EP REVIEW: FLATCAPS & FISTICUFFS- ‘Raspberry Cheesecake’ (2017)

*FREE* download of the debut release of delicious country Folk-Punk from Flatcaps & Fisticuffs from the town of Berkhamsted!
Ukulele, mandolin, guitar, cajon, trumpet and a fragrant hint of rap!
You know when you have made it as a band when you find other bands being compared to you and so it is with Matilda’s Scoundrels and Flatcaps & Fisticuffs. They are by no means clones but I think you could easily bracket them in the the same style of folk-punk with a bit of celtic-ness! I literally found out about them this week so made the short leap to the free download and bloody loved it so thought I’d get in touch with the guys and find out what’s the score with them. Long, long ago is how it usually starts but not this time! Duncan the mandolin player had just arrived in England from South Africa and on meeting Ben the guitar player in a pub and over a few (!) beers it was suggested they start a band. The hardest thing about starting a band, I’m reliably informed, is to find a drummer but they already knew one so it wasn’t too long before they progressed from playing open mic gigs in pubs around Hertfordshire to making their own folk punk sound with uke, mando and other standard band instruments.
The band hail from Berkhamsted, a historic market town in Hertfordshire in the south of England. Now any new appearance of a band in England even remotely sounding just a little celtic-punk is a joyous event to us and so we were more than a little excited to press play and see if they warranted all this excitement.
…well I am glad to say it’s a blooming excellent EP and you’d have to be a right mug not to take them up on their fantastic offer of a free download of it.

Flatcaps & Fisticuffs left to right: Ben- Guitar / Backing vocals * Duncan- Mandolin / Vocals * Adam- Uke / Vocals * Ben- Drums * Will- Percussion / Vocals * Tom- Bass

Raspberry Cheesecake begins with ‘Socks’ and it’s right up my alley with this ode to yer man’s socks hitting all the right notes for me.

“My socks, my socks, without them I’d be lost”

Fast paced with plenty of slow bits and a lovely gang chorus that’s easy to singalong to. It’s a bit daft but hey-ho give me the Toy Dolls over The Subhumans any day of the week. As stated already it has a tinge of Matilda’s Scoundrels about it with classic English folk and punk colliding and almost very nearly spilling over into celtic-punk.

On ‘Capo On A Jew Harp’ it’s more of the same if not punked up a bit but just as accessible and as catchy. The lyrics take a harder edge while still keeping the fun element. Politically directed lyrics but with a good sense of humour thrown into the mix is always going to be a winner. Bland virtue signalling has had its day and with the world seemingly on the brink every couple of months we want our politics to lift us don’t we? The final song here is a cover of the, frankly annoying, New Zealander Lorde’s debut single ‘Royals’. While her version is ok Flatcaps & Fisticuffs blow her away with the cobwebs with the catchiest little number here. The uke stands out loud and proud and it all has a bit of a celtic-ska thing going on. Seriously a fantastic number and enough here to keep fans of about five different genres delighted!

Raspberry Cheescake (where on earth did they pluck that name out of??) was released only last month and so we have been lucky to have found it so quickly. Flatcaps & Fisticuffs have made it available for free so just follow the link at the bottom of this review and I am absolutely certain you will be extremely glad you did. In this country we don’t have a wealth of bands playing this style of music so when one comes along its always a bit of an event and even better when they deliver something so special. So now that we have found them our next step is to get them on the short road to a London Celtic Punks gig. So here’s what to do… download the EP, find them and then like them on Facebook (link below) and lastly keep an eye out for them playing very, very soon. Enjoy!

Download Raspberry Cheesecake

*FREE* FromTheBand *FREE*

Contact Fisticuffs & Flatcaps

WebSite  Facebook  Soundcloud  Twitter  YouTube

While plans are afoot to bring Fisticuffs & Flatcaps for a London Celtic Punks show you can catch them at The Horn in St Albans on 18th of January, Nottingham on the 27th of January for a Homeless charity fundraising gig (TBC) and in London for somebody else at the Finborough Arms in Kensington on the 3rd of February. See you at the bar!

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ALBUM REVIEW: DECLAN O’ROURKE- ‘Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine’ (2017)

Declan O’Rourke delivers an amazing album of extraordinary true tales from the most tragic period in the history of Ireland. Fifteen years in the making he takes the best of traditional Irish music and the heart of modern song-writing for something truly special.

Sometime around 1570 Spanish soldiers returned from their ‘adventures’ in South America with a tuberous vegetable that at the time was only native to the Andes. It didn’t take long before the potato as it became known became very popular and was found to grow extremely well from one end of the continent to the other as well as having a beneficial effect on the diets of those, mainly poor, Europeans that ate them. The potato grew especially well in Ireland and was grown in every space imaginable. Irish farmers were with very few exceptions tenant farmers and had no rights on the land they farmed. They also grew an abundance of wheat, barley, oats and cattle but this was sold by the farmers to their absentee landlords living in England and placed on ships for export. The food that maintained the British Empire was all produced in Ireland.

The nutritional value of potatoes was high because the skins could be fed to pigs and chickens and if a farmer was lucky enough to have a cow, their diet, based on the potato was highly nutritious. However, potatoes have predators. One is a fungus, blight, which destroys the entire plant from the leaves to the tubers below. Sometime in the mid-1840s, one ship sailing from South America introduced potato fungal spores into Ireland. The result was catastrophic, with every farm infected with the blight by 1846. With the primary food source cut off, the Irish began starving while exports of Irish produce (the so-called ‘English beef’) continued, sometimes by armed guard to protect it from the starving and dying. The so-called ‘famine’ became known instead as Án Gorta Mór, Irish for ‘The Great Hunger’. The blight did not just affect Ireland and all over Europe the potato crops failed but those countries stopped exporting food so they could feed their own people. This did not happen in Ireland. It took months during 1846 for the news of the condition of the Irish to reach the United States. There money was collected and aid shipped to the Ireland. Many of these ships were stopped and prevented from finishing their journey with the aid often going to feed horses.

So it can be clear and without doubt that the famine was no famine at all. An island famous for farming could easily have fed itself but an attempt was made to wipe the Irish Catholic from existence. The authorities claim the population of Ireland at the time was 8 million in an attempt to lessen what was done. It is widely acknowledged as an underestimate with some scholars imagining it was more like 11 million meaning over 5 million people starved to death, cutting the population almost in half. With very few exceptions, the response of English society was one of denial. The government and capitalist class in England viewed it as a superb opportunity to cleanse Ireland of their poor, ignorant tenant farmers. Absentee landlords stepped forward with offers to pay passage to any starving Irish willing to emigrate. The conditions aboard the ships that carried them to the United States were horrendous and when they arrived, the exploitation continued as soon as these poor souls stepped off the ships and their oppression continued but the Irish survived and now almost 170 years from the peak of Án Gorta Mór the Irish community continues to prosper in the USA.

Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine is the new album from Irish singer-songwriter Declan O’Rourke and tells the story of the ‘famine’ in a

“an attempt to bring fresh air to an unhealed wound, and to remind the Irish people of what we have overcome through an examination of what has lurked just below the surface of collective memory for so long”.

It was as an immigrant himself in Melbourne that he first learnt to play the guitar after moving there at 10 years old when his family upped sticks from Dublin. Trips back and forth from home to ‘home’ continued well into his mid-20’s and finally having settled in Dublin he released his acclaimed debut album Since Kyabram in 2004 and followed up this success with Big Bad Beautiful World three years later. A stint with a major label followed and led to more critical and commercially successful releases which brings us pretty much up to date and an admission here that before this album I had only heard the name Declan O’Rourke so had no idea what to expect from this album except having an 2nd-generation Irishman’s interest in the subject matter.

The album was inspired by a night spent in a old Irish workhouse with his Dad. These were the places that the poor and starving turned to as a last resort but many found no help due to the sheer numbers of desperate and dying seeking help. Many died and many more were turned away. While making this album Declan found out that his Grandfather was born in a workhouse giving himself a very real link to the people that illustrate this album.

The album begins with ‘Clogman’s Glen’ and a mournful fiddle and as soon as Declan’s voice comes in it instantly shines through strong and proud. Reminiscent of Damien Dempsey in tone and Christy in manor it’s a beautiful and moving song that tells of a husband singing to his wife of the time before the famine when life had been good to them. Now all that they had known had changed and was gone forever. Ireland was a extremely religious nation at the time of the famine and could be seen as the major reason why Protestant Britain wanted to wipe the Catholic Irish off the face of Ireland. In ‘Along The Western Seaboard’ a priest laments that

“When we need to feed so many, and there’s not even for the few”

and curses the British for their cruelty at letting the people die. In this song Án Gorta Mór is explained. The Damo comparisons continue with the passion literally seeping from Declan’s voice. ‘Buried In The Deep’ is the horrific story of the coffin ships that left Ireland with the sick and diseased crowded onto them. Emaciated, filthy and near dead the mortality rate aboard reached 20%. Many ships were lost at sea, and deaths were so common that the dead were simply thrown overboard without so much as a word of prayer or comfort said over them. A beautiful song with Declan accompanied by harp and pipes on this stunning lament to those poor souls. Emotion spilling out it brought a flush to my cheeks as the realisation of what happened hits home.

‘Poor Boy’s Shoes’ is next and its upbeat start belies the sad origins of the song. Inspired by a line from John O’Connor’s book ‘The Workhouses Of Ireland’ it was the first song Declan wrote of this collection

“The man who carried his wife from the workhouse to their old home, mile after weary mile, and was discovered next morning dead, his wife’s feet held to his breast as if he was trying to warm them…”

as Declan says “I had stumbled into a chapter of history I knew almost nothing about. I wanted to be a witness, to share these stories the best way I knew how, through music”. An ending that will bring a tear to your eye as it did to mine. A punch to the gut as life is suddenly turned upside down for a very real family, The Buckley’s, and it beggars belief how any survived at all. He brings the story vividly and heart wrenching alive to us.

And there he tried to warm her cold feet through, And they found him there, in poor boy’s shoes”.

The bodhrán kicks off ‘Indian Meal’ and its driving rhythm tells of the removal of food while at the same time…

“There’s ships leaving’ full of pigs, heifer, and lambs
Some transportin’ convicts to Van Diemen’s Land
We’re hemorrhagin’ barrels of butter and grain
And all that comes back in, and all that remains is…
Indian Meal, Indian Meal, Indian Meal”

The government and forced labour schemes fed the poor, if they were lucky, a tasteless and un-nutritious porridge that did little benefit. The British Government found wanting and unable to hide the stench of the dead creeping across the Irish Sea responded with feeble ‘relief’ in an attempt to conceal their guilt. The stunning beauty of the harp helps ‘Mary Kate’ on its way and sorrowful the pain at having to leave your beloved ones behind and heart-breaking doesn’t even begin to measure its words. The true story of Irish girls ‘saved’ by being sent overseas. In the song Mary Kate is chosen to leave to Australia while her younger sister is to remain.

She tells her sister at the dock that she will she see her again knowing full well that to stay means death. The harp remains for ‘Laissez Faire’ which was the name given by the British to the system that believed that the free market will solve everything. That it is unethical to intervene in nature and that helping the poor only makes them lazy and dependent. An experiment that would lead to millions of deaths. The song makes mention of the help and aid given by the Quakers, among others, in America while at home and in Britain help was reluctant and miserly. Catholics were offered soup but only on condition that they renounced their Catholicism which led to the derogatory term ‘soup taker’ for any Irish Catholic who betrays their religion and country.

“Swap your Catholic halo for a Protestant hoop and give up your place in heaven for bowl of soup”

‘Rattle My Bones’ is a moment of lightheartedness among the tragedy as Declan starts off acapello before joined by accordion and soon has the ‘bones’ of a sea-shanty going. ‘The Villain Curry Shaw’ tells of a family leaving for Nova Scotia on board the Hannah setting sail from Newry on 29th April 1849. This true story tells of the ships sinking and the captain and two officers who left the sinking ship aboard the only lifeboat, leaving passengers and the rest of the crew to fend for themselves. 49 died and 130 were rescued from the freezing ice. His cowardice has gone into the history books and is now immortalised by Declan for all. The laments over for a moment ‘Johnny And The Lantern’ is for me the best song here capturing both the tragic times as well as the famous irrepressible Irish shining through. The Irish always fought the invasion of their country and again the upbeat and cheerful tune belies the subject but surely the demise of an absentee landlord is a time for celebration is it not. The landlords that sucked the land dry that farmers farmed were quick to evict when rent became hard to pay as Án Gorta Mór began to bite. Well fed on the back of their peasant farmers they were despised from one end of Ireland to the other.

‘Johnny And The Lantern’ tells of an anonymous Irish farmer shooting to death one such landlord, Manning, on the road in Delvin, Westmeath and, as is further illustrated on the cover of the album by the band dressed in ‘famine’ clothing, his body is cut to pieces.

‘And the last thing they buried, Were the hands that took the rent’.

On an album filled with melancholy and calamity your heartstrings are in constant danger as on ‘The Connaught Orphan’. Declan’s voice pulls the emotion from the tale of a young 6 year old boy who starving and all alone is provided with a new set of clothes by an American Quaker women. She wonders why the young lad is unhappy at his new outfit.

“I’ll surely die of hunger now
If they see me with your nice new clothes
They’ll think I’m telling lies, and that
I have a mammy feeds me so”

The awfulness of the situation is captured perfectly.

The inscription on the cross reads: Cailleadh Clann na nGaedheal ina míltibh ar an Oileán so ar dteicheadh dhóibh ó dlíghthibh na dtíoránach ngallda agus ó ghorta tréarach isna bliadhantaibh 1847-48. Beannacht dílis Dé orra. Bíodh an leacht so i gcomhartha garma agus onóra dhóibh ó Ghaedhealaibh Ameriocá. Go saoraigh Dia Éire – Children of the Gael died in their thousands on this island having fled from the laws of foreign tyrants and an artificial famine in the years 1847-48. God’s blessing on them. Let this monument be a token to their name and honour from the Gaels of America. God Save Ireland.

The story of those coffin ships is told in ‘The Great Saint Lawrence River’. Between 1845 and 1851 over 1,500,000 people left Ireland on diseased and vermin-infested ships rampant with disease.

“When I die they’ll put me over, We’re buried in the deep, Where hunger cannot find us”.

In the midst of Án Gorta Mór the U.S placed restrictions on the amount of Irish flooding into the country so unable to land the ships sailed on to Canada but the extra weeks meant many more perished. A 46-foot high Celtic cross stands at the highest point in the St. Lawrence River, thirty miles from Quebec. Grosse Île served as the quarantine station for immigrant ships and boar witness to the terrible devastation that brought Ireland’s destitute to the New World. It is estimated that between 12,000 and 15,000 are buried here. The largest mass grave of Án Gorta Mór victims outside of Ireland. The album ends with ‘Go Domhain i do Chuimhne’ a spoken word song.

Ach na dearmaid ar gcaithú, Cuimhnidh lámh ar an mead, A tháinigh muid tharais, Más féidir linn cuimhniú, is teacht ar an tuiscint, Más féidir linn tuiscint, maith (far an) croí.

(But don’t forget our sorrows, And all of our sadness, Reflect on all that we have overcome, If we can remember, we can try to understand, If we understand, we can learn to forgive).

