Category Archives: Folk

ALBUM REVIEW: THE TOSSERS – The Tossers (2023)

The World’s Loudest Folk Band

One of the first and most enduring bands on the Celtic-Punk underground, Chicago’s The Tossers are back with a ‘new’ album of classics, standards and originals that mix the attitude and swagger of Punk Rock with a muscular but respectful approximation of Irish traditional Folk music. 

It’s been six years since the last Tossers release and for them that is a loooong time. The new album unoriginally titled just The Tossers came out in February to highlight their 30th anniversary concert dates and as such is a very welcome return for what are a Premier League Celtic-Punk band.

The Tossers come from Chicago. In fact they come from the South of Chicago. This is the area that the huge Irish Catholic community had traditionally called home since the 19th century. From just a few hundred in the 1830s, by 1860 Chicago had emerged as the fourth largest Irish city in America and was estimated at nearly 300,000 by 1890. Unlike their counterparts in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, however, Chicago’s Irish grew up with their city and exerted an influence out of proportion to their numbers. The immigrant history of Chicago of course doesn’t just stop at the Irish with Poles, Germans, Bohemians, Lithuanians, Italians, and Slovaks all having been led to the Midwest as well looking for a better life in  the land of opportunity. While most Irish-American families in Chicago are three are four generations deep, plenty of Chicago’s Irish have immigrated fairly recently and the Irish still lead the way in the amount of foreign born residents with many arriving in the 1980’s and 1990’s due to recession back home and Chicago’s strong links to back home.

The south side of Chicago had, and still does, a tough working class reputation and it was there that a 18 year old hard luck kid called Anthony Duggins from the south side of town began playing traditional Irish folk music in the neighbourhood pubs. It wasn’t long before he was joined by his brother and best friends and before long they had moved on from playing covers from the likes of Christy Moore and Ewan MacColl and were playing Anthony’s original compositions. They soon became The Tossers taking their name from the slang for worthless British coins in Sean O’Casey’s play The Plough and the Stars. The coins became useless after the southern Irish Free State won independence from Britain, and started to print it’s own currency.

The new album begins with one of the originals here and ‘Americay’ takes yo right back to the last time you listened to The Tossers. Perhaps nothing new but a joyous and raucous celebration of the Irish in America. The Tossers can lay claim to being the most obvious band to carry on The Pogues torch and their worth to the Irish community is massive. Anthony’s distinctive vocals and American Irish brogue dominate the music which is some feat as they are are correctly labelled ‘The World’s Loudest Folk Band’. Next up is one of the many re-recordings here, ‘D’ampton Worm’ is a song from the north-east of England telling of the legend of the giant white worm-like creature that lived in the caverns beneath the Lambton Estate in County Durham. The song first appeared on 2001’s Communication & Conviction and so maybe an unusual song to bring back but still a gem. The Tossers write some fantastic lyrics and though they often touch on serious subjects they do know their audience well and love dropping in a good auld drinking song. ‘Buckets Of Beer’ is from their aptly titled debut album We’ll Never Be Sober Again from 1996. A fast crowd pleaser with an easy chorus to singalong to with a subtext of five guys robbing a bank with the bucket being the spoils of the robbery.

(live recording of Tossers classic ‘Siobhan’ and ‘Buckets Of Beer’ at the the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana the day after St. Patrick’s day 2023)

So the first three songs have all whizzed by in just over six minutes so time for a bit of an epic and one of a handful of songs that is guaranteed to get the audience going. For a band that channels The Pogues so well they handle ‘Dirty Ol’ Town’ with ease. Anthony’s voice always conveys total conviction in every thing he sings and he gets the emotions of the song over in a way that not many are able. Ewan MacColl was said to be unhappy at Shane’s version so I hope he’ll find peace with The Tossers. Seemingly desperate to cover every ‘Celtic-Punk base’ as fast as possible they now throw up some trad with a upbeat ‘Fermoy Lasses / Sporting Paddy’ that has been and gone in 99 seconds!

(The Tossers live at The Grog Shop, Cleveland, Ohio on March 5th 2023)

‘Aye Sir’ is another track cut from their debut album and the ultimate tribute to the waster’s life!

“Well, I’ll go off and get real famous just like my brother Seamus
The people I got to see’cause the world is at my feet
I don’t need you assholes standing
Standing in my way
For I’ll get drunk and probably knock you down”

One of the first songs that Anthony wrote and The Tossers performed he says

“it’s about a young Irish sailor, and every fantastically juvenile verse is followed by an equally childish shout of “Boozer, Hookers, Aye sir.” (Let’s face it, there will always be prostitutes, sailors and marines.) This song not only reminds me of a time in history, but also of my own childhood innocence, ignorance and adolescence.”

A new song follows and ‘Irish Blood’ tells the tale of the American Irish all within three minutes. One of the startling things here is when compared to the songs from the very very beginnings of The Tossers it is clear they have have lost none of their energy and vim and play at a pace that you’re mammy would think was impossible! Another Pogues classic pops up next and once again ‘Paddy On The Railway’ shows the lads ability to remind you so much of The Pogues without it ever crossing your mind that they are ‘copying’ or aping the London Bhoys. ‘Paper And Pins’ is another taken from Communication & Conviction and a very clever song about a man courting a lass and the twists and turns in the courtship. The album ends with three stonewall classics of Irish Folk all done absolutely brilliant. ‘Rocky Road To Dublin’, ‘Tell Me Ma’ and ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ may have all been recorded countless times and played live to infinity but as I’ve said The Tossers make everything sound new and vibrant especially the uncredited ‘Maidrin Rua’ intro to ‘Tell Me Ma’.

So kind of a strange album to release John over at Shite ‘n’ Onions Celtic-Punk web site reckons “it’s a self-finance, stop-gap release to support the bands 30th anniversary tour” which is probably right and while we would have loved to hear more new material it is still a pleasure to get anything from The Tossers. With their 30th anniversary dates over the word is that they are writing and recording for a full length studio album so keep your eyes peeled for that and enjoy this while you’re waiting!

Get The Tossers  https://thetossers.hearnow.com/the-tossers

Contact The Tossers  WebSite   Facebook   YouTube  Instagram

A TRIBUTE TO THE POGUES – FAIRYTALE OF BUFFALO NY 2023

Four great bands in one night celebrating the Pogues, the godfather and forebears of everything celtic punk. What could possibly be bad?  Not a lot, I’ll sure as hell say.  Our man ‘cross the broad Atlantic’ didn’t have far to travel to check out this gig in his home town and even got on the stage for the grand finale!

Friday 10th March 2023 at The Sportsman Tavern, Buffalo NY State

CRIKWATER from South Buffalo opened the night. I’ve seen them as sessions before and they are fantastic players. Their set went really well. Brilliantly played. It was a little softer than I would have liked for a tribute to a band who’s lead singer bit someone’s ear at a Clash show, but still. Phenomenally executed.  Facebook   WebSite

Next up was McCARTHYIZM. A definite notable mention goes to their fiddle player Sally Schaefer, who I’ve been lucky enough to play with a few times. They ended the set with “Turkish Song of the Damned” which has that great ending. The band was lock tight but she stood out.  Facebook   WebSite
 
Next up was YELLOW JACK. Admittedly I didn’t catch the entire set. What I did catch, there was a long pause before they went on, was that they were likely the truest to the Pogues actual sound of what you hear on the records. Great instrumentation, good vocals. Had never heard of them before but they are definitely going to be on the radar from now on.  Facebook   WebSite

Last on was CAPTAIN TOM AND THE HOOLIGANS. Now I’m biased because I know a good chunk of the band and played with them for a stint. But at that point we playing polka, all polka, and nothing but the polka. I was a little nervous how a horn section etc would fit into a Pogues set, but they did not disappoint. Maybe it was a few hours of folks at the bar, maybe it was just them, maybe it was both, but there was a tangible energy. They closed with ‘Fiesta’ and then all the performers came on for ‘South Australia’ which was awesome and I snuck on for. All in all, it was a fantastic night and surrounded by friends who you might not even know, but were all sisters and brothers in one common denominator-the brilliance that is the Pogues.  Facebook  WebSite

The ‘big jam’ below, grand finale at A Tribute to the Pogues-A Fairytale of Buffalo, NY at The Sportsmens Tavern. Thanks to all who contributed to an amazing night in tribute to the Pogues and to the Buffalo Music Coalition who organised it.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=921429742393202

BRYAN McPHERSON LIVE IN LONDON & SURBITON APRIL 20 / 21

Boston-born folk-punk singer Bryan McPherson sings dusty, dirty and downtrodden songs about the people living in between the cracks and crevices.

Bryan arrives in these shores in the next few days and don’t miss this opportunity to see one of our favourite artists live. Here we present a retrospect of his career to date with selected songs and albums.

Bryan McPherson has never let go of his desire to be vulnerable with his listeners. Wedgewood (released in 2015) is an angry record, a searing criticism of the American government fueled by the Occupy movement and filled with a passionate impulse to burn the whole damn thing to the ground. Yet the album opens with “Born on a Highway,” a plaintive heart-on-your-sleeve ballad where Bryan acknowledges the transience of life and affirms to be “a willing participant of an incredible dream.” Even amid incredible disillusionment, he seems to be saying there is hope for tomorrow.

Bryan grew up in Dorchester, a working-class neighbourhood in Boston, where crime was high and music venues were nonexistent. Armed with a guitar and an opinionated mind, he began writing songs as adversarial as they were melodic. With nowhere to perform, Bryan headed to upper-class Cambridge, where his edgy, plain-spokenness contrasted wildly from the more flowery, contemplative singer-songwriters. He stuck out like a sore thumb and audiences  didn’t know how to feel about him. But one thing was clear. Bryan fell in love with the directness of folk music.

In 2006, the anti-folk scene was bubbling up in New York. Bryan admired the lively experimentation and how musicians were challenging the norms of conventional songwriting. But their overall sarcastic presentation didn’t jive with his intense sincerity. He wanted more than to get a rise out of people; he wanted to be heard. A year later, back in Boston, he found a music scene that appreciated his aggressively tender style of folk music: the punk scene.

(Kelly Thomas was a mentally ill, homeless man beaten to death by the police in Fullerton, California. The police were found “Not Guilty”, despite having the obvious crime on video and audio. Kelly can be heard pleading for his last breaths and screaming out that he was sorry.)

“I came across the shocking audio and video of one of the most obvious cases of police brutality and murder I have ever seen. I wrote this song. I worked on it the following day and recorded it in the hut this morning and afternoon. It’s the least I can do in telling this story. You can listen below. Rest in peace Kelly Thomas.”

In Boston, it was just Bryan, his guitar, and whatever happened to be on his mind at the time. He was known to jump on dive bar tabletops and rouse the patrons from their drunken half-slumber with a deafening tenor and some seriously pissed-off political lyrics. The punks were starting to notice. Locally revered street punks The Ducky Boys and Celtic Punks The Dropkick Murphys became fans. Local producer Hendrik Gideonse wanted to produce him. The resulting album, Bryan’s raw debut Fourteen Stories, was released in 2007. Suddenly people were showing up at the dive bars to see him play.

​Rather than bask in his growing local popularity, Bryan moved west, landing in Berkeley, California. It had been a few years since Fourteen Stories, and he was sitting on a batch of powerful new songs that resembled a manifesto for a better country. The world was currently experiencing festering unrest that would soon coalesce into the Occupy movement. Bryan began recording during this climate. On the opening track he sang, “if there’s one thing I know, the god that I know, knows no creed, no class, no nation.” While recording American Boy, American Girl (released 2012), the Occupy movement exploded. Fed-up Americans were echoing much of what he sang about on the album.

Equipped with some solid songs and running on a season of protesting, Bryan hit the road, ready to confront the public with meaningful performance. One night in Pasadena, the audience walked out just a few minutes into his set. The bartender turned up the house music while he was still playing. No one was interested in his meaningful performance. Undeterred, he joined the crowd outside and sang in their faces while they smoked cigarettes and chatted about their dead-end jobs. No matter where they looked, he was there, singing his punk-gospel melodies, winning them over with vulnerability and persistent, patient confrontation. From then on, Bryan would often get up and sing at people to shake them out of their ruts. Audiences frequently thanked him after shows for forcing them to be present. When it came time to work on Wedgewood, he thought back to his many hours with Occupy Oakland and the anger he was witnessing across the country. Fury mixed with a deep longing to fix systemic problems inspired his songwriting. Wedgewood was the result, capturing the moment’s rage and foretelling the coming polarising times that would soon overtake US politics.

Help Bryan out on tour by buying a new ‘2 Birds’ t-shirt. All sizes from Small to XXLarge available. Will be posted out asap.  https://bryanmcpherson1.bandcamp.com/merch/bryan-mcpherson-2-birds-t-shirt

After the ferocity of Wedgewood, Bryan felt like he needed to take a step back. Anger was negatively impacting his relationships and sense of well-being. He started conceiving his next album, How To Draw Everything, using songs he’d put on the back burner because they were too sensitive and didn’t fit tonally on previous albums. But that project was sidetracked when Bryan decided to take a look back at his life. He re-recorded a batch of old songs from 2001 off of an old demo—the first he’d ever written. These personal portraits revealed an image of a frustrated young man struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, trying to find his identity in a world that didn’t understand him. Now almost two decades sober, Bryan wanted to share the beautiful struggle found in these songs. He titled the album Kings Corner (2019), which was named after the street corner he and his friends hung out on, growing up. 

Afterward, he returned to How To Draw Everything, but with a plan to make it sound brilliant. He enlisted notable producer Ted Hutt, who has worked with Flogging Molly, Gaslight Anthem, The Violent Femmes, and won a Grammy in 2015 for his work on Old Crow Medicine Show’s Remedy. However, at this point tensions in the country had worsened. Everyone hated each other. Bryan felt more determined than ever not to contribute to the “Us vs. Them” attitude that overtook the nation. In 2020 he wrote the 15-minute-long song “American Dream,” which chronicles his years on the road, visiting every corner of the country and meeting good people wherever he went. It’s an optimistic song, much like 2012’s “No creed, No class, No nation,” which insists that good outweighs the bad no matter how imperfect the country is, and there is power in recognising our similarities.

In the Spring of 2021, after a long, grueling year of ironing out arrangements during lockdown, Bryan hit the studio with Ted and an all-star cast of top-notch musicians, including ex-Dropkick Murphys’ Marc Orrell, Dustbowl Revival’s drummer Josh Heffernan, remarkable violinist Chris Murphy, who has worked with everyone from the Waterboys to Mike Watt. In addition to the powerful “American Dream,” he recorded several emotive tracks. “Lightning Lullaby” is a unifying anthem that speaks to the power of music in connecting people during times of struggle. “Sweet Kari” is a gentle folk song about finding peace after moving on from lost love. “Alameda Street” captures the excitement and confusion of running around LA, trying to figure out what to do with your life, and what lies deep in your heart. 

How To Draw Everything isn’t just Bryan’s latest record; it’s a whole new beginning for him as an artist. On the meditative “2 Birds,” he muses, “There’s something about the sky that makes me grateful to be alive.” From the perspective of age comes a spiritual death of what was, and in its place, a re-discovering of peace, country, and self are found. Hope finally outweighs despair and can be reclaimed, like a child wondering at the seeds of a dandelion. Bryan defies us to admit hope was there all along.

BRYAN McPHERSON / ANTO MORRA PLAYING LIVE IN LONDON!

Words can’t describe how happy we are to be able to put on BRYAN McPHERSON. Eight years on from his first and only visit to these shores it’s been a long time coming. Born and raised on the mean streets of Dorchester, a blue collar working-class Irish-American Catholic neighbourhood in Boston, that was also home to half the members of the original Dropkick Murphys. He was inspired at a young age by the raw energy and angst of Punk Rock, as well as the lyrically driven American folk songs of the early 1960’s. His first performances were street corners, house parties, and subway stations in Boston’s inner city. In 2001 he burst onto the acoustic music scene, he has played the length and breadth of North America and was recently spotted opening up for the Dropkick Murphys’ at their famed St. Patrick’s shows in Boston. This is passionate, acoustic-punk from the heart. Street life, politics, addiction and moments of beauty, anguish, clarity and dissent litter the alleys of McPherson’s songs. Recently he was awarded the #1 Folk/ Roots Album Of 2022 on the London Celtic Punks web-zine. The words are as honest as they are urgent…every second counts!
http://bryanmcpherson.com/
He is supported on both nights by the London Irish Punk Folker – Anto Morra. A staple of the London Irish music community sightings of Anto have been restricted die to the lockdown but pleased to have him trod the boards for us again with his extra special brand of Punk-Folk.
https://www.antomorra.com/
Bryan is playing two nights for us the first at The Bird’s Nest. One of the great last standing live venues in SE London and one of the best. Located at 32 Deptford Church Street, Lewisham, London SE8 4RZ. close to New Cross and New Cross Gate tube stations so easily accessible from across London.
http://www.thebirdsnestpub.co.uk/
The following night sees them take the stage at The Lamb, 73 Brighton Road, Surbiton KT6 5NF. Ph. No. 020 8390 9229. Just a couple of minutes walk from Surbiton station only 20 odd minutes from London by train and walking distance from Kingston it promises to be a fantastic night.
https://www.lambsurbiton.co.uk
Entry for both shows is free but their will be a whip round (as you can imagine getting here from the States as a DIY musician isn’t cheap) and every single penny from London Celtic Punks merchandise on the night will go directly into Bryan’s pocket.

EP REVIEW: GREEN ASHES – Cannery Row (2023)

Drawing from the ashes of their ancestors and modern music alike, Los Angeles based Green Ashes new EP Cannery Row is original Folk-Rock music for fighters and lovers.

We only recently found out about Green Ashes when we featured them as our ‘Blast From The Past’ on last months Odds’n’Sods – Celtic Punk Round Up. The feature is usually reserved for releases that we missed first time round and the bands are usually long split up so I was a bit surprised to find out after downloading Sean, the bands five track follow up to their 2011 debut album .​.​.​And You’ll Put Your Boats To Sea that they were very much still together even if it was a whole decade between Sean and this months release of Cannery Row. 

Green Ashes are based in Los Angeles, California and have for over a decade been entertaining LA’s Irish community with high energy Irish Folk and Celtic Rock. Clearly influenced by homegrown musical forms including Bluegrass and Americana they are famous for turning up one night with acoustic guitars, mandolins, banjos and upright basses and then the next night everything is turned up to 11 with Stratocasters and Fender Twins blazing.

Green Ashes left to right : Mark Serridge – Bass * Jeff Zemina – Banjo / Guitar / Vocals * Patrick Murphy – Vocals / Guitars * Rich Silva – Drums * Samantha Rawlings – Violin / Vocals *

One of the hardest working bands in Los Angeles they’ve played pubs, cafes, weddings, special events, ancient cruise ships and have become regulars on many of California’s Irish music festivals.  Playing St. Patrick’s Day at the Irish Times venue in Culver City for over 10 years and CBS News even called Green Ashes gig at Irish Times “one of the best bets for live music on St Patrick’s Day”.

So their first release since Sean sees Green Ashes make a subtle yet significant move away from traditional Irish music to a truly authentic sound. The EP which had been delayed thanks to the Covid pandemic is named after the place the band played their first gig in Redondo Beach in 2009. Cannery Row consists of three originals and a fiery take on a traditional Irish rebel song that begins with ‘Forevermore’. The first thing that struck me was the vocals and how typically Irish-American they sound. I’m looking forward to seeing the Young Dubliners here in London soon and Patrick Murphy’s raspy definitely is reminiscent of Keith Roberts in the afore mentioned band.The music is mostly acoustic and has a certain grit despite being polished (nut not over produced). The recording is excellent with the fiddle out front but not dominating. ‘Just One’ is more upbeat and the obligatory drinking song is a right foot tapper. With Country influences sneaking in and name checks for the lovely Tullamore Dew ans the even lovelier Pogues tucked inside. ‘Roses’ is the last of the originals here and a sweet ballad with lilting fiddle and a swirling sound that gives emphasis to Patrick’s vocals. The EP ends with probably the best Irish rebel song to be given the Celtic-Punk treatment. Their really is no rival. An upbeat war tune with a classic singalong chorus and a song that is designed to only be sung while waving your fist in the air. ‘Come Out You Black And Tans’ has been around fro decades now and perfectly sums up the War Of Independence to free Ireland in 1919-1921. Great to hear some new material from Green Ashes and that their sound has been allowed to develop in a different direction from what was expected.

(You can stream / download Cannery Row via the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Cannery Row  Bandcamp

Contact Green Ashes  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

EP REVIEW: DOWNLOAD FOR FREE! RAVENSWALK – St. Patrick’s Day 2023 (2023)

While this side of the broad Atlantic all the writers for London Celtic Punks are musically illiterate over in the US of A there is no end to the musical talents of our North America editor Ray Ball! Ray’s band Ravenswalk have a aptly titled six track EP out just in time for St. Patrick’s Day 2023.

Alongside being a great writer and a Celtic-Punk obsessive like the rest of us Ray recognises that Celtic-Punk is much much more than music. While some write the genre off as corny and just drinking music it is musicians like Ray that bring to mind the ancient seanchai. A traditional Gaelic storyteller and historian who passes on his knowledge through both music and song. So with all that in mind we asked Ray to go into the songs and give us a wee potted history of the songs.

‘Shipping Up To Boston’
This song needs no introduction. I arranged this for two bagpipes which I just played on different tracks, bass and drums. Just a little change of pace for a tune we all know.
‘Zombie’
A track from The Cranberries that I love Clare singing on that really encapsulates the troubles.
‘The World Turned Upside Down’
This tells of is a commune started in 1649 in England that didn’t last long due to the monarchy but was a huge stepping stone towards more contemporary socialist values. Not to make a huge political stance but a good song. The British army also played this tune on fife and drum when they surrendered to the allied French and continental army at the final battle of the American revolution, because it was a bitter irony.
‘Thatcherites By Name’
Sung to the tune of ‘Jacobites By Name’ originally by Robert Burns to criticise the British government under Maggie Thatcher. Not a super Irishy song but one I also love Clare’s vocals on and has the Rabbie Burns tie in.
‘Garryowen’
This traces back to before the American Civil War, and was a popular tune then. It’s really about creating mayhem in a small Irish town lyrically but in it’s day was also a favourite amongst soldiers, particularly Irish ones.
‘The Irish Volunteer’
This is also a Civil War era tune, which celebrates an Irish immigrants story of his father dying on Vinegar Hill in 1798 to his fighting for his new country that allowed him a new life. All biases aside, by the 1860’s there were huge amounts of Irish immigrants fighting for both sides during the war. Some accounts actually state that soldiers on opposite sides that were all Irish would stop firing at each other because they all recognised that they were brethren caught up in a different fight. At the battle of Fredericksburg one confederate soldier crossed lines during the night and went to give water to his Irish union brethren who were wounded and dying in the cold. He is known as “the Angel of Mayres Heights” and there is a large monument to him on the battlefield today.

(Stream / download St. Patrick’s Day 2023 via the Bandcamp player below)

The album cover is based on the flag of the 7th Buffalo Regt., Irish Army of Liberation. The flag was carried into battle during the Fenian raids, which took place in the 1860’s after the war and consisted of veterans of both sides deciding they would fight to invade Canada via Buffalo and hold it in ransom for Ireland’s freedom, or even to start a “new Ireland” there. The battle showed a swift and distinct Irish victory but was short lived. The regiment was of volunteers from the heavily Irish south side of Buffalo, but saw heavy action. Two casualties of the battle were recovered and brought to their final resting place near to that south Buffalo area. Though their attempts failed ultimately, it presented the groundwork for the Easter 1916 rising in many ways.

