Category Archives: Ireland

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

BEANNACHTAÍ NA FÉILE PÁDRAIG ORAIBH

Shamrocks, leprechauns and gallons and gallons of Guinness must mean it’s almost St. Patrick’s Day. But who was St. Patrick and why has this Saint’s day become so popular?

Well it may surprise you to hear that St. Patrick (or Padraig to use the Irish spelling) wasn’t actually irish. He’s believed to have been born to Roman parents, in Scotland or Wales, in the 5th century AD. It is not known if his family were Celtic or from modern-day Italy. St. Patrick penned two surviving documents writing in Latin and signing his name ‘Patricius’, but it is thought by some his birth name was Maewyn Succat. At the age of 16, Patrick was kidnapped in a raid by pirates and taken to Ireland and sold into slavery. For six years, he herded sheep on Slemish, historically called Slieve Mish, a small mountain in County Antrim. It lies a few miles east of Ballymena, in the townland of Carnstroan., until he managed to escape and flee Ireland. One night he had a vision a few years after returning home. Acting on his vision, Patrick decided to dedicate his life to converting people to Christianity. Saint Germanus of Auxerre, a bishop of the Western Church, ordained him to the priesthood and he returned to Ireland and began to spread his message. Today St. Patrick is regarded as the founder of Christianity in Ireland.

On his return around about 432 he set about converting the pagan Irish to Christianity. He founded schools, churches, and monasteries throughout the country but it wasn’t all plain sailing for Patrick and his life was littered with periods of imprisonment when his teachings upset local chieftains or Celtic Druids. For twenty years he travelled the length and breadth of the island, baptising people as he went. By the time of his death on the 17th March 461 he had left behind an island of Christians. It is thought his final resting place is at the Hill of Down where his gravestone is now situated. This area has historically been a centre of prayer and worship for thousands of years. Muirchu, who wrote of St Patrick’s soon after his death, described St Patrick’s body being brought to his burial place and on the site on which a Church would be built.  A memorial stone of Mourne Mountain Granite marks the spot of his burial. He is buried alongside Saint Brigid and Saint Columba.

However, it may surprise you to learn that he was never canonized as Saint by the Catholic Church. Nothing dodgy it just because of the time he lived in there was no formal canonization process. Calling him Saint Patrick caught on and stuck over time due to his popular acclaim. In 1631 the Catholic Church made the 17th March a feast honoring the Patron Saint of Ireland. Because St. Patrick’s Day falls during Lent, it became a day for Catholics to have a day off from the abstinent demands of the weeks leading up to Easter. It is believed that St. Patrick’s Day was first celebrated back in the 17th century. Held to mark St. Patrick’s death, it was a humble, religious celebration up until the 1920’s . An annual military parade started in Dublin in 1931, but the day remained mainly a time for religious reflection, rather than painting yourself green and wearing a funny hat. Bars were even closed on St. Patrick’s Day right up until the 1960’s.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh! – St. Patrick’s Day blessing upon you

(/ban-ock-tee na fay-lah paw-rig ur-iv/)

Across the broad Atlantic, it was a different matter. there St. Patrick’s Day became a day for Irish immigrants and their children to celebrate their heritage. By the mid-19th century, parades and festivities were held right across the United States. According to author Mike Cronin,

“St. Patrick’s Day was a public declaration of hybrid identity – a belief in the future of Ireland as a nation free from British rule, and a strict adherence to the values and liberties that the United States offered them.”

Mike McCormack, national historian for the Ancient Order of Hibernians says

“Many who were forced to leave Ireland during the Great Hunger brought a lot of memories, but they didn’t have their country, so it was a celebration of being Irish, but there was also a bit of defiance because of the bigotry against them.”

Boston, with its massive Irish population, held the first St. Patrick’s parade in 1737, with New York City following suit 25 years later. Today, along with Chicago which is famed for turning its river green since 1962, these cities are the most famous for its celebrations. In the 20th century, corporations started to pay attention, and figure out how to take advantage of the celebrations. Pretty soon, t-shirts with shamrocks, inflatable bottles of Guinness (and them hats!), green McDonalds milk shakes, started to become synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day, initially in America but nowadays wherever St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated.

Though beware anyone who would tell you how to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and your Irish heritage. Dust off the auld Eire/GAA/Celtic top or even that bloody leprechaun outfit and be proud of your roots if you got ’em. If you ain’t got them then come join us anyway everyone is welcome at this hooley. If possible try and spend some of the day in the company of family and elder members of our community and raise a glass, whatever your poison, to the sky for those who you love who are no longer here with us. Sláinte.

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–
it’s St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore,
St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore.
*

The EP’s other original song is titled ‘Ode to Anna Liffey’s’ a bittersweet love song to the now closed Irish bar Anna Liffey’s in New Haven, Connecticut. As with all of Sean’s songs and in common with Irish music in general the songs tell intricate stories and at over six minutes the song gives him plenty of scope in telling his story of days spent propping up the bar there. A swirling gentle song with Sean’s strong voice backed by accordion and percussion that soon enough gets faster and faster with Sean’s guitar and Sean-David’s fiddle smoking! A real Irish tinged bluegrass/country floor filler that ends on a sad note (especially for us Irish!) with the last chorus going out to all the bars that are forced to close but “go down swinging”.

Ending with two covers, the first ‘Dirty Old Town’ has seen it’s fair share of Celtic-Punk records but here Sean strays from the well trodden Pogues/ Dubliners versions and keeps it upbeat and catchy even, in fact the perfect speed to be belting it out at the top of your lungs in the pub or Celtic Park or just your living room. The EP ends with the traditional Scottish ballad ‘The Parting Glass’ and Sean keeps it simple with just his voice and acoustic guitar. Two popular covers with new life breathed into them. Obviously a difficult thing to achieve with such popular songs. The record was recorded, mixed and mastered by David Patiño at Tannery Studios and, as with everything here, is absolutely perfect. Sean has severl live streams planned over March but you can still catch his most recent stream from Watermark in Asbury Park, NJ on February 20th to celebrate the EP’s release via Sean’s Facebook page. A fantastic start to the Celtic month of March and can only say we glad he went to Spain!!

Buy St’ Patrick’s Day Forever  Here

Contact Sean Tobin  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp  Instagram

NEW SINGLE ‘A Song’ FROM LUTON IRISH BAND MISSING THE FERRY

Four second-generation Irish lads, three brothers and their best friend from school write songs about identity and belonging.
With influences as diverse as Brendan Shine, The Pogues and The Stone Roses their mission is to get people dancing and thinking.

Missing The Ferry Left to right: Kevin Cunningham – Guitar/Vocals * Chris Anderson – Fiddle/Mandolin/Vocals * Kevin Anderson – Bass/Vocals (Lead vocals on ‘A Song’) * Paul Anderson – Whistle/Mandolin/Vocals *

Hot on the heels of their last single, the fantastic, ‘God Bless You And Keep You’, comes new music from Luton’s very own Missing The Ferry. Recorded mostly pre-Covid in Deptford, SE London and then remotely between bedrooms in Luton/SE London by the band then sent to our friend Luise (https://www.facebook.com/LuiseLondonAudio) in Germany to sprinkle some magic Teutonic Folk party Punk dust on.
A Song is about daring to dream; escaping from the box that the government, class and circumstance have shoved you in all your life.
A Song is about self-destruction, hitting rock bottom, temptation and redemption.
A Song is for the voiceless, the poor, the lonely and dispossessed.
But at the end of the day, it is just a song.

A song for all wise men, there’s not many left
A song for old Ireland that’s clearly in jest
A song for the workers, asleep on the dock
A song for the rich man who’s taken the lot
A song for the children, climbing the trees
A song for all housewives, God bless Mr Sheen
A song for the young ones, who just couldn’t wait
A song for the old one, who knows its too late
*
It’s a song, you won’t have to sing
Forget the words, sure they don’t mean a thing
It’s the dreams, that came just too late
And all the hearts, you just couldn’t break
*
A song for the lonely, living in chains
A song for the monarchs,  song for their slaves
A song for the weary, a song for the tired 
A song for all junkies, the stoned and the wired
A song for the living, a tune for the dead
A song for the dark thoughts that fill up your head
A song for all cowards, a song for the brave
A song for the secrets you’ll take to the grave
*
It’s a song, you won’t have to sing
Forget the words, sure they don’t mean a thing
It’s the dreams, that came just too late
And all the hearts, you just couldn’t break
*
A song for all wise men, there’s not many left…
*
It’s a song, you won’t have to sing
Forget the words, sure they don’t mean a thing
It’s the dreams, that came just too late
And all the times you just couldn’t fake
And all the lies you just couldn’t take
And all the hearts, you just couldn’t break
It’s a song…just a song
*
Words: Paul Anderson * Music: Paul Anderson/Chris Anderson *
Produced by: Luise London and Chris Anderson

(stream or download ‘A Song’ on the Bandcamp player below.  Only 90p!!)

Download A Song  FromTheBand

Contact Missing The Ferry  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp  Instagram

Anyone who has ever missed, or nearly missed, the Dublin-bound ferry from Holyhead will get the name.
Don’t be Missing The Ferry yourselves!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TIR NAN OG – Sing Ye Bastards (Album)

BARDS FROM YESTERDAY – Demia (EP) -See Reviews

YE BANISHED PRIVATEERS – Drawn and Quartered (EP)

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

TOXIC FROGS – My Lucky Own (EP)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020 ROUND-UP’S. THE MAHONES, RUNA, ALESTORM, MAGGIES FLOCK, BARBAR O’RHUM

2020 was by and large a shitty year for music. Sure their were a few bright spots… off the top of my head the many Live Streams but it was never going to replace live gigs for the Celtic-Punk scene where live gigs are everything. Even in a year with much fewer releases we still couldn’t keep up with everything! At London Celtic Punks we pride ourselves on giving detailed and extensive reviews but sometimes this isn’t quite possible so here’s the ‘Round-Up’s’ of some of the records we missed first time round.

THE MAHONES –  ’30 Years And This Is All We’ve Got To Show For It’

Just a couple of weeks ago we reviewed the 30th anniversary album of German band Fiddlers Green and around the same time was released another album by a Celtic-Punk giant on the other side of the planet celebrating thirty years in the game this time from The Mahones. Yes 30 years. THIRTY. Hard to believe isn’t it? Popular throughout the world they have recorded eleven studio albums, two live albums, an acoustic album and a compilation marking their 25 year anniversary and have covered more miles than British Airways! Here they have carefully chosen nineteen tracks of their best from across the 30 years of their career. The album is available as a ten track vinyl release (on green!) and also on CD and download with nine bonus tracks from True North Records. As for the songs they are everything you would expect. We may have heard them all before but their really is something for everyone here as The Mahones flit from raucous Irish Punk rockers to maudlin and sad ballads. The mix of songs is perfect and the balance between the harder songs and the ballads is as well. For a band that tours as much as The Mahones do 2020 must have been a particularly difficult year for The Mahones but already with dates released for 2021 (see you in London in February!) they are well prepared to take their 31st year by the throat when it arrives.

Contact The Mahones  FacebookPage  FacebookGroup YouTube  Instagram

RUNA – ‘The Tide of Winter’

American Irish ‘supergroup’ Runa are one of the best Irish Folk/Trad bands around. This is due in no small part to the beautiful voice of lead singer Shannon Lambert-Ryan (who also plays quite a mean harp!) and that they also have the ability to weave other influences into their signature sound without you even noticing. Several LP’s in Runa have become famous on both sides of the Atlantic now and continue their path with The Tide Of Winter. Now by rights this ought to have been done pre-Christmas but it slipped the net and we ran out of time. A beautiful, at times haunting and at others spirit lifting, collection of thirteen Christmas themed songs and carols. All the favourites are here (‘In The Bleak Midwinter’, ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’, ‘Silent Night’) as well as a few new ones including a stunning version of ‘The Wexford Carol’ (also known as ‘Enniscorthy Carol’) recorded in its native Irish Gaelic.

It was in May 2019 that Runa got together for a weekend to get into the Christmas spirit and started working on arrangements for the album. Highlights beyond those already mentioned include the track ‘Instrumental’ which features the songs ‘Hark the Herald / Dixie Hoedown / Red Prairie Dawn / O Come Emmanuel / Road to Cashel’ seamlessly joined together with some amazing musical work from Fionán, Chery, Caleb and Jake. One for next Christmas I suppose but hopefully by then Runa’s joyous album really will be something to celebrate.

Buy The Tide of Winter  CD- FromTheBand  Download- Here

Contact Runa  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

ALESTORM – ‘Curse Of the Crystal Coconut’

From traditional Christmas folk music now to Heavy Metal! Founded in 2004 in Perth, Scotland by Christopher Bowes Alestorm are one of the pioneers and certainly the leading light of Pirate Metal! Basically the combination of Heavy Rock/Metal and Pirate music. Now Pirate music is often confused with Celtic music and for good reason too. The similarities are obvious to anyone with a pair of ears with plenty of the same melodies (and even some of the same songs) criss-crossing the genres. Alestorm have been together for fourteen years and they may have toned down the Metal side of their music a little but their popularity seems set to continue with this their sixth album. Now I don’t claim to know much about this genre but it does seem to be growing and their have been a few high profile gigs in London over the last couple of the years with Alestorm headlining some of the towns biggest venues. Released in May on Napalm Records and recorded in Thailand this is as good a place as any to start if this genre interests you. Songs like ‘Treasure Chest Party Quest’, ‘Fannybaws’ and ‘Pirate’s Scorn’ give you an idea but it is the epic eight minute ‘Wooden Leg Pt. 2 (The Woodening)’ that really stood out for me showing there’s more to Alstorm than gimmick.

Contact Alestorm  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram

MAGGIE’S FLOCK – Party At The Cemetery

The debut release from Dutch Celtic-Folk-Rockers Maggie’s Flock. The six-piece band from Nijmegen / Arnhem that play a style of music that veers from Celtic-Rock to traditional Folk with more than a little Celtic twist. The band had the novel idea to release a video/song a month on You Tube from January 2020 through to December and then compile the songs into an album and release it. We have tracked these videos over the last year and it really is worth checking them (the Party At The Cemetery YouTube play-list) out yourselves as the work the band put into them deserves it. So quite a novel idea in quite the ‘novel’ year! The Netherlands has quite the cool Celtic scene and one of our gigs last year that Covid killed off was a Dutch Celtic-Punk double-header with Pyrolysis and The Royal Spuds. Musically Maggies Flock come across to me as a ‘mature’ Dropkick Murphys. I mean the Dropkicks sound of recent rather than their punky years. Catchy, tuneful songs with chugging guitars and superb whistles and accordion. ‘The album opener ‘The Poguey Club’ is one of the many highlights here and you can tell this album has not been rushed into. The idea of releasing a song a month has worked perfectly here as the balance of songs is great and the music is not solely Celtic veering into more Folk-Rock/Punk at times. Personally I love me Tipp songs so I especially loved ‘Travelling Laddie’ but the fast ‘Bored Beyond Death’ is sure to get the toes tapping.

A lot of effort then and not just in the music with the vinyl version coming in a luxurious fold-out cover with all the lyrics while the CD has an extensive 24 page illustrated booklet.

Buy Party At The Cemetary – Vinyl/CD FromTheBand

Contact Maggie’s Flock  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

BARBAR’O’RHUM – Journal de B’O’R

Drawing in inspiration from sea-shanties, traditional music, Celtic-Rock and Celtic-Punk, Irish-Punk and Folk-Metal, Barbar’O’Rhum inhabit an area that sits somewhere between Alestorm and The Mahones. Founded in 2014 in the South-West Of France the band offer up their own style of music they call ‘Rock ‘n’ Rhum’. The musical style here owes much to theatrics making them more a band you would want to witness live but they have captured the sound of the band here rather well and also the atmosphere too which I would think is a lot harder. From beginning to end it’s an accessibly joyful Punk Rock stomp from album opener ‘Pirate des Champs’ which brings in some offbeat but delightful influences to eight minute epic ‘Freres de Bitte’ which brings down the curtain on the album and manages to capture all the various parts of Barbar’O’Rhum in one bombastic theatrical campy triumph. Yet in a album that lasts over an hour and the majority of the songs are around the five minute mark it’s that opening track that stand outs head and shoulders and one listen to that will tell you all you need to know about whether you would like this album or not. Me I fecking loved it!

Contact Barbar O’Rhum  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

So their you go our ‘last’ post of 2020. Apologies to all the bands that we weren’t able to give each album the full London Celtic Punks treatment but was just not possible this time. Remember if you are in a band then we cant do a review if we haven’t heard your release!

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CELEBRATING A CELTIC CHRISTMAS 2020. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS FAMILY

Each December we pick the best Christmas themed song we’ve heard that year to showcase in our end of year message. Their was a time when it was a easy choice but over the years its become quite common, so much so that we will have a special feature on 2020’s Celtic-Punk Christmas songs on St. Stephen’s Day (or Boxing Day to you Brits!).

