Category Archives: Folk

IRISH SOUL STEW- THE POGUES

One man’s thoughts on what the Pogues  Shane MacGowan were and are.

The original Celtic-Punk band, formally known as Pogue Mahone (from the Irish Gaelic ‘póg mo thóin’ meaning ‘kiss my arse’) who later became known as The Pogues. Formed in 1982 their inspired use of traditional Irish instruments and poetic, often politically tinged lyrics led them to reach a cult status where even now they are revered and loved as much as they ever were.

by Alan K. Crandall

IRISH SOUL STEW

A few years back there was a fairly popular movie around called The Commitments, about a bunch of Irish kids who form a band playing ’60’s soul music. It wasn’t a bad movie, actually — it painted a pleasant picture of small-town Irish life, and a pretty accurate picture of in a struggling band (blown gigs, equipment failures, getting ripped off by promoters, inane personal conflicts). What I didn’t like was the soundtrack — classic soul covers performed by contemporary studio goons. Not that it was all that bad; I suppose the performances were about as good as those you might get from a good cover band at any local bar, but nothing worth a moment of your time when the far superior originals are available. Unfortunately, the soundtrack went on to become a substantial hit (even generating a follow-up), which grated on me then and still does — I hate the image of all those Gen X’ers and yuppies shelling out for an album of watered-down soul covers when they wouldn’t be caught dead buying Otis Redding. Sigh. The music critic for the local newspaper agreed, and suggested in his review of the Commitments album, that if people really wanted to hear Irish soul music, they should pick up the latest album by The Pogues.

GOLDEN HITS OF THE 80’s

They say nostalgia runs in ten-to-twenty year patterns- that is, what was popular in one era will always enjoy a revival ten-to-twenty years later. Some truth there; the seventies were swamped in ’50’s nostalgia (‘Happy Days’, ‘Grease’), the late eighties brought in a wave of 60’s flashbacks (‘Big Chill’, ‘The Wonder Years’), and the 90’s have treated the ’70’s as the decade to look back on. That can only mean that a yearning for the Reagan era isn’t far behind (shudder!). It’s starting already- ‘Golden Hits Of The 80’s’ collections turning up on late-night TV. God help us.

I think I’ll make my own ‘Golden Hits Of The 80’s’ album. The stuff I was listening to. The last vestiges of 70’s punk, the first glimmerings and full flowerings of the American indie scene: The Gun Club, Green On Red, Black Flag, Husker Du, The Replacements, The Pontiac Brothers(!), Social Distortion.   Aah, those were the days. It won’t have a lot of British rock from that era, though. The 80’s were the end of the UK as far as Rock’n’Roll went, as far as I’m concerned. None of this is meant as any kind of chest-thumping ‘America-first’-ness… I just hated all that mopey Smiths/ Echo And The Bunnymen/ U2/ The Cure stuff; all burbling synths and treated guitars and strained attempts at soulfulness, all fashion and stance and not a shred of real feeling. But there was ONE band to come out of the UK in the 80’s who did understand what rock’n’roll music was supposed to be, what real ‘soulfulness’ sounded like. And that was The Pogues.

IRISH SOUL STEW (PART TWO)

The Pogues as Irish soul music. I like that. It sounds right. It fits, in the same way that Gram Parsons’ description of country as ‘white soul music’ fits. The Pogues music could be called soul; not in sound, but in feel, in sensibility, in emotional commitment. Or you could call it Rock’n’Roll music, or rock music. None of these would necessarily be inaccurate (or necessarily accurate either, if you want to split hairs). Of course, at the time, people often referred to them as ‘folk music’.

Superficially, I guess they were. Their music basically a sped-up, amplified and attituted-up take on Irish folk music of the Clancy Brothers/ Dubliners sort. Superficialities only go so far. They were never really a folk band in the purest sense. There was always too much Bo Diddley in their backbeat, too much Clash in their attack. Neither were they simply a parody of Irish music, a high-speed punk rock joke band with accordions. They used Irish music as a well to draw from, much as The Stones used Chicago blues; they took its form, its depth of feeling, its melodicism, its romance and longing and every other quality you want to hang on it, and wed it to their own roots in punk and high-powered pub rock, and came up with something uniquely their own. John Lennon once referred to the blues as ‘a chair’, in respect to its relationship to rock’n’roll music. Irish music was The Pogues’ chair.

Of course, the first ones to deny them a seat in the Folk Club would be the members themselves. Folkies reviled them. Folkies revile anyone who doesn’t play by their rules. It’s the most insular, tradition-bound faction of popular music, on both sides of the pond, as near as I can tell. There’s still grizzled old veterans’ wandering around Greenwich Village, anxious to tell anyone who’ll listen what a no-talent-asshole Bob Dylan was/is. Dylan was reviled for mimicking Woody Guthrie, then for not mimicking Woody Guthrie; for playing protest songs; for turning away from protest songs; for playing the electric guitar- for not playing by the damn rules! Of course, it’s the ones who break the rules who achieve greatness, and there’s no greater crime or surer ticket to condemnation by your peers than being the most talented and ambitious one around. Anyway, Dylan was never really a folkie anymore than The Pogues were.

So the folkies reviled them. Somewhere in the archives there’s a radio broadcast wherein a heated altercation between Noel Hill of the venerable folk band Planxty and several Pogues ensues. It apparently began with Hill’s assertion that The Pogues were “a terrible abortion of Irish music” and quickly slid downhill:

Noel Hill, however, laboured his case and it was at this stage that Andrew went for an unexpected Grundy, and said: “I think it just comes down to sex. I mean, are you a better fucker than me!” The session continued in similar style for another half-hour, and eventually ended with the contemptuous Cait being branded “a pig”. She replied with five seconds of suitable snorts.

Man, I wish I could get my hands on a tape of that! Meanwhile, others condemned them as being a kind of racist joke, perpetuating the stereotypical image of the Drunken Irishman. And Richard Thompson, ever the contrarian, dismissed them for being too reverent in their take on traditional music! None of this seems to have phased The Pogues any; in the UK, they became stars.

ZEN AND THE ART OF ROCK’n’ROLL FANDOM

The Pogues as Irish soul band. How do you justify that one? Maybe this way:

They regenerated into an all-time stupor at Hull Tiffany’s, on March 25, after being subject to the unlimited generosity of Nick Stewart – a Glaswegian whom they had first encountered at Manchester Hacienda just three weeks before. Being a terminal fan of John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, The Velvet Underground and Tom Waits, Nick felt an immediate affinity for The Pogues.

Does that last sentence make sense to you? It does to me. In fact, it makes so much sense to me that I was actually thrilled when I came across it. It articulates the inarticulate-able. What do The Pogues have in common with two of the most primitive, toughest of blues legends, the most celebrated avant-garde/ Rock`n’Roll band ever, and the poet-laureate of down-and-out street lunatics (okay, the Waits connection’s a bit easier to see)? For that matter, what do Hooker and Wolf have in common with The Velvets? Or The Velvets with Waits? Nothing and everything, I guess. It’s just that someone who likes Hooker and Wolf AND The Velvets probably like Waits and The Pogues, too.

I could, I suppose, sit up all night (and probably many other nights, too) trying to put my finger on what it is that links these things. Hell, I might even pull it off. Robert Pirsig asked what ‘quality’ was while teaching college English in Montana in the 60’s. He managed to pin it down to something that people recognized when they encountered it (his students almost unanimously concurred on when ranking papers in terms of which ones were “better”) but could not define. Well, Pirsig’s search for a definition of ‘quality’ led to mental breakdown, electroshock therapy, cross-country motorcycle trips and eventually the book Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance. Pirsig is a lot more educated than myself, and much more equipped for dealing with such questions, so you’ll forgive me if I don’t try to equal his achievement. But I will take a little stab at making sense of a statement like the quote above.

There is something I hear in traditional or tradition-rooted music; that is, specifically, blues, a lot of jazz, folk music (of any nationality but especially American or British, which I happen to be far, far more familiar with than that of any other cultures), country, gospel, reggae, rockabilly, ’60’s soul music, roots-rock or what the charts now refer to as ‘Americana’, traditional Mexican or Tex-Mex border music (which I’ve recently gotten heavily into) and other things. To be honest, I don’t know if it’s something that’s actually there or just something I put there in my mind, a validation because the music is (or is based on music that is) old and celebrated and “legendary” (and I’ve been accused of exactly that kind of psychological projection, especially for my penchant for preferring Lightnin’ Hopkins to hip-hop music), but I hear it all the same. Something like a deep well of feeling and emotional commitment (’emotional commitment’, now there’s some pretentious critic-speak if I ever heard it) that an artist can dip into and draw from. And when I hear it, especially in the context of something that I deem as ‘good’, it turns my head and makes me listen.

It’s a quality I don’t hear in a lot of avant-garde or ‘punk’ or what I think of as ‘white pop’ music (which in my mind would be things like NRBQ or The Hoodoo Gurus, just to name two), but the lack of it does not necessarily diminish those kinds of music (hey, I’m a big fan of NRBQ, and The Hoodoo Gurus, and lots of ‘punk’ and avant-garde-type music as well), but it’s a good quality to have. For me, it’s a kind of anchor to the music; it gives it staying power. For me, it means that while I am always up for hearing Richard Thompson, Howlin’ Wolf, Hank Williams, Buddy Holly, The Stones, Otis Redding, Tom Waits, Southern Culture on The Skids or John Coltrane (all of whom have this something) I have to be in the right mood to want to listen to The Sex Pistols (who were great, but lack this aforementioned something).

In any case, if this something, this quality exists (and since I perceive it I guess it does- and others perceive it too, I think), it is something that can be found in Hooker and Wolf and The Velvets and Waits, and in The Pogues, too. And that makes sense out of the quote. At least, as much sense as I’m able to articulate about it.

MORE GOLDEN HITS OF THE 80’s

The Pogues were definitely a part of the 80’s for me. Even if the 80’s were a terrible decade for Top 40 music, underground music was a rich, fertile haul back then, and for me, The Pogues were superstars. The first I ever heard of them was a review of the Pair Of Brown Eyes single in Spin. Actually, it wasn’t the review that got my attention, but the photo of Shane MacGowan, dressed in Napoleonic pirate gear and showing off his infamous ghastly grin (later immortalized by Mojo Nixon in “Shane’s Dentist.”). The caption read

“Shane MacGowan comes from an ugly place, has an ugly face, and has recorded a great single with The Pogues,”

which makes it the finest piece of writing I ever encountered in the mostly execrable Spin.

Back then, the general line on The Pogues was that they played punked-up, sped-up versions of Irish traditional music. Actually, on their first album (Red Roses For Me), I suppose that’s not too inaccurate. I never got especially hot and bothered about Red Roses, which was hard to find and I never heard until its 1988 re-release. Despite their boundless energy and good humor (especially Down In The Ground Where The Dead Men Go, which worked excellently for clearing out parties), it now sounds like demos for what would come later. By Rum, Sodomy And The Lash and the Poguetry In Motion EP, they’d found their true voice. The band had gelled into an endlessly inventive ensemble that could find each songs unique qualities and then make the most of them. MacGowan had turned into a brilliant, plainspoken songwriter and possibly even more brilliant singer, using his ragged voice and slurred phrasing as an instrument to express himself, much as any great blues or, yes, soul singer would. By If I Should Fall From Grace With God, they were even better; MacGowan’s writing became almost mythic, the band’s delivery almost cinematic in its sweep, building each number into a work of great drama and power; the sort of rare album without a single forgettable track.

But then things began to slip. I anxiously awaited the release of Peace And Love the following year, but when it arrived, I was disappointed. Something was missing. Part of it was that the other Pogues were contributing more in the way of material. Yet the songs by Terry Woods and Phil Chevron were largely consistent with MacGowan’s both lyrically and musically, and Woods’ Streets Of Sorrow and Chevron’s Thousands Are Sailing had been highlights of Grace. Meanwhile, MacGowan was still at full strength, delivering several fine songs, especially the overpowering USA. But somehow, the album failed to hang together… as good as most of it was, it never really added up to the sum of its parts.

Things went from bad to worse, as MacGowan simply went AWOL from the band’s US tour with Bob Dylan that fall. A Rolling Stone piece described MacGowan as a down-and-out drunk whose legendary habits had caught up with him. The Pogues seemed to fade from the scene.

Hell’s Ditch finally appeared the following year, with little fanfare (at least in the States). Conventional wisdom has it that Hell’s Ditch is a failure, but I myself thought of it as a fine return to form. Understated compared to their peak period of 1985-1988, but MacGowan seemed back on top again, contributing some of his best songs yet, from the grand drama of Lorca’s Novena to the (here we go again) ‘Irish soul’ of Ghost Of A Smile. Me, I was looking forward to more great music from The Pogues.

It didn’t happen. When The Pogues finally toured the States, close to a year after HD’s release, MacGowan was again not with them (“Shane MacGowan will not appear” read the newspaper ad for the show). Joe Strummer ostensibly stood in for the absent Shane, though in fact the entire band took turns at the mike. Strummer is one of my old heroes, but he couldn’t quite fill MacGowan’s shoes (amusingly enough, Strummer had also appeared with them at their SF debut in 1987, filling in for an injured Phil Chevron. Of the three times I saw The Pogues headline, only once did they have the full band). This time, Shane was gone for good. The Pogues soldiered on for a few more years, releasing two well-intentioned but less-than-classic albums. MacGowan duetted with Nick Cave on a hilarious version of Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful World and plotted a solo career.

Finally, 1995 brought The Snake, MacGowan’s first solo album with his new band, the vengefully named Popes. While there was much to like about The Snake, it lacked the greatness of his old band. The Popes could imitate The Pogues, but not duplicate them. Great bands depend on gestalt. The Popes simply lacked the kind of imagination and ambition to turn simple songs into full-blown epics (and The Pogues needed MacGowan’s inspiration to produce great work). Also the switching from straight rock rocked-up Pogues imitations was jarring and gave the album an inconsistent feel. Still, MacGowan remained a popular figure in the UK. As the Pogues quietly folded, he released Crock Of Gold in 1998.

ROCK’n’ROLL PADDY

I attended the Guinness Fleadh Festival; a full day of music, almost all of it excellent, chock full of artists I liked. The evening ended (for me, anyway) with a performance by Shane MacGowan and the Popes. It had been ten years since I’d seen MacGowan, and I was excited but trepidatious. I’d been less than enthralled by his solo work and, by all accounts, his legendary abuses hadn’t abated (like their forbears, The Popes have taken to playing sans MacGowan when necessary).

MacGowan came on close to an hour late (Typical. It was close to 90 minutes the first time The Pogues played SF). He was led on by a roadie or assistant who stayed by his side throughout the show, passing him lit cigarettes. He clung to the mike stand just to stay vertical. He garbled out his songs and made his usual unintelligible introductions (which sound something like “thizzongscauldwarrgleemaffftaweebagrrf”). When he mysteriously vanished in mid-set, many of us wondered if he’d keeled over (he returned after a brief Popes instrumental, fresh drink in hand). The Popes, true to my expectations, played with enthusiasm but suffered from not being The Pogues (not an unfair criticism, I don’ think, when they’re clearly intended to stand in for the originals). Given how good The Pogues had been even when bad, it added up to a disappointment. MacGowan’s voice was ragged (even by MacGowan standards). None of this phased the mostly Irish (and mostly loaded) crowd, who tipped over a bleacher in honor of their hero.

Then, shortly after returning with his fresh drink and struggling through Lost Highway (not the Hank Williams song), MacGowan and the Popes jumped into a Pogues set with If I Should Fall From Grace With God, and as Shane slurred and snarled his way through the lyric, you could hear just a little bit of the old magic there, a hint of redemption, a sign of what drew you to him in the first place.

If I sound overly critical, it’s because I think MacGowan is a rare talent, a brilliant songwriter and outstanding singer, and it saddens me to see him lionized for his sad personal state. And he is. Drop by the Pogues Usenet group and make some comment about his unfortunate physical state and see how fast the flames fly. There appears to be a not inconsiderable faction of fans for whom MacGowan’s long out-of-control alcoholism is some kind of badge of honor, an inherent part of his ‘cool’. Just a few nights ago, I was killing time in a used bookstore. The young Deadhead-type behind the counter was blasting The Pogues. I heard him say to his girlfriend:

“It’s so cool to know this guy was really shitfaced drunk when he recorded this. Listen! You can totally hear him slurring his words!”

I used to think so too, I guess. I didn’t think it was ‘cool’, but I did think it was funny. Part of the pleasure of seeing The Pogues perform was watching MacGowan stumble around and slur his words. Just like I used to find Roky Erickson’s mental instability funny (when introducing a friend to his music, I always had to mention that Roky was ‘really insane’ and not just pulling an Alice Cooper act), and Johnny Thunders’ junkie-cool “I don’t give a fuck attitude.” Actually, I don’t think that kind of attitude is unusual for a guy in his 20’s, especially one who enjoyed his indulging in his own vices whenever possible.

So maybe it’s just a maturity thing. No, I didn’t become a teetotaler or enter a 12-step program; just settled down. At 33, getting loaded now seems like an inconvenience rather than anything to be happy or amused about. And Roky’s just a sad ghost of a man. And Thunders is dead. And MacGowan’s descent doesn’t strike me funny at all. Maybe someday we’ll be seeing his obituary. Or maybe not; he’s stuck around this long (well, Thunders lasted a lot longer than most of us expected, too). Or maybe he’ll pull himself out of it. All I know is, he’s a great talent and the price of living up to his shambling image has been a ton of brilliant music that he could have been making, and me, I think that’s too high a price to pay. Way too high.

Some Pogues-related links:

In The Wake Of The Medusa   Paddy Rolling Stone  The Parting Glass   Pogues Facebook Page

NEW SINGLE RELEASE FROM LOUIS RIVE ‘THE STATE OF THE NATION’

Brand new single from one of our favourite artists the Catalonian based Scots singer-songwriter Louis Rive. Together ‘The State Of The Nation’ with the B-side ‘In The Shadows Of Big Ben’, takes a critical look at the double standards of living in Great Britain in an age defined by Brexit.

Scottish singer-songwriter, based in Barcelona, Louis draws on all aspects of folk music from the traditional ballads of the barroom to the modern day tale-tellers and poets. Influenced by The Pogues, Hamish Imlach, Matt McGinn and The Corries, to name but a few, Louis has set out to continue the grand tradition of the storytelling musician. His debut album, The Cheap Part Of Town, featured here last year and even went as far as #2 in our Top Ten Folk And Trad releases of 2018. The album was a truly wonderful and original half hour plus in the company of a singer-songwriter that deserves to more widely heard. Telling tales of working class life in folk music is not unusual but what is unusual is for them to be told with such passion and feeling and the taste and smell of authenticity that fills your senses with the legends of Louis life across Europe.

“Folk music is storytelling. Storytelling is poetry. Poetry is songwriting when you can’t play the guitar. Collecting stories of people and places and putting them into song is what I do. I’ve met every type of person there is to meet, especially through my work over the last decade. These are their stories, the stories of the street.”

The new single is available across all digital platforms and ‘The State Of The Nation’ aims to capture one of modern life’s most mysterious of traits, that of being Scottish in the modern day, and what relevance, if any, that moniker has any more. It’s nostalgic in a pointless way, and fairly lacking in optimism, so at least analogous with the general experience of being from north of the border.

The ‘State of the Nation’ is about the UK. It’s about being Scottish and it’s about living in Europe during a time of uncertainty. It may not be feel-good, but it might make you think, something that’s been fairly absent in the UK of late, in the wake of the great Brexit divide. In the wake of his critically acclaimed debut album and fresh from a summer of festival appearances across the UK, including Black Deer Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe, Louis’ new single provides a soundtrack to a land at odds with itself.

THE STATE OF THE NATION

Two-hundred years being wrapped snug in tartan
 Made to sing ‘God Save the Queen’
Your forefathers say ‘Be a proud son of Scotland’
But in this day and age what do they mean?
We’re all rebels and princes, fighters and lovers
 Feeling on top of the world
Oh the few who will feature on the pages of schoolbooks
And the many who’ll never be heard
 We’re solving the mystery without any proof
Oh enough of your lies, won’t you tell me the truth?
Are we up to our necks in the blood of old Jock Thompson’s bairns?
All the sugar, tobacco, cotton, molasses
Looking at history through rose tinted glasses
Nemo me impune lacessit, and other such joys
Be you Scottish or British or English or Irish
Tick the box for your colour or creed
Cultural appropriation on a packet of biscuits is the only real reference I need
From Ossian’s diaries to the Highland Societies
Inclusion behind padlocked doors
But the word ‘Caledonian’ was coined by the Romans
Just to mark out the mad bastards up north
Is it ‘yes’ is it ‘no’, is it getting beaten 3-0 at home?
Is it a pregnant teenager at the end of a phone?
But she hasn’t the time to read ‘Rob Roy’ nor ‘Ivanhoe’
Nothing to do so go out for a pint eh?
The blue-blooded bowler hats shout 1690 Next generation take heed and sharpen their swords
All suited and booted all dressed to the nines
In a Royal Stewart kilt from some factory line
‘Made in China’ hiding away under a plastic cockade Is it brains over brawn?
Is it link over lorne? Is it choosing the right football team?
The echoed frustrations in a half-empty Hampden With Gemmill, Dalgleish and Gordon McQueen
How do you feel about god or the devil? The ‘Flowers of the Forest’ for sale?
The young ones will pays for their parents’ transgressions
While the old ones rehash the old tales
Night by 15:30, cold mince and tatties
A wink to the lads and a toast to the lassies
A night at ‘Her Majesty’s Pleasure’ to round it all off
The blue and the white on a sky of slate grey
The grovelling politicos with nothing to say
But it’s hard getting by given neither the time nor the day
Hey for ‘Bobbin’ John’, hey for cockolorum
Tha tighin fodham, fodham, fodham
Oh well you take the high road and I’ll take the low
The ‘Skyscraper Wean’s’ got nowhere to go
Now the blue paint’s all smudged on the face
Of the star of the show
(you can stream/download State Of The Nation below for just £2)

Download State Of The Nation  Bandcamp

Contact Louis Rive  Facebook  Instagram  Spotify  Twitter  YouTube  Soundcloud

ALBUM REVIEW: CROCK OF BONES- ‘Celtic Crossbones’ (2019)

Alt Folk, Irish, Trad, Celtic.

Celtic Crossbones the debut album release from Crock Of Bones the hottest new band on the London Irish Folk and Trad circuit. 

Hot on the heels of their debut EP, Nasty, Brutal And Short, comes the debut album release from Crock Of Bones. Formed this year out of various members of other groups most notably LOCKS, Red Eye, Lost Revellers and rockabilly outfit The Obscuritones. So quite a diverse bunch of musicians but with links back to Celtic-Punk through the brothers Bryne and their band Pitfull Of Ugly who played energetic punked up versions of Irish folk songs through Hackney and North London in the early 90’s. Here they ply a much more traditional route though but with the same punk rock attitude they have always have. The five songs from Nasty, Brutal And Short are included on Celtic Crossbones alongside five new tracks of radical interpretations of Irish folk.

Crock Of Bones- (back) Mike Byrne, Marian McClenaghan, Jim Wharf (front) Hugh Byrne and Caitlin Roberts

Celtic Crossbones kicks off with the self penned number ‘Just One Of Them Things’ a slow swirling number with fiddle and accordion leading the way while Hugh sings of lost love. A great voice but his Dublin accent now has a wee bit of a Cockney twang about it! Next is one of the best songs ever written about the Irish on this side of the Irish sea, ‘Hot Asphalt’. Ewan MacColl (no stranger at all to these pages!) was famous for chronicling the life of the working classes and who better than the Irish road building gangs of the 50’s and 60’s. The camaraderie of these gangs of Irish workers is reflected in the comical goings on of a gang of poor Paddies digging up the road.  Somewhere along the way a policeman falls in a pot of boiling asphalt and the gang cover up his death!

“I’m thinking, says O’Reilly, that he’s lookin’ like old Nick
And burn me if I am not inclined to claim him with me pick
Now, says I, it would be easier to boil him till he melts
And to stir him nice and easy in the hot asphalt”

Played in the same style as the Dubliners famous version it’s the best version I have heard in a good while. ‘The Magnificent Eight’ is another self penned number Hugh wrote about one of his old bands Ella And The Blisters, a rootsy tootsy band of misfits that split up in 2016. The song is dedicated to all the jolly fine former members, Gabby, Sam, Luigi, Wayne, Caitlin, Richard, Sarah, Brian, Tom and Nathaniel and ‘The Magnificent Eight’ is a fine tribute to them. Banjo heavy and the tale of a band that almost nearly crossed the path into bigger times. ‘Ferry’ is a sad mournful song with great lyrics about a long distance relationship about a couple saying goodbye at the ferry terminal that comes to an end with the great line “waiting for a voice on a landline telephone”, long before the invention of mobile phones. Bands like Crock Of Bones don’t have to do much if they don’t want to. There is a huge market in London for Irish and traditional music but Crock Of Bones don’t want to be one of them bands that just churn out the covers and it’s the many self-penned numbers on Celtic Crossbones that interest me the most. Modern subjects wrapped up in auld music like on ‘Nothin Worse’ the best song on the album here. Great lyrics and accompaniment from the rest of the band. Neither fast nor slow but one of them foot tappers/thigh slappers that trad Irish folk is famous for. Grand stuff altogether! The instrumental ‘Swallowtail Jig’ is next and while there’s not an awful lot of choice on the Crock Of Bones You Tube channel (it’s the only video!!) pop along and have a look yourselves!

‘TASTHTGP’ is next up and TASTHTGP is a short way of saying ‘Talk about shit things happening to good people’ and a decent sense of humour is needed for anyone in a band. It’s a slight song but well intentioned. Next up is the song that alongside ‘Hot Asphalt’ chronicles best the life of a working class Irishman in Britain in the 50’s and 60’s, ‘McAlpine’s Fusiliers’. Of course not all dug the roads but many many did including my own Grandfather before he settled in on the railways with a shovel in his hand for 40 odd years. Most came from the countryside of Ireland to cross the Irish sea to work long and hard hours in tough jobs and their only respite came from a few beers after work. Written by Dominic Behan the title refers to the construction company of Sir Robert McAlpine who exploited employed mainly Irish workers.

“They sweated blood and they washed down mud
With pints and quarts of beer
And now we’re on the road again
With McAlpine’s fusiliers”

The song ends withe the refrain “And if you value your life, well, don’t join, by Christ with McAlpine’s Fusiliers” and judging by the broken bodies and bent backs of many of the ones who who use to while away the hours in the Irish pubs of my home town it was good advice. We are nearing the end and time for a real Irish legend of a song, ‘Follow Me Up To Carlow’. We even wrote a recent article specifically about this and its origins and many covers. A very old song recounting the Battle of Glenmalure in 1580 where us Irish had a rare victory over the English invaders! Its a great rabble-rouser of a song and has a couple of lines that contain some of the most vitriolic of any rebel song. Crock Of Bones give it plenty of oompf and it’s a joy to belt out the words at the top of your lungs! The album comes to an end with the traditional instrumental songs ‘Cooleys Reel/ Mountain Road’. Cobbled together nicely and owing a lot to The Dubliners as catchy a tune as has ever been written and just the ticket if you’re looking to give the floor a good beating!

(You can stream Celtic Crossbones on the Bandcamp player below before you invest your hard earned in this great wee release)

You can catch Crock Of Bones playing very soon live for London Celtic Punks on Friday 22nd November with local lads The Disinclined at The Oak in Kingston-Upon-Thames. as usual our man GREENFORD BHOY will be spinning the discs and getting the mood in order playing all yer favourite Irish-Celtic-Folk-Punk-Rock’n’Rebel in between the bands and till the landlord kicks us out! The venue is only twenty minutes on the train out of London and just five minutes from Kingston station. The gig is **FREE** so expect a Friday night of hot Irish jigs, reels, foot stompers and lyrical folk. Not an opportunity to miss I tells you! 

Buy Celtic Crossbones  FromTheBand

Contact Crock Of Bones  Facebook  Soundcloud  YouTube  Bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: DONNY ZUZULA- ‘Chemicals’ (2019)

Donny Zuzula has worn a lot of hats and walked a lot of miles.

Having spent a decade as the guitarist, singer, songwriter for the Michigan based Celtic-Punk trio The Tosspints, Donny Zuzula’s debut album takes us through every aspect of his life. Dark, sad, heartbroken tunes, poetically sung from the soul and layered with guitars and harmonies.

The Tosspints are a strange band within the Celtic-Punk scene. Not only are they the only trio in the scene, being made up by the Bros. Zuzula, Donny and Zak accompanied on drums by John Johnson, but they are also not really much of a Celtic-Punk band in that they have no Celtic instrumentation. It is true though that they somehow manage to convey the feel of a Celtic band better than most with just bass, electric guitar and drums. Donny who is the main writer for The Tosspints is a singer-songwriter in the old school meaning of the term. Not some pampered puppet singing achingly of experiences they have never or will ever know. Celtic-Punk is dominated by several themes that cross from continent to continent especially among the children of the diaspora- Loss and emigration, heavy drinking, heavy working and death, solidarity, religion, class pride, an gorta mór (the great hunger) all bleed into the modern day working class Irish-American experience. Donny had a knack back then (a must listen to album is The Tosspints excellent album The Privateer from 2015) of capturing this way of life and here on his debut solo album he continues in much the same way. Donny chose to record a solo album rather than another Tosspints album because

“this solo venture is more of an exercise in writing alone to explore more versatile styles that wouldn’t normally be courted along with the band. A little more folk influence and a little more explorative of personal topics than when writing is done with the band, this album is just different enough to be something new, but just familiar enough that fans of previous work should feel right at home.”

Donny served time in the military overseas and these experiences alongside growing and living in Saginaw, until recently the most dangerous places in America! Once a thriving and successful town by the late 20th century, industry and its once-strong manufacturing presence had collapsed leading to increasing unemployment and crime. This hard nosed, working class background runs through The Tosspints music. It’s also an area of America with long historical links to Irish emigration with Irish emigrants responsible for building the areas many canals and even the areas connection with Irish nationalism has always been closely linked with the Labour movement in which Irish-Americans were among the earliest organizers and leaders. As the band say about themselves

“living through the school of hard knocks, brought to bear from war, loss, degradation, and hard drinking. A band created entirely by a family who has had to make it through life the hard way and use their experience to create songs about the more distressed side of being human”

Donny Zuzula first album is Chemicals, the much anticipated follow up to The Privateer and as ever Donny draws from not from cliches but from the very life of a man who has seen and experienced things we can only dream about. From being a war veteran to fatherhood, Donny takes us on a ride that incorporates Folk-Rock and Punk as well as honest to goodness blue collar working man’s music. Introduced to music through his fathers love of Neil Young, Donny takes a harder edged route and while stopping short of Punk it has the same appeal as The Tosspints and will I am sure be welcomed by fans of that band.

