Mighty McGuiggans Fort Wayne, Indiana combine lively Irish fun with original compositions and some well trod covers.
Gritty, real and beautiful, like a single malt scotch or a fine stout. Raucous drinking songs, beautiful ballads, hilarious songs that tell a story and some pirate tunes to boot!
We were delighted to hear from American Irish Celtic-Punk band The Mighty McGuiggans in the run up to St. Patrick’s Day. They had a new release coming out and thought we would like to review it? Well we never say no so checked through the internet and soon found a whole host of live clips from several recent live shows that fair blew our socks off. With a live set that brings in some classic Celtic-Punk from scene favourites Flogging Molly, The Pogues, Dropkick Murphys, etc. alongside their own material they have seen their popularity grow at home and now hopefully with their debut EP fans will arrive from further afield. So with St. Patrick’s Day 2023 now just a drunken haze its time to look forward to next years… and remember next year it’s a Saturday!
The Mighty McGuiggans left to right : Jesse Evans – Whistles / Melodica / Backing Vocals * David Coleman – Drums * John DeGroff – Bass * Shawn Browning – Electric Guitar / Acoustic Guitar / Backing Vocals / Lead Vocals * Tommy Myers (front lower) – Accordion / Mandolin / Whistles / Backing Vocals * Mark Turney – Lead Vocals / Ukulele *
While it was London Irish psycho-ceilidh rockers Neck who said that “every day is St. Patrick’s day” The Mighty McGuiggans proclaim “Every day is almost St. Paddy’s Day!” with us all having something just around the corner to look forward to! At the centre of The Mighty McGuiggans’ sound is songwriter, and possibly the only Celtic-Punk frontman to play ukulele, Mark Turney. He has led the band for over a decade and instrumental in evolving the bands sound from acoustic-based Irish Folk to a full-blown electric Celtic-Rock band. He has been accompanied since the earliest days by multi-instrumentalist Tommy Myers, Jesse Evans who plays assorted wind instruments adding much of the ‘Irishness’ with his knowledge of reels and jigs, John DeGroff on bass, David Coleman on drums and guitarist and singer Shawn Browning, as Mark so eloquently puts it, “Shawn adds the balls to the band.”
The EP opens with ‘Boys Have Gone The Knuckle’ and though the version above differs considerably from the one on the disc it’s still a decent version which shows what a great live show they deliver. With samples from the likes of JFK, the war-monger George Bush, the class clown Don Lemon among radio ads and static the song erupts into fast, catchy Irish Folk-Rock. Almost entirely acoustic its great fun altogether with a sound that reminds me a little of Swedes Finnegan’s Hell. Next up the fellas ‘pirate’ it up with ‘Pass Around The Rum’ not so fast but just as catchy and a nice touch with the ‘Swallowtail Jig’ in the middle.
The first song to be released from the EP was the triumphant ‘The Day I Beat McKluskey’ back at the end of January. A raucous Irish romp telling the tale of a bully getting their just deserts with a real funny twist at the ends that made me howl with laughter. A catchy as hell chorus that by the end of the first time you hear it you’re singing along with!
“It’s a drop of the pure for courage, & it’s Sláinte one & all!
I hit the bully on the nose, & made the bully fall.
The day I beat McKluskey, I could hold me head up high;
It’s a day that I’ll remember well until the day I die.”
Among all the mad as hell Celtic-Punk I hear I love a ballad. To be a world class Celtic-Punk band you need to be able to crank out a decent ballad (and also give it some trad. Irish too) and ‘Devil’s Drink’ is a wonderful song with a touch of darkness like a really good pint of Stout. The EP ends with the EP’s title song ‘Every Day Is Almost St. Patrick’s Day’ another belter of a song that ends the release with a smile.
“Every day is almost St. Paddy’s Day;
It’s really not so far away,
So let’s raise a pint, and keep sorrow at bay!
Every day is almost St. Paddy’s Day!”
The Mighty McGuiggans are a fantastic addition to the American Celtic-Punk scene with everything that makes the scene over there so good. A mix of story telling and uplifting good time music to leave your sorrows at home and simply have a great time. This EP concentrates on their fun side and their is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
(You can stream / download the Every Day Is Almost St. Paddy’s Day EP via the Bandcamp player below)
Download Every Day Is Almost St. Paddy’s Day Bandcamp
With so much new Celtic-Punk to review we very very rarely go back in time for releases we missed the first time round but we are making an exception today for Costa Mesa, Californian Celtic-Punk band The Provos debut album.
With their follow up album already recorded and due out very soon Shane O’Neill gets a taste for The Provos !
At the London Celtic Punks Headquarters we do tend to get a bit over excited when we discover a new band or one we haven’t heard before. Recently we stumbled across a band called The Provos which immediately grabbed our attention. Immediately the research department was mobilised and tasked with reporting back with their findings. True to their name, it was difficult to find much information on the band initially, so we had to reach out through some underground contacts wearing sunglasses to find The Provos hiding out in a safe house in Orange County, California in the United States.
The Provos left to right: Tommy Di Ilio – Bouzouki * Jacob Morgan- Banjo * Cara O’Mahony – Tin Whistle * Darby O’Mahony – Bass * Ben Jordan – Vocals / Guitar * Holden Hodges – Mandolin * Miles Janasin – Percussion *
The Provos have been established since 2020 taking their inspiration from The Waterboys, The Pogues and the Wolfe Tones. They have been playing the scene in Costa Mesa, CA bringing their brand of Irish Punk to the local crowd. They are making an appearance at Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas this year along supporting The Bar Stool Preachers, The Rumjacks and Booze & Glory – That’ll be one hell of a gig!!!
In 2021, The Provos released their debut album & We Left It As It Was and we have only recently had a listen. The album is a fusion of classic Irish tunes with a fusion of punk attitude. The album has 9 songs and is just under half hour long. They do excellent covers of Leaving Liverpool, Whiskey in the Jar, Dirty Old Town and one of my favourite tunes Poor Paddy. This is blended with a few of their own tunes. This is an excellent album for their debut. We understand that they have another album almost ready for release and I’m sure it will be a big hit.
The Provos are a band to keep an eye out for. I have no doubt we will be hearing a lot more from them very soon. As our auld pal Big Gerry once said “They haven’t gone away ya know…” UP THE PROVOS !!!
While this side of the broad Atlantic all the writers for London Celtic Punks are musically illiterate over in the US of A there is no end to the musical talents of our North America editor Ray Ball! Ray’s band Ravenswalk have a aptly titled six track EP out just in time for St. Patrick’s Day 2023.
Alongside being a great writer and a Celtic-Punk obsessive like the rest of us Ray recognises that Celtic-Punk is much much more than music. While some write the genre off as corny and just drinking music it is musicians like Ray that bring to mind the ancient seanchai. A traditional Gaelic storyteller and historian who passes on his knowledge through both music and song. So with all that in mind we asked Ray to go into the songs and give us a wee potted history of the songs.
‘Shipping Up To Boston’
This song needs no introduction. I arranged this for two bagpipes which I just played on different tracks, bass and drums. Just a little change of pace for a tune we all know.
A track from The Cranberries that I love Clare singing on that really encapsulates the troubles.
‘The World Turned Upside Down’
This tells of is a commune started in 1649 in England that didn’t last long due to the monarchy but was a huge stepping stone towards more contemporary socialist values. Not to make a huge political stance but a good song. The British army also played this tune on fife and drum when they surrendered to the allied French and continental army at the final battle of the American revolution, because it was a bitter irony.
‘Thatcherites By Name’
Sung to the tune of ‘Jacobites By Name’ originally by Robert Burns to criticise the British government under Maggie Thatcher. Not a super Irishy song but one I also love Clare’s vocals on and has the Rabbie Burns tie in.
This traces back to before the American Civil War, and was a popular tune then. It’s really about creating mayhem in a small Irish town lyrically but in it’s day was also a favourite amongst soldiers, particularly Irish ones.
‘The Irish Volunteer’
This is also a Civil War era tune, which celebrates an Irish immigrants story of his father dying on Vinegar Hill in 1798 to his fighting for his new country that allowed him a new life. All biases aside, by the 1860’s there were huge amounts of Irish immigrants fighting for both sides during the war. Some accounts actually state that soldiers on opposite sides that were all Irish would stop firing at each other because they all recognised that they were brethren caught up in a different fight. At the battle of Fredericksburg one confederate soldier crossed lines during the night and went to give water to his Irish union brethren who were wounded and dying in the cold. He is known as “the Angel of Mayres Heights” and there is a large monument to him on the battlefield today.
(Stream / download St. Patrick’s Day 2023 via the Bandcamp player below)
The album cover is based on the flag of the 7th Buffalo Regt., Irish Army of Liberation. The flag was carried into battle during the Fenian raids, which took place in the 1860’s after the war and consisted of veterans of both sides deciding they would fight to invade Canada via Buffalo and hold it in ransom for Ireland’s freedom, or even to start a “new Ireland” there. The battle showed a swift and distinct Irish victory but was short lived. The regiment was of volunteers from the heavily Irish south side of Buffalo, but saw heavy action. Two casualties of the battle were recovered and brought to their final resting place near to that south Buffalo area. Though their attempts failed ultimately, it presented the groundwork for the Easter 1916 rising in many ways.
Ravenswalk are the classically trained Clare Elizabeth on vocals and the aforementioned Ray Ball on all the other many instruments and they are based in the heavily Irish-American city of Buffalo in New York state. They have already amassed a back catalogue that much more established bands would be jealous of and it’s all freely available alongside the St. Patrick’s Day 202 six track EP as ‘name your price’ downloads from Bandcamp. We never get tired of saying that these downloads are completely free and their is absolutely no obligation to pay anything but their is an option if you do feel and can afford to send over a couple of pints. After all Guinness is expensive stuff in the States.
Distant Lands, the brilliant third release from Whiskey’s Wake, Celtic-Punk rockers from Salt Lake City, Utah.
Distant Lands is the third album from Whiskey’s Wake following their self titled debut album back in 2005 and, an amazing seventeen years later, that that was followed by last year’s six (or was it eight with the two remixes!) track album Wake Up Whiskey which made our Celtic-Punk Top Twenty for last year. The core of the group is the same as it was all those years ago with Adam, Patrick, Danny, and Andreas all still playing since they first got together. The original drummer, Ronan, moved away a long time ago and while he doesn’t drum on Distant Lands he still occasionally returns to the WW drum stool.
Whiskey’s Wake left to right: Adam Blair – Vocals / Guitar * Pat Reimherr – Guitar * Danny Houpt – Mandolin / Banjo / Bagpipes * Andreas Petersen – Accordion * Derek Julio – Drums * Joel Pack – Bass (Studio only) * Sophie Blair – Vocals / Viola (Studio only) *
The philosophy of the band is simple
“We write all our songs to be played in packed pubs and bars and do our best to bring some of that live feeling to our recordings. We had our first shows at Kilby Court and, in a way, continue to write, practice, and record for that Kilby atmosphere.”
