Category Archives: Folk-Punk

2021 CATCH UP REVIEWS. PART 2 – WILD COLONIAL BHOYS, THE POKES, HAWTHORN, SURFIN’ TURNIPS,

Our last post was an attempt to catch up with a few albums that we loved but had missed for reviewing during 2021. Part One wasn’t originally planned to be but they all ended up being ‘solo’ albums and so today we have a bunch of albums from bands. Apologies for not being able to do more detailed reviews but as we say each and every month “we can’t review what we don’t hear”. 

WILD COLONIAL BHOYS – Remote Ruaille Buaille

Not a band I’m particularly knowledgeable about bar coveting one of their great t-shirts but here goes. I’m pretty sure I had some stuff from them in the past but was all lost in the great external HD crash of a few years ago. Hailing from Minnesota the album was recorded remotely, hence the name, which makes the expert production even more impressive.

Things start with the self penned ‘Red haired Lass’ and a upbeat bouncy Country /Celtic number. The production here is maybe one of the best I’ve heard all year. The sound is so full with the many instruments here all complimenting each other. The talented band show their ability throughout the album able to switch from more rocking numbers even to trad Folk. Their harder edge comes out early on, on the first of a handful of covers and ‘Rocky Road’ never fails to disappoint. Their are several excellent covers like  Ewan MacColl’s ‘Homes of Donegal’, and Luke Kelly’s ‘Schooldays Over’ but as usual it’s the originals that I’m really interested in. The standout track here is the ‘Tragedy At Duffy’s Cut’ where the Bhoys tells the tragic story of the death of 57 Irish immigrants whilst working digging the railroad near Philadelphia in the 1830’s. The death and unmarked grave containing these men’s remains was hidden for decades and is a stark reminder that the lives of working-class Irish Catholics in those days were worthless. A fascinating story well worth reading more about but the story is well told here. The album ends with a great upbeat version of ‘The Auld Triangle’ and it all reminds me what I have been missing. A fantastic album that captures the spirit of Irish-America perfectly.

THE POKES – Another Toast  (Here)

The Pokes had quite a lengthy several year hiatus between this album and their last but have returned with an album that reminds me of them at their best. Another Toast is their fifth studio album and takes off from where Mayday ended. Their distinctive Folk-Punk sound is left intact as well as the humour they are famous for. Kicking off with an ode to their beloved Berlin wart’n’all. Accordion led with a real catchy beat chugging along. As I’ve said before The Pokes remind me a hell of a lot of the Geordie band The Whiskey Priests. Unafraid to venture into political commentary but it’s pure bold and absolute brazen entertainment that is the goal here and is achieved 100%. My personal favourite here is ‘Gambler’, now talk about bloody catchy! but several songs could all be described the same. With the album’s artwork it’s no surprise The Pokes take a deep look at death here but always with a jig in their heart and a beer glass being slammed into a table.

The CD album comes with the added bonus of the vinyl only Sail single from earlier this year and also with a extensive 16-page booklet. The album was released on the famous Mad Butcher Records and is available in all formats. This to me is Celtic-Punk without being particularly Celtic but it is nevertheless absolutely superb party music!

HAWTHORN – All The Light We Cannot See  (Download)

We have just literally done a review of another band from Arizona (the new album from Swainn) and his has been in the to-do pile for a few weeks without us giving it much of a chance. hawthorns roots began in another local Celtic-Punk West Winds and they have previously released a 6-track EP in 2017 before this. Hawthorn are, rather unbelievably, a duo with Sarah Elizabeth and Brent Anderson playing all the instruments. The band is rather mysterious with blurred videos and artsy photos never quite giving you a decent view of the band. Still we here for the music and that is damn good.

I didn’t know they were a duo for a good while after I heard this album and I still find it hard to believe now after several listens. The amount of instruments here is incredible with flute, tin-whistle, uileann pipes, upright bass, mandolin, banjo and plenty more all in the mix here. At times the music is aggressive Celtic-Punk and at other times gentle Celtic inspired Folk. Basically the perfect model for an album on these pages. Of the former the brilliant intro ‘Beltane’ that leads into the fast bagpipe led ‘A Green And Ancient Light’, ‘Gardner’s Ghost’ and the album’s closing song ‘Raven’ all rock along with Celtic intensity, while of the latter the Irish trad instrumental ‘Lughnasadh’, the atmospheric ‘Samhain’, with almost Gothic sounding uileann piping, and the gentle ‘Solstice’ all stand out. Overall it’s a great album with a bit extra than most Celtic-Punk albums. Definitely not yer typical American album with both it’s style and lyrics. The album is available at the link below for ‘name your price’ download so basically a £100, a pint of Guinness or bugger all. Up to you but make sure you do download it.

THE SURFIN’ TURNIPS – Down The Allotment  (Download)

The Surfin’ Turnips have been with us now a good few years and round their way (Bristol and the south-west of England) they have become quite the institution. Known primarily as a festival band they have a decent enough back catalogue too and their latest album Down The Allotment came out back in March.
These guys are the real deal when it comes to West country Cider Punk anthems and its all heads down Folk’n’Roll as on the album opener the Ramonesy ‘Mermaids Leg’ that leads into the Folky but Punky but still Folky ‘Windbound’. It’s all done in great spirit and with tongue lodged firmly in cheek with salty songs of the sea, some of the fields and some of the orchards too. There’s plenty here but maybe you have to be a local for it to really click with you. Some of the subjects sailing right over me head but I loved the uncomplicated Punk-Rock sound that is only improved by the addition of accordion. The kind of band that when asked your standout tracks it would change every listen. At the moment the spoken word ‘Evesham Wheel’, UK82 style ‘Cider Police’, the piss taking ‘You Are My Cider’ and the album’s closing song, and also one of my favourite songs, ‘The Bonnie Ship The Diamond’ all stand out though I can guarantee that will change. One for ‘turnip’ up loud and getting your dancing boots on!
 

ALBUM REVIEW: FEROCIOUS DOG – ‘The Hope’ (2021)

Having gone to see Ken and the boys live in Edinburgh this year, it seems only right that we review Ferocious Dog’s new album before the year’s out. Enjoy The Hope, a triumphant slice of folk-punk from a band at the top of their game.

The Hope by Ferocious Dog. Don’t forget to spin this one!

From the epic opening seconds of “Port Isaac”, it’s clear that this is an album that the band put a lot of thought and work into. With a sense of foreboding we’re chucked on board a ship, with Cap’n Flint barking the orders (not really) and the opening lines of “Haul Away Joe” chiming into view. After that, the band’s cover of this sea shanty gets going properly, and we knew it wouldn’t be long before the Dog’s familiar brand of folk-punk and polka beats came to kick us in the ass. Some o’ the lyrics are also a fresh deviation from other versions of the song out there.

Follow-up track “Pentrich Rising” continues in the same vein. The band filmed a video for this one, which reconstructs the failed Pentrich rising of 1817. To check out the video, and a “making of” that the band put together, go HERE and HERE. Or just watch it below:

“Pentrich Rising”. About the workers’ uprising of 1817 that foundered due to an inside job.

Plenty to dance to

Following the trend set by “Joe” and “Rising”, there’s plenty more to dance to on this record. Take your pick from some o’ the ones below ☘

“Born Under Punches” is about the sad story of a broken home, where the youngest runs away to follow their dreams in London, only to end up “on the old main drag”, as Shane MacGowan might have put it. But bleak or not, the song’s danceable from the start. So too are the equally-themed “Slayed The Traveller” and “Sea Shepherd”. The latter of these shows direct support for Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd charity who promotes an Earth-centred (rather than human-centred) view of the world. And if “Haul Away Joe” was a re-imagining of a trad song, so too is the band’s take on “The Parting Glass”. To quote Billy Bragg, they really put the power drill on this tune, to see what would come out.

Born Under Punches” talks about homelessness on the dark streets of London.

Music of the heart

The picture we’ve painted so far is of a fast-paced jumper of an album. But don’t be fooled – there are plenty of sombre moments on this record too. The first of these is “Broken Soldier”, a beautifully sad song about war, inspired no doubt by the sad fate of Ken’s son Lee Bonsall, who had served in Afghanistan. The line “it’s a far cry from the blue skies” particularly strikes you – it hints at the fact that war is horrific, but that our Western society can be ugly and unkind too.

“1914” is another example. Here, lead vocals are taken by fiddler Dan Booth, whose delivery of the line “there was whiskey on Sundays and love in the wings” is definitely reminiscent of “The Broad Majestic Shannon”, another MacGowan masterpiece. If this song takes a look back at WWI, “Khatyn” is about WWII, and a village in Belarus that in March 1943 was all but wiped out by the Nazis. Credit to the Dog here for not being afraid to bring in events and countries from outside the Celtic world.

The masterpiece of the album, however, has to be “The Hope”, an outstanding title track that is worthy of being a title track. A strong ballad, featuring beautiful singing from Ken, this one slowly builds to a wonderful choir-like singalong at the end, bringing a tear to the ol’ eye. This is music of the heart, written for those struggling to find any joy in life, walking around thinking, “I hope one day happiness comes my way.” If you’re reading this and you feel that way, then we hope you find happiness too. There are different answers that work for different people, so never stop searching for solutions.

“The Hope” – an outstanding and moving title track if ever there were one.

Go check it out!

With 17 songs, you won’t be shortchanged (or disappointed) by what’s on offer here. The album is a success, a masterclass in folk-punk with top-notch production values. The band put a lot of graft in here, so well done to them on reaching #1 in the UK Folk charts, and even #31 in the mainstream charts. Not that charts always matter, but it’s nice to let the mainstream know that there’s more music out there than just what gets played on national radio. There’s a wealth of great underground music out there, and it’s good when some of it succeeds on its own terms.

Now, as Jack Nicholson famously said after his wife locked him in a storage cupboard: “GO CHECK IT OUT!” 😁 If ye have the money, buy “The Hope” from Amazon (it’s not available from the band’s website until after Christmas, ye ken). If money’s a wee bit tight, then the album’s up on the major streaming platforms too. And whatever ye do, be sure to follow the Dog on Instagram or Facebook.

ALBUM REVIEW: STAR BOTHERERS – ‘Tales Of Layton Rakes’ (2021)

The second album from Midlands based Star Botherers is a fine mix of Folk, Punk and social commentary.

Now if one band has dominated the Celtic-Punk scene on these islands in the last twelve months it has to have been Ferocious Dog. The runaway success of their recent album The Hope has only continued their rise in popularity and they’ve plenty more in the bank to come too. Along with their success they’ve managed to ferment a whole crew of regular support acts wherever they go that play a similar kind of broadly left-wing Folk-Punk. Some of these are pretty damn good with The Silk Road, The Leylines, The Whipjacks leaping to mind, but also many more are drippy studenty singer-songwriter types, a band that I knew existed in same milieu as FD but I hadn’t heard was the Star Botherers. Coming from the same small town as Ferocious Dog, Warsop near Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, they have a good relationship together with FD covering a few of their songs and Broken Soldier features on the new FD album, The Hope. It’s an area famous pretty much just for coal mining which ceased in the area 30 years ago but like most mining communities continues to define where they live.

Star Botherers from top left: Ellis Waring – Bouzouki, Mandolin, Guitars, Ukulele * Brad Drury – Percussion * Joel Howe – Guitars, Accordion, Vocals * bottom left: Andrew ( Bart) Hawkins – Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar * Dave Drury – Bass, Vocals *
Recording, mix, master, produced: Joel Howe

Tales Of Layton Rakes is the Star Botherers second album after debut Happy Angry from 2017, which itself was preceded by a handful of demos that are now unavailable. Some of the tracks from those early days have been re-recorded here and the one or two I have heard have benefitted from the update. The album opens with, I think the album’s best song, the modern sea-shanty ’13 Years In Oregon’ a gloriously updated version of a track that appeared on their very first EP. The song steams along at a great pace telling of a life on the sea with some great lyrics and nice vocals from Andrew putting on a sort of Yank drawl. It’s a great wee opener and not what I was expecting from a band that I had imagined were prone mostly to jokey songs. The first of the modern tracks is up next and ‘Spoons’ is, as most UK based residents will know, the nickname for the cheap and (sometimes) cheerful (sometimes not) pub chain JD Weatherspoon. In the modern day of gentrification it’s often the only place in some city centres where working class people can afford a couple of pints. It’s common these days for people to bash Spoons under different guises but underneath it’s always that the owner of Spoons was prominent in the ‘Leave’ campaign. This is followed by ‘Blackpool’ and a list of things about why the town is “Shit, Shit, Shit”. Catchy and it chugs along with a story about a day out in the famous seaside town. ‘Let It Stand’ tells of the plan to erect a statue of Maggie Thatcher in her home town of Grantham not far from where the band are from. Needless to say it’s not universally popular but to to everyone’s surprise the band are in favour but as a way to remember what she stood far. ‘Just Around The Corner’ is another older song re-recorded. A jaunty folky tale of working your life away to make a decent life for you and your family and the breaks you get and more often don’t get. All quite serious stuff but hidden away in the kind of song that you could easily end up swinging strangers around a dance floor to. ‘Another Lidl Song’ is about the cheap but popular Lidl supermarket that is the fastest growing supermarket in Britain. ‘Kyle And Norton’ compares the two staples of British telly swopping their shows and how they get on. A clever and witty song.

‘Freethinker’ is another re-recorded song that has been covered by Ferocious Dog and it sounds like FD copied it note perfect! ‘Swearing In Songs’ is a slower Country-ish number with rather understated swearing considering the subject matter. ‘Silence Is Acceptable’ almost reaches Celtic-Punk in it’s intensity with a roll call of people and groups who fought for rights for all while ‘He Got Dreads’ I would say is about the kind of person who sneers at Spoons and Lidl and working class people in general. All the songs here are written by lead singer Andrew Hawkins with the exception of the next song, ‘Oddly Excluded’. Originally recorded for inclusion on the tribute album The Pete Drake Project (Vol​. ​1) and is one of the album highlights here. The album ends with ‘Sailors Grave’ and another marvelous song about the sea. Bit more Punky it definitely lifts the album at the end.

The album is released tomorrow and is available for pre-order below. It was recorded, produced, mixed and mastered by Joel Howe at the Black Market recording studio at home in Warsop and the CD comes with a whopping 16 page lyric booklet. Lyrically it they do seem caught between being an outright jokey band and their more serious material. A balance that will come in time I’m sure. Overall it’s a great album but like most Celtic or Folk-Punk it’s probably best to hear these songs in the live context as it is undoubtedly perfect for drinking and lepping about to!

(You can stream and download Tales Of Layton Rakes on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Tales Of Layton Rakes  Bandcamp

Contact Star Botherers  Facebook  YouTube  

INTERVIEW: RICHARD BALLS – A FURIOUS DEVOTION

There is always one thing that I’ll keep within me / Deep in my heart, a furious devotion / The love of old Ireland, and Mother Mo Chroi.

In part 2 of our Shane MacGowan special, we’ve interviewed Richard Balls, the author of the new Shane biography A Furious Devotion: The Life of Shane MacGowan. The interview was recorded, so if you’ve read the book, or if you plan to, or if ya need a last-minute Christmas present for someone special, check out the video below ☘

Shane and Richard share a drink back in the day 🍻

If ya missed the recent release of A Furious Devotion, then be sure to check out part 1 HERE. It provides a bite size overview of this Shane biography. But apart from that, let’s get the full low-down from the author 😎 Without further ado, here’s the interview…

Once again, congrats to Richard on a thorough job of portraying the life of Shane. A Furious Devotion: The Life of Shane MacGowan is available now on Omnibus Press. Sláinte! 🥃

SHANE MACGOWAN: THE NEW BIOGRAPHY

A Furious Devotion is the new biography of Shane MacGowan, authorised by Shane himself! Author Richard Balls is a devoted Pogues fan, who has also written about Stiff Records. Now Richard has tackled the task of writing the ultimate Shane biography. His early life, his family, his big influences, the good times and the bad – it’s all accounted for here. Let’s have a look at the result, and learn about the Celtic punk legend like you’ve never seen him before.

A Furious Devotion by Richard Balls. The authorised story of Shane MacGowan.

It would be impossible to paint a full picture of Shane, The Pogues and Shane’s life in general if you just observed it from afar. So you won’t be disappointed by A Furious Devotion: The Life of Shane MacGowan. Richard Balls is the author, and he visited Shane and Victoria at their Dublin flat, spending time with ’em over two years. Richard also interviewed an extensive number of people who’ve shaped Shane’s life; everyone from closest family members to lifelong friends, bandmates and even Shane’s English teacher are quoted here. This provides us with a unique, detailed overview of this extraordinary man, one that helps us understand him better than we already did ☘

This holy place

For example, one place that Richard draws special attention to is The Commons. A cottage in rural Co. Tipperary with its thick stone walls, cobwebs and a fistful of character, this is Shane’s spiritual home. It’s the place where he spent the first years of his life, and even today it remains practically untouched by the ravages of time. So it’s fitting how we learn from Richard that Shane was introduced to Irish music here by his family, and of course to Catholicism.

Years later, after father Maurice and mother Therese moved the family to England for work, Shane would still return to The Commons for months at a time, bringing many a girlfriend along to this holy place. But you don’t need to go there to know it’s a world away from the very English backdrop of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, where Shane spent the rest of his childhood, feeling like a fish out of water. Trust me, I’m from Maidstone, and while Kent has some beautiful places, it ain’t Irish and it certainly isn’t republican 😉

A well-read mind

You may have wondered why Shane’s songs have stood the test of time so well, especially among us Celtic punk fans. That’s partly because his interest in writing and reading developed very early on, paving the way for those memorable, heartfelt lyrics. Therese and Maurice both encouraged Shane to follow in their intellectual footsteps. As a result, having barely hit his teens, Shane was already reading James Joyce and Thomas Mann and winning national writing competitions.

This gift for writing, and Shane’s growing love of music, would later be two key ingredients in his work with The Nips, Pogues and Popes. Richard reveals the final, explosive ingredient to us in the back room of a pub in 1976. That night, Shane watched The Sex Pistols for the first time, and discovered his heart’s second home in punk. He remained in London, and so The Nipple Erectors were born.

A wee pic of Shane and Richard, taken a few years back.

Highs. Lows. Recovery.

We all know and love The Pogues’ rapid rise to fame, and sadly their moment in the public eye was over too soon, with Fairytale of New York serving as today’s sole reminder of the success the band once enjoyed. Nonetheless, everyone can learn something new from Richard’s in-depth analysis of the ’80s and ’90s. We learn how Jem Finer had been told he was “tone-deaf”, only for him to shake this off and emerge as the other prolific songwriter for the band. We learn how Shane really did go and “work for a five” on those streets in The Old Main Drag. And how, in spite of the clear Irish direction of their music, it wasn’t until the height of The Pogues’ success that Shane really got political for the first time with The Birmingham Six, a song that Ben Elton – and eventually the BBC – refused to broadcast. In that respect, 1991 couldn’t come soon enough.

I won’t say a lot about the much darker times in the years that followed, between when Peace And Love signalled the band’s growing musical differences and Sinéad O’Connor eventually reporting Shane to the police for heroin abuse. The horror of those bleak times is very tangible, and Richard’s descriptions make them all the more tangible. But one good thing that finally came of it was that Shane visited a visionary lady in the West of Ireland, one Christina Gallagher. We discover during this passage that she “sucked all the badness out of him”. If Shane truly does see other people as souls, rather than as humans, then we hope he finally found his match in Christina, who has given him some of the spiritual support he needs to deal with the world.

The music is cool again

So now…read the book and discover the rest for yourself 😉 But overall, A Furious Devotion makes it crystal clear what Shane has done for Irish music. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, Irish music and “being Irish” was not seen to be fashionable in Britain. Shane, along with The Pogues, The Popes and all the musicians he’s shared stages, songs and records with, is a big part of why the music is cool again, and why on Paddy’s Day people celebrate being Irish even though they’re not! Only The Pogues could have achieved that in Thatcher-era Britain, and they could not have done it without their mercurial frontman at the helm. A man who came from the English establishment, even attending two public schools, but at the same time couldn’t have been further from it all.

We at London Celtic Punks would like to congratulate Richard Balls on a job well done! His book, A Furious Devotion: The Life of Shane MacGowan, is out now on Omnibus Press, the world’s most rock n’ roll publisher, and is available from all well-known retailers. We would like to thank Omnibus Press for giving Richard this chance to keep the life and music of Shane MacGowan at the front of people’s minds.

Stay tuned for part 2!

Shane pictured in September 2021.

GIG REVIEW: FEROCIOUS DOG – EDINBURGH 6/11/21

Ruff ruff! This weekend Ferocious Dog took to the stage in Edinburgh, at legendary venue La Belle Angele. They played a blinder, as if you needed telling 😉 Here’s a review o’ the gig by The Celtic Punk Author, who was there. With support from Mucky Scoundrel.

It feels bloody good to watch live gigs again after that pesky virus stopped ’em. If there’s one band that doesn’t disappoint, no matter how many lockdowns we’ve had, then Ferocious Dog is it. On Saturday 6th November the boys set up at La Belle Angele, an awesome wee venue in Scotland’s capital that brings in the finest in underground music names.

Supporting: Mucky Scoundrel

I got to the venue early, bought the obligatory pint and made a donation to the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund (more info below). Soon after, it was time to enjoy Mucky Scoundrel, last-minute replacements for the injured Gimme Gimme Gimmes. Frontman Mark Feeney broke a string during the first song (a nightmare that all us guitarists can relate to!), but he played to an obliging audience as the club floor started to fill. Opening as a solo act can be a wee bit lonely, lemme tell ya, but Mark had an excellent accompaniment in Danny Kelly, who supplied some slick basslines and backing vocals.

The duo played 8 songs as I recall, with a mixture of humorous lyrics and more serious numbers, and some sweet vocal harmonies to bolster the music. To get a feel for what they can do, check this oot:

Mucky Scoundrel. Last-minute replacements for the injured Gimme Gimme Gimmes.

To hear more from Mucky Scoundrel, check ’em out on Facebook, or watch the well-made, if slightly sad video to “Last To Fall” on YouTube. It’s a full studio version of a song that featured in Saturday’s setlist. Click HERE to watch it.

Headlining: Ferocious Dog

The Angele was nicely filled by the time The Dog’s walk-on music “Port Isaac” chimed into view. The band were to play many songs off their newest album The Hope (UK #31), and sure enough, they kicked things off with their rendition of fisherman’s shanty “Haul Away Joe”. After that it was straight into “Pentrich Rising”, arguably the band’s finest song to date (and there are many candidates for that!) A sample of the live performance, and how it got folks up and jumpin’, can be seen below:

“Pentrich Rising” – about the armed workers’ uprising of 1817, which started in ex-mining village South Wingfield.