Spoken first in the language of Ireland and then repeated in English it is a call to remember the tragedy of those times and of the loss that we suffer as a nation both collectively and personally. This winter marks the 170th anniversary of Án Gorta Mór reaching its peak. Events that haunt us yet. The island hasn’t recovered either with the population still far below what it was in the 1840’s. It saw the Irish scattered to the winds and their orphans are still with us today with over 80 million across the world claiming Irish heritage. It is a truly electrifying way to close this outstanding album.

Growing up in England we were never taught at school about Án Gorta Mór. Maybe they thought the reality of what happened and the obvious blame at whose door the dead should be laid to rest would be too much for us, instead we found out at home in hushed bedside stories and tales around fires. My own Great-Grandfather left Ireland and lost all four of his children and wife before returning to Ireland many, many years later to marry again and start a new family. Stories we all have if we look for them. This album covers Án Gorta Mór in a most sensitive and beautiful way. Never shying away from apportioning blame to the ‘richest nation on the earth’ and telling the story of real men, women and children. People from history who lived and died in those terrible times. During ‘Go Domhain i do Chuimhne’ Declan urges us to keep our heritage, traditions and language alive. The Irish people owe Declan a great service for what he has produced here and maybe its too much to ask for it to be put on the British school curriculum but it warrants it so. It’s an emotional ride alright with several songs the tears arriving. It has taken Declan 15 years to deliver Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine and on it he is ably assisted by a wealth of Irish musicians including John Sheahan on fiddle, Dermot Byrne on accordion, Gino Lupari on bodhran and Mike McGoldrick on pipes, whistle and flute and I can honestly say that in all my 47 years I have never heard anything that evokes Án Gorta Mór in such a moving and evocative way.

Buy Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine

SignedVinyl  SignedCD  Amazon

Contact Declan O’Rourke

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In writing this review I owe a huge debt to the following- my Grandfather, Michael Joesph Wilkinson. Missed every day. Dave McNally of Folk Radio UK here for his outstanding review here and Stair na hÉireann which provides invaluable help with articles on every aspect of Irish history here.

Further Recommended Reading:

Let Ireland Remember

Irish National Famine Memorial Day

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

Irish Holocaust –Not Famine: The Push To Educate In Fact’s

(Declan O’Rourke performs two tracks, ‘Indian Meal’ and ‘Poor Boy’s Shoes’ and talks about the album and his reasons for recording it)

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

It’s the first of December so let your pint glass be half full for a change and get into the festive spirit with what started as a Top Ten but but soon became the London Celtic Punk’s Top Twenty of the best kick-arse Christmas celtic-punk tunes ever written and absolutely no surprises at #1.

20. THE PRIESTS FEATURING SHANE MacGOWAN-  ‘Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth’

Yeah you read that right. It may not quite reach the heights of Bing’n’Bowie but feck it nothing this man does is anything short of brilliant!

19. THE RUFFIANS- ‘Christmas In Killarney’

The Ruffians cover the holiday classic Christmas in Killarney on their 2005 Christmas EP Together at Christmas.

18. REILLY- ‘Paddy’s Christmas’

Milwaukee Celtic punk band Reilly’s version of Snoopy’s Christmas, now called Paddy’s Christmas on their 2008 album Kick Ass Celtic Christmas.

17. THE GOBSHITES- ‘Christmas Eve in the Boozer’

Boston Celtic punk band The Gobshites’ cover of the Yobs’ Christmas Eve in the Boozer. On The Gobshites’ album When the Shite Hits the Fan.

16. IRISH ROVER – ‘Christmas Time In Hells’

Performed entirely by  Rover MacChroi and one for the miserablists out there. This guys glass is definitly half empty!

15. DROPKICK MURPHYS- ‘AK47 [All I Want For Christmas Is An]’

Proof the Murphs can do no wrong…

14. THE REAL McKENZIES- ‘Auld Lang Syne’

Now not strictly a Christmas song but I’ve met Scots who actually enjoy Hogmaney (New Years Eve) more than Christmas!

13. THE MAHONES- ‘Angels Without Wings/Merry Christmas Baby’

From The Mahones 2012 album Angels & Devils here is their awesome Christmas song featuring Felicity Hamer.

12. SHANE MacGOWAN- ‘Christmas Lullaby’

Gotta love this tune. Irish blues with a punk rock edge. McGowan nails it again.

11. STIFF LITTLE FINGERS- ‘White Christmas’

Belfast punk rock legends, and still going from strength to strength, cause Bing to rotate in his grave with this which appeared on the B-side of ‘The Edge’ 7″ in 1979.

10. SHILELAGH LAW- ‘Christmas in New York’

Christmas is many things to many people. I will always remember that a good mate Steve died on Christmas Eve and so it’s also a good time to think of those who have passed and raise a glass to them. Here’s a tribute to the victims of the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, by NY’ers Shilelagh Law.

9. MALASAÑERS- ‘Xmas Tree’

Rousing celtic-punk from Spain and available to download for free at: malasaners.bandcamp.com. Watch out for their new album due any day soon.

8. FINNEGAN’S HELL- ‘Drunken Christmas’

Sweden’s Finnegan’s Hell deliver an unorthodox Christmas anthem and yeah, yeah, yeah some Irish stereotyping sure but get over yourselves. What is it you think The Dubliners sang about? My house at Christmas was more like this than what you see on the BBC I can tell you. Anyway judge for yourself!

7. CelKILT- ‘Santa Santa!’

CeltKilt from France even released a full album of Christmas themed songs Kiltmas Songs! in 2015 and as they say themselves, and it sounds better in French I think, “festive celtic rock celtique festif”.

6. THE WAGES OF SIN- ‘Merry Christmas from the Wages’

Enjoy the festive sights, sounds, and smells of the season with Wages Of Sin and their first, and possibly last, holiday single!

5. DARBY O’GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE- ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’

Possibly a bit much for this Catholic Bhoy to bare so if you of a delicate disposition skip to #6. It is hilarious though from this Oregon band from their 2007 album Christmas Songs for Drunken Atheists.

4. THE GENTLEMEN- ‘Oi! To The World’

Oi to the world! so said old punkers The Vandals and this cover by The Gentlemen from West Virginia captures perfectly. One of the celtic-punk scenes most under rated bands does anyone know what became them? Any family opening up Christmas presents to this album is an top one in my book.

3. THE NARROWBACKS- Prodigal Son(I’ll be home for Christmas)

Part filmed at Paddy Reilly’s in New York this song actually brought a tear to my eye when I first heard it. After a couple of years of not speaking to my Mammy after a stupid argument we had only just made up. Kids look after your family. Keep them close and love them lots.

2. THE DROPKICK MURPHYS- ‘The Seasons Upon Us’ (2016)

Unfortunate to go up against The Pogues this is The Murphys superb Christmas epic. Hilarious video of Irish-American life. Sure to lift the spirits.

1. THE POGUES FEATURING KIRSTY MacCOLL- Fairytale Of New York

When you see other Christmas best of list’s they always put ‘Arguably the greatest Christmas song of all time’ well we’ve no time for that bollocks. It is without a doubt THE greatest Christmas song of all time so there! R.I.P Kirsty

so there’s our Top Twenty. If you think we missed any post in the comments as is usually the way with these things we couldn’t stop there so bubbling under here’s one to play loud and proud!

…and so we end with some great words “let’s not fight tonight”. Just listen to The Ramones instead.

EP REVIEW: HEADSTICKS featuring STEVE IGNORANT- ‘Lies, Lies, Lies’ (2017)

The new four track EP from northern England folk-punk powerhouse Headsticks featuring the legendary voice of Mr. Crass Steve Ignorant.

On first listen to this you may wonder why its being reviewed on these pages. After all we pride ourselves on being celtic-punk and covering (or trying to cover) every aspect of the Celtic music diaspora. While this has seen us feature everything from trad to metal to hip-hop the one kind of music that we haven’t really gone into is what I use to describe as ‘festival music’. The sort of alternative folk-rock pumped out for the last few decades by the likes of New Model Army or The Levellers. But they do own, much like everyone in England!, some rather special Celtic credentials too with the bands roots firmly in the ashes of two much loved, and sadly long gone, celtic-punk bands ‘Tower Struck Down’, who were one of first English celtic-punk bands back in 1985, and Jugopunch.

Headsticks (not The Headsticks) hail from the once proud industrial town of Stoke once amed for the manufacture of pottery (the area is known as The Potteries), coal mining and steel making. All of the areas main industries are long gone having been decimated by successive governments of Labour and Tory who care nothing for the working class while they chase the votes and follow the whims of the urban ‘chattering’ classes. They have featured on this site before with reviews of their debut album, Muster and their follow up Feather And Flames. Both albums were very well received and have seen the bands star rise with each release and having graced the 0161 Festival in Manchester among others and even reached London several times, each time with a growing number of fans.

While there is nothing particularly ‘Celtic’ going on within this EP what you do get is four songs of expertly played catchy as hell and in-yer-face folk-punk with a biting and still humorous at times social commentary which takes well aimed strikes at those who blight our lives with their misrule while all the time knowing exactly who their music is aimed at.

“It’s a social commentary that the working classes can easily relate to…..we aim to make people stop and think with our songs and it does seem to do that! It’s not so much about smashing the statues and setting fire to the government buildings, but more of asking people to look outside their own bubble, basically to start giving a shit before it’s too late!”

The band describe themselves as “where folk and punk collide” and is as perfect a way to sum them up in five words as could be imagined. The songs start side 1 and ‘Big Game Hunter’ and features the unmistakable dulcet tones of the one and only Steve Ignorant of seminal English anarcho-punk band Crass. We have all seen the photos on Facebook of these utter shits standing next and smiling over the corpse of some amazingly beautiful animal they have shot from safety while on safari. While our hope is that they turn the tables on these monsters it rarely happens and ‘trophy hunting’ only seems to be getting more and more popular among the rich and powerful. Maybe one day they will doing it to us? The song has managed to catch both the typical sound of Headsticks and a couple of Steve’s better previous bands pitched somewhere between Schwartzeneggar and the Stratford Mercenaries.

“Arrogance personified, the abuse of wealth and power”

Side 1 comes to an end with ‘Dying For A Lie’ which gives its name to the record. The sad tale of war criminal Tony Blair and the lies. lies, lies that he told to bring us to war in Iraq. The song is catchy and a real head nodder for those of us well past our moshing days. Like a lot of their previous stuff there are touches of country music here and there and it all makes for an enjoyable romp with a nice fist in the air chorus to shout along to.

Flipping over we have side 2 and we are off with the fantastic folk-punk anthem ‘Soaps & Costume Drama’. The recent fad of fancy BBC dramas is a world away from the lives of most people and nowhere on this EP do the words resonate so powerful.

“She escapes into another costume drama, as she waits for her knight in shining armour”

Absolutely classic Headsticks and it sees the welcome introduction of one of my favourite instruments the harmonica too. The disc comes to an end with ‘You’re Killing Me America’, both a band and a crowd favourite re-recorded from the Muster album. It’s brought slap bang up to date beginning with Donald Trump’s voice starting the song off and I would say the rough edges are gone but I don’t think the old version had any but they have added something to it besides a few samples but its kind of hard to put your finger on it. It may have only acoustic guitar and harmonica as ‘folk’ instruments but Headsticks have an unmistakable traditional English folk sound that I’m sure would appeal to all fans of celtic-punk.

(a live version and without the samples and harmonica and extra flourish of the version on the EP but just to give you a wee taster!)

The whole thing comes in a package of a 10″ record on red vinyl that is quite possibly the most beautiful package we have ever received at London Celtic Punks towers. You don’t just get the record either with a whole bunch of stickers, postcards, lyric sheet and download code included. Having been around a bit I’m more than happy to see the resurgence of vinyl even if I do personally listen to most of music on my mobile! The band have also released a live album recently and we will be getting round to that soon but the urgency and honesty and just plain good old fashioned folk’n’roll from their album’s is still very much in evidence and while they may be heavy on the mind they are also light on their feet. An EP of four superbly crafted songs that reflect perfectly what the band represent- the place “where folk and punk collide”.

Buy Lies, Lies, Lies

FromTheBand

Contact Headsticks

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Tower Struck Down WebSite here

EP REVIEW: BogZH CELTIC CATS!- ‘Kazh al Lagenn’ (2017)

Celtic celtic-punk and rock, rage and Celtic swing from Naoned.

Rearranged and adapted Breton rock, trad Irish and Scottish Celtic rock’n’roll punk-folk.

Released last month this is the debut release form the latest Breton celtic-punk band to grace these pages. Earlier this year we published a review of the great debut album from Sons Of O’Flaherty. In that review we told a faction of the history of Brittany so rather than go over it again hightail it here and learn a little of the story of this proud Celtic nation. The Breton’s have embraced the celtic-punk revolution with open arms and bands like Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs, The Maggie Whackers and Sons Of O’Flaherty use their Celtic heritage and music to push for more civil rights and recognition for their language.

BogZH Celtic Cats! were formed in late 2014 out of the ashes of famed Breton rock band Daonet by three of their former members. Daonet were a rock band playing dynamic rock music with celtic rock melodies with lyrics mostly in Breton embodying the image of a free, conscious and future-oriented Brittany. Hervé and Gilles were drummer and bassist in the Daonet and were playing in a rock and blues band Bogzh until they were joined by JJ, blues harp player and singer and Hervé’s brother, Fabien who also played in Daonet and Gilles son Gwenolé on both bass guitar and upright bass though not at the same time! The band started off with a repertoire of celtic-punk classics from the likes of the Dropkick Murphys and the Real McKenzies as well as adapting some traditional folk songs of Brittany, Ireland, Scotland and singing in a combination of Breton, English and French. Kazh al Lagenn is the bands first release and came out last September. Self produced and distributed by the band themselves it’s truly a DIY release and a sign of the healthy celtic-punk scene in Brittany.

The EP begins with ‘Ye Jacobites By Name’ a traditional Scottish folk song written in 1791 by the legendary Scots poet Robert Burns. The Jacobites were Scots rebels trying to return James II, the last Catholic British monarch,  to the throne after he had been deposed by Parliament during the Glorious Revolution. The series of battles took its name Jacobitism, from Jacobus, the Latin form of James. With the defeat of the Jacobite army at the battle of Culloden in 1746, the union of England and Scotland was sealed, and this song is a call to the Jacobites to take up Scottish independence but with a more anti-war outlook. Recorded untold times through the years it’s a song that lends itself well to celtic-punk and BogZH Celtic Cats! give it a good seeing too playing with a heap of gusto with strong performances from all.  Starting off with some lovely western overtones before the band jumps in and harmonica, pipes, electric guitar, bass and drum taking us firmly into celtic-punk territory. Fast and catchy before slowing down and speeding back up again before ending on a flourish. Gilles’s voice is powerful and backing vocals from the rest of the band are equally as strong. Next up is the EP highlight for me the extremely brilliant ‘An Avel’ ( meaning ‘The Wind’). I love harmonica and wish it was more widely used in celtic-punk circles. Sang in Breton the song is catchy as hell and harks back to the days of Daonet with a song fit to grace any rock bands set. We are in Ireland next for a song covered by just about everyone in the scene and it takes a lot to get much of a rise out of me for ‘Star Of The County Down’ these days but BogZh Celtic Cats! keep it slowish and rocky rather than punky and yeah it’s fine and faithful to the original.