Enthusiasm for, and within, the band has continue to grow with the band citing the success of Wake Up Whiskey and the great response it got from the wider Celtic-Punk community. So can the guys keep it up? Well the answer is a resounding yes! Their may be only four songs here but all are just different enough from each other yet still still have the unmistakable Whiskey’s Wake sound. The EP kicks off with the fantastic ‘Whiskey Grove’ and a familiar drone soon gives way to super catchy Punk-Rock with the accordion and mandolin giving it a great Celtic edge. It has a kind of Mickey Rickshaw influence I feel with a great story being told alongside a tune to die for. Catchy as hell but still Punk enough for the Punks. ‘Keep The Fight Alive’ keeps the energy up with bagpipes now added from the multi talented Danny while the catchiness continues. In fact just save me time and assume I’m going to say all the songs here are catchy! All four songs are just over two minutes long giving them a sense of a short sharp shock with ‘We’ll Leave This Place’ nearest here to a slow song with a almost delicate air given to it by vocalist and guitarist Adam. The chugging guitar makes this awesome Celtic rocker of a song perfect for a spot of head nodding / foot tapping / thigh slapping. A special mention for Sophie who supply’s some very nice backing vocals as well as the beautiful sound of the viola, not something we hear a lot of in LCP towers. The EP ends with ‘Shepherd Of The Night Flock’ with the mandolin and as I expected the curtain comes down with the EP’s standout track. Pure Celtic-Punk at it’s best with the story being told almost as important as the tune. Superb!
Distant Lands is one hell of an EP and as you can tell I am a very big fan. Every song here is top drawer and can only help the band with their plans to rise to the top of American Celtic-Punk. The EP is available as a ‘name your price’ download so their is absolutely nothing stopping you from downloading this wonderful EP straight away. Even if you are not too sure how to do it or never done it before here’s a handy guide on how to do it. Now it may be free but always remember that Celtic-Punk bands are thirsty so if you are able leave them a drink or two. They like Guinness and in the States that stuff is expensive!
(Stream or download Distant Lands from the Bandcamp player below)
An incredibly interesting take on Celtic-Punk from Saint Louis, Missouri with Rusty Nail who sound just as if Liam Clancy grew up on Nirvana while playing Celtic-Rock originals and traditional Irish Folk down the Pub.
Don’t know what it is about Celtic-Punk bands but despite going through more members than Spinal Tap have drummers they keep on going and growing despite all obstacles. Rusty Nail are another band in the Celtic-Punk scene hurtling towards twenty years together. Founded in St. Louis, Missouri it’s a place that has a rich and interesting history. Known primarily to those whose knowledge of the United States is a bit rusty (groan) as the epicentre of the Western genre of movies it soon after that period became a bustling nineteenth-century industrial mecca with huge numbers of European migrants especially from Ireland and Germany. In just forty years the population grew from 20,000 to 160,000. St. Louis is proud of it’s Irish connections and is twinned with both Galway and Donegal and the Irish community is still vibrant with Gaelic games and culture and tradition flourishing. Just like in the rest of north America what the Irish went through on arrival and for decades after is fascinating and I recommend Bob Corbett’s Dogtown Homepage. Dogtown is the Irish part of St. Louis and the name stems from the time of the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 when poor Irish squatters, living in makeshift shanties in Forest Park, were forced by the fair to move southward to the neighbouring hill.
Rusty Nail current line-up: Alvan Caby – Mandolin / Guitar / Vocals * Kelly LaRussa – Violin * Chad Ross – Electric Guitar / Banjo / Accordion / Bouzouki / Organ * Pete McAvity: Bass Guitar / Electric Guitar (on Never Tell Me To Smile and The Casualty) * Dennis Frentzel – Drums * Additional Musicians : Chris Otto – Irish Whistle / Native American Flutes * Mark Hochberg: Bass Guitar (on Never Tell Me To Smile and The Casualty)
Taking their name from an alcoholic beverage popular from the pre-industrial age made with Whiskey and Drambuie Liqueur Rusty Nail are a seven piece band inspired by the greats of Irish music, past and more modern. Playing regularly around St. Louis’ Irish neighbourhoods on the city’s South Side they soon became a popular and highly sought out act for the areas pubs and music venues. Starting off by playing traditional songs they began to build up a strong repertoire of their own original music gaining a strong reputation for their entertaining and energetic performances and proving themselves as a true-to-form Irish bar band.
It was 2011 when they released their debut album, Boozers, Bastards And Bards. A collection of their own compositions and a handful of Irish Folk covers that gained them great reviews and new friends. This was followed up by Ounce And A Half Of Whiskey in 2015 and Bitter Ale, Bitter Heart the following year where it would later reach #24 in the Best Celtic-Punk Albums of 2016 awards. It was that third album where we first heard them and proclaimed it
“pure infectious dance music (proper dance music that is!) with enough fist in the air moments to give you a bad shoulder in the morning! Like the best in Celtic-Punk its a roller coaster of emotions and the joyous music belies the seriousness of the words and the lyrics often inhabit a dark place precisely because it’s the story of Irish-America. It’s not all shamrocks and shenanigans you know.”
Which brings us onto Burnt Prairie, Illinois and the first Celtic-Punk album of 2023 arriving just a day or two into the new year but with the official release date today. The album is a pure DIY production funded completely with a Kickstarter appeal where their fans pledged money in return for various Rusty Nail goodies and pre-official release copies of the album. The opening track is the the title song ‘Burnt Prairie, Illinois’ and first impressions are that the music is pretty much exclusively acoustic and of Alvan Caby’s distinctive vocals. To my ear Alvan has a touch of Elvis Costello about him and he is also the bands songwriter responsible for all eleven songs here. The video is taken from band practise last May and doesn’t differ too greatly from the album version except perhaps in polish. In the true spirit of Celtic-Punk the songs here tell elaborate stories alongside some pretty damned good music that is expertly played. Though mostly acoustic their is nothing gentle about Rusty Nail and the music is mostly fast paced of the kind that would get even the most staid of fan up and jigging about. The type of band that couples could sit at the back and enjoy the slower more contemplative numbers over a pint or two and the rowdy’s could have a proper good night out on the lash and enjoy slipping over in spilt Guinness with their arms round each other holding themselves up. The opening track changes half way through to maybe as Punky as they get while ‘Seven Angry Winds’ is a beautiful ballad with pure emotion spilling out. ‘Dark Surprise’ and ‘Never Tell Me To Smile’ continue the dark themes but in wildly different styles.
Next up is ‘Just Can’t Leave It Behind’ and the video above is another taken from band practise and doesn’t match the polished version on the album but does give a sense of them live. The flute that features in most of the songs especially next on ‘Never’, gives them a European Celtic-Punk feel as it’s not something I hear a lot of in American bands. Here it is the native American flute played by Chris and it’s an instrument I was slow to embrace but have grown to love. Again I return to dark themes and believe it or not it is quite refreshing to hear these tragic tales as in ‘Evaporate’, ‘Return To March 22’ and ‘The Casualty’ that take us almost to the end. One thing I would have liked to have seen is the lyrics. Maybe they can add them to the Bandcamp site? The curtain comes down on Burnt Prairie, Illinois with the awesome ‘Oh Mother’. A son apologise to his Mammy about a life of disappointment. Slow and mournful with Alvan accompanied only by delicate acoustic guitar and Kelly’s exquisite fiddle. Bayjaysus Alvan I hope this isn’t autobiographical!
One of the things I have learnt on doing this site is the importance of putting out one or two videos when you release an album. They don’t have to be flash, after all ‘flashness’ is not something you would associate with Celtic-Punk, maybe even just filmed in your local Irish pub with a few mates. This I think is a trick Rusty Nail have missed here for Burnt Prairie, Illinois still you can listen to the whole album via the Bandcamp player below where it is available to buy on download or vinyl. Burnt Prairie, Illinois is a fantastic album that really needs to be listened to. Best over the headphones I found but that’s not to say it’s not something that you could party on down to after all can anyone beat the Irish at sad songs played to be danced to?
(Download / Stream Burnt Prairie, Illinois via the Bandcamp player below)
Dance as if no one were watching, sing as if no one were listening, and live every day as if it were your last.
Even in this internet age sometimes news travels slowly and is the way of things that it is usually sad news that travels the slowest. We just heard of the tragic murder of Patrick Fowler, accordionist with the Celtic-Punk band Morgan’s Bluff based in Phoenix, Arizona. We are thankful for the guys in the band to have this chance to remember him on these pages and we send our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.
Patrick’s Celtic influence comes from his father Mick Fowler, who was a bagpiper for many years. When Patrick showed interest in playing music his parents had him take piano lessons. He started listening to his fathers cassette tapes while hiding under a blanket in his bed. The Pogues and Dubliners were to become his major influences and he taught himself to play tin whistle at the age of 9.
After excelling at playing the whistle he would start to accompany his fathers band to play at the renaissance fairs playing traditional Irish music at a young age. At the age of 23 he would officially join the band Ramfoozle playing guitar and tin whistle. In 2014 Patrick taught himself accordion and joined the band Cockswain , a Celtic-Punk band, for a couple years. He then moved on to a band called Swarthy Pirates with his good friend Lars. They would have a lot of fun playing songs highlighting Patrick’s amazing Celtic instrument abilities. Come 2017 he started the band Villains in Heat, a garage rock band. They became a regular name in the local scene quickly. While the band did not focus on his Celtic roots his keyboard, guitar and vocal skills were highlighted.
In 2019 Morgans Bluff started and almost fell apart without having a main melody instrument musician. When Patrick left Villains and joined Morgans Bluff it brought everything together into the recordings you hear today. The band was having a great time and enjoying some successful shows when we lost Patrick. We will never be the same without him but we will push forward as a 4 piece now since he drove us to get better and learn to play more instruments to keep up with him.
Last week we had the pleasure of reviewing the most recent release of Morgan’s Bluff, Chaser. It’s three tracks are the last that Patrick recorded with the band and stand as a worthy testament to his prowess as an amazing accordion player and the impact he had on the people around him.
New Year’s Day saw the release of a 3-track EP from Arizona based Celtic rockers Morgan’s Bluff, sadly featuring the last recordings with the late great Patrick Fowler, band accordionist, tin whistle player and vocalist.
Arriving on our doorstep just after its release on New Years Day we were originally delighted to hear from Morgan’s Bluff that they had a new release out. This was tempered though when we looked into the email and found out that it was the last recordings from their awesome accordion player (and more!) the late great Patrick Fowler. Poor Patrick was murdered last October in a indiscriminate shooting in Phoenix and was an innocent bystander. We hope that his murderer is caught soon and sees the justice he thoroughly deserves.
Morgan’s Bluff were formed by friends Paul Allen and Chris Sheridan and after several attempts and even more band members they were beginning to run out of patience that the band would never really get going That was till one day Chris got a call from Patrick saying he wanted to come to a band practice and see what happens. Having met together at one of the guys homes they began setting up when Patrick asked “what instrument do i play?”. No one had yet set what instruments each of them were to play so Patrick pulled out his accordion and the band kicked off. It soon came to an abrupt end though when about an hour later the next door neighbour banged on the door and said “if you don’t stop i’m calling the police”. Still the band had finally began and after several more practice locations and unfortunately more members, Morgan’s Bluff were finally a band and they all knew what instruments to play!
Their debut album, the self titled Morgan’s Bluff, was released in November, 2020 and was seven original tracks that covered all the bases of Irish-American Celtic-Punk rock. From the accordion led opening track ‘Brutality’ with it’s bouncy Ska base to the closing track ‘Home Tonight’ the influences don’t stop and start with Celtic-Folk with the full American immigrant experience her somewhere!
The EP opens with ‘Fading Away’ and you can hear Patrick’s accordion loud and proud in a song that reminds me of the Dropkick Murphys at their most contemplative. Slow and swirling but filled with attitude and ballsy as hell. The second of the three songs is ‘One More Round’ and the obligatory drinking song. More traditional Celtic-Punk from its Irish Folk opening to glorious subject matter. Working your fingers down to the bone and never getting your full due it’s a celebration of blue-collar working class life and working for the weekend. Something that many of us do and aren’t ashamed of it. The EP ends with ‘Lost In Hoboken’ and another upbeat number with Patrick’s accordion pushed to the fore. A great way to end things with a tale of great night out when you shouldn’t have stayed for that final pint but the lure was just too strong.