Celtic-Punk is about embracing the traditions of the past and bringing them to the present so you also get a chance to check out the Christmas customs from each of the Celtic nations. 

The PoguestrA – ‘Fairytale Of New York’

The PoguestrA have created a rendition of Fairytale of New York that includes an amazing 71 musicians from around the world. The PoguestrA community was established in May 2020 during the lockdown with musicians playing together remotely. While we agree with Shane with regards the changing of the words the song still packs a punch. If you are interested in joining the PoguestrA for future songs then get in touch with the gang viaYouTube orFacebook

CELEBRATING A CELTIC CHRISTMAS

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

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

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

SCOTLAND

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

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

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

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

IRELAND

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

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

WALES

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

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

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

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

ISLE OF MAN

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

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

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

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

CORNWALL

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

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

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

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

BRITTANY

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

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

GALICIA

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

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

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

Nollick Ghennal as Blein Vie Noa (Manx Gaelic)

Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath ùr (Scottish Gaelic)

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

Nedeleg Laouen na Bloavezh Mat  (Breton)

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda (Welsh)

Nadelik Lowen ha Bledhen Nowyth Da (Cornish)

Further Christmas themed fun with this London Celtic Punks Top Twenty

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

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Now go have a drink…

‘RETURN TO CAMDEN’  BY TERENCE O’FLAHERTY

Beautiful song from London based Irish singer/songwriter Terence O’Flaherty name checking memories of a bygone era in the north of London. This original recorded version is due to be released on Terence’s upcoming album Backtracks with the Claire Egan, Eoin O’Neill and John Kelly accompanying.

Terence is a traditional Irish singer and songwriter from Ennistimon, County Clare on the west coast of Ireland. He comes from a traditional music background learning his earliest songs from his family as well as local musicians and travelling storytellers and singers. Playing guitar and bouzouki in the early 1970’s, he emigrated to London and joined the thriving Irish music scene in the capital as part of the popular band Crusheen. He has spent many years involved in the traditional music scene in London playing with all of London’s leading musicians and touring across Britain, Europe, and America playing with everyone from the Chieftains, Planxty, The Pogues,The Fureys and De Danann. He has collaborated with musicians from a variety of other genres and from across the world playing at many major festivals including Cambridge Folk Festival. Terence has released three albums (Crosscurrents, Ghosts, Trace) with a fourth on it’s way soon titled Backtracks which will feature ‘Return To Camden’.

When I first arrived in Old London Town
Along Camden High Road I did walk down
Fell into the back of John Murphy’s van
Full of youth and vigour and white bread and ham
By ten that first morning I thought I’d expire
Stuck down a hole with Connemara Seán
Who for an extra ten bob a week
Set out a pace that would kill Hercules
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Then the ganger man came and says ‘lads take a break’
Old Seánín jumped out with a ballerina’s grace
I felt I was climbing the Post Office Tower
My poor legs and arms like wilting flowers
He wolfed down his sandwich and before I did know
Old Seánín was back down in John Murphy’s hole
Diggin away like an Olympian
Twas with great reluctance that I rejoined him
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I crawled out of the hole at the end of the day
All of my senses in terminal decay
Crawled into the back of John Murphy’s van
Too tired for talk or for white bread and ham
To the favourite in Holloway Seánín did go
To hear Bobby Casey, Con Curtin, John Bowe
Roger Sherlock, Brian Rooney or Finbar O’Dwyer
Danny Meehan, Raymond Roland or Brendan Mulkere
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And as I was sleeping the sleep of the dead
Old Seánín was lilting to reels and to jigs
Firing back pints and singing Sean Nós
Where he got his energy God alone knows
And early next morning fresh as a rose
He’d be back down one of John Murphy’s holes
Lobbing up muck in his trousers and vest
Such was the life that the Irish possessed
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And at the weekends we would all go
To The Forum, The Gresham, The Galtymore
The Harp and the Shamrock, the Garryowen
The Bamba, Hibernian or Buffalo
Waltzin and jiving and singing along
To Joe Dolan, Larry Cunningham or Big Tom
Or horsin’ out sets till too tired to stand
To the Tulla or Kilfenora Céilí Bands
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When many years later I met poor Seánín
His energy spent and his back bent and lean
He smiled and he said ‘Ah sure times they were lean’
When we worked for the man from Caherciveen
For although times were tough, sure the craic it was good
In Camden, in Kilburn and Cricklewood
And we could escape for the nights they were long
Far away from the cruel, brutal Elephant John
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But to work on the building sites now you and me
We’d almost need to have a degree
For with health and safety and the CSCS
You need method statements and assessments of risks
There’s not too much craic now in John Murphy’s vans
Albanians Poles and Lithuanians
Have taken the place of the likes of Séanin
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The craic once was ninety but now it is lean
So here’s to the music we did enjoy
In the pubs and the clubs with a tear in our eye
And fair play to the players and the singers of songs
Who lifted our hearts when our hearts needed them
Tom O’Connell, Martin Byrnes, Andy Boyle, Lucy Farr,
Seán O’Shea, Julia Clifford and Tommy Maguire
Michael Hynes, Tom McCarthy, Jimmy Power and Reg Hall
Raise up your glasses now here’s to them all
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NEW SINGLE FROM LUTON IRISH BAND MISSING THE FERRY

The sound of a second generation…

Four second-generation Irish lads, three brothers and their best friend from school write songs about identity and belonging.
With influences as diverse as Brendan Shine, The Pogues and The Stone Roses their mission is to get people dancing and thinking.
Anyone who has ever missed, or nearly missed, the Dublin-bound ferry from Holyhead will get the name.
Don’t be Missing The Ferry yourselves!
 

Released November 13, 2020
Music and Lyrics by Paul Anderson.
Produced by Chris Anderson and Luise London

A barely heard phrase spluttered over the noise of a dimly lit Hackney Irish bar. A snatched image of an old fella nursing a pint and a chaser in a backstreet, Luton boozer. Just a couple of influences that lead to the creation of this tune.
Remembering a generation fast dying out along with their stories of love, loss, heroism and the mundane.
Our small tribute also this November to the bravery, senseless loss and sacrifice induced by war.
“God bless you and keep you.”
An old man leaves the pub his final farewell, coughing into the cold night air his breath still visible for a few moments before disappearing into the darkness.

(stream God Bless You And Keep You  on the Bandcamp player below)

Download God Bless You And Keep You  FromTheBand

Contact Missing The Ferry  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp  Instagram

ALBUM REVIEW: THE STUBBY SHILLELAGHS – ‘Glass To Mouth’ (2020)

High-Energy northern Colorado acoustic Celtic-Folk-Punk Band The Stubby Shillelaghs release their fifth studio album, Glass to Mouth, to celebrate the band’s tenth anniversary.

The Stubby Shillelaghs new album (out this week!!) is self-produced and self financed as well as being recorded and mixed as a result of quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a great risk to put out an album in these bleak times as their are no proper chances to promote any new releases but life must go on and for many music is one way to help get through the dark times. As Shaughnessy McDaniel, the bands songwriter and guitarist says

“I think this album really sums up what we are about, this year has been tough for everyone and I hope that a little of our band’s aggressively positive attitude and slapstick sensibilities can shine a little light on people’s days,”

Glass To Mouth celebrates the bands 10th anniversary together and you have to go back to June, 2010 to the very start when the small northern Colorado town of Greeley saw three long-time friends Andrew Mithun, Ryan Knaub, and Shaughnessy McDaniel looking to start a Celtic influenced band as a small side project. Later that year Greg Farnsworth, owner of local Irish bar Patrick’s, was looking for an act to play a Halloween show and took a chance on the as-yet unproven Stubbies. The success of this show led to what became known as ‘Stubby Tuesdays’, a weekly residency at the bar and in the process becoming a staple in Colorado nightlife with their four hour sets legendary. The following year saw the release of their debut album Stubbies Assemble! (available as a free download) and also the band gigging further afield into neighbouring states. They went on to release further studio albums Whiskey Business, Celtic American and Critical Fail in 2015, a live album Parental Advisory Live!, a Live DVD Uisce Beatha: The Water Of Life and a greatest hits release Bangerz! the Greatest Hits (2010-2019).

For Glass To Mouth the band continue on the DIY path setting up a Kickstarter appeal that raised all the necessary money to both the record Glass To Mouth and to also release it on vinyl, something that the band have always wanted to do, and with the growing popularity of vinyl among music fans who can blame them. Glass To Mouth kicks off with the instrumental ‘Butter Up That Jig’. A short acoustic fiddle led song to open proceedings that leads into ‘Buyer Beware’ and demonstrates the Stubby Shilleaghs eclectic nature, influences, and musical style perfectly. Laid back Folk music with an American-Irish flourish warning people against buying the CD as they are much better live. I don’t do the lyrics justice as they made laugh out loud on hearing this song! They continue along the same route with ‘Sails And Sorrow’ which features fellow Colorado band Bolonium an American comedy-rock band famous for their satirical style parodies and music soundtracks. Accordion and the fiddle led Pirate song and we’re only four in. Plenty of Aaaarrrrgggghhhh! but they do resist the urge to shout “Ahoy, Me Hearties!”.

Title track ‘Glass To Mouth’ is up next and begins with the band telling us

“People ask us, “Stubbies, How are you so positive and cheerful all the goddamn time?” Well here’s our secret. Now listen up, cuz this is some Mary Poppins-ass shit!”

Anyone out there remember Tenacious D? Well these guys are the Celtic-Punk equivalent of them! Not much serious shit so far on this album and sometimes that is exactly what we need. I mean life would drive you up the wall and as someone i knew once said ” We are here for a good time not a long time”.

After saying that they go and play a political number next which for me is the album’s standout song ‘Rebel Heart’. Catchy as hell and and a real footstomper to beat the floor up to.

We back on more humorous ground next with ‘Shagnasty McHammerhands’ about the bands guitarist and songwriter. 2020 will go down as the ‘The Year With No St. Patrick’s Day’ and personally the first since I was a teenager that I went to bed sober. The song features another Colorado band, Keep Britain Irish, helping out on the chorus. One of the albums fastest songs it still keeps to the albums style that would see them being able to be enjoyed by all. Punk enough for the Punks, Celtic enough for the oldies and irreverent enough for the Dads!

We steering towards the albums end and we have the interesting Sobermen Trilogy up next. A three-part song set that tells the story of the meeting in 1783 of the great Irish alcohol suppliers Arthur Guinness and John Jameson. Part 1 is ‘Prophecy Conspiracy’ a Country influenced song that also takes in Irish and sea-shanty along the way as the tale is regaled. Part 2 is the Scots tinged ‘The Fall Of Speyside’ while the final epic part is ‘The Siege Of St. James Gate’, with St. James Gate being of course the home of delicious Guinness Stout, and the guys rock the hell out of it with a Celtic-Metal finale. Over ten minutes of brilliant storytelling with all the humour we have come to expect from The Stubby Shilleaghs. That’s not the end though as the final song of the album is ‘Merry Bards Of Metal’ and a gentle and tuneful way to bow out.

Glass To Mouth was recorded at Crunchtronic Studios in their home town and marks the Bhoys tenth anniversary of goofiness and irreverence that has made the band a popular feature on not just the Celtic scene in Colorado. An album with instant appeal to anyone and everyone who enjoys a laugh with their Folk music.

Buy Glass To Mouth  CD/Vinyl

Contact The Stubby Shillelaghs  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

LET THE MUSIC KEEP YOUR SPIRITS HIGH – PART THREE

Welcome to the final installment of Let The Music Keep Your Spirits high. Over the last three Sundays Andy Nolan of the most popular and influential Irish band in England over the last 20 years – the Bible Code Sundays – has shared with us the history and meaning behind some of his songs. A fascinating trip through the Irish diaspora in England, Ireland and the USA and their historical figures. So here is Part Three (links to the previous two are at the bottom) so get yourself a cup of tea (or maybe something stronger) and sit back and enjoy.

GHOSTS OF OUR PAST

I wrote this about growing up in Hammersmith, West London during the 1970s and 80s. Most of the pubs around Hammersmith, Fulham and Shepherds Bush were Irish back then – ‘The Hop Poles And Swan’.
“You’re not wanted here, stopped by the law, comin out of the station, just like before”.
My dad used to get stopped by the police all the time going to & from work simply because he was Irish. ‘What’s in the bag Paddy?’ they’d bark, referring to his work bag holding his sandwiches & tea. The truth was they were looking for guns and explosives or to fit someone up. But for the grace of God go I – look what happened to the Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven. My dad and his mates sometimes worked seven days a week on the buildings back then and were in the pub every night sinking back 15 pints. They’d still be up for work in the morning of course and they worked their fingers to the bone rebuilding this country. The ‘riverside strolls’ refers to our walks by The Thames and Hammersmith Bridge when we were kids and all the down and out winos (who were mostly Irish or Scottish) we’d meet along the way –
“the broken old men, battered and down, down by the riverside falling around”.

NOW WE’RE PRINCES

I wrote this as the soundtrack for my crime drama feature film project Clan London, which unfortunately didn’t receive the industry funding it required to go into production. Looking back, it wasn’t the right time for that movie to be made for several reasons which I won’t go into now. Rest assured and God willing it will be made one day with a fantastic cast and crew on board! The money we did raise through crowdfunding was used instead to make my two short films Tax City (Steve Collins, Jon Campling, Razor Smith) and Jack Mulligan (Terri Dwyer, Steve Collins, Dean Smith, Ruth Adams). Both films were premiered at BAFTA, Piccadilly to sold out screenings. Jack Mulligan won Best Overall Film at the Ambassador Reel Film Festival in Cork, Ireland and was premiered on the London Live channel in 2019.
We filmed the music video itself with Darren S Cook around Ladbroke Grove, West London where the Clan London storyline is set and also at Under The Bridge, Chelsea and Roughrockers Studio, Uxbridge. The lovely Lorraine O’Reilly sang on this track too which featured on our album New Hazardous Design!

NIGHT CROSSING

Next up – Night Crossing. I wrote this about the Syrian refugee crisis & the photo of the little boy Alan Kurdi RIP washed up dead on the shores of Turkey after his boat capsized while trying to reach Greece with his parents. I wanted to open peoples minds with a song written from the viewpoint of a refugee family embarking on a desperate & perilous journey to Europe. All too often we witness deplorable comments on social media such as ‘good, that’s one less of them coming over here’ when these tragic stories break. Where’s your humanity? Where is your solidarity? Imagine if this was your family living in a war-zone trying to escape being blown to bits on a daily basis, what would you do? Of course, you would do exactly the same thing & try and escape to give them a better life. And who sells the weapons of war to these governments – making profit from innocent people’s heartbreak? Yes, quite probably your own government so think before you judge!
We got the brilliant Brian Kelly in to play banjo & mandolin on this track which featured on our most recent album Walk Like Kings. Enjoy, rethink, reflect X

THE PITTSBURG KID

Well I couldn’t just write one song about an Irish American fighter could I? There’s so many to chose from! Our good friend Gary McDonald was onto me for ages to write a song about his adopted home of Philadelphia. The nearest I could get was Pittsburg (sorry Gary) because of my love for one of its finest sons. My affection for Billy Conn goes back to when I was a kid and the boxing stories my dad RIP used to tell me. He’d always be raving about Conn, Gene Tunney, Jack Dempsey, Gerry Quarry and Rocky Marciano:

‘My father told me when I was six
Of Billy Conn, the Pittsburg Kid
And as he spoke I wished that I had been there
To the Steel City his parents came
From Ireland’s shores in search of fame
The streets of S’Liberty became their home where –
William David Conn was born,
A tough street fighter, hands of stone
With film star looks and a left that fighters dream of….’
Conn really was a great looking dude and Morrissey even put a photo of him on the front cover of his 1995 single ‘Boxers’. He wasn’t just a pretty face though that’s for sure and in 1939 he met World Light Heavyweight Champion Melio Bettina in New York, outpointing him in 15 rounds and winning the World Light Heavyweight title. Conn defended his title against Bettina and twice against another World Light Heavyweight Champion, Gus Lesnevich. He also beat former World Middleweight Champion Al McCoy and heavyweights Bob Pastor, Lee Savold, Gunnar Barlund and Buddy Knox in non-title bouts during his run as World Light Heavyweight Champion.
But he will forever be remembered for coming so close to beating arguably one of the greatest fighters of all time – Joe Louis. In 1941, Conn gave up his World Light Heavyweight title to challenge the brilliant Louis who was now the World Heavyweight Champion. Conn wanted to be the first World Light Heavyweight Champion in boxing history to win the World Heavyweight Championship and to do so without going up in weight. The fight became part of boxing folklore because Conn held a secure lead on the scorecards going into Round 13 – unlucky for some! According to many experts and fans who watched the fight, Conn was outmaneuvering and outboxing Louis right up until that point. In a move that Conn would regret for the rest of his life, he tried to go for the knockout in Round 13 and instead ended up losing the fight himself by knockout in that very same round. Ten minutes after the fight, Conn told reporters ‘I lost my head and a million bucks.’
‘Of all sad words of tongue & pen
The saddest are ‘what might have been’
One night in ‘41 in New York City
For 13 rounds he outboxed Louis
Blew away The Bomber but his Irish pride for once was his undoing’
Sleep well Billy RIP.