Ravenswalk are the classically trained Clare Elizabeth on vocals and the aforementioned Ray Ball on all the other many instruments and they are based in the heavily Irish-American city of Buffalo in New York state. They have already amassed a back catalogue that much more established bands would be jealous of and it’s all freely available alongside the St. Patrick’s Day 202 six track EP as ‘name your price’ downloads from Bandcamp. We never get tired of saying that these downloads are completely free and their is absolutely no obligation to pay anything but their is an option if you do feel and can afford to send over a couple of pints. After all Guinness is expensive stuff in the States.

Ravenswalk  Facebook  Bandcamp 

NEW SINGLE: BARDS FROM YESTERDAY – The Muddy Road To Axa Briga

The best Celtic-Punk bands in Italy are heavily influenced by Trad-Irish-Folk and Bards From Yesterday are one of the best around at the moment. With such an authentic sound Ireland’s homegrown bands are green with envy!

With the release of their debut EP (EP)Demia in 2021 Bards from Yesterday stormed onto the international Celtic music scene. Heading straight to the top of the Folk/Trad Best Of chart for 2021 London Celtic Punk have been waiting impatiently for the follow up ever since. The new single from the five young talented musicians from northern Italy who  make up the Italian Celtic-Rock band Bards From Yesterday is ‘The Muddy Road To Axa Briga’ and these guys just love Irish music!

Bards From Yesterday from right to left: Mattia Gavin – Guitar / Vocals * Geppo Mastria – Bass * Luis Vásquez Vargas – Wooden Flute * Giovanni Davoli – Uilleann Pipes / Tin Whistle * Glauco Guala – Drums / Concertina *

The track is a set composed of three tunes with the first jig ‘The Road To Axa Briga’, the second ‘Dancing In The Mud’ and the last jig called ‘Raindrops Jig’. All three of the tunes are composed by Giovanni Davoli and arranged by the band themselves. The inspiration for the set came from one of their gigs at Axa Briga Festival in Northern Italy. At that time one of the members was working for a TV show and had the chance to ‘borrow’ (ahem!) one of the production’s tour buses to get to the gig. When the band arrived everything was fine, they sound checked, helped themselves to a few drinks and some food and then got on stage to play. Three songs in and an almighty storm kicked off. Rather than spoil the night as you would imagine the gig actually got even better. The crowd and band ended up covered in mud as well as every single cable, microphone and instrument… and the bus! While the rest of the band had no option except to clean the instruments and then the bus Giovanni the piper just sat drunk on a bench playing some tunes for the ladies and waiting for the last raindrops to fall.

A truly wonderful piece of Irish music and the joyful sound is replicated throughout the video too as Bards From Yesterday can’t conceal their happiness while playing. The video was directed by Lorenzo Testa of the utterly brilliant, and well on their way to be legendary, Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards in the small village of Ameno in the Italian region of Piedmont, north east of Turin. Every year the village hosts a great festival of Celtic, Traditional and Folk music. The audio was recorded by Maurizio Cardullo (Folkstone) at Crono’s Studio in Milan and at Bonsai Studio in Brovello Carpugnino by Federico Gibelli. The guys have a full length studio album out later in the month titled Many Miles From Land. Ten mostly original tracks of marvellous, modern day traditional Irish Folk.

Contact Bards Of Yesterday  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

ALBUM REVIEW: PHIL ‘SWILL’ ODGERS, PAUL SIMMONDS, BOBBY VALENTINO – Questions, Answers & Songs (2023)

Phil ‘Swill’ Odgers, Paul Simmonds and Bobby Valentino got together last Summer for a one off show at London’s legendary Water Rats music venue in Kings Cross. Recorded for posterity it was something a little different!

Remember last Summer? I do. I started a new job in April so for the first time in many a year I had both the money and the time to spend it so we took ourselves off to the sun drenched shores of Italy and Ireland (!) on holiday but if I’d have been here in London then on Friday 19th August 2022 their is only one place you would have found me and that was at the place where Celtic-Punk was born. Back on 4th October 1982 James Fearnley, Shane MacGowan, Spider Stacy and Jem Finer took the stage at The Pindar of Wakefield under the moniker of Pogue Mahone and a whole new genre of music had begun. Well the pub has changed it’s name and had more face lifts than Madonna has but it remains one of the best places to catch a band play in the whole of London.

That night in August saw Phil ‘Swill’ Odgers (on vocals, acoustic guitar and harmonica), Paul Simmonds (on vocals and parlour guitar) and Bobby Valentino (backing vocals and violin) from The Men They Couldn’t Hang join forces for a one off special show down at The Water Rats in Grays Inn Road, Kings Cross. Sadly for fans, since the date of the gig was announced, the RMT rail union had called a series of transport strikes and the 19th was one of the dates chosen. This meant that even though the gig would eventually sell out many of The Men’s hardcore fans wouldn’t be able to make it into London. Lucky for them the guys decided to record the gig for posterity and this week sees it released for the first time. The resulting ninety minutes are a unique and often humorous peek into the trio’s musical lives. The fella’s played two sets with the first being a full on Punk-Folk set from The Men They Couldn’t Hang’s extensive catalogue of original material spanning forty years. With the band taking requests from the audience before and even during the gig the atmosphere was celebratory and spontaneous with songs from their debut album like ‘Night To Remember’ (see below) right through to the title track from their last studio release Red Kite Rising. The sound was amazing and even though the crowd sang loudly along to every single word throughout the night that is kept to an absolute minimum with the focus purely on Swill, Paul and Bobby.

After a quick break the Bhoys returned for the second set and surprised everyone by doing a live Q & A session with gig promoter Tony Fraser acting as question master for the duration. Tony was armed with questions he had gathered from the audience during the interval – none of which the band were privy too until they were read out live on stage. Ali Hakimi’s was on the sound desk on the night and the recording has been remastered by the regular TMTCH producer Pat Collier. Questions, Answers & Songs is available to order for pre-release now from the Bandcamp link below. It comes as a Bandcamp exclusive double CD or download. With the digital album out on March 3rd and the CD shipping out on or around March 7, 2023.

(Questions, Answers & Songs is available to stream and download from the Bandcamp player below)

Contact The Men They Couldn’t Hang WebSite Facebook YouTube Instagram

NEW SINGLE: CALLUM HOUSTON – OKTFTW (2023)

New single from Graveyard Johnnys guitarist Callum Houston.

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

Carrigaline, county Cork native Callum Houston can usually be found singing songwriting around his home near Lorient in Brittany in the local pubs and clubs. When he’s not doing that he plays guitar in Premier League Psychobilly band the Graveyard Johnnys. It’s been almost a couple of years since his last recordings came out, the fantastic ‘As I Roved Out One Morning’ but he has just released ‘OKTFTW’ the first single from a forthcoming new EP to be called Pub Poetry due out on the 3rd of March 2023.

The bell rings and you’re calling them in
One last before closing time
You’re wondering round with thoughts to drown
Words you cannot soundAnd it’s alright
Well it’s ok
To feel this wayShes in the kitchen and there’s clearing something missing
And she finally starts breaking down
The tears fall and the words are crawling
Out from her mindAnd it’s alright
Well it’s ok
To feel this way

And before it’s too late
We’ve gotta find some time to sit and evaluate
Well I hope that in this song
You might find something that

Let’s talk about life your struggles and your strife’s
Let’s talk about you
All the things you need all the things you grieve
And all that is true

And it’s alright
Well it’s ok
Wake up in the morning to a bright brand new day
We can turn ourselves around
Pick ourselves up off the ground

And it’s alright
Well it’s ok
Wake up in the morning to a bright brand new day
We can turn ourselves around pick ourselves up off the ground
And before it’s too late
We must find some time to sit and evaluate
Well I hope that in this song you might sometime to
Well I hope that in this song you might sometime to help you move on

OKTFTW was released just last Friday on February 3, 2023. It was recorded at Humbu Studio by Alban Bauduin and mastered by Sleeper Bill. OKTFTW is available for streaming and download via the Bandcamp player below. It only costs a pound so buy Callum a quarter of a pint.

Download As I Roved Out One Morning  Bandcamp

Contact Callum Houston  Facebook  YouTube  Spotify

ALBUM REVIEW: DROPKICK MURPHYS – ‘This Machine Still Kills Fascists’ (2022)

Unsurprisingly whenever the release of a new Dropkick Murphys album is announced the internet glows white with reviews and promotions so now two months after the release of This Machine Still Kills Fascists Ray Ball gives it a listen and our last post of 2022 sees if it does indeed live up to the hype.

So here’s the disclaimer. This isn’t what we expect Dropkick Murphys album to sound like at all. Al has been on leave for a bit now taking care of his family, and I know we call commend him for that and wish the best for the Barr family.

But here’s also what I learned. The Murphys have been in contact with the Guthrie family for about a decade. “Shipping Up To Boston” was originally a few Guthrie scribbles. Guthrie’s daughter had recently given an all access pass to her fathers materiel he never used or recorded.

Nora Guthrie with her father Woody “I collected lyrics on all kinds of topics…lyrics that seemed to be needed to be said – or screamed – today. Ken Casey is a master at understanding Woody’s lyrics, which can be complicated, long, deadly serious, or totally ridiculous. DKM is capable of delivering them all.”

So you’ve got Guthrie lyrics. While, as Ken stated in an interview, it wouldn’t be right to put out a regular album without Al, this was a good chance to put out this years in the making project. Instead of giving you a list of radio singles or hidden gems B-Sides, pick up a copy. Discover the stuff you like about the album. It’s all but completely acoustic, but straight up balls to the wall Americana at its best in nearly if not over half a century in my opinion.

Dropkick Murphys founder Ken Casey explained, “The project has been a long time in the making. Nora Guthrie thought her father would’ve got a kick out of us, would’ve liked us, that we were somewhat kindred spirits so to speak, which to us was a huge honour.”

So if you want to hear something tried and true other than “Fairytale” this holiday season grab a copy. Discover your favourites. This album is true- no deadline / record company profit marketing whatever / has to have a radio single track album.
 
There is no Al. God bless him and his family right now, but it’s a great piece. Give it a listen for something truly unique. Cheers guys!

Dropkick Murphys  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

Back in September when This Machine Still Kills Fascists came out we took a look at the life of Woody Guthrie and offer you the opportunity to download a great double album containing all of his greatest work for free. The link is still available so click below to be re-directed.

WOODY GUTHRIE – Dust Can’t Kill Me

Thanks to Ray Ball. He has already featured on these pages as the driving force behind The Fighting 69th from Buffalo. The review of his 2-volume set of Dropkick Murphys coverswas one of the most viewed of the year. One of the most prolific and diverse artists in the Celtic-Punk scene we are proud to have Raymond on board our team. Writer, artist, musician he is a credit to the American-Irish community and you can find a wealth of his material available at his Bandcamp site.
*
 
Follow London Celtic Punks and never miss a post

ALBUM REVIEW: THE ENDINGS – ‘Completely Pickled’ (2022)

We have discovered a new English Celtic-Punk band from Telford in the Midlands and The Endings have only been together for twelve years! Today we review their recently released new album of Celtic-Folk-Punk with an Irish flavour. 

The Endings are a new band. Well new to me but not I dare say to the good people of Telford in the English midlands. Telford was conceived only in 1963 as part of post-war reconstruction. A time that saw a succession towns built from scratch. Named after road builder, civil engineer and architect Thomas Telford who, contrary to popular belief, was not responsible for Ironbridge Gorge, which gave its name to the World Heritage Site beside the River Severn, but he was Shropshire’s Surveyor of Public Works in 1787, which seems a long stretch to name the town after him! So all in all a fairly typical English town. A town like many across England that it’s residents are proud of. So proud indeed are The Endings that they nearly also get a mention as The Endings Telford. In these times where any sort of love of place or home is written off as chauvinism I love the idea of The Endings showing this pride in where they come from.

The Endings left to right (top): Verna – Drums / Vocals * Paul Mandolin / Banjo / Vocals * (bottom) Harry – Fiddle / Vocals * Rob – Guitar / Lead Vocalist * Kev – Bass / Vocals *

As I say The Endings may be new to me but they have been around over a decade playing the pub circuit around Shropshire and occasionally a little further afield. New blood in the band and a bit of inspiration has the last couple of years though seen them spending most weekends on the road gigging and with regular performances at festivals the opportunity to support bands such as Ferocious Dog and Mad Dog McCrea has arrived. They play their own style of uptempo Irish music that is designed purely only to keep the dance floors occupied. They have one previous release, Coda from 2019, which marked the start of their move away from being purely background noise for busy pubs into a band that people will aim to go and watch. Even so 2 albums in over 10 years may sound mean but isn’t unheard of when bands are caught in the cycle of gig-gig-gig-gig. If you want to show yourselves off to the bigger world then you do need to make time to record but then you also need to make those recordings available and these days that means making downloading an option. These are things that The Endings need to think about as their music deserves a much bigger audience and with more than half the readers of this site from overseas it’s a must-do.

Completely Pickled (an English euphemism for being drunk in case you didn’t know) opens with ‘Gemini’ and tells the story of a night out on the lash at the 1970’s-80’s Shropshire nightclub Gemini. If anyone remembers our review of Pronghorn (“Kings of Cowpunk”) a few weeks back then this isn’t too dissimilar except with a definite Celtic edge to it. Catchy and with a real foot tapping beat to it. Next we have ‘Time & Tide’ and the song carries on in the same vein with some excellent musicianship on display. Rob’s vocals are clear and precise and sit on the fence between Punk and Folk where he can shout if he likes but also do a wee bit of ‘proper’ singing as well! Next up is ‘Water Gypsy’ and a number about the Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood who said his families generation was the first to be born on dry land with a lineage dating back to the 1700’s of working on the water.  His family were English ‘‘bargees’ (river or canal barge workers) and Ronnie affectionately referred to them as ‘water gypsies’.

(‘Water Gypsy’ Live at Farmer Phil’s August 2021)

The mandolin here leads the way as Rob introduces us to a little known part of Ronnie’s life and I hope he gets to hear the song. ‘Press Ganged’ is a standout track here as it introduces a couple of other influences to the mix as it reminds me of The Men They Couldn’t Hang at their peak in the 80’s in both style and subject matter. This could so easily have made Waiting For Bonaparte especially when the song suddenly speeds up halfway through. Next up is a song close to my own heart with ‘Importance Of Guinness’ and a proper good auld instrumental Irish romp in tribute to the black stuff. Truth be told though Guinness doesn’t hold a candle to Beamish!

(‘Importance Of Guinness’ Live September 2022)

‘New Lands’ is a about buying a one way ticket to Australia, another subject that The Men touched on. Stories of the sea are quite the feature of Celtic-Punk and The Endings seem to be fond of them too with ‘Raise The Sails’ up next. I must say though that it’s been quite the while since a more ‘folky’ album landed with all original compositions and I’m motre than happy not to have to sit through another version of ‘Drunken Sailor’, as good a song as it is! While a lot of the songs here could be decades old (‘against modern football – against modern music’) on ‘Ragged Man’ the sound is more recent but if I did have one point to make on the album it would be that the sound here could have been beefed right up. With the pounding beat it needed a more heavy touch. ‘Madness’ tells of the er.. well er… madness of those couple of years where the world closed down. Looking back now it seems like such a long time ago.

(‘Juggling Time’ Live September 2022)

‘Smuggler’s Cove’ starts with some rather nifty mandolin and I think this where I keep getting TMTCH in my head while I’m listening. Another great song with a real thigh slapper / head nodder of a beat. We are nearly at the end and ‘Juggling Time’ and while I find juggling quite an amazing spectacle I also find jugglers very irritating so it’s a good job this isn’t about juggler then! This I think could just about be the albums standout track with its catchy danceable sound. ‘Gallons Of Pale’ is another tribute to alcohol this time to the wonders of Pale Ale. The CD rounds off with what is described on the sleeve notes as a bonus track, with an excellent instrumental version of ‘Juggling Time’ and then the curtain comes down.

(You can hear the whole of Completely Pickled via the You Tube play-list below)

Completely Pickled was recorded and produced by Tom Carter at The Riff Factory just up the road from them in Stoke and singer-songwriter Jess Silk supplied the album artwork. Like their debut album it has been produced and self-funded by the band themselves though I’m sure they open to offers. Their are bands like The Endings in many English towns and cities fusing Irish / Celtic music and English Folk and Rock and Punk influences and while many are content to simply drift from pub gig to pub gig playing covers its great to see a band like The Endings trying to develop their sound, write their own songs and reach out. The success of bands like Ferocious Dog and the bands that have followed in their wake over the last few years show their is an audience for music from the likes of The Endings and with a decade long start over most then they ought to be near the top of the list to listen to.

 Buy Completely Pickled  Spotify

Contact The Endings  Facebook

EP REVIEW: THE RAMSTAMPITS – ‘Light The Beacon’ (2022)

Stunning debut release of Celtic-Punk direct from the Celtic Heartlands. Six tracks from The Ramstampits full of power, originality, melody, anthemic choruses and variation, performed by some of the best Folk and Punk rock musicians anywhere. 

The Ramstampits is a bit of a mouthful and a rather odd name for a band until you find out what it means. It’s old Scots for ‘brawling, hoormongering rogues’ and in that case it makes perfect sense! Lead singer Iain fresh from the success he found with his previous band The Placks decided that his, and partner in crime Andy MacChainsaw, next band would all be friends of his. This is after all how the majority of bands start out but things don’t always go that simple. So The Ramstampits begin the rocky road with members/ex-members of The Rumjacks, The Exploited, Sham 69 and The Placks – some pedigree I’m sure we can all agree. With a revolving line up the idea is that whenever they are booked to play their will always be enough of them ready and able to play.

So far the band have played a couple of low key acoustic gigs at festivals, namely Punk On The Peninsula and Rebellion Festival. They were well received at both and more recently got their first airplay on Isles FM in Stornoway in the Western Isles on the Celtic Set show which is also syndicated to Canada and Germany. Singer-songwriter Iain certainly knows his way round the music biz especially the DIY / alternative scenes and he brings some great ideas along. The plan was to record these songs as side 1 of the album and then record gentler tracks for side 2 making one powerful side and one folky side but with the release of Light The Beacon plans for the album have been adapted. With the wait for vinyl releases has now reached 6-8 months vinyl and with an album of new material planned as well it was decided to release an EP and get the name out there among fans of the genre.

Light The Beacon opens with a cover of ‘I Fought The Law’ and we’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting for the release of the video so we could publish this review. Well it was certainly worth the wait and one of the best Celtic-Punk videos of the year hit the internet only yesterday. The video is a great romp (not sure about the dreadlocked copper mind!) filmed in the picturesque town of Inveraray at the Georgian Inveraray jail which is now a museum and the song itself is played more similar to The Clash version rather than the Country / Rockabilly version popularised by the Bobby Fuller Four in 1966. The song was written and first performed by Sonny Curtis of Buddy Holly’s backing band The Crickets way back in 1958. ‘I Fought The Law’ is the only cover on Light The Beacon and The Ramstampits intend to concentrate on writing new material in the future. So the rest of the EP is all originals and up next is ‘My Country’ with its old fashioned céilí sample intro and then into a Celtic-Punk barnstormer full of love for Scotland. After several listens there’s not a world of difference between the two! ‘For Land And Girls And Rum’ has a sea-shanty feel to it and an interesting start where the song completely changes tack and just when you’re expecting a bit of Folkiness the song explodes into a Celtic-Punk Rock powerhouse with fiddle, pipes and accordion all pushed to the front. The pace changes again for ‘No Place Like Home’ and again you are taken by surprise by a total about turn within the song. ‘Fourteen Days’ kicks off with some Spanish guitar and a hilarious tale of a trip to Spain that takes in some ace accordion, castanets, Johnny Cash style trumpets and a huge singalong chorus. Love it! The EP ends with the short ‘A Song Of Hope’ and takes the EP up to almost 20 minutes. A song destined to be a end of set classic with its positive message firing out a song of hope. One of those songs in Celtic-Punk that draws us all together before the end of the night and we go our separate ways.

Light The Beacon is now out and is available from both Mainstage Merch for CD and Bandcamp for download. The Placks were never happy with the production on any of their releases so here they have pushed the boat out here and while I’ve never let the production spoil music for me it is true that if you are willing to invest in what you believe in and pay for a studio, you do get what you pay for. A quite brilliant debut for The Ramstampits and full steam ahead for the long player soon!
(You can download/ stream Light The Beacon via the Bandcamp player)
Buy Light The Beacon  MainstageMerch (also Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes)
Contact The Ramstampits  Facebook  Bandcamp

ONE NIGHT IN CAMDEN! THE SCRATCH Vs. THE MARY WALLOPERS

In a months time two of Ireland’s most interesting bands go head to head on the same night in north London. Aye some eejit has booked them both to play 15th December in Camden only a few hundred yards apart. We are caught in a dilemma of which one to go to ourselves so here we present the evidence and leave it for you to decide!

Aye that’s right two bands with crossover audience and fan base and mutual appeal be will playing just up the road from each other. The Scratch are at the Camden Underworld and The Mary Wallopers just the other side of the tube station at the (still Irish owned) Electric Ballroom. I looked it up and it’s all of 459 feet that according to Google takes one minute to walk would you believe! The usual practise in these circumstances, according to Greenford Bhoy, is to go and see who you’ve seen the least but as none of us have ever seen either band before that’s not a option. Never mind it’s the week before Christmas and there’s gigs galore in London but to put these two fantastic bands up against each other is a crime against music! So in act of supreme impartiality here’s a potted history of the bands, a recent video and a live stream performance to help you make up your minds and wherever you choose to be on December 15th we’ll meet you half way up by the tube station for a can of beer/s before the show!

THE SCRATCH

Started as a fun experiment in the kitchen of a house in Perrystown, The Scratch are a 4-piece acoustic act from Dublin. Born from a shared love of acoustic guitar, metal and trad Irish music, The Scratch have moulded triumphant melodies with the groove and intensity of metal.

A 2017 busking trip to Rory Gallagher festival in Ballyshannon kick-started the journey, as a video of the band busking racked up an astonishing one million views in just a week and was shared around the world. An invitation to play Dublin’s Whelan’s followed, and then a string of Dublin headliners in increasingly bigger venues, each one sold out before doors. Most recently their Academy Dublin show sold out in just four days. Their first UK show in The Camden Assembly was also sold out ahead of time.

Their first EP Old Songs was released in 2018, a collection of older instrumental material. Next came stand-alone singles and crowd favourites ‘Get It Right Up’ and ‘Punisher’ that summer. 2019 saw the release of The Whole Buzz EP as well as singles ‘Cúnla’ and ‘Flaker’, with a marked development of their songwriting style and sound. The Whole Buzz further cemented The Scratch as one of the best trad revival/metal crossover acts in the country and one of the most exciting acoustic acts in the world with high energy acoustic riffs and soaring melodies

2020 saw them tour the UK for the first time, play their biggest shows to date around Ireland, as well as some of Europe’s biggest festivals. With Covid-19 changing the industry and indeed the world for a large portion of the year, the band released their debut album Couldn’t Give A Rats. The album received critical acclaim, scoring top 10 album in Ireland, a 4 star review from The Irish Times and Hot Press describing it as one of the “boldest Irish debuts in recent memory”. The band finished their rescheduled UK/Irish tour and was almost entirely sold out, including a date at London’s Boston Music Room and an unforgettable sold out show at the Olympia Theatre Dublin, their biggest headline gig to date.

It is impossible to fully understand this band without seeing them in the live environment, where they challenge anybody to come to a show and not leave with a smile on their face.

UNDERWORLD TICKETS

Linktree  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

THE MARY WALLOPERS

Ahead of the release of their debut album – expected this autumn – The Mary Wallopers are back with a new single, ‘Frost Is All Over’, as well as an accompanying music video.

To coincide with the release, the raucous Dundalk folk group have also announced a major tour, with new Irish dates in November and December – including a headline show at The National Stadium in Dublin on November 17. Tickets go on sale this Friday.