Chaser is a fantastic release and my only problem is that their isn’t more of it. We are pleased to hear that Morgan’s Bluff are carrying on. It is, I am sure, what Patrick would have wanted and this is a great legacy for his friends and family to remember him by.
(Chaser is only available on Bandcamp at the moment. You can stream the EP in its entirety and download Chaser for just $2 via the Bandcamp player below)
New York unashamedly Irish-American Celtic-Punk Irish band The Templars Of Doom just released a stunning new video and single taken from their recently released third album Rising Of The Doom.
Coming out of the aptly titled Ulster County in New York state come The Templars Of Doom. Paying homage to the UK82 style of English Punk-Rock bands while adding bagpipes, mandolin and tin whistle and the politics of The Wolfe Tones! Loud, brash and in-yer-face Celtic-PUNK but not without it’s tender moments though they are few and far between! Tales of Irish-American and Irish history the Templars Of Doom tell a fantastic story while also beating up the dance floor!
Templars Of Doom left to right: Rory Quinn – Guitar * Falco Sparvarious – Drums * Josie – Bagpipes / Whistles * Mike – Bass / Vocals * Marty Shane – Mandolin *
Well here the Templars cast their net across the sea and cover some little known Scottish history with a song that is well over 200 years old. Written by by Carolina Oliphant. Lady Nairne, and set to a traditional Scottish folk tune. We asked Mike the bands founder and vocalist for the meaning of the song and this is what he said
“This Song is written about Bonnie Prince Charlie, Grandson of James II who was deposed for being Catholic. In 1534 Henry VIII, murderer of 2 of his 6 wives, founded the Church of England and later, in 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie attempts to set things right and restore Scotland. ‘The Butcher’ Duke of Cumberland (Son of George II) defeated the Jacobite (Jacob is Latin for James, the Stewart supporters) at Culloden in 1746. The English tyrants used this as an excuse to exterminate the Scottish clan system, including the banning of wearing of tartan, and playing of bagpipes. My own ancestors, The Roses, were highlanders and fled / banished for Canada at that time, Landing in New Bruynswick, Canada, (Moncton). There you have it. I wouldn’t be here today, in New York without Bonnie Prince Charlie.”
Bonnie Charlie’s noo awa
Safely o’er the friendly main
Mony a heart will break in twa
Should he no come back again
Will ye no come back again
Will ye no come back again
Better lo’ed ye canna be
Will ye no come back again
Whene’er I hear the blackbird sing
Unto the evening sinking down
Or merl that makes the woods to ring
To me they hae no other sound
Many’s the gallant soldier fought
Many’s the gallant chief did fall
Death itself was dearly bought
All for Scotland’s king and lord
Low the Blackbird’s note and lang
Lilting wildly up the glen
And aye to me he sings ae sang
Will ye no come back again
Ye trusted in your Hielan’ men
They trusted you dear Charlie
They kent your hiding in the glen
Death or exile braving
Cheers to Mike and the gang for the great music. Their are three others videos coming soon staggered over the following few months and you will find them here on the London Celtic Punks site. The band footage for the video was shot with two cameras and the battle footage shot from large French and Indian War battle re-enactments at Fort Ticonderoga and Fort Niagara in New York state. The two forts are at opposite ends of New York State, about 8 hour car drive apart. Fort Ticondetoga is on Lake Champlain (East) and Niagara is on Lake Ontario (West) near Buffalo. The footage was originally used in the production of Mike’s horror movie Kaastskill Kannibals , which is available to be viewed for free on Amazon Prime. The track is taken from their album Rising Of The Doom was released in November, 2022. Eleven mainly self penned numbers to inspire and entertain the serious Celtic-Punk rocker. The album is at the moment only available on download at the link below.
Unsurprisingly whenever the release of a new Dropkick Murphys album is announced the internet glows white with reviews and promotions so now two months after the release of This Machine Still Kills Fascists Ray Ball gives it a listen and our last post of 2022 sees if it does indeed live up to the hype.
So here’s the disclaimer. This isn’t what we expect Dropkick Murphys album to sound like at all. Al has been on leave for a bit now taking care of his family, and I know we call commend him for that and wish the best for the Barr family.
But here’s also what I learned. The Murphys have been in contact with the Guthrie family for about a decade. “Shipping Up To Boston” was originally a few Guthrie scribbles. Guthrie’s daughter had recently given an all access pass to her fathers materiel he never used or recorded.
Nora Guthrie with her father Woody “I collected lyrics on all kinds of topics…lyrics that seemed to be needed to be said – or screamed – today. Ken Casey is a master at understanding Woody’s lyrics, which can be complicated, long, deadly serious, or totally ridiculous. DKM is capable of delivering them all.”
So you’ve got Guthrie lyrics. While, as Ken stated in an interview, it wouldn’t be right to put out a regular album without Al, this was a good chance to put out this years in the making project. Instead of giving you a list of radio singles or hidden gems B-Sides, pick up a copy. Discover the stuff you like about the album. It’s all but completely acoustic, but straight up balls to the wall Americana at its best in nearly if not over half a century in my opinion.
Dropkick Murphys founder Ken Casey explained, “The project has been a long time in the making. Nora Guthrie thought her father would’ve got a kick out of us, would’ve liked us, that we were somewhat kindred spirits so to speak, which to us was a huge honour.”
So if you want to hear something tried and true other than “Fairytale” this holiday season grab a copy. Discover your favourites. This album is true- no deadline / record company profit marketing whatever / has to have a radio single track album.
There is no Al. God bless him and his family right now, but it’s a great piece. Give it a listen for something truly unique. Cheers guys!
Back in September when This Machine Still Kills Fascists came out we took a look at the life of Woody Guthrie and offer you the opportunity to download a great double album containing all of his greatest work for free. The link is still available so click below to be re-directed.
Thanks to Ray Ball. He has already featured on these pages as the driving force behind The Fighting 69th from Buffalo. The review of his 2-volume set of Dropkick Murphys coverswas one of the most viewed of the year. One of the most prolific and diverse artists in the Celtic-Punk scene we are proud to have Raymond on board our team. Writer, artist, musician he is a credit to the American-Irish community and you can find a wealth of his material available at his Bandcamp site.
Out of ‘Steel City’ Pittsburgh its our auld mates the Bastard Bearded Irishmen and they bring some Christmas cheer with their new Yuletide album.
The Bastard Bearded Irishmen first came to our attention way way back in the early days of the site with the release of 2014’s Rise Of The Bastard. One bright day a package appeared all the way from Pennsylvania’s second largest city of Pittsburgh. Famous for its largely working class communities of Irish, German and Eastern Europeans the city was built upon steel making and has been a home for Europeans fleeing injustice and poverty since the 1800’s. The Irish still number 16% of the cities population and the Saint Patrick’s Day parade is second only to New York in the whole of the USA so it was no surprise that Bastard Bearded Irishmen (from now on to be referred to as the Irishmen or this review will be all bastards and that doesn’t seem very Christmassy!) had the Irish-American ‘thing’ absolutely nailed. A good time band much in demand at festivals they began as a temporary thing but soon realised demand outstripped supply in the local Irish pub scene and so fourteen years later the guys are still at it and loving every second.
It’s been four years since we got to hear last album Drinking To The Deadbut as is common with the rest of the Celtic-Punk / Rock scene the pandemic saw a couple of years of enforced quiet but the Irishmen were busting to get back on the circuit and the last few months have seen them returning to many of their old haunts much to the joy of their many fans.
The last few years have seen Christmas move clear of anytime else in the Celtic-Punk calendar, after a certain day in March that is! Last year we had to make a special feature of all the singles released and even then we still missed a bunch of them. While other genres might be too cool to celebrate Christmas we love a bit of cheese and its any excuse to get the sherry and the mistletoe out. The Irishmen’s new album titled rather subtlety as A Very Bastard Christmas came out just after Thanksgiving Day and they’ve spent every available minute plugging it since.
The album opens with a track written by the band one of a handful here. in fact they are evenly-ish split between classics and originals which is always a good start for a reviewer. ‘Must Be Santa’ comes with a suitably adult video featuring all of the obscenities you would expect from a Bastard Santa and a few more! Fast paced and catchy with the lyrics nice and easy to follow and hear its the Irishmen winning combination of Irish, Country and Punk / Rock straight out the traps. ‘Holly Jolly Christmas’ is another original and they slow it down and keep the cursing down to a minimum making this one for the Nans. ‘Christmas In Killarney’ is one of the most famous specifically Irish-American songs written in 1950 by the songwriting team of John Redmond, James Cavanaugh and Frank Weldon and given a good thrashing here.
Next up is the Christmas Carol / nursery rhyme ‘I Saw Three Ships’ celebrating the return of ships sailing back home from long voyages on Christmas Day followed by a hilarious version of ‘Santa Baby’ where the ghost of Eartha Kitt lives on in the Irishmen. Now it’s time for the ultimate Christmas song, ‘Fairytale Of New York’, and one unfairly targeted by Christmas killjoys for censorship so sad to hear the Irishmen fall victim to it as well and change the lyrics which admittedly they have done a lot of to the covers on this album. It’s played pretty much the standard Pogues way and then we hop across the Irish sea next for a Punk-Rock ‘Auld Lang Syne’.
The albums last song is a bunch of edited together ‘Extended Outtakes’ of drunken ramblings titled ‘Hangin’ Out’ tacked on as a bonus track. Had a right laugh at this and fits in nicely at the end of the album. Only eight songs on the album and it flies past at 22 minutes making it a quick way to celebrate Christmas. It’s just longer than my train journey home for work!
(Check out the Irishmen’s excellent set on the main stage on both days of 2022’s Niagara Celtic Festival. This is Saturday night’s performance which featured less rain, brighter lights, and a crowd more willing to hang out until the bitter end where the amps failed and the show carried on without them.)
Their are some very talented bastards out there in the Celtic-Punk scene! One such is Colin Mulholland who has written, composed, performed, recorded, mixed and produced his own material for a few years now. Ray Ball checks out his new album featuring loads of distorted guitars and vocals played at breakneck speed about Irish and Irish-American history.
First of all let me say that I’ve known Colin “Mulholland” for a couple of years-pre covid. He is a character and then some. “SHARP” (skinheads against racial prejudice), married to a wife that must be tough because she keeps him in line, straight edge, never touched a sip or toke of nothing. He works his fingers down to the marrows as a mechanic. Blue-collar, tough, hardworking guy. He has recently released “Irish Viking” as his latest album.
The recordings are raw. Like, something you’d expect out of a true 80’s straight edge band. But, having read the lyrics they are as poignant as raw. Though he doesn’t work a lot with traditional instruments there’s definitely the Celtic themes and Melodies in the music. Part of me likes my refined audio whatever but part of me also loves this coming through in mono.
There’s definitely no shortage of energy here. Old school punks will love this. Maybe not your average ‘Shipping Up To Boston’ Celtic-Punk but for true believers. Even I’d you only check out only one song, listen to ‘Cross To Bear’. It’s what I’d have put out as a single. Catchy without being cliché, well produced. Scally cap is off to you Colin. Well, very well done.
The album is only available to hear through the You Tube play list below but feel free to contact Mulholland at the links provided
Thanks to Ray Ball. He has already featured on these pages as the driving force behind The Fighting 69th from Buffalo. The review of his 2-volume set of Dropkick Murphys coverswas one of the most viewed of the year. One of the most prolific and diverse artists in the Celtic-Punk scene we are proud to have Raymond on board our team. Writer, artist, musician he is a credit to the American-Irish community and you can find a wealth of his material available at hisBandcamp site.