RUNNING FROM OUR SHADOWS

This will be the final Bible Code Sundays track I’ll be posting written by myself with a brief description about the song. I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings on here over the last three Sundays. Thanks for all your very kind words and for taking the time to listen to the songs X
Next up – Running From Our Shadows. I wrote this as a submission for the movie Black Mass which starred Johnny Depp as the notorious, real life Boston gangster Whitey Bulger. Although they really liked the song, in the end the producers decided to go with one specific musical piece throughout the film. It is written from the perspective of a fugitive on the run from the law, his reflections on the life he has chosen, how it brought him to this point and how it has affected the ones he loves:
“I can hear the bells of home
As I whisper down the phone
It’s a Black Mass, baby
It’s that ancient Irish code
I will always be a part
Of your New England heart
So don’t stop lovin now the Feds are on us”
We shot the video for this with Adie Hardy at Panic Studios, Park Royal literally weeks before we lost our dear Carlton RIP. I couldn’t watch it for a very long time. It was hard to go back to that day when we were all together and having the craic as usual. Little did we know what the following few weeks and months would bring. We deliberately went for a dark, moody shoot to tie in with the film’s subject matter but it took on a whole new meaning when we lost Carlton. It’s like watching a moment in time now where darkness would soon descend on us all. Very surreal.
Once again we asked the brilliant Lorraine O’Reilly to sing on this track. Her beautiful vocals on here sound angelic. I wanted a female vocalist because the song is about the relationship between a fugitive on the run and the girl he left behind back in South Boston:
“I’m remembering the air
The colour of your hair
Those Old Colony girls
With their tough & friendly stare
The projects where we ran
Our dreams held in our hands
They were right from the heart
Letters written from my…”
We love and miss you always Carlton but we know you’re around us all the time. Until we meet again, save us a seat at the bar buddy.

The Bible Code Sundays have been regulars on the London Irish circuit for over a decade and continue to pack them in across London. You can catch the band or some variation of them on most days of the week somewhere in the capital. The best place to find out their gig dates is on their Facebook page. Their records are still available on Spotify above or Amazon and iTunes or at their gigs. Most recently they starred on the compilation album Quintessential Quarantunes featuring six bands, three from Ireland and three based in London and recorded during the lockdown.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE POGUES – ‘BBC SESSIONS 1984 – 1986 (2020)

The first ‘new’ release from The Pogues for quite a while compiles all their various BBC Sessions between April 1984 and July 1985. This CD/ digital release includes two sessions not included on the recent vinyl version of this album. 

The Pogues – BBC Sessions is the definitive complete collection that The Pogues recorded for the BBC during that era. All the tracks date between 1984 and 1986 and thirteen of the recordings are previously unreleased. That is not to say they are unheard as apart from their initial airing they have long been available on bootleg tapes back in the day and CD’s plus most can be heard on You Tube too. The album is available on CD, digital and streaming platforms and will be released on October 30. If you have already heard of it then that is because a special vinyl only version was released for Record Store Day on Saturday 29th August. That release was limited to 5000 copies and only includes sixteen songs which begs the question why not make it a double album and include all the songs that would be on the CD/ digital release? The vinyl version was available for Record Store Day only but is still readily available around the net but shop around as it varies in price quite considerably.

Record Store Day is an annual event inaugurated in 2008 and held on one Saturday every April and every Black Friday in November to celebrate the culture of the independently owned record store. The day brings together fans, artists, and thousands of independent record stores across the world.

This twenty-three track album features a collection of songs from six separate live sessions from BBC radio shows: The John Peel Show (April 1984), The David ‘Kid’ Jensen Show (July 1984), The John Peel Show (December 1984), The Phil Kennedy Show (March 1985), The Janice Long Show (July 1985) and The Janice Long Show (November 1986). The album groups each session together in chronological order from their first session recorded in April, 1984 when they were still called Pogue Mahone.

TRACKS 

Broadcast  April 17th 1984 (as Pogue Mahone) on The John Peel Show
1)      Streams Of Whiskey*
2)      Greenland Whale Fisheries*
3)      Boys From The County Hell*
4)      The Auld Triangle
Broadcast July 9th 1984 on the David ‘Kid’ Jensen Show
5)      Dingle Regatta*
6)      Poor Paddy On The Railway
7)      Boys From The County Hell
8)      Connemara, Let’s Go*

Broadcast December 4th 1984 on the John Peel Show 
9)      Whiskey You’re The Devil*
10)    Navigator*
11)    Sally MacLennane
16)    Danny Boy
Broadcast March 2nd 1985 on The Phil Kennedy Show 
13)    A Pair Of Brown Eyes ***
14)    Muirshin Durkin ***
15)    Sally MacLennane ***

Broadcast July 11th 1985 on the Janice Long Show
16)    Wild Cats Of Kilkenny*
17)    Billy’s Bones
18)    The Old Main Drag
19)    Dirty Old Town*
Broadcast November 5th 1986 on the Janice Long Show
20)    If I Should Fall From Grace With God ***
21)    Lullaby Of London ***
22)    The Rake At The Gates Of Hell ***
23)    Turkish Song Of The Damned ***
     *** Not featured on RSD vinyl release  * Previously unreleased

The collection captures The Pogues sound as heard through their first three albums: 1984’s Red Roses For Me, 1985’s Elvis Costello-produced Rum, Sodomy & The Lash, and 1986’s If I Should Fall From Grace With God along with a handful of single B-sides and novelties like the immortal ‘Danny Boy’. Ten of the album’s twenty-three tracks were previously collected on the career-spanning box set Just Look Them Straight In The Eye and Say…Pogue Mahone!! released in 2008. From the first chords of ‘Streams Of Whiskey’ when they were still going by the Pogue Mahone moniker. They were fresh from a tour supporting The Clash and had recently signed to Stiff Records but the BBC were reluctant to play their debut single due to their name. Being a rough Irish translation of ‘Kiss My Arse’ had the BBC clutching their handbags and so the band reluctantly changed their name to The Pogues. Throughout the controversy John Peel was the only one to use their original name. The album covers The Pogues great range from moving ballads all the way to the raucous punk they were more than capable of and ends with a selection of songs that would appear on If I Should Fall From Grace With God released two years after the session they appear on here.

Buy The Pogues BBC Sessions  AppleMusic  Amazon  iTunes  Spotify

LET THE MUSIC KEEP YOUR SPIRITS HIGH – PART TWO

Our short series on the songs of Andy Nolan continues today with another five of Andy’s masterpieces. As a past member of Shane MacGowan And The Popes and Spider Stacy’s Vendettas he has a great musical legacy but it’s as accordion player and songwriter for London Irish musical tour-de-force The Bible Code Sundays that Andy’s songs have defined a generation. The words to these songs are now known and sung by fans across the world and their influence is immeasurable with many bands trying to capture the Bible Codes sound. No band since The Pogues have helped define what it is to be London Irish and it is a common feeling on watching The Bible Code Sundays that these songs speak directly to the heart of the listener and encompass the same feelings and much of the same upbringing and beliefs that we had too! As we said before Andy is also a talented screenwriter, artist, producer and author. He was born in Hammersmith, West London surrounded by immigrants from across the world and, of course, a more than healthy contingent from Ireland but as you can see here from his songs about Irish-America he knows the Irish diaspora very well. Among his many achievements are the short films Tax City, and Jack Mulligan. And if anyone out there has spare few hundreds of thousands he is still raising funds for the feature film Clann London. So without further ado and again with Andy’s kind permission here is Part 2.

McBRATNEY FROM THE KITCHEN

About the notorious Westies gang that operated out of Hell’s Kitchen, NYC from the 1960s through to early 2000. There had always been dangerous Irish gangs on New York’s westside since the 1840s, going right back to the Gangs Of New York era but none were more ruthless than the Westies. A favourite pastime of these volatile Irish American hoods was kidnapping Mafia guys and holding them to ransom until they received payments of roughly $150,000 each time. On most occasions the ransom was paid and the wiseguys were released relatively unharmed. On one occasion however, James McBratney along with Eddie Maloney and John Kilcullen kidnapped Vincent D’Amore a capo in the Gambino crime family and during the commotion on the street someone noted their licence plate & handed it over to the Mafia who by this stage were at their wits end with the wild, uncontrollable Irish mob. On 22 May, 1973 John Gotti along with two henchmen entered Snoopes Bar on Staten Island where, after a furious struggle with the 6 foot 3” 250 pounds McBratney, they finally deposited three bullets into the Irishman’s body at close range killing him instantly. This did not spell the end for The Westies, far from it. A new breed of bloodthirsty Irishers in the form of Mickey Featherstone and Jimmy Coonan soon followed in their predecessors footsteps. Rudolph Giuliani, a federal prosecutor at the time who would later become the mayor of New York announced a devastating RICO indictment against Coonan & the gang for criminal activities going back twenty years. Featherstone testified in open court for four weeks in the trial that began in September 1987 and concluded with major convictions for the gang in 1988. Coonan was sentenced to sixty years in prison on assorted charges while Featherstone remains in the witness protection programme.
I remember Spider Stacy telling me about the time The Pogues played at the NYC launch of TJ English’s famous true crime book ‘The Westies’ and the Westies gang threatened to bomb the event! The movie State Of Grace starring Sean Penn, Ed Harris and Gary Oldman is based on Coonan and Featherstone.

WHITEY

This caused quite a stir when we released it back in 2006 especially in Whitey’s home city of Boston! Some people loved it while others viewed it as a glorification of Bulger who had recently been outed as an FBI informer. Being a rat in the criminal underworld is of course unforgivable. The truth is I wanted the song to be a raucous foot stomper laced in both glorification and hatred, so while Whitey’s meteoric rise through the Boston underworld is revealed, there is also a dark undercurrent of menace in the chorus from his associates who wish to lure him to his death:
“Whitey, Whitey where the hell are you?
There’s a barroom of poitín here waiting for you,
All the boys here in Southie with Tullamore Dew,
For the South Boston chieftain a right loyal crew”
Whitey was at one time second only to Osama Bin Laden on the FBI’s Most Wanted List after he fled Boston and went on the run for 16 years! Karma eventually caught up with Boston’s most infamous gangster when he was finally captured in Santa Monica, CA in 2011 then murdered in his Virginia prison cell in 2018. The movie Black Mass starring Johnny Depp, Kevin Bacon and Benedict Cumberbatch is about Whitey and The Winter Hill Gang. Enjoy the song, or don’t fuckin enjoy it, the choice is yours!

MY TOWN

I originally wrote this for a Boston based mob movie called ‘Townies’ which was set in Charlestown MA and I wanted it to sound like The Rolling Stones with an Irish twist. The opening guitar riff is very ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ and we deliberately went for that vibe from the outset. It is written from the perspective of a young street hood working his way up through the ranks of the Irish Mob to become top dog in the city. The path he has chosen is a very dangerous one as he negotiates his way through age old, bitter mob family feuds but his lust for money and power knows no bounds. This kid will take out anyone in his way in order to become the King of Charlestown. ‘The Town’ starring Ben Affleck is also set in Charlestown and had a similar storyline to Townies which unfortunately never went into production

THE BOYS OF QUEENS

A tribute to the FDNY, I wrote this song about an Irish American family steeped in the tradition of the Fire Department of New York – but from the words of one son, a US marine, who finds himself behind enemy lines during the Iraq war. Just before he dies he recalls how he lost his father and brothers in 9/11 and longs to be back with his wife and children in his native Queens. No one has a monopoly on grief, but 9/11 hit New York’s Irish community hard. The Irish were the rock on which the FDNY and NYPD were built during their inception many years ago and sons traditionally followed their fathers and grandfathers into the ranks of the fire department and police – a tradition still prevalent to this day. When everyone else was running out of the Twin Towers, these guys along with their Italian, Puerto Rican and black American brothers were running in.
May they rest in peace.
The song was used in the CBS TV show Unforgettable in 2012.

THE LORDS OF WINTER HILL

The Winter Hill district of Somerville MA has a long, bloody history of deadly Irish gang wars played out primarily between The Winter Hill Gang originally led by Buddy McLean, Howie Winter and Joe McDonald and the Charlestown Mob headed by brothers Bernie and Eddie McLoughlin. The bitter feud began in 1961 and lasted until 1967 resulting in the deaths of more than 60 people. The song also outlines the arrival of the Famine Irish into Boston during the 1840s and the dramatic rise and fall of their descendants including the Kennedys via bootlegging and politics and Whitey Bulger who eventually became leader of The Winter Hill Gang. In typical Boston Irish tradition, Whitey’s brother Billy was a former Democratic politician, lawyer and the President of the Massachusetts Senate for 18 years. The long tradition of war veterans from these working class neighborhoods is celebrated too:
“We gave to you our sons
For the Stars And Stripes they stand
They fought in North Korea and they died in Vietnam
Shot down on the beaches, butchered in the fields
Then carried home to Boston and their homes in Somerville’
The chorus then is an anthem of adoration for the city of Boston from the hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrants who were forced to flee Ireland and make it their new home:
‘You opened your arms to me
We’re home from the sea
Boston, we love you still
Now forever the Lords of Winter Hill’
The outro details the age-old blood ties with the old country through Boston politics and gangsterism:
‘The Gustin Gang, the Mullens, The Provo’s and Killeens
Their blood ran down The Mystic and far across the sea,
Celtic cross and tombstones, a monument there still
To Ireland’s sons and daughters and The Lords of Winter Hill’
The reel featured throughout is written by the late, great Tommy McManamon who played with the legendary Shane MacGowan And The Popes. I swear I can hear his banjo on this track, can you hear it too? RIP Tommy.

The Bible Code Sundays have been regulars on the London Irish circuit for over a decade and continue to pack them in across London. You can catch the band or some variation of them on most days of the week somewhere in the capital. The best place to find out their gig dates is on their Facebook page. Their records are still available on Spotify above or Amazon and iTunes or at their gigs. Most recently they starred on the compilation album Quintessential Quarantunes featuring six bands, three from Ireland and three based in London and recorded during the lockdown.

LET THE MUSIC KEEP YOUR SPIRITS HIGH – PART ONE

LET THE MUSIC KEEP YOUR SPIRITS HIGH – PART ONE

Photo- Paul Gallagher

Andy Nolan is best known on these pages as the accordion player and songwriter for the London Irish musical tour-de-force The Bible Code Sundays and as an ex-member of Shane MacGowan And The Popes and Spider Stacy’s Vendettas but there’s a lot more to him than just being an expert accordionist. Andy is also a talented screenwriter, producer and author. Born in Hammersmith, West London at a time when the Irish influence on London was at its greatest his songs speak not only of home in London and Ireland but stretch across the worldwide Irish diaspora with an special a focus on the United States. Among his many achievements he wrote and produced the short film Tax City, and the London Irish crime drama, Jack Mulligan, which premiered on London Live. Here over the last few weeks on his Facebook page he posted a brief description of a few of the standout songs he has written and the history behind the words. Well we thought it was too good not to share with you lot so with Andy’s kind permission here over the next couple of Sundays is Part 1 with Part 2 to follow next week.

THE SWAMP RATS OF LOUISIANA

A tribute to the 30,000 Irishmen who died in New Orleans digging out the New Basin Canal – a navigational waterway linking Lake Pontchartrain with the Mighty Mississippi. Over a four year period from 1832, thousands of Irishmen jumped into the swamps & dug in a straight line towards the lake. Many of them had been tricked by cotton brokers back in Liverpool that they were being transported to Philadelphia, Boston or New York which by now were already overflowing with poor Irish immigrants. Yellow fever and unforgiving heat ravaged workers in the swamps of Louisiana therefore the loss of black slaves doing such work was judged too expensive. As a result most of the work was carried out by Irish laborers who could easily be replaced at no cost with more and more now arriving by the boatload on a daily basis. Many were buried without a grave marker in the levee and roadway-fill beside the canal itself.

Abject poverty gave birth to New Orleans first criminal gangs such as the Corkonians, the United Irishmen and The Live Oaks. Sheehan, our hero in this song, becomes so demoralised at the hell-hole he now finds himself in that he throws down his work shovel for good and instead rises up through the ranks of the powerful Live Oaks Gang. I strongly recommend the book ‘Paddy Whacked’ by TJ English who covers this period in American history in greater depth!
A big thank you to Stephen Gara for his fantastic uilleann pipe playing on this track!