Next up was “Victims”, another track in E minor with a more melancholy fiddle riff. The front-row faithful, known affectionately as the band’s “hell hounds”, kept the mosh pit going and were well up for the “OK, let’s go!” shout during the song. We then moved into “Broken Soldier”, the first of a number of songs the band played about the horrors of war. For those who don’t know, Lee Bonsall (mentioned above) was lead singer Ken’s son. Lee gave the band their name when he was a boy, and went on to serve in Afghanistan at the age of 18. Sadly, he later took his own life at the age of just 24, unable to overcome what he’d seen and been through in the war. This gave rise to the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund, and if you can spare a few quid for these guys, then get in touch with them HERE, and show your support for those still fighting the war in their hearts and minds, years later.

On the subject of charitable giving, “Sea Shepherd” is a song with a pirate-like feel to it, dedicated to the marine conservation charity of the same name. Ken was proudly sporting his Sea Shepherd T-shirt at the gig, and volunteers from Sea Shepherd themselves were at the doors with merch (I bought a beanie to replace the one I lost years ago). I first heard of these guys years ago through the Dutch band Omnia, who play[ed] pagan folk with a big dose of “fuck authority” thrown in. Sea Shepherd are more into direct action than Greenpeace, but they stay on the right side of the line. To learn more about these guys, make a donation or buy something, check ’em out HERE.

On “1914”, another track off The Hope, fiddler Dan Booth stepped up to sing lead vocals. Dan is one of two remaining members from the original 1988 line-up, with Ken being the other one. I particularly smiled at the line “there was whisky on Sundays” – if that ain’t a nod to The Pogues and “The Broad Majestic Shannon”, a fine piece of MacGowan magic, then I don’t know what it is, ye ken.

Ferocious Dog live in Edinburgh. L-R: Ryan Brooks, Dan Booth, Ken Bonsall, Alex Smith (hidden), Sam Wood and John Alexander.

Music has the right to children

After a reel or two, which broke things up nicely but kept folks dancing, the band returned to their eponymous 2013 album, and the songs “Too Late” and the reggae-tinged “Freeborn John”. After these two strong tracks, it was back to The Hope again for “Born Under Punches”, another poignant song about homelessness in London. “Punk Police”, meanwhile, was written about those who feel they can tell others what’s punk and what’s not, or what they can listen to and what they can’t. As a famous Scottish duo once pointed out, “music has the right to children”. So although a punk band must understand what punk is about and how it originated, punk does have the right to morph and grow, as do all forms of music. With a “fuck the punk police” shouted at the end of the song, Ken made this clear.

The Dog closed their set with a few more songs, but were eagerly welcomed back for an encore. They had three more songs ready to go, the strongest of which was arguably the finisher, “Slow Motion Suicide”, taken from 2015’s From Without. This closer was another sad reminder of the terrible consequences of mental health problems, if the victims don’t get the support they need. Having suffered from depression and anxiety myself, I believe there’s an answer for everyone. People react differently to different types of treatment; what’s important is that people get the help that works for them.

All in all…

All in all, this was a fine gig, with a good dose o’ speedfolk to keep out the November cold. The band tore through their set impressively, never letting up but remaining as tight as we all knew they would be. As the crowd put their hands in the air for the obligatory end-of-gig photo, I was glad I went, and I’ll keep me ear to the ground for future FD gigs in this neck of the woods. Okay, my one complaint: the band didn’t play “Crime and Punishment” 😁 But that’s jammern auf hohem Niveau, as they say in Germany (English: “nitpicking”).

We would like to thank La Belle Angele for putting the show on, and for all they do to support live music. Show ’em some love and attention by visiting their website for further info and news about upcoming events. Next time you’re up Edinburgh way, we recommend checkin’ out what’s on there 👍

Folk on!

Andy x

EP REVIEW: THE RAMSHACKLE ARMY – ‘Highflyer’ (2021)

One of Australia’s finest Celtic punk exports are back with their first EP since 2016’s ‘Whitewashed Graves’. Have they still got it? Make no mistake: these guys pack a punch, and they always have.

The Ramshackle Army kicked the Celt-folk door open way back in 2010. Quickly, they proved they could deliver exciting, fast-paced performances to rival the best of ’em. While they’ve obviously been influenced by The Dropkick Murphys, and have a core sound reminiscent of 2000s-era punk rock, the band is much more than a mere Dropkicks tribute, let me tell ya that!

The Army have toured the US several times, supportin’ top names like The Tossers and The Dropkicks themselves, and sharing festival stages with Flatfoot 56 and The Mahones. The Army (as I shall refer to them from now on) have described their music as “the sounds of punk rock, with a dose of the Celtic folk”. And that, my friend, is precisely what we have here on ‘Highflyer’. And damn, it’s good to see these guys the other side of lockdown.

The Ramshackle Army. L-R: Jig (bass), Nath (guitar), Gaz (vocals), Adge (drums), Josh (banjo/mandolin) and Kat (fiddle).

To the EP itself: this 5-track record is a thrasher, from start to finish 🙂 It also showcases some of the band’s punkiest moments to date. From the minute the title track “Highflyer” kicks in, we know we’re in for another good ride. Singer Gaz Byrne treats us to the catchy, Cockney-tinged vocal melodies we’re used to from him. The sound again immediately provides that homely feeling that Celtic music always summons in the listener. With lines like “Where is the line in the sand? / Why do highflyers sink so low?”, the song takes a critical swipe at the business success but lack of moral principles embraced by some “highflyers”, wrapping it up in a hopeful and powerful chorus. A strong opener, and one that brings back memories of “Protest Songs” from the aforementioned ‘Whitewashed Graves’ EP, or indeed 2012’s classic “Rue The Day”, the video to which is currently nearing 50,000 views on YouTube.

Tracks #2 (“Bend Don’t Break”) and #3 (“Rise and Fall”) allow the band’s rock sound into the foreground, with the fiddles and mandolins taking more of a back seat. However, this takes nothing away from the musicianship of these songs, and our favourite Celtic instruments make a strong return in the interestingly-titled “The Also Rans”. If you’re looking for the band’s signature “woah-oh!” singalong moments, then await the chorus patiently 😁 For me, this is the second strongest song on the record only to title track “Highflyer”, but you might feel differently, so crank the volume 😉

You’ll want to keep the volume up for closer “Old Weapons”, too. I’m pretty familiar with The Army’s back catalogue, but they’ve hardly ever sounded heavier or faster than they do here. A desperate burst of energy to emerge from the terrible pandemic that’s wrecked people’s lives, perhaps? Maybe. Either way, this one’s sure to be a firm singalong at the band’s gigs in support of the EP, supplying 1 minute and 49 seconds of untempered energy.

Anyway, enough from me…to feast yer ears on this fine piece o’ work, click HERE or try Spotify.

To connect with the band, check ’em out on Facebook or Instagram.

After 11 years in the biz, The Ramshackle Army are still tight as fuck. If it’s good-quality, almost virtuoso-level Celtic punk that you seek, you’ll still find it right here.

THE DUNES

What happened when Shane MacGowan met Ronnie Drew back in the ’90s? Well, a few things happened, but here’s one thing ye might not know about. Let’s take a trip back through time, but not one that will bore you.

Back in the day, Ronnie Drew was makin’ a solo record called Dirty Rotten Shame. He was short of a few songs, so he contacted the ol’ legend himself, Shane MacGowan. Shane sent him a song he’d written, called The Dunes.

Like most of MacGowan’s work, it’s a beautiful piece of music, and it shines a light on the ugly side of life. On one of Ireland’s toughest times. The Famine of 1845-52.

The Potato Famine. A terrible blow to the Irish population.

The Great Hunger

I walked today on the cold grey shore
Where I watched when I was much younger
Where they built the dunes upon the sand
For the dead from The Great Hunger.

Those are the first lines Ronnie sings in the song. It sets the scene of the terrible famine of 1845 to 1852, caused by a potato blight. The Irish, especially the working class, were heavily dependent on the potato, often eating 5 kilos a day. So the Famine struck right at the heart of their livelihood.

Ultimately, a quarter of Ireland’s population was either wiped out, or left to find a home elsewhere. This is what Shane writes and Ronnie sings about in the song, almost like they were there. More to the point, Shane was, when he was 18 or 19. “I was up near Louisburgh in Co. Mayo, and I heard the story about people burying their dead on the beach, during the Famine times,” the singer said once. “The place was eerie, all these bones lying about. I’ll never forget it.”

And Shane didn’t forget. Just listen to the line, “the children kicked the sand about, and the bones they are revealed, then”, and there’s your proof.

Shane at his best

  Despite being about such a grim topic, The Dunes showcases MacGowan at his finest. While it’s hard to pick out the best lines Shane’s ever written, I particularly like the penultimate verse, which goes like this: 

A crack of lightning split the sky 
The rain on the dunes, it poured 
I left them lying where I shot them down 
The bailiff and the landlord 
Then I went for a drink in Westport. 

  He’s had his problems, but Shane is a fucking genius. And the “Westport” line is the only moment of hope in the song. The only moment where the narrator seems to hint at a normal life, like going for a drink in the pub. Sadly, it’s also a strong reminder of the part of Ireland that was hit the hardest by the great hunger. 

  It was the West, and the South, that copped the worst of it. Many of those who died were Catholics, as referenced by the “rosary” line earlier in the song. And one of the truly tragic factors about it all was the soup kitchens. These were set up to provide relief to the starving poor, and it did help. But since the kitchens were Protestant, and Catholics were sometimes reluctant to go in case they got converted, we’ll never know how many people died out of fear of losing their religion.

Shane and Ronnie. A pair o’ legends.

Busting a myth

 Most of what I know about the Famine was written in a book by Joseph Coohill. His father was an Irish-American, and Coohill is a respected academic. His book Ireland: A Short History is informative without being hard to follow. Also, to Coohill’s credit, the book is fair to the Nationalist and to the Unionist sides. It’s fair to the Irish, but portrays the British in a factual light too. 

  That brings me on to something. The myth you’ll sometimes hear is that the Famine was entirely the fault of the British. While it’s a popular myth, it’s not completely true. The Quakers, and even Queen Victoria, donated a shitload of money, to try and stem the impact of the Famine. Robert Peel was PM when the Famine started, and he genuinely tried to help, but was stabbed in the back by his own government. They didn’t want him importing cheap food from abroad, even though people in Ireland were already starving to death. Sometimes it was the rich Irish landlords and bailiffs who turfed the starving people out of their homes, and effectively “stole their grain”, like it says in The Dunes

 If you’re looking for people in Britain who cocked things right up, try the following: 

  1. Peel’s successor, PM John Russell. He believed in economics, rather than fixing an agricultural problem. 
  1. The scientists appointed by PM Peel to investigate the Famine. They disregarded a specialist’s opinion that the potato blight was caused by a fungus (which it was). 
  1. The arrogant people among the British, who believed the Famine was “sent by God to punish the Irish”. So much for love thy neighbour. Ireland was part of the UK at the time, so why didn’t more people look out for them? 
  1. Charles Trevelyan, treasurer to PM John Russell. Trevelyan was slow to give the Irish any kind of proper aid, and he also believed in the God-punishing-the-Irish crap. A poor treasurer and economist if ever there was one. 

The takeaway

  As Ronnie returns to the opening verse of The Dunes to finish, he sings about a man walking on the same shores where he witnessed the horrors of the Famine as a young boy. That implies that the Famine may have passed, but that it lives in the hearts and minds of the people connected with it. There’s a lesson to be learned in life, then. And that lesson is this: do what you can to help others. As human beings, we can’t work miracles. But we can all do something or other to make a difference. 

  It could be doing a Ferocious Dog and organising a food bank at a music venue. It could be raising money for, or donating money to the homeless, as I’ve done in the past and still do. It could even be as simple as looking out for folks during the terrible COVID-19 pandemic. In a world where ordinary people can feel powerless, let’s all do a little bit to make it a better, more humane place. 

Listen to The Dunes HERE.  Or, you can watch an old video of Ronnie singing it HERE

R.I.P. Ronnie, we love ya x

Andy

ALBUM REVIEW: TORTILLA FLAT – ‘New Stuff In An Old Barrel’ (2021)

The bagpipe heavy Swiss Celtic Folk’n’Punk band Tortilla Flat celebrate both their 30th anniversary together as well as their 10th anniversary of playing with The Independent Pipers with the release of their ninth album New Stuff In An Old Barrel.

Tortilla Flat celebrate a amazing 30 (yes thirty!) years together in 2021. This makes them one of the oldest Celtic-Punk bands in the world still going and definitely one of Europe’s (if not the) oldest. Thirty years on since Chris, Ritchie and Lexu sat down together and inspired by Scots and Irish Folk music made plans for a Celtic-Folk-Punk band in their home town of Langenthal in Switzerland. Taking their name from the John Steinbeck novel and movie of the same name about a bunch of Californian outsiders who want to do nothing but get drunk, Tortilla Flat are joined regularly by the The Independent Pipers who keep up a steady supply of expert bagpipers. For many bands in the Celtic-Punk scene the priority has always been the live show, after all it is what pays the bills for many, and so don’t get round to recording as much as bands in other Rock genres would. Tortilla Flat are an exception though as since their debut In The Grip Of The Grape back in 1996 their new album New Stuff In An Old Barrel will be their ninth album alongside plenty of other singles and EP’s as well.

Tortilla Flat live at Stadtpark Aarburg last month.

This is the third time I have had the pleasure of reviewing Tortilla Flat and so I do kind of know what to expect when I hear it. Previous albums have been a mix of bagpipe heavy authentic sounding traditional Folk and ’77 style Punk rockers and no New Stuff In An Old Barrel is not much of a departure from that. The album kicks off with ‘The March Of Bill Carson’ a slow Western style instrumental dedicated to the memory of Bill Carson the character from the film The Good, The Bad And The Ugly who sets the whole shebang off when he reveals that he has buried a stash of gold in a cemetery and then he pops his clogs! This morphs straight into ‘Tobermory Bay’ the first of the Celtic-Punk rockers here inspired by a visit vocalist Chris made to the Isle Of Mull and the accompaniment from The Independent Pipers (Tom MacFly, Rob Highlander and Lord Peter Of Lochaber) is truly amazing. Some Scots inspired Ska up next with ‘Captain Bill McCoy’ with some excellent accordion from Asi MacHasi guesting for the band. The song tells the true story of Scots-American Bill McCoy who the phrase ‘The Real McCoy’ originated from. During the prohibition era (1920–33) McCoy was illegal a rum runner who was known for never watering down his imports; thus, his product was ‘The Real McCoy’.

Tortilla Flat left to right: Asi MacHasi – Accordion * Chris – Guitars and Lead Vocals * Tom MacFly – Bagpipe * Lexu – Drums * Rob Highlander – Bagpipe * Ritchie – Bass and Mandolin * Lord Peter of Lochaber – Bagpipe * Christine Sdiri – Violin and Cello *

The first trad Folk song next and the popular Irish song ‘The Parting Glass’ made famous by The Clancy Brothers and unusually for once isn’t the closing song. Done in every style imaginable now Tortilla Flat play it punky. We all have our own reasons to like this song, usually to do with someone close to us and I’m no different. ‘Stag Night Site’ returns us to some good auld bagpipe Punk and the funny antics of a night before the big day. One of the album highlights now and ‘Cut And Dried’ sees the band joined by old mate Jorgen Red Westman of the Swedish Punk band Psychotic Youth. He previously joined Tortilla Flat on their vinyl single ‘The 45rpm’ a couple of years back. Jorgen has a great voice and the song is as catchy as hell and ought to get plenty of airplay with his faux American accent helping I’m sure. The bagpipes fit right in and sounds a bit like a Celtic Social Distortion! Next we get an simple acoustic number about the Covid lockdown with ‘Baby I’m Bored’ before another Celtic-Punk number ‘Trumped Up’. The last few songs are all outstanding beginning with ‘The Girl With The Rose Tattoo Tattoo’ and hard rocking guitar meets utterly superb bagpiping in a catchy great love song that Angry Anderson would approve of I am sure. The famous ‘Loch Lomond’ returns us to trad Folk and it’s heartening to hear a band that can switch from both ends of the Celtic-Punk scale so easily. Christine Sdiri accompanies the band on cello and once again this is a song that normally closes records. You may not recognise ‘Ça Plane Pour Moi’ from it’s title but within a couple of seconds it reveals itself as the 1977 novelty Punk-Rock hit from Plastic Bertrand. An long time live favourite it’s finally been put down on disc and it’s fantastic! This leads us finally to the last song on the album and ‘The Rain Over Brodgar’ is a great way to bring down the curtain. A quiet thoughtful somber instrumental. Christine returns to play both cello and fiddle and only a couple of minutes long they could have stretched it out further I think and let it really develop.

The album’s title could have been the smallest review we have ever done. New Stuff In An Old Barrel is exactly that. Even the songs that have stayed faithful to the trad versions still have a modern air to them. The album is a limited release with just 250 copies of the CD available in a numbered box but is also available through all the usual digital channels. Another great release from Tortilla Flat and another band that deserve to be much more widely known. Here’s to 2041 and the half century!

Buy New Stuff In An Old Barrel

Contact Tortilla Flat  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube * The Independent Pipers

If all the dew were diamonds”, Pablo said, “we would be very rich. We would be drunk all our lives”. But Pilon, on whom the curse of realism lay uneasily, added: “Everybody would have too many diamonds. There would be no price for them, but wine always costs money. If only it would rain for a day, now, and we had a tank to catch it in”. “But good wine”, interjected Pablo, “not rotgut swill like the last you got”. “I didn’t pay for it”, said Pilon. “Someone hid it in the grass by the dance hall. What can you expect of wine you find ?”

from “TORTILLA FLAT” by John Steinbeck, 1935

THE CRAZY ROGUES NEW SINGLE ‘Empire Of Sand’ OUT NOW

Hungarian Celtic-Punk band The Crazy Rogues are back with a new Folk-Punk song inspired by a different part of the world than usual but still with as much crazy, rogue vibe as they could muster.

2015 and 2017 were the years that Hungarian bands dominated the Celtic-Punk scene. A whole slew of bands had releases that filled those years Best Of charts and one of the many bands was The Crazy Rogues. Founded in 2014 in the city of Veszprém their stated aim was to spread the mood and atmosphere of Irish pubs all over Hungary.
One of the things the Hungarian scene was famous for was not sticking to the standard Celtic-Punk formula and The Crazy Rogues mixed in plenty of other influences from around the world for a sound they called ‘Rogue’n’Roll’.
With things returning to normal it’s great news to see bands back on the stage and back in the studio and a brand new track, Empire Of Sand, came out last week. The video below is a slightly different version from the one released so be sure to listen to the Bandcamp one below as well. The song is the first single from The Crazy Rogues forthcoming new album, set for release soon, and blends their trademark Celtic-Punk sound with Arabic tunes. It will feature twelve songs, of which eight will be new compositions from the band, and we can’t wait to hear it.

The Sun goes high,
Crawls towards the top of the Sky…
It shines so bright
It makes you wish you could die

Masters they watch
Whipping on our backs one more notch
We work all day
We won’t live too long I’m afraid

Our name in your mouth:
stinky slave dog
You think my life or
death’s worth even less than a great slog
You refuse to rest
at our campfire
But our dirty hands
are building your empire

Chorus:
Hot sand in waves
worn-out slaves
Just keep the pace
It’s a deadly place
Pyramid’s tall
I will outlive you all
building it up
you will have to fall

The Crazy Rogues: Teo Biermann – Flute, Vocals * László Verrasztó – Lead Vocals * Dávid Csillag – Violin, Vocals * Krisztián Fellegi – Banjo, Mandolin, Vocals * Gábor Fazekas – Guitars, Vocals * Péter Németh – Bass * Ákos Nagy – Drums *

Buy Empire of Sand  Bandcamp  Deezer  Apple Music  

Contact The Crazy Rogues  Facebook  SoundCloud  YouTube  Instagram

A CELTIC PUNK LOVE AFFAIR

Ever since Shane and The Pogues knocked our ears into gear in the ’80s, hundreds of bands have followed in their footsteps. Year after year, they bring us exciting Celtic punk songs, albums and gigs to light up a somewhat shit world. But what about Celtic punk stories? Why ain’t there many of them floatin’ aboot?

Maybe there’s more than one way to entertain people. If you’re into Guinness, St. Paddy’s Day and young people embracing the Celtic spirit worldwide, then what we have here will be right up yer alley, ye ken. They say hope springs eternal…and so does folk!

Have you ever wanted to read a short story, or even a novel, about Celtic punk? As if The Pogues, Tossers and Mahones were ready to jump off the page at ya? If that sounds cool, then meet Gus, Lin, Herman and Rash. Four characters from the far-flung reaches of Nova Scotia, Canada. They’re passionate musicians, folkin’ the Irish pubs and refusing to bend to society’s wishes. Below, I give ye four reasons why you should give a shit.

1. They have the bottle of smoke

Yes, that’s a Pogues reference! The Bottle of Smoke is the band’s aptly-named local Irish pub. We kick things off with them playin’ The Smoke mid-week to an appreciative audience; Gus on guitar and vocals, Herman on mandolin, Rash workin’ the accordion, and Gus’s cousin Lin banging the bodhrán (not in a sexual way). Gus is essentially the band’s very own Shane MacGowan; a troubled ratbag who likes a drink or six, but a songwriting genius with a fistful of dreams and a big, beating heart at the centre of it all. And speakin’ of The Pogues, if there’s one band you would automatically compare these four musicians to, then the London Irish legends are it.

As well as playin’ The Bottle of Smoke as often as the pub’ll book ’em, the band are making inroads into the rest of Atlantic Canada as well. They’ve played out west a little, they’re set to play Cape Breton Island on St. Patrick’s Day, and they’re keepin’ their well attuned ears to the ground for more. The stage is quite literally set for a Celtic punk love affair.

Sounds good so far? Read on, ya big bollocks 😉

Shane MacGowan and The Pogues. The band’s heroes and their biggest influence.

2. They have ideals

We all realised we weren’t gonna get anywhere in life unless it was through the music. Ozzy didn’t wanna do what his father did for a living, and Tony didn’t wanna do what his dad did. Neither did Bill, and neither did I.

Geezer Butler, Black Sabbath

While Kilmainen (being the band’s name) might not be working-class, backstreet kids from Aston, Birmingham, they ain’t exactly moneyheads either, to use Gus’s own word. Gus himself is a standout example of this, working just 15 hours a week in a music shop. Underpaid, no doubt, but doing something he actually cares about. Cousin Lin is similar, having snubbed the corporate world to go part-time in an artsy café. The band members take the time and energy saved, and reinvest it into the one thing that matters most to them: their music.

The plan is that writing songs together, recording albums, doing interviews, playing gigs and working with other musicians will one day become the quartet’s full-time gig, their sole source of income. That’s certainly what the Austrian-born Herman dreams of, as he spends Sunday afternoons promoting the band’s music online. The biggest dreamer, though, is once again Gus: what you’re about to read is one of the entries he pours into his diary mid-way through the story.

