Italian celtic folk n’ roll from Büsti Grandi (Craggy Island)
Long, long, long before hordes of Polish workers settled in Ireland it was the turn of the Italians who flocked to the dear auld sod. High wages, plenty of regular masses and the, now long deceased, ‘celtic tiger’ promised good opportunities for all that came. Among those Italians were members and friends of the band Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards. With good mates in Ireland they saved the money and began to visit them regularly. Here’s how they put it
“Anyway, during those years we started collecting money and traveling once a month to Ireland, to meet old friends living there and spending the weekends rambling around and enjoying Irish music, culture and people.
Day by day we found there what we were searching for in our entire life, something that would change us forever. That’s how we fell in love with Irish music and how we learned it”
So in 2007 the boys got together and with just a handful of songs set out on the path that would lead them all over Europe playing with not just the celtic-punk scene’s best bands but also some of the traditional scene’s as well. From dingy wee pub backrooms to rock festivals to mountain huts the bands brand of Italian celtic-punk has gone down an absolute storm everywhere they have set foot.
Back in 2012 after the release of their first album ‘Drinking Not Thinking’ they set out on a busking tour of Ireland, Wales and England joining local musicians singing old-time stories on street corners. Returning home they were joined by world renowned Irish folk musician Luca Crespi who added uilleann pipes, tin whistle and the Irish flute to the bands repertoire. ‘Up The Bastards’ EP followed last year which brings us nicely up to date with the recently released album ‘Get The Folk Out!’.
The band members are Guido Domingo- vocals, acoustic guitar, bodhrán Lorenzo Testa- tenor banjo, mandolin, vocals, spoons Luca Crespi- tin whistle, uilleann pipes, Irish flute Silvano Ancellotti- electric and acoustic guitar, coarse vocals Uncle Bard- bass guitar, lamenting vocals and Francesco Fabris on drums. Lorenzo is the band’s main songwriter but most of the group have also written a song or two and all contributed to the songwriting process.
The album is in fact a masterpiece. It straddles nicely both Irish trad and celtic-punk and easily fits into both genre’s. The addition of uilleann pipes moves the bands sound into something quite incredible. From the very start of the album as soon as ‘The Road’ kicks in with tin whistle and vocals soon joined by a whole host of Irish instruments showing that Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards surely know their onions. The following ‘Black Sheep’ is a bit more celtic-punk and more reminiscent of the Molly’s or The Tossers.
Normally we would try to give you a real feel for the album by going through all the tracks and giving you a wee description of each one but there’s not much point with this as it would just say “absolutely fecking brilliant” after each track title. As hard as it is to pick a few standout tracks on this amazing album ‘Green Shamrock Shore’, is one of them, about the death of the celtic tiger and the beginning of the end of Ireland’s boom years and sadly the end of Rob’s time in Ireland. A track laced with sadness but sung in that pint in the air way that fills both yer heart and yer ears. Even more incredible than the high standard of the music is that its mostly their own work too. Only two tracks are covers ‘The Raggle Taggle Gypsy’ and the Man In Black’s ‘Ring Of Fire’, both of which are suitably twisted and turned by the band into something new and fresh and as far away from bog standard covers as could be possible without changing both the words AND the tune! Influences abound from Planxty to The Chieftains to the aforementioned Tossers and Flogging Molly but Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards are pretty well unique in the Euro celtic-punk scene and deserve to be fecking huge worldwide. Hopefully this album will achieve that. ‘Blue Velvet Glove’ showcases Luca and his haunting expertly played pipes. The songs last only two or three minutes each but there’s so much going on its hard for this reviewer to keep up. ‘The Rambling Bhoys’ is typical of the album with a lovely tune, clear and well sung vocals with lyrics you can easily understand.
‘Skedaddle’ is another great example, fast- slow- fast- slow the perfect song for having a breather and catching your breathe on the dance floor in between going nuts, spilling yer pint and bashing into people. ‘I Only Got One Pint’ is another Uncle Bards classic as is the following ‘Off In The Jacks’. The album ends with ‘Be’ the longest track on the album and begins with just vocals and mandolin before the band kick in and fill the air with the swirling sound of brilliantly played slow tempo Irish folk.
With fifteen songs that come in at just under a hour, the CD also comes in a very nice digipak with a whopping 16 page booklet including the song lyrics, pictures of every band member and some excellent liner notes containing introductions to all the songs. Do yourself a favour and fork out the bit extra hard earned for the CD copy of the album, you’ll not be disappointed.
Been playing this on repeat and from that very first moment it stills sounds as fresh as it did on that very first play. From the first few bars I realised I had come across something special. This is already my celtic-punk album of the year and I doubt they’ll be one better along anytime soon. The boys have an extraordinary feel for playing Irish music and I can honestly say I have never heard a non-Irish band sound so authentically Irish. I will be playing this for a long time yet and i simply cannot recommend enough that you get yer mitts on this album. If you don’t think it is “absolutely fecking brilliant” as well then you really have no place coming here!
So there they are, seven years and counting… still roving, still playing. And surely we can be grateful… too old to stop now!
Drinking Not Thinking – 2011, Up the Bastards! EP – 2013, Get The Folk Out! – 2014
Contact The Band
Buy The Album
the ever always excellent Spanish blog ‘Celtic Folk Punk And More’ also wrote a review of the album here.