‘Frost is All Over’ is a traditional Irish song about taking everything in your stride and not caring about what everyone says you should care about,” The Mary Wallopers say of the new single. “We added the verse about landlords as we feel they are a sensitive sort who need reminding of how much we care about them. It was recorded by Chris Barry in his Dublin studio in 2021. It’s an old song made famous by Planxty.

“The video was shot by Sean McMahon and the set was designed by Mark Sheridan,” they continue. “Sean is from Dundalk like us and has worked on our livestreams before. It was shot in the old AOH Hall in Blackrock, Dundalk, which local music legend Conor Hughes allowed us to use. The video is our way of introducing the new band and how sexy we have become over lockdown. Our home studio / pub was too small to fit everyone in so we had to branch out but still keep it Dundalk.”

Originally made up of brothers Andrew and Charles Hendy and their friend Sean McKenna, The Mary Wallopers have recently expanded to a seven-piece for live performances.

With their trademark combination of charm, irreverence, staggering talent and a fiercely DIY ethos, the group have rapidly established themselves as a captivating force in Irish music. In 2019, they released their acclaimed debut EP, A Mouthful of The Mary Wallopers.

ELECTRIC BALLROOM TICKETS

WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

EP REVIEW: FIRE ANT SEASON – ‘Bad Habits’ (2022)

The new EP from Austin, Texas Folk-Punk band Fire Ant Season. Half-hearted melodies, full-hearted tragedies, self-loathing and stuff.

Delivered to my inbox months ago and missed first time round Fire Ant Season nearly slipped through our net until on looking for something else I re-discovered them. See we do check everything we get sent (we get sent all sorts from Metal to dance to indie) for any virtue whatsoever and a space on the site. Not everything get’s past that step but occasionally some gems do sneak in.

Fire Ant Season hail from the ‘artsy’ capital of Texas – Austin. Famed for it’s amazing music scene over the years and ‘relaxed’ lifestyle. It seems word got out about Austin and an influx of hipsters and Californians has caused massive over-crowding, increased homelessness and crime and sky-rocketing housing costs. The sad thing is that gentrification eventually always destroys the very thing that made these yuppies in Vans trainers interested in moving there in the first place!

The guys celebrate their 10th anniversary next year and have released a handful of low-fi EP’s and one album, Shit-Eating Grin, back in 2017. You can get all their back catalogue via Bandcamp as a ‘name your price’ download.

Fire Ant Season is a two piece with Nate on guitar, synth and vocals and Tim on mandolin. Here on Bad Habits they are assisted on a couple of songs by friends but it’s all very much themselves alone. The EP begins with ‘Get A Life’ and from almost the first sounds Nate bursts into a diatribe about life in general and expectations put us by ourselves and others. The lyrics read more like a short story but are sung in a great style so that they fit the music perfectly. The music is fiercely strummed guitar and some very well played and tuneful mandolin so very simple but extremely effective. The vocal style generally stops short of being shouty but not always but Nate has a strong voice that handles the shouty bits very well. They are joined on ‘Depression Is One Hell Of A Drug Imbalance’ by Corbin Young on drums and while the title is a bit (!) of a mouthful it is again handled well with almost spoken word style and a few seconds of acoustic mayhem. Next up is ‘Privilege Blues’ and the highlight of the EP. I’m usually instantly “oh no!” and my eyes roll into the back of my head on first sight of the word ‘privilege’ but not this time. All the elements of the EP are at play but never do they work as well. Fire Ant Season’s style of music is not usually the most, for want of a better word, ‘catchy’ but they certainly managed it on ‘Privilege Blues’.

“Please pardon my mess as I verbally shit on each and every one of you, I empty my bowels by using consonants and vowels and yet some stay the whole set through. We’ve all got problems, we’ve all got issues and who am I to complain? I hold no reservations to extrapolate the reasons why I feel like shit today. And so that doesn’t excuse for me singin’ the blues when I don’t really have it that rough. I seem to confuse that my own self-abuse is just a way of being self-conscious. It’s a tired topic, as trite as always, but I can’t seem to get away from self-deprecation, but who am I kidding, I don’t have much else to say.”

Another friend Andy Chang joins them on banjo on ‘D.I.D. I Do That?’. The shoutiest song on Bad Habits and nice to hear some humour in amongst all the angst.

“When my only pastime is getting angry at coworkers in my head or sitting on the toilet for extended duration’s and I know that old adage, the rhyme, where the boss makes a dollar and I, a dime, but therein lies the caveat; that I’m still the one sitting on the pot.”

The EP wraps up with ‘Anhedonia’ and Nate gets all shouty to see us out. The song deals with the inability to feel pleasure or joy. Not happy music you would think but the music drifts along in that Folky but also Punky way that belies the darkness of the lyrics. The band said

“While we try our best to do things that we think are good for us, sometimes they can end up hurting us in the end. This EP addresses those bad habits and captures them in a sort of catharsis to hold them responsible for their actions to hopefully learn and grow from them.”

The artwork for the cover was by Grace Wilson (@trashcandollarts) and I’m very happy that I found this intelligent wee EP. The lyrics are clever and in these times when people have a tendency to ram things down your throats I find Fire Ant Season’s approach on Bad Habits a 100 times better and a 1000 times more original than that approach.

(Listen / stream / download Bad Habits via the Bandcamp player below)

Download Bad Habits Bandcamp

Contact Fire Ant Season WebSite Facebook YouTube

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: WOODY GUTHRIE – ‘Dust Can’t Kill Me’

With the release of the new Woody Guthrie themed Dropkick Murphys album due in a couple of days we thought we would take a look at the life of this amazing artist and offer up the opportunity to download a great album of his for free. 

“A folk song is what’s wrong and how to fix it or it could be
who’s hungry and where their mouth is or
who’s out of work and where the job is or
who’s broke and where the money is or
who’s carrying a gun and where the peace is.” – Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie was the most important American folk music artist of the first half of the 20th century, in part because he turned out to be such a major influence on the popular music of the second half of the 20th century, a period when he himself was largely inactive. His greatest significance lies in his songwriting, beginning with the standard ‘This Land Is Your Land’ and including such much-covered works as ‘Deportee’, ‘Do Re Mi’, ‘Grand Coulee Dam’, ‘Hard, Ain’t It Hard’, ‘Hard Travelin’, ‘I Ain’t Got No Home’, ‘1913 Massacre’, ‘Oklahoma Hills’, ‘Pastures of Plenty’, ‘Philadelphia Lawyer’, ‘Pretty Boy Floyd’, ‘Ramblin’ Round’, ‘So Long It’s Been Good to Know Yuh’, ‘Talking Dust Bowl’ and ‘Vigilante Man’. These and other songs have been performed and recorded by a wide range of artists.


With his guitar and harmonica, Guthrie sang in the hobo and migrant camps, developing into a musical spokesman for labour and other left-wing causes. These hardscrabble experiences would provide the bedrock for Guthrie’s songs and stories, as well as fodder for his future autobiography, “Bound for Glory.” It was also during these years that Guthrie developed a taste for the road that would never quite leave him.

This land is your land and this land is my landFrom California to the New York islandFrom the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream watersThis land was made for you and me
*
As I went walking that ribbon of highwayI saw above me that endless skywaySaw below me that golden valleyThis land was made for you and me
*
I roamed and rambled and I’ve followed my footstepsTo the sparkling sands of her diamond desertsAll around me a voice was soundingThis land was made for you and me
*
When the sun come shining, then I was strollingAnd the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rollingThe voice was chanting as the fog was liftingThis land was made for you and me
*
This land is your land and this land is my landFrom California to the New York islandFrom the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream watersThis land was made for you and me
*
When the sun come shining, then I was strollingAnd the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rollingThe voice come a-chanting and the fog was liftingThis land was made for you and me

*

In 1937, Guthrie arrived in California, where he landed a job with partner Maxine ‘Lefty Lou’ Crissman as a radio performer of traditional folk music on KFVD in Los Angeles. The duo soon garnered a loyal following from the disenfranchised ‘Okies’ living in migrant camps across California and it wasn’t long before Guthrie’s populist sentiments found their way into his songs.

In 1940, Guthrie’s wanderlust led him to New York City, where he was warmly embraced by leftist artists, union organisers and folk musicians. Through fruitful collaboration with the likes of Alan Lomax, Leadbelly, Pete Seeger and Will Geer, Guthrie’s career blossomed. He took up social causes and helped establish folk music not only as a force for change, but also as a viable new commercial genre within the music business. Guthrie’s success as a songwriter with the Almanac Singers helped launch him into the popular consciousness, garnering him even greater critical acclaim. The ensuing fame and hardships of the road led to the end of Guthrie’s marriage in 1943. A year later, he would go on to record his most famous song, ‘This Land is Your Land’, an iconic populist anthem which remains popular today and is regarded by many as a kind of alternative national anthem.

That old dust storm killed my baby,But it can’t kill me, LordAnd it can’t kill me
*
That old dust storm killed my family,But it can’t kill me, LordAnd it can’t kill me
*
That old landlord got my homestead,But he can’t get me, Lord,And he can’t get me
*
That old dry spell killed my crop, boys,But it can’t kill me, LordAnd it can’t kill me
*
That old tractor got my home, boys,But it can’t get me, LordAnd it can’t get me
*
That old tractor run my house down,But it can’t get me down,And it can’t get me
*
That old pawn shop got my furniture,But it can’t get me, Lord,And it can’t get me
*
That old highway’s got my relatives,But it can’t get me, Lord,And it can’t get me
*
That old dust might kill my wheat, boys,But it can’t kill me, LordAnd it can’t kill me
*
I have weathered a-many a dust storm,But it can’t get me, boys,And it can’t kill me
*
That old dust storm, well, it blowed my barn down,But it can’t blow me down,And it can’t blow me down
*
That old wind might blow this world down,But it can’t blow me down,It can’t kill me
*
That old dust storm’s killed my baby,But it can’t kill me, LordAnd it can’t kill me
*
By the late 1940s, Guthrie began to show symptoms of the rare neurological disease Huntington’s Chorea, which had killed his mother. The extremely unpredictable physical and emotional symptoms Guthrie experienced shook him deeply, so he decided to leave his family to hit the road with his protégé, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. Guthrie arrived in California, and began living in a compound owned by activist and actor Will Geer, populated largely by performers who had been blacklisted during the Red Scare of the early Cold War years. Soon, Guthrie met and married his third wife, Anneke Van Kirk, with whom he would have his eighth child, Lorina Lynn.
Woody’s health continued to deteriorate in the late 1950’s, and he was hospitalised until his death in 1967. His marriage to Van Kirk collapsed under the weight of his disease, and the couple eventually divorced. During the last years of his life, Guthrie’s second wife, Marjorie, and their children would visit him in the hospital regularly, as would Guthrie’s most famous heir in the world of folk music, Bob Dylan. Dylan moved to New York City to seek out his idol and eventually Guthrie warmed to the young singer, who would later say of Guthrie’s music,
“The songs themselves were really beyond category. They had the infinite sweep of humanity in them.”
While Guthrie passed away of complications from his Huntington’s Chorea on October 3, 1967, his musical legacy remains firmly cemented in American history. A generation of folk singers inspired by Guthrie in the 1950s and 1960s went on to fuel some of the most dramatic social change of the century. Despite his folk hero status, Guthrie was modest, and was known for playing down his own creative genius.
“I like to write about wherever I happen to be, I just happened to be in the Dust Bowl, and because I was there and the dust was there, I thought, well, I’ll write a song about it.”
Today’s free download is the compilation album Dust Can’t Kill Me. It comes with one link but features two discs of 23 and 25 songs. Disc 1 showcases Woody Guthrie as a solo artist while disc 2 features him in collaboration with his contemporaries such as the blues harp player Sonny Terry and fellow Folk rebel Pete Seeger, as well as tracks recorded with the Almanac Singers and many others. American Folk music wasn’t invented by Woody Guthrie. It’s been around for 100’s of years but he did invent modern American Folk music and everything since can be traced straight back to him and these songs.

DUST CAN’T KILL ME FREE DOWNLOAD

This is no bandwagon for London Celtic Punks and our interest and love for the music of Woody Guthrie pre-dates the start of this zine and you can find a wealth of more music by Woody and indeed his contempories and those he inspired over on the Steppin’ Stones page. Just click below to be redirected.

ALBUM REVIEW: FLOGGING MOLLY – ‘Anthem’ (2022)

What a year this is going to be for all you Celtic-Punk aficionados out there with the two major players in the scene both releasing new albums within just a few weeks of each other. Later in the month sees the Dropkick Murphys but today our man back on the auld sod Shane O’Neill runs the rule over seven piece Irish-American giants Flogging Molly and their first album since 2017’s Life Is Good.

lIt’s been a long hard five years since we have had a new album from the Celtic punk institution that is Flogging Molly. Was it worth the wait – Most definitely!! We have been lucky to get a preview with the release of singles such as These Times Have Got Me Drinking / Tripping Up the Stairs which is the opening track on the album. This sets the scene nicely for the upbeat hard-hitting theme of the album.

The second song on the album, A Song of Liberty pays tribute to the gallant men who fought the British Empire in Ireland at Easter 1916. This isn’t your traditional Irish rebel song but delivers the message effectively illustrating the determination and fight displayed by the volunteers to seek the liberation of our country.

(Flogging Molly have joined forces with renowned Ukrainian animators/filmmakers, The Mad Twins, for the band’s ‘A Song Of Liberty’ video. The clip highlights humanity’s ongoing struggle against oppression, from Ireland’s Easter Uprising through several 20th century moments including both World Wars, to the current occupation of Ukraine.)

Anthem is a bit different (in a good way) to any of the bands previous releases. They have unleashed a new sound and reached back to the more traditional Irish music such as The Dubliners and The Chieftains whilst maintaining the kick arse punk edge. The more traditional sounds are evident on The Croppy Boy and (Try) Keep The Man Down. It can be difficult to cross genres like Irish Traditional music and punk while keeping original but Flogging Molly have hit the target on Anthem. Musically, I think the band have gone from strength to strength.

Some of us from the London Celtic Punk crew were lucky enough to catch the bands last gig of the European tour in Dublin a few weeks ago….. What a performance. We were treated to a few tunes from the Anthem album which were very well received. Every time we see them, we think they it’s the best performance ever, yet they continue to impress. Just like an old wine, improving with age. It took almost a week for my body to recover and get my hearing back, but it was worth every single bruise and cut. We did manage to sneak in backstage after the gig but that’s a story for another day!!!! Anthem is the bands sixth album coming 22 years after their debut release Swagger. We’ve been listening to it since it was released earlier this week and cannot find fault with it at all. To pick the best song on the album is a difficult task however if pushed I think The Croppy Boy, A Song Of Liberty and Life Begins and Ends (But Never Fails) are up there with the best Celtic Punk tunes out there. This is the type of album you can stick on anytime and it will lift your mood.

Hats off to Flogging Molly for this album and hopefully we don’t have to wait another five years for the next one. “These Croppies Wont Lie Down.”

Buy Anthem  CD/ Vinyl/ Tape – From The Band

Contact Flogging Molly  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  

ALBUM REVIEW: REINA ROJA – ‘Hooligan Folk’ (2022)

Debut album from Spanish Celtic-Punk hooligans Reina Roja. Seven songs and a song or two you’ve never heard done quite like this!

Back when we started doing this Spain was a major player in the Celtic-Punk scene but over the years things have gone a little quiet. Their are still some great bands and releases (this years album from Drunken Fighters for starters) but I think the decision to retire the Spanish based web-site Celtic Folk Punk And More had a knock on effect. The bands are still there but we hear less from them and about them. One of the bands out there that are new to us have actually been together for eight years! Reina Roja formed in 2014 in Rivas-Vaciamadrid, a suburb of Madrid in central Spain. Their name means ‘Red Queen’ and though many faces have changed in the band from those early days the commitment to Hooligan Folk remains the same. Their style of music perfectly captures the traditional melodies of Folk and Celtic music but played fast and hard and with a freewheelin’ Punk-Rock attitude that the band themselves label as Hooligan Folk.

“the festive atmosphere and full of attitude that is generated in a neighbourhood party, after a game of the local team or at the bar of a bar. An atmosphere of celebration, but that does not forget the daily problems and that underpins the consciousness of the working class.”

The album kicks off with the spirited ‘Dragón Verde’ and instantly the tune goes into ‘Drunken Sailor’ but then veers off again. Plenty of gang vocals and that stop-start Hardcore approach that I particularly love. The fiddle and tin whistle is amazing and put to such great use too. The lyrics are all in Spanish, something we don’t mind at all. Bands shouldn’t be afraid to sing in their own languages. These days Celtic-Punk is international but bands still prefer to song in English despite by it’s very nature the English language being a foreign language in the very places where Celtic music comes from. Still it does make things easier for me when it comes to reviewing! The catchy ‘Sigue Luchando’ sees Agnes, vocalist of Lilith y Miss October, starring alongside Gonzzz on vocals. Their is a certain way Spanish Punk bands sound making them instantly recognisable even when not sung in Spanish and Gonzzz’s voice is strong and shouty but still tuneful and able to hit them notes well. ‘Tensión’ comes from their earliest days as a band and hits all the right catchy as f*”k buttons. Chugging guitars and pounding bass and drums all combining for one hell of a sound. ‘Johnny. ¿Qué Ha Pasado?’ is trad Celtic-Punk with a real Irish tinge to the first half showing a real talent for Folk music that you must have to be a successful Celtic-Punk band and ending with a cool terrace chant! ‘Banshee’ flits along between Metal and Punk but still with the Celtic influence leading. Reina Roja are joined for a second time here on guest vocals for ‘Lo Que Nunca Fuimos’ by Fernando Madina of Reincidentes and Ángel of Envidia Kotxina and is in much the same vein. Fast,catchy, tuneful, spirited Celtic-Punk party music. Hooligan Folk comes to an end with ‘Barriles de Revolución’ and this may, or may not, be a drinking song as the English translation is ‘Barrels of Revolution’! They save the fast till last and go out in a blaze with the same winning formula.

Only seven songs but 25 minutes of music means the songs all have time to develop and Reina Roja use the time well. Punk songs tend to be short and even at three minutes bands tend to wrap it up as soon as possible so it’s nice to hear longer songs that still keep the attention. As amazing as it was to only just hear of a band that had been together as long as this the biggest surprise was that this was their debut release. What have you been doing guys? The album was recorded and produced at the Corleone studios by Mr. Chifly the guitarist of Habeas Corpus and he has done a grand job capturing things especially the Celtic instruments. Hooligan Folk is a great album capturing the spirit of Celtic-Punk perfectly.

(Stream / download Hooligan Folk from the Bandcamp player)

Buy Hooligan Folk Bandcamp EverywhereElse

Contact Reina Roja Instagram Facebook YouTube

NEW SINGLE: COWPUNK LEGENDS ‘Psycho Ceilidh’ OUT NOW

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you assembled a mob of Punk musicians to play Folk, Country, Punk, Metal and Psychobilly?The short answer is the most rockin’ gig you’ve probably ever been to!

Undisputed kings of Cowpunk and the hardest and finest banjo / fiddle action you’ll ever come across. Pronghorn have been around since 1992, and this summer the band celebrates 30 years of playing home-grown Cowpunk, drinking warm cans of Stella, late night garage food and meeting a whole host of nutters, and ne’er-do-wells along the way.

In 1992 when grunge was what every self respecting alternative music fan was into, a group of friends decided to go against the grain and formed a band that the likes of Dorset and the world had never seen. Starting off by busking outside Debenhams in Bournemouth they played their first gig at the Brunswick Hotel in Charminster. The band was put together from the ashes of skiffle outfit Hoedown At Hanks, a Cult tribute band Blue Rain and local upstarts The Crunchy Tractors. They soon went onto busking outside more salubrious locations, Amsterdam Central Station, Copenhagen Homeless Hostels and Cherbourg docks to name but a few. As the band’s sound evolved with a mash of Punk, Country and Rockabilly which brought together the band’s very own genre ‘Cowpunk’. The line up has seen many changes over the years but the founder members, Toni Viagra and Lamma are still there, along with newbies(!) Ffi, Krusty, Gypo, Aussie Mike and Andy Law- who’ve only done the last fifteen years or so.

Old man rocks in his rockin’ chair, wrinkled face and long grey hair,
Drinkin’ moonshine, polishing his loaded gun
*
So, the old man goes down to the creek, huntin’ fishin’ needing meat
On a mission, get things done, get back to the bar for some Cajun fun
*
Psycho ceilidh in full swing, take your partner, flip and fling,
Left foot, right foot, stompin’ done, hogbitch around and let’s get flung.
*
Psycho country dance again, rootin’ tootin’ beers often,
Crickets sing, rooster crows, sun is up it’s time to go
*
Heavy on a hoedown, heavy on a fiddle,
Pickin’ on a banjo, vox on a riddle,
Swing yer gal to a rustic two step
Rompin’ stompin’ slammin’ to the music
*

Psycho Ceilidh’ is Pronghorn’s first single from their upcoming new album Welcome To Pronghorn Country on Lunaria Records. It’s due for release on 4th September, and can be pre-ordered on CD and vinyl from https://lunariarecords.com/pronghorn

Pronghorn  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: THE TAN AND SOBER GENTLEMEN – ‘ Regressive Folk Music’ (2022)

Celtic-Punk-Grass played by some Hillbilly Irish. The Tan And Sober Gentlemen explore the Gaelic roots of North Carolinian music, and to play it with as much energy as possible. Their new album out this week sees their sound developing into something really special.

Since we reviewed The Tan And Sober Gentlemen’s debut album Veracity four years ago I reckon we have received maybe 400+ releases here so I don’t get the chance to regularly revisit albums once they are reviewed. Veracity is one of a handful though that often gets a play. We described it back then as

” Raw and unfiltered, a blend of hard-driving, danceable roots delivered with a punk edge and whisky-fuelled abandon they call ‘Celtic-Punk-Grass’.”

Recorded in the woods of Chatham County, North Carolina, Veracity is a riotous take on ‘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.

So four years on and with just a couple of singles inbetween it’s hard to keep a track of bands over there from over here but they have kept plugging away and playing whenever they could do or were allowed to. Founded in Snow camp their music is Irish-folk-music-meets-the-American-South sound of the North Carolina backcountry where  they were born and raised. The State has over a quarter of a million people of Scotch-Irish ancestry (second only to Texas) and coupled with those of just Irish ancestry the number is almost a million residents. The States traditional Folk music can be traced right back to those who started arriving in North Carolina long before the ‘famine’ and to those who came in it’s aftermath. And The Tan And Sober gentlemen play it with as much energy as humanly possible!

Regressive meaning “returning to a former or less developed state; characterised by regression” kinda sums up the sound of The Tan And Sober Gentlemen and they even downplay what they do

“You know our deal-we ain’t lighting the world on fire with songwriting or anything, we’re just a bunch of rednecks that like playing fiddle music real dadgum fast.”
but the truth is that music is a major way for people to find their identity and to keep culture alive and their are times when I think the Yanks are doing a better job at doing it then modern Ireland is.
The fella’s raised the necessary to record and release Regressive Folk Music with a very successful Kickstarter campaign where they sailed past their target. The album kicks off with ‘Kelly Sullivan’ and bursts through the speakers at you. Fast and furious from the very start and utterly brilliant too! The fiddle work is amazing and being a bit of a auld rocker I really enjoyed the sound of the thump-thump of the double bass too. The Celticness of the tune is unmistakable while next they play the first of a handful of covers. They turn to their local roots for ‘Corn Likker’, also known as ‘Old Corn Liquor’, a song that’s roots are obscure but found favour in the early days of recording in the repertoire of African-American musicians. On ‘Happiness Ain’t Happening’ they get the first chance to properly combine both traditions and chuck in some great humour and the song infectious tune would see the stiffest Joe clapping along and stamping his feet. After three songs it’s time for a breather and ‘All The Time’ sees Courtney take on vocals with a tender and tuneful song. It’s fair to say that the best Celtic-Punk bands out there, no matter how Punky they are can also knock out some great slow songs and ballads and I’m always a bit disappointed to hear an album without one. I thought on first listen this was the album high point and while I have changed my mind a little I think it is still up there. Another cover is up next and the Irish war song ‘The Foggy Dew’ has become very popular these days on the Celtic-Punk scene and several band shave already recorded it this year already. Set during the 1916 Easter Rising when a small group of Irish rebels rose against the might of the British Empire. The rebellion was crushed and it’s leaders executed but the event lit a fire in the hearts of the Irish people that would see them rise again only a few years later.