Does the scene need another cover of this admittedly great song? Probably not but there’s a very good reason why songs like these are so popular and while we may be a little jaded on hearing it we have to realise that to fans of BogZh Celtic Cats! it’s quite possibly a new song to them. The pipes are the standout on the next track ‘Kenavo Da Viken Ma Breur’ (meaning ‘Farewell My Brother’) and in the longest track on the EP the Bhoys really go for it and at times it could drift off into Goth or Post-Punk but always Celt.

Dropkick Murphys ‘Prisoner’s Song’ from their Signed And Sealed In Blood album is given a faithful and if anything outCelts the Murphys on this great track. The EP ends with the lads version of the traditional Breton folk song ‘Son Ar Chistr’ and those elements are out in force again and it’s a winning combination for me. As a punk with a few Goth tendencies I love that that they aren’t just a straight up punk band but something a little different. Vocals on the EP are shared between JJ, Gilles, Gwenolé and Fabien and work extremely well.

A great way to start their recording history and another welcome addition to the Breton scene. With bands like this the Celtic revolution is in safe hands. While they may not be as celtic-punk as say the Sons Of O’Flaherty they have taken the rock sound of Daonet and embraced punkier elements to it and come up with something that actually sounds quite fresh to these ears. The only problem being that five songs is not enough and we want to hear a lot more from these.

BogZH Celtic Cats! from left to right: JJ- Harmonica, Vocals * Maxime- Bagpipes, Vocals * Corentin- Tin Whistle * Gwenolé- Bass Guitar, Upright Bass, Vocals * Fabien- Folk/Electric Guitars, Vocals * Hervé- Drums * Gilles- Tenor Banjo, Guitar, Vocals.

(you can listen to Kazh al Lagenn for *free* on the Bandcamp player player below before you buy. Available as download or CD)

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You should also check out THE FOLK’N’PUNK BRIGADE which is a local celtic-punk collective similar to London Celtic Punks. A group of friends and musicians from French bands The Moorings and Saints and Sinners and Breton bands The Maggie Whackers and Sons Of O’Flaherty- Facebook

The Celtic League is an inter-Celtic political organisation, which campaigns for the political, language, cultural and social rights, affecting one or more of the Celtic nations- Facebook  WebSite

Gilles from the band also runs an extensive Blog featuring both Daonet and BogZH Celtic Cats! as well as heaps of Breton and Celtic music so check that out here- WebSite

ALBUM REVIEW: THE LUCKY PISTOLS- ‘Where The Orioles Fly’ (2017)

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To put it as simply as we possibly can The Lucky Pistols are an Irish folk punk band based out of Baltimore, Maryland. There.

Back in the year 1816 only 6,000 Irish people immigrated to America but within just two short years tragedy and an deliberate attempt to wipe out an entire race this number would double and would sadly continue to grow for the foreseeable future.  The greatest spike in the number of Irish who immigrated to America came during 1845-1853 the time of The Great Hunger which completely devastated Ireland.  In 1846, 92,484 immigrated and by 1850 that number had grown to 206,041. By the end of 1854 over two million had immigrated to America, astonishingly this was over one quarter of the population of Ireland. These were the lucky ones with the dead left by the roadside at home and many more dying on what became known as ‘Coffin Ships’ on the long torturous journey to what they hoped was a better life. It was during this dramatic exodus that Baltimore experienced it’s boom in its Irish population with close to 70,000 arriving in the city in the 1850’s and 60’s. Those who arrived in Baltimore settled in the southwestern part of the city with the men working for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the women finding work usually as domestics. The work was hard and dirty and dangerous but as employment opportunities were scarce and these Irish immigrants were mainly farmers so due to their lack of skilled labour, they faced a great deal of discrimination and were viewed as inferior people. They lived in tiny crowded and subdivided homes. Unable to afford better housing they were still better off than if they had stayed in Ireland and despite the low wages they were still were five times more than the eight pence a day that a farmer back home earned.

Baltimore became the third most common point of entry for European immigrants, behind New York and Boston.  In 1867, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad entered into a partnership with the North German Lloy Stemship Line to build immigration piers at Locust Point.  The ships landing at Locust Point would drop off German, Irish and English immigrants.  From there, immigrants could immediately go and work for the railroad or board a train and continue westward. The Irish experience in Baltimore was not a happy one but one of hardship and challenge.

Their children are The Lucky Pistols.

The Lucky Pistols left to right: Tony Graham- Bass, Backup Vocals * Sean Suttell- Guitar, Mandolin, Harmonica, Lead Vocals * Jay D’Annunzio- Drums (joined after release of the album. Drummer on the album is Matt Toronto) Victoria Renee Grier- Fiddle (Joined after release of the album)

The roots of The Lucky Pistols rather surprisingly begin in the German town of Heidelberg in a band called The Cold Shots. Pistols and good mates Sean and Tony spent five years ago playing Irish folk punk supporting many great Irish punk bands like Paddy And The Rats and The Mahones. As is the way with many immigrants the lure of home became too great and on the break up of The Cold Shots Sean and Tony moved back to the United States in 2013. After a short break Sean began playing solo gigs on the Irish pub scene in Baltimore and Annapolis and it wasn’t long before the Bhoys got the bug and decided to give it another shot and have been trying out their style of Irish folk punk on the east coast ever since.

Where The Orioles Fly is The Lucky Pistols debut album and to their absolute credit have made it available a free download so regardless of what you are about to read you ought to download it straight away. After all who is to say our opinion is worth anything anyway? The album begins with ‘Songs Of Ireland’ and straight from the off its fast paced acoustic Irish folk-punk. Yeah my favourite! I get off on this stuff I really do. A tale of drinking with mates and belting out Irish songs is, I am sure, familiar to many of you. My own brother when he was younger and hadn’t embraced his Irish roots as much as some in the family (ahem…) still knew the words to the entire Irish emigrant songbook. Catchy as hell and that north American celtic-punk sound that definitely has crossover appeal in that it is basically folk music for punks.  I love the harmonica and it is sadly underused in celtic-punk but used to great effect in ‘Girl At The Gallows’. Two songs in and you get a feel for what The Lucky Pistols are about and it’s good. The album’s title song, ‘Where The Orioles Fly’, rolls in next and the oriole is the official state bird of Maryland and the name of the local major league baseball team and tells of Sean and his journey home from across the sea.

Sean’s voice leads the band along and is the more stronger for it. The songs tell stories in that Irish tradition and also in the tradition of Ireland a few drinking songs wouldn’t go amiss and more importantly those warning of the perils of the demon drink and ‘Moonshine (Howlin’ At The Moon)’ is the first here. Country influence especially strong here but not of Nashville but of working men and women far away from rhinestones and glamour. There follows a group of songs with much in common. ‘Downtrodden’, ‘Back In The Harbour’, ‘Walls Of Misery’ all tell of the various struggles of those at the bottom of the ladder. Sad to say not everyone is a “king in the US of A”.

It’s not all doom though as ‘Regrets Are A Waste Of Time’ tells of dusting yourself off when life drags you through the dirt. Great sentiments and not many know the truth of that as much as the Irish do. The music so far has been fast and flowing steady but what I have been waiting for has been a kick-arse ballad and finally I am rewarded with the wait with the penultimate song ‘Drink With You’. Every celtic-punk album needs one and as it the way they usually revolve around a drink or two and The Lucky Pistols don’t buck the trend. Mind you I wouldn’t say its completely a ballad but it still rolls along beautifully and you can class it as the album’s epic. Where The Orioles Fly ends with the classic Irish standard ‘God Save Ireland’ and a song that is very rarely covered which is a shame as both the words and the tune I’ve always thought would make it the perfect song to ‘punk’ right up. Written back in 1867 it was the unofficial Irish national anthem up to the 1920’s and tells the story of three Irishmen executed in Manchester, England for their part in the ambush of a Police transport. The ambush achieved it’s goal of the release of two of their comrades but a shot fired at the lock of the van inadvertently caused the death of the police guard. In the ensuing weeks many local Irish were rounded up and eventually three men were sentenced to death. Despite none of them having fired the fatal shot Michael Larkin, William Phillip Allen, and Michael O’Brien were put to death and became known as the Manchester Martyrs. The songs lyrics were released the day before their execution on 23rd November 1867.

“Climbed they up the rugged stair, rang their voices out in prayer,
Then with England’s fatal cord around them cast,
Close beside the gallows tree kissed like brothers lovingly,
True to home and faith and freedom to the last”

The Lucky Pistols turn in an utterly fantastic version what is without a doubt the highlight of the album. Fast and catchy and thigh slappingly brilliant. A song that is built to last and no better tribute to those people mentioned at the beginning of this article. Sean the vocalist and songwriter of the band takes his inspiration from his Irish nannie (like a true Irish grandson!) and Maryland has a rich Irish culture which is celebrated throughout the year. Throughout the USA Irish culture is holding firm against globalisation and ‘mono-culture’ and bands like The Lucky Pistols play more than their fair share in aiding that. That their music speaks to the grandchildren of those brave Irish souls who settled in Baltimore many years ago is undeniable but their feisty mix of acoustic folk-punk laded with plenty of Irish ‘oompf’ with gather many friends of the Irish around the hearth too.

(you can download for free this fantastic album but if you can spare a dime or enough for a Guinness even then follow the link but listen first here)

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ALBUM REVIEW: CHRISTY MOORE- ‘On The Road’ (2017)

Christy Moore is one of a handful of people who brought Irish folk music out of the backroom sessions in pubs and homes and out in to the mainstream. With influences from rock, pop, and jazz music he is one of the architects of modern Irish folk music.

Released this very day is On The Road the new album from Irish music icon Christy Moore, a two-disc, 24-song set of classic tracks Christy has made his own in an incredible fifty years of touring and recording. The tracks have been recorded in seventeen live venues from London to Westport, Glasgow to Galway, over the past three years and is the first time Christy’s biggest tunes have been made available on one album. Of course with a career as long and successful as his not everyone will be happy and personally I would have liked to have seen some of the songs that gained him notoriety in the 1980’s when he was the bain of the Irish establishment recording tracks such as ‘They Never Came Home’ about 1981’s Stardust fire where 48 people died at a Dublin nightclub. Christy was hauled before the courts and fined and had his album withdrawn for suggesting, quite correctly, that the fire exits being chained was the reason for the disaster. ‘The Time Has Come’ described the last meeting of a hunger striker and his mother receiving regular plays on Irish Radio until it was revealed exactly what the song was about and it was subsequently banned. One song included here though banned at the time was ‘Mcllhatton’, which along with ‘Back Home in Derry’ was banned after it was discovered they were written by Bobby Sands whilst in prison. So there is no ’90 Miles From Dublin’ but what were we to expect. Much of the material here is of the leftfield kind and while ‘Viva La Quinte Brigada’ may have been the embodiment of everything the Irish government hated upon it’s release the years have been kind to this roll call of the brave Irishmen and women who left Ireland to fight Franco and the fascists in 1936 Spain. With his political output having ground to a halt, hopefully temporarily, it is Christy’s renowned sense of humour that takes centre stage. It is on songs such as ‘Joxer Goes To Stuttgart’ about Irish fans travelling to Euro 1988, in West Germany and, utilizing the same tune, ‘Delirium Tremens’ telling of his alcoholic demons, an idea later stolen by indie rock band Carter USM for ‘Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere’, that Christy’s music comes alive with the audience enthusiastically singing and clapping along.

“Goodbye to the Port and Brandy, to the Vodka and the Stag,
To the Schmiddick and the Harpic, the bottled draught and keg.
As I sat lookin’ up the Guinness ad I could never figure out
How your man stayed up on the surfboard after 14 pints of stout”

As much as I love the more raucous and lively tracks there is no denying the beauty of the slower songs here. Well known standards such as ‘Nancy Spain’ and ‘Cliffs Of Dooneen’ are putty in his hands extolling emotion that not many can squeeze out of a song heard countless times. One of the highlights of the album is his take on The Pogues ‘Fairytale Of New York’ and his half whispered voice and relaxed guitar adds another dimension to this amazing song. It ends with Christy whispering of a night on the lash with Shane in Tipp and it is breath-takingly beautiful. There is a new song in the shape of ‘Lingo Politico’ dedicated to politicians everywhere! The quality of these recordings is simply outstanding and they have been edited together superbly to make an album that flows and ebbs beautifully. Accompanied by a booklet that tells you every single thing you need to know about these recordings. Christy’s voice is strong and powerful when needed and gentle and kind at other times. Their can’t be many who need an introduction to his recordings but to those who love him and those looking for an introduction to his best work this can be recommended mainly because of that excellent production..

AN ORDINARY MAN By Scott Feemster

Christopher Moore was born in Kildare, Ireland in May, 1945. His father owned a grocery shop while his mother was a keen music fan and was often caught singing around the house to Clancy Brothers records. Christy and two of his five siblings, Ailish and Barry, all went on to be notable singers, Barry adopting the stage name Luka Bloom later in life. When Christy was young, he became aware of the deep well of Irish folk songs, though, at the time, he was more impressed with rock’n’roll than folk tunes. Regardless of influence, he took up the guitar and bodhran and played briefly in a band with who would become his long-time collaborator, Donal Lunny. When he was out of school, Christy took a job as a bank clerk in Dublin and became fascinated by the local folk scene. Though he played a few gigs he couldn’t work his way into the Dublin scene as much as he wanted, and when a labour strike struck in the mid 60’s he decided to pack it in and move to England to find work. Christy spent the next few years gaining quite a reputation in England with his mix of traditional Irish and British songs and towards the end of the 60’s he decided to take the next logical step. Managing to get noted songwriter (and brother of Brendan) Dominic Behan to produce an album of traditional folk and political songs called Paddy On The Road (1969) and it has become something of a rarity in later years since only 500 copies were pressed. Though thrilled that he finally had an album to show for his efforts, he was disappointed that the English musicians backing him didn’t have the proper feel for the Irish material he was presenting. Christy moved back to Ireland and set upon finding some musicians who could play the fiery brand of politically-charged folk music he wanted to produce. Moore teamed up with his old friend guitarist/bouzouki player Donal Lunny, uillean piper and whistle player Liam O’Flynn, mandolinist Andy Irvine and bodhran player Kevin Conneff to produce Prosperous (1972), an album that marked a turning point in Irish folk music. Suddenly, younger Irish musicians were taking up traditional instruments and songs and injecting new urgency and fire into them. This combination worked so well together that they decided to carry on as a group, calling themselves Planxty. Touring relentlessly and recording the landmark Planxty (1973) and The Well Below The Valley (1973).

Moore set to work on a solo album that would show all of his strengths, and decided to split Whatever Tickles Your Fancy (1975) between an acoustic side and an electric side. The acoustic side featured Moore’s voice, guitar and bodhran playing, while the electric side was similar to the folk-rock style Fairport Convention were popularizing around the same time. Moore followed it up with his self-titled Christy Moore (1976), this time concentrating on acoustic-based narrative folk songs that were his strength. Moore took on a heavy schedule of touring and playing gigs but kept his connection with his former Planxty bandmates, and by late 1978 the original four members were keen to try the band again adding fifth member flutist Matt Molloy to the band and recording three further album’s between 1979 and 1983. Wanting to branch out from the traditional sound put forth by Planxty, Moore joined with Lunny in 1981 and formed Moving Hearts, who combined traditional Irish music with contemporary elements from rock and jazz. Other members of Moving Hearts included guitarist Declan Sinnott, saxophonist Keith Donald, bassist Eoghan O’Neill, drummer Brian Calnan and uillean piper Davy Spillane. Protests against internment, the ‘H Blocks’ and in support of the hunger strikers led to several bans and Christy’s outspoken opinions left him no friends in the establishment. Two politically-charged albums resulted, Moving Hearts (1981) and Dark End Of The Street (1982), before again Christy left to concentrate on his solo career.