The album begins with ‘Alive’ and the Neil Young comparison is still OK but also crossed with the great Bob Mould. Donny’s vocals still rock and his range is extraordinary and conveys the emotion of the songs perfectly. This is no guy going through the motions. The song is catchy as hell as can be expected and sets the scene for an album that continues to impress me on each play. ‘Another Shot’ veers into that 80’s Post-Punk sound that saw Punk’s not afraid of complicated guitar riffs and more elaborate set ups.

“I crossed a line today
I marched to battle and on my way
It’s just a memory
But feels like it’s all happening again”

The words here seem so personal that it kinda feels funny to attempt to make sense of them from the outside. They speak in such a way that I would recommend looking up the lyrics on Donny’s Bandcamp page. ‘Never Go Back’ slows things down akin to a rock ballad but no cheese while ‘Empty And Gone’ comes up with a delicate Country-rocker. ‘Nothing Left To Say’ takes us back to Mould territory and an excellent rocking tune that gives Donny amble opportunity to show off his vocal range.

Catchy as hell and a guaranteed favourite that leads nicely into ‘Any Other Day’ and if the words here don’t strike you in the gut then there is nay hope for you.

“It’s getting awful late
And my urge to medicate
Has surpassed my will to use the skills
That keep me from the bottom of the bottle”

The final three songs of Chemicals show Donny in reflective form as he turns again to the influence of Country music though wrapped up well in punk attitude. Slide guitar on ‘Turn Away’ makes it the more obvious tune but on ‘Sleep Is For The Weak’ the influence is just as great but more accessible.

“I tell that bottle
all my hopes and my dreams
I tell that bottle
all that’s happened to me
I tell that bottle
the way that I really feel
that bottle understands me
in a way you never will”

Leading the way to the albums closing tune and the albums standout song, ‘Chemicals’.

I would compare Donny in a lot of ways to Bryan MacPherson who has featured on London Celtic Punks pages perhaps more than any artist. Like Donny, Bryan’s life has seen ups and downs and his songwriting draws you right into his soul. We are not voyeurs in their life and they neither hold up their experiences as a vehicle for their music it is much more the other way round and the music becomes the way to express themselves. Where others may play up to events in their lives Donny, and Bryan too, has that ability to draw you into his life through their music. It is something incredible and a talent that very few have and many more think they have but don’t! Chemicals is many things. It is gritty and heartfelt as well as passionate and inspiring and the words are powerful. Chemicals deserves to be heard…

(You can stream Chemicals on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Chemicals  Vinyl/CD  Download

Contact Donny Zuzula  WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp

NICK BURBRIDGE AND HIS TOP TEN INFLUENTIAL ALBUMS

To say we are overwhelmed to be able to publish this feature on his Top Ten Influential Albums by the the legendary Nick Burbridge is an understatement! Encompassing everything inbetween Folk to Celtic-Punk it’s a glorious ride through some famous and legendary artists and some little known outside the communities they hail from. Second gen Irish singer-songwriter, Nick has been playing Irish-influenced acoustic music since his teens influencing countless others, including in their own words, The Levellers. His band McDermott’s 2 Hours were among the first to ever think of combining punk and Irish folk so he is a trailblazer among the Celtic-Punk scene but also so much more as well. 

No time to waste so put the kettle on, crack open some biscuits and save the next couple of hours…

Andy Irvine & Paul Brady- ‘Self-Titled’ (1976)

When I was asked to name ten indispensable albums on Facebook some time ago, I decided to work from the late sixties to the millennium, and pick out those most influential on my development as a musician and songwriter, and end where I began, as it were. The first album I chose was this one. It’s a classic of its kind, melding yet never losing the distinctive characters of two of the most innovative and enduring musicians working in the Irish traditional idiom. There’s not a song on it I can’t still recall to memory, give or take a verse here or there, and the quality and range of the musicianship and arrangement, while capturing the essence of Planxty, somehow has an irresistible intimacy the full band doesn’t quite match, though they were perhaps the best of their kind.

(As Andy Irvine says this is Mr. Bradys classic. “Oh, me and my cousin, one Arthur McBride As we went a-walking down by the seaside Now, mark what followed and what did betide For it being on Christmas morning…” )

The Copper Family- ‘A Song For Every Season’ (1971)

This box set was, unexpectedly perhaps, essential listening for the punk-folk band I was in, when we lived in the red light district of Mainz one summer in the mid-seventies. We sang a few Copper songs a capella in our set – the Germans loved them. I spent fifteen years growing up in Rottingdean, Sussex, and I guess that’s as authentic a connection as you can get to this unique family who’ve kept alive a whole tradition on their own initiative, and are rightly recognised for it across the world. Their singing is rough, genuine, heartwarming, and eccentrically tuneful. I’m proud we introduced our audiences to their material, among chaotic jigs and reels and rebel songs. Once again, while I often forget what I’m meant to be doing these days, I can still remember almost every line, such was their influence on me.

(The whole Box-Set of four albums on You Tube. ‘Tater Beer Night- Spring’, ‘Black Ram- Summer’, ‘Hollerin’ Pot’- Fall’ and ‘Turn O’ The Year- Winter’. Nearly three hours long!)

The Bothy Band- ‘After Hours’ (1979)

There are so many unforgettable albums by Irish traditional bands who pushed the form in all directions in the 70s, and influenced countless more to follow suit. I guess The Bothy Band stand in the vanguard, and this album with its driving sets of tunes, and exquisitely sung ballads, live yet virtually faultless, is indispensable to anyone trying to understand just why this music is so effortlessly infectious, exhibiting a musical intensity few others come close to, always ready and able to form the soundtrack to a particular phase in someone’s life. It did mine. It has long been an immeasurable influence.

(You Tube seems to have started allowing whole albums on their site these days. While I’m not too sure of the legality lets just sit back and enjoy)

Dick Gaughan- ‘Handful Of Earth’ (1981)

Dick Gaughan made Handful of Earth on the way back from a major nervous breakdown. And there is something not working within ordinary tramlines here. His errant but extraordinary guitar accompaniments weave their way under an utterly compelling voice, as if to make a world turned upside down both inimitable and unforgettable. The choice of songs is faultless. Gaughan, whatever his fate, will always remain a mighty force. Those who do try to imitate him simply don’t have whatever it is that comes from wherever it does…

(Dick’s folk masterpiece album in full, unabridged on You Tube)

The Pogues- ‘Rum Sodomy & The Lash’ (1985)

By the mid-80s folk and punk had well and truly fused. Much as I think ‘Iron Masters’ by The Men They Couldn’t Hang May may well be my favourite track from the era, I don’t think any such album surpassed this one. Too much academic writing has attached itself to the formidable Shane MacGowan opus, and The Pogues’ irregular but compulsive sense of Irish identity. All I want to say is that I hope their influence on my work hasn’t been too obvious – I’ve tried to pay them the greatest compliment by sowing their seeds as deep as I could in wherever my songs take root, in the hope that what hybrid growth occurred would be as substantial and organic as possible, and not some hasty GM copy of their timeless and outstanding work.

(Which one to choose? How about ‘Sally MacLennane’ from British TV in 1986)

The Waterboys- ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ (1988)

This would probably appear on the all time list of anyone involved in folk-rock music. They call some albums seminal – Fishermen’s Blues epitomises what it means. Like Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks it simply has an originality, authority and impact reserved for those who find themselves, by design or accident, at the cutting edge, and who have the courage to take the task on without flinching. From the monumental to the simply made, tracks etch themselves into the memory. I keep them there, and bring them out from time to time. I always will.

(Absolutely cracking live version of the album’s title track)

Wolfestone- ‘Unleashed’ (1989)

I was travelling to play at Reading Festival when someone put this album on in the van and immediately I realised this band were truly fellow-travellers – and there was much to learn from their blending of traditional music with good original songwriting, where sensitive guitar playing had a central part. They weren’t The Waterboys, but they had the same sense of attack, and an obvious love of what they were doing. Perhaps the least known of the albums chosen, this should need no introduction – it is, in its own way, a classic.

(Nick is right. A band I hadn’t come across before but as this whole feature is about introducing us all to good music I’m glad I found it here. The opening track of ‘Unleashed’ from 1992)

Levellers- ‘Levellers’ (1993)

The band didn’t tell me they were putting my song ‘Dirty Davey’ on this album – but they were well aware of my attitude to ‘folk’ music: it’s common property, as far as I’m concerned, whatever the source. And that isn’t why I chose this record over, say, Levelling The Land. It seems to me a broader, more ambitious production, without losing its roots. It was released about the time my young son made a short film for a BBC Children’s television programme, about how much the band meant to him, and had seen him through some rough years. They were, you might say, at their height. Their legendary Glastonbury headline spot was soon to come. They had successfully entered the mainstream without squandering their gifts. And those gifts are abundant here. I should say I’ve always felt privileged that they cite me as a main initial influence. The fact that they’re still working now says it all.

(Nick Burbridge performing with the Levellers in 2004 live on stage at Buxton Opera House doing his own song!)

Eithne Ní Uallacháin- ‘Bilingua’ (Initial Recording 1999- Posthumous Release 2014)

While she was in the midst of putting down vocals for this album Eithne killed herself. Working with what they had, and eventually fighting through their grief and misgivings, the musicians in her family and others released it fifteen years after her death. It’s an irresistible recording, centred round the most evocative female Irish traditional singer I have ever heard. Whether tackling old Gaelic pieces or fronting tales of her own battles with darkness and her sharp visions of light, it’s impossible to listen to her without being deeply moved – especially if much of her inner torment feels as deeply shared. We should all be indebted to those who loved her at first hand, who have kept her memory alive. It’s not discourteous to say that, through her music, I have found my own love for her. It will not die.

(“But grief can be translated from the light into the darkness; In the belly of the shadow with all its shades digested. Its true colours will unfold.”

(In 1998, Eithne returned to Shaun ‘Mudd’ Wallace’s Homestead studios to record a solo album. Ní Uallacháin’s vocals were completed and much of the music was arranged, but the album was not released. Eithne died in 1999 and her son, Dónal, took residence at Wallace’s studio as an assistant engineer, and during times when the studio was not booked worked with Wallace on the album. Due to contractual issues with the original record label, the album was not released until 2014,15 years after its recording and 14 years after mixing was completed. The album was titled Bilingua and was released with Gael Linn, who released Eithne’s first album, Cosa Gan Bhróga.)

Finbar & Eddie Furey- ‘First And Last’ (1968)

If I’m sometimes cited as an influence on certain others, forced to pick one album that influenced me most, it’s this one. It marks the beginning of a fifty year long journey so far, and whenever I listen to it, even now, I find it impossible to skip through. It represents everything good about Irish music. The instrumental playing is (apart from one or two odd passages) fearless and full of guile; the singing has both a tender and a punkish edge; the arrangements are often ornate and yet always seem gritty and spontaneous; and of course Ted Furey’s sons were born into an authentic travelling family, and it’s immediately audible. I was glad to cross paths with the duo once upon a time in Germany, when side-stage at Ingelheim festival Finbar (rightly, I’m sure) called the band I was in ‘a pile o’ shite’…I took it as a compliment he’d bothered to listen… That a wider family group went on to make a big name covering more commercial, and sometimes questionable material is neither here nor there, in my opinion. Good luck to them. I’ve been fortunate enough to be recognised as a poet, and where songs are concerned, use the idiom of my grandfathers to carry as complex and penetrating a vision as I’ve been able to pursue. But, in contrast to what often seems to masquerade as what it’s not, this is the real thing. The 1968 recording also forms the first half of The Spanish Cloak: The Best of the Fureys (1998) – available on all the usual selling and streaming platforms. On we go…

(Eddie’s first song was written by Scottish TV producer Gordon Smith. The words are set to the traditional Irish air ‘Buchal an Eire’)

Nick continues to produce great music and his last album, under the name of his original band, McDermott’s 2 Hours – ‘Besieged’ was not just featured on these pages but positively drooled over by our man Francis! On the album he is accompanied by members of both The Levellers and the Oysterband and showcases his work as not just a musician but also, in the best Irish tradition, as a poet, playwright and novelist as well. Available as a limited edition two CD set including a Best of compilation, Anticlimactic but you can buy several versions including the download direct from Nick here and also available from all streaming services inc. Spotify, Amazon etc here. You can contact Nick Burbridge over at his WebSite and Facebook. Thanks to Nick for taking his time out to pen this great feature ‘Go raibh maith agat’.

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

SINGLE REVIEW: BATALLON DE SAN PATRICIO- ‘Familia/El último En Partir’ (2019)

The international flavour of Celtic-Punk continues apace with the first official release from Mexican Celtic punkers Batallón De San Patricio. Named after the famed St. Patrick’s Battalion of Irishmen who fought in the Mexican army during the Mexican–American War of 1846–48 this release further cements the friendly links between our nations.

The time has come and before too long if you ask me for the first official single from Batallón De San Patricio. Titled ‘Family’ it’s the first release from their upcoming debut album Brothers Of War that will be coming out later this year. They chose to call the song ‘Family’…

“because for us the Family is first. We invite you to enjoy our song with a beer in hand, whether you like it or not, help us share! So other people may like it or they may not… The idea is that the Battalion is heard wherever. ! Let the green wave grow!”

Batallón De San Patricio were formed in Guadalajara, the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Jalisco, very recently, back in July 2017 and are now beginning to come into their own. Formed in honour of a great friend of theirs Jorge who sadly passed away in 2017 they have one previous release a six-track Demo in September of last year which you can check out below on the Bandcamp player.

The band have a strict honour code and strongly believe in brotherhood, honesty, dignity and respect. Batallón De San Patricio’s slogan is and always will be ‘Family First’. The music is part of their lives and the people around them and to remember those no longer with us. Brothers Of War will be released on all main platforms so keep an eye on these pages for our review and the release date.

Lyrics (Spanish)

Somos la legión mas grande de la región, Somos los primeros de la generación Los piratas mas buscados de esta gran nación, Y por nuestras cabezas, ofrecen un millón.

Lyrics (English)

We’re from the land the biggest legion, The very first on this generation, The most wanted pirates on this big nation, So then for our heads, they offer a million.

The band have also just released their new video for ‘Last To Leave’ only a few days ago so here that is in all it’s glory. Taken from their imminent debut album Brothers Of War the song is dedicated to all those who have lost a loved one. To all who have gone through difficult times and despite all adversity have continued to keep their chins up.

 

The bands main goal is to spread the Folk-Punk genre, heavily influenced of course by both Irish and Celtic culture, mainly in Guadalajara and in the surrounding regions. Maybe one day overseas. These are the kind of bands that Flogging Molly should be getting to play the Salty Dog Cruise so if any of them are reading or anyone who has any influence then you know what to do folks!

Contact Batallón De San Patricio  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

To celebrate the imminent release of their debut album we will have a large feature on the history of the St. Patrick’s Battalion, who the band are named after, and their gallant history. Famous throughout Mexico and the Irish diaspora many songs have been written about them but we need to keep their history alive so our feature will include the background to their forming right up to their tragic end. Let’s face it there’s no need for a ‘spoiler alert’ when talking about tragic ends and Irish history!! Subscribe to the Blog or join the London Celtic Punks Facebook page to keep up to date.

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

FREE DOWNLOAD!

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

Contact Loretta Problem  WebSite  Facebook ReverbNation  YouTube

THE SOUND OF AN UNDERGROUND. REBEL MUSIC DOCUMENTARY

A short documentary film about rebel music in Ireland, directed by Declan McLaughlin and John Coyle featuring commentary and performances from Declan McLaughlin, Gary Óg, Eileen Webster, Terry ‘Cruncher’ O’Neill and Joe Mulhearn.

 

Throughout Ireland’s long history of struggle for independence, each of the various uprisings has generated its own collection of songs. The tradition of rebel music in Ireland dates back many centuries, dealing with historical events such as uprisings, describing the hardships of living under oppressive British rule, but also strong sentiments of solidarity, loyalty, determination and support the political dreams of the generations who sought an independent nation.

As well as a deep-rooted sense of tradition, rebel songs have nonetheless remained contemporary, and since 1922, the focus has moved onto the nationalist cause in the north of Ireland. However, the subject matter is not confined to Irish history, and includes the exploits of the Irish Brigades who fought for the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, and also those who fought during the American Civil War.

Irish rebel music has occasionally gained international attention. The Wolfe Tones’ version of ‘A Nation Once Again’ was voted the number one song in the world by BBC World Service listeners in 2002. Rebel music has often courted controversy with successive Irish governments banning it from the airwaves in the Republic of Ireland throughout the 1980’s. More recently, Derek Warfield’s music was banned from Aer Lingus flights, after an Ulster Unionist politician compared his songs to the speeches of Osama bin Laden. However, a central tenet of the justification for rebel music is that it represents a long-standing tradition of freedom from tyranny.

THE REBEL COLLECTIVE

Thanks for the The Rebel Collective for posting the video to You Tube. They run a monthly music based podcast that features various guests of a rebel nature. Getting to know some of their favourite songs and the songs that helped shape the artist they are today, and hopefully gaining a bit of insight into their background and influences.

Support The Rebel Collective. New badge £4 plus £1.50 orders via Pay Pal to: therebelcollective@hotmail.com

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE WHIPJACKS- ‘This Wicked World’ (2019)

“We’re The Whipjacks and we’re just having fun”

This Wicked world is the brilliant debut album from a relatively new band to the Celtic-Punk scene. Based in Worcester in the English Midlands and heavily influenced by the major scene greats they are more though than just following others as here they deliver an album of quality high tempo Celtic Folk’n’Punk. 

Pounding drums, driving bass, screeching guitar, melodic mandolin and partial nudity. These are the things that energetic Midlands based five-piece The Whipjacks intend to bring to venues around England and based on their debut album they should be entertaining crowds for quite some time. If they aren’t near you right now, you can be damn sure they are coming… soon!

Their debut release was Scoundrels And Rogues, a 4-track EP, including a radio edit of the title song, which came out in early 2017. Original compositions of high tempo Celtic-Punk with catchy tunes that belies that The Whipjacks are basically a punk band but with a  mandolin player but in the right hands and with the right tunes a folk instrument can transform any band into something much greater. Here Arran’s playing makes that difference.

So just over a year later saw the release of This Wicked World and a catalogue of mishaps here at London Celtic Punks that saw it filed in our spam folder for ages and then lost, along with 100’s of hours of music when my laptop went bonkers. Finally though we are ready to deliver our verdict and I’m guessing that most will have already decided which way I have gone from the over enthusiastic opening paragraph!! Well yes it’s true I absolutely love it and I’m not ashamed to announce it from the rooftops!

Again, as on Scoundrels And Rogues all the tracks here are original compositions. No room for ‘The Wild Rover’ here I am glad to say. The shadow of the ‘Big Bands’ does loom over them somewhat and partly it’s because of their name and similar style to one band in particular but The Whipjacks plough their own furrow and it helps I suppose to be tucked away in a quiet backwater like Worcester to develop their own style and sound. The album opens with ‘Forever Free’ and from the off it grabs you with Tim wielding his guitar in a similar style to how The Skids once did while Dean’s strong vocals are both tuneful and punk rock. It’s a well chosen start to the album with a catchy beat and a song that leads directly into one of the albums highlights with Arran getting his first chance to shine on the mandolin and  ‘Sundown Devil’ has tinges of good auld fashioned country’n’western mixed into proceedings and a great chorus and a nice sense of cheeky humour too.

“She’s a devil when the sun goes down, my friend, I love it when she goes down,

Innocent and sweet when you pass her on the street but a devil when the sun goes down”

‘Push On’ is a short piratey number that still embraces The Whipjacks sound coming across like a punk sea shanty before the album’s title song ‘This Wicked World’ and a real Celtic-Punk epic. Lasting over five minutes the song dives and lifts and swirls throughout and while not quite a ballad it certainly slows the pace nicely. So far it’s been a sort of generic ‘Celtic’ sound The Whipjacks have employed but finally on ‘Hero’ we can nail down a ‘Gaelige’ influence and what a song. Nowhere on This Wicked World does Dean’s voice sound so good as on here and its a mark of the band that my favourite tracks from the album are so diverse but then the Bhoys go for it and finish the song with a real CeltPunk flourish. The next song is the one they chose to release as the album’s single and is without a doubt the #1 song here. I may love a ballad or a trad folk reel or two but give me a foot-stomping fist in the air dance floor filler any day of the week and I’m in heaven. ‘All My Pains (Are Self Inflicted)’ is that song! Catchy as hell and a guaranteed audience favourite I am sure.

With ‘The Ballad Of Jack Cade’ we are set for a bit of a history lesson and I must say how impressed I am with the current trend of bands singing sings like this that don’t just entertain but also tell a tale too. English history is full of such stories and while many of the ‘middle-class left’ would have us self-flagellating ourselves over slavery or some such event from the past they are more than happy to ignore the history of the ordinary people of this island of rebellion and struggle. Jack Cade was the Irish born leader of the 1450 rebellion against King Henry VI. Although put down ruthlessly it led to the War Of The Roses which in turn led to the breakdown of Royal authority. Having been accused of murder and fled to France he returned in 1450 emerging as the leader of a Kentish rebellion. His forces defeated the royal army at Sevenoaks in June and two weeks later he entered London, where he executed the hated Lord Treasurer. Eventually run from the city the government persuaded most of the rebels to disperse by offering them a pardon, but Cade continued his resistance. Wounded and captured near Lewes on July 12, 1450 he died while being transported to London. The song itself is a catchy folk led number that The Levellers would be proud of. One thing the Celtic-Punk scene can’t get enough of is more rap style numbers and on ‘L.S.D’ The Whipjacks deliver. It’s not quite the House Of Pain but again their sense of humour shines through before ‘Song For A Swine’ and a quick barroom ballad played out to the sound of a pub piano with Dean and gang crooning along before the album’s curtain comes down with the energetic  ‘Farewell To The Ladies’ and a song that again raises both a smile and a fist!

So having made themselves a firm fixture on their local music scene and with a ever growing list of gigs further afield it’s now time for them to come to the attention of the wide Celtic-Punk community. With a scene as partisan as the Celtic-Punk scene it’s hard to get people in this country to look beyond the likes of the Murphys and the Mollys but all the time their are bands like The Whipjacks flying the flag for Celtic infused Folk-Punk with shedloads of both attitude and really good songs. This Wicked World is thirty-five minutes of infectious sea bound anthems. Music to forget your vows and bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart as well as pain to the soles of your feet!

Buy This Wicked World  cdBaby  iTunes

Contact The Whipjacks  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp  Soundcloud

Join the crew of local favourite Roderick the Rambunctious as he looks back on his wrestling career to date.

EP REVIEW: THE TWO MAN TRAVELLING MEDICINE SHOW- ‘They Say I Don’t Write Love Songs’ (2019)

Back again it’s the band with the longest name in Folk-Punk (and possibly the most members) with another release of original music. Dorset’s finest Folky-Americana-Country-Punk band The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show’s new EP is out now on Musical Bear Records.

The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show are back again with their brand new EP and four all new tracks recorded entirely in a barn in North Dorset! Now this being the Summer it’s a wonder they have found the time as this is most definitely their time and one look at their list of gigs past and present the last few weeks shows a band that has crisscrossed the South of England playing just about every festival imaginable! Formed in Dorset in 2016 The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show have steadily grown in stature and popularity over the following years due in no small part to their hectic touring(no mean feat for a band that sometimes has up to ten members!) and they have added to their great reputation as a live band with a well received album and several EP’s of their own original compositions. Their debut album, Weeding Out The Wicked, came out in 2017 and has been followed by three quality EP’s in the following couple of years, Float Your Boat, A Snake’s A Snake and Oh Me Oh Mi. Releases that all capture The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show sound perfectly. American bluegrass and Americana butting heads with quaint auld English folk. A quintessential English folk group that could have been born at the heyday of Folk-Rock in the mid-1970’s and takes in influences from those halcyon days before redefining them and bringing them bang up to date.

The first of the EP’s quintet of songs is the title track ‘They Say I Don’t Write Love Songs’ and follows on in what I now think of as the traditional The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show way. A catchy thigh slapping driving beat accompanied by the sounds of more instruments then you could possibly take in all at once though the duelling banjo and fiddle shine through. The vocals from Mark are as usual strong and powerful and the words talk about how love changes us. Theirs a a nice slow break in the middle which gives the song a chance to build up and come back strong and yeah I really love it!!! They follow this swiftly with the glorious ‘Raise My Glass’ and a hoedown country stomper that is guaranteed to get audiences up and doing that famous dance scene from Seven Brides For Several Brothers! A typical drinking anthem that sees the band really go for it and if I have ever had any criticism of The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show it is that they sometimes are too restrained and ought to just to bloody well go for it like on ‘Raise My Glass’. A heartfelt cry from the heart in praise of all that’s good in a difficult world. They move away from their usual Summery/bouncy style with ‘Hanging The Bells’ which has a much tougher bite to it and comparisons to New Model Army leap out at you with the acoustic guitar and fiddle pushed to the fore over a song about getting away from the drudgery of life, or as singer Mark says 

“a song about the impossible, wonderful dream of awakening from the nightmare of history; to a dog’s life away from the grinding forces of politics”.

The EP comes to an delicate end as fiddle player Alison Jay takes over on vocal duties for ‘Teenage Dreams’ for this slow paced number on the danger of surrounding yourselves in nostalgia. The song drifts along beautifully before speeding up ever so slightly towards the end and again the amazing banjo playing and a-plucking shines a light on all the band do.

The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show left to right: Seb Hartley- Harmonica, Mandolin * Martin Giles- Guitar * Steve Wareham- Slapbox * Alison Jay- Violin * Chris Pearce- Keys (back of photo) * Rob Volves- Bass (back of photo) * Olly Hopper Pay- Guitar, Cello (back of photo) * Mark Lyons- Singer, Guitar * Jamie Lynch- Lyrics * Brad Watt- Banjo *

As already stated this band can sometimes reach up to double figures so getting them down on record so vibrantly is no mean feat I can assure you and here on They Say I Don’t Write Love Songs they have the talent of fellow Dorset musician Charlie Draper to thank. Having already featured here on the London Celtic Punks site as vocalist/guitarist of Sinful Maggie (we will be reviewing their new release in the next week or so) Charlie has done a utterly brilliant job of capturing the energy and passion of the band whilst losing none of their trademark knock out Folk-Punk choruses. Though they don’t make it particularly easy to hear them play outside the South-East it might be worth your while YOU seeking them out!

Buy They Say I Don’t Write Love Songs mark1lyons@icloud.com 

The EP is released on Friday 16th August and sadly there is no pre-order or links but as soon as they become available on release I will add them here.

Contact The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show  Facebook

Musical Bear Records  WebSite  YouTube  Facebook  

REMEMBERING HUGH THE GREAT O’NEILL IN SONG

Concluding our short series on celebrated figures from Irish history immortalised in song. Today is the turn of Aodh Mór Ó Neill (anglicised as Hugh The Great O’Neill), 3rd Baron of Dungannon and 2nd Earl Of Tyrone.

For our third and final part of the series we have opted for a song that is an instrumental but one whose air is as well known as any in Irish history. The song was rediscovered by the great Seán Ó Riada who was the single most influential figure in the revival of Irish traditional music during the 1960’s before his untimely death at 40 in 1971. Subsequent investigation shows it first appeared in Edward Bunting’s A General Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland in 1809 and an earlier version titled ‘O’Neill’s Riding’ was included in Stanford’s Complete Collection Of Irish Music in 1787.

(the legendary Cork born composer and arranger of Irish traditional music Seán Ó Riada performs ‘O’Neills Cavalry March’)

Born in 1550, Hugh O’Neill (Aodh Mór Ó Neill) was the second son of Mathew Ceallaigh the illegitimate son of Conn Bacach O’Neill who had submitted to Henry VIII in 1542 and was regranted his lands with the English title 1st Earl of Tyrone.

Mathew Ceallaigh had been murdered by his half-brother Shane the Proud O’Neill who also drove the elderly Conn out of Tyrone and into the Pale in 1559 where he died not long after. Mathew had two sons, Brian, recognised by the crown as the next earl, and his younger brother Hugh. Shane the Proud had by now, in the tradition of his Gaelic ancestors, resumed the Celtic title The Ó Neill and is suspected of having Brian O’Neill murdered close to Newry whilst he was en route to London to assume the title of Earl. The English, fearing also for the life of the young Hugh removed him to the safety of London. Hugh was reared from the age of nine as an English noble in London until 1567, when he was returned to Ireland and placed in the safekeeping of the Lord Deputy of Ireland Sir Henry Sidney.

(the most ambitious project relating to Hugh O’Neill is the 2018 concept album Nine Years Of Blood released by Dublin folk-metal band Cruachan, pronounced ‘kroo-a-khawn’)

In 1568 Hugh was declared Baron of Dungannon and then in 1585 he was also declared 2nd Earl of Tyrone by Elizabeth I. He was to all intents and purposes a loyal and trusted servant of the Crown. He aided the English during 1580 in the suppression of the second Desmond rebellion and supported Sir John Perrot in his campaign against the Antrim MacDonnells in 1584. For this he was rewarded by Elizabeth I when in 1587 he was granted a patent to his grandfather’s Tyrone properties which were now controlled by his cousin Turlough Luineach who styled himself The Ó Neill.

(Godfathers of Celtic-Punk Horslips took the tune and put it to their 197? hit ‘Dearg Doom’)

In 1593 Turlough stood down as the chief of the clan thereby allowing Hugh to be invested with the title The Ó Neill. The ceremony was performed in the traditional way and on the sacred stone at Tullaghogue in 1595 witnessed by all the major Ulster clans. For some years prior to his inauguration, Ó Neill had played a cat and mouse game with the English.