SEE YOU AT THE CROSSROADS

I wrote this song about my dear pal Noel Stephen Smith after reading his autobiography ‘A Few Kind Words And A Loaded Gun’ for the very first time many years ago. The title of the song was inspired by the opening pages where Noel dedicates the book to his son Joseph Stephen Smith RIP – ‘See you at the crossroads, kid’. Noel ‘Razor’ Smith was part of the notorious Laughing Bank Robbers gang from South London racking up 58 criminal convictions and spending the greater portion of his adult life behind bars. The dangerous outfit committed over 200 bank robberies but while serving a life sentence in prison Noel decided to turn his back on the life of crime teaching himself to read and write, gaining an Honours Diploma from the London School of Journalism and an A-level in law. Since then, Noel has been awarded a number of Koestler awards for his writing and has contributed articles to the Independent, the Guardian, Punch, the Big Issue, the New Statesman and the New Law Journal.
The melody instrumental throughout the song is taken from ‘My Lagan Love’ – an old traditional Irish song and I wanted the finished version to have that ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ vibe by The Cult – full of swagger and attitude!
“Racing through London in the pouring rain
I feel the rush go through my brain
Finger on the trigger, mask in my hand
Nothing can touch us, Butch & Sundance”
Noel has been a great friend & inspiration to me down through the years. We cast him in two of my short films Tax City & Jack Mulligan & he is now my literary agent for my own forthcoming true crime book Green Bloods. Keep marching on comrade & thank you for everything! Love ya mate!

THEY BUILT PARADISE

Our love for Celtic FC  is something we’re very proud of & the reason why I wrote this song. Formed in the east end of Glasgow in 1887 by poor Irish immigrants escaping genocide and famine back in Ireland, Celtic FC became a beacon of hope for those starving and penniless who made the short but urgent crossing over to Scotland. Andrew Kerins, also known as Brother Walfrid, was a Marist Brother from Ballymote, County Sligo who witnessed at first hand the plight of his own people in a very hostile and anti-Irish city of Glasgow. All soup kitchens in the city at the time were established by the Church of Scotland and in order to receive a meal there, the newly arrived, hungry Irish Catholics were ordered to denounce their own faith and convert to Protestantism before receiving it. Brother Walfrid, along with a group of fellow Irishmen including John McLaughlin, John Glass, John O’Hara and Willie Maley (and with the help of Hibernian FC who had already similarly been established in Edinburgh by Irish immigrants) immediately stepped in and formed a charitable football club in St. Mary’s Church in the Calton to stop this cruel exploitation of Irish refugees –
“A football club will be formed for the maintenance of dinner tables for the children and the unemployed”
The rest as they say is history!
We’ve been very fortunate and honoured to have been invited to play on the sacred pitch at Celtic Park on several occasions, including some unforgettable Champions League nights when we beat Barcelona 2-1 & also outside the Nou Camp itself! For me personally, supporting Celtic has taught me some invaluable lessons in life in regards to treating others with respect & offering both solidarity & charitable support to those who are still fighting their own injustices today – unity is strength

THE KIDS FROM THE CITY OF NOWHERE

Some of the stories here aren’t for the faint hearted, but they’re all true! I wrote this as a tribute to our London Irish community. For so long we were overlooked and dismissed like we didn’t exist but the truth was we were London’s oldest and biggest immigrant community who contributed so much in terms of rebuilding the UK’s decimated infrastructure after WW2. Musically too – John Lydon, Boy George, Kate Bush and Shane MacGowan are all born or raised in London of Irish parents, to name but a few. Chas Smash’s nutty dancing in Madness was heavily influenced by his own parents who were Irish dancing champions. I remember Chas and his ol fella used to come into our gigs in the Good Mixer in Camden Town many moons ago and they’d both be suppin Guinness and Irish dancing at the bar while we played. I reference the late, great Patsy Farrell too who was a singer in the James Connolly Folk Group. He was from Longford, as were my parents and Gavin Hayes dad Shay sang in the same group. They used to play all around Hammersmith (where I was born) when we were kids and on one occasion in The Salutation pub someone took exception to Patsy belting out the rebel songs and lobbed a penny at him. Patsy dived straight down off the stage on top of the culprit and made very short work of him – ‘down jumps Farrell on top of Thatcher’s man.’ The reference to the ‘high rise on the streets of Acton’ is when a group of my dads mates masked up and armed with hurley sticks dished out some sweet revenge on some bullies that were treating their wives and children like shit. They started on the bottom floor of the high rise flats and worked their way to the top until every culprit had been taken care of. Their families were never bothered again!
I remember us rehearsing this song for the first time in the back hall of the Adam And Eve pub in Hayes (thanks Anlon O’Brien). It wasn’t clicking and I was trying to explain to our dearly departed Carlton the drum feel I wanted but it wasn’t quite right. I jumped in my car, raced home and grabbed the B-side single of ‘Round Are Way’ by Oasis and drove back to the pub. I stuck it on the CD player & Carlton understood and got the rhythm straight away! Round Are Way is a big influence on this song. We even got Tony Rico Richardson and the brass boys in to record on the album version!

THE CINDERELLA MAN

I wrote this as a tribute to the incredible story of James J Braddock who defied all the odds to become Heavyweight Champion of the World back in 1935. The man he beat, Max Baer and nicknamed ‘The Killer’, had already killed Frankie Campbell in the ring while the mauling he dished out to Ernie Schaaf would contribute to his death five months later. Braddock was born in the Irish slum of Hells Kitchen, NYC until his family moved to Bergen, New Jersey. He came from a long line of fiercely tough Irish American boxers who at one stage ruled supreme in the early days of the noble art – John L Sullivan, Gene Tunney, Billy Conn, ‘Philadelphia’ Jack O’Brien, ‘Gentleman’ Jim Corbett, Tommy Loughran, ‘Terrible’ Terry McGovern and Jack Dempsey to name but a few. Forever the people’s champion but a huge underdog nonetheless, Braddock spectacularly beat Baer in a bruising 15 round battle to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World. He held onto the crown until he was beaten by a young Joe Louis in 1937.
The Hollywood movie The Cinderella Man (featured in the video above) starring Russell Crowe is based on Braddock’s life story. Russell famously tweeted this video (made by Padraig Clarke, a fan of our band) to his 3 million fans on Twitter which brought our band to a whole new audience! He would later sing on our most recent album Walk Like Kings! Thank you Mr Crowe!
The Bible Code Sundays have been regulars on the London Irish circuit for over a decade and continue to pack them in across London. You can catch the band or some variation of them on most days of the week somewhere in the capital. The best place to find out their gig dates is on their Facebook page. Their records are still available on Spotify above or Amazon and iTunes or at their gigs. Most recently they starred on the compilation album Quintessential Quarantunes featuring six bands, three from Ireland and three based in London and recorded during the lockdown.

LET THE MUSIC KEEP YOUR SPIRITS HIGH – PART TWO (soon!)

POGUE LAUREATE: POGUETRY – THE LYRICS OF SHANE MacGOWAN 

It’s thirty-eight years to the day that The Pogues, then known as Pogue Mahone first trod the boards at their debut gig at The Pindar of Wakefield in Kings Cross, London. 

At their height, The Pogues were as vivid an embodiment of the Irish of London as you’re ever likely to see. Their songs bled London and bled Irish — they sang of drunken winter weekenders in Camden and summer days in the old country on the banks of the Shannon with the smell of freshly-cut hay in the air.

By Oliver Farry

The band, of course, had their famously raucous side. By 1983, when they were formed, other ex-punks had cleaned up their act and their music and embarked on musical careers but Shane MacGowan and Co weren’t finished the business of the late 70’s and continued to get up the noses of most, including the BBC on countless occasions, such as when the band’s Alex Cox-produced video for ‘A Pair Of Brown Eyes’ was banned from the airwaves for its insolent depiction of Margaret Thatcher. In 1988, the Beeb banned ‘Streets of Sorrow/Birmingham Six’ for daring to argue that the sextet of the title were framed by British justice. If getting up the nose of the British establishment wasn’t so difficult, there were more natural allies put out by them back home, such as Noel Hill, the squeezebox player with Planxty — one of the group’s idols — who told them to their face during a stormy RTÉ radio forum that they were an “abortion of Irish music.” Even in the band’s afterlife they have been a discomfiting presence. ‘Fairytale Of New York’, probably the earthiest song ever to become a Christmas standard was belatedly censored by the Beeb for using the word “faggot”. A slavish sop to political correctness that ignored both narrative dialogue and the fact that the Pogues, with a gay guitarist and sympathetic ballads about abused rent boys, had been taking a stand against homophobia long before the mainstream media got the memo.

There was a time however when a certain esteemed British institution did court The Pogues and their dentally-challenged front man. In September 1989 Faber & Faber published a large format edition of Shane MacGowan’s lyrics under the title Poguetry (the band had already used this pun for their 1986 EP Poguetry In Motion). It was essentially a handsome but low-end coffee-table book; MacGowan’s lyrics were accompanied by surreal sketches by illustrator John Hewitt and photographs by The Face and NME alumnus Steve Pyke, both of whom joined the band in the studio and on tour throughout 1988. At the time it was a puzzling publication, especially as MacGowan’s lyrics, excellent as they often were, looked a little flat on the page. The sketches and photographs add context and texture but MacGowan’s oeuvre, by that time, was relatively slim, being drawn from The Pogues’ first four albums and assorted b-sides (and even those were not all his work, with other members contributing lyrics, not to mention many traditional songs). You got the sense that Faber, that soberest of British publishing houses – home to Pound, Eliot, Larkin, Heaney and Beckett – was viewing Shane as a future Bob Dylan. If they were, they can hardly be blamed for it, as MacGowan was surely the closest thing to Dylan Ireland has ever produced, with a lyrical versatility and strength of personality approaching that of the Bard of Duluth.

The book is a curiosity, with Pyke and Hewitt ably capturing the essence of The Pogues, a band that straddled tradition and iconoclasm, sartorial decorum and drunken disorder, gregarious sociability and taciturn sensitivity. It also marks the moment where the group turned to the US, of which ‘Fairytale Of New York’ was also a product. The band soon realised there was a huge diaspora (and non-diaspora) following Stateside to play to and nowadays, with appearances on countless soundtracks, including, most famously The Wire, The Pogues are arguably more synonymous with Irish America than the London Irish. Unfortunately there was not to be much more of it. The Pogues and Shane would be together for only one more album, 1990’s Hell’s Ditch. Shane’s drinking, already the stuff of contemporary lore, was making him increasingly unreliable and at times incapable of performing. The end came in September 1991 during a tour of Japan when the rest of the band sacked him. Neither party ever performed as well again (though it can be argued the quality of The Pogues’ own music had begun to fall off after the peak of 1988’s If I Should Fall from Grace with God). The Pogues, now fronted by long-time number two Spider Stacy, released two anemically directionless albums in the 1990’s but continued to successfully tour in the States.

You can hardly blame them for not giving up their livelihood but Waiting for Herb and Pogue Mahone are like the albums The Spencer Davis Group recorded after Stevie Winwood’s departure, missing all the spark of an emblematic lead singer. MacGowan hardly fared any better, spending most of the last two decades as a celebrity drinker, with a couple of albums here and there with his new group The Popes. There were glimpses of the old Shane (and the odd coup, such as getting Johnny Depp to play guitar when The Popes performed ‘That Woman’s Got Me Drinking’ on Top of the Pops) but much of The Popes’ output seemed like an afterthought, similar to the post-cocaine-hell K-Tel moments of ageing rockers.

Poguetry – The Lyrics of Shane MacGowan has been long out of print and copies now fetch a small fortune on Amazon. Hewitt and Pyke have both had successful careers themselves – particularly Pyke, who is now a successor in portraiture to Richard Avedon at The New Yorker. He later collaborated with the Irish-American writer Timothy O’Grady on the brilliantly Sebaldian I Could Read the Sky, which, like The Pogues’ early work was an elegiac account of 20th-century Irish emigration to England. He also contributed to this beautiful visual tour of Poguetry, which allows those not fortunate enough to own the book to have a look at the unique collaboration between three artists who are each wonderful in their own way.

A visual tour of Poguetry, published in 1988 that combines the lyrics of Shane MacGowan, illustrations by John Hewitt and photographs by Steve Pyke. Foreward read by Steve Pyke.

Oliver Farry was born in Sligo in 1975 and has been chasing the vulgar and sublime in equal measure ever since. These days he’s a journalist in Paris where he writes the news for France 24.

Some Pogues-related links:

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

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: THE HUMBLEBUMS with Billy Connolly Gerry Rafferty- ‘Open Up The Door’ (1970)

The next in our series of ‘Classic Album Reviews’ this time features Scottish Folk-Rock group The Humblebums. Formed in 1965 by Billy Connolly and Tam Harvey it was the arrival of the soon to be legendary singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty in 1969 that would see the band move in a new direction with Gerry’s sensitive, beautifully written songs and Billy’s anarchic humour combining magnificently, especially here on their last album before they split the following year

Billy Connolly and guitarist Tam Harvey founded The Humblebums in 1965, both having been regulars on the Glasgow folk circuit while Connolly had also been playing old-time country music in The Skillet Lickers. The bands name coming from a Connolly quip that,

“I am humble and Tam Harvey is a bum.”

The duo quickly became popular due in no small part to Billy and his between-song patter, which over time became a much larger part of their act and would eventually lead Billy Connolly to superstardom! The band was active from 1965 to 1971 and recorded their debut album, First Collection of Merrie Melodies, in 1969 for Transatlantic Records. Regulars in the Old Scotia Bar. Billy sang, played banjo and guitar, and entertained the audience with his humorous introductions to the songs while Tam was an accomplished bluegrass guitarist.

They were soon joined by Gerry Rafferty, who would also go on to superstardom, and for a short while performed as a trio. Tam soon departed and the remaining twosome recorded two more albums, The New Humblebums (perhaps most famous for the Gerry Rafferty penned ‘Her Father Didn’t Like Me Anyway) and Open Up The Door, before going their separate and lucrative ways. Their repertoire back then was split between trad Folk songs and songs penned by each of them. Billy Connolly is much better known these days as a stand up comedian whose appeal has lasted over four decades now. Even as a comedian he still managed to put out some great music including his #1 parody of Tammy Wynette’s song ‘D.I.V.O.R.C.E.’ and the Village People’s ‘In the Navy’, subtlety changed to ‘In the Brownies’. Encouraged by his audience reaction Billy Connolly began to put more and more effort into his comedic side and in 1974 the release of the live double album, Solo Concert would take him far beyond Glasgow. But it was a appearance on the Michael Parkinson Show in 1975, where he had Parky in stitches with a joke, rather risque for the time, about a man burying his wife ‘posterior up’ that showed he was set for stardom and he never looked back. His years in the Glasgow Folk scene gave him ample material for his stand up and soon his natural ability and popular appeal saw him also appear in countless films and television work. A true working class folk hero in every sense. Gerry Rafferty, would after the Humblebums, record the solo album, Can I Have My Money Back?, and then formed Stealers Wheel before eventually emerging as a major recording act with Baker Street who would record mega-hits like ‘Stuck In The Middle With You‘, (if you saw Reservoir Dogs you might remember the scene where Michael Madsen’s character, Mr. Blonde, tortures a captured Policeman whilst doing a little dance to this jaunty tune) ‘Star’ and the worldwide smash hit ‘Baker Street‘ in 1978 and would continue to perform to legions of adoring fans till around 2008 when he shunned the limelight. Sadly the death of his elder brother in 1995 affected him greatly from which family and friends said he never fully recovered and he slunk into alcohol abuse which would ultimately contribute to his death of liver failure on the 4th January, 2011.

Billy Connolly is quoted as saying of his friend and former bandmate:

“Gerry Rafferty was a hugely talented songwriter and singer who will be greatly missed. I was privileged to have spent my formative years working with Gerry and there remained a strong bond of friendship between us that lasted until his untimely death. Gerry had extraordinary gifts and his premature passing deprives the world of a true genius.”

Both men came from Irish Catholic working class backgrounds and it was perhaps this that led to such a wonderful partnership in the Humblebums with their different approaches working wonderfully together. Plenty of songs from these days would re-appear over the years on Billy’s many comedy albums and on Gerry Rafferty compilations and all were re-released in the aftermath of the duos rise to international stardom.

Open The Door was the duos last album and sees them backed up by several of the bands friends to flesh out the songs somewhat. One of the nice things here is that both Gerry and Billy sing their own songs and while both are quite different they complement each other perfectly. For Gerry the influence of The Beatles can be heard while for Billy its hardcore Folk and Blues that comes through. The albums biggest hit was ‘Shoeshine Boy’ outselling everything in Scotland but failing to attract much interest in the rest of the UK. However, there was disagreement about the direction of the band and Billy’s off stage drinking had got out of hand and he had become unwell. Gerry’s material having a more serious side and with Billy’s humorous offerings and that in-between song patter taking up more and more of the Humblebums show time, it reached a point where Gerry wanted the comedy cut out altogether. Also with the recordings now using extra musicians it made it harder to replicate the record on stage as a duo and it came as no surprise to those who knew them when the Humblebums broke up in 1971.

