Noel ‘Razor’ Smith was part of the notorious Laughing Bank Robbers gang from South London racking up 58 criminal convictions and spending the greater portion of his adult life behind bars. The dangerous outfit committed over 200 bank robberies but while serving a life sentence in prison Noel decided to turn his back on the life of crime teaching himself to read and write, gaining an Honours Diploma from the London School of Journalism and an A-level in law. Since then, Noel has been awarded a number of Koestler awards for his writing and has contributed articles to the Independent, the Guardian, Punch, the Big Issue, the New Statesman and the New Law Journal.
The melody instrumental throughout the song is taken from ‘My Lagan Love’ – an old traditional Irish song and I wanted the finished version to have that ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ vibe by The Cult – full of swagger and attitude!
“Racing through London in the pouring rain
I feel the rush go through my brain
Finger on the trigger, mask in my hand
Nothing can touch us, Butch & Sundance”
Noel has been a great friend & inspiration to me down through the years. We cast him in two of my short films Tax City & Jack Mulligan & he is now my literary agent for my own forthcoming true crime book Green Bloods. Keep marching on comrade & thank you for everything! Love ya mate!

THEY BUILT PARADISE

Our love for Celtic FC  is something we’re very proud of & the reason why I wrote this song. Formed in the east end of Glasgow in 1887 by poor Irish immigrants escaping genocide and famine back in Ireland, Celtic FC became a beacon of hope for those starving and penniless who made the short but urgent crossing over to Scotland. Andrew Kerins, also known as Brother Walfrid, was a Marist Brother from Ballymote, County Sligo who witnessed at first hand the plight of his own people in a very hostile and anti-Irish city of Glasgow. All soup kitchens in the city at the time were established by the Church of Scotland and in order to receive a meal there, the newly arrived, hungry Irish Catholics were ordered to denounce their own faith and convert to Protestantism before receiving it. Brother Walfrid, along with a group of fellow Irishmen including John McLaughlin, John Glass, John O’Hara and Willie Maley (and with the help of Hibernian FC who had already similarly been established in Edinburgh by Irish immigrants) immediately stepped in and formed a charitable football club in St. Mary’s Church in the Calton to stop this cruel exploitation of Irish refugees –
“A football club will be formed for the maintenance of dinner tables for the children and the unemployed”
The rest as they say is history!
We’ve been very fortunate and honoured to have been invited to play on the sacred pitch at Celtic Park on several occasions, including some unforgettable Champions League nights when we beat Barcelona 2-1 & also outside the Nou Camp itself! For me personally, supporting Celtic has taught me some invaluable lessons in life in regards to treating others with respect & offering both solidarity & charitable support to those who are still fighting their own injustices today – unity is strength

THE KIDS FROM THE CITY OF NOWHERE

Some of the stories here aren’t for the faint hearted, but they’re all true! I wrote this as a tribute to our London Irish community. For so long we were overlooked and dismissed like we didn’t exist but the truth was we were London’s oldest and biggest immigrant community who contributed so much in terms of rebuilding the UK’s decimated infrastructure after WW2. Musically too – John Lydon, Boy George, Kate Bush and Shane MacGowan are all born or raised in London of Irish parents, to name but a few. Chas Smash’s nutty dancing in Madness was heavily influenced by his own parents who were Irish dancing champions. I remember Chas and his ol fella used to come into our gigs in the Good Mixer in Camden Town many moons ago and they’d both be suppin Guinness and Irish dancing at the bar while we played. I reference the late, great Patsy Farrell too who was a singer in the James Connolly Folk Group. He was from Longford, as were my parents and Gavin Hayes dad Shay sang in the same group. They used to play all around Hammersmith (where I was born) when we were kids and on one occasion in The Salutation pub someone took exception to Patsy belting out the rebel songs and lobbed a penny at him. Patsy dived straight down off the stage on top of the culprit and made very short work of him – ‘down jumps Farrell on top of Thatcher’s man.’ The reference to the ‘high rise on the streets of Acton’ is when a group of my dads mates masked up and armed with hurley sticks dished out some sweet revenge on some bullies that were treating their wives and children like shit. They started on the bottom floor of the high rise flats and worked their way to the top until every culprit had been taken care of. Their families were never bothered again!
I remember us rehearsing this song for the first time in the back hall of the Adam And Eve pub in Hayes (thanks Anlon O’Brien). It wasn’t clicking and I was trying to explain to our dearly departed Carlton the drum feel I wanted but it wasn’t quite right. I jumped in my car, raced home and grabbed the B-side single of ‘Round Are Way’ by Oasis and drove back to the pub. I stuck it on the CD player & Carlton understood and got the rhythm straight away! Round Are Way is a big influence on this song. We even got Tony Rico Richardson and the brass boys in to record on the album version!