With the original and traditional melodies of Celtic-Folk and the power of Punk-Rock Orange county Celtic-Punks Brick TopBlaggers have been winning over die-hard fans since 2009 and are set to win over more with the release of their new EP.
The Brick Top Blaggers have never been given a proper airing on this site over the years. Not out of any kind of malice I hasten to add. I consider them one of the top American Celtic-Punk bands it’s more that their releases came out at the wrong time or somehow passed us by. It’s been over a decade now since we first heard Coaster, a ten track album of classic, almost traditional American Celtic-Punk. Two years later came, appropriately, Two Years Enough and a rougher harder edged new sound. The band were then quiet until 2017’s six track EP The Fury. New band members slotting in just right and a now instantly recognisable Brick Top Blaggers sound.
American bands dominate Celtic-Punk and not always deservedly. Their are several countries now whose bands are equal but less numerous but it’s more than fair to say that Brick Top Blaggers bridge the gap between traditional Irish Folk music and Punk in a way that others can only dream of. For example both the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly have found their niche of concentrating on one or the other and are happy therein. For the Brick Top Blaggers though their has always been progression from Coaster right up until this months Obey The Tyrant they have never stood still somehow always pushing the boundaries of Celtic-Punk and releasing memorable music again and again. Formed in 2009 in Orange county, California the band has seen many changes but always the same amazing fiddle with roaring guitars, passionate vocals and rock-solid bass and drums.
The first of the EP’s six songs is ‘Preamble’, a instrumental with pounding tribal drums and mournful fiddle that builds slowly up into ‘Hope Fiend’. English born Steve Almond (B-right-on) is still at the helm and listen very closely and you can hear the odd English pronunciation slipping in! His vocals and songwriting are superb and he manages to convey exactly what his songs are and they say a lot. All the songs here are well over the standard length with ‘Forgotten Generation’ the longest but also the EP’s standout track. Telling simply the story of men conscripted and sent off to fight and for many to die for the freedoms we take for granted. Next up is the title track and ‘Obey The Tyrant’ sees them speeding things up though always keeping it firmly in the Folk camp. Karin’s excellent fiddle helps of course as does Steve’s vocals that sit just right between ‘nice’ Folky singing and ‘shouty’ Punk singing. Now is the foot stomper ‘Invisible Man’ is a loving tribute that cracks along at a fair old pace. We first heard ‘Denial’ on St. Patrick’s day last year and here it brings down the curtain. The Punkiest track of the EP
Obey The Tyrant is out on acclaimed San Diego, CA label Mannequin Vanity Records who specialise in Folk, World and Punk music just like us! The band is not resting on their laurels and already writing and recording material for a new album slated for release in the spring.
What a year this is going to be for all you Celtic-Punk aficionados out there with the two major players in the scene both releasing new albums within just a few weeks of each other. Later in the month sees the Dropkick Murphys but today our man back on the auld sod Shane O’Neill runs the rule over seven piece Irish-American giants Flogging Molly and their first album since 2017’s Life Is Good.
lIt’s been a long hard five years since we have had a new album from the Celtic punk institution that is Flogging Molly. Was it worth the wait – Most definitely!! We have been lucky to get a preview with the release of singles such as These Times Have Got Me Drinking / Tripping Up the Stairs which is the opening track on the album. This sets the scene nicely for the upbeat hard-hitting theme of the album.
The second song on the album, A Song of Liberty pays tribute to the gallant men who fought the British Empire in Ireland at Easter 1916. This isn’t your traditional Irish rebel song but delivers the message effectively illustrating the determination and fight displayed by the volunteers to seek the liberation of our country.
(Flogging Molly have joined forces with renowned Ukrainian animators/filmmakers, The Mad Twins, for the band’s ‘A Song Of Liberty’ video. The clip highlights humanity’s ongoing struggle against oppression, from Ireland’s Easter Uprising through several 20th century moments including both World Wars, to the current occupation of Ukraine.)
Anthem is a bit different (in a good way) to any of the bands previous releases. They have unleashed a new sound and reached back to the more traditional Irish music such as The Dubliners and The Chieftains whilst maintaining the kick arse punk edge. The more traditional sounds are evident on The Croppy Boy and (Try) Keep The Man Down. It can be difficult to cross genres like Irish Traditional music and punk while keeping original but Flogging Molly have hit the target on Anthem. Musically, I think the band have gone from strength to strength.
Some of us from the London Celtic Punk crew were lucky enough to catch the bands last gig of the European tour in Dublin a few weeks ago….. What a performance. We were treated to a few tunes from the Anthem album which were very well received. Every time we see them, we think they it’s the best performance ever, yet they continue to impress. Just like an old wine, improving with age. It took almost a week for my body to recover and get my hearing back, but it was worth every single bruise and cut. We did manage to sneak in backstage after the gig but that’s a story for another day!!!! Anthem is the bands sixth album coming 22 years after their debut release Swagger. We’ve been listening to it since it was released earlier this week and cannot find fault with it at all. To pick the best song on the album is a difficult task however if pushed I think The Croppy Boy, A Song Of Liberty and Life Begins and Ends (But Never Fails) are up there with the best Celtic Punk tunes out there. This is the type of album you can stick on anytime and it will lift your mood.
Hats off to Flogging Molly for this album and hopefully we don’t have to wait another five years for the next one. “These Croppies Wont Lie Down.”
The new release from Coxey’s Army. A high energy quartet blending elements of Oi!, Streetpunk, Americana and Celtic music. Named after a historic moment in working class history that soon became a slang term referring to a ragtag band of society’s underclass.
Coxey’s Army formed in central Ohio in the fall of 2019 with the intent of producing it’s own brand of positive, community driven Punk-Rock. Taking their name from an early 20th century slang term referring to a ragtag band of society’s underclass, that is based on a very real slice of Ohio working class history, Coxey’s Army explores themes of hard work and perseverance accompanied by driving punk guitars and hints of Americana and Celtic music. As the founding lineup was finalised in the spring of 2020, the band’s beginnings were heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Determined not to let the pandemic stop them, Coxey’s Army worked tirelessly for a year laying a foundation for the band.
Engineered and produced by Aaron Cline * Written by Nate Rising
Hold your head up high, you’re gonna make it. Don’t let go of the light.
Hold your head up high, you’re gonna make it. Whoa. You’re gonna make it.
When the floor drops out from beneath your feet.
When there’s nowhere to turn and you face defeat.
Just call my name friend, and I’ll be there.
We’ll stick together when life ain’t fair.
Hold your head up high, you’re gonna make it. Don’t let go of the light.
Hold your head up high, you’re gonna make it. Whoa. You’re gonna make it.
When your back’s against the wall and you haven’t got a clue.
I’ll be by your side, I’ll be there for you.
No matter where you go, how many miles you’ve gone.
You’re not alone, we will keep pressing on
Gang Vocals: Penelope Shumaker * Amanda Evans * Chy Mess * Molly Mess * Trey James
Coxey’s Army left to right: Nate Rising – Vocals / Bass * Ryan Evans – Drums * Ben Marshall – Guitars / Vocals * AJ Hutchison – Guitar / Vocals *
A 1994 documentary by the Massillon Museum that tells the tale of Jacob Coxey’s march on Washington DC in 1894, the first in history!
In 1894, Jacob S. Coxey, an owner of a sand quarry in Massillon, Ohio, faced financial crisis as the Panic of 1893 gripped the United States. On the way home one day and noticing the poor conditions of the road’s while many unemployed men walked the streets looking for work. He had the idea to put unemployed men to work towards problems like fixing roads. He took this idea and made the Good Roads Bill in 1892 for a federally financed road-building program to put the unemployed back to work. He presented it to Congress, but that’s as far as it went. Teaming up with Carl Browne to raise awareness and support for the bill, Browne and Coxey organised a march of unemployed men from Massillon to Washington, D.C., which left on Easter Sunday, March 25, 1894. It was called the Army Of The Commonweal but soon became nicknamed Coxey’s Army.
The Army marched on foot across Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland towards Washington D.C. As they approached the Capitol building their numbers had grown to 4,000 people and they met with 12,000 more at the capitol. As they prepared to speak to the crowd, Coxey, Browne and the third leader Christopher Columbus Jones were arrested for trampling the Capitol lawn. Washington DC had never dealt with protesters, and felt threatened and the protesters quickly dispersed upon its leader’s arrest. It was a turning point in American working class history and while Coxey’s Army may not have produced tangible results in 1894, but it was the precursor for the larger protest marches that were to follow.
Jacob Coxey would met with President Warren Harding in the White House to plea for the release of socialist Eugene Debs in 1921 and joined the Hunger March in 1931 in the early years of the Great Depression but eventually, at the age of 90, he would get the opportunity to give his speech on the steps of the Capitol in 1944 on the 50th anniversary of Coxey’s Army. He died in Masillon, Ohio in 1951, at the age of 97.
(You can stream and download You’re Going To Make it below)
Mychal Judge, was an American Franciscan friar and Catholic priest who served as a chaplain to the FDNY. While serving in that capacity he was killed, becoming the first certified fatality of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Irish-American Father Mychal Fallon Judge O.F.M. was the first official certified fatality of the nearly 3,000 people that perished in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. He was the chaplain for the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY). He was the first of 343 firefighters that lost their lives that day. It is said that he went first to lead his flock.
This is the unique story of a man considered by many to be a Saint
The FDNY always had a reputation for being “heavily Irish”; the Irish-American firefighter was even more stereotypical than the Irish-American Police Officer in New York. Father Judge fit in well with that. He was born Robert Emmett Judge in Brooklyn, New York on 11 May, 1933 to parents from Co. Leitrim. In 2005, a monument in his memory was unveiled in Keshcarrigan, Co. Leitrim, whence his father came. His mother, Mary Fallon came from Drumkeerin, Co. Leitrim. Some people have claimed miraculous healing through prayers to Fr. Judge. Some have called for sainthood for him.
BLACK 47 – MYCHAL
In tribute to his legacy and in celebration of his life Larry Kirwan of the legendary Irish-American band Black 47, wrote this beautiful tribute entitled ‘Mychal’ in his honour that appeared on the band’s 2004 album New York Town.
In New York City I made my home
I loved the streets, the very stones
Cared for my comrades, cherished my friends
Loved all beginnings, had no time for ends
A city’s streets are full of woe
I saw suffering where’er I’d go
I did my best to console and heal
Treat each human with full dignity
I never saw a reason to
Hate someone who thinks different than you
Each one has their anointed place
In the love reflected in their God’s face
We all have sorrow, our share of trials
We all are sinners in each other’s eyes
Love alone can heal the pain
God bestows love in so many ways
I love the company of friends
The fire and the music sparkling in their eyes
But I achieved my heart’s desire
When I rode beside the ones who fight the fires
I have my failings and I have tried
To look them squarely in the eye
To be there when someone might call
For I know cruel well how hard it is to fall
As I arise on this September morn
The sun is beaming down, the streets are warm
God’s in His heaven and all is well
Celtic-Punk-Grass played by some Hillbilly Irish. The Tan And Sober Gentlemen explore the Gaelic roots of North Carolinian music, and to play it with as much energy as possible. Their new album out this week sees their sound developing into something really special.
Since we reviewed The Tan And Sober Gentlemen’s debut album Veracity four years ago I reckon we have received maybe 400+ releases here so I don’t get the chance to regularly revisit albums once they are reviewed. Veracity is one of a handful though that often gets a play. We described it back then as
” Raw and unfiltered, a blend of hard-driving, danceable roots delivered with a punk edge and whisky-fuelled abandon they call ‘Celtic-Punk-Grass’.”