I don’t want to live by society’s rules. It’s boring. I don’t wanna live life with no idea what I want. Society wants you think you’re worthless, and that it’s YOUR fault if you’re unhappy. But I can see through that. I KNOW what my purpose in life is. It’s the best feeling you can get, when people say your music’s helped them. Tell me it’s just a hobby? Bollocks to that. I wanna BE someone in life, change things up.

Guthrie “Gus” Ward, Folk Springs Eternal

I once saw a great film where actress Julia Jentsch said, “I want to live young, wild and free.” Most people will tell you that’s stupid, but her co-star Daniel Brühl said, “that’s not stupid.” He was right, and so is Gus above. There’s nothing wrong with having a dream, with looking at the world and asking questions. Asking whether life can be lived differently, rather than the way it’s spoonfed to us. That’s where the hope lies, my friend. And hope – like I started out saying above – springs eternal, right?

Will folk music spring eternal in Kilmainen’s case, too? Read on, because here’s where it gets nail-biting.

3. They have to fight society

Unless you’re sheltered from the world, or just strike lucky, you won’t follow your dreams without some serious backlash along the way. Numerous examples exist: Mahatma Gandhi, Carl Brashear, Jacinda Ardern, Mark Oliver Everett, the list goes on and on. These people had to battle their way to success, and our four musical heroes are no exception to this rule. We get a glimpse of it in chapter 4, when Rash’s office colleagues disregard his ambition to become a professional musician. “There’s no money in that game,” they tell him.

If that seems quite harmless, wait a little. Lin gets on a bus five days later, and is violently attacked by three youths who don’t like women who think and dress for themselves. “Irish music ain’t cool,” they say, and apparently neither is being a lesbian. Luckily a trip to hospital is averted just in time, BUT: bring on St. Patrick’s Day, where things go from bad to worse. In less than 24 hours, the band is all but over, with their morale and reciprocal support in the gutter.

The Halifax police headquarters where Gus is held on St. Patrick’s weekend.

4. They have to win.

What will become of the band? Will the quartet survive their trial by fire? Or will they fail and self-destruct among the flames? Well that I won’t tell you 😉 I will only promise you that the Celtic punk author doesn’t make a habit of letting people down.

So you have two options, my friend. One: you’re invited to take a wee look around my website, where the story and other cool stuff is available for purchase. Click HERE to check it out. Or two: if you want chapter 1 for free first (plus a free song!), then click HERE instead. I swear by the holy iron which I hold, that I, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser (okay, no), will not pass your email addresses on to any gobshite else.

I hope you enjoyed the read, my friend. Sláinte mhaith! 🥃

Andy x

Click HERE to learn more about the book. Want chapter 1 for free? Click HERE instead.

FEROCIOUS DOG NEW SINGLE ‘BROKEN SOLDIER’ / ‘PENTRICH RISING’

English Celtic-Folk-Punk band with the ability to wow any audience you put them in front of. Not many bands you can say would appeal to both Grandparents and Grandchildren but Ferocious Dog are one. With a new album out soon here’s a couple of tasters of what’s in store for us.

Ferocious Dog look forward to the release of their sixth album The Hope later in the year with two songs released in quick succession onto You Tube. Beginning in June with ‘Pentrich Rising’ and a cracking video set and filmed in Derby gaol and following it up with the release this week of a song very close to the band’s heart, ‘Broken Soldier’, in partnership with the charity Combat Stress.

The band continue their rise with these two songs which despite their growing popularity lose none of the righteous anger and seething love they have become famous for. Likewise their sound has not been watered down. A band always determined to do it on their own merit it’s heartening to see a band that treats its fans as family and goes about it’s good deeds quietly and without fanfare. Their down to earth approach and old school labour movement politics along with years of solid touring and goodwill have built up a level of loyal support that many better known bands could only dream about.

Production: Justin Griffiths Creative * Director: Justin Griffiths

Lyrics: Andrew Hawkins

It’s not an original thought that it’s the working class that fights the wars for the rich and powerful. Some of these wars are remembered with pride and some are not. Sometimes these soldiers have performed heroics and can remember their service with pride and sometimes not. It’s important when we talk about ‘friends and foe’ during a war that we never lose sight that there is always an individual inside that uniform. ‘Broken Soldier’ has been released in support of Combat Stress, the UK’s leading charity for veterans mental health dealing with issues like post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. The band have donated £5000 from the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund and ask their fans to donate where they can to www.combatstress.org.uk.

Pivotal to the ethos and drive of Ferocious Dog is the sad fate of Ken’s son Lee. Lee served in Afghanistan from the age of 18, and upon rejoining civilian life took his own life in 2012 at the age of just 24, unable to overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from seeing one of his friends being shot dead by a sniper. Lee is commemorated in the Ferocious Dog songs ‘The Glass’, ‘Lee’s Tune’ and ‘A Verse For Lee’. This gave rise to The Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund which raises money and awareness for causes close to the bands heart. Lee’s story was featured in a BBC documentary Broken By Battle. It was Lee that actually named the band as a child.

The other song to be released was titled ‘Pentrich Rising’ and like a lot of what Ferocious Dog sing about is based on some stone cold hard history. Not the history you are likely to learn in school (more’s the pity!) but the story of the people. Working class history that survived through word of mouth. An armed rebellion that took place in the very area where Ferocious Dog call home around the village of Pentrich in Derbyshire in northern England on the night of 9th June 1817. Mass unemployment, industrialisation, the Corn Laws, war debt were among many factors that led to a massive recession. The poor of course were always the ones to suffer the most and so well over 400 brave souls assembled aiming to join with forces from further north to march on London in support of a bill for parliamentary reform. Sadly this belief was all based on a pack of lies from a paid informer under the Government’s instruction. This led them to be intercepted on route and they were no match for professional soldiers and yeomanry. Many were captured without a shot being fired and though the leaders did originally escape they were rounded up in the subsequent weeks and taken to Derby gaol. Twenty-three were sentenced, three to transportation to Australia for fourteen years and eleven for life. As for the ringleaders, the government was determined to make an example of them, hoping that

“they could silence the demand for reform by executions for high treason”.

The rebellion’s three leaders, Jeremiah Brandreth, Isaac Ludlam and William Turner were all publicly hanged and beheaded at Nuns Green in front of Friar Gate Gaol in Derby on the 7th November, their heads taken to St Werburgh’s church for burial. It was England’s last armed rebellion

a half-hearted but passionate attempt to give the working-class man a voice, was snubbed out and with it ended the lives of three men who campaigned for a fairer society”.

Outside of Derbyshire the Pentrich Rising is largely forgotten but not by Ferocious Dog. Their albums are packed with songs telling the tales of the working men and women of days gone by. Just as in the olden days these tales were passed on by word of mouth and song. Well they still are.

Production : Justin Griffiths Creative * Director: Justin Griffiths

Oh my name is William Turner and my tale i’ll tell to thee
about the revolution in 1817
With Brandreth and Ludlam and a band of fifty strong
With hundreds more to meet us on the road as we march on
 A night for revolution, a night to fight
A call to arms in England All workers must unite
Tonight we march on Pentrich with London in our sights
A night for revolution
All workers must unite
And then we fight
Little did we know there was a traitorous government spy
William J. Oliver a man I now despise
The Pentrich revolution was always doomed to fail
For high treason, I was sentenced and hung in Derby gaol
 
A night for revolution a night to fight
A call to arms in England
All workers must unite
Tonight we march on Pentrich with London in our sights
A night for revolution All workers must unite And then we fight

Buy Broken Soldier  Here

Contact Ferocious Dog  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

PRE-ORDER THE HOPE HERE

Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund  Facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: NO MURDER NO MOUSTACHE – ‘The Odds Are Stacked Against’ (2021)

Pync Roc efo dylanwadau Celtaidd. Weithiau acwstig, weithiau ddim, wastad pync.

One man Welsh Punk Rock with Celtic influences. Sometimes acoustic, sometimes not, always Punk

The Odds Are Stacked Against is the second release from Welsh one man band Owen Crawford in the guise of No Murder No Moustache. It seems to be the trend these days that any wishy-washy drip of a student armed with an acoustic guitar gives themselves a grandiose name with a bit of edge (to make up for the music having none I suppose) and a place at a local NHS benefit gig is assured! No Murder No Moustache hail from the Welsh capital Cardiff and don’t play wishy-washy music. This is what I think generally passes ‘Folk-Punk’ these days. Go to any Ferocious Dog gig and they will have something not a million miles away as support. The lyrics are nearly all politically driven with not even a single drinking song. Though their is one sung in Welsh so maybe that’s it? It’s not all po-faced and serious though and the music is upbeat and dare I even say jolly.

Their debut release came out in the Summer of last year and ‘Hold My Beer’ was a welcome release at a time when the Celtic-Punk scene had become a near desert! The title track would eventually go on to win 2020 track of the year on the HRH radio Punk show. Since then a bunch of singles have followed, including a couple of Christmas themed ones that are available for free download on the No Murder No Moustache Bandcamp site. (link below) all in much the same vein. The Odds Are Stacked Against is a collection of seven songs of ‘punkishness’ played on fiddle, ukulele, accordion and banjo but with a strong Folk influence. While the ‘Celtic’ touches here are not quite as prevalent as on Hold My Beer their are several moments where it does come to the fore.

The EP kicks off with the title track ‘The Odds Are Stacked Against’ and starts with some nicely placed news dialogue before speeding off into Celtic-Pop-Punk territory. Upbeat, fist in the air music to jig around to as Owen sings about the dispossessed. If I had one criticism it would be that it lacks a bit of oomph. The mix is a wee bit quiet and while Owen’s voice is as powerful and as clear as a bell (no need for a lyric sheet here) the guitar could have done with beefing up a bit. ‘Sing! Fight! Run! Survive!’ is pure Celtic-Punk. Fast and fun (think Black Water County) and with a bit to skank along to too or even “beat up the floor” as BWC call it. This is the only song where Owen is accompanied by anyone else with Chris Hopkins stepping in on bass. ‘Since The War Started’ is a slow ballad. The sort that you might hear from the New Model Army or Alarm. The song does get louder later on as Owen delivers an anti-war ballad either of those mentioned would be proud of. ‘A Million Whispers’ takes us back to fast’n’fun and they manage to pack quite a punch in just forty-four seconds. The last three tracks here are my favourite beginning with ‘Let The Anger Into Your Heart’, one of the more Celtic sounding numbers with great use of the ukulele, a much much maligned and under-rated instrument, especially in Celtic-Punk. My favourite song here is ‘Sut Tyfodd Y Gath Mor Dew?’ which according to the translate button is ‘How Did The Cat Grow So Fat?’ in Owen’s native Welsh language. I never tire of hearing Punk sing in Welsh. A love that first began when I heard Punk-Rock legends Anhrefn on Snub TV back in the late 80’s. Accompanied by a bunch of mates on backing vocals it does sound remarkably like Black Water County which is to Owen’s credit rather than any criticism. The EP comes to an end with ‘Feels Like Home’ and a mish-mash of influences soon comes together in a call to arms but done in that style of No Murder No Moustache with Owen sounding an awful lot like Justin Keenan of Aussie Celt-rockers The Go Set. 

The EP is released on Smash Mouse Records, a collective based DIY label based in Cardiff, Wales. The seven songs run in at just under seventeen minutes so as you can imagine things rattle along at a fine auld speed with most songs around the two minute mark and Owen is certainly a very talented musician. A great release with my only quibble being that it lacks a little in the mix. With words and music like this it needs to have a big background and sometimes that is lacking. Music like this is best heard in the pub and it is notoriously hard to transfer that sound or feeling onto disc and with No Murder No Moustache being a one man band I can imagine it’s even harder. Still this shows Owen’s sound developing and I look forward to hearing more from him soon. 

Download The Odds Are Stacked Against SmashMouseRecords (CD/ Download)
Contact No Murder No Moustache  WebSite  Facebook  Spotify  YouTube  Bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: RAISE YOUR PINTS. CELTIC- PUNK SAMPLER. VOLUME 6 – VARIOUS ARTISTS (2021)

From the scene. For the scene.

After months of planning, organising and fund-raising the compilation album Raise Your Pints #6 has finally been delivered. Twenty bands from eleven countries celebrating (might be the wrong word- editor) the virus lockdowns in Celtic-Folk-Punk style. 

Anyone remember the original Celtic-Punk samplers from Shite’n’Onions? I think they stretched to three volumes and came at a time when I had never been on the internet. Yes I was one of the select few who never even had a MySpace account! So to come across these samplers with upwards of twenty  bands on and pretty much all new to me (even the English ones) was eye-opening… or should that be ear-opening? Them days are long ago and we can thank Shite’n’Onions for being early pioneers of the Celtic-Punk sampler though they have long passed the baton onto MacSlon’s Irish Radio. Now in their 11th year the radio station brings out the best in Celtic-Rock, Celtic-Punk and trad Irish Folk both modern and ancient(!). They have also for the last few years been a major player on the merchandise front organizing merch for a whole host of bands from across mainland Europe and even the United States.

This is the 6th in the Raise Your Pints series and all the songs have been written and recorded over the last 16 months while the Corona virus has done it’s best to wreck the music industry. We are yet to see what long term damage the lockdown have caused but already here in London, and across England, many music venues have closed their doors permanently and several bands have handed in their guitar straps. The thirst for live music though seems at a all time high but bands are still finding it difficult to book gigs and tours with so much uncertainty around about whether or not the lockdown will return.

So the arrival of Raise Your Pints #6 is to applauded for many reasons but chiefly among them is that the bands will directly benefit from the sales of the CD and with not much else going on it’s a chance for them to remind their fans and followers that they are still here and still fighting.

Reviewing a compilation album is hard enough but one made up of different bands is even harder so I will forego the usual review and just tell you a small bit about each artist and song and link to them so they can tell you more. Of course the best way to find out more is to buy the album!!!

RAISE YOUR PINTS VOLUME 6

THE MULLINS (France) – ‘Part Of Me’

The album kicks off with The Mullins. Hailing from the south of France their song began life before the lockdown but the band took the opportunity to perfect it and even managed to get together inbetween lockdowns to record the cracking video!

THE CEILI FAMILY (Germany) – ‘Corona Chesay’

The album is perhaps a bit top heavy with German bands but that is totally understandable. They do have the #1 scene in Europe you know. The Ceili Family are one of the better known established bands. The band first stirred back in 1996 and even had a great recommendation from the late Philip Chevron: “Enjoyed listening to the CD, by the way. Always good to see people doing something of their own with the basic idea we invented!”

THE FEELGOOD McLOUDS (Germany) – ‘Dirty Bastards’

More Germans here with The Feelgood McLouds formed in January 2015 southwestern Germany. More than any country in Europe the Germans have embraced Celtic-Punk with the number of bands, gigs and fans far outstripping anywhere else this side of the Atlantic. This track is taken from this years critically popular ‘Saints & Sinners’ EP.

GRASS MUD HORSE (China) ‘ Absent Friends’

Grass Mud Horse only seem to have around a year or two but already have more releases than many more well established bands. Formed when Scouse-Irish musician Chris Barry mover to China the band has had some set backs with members coming and going because of the virus (they are based in Wuhan) but luckily things have settled down and they recently recorded a single with yer man Frankie McLoughlin.

UNCLE BARD AND THE DIRTY BASTARDS (Italy) – ‘Back On Your Feet’

From playing with ALL the Celtic-Punk superstars to headlining festivals across Europe and even getting to the United States several times Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards are without a doubt one of the select few you could describe as ‘Premier League’ Celtic-Punk bands. ‘Back On Your Feet’ is one of the standout tracks from last years album Men Behind The Glass that the Bhoys have recorded an acoustic version for here. One of many great Celtic-Punk highlights during the lockdown was the Bastards hour long acoustic live stream. Brilliant!

JACK IN THE GREEN (Germany) – ‘Old Maui’

Yeah we may have all heard it a 100 times by now but popular covers are popular for a reason. That we never tire of hearing them! Hamburg’s Jack In The Green play a great acoustic version rather than the ‘choir/acapello’ type I’m more use to hearing. Vocals remind me a lot of from The Whisky Priests who in their day were massive so wonder if they were an influence here. 

THE MOORINGS (France) – ‘Champion At Keeping It Rolling’

Cracking version of the Ewan MacColl penned classic about lorry driving from French band The Moorings. Formed in 2011 the band have released several albums and EP’s a Folky version of this song appears on their debut EP Pints & Glory but they have re-recorded it in proper Celtic-PUNK style here. They have just completed a successful crowd-funding campaign for a new album so can’t wait for that.

JOHNNY HASH (Ireland) – ‘Ride On’

Johnny Hash is a bunch of people from various Belfast bands who got together during the lockdown and released a few videos of Irish Folk classics. Christy Moore’s ‘Ride On’ was their first attempt at a video. Still knocking them out months later let’s hope they develop into something more permanent.

THE RUMPLED (Italy) – ‘If I Should Fall from Grace With God’

The Pogues track gets an airing here from the Italian band The Rumpled. Hard to compete with the originals but gutsy to try and they give it a great go. A relatively new band having got together in 2013 in Trento, Italy. Known for fast paced Celtic-Punk, combining Irish Folk, Rock, Ska and Punk. They have a new album out at any moment so watch this space for news on that.

MEDUSAS WAKE (Australia) – War Of Independence

The debut album from Sydney based Celtic-Folk-Rockers Medusa’s Wake hit the top spots in all of 2018’s Celtic-Punk medias yearly ‘best of’s’ and since then they have gone from strength to strength. Writted by Tipperary born Eddie Lawlor, he sings from the heart of the war back home between 1919 and 1921 against the British. Much of that war took part in the fields and villages of the ‘Premier County’ and those of us with Tipp backgrounds grew up hearing of the tales of heroic activities of those ordinary men who took on the worlds strongest army.

HELLRAISERS AND BEERDRINKERS (Germany) – ‘Stay At Home’

Hellraisers And Beerdrinkers may just have the best name in Celtic-Punk but they are a pretty shit-hot band as well. They take their name from a song by rockers Motorhead so should give you an idea about them! Another band that hails from Germany from the small town of Schwäbisch Gemünd. ‘Stay At Home’ is a re-recorded re-jigged new version of a song from their debut album Folk’s Gaudi in 2016.

AN SPIORAD (Germany) – ‘Carry Me Home’

German band that began life as a two-piece band “The Plästik Päddies” in 1997 before changing name to the far more complicated An Spiorad (Scots Gaelic for The Spirit). ‘Carry me Home’ is taken from their recent album Album Dord Na Mara.

SONS OF O’FLAHERTY (Brittany) – ‘The Pack’

More Celtic Celtic-Punk now from Vannes in Brittany Sons Of O’Flaherty formed as a duo in 2010 they soon fleshed out to a whole band due in no small part to the popularity of Irish music in this Celtic nation. ‘The Pack’ is a new song and with it being four years since the release of their last album The Road Not Taken hopefully this signifies some new sounds on the way.

NEVERMIND NESSIE (Belgium) – ‘Lock Him Up’

Formed in Belgium in 2009 Nevermind Nessie‘s track comes from this years EP Another Six Pack Of Drinking Songs that came out in March. A fast, raucous song about Donald Trump.

KILKENNY BASTARDS (Germany) – ‘Be A Bastard’

More bastards!! This time from Iserlohn in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Like many German bands their emphasis is on playing live such is the demand for their music so their recording output sometimes doesn’t match up with the age of the band. Kilkenny Bastards are one such band and we look forward to them rectifying this soon!

ALL THOSE EMPTY PUBS (Switzerland) – ’40 Days’

Based up in the Swiss alps ’40 Days’ was the debut release from All Those Empty Pubs (what a great name!) earlier this year. We loved it so much we ran a feature and a small interview with Diego the genius behind this one-man-band. Diego utilises all his talents here with mandolin, flute, acoustic guitar and even Hammond organ alongside your more usual Rock band instruments. It just don’t get more DIY than this.

RAPPAREES (Germany) – ‘Las Vegas (In The Hills Of Donegal)’

Another band from Hamburg Rapparees kicked off thirty years ago in the dive bars before changing their name. A straight up acoustic cover of the Goats Don’t Shave song. A ‘raparee’ was the name given to Irish soldiers who survived the Williamite war with the British in the 1690’s and used guerilla tactics or became highwaymen after the war ended.

LA STOATS (Germany) – ‘Raise Your Pints’

German band La Stoats come from Essenbach in Bavaria in the south-east of Germany and incorporate the traditional tunes and melodies of their Bavarian home into their brand of Celtic-Punk. ‘Raise Your Pints’ is one of the standout songs here with chugging guitar and a real cool early 80’s Punk Rock sound with some superb bagpipes. Definitely a band worth checking out.

MUIRSHEEN DURKIN (Germany) – ‘Riot’

The last of nine German bands on Raise Your Pints features one of the best Muirsheen Durkin And Friends. ‘Riot’ is a bloomin’ brilliant Celtic-Punk cover of a UK Subs song from 1997. The original is superb but here it is mastered with the energy intact and growling vocals and a core of Celtic instruments chugging along.

SEAN TOBIN (USA) – ‘St. Patrick’s Day Forever’

The last of the 20th songs belongs to New Jersey Irish singer/ songwriter Sean Tobin. Theirs 2 versions of ‘St’ Patrick’s Day Forever’ and I guess you could call this the ‘radio edit’. Blue-collar, working-class Irish American Folk music and one of the standout tracks on the album to bring down the curtain.

So that’s yer lot. There’s bound to be a load of bands here that you have never heard of. Some are new even to us and the styles of music is varied from Folk and trad right across to Punk but the songs are all totally accessible at all times. This (like the previous five volumes) is essential listening to all fans of Celtic-Punk and we cannot put it any clearer than that! Raise Your Pints #6 is out on July 9th and is available for pre-release order from the link below.

https://macslons-shop.com/v-a-raise-your-pints-vol-6-cd

JUNE 2021 EPISODE OF THE CELTIC PUNKCAST #44 OUT NOW

I think they call it ‘technical difficulties’ on the telly but all is now well and good and The Celtic Punkcast is back and has returned with an hour of the best Celtic-Folk-Punk around.

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

Hi, remember me? Been on hiatus for a while but now we’re ready to go again. And man was I rusty doing this! But anyway, I FINALLY have episode 44 in the can and to paraphrase one of my personal heroes Bob Ross it’s ‘slick and wet and ready to go’. Before I list all the songs this month (and there’s a LOT of new music!) a big thanks to everyone for listening and waiting for a new episode.  Here we go:

THE NEW RUFFIANS – ‘The Parkdale Jig’

THE WELCH BOYS – ‘Methadone Mile’

BROPHYS LAW – ‘The Bachelor’

MICKEY RICKSHAW – ‘Rope’

SHANGHAI TREASON – ‘Wildfire’ (ft. Dan Booth)

THE LANGERS BALL – ‘Real Old Mountain Dew’

THE RUMJACKS – ‘Hestia’

THE WORKING CLASS SYMPHONY – ‘The Holy Ground’

DIAMONDS AND GUNS – ‘Cheers To Us’

MR. IRISH BASTARD – ‘You Spin Me Round’

THE BLACK CLOVER – ‘Pure Whiskey’

THE MAHONES – ‘Shakespeare Road’

THE TOSSERS – ‘The Crutch’

BLACK WATER COUNTY – ‘There Will Be A Day’

DROPKICK MURPHYS – ‘L-EE-B-O-Y’

THE GO SET – ‘Treasures’

SHAMBOLICS – ‘Goin’ off!!’