To say that the 1980’s was a busy period would be an understatement, as Christy managed to be a member of Planxty, Moving Hearts and a solo artist all at the same time. He released a whole series of solo albums throughout the 80’s, including The Time Has Come (1983), the critically acclaimed Ride On (1984),  Ordinary Man (1985), Spirit Of Freedom (1985) Unfinished Revolution (1987) and Voyage (1989), with guests including Sinead O’Connor and Elvis Costello. If Christy wasn’t enough of an Irish national treasure with his work in the 70’s, his output during the 80’s combined with populist political commentary in his lyrics cemented his stature in Irish music as Ireland’s equivalent of America’s Woody Guthrie.

Moore entered the 90’s still touring and releasing albums, though slowing down a bit to near human levels. Releasing the over-produced Smoke & Strong Whiskey (1991) before a more traditional, stripped-down sound with King Puck (1993). The rousing Live At The Point(1994) followed but in 1997, Christy’s decades of constant touring, combined with his attraction to copious amounts of alcohol finally caught up with him. Told if he continued performing at the level he had been his heart would kill him he retired to take care of his health, but soon returned to the studio to make Traveller (1999), a giant left turn for Moore. The album was techno-pop utilizing synthesizers, drum machines and heavily effected electric guitar, along with the usual traditional Irish instrumentation. The album was greeted by surprise by Christy’s fans, but was generally well reviewed. He planned a return to performing live again in 1999, but his health still wasn’t up to it using the down time to his advantage writing his autobiography, One Voice (2000).

Though it looked like his days of heavy touring were over, he was not done recording getting together with Donal Lunny and Declan Sinnot for This Is The Day (2001), which, sound-wise, split the difference between his earlier stripped-down acoustic records and the sound captured on Traveller. Moore followed with a series of low-key appearances in Dublin, and after being profiled on an Irish TV special, renewed interest was shown towards Planxty, and Moore joined with Lunny, Irvine and O’Flynn for some reunion shows. Planxty kept their reunion open-ended, and did not rule out working together in the future but Christy returned to his solo career with the critically-acclaimed Burning Times (2006), which featured his own compositions mixed in with covers by such songwriters as Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan and Morrissey. Again, Moore took to playing some shows, although in a much more low-key manner, and put out the double album Live In Dublin (2006). Recent years have seen no let up but with his releases now tending to be of the tribute/live/greatest hits variety he is still a regular visitor to this side of the Irish sea and although recently the admission fee’s have been somewhat expensive he still remains one of Ireland’s most treasured performers and, dare I say it, now part of the establishment.

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ALBUM REVIEW: GHOSTTOWN COMPANY- ‘FolkRock’ (2017)

An original German band with their debut album a mix of modern day folk-rock but steered by traditional influences of Irish-Celtic music and American country music.

Not long ago in the summer of 2015, as tends to be the way with these things, two mates with an interest and a background in both folk and rock bands decided they wanted to combine the two and get a band together. With a handful of shows booked they set out on the search for fellow enthusiasts and having quickly agreed on the name Ghosttown Company they roped in a few acquaintances and the search was completed in October 2015. The band’s name describes the places left behind by the Irish during ‘The Great Hunger’ in the mid 19th century when millions were forced to leave Ireland in search of survival and a better life. Rehearsals soon followed culminating in a successful debut local gig in Saarbrücken. Not wasting any time at all the Bhoys took to the recording studio making their first Demo and after a further run of accomplished gigs the band signed a contract with Prosodia publishing company and so it has been a short journey to their debut album the rather aptly titled FolkRock, released in July this year.

Now celtic-punk and all things Irish are incredibly popular in Germany and we have gone over this several times including recently with reviews of albums by Restless Feet, Pitmen, Jamie Clarke’s Perfect The Distillery Rats and The Crooks And The Dylans. Here in England the celtic part of celtic-punk is often underplayed and many bands while actually playing celtic-punk and using Irish and Celtic tunes persist in calling their music folk-punk or attribute the said Irish tunes as English. This special affinity that German’s hold for the Irish means they don’t fall for such bullshit and hypocrisy and they completely go for the Irish/Celtic part and this makes the German scene one of the best in the world. Time and time again when I have met German folk I have been impressed by their knowledge of Irish culture, music and history. That Celtic are by far the most popular foreign team among German football supporters is testament to that affinity. There are several theories for this but my guess is that the Germans love a drink and a good party so it makes perfect sense for them to team up with the Irish. That and maybe perhaps a grudge against a certain nation as well has brought us together?

Ghosttown Company are not unusual among the German celtic-punk scene in that they play mostly acoustic folk music. Yes with the spirit of punk but this is celtic-punk played under the influence of Country, Americana and rock whilst butting shoulders with traditional Irish and Celtic songs. The album starts with ‘Shooting Star’ and they kick off with the album’s top song. Catchy is surely the most overused word when reviewing things so instead of repeating it throughout just assume every song is ‘catchy’ it will save us both time. The European celtic-punk bands love the flute and I am a late comer to the brilliance of this instrument (thank Firkin for my conversion) and it works wonders here. ‘Far Away’ is up next and is a more solid rock number with saxophone and chugging guitar driving it along. Now I’m not sure if the world needs another version of a famous folk trad classic and here it is ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ that gets the folkpunk treatment. Since the advent of recorded music the same songs have popped up for a reason and it’s a little rich to slate modern day celtic-punk bands for it when my Mammies record collection from the 50’s/60’s/70’s must have a thousand different versions of maybe 5 or 6 songs in it. More Dubliners than Thin Lizzy needless to say it’s a great cover and the Bhoys do it justice playing it with a hoe-down twist with added “Yee-Hars” and pub soundtrack. So far the band that is in the back of my head are The Men They Couldn’t Hang and on ‘Plastic World’, the LP’s longest song, you can hear it as well as feel it with the lyrics of the song. That ‘English’ influence continues with next track ‘Clowns In A Game’. One of the album highlights is the outstanding ‘Greenlands’ which takes us on a mesmerising journey through Ghosttown Company’s musical abilities. The music swirls and twines building up and up before relaxing again and repeating. The whole band plays their part and this must surely be a huge live favourite. While they can cut loose you also get the feeling that some songs like the following, ‘Going Down’, would benefit from the same and bit of ‘anarchy’. Another celtic-punk classic next with ‘Black Velvet Band’ and bands love this as it’s slow build up gives them a chance to go f**king mental when the chorus comes along. Not here though and the song is quite restrained with some excellent mournful saxophone and again the band take’s trad material and manages to do something a little different with it to give it their own stamp. The accordion and the mandolin lead us into ‘Hell You Know’ and another standout song that flows magnificently along. This is music that is perched halfway between folk and rock and the past and present and while it won’t scare your Grandparents it is still thoroughly thigh slappingly great. A visit to Ireland is recalled next in ‘Island Of The Green’ and the autobiographical story of how Ghosttown Company frontman and songwriter Chris fell in love with Ireland and all things Irish things on their first visit to Dublin. Music, alcohol and good times in the four corners of Ireland put to catchy (sorry!) country tinged Irish folk’n’roll. The last cover is ‘Spanish Lady’ and one of my favourite songs of all time. Now I can only remember this being covered in the celtic-punk world by Shane MacGowan And The Popes. It may be a tad restrained compared to that version but again they nail it and the thigh slapping continues unabashed!

The curtain comes down on FolkRock with ‘A Lost One’s Ballad’ and its a great way the close down. Slow and delicate and proof these guys can play a tune. Every celtic-punk album needs at least one of these songs and I have seldom heard better.

These Bhoys are brand new to the celtic-punk stage and are a more than welcome addition to it. As with many, many bands out there there is no stereotyping here (well maybe just a tiny little bit!) just a love of all the things that make us as humans great. These are things that the Irish are famous for but by no means solely confined to the Irish race. Generous, kind, faithful, hospitable, passionate and devoted while at the same time managing to be pretty well f**ked up as well and I get the sense that Ghosttown Company here are wise to that. The traditional songs here are solid renditions but gone are the days when celtic-punk bands were judged on their covers and with nine of the album’s twelve songs penned by the band themselves it bodes very well for them. Although here what I have done is actually pigeonhole them they were a band I found quite hard to do so. Now unique is not a word bandied around in celtic-punk circles very often, after all a lot in the scene does sound a bit ‘samey’ to put it mildly, Ghosttown Company have managed to come up with something different and show they are never just another Irish covers band and with this great debut behind them they are set for a great future.

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TEN YEARS WAITING FOR FLATFOOT 56 AND NEARLY OVER!

I can’t believe it but yes it’s been a decade since they first stepped foot on our shores and Chicago’s Flatfoot 56 are back! That gig inspired the setting up of the London Celtic Punks so we are as happy as Larry to be able to present their gigs in North and South London at the end of this month. This is a band with severe crossover appeal from the most hardcore of punk rockers to all lovers of fiddly-diddly and trad. With a support bill of the best in celtic and folk-punk that this island has to offer be sure not to miss them on their tour.

By Gerard Mellon

They say good things come to those who wait. Well this time that saying has proved true, because, after a 10 year wait, Flatfoot 56 are returning to these shores. Regarded by experts as being true heavyweights of the Celtic Punk scene, these gigs are not to be missed. They come, showcasing their ‘Album of the Year’ contender “Odd Boat”, along with a back catalogue of truly awesome proportions. These fellas are the real deal.

Formed in 2000 on the South Side of Chicago, FF56 was originally a three-piece family punk band featuring the Bawinkel brothers, Tobin (Vocals Guitar), Justin (Drums), and Kyle (Bass). A year later it was the addition of Josh Robieson (Pipes, Mandolin & Guitar), that gave the band it’s distinct Celtic flavour. The following year saw their first album released, “Rumble of 56”, a raw mix of punk and spirituality that displays some fantastic musicianship. It is clear to see that these guys were brought up in very musical surroundings! The pipes play an integral part in making the overall sound of the album quite unique. Their second release “Waves of War” followed in 2003. Very similar to “Rumble”, it still has that raw edge mixed with spiritual lyrics and dynamic rhythms. 2006 brought us “Knuckles Up”, with some rousing tracks that seem to make you want to join in. The dynamic rhythm of drums and bass is still there, joined by some wonderful mandolin and guitar playing and of course the pipes still sounding out a clarion call. It would be great if we got to hear some of these tracks while they’re here!

2007 saw the release of “Jungle of the Midwest Sea” and I don’t know if it was a change of record label or if their own personal circumstances changed, but this album, for me anyway, marked a change for the band. It is a subtle change, but noticeable all the same. The raw edge seems to be polished a bit, the song writing appeals to a broader audience. Maybe it was just a natural growth, but it took the guys up a notch or two. The classic “Warriors” is on this disc along with a dozen other gems! It wasn’t until 2010 that we got another album, but like I said at the beginning, good things are worth waiting for! “Blackthorn” is an absolute powerhouse of an album, there isn’t a duff track on it! From the anthemic ‘Born for This’ to the ballad ‘Shiny Eyes’, it is a masterpiece. If they just performed this album live at the end of the month, we would be the luckiest punters out there!! 2012’s “Toil” comes along and it is equally as good, more outstanding music from a band that has become a five-piece. Josh Robieson departing with Brandon Good (Mandolin, Harmonica, Guitar & Vocals) and Eric McMahon (Bagpipes, Guitar & Vocals) joining. Perhaps these additions improved upon an already outstanding formula. I am so looking forward to ‘Winter in Chicago’ being performed live.

And so, we come to 2017’s “Odd Boat”, and it is superb, sublime and sensational. In a year when Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys and The Tossers all brought out albums, this one stands head and shoulders above them all. If only to hear ‘Ty Cobb’ performed, you should go to see them. There was another personnel change for this album, with Justin departing and Conrad Allsworth (Drums) joining. Take a look at some of the FF56 You Tube vids from the Cornerstone festival in America if you want to see why everyone is so excited about this band arriving here. I, along with others, am travelling from the west coast of Ireland specifically to see them. Because not only are they one of the most original and exciting bands producing records at the moment, they are also one of the top live acts performing right now. Spurs are playing at Wembley and FF56 are playing in Tottenham, surely that should be the other way around!! We are so lucky to be able to see them perform live and hopefully, if everything goes well, it won’t be another 10 years before we see them again.

FLATFOOT 56

WebSite  Twitter  Facebook  YouTube  LastFM  Bandcamp

(you can have a listen to the new album Odd Boat in it’s entirety by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below you luck sods)

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS PRESENTS FLATFOOT 56 LIVE IN KINGSTON AND LONDON

Yes a decade after their only London show stars of the Celtic-Punk scene FLATFOOT 56 are back in London. All the way from South Chicago, Illinois they are comparable to the Dropkick Murphys or Flogging Molly in the same breadth! Will we see the awe-inspiring crowd participation “wall of death” mosh pit? Who knows but their grab bag of musical influences from Oi! and punk to folk and traditional Irish Celtic sounds is sure to stir the emotions and get your feet moving.
Support acts for the Kingston and London gigs are THE LAGAN and MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS and two solo acts ANDREW PALEY from PAPER AND PLASTICK and WARSHY from CRAZY ARM with DJ GREENFORD BHOY taking us into the night playing all yer favourite Irish, rock, rebel and folk. For the running order for each night check the Facebook event page below.

Sunday 26th November 2017

Flatfoot 56 arrive in Heathrow from Chicago and hightail across to Kingston in sorta South London (but don’t say that to anyone in K-Town!) to grace the stage at one of our favourite venues The Cricketers in Kingston. Doors at 7pm sharp. The Cricketers, 20 Fairfield South, Kingston upon Thames KT1 2UL. Tel. 0208 549 4394. Venue web site here. Plenty of parking in front of the venue and it’s only a short walk from the rail station. The music venue is upstairs and the sound here is quite simply superb! It’s £6 in and it’s PAY ON THE DOOR so we recommend an early arrival. Join the Facebook event here.

Monday 27th November 2017

Yeah I know it’s a bloody school night but you gonna miss it so you don’t feel a bit knackered at work on the Tuesday? Don’t be mental! Live at TChances in North London, 399 Tottenham High Road, London, N17 6QN it’s just a short walk from Seven Sisters tube on the Victoria line or White Hart Lane/ Tottenham Hale rail stations. Buses galore. The venue is opposite Tottenham Police Station if you get lost and has ample free parking. Facebook event here. Tickets are £7 in advance more on the door and

LONDON TICKET’S AVAILABLE FROM HERE

ALBUM REVIEW: THE TEMPLARS OF DOOM- ‘Bring Me The Head Of John The Baptist’ (2017)

Drinking Guinness from the Holy Grail!

These lads are as Irish as they fecking come so check out the new album of mighty celtic-punk rock from The Templars of Doom coming out of Ulster county, New York.