Both guys went on to far bigger things but we can be grateful for the three albums they did record.

01. My Apartment (Billy Connolly)
02. I Can’t Stop Now (Gerry Rafferty)
03. Open Up The Door (Billy Connolly)
04. Mary Of The Mountains (Billy Connolly)
05. All The Best People Do It (Gerry Rafferty)
06. Steamboat Row (Gerry Rafferty)

07. Mother (Billy Connolly)
08. Shoeshine Boy (Gerry Rafferty)
09. Cruisin’ (Billy Connolly)

10.  Keep It To Yourself (Gerry Rafferty)
11. Oh No (Billy Connolly)
12. Song For Simon (Gerry Rafferty)
13. Harry (Billy Connolly)
14. My Singing Bird (Gerry Rafferty)

Billy Connolly – Vocals, Guitar * Gerry Rafferty – Vocals, Guitar
with special guests
Bernie Holland – Guitar * Barry Dransfield – Fiddle * Jimmy Tagford – Drums * Terry Cox – Drums
“I hope for nothing, I fear nothing, I am free”

DOWNLOAD OPEN UP THE DOOR

LINK1   LINK2(not UK)   LINK3   LINK4

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FILM REVIEW: CLASH OF THE ASH (1987)

Phil Kelly is the young anti-hero of Clash Of the Ash. A restless teenager, a fan of The Cramps and The Pogues, great at Hurling but with a strong aversion to studying. Pressured by those around him – from his Mum to do well at his exams, his Dad to take a job at the local garage and his hurling manager to prove himself on the field. This short film manages to tell its story of the frustration of small-town Irish life with a great deal of humour and compassion.

Release: 1987 * Director: Fergus Tighe * Music: The Pogues * Writer: Fergus Tighe
Duration: 50 mins * Country: Ireland * Language: English
Starring: Liam Heffernan, Gina Moxley, Vinny Murphy, Alan Devlin

Clash Of The Ash was written and directed by Fergus Tighe in 1987. It was shot on 16mm with a running time of just over 50 minutes and won Best Irish Short at the Cork Film Festival that year. Some months later the film was broadcast on RTÉ 1 where it made quite an impression on my teenage self – primarily because it contained a lot that I could identify with.

Phil Kelly (played by William Heffernan) is the anti-hero; a restless teenager imbued with natural hurling ability and a strong aversion to studying. The location is not fictitious but instead it’s the very real Fermoy in County Cork which is a welcome touch. Like much of 1980s smalltown Ireland it’s a claustrophobic place that drives people away but inexplicably retains a strange sort of hold on them. The latter is exemplified by Gina Moxley’s character, the tempestuous Mary Hartnett who has returned after a stint in London. The other members of their gang are languid Martin (Vincent Murphy), uptight Willy, and mousey Rosie who carries a torch for Phil. Control and the expectations of others are what Phil fights against. Kelly Senior wants him to take on a job in the local garage while his nagging and snobbish mother has her sights set on him getting a good Leaving Cert. Meanwhile on the sports field the coach Mick Barry (Alan Devlin) has high hopes that his star player will make the county minors and by extension a job in the bank.

“The GAA looks after its own”.

There is a keen build-up to the upcoming match against local rivals Mitchelstown. But Phil isn’t happy. He prefers to train alone (running down a hill backwards and belting a tennis ball around a handball alley) and just can’t apply himself in school. He has little interest in what his well-meaning father can arrange for him and clashes with his mother about late nights and “cavorting with gurriers”.

“It would be more in your line to think about the Leaving Cert”.

Music plays a key part in Clash Of The Ash. Phil wears a Cramps t-shirt, has a Rum, Sodomy and The Lash poster stuck to the bedroom wall and spins Dirty Old Town on the turntable. Mary complains about sharing a house with NME hopefuls The Saints and Scholars while it’s revealed that Martin is talented musician but lacks the motivation to take it to the next level. In a pivotal sequence the gang borrow Willy’s father’s car and drive into Mitchelstown to see The Big Guns play the local nightclub. An exercise in pint stealing means a clash with angry punters and an increase in tension with Murphy (Phil’s nemesis and hurler on the opposing team). The ill-feeling between the two players explodes during the crucial game. It proves to be a turning point in Phil’s life.

Clash Of The Ash takes place in a world of Silk Cut posters in shop windows, radio clips of Michael Lyster reading soccer results, interminably boring Irish classes and lessons in how to skip mass effectively. The television in the pub is tuned to RTÉ’s Closedown (national anthem), the Sunday Press costs 50p, the dole is paid on Tuesdays and the bank is seen as an ideal career choice. While drifting down the river Martin wistfully remembers a time when local trains still ran and flattened ha’pennies so wide that they could be used to buy penny sweets from the almost-blind shopkeeper. However the sense of claustrophobia is ever-present and the drift towards emigration an inevitable outcome. The moral: when others try to run your life then escape becomes necessary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Get up and dance and drink all night”

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Paddy Murphy – WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

NEW SINGLE FROM MEDUSA’S WAKE ‘War Of Independence’. LATEST IN A LONG LINE OF CLASS AUSSIE CELTIC-PUNK BANDS!

Sydney based Celtic-Folk-Rockers Medusa’s Wake new single ‘War Of Independence’ has dropped over the weekend and as expected is bloody amazing!

Ryan and McGrath polish up their Guns,
 As we sit and wait for the English Huns
 The hills alive with Summer a beauty to be seen,
*
Washed and fed by the Dunnes
Prayed for by Priest and Nuns
Quigley gently whistles the ‘Wearing of the Green.’
(The best you’ve ever seen)
*
 Chorus
 Tipperary’s banner flying,may you rise and never fall
Wedger Meagher Marched them “One by One” from Toome to Moneygall.
*
 Singing songs to raise your spirits of dear Ireland brave and bold
 To keep the will of living in your heart and Soul.
 To keep the will of living in your heart and your Soul.
*
 Black and Tan’s sent by the crown
 A plague in every village and town
Brave Son’s of Erin stand bravely now and fight,
*
Dan Breen say’s We’ll not lie down”,
Shoot from the hip of your Sam Brown,
Round the valley at nightime
gun fire’s burning bright (With Delight)
*
Chorus 
Tipperary banner flying,may you rise and never fall
Wedger Meagher Marched them “One by One” from Toome to Moneygall.
*
Singing songs to raise your spirits of dear Ireland brave and bold,
 To keep the will of living in your heart and soul.
 To keep the will of living in your heart and soul.

If there was a World Cup to work out the best country for Celtic-Punk music, then without a doubt Australia would win it hands down every time. Not sure what they put in the water down under, but they continue to churn out the best Celtic-Punk bands over and over again! The latest band on every bodies lips is Medusa’s Wake from Sydney town. They released their debut album in 2018 and made waves immediately across the whole scene making all the Celtic-Punk end of year Best Of lists reaching #2 in the London Celtic Punks list, #3 for The Celtic Punkcast, #8 for Celtic-Folk-Punk And More, #9 for Mersey Celt Punks, #13 for Paddyrock and #17 for MacSlons so obviously a highly acclaimed album that even though it’s not a recent release I still find myself playing regularly. The album is still available for download below for the princely sum of $12 Aussie dollars which translates to a lot cheaper in the States , UK and Euros.

The song written by Medusa’s vocalist and native of the best county in Ireland at everything (Tipperary of course!) Eddie Lawlor, and tells of the Irish War Of Independence fought between 1919 and 1921. Just a couple of years after the failed Easter Rising and with An Gorta Mór (the so called ‘famine’) still in living memory when the British Government attempted to erase the Irish Catholic from the island of Ireland. Anger at British misrule reached a crescendo one night in January 1919 with the Solohead Ambush when members of the Tipperary Irish Republican Army ambushed the Royal Irish Constabulary. Two RIC officers were killed and their weapons and the explosives were seized. The Volunteers had not sought permission for their action and it is seen as the first engagement of the Irish War of Independence.

the legend Dan Breen

The War would only last a couple of years but would be a bloody and hard fought nominal victory for the Irish given that that victory would lead to the partition of Ireland and to a even more bloody Civil War that would see brother set against brother and comrade set against comrade. Tipperary where the song is set was the home to some of the most fierce battles and most loved figures of the War who fought tooth and nail to remove any trace of the British flag from Irish soil. Wedger Meagher was in fact the great gran uncle of Eddie and my own family were related to the Ryans much to my Grandad’s delight. How he use to regale me as a kid with stories and figures of the time and often my bedtime stories would be of exciting ambushes and battles that happened not in the Wild West and between cowboys and indians but between Irishmen and the British just a short walk from our family farm. The bravery of these men who were often farmers and students who fought against the best trained army in the world cannot be doubted and ought to be celebrated and remembered proudly just like in Eddie’s marvelous modern day rebel indie folk ballad.

Medusa’s Wake from left to right: Elise Capiro- Fiddle * Frank Sallie – Acoustic Guitar *   Eddie Lawlor- vocals/Mandola *Zane Mc Rae – Bass * Liam Ó Faoláin – Electric Guitar * Owen Watson – Accordion *

The song is available on all digital streaming platforms. Have a listen, subscribe and share it around. 👍☘. You can stay informed with all the best in Australian Celtic-Punk and Folk-Punk by joining these two excellent Aussie Facebook groups AUSSIE CELTIC PUNKS andAUSTRALIAN FOLK PUNK SCENE where you will find some of the best Celtic-Punk out there.

Download War Of Independence  HERE

Contact Medusa’s Wake  WebSite  Bandcamp  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

ALBUM REVIEW- QUINTESSENTIAL QUARANTUNES (2020)

Six bands, three from Ireland and three London based. No longer able to play their trade due to government lockdowns either side of the Irish Sea have been virtually brought together by one man – Phil Parsons and one pub – Frostys Bar, Kenton to create a lockdown album like no other. With a mixture of Celtic Rock, Traditional Irish Folk and Rebel music, this is your must buy album of 2020.

Released just last week Quintessential Quarantunes is a compilation album of six bands. Three from London and three from across Ireland. There’s twelve songs in total with two each carefully chosen by the bands themselves. The music is mainly of the Irish folk ballad kind. Think along the lines of The Wolfe Tones. All the bands here are gigging musicians meaning its the sole income for many of them so for a tenner you can support Irish music at home and abroad for less than a pound a song.

THE BIBLE CODE SUNDAYS

With over twenty years worth of experience The BibleCode Sundays have performed live on many TV shows and played extensively throughout Europe and the USA. They have played on the pitches of Celtic Park on Champions League night, Twickenham Stadium for Heineken Cup Finals and for many years at London Irish Rugby Club. They have performed at Glastonbury music festival and supported Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon and his band Public Image Ltd on several occasions as well as The Cranberries, Thin Lizzy, The Sawdoctors and Christy Moore. They have also supported American punk band The Dropkick Murphys in both the US and the UK and recorded with Russell Crowe, Elvis Costello and Shane MacGowan to name but a few.

Spotify  Facebook  YouTube

BLACKSTAIRS REBEL

Formed in 1997 after a sing song on a bus home from a Wexford hurling match. PJ, Kevin and Ollie, later joined by Miss Carol Cooney on accordion. They soon built a reputation for the sessions they put on and were helped along with support slots for The Wolfe Tones, Dublin City Ramblers and Brendan Grace. The band write an occasional song but their real passion is playing live and for the past 23 years they have made many new friends along the way. A highlight of 2019 was playing Crawley Irish Festival. Meeting people, making new friends, having a few beers, eating kebabs, getting on ferries and planes, cars breaking down and belting out Irish folk, ballad, trad and rebel tunes where ever we go, for that’s what we love, that’s what we do and thats what we will continue to do for as long as people are still enjoying it.

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THE REELS

The Reels came together in late 2006. We all met through various music lessons growing up as kids or at sessions in many an Irish pub! With Gavin on vocals and guitar, Leanne on vocals and mandolin, Antonia on the fiddle, Mikey on the bass and Mad Kieran on the drums. Mixing traditional Irish music into more modern songs and taking the old Irish classics and making them more appealable to the younger second generation Irish in London. Already in popular demand to play the London circuit we will continue to belt out the music for as long as you’ll listen to us.

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CATALPA

Catalpa are a 3 piece band who are the resident band for The Confederation of Republic of Ireland Supporters Clubs and play before every home game in The Lansdowne Rugby Club. They traveled to France in 2016 for the Euros to play for the fans in La Rochelle. toured the USA, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Spain playing their brand of Irish ballads. Catalpa have played in The Aviva Stadium the famous Barrowlands in Glasgow and have supported The Wolfe Tones, The Dublin City Ramblers and Hermitage Green at various gigs and festivals. Catalpa have released three CDs to date and one CD in particular being a Charity CD for the John Giles Foundation.

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CELTIC STORM

Celtic Storm is a solo performer who hails from Co. Carlow. With over two decades of musical experience having performed in the USA, Europe and extensively throughout Ireland he is a highly sought after entertainer. He has played the famous Barrowlands on numerous occasions, most recent been the memorable night with his good friends Catalpa. Celtic Storm has one album to date and the ‘ballad bug’ is still as strong as ever.

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THE PEPPERED ACES

The Peppered Aces are a three piece Irish folk/rock band from London. Founded in 2015, the band have featured in festivals, international sporting events and have appeared on national radio. An annual event for the band sees them travel to NYC to perform at the St. Patrick’s festival. They are a developing band and have just commenced recording a selection of covers which prominently feature in the live set. Looking forward, The Peppered Aces plan on exploring their own original content and applying their unique sound and experience gained from playing together over the years.

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(Download or stream Quintessential Quarantunes from the Bandcamp link below)

Download Quintessential Quarantunes  From Bandcamp

THE IRISH SOLDIERS OF MEXICO IN FILM AND IN SONG

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

by Michael Hogan

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

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

Hanging of the San Patricios as painted by Sam Chamberlain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

Director: Lance Hool  Writer: Milton S. Gelman

Stars: Tom BerengerJoaquim de AlmeidaDaniela Romo

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

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

SINGLE REVIEW: ANTI DEPRESANTS- ‘Yer The One’ (2020)

Anti Depressants are a four piece Ska, Punk’n’Roll band from the hills of County Armagh. Going since 2008 they already have four albums behind them but the last one was in 2013. Now with a settled line up our man in South Carolina TC Costello ran the rule over their new single ‘Yer The One’.

Two years ago I went on my first tour through Ireland. The Brandy Thieves were booked as the headline act at the Summer Solstice Festival, a DIY festival at a remote house in County Armagh, and the organizers were nice enough to book me as the opening act, too. So with my less-than-trusty accordion in a state of disrepair, I took the stage at 2pm, bottle of Buckfast by my side, and got ready for a long day of craic that would end with a Brandy Thieves encore of ‘Zombie’ that I have no recollection of participating in – though video evidence says otherwise.

Of what I remember, though, one of the highlights of the festival was local Armagh punk band Anti-Depresants.  With their diverse sound embracing heavy rock, reggae, male and female vocals and blistering guitar work, they’d be a standout at this or any other festival.  Their song ‘Legalize’, an angry anthem of marijuana legalization, may have been my favourite song of the 2018, and its video was shot at the same house as the festival, where bassist Lemmy lives, has band practice and can work away at building motorbikes without bothering anyone.

With the their upcoming single ‘Yer The One’, the lineup has changed, and this particular song is less angry, but the spirit, craic and eclectic influences are still pervasive. It starts with a heavy three-chord guitar riff then jolts the listener with some Specials-esque reggae for the verse.  Back-and forth vocals between guitarists Becca McCaffrey and Ringo tell the story of a happy couple’s journey through the week:

“Monday Might be raining, it don’t matter to us

Tuesday Might be the same, we don’t give a f-ck

Wednesday is coming and no matter what

Thursday is for learning but only if you want.”

And the pre-chorus:

“Oh, my love, don’t you know yer the one?”

For the chorus of simply, “yer the one,” the heavy distortion is back with an ascending guitar riff. The rest of the week consists of a drunken weekend, a Sunday hangover and the Mandatory Monday, where they can do it “again, and again and again,” which is anything but boring and repetitive for these two. Is the festival still happening this year?  McCaffrey says the band is unsure due to Covid-19. 

‘Yer The One’ is released today May 14th and is available for streaming or download from Bandcamp or the link below for just a lousy Pound. They also have their entire back catalogue available on Bandcamp, going right back to 2008, for ‘Name Your Price’ download.

Buy Yer The One  Here

Contact Anti Depresants  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp

INTERVIEW WITH MIKE KILROE FROM THE ‘CELTIC PUNK, FOLK AND ROCK FANS’ GROUP

Little over a year ago a new Group appeared on Facebook called Celtic Punk, Folk And Rock Fans and considering 2019 was a bad year for Celtic-Punk media with two of the biggest sites closing it has been an invaluable place for fans old and new to share and introduce music to each other. Despite the shortcomings of Facebook the group has grown and continues to and Mike the groups founder agreed to answer a few questions on all things Celtic-Punk and the Irish community in the States.