THE CELTIC PUNKCAST #44

Contact The Celtic Punkcast  Facebook  WebSite  Shop  Twitter  E-Mail

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

EP REVIEW: LIDDINGTON HILL – ‘Cow’ (2021)

New 4-track EP of high adrenaline Celtic-Punk and Alternative Rock from the South West of England’s Liddington Hill. 

It was only in February that we featured Liddington Hill for the first time. As surprised as we were that their was a band out there in southern England playing brilliant kick-arse Celtic-Folk-Punk that we had not come across we decided straight away that we had to do something. Without any new releases at the time we advertised that their back catalogue was available for free (they still are if you follow the link!). Free Downloads From Liddington Hill the articles title shouted out at you and by the look of it plenty of you did too. This time we are pleased to say that the music is new having been released only yesterday as I write this review.

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

Formed in 2015 when Matt and Emily began performing traditional Celtic and English folk songs around their local area and taking their name from an ancient hill in Wiltshire. As is par for the course in Celtic bands the sound changed and members came and went before eventually moving away from the more trad sound to a heavier darker approach. A shadowy mix of Celtic and Folk tinged Metal and Punk giving them a rather unique sound for these days, added to which the dual male / female vocals gives them a further range than most bands we hear. Not that it’s downbeat but if you like this is more Joy Division and The Pogues rather the usual Clash and Pogues we get to hear.

Well in common with every band the months of C***d lockdown had a dramatic effect on the band abut rather than just sit around and mope they decided to concentrate on the music and finally they got to finish Cow their new EP. Two original songs and two traditional songs recorded at Evolution Recording Studio in Oxford, by Nick Moorbath. Cow is the first recordings from the new line up of Liddington Hill and one the band have preparing for throughout lockdown. Cow begins with the sea-shanty ‘Whip Jamboree’. Described by A.L. Lloyd who performed the song on the 1957 album Blow Boys Blow as “one of the wildest and most exultant of homeward-bound shanties” and here its played fast as hell and the sound and subject matter reminds me of Yorkshire band Blackbeard’s Tea Party. The second of the four tracks is the original ‘Pub Crawl’, written about a night out the band had around Oxford. Again here the fiddle dominates as the sights and sounds of a night on the lash are conveyed to us. It’s been a while so memories need refreshing! The third track is ‘Marshlands’ and the darkest song here both lyrically and in tone. Much heavier than the rest of the EP which ends with a spirited version of the anti-war song ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye’. This song needs no introduction I am sure as by now its been covered by all and sundry but Liddington Hill manage to convey the horror of war suitably enough and ensure their version loses none of the originals power. The fantastic artwork for the EP was the brilliant work of Rob Warren from Paper Plane Consulting and the sound is also excellent though sadly distorted on the Spotify player below. So please don’t judge the EP on these snippets of song.  

Download Cow  Amazon  iTunes

Contact Liddington Hill  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

GUESS WHOSE BACK? THE SOUTH SHORE RAMBLERS ARE BACK!

It must be pretty hard being the sole Celtic-Punk representatiove for a whole continent but The South Shore Ramblers represented Africa superbly till they called it a day a few years back. Well the good news is their back at the wheel and with some free downloads to give away too!

Formed out of the ashes of another superb Celtic-Punk band, The Sunday Punchers (check out the video for one of Celtic-Punk’s greatest ever songs here) , in late 2014 and after recruiting Martin Bezuidenhout as lead vocalist and frontman The South Shore Ramblers released a flurry of EP’s and videos during their short existence. Based in Johannesburg the South Shore Ramblers were always on the punkier side of things but always entertaining and their releases were always well received. In fact they achieved a pretty good double in our end of year Best of lists with Bare Knuckle Blackout  reaching #5 in the Best Of 2015 and Open Room Sessions #6 in the Best Of 2015.

Debut release Bare Knuckle Blackout’ was all tales of hard lifes and hard lives, drinking to forget and drinking for the sake of it and the occasional happy time when all the bad times are forgotten. It began with the brilliant ‘Thirstday’ and from the very beginning you understood what the band is about.

The following year saw the release of Open Room Session and captured the guys in a raw live form. Rough and ready, but in a good way! Only three songs and just over ten minutes but it saw the release of the outstanding ‘Own Wicked Device’ accomapnied by a equally outstanding video. More music followed like a couple of covers from the Dropkick Murphys and even talk of a European tour before they dropped off the radar.

At the time all their releases were available for free download but the links are long gone now sadly BUT the guys have just released a couple of songs from back in the day. Two never-heard-before practice recordings of NoFx’s ‘The Greatest Country”‘and ‘Miami’ by Against Me!.

DOWNLOAD

so with gigs returning and new music in their arsenal The South Shore Ramblers are back so get on their social media and keep a finely tuned ear out for them when they take the Celtic-Punk scene by storm.

Contact The South Shore Ramblers Facebook  Soundcloud  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: THE REAL McCOYS – ‘Outlive Death’ (2021)

Folk Drunk Folk Punk!

Third album from Texan Celtic-Punk band The Real McCoys. Combining Folk-Punk with Celtic influences for a rowdy bar or any revolution-ready extravaganza!

Funny how things work out and just a couple of weeks after reviewing an album from Houston band The Dead Rabbits comes another album from the same city. The Real McCoys have been together since 2015 when Josh left The Dead Rabbits with a notebook of songs he had written and began looking for a band to record them. Roping in Tommy on drums and a workmate on bass things soon led to the release of debut album Folk Drunk, coming out in May, 2016 and was fifteen original songs dedicated to the memory of Glen Campbell. After recording they went on a short tour and on return their bassist  would later give them the ‘Irish goodbye’ (look it up if you’re not American!). A friend Jeremy took his place and they wemt on to record Barfly in 2017, a collection of songs written from Josh’s time as a hopeful drinker. Listening to all kinds of stories and watching people’s lives unfold in wild ways sitting at the same old hole in the wall every night. Again it was all original songs and the twelve songs whizz by in under twenty-five minutes. Definitly on the jokier side of things both albums are both a fun ride through Celtic-Folk-Punk and are higly recommended.

Somehow they have only featured on these pages with only the briefest of mentions. A mystery to me personally as I’m actually a big fan of The Real McCoys and have all their releases. Anyway we got here in the end and nows a good a time as any to wax lyrically about this class band. With the Covid lockdowns musicians have suffered imeasurably but Josh has used the time wisely despite not being able to practise and gone back to his DIY Folk-Punk roots and recorded the album pretty much by himself and that is about as DIY as it can possibly get!

So now onto the present day and whats the score with The Real McCoys here in 2021. Well I was really suprised that Outlive Death just sort of appeared. One day just popping up on my Bandcamp feed, somewhere I very rarely check, It certainly deserved more than its low key arrival and hopefully this will review will go a tiny way to rectifying that. The album kicks off with ‘We All Fall Down’ and the album is pretty much sign posted from this one song. Fast, catchy, clever and over in just over 100 seconds. The kind of song yoy’d love to go on a lot longer but perfect for some of us to dance around to before we get too tired!! Josh has got a distinctive voice that really suits this style (and that accent is pretty damn cool as well!) and writes a real good tune as well as managing to tell quite a story too. ‘True Punx Don’t Need Kidneys’ is lashed with the kind of humour that The Real McCoys are famous for and even lasts three minutes plus!

The title track is up next and features Marissa Sendejas of anarcho-folkies Days N Daze and Asa Martin on baritone guitar. It’s a slow moving song that Josh wrote about the passing of his Dad when he was only 21.

“My Dad passed away from cancer when I was 21, it was a really crazy point In my life that was the source of my excessive drinking in my barfly days. Helping my mother clean her house over quarantine she was throwing some books so I had a look. I pulled out The Road by Cormac McCarthy and when I opened it up to start reading a few days later on the first page in my dad’s handwriting was “to Micah (my brother) love Dad, 2009” (a year before he passed). All through the book were little notes written to him of various little things… like my Dad was passng me wisdom from the grave..it was beautiful. And it got me thinking about how even those passed can speak to us sometimes in various ways. The Road is about a father who’s dying and trying to teach his young son how to survive in a post apocalyptic world. It culminates in him passing away and his son going on to use what he’s learned … It was very very very fitting. Uncanny. It was like all that I went through in the 11 years since he died kinda resolved in part from my father after the fact from the grave…it was beautiful. And ‘Outlive Death’ just came spewing out as a result.”

An emotional ballad and one that a loving son should be very proud of. The kind of song that would make even the stoniest face shed a tear. ‘Barfly’ is one of a handful of songs here that was originally planned to make the debut album but didn’t make the cut. Reworked and partly rewritten again managing to be both catchy and tell a real story of someones life. ‘Sonder’ is 90 seconds long but seems so much longer. Great use of the mandolin here and it certainly has a sound of the full band.

‘LADADA Whiskey’ is the catchiest song here with a lovely tune and a beat to slap your thigh red raw too. Again a nice wee short number we love both our serious songs and pour drinking/fighting songs here we are against all that Folk snobbery and The Real McCoys have the perfect blend of both.  ‘Stingers’ again  comes with some furious strumming and I’ve only just realised this album is purely acoustic. ‘You’ll Be Fine’ is the most Celtic-ee number here and they slow it down but not too much. My favourite track of the album with great lyrics and a great sound. It’s worth saying at this point that the whole albums production is perfect which leads us nicely to the final track and ‘Cold Moon’ brings down with another catchy number packed full of meaning and even manages to incorporate a Poguesy ‘See You In Hell’ style Western vibe.

All three of the Real McCoys albums are available for free as a ‘name your price’ download but there is aso an option to leave some money and while I am sure Josh don’t mind we would like him to have a beer of two out of it so feel free to leave something… or not. I would recommend grabbing all three at once and we give you the London Celtic Punks promise that you’ll not be disappointed. A sort of seal of approval if you like! Outlive Death flies past in only twenty-two minutes but it is time well spent with someone with a lot of talent that I feel has lot more in him once things return to normal.

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

Download Outlive Death  Bandcamp

Contact The Real McCoys  Facebook  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: HEADSTICKS – ‘C.O.W.’ (2021)

Fresh from their utterly brilliant ‘Live Sessions’ broadcast at Christmas English Folk-Punk-Rockers Headsticks release their fourth studio album having signed to Chapter 22 Records. Hard hitting, emotive, infectious anthems and barbed lyrics a plenty.

Straddling the Punk and Folk scenes and still managing to keep everyone happy is quite a feat but one that Headsticks manage quite admirably. A couple of weeks ago we ran a feature on 80’s band The Glasgow Tremens titled ‘Punky But Not Punk, Folky But Not Folk‘ well this can not be said of Headsticks! The band describe themselves as “where folk and punk collide” and while you can’t help but make comparisons with a host of big names like the New Model Army, a more punky Levellers, Billy Bragg (when he was good) and even more recent bands like Ferocious Dog but Headsticks are still very much their own band. Formed out of the ashes of two much loved, and long gone, Celtic-Punk bands. ‘Tower Struck Down’ who were one of first English Celtic-Punk bands back in 1985 and Jugopunch, who had a song ‘Blackheart’ on the Shite’n’Onions compilation What The Shite #2 back in 2006. This brought them to international attention so popular were this series of CD’s. Well the Celtic touches are mainly gone but what remains is the plain good old folk’n’roll that made them popular first time round.

C.O.W. is their upteenth release and they have been reviewed here quite a few times so regular is their output. The last time was for an 4-track EP ‘Lies, Lies,Lies‘ featuring Punk Rock legend Steve Ignorant. With such a regular output they are also one of a few bands who also put out their releases on vinyl, even going so far as to have had vinyl only releases in the past. Hailing from Stoke in Staffordshire an area once famed for the manufacture of pottery (the area is known as The Potteries), coal mining and steel making. The area has gone into decline with the disappearance of these industries and neglect from both national and local government. Betrayed by the party the people bled red for they now vote for other parties. An area with a proud working class and trade union tradition is where Headsticks come from and this seeps through their music. Kicking off with ‘Red Is The Colour’ an anthem for those that gave their lives on battle fields everywhere. Sounding more like Jello Biafra than I can remember vocalist Andrew Tranter portrays the right ammount of passion and be sure these are passionate songs. Bands like Headsticks have always had plenty to sing about and these days when the ordinary bloke in the street is seemingly despised by everyone their is plenty ammunition. Next up is the apocalyptic love song ‘Peace & Quiet’ foretelling of environmental disaster but like all things Headsticks it’s told in a beautiful way. The art of writing lyrics that tell a complete story is some achievement and one that not just Celtic-Punk bands are adapt at.

The first song from the album to be released late last year it came out as 7″ single backed with a tremendous cover of ‘In The Ghetto’ (still available here).

“Don’t Predict A Riot! I want some peace and some quiet, I don’t to be the one who has to be the one to be so strong!”

‘Miles And Miles’ is a great example of their Folked up Punk while the next songs both show their range from 1980’s Anarcho-Punk in the style of early Chumba’s or Blyth Power to gentle acoustic musing. ‘A Tear For Yesterday’ and ‘Tyger, Tyger’ though poles apart on the surface fit together perfectly. ‘This Ain’t Politics’ is another on the folkier side and one I’m sure will be more popular at 50% of their gigs.

‘Naked’ was the second song to be released from C.O.W. on St. Patrick’s Day just gone and a great chugging Punk-Rock number. Simple but effective. The music takes quite a turn for the next couple of songs with ‘Red Sky’ and a pumping funky bass line my favourite track on C.O.W. while ‘Burn’ turns out a metally rocker. Both songs leave you with plenty to digest. Headsticks are one of those bands that its good to have the lyrics in front of you. ‘Opium’ is another acoustic number the shortest track on the album. We are into the last two songs and you can be among the first people to see the new Headsticks video for it comes out later today! ‘Speak Out’ comes at 9pm here so be sure to tune in and leave a comment. A bombastic rocker based upon the post-war poem by German pastor Martin Niemöller about the cowardice of German intellectuals to stand up to the rise of the Nazi’s. To ignore the persecution of others until it lands on your own doorstep. The standout and most memorable song here brings the curtain down and ‘Sing Danny Boy’ will raise the hairs on your neck. Andrew speaks over a gentle swirling backdrop about child abuse and psychological scars with a rare emotion found in music of any era or style. Some people are damaged before they get a chance to live it’s a terrible heart breaking thing. The passion spills out and I implore you to listen to the song below.

C.O.W. is Headsticks fourth studio album and their first, having recently signed, for the independent Midlands label Chapter 22 Records. The CD comes with a beautifully produced 20-page lyric booklet. C.O.W. is the bands best album so far and unusually each album they have released I have said that about. This may not be the usual kind of fare that readers are use to here but we have a sort of artistic license sometimes to include bands we love that we feel you will love too.  Headsticks have always been one of those bands and their constant innovation and evolving sound deserves to be heard and loved by many more. 

Buy C.O.W. Vinyl/CD Here  Download Here

Contact Headsticks  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

PUNKY BUT NOT PUNK, FOLKY BUT NOT FOLK. THERE WENT THE GLASGOW TREMENS

The 1980s weren’t all gloom and misery. Emerging from the smog of wars, strikes, unemployment, police corruption and pop charts clogged with over-produced music were a little-known Scottish band called The Tremens. They were loud, brash and full of it. They were like some kind of Glaswegian mutation of The Pogues and Tom Waits. They were punky but not Punk. They were folky but not Folk. And for a few years they were the freshest band in town…

During the recent lockdown I decluttered a room that was stuffed to the rafters with junk. Mountains of it. In a far corner I clocked a box ink-marked “Tremens”. The box contained a trove of old vinyl, master tapes, pictures, cassettes, Press cuttings and lyric sheets. It was like exhuming a corpse. Suddenly, it all came back to me…

Early publicity photo intended for an NME article that never happened!

I formed The Tremens as a 4-piece around 1985, most of us from the Govanhill area in Glasgow’s Southside. This first incarnation of the band was shouty and thrashy, second generation Punk, musically limited but bristling with attitude. We sold cassettes of our material at gigs around Glasgow and through the burgeoning Cassette Underground scene. I still love cassettes by the way. Great format. Songs from this period included Here Come The Plods and the boozy Shake Prattle And Fall. Both were included on a now very hard-to-find compilation called Dougie Donnelly’s Robot Pants which changes hands for silly money these days.

Our audiences always had a good time!

I was a huge fan of John Peel’s anything-goes music policy at the time and decided to widen the band’s output by incorporating folkier elements into the set. My influences at that time would have included The Pogues, Alex Harvey, Ivor Cutler, Half Man Half Biscuit and a lot of stuff released on the Ron Johnson label (Bogshed, Stump, Big Flame etc). I drafted in new members and this second version of the band played about 40-50 gigs up and down Scotland for a couple of years. The addition of a sax gave us a near unique sound, described in one review as

“Alex Harvey auditioning for X-Ray Spex”

and by 1987 or so The Tremens were a formidable live draw. Bands we supported around this time included Toxik Ephex, Nyah Fearties, Attila The Stockbroker, Pregnant Neck, Distorted Truth and many others. We were always a support act. Promoters liked sticking us in the middle of multi-band line-ups to give the running order more variety, more colour.

Ray belting something out at a mid-80’s gig

Members came and went, and a newer third version of the band released a 6-track EP in the late 80s called Feral Children, which was played to death on the BBC’s Beat Patrol show on Radio Scotland. For some reason the record became very popular in Germany, selling out in a few months, but full-blown tours abroad never materialised. We were too disorganised. Too lazy and probably too drunk. We continued for another year or two, but I then started going abroad for extended periods, busking and hitching, and I jacked-in the local gig scene. For the next 10 years The Tremens were an occasional recording unit only, releasing about half a dozen albums on CD and cassette, with whatever musicians were passing through. All in, I think there must have been around 30-40 floating members over the years. At one point we had banjo, bagpipes and xylophone in the ranks competing with the standard bass/drums/guitar line-up. Crazy. But it kept the material fresh. We never stayed in the one place, musically speaking. It was always evolving, but the attitude remained the same.

Other bands were by now using the name “Tremens” (there’s at least 3 of them out there), so we eventually became The Glasgow Tremens to distinguish us from the others.

Sometimes there were 8 or 9 of us on stage having good rammy

Listening to the band’s material recently for the first time in decades, it’s clear we were neither Punk or Folk in the conventional sense, but contained elements of both. The Punk element was in the attitude and delivery, not the musicality. Listening back, I was also surprised

by the amount of humour in the songs. We were an antidote to the legions of po-faced bores around at the time. As I said, the 1980s weren’t all gloom and misery.

Selection of Glasgow Tremens releases

The original vinyl, cassettes and CDs are long gone, occasionally popping up in the second-hand market for ridiculous money. I therefore decided to upload a batch of stuff on music site Bandcamp. I’ll put more songs up at a later date but for now, if you’re curious, you can download a 10-track album called SAWNEY BEAN’S GOT THE MUNCHIES.

Cheers, Raymy Tremens

*

Thanks to Raymy and we hunted down the album for you. You get three free listens then your free ride is over and you have to fork out a measley fiver. So get on it Folk-Punk folk.

NEW SINGLE ‘Camden Lullaby’ FROM TRAVIS O’NEILL FROM PINTS AND PIPES

First new solo music in four years from Travis O’Neill Sligo born resident of Prague and vocalist for legendary Czech Celtic-Punk band great Pipes And Pints. An ode to his days in North London!

Camden and North London at the time I lived there was a real stronghold of the Irish and the London Irish and it had a massive sense of community. Like all cities, sometimes it could get dangerous but mostly fun. However it always had a this sense of family especially among the minorities and outcasts, I count the Punks, Skins, Goths, Irish and London Irish. The diaspora as big family or a movement. It made you feel like you were living in a separate island apart from the rest. It was an amazing time, I have friends that still feel as close as family from there and that will never leave, although I moved on from Camden. Ten incredible years that made me more streetwise, a better musician and more connected to my roots than actually living in Ireland. Very proud of what we had there, Miss the old stale beer smell of the Elephants Head and stagger home after a night there.

Travis O’Neill. March 2021

Walking down by Camden lock
Punker’s, Skins and the junkies flock
We sat on our leather jackets and listened to the band
Hearts full of dreams,
Black stout in my hand
*
 The Irish, Flats, Goths stood as one
this was our home, castle, kingdom
Call me a romantic ol drunken fool
Those were days we stood together we ruled
*
 Sweet Camden lullaby
Memories soaked in whiskey till we die
raising our glass to London Irish skies.
*
 Ronnie, Damo, Luke singing scripture
Philo Lynott comin to get ya
Don’t you ever feel so alone,
Céad míle fáilte in every Irish pub around the world
we scream, Sláinte
*
Camden lullaby
Memories soaked with whiskey until we die
and we fly raising our glass from London Irish skies.
*
 I will leave you one day, for distant winds I am sailing
Singing the parting glass through tear soaked eyes
 This is my Camden lullaby

Vocals/Guitar Travis O’Neill / Guitars, Bass, Keys, Drums and everything you hear by the Maestro Guy Bennett / Violin by Martin Manouche Horse

Dedicated to the Irish diaspora spread across the world, one family. This is my love letter to Camden, Sligo, Punk-Rock, the London Irish, The Boogaloo, The Elephants Head, Filthy McNasty’s and the MacGowan man who proved it was possible!

Happy St Patrick’s day to all! To my Jameson Whiskey Czech Family.Thank you!

Download Camden Lullaby  Spotify  Apple

Contact Travis O’Neill  WebSite  Facebook

Contact Pipes And Pints WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TIR NAN OG – Sing Ye Bastards (Album)

BARDS FROM YESTERDAY – Demia (EP) -See Reviews

YE BANISHED PRIVATEERS – Drawn and Quartered (EP)

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

TOXIC FROGS – My Lucky Own (EP)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact The New Ruffians  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy (EP)Demia  Amazon  Apple

Contact Bards Of Yesterday  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

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

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

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

ALTERNATIVE ULSTER – ‘Ode To Joy’

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

THE LANGERS BALL – ‘A Christmas Lullaby’

THE RUMPLED – ‘Let It Snow!’

BLACK ANEMONE – ‘Christmas Day On First And Main’

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

GRASS MUD HORSE – ‘Christmas Time In China’

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

THE TOSSERS – ‘Merry Christmas’

BLAGGARDS – ‘Fairytale Of New York’

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

THE RUFFIANS – ‘Christmas In Killarney’

NO MURDER NO MOUSTACHE – ‘Teimlad Nadolig’

FIDDLERS GREEN – ‘Auld Lang Syne’

THE CELTIC PUNKCAST #43

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

Merry Christmas all!