The Templars of Doom hail from the aptly named Ulster County in upstate New York and play punked-up Irish music inspired more by the Sex Pistols and the Ramones than by The Dubliners. Originally formed as Alternative Ulster they released an album, Rebellion,  in 2016. A raucous celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising with a total of sixteen tunes, including six covers of the like of ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ (The Ramones), ‘Supernaut’ (Black Sabbath) and ‘Seventeen’ (The Sex Pistols) all of which have been blended with bagpipes to give them a new and exciting celtic punk edge. Sadly the band met with some trouble and a year later they emerged with pretty much the same line up and a new name- The Templars Of Doom. While they may sound like a death metal band rest assured it’s still very much “1977-meets-1916″ with traditional Irish ballads and themes played at punk speed with bagpipes and kilts.

Michael (Bass/Vocals ) Josie (Pipes)

The album begins pretty much where Alternative Ulster left off with ‘The Oliver Cromwell Twist’ and as the band say themselves

“hits the English overlord and executioner of the Irish with a Chubby Checker-esque slam dance”

Marty Shane (Mandolin)

Rory Quinn (Guitarist, Co-Lead Vocals)

and indeed they give it to the murderous scourge of the Irish with both barrels. The Last four words, Drogheda, Wexford, Waterford, Kilkenny are the four cities in order Cromwell sacked and gave no quarter to the Irish Catholic inhabitants. At Drogheda and Wexford at least 4,000 were massacred mainly women and children. The music may be standard 70’s punk rock with bagpipes but to say it is catchy and infectious at the same time would be a massive understatement. Within a few seconds of playing my mind had gone to wild punk rock nights in New York with Irish-Americans bashing each other up on the while sliding about on a beer drenched dance floor. There though lies the rub with a band like The Templars Of Doom. They are very much a live act and though they have done a great job at capturing that here on disc they are still very much a band to be experienced live. A look down the album song titles reveals these lads are very much an Irish band and when people say that Irish-Americans aren’t Irish then get this album and shove it down their throat. At the moment, as there has always been but perhaps not as great, their is a tendency to deny ‘Irishness’ to those children of Ireland if they were born in America.  More often its from people who never left Ireland except for expensive holidays and gap years and find Irish traditions of music, dance, family and faith embarrassing and wish for Ireland a sort of globalisation where these thing are left in the past. Thank God for Irish communities around the globe who keep Irish culture alive.

The album continues with ‘Saint Patrick Saved Ireland’ and follows in much the same vein and aye you could be listening to a live track here with it’s wild abandon! The bagpipes start before the band kicks in with gang vocals and a tune, and vocals, straight out of late 70’s London. Classic rough and ready tuneful and tuneless at the same time celtic-PUNK to shake the cob-webs away with chants, reels and a punk rock mosh in the middle. 

Left to right: Rory Quinn (guitar, vocals), Eric Pomarico (drums), Michael X. Rose (Bass,Vocals), Josie Rose (Pipes), Brendan Merrit in hat(sitting in on gang vocals, pub style) at Snug Harbor, New Paltz, NY

Next up we have a song that is another embarrassment to those millennials who seem to care more about what happens on a distant shore 1000’s of miles away than just ninety miles from their parents swanky homes in Dublin. ‘A Nation Once Again’ is one of the most famous Irish rebel songs and even went so far as winning a 2002 BBC World Service poll of listeners to be crowned the world’s most popular song of all time, as performed by the kings of Irish rebel music the wonderful Wolfe Tones. Written in 1844 by the great Thomas Davis who proclaimed

“Music is the first faculty of the Irish… we will endeavour to teach the people to sing the songs of their country that they may keep alive in their minds the love of the fatherland”

So there you have it straight from Thomas mouth and I doubt very much whether or not he would care much that a band of Irish-Americans would adapt the tune and speed it up into a Irish punk rock jig  just as long as it was being played and past down to the younger generations. I swear I think trapped between the ‘West Brit’ millennials and the trad Irish folk snobs I think both would rather songs like this not be played rather than have a band of Irish descended punk rockers have a go on them! The song dreams of a time when Ireland will be a free land, and exhorts Irishmen and women to stand up and fight for their land.

“And righteous men must make our land a nation once again”

The Templars Of Doom’s version starts with bagpipe and sneering punky vocals and while its much slower than previous songs its still very much in the punk vein. It reminds me of drunken nights in Mannions in Tottenham belting out this classic with a bunch of 2nd generation Irish losers and boozers before annoying the neighbours on the way home! The album takes an unusual turn next with ‘Eyes’ and it’s a bit of country’n’western tinged Irish folk that peaks our interest. The beautiful sound of uilleann pipes as played by Scott Benson takes this song to another level and shows these Bhoys can play their instruments and belt out as good a song as anyone on the Irish circuit. ‘The Minstrel Boy’ is the shortest song here, just tipping over two minutes, and as you would expect it’s played at breakneck speed and has more in common with The Ramones than Planxty. Turn it up to 11 and get your Doc’s on, it don’t get wilder than this! The album’s title song follows and ‘Bring Me The Head Of John The Baptist’ doesn’t disappoint with more of the ramshackle UK 70’s punk rock sound that has served them well so far.

‘The Templars Erupt’ has the feel of The Pogues all over it with the setting of a bar and barroom chatter in the background while bodhrán and tin whistle fill the air. To me it sounds like it escaped from Hell’s Ditch and rightly deserved it’s place as the longest track here. We are nearing the end and they not going out gracefully and ‘Suicide Bomb’ is one of my favourites here harking back to London bands like Alternative TV and Menace while the album draws the curtains with ‘Michael Collins Ghost’ and just a couple of weeks after his birthday The Big Fellow must be looking down with pride that he still evokes such passion among the Irish and their friends. Sung and co-written by Mike O’Leary, along with Rory Quinn, the song is the highlight of the album and we will indeed

“Raise a glass to Michael Collins ghost”

The band come together perfectly here and it may have veered away slightly from celtic-punk into celtic-rock territory but who cares about that wee thing. The song is a masterpiece and great words and performance ends the album on the highest note possible.

The band have release Bring Me The Head Of St John The Baptist on their own label Poe Records which has also released CD’s from the side project of bassist and band artist Michael X. Rose, The Wild Irish Roses, which is Michael his Mrs and their 8 (eight!!) kids. Yep a true family band and also well worth checking out. This album may not get them on the bill at Get Shamrocked or even the local Celtic or Irish festival as it may induce heart attacks and fainting spells on some of the more lily livered members of our community. The Bhoys could have called it a day after Alternative Ulster but they have persevered and kept at it so if you want fast, punky, tuneful/tuneless Irish music that you can mosh pit down to with songs about the Templars, Ireland, the Holy Grail, saints and ghosts then The Templars Of Doom are your band and also the band for legions of green, spiky haired, young Paddys and Biddies across the United States!

( have a free listen to Bring Me The Head Of John The Baptist on Bandcamp before you buy on the player below)

Buy Bring Me The Head Of John The Baptist

FromTheBand   CDbaby

(For a week from now. Yes for the following seven days you can download the album for *FREE* as a special gift for all London Celtic Punks readers. Just follow this link here and download away but be quick. Where it says ‘Name Your Price’ simply put 0.00 or if you feeling generous send them a few bucks for Guinness. It will end soon but feel free to tell your mates!)

Contact The Templars Of Doom

Facebook   Bandcamp  YouTube

(Vocalist and guitarist Michael made a movie about St. Patrick versus the Druid overlords. It’s called Bloodlust of the Druid Overlords and here for your delight is the trailer. Watch this space for the full movie coming soon!

please support this film by pledging to the Kickstarter fundraising here)

SINGLE REVIEW: THE PUNKFOLKERS- ‘Angry Man/ The Blacksmith’ (2017)

London Celtic Punks favourite and London Irish folk punker Anto Morra is back with his new project The Punkfolkers. This isn’t the folk-punk of The Levellers or The Pogues but the punk of the Pistols, The Stranglers and SLF as filtered through some real story telling and traditional folk.

The Punkfolkers are a three piece band based in East Anglia, around Norwich. Their mission in life is to introduce folk music to to the punks and punk to the folkies. This is the band’s debut release and comes out tomorrow, forty years to the very day that the Sex Pistols released the seminal Never Mind The Bollocks album. That album that changed the face of Britain and more importantly the music industry if, only for a short time, from the stale and boring to something alive and exciting and challenging.

This release is an old school double A side in the tradition of those early punk singles. With ‘Angry Man’ an original Punkfolkers song and ‘The Blacksmith’ in keeping with the style of the single is an traditional English folk song. Formed back in 2013 and led by the incredibly talented Anto Morra the band got together when recording Anto’s debut album Never Had To Shout. Accompanied here by John Child on guitar and Thim Flaxman on bass they have so far played an handful of shows including the London Celtic Punks sponsored release show for Anto’s EP ‘The Patriot’ but have been in the studio of late putting some tracks together for this single and a forthcoming album due for release in early 2018. The band’s knowledge of the punk movement is vast and diverse with Anto well known to us at London Celtic Punks and the London punk scene. As said an incredibly talented individual who is also unburdened by any sort of ego and is as nice a fella as could be met within the music scene. Anto has the not only a indepth knowledge of the asthetic and cultural importance of the movement but also a love and understanding of traditional folk music. If you ever want to hear unabashed folk music played on a acoustic guitar with no frills but filtered through the imagination of a dyed in the wool punk rocker then Anto Morra is your man without a doubt. Joined by John and Thim who as ex-members of East Anglian punk band Stain have brought the ability to recreate the sound used in early punk rock with an authenticity rarely seen.

Side A is the punky ‘Angry Man’ and a real time warp taking you back to the days of Liverpool winning the league and industrial disputes! Anto has a great voice and his London Irish twang fits perfectly and when he drops his ‘Aitches’ you know its not done for effect like the public school Lily Allen and co. Anto takes angry swipes at the things that piss him off like fox-hunting and the empire of The Sun but with a great dollop of humour and satirical bite that many Anarcho-Punk bands could only dream of. Chugging guitar and and throbbing bass instantly reminds you of 70’s bands like The Killjoys or Eater and loads of those early bands were London Irish so great to know we’re still doing now! The AA side is ‘The Blacksmith’ and is a bit more like what us Anto fan’s are use to.

Not afraid to play both the more popular or the obscure songs Anto has chosen well here with a song that has been covered by some real legends and pioneers of folk-rock. Steeleye Span, Planxty, Pentangle have all recorded it while into more modern times Runa had a marvellous version on their debut album Jealousy. It is a traditional English folk song also known as ‘A Blacksmith Courted Me’ and was first noted back in 1909.

“Strange news is come to town
Strange news is carried
Strange news flies up and down
That my love is married.
I wish them both much joy
Though they can’t hear me
And may God reward him well
For the slighting of me”

The well worn tale of illicit love and deceit is played by The Punkfolkers with Anto’s voice pushed to the fore but the understated backing is superb and really grows as you notice it more and more each time you hear the song. Of course the banjo that drops in half way simply takes it to another level. Superb.

The Punkfolkers

So keep an eye out for The Punkfolkers album Night Bus To Tombland  due out sometime early 2018 and in the meantime enjoy this single from a band with a great pedigree and to say I am excited to hear it is an understatement I can tell you. Forty years of protest, rebellion and punk and with records like this we can look forward to another forty as well!

Buy The Punkfolkers debut single

iTunes  Amazon

Contact The Punkfolkers via Anto Morra

Facebook  Reverbnation  Twitter  YouTube  Bandcamp

EP REVIEW: HOOLIGAN featuring CHRISTY DIGNAM- ‘(Justa Nother) Teenage Rebel’ (2017)

Legend of the Irish music scene Christy Dignam of Aslan teams up with Dublin punk band Hooligan on a new 4-track single released this week.

The moments when you meet your heroes stay with you forever and it was a chance meeting between Irish folk-rock legend Christy Dignam and a young David Linehan at one of Christy’s band Aslan’s gigs that has led to the release of this fantastic collaboration between Irish folk and Irish punk over twenty five years later. Meeting again recently David reminded Christy of the time when fresh back in Dublin after a stint squatting on the the Loughborough Estate in south London when David and a mate walked into a rehearsal studio in Great Strand Street, an alleyway near the Halfpenny Bridge, where unbeknownst Christy, who had not long left Aslan, was rehearsing with his new band. From being away David had noticed that the music scene in Dublin was far more snooty and elitist than in London

“imagine my surprise at instead of being told to feck off he said “c’mon in lads” and allowed them to stay watch them play a few songs. I was struck both by how friendly he was and the warmth and kindness of the man”

Christy asked if they had a band and said if we didn’t we should form one because if nothing else they looked the part! Just the kind of confidence boost any budding young artist needs.

Left to right: Eoin Page, David Linehan, Paul Price. Front: Christy Dignam

‘(Justa Nother) Teenage Rebel’ is a cover of the much loved paean to the late 1970’s tale of familial teenage angst, originally released by northern Irish punk rock legends The Outcasts. Formed in war torn Belfast in 1977 The Outcasts were three brothers and two mates who came up with the name after being banned from local venues. Releasing their debut single ‘Frustation’ on It Records in May, 1978 they soon after signed to the Good Vibrations label who released “Just Another Teenage Rebel” in November 1978. The single rose to the top of the Alternative charts and the band received much radio  airplay. The band imploded in the mid-80’s but with the sad death of founder member Colin Cowan the band got back together in 2011 and are still going strong now.

Approved by the two surviving Outcasts brothers, Martin and Greg Cowan, it’s a great choice of track and is part of a four track EP released on Reekus Records, home of Dub legends The Blades, who incidentally also released This Is which was the first record by Aslan over 30 years ago in 1986. Aslan are often thought of as

“the band to follow in the footsteps of U2 in conquering America”

and they certainly blazed high taking the Irish music scene by storm with their brash interpretation of Stones style rock’n’roll all be it with a very Irish twist. Formed in the working class northside of Dublin they seemed to be on the verge of worldwide fame and fortune before tragically imploding on the very day their debut single was due to be released in the USA in 1988. Dublin at the time was in the midst of a terrible heroin epidemic and young Christy was not immune to the same pressures as others in his home city. Unceremoniously fired from the band due to a spiralling heroin addiction that would haunt him for decades Christy left the band and though they tried to soldier on without him it wasn’t long before Aslan were no more. Silent for five years they returned and their music had become more refined and influenced by folk melodies. Fame again awaited them but as has been the Aslan way it’s been a rocky road intersperced with long periods of inactivity but always sustained by their loyal and large fan base. The band have released six studio albums as well as two ‘best of’ albums and have a list of smash hits that have topped the charts as long as yer arm. Aslan have forged a legacy that has seen them become one of Ireland’s most popular and enduring musical acts and as the bands motto goes “the lion is still roaring”.

So it was that shortly after meeting again all these years later David contacted Christy and sounded him out about the possibility of performing on the next Hooligan record. Christy jumped at the chance and ‘(Justa Nother) Teenage Rebel’ was born.