Hello Mike! You set up the Facebook group ‘Celtic Punk, Folk And Rock Fans‘. What was your main purpose in doing that? How has it been? Has the scene got behind you? I did notice it exploded after the St. Patrick’s Day Dropkick Murphys live stream show.

Hi and thanks for asking me to do this. Hopefully I can give you what you were hoping for. I started the Facebook Page Celtic Punk Folk Rock first when I was doing a small online radio station thru live365.com, hoping to get more listeners and help to spread the word about all the great music being put out in the genre. I myself didn’t really get into it until 2006 when I started discovering the music thanks to the P2P programs that were popular at the time, like Limewire for instance. The first group I found was the Pogues, who I remembered hearing about back in the 80’s from an English guy I was working with at the time, although my musical tastes were in a different place at the time so I never really got into it then. From there I started discovering more Celt music thanks to John B of Paddy Rock and also Shite n Onions, and from there my love of the music began to grow. When I just had the FB Page there was some interest from fans, but it took almost 6 years or so to get 1000 followers, and then I saw something about making a group affiliated with the Page and got 1000 fans within 11 months. I’d say the scene has been getting behind the group, especially from like the end of February as you mentioned, ever since the post about the Murphys live stream on Paddy’s Day, and suddenly I was adding over 100 member requests a day, to where we are today with almost 5000 members, and there has been lots of participation by members which makes it more fun,discovering even more new bands than I’d known of previously.

Can you tell us a little about yourself? One glimpse at your FB page tells me you are a proud Irish-American but do you know much about your roots? Us non-Irish born Irish are often ridiculed by those whose ancestors were lucky not to be starved out of Ireland for having the most tenuous of links and sadly Irish-Americans seem to bear the brunt of it. What’s the community like where you live?

What I know of my roots I discovered on my own thru online ancestry sites, and I discovered my great great grandfather came to the States around 1850 or so, and the first American born member of my family was a great aunt who was born in NY in 1854. I found that my family was one of the first Irish families to settle in the town I grew up in which I thought was pretty cool. My mother’s family came here in 1888 and 1890 from Cork. I grew up in a mainly working class town whose main employer was the General Motors plant, so it was a landing point for lots of immigrants from Ireland as well as many other countries, so it was a real melting pot,not surprising since the town was only 25 miles from New York City.

Do you think most Irish in the States would consider themselves Irish, Irish-American or just plain auld American? Why do you think that affinity to Ireland has stayed so strong in people whose ancestors left Ireland in some cases generations ago?

I’d say most think of themselves the same as I do, as an American first with strong Irish heritage that we’re all proud of, sort of like ‘Emerald City’ by The Tossers. I’m 4th generation Irish American on my father’s side and I’ve known I had Irish blood since I was a kid, but like I said earlier, I never knew much until around 2005 or so when I got into finding out my ancestry history, and once a person knows and learns about the history and the culture of the Irish people, there’s no way you can’t be proud to be Irish.

It seems to me that the media have an obsession with Irish-Americans often showing them on TV as violent gangsters or drunken simpletons. The most obvious example is the disrespectful way that St.Patrick’s Day is now portrayed. It is still the most popular day in the worldwide Irish calendar but does it hurt when it is shown as just a gigantic piss-up and what ways are the community doing to combat this.

To tell you the truth, I don’t see or hear any of that type of negativity over here. NYC has the oldest and biggest Paddy’s Day parade in the world if i’m not mistaken and it’s the biggest parade of all of the parades in NYC. I’ve been down there three times on Paddy’s Day, two of those times to see The Pogues in 2007 and 2008, and all I saw was people having a blast and celebrating the day, with never any violence, so those people that think that way just don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about and even if anyone does say anything offensive we’re not pussies and we don’t get offended like a snowflake, we just deal with it. I’m not a PC person anyway. PC culture was created as a form of censorship in my opinion, but that’s neither hear nor there, so I’ll move on.

Which leads us onto this. Now us Irish are fond of a drink or two that much is true and there’s a current debate around the idea of cultural appropriation. Is it politically correct for non-Irish bands to sing about the Irish getting pissed and fighting and pubs and what have you. Personally I love it. The idea of the likes of Indonesian or Brazilian bands getting into The Dubliners and The Wolfe Tones after listening to the Dropkick Murphys. I mean its not like The Dubliners ever wrote a song about getting pissed is it? I think its just a case of snobbery but do you think it’s ok?

Hell, I love the fact that there are Celtic bands all over the world, it just shows how far Irish culture is spread around the globe. Hell,there are forty million Americans who claim Irish ancestry to one degree or another. There are people in the FB group from places like Poland, Belgium, Germany, Mexico and on and on, places you wouldn’t really expect the music to be popular, and they post videos of bands people may not have heard of, so I’m all for it. Music connects everyone in one way or another so that’s a cool thing.

(we asked Mike for his three favourite Celtic-Punk videos. #1 our very own Neck)

How did you get into Celtic-Punk? For myself it was as a child growing up listening to Irish music (somewhat reluctantly it must be said!) and then later on after I had gotten into Punk both traditions met head on with The Pogues when I was 14 and that was that!

I was very late getting into it. In 2006 my son was reading the Bob Dylan book Chronicles Part One and it had a section on how he idolized the Clancy Brothers, especially Liam, so he asked me if I could find some Liam Clancy on Limewire, and that’s when I discovered the Pogues and downloaded a few songs and got hooked, and from there I just became totally obsessed with the Punk and the Trad genres.

Who were the bands who first got you into Celtic-Punk? Who are your all time favourite bands on the scene?

For me, everything started with The Pogues, and after joining the Medusa Forum (Pogues site) I learned more about them and found out about the Murphys and Flogging Molly, and thanks to Paddy Rock my Celt Punk horizons expanded. Right now I’d say my all time favorites would be the Pogues, Tossers, Mahones, DKM, Greenland Whalefishers and the Rumjacks.

Besides Celtic-Punk what other music do you like?

Rock has always been my favorite, starting with seeing the Beatles on TV on Ed Sullivan as a young lad of 7 then getting into the Stones, then in ’72 a friend of mine turned me on to Bowie, Lou Reed and the V.U., Mott, Iggy and then came the Ramones and Punk and New Wave. I’ve also gotten into the Outlaw Country stuff with Waylon, Willie, Johnny Cash, Hank and Hank Jr, Steve Earle, who has a lot of Celtic influence in his music. I also loved the Motown sound of my youth and liked some of the original hardcore Hip-Hop.

(Mikes second song was the perfect mix of past and present)

I’m sure you get to hear a lot of modern day Celtic/Folk-Punk bands? Which bands would you recommend as the ‘next big thing’ on the scene?

I don’t see any live music. Most of what I hear as far as newer bands go I find in my group actually. I really like The Gallowgate Murders and The O’Reilly’s And The Paddyhats. Another couple of new favorites are Paddy Waggin and Grass Mud Horse.

Has Celtic-Punk been welcomed in the Irish-American community at all? I was recently reading about the explosion in young people wanting to learn bagpipes, banjo, mandolin and tin-whistle. Of course what the article failed to mention was that these are all instruments the Dropkick Murphys play!! Here in England the very mention of Celtic-Punk conjures up images of young men in Celtic tops smashing up bars and puking in the bogs so there is still a lot of fear and mistrust.

I’d say it probably all depends on what type of music people are into in the first place. If people are more into alternative type music they’d probably gravitate more to the Celt Punk. Even the Murphys and Flogging Molly aren’t filling the big arenas like a Madison Square Garden so it’s still a small loyal community, and none of the bands get played on the mainstream radio stations. I don’t really see the big explosion of young fans either. The numbers I get in my group data is that almost 70% of the members are between 35 and 54, which really surprised me.

(Mikes final video is Irish-American favourites The Tossers and their ode to their home city of Chicago)

To us in England it seems that Celtic-Punk over there is massive. It does seem there’s even more bands than ever before. Is this right is the scene bigger? If it is bigger has that made it more commercial / mainstream and is that a good thing? After the big 2 who are the next most popular US bands?

I don’t really know how big the scene here is, but it definitely isn’t mainstream or commercial, it’s still more of a subculture or cult type thing. The groups besides the Big 2 I like from here are the Tossers, Flatfoot 56, Black 47 were big when they were together. The Kilmaine Saints, Killigans, Shilelagh Law usually have big regional followings and are always popular on the summer Irish American Festival circuit. A new band I just discovered in the group is Black Irish Texas who I like a lot.

Do you think their is a particular American Celtic-Punk sound. Like the Australians their is a very strong working class ethos but also a mistrust of anything overtly political.

I think each band has their own sound, I mean nobody is gonna confuse the Tossers sound for the Murphys or Flogging Molly for Flatfoot 56. Some bands have more of the hard edged sound while others have the more trad sound just sped up a bit.

We Irish love our sport and it is football that is most dear to our hearts and we (nearly) all support the best team in the world but we all (mostly) have other (not so good) teams too. You into sport at all? Which teams do you support? Does learning the value of defeat and having pride in losing but trying your hardest teach you something that is missing in society?

I love sports,played them all the time as a kid. I played baseball and basketball and pickup football (American style) and I love watching NHL hockey even though I never played. My favorite teams are all New York teams, my favorite being the Yankees in baseball, Giants in the NFL, Knicks,even though they’ve sucked for 20 years now, in the NBA and the Islanders in the NHL. I think sports teach us how to win and lose, and nothing is handed to you, at least it used to be like that in youth sports when I was growing up, none of this participation trophy shite we see these days. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, words that still hold true today. I know one political party over here that never learned to lose gracefully, that’s not the way to lose. If you lose, it’s cool to be pissed, but lose with class and dedicate yourself to work on the mistakes you made that caused you to lose, and hopefully one day you’ll taste the thrill of victory.

Any final thoughts Mike? Anyone you would like to give a shout out to and any bands you would like to give a plug?

First, thanks for asking me to do this interview. Hopefully I gave you something you could use with my answers, and I’d like to give a shout-out to all the glorious bastards in my FB group for helping spread the word about this great music we love and participating and sharing their favorite music with everyone, and a shout out to your own London Celtic Punks which has kept fans in the loop about everything Celt Punk for so long.

Join the best Group on Facebook at the link below and why not share your most local band. 

CELTIC PUNK, FOLK AND ROCK FANS

ALBUM REVIEW: THE BOOMTOWN RATS- ‘Citizens of Boomtown’ (2020)

One of the biggest bands of their generation and fronted by a real larger than life character the first album from legendary Dublin band The Boomtown Rats in thirty-six years is finally out. Gerry Mellon gives us the rundown on the Rats sixth album.

Before I start, I must tell you that when Bob and the lads announced a tour after their big success at the Isle of White festival in 2013, I was one of the first people in the queue for tickets. Their return to London at Camden’s Roundhouse the following year was absolutely fantastic. When they played Rebellion in 2015, Bobs digs at “old bald blokes in black tee shirts and Primark shorts”, showed us he had lost none of his acerbic wit! Many were disappointed, I was delighted. So, when the head Celtic Punk said the Boomtown Rats had a new album out, I was the perfect fella to take a look at it. I was almost as excited as when I heard John Peel introduce Looking After No 1 on his legendary show back in the 70s.

Many of you will have heard Trash Glam Baby, the first single off the album. It’s also the first track on it. The hints toward Bowie and ‘Glam Rock’ are plain to hear and made me wonder what direction this album was going in. It’s not the in your face outpouring of youth angst that the first, self-titled, disc delivered. In fact, the hook line “Another Shit Saturday Night, would seem to apply to a jaded middle aged narrator. The type of person many of us aging punks has become. Anyway, it’s a good, if not exciting, opening track. Sweet Thing is the second track and the minute it starts, you think you’ve heard it somewhere before. It is so reminiscent of Neon Heart from the first album, that if someone else did it the Rats would soon have them in court!! That’s not to say that it’s a bad track, in fact it sounds quite strong and I’d love to hear a live version.

Older Rats left to right: Pete Briquette, Simon Crowe and Garry Roberts, Bob Geldof

Monster Monkeys is the third track, and it’s a flat-out bluesy offering, rhythm runs right through it and it features some great guitar work. You can picture The Nightlife Thugs (the Rats original name) playing this back in the day in Dublin. When an experienced group of musicians and producers get together and really gel, then you get excellent tracks like this. I’m not too sure what it’s about, but it’s a cracker that gets better with every listen. More R’nB follows on track four with She Said No. Old school rhythm and blues played with heart and soul, a sexy blast of fun. This track would be a brilliant live one, getting the crowd to join in with the No No Nos!! Love this one. Track five is Passing Through, an apt title because it’s one of those that after the first couple of listens you just skip passed it! I’m not sure if it’s an attempt at a ballad or a pastiche of those awful 80s cringe songs that used to turn up in shite movies or on Miami Vice! Jayzus lads, but it’s a poor effort from ye! A dirge!

The Ballymun 80s style that spawned “Passing Through”!!

Thankfully track six’s Here’s A Postcard lifts the mood with a sound like a 60s mod band singing about sunny London. It makes me jealous of the London summers now that I’m living on the western edge of the continent. It’s an upbeat song about sunshine, quite poppy, but still well worth listening to. Maybe a summer single? Track seven is another, better, upbeat number called K.I.S.S and this one is brilliant, just plain brilliant! It’s a mishmash of styles from folk to hip hop and it works a treat.

If you remember Billy Joel’s We Didn’t start the Fire, well this is similar, but much more listenable and singable and danceable. A standout track. I’ll have to give it a few more spins to find out what it’s about, but the beginning chorus line of “Oh Shut Your Mouth” had me singing along and thinking of the late great Joe Strummer. (Really good tracks have that effect on me!! Dunno why!!).

Rats plugging the Rats!

Track eight brings us Rock ‘n Roll Ye Ye Ye, a song that will make you think of the great Southern Rock acts from the US like Lynyrd Skynrd. It’s a good rock standard, singing the praises of our own culture. How a blast of good old Rock ‘n’ Roll can cure so many ills. Great backing singers on this and a very good track. Get A Grip is track nine and at the start you think a Pet Shop Boys tribute act are starting, but it soon morphs into a pleasant enough quick beat type of track, the tempo is great and pushes it through really well. The last track is a live favourite, The Boomtown Rats. I’d guess that most of you will have heard it by now, it’s not the best track on the album, but it’s still a glorious sing/shout along number that the band use to introduce their shows.

Happy rats!

So that’s it, ten tracks from Dublin’s finest. I have to admit that I’m pleasantly surprised. Anyone who has listened to some of Bob’s solo work will know he always had that edginess to his writing. Well it’s on display here, although the rest of the band have smoothed down the really hard edges. It’s not A Tonic For The Troops, but is that no bad thing? The band has changed and grown just like the rest of us. There are no real Celtic style songs here, but with any band that hails from Ireland you can feel the Irishness in the melodies and the composure of the music. There are four standout tracks on this album, the rest are way better than average apart from maybe one real turkey of a song that should have been shot the minute it escaped Bob’s lips. They’re doing a tour once this virus has been beaten and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate beating the virus than spending time with The Rats!

Buy Citizens Of Boomtown  Here

Contact The Boomtown Rats  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: THE MAHONES- ‘Unplugged’ (2020)

The Mahones have always been one of Celtic-Punk’s heavyweights and last month celebrated their 30th anniversary in style with another knockout album to add to their ‘Irish Punk Collection’!

The Mahones are well regarded amongst Celtic-Punk fans and recognised indeed as pioneers of the scene. Formed in 1990 on St. Patrick’s Day in Kingston, Ontario as a band for a one-off show their reception was such that they would go onto become one of the most famous DIY Punk bands in the world and one of the hardest working bands out there. Their tours each year take them right across Europe and North America to every nook and cranny. In fact at this moment in time they ought to be on tour in Australia with The Go-Set! With a stack of studio albums behind them as well as Best Of’s, Live Albums, Compilations even tribute albums their back catalogue is second to none in the scene and to add to them now is this compilation of acoustic, mainly original, Mahones tracks taken from throughout their career.

I’m a sucker for albums like this and I’m sure those of you of a certain age will well remember Nirvana’s triumphant Unplugged album that set the scene for many albums of this kind afterwards. The Mahones may be one of the biggest ‘good time’ bands around but these songs given a raw and intimate performance gives them a new lease of life. The Mahones main attraction has always been their songwriting and whether wrapped around a three minute Punk Rock mosh pit filler or a five minute ballad the effect is much the same. Here Dublin born frontman Finny McConnell comes into his own and already famed for his ached and emotional way of singing his voice really suits these songs new arrangements.