NEW SONG AND VIDEO RELEASE FROM OGRAS

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

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

OGRAS – ‘SIDESHOW HALLELUJAH’

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

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

*

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

Contact Ogras  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: PADDY MURPHY- ‘Rams Rebels Goats And Girls’ (2020)

If you want to indulge in Celtic Folk Rock, you will definitely take pleasure in Paddy Murphy. Homesickness, the struggle for freedom, sailor’s yarns, love of the odd drink and the rebellious Irish spirit coming together in a musical whirlwind from Austria!

With the popularity of Celtic-Punk in Germany second to none it’s perhaps no surprise that this love should have spread to their next door neighbours in Austria. Still it’s not a country particularly well endowed with bands with only Scotch from Weyer in Upper Austria making a mark upon the scene (their fantastic debut EP Last In The Bar is still available for free download). In common with the bands from Germany Paddy Murphy (a band not a fella!) don’t just perform straight up Celtic-Punk but rather their own interpretation. An individualist streak that flows through the scene that manages to stop bands being too samey.

In common with Scotch Paddy Murphy also hail from Upper Austria in particular the town of Steyr and though they not be particularly well known this side of the English channel in Europe they have a strong pedigree of touring going back well over a decade. Paddy Murphy have been taking their brand of Irish Speed ​​Folk Rock as they describe it themselves to a multitude of festivals across Germany, France and Switzerland in particular and headlined to tens of thousands at festivals in Italy in Padova and Rasa. Founded in 2008 Rams, Rebels, Goats & Girls is Paddy Murphy’s third studio album after 2012’s Dog’s Dinner and 2014’s Coffin Ship. Both of which you can hear on their Web-Site. They also released a handful of singles and EP’s over the last few years (all with absolutely stunning artwork most featuring their logo of a goat!) which has boosted their popularity with a great selection of covers and original material.

Paddy Murphy from left to right: Florian Aufreiter – Drums * Franz Höfler – Acoustic Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin, Irish-Bouzouki, Harp, Vocals * Ingolf Wolfsegger – Bass, Vocals * Hermann Hartl – Fiddle, Vocals * Oliver Loy – Electric Guitar, Vocals

Rams, Rebels, Goats & Girls was released in early March and came out on ATS Records. It’s been sitting round LCP Towers ever since and due to a mix up over who was going to do it it never got the review it deserved at the time. Still hopefully this will make up for it! Fourteen songs (the CD has a extra two live tracks) in total that comes to just under a hour about that green island, women, whiskey and Guinness! The album begins with ‘We Hoist The Sail’ and bursts with energy out of the speakers and if its top quality Celtic-Punk you are after then you have come to the right place my friends. Echos of fellow German bands The O’Reillys And The Paddyhats and The Feelgood MacLouds but this band have their own style. A great opener and vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Franz Höfler certainly knows his history of Ireland in a song that even uses the popular Irish term ‘Amerikay’. ‘My Dark Foamy Friend’ is a song that has a dual meaning of the sea or the pint but I know which one is preferred! Released as a single it reached over 20,000 listeners within a few weeks on Spotify. I have to say that the fiddle on this album is absolutely brilliant so hats off to Hermann Hartl for his incredible work. It is seriously some of the best fiddle I have ever heard on a Celtic-Punk album and i Happy to hear it used extensively throughout the thirteen tracks. ‘Black Ones Brown Ones Blond Redhead’ is another dual song meaning beer and this time women and this time they prefer women to beer! Fast and energetic and whats that I hear its the harmonica one of my favourite instruments and criminally underused in Celtic-Punk.  When I first played this album the next track stood out on its own. Paddy Murphy like their own stuff but are not averse to the odd cover and their ‘Basket Case’ by Green Day done Irish style and it is an absolute belter of a song! Give it a listen and be hooked.

Very clever and highly original it is a great choice of song and makes a change from ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’. If I’ve played this song once I’ve played it a 1,000 times. Another couple of drinking songs follow telling the different sides of life ‘Just One Drink’ is a jaunty wee number while ‘Time to Make Some Changes’ sees a life in turmoil on a visit to Ireland. Slow, sad and swirling in that traditional Irish way that makes you want to put your arms around a complete stranger (even in these strange times!). Who said Celtic-Punk can’t do emotional? We do it better than fecking anyone! Time for a famous song and they don’t come more famous than ‘The Irish Rover’. Known to everyone and covered by just about everyone too. They make a decent job of it nothing particularly special but you know if you heard this down the pub you’d be banging on tables and shouting your lungs out along to it. The Country influenced ‘At Least for Tonight’ is catchy as hell. What I call a thigh slapper.

“Get up and dance and drink all night”

‘American Dreams’ is the albums longest song heading towards six minutes and not for one second outlives its welcome. Franz again opens up and his aching vocals make for a great song. Irish themes abound and one of the standout things about this album is the quality of the lyrics. Pure poetry and proper story telling whether its a pub song’ or a Punk-Rock thrasher. We in Pop-Punk territory next with ‘You’ll Never Bring Us Down’ with the Celtic competing with the Punk. The song ends with being both and will be a real dance floor filler once we’re allowed back on the dance floor that is.

So we’ve had quite the album so far that has taken us around the Celtic-Punk scene and it’s many influences and they may have almost gone ballad in places they deliver it next with ‘The Cliffs of Grey’. A beautiful and touching yet haunting ballad whose depth will shock those here only for the drinking songs. After that the aptly titled ‘Gloomlifter Jig’ shows Paddy Murphy have even more left in their arsenal with a perfect traditional Irish that soon enough sees the electric side of the band coming in and we end up with a song that would have graced any Horslips album. Another catchy as hell number on a album where their is absolutely no filler at all. Each song is of an incredibly high standard and it’s no surprise why when you trawl their photos on Facebook their live gigs are always packed out. The work for Rams, Rebels, Goats & Girls began a whole year before its release and the hard work shows. ‘Epic Scene of Life’ is a perfect example of their sound.

Uplifting and bursting with energy and at all times refreshing in a scene that as I said can be a bit samey. The curtain comes down on the album with a amazing version of Scottish singer-songwriter Eric Bogle’s ‘No Man’s Land’, probably better known as ‘The Green Fields Of France Written in 1976 it’s message is ever lasting sadly and here Paddy Murphy perform one of the best versions I have ever heard. Bagpipes add to the songs emotional roller-coaster and is the perfect way to see the album out.

Irish and Celtic music appeals to people of all ages and nationalities. That is what is really special about it and Paddy Murphy are immersed in that sound and this Austrian Irish Folk-Rock Band is committed to continuing that tradition! Celtic-Punk is often derided or misunderstood by Irish Folk snobs purists who think the artists are more influenced by Sid Vicious than Matt Molloy but this is a direct descendant of the music played in Ireland 100’s of years ago. That they can keep that tradition while also throwing in the Punk/Rock sound they have is testament to the bands outstanding musical ability. Fiddle, banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar, bodhran, drums, electric bass, electric guitar and five male voices have made this album what it is and it would be a act of criminal negligence for the Irish music scene and its fans to pass it by.

Buy Rams Rebels Goats & Girls – CD- FromTheBand   ATS Records  Download- AppleMusic  

Contact Paddy Murphy – WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

THE TOP TEN ANTI WAR SONGS

There hasn’t been a day since the invention of the phonograph record when the world has not been at war someplace.

We are told that the world stands on the edge of a precipice, and there is very little we can do so instead of a fallout shelter I’ve built a list of the ten best anti-war songs ever.

By

Starting at number ten we have….

10. ‘The Ballad Of Penny Evans’ – Steve Goodman

The best ‘one guy with a guitar’ performer who ever lived, Goodman’s music was primarily in the ‘good times and more beer’ zone peppered with moments of genuine pathos but rarely political. On a 1973 album on the Buddha label he included a powerful acappella treatment of a song sung by a 21 year-old woman whose husband has been killed in Vietnam and whose rage against the government who sent him there can barely be contained:

“And now every month I get a check from an Army bureaucrat / And it’s every month I tear it up and I mail the damn thing back / Do you think that makes it all right, do you think I’d fall for that?”

In his clear voice, loud with anger, it’s an amazing performance.

9. ‘Jimmy Newman’ – Tom Paxton

Paxton’s ‘Talking Vietnam Pot Luck Blues’ about a young soldier’s discovery that everyone on both sides is smoking dynamite dope is almost as funny as this song about a hospitalized soldier’s slow realization that his friend has died during the night before they are scheduled to be shipped back home is emotionally devastating.

“Get up damn it Jimmy! They’re loading us next, and you’ve only to open your eyes.”

8. ‘And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ – Eric Bogle

An Irish songwriter’s story about a soldier returning home from the battle of Gallipoli in 1915. The song is in the voice of a soldier whose legs have been blown off

“I never knew there were worse things than dying”

who watches as all the people who’ve come to greet the returning soldiers turn away in silence as the injured are brought off the boat. There are a million or more ways to ruin this kind of song and Bogle avoids every one. The song’s been done by many people including The Pogues but this version is beautiful and heartbreaking.

7. ‘Machine Gun’ – Jimi Hendrix

All the elements of a great screenplay are here. New York City, New Year’s Eve, hours from the end of the 1960’s, The Fillmore East and the greatest electric rock guitarist in history is a black man, a former US Army paratrooper. Pressured by a growing black militancy, he’s fired his white British backing band and has formed his ‘Band Of Gypsys’ with Billy Cox (bass) and Buddy Miles (drums). He knows he has to address Vietnam somehow, and in the twelve minutes and thirty-nine seconds of ‘Machine Gun’ Jimi says as much about the war as John Coltrane said about God in ‘A Love Supreme’. Here’s the audio footage from that New Years Eve Fillmore show.

6. ‘Universal Soldier’ – Buffy Saint-Marie

This is the anti-war song that speaks an awful truth that we would really prefer to ignore: while we can point fingers at the presidents and generals all we want, it is the individual soldiers who feed the war machine. The fact that these are our sons and brothers and sisters and daughters (and fathers and mothers) makes it a horrible and ugly truth (and, who knows, maybe some truths are best turned away from) but the Lysistrata solution offered here is a hard one to ignore.

5. ‘Between The Wars’ – Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg was to Margaret Thatcher in the 1980’s what Phil Ochs was to Richard Nixon in the 1960’s. Far from his most vitriolic political song, ‘Between The Wars’ examines the British working-class experience with verses like

“I kept the faith and I kept voting / Not for the iron fist but for the helping hand / For theirs is a land with a wall around it / And mine is a faith in my fellow man / Mine is the green field and the factory floor / Theirs are the skies all dark with bombers / And mine is the peace we knew / Between the wars.”

4. ‘I Feel Like I’m Fixing To Die’ – Country Joe And The Fish

The archetypal 1967-San Francisco-LSD-hippie-band led by a psychedelicized and politicized US army vet, ‘Country Joe’ McDonald. I remember in 1968 or 1969 sitting behind a row of guys in Navy uniforms either on their way to or back from Viet Nam at a Country Joe And The Fish show in Philadelphia as they played this song

“Be the first one on your block to have his boy come home in a box.”

Watching them cheer every line was around the time I began to suspect that the world was, well… complicated. Bring back the draft and we’d have this again in twenty minutes, half hour tops.

3. ‘Masters Of War’ – Bob Dylan

The studio version from 1963 is brilliant, but the live-in-Italy version on 1984’s ‘Real Live’ with former Rolling Stones’ guitarist, Mick Taylor, on a distorted, almost heavy metal, lead guitar is 1,000 times angrier than Johnny Rotten ever was or will be. There’s a talk that the critic Griel Marcus gave to the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley called ‘Stories Of A Bad Song’ that is really worth reading.

“Come you masters of war, you that build the big guns / You that build the death planes / You that build the big bombs / Not even Jesus would forgive what you do / I hope that you die”

2. ‘What’s Going On?’ – Marvin Gaye

“Father, father, father we don’t need to escalate / You see, war is not the answer / For only love can conquer hate”

wasn’t the kind of rhyme one expected to hear in 1971 from a million-selling soul artist who had earned the title ‘Prince Of Motown’. The title track from an album that his label flatly refused to release at first, calling it commercial suicide, became the crown jewel in what Smokey Robinson still calls ‘the greatest album of all time’. This version is all the evidence of his incredible power over audiences anyone should require.

1. ‘I Ain’t Marching Anymore’ – Phil Ochs

In 1976 Phil Ochs, the best ‘Protest Folk’ songwriter of his (or maybe any) generation, hung himself at his sister’s home. The victim of the sort of clinical depression we now have the drugs to treat and feelings of despair in the aftermath of Watergate, the rise of disco and the failure of the 1960’s to live up to its grand promises of social change (let’s face it, if the 60’s had succeeded Nixon would have died in prison and Kissenger would have gone on trial). Put simply, any top-whatever-list of anti-war songs that doesn’t start with Phil isn’t worth the ether it’s printed on. The solo acoustic version on the 1965 album of the same name remains the finest two minute and thirty-two second lesson in the history of international conflict ever recorded on to a roll of magnetic tape.

To be honest, “best of” lists are almost always a bit of a sham and Bob Marley, Elvis Costello, The Clash, R.E.M., Edwin Starr, The Dead Kennedys, Sun Ra, Fred Small, Richie Havens, Neil Young and, OK, even the Sex Pistols are all absent here. But these ten songs collectively represent a diverse body of response to our shared history and any one you may not be familiar with is deserving of your time and attention.

First published on These Things Too. Thanks to Stan.

EP REVIEW: NO MURDER NO MOUSTACHE- ‘Hold My Beer’ (2020)

Anti-establishment inclusive Punk Rock with Celtic influences. Sometimes acoustic, sometimes not, always Punk.

Pync Roc efo dylanwadau Celtaidd. Weithiau acwstig, weithiau ddim, wastad Pync.

Not that sure when the trend for solo artists to give themselves names more akin to groups started but it is a trend I find quite irritating! It gives off an air of being a bit high-and-mighty that doesn’t sit well with me in the down and dirty world of DIY Punk Rock. Still No Murder No Moustache may be forgiven as on first listen and without that information you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a full band.

The EP opens with ‘Hold My Beer’ and the sounds of a busy pub which may be familiar to one or two of you! It’s played as fast as hell and despite being all acoustic is definitely a Folk Punk number. Owen Crawford is the man behind No Murder No Moustache and plays all the instruments and also wrote all the songs. He has been plying his trade in a number of Metal, Punk and Rock bands based around South Wales and toured all over the UK and Europe. Lyrically it’s a hard hitting expose of society and how some people share not an ounce of compassion but are totally weighed down with greed. The words fly at you fast and the accompanying music does too but Owen has a clear and distinct voice where you catch every word.

Fast frantic acoustic guitar strumming is the key to the music here but backed up with drums and mandolin. The drums are a bit subdued and if louder would have given the EP a bit more bite but only a minor quibble. ‘Fragile Society’ definitely has some New Model Army influences knocking about with Owen sounding remarkably like Justin Sullivan at times. ‘Lose Myself To The Dark’ starts off with a traditional Irish air to it before the pace takes off and the addition of tin-whistle cannot but help! My favourite of the songs here. Some dark lyrics about hopelessness but played in a real upbeat manner meaning the jolly backing belies the subject of the song but that is the beauty of Folk music.

‘Only Lies So Far’ is the EP’s mellow song but still manages to pack a bit of a punch towards the end. The song tells of the current (hopefully as every day goes by it gets less so) crisis and the way that it has been handled and politicised for point scoring while the rest of us just try to get by.

“Forced to put our trust in the people we don’t trust How can we know truth when its been only lies so far”

The real gem here is the final song ‘Cyn Mae’r Byd Yn Cael Ei Ddinistro’ and the Welsh language has a proud history in modern music especially Punk. Anhrefn, known as the Welsh Clash, were trailblazers for a language spoken by over 20% of the population of Wales recording six albums and touring the world singing only in Welsh. The song here translates to Before The World Is Destroyed’ and the mandolin is given top billing while the song sees the EP out on a slightly poppier side but still links up to the previous songs rather nicely giving the EP a perfect flow I think.

Hold My Beer was released on June 26th and Owen was the man responsible for everything from the music to the production so this is serious DIY music! Alongside the EP Owen has produced Hold My Beer twelve page fanzine that also includes a download code for just £3. Thirteen minutes or so of decent one man band Celtic-Punk then so def one to read with a cuppa while Hold My Beer plays in the background.

(Download or Stream ‘Hold My Beer’ on the Bandcamp player below)

Get Hold My Beer  Bandcamp (CD/Download)  SmashmouthRecords

Contact No Murder No Moustache  Facebook  Spotify  YouTube

THE IRISH SOLDIERS OF MEXICO IN FILM AND IN SONG

The story of the legendary San Patricios battalion and their legacy as told in film, books and song from bands as diverse as The Chieftains, Black 47, David Rovics, Larkin, The Fenians, The Wakes and others. 

by Michael Hogan

Next week sees the release of the debut album from Mexican Celtic-Punk band Batallón de San Patricio. Now not only does this show the truly international appeal of the scene these days but it also gives us an opportunity to look into one of the least-known stories of the Irish who came to America in the 1840’s, that of the Irish battalion that fought on the Mexican side in the America-Mexico War of 1846-1848. They came to Mexico and died, some gloriously in combat, others ignominiously on the gallows. United under a green banner, they participated in all the major battles of the war and were cited for bravery by General López de Santa Anna, the Mexican commander-in-chief and president.

At the penultimate battle of the war, these Irishmen fought until their ammunition was exhausted and even then tore down the white flag that was raised by their Mexican comrades in arms, preferring to struggle on with bayonets until finally being overwhelmed. Despite their brave resistance, however, 85 of the Irish battalion were captured and sentenced to bizarre tortures and deaths at the hands of the Americans, resulting in what is considered even today as the “largest hanging affair in North America.”

Hanging of the San Patricios as painted by Sam Chamberlain.

In the spring of 1846, the United States was poised to invade Mexico, its neighbour to the south. The ostensible reason was to collect on past-due loans and indemnities. The real reason was to provide the United States with control of the ports of San Francisco and San Diego, the trade route through the New Mexico Territory, and the rich mineral resources of the Nevada Territory – all of which at that time belonged to the Republic of Mexico. The United States had previously offered $5 million to purchase the New Mexico Territory and $25 million for California, but Mexico had refused.

Before the declaration of war by the United States, a group of Irish Catholics headed by a crack artilleryman named John Riley deserted from the American forces and joined the Mexicans. Born in Clifden, County Galway, Riley was an expert on artillery, and it was widely believed that he had served in the British army as an officer or a non-com in Canada before enlisting in the American army. Riley’s turned this new unit into a crack artillery arm of the Mexican defence. He is credited with changing the name of the group from the Legion of Foreigners and designing their distinctive flag. Within a year, the ranks of Riley’s men would be swelled by Catholic foreign residents in Mexico City, and Irish and German Catholics who deserted once the war broke out, into a battalion known as Los San Patricios, or ‘Those of Saint Patrick’.

The San Patricios fought under a green silk flag emblazoned with the Mexican coat of arms, an image of St. Patrick, and the words “Erin Go Bragh.” The battalion was made up of artillery and was observed in key positions during every major battle. Their aid was critical because the Mexicans had poor cannon with a range of 400 meters less than the Americans. In addition, Mexican cannoneers were inexperienced and poorly trained. The addition of veteran gunners to the Mexican side would result in at least two major battles being fought to a draw. Several Irishmen were awarded the Cross of Honor by the Mexican government for their bravery, and many received field promotions.

At the Battle of Churubusco, holed up in a Catholic monastery and surrounded by a superior force of American cavalry, artillery, and infantry, the San Patricios withstood three major assaults and inflicted heavy losses on the Yanks. Eventually, however, a shell struck their stored gunpowder, the ammunition park blew up, and the Irishmen, after a gallant counteroffensive with bayonets, were overwhelmed by sheer numbers. They were tried by a military court-martial and then scourged, branded, and hanged in a manner so brutal that it is still remembered in Mexico today.

(left: the Batallón de San Patricio Memorial plaque placed at the San Jacinto Plaza in the district of San Ángel, Mexico City in 1959: “In memory of the Irish soldiers of the heroic St. Patrick’s Battalion, martyrs who gave their lives to the Mexican cause in the United States’ unjust invasion of 1847”)

In September 1847, the Americans put the Irish soldiers captured at the Battle of Churubusco on trial. Forty-eight were sentenced to death by hanging. Those who had deserted before the declaration of war were sentenced to whipping at the stake, branding, and hard labour. Fuelled by Manifest Destiny, the American government dictated terms to the Mexicans in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. More than two-thirds of the Mexican Territory was taken, and out of it the United States would carve California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, and parts of Kansas and Colorado. Among all the major wars fought by the United States, the Mexican War is the least discussed in the classroom, the least written about, and the least known by the general public. Yet, it added more to the national treasury and to the land mass of the United States than all other wars combined.

After the conflict, so much new area was opened up, so many things had been accomplished, that a mood of self-congregation and enthusiasm took root in the United States. The deserters from the war were soon forgotten as they homesteaded and laboured in the gold fields of California or, as the 1860’s approached, put on the grey uniform of the Confederacy or the blue of the Union. Prejudice against the Irish waned, as the country was provided with a “pressure valve” to release many of its new immigrants westward. The story of the San Patricios disappeared from history.

For most Mexicans, solidarity with the Irish is part of a long tradition and they remembered the help they received from the Irish and their friendship. In the words of John Riley, written in 1847 but equally true today,

“A more hospitable and friendly people than the Mexican there exists not on the face of the earth… especially to an Irishman and a Catholic.”

Riley sums up what cannot be clearly documented in any history: the basic, gut-level affinity the Irishman had then, and still has today, for Mexico and its people. The decisions of the men who joined the San Patricios were probably not well-planned or thought out. They were impulsive and emotional, like many of Ireland’s own rebellions – including the Easter Uprising of 1916. Nevertheless, the courage of the San Patricios, their loyalty to their new cause, and their unquestioned bravery forged an indelible seal of honour on their sacrifice.

In 1997, on the 150th anniversary of the executions, then Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo stated:

“Members of the St. Patrick’s Battalion were executed for following their consciences. They were martyred for adhering to the highest ideals…we honour their memory. In the name of the people of Mexico, I salute today the people of Ireland and express my eternal gratitude”.

***

This article first featured on the Latino Rebels web-site here. Michael Hogan is the author of 20 books, including the Irish Soldiers of Mexico, one of the major historical works on the San Patricios Battalion which encompasses six years of research in the U.S., Mexico, and Ireland. As a permanent resident of Mexico, he was the first historian to be granted complete access to Mexican archives and military records. His home page is www.drmichaelhogan.com and the Facebook page for the book and related videos, photos, maps and stories about the San Patricios can be found at www.facebook.com/IrishMex.

The little-known 1999 feature film One Man’s Hero tells the (again!) little-known story of the San Patricios. The plot centres around the story of John Riley, as played by Tom Berenger, who  commands the battalion, as he bravely leads his men in battle, and struggles with authorities on both sides of the border.