THE CINDERELLA MAN

I wrote this as a tribute to the incredible story of James J Braddock who defied all the odds to become Heavyweight Champion of the World back in 1935. The man he beat, Max Baer and nicknamed ‘The Killer’, had already killed Frankie Campbell in the ring while the mauling he dished out to Ernie Schaaf would contribute to his death five months later. Braddock was born in the Irish slum of Hells Kitchen, NYC until his family moved to Bergen, New Jersey. He came from a long line of fiercely tough Irish American boxers who at one stage ruled supreme in the early days of the noble art – John L Sullivan, Gene Tunney, Billy Conn, ‘Philadelphia’ Jack O’Brien, ‘Gentleman’ Jim Corbett, Tommy Loughran, ‘Terrible’ Terry McGovern and Jack Dempsey to name but a few. Forever the people’s champion but a huge underdog nonetheless, Braddock spectacularly beat Baer in a bruising 15 round battle to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World. He held onto the crown until he was beaten by a young Joe Louis in 1937.
The Hollywood movie The Cinderella Man (featured in the video above) starring Russell Crowe is based on Braddock’s life story. Russell famously tweeted this video (made by Padraig Clarke, a fan of our band) to his 3 million fans on Twitter which brought our band to a whole new audience! He would later sing on our most recent album Walk Like Kings! Thank you Mr Crowe!
The Bible Code Sundays have been regulars on the London Irish circuit for over a decade and continue to pack them in across London. You can catch the band or some variation of them on most days of the week somewhere in the capital. The best place to find out their gig dates is on their Facebook page. Their records are still available on Spotify above or Amazon and iTunes or at their gigs. Most recently they starred on the compilation album Quintessential Quarantunes featuring six bands, three from Ireland and three based in London and recorded during the lockdown.

LET THE MUSIC KEEP YOUR SPIRITS HIGH – PART TWO (soon!)

DANNY SHEEHAN – AMERICAN IRISH WARRIOR

Sending our greetings to the wee American-Irish warrior young Danny Sheehan.

DANNY SHEEHAN #1

Their is nothing worse than the illness of a child, Something Dan and Natalie Sheehan know all about after they received the news that every parent dreads. Their young son Danny was only four when he was rushed to the hospital emergency Room to alleviate Danny’s sporadic vomiting and terrible headaches. Subsequent scans would show there was an abnormal mass on Danny’s brain. Transported to Boston Children’s Hospital, Danny immediately underwent surgery for hydrocephalus, swelling of the brain caused by what is now known to be Pineoblastoma, an aggressive and cancerous brain tumor.

Danny with his Mum and Dad at home in Marshfield, Massachusetts.

Danny has battled the disease since January 2017 and Officer Danny (yes, he was made an honorary police officer in by his hometown Police Department last year!) is a cheerful, energetic, funny, gregarious, and loving little boy who revels in making friends and mischief. Life has not dealt him a good hand but Danny continues to battle on and remains positive. The embodiment of the ‘warrior spirit’ and a inspiration to us.

You’re the fighter, you’ve got the fire
The spirit of a warrior, the champion’s heart
You fight for your life because the fighter never quits
You make the most of the hand you’re dealt
Because the quitter never wins
No!

You can keep up with Danny’s fight by connecting with the Facebook Page 4TheLoveOfDanny which regularly updates his progress to his legions of fans and admirers. Head over there and leave a message of support and join us and lend your hearts, prayers, and love to Danny as he, his family, and medical team fight his cancer.

GOFUNDME FUNDRAISER

Sending best wishes to our mate Vinny at this time too. All the best.

ALBUM REVIEW: ShamRocks – ‘FCP LIVE’ (2020)

With a new studio album on its way ShamRocks, founding fathers of Ukraine’s Celtic-Punk movement and originators of ‘Stout Rock’ – a blend of Irish, Scots, Breton, Finnish Folk -release FCP Live a album that sounds like it could have been recorded down Mannions!
When exactly did the ‘clampdown’ begin? Well for me it was a bit earlier than most as a couple of days after St. Patrick’s Day my Doctor rang me and told me the date for an operation and so I was confined to base as it were. This made my long walk up to the local Lidl to get 4 cans of Guinness to watch the Dropkick Murphys Live Stream my last venture out for quite a while. While those few days saw some fantastic live music streamed over the internet with the Dropkicks, Brick Top Blaggers, 1916 and Bryan McPherson standing out in my memory one Live Stream deserved a much wider audience but went under the radar a little and that was ShamRocks from far away Ukraine. On March 20th the Bhoys got together with a bottle or two of Jamesons and played one hell of a show over Facebook and You Tube. One hour + of some of the best Celtic-Punk played that weekend.

It‘s been four years since the release of their acclaimed debut album Captains Log which hit the dizzy heights of the Top 5 in that years London Celtic Punks Best Of 2016. A real innovative and interesting album that took songs like ‘The Rising Of The Moon’ and  ‘Wild Cats of Kilkenny’ and injected them with just enough of the original but with an equal amount of themselves as well. They followed this up the following year with an EP Ye Olde Chariot which did even better at #2 in our Best Of 2017 charts so this is a band with a pretty good pedigree and one that we are big fans of.