(One of the truly great exponents of the art of playing the Uilleann pipes Paddy Keenan on his 1983 album Poirt an Phíobaire)

In 1591 he had eloped with 20 year old Mabel Bagenal the sister of Sir Henry the Marshall of the queen’s army. He helped arrange the escape from prison of Red Hugh O’Donnell along with Art and Henry MacShane O’Neill. Unfortunately Art froze to death during the escape in the winter of 1591 and the others were led to safety by Feagh MacHugh O’Byrne. Ó Neill had at first aided the English in their 1593 campaign against the Maguires of Fermanagh. The English were led by Hugh’s resentful brother-in-law Bagenal. Hugh Maguire was Ó Neill’s son-in-law and when Ó Neill suddenly withdrew his support Bagel was left dangerously exposed.

By 1595 O’Neill was to commit his first act of resistance to the English when he overran the fort at Blackwater and destroyed the bridge. This is the first event in what is known as the nine year war. From this time O’Neill perfected a system of conscription that included the richest noble to the poorest peasant. This new force was known as bonnachts and he had them trained in modern warfare. Even his gallowglasses laid down their great axes in favour of the arquebus. Ó Neill then defeated English armies led by Bagenal at Clontibret in 1595 and at the Battle of The Yellow Ford in 1598 where Bagenal was killed. Queen Elizabeth sent over the biggest English army to enter Ireland. Though it numbered 17,000 men led by Robert Devereux the Earl of Essex, it was to prove ineffectual and in 1599 Essex made a treaty with O’ Neill which was not to Elizabeth’s liking and she replaced Devereux with Lord Mountjoy.

(Scottish legends Silly Wizard perform O’Neills Cavalry March from So Many Partings)

In 1601 Mountjoy was able to capture the Spanish army sent to help O’Neill at the town of Kinsale. After the Battle of Kinsale it was a turning point for O’Neill. English forces were spoiling the lands in Ulster and causing starvation there. Hugh O’Donnell had left for Spain to try for more help but died there suddenly. Recognising that his cause had failed O’Neill sought a pardon and in 1603 Elizabeth ordered Mountjoy to open negotiations with all the chiefs involved in the rebellion. She died in the interim but Mountjoy concealed this from O’Neill.

Accompanied by Rory O Donnell, brother of Red Hugh, O’Neill presented himself to the new King James I. The Irish were received graciously and O’Neill was confirmed in his title and estates. However, back in Ireland the government continued to challenge O’Neill’s authority, particularly over his feudal rights the principle dispute being over the O’Cathains. In 1607 he decided to take this to the King but was warned secretly that he was to be arrested. Instead of going to London, O’Neill and O’Donnell, along with their families and followers numbering around 99 people took ships from Rathmullan in Donegal and were driven by strong winds into the Seine. This event would become known as the Flight of the Earls. The Earls and their families made their way over land to Rome where they were welcomed in 1606 by the pope. King James saw this flight as treasonous and O’Neill was declared an outlaw in 1613 by the Irish parliament.

A tablet set in the floor of the church of San Pietro, Montorio, marks the burial-place of the bones of Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone.

The parliament of Ireland outlawed O’Neill in 1613 and he later died in Rome on 20 July 1616 leaving behind a large number of legitimate and illegitimate children. Hugh O’Neill was buried in the church of San Pietro in Montorio, beside his son, also Hugh, Baron of Dungannon, and his brothers-in-law, Rory and Cathbarr O’Donnell. The inscription on his tomb is brief and was recorded by the historian, Father C.P. Meehan in 1832. During renovations to the church in 1848 the tombstones bearing the epitaphs of the Baron and O Donnells were carefully set in place again but the flagstone bearing the inscription on O Neill’s tomb was lost and a replica set in place at the behest of His Eminence, the late Cardinal Tomas O Fiaich, bearing the original inscription, can now be seen. The inscription reads

“D.O.M. HIC QUIESCENT UGONIS PRINCIPIS O NEILL OSSA”

Translated, it reads, “HERE LIES THE BONES OF HUGH O’NEILL, PRINCE or CHIEF

  • If you are even just the tiniest bit interested in Irish history and culture then it is essential that you subscribe to Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland. An absolutely fantastic resource for all aspects of Irish history including the daily ‘What Happened On This Day’ and covering a wide range of Irish History, Irish language, Irish Diaspora, The Great Hunger, Arts & Music, Culture, Archaeology, Literature, Photography, Mythology & Folk Culture.
  • REMEMBERING FIACH MacHUGH O’BYRNE IN SONG  here
  • REMEMBERING RODDY McCORLEY IN SONG  here

REMEMBERING FIACH MacHUGH O’BYRNE IN SONG

The second in our series on celebrated figures from history immortalised in song and covered by both Folk and Celtic-Punk bands. Today we turn to the great Irish hero of Fiach MacHugh O’Bryne one of the greatest leaders in Irish history.

Memorial to Fiach McHugh O’Byrne, Glenmalure, County Wicklow

The song ‘Follow Me Up To Carlow’ recounts the struggle of Irish clan leaders against British rule in Ireland in the 16th century. The central figure in the song is Fiach MacHugh O’Bryne (1534 – 8 May, 1597) who fought the British army for thirty years during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The song celebrates his feats in battle and though thought to be from the time it was actually written 200 years later by famed Irish poet Patrick Joseph McCall, who also wrote the great patriotic ballads ‘Boolavogue’ and ‘Kelly The Boy From Killane’ among others. The song ‘Follow Me Up To Carlow’ is one of the most famous Irish folk songs and celebrates the defeat of the English army at the Battle of Glenmalure in 1580.

Lift MacCahir Óg your face brooding o’er the old disgrace
That black Fitzwilliam stormed your place, drove you to the Fern
Grey said victory was sure soon the firebrand he’d secure;
Until he met at Glenmalure with Fiach Mac Hugh O’Byrne.

Chorus:
Curse and swear Lord Kildare
Fiach will do what Fiach will dare
Now Fitzwilliam, have a care
Fallen is your star, low
Up with halbert out with sword
On we’ll go for by the Lord
Fiach MacHugh has given the word,
Follow me up to Carlow.

See the swords of Glen Imayle, flashing o’er the English Pale
See all the children of the Gael, beneath O’Byrne’s banners
Rooster of a fighting stock, would you let a Saxon cock
Crow out upon an Irish rock, fly up and teach him manners.

From Saggart to Clonmore, there flows a stream of Saxon gore
O, great is Rory Óg O’More, sending the loons to Hades.
White is sick and Lane is fled, now for black Fitzwilliam’s head
We’ll send it over dripping red, to Queen Liza and the ladies.

Fiach MacHugh O’Bryne (Fiach Mac Aodh ÓBroin) was the son of the chief of the O’Byrnes of the Gabhail Raghnaill. His sept, a minor one, claimed descent from the 11th century King of Leinster, Bran Mac Maolmordha, and was centred at Ballinacor in Glenmalure, a steep valley in the fastness of the Wicklow mountains. Their chiefs styled themselves as Lords of Ranalagh. The territory of the Gabhail Rabhnaill stretched from Glendalough south to the Forest of Shillelagh in Wexford and west to the borders of present day Co Carlow, an area of some 150,000 acres. Resenting the greed and cruelty of the Elizabethan adventurers and settlers, Fiach would raid their villages and kill or drive them out. He was appalled at the ruthless cruelty of the stewarts Thomas Masterson and Sir Henry Harrington and in 1580 went into open rebellion when Masterson summarily executed many Kavanagh clansmen.

(Perhaps the greatest ever version of ‘Follow Me Up To Carlow’ by the legendary Planxty included here with lyrics to sing along to)

Other clans joined with Fiach and when James Eustace, 3rd Lord Baltinglass, angered by the treatment of the Catholic Old English also rebelled and joined with him. The English were appalled at this, already Munster was in turmoil as the Earl of Desmond was in rebellion and in the north the O’Neills were moving also against the English.

(The song as covered by new north London Irish folk group Crock Of Bones on their debut EP ‘Nasty, Brutal And Short’. Incidentally the singer was named after Hugh O’Bryne)

An army of 3,000 men were sent into the Wicklow Mountains but O’Byrne and Eustace were waiting for them in Glenmalure. Over 800 English lost their lives at the Battle of Glenmalure and the rest fled back to Dublin. The following year the English offered terms, Eustace refused and fled to Spain but Fiach and the other clan chiefs accepted and were pardoned.

(Irish-American band The Young Dubliners from California performed one of the earliest Celtic-Punk versions of the song)

In 1592 Hugh Roe O’Donnell, with brothers Art and Henry MacShane O’Neill escaped from Dublin Castle. The breakout had been planned with the help of Hugh Mór O’Neill and the escapees fled to the safety of Glenmalure. It was a severe winter and Art died from exposure and was buried in O’Byrne land but Fiach was able to transport Hugh Roe and Henry away to safety.

(The Tan And Sober Gentlemen from Snow Camp, North Carolina)

The English spent a long time collecting heads and plundering, they spared few. In April, Russell again went hunting for Fiach who once again escaped. His wife Rose however was captured and sentenced to be burned to death. The sentence was not carried out.

(Jim McCann’s version was the first time I ever heard ‘Follow Me Up To Carlow’ when he bought me this album on tape when i was on holiday)

Lord Deputy Russell was to spend the next year unsuccessfully scouring the country for Fiach. However O’ Byrne’s luck was to run out. A traitor in his camp gave information to Russell that Fiach would be in Ballinacorr on 8th May 1597. The Lord Deputy was able to surprise him and captured him in a cave. There he was hacked to death and decapitated with his own sword.

(folk-metal version titled The Marching Song Of Fiach MacHugh from Irish band Cruachan)

Fiach MacHugh O’Byrne’s corpse was cut up, and for months hung on pike staffs on the wall over Dublin Castle drawbridge. Several months later, the pickled head was presented to the council secretary at London by an English adventurer, who was disappointed to find that the head-silver due on O’Byrne had already been paid in Ireland. The queen was said to have been greatly angered that

“the head of such a base Robin Hood was brought solemnly into England”.

(There’s no better way to end this article than with my own personal favourite and the version by Dublin Celtic-Punk band Blood Or Whiskey)

  • If you are even just the tiniest bit interested in Irish history and culture then it is essential that you subscribe to Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland. An absolutely fantastic resource for all aspects of Irish history including the daily ‘What Happened On This Day’ and covering a wide range of Irish History, Irish language, Irish Diaspora, The Great Hunger, Arts & Music, Culture, Archaeology, Literature, Photography, Mythology & Folk Culture.
  • REMEMBERING HUGH THE GREAT O’NEILL IN SONG  here
  • REMEMBERING RODDY McCORLEY IN SONG  here

REMEMBERING RODDY McCORLEY IN SONG

A short series exploring some of the figures from history immortalised in song and covered by all your favourite Folk and Celtic-Punk bands. You’ve sung the song but do you know the rich history behind the words? Today we celebrate Roddy McCorley, a young man executed back in 1800. He has been immortalised in both the written word and song and 200 + years after his death we are still here celebrating his life with the many versions of the great song written about him.  

The Rody McCorley Memorial, Toome. “I gcuimhne Ruairí Mhic Thoirealaigh, a chrochadh annseo as a bheith páirteach i nÉirigh-Amach 1798. Iad siúd a d’éag ar son na hÉireann go mairidh a gcliú go deo.” “In memory of Rody McCorley who was hung here for his part in the 1798 uprising. May the honour of those who died for Ireland last forever.”

Roddy McCorley was the son of a miller and was born near Toome in the parish of Duneane, Co Antrim. and was a participant in the 1798 rebellion led by the United Irishmen. A few years before the rebellion Roddy’s dad was executed for stealing sheep. These charges are believed to have been politically motivated in an attempt to remove a troublesome agitator at a time of great social unrest. Following his father’s execution, his family were evicted from their home. There is uncertainty as to whether McCorley was actually actively involved with the Presbyterian United Irishmen or the  Catholic Defenders.

(the version that brought the song back into Irish folklore)

After the rebellions defeat, he joined a notorious outlaw gang known as Archer’s Gang, made up of former rebels and led by Thomas Archer. Some of these men had been British soldiers (members of the Irish militia) who changed sides in the conflict, and as such were guilty of treason and thus exempt from the terms of amnesty offered to the rank and file of the United Irishmen. This meant that they were always on the run in an attempt to evade capture.

(The Dubliners version in their own inimitable style as sung by Ciaran Bourke) 

These were treacherous times and Roddy McCorley paid the price when betrayed by an informer he was arrested and tried by court martial in Ballymena on 20 February 1800. He was sentenced to be hanged “near the Bridge of Toome” in the parish of Duneane. His execution was carried out on 28 February 1800. His body was then dismembered and buried under the gallows, on the main Antrim to Derry road. A letter published in the Belfast Newsletter a few days after McCorley’s execution gave an account of the execution and how McCorley was viewed by some. In it he is called Roger McCorley, which may have been his proper Christian name.

“Upon Friday last, a most awful procession took place here, namely the execution of Roger McCorley who was lately convicted at a court-martial, to the place of execution, Toome Bridge, the unfortunate man having been born in that neighbourhood. As a warning to others, it is proper to observe that the whole of his life was devoted to disorderly proceedings of every kind, for many years past, scarcely a Quarter-sessions occurred but what the name of Roger McCorley appeared in a variety of criminal cases. His body was given up to dissection and afterwards buried under the gallows…thus of late we have got rid of six of those nefarious wretches who have kept this neighbourhood in the greatest misery for some time past, namely, Stewart, Dunn, Ryan, McCorley, Caskey and the notorious Dr. Linn. The noted Archer will soon be in our Guard-room.”

In 1852, McCorley’s nephew Hugh was foreman of the construction of a new bridge across the River Bann at Toome. Hugh recovered his uncle’s body and on 29 June 1852, buried him at Duneane parish graveyard.

(one of the best recorded versions of the song by American folk legends The Kingston Trio)

See the fleet foot host of men
That speed with faces wan,
From farmstead and from fishers cot
Along the banks of Bann,
They come with vengeance in their eyes
Too late too late are they.
For young Roddy McCorley goes to die
On the bridge of Toome today.

Up narrow street he steps
Smiling, proud and young.
About the hemp rope on his neck
The golden ringlets clung
There was never a tear in his blue eye,
Both sad and bright are they,
For young Roddy McCorley goes to die
On the bridge of Toome today.

When he last stepped up that street,
His shining pike in hand,
Behind him marched in grim array
A stalwart, earnest band.
For Antrim town, for Antrim town,
He led them to the fray,
And young Roddy McCorley goes to die
On the bridge of Toome today.

There was never a one of all your dead
More bravely fell in fray
Than he who marches to his fate
On the bridge of Toome today.
True to the last, true to the last,
He treads the upward way,
And young Roddy McCorley goes to die
On the bridge of Toome today.

Ethna Carbery

Roddy’s role in the 1798 rebellion was passed down by word of mouth and it was in a poem/song written 100 years after the rebellion by Ethna Carbery that he was claimed to have been one of the leaders at the Battle of Antrim. The song was published in 1904 two years after Ethna’s death as part of a collection of poems titled The Four Winds Of Erin. Despite this lack of evidence Roddy McCorley became a major figure in nationalist-republican martyrology due to this song. Recently evidence has been unearthed by historian Guy Beiner as to his involvement in the rebellion that had been hidden due to the change in the  Presbyterian faith from nationalist to unionist. 

(as with everything Irish music related their is always a link to the great Shane MacGowan)

The song was re-popularised in the 1950’s when it was recorded by giants of the Irish folk scene The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem and The Dubliners. In the folk music revival of the 1960’s it was recorded by the The Kingston Trio and many more up until Shane MacGowan and The Popes recorded a version for The Snake in 1994 and it’s popularity has blossomed since then being recorded by several bands with in the Celtic-Punk scene with a knowledge of their history and roots.

(the latest version as recorded by Irish-American band The Templars of Doom on this years Hovels Of The Holy album)

The Roddy McCorley Society   Irish Music Daily  Irish Folk Songs

( there’s even a Psychobilly version from the great psycho German band Pitmen!)

  • If the tune is familiar but not the song that may be because the melody for Roddy McCorley was recycled in 1957 for the more familiar song ‘Sean South Of Garryowen’.
  • If you are even just the tiniest bit interested in Irish history and culture then it is essential that you subscribe to Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland. An absolutely fantastic resource for all aspects of Irish history including the daily ‘What Happened On This Day’ and covering a wide range of Irish History, Irish language, Irish Diaspora, The Great Hunger, Arts & Music, Culture, Archaeology, Literature, Photography, Mythology & Folk Culture.
  • REMEMBERING HUGH THE GREAT O’NEILL IN SONG  here
  • REMEMBERING FIACH MacHUGH O’BYRNE IN SONG  here

ALBUM REVIEW: THE DISINCLINED- ‘Sing’ (2019)

The debut album from South-West Londoners The Disinclined, ageing purveyors of folky, punky, gypsy tales.

The debut album from The Disinclined comes hot on the heels of their debut single, Sing And Create, which we gave the thumbs up to last December on these pages. Both the tracks from then are re-recorded here and if anything have been improved upon with a much better production. The Disinclined were formed in 2014 after being recruited to do a few covers at a friends’ wedding. Drummer Dave recruited Tim, who could actually write and sing original material, so along with Dave’s lyrics and the occasional riff from Shea and Matt, they started gigging around South-West London especially Kingston. They’ve all been in many diverse sounding bands since the mid/late 80’s with Dave and Tim playing together in This Wind Thing and Vicious Hippy till they went their separate ways in the early 90’s – with neither picking up their instruments again until the Disinclined came calling. Matt replaced Shea on bass when he was sacked from 80’s Kingston punk band NMBD, so he took up guitar, learnt bar chords and ignored bassists until he joined Riot/Clone and Refuse All in the noughties. These days they all play in other bands including Refuse/All, Lost Cherrees and Mooshwa Pooshwa. So with a wealth of experience in both playing and songwriting it was only to be expected that The Disinclined know their way round a good tune or two and here on Sing they have delivered an album that is chock-a-block full of them.

The Disinclined from left to right: Shea- Guitar * Tim – Vocals, Guitar, Melodica, Uke * Dave – Drums * Matt – Bass

The album begins with ‘Death Is Just A Consequence’ and the unusual sound of the melodica starts a mournful dirge that is soon livened up with a ska beat and chugging guitars and a nice fast pace. It’s a wind instrument with a small keyboard on top that when blown into that makes a sound pitched half where between harmonica and clarinet. Next up is ‘We Have To Pretend To Be Zombies’ with a cool 60’s vibe to it and The Disinclined show that lyrically they can write both clever and tongue in cheek.

“Management is the source of our ills / Compulsory fun. And we have to look thrilled / Idiotic and dumb, they’ve forgotten to think / And the theory they have has started to stink / She turned to me and said / “Have you seen ‘Sean of the Dead’? / We have to pretend to be Zombies” \ Zombies….”

Next is one of their signature tunes ‘For The Good Of Us All’ and its at this point that you realise that even though they may flit from genre to genre they somehow manage to still make it sound like The Disinclined. Quite a feat for a band that manages to avoid any sort of pigeonholing.

( an early version of ‘For The Good Of It All’ recorded at The Cricketers, Kingston)

Rocky and punky in parts and a real toe-tapper as the song morphs into ‘Urban Hermit’ and the first appearance of trumpet and fiddle gives the song a real bite. In fact they are looking to introduce a full time fiddle player into their sound so if you’re interested then get in touch with them. The song is played at a slowish pace with touches of Eastern Europe and the sound is layered upon sound making this my favourite track from the album. A real slow burner of a song that builds and builds into something grand before slowing right down again. Next up is a re-recorded version of ‘Create’ from the 7″. This song has appeared in several forms but every time they take it away and fiddle with it it comes back better than before. The ska beat is back but not of the happy, giddy sort that gets on your wick! ‘No Thanks’ has a certain Anarcho-Punk influence and the, as ever, interesting lyrics speak of the selfishness of man I think.

The Anarcho influence appears again on ‘Just Us’ and the song has some outstanding guitar

“Take your chance and count the cost / Roll the dice, your fingers crossed / See who’s won and see who’s lost / Who’s left standing when the music stops / Who’s left standing when the music stops \ Just Us! Just Us! Just Us! Just Us!”

Time now for the other song from the 7″ to get a re-working and ‘Sing’ again adds something so much more to the original version. Beginning with drums and some crunching bass lines from Matt before Tim joins in with the melodica again and one of the catchiest songs here that I was hoping would explode a bit more but just keeps itself in check. ‘Sing’ is pretty damn catchy and Tim’s laid back vocals fit perfectly (they are The Disinclined after all) as the song builds and builds while the lads still manage to sound super laid back about it all. We are coming towards the end and ‘Jack’ is another great song telling of a ‘lothario’ and what happens when the looks and the charm inevitably fade. This brings us onto what could be called their signature tune and as you can imagine from a band that manages to squeeze the line

“we are disinclined to acquiesce to your request

into one of their songs ‘Disinclined To Acquiesce’ is clever and intelligent music and Sing takes in a multitude of influences from far and wide, from punk to gypsy folk and thrash metal to prog rock, moulding them into some very catchy pop music.

Sing was released just a couple of weeks ago and was recorded at Gravity Shack in London with Jess Corcoran as engineer and producer. The vinyl album is a joy to behold and looks absolutely beautiful with some stunning artwork from good friend of the band Keith Slote. It’s a great album that will appeal to people, and not just fans of the band, on many levels. The different styles and influences loaded onto Sing take nothing away from the band who still manage to make everything sound so natural. For those fans of the band they will be extremely pleased that the songs they recognise from live sets are not just replicated but even bettered but I think Sing is well worth taking a punt on for anyone and sit back and enjoy!

(you can stream Sing on the Bandcamp player below before you buy it!)

Buy Sing  FromTheBand

Contact The Disinclined  Facebook  Bandcamp

The official record release gig for Sing is next Thursday at The Fighting Cocks. One of London’s best venues if you have never been before you in for a treat! The Fighting Cocks is at 56 Old London Road, Kingston KT2 6QA. Trains from Waterloo, Clapham and Vauxhall and only a short walk from Kingston station. Admission is a paltry £3 and the evening kicks off at 8pm. Support is from SUCKIN’ DIESEL a new traditional Irish music group headed by Brendan the lead singer from local Celtic-Punk favourites The Lagan. Featuring yer man himself and anyone else he can round up in the meantime. Kicking off the night will be Kingsley Beat. Made in Madchester. Raised in Acton. Generated by Beats. Mad for Melody, Melody Mad. Facebook event here.

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: VARIOUS ARTISTS- Rebel Voices. Songs Of The Industrial Workers Of The World

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The Industrial Workers of the World blazed a path in American history and its influence is still felt widely today. The ‘Wobblies’ and music were interwoven helping to build morale, promote solidarity and lift the bleak spirits of the working-class during the bleakest days of American history. Here are twenty of those songs that can still lift our spirits decades later.

Welcoming into the union those that others shunned, the Wobblies from the start were the labour movement’s pioneers and innovators, unionising hundreds of thousands of workers previously regarded as “unorganizable”. The Wobblies, the name given to members of the IWW, at their peak in 1917, numbered near 200,000 but state repression, competition from other unions and the inevitable split led to a decline in membership that has seen this once great organisation become a mere shadow of itself. The IWW organised the first sit-down strike (Schenectady, 1906), the first major auto strike (Detroit, 1911), the first strike to shut down all three coalfields in Colorado (1927), and the first ‘no-fare’ transit-workers’ job-action (Cleveland, 1944). With their imaginative, colourful and world-famous strikes and free-speech fights, the IWW wrote many of the brightest pages in the annals of working class history.

Wobblies also made immense and invaluable contributions to workers’ culture. All but a few of America’s most popular labour songs are Wobbly songs and IWW cartoons have long been recognised as labour’s finest and funniest.

The IWW’s Use of Music

In their struggle to promote these politics, the IWW was a singing union. In the period between 1910-1960 the songbook ‘The Little Red Songbook’, which is still in print, was regarded by many workers as one of their most beloved possessions besides, of course, their red IWW membership cards. The songbook was one of the most important documents and its songs were sung in numerous situations: around hobo campfires, in boxcars, in Wobbly halls, in the streets, on picket lines, at strike rallies, in court, on the way to jail and in jail. The songs were a crucial aid in recruiting new members, and they were important in building a sense of fellowship and in keeping spirits up in hard situations. Paul Garon writes in his book ‘What’s The Use Of Walking If There’s A Freight Train Going Your Way? Black Hobos And Their Songs’ that a mixed group of hobos sitting around a campfire would be more likely to sing Wobbly songs than Blues, Country or Vaudeville songs. This tells us something about the popularity these songs enjoyed.

from ‘Music And The IWW: The Creation Of A Working Class Counterculture‘ by Rudolf TB

Rebel Voices. Songs Of The Industrial Workers Of The World was released on Flying Fish Records formed in the 70’s by Bruce Kaplan. Use to releasing left field folk music the label had split from the more famous Rounder Records who were more reluctant to release leftfield albums like this compilation. The presence of Utah Phillips looms large here. A combination of activist, organiser, songwriter, singer, and storyteller, there are few performers who can put across a song such as ‘The Two Bums’ as well as he could.

The album also combines its participants into various small groupings and a big ensemble finale, an idea that works just as well in an album sequence as it has on many folk festival stages. There are several numbers originating with Joe Hill, needless to say, but also a grand Malvina Reynolds cover by Faith Petric and a terrific take on the classic ‘Hallelujah, I’m a Bum’ by Bob Bovee. Besides delivering its intended messages, this collection also puts the spotlight on some fairly unknown performers in a context that brings welcome thematic strength and emotional power to their work.

Rebel Voices is an amazing collection of stories and songs, that gives a perfect history of working people. The songs call for solidarity is as relevant today as it was when the songs were originally written. The music provides a feeling of being connected, and makes you want to sing along. No matter what your interest, but especially if it’s the history of the labour movement, this is a wonderful and thought-provoking collection of music.

Tracks
1. Preamble to the IWW Constitution
2. Organizer – Jeff Cahill
3. Little Red Hen – Faith Petric
4. Which Side Are You On? – Bob Bovee
5. Two Bums – Utah Phillips
6. Banks of Marbles – Fred Holstein
7. Put It on the Ground – Marion Wade
8. Popular Wobbly – Eric Glatz
9. Song of the Rail – Mark Ross
10. Hold the Fort – Bruce Brackney
11. We Have Fed You All a Thousand Years – Bruce Brackney
12. Ain’t Done Nothing If You Ain’t Been Called a Red – Faith Petric
13. Hallelujah, I’m a Bum – Bob Bovee
14. Boss – Utah Phillips
15. Preacher and the Slave – Jeff Cahill
16. Mysteries of a Hobo’s Life – Mark Ross
17. Stung Right – Fred Holstein
18. Jo Hill’s Last Will – Kathy Taylor
19. Mr. Block – Utah Phillips
20. Power in the Union

The Wobblies impact has reverberated far beyond the ranks of organised labour. An important influence on the 60’s New Left, the theory and practice of direct action, solidarity and ‘Class-War’ humour have inspired several generations of activists and are a major source of ideas and inspiration for today’s too. Indeed, virtually every movement seeking to “make this planet a good place to live” (to quote an old Wobbly slogan), has drawn on the IWW’s incomparable experience. The songs here are from the twentieth century but their relevance to current times invites us to explore the conditions that inspired their creation. In the face of oppression, these songwriters bravely took a stand. Such courage and heroism is immortal, such heroes should be celebrated and their songs can and still do lift our spirits.

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* many many thanks to Zero G Sound for their invaluable help on this album and others in the Classic Album Review series. We have no rivals only friends so be sure to go check out their fantastic site here

 

EP REVIEW: CALLUM HOUSTON- ‘Gravities’ (2019)

Acoustic Alternative Folk Rock.
Made in Bretagne. Inspired in Ireland.

I first became aware of Callum Houston a few years ago when I was spending another rainy day off work trawling through YouTube and settling again on a couple of hours of videos of my new favourite band The Graveyard Johnnies. Watching away further evidence if it was ever needed that I have indeed turned into my Grandad was my eyes were drawn to their awesome guitarist Callum’s tattoo of an Irish harp on his arm. Grandad could spot an Irish connection at 100 yards and could name any famous person with even the smallest of Irish roots. Not many will know this but my BIG love besides Celtic-Punk is Psychobilly which is the bastard love child of both Rockabilly and Punk and The Graveyard Johnnys are that rare thing in the Psycho scene of being a young band but also massively popular, headlining most of their gigs. Not one to keep this to myself I rushed off a message to the band and found out that indeed Callum was Irish but was also living in Brittany and allied to that The Graveyard Johnnys were based in south Wales it makes them probably the most Celtic band in existence!

Born in Bristol before his family washed up in Carrigaline in Cork when young Callum was the tender age of 4 his formative years were in Ireland before a move back to England at 15 and then a return back to Ireland to Dublin to study Irish music. As he says

“Cork will always be home, it’s not where your born it’s where you grow up and learn about life.”

Callum was back again in England when he read The Graveyard Johnnys were a guitarist down so Callum jacked in his job and moved to Wales, sleeping on the floor in the band practice room for five months till he found somewhere to live. These were wild times with the Johnnys touring non stop all over Europe and it was on one of these tours whilst playing in Paris that Callum met his partner. They would go on to have a child and he moved to Paris to join them. He began playing regular solo gigs in Paris many Irish bars as well as busking on the Metro to earn a living. Later on they moved to Brittany where the standard of living is better (and cheaper!) and the where the culture is very similar to that of Ireland. The Breton people are very proud of their Celtic roots and Callum felt at home. He now performs regularly throughout Brittany and France playing anywhere from Irish bars to Bistros to street corners as well as jetting back and fourth to Wales to play with the Graveyard Johnnys.

Gravities is Callum Houston’s debut release and the striking photo on the sleeve of the EP is not actually of a young Callum at all but of his Grandad on the Houston family farm in Donegal. The record begins with the title track and while their are only slight signs of the Rock’n’Roll and Irish folk that Callum usually plays you can hear in these original compositions how he manages to make his living playing Irish ballads around the bars of Brittany. Here he takes a more contemplative turn and the lyrics like the music are thoughtful and clever. Their may be none of the urgency associated with the music that Callum usually plays but that’s not to say its soft or throwaway. It may be gently played acoustic music but it comes with more than a edge of something a lot harder. Callums acoustic guitar is aided by banjo and what sounds like a cello making a great combination that would more than sound at home across both a busy pub or a quiet intimate bar. These are the kind of songs that cut across the noisy chatter of a pub and demand attention. ‘Sink Or Swim’ takes a similar route and again that menacing edge to it keeps it from sliding completely into the folk section. Callums voice with its gentle Cork lilt is perfect for this and you can see why he’s made a success of playing solo gigs. Catchy and upbeat and perfect for them toe-tapping moments.