Recorded in the woods of Chatham County, North Carolina, Veracity is a riotous take on ‘Scotch-Irish hillbilly music’. North Carolina has a rich history of Irish, Scotch and Scotch-Irish history going back generations and the Tan And Sober Gentlemen are rightly proud of their state’s Celtic musical heritage. Musically they embrace the glorious foot stomping sound of their home while welding to it Irish and Scots tunes and melodies. Totally acoustic this is the kind of wide-open-throttle, no-holds-barred band that could drown out most Punk bands with their passion, energy and sheer ruggedness.
So four years on and with just a couple of singles inbetween it’s hard to keep a track of bands over there from over here but they have kept plugging away and playing whenever they could do or were allowed to. Founded in Snow camp their music is Irish-folk-music-meets-the-American-South sound of the North Carolina backcountry where they were born and raised. The State has over a quarter of a million people of Scotch-Irish ancestry (second only to Texas) and coupled with those of just Irish ancestry the number is almost a million residents. The States traditional Folk music can be traced right back to those who started arriving in North Carolina long before the ‘famine’ and to those who came in it’s aftermath. And The Tan And Sober gentlemen play it with as much energy as humanly possible!
Regressive meaning “returning to a former or less developed state; characterised by regression” kinda sums up the sound of The Tan And Sober Gentlemen and they even downplay what they do
“You know our deal-we ain’t lighting the world on fire with songwriting or anything, we’re just a bunch of rednecks that like playing fiddle music real dadgum fast.”
but the truth is that music is a major way for people to find their identity and to keep culture alive and their are times when I think the Yanks are doing a better job at doing it then modern Ireland is.
The fella’s raised the necessary to record and release Regressive Folk Music with a very successful Kickstarter campaign where they sailed past their target. The album kicks off with ‘Kelly Sullivan’ and bursts through the speakers at you. Fast and furious from the very start and utterly brilliant too! The fiddle work is amazing and being a bit of a auld rocker I really enjoyed the sound of the thump-thump of the double bass too. The Celticness of the tune is unmistakable while next they play the first of a handful of covers. They turn to their local roots for ‘Corn Likker’, also known as ‘Old Corn Liquor’, a song that’s roots are obscure but found favour in the early days of recording in the repertoire of African-American musicians. On ‘Happiness Ain’t Happening’ they get the first chance to properly combine both traditions and chuck in some great humour and the song infectious tune would see the stiffest Joe clapping along and stamping his feet. After three songs it’s time for a breather and ‘All The Time’ sees Courtney take on vocals with a tender and tuneful song. It’s fair to say that the best Celtic-Punk bands out there, no matter how Punky they are can also knock out some great slow songs and ballads and I’m always a bit disappointed to hear an album without one. I thought on first listen this was the album high point and while I have changed my mind a little I think it is still up there. Another cover is up next and the Irish war song ‘The Foggy Dew’ has become very popular these days on the Celtic-Punk scene and several band shave already recorded it this year already. Set during the 1916 Easter Rising when a small group of Irish rebels rose against the might of the British Empire. The rebellion was crushed and it’s leaders executed but the event lit a fire in the hearts of the Irish people that would see them rise again only a few years later.
Unusually the song is delivered with female vocals and the rather un-straight forward version is uplifted by Courtney’s beautiful and emotional vocals. As impossible as it would seem to breathe new life into a song you’ve heard a 1000 times it’s managed here. An outstanding version. ‘Banks Of The Roses’ is dates from 18th century Ireland and is an perfect opportunity for Eli Howells to really let fly on the fiddle. Eli was born and raised in the hills of Burke County, North Carolina, and learned from master fiddlers such as Jane Macmorren at an early age. Honing his skill at fiddlers’ conventions, barrooms, and back porches across the state. His distinctive Scotch-Irish fiddle stylings provide the core of the Tan and Sober sound. ‘Mickey’s Grave’ and ‘Heart Is Haunted’ highlight their two wings with the former a rowdy shouty Irish Larkin-esque riot while the latter is a jolly uplifting County-ish / Bluegrass romp. Along with the slow songs another thing I look for is a bit of trad Folk. ‘Miss Shephard’s / The High Drive’ is a chance for the whole band to flex their collective muscles and prove to detractors that Celtic-Punk does have some real musicians in it and is even helping keep trad music alive and relevant. ‘Barbed Wire’ takes the Country route again and some quite stunning banjo leading into Courtney’s delivery of the Rockabilly swing of ‘You’ll Never Know’. We nearing the end and next up is the popular ‘Leaving Of Liverpool’. Again it’s roots go back much further than the first time it was recorded but it has became part of Irish musical history. There’s no way of course it wouldn’t find favour in the Celtic-Punk scene as well with a chorus that has always cried out to be turned up to 11 and belted out at the top of your voice.
Played as expected with wild abandon and absolutely guaranteed to make you lose your voice with all the band getting a chance to solo their instruments, it really does rock your socks off! Only a couple more left and ’30 Years Of Farming’ is up now. Written by Fred Eaglesmith, who as a teenager, hopped a freight train to western Canada and began his career as a musician. Specialising in ‘twist’ songs, where there’s a twist in the tale in the final verse ranging from “tear at your heartstrings” to tongue in cheek. This song is the former. A real tear jerker. The curtain comes down on Regressive Folk Music with ‘Samhain’s March’ and a beautiful lament played led mainly by Eli on fiddle and Tucker’s banjo picking. The best album ‘outro’ I’ve heard in such a long time and with a album packed with so much energy a very clever way to end things.
Another triumph for The Tan And Sober Gentlemen and their legendarily rowdy live shows will be winging it back across the broad Atlantic, from whence their forefathers left, in the Summer with the band looking forward to playing some Irish festivals and club shows. We will include dates and infos in our month Odds ‘n’ Sods Celtic-Punk news round up so be sure to subscribe (you need to do this on a laptop). A riotous encapsulation of the band’s Irish roots and it’s members ancestry. Hard- driving, danceable roots music delivered with Punk edge and wild abandon. They are quite simply the best drinking and dancing band in Celtic-Punk.
Famous for a string of hits during the 1970’s and early 80’s proud Irish-American Eddie Rabbitt was one of the most popular Country singers of his era. Here Kevin Rooney introduces us to his life and music.
Eddie Rabbitt was a popular Irish-American Country singer best known for a string of hits in the late ‘70’s-early ‘80’s like ‘I Love A Rainy Night’, ‘Drivin’ My Life Away’, ‘Step By Step’, ‘Every Which Way But Loose’ from the movie of the same name starring Clint Eastwood and ‘You and I’ with Crystal Gayle.
Edward Thomas Rabbitt was born in Brooklyn, New York on 27 November 1941 to Irish immigrant parents. He was raised in East Orange, New Jersey. His father, Thomas Michael Rabbitt worked in an oil refinery in Newark, NJ. He and Eddie’s mother Mae (née Joyce) emigrated from Co. Galway in 1924. His father played fiddle and accordion in Irish dances in New York City. Eddie followed in his musical footsteps. Although his genre of choice was Country music, Eddie once said:
“There were a lot of Irish immigrants who came and settled in the South. My father played fiddle and the accordion. Irish music got mixed in with old- time gospel and New Orleans blues to make up what country is today. A lot of country tunes have that old Irish folksy sound.”
Eddie later moved to Nashville, Tennessee and wrote songs for Elvis, and Ronnie Milsap, among others. He recorded ‘Song Of Ireland’ for his Variations album in 1978. The song is his expression of his yearning and feeling for Ireland, where he had never been. The fiddle part in the song is played by his father.
EDDIE RABBITT – ‘Song Of Ireland’
I remember daddy playing on the violin,
Jigs and reels that he brought from Ireland.
And I’m the first born in America, my friend.
I have never been there but someday I’ll take a trip.
I’ll cross the ocean on a big long silver ship.
Hear them sing those songs I learned from Mama’s knee
I just close my eyes and I can almost see,
Those shamrock hills and those forty shades of green.
And the roots that tie me to a land I’ve never known
Are calling me home, are calling me home.
Sun shines through my window here in Tennessee.
God sure made this a pretty place to be.
But sometimes it just don’t feel like home to me.
So I close my eyes and I can almost see
Those shamrock hills and those forty shades of green.
And the roots that tie me to a land I’ve never known
Are calling me home.
Are calling me home.
Are calling me home.
Eddie Rabbitt died on May 7, 1998, in Nashville, tragically young from lung cancer at only 56. So proud was he of his Irish heritage that his headstone at Calvary Cemetery in Nashville was emblazoned with a shamrock and a guitar.
“It’s been a great ride. Thanks for coming along. So long and thanks for all the drinks”.
Savannah Rowdy Irish Music
Back in 2016 In For A Penny rode into the Celtic-Punk scene and really left their mark. All the Celtic-Punk media went ape over them and for a couple of years they released plenty of great music before a combination of events combined that left the various members dispersed and the lead singer in lurrve but the guys are back with one last hurrah – ironically also the name of the bands last album from 2017!
Founded by Irish-American Sean McNally and aided and abetted by old friends in Henny ‘da butcha’ on drums, Jeremy Riddle on guitar (replaced here by Matt Price) and Sean’s son Bryce on bass the boys came together in 2016 only two years after Sean first picked up a mandolin which he plays so masterful here. A handful of solo shows persuaded him that their home town of Savannah, Georgia needed a Celtic-Punk band to compliment the Irish-American bar scene. Their releases thus far (all available for download via Bandcamp) have followed much the same path of equal mix of trad Irish Folk classics and Sean’s original compositions. It is, of course, those original songs that made In For A Penny so special and ensures that they will live on within the scene.
The EP begins with the title song ‘In Memory Of’ and its great to hear Sean’s raspy vocals belting out across a lovely number sung for those who are no longer with us. Just Punk enough to keep everyone happy with sounding at all wimpy and plenty of Celtic-ness injected throughout. ‘Old Man Murphy’ tells of what we call here a ‘unlucky alf’. The archetypal In For A Penny sound of fantastic and intelligent lyrics and catchy and original Celtic-Punk music.
No trad covers this time but a fantastic cover of ‘Mad World’ by Tears For Fears follows and they stamp their name on it. If you going to make an attempt at covers like this then listen to this one and do it like this. The EP comes to an end with ‘To You My Friends’ and a sung very much in the spirit of ‘The Parting Glass’. A sung you can imagine being played at anything from funerals to weddings to the end of a night when the barman is trying to rid his pub of the last few remaining drunken stragglers!
In Memory Of is a very respectful fifteen minutes – not bad for just four songs. In typical In For A Penny style the EP was recorded live in just one night, with only a couple of vocal overdubs and some little tweaks added later, at The Wingmen, Savannah Motorcycle Club by Jody White a couple of days before St. Patrick’s Day and released last month. It’s a great way to end In For A Penny – if indeed it is the end. We shall see as the promise of more hometown St. Patrick’s gigs next year is surely to come but we are grateful whatever happens and that they gave us such great music that will go down in Celtic-Punk fame and I’ll be playing them for years to come I know that.
(Stream / download In Memory Of via the Bandcamp player below)
Thirty years on from the release of Black 47’s eponymous first album and a year after Volume One comes the second part of a trilogy of tribute albums celebrating this popular and most controversial of Celtic-Punk bands of whom Time magazine wrote in 1993
“the proletariat passion of Black 47’s songs that make the group stand out”.
Celebrating the songs of Larry Kirwan and Black 47 with Finbar Furey, Barleyjuice, Jonee Earthquake Band, Finny McConnell, Bangers And Mash, The PoguestrA and The Muckers and once again produced by Peter Walsh of The Gobshites and Larry Kirwan himself.