Unusually the song is delivered with female vocals and the rather un-straight forward version is uplifted by Courtney’s beautiful and emotional vocals. As impossible as it would seem to breathe new life into a song you’ve heard a 1000 times it’s managed here. An outstanding version. ‘Banks Of The Roses’ is dates from 18th century Ireland and is an perfect opportunity for Eli Howells to really let fly on the fiddle. Eli was born and raised in the hills of Burke County, North Carolina, and learned from master fiddlers such as Jane Macmorren at an early age. Honing his skill at fiddlers’ conventions, barrooms, and back porches across the state. His distinctive Scotch-Irish fiddle stylings provide the core of the Tan and Sober sound. ‘Mickey’s Grave’ and ‘Heart Is Haunted’ highlight their two wings with the former a rowdy shouty Irish Larkin-esque riot while the latter is a jolly uplifting County-ish / Bluegrass romp. Along with the slow songs another thing I look for is a bit of trad Folk. ‘Miss Shephard’s / The High Drive’ is a chance for the whole band to flex their collective muscles and prove to detractors that Celtic-Punk does have some real musicians in it and is even helping keep trad music alive and relevant. ‘Barbed Wire’ takes the Country route again and some quite stunning banjo leading into Courtney’s delivery of the Rockabilly swing of ‘You’ll Never Know’. We nearing the end and next up is the popular ‘Leaving Of Liverpool’. Again it’s roots go back much further than the first time it was recorded but it has became part of Irish musical history. There’s no way of course it wouldn’t find favour in the Celtic-Punk scene as well with a chorus that has always cried out to be turned up to 11 and belted out at the top of your voice.

Played as expected with wild abandon and absolutely guaranteed to make you lose your voice with all the band getting a chance to solo their instruments, it really does rock your socks off!  Only a couple more left and ’30 Years Of Farming’ is up now. Written by Fred Eaglesmith, who as a teenager, hopped a freight train to western Canada and began his career as a musician. Specialising in ‘twist’ songs, where there’s a twist in the tale in the final verse ranging from “tear at your heartstrings” to tongue in cheek. This song is the former. A real tear jerker.  The curtain comes down on Regressive Folk Music with ‘Samhain’s March’ and a beautiful lament played led mainly by Eli on fiddle and Tucker’s banjo picking. The best album ‘outro’ I’ve heard in such a long time and with a album packed with so much energy a very clever way to end things.

Another triumph for The Tan And Sober Gentlemen and their legendarily rowdy live shows will be winging it back across the broad Atlantic, from whence their forefathers left, in the Summer with the band looking forward to playing some Irish festivals and club shows. We will include dates and infos in our month Odds ‘n’ Sods Celtic-Punk news round up so be sure to subscribe (you need to do this on a laptop).  A riotous encapsulation of the band’s Irish roots and it’s members ancestry. Hard- driving, danceable roots music delivered with Punk edge and wild abandon. They are quite simply the best drinking and dancing band in Celtic-Punk.

Buy Regressive Folk Music  Bandcamp   EverywhereElse

Contact The Tan And Sober Gentlemen  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

SINGLE REVIEW: JOLLY ROGER – ‘Rum Song’ (2022)

All those jobs can wait until tomorrow! Come have fun drinking rum with Jolly Roger 🏴‍☠️

Jolly Roger hail from Cornwall. Now even though I think they’re happier calling themselves a ‘pirate’ band that does actually qualify them as a Celtic Celtic-Punk band you know! They come from Penzance, world famous for pirates for over 200 years and a area with strong links to both Brittany and Wales in both custom and language. They couldn’t then fail to be be inspired by the sea but these guys take it to the next level and while they may sound like their stuck in the are not stuck in the 18th century their lyrics are from it. Saying that here on ‘Rum Song’ they kinda do! We get two versions. One with all swear words in tact and a more radio friendly version with them hidden out of way of impressionable minds like mine. Jolly Roger comprises of brother and sister, Jae Dennis (guitar/ ukelele/ harmonica) and Samantha Hannah (mandolin/guitar) with Kynan Sandles on the lesser-seen acoustic bass guitar.

So much to do, but so little time
Procrastinate and feel behind
Away, away, away, away, away, away til the very next day
Do it tomorrow, the jobs can wait
It’s time to drink and stay out late
Away, away, away, away, away, away til the very next dayTake your share of food, your stomach needs a feeding
But leave some room for booze coz soon we’ll all be steamingWe’ll do it tomorrow, tomorrow it will be done
Tonight we set the world alight coz we’re out drinking rum
RUM
**** it off
We’re out drinking rum
I promise you tomorrow, that that thing, it will get done

Drink in hand, the night is young
Get in a round, let’s have some fun
Today, today, today, today, today, today tomorrow we’ll pay
If you’re sober, good for you
There’s plenty of us, we’ll drink for two
Today, today, today, today, today, today tomorrow we’ll pay

Take your share of food, your stomach needs a feeding
But leave some room for booze coz soon we’ll all be steaming

We’ll do it tomorrow, tomorrow it will be done
Tonight we set the world alight coz we’re out drinking rum
RUM
**** it off
We’re out drinking rum
I promise you tomorrow, that that thing, it will get done

Hey, you! Join the company
Hey, you! Join the company
Hey, you! Join the company
Hey, you! Join the company
Hey, you! Enjoy the company
Hey, you! Enjoy the company
Hey, you! Enjoy the company
Hey, you! Enjoy the company

We’ll do it tomorrow, tomorrow it will be done
Tonight we set the world alight coz we’re out drinking rum
RUM
**** it off
We’re out drinking rum
I promise you tomorrow, that that thing, it will get done

‘Rum Song’ both versions are available as a ‘name your price’ download meaning you can get it for free if you like but please try and support new bands and new music by leaving something. Alternatively they have some really nice t-shirts of the single cover Artwork by LemonMooseArt so avail yourself of one of them. They are £15 inc P&P – sizes available in S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL and kids small (4-7yrs) or kids medium (8-12yrs). Payment via PayPal.me/jollyrogermusic.

(The sweary version!)

Download Rum Song  Bandcamp  AllTheOthers

Contact Jolly Roger  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

ALBUM REVIEW: HEATHEN APOSTLES – ‘Bloodgrass Vol. 3 & 4’ (2022)

The Los Angeles-based dark roots and gothic country band Heathen Apostles continue their (very dark) interpretation of Bluegrass, Country and Blues. They have just compiled Volumes 3 and 4 of their collection of songs together under the title Bloodgrass. 

Occasionally I’ll start a review along the lines of “not technically not a Celtic-Punk band” which usually means that that the band that I go on to review are not a Celtic-Punk band but are utterly brilliant and have a fiddle /accordion / banjo in them. Well welcome to the Heathen Apostles. A dark (very dark) Country-ish band with their very own genre’s – ‘Doombilly’ and ‘Bloodgrass’. Heathen Apostles do to Country / Bluegrass music what the bands we all love here do to Celtic music but they also add on a dash of Goth as well. They may be based in LA but they sound like they’re from the Appalachian’s harkening back to a bygone chapter of American history while firmly keeping one foot planted in the present-day. The band features ex-members of Radio Noir (Mather Louth), The Cramps (Chopper Franklin), Kings of Nuthin’ (Thomas Lorioux), and Christian Death (Stevyn Grey) in their ranks. In fact it’s amazing the sound that only four folks can wring out. They have already started their biggest (yet!) European tour (mainly Germany) so be sure to check out the tour dates squeezed in here somewhere and move heaven and earth to get to one of their shows and then let me know how it was!

We have already reviewed Bloodgrass Volume 3 last September but here it comes with an extra five songs labelled as Volume 4 and in an attempt to tie in with the Euro tour we are more than happy to re-visit the whole album. The album begins with ‘Bad Patch’ and fiddle, banjo and mandolin accompany Mather’s beautiful voice as she sings of the tragedy of the 1930s Dust Bowl. Severe dust storms wreaked havoc on the mid-west prairies during the 1930’s causing untold misery to those poor unfortunates. Trying to survive through those times “by the skin of their teeth”. Great lyrics and one hell of a catchy tune with the bands dark side kept at arms length.. at least musically anyway.

The next song is much more Apostles at heart. ‘Careful What You Pray For’ tells of the danger of religious dogma and while not dissimilar to the opening track it has that much darker feel to it. Mather’s amazing voice is put to great use here. What we must beware is that people don’t replace the dogmatism and fanaticism of some religions with divisive ideologies. These days notions such as original sin, atonement, ritual and excommunication are as likely to come from secular groups as they are from religious institutions. ‘Black Hawk’ was the lead single for the EP and I’ll not pretend to have any idea what the lyrics are about except the band say it tells “of transformation by shedding the darkness in order to welcome in the light” so there.

One band we always sneak a mention in when we review the Heathen Apostles is the fantastic The Phantom Of the Black Hills. Along with sharing many similarities music wise, they also share a record label (Ratchet Blade Records), a producer, the Apostles, Chopper Franklin and a love for telling entire stories in their intricate videos. So if you like what you hear go back settle down and check on their older videos. ‘Demi Monde’ is a slow song shrouded in occult imagery paying homage to the fires of Beltane while ‘Tall Rider’ brings down the curtain down on what was Volume 3. Catchy as hell and a reminder of the possibility of healing through love. With their roots in the ‘Folk tradition’ the music mangles up several genres while all the time adding much to the final sound.

What follows are the five songs that make up Volume 4 that begins with the catchy ‘Roots Run Deep’ and not unexpectedly continues in the same vein. The best of this side of the album is ‘Into The Wild’ where moments of Mather’s primal snarl and swagger run parallel along some of her most beautiful singing on the whole album. A beast of a song that sees them at their thigh slapping foot stomping best. ‘No Peace’ was written in response to recent cases of police brutality. Despite the subject matter the song bounces along rather nicely. ‘Solitary’ speaks of following one’s own path in life, no matter how lonely the road it may seem at times. Meaningful words given even more meaning through Mather. The album closes with the amazing ‘Shadow Of The Crows’ with it’s hybrid of several genres, mixing Middle Eastern and borderline psychedelic sounds with the band’s distinctly gloomy bloodgrass. The CD which comes out at any time contains an extra song I’ve not heard yet. A cover of the late Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan’s song ‘The Gravedigger’s Song’.

(Full live set from a gig at La Brasserie De Framont in France 8/9/2021 from last years European tour. If anyone knows of any promoters or venues able to help get them over to the UK please get in touch. PLEASE!)

The music here is exemplary throughout. Catchy as hell and heading there very happily! The various elements are once again handled expertly through the excellent production of master producer Chopper Franklin. With their roots in the ‘Folk tradition’ they mangle up several genres while adding much to the final sound and as you can imagine a band with their own genre it is virtually impossible to compare them to anyone else! The excellent artwork was done by their good friend Stephanie Inagaki, who also did the cover art for the previous Bloodgrass Vol. 1 & 2 album and EPs.

(You can stream / download Bloodgrass via the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Bloodgrass Vol. 3 and 4  Bandcamp  OtherSites

Contact Heathen Apostles  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

IRISH BAND THE WINTER CODES RELEASE FIRST SINGLE FROM NEW ALBUM

Irish folk duo The Winter Codes release the first single, ‘Too Sly To Die’, from their upcoming new album Set The Darkness Reeling. Led by Barney Murray of Blood Or Whiskey fame the song is fuelled by classic Irish folk influences.

Just the other day we received a track in the mail from The Winter Codes, a duo based in the capital town of county Offaly, Tullamore, almost bang centre in the middle of Ireland. Now sorry local folk but Tullamore is only known for one thing. A big thing admittedly mind, the Irish whiskey Tullamore Dew. Traced back to 1828 the original distillery closed in the 1950’s only for the brand to be bought by Powers and resurrected at their Midleton Distillery in Cork, until 2010 when the brand was sold to new owners, William Grant & Sons,  who brought whiskey production back to the town when a new distillery was opened back in Tullamore. Now I’m fond of a bit of waffle (see above for prime example!) but it surprised me that The Winter Codes neglected to make any mention of their ‘heritage’ in one of Celtic-Punk’s all time greatest bands. Now this is a Winter Codes review not Blood Or Whiskey review but you simply cannot understate the effect and influence Blood Or Whiskey had upon Celtic-Punk and it’s development. Here the sound is uncannily similar to BorW and no surprise with Barney Murrray with his unmistakable vocals having teamed up with David Walshe, brother of the late Paul who was also a founding member of Blood Or Whiskey. With a new album, Set The Darkness Reeling, to be released for the 1st August they have put out lead single ‘Too Sly To Die’ this week. The album is an emotional tribute to Paul Walshe who passed away ten years ago. With this release he is immortalised with the album even features some of his expert banjo musicianship on some of the tracks.

Saw you on the high stool holding court I know you ruled by pain and fear
Dishing out the suffering for the sport I’m glad I never got too near
All that unease you couldn’t show you had a conscience like a sieve
Anyone who crossed you came to know you didn’t forget or forgive
Chorus :
I thought you were too sly to die
I thought you were too sly to die
I thought you were too sly to die
But you bought it still
You were no stranger to revenge I know you gave more than you took
Half of the time it made no sense you would avenge a crooked look
Paranoid feelings in your heart though you ignored them come what may
Many had tried to take your part but you held the tide at bay
One cold night one simple mistake they had the whole thing organised
Didn’t feel sad or go to the wake but I really was surprised

(David Walshe and Barney Murray)

On the strength of this single I cannot wait to hear the album August 1st roll round quickly please. The lads are joined on the album by a wealth of Irish music expertise including Daithi Meila from the Irish/Bluegrass band Jig Jam, folk singer Lisa Loughrey, and engineer Sean Montgomery. The album saw the duo travel to the famous Grouse Lodge recording studio in Westmeath, which famously housed Michael Jackson when he recorded there.

“We got the idea to record an EP of five of our songs which then became the Set The Darkness Reeling album.”

‘With Too Sly To Die’ the band stick to their roots of trad Irish folk but with an uplifting and positive twist. The single’s accompanying video was filmed in landmark Dublin pub The Cobblestones. Having hosted traditional Irish music for decades, and being located in one of Dublin’s oldest neighbourhoods, the bar is synonymous with music from the region and with Too Sly to Die, The Winter Codes join the annuls of such musical greats.

Too Sly to Die available across all platforms now. 

The Winter Codes  WebSite  YouTube

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: RAY & COLLUNEY – ‘Tyrants Of England’ (1971)

The latest in our series of reviews of albums from the past that deserve to be aired again! An extremely rare English Folk album from Ray & Colluney a duo using sparse guitar, mandolin and banjo but with flagolet on a few tracks helping to add atmosphere.

FREE DOWNLOAD

Every time I hear a outstanding Folk album I think that would be just perfect for the Classic Album Series. First thing to do is to sort out a safe download link and then after that look up the album and the people who recorded it and write up a wee history of the album. Today we have chosen an album that is an amazing 50 (fifty!) years old this year and yet I could hardly find a thing about it. I was drawn to the Ray & Colluney album Tyrants Of England because it was likened somewhere else to another album, the Irish duo Callinan-Flynn’s Freedom’s Lament, was featured in the very last Classic Album Review in October. With similar instrumentation and vocal styles and even recorded around the same time the similarity is definitely there. The early 70’s were halcyon saw in the Folk clubs of the British (and Irish) isles with them bristling with duos and artists singing tales and songs of the auld days. I did read that at the time Ray & Colluney were considered pretty standard Folk club fare but in this day and age when this style of music is much less common we can look back and see it for how good it actually was.

“You tyrants of England! Your race may soon be run.
You may be brought unto account for what you’ve sorely done.”

So what scant details did I find out about this album then? It was recorded in 1971, with only 200 vinyl copies issued and it was the first album released on the highly collectable Westwood Records which has since become a bit of a cult label with releases now reaching £50+. It was engineered By Alan Green and manufactured by Folk Heritage Recordings in Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire.

“‘Tis advertised in Boston, New York and Buffalo,
Five hundred brave Americans, a-whaling for to go, singing
Blow, ye winds in the morning, And blow, ye winds, high-i!
Clear away your running gear, And blow, ye winds, high-o!”

Several of the songs featured here are pretty much Folk standards of the time and you may recognise a handful made popular by The Dubliners but under different song titles. The title song ‘Tyrants Of England’ is also known as ‘The Hand-Loom Weaver’s Lament’ and dates from the beginning of the industrialisation of the textile trade in Lancashire. It tells of the black period when supply outstripped the market due to increasing mechanisation. This caused a scarcity of jobs for the weavers and a decline in wages for those still fortunate enough to be employed. Ian Robb and Hang the Piper recorded the song in 1979 and Ian wrote of the song on the sleeve notes.

“The ‘gentlemen and tradesmen’ of the song followed the official propaganda line in blaming the Napoleonic wars and Bonaparte himself for much of the starvation and hardship which resulted. Apparently, however, the working men and women of the factories and mills were not so easily taken in, and many of them, seeing little decline in the comforts of the ruling and merchant classes, held a sneaking respect and admiration for ‘Boney’, whom they regarded as a champion of the poor.”

This is exactly the reason why we run this series to remember albums that are slowly passing out of memory. If anyone knows more about this album or what became of Ray and Trevor we’d love to hear.

1 Tyrants Of England – 3:21

2 Bogies Bonnie Belle – 2:22

3 Jack Hall – 2:44

4 Rambling Soldier – 1:58

5 Blow Ye Winds – 3:24

6 Calico Printers Clerk – 3:30

7 Cock Fight – 2:16

8 To The Begging – 2:28

9 A Sailor’s Life – 3:51

10 Farewell Nancy – 3:50

11 Rakish Young Sailor – 3:17

Ray Haslam – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar * Trevor Colluney – Vocals, Banjo, Mandolin

with Malcolm McDonald – Bass and John Hampson – Flageolet

flageolet, wind instrument closely related to the recorder. Like the recorder, it is a fipple, or whistle, flute—i.e., one sounded by a stream of breath directed through a duct to strike the sharp edge of a hole cut in the side of the pipe. The name flageolet—which comes from the Old French flageol, meaning ‘pipe’ or ‘tabor pipe’—was applied to such flutes at least from the 13th century, but from the late 16th century it has referred most specifically to a form of the instrument developed at that time in Paris.

DOWNLOAD HERE or HERE

“In Manchester, fine city of cotton twist and twills,
There lived the subject of my song, the cause of all my ills.
She was handsome, young and twenty, her eyes were azure blue
Admirers she had plenty: and her name was Dorothy Drew.”

ALBUM REVIEW: AFTER HOURS VOLUME TWO – BLACK 47 TRIBUTE COMPILATION (2022)

Thirty years on from the release of Black 47’s eponymous first album and a year after Volume One comes the second part of a trilogy of tribute albums celebrating this popular and most controversial of Celtic-Punk bands of whom Time magazine wrote in 1993

“the proletariat passion of Black 47’s songs that make the group stand out”.

Celebrating the songs of Larry Kirwan and Black 47 with Finbar Furey, Barleyjuice, Jonee Earthquake Band, Finny McConnell, Bangers And Mash, The PoguestrA and The Muckers and once again produced by Peter Walsh of The Gobshites and Larry Kirwan himself.

While not strictly a Celtic-Punk band their influence on Celtic-Punk, especially in the States, is immeasurable. A New York band made up of Irish expatriates playing a mixture of several genres but with traditional Celtic and Irish Folk music at its very core and led by the distinctive and talented songwriting of Larry Kirwan.

Taking their name from the year 1847 which was the worst period of An Gorta Mór / The Great Hunger when blight wiped out the potato crop the staple of the Irish working class diet. This blight caused famine in the land while all the time the British army escorted Irelkand’s numerous other crops, under armed guard, to the docks and away from Ireland. A conservative estimate puts the number killed between 1845 and 1850 as way more than the official figures of one million people and another two million forced into exile with most of them washing up to North America.

THE JONEE EARTHQUAKE BAND – ‘Who Killed Bobby Fuller?’

Punk-Rock pirates hailing from the  Boston, Massachusetts playing a crazy mix of Surf, Country-Punk and Rockabilly… and whatever else they feel like playing! ‘Who Killed Bobby Fuller?’ was originally released by Black 47 on their second album, Home of the Brave, in 1994. Bobby was an American singer-songwriter best known for ‘Let Her Dance’ and his cover of the Crickets’ ‘I Fought the Law’ who was found dead in his car in Los Angeles in 1966 at only 23. One of the great unsolved Rock’n’Roll mystery songs!

Facebook  Bandcamp

FINBAR FUREY – ‘Mychal’

Finbar Furey needs no introduction except to reiterate what a true legend of Irish music he really is. His song is ‘Mychal’ perhaps the highest emotional peak Black 47 ever reached. Written as a tribute to Father Mychal Judge a Franciscan friar and Catholic priest, who served as chaplain of the New York City Fire Department. On September 11, 2001 Fr. Mychal entered the North Tower of the World Trade Centre alongside other firefighters and rescue personnel. As the South Tower collapsed, debris flew through the North Tower lobby killing many including Fr. Mychal.  Though many had perished before him, he was given the solemn honour of being designated Victim 0001 – the first recorded casualty of 9/11.

When Larry asked me if I would sing this song, I told him I  would be honoured. Mychal was a wonderful human being who did so much for the people of New York and never left their side in their darkest hour. A beautiful song for a beautiful man.

BARLEYJUICE – ‘Celtic Rocker’

Barleyjuice are a nationally-known Celtic Rock band from Philadelphia who play mainly original but also a few traditional Irish music. Their songs over seven albums have been heard in movies, TV and radio programmes for over twenty years.

Facebook  WebSite

FINNY McCONNELL- ‘I Got Laid On James Joyce’s Grave’

Another legend of Irish music Finny has been making music with premier league Canadian Celtic-Punk knock-outs The Mahones since 1990 over a dozen studio albums plus several other full players. Finny finally branched out on his own last year recording his first solo album The Dark Streets Of Love.

Facebook  Instagram  Twitter

BANGERS AND MASH – ‘Izzy’s Irish Rose’

Formed in 2003 in Suffolk County, New York Bangers And Mash have a personal recommendation from Larry Kirwan- “If you’re looking for a band with strong songs who can rev up the party and get punters dancing, you should have Bangers and Mash on your menu. Guaranteed to go well with Guinness and good times!”

Facebook  WebSite

THE POGUESTRA – ‘Green Suede Shoes’

The PoguestrA is a group of musically diverse musicians from across the world united by a love of The Pogues playing together remotely. Tending to usually only record Pogues related material here they branch out to take in another of Black 47’s more popular and well known songs. Always on the lookout for new members feel free to contact them and join the gang.

THE MUCKERS – ‘Five Points’

After Hours 2 comes to an end with another of the Celtic-Punk scene’s favourite bands The Muckers. A five-piece Celtic-Folk-Punk band from Atlanta. With a strong emphasis on Irish music, the band also blends influences of Gypsy music, sea shanties, Country, Rockabilly, and plenty more!

WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

Another top notch production from Valley Entertainment and we await Volume Three eagerly. Their are links included for a variety of places to order from but if possible get it from the label directly instead of funding vultures who make money out of other peoples hard work and risks.