Country: Spain / Mexico / USA  Language: English / Spanish  Release Date:  8 October 1999

Director: Lance Hool  Writer: Milton S. Gelman

Stars: Tom BerengerJoaquim de AlmeidaDaniela Romo

Despite being a decent film and an mostly enjoyable couple of hours parts of the film are pure blarney so for an accurate account of the San Patricios, read The Rogue’s March by Peter Stevens, and watch the San Patricios documentary starting here in several parts.

As we said at the beginning Celtic-Punk is no longer just confined to the Irish and Celtic diaspora it has become truly international with bands represented on every continent of the globe. In the next few days though we will be reviewing our very first band from Mexico, Batallón de San Patricio. Their debut album takes influences from both Ireland and their home country to make something truly wonderful as well as unique. I hope you revisit these pages to check them and their album out. You can subscribe to the London Celtic Punks Blog by filling in the ‘Follow Blog’ box that will be either on the left or below depending on how you are viewing us. Cheers!

NEW SINGLE FROM TC COSTELLO ‘THE PANDEMIC’ AND LIVE STREAM ANNOUNCEMENT

Irish-American multi-instrumentalist TC Costello is back with a new album in the Summer but to keep us happy he’s released a 2-track single available as a ‘Pay What You Like’ download.

TC Costello is no stranger to these shores (in fact he’s spent more time in my spare room than me!) and was due over here in a months time for a series of dates across England before returning back to South Carolina. So then coronavirus and blah blah blah and everything is off until further notice. Luckily the Celtic-Punk scene has been well served with a bunch of shows live streamed over Facebook. The pick of the bunch so far have to have been the Dropkick Murphys, 1916 and the Brick Top Blaggers shows (all still available to view on their FB pages) so today is a double hitter for TC with the release of ‘The Pandemic’ and a Live Stream announcement for his UK and Euro fans but more on that later.

Now I’m not a big fan of The Misfits. Not that I don’t like them I just never heard much by them so the opening title track is a cover of them with TC doing his best Punky vocals. Its a fast thrashy number which TC wrote with his brother Daniel and is followed by a much more typical TC song a cover of Dexys ‘Come On Eileen’ with the lyrics suitably adapted for a song called ‘Covid19’. Armed with his trusty accordion it’s a spirited version and with TC having lost both his jobs as a musician and driver you are invited to donate to his ‘Broke Musician’ fund. This song is available as a ‘Pay What You Like’ download which as TC himself says also includes nothing.

So look after each other and wash your hands and we are all in the same boat but if you can afford it send a beer or two TC’s way.

LIVE STREAM ANNOUNCEMENT

Par for the course and ages after everyone else has had a go we are doing a LiveStream. We sadly had to cancel the TC Costello/Tim Holehouse gig next month but TC still wants to play for his UK based fans so he will be streaming from South Carolina while hopefully Tim will fit in a show for us soon afterwards.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1150555188477972/

So the 20th May was all set for his 5th triumphant return to The Lamb but fear not his UK and European fans London Celtic Punks and The Lamb Surbiton will be presenting TC playing live from South Carolina direct into our phones and computers.
He will go live at 8pm on his page https://www.facebook.com/tccostello2/ and will play till his hands go sore… so that’s about a hour. Tune in there and then and we’ll see you in the comments section.

EP REVIEW: THE STANFIELDS- ‘Classic Fadeout’ (2020)

The Stanfields are a folk punk band from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. On Classic Fadeout they have released six original brand new sons for their sixth release all written and recorded within six months!

The Stanfields have been around now for well over a decade having been formed in 2008 and have a very impressive back catalogue with five very well received albums that each have troubled the top spots of the various Celtic and Folk-Punk end of year Best Of polls including ours. Never being one to accept the label of ‘Celtic’ The Stanfields have always travelled under the banner of Folk-Punk and thus far has served them well. Described rather well i think as “the bastard children of AC/DC and Stan Rogers” their music blends working class hard rock with the strands of folk that make up traditional Canadian music with much of it heavily influenced by Scotland and Ireland. The band started out playing cover songs during open mic performances at the Seahorse Tavern in Halifax, Nova Scotia quickly gained notoriety for their rowdy, entertaining performances and with the benefit of a relatively stable line up the boys few years together have seen them traversing the globe even washing up at the Tolpuddle Martyrs festival here in England  for a few years in a row.
Their new release Classic Fadeout is six original songs that span the history of The Stanfields throughout their illustrious career. Opening with ‘Southlands’ definitely the most Celtic influenced song here with a song evoking a long distant past. Next up is ‘Born On The Wrong Side Of Town’ is the kind of song that Bruce Springsteen is singing these days. A sort of Country/ Rock/ Folk mash up that streams along at a grand pace and has the feel that it could (does) appeal to a whole multitude of different genres. I love the idea that bands can make music that will reach the young and the old. After all that is how it use to be. When I was a young kid we use to beg Mum to put music on and now decades later I find myself still listening to that music she introduced me to. One subject I like to hear tackled is the scourge of drug addiction and The Stanfields sensitive and beautiful ‘Breakers In The Dark’ does it superbly.

(Shot at Churchill House in beautiful Hantsport, Nova Scotia)

Right across North America young people are falling foul to this terrible affliction and working class communities are suffering.

“Your eyes tonight are little pins
Looking for a friend
And tell a story locked inside of you
Your lips provide a different spin
One to be believed
If we were strangers on an avenue”

We are half way through and ‘Laser Beam’ may be many miles away from the fast folk and roll of their early days but it shows a maturity in their willingness to never to stand still and always keep moving and adapting. I mean who wants to be like The Queers still singing songs about your Mum finding your porno mags when your fifty! Slow and steady and perfectly balanced and accompanied by a video that I don’t think I have ever seen the like of it while writing for London Celtic Punks site.

Definitely take a few minutes out of your time to watch this incredible video. After that we need a bit of a lift and ‘Rules Have All The Fun’ supplies it with another catchy folk-country-Americana blend.A real foot tapper here among a bunch of songs that are perhaps a bit too on the reserved side.

The EP comes to an end with ‘Good Night, So Long, Goodbye’ the longest track here and a real epic to see us out. The emphasis may have changed from Celtic to Americana but the fire in their belly is the same and music with passion and emotion is what we love here. Classic Fadeout is not yer typical Stanfields release (as they say in their press release “predictably-unpredictable”) but another step in the progression of a band that have achieved much more then most in their time together.

(you can stream Classic Fadeout on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Classic Fadeout  FromTheBand

Contact The Stanfields  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

Discography Vanguard of the Young & Reckless  (2010) * Death & Taxes (2012) * For King and Country (2013) * Modem Operandi (2015) * Limboland (2018)

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS EXCLUSIVE VIDEO FROM CHINA! GRASS MUD HORSE NEW SINGLE.

Holed up in their apartments in northern China Grass Mud Horse have been keeping pretty damn busy under quarantine and here is their second release, the pirate themed ‘No Prey No Pay’ and an exclusive first viewing of the video too.

Celtic-Punk based in Qinhuangdao, northern China! Singing about living in one of the strangest, most amazing and, at the moment, most dangerous places on Earth. Singing in both English and Chinese, their music is tongue in cheek and in the spirit of the best Celtic-Punk will make you smile! Grass Mud Horse are a punk band based in Northern China fronted by Chris Barry, who also writes all the songs. Originally from Liverpool he now lives in China and was also a member of the Canadian Rock band The Strange. The music is an eclectic mix of various punk styles, including Skate, hardcore, Ska, Celtic and features a diverse array of musical instruments (most also performed by Chris Barry). This is their second release after ‘Christmas Time In China’ and their next release will be a acoustic EP while the lads work on their debut album, Beijing Bikini, which has been delayed because of something I am sure you must have seen on the news!

We’re setting sail once more to raid
The Spanish Kings own gold
We’ll hunt his scurvy rotten ships
And plunder all they hold
We’re setting course with no remorse
We’re as rotten as we’re damned
We’ll spill their guts just cos we must
It’s to fortune or be hanged
*
 No prey no pay
Our code our way
No prey no pay
We fight we slay
No prey no pay
And to the Devil we say
The order of the day
No prey no pay
*
 Prepare to come about
A shot across the bow
The chance to end this now
Strike your colours be a coward
If you stand your ground
You’ll be shark bate when you drown
*
 Throw the boarding hooks
 Draw your cutlass swig a dram
 Prepare to board her men
 Smell their fear drink it in
Lads we’ll soon be rich
while this lot will soon be dead
 We’re setting sail once more to raid
The Spanish Kings own gold
We’ll hunt his scurvy rotten ships
And plunder all they hold
We’re setting course with no remorse
We’re as rotten as we’re damned
We’ll spill their guts just cos we must
It’s to fortune or be hanged
*
No prey no pay
 No prey no pay
Our code our way
No prey no pay
We fight we slay
No prey no pay
And to the Devil we say
The order of the day
 Crack of muskets dying screams
Clash of steel striking bone
 The sweetest sound I know
Blood streams into the sea
Another Battles won and the day is ours again
*

Now the reason for the bands name Grass Mud Horse is that it is the literal English translation of the Chinese term for the animal known as a llama or an Alpaca. In Chinese the llama is named 草泥马 (pronounced Cao Ni Ma.) As Chris says

“Now the reason we chose this for our name, is because if you say “Cao Ni Ma” with the wrong tones…you don’t say Alpaca at all, in fact you tell somebody to go fornicate with their mother.  In addition to this being quite funny, China is of course a land of extreme censorship and to avoid getting in trouble for swearing, young Chinese angrily exclaim “Llama!”, when in fact they mean something else entirely.”

So more proof if it was needed of the global reach of Celtic-Punk, even if Chris is a scouser! It’s hard enough for new bands to make a mark on the scene but when you are living and working in China it’s near impossible so do the guys a favour and download the song and leave them a ‘like’ on Facebook.

Grass Mud Horse  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

ANTO MORRA’S NEW ALBUM IN HIS OWN WORDS

Songwriter, performer and multi media artist that believes ‘Life is for laughing and fighting injustice’. Traditional folk songs and punk rock of his formative London years, along with his Irish roots and Norfolk home are the inspiration behind his work.

by ANTO MORRA

Twenty is a compilation of 20 songs taken from 7 CD releases. Late last year I had the idea to put this together to replace the 6 full albums that were available for download and streaming. The reason being that the way music is digitally consumed today is rarely in album form and more often in odd tracks on shuffle. I felt this was making my output very incoherent and so I chose a selection of songs and got them re-mastered to work together as an album and also as individual tracks.

1. NEVER HAD TO SHOUT

The title track of my debut album. Very much in the story telling folk tradition but with 1977 punk sensibilities. Inspired by my love of British and Irish Gangster films, West London and the Clash. The main character is called Jimmy. I used this name because I had an Uncle Jimmy that lived around the Ladbrooke Grove area and had a market stall on Golbourne Road. On one occasion I performed the song at Cecil Sharp House (home of the English folk song and dance society in London) after Thomas McCarthy (an amazing singer of Irish Traditional songs passed on to him by his Irish Traveller family) approached me and questioned me (in a really strong Irish brogue) about who Jimmy was, as he had grown up around the Grove. I explained that I’d used my uncle’s name and even though my Uncle had been dead about 20 years, it soon became very apparent that Thomas had known him. You could have knocked me down with a feather. I don’t use the term ‘amazing singer’ lightly judge for yourself.

2. LONDON IRISH

It’s quite hard to imagine when I wrote this declaration of my nationality, I’d heard of neither the London Celtic Punks or The Biblecode Sundays. Unlike my elder sisters and many of my peers that moved from Catholic primary school onto Catholic secondary (High) School, my Irish identity never really developed. As many of my best school friends were English protestant, Jewish or Black, and one of my best out of school friends was a Turkish Muslim, so I always just felt like everyone was from somewhere else. Dyslexia was not really a recognised condition back then and although I wasn’t a severe case, I was always bottom of the class, angry and disruptive. Inside I thought I’d inherited my stupidity from my Irish parents, who were anything but stupid! The relentless stream of jokes about the ‘Thick Mick’ and my father fitting the stereotype of hard drinking builder, I was always emotionally conflicted about my nationality. It took a long time to confront it but I’m sure a diagnosis of dyslexia in the mid 90’s was a great help!

3. TALE OF THE SLIGO WIDOW

I spent an awful lot of wasted years drinking heavily and smoking cannabis on a daily basis, which made me adore folklore and those acoustic hippy kings like Marc Bolan, Donovan and Syd Barrett , but detest that over produced whispy Irish celtic mystic sound of people like Clannad and Enya. Although by the time I wrote this I thought I was done with writing that sort of weird hippy shit, like the cannabis it hadn’t entirely left my system! I’d like to site two songs that were the inspiration for this the first is Marc Bolan’s ‘One Inch Rock’ and the second is the Donovan’s ‘Widow with a Shawl’ .

4. TIME

I’ve always struggled with anti-social media, I’ve got accounts with the most well known platforms but never got my head around any other than Facebook. I’m still not sure how to fully utilise that to my advantage but sometimes I enjoy just screaming into that void! Some years ago there was a question posed by a FB user asking ‘If you could give your 10 year old self one piece of advice what would it be?’ Of course being dyslexic I never read the part that said ‘one piece’ and so I managed to get a full four verses out of it.

5. WRONG PATH

Like the four previous songs this is from my 2013 debut album and is in the storytelling tradition. Originally titled ‘Sealing fate’ when I started writing it in about 1990 and a song that remained really quite shite for at least 20 years, but following the 2011 London riots it finally became the song I was trying to write. I like to think of it as a re working of ‘In the Ghetto’ by Elvis but with a modern London twist. When recording it I had sung it unintentionally in a mid-Atlantic accent which sounded fine until Percy Paradise put down his slide guitar making my vocals sound hideously American. Rerecording my vocals was easy enough until it came to the chorus where The Woodland Creatures had followed the original ‘Path’ vocal line forcing me to use the American, Irish or Northern pronunciation rather than the London/southern pronunciation ‘Paath’.

6. POETS DAY

Is a working song for a lazy bastard! When I started work on building sites in the early 1980’s, Friday was known as Poets day an acronym for ‘Piss Of Early Tomorrow’s Saturday!’ This is still remembered by people of a certain age and I’m sure applied a lot more occupations than just in the building trade. Workers were paid weekly in cash back then and often on a Friday. Once you had your money in your pocket work was over and the weekend had begun and it was straight into the pub for a few pints and a game of pool or darts. Happy days!

7. WHERE’S DADDY GONE?

Written not long after my father died so consequently my mother hated it, as the Daddy in the song was nothing like my father who never hit any of us or chased other women once married, though he did occasionally stay out drinking. The inspiration for this comes from my love of those Kitchen Sink dramas of the 1960’s combined with all the rhythm and pace of a Leonard Cohen song. It does resonate close to the bone with some people, a friend of mine was quite taken aback by it and how it reflected his home life as a child.

8. CHARLEVILLE (RICKY’S SONG)

This recording is taken from a 2013 compilation cd featuring performers based in East Anglia. Some years ago while tidying stuff at my Mum & Dads house in London, I came across a piece of paper with a poem called Charleville scrawled in biro on it. Charleville is a town on the Cork, Limerick border in the Republic Of Ireland where my mother’s family are from. I asked her about it and she nonchalantly replied ‘Oh Ricky (her brother) wrote that.’ I was astounded not by the poem by just by the fact that one of my Irish relatives had been brave enough to attempt some creative writing. That sort of thing wasn’t for the likes of them! They were as Patrick Kavanagh would say ‘fog dwellers’ – rural types without need for self expression or showing off. I took the poem chopped some out, added an Irish cliché or two, pinch a traditional tune from somewhere and my work was done. There is a different version of the song on my album 16, but I chose this one because I love the understated banjo of Pete Alison and mandolin of Terry Saunders.

9. BLOOD ON THE SHAMROCK AND THE ROSE

This is the song that changed everything for me! I wrote this in the mid 00’s and by the reactions I got performing it in folk clubs, I knew I had to start taking my song writing more seriously and do some proper recordings of my songs. Growing up in London when it wasn’t great being Irish and narrowly escaping two IRA bombings- first in Selfridges 1974 and then the Wimpy Bar in 1981. I lived a mile from Marble Arch and so Oxford Street was where my mate Sean and I would go to play out on a Saturday. On both of the above occasions, we had got home to see the devastation on the News! Not only had we walked passed the Wimpy Bar on that day, but we had actually been inside Selfridges, just before we got the bus home. I could never relate the lovely kind Irish people that I had met and was related too, with the kind of people that could commit these acts of cruel violence. As I got older I started to understand it a little better and was finally able to articulate how I felt about it in a song. I have to credit my Sister Anne for verse three. When she was visiting a friend in Ulster at the height of the Troubles, she was advised if anyone asked her religion she was just to reply ‘I’m not one of them’ in order to stay safe and neutral.

10. GREEN, WHITE AND GOLD

On holiday in Ireland as a child I remember my dad pointing to a flag and saying ‘That is the Irish flag- it’s green, white and gold.’ To which I replied ‘That’s orange Dad.’ ‘No it’s gold, son!’ This contradiction went on for quite sometime until I think I just gave up. Years later I was reliably informed, that despite it representing the protestant William of Orange and his influence on the population of Ireland, Orange is not an Heraldic Colour and so my Dad was right! I wrote this not long after he died, so sadly he never got to hear it.

11. EDITH LOUISA CAVELL

Written and released as an EP in time for the centenary of her execution in October 1915. I was chosen by Norwich Cathedral Chaplin to be included in the Cathedral memorial service, where I performed it live, and the service was broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 to about 1.5 million listeners. A scary but enjoyable experience!

12. BALLAD OF EDITH CAVELL

In early 2014 I started to work with a very over educated man called Gareth Calway. A novelist, poet, playwright and historian who was staging a medieval morality play that he wanted me to be part of. When I had a very informal reading for a part, he told me of another project he was working on which was a book of ballads all based on people and places in the East of England. He was looking for musicians that could take his words and make them songs. I wasn’t keen at first as I hate reading and some of these ballads were really high brow wordy stuff but once I started it became like a runaway train and before I knew it we had an album to record.

13. PATRIOTISM IS NOT ENOUGH

The title track of The Edith Cavell Story EP released for the centenary commemoration. The EP was written on the advice of my good friend and London Irish artist Brian Whelan, who had been commissioned by Norwich Cathedral to do a number of paintings depicting her life and so suggested I write something for the planned events. The songs on the EP are all unaccompanied and linked with concertina and harmonica tunes played by my friend Percy Paradise. The reason for this was not only to respect the folk tradition of unaccompanied singing but also for a feel authenticity as there weren’t many guitars about during the First World War. I have sequenced the three Edith Songs this way because this is how I perform them live.

14. HALF GOD HALF NELSON

I always thought that I was not able to sing harmonies as when I have tried at Folk Clubs it has never been a good experience for anyone, but when recording this the harmonies came quite naturally to me. I’m not sure where I stole the shanty melody but I think it works perfectly when telling Gareth Calway’s tale of Norfolk’s Lord Admiral Nelson.

15. BALLAD OF ANN BOLEYN AND THE BURGLAR

Another from the pen of Gareth Calway. Blickling Hall in Norfolk was once the home of Ann Boleyn and it has been reported that she still haunts the place. In this song her ghost mistakes a burglar for her true love Thomas Wyatt, yet again I’m not sure where I pinched this very traditional sounding melody. My wife Julie’s harmony really pulls this together and it’s one I really love to sing when we are at folk clubs together.

16. ENGLAND

Some years ago I was booked to play in a local Norfolk bar on St. Patrick’s Day and St. Georges Day. As you can imagine St Pat’s was a walk in the park while St. Georges was a struggle, as there are hardly any English songs about how great the country is that aren’t slagging off some other country or praising the Monarchy. I stuck to things like The Jam, The Clash, The Kinks with a few great English Folk songs and got through the evening quite well I’d thought until someone came up after and said he still thought I’d been doing Irish stuff all night, but that’s pub gigs for ya! Shortly after I wrote this song to express what I love about the place. When performing it live I often explain before that it’s about place and you don’t even have to like the English to sing along with it.

17. YOU’RE NOT HERE

Originally called ‘Sadder Than Asda’ was written in the mid 90’s when I was on a painting and drawing course to get an extra £10 benefit on my giro. To get out of the studio on the outskirts of Norwich and get a bit of lunch, we’d visit a huge Asda superstore opposite. I had also started working on music with a band and we were considering names for the band. While chatting with my fellow Art students and shopping in Asda, one of my friends suggested that I should call the band Fountain Head after the cheap fizzy water sold in Asda. I put it to the band and they loved it, so that’s what we were called for our 2 year existance. When I wanted an interesting title for a song I’d written and I played the tearjerker to them some one suggested ‘Sadder Than Asda’, and like the band name, it stuck until I recorded and renamed it ‘You’re Not Here’ in 2017. Originally, recorded on a 12 string acoustic guitar that was removed completely when Kerry Selwin sprinkled her magic on the ivories. I spent a bit of time making this little video for it which is filmed in Balham, South West London where my parents rented a flat and lived for 20 years until my dad died. The shots of me watching TV and sitting by the window were done just before the TV and furniture were sold and the flat was handed back to the landlord.

18. DRAGON

When I first settled in Norwich I ran a record stall in St Benedict Street indoor market, it was a great little place which is sadly no longer there, next to my stall was a tiny hippy kiosk that sold a few ‘spiritual’ things and did tarot card readings. The owner of this kiosk was a bit of a weasley little shit but harmless enough, when he had days off there was another chap that did tarot reading who was a lovely fella that played a mean guitar and had great taste in music. One day when it was quiet one of the stall holders had brought her little boy in and he was chatting to the nice tarot reader who was trying to explain to this 5 year old what Dragons were. It proved to be fascinating listening, together with my love of T-Rex (Futuristic Dragon) and the fact that I was born in the Chinese year of the Dragon all came together in this song.

19. WRECKED ON LOVE

Another song written in the early 90’s and originally performed with Fountain Head. At this point in my life I’d been through several doomed relationships and was searching for some stability, but seemed destined to flit from bedsit to squat to family sofa. Far too many drugs and/or booze was being consumed and much too much early Marc Bolan and hippy shit was being listened too, but it was all worthwhile when a song like this came out of it. It was the first song I ever wrote that had a very folk feel to it. I particularly love the intro my talented friends did on this with flute, harp, cello and fiddle.

20. THE CONSCIENTIOUS ODD DRINKER

The closing song of my debut album was inspired by British soldier Joe Guyton, who refused to fight in the Gulf War, when it had been declared illegal. Also a story my father told me about his time in the Korean War, when one of his regiment in the royal artillery got blown up when a gun jammed. This got me thinking about PTSD and how many returning soldiers can’t deal with civilian life after the horrors they have witnessed. It’s a very sad song but in the Irish tradition of sounding good fun & having a knees up.

Buy Twenty  Vinyl/CD’sFromAnto

Contact Anto Morra Web-Site  Blog  Facebook  Reverbnation  Twitter  YouTube  Bandcamp

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS PRESENTS THE BEST OF 2019!