The album begins with the romantic ‘Girl With Galway Eyes’ originally recorded for 2010’s Black Irish. Played at much the same tempo like the majority of songs here it becomes a new song played like this. ‘Rise Again’ is from the album of the same name from 1996 and is a bit of a cheat as it was acoustic then too! Still it’s a nice updating. ‘A Little Bit Of Love’ comes from 2006’s Take No Prisoners and Finny is accompanied on vocals by Canadian-Irish singer-songwriter Damhnait Doyle. So far the influence of country has been trying to make it’s presence felt and here it takes over but not in a cheesy way at all. This is followed by a couple of live set favourites with the fiddle heavy ballad ‘London’ and ‘Draggin’ The Days’ both from the early days of the band as well as the next, ‘Cocktail Blue’ and these songs lyrically show The Mahones singing about the Irish emigrant experience of drink, work and loneliness. The days of the Irish student gap-year supported financially by Mammy and Daddy were decades away. Back then the Irish emigrant was almost exclusively working class and like the generations who left before them worked the shittiest jobs and lived in the roughest and toughest areas. Like the best Irish singer-songwriters Finny takes you back to those days and makes you re-live them with him. ‘Far Away’, ‘Night Train To Paris’, ‘Will Ya Marry Me’, ‘100 Bucks’ and ‘Back Home’ also come from those early days and ‘Unplugged’ is becoming a really nice overview of those early albums and it’s even better to hear a few songs that don’t get played anymore. This is the sort of album that will have you re-visiting your record collection to search out the original. I haven’t played The Mahones so much since I started listening to this one!! Next up is arguably their most famous song, ‘Celtic Pride’, and the one that introduced yours truly to The Mahones. The title track for the 1996 film of the same name about two Irish-American Boston Celtics basketball fans starring Dan Aykroyd and Damon Wayans. I remember watching the film and sitting by the telly with a pen and a bit of paper trying to catch the name of the band on the soundtrack! It’s commendable that Finny has recorded an album of mostly originals and also songs from across The Mahones songbook but ‘Hurt’, famously recorded by the legend Johnny Cash towards his final days, is one of the albums highlights here, Finny’s vocals fit superbly and the slow accordion easily nails the sound. Written by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails he described the song as being “a track I wrote in my bedroom at a black moment” but it was Johnny’s amazing version that brought the song to the public’s attention. Another highlight is Simon Townshend of The Who providing acoustic guitar and harmony vocals on ‘Stars’ telling the sad tale of Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. 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 best more modern songs it has a chorus that is out of this world and would I am sure have Oscar looking down with grace and a twinkle in his eye. We are nearing the end and it’s clear Finny writes directly from the heart and on ‘Someone Saved Me’ it can sometimes feel like you’re sitting in on a private conversation. Finny has experienced much tragedy in the last few years which we won’t go into here but if music can save us (the listener) then it can also save them (the performer) too. The curtain call for the album is another in the same style ‘Never Let You Down’ featuring singer-songwriter  Sarah Harmer and her stunning voice is the perfect counterpoint to Finny’s. A slow burner of a song that slowly builds and builds and with the aid of tin-whistle and mandolin it’s the most Celtic sounding song on their last album Love + Death + Redemption from 2018.

So another release from the ever prolific Mahones and for me one of their best in recent years. Their is nothing here that most die-hard Mahones fans won’t have heard before but these new interpretations are worth getting as the often subtle and occasionally overt differences in the songs really make he songs sound fresh and even original. Their is plenty left in The Mahones cannon but this is probably the best imaginable way they could have celebrated thirty years on the road.

(Stream The Mahones Unplugged on the Soundcloud player below)

Buy The Mahones Unplugged  Download- NorthEndRecords  CD- Here Here

Contact The Mahones  WebSite  FacebookPage  FacebookGroup  Twitter  YouTube 

EP REVIEW: HOOLIGAN- ‘Dublin City Rockers’ (2019)

Dublin City Rockers is the 6th release from Hooligan. A new four track EP from these Dublin Punk-Rock hools. Expect thick guitars, hooks and plenty of energy.

Eleven years on from their blistering arrival on the Irish punk scene Hooligan are back again with yet another EP! That makes six now if you’re counting and if your waiting on an album then you will have to wait a little more as they seem more than content to keep pumping out the EP’s.

Kicking off with ‘Punk Rock ‘N’ Roll’ and its a explosive start with a nod to the past glories of Punk especially bands like The Clash or Stiff Little Fingers. Not overcooked  and even chucking in a guitar solo that doesn’t outlive its welcome its a fist in the air singalong that I would have called ‘melodic punk’ back in the day but I think that’s more a term for American bands now but the 1977 tag would suit them well. ‘Dublin City Girls’ is next up and if you recognise it you may be older than you think. Originally released by seminal Dublin blues rock band Skid Row (not the US hair metal band who stole their name!) in 1973 they were fronted by Brendan ‘Brush’ Shiels, Skid Row are famous now for being the first band Phil Lynott and Gary Moore first played in before they formed Thin Lizzy. The song sticks to the same blues rock of Skid Row but with more urgency and made to be louder! Now this EP is only available on vinyl as far as I know so flip the record over for side two and first up is ‘A Gang Like Us’ another original Hooligan number. It’s heads down Punk-Rock with some amazing guitar work from David who also sings and has a particularly good voice for this kind of malarkey. The EP ends with ‘Saturday’s Hero’s’ and signs off with another belter. Slower than the rest but with the same singalong chorus and some great lyrics. Stick two fingers in the air air punk rock as my auld mate Black Mick use to call it. The song winds to a close with the refrain

“Everybody hates us…we don’t care”

ringing in our ears and that can’t be true?!?! The word on the street is that Hooligan have re-located to London these days so hopefully we’ll get a chance to catch up with them soon. Great straightforward Punk-Rock that will have you shouting along after just a single play like me!

Discography Punk Rockers & Hell Raisers (2010) * Prodigal Son (2011) * No Blacks No Irish No Dogs (2013) * Criminal Damage (2014) * Teenage Rebel (2017) * Dublin City Rockers (2019)

Buy Dublin City Rockers  Advance Records  RoughTrade

Contact Hooligan Facebook  Soundcloud  YouTube

THE BEST SONG EVER WRITTEN!

The debate over what is the best song ever written will linger on and on and on and be debated well into the night by friends and foe alike. Here at London Celtic Punks we are unanimous in our view that it is a song that had been largely forgotten and unknown outside Ireland till the it’s first appearance on You Tube led to its well deserved modern day fame.
Back in 1976 while I was still listening to The Wombles (and a couple of years before I would discover Sham 69) the legendary Paul Brady released an album with the equally legendary Andy Irvine called Andy Irvine & Paul Brady. The whole album is simply outstanding, but there is one song that stands head and shoulder above even the best of the other tracks. Paul plays solo a song that closes the vinyl’s first side (remember ‘records’ and ‘sides’?) that I am yet to hear anyone who has heard it for the first time not comment on its utter brilliance. I am told it’s played in an Open G tuning and for me, someone with no musical talent, it is mesmerising watching Paul’s fingers “bounce on the surface of the strings like dragonflies on the surface of a pond” – guitar tabs for you budding musicians here. Paul’s voice is perfect for the song and the incredible lyrics that contain some serious threats of violence that are eventually acted upon! A Christmas song that is not your typical song! The song was also recorded by Bob Dylan on his Good As I Been To You album of 1992 opening up the opportunity for Pauls superior version to be heard all over again. Dylan had wanted to get out of a contract, but owed two albums so he recorded traditional songs that he liked.

Oh, me and my cousin, one Arthur McBride,
As we went a-walkin’ down by the seaside,
Mark now what followed and what did betide,
For it bein’ on Christmas mornin’
Now, for recreation, we went on a tramp,
And we met Sergeant Napper and Corporal Vamp
And a little wee drummer intending to camp,
For the day bein’ pleasant and charmin’.
*
“Good morning, good morning,” the Sergeant he cried.
“And the same to you, gentlemen,” we did reply,
Intending no harm but meant to pass by,
For it bein’ on Christmas mornin’
“But,” says he, “My fine fellows, if you will enlist,
Ten guineas in gold I’ll stick to your fist,
And a crown in the bargain for to kick up the dust,
And drink the king’s health in the morning.
*
“For a soldier, he leads a very fine life,
And he always is blessed with a charming young wife,
And he pays all his debts without sorrow or strife,
And he always lives pleasant and charmin’,
And a soldier, he always is decent and clean,
In the finest of clothing he’s constantly seen.
While other poor fellows go dirty and mean,
And sup on thin gruel in the morning.”
*
“But,” says Arthur, “I wouldn’t be proud of your clothes,
For you’ve only the lend of them, as I suppose,
But you dare not change them one night, for you know
If you do, you’ll be flogged in the morning,
And although that we’re single and free,
We take great delight in our own company,
We have no desire strange places to see,
Although that your offers are charming.
*
“And we have no desire to take your advance,
All hazards and dangers we barter on chance,
For you’d have no scruples for to send us to France,
Where we would get shot without warning,”
“Oh no,” says the Sergeant. “I’ll have no such chat,
And neither will I take it from snappy young brats,
For if you insult me with one other word,
I’ll cut off your heads in the morning.”
*
And Arthur and I, we soon drew our hogs,
And we scarce gave them time to draw their own blades
When a trusty shillelagh came over their head
And bid them take that as fair warning.
And their old rusty rapiers that hung by their sides,
We flung them as far as we could in the tide,
“Now take them up, devils!” cried Arthur McBride,
“And temper their edge in the mornin’!”
*
And the little wee drummer, we flattened his bow,
And we made a football of his rowdy-dow-dow,
Threw it in the tide for to rock and to roll,
And bade it a tedious returning,
And we havin’ no money, paid them off in cracks.
We paid no respect to their two bloody backs,
And we lathered them there like a pair of wet sacks,
And left them for dead in the morning.
*
And so, to conclude and to finish disputes,
We obligingly asked if they wanted recruits,
For we were the lads who would give them hard clouts
And bid them look sharp in the mornin’.
*
Oh, me and my cousin, one Arthur McBride,
As we went a-walkin’ down by the seaside,
Mark now what followed and what did betide,
For it bein’ on Christmas mornin’

The songs first appearance in print was around 1840 in Limerick as collected by Patrick Weston Joyce, but the roots of ‘Arthur McBride’, however, go right back further to the 17th century, and Ireland’s involvement in the Glorious Revolution (1688), the Nine Years War(1688-97), and especially the Williamite War in Ireland (1689-1691). The song refers to being “sent to France,” which would suggest the Flight of the Wild Geese: when the departure of the Patrick Sarsfield’s Irish Jacobite army were exiled from Ireland to France in 1691.

In the song, the singer and his cousin, Arthur McBride, were out walking when approached by recruiters for the British Army. They try to recruit them into service for the Crown extolling of all they will have both monetary and also the ‘finest of clothing’. Arthur McBride is having none of it and informs the recruiting sergeant that they would not be his clothes only loaned to him and why would they want to join up anyway only to die in France. The sergeant is angry at this and threatens both Arthur and his cousin but they defend themselves by attacking the recruiters with their shillelaghs (a walking stick made from blackthorn that was often used for ‘defending’ oneself!). The lyrics are so descriptive and even chilling- “And we lathered them there like a pair of wet sacks, and left them for dead in the morning.” They then steal their money and in a last show of defiance chuck the recruiters drum into the sea. The website Irish Music Daily has the best explanation for some of the colourful language used in the song.

The whole album is incredible and here from the same record is ‘The Plains Of Kildare’ an old traditional Irish song that with emigration made its way across the broad Atlantic and in the 19th century wound up in the mountains of Appalachia  to become ‘Old Stewball Was A Racehorse’.

ALBUM REVIEW: BODH’AKTAN- ‘De Temps Et De Vents’ (2019)

The seventh album of Bodh’aktan from Québec. Seven rogues fusing elements of Celtic, Rock, Trad, Pop and Punk and the music of the Celtic Nations, especially Brittany and Ireland. With bagpipes, flute, accordion, violin and bouzouki and vocals in both French and English they are a force to be reckoned with!

We are well into 2020 now but we couldn’t let last year go without paying homage to one of the best, and most active, bands in the Celtic-Punk scene. This will definitely be the last review from 2019 and what a great way to bid farewell then with a band that really encapsulates everything that Celtic-Punk should be about. A link from the traditions of the past to both the present and the future. On their last album, Ride Out The Storm, they were assisted by the legendary uileann piper Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains and it was not the first time Bodh’aktan have embraced the ‘old world’ of Celtic music.

Bodh’aktan formed in Québec in 2011 and they have released several acclaimed albums. Regular visitors to Europe, especially, of course, France they are yet to visit the Irish and British isles but as their fame spreads I’m sure it is only a matter of time. The vast majority of their releases have been in their native tongue but they have also had the novel idea of re-recording a couple of albums into English for their Anglo fans. Their new album De Temps Et De Vents has been recorded in French or as one reviewer hilariously described it as a

“return to the language of Molière after an incursion in Shakespeare”.

The Québec flag, the Fleurdelisé (Lily-flower)

Québec is a semi-autonomous region of eastern Canada and is home to 8,500,000 residents. The official language is French and is spoken by the vast majority of residents (78%). The region has a totally different feel to the rest of Canada and French dominates every aspect of life. Within this French culture is a strong Breton influence and their are no shortage of Celtic influenced bands both traditional and modern. The French population of Québec stands at around 30% with the Irish and the Scots making up a further 10% so the Celt identity there is very strong! Their have been referendums about independence in 1980 and 1995 that have been defeated (in 1995 by a margin of only 1%!) and so they remain, for the time being, subjects of the British crown. This led in 2006, to the House Of Commons of Canada passing a motion to recognise the “Québécois as a nation within a united Canada”.

So onto the actual album and De Temps Et De Vents is twelve original songs lasting nearly forty minutes that starts off where Ride Out The Storm left us. They have been moving away from the harder rock/punk sound of their earlier days into a much more Folk and trad style that is instantly recognisable in modern day Celtic-Punk. With all the lyrics in French and being a pupil of the English school system my knowledge of the language is pretty damn basic to non existent! With that in mind I can really only review the music here so please bear with me.

The album begins with the short ‘Ouverture’ a Celtic-Punk heavy intro which starts with drums but with the rest of the band joining in at intervals building up and up and leading straight into ‘Capitaine Deux-Cennes’. My first impression is that Alexandre Richard has a fine voice that really jollies the music along during the fast songs but can also wrap itself around a ballad too. The music is reminiscent of Flogging Molly with its high tempo danceable style. For the album Bodh’aktan added a fiddler and Marc-Etienne Richard’s work is pure excellent shining alongside the rest of the band. Hopefully he will become a permanent fixture. Only a couple of songs in and you are already left with the impression this is the type of album that is for celebrating along to. The tempo does change from time to time with ‘L’orage’ for example when the bagpipes add a sorrowful side to the song. It’s the first ‘slower’ song but played with a heaviness that belies its speed. ‘L’amer’ is a straight up rock number and also one of the highlights of the album with a ‘Wo-Ho-Oh’ chorus that is just ripe for roaring along to!

‘Le Jardinier Du Couvent’ (in English ‘The Gardener Of The Convent’) is a slow beautiful ballad which slowly builds into a wonderful song. Despite not knowing the words it seems full of sorrow and sadness with Alexandre wringing every bit of emotion out of it. Hidden away among the Breton/French influenced tunes is the Irish trad ‘Set Béquate’ played to absolute perfection and a great example of a band that can turn it’s hand to anything. From Celtic-Punk rockers to trad tunes like this they know how to fill up a dance floor and the song speeds along at such an intensity that i’m sure by the end many drinks will have been spilt and many ankles turned over!

‘La Tournée’ is a fast and furious (120 seconds) number that takes in bands like Neck and The Tossers. Banjo heavy and over in a flash before ‘Le Retour’, a bagpipe Celtic-Rock number with a definite Scots feel and not just because of the pipes while ‘Le Dernier Bateau’ is a slower number with very much a ‘epic’ feel to the song. We are nearing the end of our voyage and Bodh’aktan see us out with two of the longest songs on the album. ‘Dans Le Bois’ carries on in in the same vein with an acoustic Celtic jolly wee number while the curtain comes down on De Temps Et De Vents with the amazing ‘Tant Qu’il Restera Du Rhum’ (in English ‘As Long As There Is Rum’!). At over five minutes all Celtic-Punk fans will know the kind of song when i say that its the end of the night, drink has been taken and you find yourself in the middle of the dance floor holding onto a stranger with your fist (or pint) in the air belting out the words at the top of your lungs. A slow heavy swirling way to see things out.

There is literally something here to keep everyone happy. When they ‘punk’ it up they are brilliant and when they ‘folk’ it up they are as well. For an album that varies from genre to genre the album flows magnificently (something I have noticed on their previous albums too) and you barely notice that the last song was a punk or folk number. The music is a joy to listen and the band are absolutely fantastic musicians and although the obvious humour here is lost on me this is a band who put out consistently great music and have done it yet again.