Buy After Hours  Fanlink  ValleyEntertainent  Bandcamp

Released by Valley Entertainment. Independent record label based in New York City. The label includes an eclectic repertoire with focus on singer-songwriters, modern Irish musicians and World music.

WebSite  Facebook

CLICK FOR 

AFTER HOURS VOLUME ONE COMPILATION

Volume 1 of the trilogy featured 7 more songs from Larry Kirwan and Black 47 by Celtic Cross, Pat McGuire, Screaming Orphans, The Gobshites, Rory K, Gary Óg and Martin Furey. 

Further Recommended Reading:

Let Ireland Remember

Irish National Famine Memorial Day

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

Irish Holocaust –Not Famine: The Push To Educate In Facts

ALBUM REVIEW: THE GROGGY DOGS – ‘Still Groggin’ (2022)

Spanish pirates The Groggy Dogs are back with their second album of trad Irish melodies and sea shanties with a spicy touch of Punk, Ska and Metal.

These guys more quickly and no sooner than Grog O’Clock land on our doorstep their second album arrives too. That debut album, Grog O’Clock was a front-runner for the London Celtic Punks debut album of the year, narrowly losing out to The Outcast Crew but it did make the Top Twenty of the best Celtic-Punk album’s and was well received across the internet. It’s available for only a single Euro and it really is a great album with some great covers and a couple of absolutely killer instrumentals.

Album #2 carries on it was will become I am sure the signature Groggy Dogs way. Covers, originals and instrumentals all paying homage to songs of the sea and the poor sailors that sailed them and sang those songs many years ago.

April sees only the bands second anniversary and if Covid can be thanked for one thing then it is the forming of The Groggy Dogs and since the ending of the lock down they have sprung out of the traps playing live at every single opportunity. Mauro, already a veteran of several Seville based Celtic projects wanted to play Celtic music with a bit more forceful sound and soon joined by the rest of the band and, no doubt the ‘Sea-Shanty’craze from a couple of years back on Tic-Tok, they settled on the idea of Prate-Celtic-Folk-Punk! AS we have said before their is no more than a fag paper between Celtic-Punk and Pirate-Punk with it overlapping constantly so it was no wonder that they soon came to our attention.

Still Groggin’ begins with ‘To Sea Once More’ and the familiar sound of the ocean and tolling bell. A fiddle led lament slowly drifts along before it erupts into a cover of the seafaring classic ‘Old Maui’. The song has become a bit of a staple among the Celtic-Punk community with it often sung acapello. Traced back to the mid-19th century it tells the story of a whaling ship returning to Maui in Hawaii after a long season of whaling.

“once more we sail with a northerly gale through the ice and wind and rain”

Canadian legend Stan Rogers released the best version I have ever heard but the song was made famous in our circles by The Dreadnoughts on their early album Legends Never Die. The Groggy Dogs stick closely to the Dreadnoughts version but add a fun video where the pirate quintet bring us a funny story about a robbery attempt adds to the song’s legacy. Their are so many sea-shanties ready for The Groggy Dogs to mine I was hoping to hear some more obscure covers and ‘Leave Her Johnny’ fits that bill perfectly. In sailor folklore ‘Leave Her Johnny’ was always saved for the very last duty of voyage. It dates back well before it first appeared in print in 1917 and exists in several forms but none quite as different as this one! Knowing you would soon be home would put the crew in great cheer so I’m sure their souls would well approve of the half-Ska/ half-Punk cheerful, bouncy tune given it here.

On their debut album I was especially impressed by the couple of instrumentals and am again here, starting with ‘Grog Party’. A true measure of a decent Celtic-Punk band is the ability to turn their hand to a trad song and here you would think them a Ceili band except for the thrashy guitar and Ska breakdown. Excellent stuff that would be welcome in any Irish public house in the world! The two pre-release singles for the album were ‘Old Maui’ and ‘The Dreadnought’. Another unusual sea-shanty classic and not one I had heard before. Telling of the true story of the ship of the same name, a clipper, built in 1853 in Massachusetts that was the fastest of her time until she sank while in Cape Horn in 1869. The band sing it kinda slow and sound incredibly like the band of the same name here.

Time for another of The Groggy Dogs ace instrumentals and ‘Grog’s Reel’ is another great mash up of trad Irish/ Celtic and more modern sounds without losing any of its old charm. We almost near the end and time for a more familiar song with ‘Katie Bar The Door’. The exact origin of the phrase, meaning ‘watch out, trouble is on its way’ is unknown but it originated in the southern United States and one possible explanation is it was taken from a Scottish ballad called Get Up and Bar the Door published in 1776. The lads be big fans of The Dreadnoughts album Legends Never Die as this another from it that sadly doesn’t differentiate too much from their version. The album’s curtain comes down with their third instrumental ‘The First Grog’ and again it is bloody marvellous. Mashing up the trad Folk melody with Punk, Metal, Ska, Reggae and still leaving it sounding like the song is from the 19th century!

The Groggy Dogs left to right: The Deadman (Lucas Hidalgo) – Drums * The Voodoo Witch (Fátima Caballero) – Violin * The Cap’n (Mauro Blanco) – Vocals, Guitar * The Cook (Carlos Ghirlanda) – Bass * The Buccaneer (Seba Santa Cruz) – Accordion *

A truly talented group and another great album from them. If I did have one slight criticism it is that they need to stamp themselves much firmer on the more popular covers but even these are excellent versions that more than give the band I have mentioned a run for their money. The production for the album is top class and the many Folk and Rock instruments merge together perfectly. The Groggy Dogs are definitely one to watch especially for those who prefer the ‘folkier’ side of Celtic-Punk but still with plenty of oompf to go along with.

Download Still Groggin’

Contact The Groggy Dogs WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

THE SCRATCH FROM DUBLIN. NEW SINGLE ‘Another Round’ OUT NOW!’

The Scratch come from Dublin and have become the latest sensation on the Irish music scene with their loud and catchy as hell acoustic owing much to alternative forms of music as the auld Irish Folk legends.

The Scratch just played in London on St. Patrick’s Day and even though a couple of us noticed the advertisements for it we dismissed the gig and The Scratch as heavy metal. One reason was the name and the other was because the gig was at London’s premier metal venue the Underworld in Camden. It’s no surprise anymore to see shamrocks plastered over everything during St. Patrick’s even when the event has no Irish connection. It wasn’t until a few days later and one of the readers over on the London Celtic Punks FB page left a comment recommending them so I checked them out and bloody hell was I impressed. The band consider ‘Another Round’ as their best work to date so it’s just the perfect way to come in!. ‘Another Round’ is an energetic (soooo energetic) five minute track that builds and builds and builds in what has become their signature and unique way blurring the line between their metal roots and love of old Irish storytelling. The story tells realistically the perils and joys of a night out on the piss.

(Recorded and Engineered by Ben Wanders at Wanderland Studios, Limerick, Ireland.
Starring: The Scratch * Rob Earley * Emma Walsh * Bonnie Dean *)
*
I was down the back of another aul snug just taking the time to watch the wall paint dry
The sound of a bauld aul crowds dull chattering filling the air within an inch of its life
A man on either side of me, the bar to the right
I’d be lucky to make it outta here with me life
And isn’t that your man that barred us last time for singing ‘Ra tunes on a Tuesday night?
Crawling up the walls lookin’ like a rabid hound
Get up outta that, get up off the ground
I’ll tie ya to that chair if ya don’t simmer down
You’re the worlds worst patron saint of stout
Actually didn’t I barr yous last week and what are ya doin’ with a spliff in your mouth?
Alright then never mind what’ll it be lads? Another Round (x12)
Take the edge off the knife
Catch the rain before it all runs dry
Cure the dog of all that ails it
You’ll still be that bitter man inside
They are changing all the taps
Switching off the lights in every room
If the last call has an ending
I swear to god there’s nothing left for you
I was down the back of another aul snug just taking the time to watch the wall paint dry
The sound of a bauld aul crowds dull chattering filling the air within an inch of its life
A man on either side of me, the bar to the right
I’d be lucky to make it outta here with me life
And isn’t that your man that barred us last time for singing ‘Ra tunes on a tuesday night
For singing IRA tunes on a Tuesday night
Guitarist Jordan O’Leary writes
“The song is at its core a drinking song. I don’t think it’s necessarily for or against excessive alcohol consumption, and all that comes with it, but more of an honest portrayal of my own experience with that way of life. It was written back during the first lockdown in 2020. I was craving the warm cozy embrace of my favourite Dublin snug, Bowes bar on Fleet Street. I wrote the song while stuck sitting in a gaff in Palmerstown, Dublin dreaming of the countless nights of craic we used to have in that pub. Most of the references heard in the song are directly related to those nights. The chatter and manic atmosphere of a busy pub, the ever growing rowdiness as the night progresses and the rounds keep coming, the couple of lads in the group that are thrown out for reaching a belligerent state of patriotic pride and singing unsolicited rebel songs at the top of their lungs, and the perpetual and dizzying nature of all of these things combined. The songs structure is essentially a three and a half minute build up that grows more and more tense as it progresses, until eventually it reaches the release and payoff that repeats until its end.”

Contact The Scratch  WebSite   Facebook  YouTube

Download / Stream ‘Another Round’  https://linktr.ee/TheScratch

ALBUM REVIEW: SLAINTE – ‘Up Down 95’ (2022)

Sláinte (slahn-chuh): Irish for cheers. 

Slainte offer a fresh take on trad Irish folk music, medlying classic ballads with modern favourites, and marrying traditional Folk instruments with Rock ‘n’ Roll electric guitar.

Boston, Boston, Boston, Boston but there’s a very good reason why its features so much on these pages. The Irish, Whitey and the Irish mob, Charlestown and South Boston, the Kennedys, the Celtics and finally our heroes of great fame the Dropkick Murphys. Sadly just like in London in recent years gentrification has all but wiped out the traditional working class Irish areas of Boston but the Boston Irish community lives on. Their are obvious reasons why yuppies prefer Irish areas of the city to others but like a virus everywhere they move they soon destroy the very reasons that made them want to move there in the first place.

One of the most important fronts in the battle against gentrification is culture. To keep alive the traditions, spirit and customs of where you come from. Of course this doesn’t just apply to the Irish but to everyone but for the Irish our biggest weapon is music. Where else could a band like the Dropkick Murphys have come from and then grown to become one of the biggest in the world?

Slainte from left to right: Andrew Rodriguez – Vocals, Electric Guitar * Mike Perillo – Vocals, Bass Guitar * Steve Smith – Vocals, Electric Guitar * Brady Conley – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar * James Harrington – Harmonica, Tin Whistle * Jon Harrington – Fiddle * Zack Bolles – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar * Ed Cardenas – Percussion * Stephen Sunshine – Vocals, Tenor Banjo, Organ, Lap Steel Guitar * Not Picured (still inside the pub perhaps?) – Pat O’Donovan – Mandolin, Accordion * Kevin Smith * Percussion *

Last year the arrival of Shadows Of Boston dominated the Celtic-Punk scene and just this week the latest album to land on our doorstep is also from Boston from the band Sláinte. Formed at Boston college in 2013 the Bhoys have been a regular fixture on the Boston and New York pub scene ever since. Featuring 11 (eleven!) members making them the largest band in Irish history! While not strictly Celtic-Punk, their music owes much to the likes of well established bands like The Pogues, The Dubliners and The Saw Doctors as well as bands of today like The BibleCode Sundays and NY’s The Narrowbacks. When their founding member and lead singer moved to New York City in 2016, the remaining members decided that rather than fold or look for a new singer from then on the band would not only let everyone sing but they would cast their net further than Boston and Providence and start to play New York as well. In the years since they have added five new band mates, spent a fortune on petrol, played some untold amount of shows and shared a ton of laughs.

Nine years to make your debut release is a long time but not overly uncommon in a scene where playing live is the priority. Up Down 95 is the name given to their album and a tribute to the last few years together while looking forward to the future. Recorded by the lads themselves in various garages, basements, parking lots and fields throughout the Northeast, Up Down 95 is a completely independent DIY release and features original Sláinte material as well as some classic and contemporary Irish and American covers.

Beginning with the title song ‘Up Down 95′. It’s a rollicking rockin’ ‘country-ish’ number with lashings of harmonica.

“when the bar man asked for Galway Girl we said nay nay never no more”

The kind of song to get those with a bit more youth in their tank up on the bar while the rest of us be slapping our thighs and tapping our feet. The title of the song and album is the highway that connects NYC, Providence Rhode Island, and Boston, the three cities they have spent all their time traveling between over the last few years.

A nod to Celtic-Punk next with a straight up cover of the Molly’s ‘Drunken Lullabies’ which only goes to show how far Celtic-Punk has permeated Irish-American life. Next up is the stunning ‘Grace’ written by Sean And Frank O’Meara in 1985 it was first popularised by The Dubliners and sings of the doomed marriage of rebel leader Joseph Plunket and Grace Gifford just mere hours before Joseph was executed by the British for his part in the 1916 Easter Uprising in Dublin. An incredibly moving song it received a major boost in popularity when it was adopted by supporters at Celtic football club. Since then it became many a bands staple and was even recorded by life long Celtic supporter Rod Stewart. The phrase, “the blood upon the rose” comes from one of Joseph’s poems. Performed beautifully by the band they follow it up with a couple of their own compositions. ‘Ember’ is some classic-Rock and shows the bands ambitions go further than just playing other people’s songs. One of the album highlights, while on ‘Irish Whiskey’ Zack Bolles is joined by special guest Annie Cheevers on vocals for a simple yet boisterous song full of banjo, mandolin, fiddle and I’m sure plenty more. By now one of the bands I’m hearing being channelled here is London’s very own BibleCode Sundays. Not so much in sound but more in that they know people and more specifically their own people and what they want. A bit of an unusual cover next of ‘Atlantic City’ from Bruce’s acclaimed acoustic album Nebraska from 1982 (40 years!). Played straight tune wise they add plenty along the way giving it the Sláinte stamp. Now any Irish pub bands can just coast by with the covers but the real sign of a good band is the ability to knock out a good trad tune and (in common with both the Bible Code’s and the Narrowbacks) Sláinte come up with the goods on the excellent ‘The Musical Priest’ where they play it far from straight and inject a bit of Horslips styled meandering into the tune. Another highlight and another to get the young guns up on the bar! The Saw Doctors ‘Joyce Country Ceili Band’ is followed by an original song ‘Boston Girl Who Fled to New York’ and no idea if it’s autobiographical or not but a cracking ballad with some beautiful meaningful lyrics and a superb tune. Up Down 95 comes to an end with a cover of ‘Streams Of Whiskey’ where Shane MacGowan sings of going on the piss with legendary Irish drinker writer Brendan Behan and while no doubt a great version I would have liked them to have thrown caution to the wind a wee bit and gone out in proper wild abandon Pogues style but still a great version and way to wrap things up.

The album was produced, recorded, edited, and mixed by Zack Bolles and Stephen Sunshine of Slainte and mastered by Ian Blanton of Empirical Dynamics in Boston while the cover artwork was done by Bot Roda. A great album but it only goes to show that the best place to hear Irish music is in the pub and while they’ve done a brilliant job of transferring that sound onto disc it’s an eternal battle that Irish bands will always fight. Sláinte are playing all over Boston for St.Patrick’s week so be sure to check them out if you lucky enough to come from Boston!
(You can stream / download Up Down 95 via the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Up Down 95  Bandcamp (also itunes, apple, spotify, amazon, youtube)

Contact Slainte  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

EP REVIEW: WHISKEY’S WAKE – ‘Wake Up, Whiskey’ (2022)

Wake up, folks! It’s nearly time for Paddy’s Day ☘️ With THE day for Irish music just around the corner, we’re proud to feature a band whose new EP drops on March 11th, just in time for the celebrations. Grab yer favourite drink, put this one on and turn the volume up.

Whiskey’s Wake from Salt Lake City, Utah return with a new EP.

Today’s band goes by the name of Whiskey’s Wake. A self-described “Celtic-leaning rock band” from Salt Lake City, Utah, these six friends play a mixture of modern drinking songs, friendship anthems, and songs about…zombies 🧟🧟‍♀️ They’ve been inspired by the Misfits, the Dubliners and Rancid to name but a few. The boys actually made their first record a long time ago, when they were in their teens. But then life and school got in the way, and the band was on and off for many years. It wasn’t until the pandemic happened that they decided to take the band more seriously again – and we’re very glad they did 👍

On the EP, entitled Wake Up, Whiskey, we get right into the action on opening track “Whiskey Back”. This energetic song welcomes the listener with the familiar romp of Celtic rock/punk. With a week to go until March 17th, lead vocalist Adam Blair sings some very appropriate lyrics about enjoyin’ yer favourite drink. The sense of community spirit in this song is palpable too, as we continue to emerge from the pandemic and enjoy some real parties again! Let’s make some fucking noise, you say? I’ll drink to that 🥃

Music we enjoy

“We like to write music we enjoy, and think is worth listening to,” the band’s guitarist Patrick Reimherr told me. “And we do try to write songs that would make for fun live shows.” The latter statement certainly shows on track #2 “He’s Alive”. This one boasts more o’ those shout-out-loud barroom moments. The band put the song out ahead of time as a single, and I like how it moves effortlessly from chord to chord, underpinned nicely by Joel Pack’s slick basslines. The doo-wop singing towards the end made me grin as well 😁 More importantly, the song is proof of how hard the band worked on the EP as a whole, achieving a clean sound where the instruments all have space to breathe. So give “He’s Alive” a spin, ye lovable fecks:

“He’s Alive”, track #2 off Wake Up, Whiskey. This one has a good Celtic rock groove to it.

Red Haired Mary

“You Don’t Have to Run” is another energy-laden one, with a slower and more experimental passage halfway through. The rhythm section of Andreas Petersen (accordion), Danny Houpt (banjo) and Derek Julio (drums) combines to good effect here, making for a generally enjoyable listen. The standout track in the latter half of the EP has to be the band’s dynamic take on “Red Haired Mary”, though. We start off slow, before the pace builds for the rest of the song. The band are especially stoked about this modern rock version of the Irish standard, so be sure to check it out when the record drops this week!

All in all, Wake Up, Whiskey is a welcome return to Celtic music for the Wake, as the band nickname themselves. It’s a well-produced record, with the instruments working nicely together, and there are signs of more to come. “We actually have lots of material ready to go,” Patrick confirmed. “And we hope to release another, longer album this year.” Bring it on. Some shows could also be on the cards, so keep yer eyes peeled, especially if you live in the Intermountain region (that’s Utah, Nevada and Idaho to anyone who doesn’t know).

So where can I hear the record?

You can get the EP when it drops tomorrow, on March 11th! Follow the band on Instagram or Facebook, they’ll tell you where it’s available. If money’s a wee bit short, there’s also the band’s Spotify or Apple Music profiles, where you can even hear the band’s early high-school material if ye like.

Bring on St. Paddy’s week!

Andy x

BOOK REVIEW: MICHAEL CROLAND – ‘Celtic Punk Superfan’ (2022)

Anyone up for the history of Celtic Punk in 42 pages? We’re not kidding 🙂 We review a lot of albums, but sometimes books come our way too. This one is for die-hard fans, by a die-hard fan. Add in a dose of Judaism and Latin America, and you’ve got a unique take on Celtic punk. Check this out!

Celtic Punk Superfan by Michael Croland.. A must-read for any Celtic punk fan!

Celtic Punk Superfan is a neatly presented little chapbook (i.e. about 40 pages), and the title describes the author accurately ☘️ Though Michael started out writing about Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys for his college newspaper, the book’s preface carries a dedication to Neck – an early sign that Michael doesn’t just discuss the big names. “Every day’s St. Patrick’s Day”, the band once said. And if you’re Irish at heart, with an understanding and respect for the music, then the door’s open for you to discover more.

Neck get a mention in the book. Here’s their cracker of a tune “Always Upsettin’ Somebody”.

Introduction: Context

Celtic Punk Superfan starts by looking at the role Celtic punk has played in representing the Irish as a group of people. Shane and the Pogues get an early mention, and we’re happy to announce that a few webzines do too – including yours truly, London Celtic Punks 🙂☘️ So thanks for that, Michael!

The author explains how and why bands like Flogging Molly and the Dropkicks originated in the US, rather than in Ireland and Scotland. Their roots in the British Isles are obvious, but then so is the Irishness of Boston, for example. We’re reminded of how Celtic people throughout the world have put their voices and feelings into music. Plus, a lot of references from other literature are included here, proof that the author has definitely done his homework 👍

Foundation: The Two Heavyweights

Back in 2002, Michael was a student at Carnegie Mellon uni. He was as keen on writing Celtic punk articles as he was on writing assignments ☘️ He interviewed Bridget from Flogging Molly, and went to see the band live. The result was two articles that make up half of chapter 1. We look at Dave King’s exile from Ireland, the impact this had on Flogging Molly’s early music, and we’re treated to a quote by the man himself:

“Anyone who has a beating heart in their chest can relate to what I’m singing.”

– Dave King

We then move on to the Dropkick Murphys. Michael sees these guys as a different beast, one fuelled by working class pride and sport, e.g. the Boston Bruins (pictured below). The author was there in 2004 when the Murphys played to a sold-out Pittsburgh crowd, one that didn’t hesitate to rush the stage, if they weren’t just invited up by the band anyway.

Ice hockey team the Boston Bruins, supported by the Dropkick Murphys.

It’s always good to read about gigs where you can feel the energy coming off the page. Chapter 1 gives us plenty of that, and it reminds me fondly of the heart and soul I poured into Folk Springs Eternal. Now we move on to chapter 2…

JewIrish: Connections as a Jew

Now we all know that a book about Celtic punk is anything but boring. But chapter 2 gives us an angle that most people wouldn’t think of. Michael is Jewish, and he talks about the holy Yom Kippur and Purim holidays. But what about Celtic punk? Michael asked himself, “is there such thing as a Jewish-Irish music connection?”

Well, klezmer punk exists, so maybe yes. Michael looks at bands who’ve tried to blend the two influences. There’s Josh Lederman y Los Diablos and the White Shabbos, to name two examples. The Shabbos only recorded one album as far as I’m aware (2004’s Shabbos Holy Shabbos), and the production quality could have been a bit better. But these bands were capable of making a noise as good as any Celtic punk band, make no mistake about that.

The White Shabbos played a blend of Jewish, bluegrass and country music. Give this a listen!

Somehow, Celtic music seems to attract Jewish people. And if there really is a common thread, then two words sum it up: tradition and persecution. The former is something that both Jews and Celtic punks carry with them. The latter, sadly, is something that both have been victims of. And if they survived, they were often displaced, longing for their homelands.

But Saints and Tzadiks are another good example of a band who tried it. So are Black ’47 actually, with their song “Izzy’s Irish Rose” (see below). These guys aimed to mix klezmer with Irish folk. While it’s not quite Celtic punk, it does sometimes feature singing in both Yiddish and Irish. And it’s mixing the old with the new, which is exactly what Celtic punk does! Finally, Jem Finer from the Pogues (Jewish on his dad’s side) gets a mention as the chapter rounds out.

“Izzy’s Irish Rose” by Black ’47 takes an interesting turn from 3:08 onwards 🙂

This is a groundbreaking chapter by Michael, and one that I feel has postgraduate potential to it. Ian Prowse did a Master’s in Irish Studies, so why not? ☘️ But now for the rest of the book…

Ethnic Punk, Celtic Punk

The remaining chapters are a wee bit shorter, as we arrive at Michael’s blog. Michael ultimately draws the conclusion that he likes Celtic punk for its own sake, although there might be an aspect of his Jewish pride to it as well. He continues to discuss the different takes on the music, whether it’s Yidcore (punk first, Jewish second) or Golem (Jewish first, punk second).