On ‘Euroline’ the tale is of travelling back and forth across Europe, of times spent waiting and waiting for trains and coaches. Told with humour and played with gusto the song again hits the spot and over four minutes is allowed plenty time to develop. In fact at fifteen minutes the four songs here fly past much quicker than you may expect and on ‘City Of Lives’ the EP comes to an end with the records standout track. At times dark and slow and menacing before busting into life as a catchy foot stomper.

Gravities was mixed and mastered by Jacky Cadiou At The Movies Studio, Brest and was released at the end of last month. It’s available on download and also as a compact disc that comes with a few free gifts and is only €5. So about a quid a song! Having grown up listening to traditional Irish music and spending most of his adult life touring across the world with Punk and Country bands Callum has developed a unique and original style. A talented songwriter and musician and with fans spanning genres from punk to trad folk it would be a shame if this record somehow fell into the mid way ground between them.

(you can stream Gravities on the Bandcamp player below for free but it’s only £4 to download so put your hand in your pocket Celtic-Punkers!)

Buy Gravities  FromCallum

Contact Callum Houston  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

EP REVIEW: CROCK OF BONES- ‘Nasty, Brutal And Short’ (2019)

Alt Folk, Irish, Trad, Celtic.

The debut release from Crock Of Bones the newest band on the London Irish Folk and Trad circuit. 

I first met the Brothers Byrne oh maybe twenty odd years ago. Having not long moved to London from the northern wastelands I was surrounded by Irish at home but the only ‘proper’ Irish I knew were everyone’s Mam and Dads so I was in no way prepared for quite how Irish London was back in the early 90’s. Every pub and street corner seemed on loan from the Emerald Isle itself and as I slowly immersed myself into the London punk scene I found that was no different either. Every band seemed to have an Irish connection and with any Celtic-Punk scene years off it was down to the punk scene for this plastic paddy 2nd gen Irishman to get his kicks. Living in Hackney back then punks were ten’a’penny and it was impossible to just take a wander up to the shop without bumping into someone you knew and their was a good chance that person would be Irish! Among the bands active in north London at the time that were mixing up Irish folk and punk were The Daltons, Brassic Park and Under The Gun but the best of the bunch were Pitful Of Ugly. Featuring Hugh and Mike (the Brothers Bryne) and their drumming Kiwi bus driver mate Jason they played loads round Hackney, especially at the famed Acton Arms, home of punk rock in London for a few years around 1995. Pitful Of Ugly played a few of their own songs in among some classic Irish folk songs and tunes that the Bhoys speeded up and tampered with. It was great stuff (so it was!) and though very popular they didn’t quite get the breaks to take them out of the Hackney punk ghetto. Fast forward a few years and every now and then I’d bump into the Bros. and even bought a CD of Hugh’s new band The Obscuritones, a rockabilly group he was playing guitar in. Next thing I heard was recently when I received a email from a new band LOCKS and there was Mike with his double bass. Once again I was suitably impressed (they are well worth checking out by the way!) and we fell back in contact. So that was it until Mike starting dropping subtle hints about a new project I would be interested in and 2019 has seen it unveiled as the traditional Irish folk band Crock Of Bones and needless to say their record of being in bands I love shows no danger of being overturned!!!

So not having strayed far from Hackney in the intervening years Crock Of Bones were born this year in North London and Nasty, Brutal And Short is the bands debut release. The Bros call it “a description of the Irish we first made friends with when we emigrated to London”. The rest of the groups members, whose backgrounds stretch back to 90’s celtic-punk, gypsy jazz, dark folk and rock, include a fellow member of LOCKS, Marian McClenaghan on fiddle, Jim Wharf from the band Red Eye on banjo and guitar  and Lost Revellers Caitlin Roberts on accordion alongside Hugh on lead vocals, guitar and fiddle and Mike on double bass.

Crock Of Bones- Mike Byrne, Marian McClenaghan, Hugh Byrne, Caitlin Roberts, Jim Wharf.

So with a pretty diverse line up what is the new approach that Crock Of Bones can bring? Well as Hugh says

“This time we’re using traditional instruments, fiddle, accordion, banjo, guitar and double bass and three vocals to get the same energy and power as we used to get from distorted guitars.”

and their is a certain unpolished feel to it all and when I say that I in no way at all mean that in a bad way. What I mean is that it’s universally agreed that Irish music is best played down the pub and in that environment a certain amount of ‘ramshackleness’ is not just tolerated but actually required to give it that authentic feel. The five songs here swing from ballads to full-pelt foot-stompers and though their trad numbers are well played its their original numbers that that impressed me the most.

The Nasty, Brutal And Short EP kicks off with the first of the original numbers ‘Just One Of Those Things’ and its a slow swirling number with fiddle and accordion leading the way while Hugh sings of lost love. He’s got a great voice and the Dublin accent now also has a wee bit of a Cockney twang about it! Next up is one of the best songs ever about the Irish on this side of the Irish sea. Written by Ewan MacColl (no stranger at all to these pages!) and made massively popular among the Irish diaspora chiefly by The Dubliners and then The Wolfe Tones. The song tells of the comical goings on among a gang of Irishmen digging the road up in Glasgow and laying the ‘Hot Asphalt’. Somewhere along the way a policeman falls in a pot of boiling asphalt and the gang cover up his death! Played in the same style as the Dubs the song is quick and catchy and dare I say it as almost as good a version as I have heard but for the best version of all time then check out New York cities 1916 and their version here it’ll knock yer socks off!

“‘Tis twelve months come October since I left me native home
After helping them Killarney boys to bring the harvest down
But now I wear the gansey and around me waist a belt
I’m the gaffer of the squad that makes the hot asphalt”

Following this is the EP’s second original number ‘Ferry’ and anyone of a certain age will remember the trip back and forth to Ireland on the ferry from Fishguard or Holyhead over to Ireland in the Summer. Packed to the absolute rafters like cattle we ran around like maniacs till we collapsed on the floor and slept in corridors while our Mams and Dads sat in the bar drinking and, depending on whether we were coming or going, talked of Ireland in either glowing or disparaging terms. Hugh writes a great lyric here about a long distance relationship about a couple saying goodbye at the ferry terminal. It’s a sad mournful song that comes to an end with the great line “waiting for a voice on a landline telephone”. Next they kick up a bit of a storm with two tunes cobbled together nicely ‘Cooley’s Reel/Mountain Road’ and I love these kind of instrumentals. Owing a lot to The Dubliners they are as catchy a tune as has ever been written in music and if you’re looking for full-pelt foot-stompers then this and the EP’s closing track, ‘Follow Me Up To Carlow’, are the ones for you. An old song celebrating the defeat of an army of 3,000 English soldiers by Fiach MacHugh O’Byrne (any relation?) at the Battle of Glenmalure in 1580. The air dates back to then and the words to Patrick Joseph McCall in 1899. Its a great rousing rebeller and Crock Of Bones give it plenty of oompf and i recommend looking up the words as theirs not many more… err… ‘descriptive’ Irish songs and it’s a glorious joy to be belting them out at the top of your lungs believe me!

(You can stream Nasty, Brutal And Short on the Bandcamp player below before you invest your hard earned in this great wee release)

So an amazing addition to the London Irish scene and well worth the cost of the download. The band have plenty of expertise about them but as I said it’s just the right side of being not too professional and it’s all the better for it. This is the same music our Mams and Dads once listened to in smoke filled boozers packed with fellow immigrants a generation or two back but Crock Of Bones have given it a subtle modern twist and the energy and passion is self evident. Be sure to check them out live in concert around London.

Buy Nasty, Brutal And Short  FromTheBand

Contact Crock Of Bones  Facebook  Soundcloud  YouTube

THE RUMJACKS LIVE IN LONDON- ACOUSTIC SESSIONS

In February 2019, The Rumjacks arrived in London town at the You Tube Space Studio in Kings Cross, and recorded a set of stripped back acoustic versions from their back catalogue. Where once the band would have been at home among the dirt and grime of Kings Cross station where untold amount of Scots disembarked over the years with little more than the clothes on their back it’s now a shiny gleaming soulless example of the new London. The songs were drip fed to us one at a time over the course of the next ten Fridays and here we present them all together. The recordings are now available for download across the usual platforms, links at the bottom.

The Black Matilda

Plenty

A Fistful O’Roses

Bar The Door Casey

My Time Again

Cold London Rain

Kathleen

The Leaky Tub

The Bold Rumjacker

Barred For Life

Director / Producer – Phil MacDonald * Director of Photography – Archie Guinchard * Sound Engineer – Paddy Fitzgerald * Editor – Phil Macdonald

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EP REVIEW: 6’10- ‘Where We Are’ (2019)

Chicago based 6’10 is the acoustic project of Tobin Bawinkel, the lead singer of Flatfoot 56 whose critically acclaimed first full length album, The Humble Beginnings of a Roving Soul came out back in 2014. Gerard Melon discovers life isn’t just circle pits and spitting on sweaty crowds. Here’s a band that is a little more laid back and thought provoking.  

So here we have it, a new EP of six original tracks from Chicago’s 6’10. Many of you will know this band as Tobin from Flatfoot 56 ‘s side gig. This EP follows on from 2014’s The Humble Beginnings of a Roving Soul, and Flatfoot’s Vancouver Sessions where some of the band’s best tracks were reworked utilising traditional instruments and giving the tracks a more ‘folky’ sound. 6’10 were created by Tobin to explore the musical influences that he grew up with, folk, Americana, bluegrass and other ‘traditional’ styles of acoustic music. There aren’t really any other band members, more like regular collaborators and then specialist instrumentalists. This all leads to a more laid-back sound compared to Flatfoot, but still with the heart that we would expect from them.

 It kicks off with an ‘intro track’ of Tobin singing solo and with no instrumental backing called ‘The Old Man’. It’s a gentle introduction to the EP with the song being about an old man who wants an audience for his songs. Up next comes ‘Nam’, a livelier tune that probably would fit in on a Flatfoot album (and after all the waffle I spouted in the first paragraph!!!). It’s (obviously?) about Vietnam and tells the story of a nineteen-year-old getting drafted and sent out to fight; he wins a medal but is shunned when he comes home. (Dunno if his name is John Rambo!) Next up is ‘It’s All Been Said Before’, which has a very singalong catchy chorus, but this betrays the seriousness of its message, which basically is telling us to look at things from other people’s points of view instead of just repeating what’s been said before. Next up is ‘The Isle’, a cracking track which has religious undertones and gives Tobin’s voice a great work out. It’s very upbeat and the message (of redemption?) is very uplifting. For me personally, the next track ‘The Promise’ is the standout track of the six (don’t get me wrong they’re all top quality!) but this one is a real gem. It starts with a slide guitar sound that instantly brings you down south (think of the movie Southern Comfort), it’s very atmospheric as it builds up to the vocals first from Tobin and then Vanessa and then both together with the music gradually growing. It’s a love song that I can’t do justice to with writing, so I will just say listen to it! The final track is ‘Just Say Hi’ and it’s a two hander with Tobin and Vanessa singing a ballad about a man who needs to be more decisive if he is going to win a girl’s heart. It has a very intimate sound, just a guitar and the two singers as if it was recorded at home and not a studio, this adds to its appeal and is a warm sound to close out the disc.

This is a cracking little release from Tobin and his friends, that carries-on the great work from the first album. It’s a shame that it is only six tracks (including intro) because I’m sure we all would have welcomed more. I would definitely recommend buying it and encouraging a few live performances on this side of the pond. You can get it through the 6’10 Facebook page where you can also see what they’re up to.

(you can stream Where We Are before you buy it on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Where We Are  PhysicalCD  Download

Contact 6’10  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp  Instagram

ALBUM REVIEW: SETH MARTIN AND THE MENDERS- ‘Live At No Country: An Introduction To Seth Mountain’ (2019)

Our close friend TC Costello has toured all over the world and spent quite some time in Korea so he was the perfect person to put pen to paper on the new album from Seth Martin that fuses Americana and American Folk with traditional Korean music. 

Singer, songwriter and folklorist based Seth Martin has been honing a rare sound for the last decade, travelling back and forth between between his native US and adoptive home of South Korea, absorbing Korean traditional music into his already rootsy American sound.  For some time, he’s been hosting shows throughout Korea where he’s strummed his banjo and guitar alongside musicians playing traditional Korean instruments, all while leading bi-lingual singalongs. He works for Seong Mun-Bakk Mountain school, a Korean traditional music school in the mountains nearby Seoul.   He’s even taken his primary school-aged students on a tour of America’s Pacific Northwest.
One of the most memorable nights of music I had in Korea was a concert he organised with his students and some local, mostly American, folk musicians in Seoul.  His students performed, Pansori, Korean drum-and-vocals storytelling music and and samul nori, Korean drum music, which sounds a bit like 100 bodhrans caught in a thunderstorm! We foreign folkies played songs from our backgrounds.  I did some American tunes, an Irish immigration ballad, and tried a Gypsy-Punk reworking of a Korean indie hit.  These shows he organised brought together people of different ages and backgrounds who would otherwise never meet, let alone end up performing alongside one another.  At these occasions, Martin created a melting pot of folk music that was unlike anything else in the massive capital city.

the great Pete Seeger

On the third of May this year, on what would have been Pete Seeger’s 100th birthday, Martin  released a live album, Live at No Country: An Introduction to Seth Martin, and I could imagine no better introduction to Martin nor a more fitting tribute to Mr. Seeger.
The album starts with the Korean folk song ‘Bird, Bird, Blue Bird,’ a lament on the death of Jeon Bung-Jun, a farmer who became a rebel leader in 1894 during  time of growing Japanese influence – though 16 years before Korean became a proper colony – It’s a complicated political situation that I don’t care to get into now. ‘Bird, Bird, Blue Bird’ is a song I’ve known for a few years, but had no idea it was about Mr. Jeon. That’s because much of Korean folk music is heavy in nature metaphors.  Martin fully embraces nature metaphors in his English songwriting on this album, too. The gentle lament features Martin on Banjo and Kim Jungeun on Janggu, an hourglass-shaped traditional Korean drum, as well as a chorus of vocalists. Contrasting with the mellow opening track is Martin’s jaunty rendition of ‘Motion of Love’, set to the tune of the American folk song, ‘Shady Grove’. It is mediation on wanting all the narrators actions to be fore the good of all mankind, a motion of love.  It’s originally by Bill Jolliff and is inspired by John Woolman, a 19th century Quaker, anti-consumer and abolitionist (someone who wanted to end slavery in America as soon as possible). For me, the highlight of the song is a nearly two-minute breakdown during which Martin only bashes out only one chord on banjo with with whooping and hollering that would put Shane MacGowan to shame.  The instrumentation features Kim Jungeun again on Janggu and Zoë Youngmi Blank on violin.

Next, Seth performs a medley of two introspective love songs: ‘I Still Love You’ and ‘Pushmipullyou’. After that, he grabs a another song from Korea’s tragic history with a rendition of ‘Mother, Sister (Let’s live by the River)’ – I added the brackets.  The song was by Kim Sowol, a famous – and famously hard-to-translate – Korean poet and journalist who worked during the Japanese occupation, and he seems to have taken his own life at the age 32. He follows Kim’s poem with the original anti-war song, ‘Feeling so Cold’, telling of a soldier returning home after seeing, and indeed committing, unspeakable wartime atrocities. While it seems to fit the narrative of an American soldier returning after the Korean War or a Japanese solider’s return after the occupation, Martin says it’s not specifically about Korea, though “it fits certainly in that narrative.” After the heavy subject matter, Martin follows with a an another song about returning home, though not without darkness. ‘Winding Down’, is a reflection upon return home and seeing familiar roads, mountains and rivers.

True to Mr. Seeger on his birthday, Martin provokes a full audience sing-a-long, both with ‘da da da’, and the simple refrain of

“I am winding down my old road again. I am winding down.”

True to the theme of nature metaphors, he speaks of the old river:

“And old river, old river, can you still make things new?

And old river, do you remember all the things i said I’d do?”

Next, on ‘Children of Sod’, Martin sings what he describes as “A love Song to the Tancheon River” in Korea.  He asks at the beginning and end of the song:

“Don’t we all feel better when

The smell of dirt clings to our skin

Pervades us, loves us

And waits for us to ask it to come in?”

‘The Ballad of Eric Gardner’ channels the likes of Woody Guthrie, Phil Ochs, and of course Pete Seeger with a song about Eric Garner, famously choked to death by a New York City police officer after he was allegedly selling cigarettes illegally.  In a hard-to-listen-to but powerful song, Martin sings:

“After Garner stopped resisting, well the cops just stood there watching

they picked his pockets and they rolled him on his side

Several minutes slowly passed

EMTs they came at last

No CPR, they said he still was breathing then

An hour later Garner’d never breathe again”

With ‘Looking for the Leatherwinged Bat’, in a shocking reversal of nature metaphors, Martin takes an old English Folk song about different species of birds’ courtship rituals, and takes most of the birds out of the song.  Instead it becomes a less-than-flattering walk through an America consumed by corruption poverty and pollution, replacing the birds with such characters a bigoted billionaire,  a police officer harassing kids and “the dog at the top of the pile.”

Martin follows this with ‘If I Had my Way’, by Blind Wille Johnson:

“If I had my way

If I had my way

If I had my way, oh lodry, lordy.

If I had my way, I’d tear the whole thing down.”

The closing number of the live show is medley of ‘Arirang’ and ‘Rooster’. ‘Arirang’ is by far the most popular folk song in Korea.  There are countless variations of the song, and Martin uses a version known as ‘Lonely Arirang’, which he describes as

“a celebration of the relationship between the Korean people and the Korean landscapes that have sustained them for millennia.”  But for a more global appeal, Martin calls the song “a challenge to all listeners to not forget this unity that comes from an ancient relationship to the land.”

‘Rooster’ is an original instrumental and, without getting too much into music theory,  has a melody that fits remarkably well with Korean traditional music. The jaunty banjo and “Yap-da badabum” singalong are hard to not smile to.

Following his live album are some songs recorded around Korea, and highlights include Utah Phillips’ ‘Trooper’s Lament’, based on Phillip’s time in the Korea, and ‘God Bless The Grass’, originally by Malvinia Reynolds, which keeps to the nature metaphors:

“God bless the grass that grows through cement.

It’s green and it’s tender and it’s easily bent.

But after a while it lifts up its head,

For the grass is living and the stone is dead,

And God bless the grass.”

Live At No Country: An Introduction To Seth Martin will easily be one of the most unique albums you’ll hear this year.  Many foreign musicians in Korea learn some Korean music while over there, myself included. But with me, It’d be a Korean folk song or a Korean punk cover in the middle of my more-Western set, and I’d describe as nothing more than a Westerner’s version of a Korean song. With Live At No Country, Martin fuses his command of American folk with his love of Korean folk to create something new. This album, while inspired by the old and traditional music, is truly a new and original experience.

(you can stream Live at No Country: An Introduction to Seth Mountain on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Live at No Country  Bandcamp

Contact Seth Martin  Facebook  LastFM  Bandcamp  YouTube

You can catch TC Costello live at the moment over here in the UK as he is doing a bunch of dates with his friends The Brandy Thieves as well as a load of solo dates including a special London Celtic Punks show at The Lamb in Surbiton in SW London. TC will be supported on the night by Suckin’ Diesel a new traditional Irish folk band featuring current and auld members of The Lagan and headed by Lagan front man the mega talented Brendan O’Prey. All happening on Monday 17th June live at the best boozer in the area The Lamb just a couple of minutes walk from Surbiton station which is only 20 minutes from Waterloo. Live music begins at 8pm and ends at 11pm. Entrance is **FREE** you lucky devil’s so you can spend more on the lovely beer on sale at The Lamb.

More details available over at the official Facebook event here.

For TC’s other dates then go check on his Facebook page here.

ALBUM REVIEW: BRADLEY PALERMO- ‘Volume 1’ (2019)

Los Angeles-based Folk-Punk Bradley Palermo has released his first album comprised of previously released singles, reworked and remastered to create Volume 1. Folk music doused in punk and Americana influences that bristles with dark humour.

We are certainly lucky to be friends with Bryan McPherson as it was that connection that led Bradley Palermo to chance his arm and dash a copy of his new album across the broad Atlantic to us in hope of a favourable review. When it is deserved we are happy to oblige and Bradley will be pleased to know it has done. Before setting out on his solo folk career, Bradley spent fifteen years fronting the bands The Sudden Passion and Femme Fatality. He grew up in St. Louis, Missouri playing in local indie bands while developing an affinity for the alt-country bands that were emerging from the region at the time. Drawing inspiration from Americana his songs are often autobiographical with themes of the open road, free living and mortality. Volume 1 is a reworked and remastered collection of previously released singles and is a result of a successful crowdfunding campaign from last year. The album begins with ‘Tombstones’ and is the perfect balance of folk music and country music without any of the cheese often associated with both genres. Bradley’s voice is perfect for this as it’s just the right side of gravelly. Acoustic guitar is accompanied by a short synthesizer tune popping up throughout the song and some gang vocals towards the end as Bradley sings of life on the road as artist away from the grind of everyday life.

Bradley is joined by several friends on the album one being Reggie Duncan on steel guitar and on ‘I Like Things That Kill’ it hits the spot admirably in this (mainly) bitter song about a ex-lover.

My favourite track on the album is up next with ‘All My Friends (Have Died)’ and is a sober reminder that as we all get older we start to lose our mates along the way and here Bradley sings the praises of those closest to him. Musically its a slow burner with, again, wonderful steel guitar.

“Jeff never had a chance
the dope was there since day one
Tanya was probably murdered
but poor folks rarely see justice
Shane fell in love with himself
and finally died of a broken heart
Dominic lost his war with cancer
but goddamn he fought it hard
good goddamn son you fought that shit hard”

A beautiful song that is sure to get you thinking, as it did to me. After such a heartbreaking song the album takes a somewhat lighter turn with ‘2nd Wind’. Well musically anyway. A tale of redemption through meeting a women who could sort out the mess of a life.

‘The Long Way’ has more of a full band sound and tells of the breakup of Bradley’s first marriage beginning with the lines

“I should have never got married
that first time around
I made a fool of myself
more red flags than i could ever count “

and shows us that even at the worse of times some good can come through. After all it was this marriage that brought him from Missouri to Los Angeles. Again great harmonica here and a very undervalued instrument I think. It’s folk pedigree is enormous. The catchy ‘Deep Valley Blues’ is perhaps a bit too radio friendly for this misery guts ears but trots along at a nice pace and it’s not always a bad thing that you can imagine your Ma loving the same music as you.

‘Lost In August’ begins with the welcome understated sound of accordion from Solbodan Bobo Lekic and another unfashionable instrument the ukulele. It’s become too popular to bash the uke but you’ll not find any of that shite here. It’s got a great sound and is, fairly, easy to play so maybe that’s why musicians slag it off as it is so accessible to people. ‘The High Cost Of Free Living’ is another high point of Volume 1 and for an album that covers some fairly depressing themes its not devoid of humour though it tends to be as black as the hills!

“never amounted to much of nothing
but I’m still here and I still think that counts for something
and I ain’t starving for attention
boy I’ll gnaw your ear right off
about the high cost of free living”

Bradley has a great way of story telling as shown on ‘Trouble To Find’ where he tells of people he has met who have suffered from mental illnesses or have just been plain old aresholes (that’s assholes to you Americans!)

“I hope you get help or struck by a bus
you know something real quick and painless”

Volume 1 comes to an end with ‘Hollywood, Hollywood’ and closes things with another high point as Bradley tells of a place that is not all it’s cracked up to be.

“cause we found California but it’s far from paradise”

I’m glad Bradley Palermo thought to send us this album and while we may have a reputation for preferring the more rowdy side of Celtic-Punk I must also admit a fondness for albums like Volume 1. I have found myself playing it a lot more than necessary to review it which is quite the compliment if you realised the amount of music we receive. Lyrically it is superb and when accompanied by such soulful music I can only see Bradley’s career receiving the attention it most certainly deserves. One review stated that the album plays like a story he might tell you himself at a bar over some drinks and I can’t think of a better way to end this one review too.

(listen to Volume 1 for free before you buy on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Volume 1  Here  Contact Bradley Palermo WebSite  Facebook  Soundcloud  Instagram

EP REVIEW: THE CLAN- ‘Quattro Giorni Fuori Porta’ (2019)

Another release from one of the most productive and popular bands in Celtic-Punk. The Clan from Italy balance high tempo folk and country alongside Celtic-Punk to make one of the best records of the year so far.

It has been a funny week in the world of Celtic-Punk! Fresh from catching the superb Dropkick Murphys live in London last Friday two EP’s land on our doorstep on the same morning from very well respected Italian Celtic-Punk bands. The first was from this band, The Clan. One of the first bands heard and a band that has featured several times on these pages with previous album reviews. The second was a relatively new band The Rumpled who arrived on the scene properly in 2014 but it was with last years highly rated Ashes & Wishes album featuring guest vocals from The Rumjacks Frankie McLaughlin.

But more on The Rumpled later in the week for now we have The Clan. Probably the better known of the Italian bands in the scene. Along with bands like The Clan and The Rumpled, Modena City Ramblers, Kitchen Implosion, Dirty Artichokes and Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards all the Italian bands share a deep love for Ireland and it’s culture and musical traditions. If Celtic-Punk was about taking the folk tradition and the punk tradition , moulding them together but still staying true to those traditions then it is the Italians who do the job best. There is a sort of generic Celtic music that incorporates music from all the Celtic nations and though instantly recognisable as Celtic-Punk it doesn’t belong to one place in particular. The Italian bands are different and has produced a truly unique style of Irish music. The Clan hail from the small town of Muggiò in Lombardy which is in the north of Italy and have been together since 2013. With a bunch of fine albums behind them, three in five years, The Clan in 2014, All In The Name Of Folk in 2016 and last years Here To Stay, here on their new EP they have carried on their progression and taken a new direction to forsake English and decided to record the EP’s four songs in their native language. It’s understandable that bands think they need to sing in English, with the vast majority of Celtic-Punks fanbase in English speaking countries, but we have long been supporters of native languages so sing on Bhoys. We’ll still get it you know. 

The title of the EP is Quattro Giorni Fuori Porta which translated into English means Four Days Out Of Door and though it only has four songs they are sung and played with the same passion that The Clan are renowned for. To this par of big Irish ears the words, sung by guitarist/mandolin player Angelo, sound great. Italian is famous for being a beautiful language and it fits the music here perfectly. The music itself flits from Celtic to upbeat Country and Folk and sounds jolly and fun though the subjects contained in the songs are not always! The EP begins with ‘Il Giorno Più Freddo Dell’anno’ (The Coldest Day Of The Year’) which is a song about animal-rights, a subject The Clan have visited before and a cause close to their hearts. The longest song here at over four minutes its sound leans heavily on Francesco’s fiddle and is against hunting as it tells of a day spent with a mother and her puppies out in the wild. The sound sits fairly perfectly between Country and Celtic but as with The Clan they don’t make music to stand still to! They follow this up with ‘Il Giorno Con Te’ (‘The Day With You’) and the bands sound is perfect with Francisco’s fiddle again leading but venturing from manic to melancholy and while it is annoying not to know what the words are about this is only because The Clan have nailed it on their lyrics in the past and I have always enjoyed reading them. Still it’s a small price to pay to hear the songs sung as they should be. ‘Il Giorno Prima Di Morire’ (‘The Day Before Dying’) keeps the tempo right up and is a hymn to freedom. The time we have here on earth is fleeting and we must each make the most of all we have. Catchy, fast and passionate it’s another corker and leads us nicely onto the final track ‘Il Giorno Migliore’ (‘The Best Day’) which, for me, is the standout track here with its upbeat  sound that would move even the shyest mans feet!

The Clan have announced their may well be an English version of this EP but for now this is to show their appreciation to their Italian fan base and why not? The balance they have between genres is quite the feat and yet they still remain at heart a Celtic-Punk band more in the acoustic tradition say of Flogging Molly but with a sound all of their own making. The Clan have carved out quite the movement behind them thanks to intelligent lyrics, well made videos, respect for folk tradition and the love of a bloody good time! In common with those previous releases it’s been excellently produced and the whole band shine through. This is a great EP and though part of me is looking forward to hearing the English versions another part wants to leave it like this.

Buy Quattro Giorni Fuori Porta  Spotify  iTunes  Amazon  Deezer

Contact The Clan  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram  Twitter  ReverbNation

There’s an interview with The Clan here at Traks magazine where you can play the whole EP. I couldn’t work out how to embed the EP from Spotify! Remember to translate from Italian though!!

NEW FILM. A REBEL I CAME- THE STORY OF ÉIRE ÓG LIVE AT THE BRAZEN HEAD

In 1997 Éire Óg released their Live At The Brazen Head album, one of the most iconic rebel album of its generation. This film, produced by The Rebel Collective podcast, brings together some of the original members of the band and many other prominent musicians from the rebel/folk scene to discuss how the band and album came about, its impact and legacy more then twenty years later.

Many of the best rebel bands of the modern era hail from Glasgow. Among them Saoirse, Athenrye, Shebeen, Mise Éire and Pádraig Mór but the foremost was the legendary Éire Óg who led the way inspiring all around them. Formed in Glasgow, Scotland in the early 1990’s, they toured throughout Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Europe and the USA extensively during their time together.
What made them unique was their introduction of the marching drums to their music, a style that has subsequently been copied by many bands ever since. It gave them an unmistakable and uncompromising sound that became the soundtrack of an entire generation during a period of civil strife prior to the IRA ceasefire of the late nineties.
The band was led by Irish republican supporter, Glasgow-born folk rock singer Gary Og, who is now a successful solo artist and we recommend checking him out here.

The video is viewable for free but we would appreciate if you could donate to: 
https://angortamorglasgow.com

An Gorta Mór Glasgow

 We’re Building a Famine Memorial in Glasgow

Between 1845 and 1855 over one million people fled starvation conditions in Ireland. Around 100,000 made their way to Glasgow. Coiste Cuimhneachain An Gorta Mór (Great Hunger Memorial Committee) has been formed to build a permanent memorial to those who died of starvation or were forced to emigrate, including those who came to our city during ‘An Gorta Mór’.

We need to have a monument worthy of the memory of our ancestors who were forced to leave Ireland and those who were starved to death by the British government and the British ruling class, so please give generously. There is an online shop where you can buy goods with the An Gorta Mor logo. All profits go to the fundraising plot. Thank you. We are building it!