While not strictly a Celtic-Punk band their influence on Celtic-Punk, especially in the States, is immeasurable. A New York band made up of Irish expatriates playing a mixture of several genres but with traditional Celtic and Irish Folk music at its very core and led by the distinctive and talented songwriting of Larry Kirwan.
Taking their name from the year 1847 which was the worst period of An Gorta Mór / The Great Hunger when blight wiped out the potato crop the staple of the Irish working class diet. This blight caused famine in the land while all the time the British army escorted Irelkand’s numerous other crops, under armed guard, to the docks and away from Ireland. A conservative estimate puts the number killed between 1845 and 1850 as way more than the official figures of one million people and another two million forced into exile with most of them washing up to North America.
THE JONEE EARTHQUAKE BAND – ‘Who Killed Bobby Fuller?’
Punk-Rock pirates hailing from the Boston, Massachusetts playing a crazy mix of Surf, Country-Punk and Rockabilly… and whatever else they feel like playing! ‘Who Killed Bobby Fuller?’ was originally released by Black 47 on their second album, Home of the Brave, in 1994. Bobby was an American singer-songwriter best known for ‘Let Her Dance’ and his cover of the Crickets’ ‘I Fought the Law’ who was found dead in his car in Los Angeles in 1966 at only 23. One of the great unsolved Rock’n’Roll mystery songs!
Finbar Furey needs no introduction except to reiterate what a true legend of Irish music he really is. His song is ‘Mychal’ perhaps the highest emotional peak Black 47 ever reached. Written as a tribute to Father Mychal Judge a Franciscan friar and Catholic priest, who served as chaplain of the New York City Fire Department. On September 11, 2001 Fr. Mychal entered the North Tower of the World Trade Centre alongside other firefighters and rescue personnel. As the South Tower collapsed, debris flew through the North Tower lobby killing many including Fr. Mychal. Though many had perished before him, he was given the solemn honour of being designated Victim 0001 – the first recorded casualty of 9/11.
“When Larry asked me if I would sing this song, I told him I would be honoured. Mychal was a wonderful human being who did so much for the people of New York and never left their side in their darkest hour. A beautiful song for a beautiful man.“
BARLEYJUICE – ‘Celtic Rocker’
Barleyjuice are a nationally-known Celtic Rock band from Philadelphia who play mainly original but also a few traditional Irish music. Their songs over seven albums have been heard in movies, TV and radio programmes for over twenty years.
FINNY McCONNELL- ‘I Got Laid On James Joyce’s Grave’
Another legend of Irish music Finny has been making music with premier league Canadian Celtic-Punk knock-outs The Mahones since 1990 over a dozen studio albums plus several other full players. Finny finally branched out on his own last year recording his first solo album The Dark Streets Of Love.
Formed in 2003 in Suffolk County, New York Bangers And Mash have a personal recommendation from Larry Kirwan- “If you’re looking for a band with strong songs who can rev up the party and get punters dancing, you should have Bangers and Mash on your menu. Guaranteed to go well with Guinness and good times!”
The PoguestrA is a group of musically diverse musicians from across the world united by a love of The Pogues playing together remotely. Tending to usually only record Pogues related material here they branch out to take in another of Black 47’s more popular and well known songs. Always on the lookout for new members feel free to contact them and join the gang.
After Hours 2 comes to an end with another of the Celtic-Punk scene’s favourite bands The Muckers. A five-piece Celtic-Folk-Punk band from Atlanta. With a strong emphasis on Irish music, the band also blends influences of Gypsy music, sea shanties, Country, Rockabilly, and plenty more!
Another top notch production from Valley Entertainment and we await Volume Three eagerly. Their are links included for a variety of places to order from but if possible get it from the label directly instead of funding vultures who make money out of other peoples hard work and risks.
California’s Bog Iron celebrate their 16th anniversary with their first studio release in years featuring a winning combination of classic Folk and hard rocking Trad!
We are ingratiated to you readers sometimes for your recommendations for that is how we came across today’s band Bog Iron. We do have writers far and wide but still need you to point us in the right direction sometimes and it really does show the wealth of bands in the USA that a gem like Bog Iron can lay undiscovered by us till they are in their 16th year!
The early days! from 2010 (left to right : Patrick Golden, Steve Lenard, John Michael, Peter Sheehan
This is in no small part due to them being a gigging band so recording hasn’t been a major priority till now it would seem with two releases in 2022 and it only being April! The first release wasn’t exactly new but a recently re-discovered recording of a gig from the Summer of 2019 at the Midsummer’s Fairytale Celtic Ren Faire in Plymouth, California and recently mixed and mastered by band guitarist Patrick R. Golden. It is a superb album that really gives you a shake. For a start their is no Celtic instruments but the music is unmistakably Irish and even at times when the music takes a harder Rock turn it could still considered totally accessible to even the most hardcore of finger-in-the-ear Folkie. Discovered in a Dropbox folder from the festival’s sound engineer in early March it took a marathon session of auditing, mixing, and mastering but 36 hours later the album was ready for Bandcamp Friday (when the vultures forego their usual massive cut!) and the album was out. It really is a mad mix of Irish Folk songs given the Hard Rock treatment with great vocals and the production is note perfect. The banter with the audience is also a treat showing a band in love with what they do. The highlight of the album is the final song ‘The NIght Pat Murphy Died’ a near nine minutes epic that drifts off into the stunning ‘Those Were People Who Died’ by f’ed up Irish-American writer Jim Carroll. Live Bog Iron ll is only available for download at the moment via Bandcamp but you can listen to it via the player below.
Formed in Monterey, California, Bog Iron have been together since early 2008 formed from the session players on Dún Laoghaire born lead singer John Michael’s solo album. John and Patrick are the remaining two founding members but are joined by Kerry native Peter Sheehan on bass and local Bhoy Keith Wieland on drums. So it was that in the search for inspiration for a new studio release that the tapes for Live Bog Iron ll were found so we can grateful they put in the work. Star Of The County Down remains, and always will, a firm favourite on the Irish music scene but also among Celtic-Punk bands too. A song like many Irish Folk classics that is perfect for adapting to something a bit harder. The EP begins with the title song and yeah it ‘s trad Irish but stripped right back and re-assembled as an aggressive gem of Hard Rock energy. Incredibly all instruments here are played by Patrick with only backing vocals on ‘Star’ provided by John Michael. He even produced it too at Blood Crow Studios. The remaining three songs are all instrumentals though all wildly different. I’m finding it hard to put into words (for the first time in nine years!) for this review as on the face of it ‘Maggie And The Priest’, ‘Kerns And The Gallowglasses’ and ‘The Jig Of Liam Fitzmurderhorse’ are all pretty similar. That hard Rock sound but that clear presence of the underlying Celtic tunes makes each a completely unique transporting Irish folk into the present—and beyond!
The band claim to “put on a fierce live show” and if our only evidence is their live album then we can completely agree. It’s a shame that even though both releases are very good they are also both quite different. I am such a fan of the live album that must admit to a bit of disappointment on first hearing the EP but several listens in and it has grown on me immensely and I’m only impressed with Patrick’s (virtually solo) work. Their may be no wild sing-along choruses as before but it is still a superb piece of work channelling rock giants of Sabbath, Quo and AC/DC but also the the Folk genius of Horslips and the sadly largely forgotten and little known English band You Slosh. With these releases the first since 2018’s Echos From The Cliffs Of Mohere, itself a re-master/re-release of their 2008 debut album, with eight previously unreleased tracks. It is hoped a reinvigorated Bog Iron is in the traps and raring to go and do some catching up on the recorded side of things!
(You can stream / download Star Of The County Down below)
“Of all the Irish-American towns in America, it had to be a Rockaway guy that wound up in the middle of the bloody battle at the Post Office”
Often on these pages we have spoken of the Easter Rising. A somewhat mythical event doomed to failure when heavily outnumbered Irishmen and women rose up against the full might of the most powerful empire in the world. Even now over 100 years later it remains an event unparalleled in Irish history. The rebellion began on Easter Monday and the spark would soon ignite a nation and it’s people.
Here our friend ‘cross the broad Atlantic’ Kevin Rooney writes of the involvement in the Easter Rising of one John Kilgannon, better known as ‘The Yank’.
JOHN ‘THE YANK’ KILGALLON
The Rebel Of The Rising From Rockaway
John Aloysius Kilgallon was born in Queens, New York on September 5, 1891. His father Luke came from Coogue, Co. Mayo. His mother Nora (née) Walsh came from Knock, Co. Mayo. The family lived in Far Rockaway. His father ran a blacksmith shop, which became a successful auto repair shop on Beach 19th Street. He also owned Real Estate. John was their only son.
On 20 August, 1912 John attended a Chauffeur’s Ball in the Imperial Hotel in Far Rockaway. He took a customer’s car from his father’s garage without permission to give his friends a ride home on a rainy night. Ten young people were piled in the car when it struck a farm wagon in the Springfield Gardens neighbourhood in Queens at 2am. Seventeen year old Cecelia Wellstead was crippled after being thrown from the car. She initiated a lawsuit against John for $50,000 amid much publicity. She was awarded $20,000 by Justice Scudder of the Queens County Supreme Court. In the meantime between the accident and the judgement, John had gone to Ireland.
It is believed the family attended a speech given by Pádraig Pearse at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on March 2, 1914. It was attended by about 2,500 people despite being in the midst of a terrible snowstorm. Pearse was on a speaking tour to raise much needed funds for Scoil Éanna/St. Enda’s School in Rathfarnham, Dublin. It was a secondary school for boys emphasising Irish cultural identity; particularly history, mythology, poetry, and most especially the Irish language. Pearse believed passionately that the existing system of education sought to eradicate Irish identity in favour of obedience to Britain.
(‘Easter Mourn’ by In For A Penny. Beginning with the words of Patrick Pearce)
Pearse’s speech was for an annual commemoration of Robert Emmet marking his birth on 4 March, 1778. The young, courageous and eloquent Irish rebel martyr, who was hanged in 1803; holds a place in the hearts of all Irish patriots, but especially that of Pearse. In fact, St. Enda’s site in Rathfarnham, Dublin was much associated with Emmet. The school was relocated there in 1910 from Ranelagh; where it was founded in 1908. Emmet walked its grounds as he courted Sarah Curran, and sat in the same room and was inspired by the same scenery as Pearse a century later. Along with much needed funds to keep the school running, he returned to Dublin with a young Irish-American student from Brooklyn named Eugene Cronin. Pearse wrote to a friend in July, 1914:
“I have got another Irish-American for next term. His name is Kilgallon, his father owns real estate in Far Rockaway and he is quite a young man. He will rank as a university resident.”
Kilgallon is said to have been well-liked and to have thrived in this environment, which included honor and discipline of an increasingly military nature; as well as academics.
Photograph of John ‘The Yank’ Kilgallon in what looks like a Fianna Eireann uniform at St. Enda’s, Maundy Thursday, 1916.
Kilgallon appears to have belonged to Na Fianna Éireann youth organization, and the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), an oath-bound organization dedicated to establishing an Irish Republic by force. He was closely associated with many fellow students who shared this joint membership and was photographed in a Fianna uniform. He became a member of E Company, 4th Battalion, Dublin Brigade of the Irish Volunteers. The company was called “Pearse’s Own” as it contained his former students. They made preparations for the Rising by making grenades, filling cartridges with shot, and making batons.