Finally, we arrive in the year 2021, in the midst of that pesky COVID-19 pandemic. St. Patrick’s week is underway, bringing us livestreams across different continents, with the Dropkicks, Flogging Molly, the Real McKenzies, Flatfoot 56 and the Fighting Jamesons all checkin’ in. There was an online Latin American festival too, with South American bands using a lot of the instruments we’re used to seeing in Celtic punk. If the music has made it around the world, then so has the dress sense, clearly 😊

The last 2022 postscript brings us right up to date. Now people are starting to go to gigs again. Alas, some shows are still getting cancelled, and some people are still hesitant to go until we get further out of the woods. But the only way is up from here! Michael has the final word with a wee poem he penned for the Celtic punk fan. It contains tributes to various Celtic punk acts, including Vanilla Ice (okay I’m joking, but he does get a mention!)

So…

All in all, it was never just about The Pogues, or Flogging Molly, or the Dropkicks. Celtic punk has reached far and wide, and the scene remains healthy with different bands and fans springing up all over the world. Michael has put his heart and soul into a book about his love of the genre, and his own personal take on it. The book is also well edited and presented; as such, we wish Michael the best of luck with it!

Get your copy of Celtic Punk Superfan by Michael Croland from the author HERE.

Sláinte and l’chaim!

Andy x

ALBUM REVIEW: OYSTERBAND – ‘Read The Sky’ (2022)

The stars-and-skies theme of 2022 continues with the 12th studio album by award-winning folk rock legends Oysterband. With Read The Sky, the band emerges from pandemic and lockdown hell with ten new songs, and proof that there’s plenty left in the tank yet, both musically and politically.

Read The Sky. The 12th studio effort by folk rock legends Oysterband. Out March 4th!

Like with Ian Prowse’s One Hand on the Starry Plough, what we have here is a collection of songs that aren’t typically Celtic punk. But while the music might not be similar to the likes of “Granite Years” or “The Road to Santiago”, you can never question the impact that John and the boys have had on the UK folk scene since their ’70s inception. Let’s kick things off with “Born Under the Same Sun”; this opener introduces the album’s slick production values, and discusses the changes that our society has seen in recent years. So is the music relevant? You bet. The song is a fine reminder of the socially aware attitude that the band have often embraced, particularly back in the ’90s, and taken into their recording sessions, which this time were done under COVID conditions.

Next up we have “The Corner of the Room”, track #2. This was released as a single just recently, and in my view it was a good choice. The song is a personal tale of hope and ambition, one sure to be popular among devoted fans of the band. The upbeat mood continues here, and I had to smile at the reference to the Isle of Skye, not too far from my now-home of Glasgow.

Reinventing the fiddle (sort of)

From the album booklet, track 3 “Roll Away” looks like it might be a tune (due to the lack of lyrics). Don’t be fooled – it’s a Back Door Slam cover, written by the hands of Davy Knowles. This is where the fiddle, that archetypal Celtic punk instrument, comes to the fore in a somewhat unorthodox way. Many Celtic punk fans are used to hearing the instrument lead the way, in the form of various jigs and reels (think Dan Booth’s work with Ferocious Dog, for instance). But here, the fiddle takes on a different role. Ian Telfer gives the strings more of a twitch on “Roll Away”, in a way that reminded me of some of Hilary Hahn’s work. Ian is one of three remaining members from Oysterband’s early recording line-up, with lead vocalist John Jones and guitarist Alan Prosser being the other two.

The interesting violin work continues during “Wonders Are Passing”. This reflective, Earth-centred track features a solo in the middle, but what struck me was that the fiddle never truly seems to take off. It sounds more restrained than freeform, though this isn’t a bad thing. In fact it would seem intentional, as if it were done to match the mood of the lyrics. “Fly or Fall” has more of the same – some excellent fiddle runs and a catchy chorus, but again, the fiddle still doesn’t steal the limelight.

“Wonders Are Passing”. Track #4 of Read The Sky, and available on YouTube with a beautiful wee video.

The fiddle finally does blossom out towards the end of track #6, “My Son”. The moral behind this track is with great power comes great responsibility, just like in the famous film 😉 In that sense, there’s no better time for Ian to step forward and showcase his skills than during the beautiful outro to this song.

The reeds and the pipes

It might not be your typical Celtic punk album, but Read The Sky doesn’t omit the other familiar folk instruments completely. “Star of the Sea” marks the welcome return of the accordion that fans will know and love from the likes of 1995’s “Put Out the Lights”. “Sea” whisks us away on a brief journey to the far-flung reaches of Hong Kong, and I did wonder if the Dolores in question is the sadly missed Dolores O’Riordan. But the Cranberries frontwoman passed away in London, though she did play in Hong Kong several times.

If “Star of the Sea” didn’t copy “Put Out the Lights” in featuring the uilleann pipes, track #9 “Streams of Innocence” makes up for this. The penultimate track boasts some o’ those piping passages, underpinned by a strong, rolling rhythm. But what about track #7, “Hungry For That Water”? This one is one of the album’s more mystic moments, especially in terms of the lyrical imagery. Add to this some intriguing acoustic soloing that brings to mind Shane MacGowan’s “Lorca’s Novena”, and you’ve got a song whose impact stays with you for longer than you’ll initially realise.

The time is now

The band close the album out in a similar vein to how they opened it; they make another clear socio-political statement with the title track. “The Time Is Now” was the first single released to radio, and fittingly the band performed it during COP26 on BBC Radio 2. The song has a catchy hook to it, underlined by bassist and producer Al Scott’s work on the four-string. John’s lyrics point to the changes we’re seeing near and far in Mother Nature. And the message rings true; in an age where we all need to do something to protect the one world we’ve got, the time really is now. Leave the car at home where possible. Avoid single-use plastic where possible. Sign a petition where possible. We the people have more power than we think on this one. And that’s exactly how it should be.

“The Time Is Now”. The band’s personal statement amid the COP26 conference of late 2021.

“The Time Is Now” puts a thoughtful finishing touch to a well-conceived and well-rounded record. When my wife asked me to describe the album as a whole, one comparison I drew was with another group of British folk-rock legends, namely Fairport Convention. We saw them in Oysterband’s native Canterbury just before the pandemic hit, and perhaps the comparison is fitting, as Oysterband have performed at Fairport’s Cropredy festival on a number of occasions. Either way, we are reminded fondly that folk music knows no barriers. Groups young and old[er] are embracing the genre and working hard, year after year, to keep the music and life’s important messages alive.

Right…where can I get it?

Read The Sky is out on Friday 4th March on Running Man Records. One way to pre-order it is HERE. Give the album a spin, and see what thoughts of your own come to mind. The lyrics are included in the booklet, along with a beautiful wee quote by Emily Dickinson, THAT famous reclusive 19th-century poet.

Alternatively, if ya ditched your CD player years ago in favour o’ streaming, then keep an eye on the band’s Spotify profile HERE or Apple Music profile HERE, where you can refresh your memory of the band’s previous material while awaiting the March 4th release date. Lastly, whatever your choice of listening format, make sure you catch the band on their UK tour commencing April 2022.

ALBUM REVIEW: BRYAN McPHERSON – ‘How To Draw Everything’ (2022)

Fiery, Folk-playing, Irish-American blue-collar Boston native Bryan McPherson is back aided by a ‘Molly’ and a ‘Murphy’ among others with a new album and bejaysus if it’s not one of his best ones yet!

I’ve often wondered at the word ‘fan’. As a longtime Leyton Orient supporter we don’t get many ‘fans’ down Brisbane Road. Over the years when we have had the odd moment of success some have drifted by before decamping to follow more media friendly teams that they can brag about on Facebook. See I think of ‘fan’ as opposed to ‘supporter’ as a rather trivial term for someone who isn’t really invested in what they follow. In that sense I don’t like to think of myself as a Bryan McPherson fan I think I’m more of a Bryan McPherson supporter! So with that in mind I’m a keen supporter of whatever he gets up. It’s been two years since Kings Corner was released and for Bryan believe me that’s quite a gap. A simple search for Bryan on this site will throw up reviews and articles reaching into double figures, a number reserved only for the likes of scene stalwarts like The Pogues or the Dropkick Murphys.

It doesn’t seem like two years that must be said as Bryan is one of those performers who keeps his audience, his supporters, close by him. Throughout the lockdowns Bryan was a regular face on our screens with his live streams and videos so it never seems he’s too far away and always there ready to connect with us. Perhaps it’s his Working Class background that keeps him so grounded, especially when all I ever see is huge amounts of praise and adulation for him! His ability to sing everything with passion imbued with a raw sense of emotion is second to none. An interesting anecdote here is (she’ll not be happy I told anyone) on hearing this album for the first time alone in the car my Mrs cried. She couldn’t put her finger on why but just a few snatched lines of lyrics and the mere sound of his voice seemed to be enough for the tears to flow.

Unusually for Bryan he has roped in some friends to aid on the recording of How To Draw Everything. Use to just voice, harmonica, acoustic guitar this album feels more fleshed out compared to much of his previous work with the ex- Dropkicks and current Walker Roader Marc Orrell on mandolin, Dustbowl Revival’s drummer Josh Heffernan, violinist Chris Murphy, who has worked with everyone from the Waterboys to Mike Watt, and Grammy Award-winning record producer and original guitarist for Flogging Molly, and also a Walker Roader, Ted Hutt on bass and percussion. Quite the roll call I’m sure readers, here especially, will agree. The album opens with ‘2 Birds’ which was also the first single/video released. With a rare opportunity to film outside his Mam and Dads house it’s a great video. Simple and effective and fits the song perfectly. I always get the impression that Bryan prefers the ‘home’ setting to set ups like this but he throws himself into and even manages to not look uncomfortable!

(Director of Photography: Eric Wagner * Production Assistant: Joe Bennett)

“There’s something about the sky that makes me grateful to be alive.”

A beautiful song with an unbelievably catchy chorus Bryan wraps so much round a simple tune. Lyrically there’s plenty to unwrap with Bryan triumphing over the demons in his life and coming out the other side. ‘Alameda St’ keeps it upbeat and tells of his move from Boston to Los Angeles and trying to figure out what to do with your life, and what lies deep in your heart. ‘Sweet Kari’ is more trad McPherson with a soft whisper cracking over a gentle folk song telling of moving on from lost love. The video here is from one of Bryan’s many live streams and is included here just for reference as like the video for ‘American Dream’ below many aspects of the song changed from these recordings to what eventually would appear on the album.

The harmonica is one of my favourite instruments and I think it’s a shame it doesn’t get used more in Celtic-Punk. It’s most definitely a folk instrument as you don’t need a music lesson to learn, making it the most working-class of all musical instruments! Here it gets an airing for both the upbeat and the gentler songs with ‘Hello, So Long And Goodbye’ a perfect example of the former. Catchy and tuneful but then the whole album is. How To Draw Everything has several anthems and ‘Lightning Lullaby’ is one such with several lines jumping out at you. “A bridge in England where everyone falls” and “going on tour with my depressing songs just like my Grandma use to sing to me” are just two as Bryan sings of the power of music in bringing people together. These are divided times and while each side thinks it’s because of the other their is always hope they are both wrong to think so. All the tracks here are written by Bryan except for ‘Shooting Star’ next up, where he was joined by Josiah Mazzaschi. A gentle beautiful song followed by another in ‘Troubled Times’. Bryan McPherson isn’t scared of an epic. My favourite of his songs is ‘I see A Flag’ check out the video from London where he performed to a small but adoring crowd back in 2015. Who would open their set with a eight minute song? Bryan McPherson that’s who. ‘American Dream’ is more than double that and it’s telling that it was several plays before I realised it’s length so gripping was it. Written in 2020 as tensions across the USA were greater than many even ever remember their was a need to remind ourselves that

“good outweighs the bad no matter how imperfect the country is, and there is power in recognizing our similarities.”

Chronicling his years on the road, playing and visiting every corner of the USA, meeting good and kind people everywhere he went. People with many differing views and experiences but still with the time to bond with this travelling musician living out of his car. A song full of optimism and a song I hope that looks to the future.

We are heading towards the end and ‘Home’ and on an album so strong while it is hard to pick this is my standout track. The word ‘beautiful’ has been overused in this review I’m sure you get my drift. ‘Bedroom Eyes’ is an optimistic love song and it’s just like Bryan to make some beautiful (groan..) out of something that on the face of is tragic.

“where I come from we grow up too tough”

After the first few plays I had insisted this was one of Bryan’s best albums but now while all the eleven songs are sitting at the top of my phones ‘most played’ list I would go so far as to say this is his best work to date. Each song is crafted with so much love and attention. This is what writing ‘musician’ on your passport really means. The album ends with the title song ‘How To Draw Everything’ and another standout track among the many. An amazing end to an amazing album.

How To Draw Everything was recorded at Kingsize Soundlabs in Los Angeles, California and produced expertly by Ted Hutt and engineered by Ryan Mall. Bryan’s journey from his raw debut Fourteen Stories, released in 2007 (I recommend checking out his back catalogue at the Bandcamp link below) has been a roller coaster of emotions with us being allowed into every aspect of his life and his thoughts. With age does come understanding, As he puts it

“From the perspective of age comes a spiritual death of what was, and in its place, a re-discovering of peace, country, and self are found. Hope finally outweighs despair and can be reclaimed, like a child wondering at the seeds of a dandelion. Hope was there all along.”

It may be a peculiar to put it but I support Bryan McPherson.

(Stream/ download Buy How To Draw Everything on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy How To Draw Everything Stream/Download/Vinyl/CD

Contact Bryan McPherson WebSite Facebook Instagram YouTube

All Bryan’s previous studio releases are available via Bandcamp plus many interesting live concerts and tracks, many available for free download and all available to stream. You can also support Bryan by buying some merchandise including a brand new How To Draw Everything t-shirt.

ALBUM REVIEW: BURBRIDGE AND BOOTH – ‘Icons’ (2021)

Make way for a Celtic punk superduo! When the highly respected and prolific Nick Burbridge contacted Ferocious Dog’s Dan Booth, he suggested making an album together. Dan quickly agreed, and the project was on. The result is Icons, an unorthodox folk-punk album that showcases more fine work from these two men. Check it out!

Icons by Nick Burbridge (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Dan Booth (fiddle).

As we all know, Celtic punk often boasts the crunch of an electric guitar and the crack of a drum head. That’s why Icons is not your typical Celtic punk record. The album is entirely acoustic, a stripped-back undertaking that sounds like it could be played at a spontaneous pub session. But don’t be fooled: Nick Burbridge has lost none of his musical competence from the days of McDermott’s Two Hours. His wit is as sharp as ever too, with an onslaught of clever, poetic and politically aware lyrics. The album launches us straight into the action with the title track. “Icons” points the finger at imperialist figures of the past, and the human rights atrocities that wouldn’t be tolerated today. If we all pull together, we can tear these figures down, begins the chorus. Together with the line We stand as one and take the knee, this song makes a clear statement for the current times. The use of the word “icons” is meant in a disdainful, rather than respectful manner.

“Icons” is the title track, and sets the tone for the record.

Nick has struggled with depression over the years, and as such, he uses his work to call attention to people who feel (or simply are) rejected by mainstream society. This theme continues on “Soldier’s Heart”, a song that provides a grim insight into the day-to-day horrors of war, and its ugly brother, war crimes. This creates an atmosphere that only lets up during the mid-section, where a drop in pitch makes way for the warmer tones of Nick’s voice. Another track that provides a temporary break from the hard-hitting lyrics is “Judgement Day”. I had to smile at lyrics like My friend Flynn’s on the last train in, and the line about a sex worker who describes her male customer as “awful small”, to which he replies: I’m gettin’ old now, you’re lucky there’s anythin’ there at all.

Dan Booth, Ferocious Dog and The Levellers

So far, we’ve praised Nick’s contributions highly. But the other half of this record is Dan Booth, fiddler and founding member of Ferocious Dog, no strangers to the Celtic punk fan. Dan takes over the proceedings towards the end of “Cover Me”, which the Dog themselves recorded on 2019’s Fake News and Propaganda. It’s got working down the pit, it’s got prostitution, it’s got fighting. And it’s got wounded souls, who are longing for some protection from the world. As I listened to Dan’s jig, I was transported straight to a pub in Ireland, watching an evening session in an intimate setting. Dan regales us with more slick, fast-paced interludes in “Living on Thin Air”, another Dog number, and if ye’ve never seen the version where Dan, Ken and the lads were joined by Nick on stage, take a look ‘ere, ye ken:

Living on Thin Air, played live by Ferocious Dog featuring Nick Burbridge.

“Dirty Davey” is another title you might recognise. None other than The Levellers covered this one way back in ’93, on their self-titled effort that went all the way to #2 in the UK. The band have cited Nick and McDermott’s Two Hours as a key influence, and the opening piss-take of English Country Garden here is sure to make you smirk. The song then continues in its verbal abuse of political corruption, and the associated treatment of suspects and prisoners.

Nick on guitar and vocals, Dan folkin’ the fiddle, and a collaborative album to match.

Corruption and oppression

When Nick released War Without Honour, a collaborative non-fiction book from 1989, it kicked up a storm. This album might achieve the same, if the intended political targets were to listen to it (it’d be good music for a party). Sadly, it’s doubtful that they will, but the twelve tracks here are still fine examples of Nick’s poetic prowess and Dan’s signature fiddle runs. Icons is a protest album that relentlessly goes for the bollocks, but is sensitive at the same time, looking out for the oppressed and lamenting the corruption of the masters, whatever their various guises may be.

It’s clear that the main goal of the Nick’n’Dan project is not commercial success, but to remind people that corruption and greed are always present. And that it’s up to us individuals to keep them in check. In that sense, congratulations to Nick and Dan on conceiving this unique album, and an additional “thank you” goes to Sarah Huson-Whyte and Tim Cotterell, two more greatly skilled musicians who supplied additional instrumentation to the record.

You can get your copy of “Icons” by going HERE. You’ll also find A3 prints of the artwork that Jez from the Levellers produced for the album! Alternatively, if ye need to support the artists for free, the album is also available for streaming on YouTube, Spotify and the like.

Stay folky,

Andy x

ALBUM REVIEW: SYR- ‘Sentinel’ (2022)

Syr is a Celtic Folk Rock band from Columbia, South Carolina. Music inspired by Celtic history, mythology, and folklore… like what you would listen to just before smashing a Roman legion!

Our first ‘proper’ review of 2022 and it falls to Syr a Celtic-Rock band from South Carolina. Sentinel is the bands third studio album and comes after a series of predictable pandemic-related delays. Two years of canceled and postponed live shows, live streams and uncertainty about the future only seems to have amplified Syr (pronounced Sire) and their stories of Celtic history, stories and myths taking in themes like battle, love, and victory. Lead singer and founder Kyle MacCallum says

“The idea is to write about Celtic history, legends, and stories finding themes that would resonate with a modern audience.”

Taking the well trod route of humble beginnings of pubs and local venues, the band’s high-energy live performance has since received a welcome at regular performances at some of north America’s biggest Celtic events and festivals. Sentinel is their third album after the self-titled Syr in 2015 and The Winter King in 2017. These have been accompanied by a couple of singles all available via the band.

Syr is Kyle MacCallum – Lead Vocals, Guitar * Laurel MacCallum – Vocals, Percussion * Kelly and Greg Vance – Bass and Drums * Ben Campbell – Guitar * Worth Lewallen – Fiddle

Not a band I’m familiar with so fresh ground to be trod for the site and while Syr think of themselves as more a Celtic-Rock band

“While I wouldn’t characterize the band as “punk” you’ll definitely pick up on the metal influence, and the defiant tone that has always been a feature of us Celts!”

I couldn’t agree more! Sentinel begins with Isolation’ a short atmospheric intro that sounds like it could come from a movie that soon bursts into ‘Revenant’, a track that spans everywhere from trad Irish Folk to New Model Army to Euro Folk-Metal. This is the kind of Celtic music that is accessible to all. Tuneful, catchy, light hearted (in a serious way!) and 100% genuine. ‘Tir N’aill’ was the albums first single and here Laurel takes over from her brother Kyle on lead vocals. Kyle has more the ‘rock’ style vocals while Laurel is more folk orientated reminding me of the lovely Aoife O’Donovan.

Like the music the video is also atmospheric and features the lyrics above sweeping landscapes from the Celtic nations. The tribal sound of the drums is used to great effect in ‘Specters’ despite its slightly poppy sound (though that’s probably just by our standard!). Title track ‘Sentinel’ stands out with it’s unrestrained power even though it’s played little more than a ballad.

The music itself is played simply but effective with only Worth Lewallen’s constant fiddle (alongside the occasional whistle and mandolin) embracing Celtic instrumentation but then the voice is as powerful as any instrument especially in Folk music and in Kyle and Laurel both have the most expressive voices that seem to cross both ancient and modern. Of course the drumming adds a dimension to the music lost in the more ‘traditional’ style Celtic-Punk and nowhere on the album is this expressed better than on the instrumental ‘The Painted Ones’. ‘Baobhan Sith’ has shades of great trad crossover band Planxty. Slow, gentle and beautiful. ‘Lay of the Ashes’ kicks it up a notch with a lively song led into with some great fiddle. ‘Idistaviso’ gives us a positive slice of Celtic-Americana that wouldn’t be out of place being ruined by many a star (BS anyone?). It may sound funny that as editor of a Celtic-Punk site it is the slower more Folky Syr offerings I prefer especially this. ‘Oran Na Gaillinn’ is upbeat and catchy and also the longestvtrack here at almost six minutes. Known in the Celtic-Punk as either a head-nodder or a thigh-slapper. Kyle sings in Irish next on ‘Albion II’ and understand the meaning of that. Of a Irish-American who has taken the time to learn the language of his ancestors. It’s a shame more Irish musicians don’t follow him. A great rocking song with some super fiddle. We are almost at the end and ‘Legacy’ starts with what sounds like the feet of marching men off to wage war and fight to defend their homes. Stirring stuff alright. The curtain comes down on Sentinel with ‘To Avalon’ and an instrumental fit to see out the album. Great in scope and style and a rousing way to say goodbye.

Thirteen tracks that come in at just under a hour and absolutely note perfect production. Syr play the sort of music that bridges not just the gap between Celtic-Punk and the Trad/Folk scene but also the sounds of the 70’s and 80s Irish Folk scene and now while also embracing the better bits of the Folk-Metal scene too. This is a grand record and it’s easy to see why they are becoming so well known on the American Celtic circle. Music played with a passion but also a belief in it.

(You can listen to / steam/ download Sentinel from the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Sentinel  From The Band-CD  Download

Contact Syr  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

INTERVIEW: IAN PROWSE – ‘One Hand on the Starry Plough’

In part 2 of our Ian Prowse special, we’ve interviewed the man himself. Ian’s fourth solo record One Hand on the Starry Plough comes out on February 11th, which is mere days away! If you’re familiar with Ian’s back catalogue, or ya wanna know more about him and his contributions to Celtic music, then check the interview further down ☘️

One Hand on the Starry Plough. The fourth solo effort from Ian Prowse, out February 11th.

If ya missed our very recent review of Ian’s upcoming album One Hand on the Starry Plough, be sure to check that out HERE. Other than that, let’s get into the interview, and see what Ian himself has to say about the new record! Here it is…

London Celtic Punks sit down with Ian Prowse on the eve of his fourth studio album.

We would like to congratulate Ian on a job well done, especially during the terrible lockdowns that have affected so many musicians’ lives. One Hand on the Starry Plough is available now on Kitchen Disco Records, you can get it HERE. You can also get a taster of what the album has to offer, by checking out the official YouTube video to track #1 “Battle” below:

“Battle”, track #1 from One Hand on the Starry Plough by Ian Prowse.