Hooligan have made a name for themselves releasing a pile of fantastic critically acclaimed EP’s over the years. Formed in Dublin in 2009 the band has been beset by member comings and goings but at last things are more settled and founder and guitarist/singer David Linehan is joined by the brand new rhythm section of Eoin Page on bass and ex- Paranoid Visions drummer Paul Price. ‘(Justa Nother) Teenage Rebel’ is yer basic classic 77 era punk rock. Chugging guitar and thundering bass with Christy’s distinctive voice driving it along. The following tracks are more of the same with Upstarts/Clash/SLF comparisons inescapable on ‘Generation On Fire’. Guitar driven anthemic Irish punk that leads us soon after into the tribute to Uncle Joe himself. The Clash influence is in overdrive with ‘Calling Joe Strummer’ with the spirit of everyone’s favourite public schoolboy coursing through it’s 200 seconds. The album ends with ‘Gang War’ and here Hooligan are at their best for me. Loud and brash and in your face with a catchy chorus and a killer punk tune that’s over before you can think what a great song it is.

Another fantastic EP to add to the Hooligan EP collection and you will be pleased to know that they will be making one of their regular appearances in London in a couple of weeks at the New Cross Inn dahn Sarf London supporting Splodgenessabounds on Saturday 4th November (Facebook event here) with a tonne of other bands including a rare capital show by London Celtic Punk faves Headsticks. The gig starts at 5pm and Hooligan will take the stage at 8-30pm so don’t be late!

Buy (Justa Nother) Teenage Rebel

Reekus Records (available as download or CD with vinyl coming soon!)

Contact Hooligan

Facebook  Soundcloud  MySpace

  • A fantastic overview of The Outcasts can be found here via Spit Records.
  • Great interview with Hooligan here from ‘Louder Than War’

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS WANT YOU!

Another milestone falls as we reach our 400th post.

There’s a hell of a lot of very good media out there featuring celtic-punk. We are only a tiny part of that and we certainly know our limitations. We have always though tried to be more than just a reviews page and while there are much better places to keep up to date on news within the scene we’d like to offer up something a little different to all the others. So let’s give you a small insight first into why the 30492- London Celtic Punks blog began. Start by checking out our first post from way way back on 6th July 2013 and see how far we have come in both look and content!

The idea behind the London Celtic Punks came from a bunch of Celtic supporting punks who were starting to get or already interested in celtic-punk music. A bunch of us had been to two recent gigs where the bands were treated terribly and thought we could do a better job and if not maybe pay them as much we could certainly show them a much better time. The first was Flatfoot 56 who a decade ago this year came to London from Chicago to play at the Hope And Anchor in Islington only to have to play first at 7-45 pm to just ten people. The second was The Go Set a short while later who also played the Hope And Anchor but this time headlined to a massive crowd but the £40 they got wouldn’t have helped their transports cost from Australia much. Someone was coining it in here and it was not the bands. What was needed was a non-profit DIY outfit that had the interests of the bands and the scene at heart. That was where we came in. With a fifteen year history of putting on regular DIY cheap and cheerful punk gigs in London as the Making Punk A Treat Again team we knew the ins and outs of doing it so we started putting on a few gigs for mainly out of town bands. We have raised money for various causes that are dear to our hearts and at the moment are raising money for the Justice For The Craigavon 2 campaign follow the link to find out more about this awful miscarriage of justice. It wasn’t long before we began to receive the odd CD from people looking to play or just to network and make friends so it made sense at the time (!) to start something where we could review and promote them. This would lead to what you are reading now. It is mainly review based. On average we receive 2-3 records a week. Of these we review 1-2 of them and on average about 7-9 a month. Not everything we get fits what we review which is mainly celtic/folk-punk and diaspora music (artists who either come from or are descended from the celtic nations) and what falls through the gaps we either don’t like or just don’t get round to reviewing for different reasons, the main one being time. Over time we have covered Hip-Hop, Metal, Punk, Folk and everything in between so to say we have a strict guideline isn’t exactly true. We also prefer to review mainly DIY releases but again this isn’t a strict policy and we occasionally venture into the mainstream if it fits and if its good enough. The last albums from Dexys and The Proclaimers being good examples. So what is the point of this I hear you asking yourselves. Well the truth is we need more reviewers/contributors. There are only so many ways you can use the word catchy in a sentence and I think I have used them all!

The blog is done for nothing and as anyone who has ever put on a gig will know it’s certainly not done for any financial benefit. It’s done for free to kick start a debate, spark up a conversation, to make people laugh, smile, chat, to network, to bring people together, to give them comfort and support and promote the values that we hold dear. Which is why we are opening our arms out to you, dear reader. When this started the utterly brilliant Celtic Folk Punk And More blog was the main inspiration. Being based in Spain though Waldo was naturally concentrating on mainland Europe so was missing a lot over this side of the water so we spotted a gap in the market and we sailed right in. We have been going now long enough that no doubt some of our regular readers must think

“Good God how many times is he going to use the word catchy today?”

or

“I can do that, how hard can it be?”

if so then here is your invitation. Come and write for the 30492- London Celtic Punks site. There’s no money in it. For you or anyone. Think of it as a bit of fun, a stress release, because that’s what we do. We are not looking for anything too regular and we don’t, and never will, work to deadlines but if there’s a record, gig or festival you are passionate about then write down your thoughts and it will find a happy home here. It doesn’t stop there either. We regularly feature our Steppin’ Stones- Classic Album Reviews where we take old, sometimes forgotten (sometimes not) records and write about the history of the artists involved and their links through music up to the modern day. The history and future of celtic-punk and your favourite bands and figures and inspiration for the scene. Celtic-punk is now worldwide from Brazil to Indonesia to Russia to South Africa so how or why did you come to like this very particular music. There is no competition just co-operation. We have also featured football before but not as often as we like so just as long as it’s from the heart then there’s a multitude of ways to contribute.

I never in my wildest dreams thought we would reach 400 posts and seeing our audience rising every year has given us immense satisfaction that we are getting it right. Use the Contact me section and let me know what you want to write about and we will take it from there.

Let’s together make this site bigger and better.

Sláinte mhaith, The London Celtic Punks Crew- October, 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: CRAIC- ‘Sounds Of Vandemark’ (2017)

craic

noun also crack UK  /kræk/ US  /kræk/ irish english

enjoyable time spent with other people, especially when the conversation is entertaining and funny:

“The boys went driving round the town just for the craic”

CRAIC are your quintessential American-Irish band. Named after the Irish word for a good time that has invaded the English language in recent years and has become the word to describe a night out drinking. They hail from the city of Cleveland in the mid western state of Ohio in the Great Lakes region of the United States. A heavily industrial town that was built upon the bones of mainly immigrant labour in the 1800’s and needless to say a large proportion of those bones came from Ireland. Arriving in the 1820’s the first Irish settled in ghetto’s along the river where they they would build the Ohio and Erie Canal. Hard work that would see many of them perish. As numbers increased as the Great Hunger took hold in the old country the Irish in Cleveland grew too large for their ghettos and expanded into the factory districts of the city where many would eventually work. The Irish had a tough time of it living on Cleveland’s West Side.

“Shantytown was an open sewer of industrial and human waste.  The Flats area was home to cholera, diphtheria, and scarlet fever.  Because of the continuing Irish immigration, there were not enough homes to house everyone.  Therefore, many homes of Irish families housed many relatives from the old country.  The saloons became a place for the Irishman to go to get away from the house and to enjoy the company of his fellow Irishmen”

These Irish built the churches and schools for their descendants and even today many years after large scale Irish immigration to the States has finished the Irish still make up the second largest ethnic group in the city, with the largest being Germans. Irishness is still very much alive in the city with Irish traditions and customs still observed and sports clubs formed as is getting more common across the States Cleveland has an active and successful gaelic games club in the St.Patricks’s- St.Jarlath’s G.A.A. team (join them here if you’re in the area).

So it was in 2009 that this bunch of talented Cleveland Irish musicians got together and decided that the one thing missing from their local Irish scene was a fist pumping, ‘in your face’ good time band that takes traditional Irish music and mixes in folk, bluegrass and (you know what’s coming don’t you?) some quality high voltage punk rock.

CRAIC left to right: Timmy Causing – Acoustic Guitar * Brett M. Burlison – Lead Vocals * James R. McWilliam – Drums * Jennifer O’Neal – Fiddle * Theresa Kalka – Tin Whistle * Mitch Kozub – Banjo * Jason ‘Gojko’ Kollar – Bass * Aleks Patsenko – Electric Guitar

CRAIC’S first studio release was the 2011 EP It’s Still New Enough That It’s Forgivable which they followed up in March 2014 with their debut album Amongst The Mischief And Malarkey. The album received favourable reviews across the celtic-punk media and featured in many of 2014’s Best Of lists. That album was produced by ex-Dropkick Murphys star Ryan Foltz at Cleveland Audio studios and the band were so happy that they have welcomed him back to do a similar job on the follow up album Sounds Of Vandemark and again he has performed an exemplary job.

Sounds Of Vandemark is nine songs and seems to be over in a flash at just under a half an hour. I say seems as thats a perfectly reasonable length for an album but I enjoyed it so much I would have loved a bit more!!! There are five self-penned tracks and four covers and while that may seem a lot for a nine track album they have chosen well with a couple of standards and a couple of interesting non-Celtic songs that I had never heard before. The title of the album comes from the bands rehearsal space on Vandemark Rd, in a little suburb of Cleveland called Litchfield Township and the whole thing kicks off with ’20 Years Later’ and it don’t get better here than this. What a cracker to start with. Dropkick’s influences all over it from the crunchy guitar to the catchy chorus and vocals involving the whole band at times. Not to forget the subject matter which is of course having a beer or two with your friends and comrades. This is followed by a bit of an Irish/celtic-punk standard but what to say about ‘Drunken Sailor’ that hasn’t been said before I wonder?

Every few weeks it seems I have to come up with a new way to review this song so I won’t bother this time as it’s enough to say that CRAIC’s version with brilliant banjo, fiddle and tin-whistle is pretty damn good and is up there with any of the best. One of the ways that CRAIC have made their name has been their combination of bluegrass/ country and Irish music and while it hasn’t been particularly evident so far it sticks out a mile with ‘Gettin’ Up & Gettin’ Out’. Next up is another cover, this time ‘It’s Dangerous Out There’ written by American folk singer Bill Morrissey. Many of Morrissey’s songs reflected on working class life and he sadly passed away early at the age of 59 in July 2011. The song originally appeared on his album North in 1986 and his fabulous version can be heard here. Great lyrics and CRAIC do it justice keeping the folk heart of the original intact. We are back in Ireland again now with ‘Rocky Road To Dublin’ and again it’s one covered countless songs but very hard to master due to the speed you need to sing the words. Still it’s one of my personal favourites and I love the lines

” Hurrah me soul says I, me shillelagh I let fly
Some Galway boys were nigh and saw I was a hobble in
With a load “Hurray” joined in the affray
Quickly cleared the way for the rocky road to Dublin”

A cool version that leads us nicely into ‘Hal’ and another great example of CRAIC and their excellent county influenced celtic-punk. All that’s missing here is a ‘Yee-Har’ but takes an unexpected punky turn during the chorus before returning to the C’n’W. ‘Wool’ is more of a straight punk number and gives the band the chance to let fly and rock out. The album’s penultimate song is the final cover here and again it’s a cleverly chosen one. ‘Anything Anything’ was originally penned by New Jersey rockers Dramarama and featured on their debut album from 1985. You may not know them but possible you will have heard the song due to it being featured on the soundtrack of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. CRAIC turn an already great song (here) into even better one. The tune stays sort of the same but the addition of all those Irish folk instruments takes it to another level. The album ends with the band’s superb tribute to their home simply titled ‘Cleveland’

“It’s a town for shots and beers

Steel mills and refineries

Our fathers’ broken dreams

Promises and fears

I’ve been around the world

But Cleveland’s always home to me

And when I need a friend

I’ll always find them here”

Working class Irish-American life summed up in just a few lines in one hell of a song! With Chicago belonging to The Tossers, London to the Bible Code Sundays and Glasgow to The Wakes we can now add Cleveland to CRAIC. A great album and that rare thing in that it has more than enough folk to please the folkies and yet is punky enough as well to keep the punks pogoing away. This band will go from strength to strength I can see and with their name on the rise across the States judging by the number of festivals they get to play then there is no stopping them I fear. ‘Hooligans With Rhythm’ indeed!

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(excellent video showing Craic playing live at Peabody’s in Cleveland, Ohio)

ALBUM REVIEW: BLACK ANEMONE- ‘In It For Life’ (2017)

Irish folk punk band from Sweden bringing chaos and mischief to the world!

Black Anemone hail from very close to the river Lagan… no not that one but the one just by Jönköping in southern Sweden! Now the Swede’s have quite the liking for celtic-punk music and Sweden has supplied the scene with some fantastic bands like Sir Reg and Finnegan’s Hell for just two and one of the latest are this bunch of young, edgy, sharply dressed folk-punk folk with their excellent brand of straight up, in your face singalong mixture of Irish folk and rock’n’roll and punk attitude.

Black Anemone from right to left: Mattias Sandberg- lead vocals (and various instruments) * Axel Martinsson- fiddle * Andreas Svensson (sitting down)- acoustic guitar, electric guitar * Rickard Olsson- Bass * Tilda Spross- tin whistle, second lead vocals * Adam Bernström- drums * Nermin Festa (sitting down)- electric guitar * Martin Hjärtkvist- banjo, mandolin * Fredrik Nilsson- accordion

Black Anemone formed in 2010 when front man Mattias fell in love at school with old time Irish music and after recruiting his longtime friend Andy on guitar they began to lay the foundations for the band. As Mattias says

”I wanted to mix the sound traditional folk music, mostly Irish trad and fusion it with rock and punk. Having strong roots in the rock and punk genre”

Within a few months and with the addition of several more school friends Black Anemone was formed. Solid rehearsing and some low key gigs saw the release of their first Demo, Let The Freak Show Begin, in 2011. That Demo definitely takes the raucousness of Flogging Molly but takes it to another level with fast Irish folk and Scandinavian raspy but still tuneful vocals. Its been made available by the band as a free download if you like (here). They soon after began work writing songs for their debut album and with a growing reputation as a live act and bolstered by several local music awards this album would be eagerly anticipated not just by their fans at home but also throughout the celtic-punk worldTitled King Of Kings it hit the streets in early 2013 and was eleven tracks of mostly acoustic but upbeat fast played Irish folk that shifts and changes and along the way sounded like most of celtic-punk’s major league players, as well a few that would deserve to be, and added to all that further folk influences sneaking in from all across Europe.

Their new album In It For Life begins with an absolute stormer of a song, ‘Freedom And For All’ with Mattias vocals perched somewhere between Shane McGowan and Joe Strummer it’s a banjo led number that has the feel good factor turned up to eleven and four years on from King Of Kings they haven’t lost any of their bite whatsoever.