On Easter Monday, 24 April 1916, E Company arrived at the rebel headquarters at the General Post Office (GPO) on O’Connell Street. Kilgallon, who was nicknamed ‘The Yank’ was quoted by Desmond Ryan to have exclaimed in his American accent:
“Holy Gee! This ain’t no half-arsed revolution! This is the business. Thousands of troops and siege guns outside. The whole country is ablaze. Twenty transports are coming in when the submarines have sunk the rest of the warships. We have our own mint. Light your pipes with Treasury notes and fling all but the gold away. When we do things, we do things.”
After reading the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, Pearse ordered them to take up positions on the roof; where they fired and were fired upon by British troops, and took artillery fire from the British gunboat Helga, positioned in the Liffey. Among his comrades there was Éamonn Bulfin, who was born and raised in Argentina. It was Bulfin who raised the green “Irish Republic” flag on the roof of the GPO. Bulfin later remembered: “One of the pictures that stands out in my mind, is seeing Kilgallon running round on the roof trying to stop fires.” Kilgallon was also said to have saved Bulfin’s life by pulling him from a window in the GPO, which was under heavy fire.
(The most famous of all the many Easter Rising songs ‘The Foggy Dew’ played here by The Chieftains with Sinead O’Connor. It was written by Father (later Canon) Charles O’Neill from Portglenone, County Antrim)
Kilgallon is also remembered for a humorous event that occurred during the week. E Company members crossed Henry Street into Henry Place and Moore Lane and battered an evacuation and escape route through the houses, so that they could access all the houses while remaining sheltered indoors. Bulfin said:
“Myself, Desmond Ryan, Kilgallon, and all of the St Enda’s boys proceeded to break the divisions between the houses for about half the length of the street. The walls were quite thin, and there was no bother breaking them. We reached as far as Price’s or O’Hanlon’s which was a fish shop”.
This included the Henry St. Waxworks, where Kilgallon; who stood 6’2 returned wearing a costume looted from a wax figure of Queen Elizabeth I!
When the order to surrender was given on Saturday 29 April, E Company was huddled together to the Rotunda Gardens. Sunday, they were marched to Richmond Barracks. Kilgallon was sent first to Stafford Jail in England, then to Frongoch internment Camp in Wales with many other rebel prisoners. He gave his address at Stafford as The Heritage, Rathfarnham, Dublin; St. Enda’s. He appears in a group photograph taken at Stafford with a young Michael Collins. He had written to his parents before the Rising that he saw that trouble was coming. When they heard no news from him for a while they feared he might have been killed in the fighting. Bulfin’s sister was able to smuggle out a letter from Frongoch for him which read:
“The authorities said they would release some of us if we would sign a form promising not to take arms against His Majesty’s forces and give bonds to that effect. You know there are none of us here who could do that without betraying the cause we fought for, so I suppose we will have to stay. But it is worth it after all for if we signed these forms they would say they were justified in shooting our leaders as we were only dupes who did not know what we were fighting for. But they will never get us to do that, if they keep us here until we rot.”
The US Consul in Dublin, Edward L. Adams inquired as to the treatment of American citizens Kilgallon, Diarmuid Lynch (who became a naturalised citizen) and Éamon de Valera, who was also born in New York City. How much influence this actually carried is still a matter of debate, particularly in the case of de Valera; who had actually been sentenced to be executed. He held a position of command at Boland’s Mill. Some believe his American birth did save him, on diplomatic grounds. Others believe by the time his turn had come, they had decided the executions had become counter-productive and finished with executing the last two signatories; Seán MacDiarmada and James Connolly. Tom Clarke was a naturalised US citizen, and no issue was raised on his behalf. He and Pearse were among the first to be executed.
Part of the legacy of John ‘The Yank’ Kilgallon’s participation in the Easter Rising was a series of photographs he took at St Enda’s of comrades the day before the Rising begun.
Kilgallon was released before Christmas of 1916 and returned back to the US as part of a general amnesty. The following poem was published in The Brooklyn Eagle newspaper 28 December 1916:
“Under a spreading chestnut tree
The village blacksmith stands
The Smith a mighty man is he
With strong and sinewy hands
Yet worried Luke Kilgallon felt
And mourned since Easter Day
His son, a fine uprising Celt
Was far from Rockaway
For John had been at school with Pearse
That Dublin patriot grim
And when Pearse led his outbreak fierce
The Lion seized on him
Since then poor John, locked up in Wales
And even wails suppressed
Had shared the fare of British jails
Not quite a merry jest
‘A Merry Christmas I am free’
Flashed ‘neath the ocean foam
The smith a jolly man is he
His John is coming home.”
On his return, Kilgallon joined the US Navy and served as a machinist during World War I; though he doesn’t appear to have served overseas. He lived a quiet, apparently uneventful life afterwards managing the family business on Beach 19th Street. He died on 30 January, 1972, coincidentally an important date in Irish history known as ‘Bloody Sunday’ in Derry. The Rockaway peninsula, with its long strip of beaches on the Atlantic Ocean has often been called ‘The Irish Riviera’ and maintains a strong Irish presence to this day.
John Kilgannon Commeration, St. Mary Star of the Sea Cemetery in Cedarhurst, New York.
As usual it’s been impossible to keep up with the flow of new music over the St. Patrick’s day period. Not just singles but many EP’s and albums landed on our doorstep that we will get to over the following few weeks but we couldn’t let this years festivities go without a special mention for that oh-so rare occurrence a double release for both the most popular bands in Celtic-Punk – Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys.
First off the mark on the 10th March were Flogging Molly with “These Time Have Got Me Drinking / Tripping Up The Stairs’. A solid return to form and if anything the classic FM sound of early Flogging Molly. The track is available for streaming and download.
“Morning starts with sunset
As the darkness fills my eye
It’s been so long since another soul,
Occupied this life”
This year the band have been busy with a tour leading up to a all day show at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles on the big day itself that was live streamed but was only online for 72 hours before being withdrawn ensuring I never got (and plenty of you too i suppose) to see it!
The Murphys followed this just a few days after with a tremendous cover of the auld Gospel religious song ‘We Shall Overcome’. Descended from a hymn that was first published in 1901 it has since been sung by strikers and protesters and famously civil rights activists in the United States and the north of Ireland. The song begins with the words of Bobby Kennedy as he calls for unity on the day of Martin Luther King’s assassination and they have never ever sounded so relevant. The Murphys belt it out of the ball park and their is surely no better band in the world at turning any song into a full blown anthem.
“Oh, deep in my heart
I know that I do believe
We shall overcome, someday”
The video sees footage of the band included along with historical photos and film of American protest movements – from striking workers and picket lines to the civil rights movement. No band stands up for the working class like the Dropkick Murphys do. As busy as ever too with a tour that went across the States accompanied by The Rumjacks among others that one of the gang was lucky to catch and review. They also managed a fantastic St. Patrick’s Day live stream from the House Of Blues in hometown Boston though theirs was free but in common with Flogging Mollys was also withdrawn after a couple of days. What’s that about I wonder?
Slainte offer a fresh take on trad Irish folk music, medlying classic ballads with modern favourites, and marrying traditional Folk instruments with Rock ‘n’ Roll electric guitar.
Boston, Boston, Boston, Boston but there’s a very good reason why its features so much on these pages. The Irish, Whitey and the Irish mob, Charlestown and South Boston, the Kennedys, the Celtics and finally our heroes of great fame the Dropkick Murphys. Sadly just like in London in recent years gentrification has all but wiped out the traditional working class Irish areas of Boston but the Boston Irish community lives on. Their are obvious reasons why yuppies prefer Irish areas of the city to others but like a virus everywhere they move they soon destroy the very reasons that made them want to move there in the first place.
One of the most important fronts in the battle against gentrification is culture. To keep alive the traditions, spirit and customs of where you come from. Of course this doesn’t just apply to the Irish but to everyone but for the Irish our biggest weapon is music. Where else could a band like the Dropkick Murphys have come from and then grown to become one of the biggest in the world?
Slainte from left to right: Andrew Rodriguez – Vocals, Electric Guitar * Mike Perillo – Vocals, Bass Guitar * Steve Smith – Vocals, Electric Guitar * Brady Conley – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar * James Harrington – Harmonica, Tin Whistle * Jon Harrington – Fiddle * Zack Bolles – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar * Ed Cardenas – Percussion * Stephen Sunshine – Vocals, Tenor Banjo, Organ, Lap Steel Guitar * Not Picured (still inside the pub perhaps?) – Pat O’Donovan – Mandolin, Accordion * Kevin Smith * Percussion *
Last year the arrival of Shadows Of Boston dominated the Celtic-Punk scene and just this week the latest album to land on our doorstep is also from Boston from the band Sláinte. Formed at Boston college in 2013 the Bhoys have been a regular fixture on the Boston and New York pub scene ever since. Featuring 11 (eleven!) members making them the largest band in Irish history! While not strictly Celtic-Punk, their music owes much to the likes of well established bands like The Pogues, The Dubliners and The Saw Doctors as well as bands of today like The BibleCode Sundays and NY’s The Narrowbacks. When their founding member and lead singer moved to New York City in 2016, the remaining members decided that rather than fold or look for a new singer from then on the band would not only let everyone sing but they would cast their net further than Boston and Providence and start to play New York as well. In the years since they have added five new band mates, spent a fortune on petrol, played some untold amount of shows and shared a ton of laughs.
Nine years to make your debut release is a long time but not overly uncommon in a scene where playing live is the priority. Up Down 95 is the name given to their album and a tribute to the last few years together while looking forward to the future. Recorded by the lads themselves in various garages, basements, parking lots and fields throughout the Northeast, Up Down 95 is a completely independent DIY release and features original Sláinte material as well as some classic and contemporary Irish and American covers.
Beginning with the title song ‘Up Down 95′. It’s a rollicking rockin’ ‘country-ish’ number with lashings of harmonica.
“when the bar man asked for Galway Girl we said nay nay never no more”
The kind of song to get those with a bit more youth in their tank up on the bar while the rest of us be slapping our thighs and tapping our feet. The title of the song and album is the highway that connects NYC, Providence Rhode Island, and Boston, the three cities they have spent all their time traveling between over the last few years.
A nod to Celtic-Punk next with a straight up cover of the Molly’s ‘Drunken Lullabies’ which only goes to show how far Celtic-Punk has permeated Irish-American life. Next up is the stunning ‘Grace’ written by Sean And Frank O’Meara in 1985 it was first popularised by The Dublinersand sings of the doomed marriage of rebel leader Joseph Plunket and Grace Gifford just mere hours before Joseph was executed by the British for his part in the 1916 Easter Uprising in Dublin. An incredibly moving song it received a major boost in popularity when it was adopted by supporters at Celtic football club. Since then it became many a bands staple and was even recorded by life long Celtic supporter Rod Stewart. The phrase, “the blood upon the rose” comes from one of Joseph’s poems. Performed beautifully by the band they follow it up with a couple of their own compositions. ‘Ember’ is some classic-Rock and shows the bands ambitions go further than just playing other people’s songs. One of the album highlights, while on ‘Irish Whiskey’ Zack Bolles is joined by special guest Annie Cheevers on vocals for a simple yet boisterous song full of banjo, mandolin, fiddle and I’m sure plenty more. By now one of the bands I’m hearing being channelled here is London’s very own BibleCode Sundays. Not so much in sound but more in that they know people and more specifically their own people and what they want. A bit of an unusual cover next of ‘Atlantic City’ from Bruce’s acclaimed acoustic album Nebraska from 1982 (40 years!). Played straight tune wise they add plenty along the way giving it the Sláinte stamp. Now any Irish pub bands can just coast by with the covers but the real sign of a good band is the ability to knock out a good trad tune and (in common with both the Bible Code’s and the Narrowbacks) Sláinte come up with the goods on the excellent ‘The Musical Priest’ where they play it far from straight and inject a bit of Horslips styled meandering into the tune. Another highlight and another to get the young guns up on the bar! The Saw Doctors ‘Joyce Country Ceili Band’ is followed by an original song ‘Boston Girl Who Fled to New York’ and no idea if it’s autobiographical or not but a cracking ballad with some beautiful meaningful lyrics and a superb tune. Up Down 95 comes to an end with a cover of ‘Streams Of Whiskey’ where Shane MacGowan sings of going on the piss with legendary Irish drinker writer Brendan Behan and while no doubt a great version I would have liked them to have thrown caution to the wind a wee bit and gone out in proper wild abandon Pogues style but still a great version and way to wrap things up.