Sláinte mhaith! 🥃 And enjoy the music ☘️

ALBUM TEASER: IAN PROWSE – ‘One Hand on the Starry Plough’ (2022)

One album we’ve been looking forward to in 2022 is the new offering by Ian Prowse. The seasoned singer-songwriter is known for his work in rock genres. But his contributions to Celtic music can’t be underestimated, and he hasn’t forgotten those influences on his upcoming record.

One Hand on the Starry Plough by Ian Prowse. Out 11th February 2022.
One Hand on the Starry Plough by Ian Prowse. Out 11th February 2022.

Released off the back of a tough time for musicians and artists, One Hand on the Starry Plough will be Ian’s fourth solo record. We’ve been granted an early listen, and the album has all the right people behind it. Long-time pal and bandmate Tony Kiley was chosen as producer, and a wide range of guest musicians lend their instruments and voices to the record. The result is a diverse and exciting album, where bluesy rock, choir singalongs and – of course – folk music all turn up for it.

Now…Ian is perhaps best known for his work with Liverpool-based band Amsterdam, whose single “The Journey” hit #32 in the UK charts back in 2005. But he’s no stranger to the Celtic music that we all know and love. Ian has participated in the Irish Sea Sessions, and he holds an MA in Irish Studies from the University of Liverpool. While at uni, he concentrated his work on the role of Christy Moore in Irish folk music, which I bet was an interesting and rewarding write-up ☘️ Both Moore and Elvis Costello have given Prowse their seal of approval, and Ian’s first band Pele supported The Pogues back in the day too.

So while Starry Plough ain’t your typical Celtic punk record, it’s well worthy of a closer look. We’re gonna keep things Celtic by focusing in on some of the album’s folky moments.

Holy, Holy River

It’s not long before the album makes its mark in terms of the Celtic influences. Track #2 “Holy, Holy River” is arguably the strongest song on the album. The fiddles and tin whistles that burst into view remind us of the warm, romantic feeling that Irish music brings to every heart. The song then grows into a stomping rock track, with some tin whistle soloing in the middle and the eponymous one hand on the starry plough lyric repeating during the outro.

Ian has said that the album, as a whole, is about hope. It’s about looking up at The Plough in the starry night sky, and realising that we DO have one hand on it. As long as there is hope in life, we’re not lost 🙂 So “Holy, Holy River” is a worthy centrepiece to the album, and is reminiscent in places of another popular Prowse piece, “Does This Train Stop On Merseyside?“, which was covered by none other than Christy Moore on his successful album Listen.

Ian Prowse. A seasoned singer-songwriter with a lot of support behind him.

Dan

Another song to stomp around to is track 8, entitled “Dan”. The catchy, attention-grabbing lyrics here are bolstered by the fiddles in the background, and again the tin whistle is along for the ride. These familiar instruments come to the fore in another folky interlude, and they stick around for the second half of the song.

Interestingly, this song also mentions Cork City and Michael Collins at one point. Now Collins wasn’t born in Cork City (though he was born in Co. Cork), but he did go to the city to speak, and he was there during the Irish Civil War. The “Dan” in question doesn’t appear to be Dan Breen, though – it seems to refer to a musician, not a politician. Maybe it’s the singer-songwriter Dan Donnelly? Ian himself can surely tell us more next week. So in other words, watch this space…😉

My Old Black Tie

The final song to highlight is “My Old Black Tie”, a beautiful, melancholy ballad found in the middle of the record. The fiddle gels well with the electric guitar here, but perhaps it’s the lovely wee flute solo at the end that steals the show. Proof – as if we needed it – that Irish music can be quiet or loud, and still powerful in both cases. Drawing the listener back to the album’s main theme is always a good way to round off the first half of a record, and Ian does that as he sings: Do you remember the starry sky? / Do you remember all our lives?

Bring on the release!

“Diego” and “Big Feelings” have Celtic elements to them too. But give the album a spin yourself when it comes out on February 11th – which ain’t all that far away now! 😉 With an imaginative new record on offer, Ian’s back, and he’s taking on the world once again. If ye really can’t wait until Feb 11th and you need a sneak peek of the album right now, then check out the official video to track #1 “Battle”. Here it is:

“Battle”, track #1 from One Hand on the Starry Plough by Ian Prowse.

One Hand on the Starry Plough is available for pre-order HERE. To check out Ian’s previous work via the streaming platforms, look him up on Spotify or Apple Music. Or catch up with him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram too.

2021 CATCH UP REVIEWS. PART 1 – PHIL ODGERS, CHRISTY MOORE, JIM LINDBERG, DAN WALSH

Here’s hoping you all had a great Christmas and New Year.  Despite everything it’s been another great year for music. Maybe not quite as much of it but things are picking up and the end of 2021 saw us caught in a deluge of music we couldn’t keep up with. Any regular reader will know we prefer to do detailed reviews and even though we can’t do them justice here are some notable release we simply had to mention before the end of the year.  Each one impressed us immensely and are worthy of your time so go ahead and check them out. We start with Part 1 and a bunch of solo artists.

PHIL ODGERS – Ghosts Of Rock’n’Roll  (Bandcamp)

Phil ‘Swill’ Odgers has been one half of the legendary joint vocal strike force of legendary folk rebel rockers The Men They Couldn’t Hang since the early 80’s and has recorded under many various monikers over the years. In fact this is his fifth solo album. In February TMTCH announced the sad death Of Swill’s fellow vocalist Stefan Cush and many wondered where The Men would go from here. Well The Men still continue to perform and Swill put out Ghosts Of Rock’n’Roll in September after a successful campaign to raise the necessary to release it. Eleven tracks of acoustic folkiness accompanied by guests galore including Sid Griffin and The Men fiddler Bobby Valentino. The music itself owes much to The Men perhaps inevitable given Phil Odgers distinctive vocals. Of the songs here the opening ‘The Serpent, The Maiden and The Bear’ kicks off with a county-ish happy-go-lucky jaunty banjo led song with the warm vocals telling of guiding your way home from reading the stars.

The following song, a cover of Phil Ochs, ‘Flower Lady’ is another high point standing out from the more Folky songs with its R’n’R guitar while it is ‘Brooklyn Bridge’ that is most memorable. A beautiful study in aging and dementia originally written by Joe Solo. Ghosts Of Rock’n’Roll is like a Men album it that it does encompass several distinct influences and also like a Men album it is both uplifting and sobering. Though the sadness of the death of Cush hangs over the album is dedicated to Cush and is a fitting memorial to him.

CHRISTY MOORE – Flying Into Mystery   (Here)

A ‘proper’ new album from one of the last remaining true legends of Irish music. Christy Moore’s first studio album since 2016 features twelve songs Christy has brought to life and made unique even if some we have heard before. For the first time (with the exception of health induced breaks) since 1969 Christy’s life hasn’t revolved around live performances and so as he says “all my focus has been on this album”. As is common with a lot of his work the album consists of his own interpretations of others and a handful of his own compositions. There are Gary Moore’s ‘Johnny Boy’ and Bob Dylan’s ‘I Pity The Poor Immigrant’ among the better known but also the less well known like the chilling ‘December 1942’ by Cork singer/ songwriter Ricky Lynch telling of the arrival of a train from the Warsaw ghetto at Auschwitz “to unload its human cargo/met by demons and by devils and their savage dogs”. While I do sometimes despair of the dreaded ‘celebrity opinion’ and their desire to stay relevant Christy’s politics at least come from the heart and on the album’s lead single ‘Clock Winds Down’ he sings of the mess the planet is in. Written by American singer Jim Page who was also covered by The Moving Hearts when they recorded his anti-nuclear classic ‘Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Russian Roulette’.

This is followed by another harrowing song, the traditional ‘Van Diemen’s Land’ telling the cautionary tale of a young lad Henry tried and convicted for poaching and sentenced to transportation to the horrors of the British penal colony in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania).

“Young men, all now beware, Lest you are drawn into a snare”

My own favourite here is one of his own songs and ‘Bord na Móna Man’ is always the kind of song I think of when I think of Christy Moore. A comic tale and a tribute to the art of turf cutting and turf cutters. Their was a time when it was a feature of Irish national life but these days the government would rather import it from overseas.

Their is something very familiar about this album. That mix of trad, modern covers and rowdy self penned numbers is very much the Christy formula but he does it with such style that the whole thing still sounds fresh and new.

JIM LINDBERG – Songs From The Elkhorn Trail (Here)       

Here’s another ‘Punk’ vocalist taking time out from his usual duties to lay down a solo album but unlike Cush this is the Pennywise frontman Jim Lindberg’s first album. Known for shouty Pop Punk friendly anthems he takes a far more reflective turn here and once again the subject of getting old comes up and again is handled beautifully. His father passed away in 2018 from Alzheimer’s Disease and was obviously a huge influence on his life supporting him in his career with Pennywise and even buying him his first guitar. The album cover depicts Jim playing guitar by his old mans Palm Desert home by the Elkhorn Trail and on the cello infused ‘Don’t Lay Me Down’ he opens his heart to us

“Drove to the desert house to say my last goodbye / I ran every light, didn’t make it there in time … A toast to those who gave us life”

Some of the songs here are over twenty years old and the upbeat music often disguises something more serious. The opening track ‘The Palm Of Your Hand’ is a great rousing start and call to sort ourselves out despite the pain we may hold.

On ‘You’re Not Alone’ Jim keeps it catchy as hell, poppy even with an inspiring message keeping the cringe at arms bay. ‘Hello Again’ is a gentle number that verges on exploding into something else but is reigned in magnificently. The words of a man who loves a drink while he reminisces about his Dad before the piano led ending. A truly lovely song though dark as much of the album is. The full band ‘Not One Of Them’ comes as close to a rock-song as possible here but still retains a country-ish feel to it while ‘Good Enough’ also comes close but in acoustic way. On such a good album it may be hard to pick a standout track but along with the two songs featured here a special mention for the strings laden ‘It’s Only’ and an emotional journey through the life of a life well lived.

Not being much of a Pennywise fan I was initially reluctant to give this a spin but I am glad I did and I am sure it will connect with many people in the same way it has with me. The album features some star guests in Social Distortions David Hidalgo Jr. on drums, The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones Joe Gittleman on bass, Dropkick Murphys / Walker Roaders guitarist Marc Orrell and award-winning record producer, musician, and songwriter Ted Hutt working the knobs. Lindberg will be celebrating his Mammy’s Irish roots supporting the Dropkick Murphys for their St. Patrick’s home town gigs so no doubt plenty of you will be lucky to see him then.

DAN WALSH – Live at the Floodgate   (Here)

There ain’t many instruments so suited to Celtic-Punk as the banjo is and while this is a Folk album there is plenty to love about the way Dan Walsh plays for everyone. Since his debut album, Tomorrow’s Still To Come, in 2009 Dan has made a considerable impact n the UK music scene with collaborations with all sorts from The Levellers to Seth Lakeman but he is more than just a ‘banjo to hire’ and his own material displays influences from some pretty imaginative sources! Born into a Irish family in the English town of Stafford Dan has been playing since 13 when so impressed by the likes of Barney McKenna and Gerry O’Connor he begged his parents to buy him a banjo and he has never looked back since. Now several album’s in he has recorded a live album ‘Live At The Floodgate’ at a pub in his own home town.

Recorded just before the first lockdown but only recently released, Live At The Floodgate sees Dan re-visiting all five of his previous albums as well as some new material and also some of his favourite covers like his outstanding version of Paul Simon’s ‘You Can Call Me Al’ that he has never released before. He kicks off with a thoughtful and tentative instrumental ‘Over The Border’ which ever so slowly builds into the equivalent of banjo Motorhead! The first time we hear Dan’s voice is on ‘Still A Town’ about gentrification and perhaps the destruction of the kind of places where this kind of music can still be heard. There’s a couple of auld Saw Doctors tracks ‘The Suilin’ and ‘At Least Pretend’ while ‘Late Night Drive’ at half way through the album begins to show Dan’s confidence as he plays with such speed it’s incredible and all note perfect too. You can hear from the audience too that the excitement is building. Two of the previous reviews have touched on the treatment of the elderly and here Dan puts the banjo down for acoustic guitar as he tells the moving story of an elderly man in a care home on ‘The Song Always Stays’. The song was actually inspired by a visit to Scots singer Glen Mason in a Surrey care home. Glen was often visited by musicians, whose repertoire would sometimes include his own songs, up to his death in 2014. The beauty of music eh? One of the highlights is the epic (over seven minutes!) ‘Joxers Set’ which starts off with you expecting another ballad before speeding up several times to the point where you cant imagine he can go any faster… before getting faster! Dan could have left it there but returns for the obligatory encore and the alcohol has flowed enough even for some audience participation as he sends his appreciative fans home (no doubt with the song playing in their heads for the following couple of days!) to Lester Flatt’s ‘Sleep with One Eye Open’

The live album can be very much a mixed bag but here Dan plays with such an intensity and comes across as so likeable that it’s impossible not to get drawn in. Over an hour that shows him at his very best and with the varied material here this is an album that anyone could love even them as don’t like banjos. If such a person does exist?

WATCH OUT FOR PART 2 COMING THIS WEEKEND!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Tales Of Layton Rakes  Bandcamp

Contact Star Botherers  Facebook  YouTube  

NEW SINGLE ‘2 Birds’ FROM BRYAN McPHERSON

Not many folk have featured on these pages as much as Bryan McPherson has. To say we are fans is a massive understatement. Bryan’s new single landed yesterday and he celebrated after the video release with a ‘Live Stream’ show.

Been waiting for this for the last few weeks the new single from London Celtic Punks favourite Bryan McPherson. It’s two years now since fiery, Folk-playing, Irish-American blue-collar native of Boston Bryan put out the album Kings Corner and he has recently announced the release of a new album How To Draw Everything for early 2022. Produced by Ted Hutt (who makes another regular appearance on here!) and with several top-notch guest musicians including ex-Dropkick Murphys’ Marc Orrell on mandolin and a load of other instruments as well, Dustbowl Revival’s drummer Josh Heffernan, violinist Chris Murphy and Ted Hutt again on bass and percussion.

“How To Draw Everything isn’t just Bryan’s latest record; it’s a whole new beginning for him as an artist. On the meditative “2 Birds,” he muses, “There’s something about the sky that makes me grateful to be alive.” From the perspective of age comes a spiritual death of what was, and in its place, a re-discovering of peace, country, and self are found. Hope finally outweighs despair and can be reclaimed, like a child wondering at the seeds of a dandelion. Bryan defies us to admit hope was there all along.”  – Aaron Carnes

A simple search for Bryan through this site will throw up a list of reviews and other articles into the double digits. So where to start? With nearly every artist I can think of I would never dream of suggesting someone start with the new (let alone unreleased!) material but for Bryan I would. That’s about the highest compliment you could pay ant musician I think. Yeah go ahead and definitely check out his back catalogue (it’s brilliant!)  but be sure to keep a beady eye out for that new album when it comes out.

Pre-Save ‘2 Birds’ on Apple Music, Spotify, and More

Contact Bryan McPherson  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube 

How To Draw Everything – Digital Release, CD, and Double LP Coming in early 2022

THE DUNES

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

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

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

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

The Great Hunger

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

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

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

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

Shane at his best

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

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

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

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

Shane and Ronnie. A pair o’ legends.

Busting a myth

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

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

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

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

The takeaway

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

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

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

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

Andy

EP REVIEW: TARA’S FOLK – ‘Leaving’ (2021)

Celtic folk rock brewed with energy. Button accordion, Bodhràn and guitar mix with some fiddle, whistle and guitars, peppered by strong lyrics and vocals !! the perfect batch…

Tara’s Folk have been around since around 2010 that’s a long time to go under the radar but understandable when you realise the band is a Folky /Trad offshoot of the brilliantly named French Celtic-Punk band The Booze Brothers. They first came to my attention last year when they played a utterly brilliant post-St. Patrick’s Day live stream that absolutely knocked my socks off. Tar’s Folk began as basically a trad Folk covers band but began writing their own songs in 2016. Based in the south of France the band have so far toured Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Belgium but with The Booze Brothers also a touring band it leaves little time to concentrate on Tara’s Folk but they did find the time during lockdown to finally record their debut release.

Tara’s Folk left to right: Rémi Geffroy – Button Accordion * Laure de Bigorre – Bodhràn, Percussion * Big Beurky – Vocals, Guitar, Banjo, Bouzouki, Tin-Whistle and other Irish stuff! *

Leaving is a five track EP of all self written songs that Tara’s Folk have been playing over the years but never got the chance to record till now. The EP begins with ‘Chant Des Ouviers’ (‘Worker’s Song’) which was also the first single released. All acoustic from the first few bars you can tell it’s been recorded ‘pub-style’. Recorded as it was. No polishing and no mixing just pure unadulterated traditional music and all the better for it.

Musically the style is definitely Irish but a French/Breton influence is there and Big Beurky’s vocals are terrific too. His old man comes from Donegal which explains the red beard and the other thing is the absolutely incredible accordion. I haven’t heard as good in years. The track is a cover of a song composed in 1846 by French musician and poet Pierre Dupont. Next up is ‘Why?’ and this time the band sing in English. Catchy as hell and where ‘Chant Des Ouviers’ had a more traditional feel to it ‘Why?’ has a more modern Folk feel. A band with feet in both the past and the present this is what will keep the music relevant. ‘Happy’ is more ballad-ish and sees them accompanied by Julien Casanova who also plays with accordionist Rémi in a pure trad band. ‘Stop Me’ is a bit more rowdy with lyrics about the despair a man sees around him. I could just rave about the accordion throughout this review it is that good. The curtain comes down on Leaving with  ‘I’m Sick’ and a more modern sound but again anchored in the past.

Only five songs is about the only thing I can find to fault this EP. Everything is superb from the sound to the music to vocals and the clever lyrics. Tara’s Folk are looking to record an album soon and any assistance with helping them find a record label is surely appreciated. Three amazing musicians at the top of their game ably assisted by some talented friends. Traditional Folk music for a modern generation I hope.

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

Buy Leaving  CD-TheBand  Download-Bandcamp

Contact Tara’s Folk  WebSite  Facebook  The Booze Brothers  WebSite  Facebook

As a special bonus here’s the last album from the aforementioned the brilliant Booze Brothers. The Lemming Experience came out a couple of years ago and check out that belter of an opening song!!! You can stream the whole album, amaximum of 3 plays and then you have to pay for it.

ALBUM REVIEW: FINNY McCONNELL – The Dark Streets Of Love (2021)

After 30 years of leading renowned Celtic-Punk rockers, The Mahones, Finny McConnell decided that it was time to make an album for himself. Showcasing his intimate songwriting skills, Finny also includes covers of songs with deep meaning to him. The Dark Streets of Love is a collection of his most intimate music, stripped bare.

Earlier this year Finny made an announcement over on The Mahones Facebook page that the band’s days of spending months on end touring round the world were at an end. It didn’t come as much as a shock admittedly as I don’t think it was possible to keep up that level of commitment indefinitely. I mean The Mahones not only covered more miles than any other Celtic-Punk band in a year but I daresay any band!

It must be strange being in a band where you alone are the chief songwriter as well as singer and for all and purposes the leader so where does the urge to go solo come from I wonder? In just the past couple of years The Mahones have recorded an acoustic album where much of the ground covered on The Dark Streets Of Love is covered. But this album is much more than just a Mahones album in Finny’s name you feel. The songs he has chosen, and among them are a few of his composition, are obviously very close to his heart. Finny has always been one for wearing his heart on his sleeve and it’s rare that a performer can come across so honestly especially at a time when honesty is at a premium.

Of the eleven songs presented here seven are covers the rest by Finny. To a causal observer though it would seem like they were all covers such is the quality of Finny’s songwriting. Whether writing about going on the piss in north London, basketball, Irish history, loss or love or unrequited love he put’s the same passion into everything. That with other people is sometimes their undoing though Finny seems to thrive on it. The Dark Streets Of Love kicks off with a song by everyone’s favourite Irish-German-American and The Bosses ‘Atlantic City’. From the opening few seconds even before Finny comes in you know you’re onto a winner here. When he does come in he sings with a sort of weariness that even Bruce didn’t achieve. Gentle accordion adds to the atmosphere only coming into the open during the musical sections and so taking none of the spotlight away from Finny’s voice. ‘Someone Save Me’ is from a recent Mahones album, The Hunger And The Fight Pt. 1 from 2014. Co-written with his now ex- wife Katie I thought it was a beautiful song then but now… Gina Romantini’s beautiful fiddle lends subtle support to Finny’s voice just as Kevin Hearn’s accordion did during the opening track. A magnificent tribute to love and such is the passion expressed it can sometimes feel like you’re sitting in on a private conversation.

‘Stars’ is again from the same Mahones album as ‘Someone Save Me’ and again was co-written with Katie. A loving tribute to the life of Oscar Wilde. A sad tale of the famed Irish poet and playwright convicted of “gross indecency” at a time when homosexuality was illegal. He was imprisoned and died in poverty in 1900 at the tragically early age of 46. One of The Mahones better ‘modern’ songs it has a fantastic chorus and Finny tells the story with grace. Finny has always had a bit of a Shane drawl and puts it to good use on ‘A Pair of Brown Eyes’. Even among the stone cold classics Shane MacGowan penned this song is one of a handful that tower above even them. Fellow Mahone Michael O’Grady adds haunting tin-whistle and Glenn Milchem drums as Finny sticks closely to the original. Maybe a bit too closely at the end!! On a album that is so tender ‘New York City’ seems a bit out place with its Glam-Rock bounce and chunky guitar but then why wouldn’t a solo album follow the same pattern as The Mahones. He never said it was going to be a quiet album. Loud and bombastic and taken from The Hunger And The Fight Pt. 2 from 2015 Finny channels the 1970’s for the next few songs beginning with this tribute to NYC. Maybe the cities best era as despite it’s high crime rate and poverty it wasn’t full of fucking yuppies. The introduction of piano for ‘So Far Away’ is masterful as Finny sounds like he’s chatting someone in a pub in the early hours. Again piano led ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ sees Finny’s gravelly vocal chords giving a simple but stunning rendition of Lou Reed’s original. Though the covers here are great it is Finny’s own material that shines through. On ‘We’re Miles Apart’ he talks maybe about himself and maybe he doesn’t. A sad song about lovers who become friends. I’ve always though Finny was cut from the same cloth as the legendary Tom Waits and on the Waitsy ‘Cocktail Blues’, swishing drums and jazz piano steer clear of ‘Jazz Club’ comparisons thank God. From one of the earliest Mahones albums The Hellfire Club Sessions from 1999 it drops the Gaelic touches and sticks tightly to ‘lounge lizard’ territory. The curtain comes down with a song in tribute to Gord Downie from Finny’s home town of Kingston in Ontario. Gord passed away in 2017 of cancer and is remembered as lead singer and lyricist for the The Tragically Hip’ ‘Fiddlers Green’ is a great tribute and played stripped back with just Finny and acoustic guitar.

As is the way though there’s a bonus track and it’s ‘Back Home’. One of The Mahones best ever tracks taken from Draggin’ The Days from 1994.

“Hey, it’s not long till we get home
Say, you know I hate to drink alone
Did I tell you, you send shivers through my bones
And I wish I was back home with you again”

A great way to end things buy why bother with this ‘bonus track’ hooey!

The album was produced by Finny himself and engineered by Gene Hughes and recorded as live over St. Patrick’s Day 2021, in Toronto. It’s not your typical Mahones album in fact the Irish touches here are far and few between but Finny’s Irish soul shines through. A beautiful and at times heart wrenching journey through one of Ireland’s true musical geniuses.

Buy The Dark Streets Of Love  TrueNorthRecords   OtherCorporateBullshitSites

Contact Finny McConnell  Facebook  Instagram  Twitter

As suspected you can’t keep a good man down for long and Finny will still need his suitcase and shower cap as he’s now a part of the Punk-Rock trio Ultrabomb with Greg Norton of Hüsker Dü and Jamie Oliver of the U.K. Subs. The guys will be performing a mix of all three bands songs plus material they’ve written for a new album. They have announced a handful of gigs as we to press including Ireland and one here in London at 229 The Venue in the west end. Sadly though we are going to have to wait till April 2022. You can find all the relevant details including ticket information over on the band’s Facebook event.

