While this side of the broad Atlantic all the writers for London Celtic Punks are musically illiterate over in the US of A there is no end to the musical talents of our North America editor Ray Ball! Ray’s band Ravenswalk have a aptly titled six track EP out just in time for St. Patrick’s Day 2023.
Alongside being a great writer and a Celtic-Punk obsessive like the rest of us Ray recognises that Celtic-Punk is much much more than music. While some write the genre off as corny and just drinking music it is musicians like Ray that bring to mind the ancient seanchai. A traditional Gaelic storyteller and historian who passes on his knowledge through both music and song. So with all that in mind we asked Ray to go into the songs and give us a wee potted history of the songs.
‘Shipping Up To Boston’
This song needs no introduction. I arranged this for two bagpipes which I just played on different tracks, bass and drums. Just a little change of pace for a tune we all know.
A track from The Cranberries that I love Clare singing on that really encapsulates the troubles.
‘The World Turned Upside Down’
This tells of is a commune started in 1649 in England that didn’t last long due to the monarchy but was a huge stepping stone towards more contemporary socialist values. Not to make a huge political stance but a good song. The British army also played this tune on fife and drum when they surrendered to the allied French and continental army at the final battle of the American revolution, because it was a bitter irony.
‘Thatcherites By Name’
Sung to the tune of ‘Jacobites By Name’ originally by Robert Burns to criticise the British government under Maggie Thatcher. Not a super Irishy song but one I also love Clare’s vocals on and has the Rabbie Burns tie in.
This traces back to before the American Civil War, and was a popular tune then. It’s really about creating mayhem in a small Irish town lyrically but in it’s day was also a favourite amongst soldiers, particularly Irish ones.
‘The Irish Volunteer’
This is also a Civil War era tune, which celebrates an Irish immigrants story of his father dying on Vinegar Hill in 1798 to his fighting for his new country that allowed him a new life. All biases aside, by the 1860’s there were huge amounts of Irish immigrants fighting for both sides during the war. Some accounts actually state that soldiers on opposite sides that were all Irish would stop firing at each other because they all recognised that they were brethren caught up in a different fight. At the battle of Fredericksburg one confederate soldier crossed lines during the night and went to give water to his Irish union brethren who were wounded and dying in the cold. He is known as “the Angel of Mayres Heights” and there is a large monument to him on the battlefield today.
(Stream / download St. Patrick’s Day 2023 via the Bandcamp player below)
The album cover is based on the flag of the 7th Buffalo Regt., Irish Army of Liberation. The flag was carried into battle during the Fenian raids, which took place in the 1860’s after the war and consisted of veterans of both sides deciding they would fight to invade Canada via Buffalo and hold it in ransom for Ireland’s freedom, or even to start a “new Ireland” there. The battle showed a swift and distinct Irish victory but was short lived. The regiment was of volunteers from the heavily Irish south side of Buffalo, but saw heavy action. Two casualties of the battle were recovered and brought to their final resting place near to that south Buffalo area. Though their attempts failed ultimately, it presented the groundwork for the Easter 1916 rising in many ways.
Ravenswalk are the classically trained Clare Elizabeth on vocals and the aforementioned Ray Ball on all the other many instruments and they are based in the heavily Irish-American city of Buffalo in New York state. They have already amassed a back catalogue that much more established bands would be jealous of and it’s all freely available alongside the St. Patrick’s Day 202 six track EP as ‘name your price’ downloads from Bandcamp. We never get tired of saying that these downloads are completely free and their is absolutely no obligation to pay anything but their is an option if you do feel and can afford to send over a couple of pints. After all Guinness is expensive stuff in the States.
[…] community and you can find a wealth of his material available at his Bandcamp or the Ravenswalk site. You can read Ray’s other interviews with James band mates in the Walker Roaders here. […]