ShamRocks left to right: Serge Vdovychenko – Lead Vocals, Bass * Andrew Neretin – Guitar, Vocals * Alexey Sletkov – Drums * Anatoliy Khomenko – Violin, Mandolin, Vocals * Sergiy Khudoliy – Keytar, Accordion, Vocals *

ShamRocks have continued to play and tour in the intervening years and plans were laid this year for their follow up album which has of course had to be delayed. So in the meantime ShamRocks have handed us this. A live album which has taken the songs from their St. Patrick’s Live Stream session and seamlessly edited them together. The album features songs from both previous releases and also a handful from their forthcoming album. ‘We’ll Be Drinking’ kicks off the album and we are straight into it. I commented before that they have a way of recording that gives it a real ‘pub feel’ while not taking away any of the professionalism and that is evident here. These guys must be one hell of a blast to catch live… Well of course you can kind of experience that via that Paddy’s Live Stream here.

A couple of songs fell by the wayside but thirteen survive and end up on this forty-five minute album. The guys do play some well trodden Folk tracks like ‘Leaving Of Liverpool’ but add to it a skanking beat making it as different a version as I have ever heard. It even closes with something more resembling Reggae! Next up is their ‘pièce de résistance’ the amazing ‘Rising Of The Moon’ which takes John Keegan Casey’s, the ‘Fenian Poet’, 1866 poem and conjures up something absolutely brilliant. The tune is still (mostly) intact but ShamRocks have real fun here mixing the Sex Pistols song Anarchy In The UK into it and while it may upset some folk music snobs purists I thought it was an absolutely fecking belter! Serge has a great voice for this Punk/Trad/Folk hybrid switching from one to the ther with ease. The band have Anatoliy covering the Celtic bases on fiddle and mandolin and Sergiy on the keytar manages to replicate bagpipes as well as a myriad of other sounds too. ‘Bring It On!’ is a new song and from this showing I’m very excited to hear the new album.

A very catchy and hard driven Celtic rocker followed by the Bobby Sands penned ‘Back Home In Derry’. A song that began behind the bars of the Maze Prison in the north of Ireland has become a staple of the Celtic-Punk scene over the last few years. Popularised first I think by Neck but here the song becomes a thrashing Punk-Rock classic. ‘Yellow Ribbon’ is the shortest song here. A cover of the trad Folk song that is also the official anthem of the United States Cavalry! Not a song you may think you know but wait till you hear it. Like every cover here they may change and adapt and add to the songs but they still manage to make them instantly recognisable. ‘Roll The Old Chariot’ is next and starts off in acapella style before the mandolin comes in and you may suspect that the time for a slow one is now but ShamRocks soon blow the lid off and the song ends off speeding towards the end with Sergiy’s keytar sounding remarkably like Tex-Mex trumpet! ‘Sails To The Wind’ is another new one and has an American Celtic-Punk feel to it while ‘Kiltartin Cross’, based on the poem ‘An Irish Airman Foresees His Death’ by Irish writer and nationalist W.B.Yeats, is a beautiful song and Serge’s vocals are fantastic as he sings in Ukrainian about an Irishman in WW1 fighting for Britain but dreaming off his home in Kiltartin in Galway. ‘Rogers Rangers’ is another new one and you get the feeling that the new album will be a lot more heavier Rock style then their previous stuff but still very much within Celtic-Punk. ‘Jacobites’ is the old Scots Folk rebel song, re-written by Robert Burns around 1791, about the 1688–1746 Jacobite risings. ‘F​!​C​!​P!’ is of course F**K Corona Patrick’s the name of this album and is dedicated to “all those who play Celtic-Punk… badly” and is a rollicking great ride through several styles of Celtic-Punk and has several auto-biographical passages I think! Great fun all together and one of the highlights of the album. FCP Live comes to an end with one of the great Irish Folk classics ‘Molly Malone’ and for once the Bhoys play the song straight up… except in Ukrainian!

ShamRocks are definitely one of the most innovative and original bands in the Celtic-Punk scene and usual deserve a much wider audience. The album is the fully fledged ShamRocks experience with no ‘post-production magic’ or any such nonsense, just the live mix with a bit of mastering on top and edited together to make something pretty damn good. I’m not a fan of live albums usually but every now and then I hear one that really hits the spot and as an example of their old and new stuff it’s well worth getting while we wait for their new album. I will end with the words I used to review their album as i don’t think I have said it better since.

“There is plenty to upset the folk purists (or snobs as I prefer to call them) here but these people like to keep Folk music locked up in a box. Put away and kept out of the hands of people who (in their opinion) don’t respect or cherish them as much as they do. Their way is noble yes but is also a surefire way to kill off folk music. They attacked the Dubliners and then The Pogues in their time and now they fawn longingly over the bands they once called sacrilegious.”

(Download or stream FCP Live on the Bandcamp player below) Buy FCP LiveBandcampHereContact ShamRocks  </