THE REBEL COLLECTIVE

The Rebel Collective podcast is a monthly music based podcast that features various guests of a rebel nature. We will be getting to know some of their favourite songs and the songs that helped shape the artist they are today, and hopefully gaining a bit of insight into their background and influences.

Podcast  Facebook  YouTube  Twitter

BUY LIVE AT THE BRAZEN HEAD CD HERE

GET YOUR FREE DOWNLOAD OF ‘IRISH DRINKING SONGS FOR CAT LOVERS’…

We are getting ever closer to ‘The Big Day’ and to celebrate Irish-American musician and cat-fan Marc Gunn has made his album Irish Drinking Songs for Cat Lovers available to download for free until the day after St. Patricks Day. Yes that’s right there’s no cost to you. Just ‘adopt’ and download the album. You’ll find details through that link.

 So let’s celebrate St Patrick’s Day with Celtic music and cats.

What the hell is this about I hear you all saying? Well it’s exactly what it says on the cover. Celtic musician Marc Gunn has spent a lifetime in the Irish and Celtic music scene and while he’s not administering the Celtic Music podcast or recording and playing more ‘normal’ music he has released a whole bunch of CD’s in tribute to our feline friends- the cat. Now I’m a cat man myself and have two, with the rather predictable names of Molly and Murphy!, so a whole bunch of Irish songs re-written with lyrics about cats is right up my alley.
Imagine for a moment all of the crazy little things your cat does. Racing around your home. Climbing on door frames. Napping in the oddest positions. Nuzzling up to you. Waking you up in the morning. Begging for food. Having them rub their tail against your leg. The list goes on and on. These are just a few of the many pleasures of owning a cat. All the beauty, the sweetness, and all the madness, that’s what this album is all about.
As Marc says himself
“I wanted to share my experience with one of life’s most-amazing creatures. I wanted your mind to meld with mine, so you can experience my cats, and I can experience yours. This is just a small sample of the purr-fect world awaiting you when you purchase a copy of this album.”

This is one of a series of cat themed Gaelic albums so feel free to download Irish Drinking Songs for Cat Lovers for a limited time only. It is available for free only until Sunday 18th March, 2019 no strings attached. Just follow the link below. Click ‘Buy the Album’ and in the pop up box name your price as ZERO and you can then download the album free!
Slainte! Meow!

DOWNLOAD Irish Drinking Songs for Cat Lovers HERE

Marc Gunn is a rhythm and folk musician inspired by Celtic culture, science fiction, fantasy, and cats. He breathes new life into the autoharp, which continues to surprise musical veterans and fans a like for it’s unique sound and spirited energy. It’s like a satirical jam session between The Clancy Brothers and Weird Al Yankovic. It’s Celtic music, the traditional and the twisted.

Marc Gunn- WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp  CelticMusicPodcast

ALBUM REVIEW: RUNA- ‘Ten: The Errant Night’ (2019)

Innovative and award-winning Celtic Roots band, Runa draw on the diverse musical backgrounds of its band members and offer a modern, referential and refreshing approach to traditional and more recently composed Celtic material. 

Hear the world premier of Ten: The Errant Years tonight, Sunday, March 10th, on the Live Ireland (here) radio station on The Bill And Imelda Show. The show will begin at 18:00 GMT. So be sure to tune in and join the ever growing ranks of RUNAtics!

Runa have graced these pages a couple of times before and though you won’t ever find them supporting the Dropkick Murphys (mores the pity as that would be one hell of a gig!) they are, and remain so after Ten: The Errant Years, one of the favourite bands over here at London Celtic Punk HQ. With four studio albums behind them Runa celebrate their tenth anniversary with their first release since 2016’s imaginatively titled live album Live. Over the years their prominence has risen and risen to the point now where the guests on Ten read like a who’s who of the Folk and Country scene in north America. With several Grammy award winning musicians on board for this album, including legendary Irish singer, Moya Brennan; nine-time All-Ireland Irish fiddle champion, Eileen Ivers; Nashville session musican, Jeff Taylor; and Nashville singer-songwriter and Harmonica player, Buddy Greene, and many more, then Ten already sets the bar high before you have even listened to it.
Traditional Irish folk music has never stood still. Ever. Change may have been slow at times but it always came and always despite those who would never accept any deviation to what had become before. As Ireland’s people spread reluctantly across the world they took with them their music and so Irish music evolved. From the 1940’s onward it was seen as the music of the farming communities and the working-class and held in low esteem until The Clancy Brothers shot to fame in the 1950’s and introduced it to an audience well outside of the Irish community and suddenly it become very popular. The Dubliners moved it further on with their Guinness soaked ballads of the 60’s with the Irish showbands and Celtic-Rock of the 70’s taking us up to The Pogues and their beer soaked ballads of the 80’s and the more modern development of Celtic-Punk. Outside the island of Ireland Irish music has soaked up the influences of wherever Irish people have washed up and fully embraced it. In the States that means pushing the boundaries of Irish folk into Country and Americana and Bluegrass. Runa do all this but in a much more subtle way than any Celtic-Punk would and it has been very successful too with them being awarded several honours including Top Group and Top Traditional Group in the Irish Music Awards and three Independent Music Awards including Best Live Album, Best World/Traditional Song, and Best Bluegrass Song. They even wound as #1 in the 2014 London Celtic Punks Best Trad/Folk Album of the year for Current Affairs.

Runa from left to right: Canadian Cheryl Prashker on percussion, Jake James of New York on the fiddle, vocalist and step-dancer, Shannon Lambert-Ryan of Philadelphia, Caleb Edwards of Nashville on mandolin and Dublin-born Fionán de Barra on guitar, bass, vocal and bodhran.

Together they have set the Irish folk music scene alight and will continue to I am sure with the release of Ten. The songs here represent the progression of Runa from a traditional Irish folk band to what they call themselves ‘Celtic Roots’. Music that not only takes in the other Celtic nations but also their adopted home on the other side of the Atlantic. Ten begins with Glasgow-Irishman Paul McKenna’s track ‘Again For Greenland’. It’s the usual story of an Irishman going off somewhere leaving his beloved back home on the shore.

“We leave our sweethearts and our wives,
All weeping on the pier;
Cheer up my dears, we’ll soon return,
‘Tis only half a year.”

The rumble of the bass at the beginning gives way to Caleb’s amazing mandolin and Shannon’s ever amazing vocals which lead everything along and adds so much to the music. It’s for albums like this and bands like Runa that the dictionary folk invented the word ‘catchy’ so to spare me repeating it for every song just assume that every song here is and bloody well is too!

Commemorative plaque in Mexico City unveiled 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”

‘John Riley’ tells of the Irish adventurer who left Galway during the famine years and winded up enrolled in the American army where he ends up fighting in the Mexican–American War of 1846–1848. Treated terribly by the US army and suffering from the common anti-Irish and anti-Catholic discrimination of the time John led a number of fellow Irish Catholics who decided to defect to the Mexicans, where they formed the Saint Patrick’s Battalion in the Mexican Army, fighting bravely in several battles though eventually being all but wiped out in the The Battle of Churubusco on the 20th August, 1847. Their memory is still celebrated widely in Mexico today. The song speeds along at a decent pace and Buddy Greene’s harmonica certainly livens it up along with the beat of Cheryl’s percussion. A sad story but one of many times through history the Irish proved themselves in battle. Though Shannon’s voice is intrinsic to Runa’s sound the band naturally excel with pure Irish trad and with the superb ‘Kelly Man Reels’ Jake plays amazing fiddle to the opening two reels written by Fionán before ending the track with the Scots reel ‘A Trip To Strathbogie’. ‘The Green Fields Of Canada’ sees Shannon tell another tale of Irish emigration though unusually as Andy Irvine, who recorded the song with Planxty, says
“Unlike most emigration songs, the émigré in this one appears to believe he has done the right thing”.
A beautiful song tinged with sadness as the Irishman promises to himself that when he makes it big
“If ever friendless Irishmen chances my way:
With the best in the house I will greet him and welcome”

Next up is the modern day Scottish folk song ‘Thaney’ written by Karine Polwart of Malinky. Upbeat and again Cheryl’s innovative use of percussion adds so much to the sound of the song. ‘Great Lakes Of Pontchartrain’ is an American ballad telling of a man who falls in love but the love is unrequited. Thought to have originated in the southern United States in the 19th century it is perhaps most famous for its recording by the legendary Planxty in 1974. ‘Firewood Set’ is another grand set of reels with the opening track written by fiddle player Jake and June Apple and finishing with the trad ‘Chinquapin Hunting’ and the switch from fiddle to mandolin is absolutely seamless. ‘The Banks Of Newfoundland/ Jerusalems Bridge/ Crowleys’ begins with the first of the three tracks with another sad tale of emigration. Written in 1820 the subject matter belies the tune in these songs and with two fantastic reels added onto the end it’s pure upfiting. More than half way through Runa now play a glorious cover of the David Francey penned track ‘Saints & Sinners’ which could almost have written for them. They follow this with the long forgotten Hoagy Carmichael and Jack Brooks penned ‘Ole Buttermilk Sky’. Written in 1946 for the Western movie ‘Canyon Passage’ it’s pure hokum and a welcome and jolly interlude. ‘Torn Screen Door’ is a beautiful song featured here in a stunning video below. Sung unaccompanied by music this style is known across the world as acapello but in Ireland it is called sean nós (Gaelic for ‘in the old style’) and is considered the ultimate expression of traditional singing. Usually sang as a solo but not always, here Runa tell the all too common story of hardworking working class folk losing it all.

In true sean-nós style the words are considered to have as much importance as the melody as in ‘Torn Screen Door’. With ten years under their belts it’s only natural that people have come and gone but Runa always welcome them back for more, as on their last album Live, and the following few songs have a handful of ex-members joining in, like on ‘Runa Alumni Set’ which flips from folk to jazz to trad Irish and back again all seamlessly and is an absolute pure joy to listen to. Just three songs to go and on ‘An Buachaillín Bán’ Runa are joined by Clannad’s Moya Brennan as well as Fionán’s brothers Cormac on harp and Eamonn on flute for a beautiful and gentle version of this Gaelic language song. ‘Dance In The Graveyards’ again shows the bands versatility with a cover of the North Carolina-based roots-rock band Delta Rae’s 2012 hit and the curtain comes slowly down on Ten: The Errant Years with the trad Appalachian spiritual ‘Bright Morning Stars’. Slow and mournful and a superb way to end things.

CLICK HERE TO HEAR A PREVIEW OF THE ALBUM

Runa have an amazing way of interpreting work and with the songs here ranging from centuries old to modern times the selection is as varied as you could wish for while still having Runa stamped all the way through it like a stick of seaside rock. There are no boundaries for Runa as they continue to expand on their Celtic sound and even throw in such gems/surprises as ‘Ole Buttermilk Sky’ among the sometimes haunting and tragic melodies and themes from Ireland and Scotland giving such a refreshing take on Celtic traditional music. It is no wonder that Runa are well received everywhere they go and their reputation as one of the best and inventive folk bands of this modern era is well deserved.

Discography

Jealousy (2009) * Stretched On Your Grave (2011) * Somewhere Along The Road (2012) * Current Affairs (2014) * Live (2016) *

Buy Ten: The Errant Night

CDbaby  -their is no pre-release order so the CD will be available here shortly

Contact Runa

WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  Soundcloud  YouTube  ReverbNation

ALBUM REVIEW: THE LED FARMERS- ‘Irish Folk Out Straight’ (2018)

Well I never it’s actually an Irish band from Ireland! The Led Farmers hail from Dublin and their brand new EP features seven absolute Irish folk classics done of course in that special Led Farmers way!


The Led Farmers are four Dublin fella’s who love what they do, playing upbeat Irish folk music and more. Boasting a two-time All Ireland music champion and members who have studied music at University level. Having performed throughout Europe and the U.S. they began their career in 2014 playing beloved Irish folk classics but soon after began to concentrate on writing their own material that may nod to the past but also moves folk along to the present and even the future. They take their name from a quote by Robert Downey Jr.’s character in the 2008 film Tropic Thunder. Recently having toured Italiy they went down a storm with their acoustic traditional folk played with passion and energy. They’ll not be a song here new to even the casual folk fan but these songs have become the mainstay of most pub singers for a very good reason. Speaking for myself I heard these songs at my Mammy’s knee and were among the first songs I ever knew the words to. Each song evokes a memory and experience I look back with fondness and I’m sure most people from the Irish diaspora can relate to that. Irish Folk Out Straight has been mixed and mastered by Eoin Withfield and is seven tracks of classic Irish folk done in their own energetic and fun Led Farmers style.

The Led Farmers left to right: Patrick Widmer- Drums * Ross O’ Farrell- Bass and Vocals * Brendan Walsh- Banjo and Vocals * Conor Buckley- Guitar

Now the songs here were originally and, in most cases, made famous by one or two bands but in the case of ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ it’s a song that stepped out of folk music and actually became better known when recorded by Irish rock band Thin Lizzy. Anyone who hasn’t seen the TV recording of them miming away to it from 1973 had better get on it now (here) for it’s never been bettered. Recorded, of course, by both The Dubliners and The Pogues (they even released a version of it together!) it’s given a new lease of life here as The Led Farmers run through it with a jolly and energetic tune bordering on upbeat country and bluegrass at times with Brendan’s guitar aflame!

“With me ring dum a doodle um dah
Whack for the daddy o
Whack for the daddy o
Theres whiskey in the jar”

The song dates from the 17th century though no one is actually sure when and who wrote it but a cracking way to kick things. A very popular song which folk music historian Alan Lomax in his book The Folk Songs of North America, suggests was because

“The folk of seventeenth century Ireland (and Scotland) liked and admired their local highwaymen where the gentlemen of the roads robbed English landlords, they were regarded as national patriots.”

Now the next song has been recorded by just about every Celtic-Punk band in existence and if you haven’t heard it by at least a dozen bands then you need to seriously sort out your music collection! ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ is without doubt the most popular trad song in Celtic-Punk and with good reason too. It’s a beauty of a song that is perfect for speeding up and getting a crowd going as well as getting a good auld singsong on the go as well. Here it’s mucked about (in a good way) as the boys have fun with it diving in and out of several genres, including reggae, as its ploughed through in just over a couple of minutes. Originally a a children’s skipping song, it’s another song whose origins are a bit obscure but versions were found in parts of northern England and Ireland in the 19th century. Following now is ‘The Rattlin’ Bog’ and The Led Farmers demonstrate they can play a mean bit of trad Irish folk as well as a good party song. No one knows the exact origins of the song except that its about a bog on the grounds of Collon Monastery in county Louth. Traditionally the song gets faster and faster as the song comes to the end and audience participation is a must here with its easy to remember chorus. As with most folk songs it’s been passed on orally through generations and hence many different versions exist out there but the version as sung by The Dubliners seems to have become the standard.

(The first single from the EP and its great video as filmed by Ger O Donnell in the beautiful fields of county Clare. )

This time its given a bit more time to breathe and at over four minutes is the longest track here and with its’s trad folk flourishes it’s the standout song here and well deserving of the hilarious video that accompanies it.

“And in that bog there was a tree, a rare tree, a rattlin’ tree
With the tree in the bog
And the bog down in the valley-o.”

We get another popular Celtic-Punk cover next with ‘Star Of The County Down’ and for once we know it’s date of birth as it was written by Cathal McGarvey who passed away in 1927. The song is set near Banbridge in county Down and The Led Farmers take a rest and play it nice and slow. It’s beautifully played and the addition of some wonderful uilleann pipes from Roman Haller really lifts the song. Another Pogues/Dubs collaboration follows with ‘Rare Old Mountain Dew’ and they stick fairly close to the standard with Brendan’s banjo leading the show and the gang getting in on the “hi di-diddly-idle-um, diddly-doodle-idle-um, diddly-doo-ri-diddlum-deh” chorus! Written in 1882 the song celebrates poitin, the name for illegal Irish alcohol brewed from, what else but, the humble potato and this is what gets my goat (or in English- on my nerves) when people denounce Celtic-Punk with being obsessed with songs about alcohol when here you have a song that has been belted out for 130+ years doing just that. We shipping up towards the end and appropriately its the sea shanty ‘Leaving Of Liverpool’. Dating from the 1800’s it tells of a prospective Gold miner setting sail for California who pledges to his beloved “so fare thee well my own true love; when I return united we shall be”. Whether your man ever did is debatable. Certainly many didn’t giving this song perhaps a bitter sweet edge to its jocularity. So on a mini-album of seven songs the first six have been much loved and much played classic Irish folk tunes so when I saw ‘Drunken Sailor Odyessy’ was bringing down the curtain I expected the bog standard version but The Led Farmers turn the song on its head and deliver a song pitched somewhere between The Beach Boys and some white-bread Hip-Hop! Great fun as Brendan gives it a go rapping as Ross gets a chance to shine on the bass rumbling away while the band chip in and the whole thing is bloody marvellous and worth the price of the EP alone!

So absolutely nothing original here (except the rap version of ‘Drunken Sailor’ I suppose) but that’s hardly the point of a record like this. Maybe it’s to keep their fans happy in between ‘proper’ releases or maybe they know it’s guaranteed press coverage but whats in it for the casual fan or those like me new to the band. Well hard to say exactly but these songs are extremely well played and the fun is utterly infectious and it’s brilliant to hear a band having such great fun playing songs that are sometimes over a couple of hundred years old. The Led Farmers have a back catalogue of great songs of their own so relish the chance to freshen up these classics and it’s worked out well for them.

Buy Irish Folk Out Straight

iTunes  Spotify

Contact The Led Farmers

WebSite  Facebook  Soundcloud  YouTube  Instagram

(in concerto al Bundan Celtic Festival in Stellata di Bondeno (FE).)

Read a great interview with vocalist and banjo maestro Brendan on the 67 Music site here.

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS PRESENTS THE BEST OF 2018!

Well it seems like only yesterday that I was sitting in Mannions in north London totting up the votes for the Best Album Of 2017 over a couple of pints and so here we are again. Everyone loves to give out there opinions and we are no different so for what it’s worth, here’s who we think made the best music in the celtic-punk scene over the last year. It’s been another outstanding year for the music that we all love and some truly fantastic records came out in the last twelve months. 2017 saw just about every major player in the scene release an album while in 2018 they left it to many of the lesser known bands to dominate! Remember though this is only our opinion and these thirty album’s are only the tip of the iceberg of what was released last year. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. As a bonus we figured out how to attach a poll at the end so you can even vote on your favourite release of 2018 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…

1. THE RUMJACKS- Saints Preserve Us  here

2. 1916- Far Beyond The Pale  here

3. CLAN OF CELTS- Beggars, Celts & Madmen  here

4. KRAKIN’ KELLYS- Promised Land  here

5. THE O’REILLYS AND THE PADDYHATS- Green Blood  here

6. SIR REG- The Underdogs  here

7. TIR NA OG- From The Gallows  here

8. FIRKIN- We Are The Ones  here

9. THE MAHONES- Love + Death + Redemption  here

10. THE MUCKERS- One More Stout  here

11. BASTARD BEARDED IRISHMEN- Drinkin’ To The Dead  here

12. HOLD FAST- Black Irish Sons  here

13. LEXINGTON FIELD- Dreamers  here

14. THE RUMPLED- Ashes & Wishes  here

15. TAN AND SOBER GENTLEMEN- Veracity  here

16.THE KILLIGANS- Dance On Your Grave  here

17. ALTERNATIVE ULSTER- Pog Mo Thoin  here

18. PADDY AND THE RATS- Riot City Outlaws  here

19. IRISH MOUTARDE- Perdition  here

20. BASTARDS ON PARADE- Cara a Liberdade  here

21. MR. IRISH BASTARD- The Desire for Revenge  here

22. PIRATE COPY- Swashbuckle & Swagger  here

23. SINFUL MAGGIE- S/T

24. JOLLY JACKERS- Out Of The Blue  here

25. MUIRSHEEN DURKIN AND FRIENDS- 11 Pints And 3 Shots  here

26. THE CHERRY COKE$- The Answer

27. THE CLAN- Here To Stay  here

28. KINGS & BOOZERS- Still Got The Booze  here

29. FALPERRYS- Nova Abordagem  here

30. AIRS & GRACES- Voting At The Hall  here

bubbling under: MALASANERS- Footprints  here

So absolutely no surprises here at all. In fact The Rumjacks have pretty much swept the board across the Celtic-Punk scene with what we even thought was their best release since their groundbreaking debut album Gangs Of New Holland. The Bhoys are going from strength to strength and are set to go through the roof in 2019. They remain as humble as ever and downright lovely folk to know which reminds me, congrats from us all here to Frankie and LCP’er Anna on their engagement. Other notables were Sir Reg who even flew over to London to premier their new album The Underdogs before later returning to embark on a successful nationwide tour… while I was on holiday! London-Irish band Clan Of Celts, despite a few teething problems, delivered a fantastic debut album as well as, my personal favourite of the year, Belgium’s Krakin’ Kellys. A dual release of an album and a EP on the same day is a novel approach but it paid dividends for Lexington Field as they were both brilliant. Sinful Maggie have just been getting bigger and bigger all year and we expect this to continue into 2019. Three albums from the Celtic nations with two from Galicia from Falperrys and Bastards On Parade and Cornwall’s Pirate Copy. All together we have bands from twelve countries with Germany with the most placings alongside  Australia, USA, England, Belgium, Sweden, Hungary, Canada, Italy, Galicia, Cornwall and Japan.

KRAKIN’ KELLYS- Promised Land  here

I was not the only one at London Celtic Punks Towers to be abso-fecking-lutely blown away by the Krakin’ Kellys debut album. Fast and melodic skater style punk rock with bagpipes that will blow the cobwebs away off off anyone! They made quite a wave in the scene thanks to their brilliant videos so go check them out here. This section was the easiest one to award by far!

1. THE LAGAN- Let’s Do It Again

2. MEDUSA’S WAKE- Rascals & Rogues  here

2. HANDSOME YOUNG STRANGERS- The Bleeding Bridge  here

4. THE DANGEROUS FOLK- One  here

5. LEXINGTON FIELD- Modern Times  here

6. SCOTCH- Last In The Bar  here

7. TULLAMORE- Déš An Pr’i Strà, Déš An Int ál Bar  here

8. THE GRINNING BARRETTS- The St. Padraigs  here

9. IN FOR A PENNY- Sometimes Its Better To Not  here

10. THE ROYAL SPUDS- Unforgotten Lore  here

bubbling under…

MOSCHE DI VELLUTO GRIGIO- Of Pain And Glory here and RAISE MY KILT- A New Tartan  here

At one point this was heading towards being an Australian #1, #2 and #3 but at the last minute our local favourites The Lagan released Let’s Do It Again at the end of December and wrestled it away from Medusa’s Wake. Their first studio release in a hell of a long time it came out too late to trouble many of our friends ‘Best Of’ lists but their loss is our gain! Besides them and our Aussie friends the list was made up from bands from the USA, Holland, Italy and Austria which goes to show the international nature of the scene. As an aside you can get the brilliant bagpipe punk debut EP from Scotch for free by following the link to their review. For lovers of the McKenzies you’ll not be disappointed!

1. MARYS LANE- Wild Unknown  here

2. LOUIS RIVE- The Cheap Part Of Town  here

3. THE CRAICHEADS- S/T  here

4. LANKUM-  Between Earth and Sky here

5. MAN THE LIFEBOATS- Man The Lifeboats  here

6. SLIOTAR- Voyage

7. CLOVER’S REVENGE- Gotta Get O’Raggednized  here

8. BLACKBEARDS TEA PARTY- Leviathan  here

9. THE LED FARMERS- Irish Folk Out Straight

10. FINBAR FUREY- Don’t Stop This Now  here

bubbling under: THE BRANDY THIEVES- The Devil’s Wine  here

Always the hardest to do this section as our scope has become fairly wide over the years and gone beyond Celtic-Punk but Irish-American’s Marys Lane managed at once to be a record both me and my Mammy love! Even better the Cleveland based band have made it available to download for free/donation so follow the link above. Scot Louis Rive’s debut album really impressed me and was one of my most played albums of the year and The Craicheads capped a great year with a fantastic single and their lead singer Mick making the papers and the telly for saving a Mum and her babies lives (here). Good on yer Mick. It’s a privilege to know you. More local talent at #4 which ended a year where Man The Lifeboats have gone from first band on to headline shows and a mention for the amazing Finbar Furey who put a most excellent LP at the tender age of only 72.

MERSEY CELT PUNKS

We may be a wee bit biased here but last years winners take it again this year too. 2018 saw them continue to develop the site into an all-round resource for Liverpudlians and further afield. Yeah these guys are always blowing our trumpet we know and we have shared a good few scoops with them, and will again not long after this is published, but we enjoy what they write and it’s all done with an enthusiasm that us auld hacks are constantly jealous of. Plus you are not a major player in the Celtic-Punk scene unless you had your picture took with Elliot! You can also join in their fun and games on their Twitter and Facebook and their Web-Zine. Be sure to subscribe.

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 6th year of us making these lists so if you would like to check out out who was where in our previous Best Of’s then just click on the link below the relevant year.

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

THE CELTIC PUNKCAST

CELTIC FOLK PUNK AND MORE

FOLK’N’ROCK

PADDYROCK

MERSEY CELT PUNKS

MacSLONS IRISH RADIO

Now here’s a new feature. Pick your own favourite below! The Poll will end on the final day of the month!

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

 Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: VINCE CAYO- ‘Lucky Red Hat’ (2018)

Cayote Rock’n’Roll with Yorkshire grit’n’soul.

Lucky Red Hat is the follow up album to last years Bound For Glory which rocked the collective arses off of the London Celtic Punks in 2017. Vince has I’m sure a bit of Irish blood (apologies if you don’t mate!), many in Yorkshire do, and I’m thinking that influences his style quite a bit. He’s that kind of annoying artist who can play loads of instruments while you’d be happy to know how to bang a tambourine in time! When we reviewed Bound For Glory we described him, pretty accurately as it goes, thus

“Vince has a very strong voice that growls out at you like Tom Waits lashing it up with McGowan backed by The Street Dogs”.

He puts his sound down to his love of good auld Celtic-Punk, especially Flogging Molly as well as Country influenced Punk in Social Distortion and the likes of Billy Bragg. A gritty Yorkshire take on folk and country music but with a modern interpretation. That album was one of my favourites of last year and indeed in ‘The Garbageman’ he has a song that I still play all the bloody time. A utterly fantastic album of countryfied Rock’n’Roll with plenty of Folk-Punk in there too. He has made the album free to download so do yourself a favour and get a copy from here on his Web-Site.

(have a listen to Vince’s debut album here on the Bandcamp player below)

His new album out only yesterday follows on pretty much exactly where Bound For Glory left off and that’s no bad thing I tells ya! Lucky Red Hat begins with ‘Animal Chin’ and Vince’s distinctive smokey growl grabs your attention instantly. It’s more of a full band vibe here with backing from El Vincenzo (hold your breath!) on several differnet guitar’s, harmonica, double bass, accordion, tenor banjo, mandolin, tin whistle, Grant Henderson on drums and Kieran O’Malley on fiddle but still basically Vince on guitar and harmonica. It’s all catchy stuff and its both folk and punk to my ears. ‘Working For The Company’ like most of the tales here is of ordinary working class life. This time of working years and years for the same company without realising where the time went. It’s pretty much the story for all of our folks if they were lucky. If not then our Grandparents. The first track released from the album was the title track ‘Lucky Red Hat’ and Vince chose well. Cut from the same cloth as the aforementioned ‘Garbageman’ imagine a folk song played on electric guitar but with ballsy singing and a nicely aggressive tone to it all.

The second track released form the album was ‘Dockfield Homeward Blues’ and we are in serious finger-in-the-ear folk territory here. Just Vince on acoustic guitar with that trademark voice gently telling us of life in Bradford a once proud Northern town but now in the doldrums.

The influences found here are far to many for me to list them all but trad English folk is accompanied by all sorts including Celtic and Punk but on ‘The Ghost Of Dean Moriarty’ it’s played like a acoustic hardcore punk song. Played as fast as possible but clear too and within a touch of Eastern Europe perhaps among the western imagery. Those Eastern Europe influences much more to the fore in the next track, ‘Deep Into The Night’, as Vince dusts off his accordion before we back to folkieness with  ‘Chipping Away The Stone’ where he is accompanied on fiddle giving the gentle song a Celtic feel. On  ‘Manningham’ Vince again tells of working class life in the borough of Bradford that at one point was the Jewish and then the German part of town but now is segregated between Asian and white communities. The area houses Valley Parade football stadium, home of Bradford City. In 1985 a fire broke out at the final game of the season against Lincoln City killing fifty-six spectators and injuring nearly 300. This was played out in front of the entire country live on TV and it’s legacy looms darkly upon the city to this day. Riots in 1995 and 2001 further pushed the two communities apart and sadly seems to be still doing so today. ‘Shannon Of Goodbyes’ sails past bordering more Country and Celtic-Punk and is a song worth listening to. I had originally thought it was a song about someone emigrating from Ireland to Bradford but Vince tells me it’s a poem by Mike Lally put to music. He was an Irish immigrant to the USA in the 50’s and the poem tells of him looking back over this decisive move. Vince knew Mike which how this song came into being. A great song nevertheless and again as catchy as hell. We sailing up to port now and if the album has touched and threatened to go full on Celt then ‘Beauty And The Beast’ is the song we were waiting for. Maybe its the tin-whistle into but as Vince is joined on vocals by Marjory Jager, once of the Dutch punk quartet Elusive Disorder, and she is the perfect accompaniment for Vince’s distinctive vocals with her beautiful voice. The albums main theme has been Western and ‘Cayotes And Roadrunners’ continues this with a chorus that took me a couple of listens before I realised the joke(you’ll get it if your over a certain age!) before the album ends with the traditional folk song, and only cover on the album, ‘Hang Me’ and a beautifully gloomy end as Vince gently strums his guitar and regales us of a hard life that ends on the end of a hangman’s noose.

Twelve songs clocking in at an impressive forty-two minutes and again I am very impressed with what Vince has come up. One thing I feel I must add is that it is Vince’s offbeat voice that dominates the album completely and while I love it and feel it fits proceedings absolutely perfectly maybe it aint for everyone but in a scene where Shane MacGowan is revered as a God it shouldn’t matter to anyone and in fact should only add to your enjoyment. After all your not here to hear anything sung perfectly… I hope so anyway. Vince Cayo is an amazingly talented fella and he’s put out another fantastic album that I hope you give some time to.