Well here we go again. It only seems like five minutes since I was compiling all the votes into last years Best Of that saw The Rumjacks romping home with Album Of The Year. This year has been a bit quieter on the Celtic-Punk front but as last year was so busy that is perhaps not surprising. That’s not to say their weren’t some fantastic releases as their were plenty and it was still really difficult to come up with the various lists below. Not so many big bands this year so it was left to the lesser known bands to shine but remember this is only our opinion and these releases are only the tip of the iceberg of what came out last year. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. As a bonus we are adding the Readers Poll again this year so you can even vote on your favourite release of 2019 yourself. If it’s not listed then simply add your choice.

We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…

(click on the green link to go where you will find more information on the release)

1. THE WALKER ROADERS – Self Titled

2. MICKEY RICKSHAW – Home In Song

3. FEROCIOUS DOG – Fake News And Propaganda

4. GREENLAND WHALEFISHERS – Based On A True Story

5. BARLEYJUICE – The Old Speakeasy

6. THE NARROWBACKS – By Hook Or By Crook

7. McDERMOTTS TWO HOURS – Besieged

8. PIPES AND PINTS – The Second Chapter

9. THE RUMJACKS – Live In Athens

10. SELFISH MURPHY – After Crying

11. TORTILLA FLAT – Live At The Old Capitol

12. FIDDLERS GREEN – Heyday

13. THE RUMJACKS – Live In London Acoustic Sessions

14. THE WHIPJACKS – This Wicked World

15. 13 KRAUSS – Redención

16. ALTERNATIVE ULSTER – Craic Agus Ceol

17. AIRES BASTARDOS – Self Titled

18. THE TEMPLARS OF DOOM – Hovels Of The Holy

19. THE FIGHTING JAMESONS – A Moment In California

20. ANGRY McFINN AND THE OLD YANK – Songs of Whiskey, Women & War

21. THE SHILLELAGHS – Ripples In The Rye

22. HELLRAISERS AND BEERDRINKERS – Pub Crawl

23. BODH’AKTAN – De Temps Et De Vents

24. HEATHEN APOSTLES – Dust To Dust

25. SONS OF CLOGGER – Return To The Stones’

26. THE CHERRY COKE$ – Old Fox

27. THE FILTHY SPECTACULA – The Howl Of The Underclasses

28. THE POTATO PIRATES – Hymns For The Wayward

29. TC COSTELLO– Horizon Songs

30. THE TENBAGS – ‘Bags o’ Craic’

How to compete with last year? Every single top band in the genre released an album so things were always going to be a bit quieter for 2019. Top spot this year unsurprisingly goes to The Walker Roaders Celtic-Punk super group! With Pogues, Mollys and Dropkicks making up the team how could they possibly go wrong! Everyone’s ‘next big thing’ Mickey Rickshaw came in a well deserved second and Ferocious Dog took third after releasing their best album, for me, since From Without. Greenland Whalefishers celebrated 25 years on the road with their best album for quite a while and what Best Of would be right without some bloody brilliant Irish-American bands challenging at the top too. Pipes And Pints new album with a new singer received acclaim from across the Punk media and The Rumjacks couldn’t follow up last years unanimous victory despite having two album releases (both sort of live) in the top thirteen. Fiddlers Green continue to make consistently great albums and go into 2020 celebrating thirty years together! Good to see homegrown bands The Whipjacks, The Tenbags, The Filthy Spectacula and Sons Of Clogger making it too. The top thirty was made up of thirteen countries from USA, England, Norway, Czech Republic, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Argentina, Japan, Quebec, Hungary, Spain and Japan.

1. THE LUCKY TROLLS – Self Titled

2. DRUNKEN DOLLY – The Party

3. LORETTA PROBLEM – The Waltz Of My Drunken Dream

4. THE CLOVERHEARTS – Sick

5. KRAKIN’ KELLYS – Irish Tribute

6. THE PLACKS – Rebellious Sons

7. GYPSY VANNER – Five Distilled Celtic Punks

8. THE RUMPLED – Grace O’ Malley

9. FOX’N’FIRKIN – Hey Ho! We’re Fox n Firkin

10. SHANGHAI TREASON – Devil’s Basement

The Lucky Trolls took #1 spot with their brilliant self-titled EP following on from fellow countrymen the Krakin’ Kellys multi award winning 2018. Trust me it would have taken an exceptionally good release to keep The Party by Drunken Dolly off the top spot but that is what happened. Dolly’s excursions over to these shores this year j=has seen them grown in stature and you can’t go to a Ferocious Dog gig without spotting at least a dozen of their shirts. Loretta Problem wowed us with their single ‘Waltz Of My Drunken Dream’ which took us right back back to The Pogues glory days and what about that accompanying video too!! If we had a award for best video then that would have walked it. The Kellys had a quiet year with comparison to ’18 but still managed a respectable #5 and great debut releases from The Placks our sole representative from a Celtic nation (big things are going to happen to this band in 2020 mark my words), Italian/Aussies The Cloverhearts and, from just down the road from my Mammy, Shanghai Treason from Sheffield who only put out one song… but what a song! Eight countries represented from Belgium, Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Scotland, Argentina, Australia and Yorkshire!

AIRES BASTARDOS– ‘Self-Titled’

Argentina is becoming a bit of a hot-spot for Celtic-Punk with not only some well established bands but also some new ones starting up too and with this release Aires Bastardos announced their arrival on the international scene too. Not afraid to dive straight into a folk number after a Cock Sparrer cover they veer from standard Celtic-Punk to Folk and back to fast as hell Punk but in that really accessible way that only Celtic-Punk (and maybe Ska-Punk) bands can do.

1. THE DREADNOUGHTS – Into The North

2. CROCK OF BONES – Celtic Crossbones

3. 6’10 – Where We Are

4. BRYAN McPHERSON – Kings Corner

5. CALLUM HOUSTON – Gravities

6. PYROLYSIS – Daylight Is Fading

7. SEAMUS EGAN – Early Bright

8. LE VENT DU NORD – Territoires

9. DONNY ZUZULA – Chemicals

10. DERVISH – Great Irish Songbook

The Dreadnoughts don’t really think of themselves as Celtic-Punk so I reckon they’d be happier to win this than Celtic-Punk Album Of The Year. A superb collection of sea shanties that is a pleasure to listen to that was always going to be #1. Crock Of Bones representing the London Irish in 2nd with an album of trad folk with punk rock attitude and it’s especially good to hear some originals done in the style of the ‘auld ways’. 6’10 challenged for the top spot as they always do with everything they release and Bryan MacPherson and Callum Houston both produced great releases of singer-songwriter acoustic folk with Irish roots.

Sadly the Celtic-Punk world has shrunk a little regarding Web-Sites. Winners of the last two years the Mersey Celt Punks have been slacking (sort it out lads!) and enjoying their gigs too much to tell us while Shite’n’Onions have been too busy transferring everything onto a different platform and preparing for a bit of a re-launch I expect. Sadly celtic-rock.de have shut up shop after twelve years so it just makes it all the more clear how much we all miss Waldo and his fantastic Celtic-Folk-Punk And More site. As regular as clockwork and all the news that was ever fit (or not!) to print. Closing down the site in its 10th year in March must have been a tough decision to make and so this year we award best Website to Waldo and let it be known that no Celtic-Punk site will ever come close to replacing you. We would certainly not exist without his kind help and inspiration. All the best comrade enjoy your retirement! One welcome addition is Michu and his Celtic-Punk Encyclopedia site from Poland. Worth checking out especially if you are in a band.

We are not alone in doing these Best Of 2019 lists in fact all the major players in celtic-punk do them so click below to check out what they thought.

THE CELTIC PUNKCAST

FOLK’N’ROCK

MERSEY CELT PUNKS

So there you go. Remember we don’t pretend to be the final word on things in fact if you check the other Celtic-Punk media I’m sure we’ve all come up with relatively different lists. Our Best Of’s are cajoled and bullied out of the admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page. The assorted scraps of paper and beer mats were then tallied up please remember not all of us heard the same albums so like all the various Best Of’s ours is also subjective.

This is our 8th year of making these Best Of lists so if you would like to check out out who was where in our previous ones then just click on the link below the relevant year.

Last year we introduced a new feature THE READERS PICK. We had no idea if it would work or not but it was a raging success so we going to do it all again this year. With well over 500 votes cast you lot chose the debut album from the Krakin’ Kellys as a worthy winner. Only the Top Ten albums are listed but there is an option to write in your favourite release or just to send us love… or abuse!

You are allowed to vote twice but not for the same artist.

The Poll will close at midnight on Friday 31st January with the result announced soon after.

remember any views, comments or abuse or slander we would love to hear it…

 Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2020

RAISE YOUR PINTS! THE IRISH FOLK AND CELTIC-PUNK WEEKENDER

As we have said before no country this side of the ‘pond’ has taken Celtic-Punk to it’s bosom like Germany has. The thriving Celtic-Punk community there continues to just get bigger and bigger and they now have the music festival they deserve with the inaugural Raise Your Pints Fest in March. Three days of Celtic-Punk and Trad Irish Folk bringing a wee bit of Ireland to the German capital. So if you are looking for somewhere special to go to celebrate St. Pat then read on! 

As the amount of dedicated Celtic-Punk sites on the Web has shrunk the explosion of Celtic-Punk radio and podcasts has been phenomenal! At the forefront of that explosion has been MacSlon’s Irish Pub Radio. Started back in 2009 the idea behind the project was to present fans with ‘a beautiful bouquet of colorful melodies’, somewhere they would be able to discover one or two previously unknown bands. For beginners in the Celtic-Folk-Punk scene it is always a great place to start where the giants of the constantly growing scene rub shoulders with those lesser known bands or ones just starting out.

They have also become popular for their sampler compilation CD’s. Producing the first edition in 2016 and following every year with one that exceeds the previous in quality. They are now taking pre-orders for Volume Five that will hit the streets on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th in case you didn’t know!) and we’ve seen the line up for it and it’s easily the best one yet!

You can already pre-order the sampler in our online shop: www.macslons-shop.com

So with that all under their belts as well as a burgeoning Merchandise distribution service selling official merch for the likes of The Cloves And The Tobacco, Mickey Rickshaw, 6’10, The Rumjacks and many many more, some only exclusive to MacSlons. They also have a wide range of official MacSlons merch for you to spend your hard earned on too. The full catalogue is on the site and worth a look but make sure you pay your rent first! Now the next step is to take a bunch of the bands found on Raise Your Pints Volume Five and turn it into a music festival.

The festival will happen on St. Patrick’s weekend from Friday 13th through to Sunday 15th March and features an extensive line up of bands each day with artists coming from as far afield as Serbia, Ireland and Scandinavia as well as a superb line up of home grown German artists too. The festival takes place just outside Berlin so is easily accessible from anywhere in Europe and even further afield. The venue is E-Werk Zossen (in English the Zossen Power Station!) situated at Am Nottehafen 4, 15806 Zossen, Germany and the nearest airport is Berlin-Tegel. Zossen is in a beautiful region of Germany just south of Berlin and their is plenty of accommodation available in the town. When looking be sure to look for ‘Zossen’. For example the Weißer Swan hotel is only a very short walk from the venue and still has rooms left (here).

Their is a Facebook event where extra information is available here.

Friday 13th March 2020

KILKENNY BASTARDS

(www.facebook.com/KilkennyBastards)

PADDYS PUNK

(www.facebook.com/Paddyspunk)

THE PORTERS

(www.facebook.com/ThePortersfolkpunk)

FINNEGANS HELL

(www.facebook.com/finneganshell)

JAMES GALLAGHER

(www.facebook.com/TheAtlanticPirates)

Saturday 14th, March 2020

COBBLESTONES

(www.facebook.com/cobblestonesfolk)

MUIRSHEEN DURKIN AND FRIENDS

(www.facebook.com/MuirsheenDurkinAndFriends)

IRISH STEW OF SINDIDUN

(www.facebook.com/irishstewofsindidun)

SIR REG

(www.facebook.com/sirregband)

GARY O’CONNOR AND FRIENDS

(www.facebook.com/Gary-O-Connor-MUSIC-403134693099052)

For the final day of the festival what you will need in you is a good hearty Irish breakfast to line the stomach (simply book when you arrive at the fest) as the idea is to bring down the curtain with a proper auld fashioned knees up with a closing trad Irish music session made up of the musicians playing on Saturday. Having seen the likes of Sir Reg play a trad set before I can tell you are in for a real treat. A great way to end things on a high and a brilliant way to connect fans and musicians. Often seen in Irish pubs musicians sit down and make music together with the audience also invited to participate.

#OneBigCelticPunkFamily

There will be many interesting things happening at the festival with plenty of surprises expected! Their will be also be a tattooists on site from Black Pearl Island studios (www.facebook.com/BlackPearlIslandDelitzsch) with all proceeds going to local charities.

Tickets are available by clicking on the following link:

MacSlons Raise Your Pints Festival Tickets 2020

Tickets for the festival are superb value at under 40 Euros and also included will be a free copy of the new Raise Your Pints CD. You can also get a deal including a special limited edition festival t-shirt.

MacSlons Irish Pub Radio  WebSite  Shop  Facebook  YouTube  Twitter

RadioStream

CELEBRATING A CELTIC CHRISTMAS 2019. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS FAMILY

Each December we pick the best Christmas themed song we’ve heard that year to showcase in our end of year message. This year we are going to cheat a little and include two songs. The first is a song from last year which was too late to feature so here’s a band whose rise to to the top table of Celtic-Punk has been a rapid one- Krakin’ Kellys. Only formed in 2017 these Belgian rockers have taken the scene by storm and their Christmas themed track ‘Christmas In Kelly Green’ is here in its entirety with yet another of the Krakin’ Kellys famously fantastic videos.

You can download the track and support the band for just a single pound below.

Contact Krakin’ Kellys WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram  Twitter

Our second Christmas track appears out of the coastal fog of Huntington Beach in California. A rough, rowdy and ready bunch of musicians playing a rather unique blend of Irish Folk and Pirate Pub Rock. A mix of upbeat traditional and current Irish Folk-Rock tunes and reels, spiced with acapella shanties and pirate songs of the sea! Bringing jigs and laughs to any party, special event, or scummy dockside tavern, their rousin’ music and bawdy tales are guaranteed to keep any crowd happy. Starting slow and respectful and ending up rowdy and happy, which is just how it should be!

You can download the track and support the band for just 99 cents below.

Contact Bilge Rats  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

CELEBRATING A CELTIC CHRISTMAS

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

Christmas

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

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

SCOTLAND

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

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

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

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

IRELAND

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

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

WALES

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

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

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

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

ISLE OF MAN

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

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

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

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

CORNWALL

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

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

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

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

BRITTANY

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

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

GALICIA

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

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

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

Nollick Ghennal as Blein Vie Noa (Manx Gaelic)

Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath ùr (Scottish Gaelic)

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

Nedeleg Laouen na Bloavezh Mat  (Breton)

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda (Welsh)

Nadelik Lowen ha Bledhen Nowyth Da (Cornish)

Further Christmas themed fun with this London Celtic Punks Top Twenty

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

CLICK HERE

Subscribe to the London Celtic Punks web-zine and receive notification of every post by filling in the box on the right or below depending on how you are viewing this article.

Now go have a drink…

ALBUM REVIEW: THE DREADNOUGHTS- ‘Into the North’ (2019)

Ever since 2007 The Dreadnoughts have been an ‘tour-de-force’ upon the Celtic/Folk-Punk scene. Thrashing their way around the world blending Punk-Rock with a bunch of European Folk traditions with a power and range that few others can match. Now though they have returned to their roots with their fifth studio album Into The North, a collection of traditional and original sea shanties recorded deep in the Canadian hinterland.

Its been a long road for The Dreadnoughts. Not only because they have probably played in more countries than any other Folk-Punk band but that they have a come along way since their singer’s early days in the famed Ontario, Canadian band Siobhan. I say famed but at the time the Celtic-Punk scene was tiny but they still managed to make a name for themselves with their two studio albums The Patron Saints of Debauchery and Welfare State and legendary stage shows. When Siobhan split a couple of years went by before they dived straight back in with The Dreadnoughts. Those early days spent playing in Vancouver’s notoriously seedy Ivanhoe Hotel saw them build up a large and loyal following and later they would be recognized as one of the best live bands in the city. Embracing the old-school destructive chaos of live Punk, their gigs were hot and sweaty and full of joy and went on till the audience was exhausted, happy and pissed to the gills. Fast forward to 2019 and with a host of critically claimed studio albums behind them The Dreadnoughts have again taken us by surprise and have stripped their sound right back and when I say right back I mean right back!!

Always with a fondness for sea-shanties their version of ‘Roll The Woodpile Down’ can be credited for starting a trend amongst the scene for bands in the middle of their sets to lay down their instruments and test their harmonies with an acapello song. The haunting thunder of sea shanties has long been the backbone for The Dreadnoughts sound and on their new album here they have fully embraced the genre for a whole album that is the greatest collection of original and reworked traditional sea-shanties in modern times! Tasked with recording the songs the band decided early on in the process that they didn’t want to go for that slick produced ‘studio’ sound so they

Holed up for a week in a small wooden cabin with nothing but whiskey in our glasses, four microphones in front of us, and hordes of mosquitoes outside singing along, we belted these damn songs over and over until we had them just right, and the result is the album we’ve always wanted to make.

With their last album, 2017’s a multi-genre, historically themed concept album Foreign Skies also stepping outside the box, being a raw and emotional ride through the horrors of the First World War it only shows that The Dreadnoughts are without a doubt both a band that is unafraid to take risks and the most innovative bands in our or any other scene. Stories of love and loss, war and strife, redemption and sorrow from a band that up till then only sang songs about gin and scrumpy cider… this was new territory and also a massive success with fans and critics alike.

(see for yourselves by streaming/downloading Foreign Skies on Bandcamp below)

Now first off I have to say that bar a few of the more obvious ones I know not what, if any, of the songs here are originals. You can never be too sure with anything The Dreadnoughts do as their mischievousness could always have you believing the opposite! The album opens with ‘Rosibella’ and considering I was expecting some Folk-Punk fury I was shocked to find in its place a stripped down sea-shanty with only occasional squeezebox to accompany the words. ‘Fire Marengo’ was found by The Young Traditions Royston Wood in an old book called Shanties From The Seven Seas, where a few of the songs here were first documented, and after changing some verses and adding the tune went on to release it on their 1967 EP Chicken On A Raft. Most of the songs here hover around the two minute mark as without the padding of music it’s mainly the vocal harmonies, and a bit of foot stompin’, that rule here. ‘Pique La Baleine’ is a traditional Breton whaling song sung in French and dates back to the early 19th century. Again it is accompanied only by squeezebox while mournful fiddle makes an appearance on the relatively modern ‘Roll Northumbria’ a song about the building of a war ship in the Tyne in 1965. ‘Joli Rouge’ is an Dreadnought original devoted to Cidre Joli Rouge, a company dedicated to the production of real cider not the syrupy, corporate, mass-produced, prison wine that passes for it in most pubs. The company has even made a Dreadnought Cider!

“she’s called the Dreadnought cider
she’s proper and she’s fine
and when the day is over how I wish that she were mine
or in the dark of winter, or on a summer’s eve
one hand giveth while the other doth receive

So you can have a Mangers and pour it over ice
or you can have a Strongbow if it’s sadness that you like
or join us up the river and we’ll set your heart aglow
and how you’ll feel when the real cider starts to flow”

One of the album’s highlights without a doubt! Anyone who has seen them play over the last couple of years will recognise a couple of the songs here and if not then will be familiar with the style of the songs. I’m not sure if I saw them giving ‘Lifeboat Man’ a run through at their outstanding gig at the Cursus Festival last year or not but its familiarity is nice even if they didn’t play it! ‘Shallow Brown’ is pure sea shanty at its best. A typical call and response song with The Fang, otherwise known as Nicholas Smyth, singing the verses while the rest of the band sing the chorus. The song is a sad tale of a man leaving a woman on shore, pretty much a standard subject for a shanty, though this time its the story of a man being sold into slavery.

Sad and mournful and perfect for a good bass voice like Nicholas’. ‘Whup! Jamboree’ is an auld song and like most here no one is sure quite how old. It’s a cheeky number and shows workers at their most risque!

“And soon we’ll see old Holyhead
No more salt beef, no salt bread
I catch my Jinny and it’s off to bed
Come and get your oats me son”

Accompanied by very low key squeezebox and the solitary slow beat of a drum it’s another highlight. A.L. Lloyd sang ‘Whup Jamboree’ in 1957 on his and the great Ewan MacColl’s album Blow Boys Blow. He commented in the sleeve notes:

Whup Jamboree is one of the wildest and most exultant of homeward-bound shanties. The progress through the English Channel and into London River goes as a fast clip, and all hand are looking forward eagerly to what the girls ashore have to offer. From its references to Blackwell Dock, this shanty, used for work at the capstan, apparently rose among sailors in the Far East run.”

‘Paddy Lay Back’ is probably the best known of the songs here as it has been recorded by many famous Irish artists including The Wolfe Tones (here) and the Dublin City Ramblers (here). It’s earliest date is 1898 and tells of a poor Irish lad who goes to sea to earn his fortune but suffers at the hands of foreign sailors, poor conditions and the long voyage. ‘Dear Old Stan’ is dedicated to the memory of Stan Rogers the acclaimed Canadian Folk singer-songwriter who passed away in 1983 but is till remembered fondly for his Celtic influenced Folk songs many telling of his parents days working off the sea and tales of the lives of ordinary working people.

Some really wonderful lyrics here that fair bring a tear to the eye and explain the high esteem that Stan Rogers is held in Canada and around the world.

“The Yanks have Woodie Guthrie, The British Ralph McTell
The Celts have got the Corries, aye and Ronnie Drew as well
Adge Cuter sings of cider out in the west country
but I am a Canadian, and so I say to thee

Arise and be merry
and sing out while you can
The world will never see the likes
of dear old Stan”

Following this tribute is ‘Northwest Passage’ one of Stan Rogers best-known songs and my favourite song on Into The North. An acappella song, originally released in 1981 it is now considered one of the best songs in Canadian music history.

Take a moment also to watch this tribute to Stan Rogers version here. ‘Sacramento’ is a catchy foot stomper while the only song here that gives a hint of what The Dreadnoughts are famous here are the instrumental trad songs ‘Harper’s Frolic / Bonny Kate’. Showing the bands mastery of traditional Folk and how easily the Bhoys can turn their hand to anything while still be able to give it a distinctive Dreadnoughts stamp. We are near the end of Into The Norths forty-two minutes and ‘Shiloh’ is another up lifting foot stomper while the curtain comes down with ‘Starbuck’s Complaint’, a great song to end with as Drew’s voice and harmony brings the album to a melancholy close and how else could an album of sea shanties end. The work was without a doubt hard and often tyrannical under many a vicious Captain’s rule. The workers would say that “a song is as good as ten men”. The songs were used in the manner of field work song’s and these shanties tell the tales of loneliness, the families these men left behind, the daily hardships of an unkind sea and adventure on the seven seas.