‘Amber’s Point’ follows and is more a trad Irish number with a very distinctive Irish intro. Very catchy with a country feel at times and great vocals and lyrics and a banjo/accordion combination to die for! We stay in trad territory next for ‘Every Dog Has It’s Day’ an original song (not a cover of you know who!) and its what passes for the album’s epic slow number except it’s not really that slow but is indeed very epic. It’s the album’s longest track and for me it doesn’t get any better here than this. The accordion drives it along while the band accompany Mattias with the odd yell of ‘Hey!’ and with mandolin giving it that incredible Irish celtic-punk sound we all love so much. The album is only eight tracks and fairly brief at twenty-six minutes long but the Bhoys and Ghirl (an incredible nine members- that’s nearly a football team!) certainly know they way round a tune and the first cover, of two, is up next and yeah, yeah, yeah I know everyone seems to have covered ‘Drunken Sailor’ but there’s an obvious reason to why it’s covered so much and that’s because when its done well it’s quite simply one of the best tunes ever written and here I can be happy to report that Black Anemone turn in as good a version as you will ever likely hear. They keep it short and fast and proper-celticpunk! We are at the halfway point through the LP and next up is the title tune ‘In It For Life’. Again Mattias explains

“In It For Life is our tribute to the love of playing music. The love of playing live, Writing music, traveling and the constant grinding that is the music business today! we are are and will forever be in it for life”

The prominent banjo and alternatively fast punk/ska’ish sound reminds me a lot of our very own English celt-rockers Mick O’Toole. Gang vocals and a brilliant tune that leads us into ‘It’s A Short Life (But A Merry One)’ and they may have turned the punk down a fraction and maybe it’s possibly the odd one out on the album but its still an absolute belter that shifts towards being accordion driven halfway through before joined by fiddle. ‘Hellhounds On My Back’ is next up and funny enough Hellhounds is what fans of English celtic-punk band Ferocious Dog call themselves and the fiddle here gives the song an air of them as well before we get to the last track, and the second of the album’s covers of traditional folk songs. ‘Banks Of The Roses’ was originally made famous by The Dubliners and has been recorded by many Irish and Scottish artists since. The song is given a pretty standard celtic-punk showing and by pretty standard I mean, of course, utterly brilliant!

“On the Banks of the Roses me love and I sat down
And I took out me fiddle for to play me love a tune”

Sounding quite like The Rumjacks when they get hold of an old trad song Black Anemone give it plenty of oomft and the album ends on very much a high note.


In It For Life came out last June and as you can imagine for a nine piece band the sound is incredible so hats off to Alexander Gabara for his amazing work in capturing the band so perfectly. The band have got it exactly spot-on here with both their sound and the combination of folk and punk and folkpunk all underpinned with the trad sounds of Ireland. A superb album and well deserving of your ear time so don’t delay and follow the links below to hear Black Anemone today! 

(listen free to In It For Life before you buy by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)

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(full live concert recorded at Tre Trappor in Sweden last February)

ALBUM REVIEW: DRUNKEN DOLLY- ‘Alcoholic Rhapsody’ (2017)

Happy rocking celtic folk punk party music from Rotterdam!

Drunken Dolly LP

Coming from the Dutch port town of Rotterdam and formed way way back in 2004 Drunken Dolly are one of the best bands around but you can be forgiven for perhaps not knowing them as in all that time they have only got round to two releases! Inspired by Irish and celtic music and their love of punk rock they briefly split up back in the day but missed the drunkenness and debauchery involved in being in a celtic-punk band so got back together in 2014 and decided to take things a wee bit more seriously.

DD Band

Their debut release, the 4-track EP, ‘Drunken Dolly And The Drunken Man’s Curse’ came out in May, 2015. Now that was a full eleven years after they first got together so it had better have been good and we are glad to report it bloody was too. You can read our review of it here but rest assured it may not have been very long at only just over ten minutes long but was as good any EP released that year. Four songs of fantastic celtic-punk that we placed firmly within the Dropkicks camp but with equal appeal to fans of the Mollys too.

So a couple of years on and it’s time for their debut album to hit the streets. Alcoholic Rhapsody came out early last month and is 3/4’s of an hour of solid and superb catchy celtic-pop-punk which has elements of punk bands such as NOFX and Green Day and celtic bands like the the Dropkick’s and the Molly’s but also with harmonies straight off a Beach Boys greatest hits album! Kicking off with ‘Endless Party’ and while we are more use to the punkier elements of celtic-punk to be a bit more hard edged Drunken Dolly serve up something a bit more poppy. What pushed punk through to the mainstream a few years back was a new wave of bands who played their punk with a very distinct 60’s feel to it. Bands like Blink 182 and Rancid as well as the ones already mentioned were massive and opened the door to people wanting to check out the roots of punk. Its all very catchy and some would say somewhat throwaway but one thing is undeniable and that is that it is pure good time party music! The banjo is more prevalent in the next song, ‘No Regrets’ and is the albums first celtic-punk number and what a number. A real high octane celtic-rocker.

“The night at it’s end, as the sun hits the sky.
No money for the rent but no regrets for tonight”

The well worn tale of a night out and bugger the consequences! A great song and proof that they have only got stronger in the years since that EP’s release.

Relationship woes rear their heads in the mandolin and banjo driven ‘Time To Leave’ and the lengthy, over five minutes, ‘Whatsherface’ and while you may struggle to find any Gaelic tune up to now it is most definitely what we would refer to as modern day celtic-punk. ‘Dear Friend’ begins with a Tossers sort of intro before Gydo and his amazing banjo playing leads us in a spirited number about what we need the most in life.

“So if you have a friend like him
Raise your glass and we honour them together
It’s a fact that we all need
A dear friend, so lets honour them together”

By now we getting use to the Drunken Dolly way of doing things. Gang vocals with plenty of “Oh-Oh’s and some super catchy choruses to singalong with and ‘Hold On’ is a perfect example though not as fast as some of the fare here. For a sailor’s town it’s inevitable that we eventually must be due a sailor’s song and ‘Sailor’s Song’ is it. They ramp up the speed after a slowish celtic start and a nice catchy gang chorus ends it on a high before ‘Beware of the Fisherking’ and it instantly sounds more traditional celtic-punk fare with a nice Irish tune flowing through the more restrained punk sound but with plenty banjo and mandolin driving it along. ‘Drunken Man’s Curse’ is the first of the three songs from their previous EP that have been re-recorded for Alcoholic Rhapsody. Not a huge amount of difference I have to say except a crisper sound and much more rounder production. This is followed by the other two songs ‘Humongous Tattooed Arms’ and ‘That Kiss’ which was the first single released from Alcoholic Rhapsody and needless to say is one of the album’s highlights.

An absolute stormer of a classic rock number and with some real profound and meaningful lyrics. As someone whose Grandad was his hero they really struck a chord with me. The sound here reminded me of Mick O’Toole and their heavy banjo/mando sound.

“It’s your friends, your mates, your comrades
But mostly your wife you’ll miss
Now i sit here, thinking of them
How they all came to pass
It’s the nights we would drink,
The nights of fun
But mostly I miss that kiss
I miss that kiss”

We are steaming towards the end at breakneck speed and ‘Stop’ drops us by the beach in Southern California again and catchy is the word as we stroll into ‘Beat Up Good Johnny’. It’s another old song from an early Demo that has benefited from a re-fit and a better production. So we reach the end and it’s time for the album’s theme song ‘Alcoholic Rhapsody’ and for the Bhoys to go out on a high. It’s fast paced tale of alcoholic woes and tribulations is the main theme throughout the album and brings the curtain down on this fine album.

The celtic-punk scene in the Netherlands is both a lively and active one with several bands all working closely together rather than competing with each other. The great thing is that they all manage to come from different directions of the scene and none are more different than Drunken Dolly. Their pop-punk sound is pretty original and that fast and furious celtic-punk is super catchy and the perfect accompaniment for a beer or two. Or alcoholic rhapsody if you will!

(you can listen to ‘Alcoholic Rhapsody’ for *FREE* before you buy it by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)

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The Drunken Dolly Team

Michael Stoel – Mandolin/Vocals
Kevin Snoey – Bass/Vocals
Gydo Stalenberg – Banjo/Vocals
Scott Merts – Drums/Vocals
Randy van Soest – Electric-Guitar/Vocals

EP REVIEW: THE McMINERS- ‘Tales of Betrayal and Deceit’ (2017)

Irish style celtic-punk from Brazilian band The McMiners.

Yet another example of the international status of celtic-punk for you now with a great band hailing from Belo Horizonte in Brazil. It’s the sixth largest city in the country and in a country the size of Brazil that means its bigger than most counties over here! With over 2,500,000 in the city and over 5,000,000 in the surrounding area it stands to reason that their must be a bunch of celtic-punk fans with the talents to start a band and so in early 2012 The McMiners were born.

The McMiners left to right: Luciano Alvim- tin Whistle, accordion, backing vocals * Nathan Augusto- electric and acoustic guitar, backing vocals * Nicolas Ramos- bagpipes * Gabriel Finnegan Leão- bass, bodhrán, mandolin, lead vocals * Marianna Gray- violin * Guilherme H. Silva- drums, percussion. Special Guests- (not pictured) special guests on the album: Karl Malachy Mooney and Rafael Salobreña.

My previous knowledge of celtic-punk in Brazil has been confined to the absolutely brilliant band Lugh, who are in fact one of my favourites in the entire scene. To check them out why not go here and treat yourself! Both the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly take in Brazil whenever they set sail to south America so the interest is there and seems to be growing. Their is a large Celtic diaspora of mainly Welsh and Irish in neighbouring Argentina and Uruguay that is well documented and Irish soldiers like William Brown in Argentina, Bernado Higgins in Chile and the St Patrick’s Brigade in Mexico played major roles in freeing their respective adopted countries from colonialism and gaining independence. Che Guevara, whose grandmother’s surname was Lynch, was another famous member of this diaspora. Guevara’s father, Ernesto Guevara Lynch, said of him

“The first thing to note is that in my son’s veins flowed the blood of the Irish rebels”

Whether or not the interest in celtic-punk is linked to any of this is debatable and it’s more likely the love of a good auld time and a few beers plays its part as well. It is safe to say though the Irish in South America are very proud of their roots and their history is one that should be known by all.

The first McMiners release was the County Cross EP which came out in April last year.  It has passed me by completely until I came to write this review so I revisited it and have to say I expected it to be a bit on the rough and ready side but it was actually very good. It’s four tracks included a extremely well played instrumental, a celtic-punk version of ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew You’ and a couple of their own compositions, one slow and a fast sea shanty that would befit any ship!

So after having a couple of listens to that debut EP I sat down with a big mug of tea and a packet of biscuits to have a listen to their new release, Tales of Betrayal and Deceit. It’s taken a while to cross the oceans as it came out in April earlier this year but man am I glad that it did do! The EP kicks off with the instrumental ‘No Deal’ and if you were expecting something slow and traditional then you were as wrong as i was! It’s fast and manic and dominated by Nícolas great bagpipes. This is the kind of trad music to wake up the masses!

(here’s a acoustic version of ‘Left Behind’ rather than the one on the EP)

In ‘Left Behind’ McMiners bring out both accordion and fiddle and the pace is still right up there. The lyrics speak of the poverty in their country and the ones left behind while obscene wealth is being made by some.

“We are the ones
They don’t care
We are the ones
They forgot about
We are the ones
Hopeless and f’-d up
We are the ones
Left behind”

The first release from the EP was ‘Behead The Captain’ for which they put out a great video and the pipes and fiddle are out again in force for this really catchy number.

Great lyrics as they are throughout the EP with no sign whatsoever that English isn’t their first language. Like Lugh they sing in English and while this no doubt helps reviewers like me I really don’t think it matters. Ironically last week we reviewed the new album from London band The Babes where Mao the Singer/bagpiper sings several songs in Spanish! The next song ‘A Prologue / The Jack and the Black’ begins with the sound of the ocean and seagulls and Karl Mooney, accompanied only by a distant acoustic guitar, the Dublin born native and singer of fellow local celtic band The Celtas (here) reads a short piece about two brothers one of whom becomes a priest and the other a soldier before suddenly the band storm in kicking down the door and launch into a lovely big slice of celtic metal with chugging guitar and vocals that would put the fear of God into you. Again intelligent and interesting lyrics and an obvious step above the usual ones about drinking. The EP ends with another instrumental ‘The Clauss’ and while the opening instrumental was classic celtic-punk this is much more of a traditional Irish folk number. The song was originally an improvised session recorded on a phone with Luciano on tin Whistle and the band’s former piper Ernst on the accordion when Ernst left Brazil and moved to Ireland. Still close the band decided to record the song as a way to tell him they missed him. At the very end you can actually hear the original phone recording of the song! Two bodhráns are joined by accordion and tin whistle and shows the folk purist snobs that they can both play their instrument and write an exceptional traditional song too. Here is another band that Brazilians can be proud of and believe you and me a triumph of quality over quantity!

(you can have a listen to Tales of Betrayal and Deceit before you buy it for free below on the Bandcamp player)

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE BABES- ‘Greetings From London’ (2017)

The Babes are a trio of London celtic-punk misfits that play fast and punky Poguesy type music… and with just drums, bass and bagpipes!

In a small scene such as ours over here in Blighty it’s always brilliant news to hear of another celtic-punk band joining the fold and we were over the moon earlier this year to get The Babes on board the London Celtic Punk scene. Announcing their arrival with a series of gigs around London it took a while for us to catch them live but we did sit up and take notice of a bunch of well made and edited You Tube videos that impressed us straight away so we roped them into supporting Headsticks and Under A Banner at The Water Rats. There they blew the crowd away with what can only be described as celtic-crust music! Snotty, two fingers in the air, DIY punk rock with bagpipes and a massive stage presence. Having your guitarist leave just before a big gig the easiest decision would be to cancel but The Babes said hell no and instead went on to play half an hour of fast as hell with only drums, bass and pipes!

The Babes- Matt Ren Ex: Bass, Vocals * Mao Holiday: Bagpipes, Vocals * Marvin Pedro: Drums

The guys met at the IMW sound engineering school in East London and soon via a garage in Twickenham, South West London it wasn’t long before The Babes were delivered. Bringing together Colombian, American and English backgrounds and featuring ex-members of punk legends Total Chaos and Blitz they have already played more gigs than most band who have been together much longer and have embarked on two extensive tours of Europe as well. They are literally just back from their most recent Euro tour promoting this album which took them to Brittany, France, Switzerland, Holland and Belgium and with no let up they hit the boards again in London straight after and head off again next month to Catalonia and Spain for a few dates.

Greetings From London has been self produced and funded by the band and is a real achievement for them. The physical CD comes in a rather nifty jewel case with a beautiful huge full colour booklet with lyrics and photos and all sorts of stuff. Very nice it is too. But what about the music? Well the album kicks off with ‘The Awakening’ an instrumental that starts with very much a traditional Gaelic feel to it before the band slowly join in and take it up to the end and for once are a bit restrained and the album gets off to a fantastic start. The next track, ‘Gold Star’ again begins with the pipes loud and proud and Mao’s voice and strong accent driving it along but no sign so far as yet of what The Babes are best known for. I have to say at this point so that I don’t repeat myself throughout the review after each song that the bagpipes on this album by Mao are absolutely fantastic. A native of Colombia he has certainly learnt well and the pipes are a great addition to the solid punk rock fare. By the way the band have given up ‘Gold Star’ as a free download so simply click below to get the track for free.