(you can have a sneaky listen to Lucky Red Hat here on the Bandcamp player but PLEASE use the link below if you choose to buy the album)

Buy Lucky Red Hat

FromVince Download only £3! CD- £8. PLEASE USE THIS LINK

Contact Vince Cayo

Facebook  WebSite  Bandcamp  Soundcloud  YouTube

(here’s the song that introduced me to Vince. I defy you not to fall in love with it!!!)

ALBUM REVIEW: TAN AND SOBER GENTLEMEN- ‘Veracity’ (2018)

Their has been a few great debut Celtic-Punk albums during 2018 but here is one of the very best from North Carolina’s the Tan and Sober Gentlemen. Raw and unfiltered, a blend of hard-driving, danceable roots delivered with a punk edge and whisky-fuelled abandon they call ‘Celtic-Punk-Grass’.

Holy f*$%*£g shit this is a one hell of a great album!! If anyone out there is still mourning the loss of the great Cutthroat Shamrock then dry your eyes and sit yourselves up as grieve no more as the Tan And Sober Gentlemen are here to fill that big Celtic-Bluegrass-Punk gap in our hearts. We were lucky earlier in the year to be chosen to showcase their debut single a release of the auld Celtic rebel number ‘Follow Me Up To Carlow’ which, needless to say, was absolutely fantastic. This though just left me itching for more so I was doing cartwheels when they sent me their debut album last week and it’s not been out me lugholes ever since!

Recorded in the woods of Chatham County, North Carolina, the album is a riotous take on what the band calls ‘Scotch-Irish hillbilly music’. North Carolina has a rich history of Irish, Scotch and Scotch-Irish history going back generations and the Tan And Sober Gentlemen are rightly proud of their state’s Celtic musical heritage. Musically they embrace the glorious foot stomping sound of their home while welding to it irish and Scots tunes and melodies. Totally acoustic this is the kind of wide-open-throttle, no-holds-barred band that could drown out most Punk bands with their passion, energy and sheer ruggedness.

Tan And Sober Gentlemen from left to right: Alan S. Best- Mandolin, Accordion, Penny Whistle *  Ben Noblit- Bass * William Maltbie- Singing * Jake Waits- Drums * Tucker Jackson Galloway- Banjo * Eli Howells- Fiddle * Courtney Raynor- Guitar

Since forming in the summer of 2016, Tan and Sober Gentlemen’s reputation has garnered them wide support at home in the Appalachians, across the East Coast and even back ‘home’ in Ireland. Veracity was released on 1st December this year and recorded and mixed at BNB Audio by Brett Scott and he has done an amazing job taking Tan And Sober Gentlemen’s live sound and transfering it successfully to record. Kicking off with ‘Rabbit’ and as ferocious banjo picking you ever gonna hear. It’s lively, catchy and totally awesome. The kind of song that almost forces you to onto the dancefloor to kick up the dust or as Black Water County would say “Beat up the floor!”. The song is based on a old black banjo tune from their home in the North Carolina Piedmont. First mentioned in 1913, it is thought to be much much older. Played at breakneck speed leaving the Country’n’Western me Mammy use to listen to in its dust. Mandolin, fiddle and Banjo are on fire while the rest of the band struggle I reckon to keep up. The pace doesn’t let up next with ‘The Day Has Come’ and neither does the catchyness! The first signs of the bands roots comes with an amazing cover of The Pogues classic tribute to Irish-America ‘The Body Of An American’. Beginning with Eli’s tender fiddle that almost stretches into the auld rebeller ‘Boolavogue’ before the band all come together as the song builds up and like the original bursts into life. Guitarist Courtney takes over ably on vocals and belts it out with gusto and heart. Yeah it maybe impossible to fuck up this song but it’s just as hard to impress with it too but a great version and a surefire way to get the dancefloor moving I am sure. ‘Waterbound’ is more traditional Hillbilly/Bluegrass fair but again played at a pace that’ll leave you out of breath just listening to it. A 20’s fiddle tune from Grayson County Virginia, though also thought to be much older. They slow it down slightly for ‘Deep Chatham’ but not by much! Courtney takes over from William on vocals again for ‘Knoxville Girl’, the albums longest song at just under six minutes. As far as I can tell it tells of a rather vicious fight but wrapped around a beautiful country and western ballad with some great fiddle. It’s the sort of song that would have fit perfectly on Nick Cave’s infamous Murder Ballads album. From the 17th century, the song was originally from Shropshire England, where the murder was commited, but it made its way across the broad atlantic to America by Irish immigrants, who sang it as ‘Wexford Girl’. It again took on new life when it was renamed ‘Knoxville Girl’ two centuries later after a second murder occurred. One of the album’s highlights is one of their own compositions and ‘Hold My Hand’ is what every country song should sound like. No mistaking the highlight of the album for me and it totally justifies them releasing it as the lead single for the album too. ‘Follow Me Up To Carlow’ is one of my favourite songs anyway but the Tan And Sober Gentlemen perform one hell of a good version of it. You can check out our review of it as a single here where we also dig into the interesting history of the song too. Veracity ends with ‘Going Home’ and it’s a song packed with history. Black churches in western North Carolina sang hymns in Gaelic well into the 20th century, and many Southern Baptist hymns are based on Scottish melodies. Antonin Dvorak was staying in the mountains of North Carolina when he stole the tune of two different bagpipe songs and wrote the 9th Symphony. It is thought the melodies of those two bagpipe tunes made their way into the repertoire of the black churches in Asheville NC, where Dvorak heard them and incorporated them into the Largo Theme. The song is now sung as the last song of every ceili. The band actually learnt it in Fort William!

So we’ve nine songs that clock in at thirty-three minutes and while they may be better known at home for their raucous, energetic live performances and with Veracity they have captured their wild abandon perfectly. With sold-out shows across the South, and, more interesting for us, international tours on the horizon, Tan And Sober Gentlemen are set for great things.

(you can have a free listen to Veracity before you spend your 10 bucks on it on the Bandcamp player below)

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Contact Tan And Sober Gentlemen

EP REVIEW: THE TWO MAN TRAVELLING MEDICINE SHOW- ‘A Snakes A Snakes’ (2018)


A Snake’s a Snake is the brand new EP from Dorset’s finest ramshackle Americana-Country-Folk-Punk band The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show released on Musical Bear Records.

The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show formed in 2016 and have rapidly become firm favourites on the south coast music festival scene in a short time. Described as ‘Heartfelt, Ramshackle Country Punk’ they have built up a good following and are becoming known for their riotous live shows. They released their debut album ‘Weeding Out The Wicked’ last year but as far as I know didn’t really escape their home base. This year they have released two EP’s ‘Float Your Boat’ and, this one, ‘A Snake’s A Snake’ and are aiming to begin 2019 with another. Things are definitly on the move for The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show so be sure to watch out for them next year.

The EP begins with the title track, ‘A Snakes A Snake’, and from the off it bounces along with a catchy air to it. It’s very much a product of the part of England they come from with an abundance of bands playing this kind of folky-catchy-country-punk. They are what I use to call a ‘Festival Band’ back in my youth. Dorset seems to churn out bands like this willy-nilly while the rest of the country barely manages a couple per town! I mean you count the number of bands in London on one hand. The song is pure great stuff. The kind of track that is guaranteed to get you up off your arse and bouncing around a field somewhere near the South-West coast. Influences galore mashed together and with a staggering eight members they sure cook up an interesting sound. Banjos, acoustic guitars, accordion and violin compete nicely for your attention while vocalist Mark explains his views on the deceitful world of the bastard and ethics.

‘Flood’ is up next and if I was to pigeonhole this band then perched somewhere between The Levellers and New Model Army would perhaps be it. Mark’s vocals are perfect and it’s great that he doesn’t ry too hard with them delivered in a completely natural way. The band have a bit more bite in this song and even an electric guitar can be heard though it’s not exactly thrashing! Still another great song that leads us into the gentle ballad ‘Sick And Tired’ where the band take it down a notch while fiddle player Alison Jay takes over on vocals to sing tenderly about the break-down of a relationship. A lovely song that shows the great diversity in this bands sound. Now this where most of the reviews Of A Snakes A Snake end but we were sent one with a bonus track, ‘Putting On A Show’. It’s another gentle rocker with Mark back on vocal duties and again its beautifully understated.

The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show show perfectly on this EP what they are all about. At times threatening to burst your eardrums in that way only an eight-piece acoustic Folk-Punk band can and at others so gentle and tender you shouldn’t really be listening to the same band but you know you are.

Buy A Snakes A Snakes

Contact the band via mark1lyons@icloud.com  or you can buy their debut album here

Contact The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show  Facebook

Musical Bear Records  WebSite  YouTube  Facebook  

EP REVIEW: THE CRAICHEADS- ‘Greetings From Another Land’ (2018)

One of the biggest pullers on the London Irish scene Celtic-folkers The Craicheads are back with an 4-track EP the follow up to their debut album and a taster for their new studio album due next year!

There are two Irish communities living in London. The Irish and the London-Irish. The Craicheads are London-Irish through and through. A product of their environment on the working-class streets of London where the Irish ran everything. Nowadays London is a multicultural place where every nation in the world has rocked up to and the presence of the Irish in it has diminished in a couple of ways. For decades the public face of the Irish was the pub. Only a decade ago Irish pubs dominated the high streets of the capital but gentrification and changing demographics and the ever increasing need to build flats for young yuppies professionals has seen 100’s and 100’s closed over the last few years. On top of that, the ageing population has sadly seen many of the Irish who arrived in the glory days of Irish emigration from the 50’s through to the 80’s either pass away or move back home in retirement. Nevertheless their is a rich vein of Irishness still alive and kicking in the capital and it wouldn’t be unusual to go to an Irish pub these days and find the Irish born well outnumbered by the Irish not born in Ireland!

Music has played an enormous part in this and yeah bands like The Pogues did truly represent us back in the day but more modern bands like The Bible Code Sundays continue the trend. All over London, and other parts of England, Wales and Scotland, the foreign born Irish celebrate their ancestors and their roots listening and singing along to fellow foreign born Irish bands and singers. Into this category we can add the wonderful Craicheads. Formed a decade ago the Bhoys are in constant demand playing in and around the capital and at functions and festivals throughout the UK and abroad. Performances on ITV’s This Morning, at Trafalgar Square for the 2016 St Patrick’s Day festivals, The Irish Post Awards and at The Rugby World Cup too, as well as a residency at one of London’s largest and most well known Irish bars, O’Neills in the west end. They have one release behind them, ‘Brewed In London’, which was basically an album of Irish folk and country tinged covers which was well played and enthusiastically received but it was the two original Craichead compositions on the album that stuck out for me. ‘Take Me Back To Harrow’ and ‘Sligo Shore’ showed exactly what they can do and I never stopped hinting to Mick the bands singer when I would see him that they ought to concentrate on some original material. Well I have gotten my wish!!

The Craicheads from left to right: Sean Douglas- Bass * Ben Gunnery- Fiddle/Whistle/Flute * Mick O’Beirne- Guitar/Lead Vocals * Martin Stewart- Drums * Tim Eyles: Lead Guitar/Mandolin *

It’s a wee bit of a change of direction for them and I can honestly say its for the better. Watching them in O’Neills, as I have done countless times, you come away knowing a couple of things. 1) That you have had a bloody great time and 2) that these guys are wasted on the London pub scene! The songs here are still tinged with folk, country, blues and even good old fashioned rock’n’roll but there’s a bite to these songs that was missing before. Maybe its a bit of punk attitude but as a taster for the upcoming Craicheads second album this will certainly get the juices flowing.

Greetings From Another Land was recorded many miles from London at the Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Cymru. The studio has in the past played host to such legends as Oasis, Joe Strummer, The Stone Rose’s and Queen. In fact it’s was here where Freddy Mercury wrote the epic song ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’! The EP kicks off with the rousing title-track ‘Greetings From Another Land’ where Mick’s voice sits snugly between fellow London-Irishmen Johnny Rotten and Shane MacGowan but still completely tuneful! The song takes the form of a message from one generation to the next about their experiences and the struggles they faced in emigrating to these shores.

“No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish was the sign upon the wall, It’s hard now to believe it but it happened to us all”

Times were tough for those Paddies and Biddies we must never forget. The song itself takes in a ska/reggae beat, appropriately enough, alongside some fantastic fast trad Irish. The Irish lived side by side with the West Indian communities on arrival here in London’s poorest areas and many of their children still do.

A cracker of an opener with more than a hint of the Bible Code’s Celtic-Rock but lifted by the influences from around London. All the required instrumentation is here and played, as you’d expect, absolutely note perfect. They follow this up with ‘The Ballad Of John Joyce’, a song about vocalist Mick’s Grandad John Joyce from Connemara. Arriving in England from the Gaeltacht (where only Irish was spoken) with no English he got a job working down the coal mines in Wales, then to London and starting work and raising a family. It’s down to such legends in our lives that we are Irish. Here The Craicheads give it some Country’n’Irish with a snappy, catchy tune with Ben’s fantastic fiddle and tin-whistle moving it along nicely. It’s hard to imagine what he must have gone through to leave the green fields of home to go to work two miles underground. It literally must have seemed like another planet. On ‘Larry’s Song’ Mick tells the story of a man he worked with many moons ago. Like many of these long gone Irish over here, they all had a story to tell. A great hurler from Gort, Co Galway he helped the young Mick figure out what life was all about. His advice be sure to chase your dreams is truly good advice. The slowest song here though not quite a ballad but some lovely Irish folk played under Mick’s voice who proves he can still hit the notes when needed. A beautiful song with a strong and positive message. Class.

We’re rolling up to the end and the curtain comes down on Greetings From Another Land with ‘Leave Me Alone’ and The Craicheads go out in style with a knockabout Poguesy Celtic-Punk number. Telling the story of a man looking for a bit of peace and quiet away from it all down the boozer who won’t be left alone. Yeah there is still a trace of country still in there but its fast and furious and a great way to end things. Four new songs that are knocked out with power, passion and pride and it would be criminal if The Craicheads were confined to the pubs of London town. We will keep you posted as to when the full length album will be delivered but we must never forget that we built the roads, schools, hospitals (and staffed them too), tubes and plenty more besides in London and we have a not too shabby musical legacy to be proud of as well.

Buy The EP

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CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: PHIL OCHS- ‘I Ain’t Marching Anymore’ (1965)

The ultimate 60’s folk singing radical who put protest songs on the map and wrote the most sincere and provocative material of his day. I Ain’t Marching Anymore is Phil Ochs’ second LP and includes the awe inspiring title track that defined a generation.

There were those who fought and those who fought against the Vietnam War and Phil Ochs was the latter. He wrote the best song of the war, the title track of this album, which tells the tale of a soldier who has fought in all the wars throughout American history from 1812 to the Civil War right up to the World Wars of the 20th century but who now chooses to lay down his arms. The release of I Ain’t Marching Anymore became a defining moment during the War and catapulted Phil Ochs into the unofficial leadership of the anti-war movement.

“Oh, I marched to the battle of New Orleans
At the end of the early British war
The young land started growing
The young blood started flowing
But I ain’t marching anymore

For I’ve killed my share of Indians
In a thousand different fights
I was there at the Little Big Horn
I heard many men lying, I saw many more dying
But I ain’t marching anymore

It’s always the old to lead us to the war
It’s always the young to fall
Now look at all we’ve won with the saber and the gun
Tell me is it worth it all

For I stole California from the Mexican land
Fought in the bloody Civil War
Yes, I even killed my brothers
And so many others
But I ain’t marching anymore

For I marched to the battles of the German trench
In a war that was bound to end all wars
Oh, I must have killed a million men
And now they want me back again
But I ain’t marching anymore

It’s always the old to lead us to the war
It’s always the young to fall
Now look at all we’ve won with the saber and the gun
Tell me is it worth it all

For I flew the final mission in the Japanese sky
Set off the mighty mushroom roar
When I saw the cities burning I knew that I was learning
That I ain’t marching anymore

Now the labor leader’s screamin’
When they close the missile plants
United Fruit screams at the Cuban shore
Call it, peace, or call it, treason
Call it, love, or call it, reason
But I ain’t marching anymore
No, I ain’t marching anymore”

Phil Ochs was born Philip David Ochs in El Paso, Texas, in 1940 to a New York doctor Dad and a Scottish Mammy. His father joined the army in WW2 treating soldiers at the Battle of the Bulge. His shocking experiences there would lead to mental health issues and in November 1945 he received an honorable medical. On returning home he would in later years suffer from bipolar disorder and depression, things that would later haunt his son too. Phil had dropped out of university and his interest in folk music and politics would see him move to New York in 1962 where he would become a fixture in the burgeoning Greenwich folk scene.

His debut release, 1964’s All the News That’s Fit to Sing, was the album that defined what he called his ‘singing journalist’ phase, strewn with songs whose roots were pulled from Newsweek. A year later Phil Ochs would release I Ain’t Marching Anymore, twelve original Ochs compositions plus a cover of Ewan MacColl’s ‘Ballad of the Carpenter and a version of ‘The Highwayman’ by the English poet Alfred Noyes set to music. The most notable was of course the title track but also ‘Here’s To The State Of Mississippi’, a six minute long biting attack on the states attitude to race relations. There is humour wrapped up in social commentary as on ‘Draft Dodger Rag’ where he rips a new one on those who cheer leaded the war while using any means necessary to get out of fighting themselves. ‘That Was The President’ is a loving tribute to John Kennedy written not long after his assassination. In the album’s liner notes he adds that his Marxist friends could not understand why he written this song and this was one of the reasons he couldn’t be a Marxist. His socialist sympathies showed with ‘The Men Behind The Guns’ but he also courted controversy among his left-wing fans when on ‘That’s What I Want to Hear’ he tells a jobless worker to stop moaning and fight. He also rails against the death penalty with ‘The Iron Lady’ with its memorable line

“And a rich man never died upon the chair”

but Phil Ochs had a way of softening the message and making it accessible and where some may have indeed be turned away by his politics many were charmed by him and the sentiment he would readily employ to great effect. We are happy to be able to bring you a free download of this landmark album that also includes an electric version of ‘I Ain’t Marching Anymore’ which was originally released as a single in the UK. Simply skip to the bottom and follow the link.

In the early ’60s Phil was as well known as Bob Dylan but while his albums received critical attention he achieved little commercial success with only a string of minor hits behind him. By the early 70’s Ochs was still recording but his star had waned. His records weren’t selling and even the critical acclaim had dried up. Struggling with both alcoholism and bipolar disorder and distraught at the military coup in Chile, where the popularly elected government of communist president Salvador Allende had been crushed, he was in a downward spiral. He played a handful of shows in 1974 and by all accounts had lost none of his fire or his ability to move a crowd but on April 9th, 1976 aged just 35 Phil Ochs took his own life. As Congresswoman Bella Abzug said in the Congressional Record on April 29, 1976:

Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago, a young folksinger whose music personified the protest mood of the 1960s took his own life. Phil Ochs—whose original compositions were compelling moral statements against war in Southeast Asia—apparently felt that he had run out of words.

FOR YOUR FREE DOWNLOAD CLICK

a) HERE or b) HERE

(Phil Ochs appears on Phil appears on Come, Read To Me a Poem on April 12, 1967 in New York City performing two songs and a lengthy interview)

LINER NOTES FOR I AIN’T MARCHING ANYMORE RE-ISSUE

by Richie Unterberger

Phil Ochs’s debut album, 1964’s All the News That’s Fit to Sing (also reissued on CD by Collectors’ Choice Music), established him as one of the foremost folk musicians in the topical singer-songwriter movement. While Ochs would eventually broaden his vision to encompass just as much personal and poetic verse as political protest, 1965’s I Ain’t Marching Anymore contained perhaps his most issue-driven songwriting. Militarism, American imperialism, the Vietnam War, labor struggles, and the explosive conflicts of the Civil Rights movement — one or the other of these concerns were behind the messages of almost every song. If this ensured that some of the pieces would be more dated than Ochs’s subsequent, more diverse repertoire, they also provide something of a snapshot of the mid-1960s social turmoil that both enraged and inspired his generation.

“He was getting better in his writing,” says Elektra founder and president Jac Holzman, who (as he had been on Ochs’s debut) was credited as production supervisor for the LP, with Paul Rothchild billed as recording director. “He was extremely prolific, but there’s a big difference between craft and art. He was becoming much more of a craftsman. It was tough being a songwriter [in that era], because of this 800-pound gorilla, Bob Dylan, who could dash off stuff in no time that was superb.”

That wasn’t stopping, of course, a legion of young singer-songwriters such as Ochs from stepping onto the road that Dylan had done much to pave. “He was angrier,” responds Holzman when asked what set Phil apart from his competition. “But not a nasty anger. But you could hear it. He had more edge. Buffy Sainte-Marie had edge of a different kind; some of her edge was a shrillness. But I think he had righteous edge. [Tom] Paxton was a better songwriter in the strict song sense, and he took a much lighter view of things, which I think sometimes is very effective.”

There was certainly no shortage of topical material for Ochs and Paxton to draw upon, and both were doing a lot of recording for Elektra in the mid-’60s. “There’s another thing that’s important about topical songs, especially on Elektra,” continues Holzman. “We came out with records frequently. We didn’t wait three years, or two years, between releases. Phil Ochs, he could have one out every six months. I learned a lot about the frequency of interaction between an artist and their audience from most of my singer-songwriters. We kept them recording.” Certainly Ochs had plenty of material ready to lay down when he went back into the studio to cut his second album, comprised entirely of original compositions, with the exception of a cover of noted British folk musician Ewan MacColl’s “Ballad of the Carpenter.” (Phil did give co-writing credits to Alfred Noyes on his adaptation of the poem “The Highway Man,” and to John Rooney on another such adaptation, “The Men Behind the Guns.”)

Undoubtedly the song that reached the widest audience was the title cut — not just via Ochs’s recorded version and concerts, but also via its subsequent adaptation as one of the anthems of the anti-Vietnam War movement, sung by crowds at innumerable demonstrations (and still sung at some such events today). “Oh yeah, it was a natural,” laughs Holzman. “It was easy to remember, it was catchy, and it was singable. All of those are good things.” It’s still not well-known that Elektra also had Ochs record an electric folk-rock remake of the song, “hoping to see if we could get some radio on it,” according to Holzman. With backup by the Blues Project (whose Danny Kalb had played second guitar on All the News That’s Fit to Sing), the 1966 single was only issued in the United Kingdom (and also as a flexi-disc with Sing Out! magazine).

The two other tracks on I Ain’t Marching Anymore to make the greatest impact also took on the era’s most controversial outrages. “Draft Dodger Rag” was, like “I Ain’t Marching Anymore,” also picked up at many anti-war rallies, demonstrating that Ochs could blast the military with satire as well as earnest declaration. “Here’s to the State of Mississippi” — at nearly six minutes, a very long track for 1965 — generated some controversy of its own, particularly in Ochs’s advice for the state to find another country to which to belong. Phil himself likely remained proud of the song, as he updated it for the Watergate era, retitling the number “Here’s to the State of Richard Nixon” on a 1974 single (the other side of which, incidentally, was an updated version of another number from his early career, “Power and the Glory”).

Though I Ain’t Marching Anymore helped Ochs continue to expand his fan base, it wasn’t the sort of thing that could enter the hit parade. Nonetheless, Holzman has recalled how Phil, rather surprisingly, would constantly inquire about how his records were selling, though at that point his sales were modest and dominated by pockets of enthusiasts in big cities in the Northeast. “I thought that was kind of charming, as a matter of fact,” says Holzman of Ochs’s commercial ambitions. “He was always interested in how he was doing, always comparing himself to somebody else, and that drove him nuts. I think the seeds of it were certainly there at Elektra. I think it was clear to all of us that this is not how you did it, but his illusions did not stop that material from coming. If he had tried to write pop songs or much more popular-oriented songs for Elektra, I wouldn’t have recorded ’em. That’s not where I saw him. I would have given him his release and let him go elsewhere.”

Ochs did actually dent the lower reaches of the Billboard charts for the first time with his third and final Elektra album, 1966’s In Concert. Yet this did indeed occasion his release from the label. As Holzman recalled in his autobiography Follow the Music (co-written with Gavan Daws), “We kept him on Elektra for three of the six albums we could contractually claim, and then he asked to be released because he felt we weren’t doing enough for him. In a way that was true, because by then…the whole music scene was shifting away from what Phil did, or at least what he did best, which was the topical political song. With fewer people listening, his personal devils took over.” I Ain’t Marching Anymore, however, captures him at a younger, fresher time, when he was reaching his peak as a master of topical song, even if his artistic restlessness would move him onto different fields as well in the future.

For more on Phil Ochs

PhilOchsHomePage  SonnyOchsHomePage (Phil’s brother)  Shadows That Shine  Wikipedia  AllMusic 

(The best documentary on Phil Ochs on the net. PBS American Masters- Phil Ochs There But For Fortune. Written and directed by Kenneth Bowser)

for more like this…

EP REVIEW AND EP RELEASE SHOW! THE BRANDY THIEVES- ‘The Devil’s Wine’ (2018)

Combining Gypsy rhythms and punk energy, ska grooves and folk storytelling, The Brandy Thieves have created a sound that is uniquely their own, a sound that has stolen the hearts of all of whom that have seen them perform. Stephen Francis Bourke was at the release party at the Soundhouse Leicester for London Celtic Punks.

Already renowned as one of the Midland’s best live acts, The Brandy Thieves gypsy rhythms and punk energy, ska grooves and folk storytelling create a sound that is uniquely their own. ‘Raucous’ ‘Infectious’ ‘Enthralling’ ‘Captivating’ and ‘Sweaty’ are just a few of the words that have been used to describe the alcohol stealing gypsy punks. Now they have taken a new direction, embracing grass roots Americana in the form of new EP ‘The Devil’s Wine’.

Chatting to the punters ahead of the EP, ‘The Devil’s Wine’ launch at the Soundhouse in Leicester it became clear that I was in for “a hellava good show!”. The Brandy Thieves have a varied local fan base from punks that are old enough to remember seeing The Clash at Granby Halls, now a car park for The Tigers Rugby ground, to ska fans who had been encapsulated by the Two Tone launch just up the M69, through to ex-ravers disillusioned by the commercialisation of the scene, bearded lovers of country folk and exuberant students.


In a week when the City had come together in grief following the tragic loss of the football club’s beloved chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha they needed something to celebrate, felt when Demarai Gray’s strike put the winner in for the club on Saturday, felt on this Friday night. In short, there was a lot of love in the room.
This was more than a gig. We had a magician compère, fortune telling, belly dancers and free shots of brandy. Having already appeared on Monday at a London Celtic Punks show TC Costello, self proclaimed punk folk accordion player and part time Brandy Thief entertained the crowd with his highly entertaining solo slot, The Splitters supported with their tight, edgy rock/ska sound with added sound effects, like the embodiment of Mick Jones’ mind somewhere between the Sandinista album and Big Audio Dynamite. They played their way right through a blown amp!

Then we had the main event.

The Brandy Thieves are a live band, first and foremost. They told me that when they write the songs Andrea and Cain bring the lyrics to the rehearsal and the arrangement is done by the whole group. The first album ‘Old Tattoos’ has that live feel, ‘ The Devil’s Wine’ demonstrates just how in tune with one another’s mood the Brandy Thieves must be.

Photos by Philip Vernon

So how does the collection of new songs fit in? – Well the lyrical themes of earlier songs continue. A folk lore devil is ever present, right down to the title of the EP. He’s a curse to the protagonists of the ballads and an ever present feeling that the ‘old one’ may well have the best tunes. ‘Down the River’ is a personal lament of battling demons inside. The track was an early taste of the forthcoming EP and works well as a bridge from the old ska/punk folk beats of the first album ‘Old Tattoos’ towards the new cooler sharper sound of ‘Devils Wine’ by providing a gospel blues feel with the more familiar reggae beats.

For the new EP marks the Brandy Thieves anew. Like they took the Chattanooga choo choo, picking the grapes and grain of Americana music on the way and distilling a spirit of their own into ‘The Devil’s Wine’.
Andrea’s vocals are just as powerful but smokier and melodic throughout. Listen to her scat on jazz blues inspired ‘Midnight Circus’ and all of their voices come through the intro of the EP, an untitled drinking song in the form of a spiritual for the 21st Century, reminding us, in Brandy Thieves style, of our own mortality.
Joe’s trumpet and Sebastion’s banjo have been let off the leash of the rhythm section to offer encapsulating melodies and freestyle solos. Hear the horn sing with TC Costello’s accordion on ‘Midnight Circus’and the hauntingly restrained banjo, echoing southern gothic on ‘ This Mountain’, while Chris’ tight drum beats and Cain’s waking bass riffs have taken up their rightful role as the heartbeat of the band, saying “keep cool, we’ve got this”. the aforementioned ‘Midnight Circus’ is as rhythmically rolling as a Stray Cat Strut.
Gone on ‘The Devil’s Wine’ are the runaway mixed tempos of ‘Old Tattoos’ although they still went down well during the show, taking the crowd from swaying folksy singalongs and then distinctively upping the tempo in a ‘1,2,3,4!’ punk/ska rhythm to get them jigging and pogoing with abandonment. Whether that was ‘Didikai Lee’; The hurdy-gurdiness of ‘Broken Record’ or title track of the first album itself; ‘Old Tattoos’ this was the case tonight. The exceptions are ‘Molly Malone’ a swaying murder ballad reminiscent of the classic traditional song ‘Rose Connelly’ and on the night an acoustic version of ‘Blackbird’ that had loyal fans singing along, both these tunes will, I imagine, be mainstays of the band whatever direction they take.
The Brandy Thieves have evolved away from ska. This was acknowledged midway through the gig when they covered Toots and the Maytals’ ’54-46 Was My Number’ saying that this would, probably, be the last time their Leicester faithful would hear it, and then playing it with the gusto of saying goodbye to an old friend.  Now we have a sound that is just as comfortable for the listener at home or played in the car as it is live. ‘Girl from the Black County’ with a clear acoustic guitar, plucking banjo and singing accordion wouldn’t sound out of place blasted on the eight track of a classic 1970’s Chevy pick up as it kicks up dust from the road on the way to see Billy Jo Spears at the Whiskey River.