Buy De Temps Et De Vents  FromTheBand  Coop Breizh France

Contact Bodh’aktan  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Twitter  LastFM  Soundcloud

Disography Au Diable Les Remords (2011) * Against Winds And Tides (2013) * Tant Qu’il Restera Du Rhum… (2013) * Mixtape (2015) * Bodh’aktan (2016) * Ride Out The Storm (2018) *

(the brand new video for ‘Mick McGuire’ taken from 2018’s acclaimed album Ride Out The Storm just released on January 9th!)

ANTO MORRA’S NEW ALBUM IN HIS OWN WORDS

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

by ANTO MORRA

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

1. NEVER HAD TO SHOUT

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

2. LONDON IRISH

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

3. TALE OF THE SLIGO WIDOW

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

4. TIME

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

5. WRONG PATH

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

6. POETS DAY

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

7. WHERE’S DADDY GONE?

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

8. CHARLEVILLE (RICKY’S SONG)

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

9. BLOOD ON THE SHAMROCK AND THE ROSE

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

10. GREEN, WHITE AND GOLD

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

11. EDITH LOUISA CAVELL

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

12. BALLAD OF EDITH CAVELL

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

13. PATRIOTISM IS NOT ENOUGH

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

14. HALF GOD HALF NELSON

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

15. BALLAD OF ANN BOLEYN AND THE BURGLAR

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

16. ENGLAND

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

17. YOU’RE NOT HERE

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

18. DRAGON

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

19. WRECKED ON LOVE

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

20. THE CONSCIENTIOUS ODD DRINKER

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

Buy Twenty  Vinyl/CD’sFromAnto

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

NEW SINGLE FROM CALLUM HOUSTON ‘ONCE UPON A TIME IN CARDIFF’

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

Among the first reviews of 2020 is the new single from a relatively new favourite of ours Callum Houston. I say relatively as we have been big fans of his other band the Welsh Psychobilly band The Graveyard Johnnys for years. The last few years have seen Callum move from Cork to Bristol to Wales and then to Lorient in Brittany where he has become a much loved fixture on the Breton Irish music scene playing regularly around the country. His debut single from last year Gravities was a big hit reaching #5 in our recent Best Of 2019 poll. It led to a successful mini tour of England including a fantastic London Celtic Punks gig down at Frosty’s Bar in Kenton. His new single Once Upon A Time In Cardiff came out just last week and keeps up the high standard with a tale of a long forgotten love affair suddenly remembered.

From car to car and bar to bar, underneath the castle lights,
It was the time of year that brings good cheer, there was warmth in the city that night,
Though I talk some junk, I’m a romantic drunk and to you my words fell right,
So we cut the rope, we pushed the boat, set sail into the night

You don’t have to think about it,
Because it’s not for real,
Pay no attention to,
The things that I say or how I feel

From drunken chat in your student flat, the seeds of lust are sown,
Though I never really wanted it to be this way, I just hate to be alone,
Well these poster walls reflect your soul, all the books that you have read,
So I flick through the pages of a magazine, I found beside your bed,

The morning rain is falling down, clears my soul anew,
Cliches keep calling and most of them, most of them are true

And you roll a smoke, I toke, I choke, well never going to do it again,
And there’s hope in your eyes, there is no disguise, let’s leave it at that my friend,
Well you played me a song, I heard it wrong, the words didn’t get right through,
Six years from then, I hear it again, it makes me think of you, that life that I knew.

The track is available from the link below for a paltry Euro. Yes a single Euro! It was recorded at Sleeper Studio, Châteaubourg in Bretagne. Callum was vocals and acoustic guitar and Sleeper Bill was on everything else. Callum will be treading the boards again in London again soon with both The Graveyard Johnnys and as a solo artist so keep and ear out here for any developments.

Download Once Upon A Time In Cardiff   FromCallum

Contact Callum Houston  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube  Spotify

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS PRESENTS THE BEST OF 2019!

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

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

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

1. THE WALKER ROADERS – Self Titled

2. MICKEY RICKSHAW – Home In Song

3. FEROCIOUS DOG – Fake News And Propaganda

4. GREENLAND WHALEFISHERS – Based On A True Story

5. BARLEYJUICE – The Old Speakeasy

6. THE NARROWBACKS – By Hook Or By Crook

7. McDERMOTTS TWO HOURS – Besieged

8. PIPES AND PINTS – The Second Chapter

9. THE RUMJACKS – Live In Athens

10. SELFISH MURPHY – After Crying

11. TORTILLA FLAT – Live At The Old Capitol

12. FIDDLERS GREEN – Heyday

13. THE RUMJACKS – Live In London Acoustic Sessions

14. THE WHIPJACKS – This Wicked World

15. 13 KRAUSS – Redención

16. ALTERNATIVE ULSTER – Craic Agus Ceol

17. AIRES BASTARDOS – Self Titled

18. THE TEMPLARS OF DOOM – Hovels Of The Holy

19. THE FIGHTING JAMESONS – A Moment In California

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

21. THE SHILLELAGHS – Ripples In The Rye

22. HELLRAISERS AND BEERDRINKERS – Pub Crawl

23. BODH’AKTAN – De Temps Et De Vents

24. HEATHEN APOSTLES – Dust To Dust

25. SONS OF CLOGGER – Return To The Stones’

26. THE CHERRY COKE$ – Old Fox

27. THE FILTHY SPECTACULA – The Howl Of The Underclasses

28. THE POTATO PIRATES – Hymns For The Wayward

29. TC COSTELLO– Horizon Songs

30. THE TENBAGS – ‘Bags o’ Craic’

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

1. THE LUCKY TROLLS – Self Titled

2. DRUNKEN DOLLY – The Party

3. LORETTA PROBLEM – The Waltz Of My Drunken Dream

4. THE CLOVERHEARTS – Sick

5. KRAKIN’ KELLYS – Irish Tribute

6. THE PLACKS – Rebellious Sons

7. GYPSY VANNER – Five Distilled Celtic Punks

8. THE RUMPLED – Grace O’ Malley

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

10. SHANGHAI TREASON – Devil’s Basement

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

AIRES BASTARDOS– ‘Self-Titled’

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

1. THE DREADNOUGHTS – Into The North

2. CROCK OF BONES – Celtic Crossbones

3. 6’10 – Where We Are

4. BRYAN McPHERSON – Kings Corner

5. CALLUM HOUSTON – Gravities

6. PYROLYSIS – Daylight Is Fading

7. SEAMUS EGAN – Early Bright

8. LE VENT DU NORD – Territoires

9. DONNY ZUZULA – Chemicals

10. DERVISH – Great Irish Songbook

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

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

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

THE CELTIC PUNKCAST

FOLK’N’ROCK

MERSEY CELT PUNKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 13th March 2020

KILKENNY BASTARDS

(www.facebook.com/KilkennyBastards)

PADDYS PUNK

(www.facebook.com/Paddyspunk)

THE PORTERS

(www.facebook.com/ThePortersfolkpunk)

FINNEGANS HELL

(www.facebook.com/finneganshell)

JAMES GALLAGHER

(www.facebook.com/TheAtlanticPirates)

Saturday 14th, March 2020

COBBLESTONES

(www.facebook.com/cobblestonesfolk)

MUIRSHEEN DURKIN AND FRIENDS

(www.facebook.com/MuirsheenDurkinAndFriends)

IRISH STEW OF SINDIDUN

(www.facebook.com/irishstewofsindidun)

SIR REG

(www.facebook.com/sirregband)

GARY O’CONNOR AND FRIENDS

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

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

#OneBigCelticPunkFamily

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

Tickets are available by clicking on the following link:

MacSlons Raise Your Pints Festival Tickets 2020

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

MacSlons Irish Pub Radio  WebSite  Shop  Facebook  YouTube  Twitter

RadioStream

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

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

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

Contact Krakin’ Kellys WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram  Twitter

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

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

Contact Bilge Rats  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

CELEBRATING A CELTIC CHRISTMAS

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

Christmas

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

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

SCOTLAND

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

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

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

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

IRELAND

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

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

WALES

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

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

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

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

ISLE OF MAN

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

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

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

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

CORNWALL

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

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

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

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

BRITTANY

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

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

GALICIA

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

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

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

Nollick Ghennal as Blein Vie Noa (Manx Gaelic)

Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath ùr (Scottish Gaelic)

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

Nedeleg Laouen na Bloavezh Mat  (Breton)

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda (Welsh)

Nadelik Lowen ha Bledhen Nowyth Da (Cornish)

Further Christmas themed fun with this London Celtic Punks Top Twenty

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

CLICK HERE

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

Now go have a drink…

IRISH SOUL STEW- THE POGUES

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

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

by Alan K. Crandall

IRISH SOUL STEW

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

GOLDEN HITS OF THE 80’s

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

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

IRISH SOUL STEW (PART TWO)

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

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

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

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

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

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

ZEN AND THE ART OF ROCK’n’ROLL FANDOM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MORE GOLDEN HITS OF THE 80’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROCK’n’ROLL PADDY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Pogues-related links:

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

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

Alt Folk, Irish, Trad, Celtic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Celtic Crossbones  FromTheBand

Contact Crock Of Bones  Facebook  Soundcloud  YouTube  Bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: THE NARROWBACKS- ‘By Hook Or By Crook’ (2019)

New York Irish Music

The Narrowbacks are back with their third album of Irish-American Celtic-Rock and conceivably their best yet! If Joe Strummer, Shane MacGowan and Bruce Springsteen survived a drinking session through the 5 boroughs, the hangover would be called The Narrowbacks. Fire it up!

nar·row·back /ˈnæroʊˌbæk/ [nar-oh-bak]
–noun Slang.
1. Disparaging. an Irish-American.
2. a person of slight build who is unfit for hard labor.

Across the major cities of the Irish diaspora you will find one (or two if your lucky!) band that comes to totally represent the Irish of that city. Like the Dropkicks in Boston, the Mollys in LA, The Wakes in Glasgow and The Bible Code Sundays and Neck in London these bands are a rallying point to the Irish community and help to keep alive the past, present and future of that community. The painful history of tragedy and hardship became a sense of pride and celebration that today across the world the Irish community is flourishing. Even though their are several bands that could lay claim to to the title of NYC’s most prominent Irish band and with competition from greats such as Shilelagh Law or Black 47 The Narrowbacks with this their third studio album By Hook Or By Crook have nailed the honour with this flying colours.

In a city where everyone is fighting for space the the working class Woodlawn area of the Bronx remains to this day a predominantly Irish area, the neighborhood is still referred to as ‘Little Ireland’. Young Irish still flock to the area on their arrival to the States due to the area hosting both the Emerald Isle Immigration Center and the Aisling Irish Community Centre as well untold amount of pubs and construction companies where many of these newly arrived Irish can find work. It was in Woodlawn that the Irish-Americans that form The Narrowbacks grew up. Formed in 2010 as the brain child of a future banker and a drop out bartender as a drunken joke that soon enough developed, under popular demand for them, into the next big thing on the New York Irish music scene. Taking their name from the slang name historically used to describe a Irish-American who was considered too soft to do hard physical labour.

The Narrowbacks left to right: Reilley Vegh – Fiddle * Fionn McElligott – Electric Guitar * Barry Walsh – Acoustic Guitar/Banjo/Mandolin * Seamus Keane – Lead Vocals * Anthony Chen – Bass * Chris Moran – Drums * Pat Keane – Button Accordion

The Narrowbacks pursuit to take over the NYC Irish music scene arguably began when Black 47 called it a day back in 2014. The undisputed ‘Kings Of NY’ were a Celtic-Rock band, formed in 1989 by Larry Kirwan and Chris Byrne taking their name from the the summer of 1847, the worst year of the ‘Great Famine’ in Ireland. With them out of the way the scene was set for some new blood and following their debut album, Fire It Up in 2013, they really came into their own with the EP After Hours and their second album release Arrogance And Ignorance in 2016 the year that also saw them opening for the likes of Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. The album peaked at #2 in the London Celtic Punks Best Of 2016 album chart so much did the assorted wastrels here rate it!

So The Narrowbacks are back and they have a lot to live up to. Arrogance And Ignorance was one of my favourite albums and is still regularly given an airing over at London Celtic Punks towers. The Christmas themed ‘Prodigal Son’ is particularly glorious. An auld fashioned Christmas song about an Irish mammy waiting for her off-the-rails son to come home. Capable of bringing a tear to the eye its nay on impossible to make a truly unsentimental Christmas tune but The Pogues and The Narrowbacks have done it. Based in singer Seamus Keane’s pub in Woodlawn, Keane’s Bar And Restaurant, where music is supplied seven days a week by up-and-coming Irish and Irish-American musicians the band are not just leading the cities music scene but are also helping to make it flourish with their support of other artists.

Tribal drumming and distortion kicks off By Hook Or By Crook with the title track and soon, after only forty seconds, comes to an abrupt end and ‘Streets Of Woodlawn’ takes over and was the first single released in advance of the album. Instantly giving a sense of London’s own Bible Code Sundays due in no small part to the prominence of fiddle and accordion it’s a rip-roaring song the kind of track that gets you screaming at the top of your voice along with the band or a singalong down at the pub smacking your glass on the bar shouting along with the Bhoys “In the streets of Woodlawn”.

Over in a flash of under three minutes The Narrowbacks are not hanging about and the addition of the excellent fiddler Reilley Vegh has given the band that little bit extra buzz. Next up is ‘Tripping Up The Stairs’ and Reilley again shines and his contribution really rounds off the bands sound nicely. The song ticks along nicely with Seamus having perhaps reigned in the ‘gravelyness’ of his vocals. Maybe he’s given up smoking!?! The song ends with a fab trad fiddle solo showing their are no boundaries here and ‘On The Radio’ they have one ot the albums stand out tracks. As catchy as hell with a great chorus and infectiously fun the song gives the whole band to shine individually while not disturbing the flow of the song.

So far its been fun fun fun but as anyone will tell you its not all fun being Irish and ‘All I Know Is Woe’ is the song to bring down the mood, but only a wee bit as the music is still catchy as hell and completely uplifting. While the Bible Codes never really passed into Celtic-Punk remaining firmly embedded in the London Irish pub and trad scene it’s great to hear The Narrowbacks thrash out a bit and ‘Delirium’ is the track to do it in. Still with both feet firmly in Irish music the song has a bit more bite to it and even sounds louder than the other songs here!! The song even touches on that most Celtic-Punk of themes that of the pub and alcohol. On an album as strong as By Hook Or By Crook it seems a wee bit unfair to point out the better tracks but ‘Jackson Notes’ is certainly one of them. Again as catchy as a New York Yankees baseball mitt it’s a rollicking good ride with great vocals from Seamus alongside the whole band stepping up to the plate a great chorus to top it all off. We are nearing the end and nay sign of any ballad yet and ‘Sackcloth And Ash’ is not one either. A more folky approach here despite Fionn’s thrashy guitar, Chris’ drums and Anthony’s rumbling bass best attempts to keep it rocking. The longest song here at nearly five minutes it never outlives its welcome and is, here’s that word again… catchy! The folk instruments are supplied by Patrick on accordion and Barry on both banjo and mandolin as well as Fionn on fiddle. ‘Last Call’ carries on in similar vein with a folky base. Talking of life on the working class streets of NY and not everyone is a king in the US of A. Another great song giving the album a strong ending as ‘Bitter End’ brings down the curtain on By Hook Or By Crook. As Seamus rallies his friends together in a song about how friendship and family determines who we are and tells us to “hold our heads high”. A fantastic ending to an outstanding album.

Ten songs that, all penned by the band themselves, comes in at just over thirty minutes. With seven members the production could get a bit messy but it is as clear as crystal and all the various instruments from folk to rock are clearly balanced along with Seamus vocals. Whoever mixed and produced the album deserves a tip of the hat for such a fantastic job. While The Narrowbacks are probably not a ‘celtic-Punk’ in the traditional sense they are common among Irish-American bands in that they keep one foot in the trad folk scene and come across as a Folk band playing Punk/Rock songs. In these days with the Irish community in the States seemingly at last happy in it’s role in American life bands like those that inhabit the Celtic-Punk and Rock scenes play an important part in keeping the community grounded and to not to forget its past and what others went through to give them the confidence they have today. Seamus Keane sums up the Irish-American community in in his own inimitable way

“Irish America in 2019 is its own thing altogether. One part Donald Trump, two parts Civil Service, construction and pubs, mix in equal parts GAA and AOH, finish with three parts Wolfe Tones. A contradictory recipe for a terrible conversation at Thanksgiving Dinner.”

By Hook Or By Crook gives Arrogance And Ignorance more than a good run for its money and the songs fly past in an whirl and show a growing confidence The Narrowbacks have in themselves. How they are not more widely known is a mystery to me but the Irish around the world love Irish-America (we are all secretly obsessed with it!!) so hopefully this album will receive them the exposure they so greatly deserve. Destined to be at the higher end of this years Best Of Album chart By Hook Or By Crook takes you instantly to the smoke filled bars of Katonah Avenue. Places built on the blood, sweat and tears of generations of Irish and Irish-Americans who still keep a flame alive in their hearts for a place that many will never see.