FOR ‘GOLD STAR’ CLICK HERE

A couple of short ninety second songs follow in ‘Down Here’ and ‘Do Something’ and the band that springs to mind here are definitely the Bristol based drunken crusty punk band Disorder, who John Peel once famously described as “sounding like Triumph Bonneville motorbikes”. I came across Disorder as a ten year old Sham 69 fan who use to spend his weekly pocket money on punk singles but was so impressed one day by the sheer number of songs on one single in particular (and the cheap price!) that he bought it without listening took it home and got shouted at my his Mam and Dad when he put it on. To say it made Sham look like the Bay City Rollers would be an understatement! Best song so far is up next and ‘Lima Limon’ has plenty of energy and fire in the belly and even when you listen to it you completely forget that there’s no electric guitar here. For a three piece band they certainly fill out the space extremely well and are all great musicians in their own right. When I saw The Babes recently play Matt the bassist explained the significance of the song ‘Song of Finola’ and it was very interesting but beer has clouded my memory and all I can remember is that it was an Irish story. The pipes drive the tune along and Matts vocals seem distant while the song floats along. A superb track and here I find myself having to say that sure I don’t think that Greetings From London will appeal to everyone in the celtic-punk scene but then this is not yer typical celtic-punk album and The Babes are not yer typical celtic-punk band either. Next up is ‘Rampton Song’ originally written by and the lead song on that EP I bought thirty odd years ago by Disorder. Fast and over in a flash of ninety three seconds and The Babes have chopped and changed the song making it their own.

Thundering bass dominates here and live I can tell you it’s bloody crowd pleaser. ‘Kids’ doesn’t last much longer before ‘Dandelion’ and Mao and Matt share vocals and lyrics in Spanish and English. Next up it’s the album’s highlight which is without doubt ‘Tomorrow Seems So Far Away’. Released as the first single from Greetings From London and on hearing it I straight away knew they were onto a winner.

Promoting ‘Tomorrow Seems So Far Away’ took them on their first tour ‘The Babes Invade Mainland Europe’ where they had the opportunity to visit France, Germany, Belgium and Holland. Positive lyrics and a killer tune with stunning piping and that thundering bass thundering away it’s a complete tune and if you like this song then you are going to fecking love the rest of them.

“Tomorrow seems so far away,

why don’t we live for today?

When yesterday is all said and done,

why don’t we just have some fun?”

We nearing up to the end now with just two songs left and the short ‘The Choice Is Up To You’ takes us through to ‘Chia Sue’ and the album ends on a high with a punk rock masterpiece taking all the things that The Babes are good at and throwing them back to us.

As you can imagine for a band that met at sound engineering school the sound here is immaculate with plenty of power and oomft without being over produced at all. A really good job by Mao who engineered, produced, mixed and mastered the whole thing ably assisted by Colin Smith, David Clark Allen and Sean Bartle. As said The Babes may not be everyone’s cup of tea as they are most firmly planted on the punk rock side of the celtic-punk scene and they aint a lot of folk music going on here after that first song! Though as an old and greying punk rock misfit myself I blooming loved it. The energy is boundless and infectious and if maybe The Babes are best experienced live they have done as good a job as could ever be done in transferring that live sound onto disc. Greetings From London is a refreshingly raw album that goes to show that their is still plenty of room in the celtic-punk scene and it’s not all played out. Just as you think the scene has got stale and there’s never going to be another band coming along that doesn’t instantly remind you of something else then one appears and this time it’s The Babes.  

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE POURMEN- ‘Rise & Shine’ (2017)

A bunch of hedonistic, lapsed-Catholic, Dorchester-Irish cowboys and whalefisher men, pissed on cheap whiskey with a soundtrack of punk, Irish, sea-shanties, outlaw country and Americana.

The Pourmen formed in January 2013 and played their first gig not long after on St Patrick’s Day and have in a short time become one of the bands to watch out for in the celtic-punk world. They hail from the famous town of New Bedford in the state of Massachusetts. The town is nicknamed ‘The Whaling City’ due to it’s prominence in the 19th century as one of the most important, if not the most important, whaling ports in the world. Up until the time of the Great Hunger in Ireland the town of new Bedford, not unlike the rest of America, was largely a town of Protestant origin with communities of English, Scottish, Welsh, and Dutch origin. It was around this time that the first waves of Irish Catholic immigration began with the first of many Irish churches, St. Mary’s built in 1918 and the Irish Aid Society was formed to help those who were down on their luck. Later immigrants from Portugal began to arrive, attracted by jobs in the whaling industry. With the industries decline New Bedford continues to be the leading fishing port in the USA. The seminal event in Irish-American history was the Great Hunger. Now you may know that as the Irish Famine brought on by a disease causing blight to wipe out the potato crop that the poor Irish almost entirely existed on. Well over a million people died of hunger in the late 1840s, on the doorstep of the world’s richest nation. The truth though are ever is much darker and was more akin to genocide. Comparison with other modern and contemporary famines establishes beyond any doubt that the Great Hunger which killed nearly one-eighth of the entire population and sent two million into exile, was proportionally much more destructive of human life than any in modern times. An attempt to wipe out the troublesome Irish Catholic was the ideology that saw food exported from Ireland at gunpoint while the starving lay dying in the streets. The people of New Bedford rallied to the aid of the starving irish and in 1847 alone, 118 ships loaded with provisions sailed to Ireland, led by the USS Jamestown, which made it across the Atlantic in just 15 days. Those that fled a Ireland of poverty and death has resulted in 22% of the population of Massachusetts being of Irish ancestry.

The Pourmen come from that community that has strong firm against the years and still today revels in its culture and traditions and Irish flags still litter the rows of little old houses in the outskirts of the state. Today’s modern Irish-American community still harks back to the old ways but is in no way confined to them. The community has taken to ‘celtic-punk’ as an expression of it’s identity but the music has always blended in influences from country and Americana as well as punk to produce the perfect immigrant music. The band has played countless pubs, festivals and other venues across New England from Boston to Portland, Maine and Providence, Rhode Island, encouraging folks to sing along to their tall tales and have shared a stage with all the best bands in the scene.

The Pourmen’s debut release was the album Too Old To Die Young which came out in July 2014. Thirteen tracks of uptempo Irish folk-rock with a smattering of self penned numbers and folk covers. Elements of trad Irish and Celtic, country, bluegrass and even rockabilly, as on the album highlight ‘Irish Girl’, combine with the energy of punk and rock’n’roll to make for a heady mix. Their humour shines throughout the album and cemented their place as one of the most promising bands in the USA celtic-punk scene.

They followed this album up the following year with Pour Another and yes it pretty much follows the same alcohol soaked path as before with the music soaking up influences from everywhere but that Irish backbone a constant throughout. As on their debut album The Pourmen show they can compete with any trad band with a couple of instrumentals of absolute fantastic Irish folk as well as some well chosen and well played covers. The album made the Top Ten of Paddyrock’s Top 30 Celtic Punk Albums of 2015 and

And so we are now in 2017 and the release of their brand new album on St Patrick’s Day, when else!, Rise & Shine. Here we get only seven songs and with a running time of 22 minutes Rise & Shine it’s debateable whether what we have here is either a long EP or a short LP. Nevertheless it’s an outstanding release and has been coming out my speakers since I got it a fortnight ago. The album kicks off with ‘Day Drinking’ a short, less than two minutes, blast of fast and furious Irish folk-punk with electric guitar buzzsaw and brilliant piping and and mandolin. Over before you know it and we are into ‘I Got Nothing’ and Rick’s voice fits perfectly with the just about of punk rock sneer and ‘croon’! Catchy as hell (if anyone knows a better word for ‘catchy’ then please leave it in the comments!) and those elements of country at play here though the songs Irish roots are clear for all to hear. This time its the fiddle that stands out and The Pourmen certainly have a wealth of talent at their disposal. We are back soaked in alcohol again next with the country ‘Sober Heart’. A broken relationship and it’s perfect county material with a laid back tune with a cracking guitar solo towards the end, not often you hear an auld punk rocker saying that. ‘The Rising’ begins with Sluggo piping the chorus of ‘Rising of the Moon’ before the band jump in and turn the whole thing into a celtic-punk racket of Irish punk rock with updated lyrics and a tribute to their friends and their home of New Bedford. Now i may be an auld punk rocker’ but it’s no surprise to me that my favourite track is ‘Cultivator’. The longest song here at just over four minutes and by Christ it’s (sorry) catchy. The country and bluegrass here takes over and is simply brilliant. The song tells of the tale of poor Billy whose tongue gets him into trouble and makes him pay the ultimate price. The fiddle again is outstanding and a real story told in song in the old Irish way. Coming up to the end and finally we have a song about the local industry with ‘Ice On The River’. Again it’s country tinged and (groan!) catchy. Folky and acoustic, I think, and a superb foot tapper for those of us who are a bit shy without a few pint’s in us leading us into the final track ‘Prodigal Son’. Sluggo again gives us some great piping with the tune from ‘Kelly The Boy From Killane’ before the music takes a swerve and we are in classic celtic-punk territory with the band turning it on and leaving us with an absolutely brilliant story of setting out on your own two feet and it’s all over far too quickly and if this was a gig I’d be shouting myself hoarse yelling “MORE”.

Rise & Shine saw the light of day in March of this year and though it took a while to reach us we are certainly glad that it did. The album was produced and arranged by The Pourmen themselves and vocalist Rick was behind the music and lyrics with contributions from all the band members. This is a fantastic release with the only criticism that I can offer up that it wasn’t even longer so as you can see not really a criticism at all!! Seven songs that more than make up for its brevity with some absolute brilliant (last time i promise) catchy and extremely well played Irish folk-punk that would soften the heart of the greatest punk rocker in town. The crossover appeal of bands like The Pourmen explains celtic-punk’s success at capturing the heart of Irish-America. While the music appeals to all whether young or old, or punk or folk the values its extols are the values that made the Irish the Irish. Love, friendship, faith, loyalty and the love of a glass or two of something strong!

(listen to Rise & Shine for free before you purchase on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Rise & Shine

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(The Pourmen getting in the mood for St. Patrick’s Day 2017 on their local TV station)

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: DICK GAUGHAN- ‘Handful Of Earth’ (1981)

AND FREE DOWNLOAD

Considered one of the great folk voices of our time and acknowledged as one of Scotland’s most outstanding musicians. Handful Of Earth is renowned as not only his best album but also as one of the best folk album’s of all time.

Dick 1

Though steeped in the traditions of folk and Celtic music, Scottish singer/songwriter Dick Gaughan has enjoyed a lengthy and far-reaching career in a variety of pursuits. The eldest of three children, he grew up surrounded by the music of both Scotland and Ireland. His mother, a Highland Scot who spoke Gaelic, had as a child won a silver medal for singing at a Gaelic Mòd and his Leith-born dad played guitar while his Irish grandad the fiddle and his Glaswegian grannie played button accordion.

The family experienced considerable poverty, but the area they lived in possessed a strong community and many of Gaughan’s songs celebrate his working-class roots. In his teens Gaughan served an apprenticeship at a local paper mill, but had wanted to be a musician since he first started playing guitar at the age of seven. Born in 1948, he first picked up the guitar at the age of seven, and released his debut solo album, No More Forever, in 1972. He then joined the Scots folk-rock group the Boys Of The Lough before returning to his solo career with 1976’s Kist o Gold. However, he soon formed a band named Five Hand Reel. Over the next two years, Gaughan issued four more records – two solo releases (1977’s Copper and Brass and 1978’s Gaughan) as well as two more Five Hand Reel outings (1977’s For a’ That and 1978’s Earl o’ Moray).

In the late ’70s and early ’80s, he worked as a writer and in a theatre company but after a three-year absence from the studio, Dick returned to regular musical duty with the release of 1981’s Handful of Earth. The album has gone onto become one of the greatest recordings of traditional folk song’s ever made. His guitar playing is innovative, expressive and powerful and his voice is by turns tender, angry and passionate and even old songs sound new in his hands. The mixture of love songs, odes of parting and political commentaries such as ‘Worker’s Song’ and ‘World Turned Upside Down’ is Gaughan’s most complex and emotional work, and has come to be recognised as a masterpiece being named as Album of the Decade by Folk Roots magazine.

His version of ‘Song For Ireland’ is the album’s highlight capturing the sadness of emigration and evokes perfectly the feelings that those poor Irish must have felt when forced to leave their homes. Handful Of Earth is a brilliant album and features Brian McNeill, Phil Cunningham, and Stewart Isbister and is, without doubt, Gaughan’s best blend of traditional and contemporary songs.

In Dick Gaughan’s own words on Handful Of Earth

“This was the first album I had recorded in Scotland. For some reason, it seemed to strike a chord with people and it is the most successful recording I have made in terms of acclaim and sales.

It was Melody Maker’s Album of the Year in 1981 and in 1989 it was voted in the Critics’ Poll, and more important to me, the Readers’ Poll, in Folk Roots as Album of the Decade. I have had hundreds of reviews, good and bad, and I pay little attention to them. But when the actual people you’re playing to confer an honour like that upon you, you shed the odd tear of thanks that you’ve been privileged to be able to do something which means something to them.

Why they voted it such was a complete mystery to me then and still is today. As a friend of mine says, “Never ask one of the actors what they thought of the play”

A Different Kind of Love Song followed in 1983, and in 1985 he released a live album and a year later True and Bold. After 1988’s Call It Freedom, Gaughan again retreated from view devoting much of his time to his increasing interest in computer technology. In the mid-90’s he formed a new band, the short-lived Clan Alba, who disbanded after releasing a 1995 self-titled debut and he returned to making solo album’s and began to tour the country regularly to packed audiences everywhere. That was sadly until September 2016 when he announced that he was cancelling all public performances until further notice. This was because he believed that he had had a stroke, which was affecting his ability to perform. 

Statement from Dick Gaughan’s management

‘”This statement about Dick Gaughan’s health should be read before reading or believing anything else. Dick has now stated publicly at two recent gigs that, “In order to prevent rumours spreading, I think I have had a stroke”. It is untrue to say that he cannot sing or play guitar. However in saying what he has said, Dick is acknowledging that ‘something’, as yet unconfirmed, is not right. Dick has an appointment with a neurologist in early October 2016 when the situation will, it is hoped, be clarified. Until then “I think I have had stroke” is not an opinion based on medical fact”

London Celtic Punks send our best wishes to Dick wherever he may be laid up and look forward to seeing him performing again down here in the smoke. Get well soon Dick the scene needs you.

FOR YOUR FREE DOWNLOAD PRESS

*HERE* or *HERE*

Password: folkyourself.blogspot.com

Track-Listing
1 – Erin-Go-Bragh
2 – Now Westlin Winds
3 – Craigie Hill
4 – World Turned Upside Down
5 – The Snows They Melt the Soonest
6 – Lough Erne-First Kiss at Parting
7 – Scojun Waltz-Randers Hopsa
8 – Song for Ireland
9 – Workers’ Song
10 – Both Sides the Tweed

Dick Gaughan: Vocal, Guitars, Brian McNeill: Fiddle, acoustic bass, Stuart Isbister: Bass, Phil Cunningham: Keyboard, Whistle

All tracks trad. arr. Dick Gaughan except Track 4 Leon Rosselson; Tracks 6b, 7a Dick Gaughan; Track 8 Phil & June Colclough; Track 9 Ed Pickford

THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS ‘STEPPING STONES’ CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW SERIES

This album was brought to you as part of our regular series where we bring you something a little bit different to what you’re maybe use to. Lost or hidden and sometimes forgotten gems from the legends and also unknowns that have inspired and provoked folk music and musicians right up to modern age celtic-punk music. The albums are usually out of print so we can provide a free download link for you.

You can find our Steppin’ Stones page here with the full list of albums to choose from.

(if the links are broken please leave a comment and we will fix)

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