(listen to the EP below on the Bandcamp player)

Buy The Devil’s Wine

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The Brandy Thieves are bringing their sweaty, dancing, skanking frenzy to London on Saturday 17th November at the Hootananny in Brixton. Plenty of bands on so check the Facebook event here for details. Its free to get in before 10pm and gig ends at 3am. Hootananny Brixton, 95 Effra Road, Brixton, London SW2 1DF.

ALBUM REVIEW: LANKUM- ‘Between Earth and Sky’ (2018)

Their new album has been called the most exciting album of traditional Irish song in decades and Dublin natives Lankum show how to perform old songs in new ways. Distinctive four-part vocal harmonies with arrangements of uilleann pipes, concertina, Russian accordion, fiddle and guitar. Their repertoire spans Dublin music-hall ditties and street-songs, ballads from the Traveller tradition, traditional Irish and American dance tunes and their own original material.

lankum.jp

There is only one thing I’d rather do more right now than listen to Lankum’s ‘Between Earth and Sky’ and that is go and see them live. Lankum bandGushing a bit I know, but as someone oft accused of having music tastes severely in the past, my favourite two albums being The Fureys, best of compilation ‘ The Spanish Cloak’ and The Pogues ‘Rum Sodomy and the Lash’, suddenly my taste is brought into the 21st century after going to see Lankum live and buying their CD ‘Between Earth and Sky’ at the gig.

 

Their powerful voices, guitar, uilleann pipes, harmonium, fiddle and accordion create a sound lit in the hearth of tradition and fired up with the sensibilities of injustice whether the tune be their own or one already owned by lovers of folk.

Radie Peat’s haunting voice on traveller traditional ‘What Will We Do When We Have No Money’ and original lament to women’s plight ‘Granite Gaze’ pleasantly weave into the fabric of your mind. Similarly Ian Lynch’s Déanta in Éireann, about Irish emigration is stoked with bitter indignation with a voiced end that has the power of Shane MacGowan’s finish to the ‘Old Main Drag’.

By contrast the Turkish Reville is played with the wildness of Tom Waits’ ‘Frank’s Wild Years’, ‘The Townie Polka’ had me whistling Cormac Mac Diarmada’s fiddle refrain all day at work to the extent that the lads thought I was on a promise and the wit of ‘Bad Luck to Rolling Water’ had me laughing out loud.

Seeing them live had the bonus of hearing Radie Peat and Daragh Lynch rendition of ‘Hares on the Mountain’ and the whole troop thoroughly enjoying themselves singing out ‘Fall Down Billy O’Shea’ that led us all stamping our feet and whooping.

Buy Between Earth and Sky

Here (iTunes, Google, Spotify etc.,)

Contact Lankum

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Named after the the child-murdering villain from the classic ballad, Lankum were originally named Lynched after brothers Ian and Daragh Lynch before changing their name. You can hear their debut album on the Bandcamp player below.

* Thanks to Stephen Francis Bourke for the review and you can check out his great web-zine, Midlife With Attitude here.

ALBUM REVIEW: SIR REG- The Underdogs’ (2018)

Traditional Irish folk music, unforgettable melodies, propelled by an driving, energetic punk rock backing.

Sir Reg are an energetic six piece from Sweden fronted by Irishman Brendan Sheehy who left Dublin to fulfil his dream of putting together the most amazing band possible. With songs about everything from the issues of modern day society to finding the right bar on a Saturday night, combined with strong melodies and explosive live shows. 

September 18 saw the release of the fifth album from the Swedish Celtic punk heavyweights Sir Reg. The new album The Underdogs comes two years after the last album Modern Day Disgrace and is released on Despotz Records. It was recorded between Sweden and Ireland and most definitely packs a punch from the first note right through to the last.

The first of the eleven tracks on the album is the title track ‘The Underdogs’. It sets the scene for the rest of the album with a high tempo beat. The song is about the ongoing working class struggle for equality in the modern world. This is followed up with a tribute to Conor McGregor. Unfortunately for Conor, the lyrics didn’t come through in his recent battle

“Conor Mc Gregor the lord of the fight, he’ll destroy anyone in his way, smacking the shite out of fools with delight…”.

Oh well, let’s move swiftly on…..

The album is packed full of good humored drinking tunes which is common place on a Sir Reg album. ‘Stereotypical Drunken Feckin’ Irish Song’ is a funny wee song which needs little explanation. When I heard the beginning first I thought it sounded like early year Wolfe Tones or The Dubliners. ‘FOOL (Fight Of Our Lives)’ is the first single to be released of the album and is excellent.

Other notable tracks from the album are ‘Cairbre’, which is a traditional instrumental and ‘The Stopover’. The album closes on a slower note with ‘Sinner Of The Century’ which is also very good.

Sir Reg is Brendan Sheehy – Vocals * Karin Ullvin – Fiddle * Chris Inoue – Electric guitar * Filip Burgman – Mandolin * Mattias Söderlund – Bass * Mattias Liss – Drums

Personally I think this is Sir Reg’s best album by far. This is a band which are continually improving and I have no doubt there’s lots more to come. They have just finished a successful tour of England and Scotland, earlier in the year they played in the USA and they are currently embarking on a European tour to promote The Underdogs so get out and support them if you get the chance. If, like me, you won’t get the chance to catch them live on this tour, be sure to do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of The Underdogs album. You won’t regret it.

Buy The Underdogs

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Contact Sir Reg

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On 22nd August Sir Reg jetted in to play a special invite only gig at Waxy O’Connors in central London. The set contained songs old and new played acoustically by three of the band’s members. Here’s the entire set minus the encore. 

PHANTOM OF THE BLACK HILLS

Phantom of the Black Hills are one of the most innovative bands you will ever hear that has a banjo! This isn’t the Country music of Nashville or the Grand Ole Opry instead its angry polemic over bluegrass banjo, mandolin and upright bass mashed together with raucous punk guitar, blistering drums and dirty, snarling distorted vocals with extreme sound effects and movie dialogue samples. They are one of my favourite bands so I thought I’d attempt to convert a few of you lot too.

The Black Hills are a mountain range in South Dakota famous for the Mount Rushmore memorial of the four presidential heads of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln carved into the granite. It’s also an area where large populations of Scots and Scots-Irish settled which may explain the areas fondness for moonshine. Production of illegal alcohol that is still widespread today. Another possible by-product of the Celtic on the local population is widespread mistrust of all government. Many see themselves as outlaws and in the Black Hills you are unlikely to find a Vegan coffee shop or demand for stricter gun control laws. Phantom Of The Black Hills are a band that shy away from publicity. From the bandana’s that hide their faces in their videos and photos to their Web-Site and Facebook page that are very careful not to give away any clue as to their identities. We can only hope they are the real deal and not a bunch of music school rich kids!

The musical worlds of Phantom of the Black Hills couldn’t be more different. In the Celtic-Punk scene we are used to bands fiddling with traditional music and adding, sometimes taking away, things to come up with something fresh. Country And Western though sometimes seems so staid and set in its ways its hard to imagine a band doing to it what say the Dropkick Murphys have done with Irish music. That was until the Phantom Of The Black Hills rode into town. With their cowboy hats pulled down over their eyes and frightening outlaw masks they look more like they have come to relieve you of the gold in your purse. Violence, drunkenness, debauchery abound in these tales of South Dakota’s doom country and hellbilly punk outlaws.

Relatively unheard of over this side of the pond I thought it only fair to share my good fortune with you. They have released five albums, the links to hear each one are included as well as one of their amazing videos from each album. You can buy all together from the Bandcamp site for a reduced rate just check there and the link is at the bottom. This is surefire music to go to hell for.

Whoever said the devil had all the best tunes must have heard the Phantom Of The Black Hills.

Ghosts

Released January 1, 2009

Ghosts was the 2009 debut album of the Phantom Of The Black Hills. It was released on Ratchet Blade Records who specialise in ‘Dark Roots Music’. They have supported the Phantom Of The Black Hills from the beginning and have released all their albums thus far. Ghosts  introduced the  world to their relentless Hellbilly music and rants. Opening with the insane  ‘Confessions Of A Barn Burner’ it goes from weirder to weirder right up to album closer ‘Read My Bible’. Banjo laden doom music for a generation of country and folk fans who want something a bit more extreme and it don’t come no more extreme than this!

(Part One of the ‘Government Demons’ trilogy)

(Listen to Ghosts below on the Bandcamp player)

Born To Gun

Released January 1, 2010

The second album from the Phantom Of The Black Hills and again it was released on Ratchet Blade Records. If you thought Ghosts was dark then prepare yourselves. With loops and sampling, and with as much distortion as twang the two worlds of country and punk crash together. Bluegrass banjo pickin’ and mandolin, upright bass thumpin’, with loud punk guitar, hard-hitting drums and angry, snarling distorted vocals it carries on in the same vein as Ghosts but more so…

(Part Two of the ‘Government Demons’ trilogy)

(Listen to Born To Gun below on the Bandcamp player)

Enemy!

Released January 1, 2012

Lyrically more dark and intense than the previous two releases, Enemy! is filled with musical imagery of war, lust, death, and hell… Produced by Cramps bassist Chopper Franklin and mixed by legendary punk rock producer Geza X they pushed the banjo, fiddle and mandolin up even more to the fore but with the guitars as brutal as ever. The arrangement of the music is flawless. Able to spend two years on Enemy the band were able to create heavier sound effects and loops and with ever more controversial lyrics. Hard-hitting, controversial dialogue permeate the raw, rusty sounds of the record. Their best release to date.

(Listen to Enemy! below on the Bandcamp player)

Moonshine Bright

Released January 1, 2014

This was the album that somehow winged its way across the Broad Atlantic to me and saw me play it to death over the next few years. The highly-anticipated fourth album release  was again produced and mixed by The Cramps bassist Chopper Franklin and he captures the band absolutely perfectly. On Enemy! the banjo, fiddle and mandolin were to the front, so for Moonshine Bright it was time to grind the guitars up more. The result is as memorising mix of traditional country instruments with searing guitars, distorted vocals, intense sound effects and movie dialog. One of the most innovative bands around their songs are brutal missiles that encourage all to live a life of full freedom.

(Listen to Moonshine Bright below on the Bandcamp player)

Scalped

Released August 25, 2017

Which brings us nicely onto the Phantom Of The Black Hills last release and you can tell from the album sleeve who exactly they would like to scalp! Still blending a lively mix of styles from Southern Rock, punk, Alternative Country and a B-movie aesthetics but always experimenting and never standing still. For a band that don’t give anything away and pride themselves on their anonymity they had this to say about Scalped “our previous records have either leaned more toward the roots music or the aggro approach, but on ‘Scalped’ we’ve combined everything on one on album”.

(The first music video from Scalped, directed by Chopper Franklin and featuring Mather Louth from the Heathen Apostles)

(Listen to Scalped below on the Bandcamp player)

Phantom Of The Black Hills

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EP REVIEW: MOSCHE DI VELLUTO GRIGIO- ‘Of Pain And Glory’ (2018)

The untraditional Anti-Folk punk band.

Mosche Di Velluto Grigio are an Italian Celtic-punk band and while their name may not trip lightly off the tongue of anyone who cannot speak Italian it’s certainly more poetic and beautiful than the English translation, Gray Velvet Flies! The name appears to come from an old Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento. The band were founded in 2000 and hail from Canneto sull’Oglio in the northern Italian region of Lombardy, home of fellow Celtic rockers The Clan and Strawdaze. Celtic-Punk has always been popular in Italy and relations between their Irish and Italians have always in the main been friendly, except perhaps in the USA in the past where two poverty stricken immigrant communities lived side by side in ghettos.

Mosche Di Velluto Grigio from left to right: Matteo De Ieso aka Malle The Beaver: back vox, drums • Francesco Fornasari aka Frankye “The Baker” Squillace: electric guitar, double bass, back vox, harmonica • Andrea Cagnini aka TheKing Cagno: voice, folk guitar, bagpipe, irish bouzouki, harmonica • Christian José Cobos aka CJ: electric bass, acoustic bass, kahuna bass ukulele, back vox • Pietro Arfini aka Rapax: back vox, mandolin, banjo Font row: • Laura Cagnini aka Lalla: sax, flute, tin whistle, trombone • Fabio Dall’Aglio aka Phabius from Garlic: concertina, accordion, amon, sax, trumpet

Famous for their DIY ethos Mosche Di Velluto Grigio were first conceived in the late nineties when singer Andrea and his sister Laura were inspired by their love for NOFX and the 90s punk scene. Together they went on to recruit others and the first incarnation of the band was gathered around them. Collectively they have become one of the more successful Italian Folk-Punk bands and though influenced by the likes of The Pogues and Dubliners on one wing and Stiff Little Fingers on the other their is more than a ounce of the legend Johnny Cash in there as well. These days members of the band come from not just Lombardy but from all over Italy and even Mexico.

I first came across them on their 2016 album Old School. It never made the reviews here as it was a couple of years old by then but I was impressed and have kept up with them since waiting for a chance to make things right. That album was, as far as I am aware, all traditional folk songs from North America and back Ireland and home to Italy. Internationally renowned songs like ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘Waltzing Matilda’ go up against classic Celtic songs like ‘The Foggy Dew’ and the ‘Fields Of Athenry’ and a rake of songs that I had never heard before. The new EP, Of Pain And Glory, carries on in the same vein except with one exception all the songs are penned by the band. Beginning with ‘A Whisper From My Cigarette’ and it’s classic Celtic-Punk. Loud and bombastic and massive. The song is not particularly fast but catchy and tuneful while Andrea sings out the lyrics, no doubt through a cloud of cigarette smoke! His voice is so raspy he makes Tom Waits sound like the singer in a boy-band. Accordion and tin-whistle grab you here until mid-way when the song suddenly shoots up in tempo. An excellent start that leads into ‘Glasgow Town’ and this is no ordinary Celtic-Punk band as witnessed by the sound of a saxophone wailing away in the background.

Again its catchy as hell and this time a much more straight forward punk rocker of a tune. They slow it down again next for ‘Seven Ships’ and even add in a bit of Country’n’Western twang. Balanced between country and folk it threatens to take off but stays a nice gentle folky foot-tapper with a couple of Celtic touches thrown in for good measure but… then it does go off for last few bars ensuring I’d say a messy dance floor when played live. ‘Pieces Of Glass’ begins as the most Celtic of the songs here with accordion at the forefront before the chugging guitars come in and lead the song on a right merry Celtic-Punk dance. The third single from the EP is ‘Laura’ and we couldn’t have timed this review any better as just three days ago they released the new video and its a great production as many of their videos seem to be.

The EP comes to an end with Mosche Di Velluto Grigio’s favourite song, ‘The Parting Glass’. I say favourite as it also featured on Old School and was released as a single inbetween that record and this. First heard in the late 1700’s the song has been recorded by far to many to mention here but the sad but defiant song has rarely sounded different here. Starting off as barroom ballad they soon up the ante and turn the song into a killer punk rock tribute. Love it.

Bands like Mosche Di Velluto Grigio don’t make covers in the traditional sense of the word. I would prefer to call them re-interpretations. They have taken some old traditional songs of their home, of the Celtic nations and further afield and have made them their own. Mosche Di Velluto Grigio are a utterly fantastic band and if you can get past the distinctive vocals then I’m sure they’ll gain a bit more recognition outside of Italy. While the music has crossover appeal Andrea’s vocals place it firmly in the Punk side of Celtic-Punk but also shows these lot will never be found watering it down.  

Buy Of Pain And Glory

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EXCLUSIVE VIDEO OF KRAKIN’ KELLYS NEW SONG

Celtic skate punk, beer and bar fight !

https://youtu.be/39nb8Mf4b68

Director : Matthieu HENDRICK & Stephan MOSSIAT   Shooting : Ludwig PINCHART
Editing and graphics : Matthieu HENDRICK  
Special thanks to Maxime Dechamps, Claire, Sarah Tennina & Rock’s Cool
Written by David Leroy. Composed by Pierre-Yves Berhin. Played by Krakin’ Kellys
Krakin’ Kellys released one of the years best albums so far and we wouldn’t be at all surprised if it went on to the top the Best Of 2018 polls it is that good. Full of energy, attitude and humour it’s good auld fashioned drinking music. No revelations about politics and no songs about nuclear war but the perfect music to take the pressure off. Its music to drink to, to dance to, meet folks and make friends and Krakin’ Kellys have delivered a must have album, Promised Land. Read our review here and have a listen on the Bandcamp player below before you part with your hard earned. Here on new track ‘Come And Get Some’, released today, the Bhoys show there’s a whole lot more to them than just fast and noisy Celtic-Punk.

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ALBUM REVIEW: LOUIS RIVE- ‘The Cheap Part Of Town’ (2018)

The debut album from Louis Rive a Scottish singer-songwriter drawing on all aspects of folk music from traditional to barroom ballad to modern day tale-tellers and poets. Influenced by The Pogues, Hamish Imlach, Michael Marra and The Corries Louis has set out to continue the grand tradition of the Celtic storytelling musician.

Funny sometimes the circumstances you first hear a new song or a new album. In the case of the new Louis Rive album I was trying to get to sleep one night but had such a pain in my knee I could not drop off so having the next day off work I got up in the middle of the night and went downstairs. The Cheap Part Of Town had been in my huge to-listen pile for a couple of weeks so on a whim I thought I’d give it a whirl and see what it was like. Well initially I thought it was the combination of a couple of beers and a handful of strong painkillers but I ended sitting up till the early hours with the the album on repeat so much did I love it!

The Cheap Part Of Town is just Louis on his own. Nothing else just him and his acoustic guitar. Plenty of thrills but no gimmicks, except for a wee bit of fiddle. Just straight up acoustic folk with tales of Louis life tacked onto it. Born in the Edinburgh you won’t see on the postcards in the centre of the city or on programmes about the Festival he later had the same ‘rite of passage’ as many Scots of his, and indeed many previous, generation and moved to London. It was in London he garnered many of the ideas of the songs on the album but three years grafting shitty odd jobs in London was three years too many and he fled to Spain where after two years getting pissed and stoned in a village in Andalusia before a cheap flight took him to Barcelona, basically because of a cheap flight. Not wanting to go back to that existence of badly paid jobs purely to cover the rent he decided to concentrate on his music and with a wealth of stories from the shiteholes he has lived and the interesting folk that he has met he began to put these stories to music. As Louis himself says

“Folk music is storytelling. Storytelling is poetry. Poetry is songwriting when you can’t play the guitar.”

The Cheap Part Of Town begins with ‘Francis Drake’s Last Trip’ and after all my talk about the album being full of his life experiences this I doubt does. The tale of Sir Francis Drake famed English sea captain, privateer, slave trader, naval officer and explorer of the Elizabethan era and his adventures fighting the Spanish whilst attempting to capture gold and silver and bring it home to London. Drake died of dysentery in January 1596 and while he is celebrated here he has always been labelled a pirate in Spanish quarters.

As stated their are no gimmicks just Louis and on this evidence he doesn’t need any. Blessed with a strong voice and a ear for a catchy tune as well as a way to tell an interesting story all wrapped up in just over four minutes. He follows this with ‘Streetlights Of London’ and the story of the N19 bus which use to take Louis from the working class Highbury Estate to the graveyard shift in posh hotels in the centre of London. The song tells of the life on that bus from cleaners in the morning to drunks in the evening with all of society’s excess and necessity reflected on the top deck of an out-of-hours mode of transport. The song is played faster than ‘Francis Drake’s Last Trip’ and still carries on the theme of catchy, tuneful and interesting story telling that flows throughout the album.

“Running through the underground
with a carrier bag of sin
Constabulary absence opportune moment for another tin
The carriage was dark but there’s nobody there”

Another fascinating character in Louis life was the subject of the next track ‘Cider Al’. Drinking in the The King’s Arms, Tollcross back home in  Edinburgh the karaoke gave you a free shot of shit whiskey for entering so all the local pissheads would come down and do a song and get free booze.

One such fella was Cider Al who always sang the same song ‘Common People’ by Pulp. In life you come across these people who come and go in your life.

“We heard Pulp’s ‘Common People’ for the seventh time
You stumbled through the lyrics as you spilt your wine
And we all laughed and joked and said that you’d be fine,
we were wrong”

I am getting sick of using the word ‘Catchy’ but there yo go there’s no better word for what I’m listening to. A loving tribute but also a sad one. The sad songs pile up now with ‘Mulberry Mews’ up next and the stories of childhood and growing up, buying drink and fags, the boredom of the high street, visiting his great-aunt in an old people’s home and that you can never get away from where you came from.

“Oh mister barman pour me another
I know the night is drawing near
They’ll carry her body down to the churchyard,
Sunday morning
Where there’ll be no-one to shed a tear”

A bleak tale about a neighbourhood of Edinburgh that doesn’t exist. next up Louis writes about Hospitalet de Llobregat, a satellite town now merged into Greater Barcelona, in the title track  ‘The Cheap Part Of Town’. The forgotten part of Barcelona and the song speaks about all the folk on the street, the gypsies, drunks and prostitutes. It was a tough area with a incredibly rich array of characters but these places are always more interesting than the rich part of town, which is why the rich always want to live there but without the threat and danger. Give it a couple of years and I’m sure the yuppies will have turned Hospitalet de Llobregat into just another bland suburb. Gerry Denis adds some reserved fiddle here that fits just in. All the songs here are varied and original and from ballad to foot stomper’s like ‘House Of God’ and ‘Lowlife’ great tunes abound with great hooks. Every song tells a story. The failings of the church towards the poor or the awful memories of a life in service that a soldier attempts to block through drink. While the rite of passage for recent Scots was a journey down South to Kings Cross in times past it was Americas that the Scots went. Large-scale emigration began in the 1700’s, after the defeat of the Jacobite rising and the resulting breakup of Highland Clearances (the Scottish An Gorta Mór). Displaced Scots left in search of a better life and settled initially around South Carolina and Virginia and then further in successive generations. ‘Take Me To Virginia’ tells of one of these Scots working his hands to the very bone but refusing to give up on the land he works.

“They took me to Virginia
Four and twenty years ago today
I’m still working the land
Blood and stones with both my hands, Virginia”

The idea that there’s always something better over the horizon is something I can relate to. Being half Scottish and having left the frozen north back in 1990 I can testify the sight as you got off the train at Kings Cross back then would be enough to make you turn tale and head back to comfort of your Mammy’s bosom. The curtain comes down with the album highlight the beautiful ‘Alone’ and here Louis brings together all the strands of the previous songs and as with all the songs presented here it offers you the chance to enjoy the music wash over you as well as to listen to the words and dissect them.

A truly wonderful and original half hour plus in the company of a singer-songwriter that deserves to more widely heard. To tell tales of working class life in folk music is not unusual but what is unusual is for them to be told with such passion and feeling and the taste and smell of authenticity that fills your senses with the legends of Louis life across Europe. Louis has a grand future ahead of him and on listening to The Cheap Part Of The Town I want to come with him.

(have a free listen to The Cheap Part Of Town before you buy on the Bandcamp player below. It’s only a fiver so support independent artists and get your wallets out!)

Buy The Cheap Part Of Town

From Louis

Contact Louis Rive

HEAR THE DEBUT SINGLE FROM TAN AND SOBER GENTLEMEN

The debut single from seven piece Scotch-Irish hillbilly music band Tan And Sober Gentlemen has arrived and this band from North Carolina have a bright future!

Irish-American Celtic-Folk-Punk band Tan And The Gentlemen have just released the first single off their upcoming album. It’s an amazing version of ‘Follow Me Up To Carlow’ and if anyone out there is missing the utterly fantastically brilliant Appalachian Celtic-Punk band Cutthroat Shamrock then put down the worry beads as The Tan And The Gentlemen will sate your appetite for good music!

Born and raised in Snow Camp in the North Carolina back country, Tan and Sober Gentlemen began taking in the songs, stories and tunes that make up their beloved state’s heritage before they could talk. Despite having played music together in some form or another for most of their lives, the current line up was formed in the summer of 2016. Since then, they’ve been in the saddle, playing stages from their hometown Cat’s Cradle and Shakori Hills to Galway’s legendary Roisin Dubh. The band aims to explore the Celtic roots of North Carolinian music and to play it with a fire and intensity that is lacking in much of today’s folk music. The full, as-yet-to-be-named record will be be released Dec. 1st, with the release party at the Cat’s Cradle in Orange County, N.C. The album was recorded largely live at BNB Studios in Chatham County, NC, featuring their high-octane take on Celtic and Appalachian traditionals along with a few of their own tunes. The record will be available on all platforms then, and is available for preorder by emailing tanandsober@gmail.com. Friends with the rest of the Southeast USA Celt-folk-punk crew in The Muckers, In For a Penny and Born Again Heathens who have all featured on these pages in the last couple of years. The result is Scotch-Irish hillbilly insanity they dub ‘Celtic punk-grass’. As far as folk music goes, they’re about the best drinking and dancing band I’ve found in a long time!
Download Follow Me To Carlow
Contact The Tan And Sober Gentlemen

FOLLOW ME UP TO CARLOW

I first heard ‘Follow Me Up to Carlow’ on a old cassette called Irish Songs Of Freedom belonging to my Grandad. It differed from the rest of the tape of sad ballads as it was played so fast with the words coming so quickly it was hard to keep up. This must have appealed to the wee punk in me and so it has become one of my favourite songs. It’s also become the perfect song for adapting to a Celtic-Punk song and has been recorded and played by such diverse artists as Blood Or Whiskey, Mickey Rickshaw, Cruachan and The Young Dubliners. The song celebrates the defeat of an army of 3,000 English soldiers by Fiach Mac Aodh Ó Broin (anglicised Fiach MacHugh O’Byrne) at the Battle of Glenmalure, during the Second Desmond Rebellion in 1580 though events in the song cover more than twenty years after. The air is reputed to have been played as a marching tune by the pipers of Fiach MacHugh at the battle  in 1580 and the words were written by Patrick Joseph McCall (1861–1919) and appear in his Songs of Erinn (1899) under the title ‘Marching Song of Feagh MacHugh’.

EP REVIEW: THE SILK ROAD- ‘Justice For Daniel’ (2018)

Gritty, honest Celtic-Folk-Punk from the north of England’s The Silk Road and a tale of murder and corruption leading to the highest pillars of the British state.

Despite being one of the best bands in the Celtic-Punk scene on this island The Silk Road remain relatively unknown outside the north of England. Hailing from the Derbyshire town of Chesterfield, whose football team has suffered the same ignominy as my own, Leyton Orient, and dropped out the Football League, they are the unsung heroes of Celtic-Punk in England. It’s not unusual that bands from the main cities get all the glory and sometimes coming from an unfashionable place can even hold you back. It’s just a shame that whoever decides these things doesn’t value the history of a place like Chesterfield with its past steeped in traditions of coal mining and steel production and the accompanying militant trade unionism that goes with it.

The Silk Road left to right: Andy(Rosie)- Guitar/Backing Vocals * Brian- Drums * Tich- Vocals/Acoustic Guitar * Shaun- Bass * Jamie- Fiddle

The Silk Road have been together since 2015 formed by Tich, Andy and Shaun and going on later to recruit both Jamie and Brian. Taking some old demos singer/songwriter Tich had recorded in his studio and re-working them into something new and fresh The Silk Road began to take shape. They released Midnight in July of 2016 as a taster for their forthcoming self-titled debut album that was the light of day in July of last year. The album lit up the Celtic-Punk worlds media hitting their many Best Of’s including ours where it landed a very respectful #14. Infectious and catchy throughout the album had more than enough punk to keep the punks happy and plenty of folk to keep the oldies like me happy too. Owing a debt to the English folk-rock scene that has kept bands like The Levellers and New Model Army in clover The Silk Road have also added their own style of both Celtic and English folk melodies without losing any of the punk urgency that they started out with.

Here on their brand new EP Justice For Daniel The Silk Road have Andy has come in as a extra guitarist and they have added two instruments you don;t hear much in Celtic-Punk with Tom Wood on trumpet and Sarah Reaney-Wood on saxophone who join the band live on stage when time permits. The EP’s title refers to the tragic case of Daniel Morgan. Daniel was a private detective whose gruesome murder still lies unsolved despite being the most investigated murder in English legal history. Police corruption and criminal activity and the conduct of journalists with the British tabloid News of the World lie at the heart of this case. According to a Metropolitan Police investigation in 2007 his murder was because he

“was about to expose a south London drugs network possibly involving corrupt police officers”.

Daniel was 37 at the time of his death in a south London pub car park on 10 March 1987 and in the 30+ years since his death his family have never given up trying to find out what happened and to bring Daniel’s murderers to justice. Their are several excellent places to find out more about Daniel’s case but the best place is the ten-part podcast Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder which topped the UK iTunes chart here.

With family connections to the case and a desire to see justice done The Silk Road have released this EP in tribute to Daniel and in hope of keeping the case alive and it was with Daniel’s families blessing that they went ahead with the song. The EP begins with the title track and Tich tells the full tale of what went on. Its a jaunty and catchy wee number that belies its tragic subject matter. As is The Silk Road way Tich’s vocals are clear and easy on the ear while the music is basically upbeat folkyness with some excellent fiddle work from Jamie. As protest songs go its up their with the best I’ve heard in recent years and you can tell from the passion in Tich’s voice it’s a subject close to his heart. You can have a listen to this grand song over at Facebook here. A brilliant start and they continue with ‘No Reason’. The electric guitar is louder here giving them a bit more punch and gives them the sound that lies somewhere inbetween The Levs and NMA but with added Ferocious Dog too! As usual with The Silk Road its as catchy as hell as police corruption is again tackled. They let fly next with ‘Morgan’s Riot’ and if the Celtic-ness has been somewhat subdued so far they don’t hold back here. Proper pure top of the table Celtic-Punk that will get the auld feet tapping away. Its fast and furious and again Jamie’s fiddle is amazing. The only complaint is that its not longer as at under three minutes I don’t think it does it justice. The curtain comes down on the EP with an acoustic version of the title track ‘Justice For Daniel’. Just Tich and his acoustic guitar, Jamie and his fiddle and the wonderful sound of Sara Haley on backing vocals and the whole gang getting in on the chorus it is, not surprisingly quite an emotional and poignant song.

It may look Celtic but The Silk Road logo of three hares with interlocking ears is actually from the far east where the silk road was the ancient trade route linking Asia to the West.