Celtic-Punk is more than just getting your girlfriend to play fiddle over a punk song (just as Folk-Punk is more than a trendy hipster achingly singing over an acoustic guitar). It has a past and that link to the past has to be explored and celebrated. There are certain values I think to be associated to whatever it is that passes as a Celtic-Punk scene and to celebrate the music that inspired it is surely at the top of the list. Here The Dreadnoughts do just that. If you are expecting their breakneck Punk-Folk then you may be disappointed on first listen but by the second or third you’ll come to really appreciate what it is they have done here. In fact I look forward to seeing them placed in our Top Ten Folk and Trad releases of the year rather than their usual spot in the  Celtic-Punk Top Ten! Celtic folk music and Punk can form a perfect union and while on Into The North they take a more traditional route with these wonderful songs I’m sure it won’t be long before they’re back breaking stages around the world, scoffing down the ciders and spreading their gospel to anyone and everyone who will listen.

(stream Into The North from Bandcamp below before you buy!)

Buy Into The North  FromTheBand

Contact The Dreadnoughts  WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

Stoked. A documentary about The Dreadnoughts by Adam PW Smith

|  | 17 November 2017 (Canada)

Vancouver legends The Dreadnought returned from a six year hiatus in 2017 to record a new album. Filmed in the recording studio, and drawing from an archive of photos and film clips that go right back to their second ever live show, this low budget documentary rises above its station with great characters and stories that range from enlightening to hilarious (and occasionally dubious). These liquor soaked musical heroes prove themselves to be thoughtful, as well as entertaining. Everything you ever wanted to know about the Vancouver-based Celtic-Punk band – and perhaps things you didn’t – can now be found in Stoked: The Dreadnoughts Return. Watch the film here.

PREMIERING HERE TODAY! DEBUT SINGLE/VIDEO FROM NEW CELTIC-PUNK BAND SHANGHAI TREASON

Shanghai Treason are a new Yorkshire based Celtic-Punk five-piece who plan to traverse the darker, heavier, side of the genre. Expect breakneck performances complete with banjo, accordion and hard hitting rock rhythm section; fit to inject a jolt of action into any event.

On tour this December playing a series of charity gigs for Musicians Against Homelessness they release their debut single today and you can watch the video exclusively here!

Let’s Shanghai Treason!

Its always a great day at London Celtic Punks Towers when we hear of another band active on the scene. Today we are very happy to introduce you to a cracking band from South Yorkshire called Shanghai Treason. Fast paced Punk-Rock with some of the best banjo you’ll hear this side of the Atlantic. Doffing a cap to Celtic-Punk stalwarts the Dropkick Murphys at their heaviest it’s banjo heavy and all the better for it!

Shanghai Treason vocalist Sam Christie said to us

“It’s a fierce fire cracker of a debut, marking our intent early on. We’ve been working on this project for the best part of a year so to have it come into the light is a total joy!

Lyrically the song is about one of those nights out which get a bit out of hand. Where it feels like anything is possible!”

You can catch Shanghai Treason playing around the country next month on a tour sponsored by Musicians Against Homelessness, a organisation set up by former Oasis guru Alan McGee. Since setting MAH up in 2016 more than 1000 bands have played special MAH benefit gigs in the UK. All money raised goes to Crisis and the excellent work they do especially at this time of year.

SHANGHAI TREASON DECEMBER TOUR

Wednesday 18th Sneaky Petes Edinburgh

Saturday 21st Jakaranda Liverpool

Sunday 22nd West Street Live Sheffield

Saturday 28th The Fulford Arms York

Sunday 29th The Crofters Rights Bristol

(More details and support bands for the gigs can be found on Shanghai Treason’s Facebook page)

Contact Shanghai Treason 

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ALBUM REVIEW: SONS OF CLOGGER- ‘Return To The Stones’ (2019)

West Midlands based Sons Of Clogger are an alternative four piece band with a huge sound fusing Punk, Indie, Rock, Metal and Folk. Their full blooded invigorating music has been captivating crowds and listeners in many countries and as our man in the States T.C. Costello finds with the release of Return To The Stones their second full length album they are set to continue doing so…

About a year ago, I found myself at the Ragged Bear Festival in Warwickshire. This two-stage festival seemed tailor-made for anyone who’s ever been to a London Celtic Punks show, tailor made to anyone who loves a sea chantey as much as a moshpit, and indeed tailor made me. The Whipjacks’ played of some the speediest Celtic-Punk I’ve ever heard downstairs, and Greenman Rising, who organized the festival, brought their hardcore folk tradition to modern audiences on both stages.

Another highlight of the festival was Sons of Clogger. This Staffordshire foursome’s sweaty basement show felt like a folk session from long ago but unstuck in time, with traditional melodies and story teller lyrics over an rhythm section straight out of the ‘80s punk scene in London. Adding mandola, low-D tin whistle and a 12-string acoustic guitar created a sound evocative of pre-Christian Britain, a bit of ‘80s Camden Town, and an Irish Session.

Needless to say, it came as a massive surprise to me that the band’s first full-length album starts with a distorted guitar riff. And this album, indeed, is full of surprises – so much so that this review may warrant a spoiler alert. With ‘Return To The Stones’, the band continues to blur the lines between the ancient and modern, the Folk and the Punk, and even more genres.

After the unexpected electric guitar on the opening title track, the full band comes in with 4/4 rock groove a bit reminiscent of The Clash. I was wondering where the folk aspect of the band had gone. But as soon as DaveO’s vocals kicked in, I had my answer.

“We’re heading for the Northern Lights

From town to town with you right by my side

Oh Yeah, Bring me that girl today”

He croons with the command of a storyteller and the fury of punk, narrating a tale of the Callanish Stone Circle in the Outer Hebrides during Pagan times. The Narrator is a mother who had visited the stones 10 years previous to ask for a daughter. She is travelling to the stone circle again to thank the stones, this time with her daughter, now of course ten-years-old.

More definitive folk elements sneak into this song, too, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

The second song of the Album, ‘London Town’, also takes you back in history, though not nearly as far, and tells of decadent underground cults amongst the gentry in London. The band writes, “Over the last 300 years, underground gentry have worshipped various cults: Some celebrating homosexuality, some devil worship, and some even to this day celebrating the death of King Charles I!”

“Subterranean location

Was shattered and prosaic

It earned its reputation

Was full of old posh rakes

With lavish cars and fat cigars

Certain gentry found

I’ll meet you at the serenade

Down in London Town.”

Once again, this song is driven by electric guitar and the Band’s tight rhythm section, but adds folky vocals and even a bit of mandolin over the main guitar riff.

Next comes ‘Harrignton And Boots’, a punky number a bit reminiscent of The Cockney Rejects, and tells of punks who have gone to serve in the military.

“My Brothers they said to me,

What happens if we die?

Better think about the last words that we’ll say.”

And the last words are the chorus:

“Bury me with me Harrington and Boots.” It’s “The Harrington Jacket and Doc Marten Boots worn by punks past and present,” The band writes, “It’s a soldier’s last wish to be buried in his true identity, not as a soldier, but the true honor of a lifelong punk.”

With the fourth Track ‘Ragged Bear’, the band’s folkiness is unambiguous. Starting with a vocals-and-mandola intro, the full band doesn’t come in until a minute in, and when it does, there’s a big, tin whistle lead with the bands ‘80s punk rhythm section still going strong.

The karmic tale starts with an abused bear, left in a horrible state, only to be healed by the devil, who sent the bear to take revenge on the humans who mistreated him so, and I challenge any listener not to shout “The Bear! The Bear!” along with the chorus. The Into of ‘Running Out The Guns’, blurs the line of ancient and modern a bit more, with an intro powered by a heavily echoed guitar and tin whistle, which gives into a big, tin whistle breakdown a bit reminiscent of Flogging Molly. The hard rocking, seafaring tune covers the tradition of the plight of sailors’ lives:

“We’ll bring ye Hell on the seas’ great swell

We are the devil’s sons.

While ye lye and the breast of thy own sweet maid

We’ll be running out the guns.”

Next comes a trio of love songs. ‘On The Road’ is a guitar effects-heaving ode to long-distance love with a big chorus, and ‘Traveling Fair’ has a haunting, droney arrangement and tells of a collier’s son running away to be with a green-eyed Romani Gypsy girl, which ends with an jig that’s somehow reminiscent of The Clash.

Finishing the trio is ‘Punk Rock Girlfriend’, a hard rocking number that makes me think “hey, i know her!” every time I hear it.

She’ll shave her hair, give you the stare

She’s hanging with the punks

When you see here dancing, she’s dancing near the front

Piercings of silver rings and green and purple hair

She’s my punk rock girlfriend!”

Having met her at a couple festivals, these lyrics as far as I can tell are 100% accurate.

Closing out the album are ‘Beautiful Dream’ and ‘Goodbye’.

‘Beautiful Dream’ is an anti-war song with a nice jangly electric guitar-and-mandola wall of sound. The lyrics seems hopeful but also self-consciously naive with the chorus,

“No more war, Just love / Is a beautiful dream”

‘Goodbye’, the album’s closing number starts with a cinematic-sounding intro, powered by floor toms, spacey keyboards and sparse piano work. It builds to a hopeful song about moving on on life:

“I’m holding on, to something that’s killing me

To something that’s thrilling me

I’m changing things, you were my everything

Ain’t nothing can be the same

‘Cause I’m leaving tonight.”

The band writes “It’s a goodbye to a love that’s lost; it’s a goodbye as in lost life; it’s a goodbye as in leaving drug or alcohol addiction.” A fitting hopeful ending to the album.

‘Return To The Stones’, is an unpredictable journey, full of alluring settings, powerful stories and a colourful cast of characters. If you want folk and punk fused in a way that would even surprise the most loyal readers of London Celtic Punks, look no further.

Buy Return to the Stones  CD- FromTheBand  Amazon

Contact Sons Of Clogger  WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  YouTube

2019’s Ragged Bear Festival will be held on the 25th and 26th of October at The Crew and Queen’s Hall, conveniently locked in the same building in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.

Cheers to our good friend and comrade T.C. Costello for the review and you can keep up with his antics across the globe by checking him out here Facebook  Bandcamp  Twitter  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: THE FILTHY SPECTACULA- ‘The Howl Of The Underclasses’ (2019)

Twisted gypsy punk, revved up pirate shanties, dark folk, ska, punk, dark cabaret, Southern gothic, a bit of steampunk, a bit of darkness, a bit of coarse music hall banter and a lot of drunkenness. The second full-length album from The Filthy Spectacula with thirteen more songs of death, debauchery and drinking that are sure get you dancing.

The story of The Filthy Spectacula begins on a dark and stormy night in late 2014 when a group of vagabonds meet to swap stories, drink absinthe and make music. They were on to something and took to travelling around and making new stories together. Some got left at various ports along the way, but other riff-raff were eagerly waiting in the shadows to join this travelling circus. They released their debut album a couple of years ago Thrup’ny Upright which is available from the band but you can also get a free sampler of the album containing three tracks at the Bandcamp link below.

Details on The Filthy Spectcula are sketchy but having wowed audiences across Britain and played alongside this countries (and Canadas) best Folk-Punk bands as well as having been asked by Ed Milliband to “turn it down please” it seems nothing can slow down this marauding crew of lyrical lunatics. The Howl Of The Underclasses kicks off with the gloriously ramshackle ‘The Dirty Dog’. Fiddle and accordion are shoved up front and Mr E’s vocals lead the way with a eastern flavoured tune that we may call ramshackle but is from it in reality. Tuneful and as catchy as syphilis the album is peppered with references to the sea, death, debauchery and drinking and songs that would get even the stoniest of faces (me) smiling and the leaden of feet (also me!) dancing. Telling of one of London’s dingiest drinking dens.

” We who drown our sorrows in this dirty hole can forget brighter tomorrows”

Next up is my favourite of the album and the Eastern approach has gone for a more traditional folk-punk tune it is UNBELIEVABLY catchy and if catchy is the word that all record reviewers hate the most their really is no alternative . ‘Bedlam Hallelujah’ has such a great but dark ‘ska-ish’ beat it is sure to get you moving. The times that The Filthy Spectacula inhabit are those of Victorian slums and serial killers stalking the London streets and times when everyone drank Gin and did they must to survive. Oh Cynthia’ is a twisted love song and that word from earlier rears its head again. Mr E has a very distinctive vocal style that fits perfectly and the band flit from gypsy to ska to new wave effortlessly. Women And Children First’ is the cry of the shipwreck where men were and are still expected to stay on the sinking ship.

“If it’s you or I I’m going to stay alive”

A very nice accordion solo from The Blacksmith is followed by a fiddle solo from Miss Tea and already a quarter of the way through and every song has been outstanding. What the album lacks for in ‘Celtic-ness’ (this is after all a Celtic music site) does not take away from the album at all and would be up the street of the majority of our readers. ‘Our Dirty Little Secret’ returns to to the East and has a sort of Cossack feel to it and you can imagine men with folded arms bouncing up and down to this song about prostitution and grave robbing. It is thought that roughly 80,000 women were working as prostitutes in London alone during the Victorian era. On ‘Rum’ they pay tribute to the sailors drink of choice. Rum was routinely given to sailors right up to the 1970’s on Royal Navy ships. ‘Casanova With A Social Disease‘ finally sees the band in Celtic-Punk territory and by heavens they rock it. A short, sharp and sweet rocker with a nice bit of black humour

“I’m not loves young dream, I’m not as I seem”

The Hearse Song’ slows it down and that black humour is evident again and with a wee nod to The Pogues too. 

The Filthy Spectaular left to right: Lord Harold- Drums, Red Wine, backing shouting * Miss Tea- Fiddle, herbal teas, backing howling * Mr. E- Lead Vocaliser, Guitar, Absinthe, good looks and talent * Shady H- Bourborn, Bass, backing shouting * The Blacksmith -Accordion, Rum, backing grunting

We are back on the oceans again and Tyrants of the Seven Seas’ is just Mr E and acoustic guitar and tells of the excitement of piracy. For many it was an escape from from the cruel conditions on board merchant and navy ships and a chance to be treated as equals in a time when the working classes were seen as a separate race. One Step Closer’ is a heavier number despite its bouncy ska beat the accordion gives it an appropriate dark feel. She Wants Me (Dead)’ has a Poguesy feel circa Hell’s Ditch with it’s strong accordion lead and dark lyrics. 

Seas of Stupidity’ is another standout and they closing down the album well with the albums rockiest song.. A real foot stomper this one and catchy as hell! So that just leaves Dear Judas’ to bring down the curtain on The Howl Of The Underclasses and at nearly six minutes its the albums epic. A risky strategy seeing as even though the albums songs all hover around four minutes one thing you could say about them is that they are punchy and don’t tend to overstay their welcome. Well the same can be said of ‘Dear Judas’ and they carry on where they left off. On listening it seems much shorter and the punchiness is still evident and ends the album superbly.

The Howl Of The Underclasses is not all what I was expecting and I was very pleasantly surprised and they are now at the top of my list of bands to catch live. Capturing perfectly the filth, smoke and destitution of the city their was no happy ending for many in Victorian London but with a soundtrack of The Filthy Spectacula and an endless supply of Gin and Rum it would ease the pain a wee bit!

Buy The Howl Of The Underclasses CD  Download

Contact The Filthy Spectacula  WebSite  Facebook  Soundcloud  ReverbNation  YouTube

EP REVIEW: JAY MOODY- ‘Pub Songs On Palafox’

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Roots Music with No Reservations.

Jay Moody is a Native American/Irish folksinger from Pensacola, Florida. He describes his eclectic sound as Creolized Roots Music. Irish folk influenced by swamp blues and pub-rock, with hints of Caribbean rhythms and Celtic melodies.

One of the things we set out to do with this site when we started was to promote new music. When I say new music I mean of course music that had just been released as one glimpse at ‘modern’ music shows it is nothing of the sort. Nothing is new anymore and anyway seeing as Celtic-Punk has one foot in the past anyway the idea of it being ‘new’ seems a little strange to me. So we have a sort of informal policy to only review releases that have recently come out. We have on the rare occasion gone against this policy but only a small handful of times and only when the release is new to us and worthy of a review as is the 2013 debut EP of Jay Moody. Jay has been performing as a singer-songwriter for most of his adult life. Raised in a large, Native American/ Irish family, he is a member of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Tribe, he learnt his first guitar chords at his father’s knee who was also a gigging musician having cut his teeth singing on city streets, beaches, and campfires throughout the Gulf-coast. Raised in a Navy family, Jay’s youth was spent moving around various maritime communities while always returning to his home in Florida

So it was that back in June, 2013 Jay released this small collection of songs Pub Songs On Palafox, a solo EP that was intended to capture the raw energy and sound from his time busking in the urban setting of his home in downtown Pensacola, Florida. Palafox is the name of the main strip in downtown Pensacola, and that’s why the EP is named as he was singing pub songs on Palafox. Simple really! Four songs recorded in the raw as a live-air production that captures the energy and sound of a solo performance busking downtown in competition with the sounds of a bustling city street. This EP may have been designed as a way to drum up some work but he soon found work getting in the way and so began a few years away from the music biz until recently and Jay has major plans going forward including new music and more releases to come. The EP begins with a couple of songs from the Great Irish Songbook with the great drinking song  ‘Dicey Reilly’ kicking things off. The fictional (though no doubt based upon real person!) account of a life ruined by the drink. A song about a alcoholic Dublin prostitute is probably not the sort of thing you’d be wanting children to sing along but I remember well singing along with this as a young nipper. Written by the great Irish patriot and writer Brendan Behan the songs jolliness belies its more serious subject matter and has long been a staple of the Irish folk scene and a firm audience favourite. Jay gives it plenty of ‘oompf’ and sings it straight but with power and no end of passion.

This is followed by another Irish favourite and again ‘Black Velvet Band’ is a dark song about infatuation, deceit and injustice that many would know but not realise the subject matter was so awful. In fact a mate of mine told me his Mammy used to sing this to him at bedtime! Telling of a young man who has the misfortune to fall in love with a thief who tricks him into holding a stolen watch. As this is a Irish folk song he is caught of course and sentenced to seven years penal servitude and sent away to Van Diemen’s Land now known as Tasmania. Again Jay plays it with a power and his strong vocals are the most stand out thing here. Though he sings loud and almost a shout it also a gentleness that keeps it’s feet firmly in Irish folk territory. The pub may be the venue to hear these songs and Jay has the kind of the voice that can cut through the rowdiness and the chatter that sometimes afflicts the solo performer in a Irish pub! Next up is the first of Jay’s compositions and ‘Looks Like Jesus’ shows Jay has a great talent for songwriter. Peppered with imagery from the Southern atmosphere he calls home the  rockabilly-blues influences fit perfectly and again its hard sometimes to think its just Jay and a guitar.

The EP comes to an end with the cheeky ‘Miss Constance’, a naughty Caribbean-styled tune about the perils of younger women. A style of music known in Jamaica as ‘mento’ it predates and has greatly influenced ska and reggae music. Known for topical lyrics with a humorous slant sexual innuendos were also common as they are here if you listen closely! So this EP may be an amazing six years old but seeing as Jay has made it available as a ‘Name Your Price/Free Download’ then their is no reason not to get yourself a copy. It may even inspire Jay to get his arse into gear and record some more. It may be six years since Pub Songs On Palafox came out but you can still find Jay performing in intimate venues throughout the Southeastern United States. Deeply influenced by both his Irish and native roots as well as folkfunkblues, pub rock and Country with more than a touch of Caribbean rhythms to keep the Irish/Celtic melodies company Jay is a original artist and anyone who can breathe new life into songs that are so familiar is a great talent.

(hear Pub Songs On Palafox on the Bandcamp player below!)

Download Pub Songs On Palafox  Bandcamp

Contact Jay  WebSite  Blog  Facebook  YouTube  Twitter  Instagram

SINGLE REVIEW: LORETTA PROBLEM (featuring Juha Lagström)- ‘The Waltz Of My Drunken Dream’ (2019)

Wow! What to say except that Finland’s Loretta Problem have hit the jackpot here with their new single. I think it’s  no exaggeration to say it’s a song that The Pogues would have been proud to record! Featuring Juha Lagström on vocals ‘The Waltz Of My Drunken Dream’ is perhaps Loretta Problem’s most influenced Irish folk song and I can’t wait to hear more of them! 

Loretta Problem have featured on these pages several times in their past with their Scandinavian/ Celtic flavoured punk rock and back in the beginning we even had them labelled as “not one of the most prolific bands in the celtic-punk scene but certainly one of the more interesting”. Well we will have to change that I think. They may still be one of the more interesting and innovative bands around in the scene but the last few years have seen more than regular releases hitting our doorstep/e-mail tray seeing them fit more in the last handful of years than the previous two decades!. Formed in the tiny Finish town of Vaasa in 1994 and yes Finland may be more famous for death-metal but such is the booming popularity of Celtic-Punk that you’ll always find one band representing everywhere and for Finland it is Loretta Problem. All the Nordic countries seem to have healthy alternative music scenes and appear to be much more open to each others music. Loretta Problem have released one album and a handful of singles in their time together which spread over those two decades plus may not be much but for well over a decade Loretta Problem took a back seat while the various band members were working on other projects like families or in other bands. Getting together to play every now and then at the odd gig or festival the band eventually regrouped and Loretta Problem have now become a permanent fixture on the music scene in their home country and, with every release, further afield too.

I sit and drink through rainy days
And after all what can I say?
Not sure ’bout God but when you pray
Pray for me too
Pray for me too

I lose out babe, reeled from the start
I’m lost, my love, somewhere in my heart
Please keep your faith, stay as you are
Shine like a star
Shine like a star

We waltz till the dawn under darkening skies
The steeples keep silent, the wind’s blowing by
Your eyes bring the light upon this falling night.
The ragged silver screen
of my drunken dream
…my drunken dream

One  for the road, one for yesterday
One more for hope and for this sad day
Not sure ’bout God but when you pray
Pray for me too
Pray for me too

We waltz till the dawn under darkening skies
The steeples keep silent, the wind’s blowing by
Your eyes bring the light upon this falling night.
The ragged silver screen
of my drunken dream
…   my drunken dream
….  my drunken dream
….. my drunken dream

One listen to ‘The Waltz Of My Drunken Dream’ will I am sure be more than enough for you all to fall in love with Loretta Problem though it is quite the departure from their usual fare. Punk rock with fiddle and the odd Celtic flourish is normal but here they try something new and by Christ it has worked! With the devilishly good looking Finish actor and singer (and former bandmate) Juha Lagström on vocals and aided by visiting musicians Lauri Kotamäki on accordion and Petri Judin on tin-whistle the song has an unmistakable Poguesy air to it but without any attempt at being a copy of them. Juha’s voice is strong and powerful and he cuts a more than menacing figure in the excellent accompanying video too.

Buy Download  Apple  iTunes

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