EP REVIEW: HEATHEN APOSTLES – ‘Bloodgrass Vol. 3’ (2021)

The Los Angeles-based dark roots and gothic country band Heathen Apostles release their third volume collection of songs at once as timely as they are timeless.

Imagine bands doing to Country / Bluegrass music what the bands we all love doing to Celtic music? Add on a bit of Goth and you’ve got the Heathen Apostles. A LA based band featuring ex-members of Radio Noir (Mather Louth), The Cramps (Chopper Franklin), Kings of Nuthin’ (Thomas Lorioux), and Christian Death (Stevyn Grey) in its ranks. They have been on these pages before but not for a in-depth review Mather, of course, was recently on these pages as co-vocalist on the new album from fellow ‘Doom-billy’ merchants The Phantom Of The Black Hills. An album that still holds the #1 spot in my heart of all 2021 releases. Though she had recorded with the Phantom before this time her input was a lot more than just a great voice with her assisting with writing and lyrics.

Sadly this review is going to be published after their tour of mainland Europe comes to an end so any new fans who may have had the chance will have missed them. Their tour of Europe was cancelled twice times as the music industry ground to a stop because of the Covid pandemic but it did mean the Heathen Apostles were gifted time. Time that they were not expecting due to their busy schedules and while some bands were happy to rest upon their laurels they channeled the turbulent year’s events and its complex emotions into their music. It was only last month that they released a 3-track EP as featured in Lorin Morgan-Richards Western animated series The Goodbye Family, a fictional family of undertakers based on a comic book. The show is available on You Tube and features the Heathens music throughout.

The third volume of Bloodgrass follows on from one and two released in 2017 and 2018 respectively and Bloodgrass #3 is a worthy follow up to the two previous volumes both available on the bands Bandcamp (link below).

So Volume three arrives and begins with ‘Bad Patch’ and continues their dark interpretation of Bluegrass, Country and Blues. Fiddle, banjo and mandolin accompany Mather’s beautiful voice as she sings of the tragedy of the 1930s Dust Bowl. A series of severe dust storms that greatly damaged the ecology of mid-west American prairies during the 1930’s. Besides the great lyrics the song is musically a bit more ‘radio friendly’ Heathen Apostles while ‘Careful What You Pray For’ is more the dark Gothic-Americana they are known for. The song tells of the danger of religious dogma and cements Mather as having one of the best voices in alternative music… or just music. ‘Black Hawk’ was the lead single for the EP and I’ll not pretend to have any idea what the lyrics are about except it’s a a tale of transformation by shedding the darkness in order to welcome in the light.

Yeah that is from the press release as if you didn’t know but be sure to check out the video as along with their label-mates The Phantom Of the Black Hills their videos tell entire stories and are as far from our usual fare as you can get. Despite being closely linked in many ways to the Phantom the Heathen Apostles have a very definite and original sound. There is no one else who resembles them making it hard to review them as it’s so original. Rooted in the definition of ‘Folk’ they mangle up several genres while adding much to the final sound. ‘Demi Monde’ is a slow song dominated by all the usual elements and shrouded in occult imagery paying homage to the fires of Beltane. ‘Tall Rider’ brings down the curtain on the EP on a positive note. I mean even the Sisters of Mercy were sometimes upbeat (ish!). Catchy as hell and a reminder of the possibility to heal through love. Great fiddle throughout that does lead a lot of the time but without dominating thanks in no small part to the excellent production of master producer Chopper Franklin.

The EP may only be five songs long but it’s length at almost twenty minutes in is almost as much as some albums we hear. Their recent tour took in mainly Germany (the Germans are good at spotting American bands) but I can’t see how this band with a bit of luck and the right promotion it won’t be long before their a name on everybody’s lips and they’ll be back touring in your country too.

(You can stream or download Bloodgrass Vol. 3 on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Bloodgrass Vol. 3  Bandcamp

Contact Heathen Apostles  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

ALBUM REVIEW: THE RUMPLED – ‘The Perfect Match’ (2021)

Another release from prolific Italian Celtic-Punkers The Rumpled. With a sound influenced by traditional Irish Folk they are already one of the best bands in the scene and a band to expect big things from in the near future.

The last few years have been quite a time for fans of Celtic-Punk in Italy. While the genre has always been popular due in no small part to to the friendly relations between Italy and the Celtic nations never before has Italy had quite so many great bands, among them some of the best in Europe. I won’t go into the names as I’m afraid to miss one of them but a simple search among the posts here will give you the opportunity to give your ears a real treat. The Rumpled are one such band and in their relatively short existence they have been as prolific as any band in Celtic-Punk. Formed in Trento in the north in 2013 it was five years before they got some songs down on record and the result was Ashes & Wishes, recorded and produced by Gianluca of Black Dingo Productions, who have supported The Rumpled ever since. A sixty date tour of Switzerland, France and Italy in 2119 promoting the Grace O’Malley EP was followed by another EP, Toss The Coin, and tour the following year. Of course Covid soon arrived and any plans the band had were shelved while the world came to terms with what was going on.  Despite this the band ploughed on and did manage to release both Home Sessions, a EP of covers with the help of some pretty well known faces in Firkin and Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards, and an acoustic EP Rumplugged.

The Rumpled from left to right: Michele Mazzurana- Drums, Backing Vocals * Davide Butturini- Guitars * Patrizia Vaccari- Fiddle * Marco Andrea Micheli- Lead Vocals * Luca Tasin- Bassman, Backing Vocals * Tommaso Zamboni- Accordion *

The new album is called The Perfect Match and was released late last month again for Black Dingo and while new material is thin on the ground, with it being basically a re-recorded and re-vamped compilation of The Rumpled’s last two studio releases it is still an outstanding release and the perfect place to enter if you are new to the band. The Perfect Match kicks off with ‘Time To Go’, the album’s only new song and which was also the lead single for the album. The song is dedicated to Italian para-olympian athlete Giuliana Chiara Filippi and her story of fortitude and resilience, despite her many obstacles to overcome, and her dream to represent Italy in the Paralympics. Inspired they choose her to be featured as the main character in the video. A truly Perfect Match.

A great rocking start and a lovely tribute. We wish her well. Talking about the single The Rumpled said

“The song is an invitation to return to life with energy and enthusiasm and move into the future, throwing the difficult situation of last year behind us. After this long break, our desire to restart, to get back on stage and perform for a crowd is uncontainable, that’s why we all sing the in chorus: “hey ho, it’s time to go, we’re gonna raise hell tonight – So let’s go to another show and everything’s gonna be alright”!”

Musically The Rumpled play an energetic and lively style of Celtic-Punk. While The Rumjacks influence casts a shadow over much of the Italian Celtic-Punk scene The Rumpled have always done their own thing with a sound influenced by traditional Irish Folk music as much as anything. ‘Stand Up’ was the opening track on the Toss The Coin and sees the band accompanied by the Bold Rumjacker himself Frankie McLaughlin. Accordion led and with one hell of a catchy chorus it’s fist in the air time here as you swing your mates round and round. The energy is unrelenting and continues throughout the albums forty minutes with only a handful of pauses for breathe.

The following six songs also come from the Toss The Coin with ‘Take A Drop’ and ‘The Gipsy Dancer’, a lead single from Toss The Coin and you will see where the EP gets its title from in the excellent accompanying video. ‘The Road’ is less ‘traditional’ and more modern sounding Celtic-Punk combining elements of Ska with some great ‘Woah-Woah-Woahh’ gang vocals. ‘One Love’ is the first of two songs to feature guests from fellow Italian Celtic-Folk-Rockers Folkamiseria from western Piedmont. More Folk orientated but still with that harder edge while ‘Broken Romances’ has a more harder edge.

‘Patty’s Jig’ was the final song on the EP but here marks half way. Accompanied again by Folkamiseria on bouzouki The Rumpled show they can go full on traditional with a self penned Irish Folk tune that could have been written a hundred years ago!! Song #9 here is the song that began the Grace O’Malley EP ‘Song of Ill Repute’, a speedy accordion and fiddle led whirling dervish of a song which is followed by the EP’s title track, a extended version, ‘Grace O’Malley’. With over 1,000,000 plays on Spotify and a place in the Top Ten Celtic-Punk EP’s Of 2019 on this here web-zine. Grace O’Malley was known as ‘The Pirate Queen’ and until recently was largely known only to Irish communities around the world with tales of her exploits being told and re-told through the generations. A fearless leader over land and sea, a politician and tactician, rebel and pirate, and the ’most notorious woman in all the coasts of Ireland’.

‘Fearless And Brave’ sees the band accompanied by Paddy O’Reilly from the awesome Celtic-Punk band Paddy And The Rats. Utterly brilliant the dual vocals work to great effect while the Celtic-Punk crosses into Ska and back. ‘Feelin’ Fine’ keeps up the pace going and finally ‘The Maiden’ brings down the curtain.

So while it’s a shame for us long time fans of the band not to have an album of brand new music its perfectly understandable that The Rumpled want to get their music out to as wider audience as possible and this is a great opportunity for them to do so. So if you’re a fan pass this on to someone who isn’t (yet!) and make their day. The album is available on both download and physical release and also why not read up on Grace O’Malley it really is a fascinating story.

Buy The Perfect Match  Here  Contact The Rumpled  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

Black Dingo Productions  WebSite  Facebook

JUNE 2021 EPISODE OF THE CELTIC PUNKCAST #44 OUT NOW

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

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

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

THE NEW RUFFIANS – ‘The Parkdale Jig’

THE WELCH BOYS – ‘Methadone Mile’

BROPHYS LAW – ‘The Bachelor’

MICKEY RICKSHAW – ‘Rope’

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

THE LANGERS BALL – ‘Real Old Mountain Dew’

THE RUMJACKS – ‘Hestia’

THE WORKING CLASS SYMPHONY – ‘The Holy Ground’

DIAMONDS AND GUNS – ‘Cheers To Us’

MR. IRISH BASTARD – ‘You Spin Me Round’

THE BLACK CLOVER – ‘Pure Whiskey’

THE MAHONES – ‘Shakespeare Road’

THE TOSSERS – ‘The Crutch’

BLACK WATER COUNTY – ‘There Will Be A Day’

DROPKICK MURPHYS – ‘L-EE-B-O-Y’

THE GO SET – ‘Treasures’

SHAMBOLICS – ‘Goin’ off!!’

THE CELTIC PUNKCAST #44

Contact The Celtic Punkcast  Facebook  WebSite  Shop  Twitter  E-Mail

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

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: BOB DYLAN – ‘The Ghost Of Woody Guthrie’ (1961)

Today is the 80th birthday of Bob Dylan so in celebration here’s a set of live recordings from 1961 the year before his debut album. None are original songs and as the name suggests, the legendary American singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie’s influence hangs like a specter over much of the material here.

The latest addition to our Classic Album Review series where we re-discover hidden gems from a bygone. Lost and sometimes forgotten songs from legends and unknowns that have inspired Folk music and musicians right up to modern Celtic-Punk music. These records are usually out of print so we can provide a free download link for you.

29 January 1961:

Number 19 In The Series Of The 50 Key Events In The History Of World And Folk Music

In September 1960, Bob Dylan borrowed a copy of Woody Guthrie’s autobiography Bound for Glory from a college classmate and became obsessed. Written with the encouragement of Alan Lomax and published in 1943, it rendered its protagonist an almost mythical figure. Dylan started mimicking his hero’s speech patterns and even told the crowd at the Cafe Wha? when he arrived in New York for the first time the following January:

“I been travellin’ around the country, followin’ in Woody Guthrie’s footsteps.”

The “dust bowl troubadour” – author of this This Land is Your Land, whose guitar bore the legend “this machine kills fascists” – had himself almost reached the end of the road: he was now in his fourth year at the Greystone Park Psychiatric hospital in New Jersey, suffering from Huntingdon’s disease, which finally led to his death in 1967. But Dylan hunted him out there, and the two men met – Guthrie apparently giving Dylan a card after their first meeting saying: “I ain’t dead yet.” Dylan wrote, and played to his idol, a new piece of his own called Song to Woody. It met with the older man’s approval and was one of only two original compositions that made Dylan’s 1962 debut.

Caspar Llewellyn Smith June 2011

Surprisingly Bob Dylan has barely featured on these pages much. He has been name checked along the years but this is the first time we have highlighted some of Dylan’s recordings. Woody Guthrie on the other hand has appeared numerous times with various tribute albums and biographies dedicated to him. The recordings here are among Dylan’s earliest known with him beginning his journey towards musical stardom. Starting off shyly the later recordings show a Dylan more confident in himself cracking jokes and entertaining the audience between songs. Unsurprisingly given it’s age, sound quality at times does go in and out but mostly it is perfectly listenable however none of the recording quality detracts from the songs. Only a cover of Blind Lemon Jefferson’s ‘See That My Grave Is Kept Clean’ made it onto Dylan’s self-titled debut LP, though ‘1913 Massacre’ would become ‘Song To Woody’.

Track Listing

01. 1913 Massacre – November 4, 1961 (Live at Carnegie Chapter Hall)
02. Ain’t Got No Home – December 22, 1961 (Minnesota Hotel Tape)
03. Baby Please Don’t Go – December 22, 1961 (Minnesota Hotel Tape)
04. Car, Car – September 6, 1961 (Live at The Gaslight Cafe)
05. Cocaine Blues – December 22, 1961 (Minnesota Hotel Tape)
06. Don’t Push Me Down – May 1961 (Minnesota Party Tape)
07. Gypsy Davy – Early 1961 (Gleason Tape)
08. Handsome Molly – July 29, 1961 (Riverside Church Tape)
09. How’d You Do – May 1961 (Minnesota Party Tape)
10. In The Evening – December 22, 1961 (Minnesota Hotel Tape)
11. In The Pines – November 4, 1961 (Live at Carnegie Chapter Hall)
12. It’s Hard To Be Blind – December 22, 1961 (Minnesota Hotel Tape)
13. Omie Wise – July 29, 1961 (Riverside Church Tape)
14. Pastures Of Plenty – Early 1961 (Gleason Tape)
15. Poor Lazarus – December 22, 1961 (Minnesota Hotel Tape)
16. Railroad Bill – May 1961 (Minnesota Party Tape)
16. Railroad Boy – May 1961 (Minnesota Party Tape)
18. Remember Me – Early 1961 (Gleason Tape)
19. Stealin’ – December 22, 1961 (Minnesota Hotel Tape)
20. Talking Merchant Marine – November 4, 1961 (Live at Carnegie Chapter Hall)
21. This Train Is Bound For Glory – May 1961 (Minnesota Party Tape)
22. Young But Daily Growing – November 4, 1961 (Live at Carnegie Chapter Hall)

LINK1   LINK2   LINK3   LINK4*

( * file including artwork, notes, bonus tracks )

WOODROW WILSON ‘Woody’ GUTHRIE (1912-1967)

Woody Guthrie is the most influential American folk musician of the first half of the 20th century. Best known for his Folk ballads, traditional and children’s songs, and improvised works, often incorporating political commentary. He was closely identified with the Dust Bowl and Great Depression of the 1930s and his songs from that time earned him the nickname ‘Dust Bowl Troubadour’.

Born in 1912 in Okema, Oklahoma, Woody moved at 18 to Pampa, Texas, a small town in the hardest-hit area of the Dust Bowl. It was in Pampa that he experienced the fury of Black Sunday—a severe dust storm that swept across the Midwestern states on April 14, 1935, and inspired Guthrie to write the song, ‘So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You’. After Black Sunday, Guthrie joined the ranks of Okies migrating to California in search of work. Many of his works – ‘Do Re Mi’, ‘I Ain’t Got No Home’, ‘Talking Dust Bowl’ and others – chronicle the conditions faced by working class Okies in their new home. At the close of the 1930s, he left California for New York City and it was there that he wrote his best-known song, ‘This Land Is Your Land’. In the often-omitted fourth and sixth verses of the song, Guthrie rails against class inequality.

Guthrie died in 1967. Despite his decline, he had a major impact on American popular music in the second half of the 20th century and the rise of the Folk movement, and many of Woody Guthrie’s recordings have been archived in the Library of Congress.

As I went walking, I saw a sign there,
And on the sign there, it said “Private Property.”
But on the other side, it didn’t say nothing!
That side was made for you and me.
In the squares of the city, in the shadow of a steeple,
By the relief office, I’d seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
Is this land made for you and me?

for more like this…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download Cow  Amazon  iTunes

Contact Liddington Hill  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

NEW SINGLE ‘As I Roved Out One Morning’ FROM CALLUM HOUSTON

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

We’re big fans of Callum Houston and when we heard he had a new single out we had a quick chat to find out the lowdown on what it was all about.

This song first started out as a chord pattern I randomly came up with and posted on Facebook. I was then convinced to make a song out of it by my friend Anthony who plays with the Ska band The Groovin’ Jailers from the North of France. I had meet him previously while on tour with the Graveyard Johnnys when we had shared a stage together. I quickly made a structure for the song and sent it to him to put record some Dobro over the top. I had just got back from doing a week long St Patrick’s Facebook tour where I played live with a number of musicians in different locations all across Bretagne. My head was full of old Irish ballads so I cut a load of lines from songs and pasted them together to make a Frankenstein style ballad of my own. The words seemed to fall into place easily and actually pretty well portrayed the week that proceeded them. Both my parts and Anthony’s parts were recorded in our own home studios. I then sent the track over to another great friend and even better musician Sleeper Bill from Rennes, he added some piano and then with ease took over the mixing and mastering malarkey which I am hopeless at. The beautiful artwork was hand crafted by my good neighbor Maire Pauline. It was great fun creating it together and I hope you can enjoy it as much as I did. More music will follow in the coming months and some concerts (fingers crossed).

As I roved out one morning, at the dawning of the day,
I meet a pretty maid, traipsing along my way,
Like a fox caught in the headlights,
I looked with surprise,
My mind being bent on rambling,
away I did fly
*
I said no nay never, no never again,
I’ve traveled many miles, from glen to glen,
There’s some that you fuss over, and some that you forgo,
I fell right for a raggle taggle gypsyo,
*
 Her eyes they shone like diamonds,
she’s the queen of this town,
Like an angel I have lost my wings, fallen to the ground,
There was whiskey in the jar, and the maid behind the bar, it was the parting glass,
Her eyes they shone like diamonds,
she’s the queen of this town,
Like an angel I have lost my wings, fallen to the ground,
There was whiskey in the jar, and the maid behind the bar gave the parting glass,
That went just a little too far
*
 Now through the Foggy Dew,
I search for you, as I rove around,
the streets of this Dirty old Town.
*
Callum Houston – Guitar, Vocals / Anthony Francois – Dobro / Sleeper Bill – Piano
Mixed and mastered by Sleeper Bill / Artwork by Marie Pauline Van Parys
To promote the single Callum performed a craicing live stream set of original material. If you missed it fear not click here to be re-directed straight there! Music begins from 3 minutes in and lasts just over a hour. The single costs just €0.99 so help out struggling artists by helping them to get a pint!

Download As I Roved Out One Morning  FromCallum

Contact Callum Houston  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube  Spotify

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

Folk Drunk Folk Punk!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download Outlive Death  Bandcamp

Contact The Real McCoys  Facebook  YouTube

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

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

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

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

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

Our audiences always had a good time!

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

“Alex Harvey auditioning for X-Ray Spex”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selection of Glasgow Tremens releases

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

Cheers, Raymy Tremens

*

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

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

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

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

Travis O’Neill. March 2021

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

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

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

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

Download Camden Lullaby  Spotify  Apple

Contact Travis O’Neill  WebSite  Facebook

Contact Pipes And Pints WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

EP REVIEW: SEAN TOBIN AND THE BOARDWALK FIRE- ‘St. Patrick’s Day Forever’ (2021)

Influenced by local hero Springsteen and countless other country troubadours, Sean Tobin grew up in the New Jersey bar scene and owes his high-energy performances to his time spent busking on the streets of Galway. With a handful of releases behind him his excellent new EP celebrates his Irish roots and St. Patrick’s Day.

Born and raised on the New Jersey shore, Sean Tobin was influenced by Folk-song troubadours like Guy Clark, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, as well as high-energy rockers like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger and Tom Petty. Self-taught and trained by the New Jersey bar scene, Tobin owes much to his time spent busking on the streets of Galway, Ireland throughout 2015 and 2017. 
 After graduating college in 2017 and uncertain of which direction to take he undertook the El Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile trail through Spain, with his guitar tied to his pack. Upon completion, the future became obvious and on returning to New Jersey he worked hard to fund his music. He released his first album, This Midnight, in the summer of 2018, and in 2019 he played Frank Turner’s Lost Evenings III Festival at the House of Blues in Boston and soon after quit his day job.

In July 2019, Sean released ‘Dreams & Black Caffeine,’ a four-song EP recorded in Ocean, NJ with his band, The Boardwalk Fire. The group played several shows promoting the work, and had planned a tour for the summer of 2020, but were forced to cancel due to the Covid lockdown. The last year has seen the release of ‘East Coast Artifacts’, a compilation of his first EP, various tracks recorded through lockdown and three new songs.

“We’ve all played together as duos or trios in the past, but St. Patrick’s Day Forever really fortified us as a band,” said Tobin. “I just wish we could play live. That’s what we’re best at.”

Well he has a lot of catching up to do and on his new 4-track EP, accompanied by his band The Boardwalk Fire, he has made a pretty good start.

Released at the end of February, 2021 the EP features two originals and two covers and kicks off with the title track, a fast paced Irish trad influenced Celtic-Punk song about the lockdown and it’s first anniversary in New Jersey. It was after all the cancellations of St. Patrick’s Day events around the world that set the scene for what was going to follow. Lively, upbeat and catchy as hell Sean Tobin tells a great story with a brilliant accompanying video too!

‘St. Patrick’s Day Forever’ by Sean Tobin And The Boardwalk Fire

Directed by Jarrett Allen * Edited by Sean Tobin

It was winter 2020, we were playing on the roof,
Jack was slapping stand-up to another song by Bruce.
A mere twenty hours later, we heard it on the news:
the Jersey Shore’s in lockdown, so stock up on your booze!
*
Now it’s one, two, three fuckin’ months inside this house.
There’s not too much I need, but I need fuckin’ out.
So I make my way down Main Street, the flag’s on every door–
it’s St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore,
St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore.
*
Not long later it was Easter, I was sippin’ on some stout.
I’d horded fifty cases out of fear that they’d run out,
but I couldn’t taste a drop ’cause I gave it up for Lent.
So come Easter, fifty cases, up the field they went!
*
Now it’s one, two, three fuckin’ months inside this house.
There’s not too much I need, but I need fuckin’ out.
So I make my way down Main Street, the flag’s on every door–
it’s St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore,
St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore.
*
Murphy! Your laws are screwin’ me!
But frankly, I don’t blame you. If it’s what we gotta do,
to keep people from dyin’, then I’ll stay home for you.
I just miss my friends…and the bar…
*
So now it’s comin’ up on summer, and I’m still drinkin’ stout.
I would be switchin’ to Corona, but I don’t think that’s allowed…
So instead I’ve got a toucan on one can, three cans, five.
If Guinness makes you stronger, I’m the strongest man alive!
*
Now it’s one, two, three fuckin’ months inside this house.
There’s not too much I need, but I need fuckin’ out.
So I make my way down Main Street, the flag’s on every door–
it’s St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore,
St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore.
Now it’s one, two, three fuckin’ months inside this house.
There’s not too much I need, but I need fuckin’ out.
So I make my way down Main Street, the flag’s on every door–