Clocking in at near twenty minutes its all together a fantastic EP that warrants getting hold of. Brought out by the band themselves and financed in part from sponsorship from the Vape Domain shop in Ollerton, Nottinghamshire its always great to see a band taking their own route and sticking close to their principals, also good to get a dose of real politics into the scene. The Silk Road are not Irish or Scottish but are still most definitely a Celtic-Folk-Punk band and one of the best this island has to offer too. Year on they get bigger and more well known and despite several set-backs we are still going to see them in London town one day soon. It’s a shame the CD is not available as a download but drop the band a line at the e-mail address below and they will let you know how to get a proper CD. It’s worth it for lots of reasons.

Buy The EP
CD only available from the band at the moment. £6-50 via PayPal from brianbuckberry@hotmail.com
Contact The Band
(great video of ‘I Don’t Care’ taken from our debut album)

EP REVIEW: JAMES McGRATH- ‘Live At The Shed’ (2018)

What a fortnight for acclaimed Tipp born singer-songwriter James McGrath with both a new must-hear EP out this week and a must-see gig in London soon too!
My family come from Tipperary (shout out to Ballylooby and Clogheen Wilkinson’s) so at this time of year I would normally be hurting after our annual defeat to Kilkenny in the All-Ireland Hurling Championship but with not even that to look back on I have had to cast my net a bit wider. Following the well trod route of many many Tipp people he has moved to London and with the release of his latest EP, Live At The Shed is hoping for the breakthrough that will see him reach the heights his talents deserve.

Ireland has no shortage of talented singer-songwriters, and never has had to be honest, and among the most talented the name James McGrath is up at the top of the list. Hailing from Nenagh in the north of Tipp James has a voice that has been compared to both Neil Young and Eddie Vedder and the songwriting skills of the legendary Shane MacGowan. Live At The Shed is his third EP release and showcases James live at Shed Studios in the once heavily Irish enclave of Enfield in north London. Just him and his guitar and no knobs twiddled or fiddled about with to change anything. James exciting and passionate live performance transfers onto this recording so well and his warmth shines through. He has already tasted success at home in Ireland when his track ‘8 Cans’ from The Cans EP hit the #1 spot in last years Irish Download charts.

Live At The Shed begins with ‘Can’t Get Out’ and the first thing you notice is James voice. Clear and precise and with a brogue as Irish as Damo Dempsey but without the over inflated ‘Dubb’ inflection. The shortest song here its a tale of having no cash and trying everything you can to make your life work. There’s only four songs here and ‘Bad Bends’ is up next. It’s much more laid back but far from a ballad again it’s no tale to eat popcorn too and despite it being a downbeat song it’s also full of hope and tender emotion. It’s certainly not what I am use to reviewing on these pages but I like to challenge myself and I got over the idea that I cannot like things that my Mammy would like years ago. Now i am not one to bander Ed Sheeran’s name around much but if you draw a line between the wee ginger billionaire and Shane MacGowan then you’d be right to put James on the Shane side of the middle. Third song is ‘Walk Away’ and not much to add here except its more of the same mid-tempo folk.  Extremely well played and James has stamped onto these songs his own brand. At times you can imagine the songs coming from Christy or Damo but young James has certainly developed his own style. The highlight of the EP for me is ‘Race To The Bottom’ which brings down the curtain after only eleven minutes.

One of James stated goals in moving to London was to write an album so here’s hoping he gets onto it as soon as possible. Things move fast in London so he needs to strike while he’s building up some momentum. One bad habit he seems to have picked up in London like the many before him is a love of the bookies. Did your Ma never tell you there’s no such thing as a poor bookmaker? It’s a downbeat song and its not unusual for any of us who arrive in London to find it too much and a combination of the capital’s excesses and homesickness often is too much for new arrivals. A real beauty of a song.

james mcgrath gigJames has released a fine EP and his humour, passion and sincerity shine through and if like me you can’t wait to see him live in concert we will get our chance in just a couple of weeks at the EP’s official launch night at The Swallow Bar in Uxbridge. James favourite venue a packed, fun, lively night is in store and to top it all off it’s free entry as well. He takes the stage at 9pm and you can find the FB event here. The Swallow Bar is a old fashioned Irish bar on Long Lane in Uxbridge, UB10 9NR and is situated right next to Hillingdon Station. It’s on the Picadilly and Metropolitan lines but bring a book if you coming from central London as its a bit of a slog but never let that put you off. Up to a hour on the tube may seem long in London but having just got back my home town I can honestly say it is not! It may  not be the raucous Irish music we are use to here in London Celtic Punks towers but man can’t live by that alone. It’s good for your soul to listen to someone like James occasionally. He has a very exciting future ahead of him and I think the dark streets of London will suit him well.
Buy Live At The Shed
iTunes  
Contact James McGrath
(James McGrath singing his fantastic hit single ‘8 Cans’. Filmed at Fat Pigeon April 2016)

ALBUM REVIEW: THE LANGER’S BALL- ‘Hard Time In The Country’ (2018)

Irish-American Celtic-rockers The Langer’s Ball are back in town with their first release as just a duo in over eight years.Writing, touring and performing for over a decade The Langer’s Ball play their own brand of traditional drinking songs and original material with a thumping beat and a flurry of notes and harmonies. Hard-hitting and bigger than you’d expect a duo could ever be you’ll dash to refill your drink and cheer for more!


The Langer’s Ball have featured on these pages several times over the years with a multitude of releases and news and here they come again with the release of their fourth studio album Hard Time in the Country. As usual the album features a band that knows it way round an old fashioned tune and contains a fantastic mix of both American and Irish Folk-Punk. The last time they featured on these pages I had this to say and as I don’t think I will say it better I’ll repeat it here.

The Langer’s Ball have long been hailed as one of the most interesting and innovative bands in the north American celtic-punk scene. They have never been afraid to mix in other genre’s of music while all the time keeping one toe firmly in the music of The Emerald Isle. It’s bands like The Langer’s Ball that keep the scene alive and fresh and bring new ideas to the celtic-punk table.

Back in February, 2017 The Langer’s Ball announced they were making their entire (yes their entire) back catalogue available for free download via the band’s Bandcamp page so head over their soon as you finish reading this and get downloading.

The Langer’s Ball hail from Saint Paul in Minnesota and it’s a place where the Irish make up the second largest population of the city at a well decent 14%. The largest at over double that is people of German descent and despite being only half their number the Irish learnt very early on that power lays not just in numbers but in control of City Hall. These days, of course, the Irish are no longer running things but it’s still no surprise to find Irish surnames dominating among local government, the Police and the Fire Service. The Langer’s Ball have been together since 2007 starting off as a duo with Michael and Hannah releasing a couple of albums that were well received by the national, and international, celtic-punk community. Persuaded by this reception they decided to try and fill out their sound and so set out to recruit some musicians and it wasn’t too long before the full line up of The Langer’s Ball was born.

The band take their name from the Irish word ‘Langer’ which has three meanings one being a right eejit (-idiot), and the others being pissed or your dick! I can only hope you can guess which one the band want you to associate with them! Since those two early LP’s in 2007 and 2008 they have gone on to release ‘Drunk, Sick, Tired’, a live St Patrick’s day recording, in 2011 and ‘The Devil, Or The Barrel’ in 2012. They followed this with 2014’s ‘7 Year Itch’ which we reviewed here and was so called because it heralded the seventh anniversary of The Langer’s Ball’s existence. Then came 2016’s Whiskey Outlaws, here, an absolute killer of an album which made all the Best Of lists of the major celtic-punk media and confirmed their place as one of the best bands in the scene. 

So a few years without a release but the band have by no means been quiet and as I have followed them from afar they have never seem to have stopped touring in all the years since Whiskey Outlaws. Hard Time In The Country captures The Langer’s Ball perfectly with a wide range of ballads, and acoustic Celtic-Punk taking in both modern and traditional songs with of course a ‘craicing’ drinking song! The album begins with a cover of the Billy Bragg penned number ‘Constitution Hill’ from his 2011 album ‘Fight Songs’. It showed a sort of return to form for Mr. Bragg away from his twee middle class stuff of recent years to angry polemic. Sung acapela with Michael leading the way joined by The Langer’s Ball choir of friends and misfits for the chorus. It’s a great song and Michael’s voice is strong and passionate and he sings with great conviction. This is followed by a rousing instrumental ‘Justin’s Favourite’ with Hannah on tin-whistle and it’s a lovely, jaunty wee Irish folk song that will surely get the foot a-tappin and the thigh a-slappin’! Next up is ‘No Irish Need Apply’ which is based upon the times that the Irish were discriminated against in the United States and signs and adverts were often posted with the words No Irish Need Apply. The song shares a few lines with the great Wolfe Tones song of the same name but The Langers’s Ball give it a new twist and even extol a nice bit of retribution for what these bastards did to our ancestors.

“Well I couldn’t stand it longer, so ahold of him I took
And I gave him such a beating as he’d get at Donnybrook
He hollered “Milia murther,” and to get away did try
And swore he’d never write again ‘No Irish Need Apply’
He made a big apology, I bid him then good-bye
Saying “next you want a beating, write ‘No Irish Need Apply'”

Next time the child of some millionaire decides to lecture you on so called ‘white privilege’ point them to here to learn about how the Irish suffered and were mistreated and abused on arrival on Amerikay’s shores. The songs come fast furious and ‘Meet Me Where You’re Going’ is again a nice twist on things and here Michael and Hannah sing a lovely Americana/Country twinged folk ballad together. Written by  Craig Minowa for fellow Minnesotan band Cloud Cult’s 2013 album Love. Its a beautiful love song and leads us nicely into the Celtic-Punk favourite ‘Dirty Old Town’.

The Langer’s Ball: Michael Sturm – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar and Percussion * Hannah Rediske – Accordion, Penny Whistle, Piano and Vocals

Covered and played by all and sundry I sometimes think it’s been done to death but every time I see it on a track listing I’m always curious to see what a band is going to do with it. Here Michael again voices it with passion and conviction and its basic background of only whistle and acoustic guitar lends it a power you don’t often hear with this song. Stripped of its ‘Irishness’ (it is in fact a English song written by a second generation Scot- Ewan MacColl) its a great piece of Americana and I always prefer to hear it sung in the singers original voice/accent. They delve further into the past next with ‘Penny’s Farm’. Their is no record of how long this song actual is except it was recorded by The Bentlys on their one and only record released in 1929. The song is about farmers protests and the mortgage mentioned in the song in the song was a so-called chattel mortgage, which was backed by the farmer’s few possessions as well as his next year’s crop. Five days after The Bentleys recorded this song the stock market’s Black Monday came and life out on Penny’s farm got a lot tougher with The Great Depression and The Dust Bowl.

“With their hands in their pockets and their head hanging down.
Go in the store and the merchant will say,
“Your mortgage is due and I’m looking for my pay.”
It’s a-hard times in the country,
Out on Penny’s farm.”

As mentioned already (several times!) Michael’s voice is brilliant at capturing the mood of these songs and Hannah’s accordion whisks you back to those dark days. We stay in the past but in a very modern way with ‘Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key’ a beautiful version of a song that appeared on the 1998 album Mermaid Avenue where previously unheard lyrics of Woody Guthrie were put to music and performed by Billy Bragg and Wilco. Known for his working class anthems its an incredibly beautiful  song and sure its done justice too here. Woody Guthrie was possibly the most important folk- music figure in American history. His influence on music is beyond measure and far too many have cited him as an influence to go into here. Michael and Hannah play it slightly more upbeat and again Hannah’s accordion is superb. A real nice surprise and just shows their was so much more to Woody than many of us give him  credit. The album is laid out very nicely and with so many diverse tunes on board its been designed to fit very well and despite shunting from upbeat to manic sometimes it flows very well and the same can be said here of ‘Beans, Bacon And Gravy’ which follows here. Fast and manic and again we are in the days of The Great Depression. A time so bad it demands its own capital letters! The singer is so sick of eating the same thing over and over again he even sees them in his dreams! The great Pete Seeger wrote that the song

“probably grew over the years being polished by any number of Depression-weary workers who could laugh the bitter laugh of irony—so often a man’s best friend when times are hard.”

And how true. It was often humour that got the poor and down trodden and dispossessed through the hard times (but its always good to hear of someone getting their just desserts too, as in ‘No Irish Need Apply). At first glance on the track listing I took the next song ‘1916’ to be about the tragic heroic rebellion of Dublin but then I noticed the credit to one Ian Kilmister and I realised the song was indeed a cover of Motorhead song as penned by Lemmy himself. May he rest in peace. The song, as you can imagine, is nothing like the original but is given the Folk-Punk treatment and you can finally take in Lemmys words about a young lad heading off to the trenches in the First World War in all its blood drenched glory. A simple accompaniment told with passion. So onto ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ and here just re-read what I said about ‘Dirty Old Town’. Its not exactly a rare song to hear but its sung and played with gusto and will have the crowds, young and old, joining in! Being a strong advocate of people joining their trade union its great to hear ‘Picket Line Song’. Written by Evan Greer for the 2009 album Some New Songs.

“Mom called him a dirty scab and gave him two pieces of her mind
she picked up and she threw every rock that she could find
and when he called the cops on her she kicked his behind
and said that’s what you get when you walk across a union’s picket line!”

We nearing the end and ‘Hoist Your Cup High’ is The Langers’s Ball at their best. As much as I love the songs that mean something nothing means more to me than a good drinking song! It has a feel of Ireland, Germany, Eastern Europe about it and Michael raises a glass to all his departed friends and family and hoists his cup high as when we are dead we may not drink at all! The album ends with an unusual version of ‘The Parting Glass’ usually sang as a slow ballad here its given an upbeat version and I have to say I absolutely love it. Its an old song some say from before 1770’s and recorded countless times but in the hands of musicians with pride, love and respect it can become almost new and original.

Hard Time in the Country shows the roots of The Langer’s Ball and it is their willingness to dip into the past that sets them apart from their contempories in the American Celtic-Punk scene. They can take songs from the likes of Billy Bragg, Woody Guthrie and Motorhead take them away and breathe new life into them. Not for The Langer’s the easy route of simply covering a song, they are determined to stamp their brand on everything they do and turn it into their own. It is this knowledge of the folk and rock scene which makes their choice of songs so interesting and adds so much to what they do then their is always something for everyone to enjoy. A band that sets the brain and the heart racing The Langer’s Ball are constantly evolving and constantly improving so get on board and join them on their journey.

(have a listen to Hard Time in the Country via The Langer’s Ball Bandcamp page before you buy (its only 4) but rememeber all (yes all!) their back catalogue is available as a free download but leave a donation if you can) 

Buy Hard Time in the Country

CD/Vinyl- FromTheBand Download- Bandcamp

Contact The Langer’s Ball

WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  YouTube  ReverbNation  Bandcamp  Google+  Soundcloud

POST-EDIT: The Langer’s Ball deemed it necessary to release a statement on their Bandcamp page with regard to the song ‘No Irish Need Apply’ so here it is.

ALBUM REVIEW: BODH’AKTAN- ‘Ride Out the Storm’ (2018)

Bodh’aktan feature seven characters from vastly different musical trends disembarking to forget the daily grind and all the hassle and leave only good times and a good mood behind them!

To fans of Celtic-Punk music traditional Irish music is part and parcel of why we love it so much. It is rather surprising then their are hardly any links between the ‘old’ world of trad Irish and Celtic music. Sure The Dropkick Murphys did a wonderful collaboration with Ronnie Drew of The Dubliners (see here) and Derek Warfield and his Young Wolfe Tones regularly play with the best Celtic-Punk bands but only in the States. So it was a shock, but a welcome one, to find the legendary uileann piper Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains collaborating with Bodh’aktan on their new album, Ride out the Storm. Many of the legends of Irish folk that we grew up with are no longer with us so its no exaggeration to say that Paddy is truly treasured by everyone and even at the tender of eighty (his birthday was just last week) he has lost none of his brilliance and his contribution here is both faultless and incredible. More on that to come but now on with the review!

Ride Out The Storm is sort of Bodh’aktan’s second album. I say sort of as they have also recorded an album Against Winds and Tides which was basically a collection of some of their own songs re-recorded in French. The band hail from Quebec, the French speaking semi-autonomous region in eastern Canada. The region has a totally different feel to the rest of Canada and French is the only officially recognised language. Within this French culture is also a large Breton influence and their are no shortage of Celtic influenced bands and music coming out of Quebec and to that merry band we can now add Bodh’aktan! The British never like to give up their colonies and in 1980 and 1995 referendums were held on whether or not to leave Canada. Sadly in 1995, the people of Quebec chose to stay in Canada by a 1% margin and so it is they remain subjects of the British crown.

 

Ride out the Storm came on the 1st of June and features fourteen brand new songs with three trad folk covers and a set of reels featuring three Irish trad instrumental tunes. It begins with ‘About Things To Come’ a short intro of just over a minute that starts off like Hell’s Ditch era Pogues with a Western feel to it and just as you expect the following song to explode out the speakers at you ‘Nothing But A Game’ is a soft and gentle Celtic number. With whistles and acoustic guitar it gallops along at a steady pace. Upbeat and friendly and alcohol infused it’s a cool start to things before it gets rocky with next track ‘Get Loud’. A while ago the AC/DC video for ‘Its A Long Way To The Top (If You Want To Rock’n’ Roll (check it out here!) went viral across the Celtic-Punk world thanks to singer Bon Scott and his bag-piping. Well i had to look and check this wasn’t a AC/DC cover and it isn’t but Christ it could be. Showing the band can turn their hand to more rockier songs its as catchy as hell and I’m sure Bon is looking down with a smile on his approving face!

Again it’s as catchy as hell and leads us nicely onto ‘Heave Away’. A traditional sea shanty from Newfoundland it’s given an upbeat Celtic feel and while it is a complete contrast to the rocky ‘Get Loud’ it doesn’t for a second feel out of place.

“Sometimes we’re bound for Liverpool
Sometimes we’re bound for Spain
But now we’re bound for St. John’s town
To watch the girls a-dancing”

The album’s second cover is next and while ‘The Black Velvet Band’ is not exactly a rare song to be found on a Celtic-Punk bands album it is transferred to a different level by the inclusion of the fore-mentioned Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains. The song itself is as solid a rendition as you could expect but Paddy’s piping is truly remarkable. His contribution to the traditional Irish music scene is immeasurable so hopefully the album may make it into the ears of the folk music purists (or snobs as we call them) and they will see that Celtic-Punk music is a part of the same tradition. It’s a real stormer of a song and one for waving your pint int he air with your hands round your mates. The songs so far while all being fairly obviously Celtic influenced have all actually been quite diverse with everything covered, including Goth if you include the ‘gloomy’ opening intro.

More trad Bodh’aktan can be found next on ‘Ride Out The Storm’ another modern day sea shanty that has a Dropkicks feel to it for me but rocks along in a standard Celtic-Punk way although with perfectly executed vocals. ‘The Bridge’ is next and again that classic sound is there but the influences this time seem to be shared with 70’s era heavy (air?) metal and trad Irish folk. This is followed by a song simply titled ‘Reels’ and shows these guys can certainly turn their ear to a trad song or two. Three tunes are included showing how marvelous their musicianship is while not being afraid to ‘punk’ it up a little too. A song you could both Irish dance and mosh too is a rare thing indeed. It’s fast and furious and proof for those folk ‘purists’ we mentioned earlier that they are missing out on something good. They are cut from the same cloth as those who derided The Dubliners and The Pogues back in their day. They would be more happy if the music died that to have someone respectfully adapt and change it. We may never get through to them. It’s their loss. ‘You Are The Ones’ and ‘Chasing The Wind’ are again classic Bodh’aktan with the music at all times highly charged whether fast or slow. The final cover is of ‘Mick McGuire’, a song that no one really knows how old it is. Recorded by many greats over the years most notably The Clancy Brothers the song tells of a man who pisses away his marriage

 “Johnny, come up to the fire, come up, you’re sitting in the draft
Can’t you see it’s old McGuire and he nearly drives me daft
Ah, I don’t know what gets into him, for he’s always on the tare
Arragh, just sit where you are and never you dare to give old McGuire the chair”

The melody was used for the tune to ‘Hot Asphalt’ by Ewan MacColl. Shipping up to the end of Ride OUt The Storm and we get the first version of ‘We Cannot Fail’ recorded by Bodh’aktan. A real singalong with a great chorus, heavy bass line and catchy as feck tune with loads of band chants in the background. ‘While I’m Away’ is a modern day Irish folk song and a beaut of a song before we get the bonus second version of ‘We Cannot Fail’ and if I thought #1 was a belter then this version wipes the floor with it. Aided and abetted on the song by German Celtic-Punk legends Fiddler’s Green it brings down the curtain brilliantly and will get your leg pounding the floor as you listen to it!

So fourteen songs with a small smattering of trad covers all clocking in at literally just under fifty minutes that while tipping their hat to the bigger bands of the Celtic-Punk scene also showcases their original sound and their ability to ceaselessly drift in and out of different genre’s without you even noticing! Everything here is perfection personified with the production top notch without being overdone and in songs that veer from trad folk to heavy metal its quite a feat to capture Bodh’aktan’s sound and massive array of instruments so well. This is an energetic album that comes with thoughtful and thought provoking lyrics in the traditional story-telling way that, thankfully, is quite common in Celtic-Punk. The spotlight may be on Irish folk here and the punk elements more subdued but this is an album for all fans of Celtic music whether it be your Grandad or your young nephew!

Buy Ride Out The Storm

CD/Vinyl- FromTheBand  Download- iTunes

Contact Bodh’aktan

WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Twitter  LastFM  Soundcloud

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: KICKIN’ HITLER’S BUTT: Vintage Anti-Fascist Songs 1940-1944

FREE DOWNLOAD

Yeah the title says it all! Eighteen anti-fascist anthems from WW2 (don’t tell the Americans the War actually started in 1939) including songs from seasoned bluesmen Leadbelly, Josh White and Son House alongside Spike Jones’ madcap ‘Der Fuhrer’s Face’ and the acappella Golden Gate Quartet’s sublime ‘Stalin Wasn’t Stallin’.

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE KIDDING MR. HITLER?

Now this is an American release so that means the theme tune from Dad’s Army is sadly missing but that is still no reason to not to indulge yourself with a free download of this collection of anti-fascist songs written, performed and released between 1940 and 1944. Its often thought that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour started the American involvement in the war but America had already made massive loans to the British war machine and having placed a oil embargo on Japan steps were being made to join the war before they were pre-emptied by the attack on Pearl Harbour. The US army for instance had grown massively from 267,767 in 1940 to 1,460,998 by mid-1941, an increase of 446%. Pearl Harbor was an American naval base in Hawaii, that was the scene of a devastating surprise attack by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. Just before 8 a.m. hundreds of Japanese fighter planes descended on the base. More than 2,400 Americans died in the attack and another 1,000 people were wounded. The day after the assault, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan.

Knowledge coming out of Europe was slow but many in America, and not just on the left, realised the danger of Hitler’s rise to power and sought to agitate against it. It’s a little known fact that Germans made up the largest ethnic base in the States at around 17% which just happened to be the exact percentage of the American population who did not express support for Britain. Only 1% wished for a German victory suggesting that even this was inspired as much by pride in Germany as any dislike of Great Britain. The artists featured here contain such renowned figures as Woody Guthrie and The Almanac Singers folk singers from the from the protest movement all the way to bluesmen like the legendary Lead Belly and jazzmen like Spike Jones & His City Slickers. The album contains eighteen songs from fifteen diverse artists who in the main have disappeared from the air-waves but deserve to be known and studied and celebrated. Of course God is assumed to be solely on the Allies side, something I’m sure all in war believe.

Kickin’ Hitler’s Butt begins with a track from The Almanac Singers, a New York City-based group, active between 1940 and 1943 and formed by Millard Lampell, Lee Hays, Pete Seeger, and Woody Guthrie. They performed songs that were anti-war, anti-racist and pro-union. The Almanac Singers felt strongly , just like London Celtic Punks do, that music could help achieve these goals. Music is one of the great uniters and one of the areas of life where people of all races and religion mixed. A cappella gospel  group The Golden Gate Quartet’s contribution to the album, ‘Stalin Wasn’t Stallin’ wasn’t out of pace with it’s praise of Joseph Stalin with American public feeling at the time. Written in 1943 by Willie Johnson even Roosevelt had this to say
“The world has never seen greater devotion, determination, and self sacrifice, that have been displayed by the Russian people and their armies under the leadership of Marshall Joseph Stalin”
and it’s true that many of the most significant battles in the War were won by American and Russian forces co-operation. The Southern Sons Quartet’s ‘Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition’ is another gospel a capella song written in response to Pearl Harbour by Frank Loesser in 1942. The song tells of a Sunday morning in December 1941, and the chaplain is asked to say a prayer for say a prayer for sailors aboard a U.S. navy ship under attack by the enemy firing from all directions. The chaplain puts down his Bible, mans one of the ship’s gun turrets and begins firing back, saying “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.”
“Praise the Lord and swing into position
Can’t afford to be a politician
Praise the Lord, we’re all between perdition
And the deep blue sea”
The Southern Sons remain the most successful African-American gospel quartet music groups. Next up is Jazz Gillum and ‘War Time Blues’. William McKinley ‘Jazz’ Gillum was an blues harmonica player whose recordings nearly all come from the 1940’s. Jazz was shot dead On March 29, 1966, during a street argument in Chicago.

The Florida Kid performs the simple but effective ‘Hitler Blues’ on piano while next up we have two collaborations between some real legendary figures. Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee give us ‘Move Into Germany’ and Lead Belly and Josh White perform ‘Hitler Song’. Famous in their own rights they all became involved civil rights protests and recorded Piedmont blues, country blues, gospel music and social protest songs. Following is another absolute legend in Woody Guthrie. Woody has featured on these pages many times and it is no exaggeration to say he remains the most significant figures in American folk music inspiring several generations, both politically and musically, since his death from Huntington’s Disease in 1967. He performed with the slogan “This machine kills fascists” on his guitar and he is one of the few artists here who is still largely celebrated. Josh White performs solo next with the amazing ‘Fuehrer’. The song tells of a German soldier, on the Russian front, starving and freezing to death dreaming he could go back home to Berlin. A sad song and beautifully played but not devoid of humour too. 
“Tell me, my Führer, what can I do?
My hands are freezing and my nose is blue
I’m dying of cold but then you never can tell
‘Cause when the Russians come, they make it hotter than hell
I got a touch of pneumonia, I got a terrible cough
If I sneeze once more, it’s bound to carry me off
When the Russians come, they always take us by storm
And there’s nothing like running if you want to get warm”
Josh White grew up in the south during the 1920’s and 1930’s and his experience led him to spend his life agitating for a more fair and equal system. This led to him being caught up in the ‘Red Scare’ panic from 1947 through to the mid-1960s which saw him black-listed as a communist. His ban from the airwaves was broken in 1963 when JFK asked him to perform on national television. Josh passed away in 1967 in New York.

Classic bluesman Buster ‘Buzz’ Ezell gives up ‘Roosevelt And Hitler’ Parts 1 and 2 featuring the memorable lyric
“He’s treating us so mean with his dreadful submarines.”
Delta bluesman Eddie James ‘Son’ House, Jr., noted for his highly emotional style of singing and slide guitar playing, plays ‘American Defense’. Starting off as a preacher before turning to the blues his recording career was short, punctuated by time in jail before he was re-discovered in the 1960’s and performed at folk festivals and toured during the American folk music revival. He recorded several more albums before passing in 1988. Next is ‘Coming In On A Wing And A Prayer’ by The Four Vagabonds, an African-American vocal quartet. The song tells of an American plane on its way home on one engine.

“What a show, what a fight
Yes, we really hit our target for tonight!
How we sing as we limp thru the air
Look below, there’s our field over there

With our full crew aboard and our trust in the Lord
We’re Comin’ In On A Wing And A Pray’r”

We move from such serious subject matter to the slapstick jazz of Spike Jones And His City Slickers with ‘Der Fuehrer’s Face’ where Spike tells us to blow raspberries in Adolf’s face. Spike was a bandleader famous in the 1940’s and 50’s for satirical arrangements of popular songs of the era. The jazz-swing of
Sam Browne And The Six Swingers follows with ‘Berlin Or Bust’.
“So it’s Berlin or bust!
Oh, we didn’t want to do it but we must”
Sam Browne was an English dance band singer who became one of the most popular British dance band vocalists of the pre-war era. US band leader Paul Baron And His Orchestra serve up the rousing ‘Up & At ‘Em, Yanks’ before Lead Belly returns with the only song here I had heard before the amazing Mr. Hitler. Now Lead Belly had one hell of a life (its well worth reading our biography of him here, you’ll not believe it!). Huddie William Ledbetter spent multiple spells in jail including a sentence for murder he was released early for. Passing away in 1949 he survived long enough to see Hitler in his grave. The album ends with the Rev. James A. Gates and ‘Hitler And Hell’. A preacher and Gospel music singer born in 1884, he was the pastor of Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Atlanta from 1914 until his death. During this time he recorded over 200 tracks. Performed in the style of a dynamic old-school sermon.

So faced with the worse evil of their times these artists chose to take sides. With these songs they actively encouraged and inspired the bravest of the brave to liberate humanity from one of the most vile and dangerous phenomena – fascism. Many of the artists here also fought during the War putting their words into action. Even with Hitler’s death and the defeat of the Nazi’s the war with fascism has not ended. The war continues on every continent and among every race. If we are finally to bury this evil ideology then we must win the hearts and minds of the people and with that in mind I’ll leave you with a quote from the great Irish patriot James Connolly.

“No revolutionary movement is complete without its poetical expression. If such a movement has caught hold of the imagination of the masses they will seek a vent in song for the aspirations, the fears and the hopes, the loves and the hatreds engendered by the struggle. Until the movement is marked by the joyous, defiant, singing of revolutionary songs, it lacks one of the most distinctive marks of a popular revolutionary movement, it is the dogma of a few, and not the faith of the multitude.”

To download Kickin’ Hitler’s Butt click

HERE

for more like this…(only in researching the article to accompany Kickin’ Hilter’s Butt did I come across this amazing concert from Josh White. Do your soul a favour and take thirty minutes of your life and spend it in the company of this wonderful and remarkable human being)

ALBUM REVIEW: CIARAN MURPHY- ‘Once Upon A Time In Ireland’ (2009)

*AVAILABLE AS A DIGITAL DOWNLOAD FOR THE FIRST TIME*
Ciarán Murphy, ex-political prisoner, singer-songwriter and one man acoustic hand grenade from West Belfast. A protest singer in the finest Irish tradition and politically as sharp as a syringe needle hanging on razor wire. On this his debut album, available as a digital download for the very first time, he points out the often ugly truths of Irish life, asks difficult questions and never once pulls his punches.