The album was produced, recorded, edited, and mixed by Zack Bolles and Stephen Sunshine of Slainte and mastered by Ian Blanton of Empirical Dynamics in Boston while the cover artwork was done by Bot Roda. A great album but it only goes to show that the best place to hear Irish music is in the pub and while they’ve done a brilliant job of transferring that sound onto disc it’s an eternal battle that Irish bands will always fight. Sláinte are playing all over Boston for St.Patrick’s week so be sure to check them out if you lucky enough to come from Boston!
(You can stream / download Up Down 95 via the Bandcamp player below)
Buy Up Down 95 Bandcamp(also itunes, apple, spotify, amazon, youtube)
Anyone up for the history of Celtic Punk in 42 pages? We’re not kidding 🙂 We review a lot of albums, but sometimes books come our way too. This one is for die-hard fans, by a die-hard fan. Add in a dose of Judaism and Latin America, and you’ve got a unique take on Celtic punk. Check this out!
Celtic Punk Superfan is a neatly presented little chapbook (i.e. about 40 pages), and the title describes the author accurately ☘️ Though Michael started out writing about Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys for his college newspaper, the book’s preface carries a dedication to Neck – an early sign that Michael doesn’t just discuss the big names. “Every day’s St. Patrick’s Day”, the band once said. And if you’re Irish at heart, with an understanding and respect for the music, then the door’s open for you to discover more.
Celtic Punk Superfan starts by looking at the role Celtic punk has played in representing the Irish as a group of people. Shane and the Pogues get an early mention, and we’re happy to announce that a few webzines do too – including yours truly, London Celtic Punks 🙂☘️ So thanks for that, Michael!
The author explains how and why bands like Flogging Molly and the Dropkicks originated in the US, rather than in Ireland and Scotland. Their roots in the British Isles are obvious, but then so is the Irishness of Boston, for example. We’re reminded of how Celtic people throughout the world have put their voices and feelings into music. Plus, a lot of references from other literature are included here, proof that the author has definitely done his homework 👍
Foundation: The Two Heavyweights
Back in 2002, Michael was a student at Carnegie Mellon uni. He was as keen on writing Celtic punk articles as he was on writing assignments ☘️ He interviewed Bridget from Flogging Molly, and went to see the band live. The result was two articles that make up half of chapter 1. We look at Dave King’s exile from Ireland, the impact this had on Flogging Molly’s early music, and we’re treated to a quote by the man himself:
“Anyone who has a beating heart in their chest can relate to what I’m singing.”
– Dave King
We then move on to the Dropkick Murphys. Michael sees these guys as a different beast, one fuelled by working class pride and sport, e.g. the Boston Bruins (pictured below). The author was there in 2004 when the Murphys played to a sold-out Pittsburgh crowd, one that didn’t hesitate to rush the stage, if they weren’t just invited up by the band anyway.
It’s always good to read about gigs where you can feel the energy coming off the page. Chapter 1 gives us plenty of that, and it reminds me fondly of the heart and soul I poured into Folk Springs Eternal. Now we move on to chapter 2…
JewIrish: Connections as a Jew
Now we all know that a book about Celtic punk is anything but boring. But chapter 2 gives us an angle that most people wouldn’t think of. Michael is Jewish, and he talks about the holy Yom Kippur and Purim holidays. But what about Celtic punk? Michael asked himself, “is there such thing as a Jewish-Irish music connection?”
Well, klezmer punk exists, so maybe yes. Michael looks at bands who’ve tried to blend the two influences. There’s Josh Lederman y Los Diablos and the White Shabbos, to name two examples. The Shabbos only recorded one album as far as I’m aware (2004’s Shabbos Holy Shabbos), and the production quality could have been a bit better. But these bands were capable of making a noise as good as any Celtic punk band, make no mistake about that.
Somehow, Celtic music seems to attract Jewish people. And if there really is a common thread, then two words sum it up: tradition and persecution. The former is something that both Jews and Celtic punks carry with them. The latter, sadly, is something that both have been victims of. And if they survived, they were often displaced, longing for their homelands.
But Saints and Tzadiks are another good example of a band who tried it. So are Black ’47 actually, with their song “Izzy’s Irish Rose” (see below). These guys aimed to mix klezmer with Irish folk. While it’s not quite Celtic punk, it does sometimes feature singing in both Yiddish and Irish. And it’s mixing the old with the new, which is exactly what Celtic punk does! Finally, Jem Finer from the Pogues (Jewish on his dad’s side) gets a mention as the chapter rounds out.
This is a groundbreaking chapter by Michael, and one that I feel has postgraduate potential to it. Ian Prowse did a Master’s in Irish Studies, so why not? ☘️ But now for the rest of the book…
Ethnic Punk, Celtic Punk
The remaining chapters are a wee bit shorter, as we arrive at Michael’s blog. Michael ultimately draws the conclusion that he likes Celtic punk for its own sake, although there might be an aspect of his Jewish pride to it as well. He continues to discuss the different takes on the music, whether it’s Yidcore (punk first, Jewish second) or Golem (Jewish first, punk second).
Finally, we arrive in the year 2021, in the midst of that pesky COVID-19 pandemic. St. Patrick’s week is underway, bringing us livestreams across different continents, with the Dropkicks, Flogging Molly, the Real McKenzies, Flatfoot 56 and the Fighting Jamesons all checkin’ in. There was an online Latin American festival too, with South American bands using a lot of the instruments we’re used to seeing in Celtic punk. If the music has made it around the world, then so has the dress sense, clearly 😊
The last 2022 postscript brings us right up to date. Now people are starting to go to gigs again. Alas, some shows are still getting cancelled, and some people are still hesitant to go until we get further out of the woods. But the only way is up from here! Michael has the final word with a wee poem he penned for the Celtic punk fan. It contains tributes to various Celtic punk acts, including Vanilla Ice (okay I’m joking, but he does get a mention!)
All in all, it was never just about The Pogues, or Flogging Molly, or the Dropkicks. Celtic punk has reached far and wide, and the scene remains healthy with different bands and fans springing up all over the world. Michael has put his heart and soul into a book about his love of the genre, and his own personal take on it. The book is also well edited and presented; as such, we wish Michael the best of luck with it!
Get your copy of Celtic Punk Superfan by Michael Croland from the author HERE.
The power of your example is far greater than what you say!
and their ain’t no band who set a better example than the Dropkick Murphys. Love, loyalty and friendship. Ray Ball was lucky enough to catch the Murphys on only the second leg of their St. Patrick’s tour in Rochester, New York.
So, we all know this is a DKM show. And I’ll get into that later, but I wanted to get into a couple of the other groups that played.
First on deck was Jesse Ahern. Before walking in the doors even, I was a big fan. I got turned on to him when he was supposed to see him on a tour that got cancelled opening for DKM. Admittedly I’ve got all the records on my phone and keep them going pretty steadily on rotation in my car.
But he’s got a classic act down. One guitar, a harmonica and his vocals when he plays live. The records have more instrumental parts but it is bare bones, solid, working-class folk music. Solid solid set, early on and probably didn’t get the attention he deserves but I was definitely right up front and center.
Next came on The Rumjacks. First and foremost, replacing a band member is hard. I don’t care if you’re playing in a garage or were AC/DC trying to replace Bon Scott. Obviously a singer can also make or break a band. A new one-well damn. Uncharted waters. But they did it well.
The sound has changed. Personally I love the newer material-yes the ended with “Irish Pub Song” but ironically I wasn’t to familiar with the rest of the set. The overall sound and vibe is definitely headed in a direction I like. It makes me think definitely of what I wanted to sound like on record-only much, much better. No frills, crazy lighting, etc. On, straight Celtic punk, filled with whistles, bouzouki’s and a set of highland pipes, and go.
The Bombpops are not a group I would have bought headlining tickets for. Just not in my normal spectrum. That said, they had come cool music. Even though in my mind it shouldn’t be, it’s always unique to see two girls on stage. To me, in my own work I could really care less who you are as long as we have a good vibe and make good music. But it made me think of the bonus track on “Elgin Avenue Breakdown” by the 101ers. The track is a live cover of “Gloria” in which Joe Strummer goes into talking about women in the punk scene. “I’ve seen Patti Smith do it…” he says, and in a long tangent into how the whole idea of the punk movement was to break down those walls of convention.
Have we since 1976 when that was recorded made that headway? I’m not certain. I think we could argue both sides. I’m not entirely familiar with Bombpops repertoire. But I want to say, girls onstage in any act-punk or no-should not be a novelty. I personally don’t care if you’re a guy, a girl, black, white, purple-if you can play solid music and mean it I will listen. And damn, their guitarist played some of the most true punk palm-muting-all-downstroke machine gun sounding guitar playing I’ve seen in a very long time.
Ok, onwards. Dkm. I don’t need to introduce anyone here. But there were a few key points. Al Barr is out of the current tour on account of family matters. Much much much respect. The first thing I thought of when I heard that news was “Do you think Mick Jagger took time off from the Stones to help his sister take care of their mom?” Much respect to those who made it possible for him to do that. Frankly I don’t know much about Mick Jagger’s life, but I’m thinking I’m going to err on the side of probably not.
That leaves a hefty job for Ken to hold down. And he did it like an absolute champion. I’m willing to bet that everyone reading has at least seen them live on one of the Live Streams if not once or many times over the years. You know exactly what a good show you’re in for. But the one thing I will point out-the set list. “Do or Die”, “Caught in a Jar”, Caps and Bottles” and “Curse of a Fallen Soul” (some of which are mostly Al songs) came out of the vaults. The opened with “Cadence to Arms”. I’ve seen them every chance I get since 2004 and don’t think I’ve ever heard that done like that. They also did a mean cover of AC/DC’s “ Rock n’ Roll Singer ”. Old school my friends. A lot of us there were on the older side of the spectrum. There were even a few wee ones with their parents at the front.
So overall, some music I love, some fresh sounds, some impressive unexpected artists? Yes. Some serious nostalgia? Sort of. It got a bit rowdy and we were yelled at by two street preachers waiting on doors to open. It’s a crazy world, and it’s a punk show. Expect anything.
Set-List : Hang ‘Em High / The Fighting 69th / Sunday Hardcore Matinee / Deeds Not Words / Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya / Never Alone / Time to Go / Cruel / Going Out in Style / Take ‘Em Down / Echoes on A. Street / Devil’s Brigade / Boys on the Docks / The Dirty Glass / The State of Massachusetts / The Irish Rover / The Burden / Your Spirit’s Alive / 1953 / Barroom Hero / I’m Shipping Up to Boston / Encore / Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced / Skinhead on the MBTA / T.N.T. (AC/DC cover) /
Now seems the perfect time to mention the #1 Dropkick Murphys group on Facebook. Ran by fans for fans. Simply click the link and join up and join in the Murphys related fun.
Thanks to Ray Ball for the great review and all photos. He has already featured on these pages as the driving force behind The Fighting 69th from Buffalo. The review of his 2-volume set of Dropkick Murphys coverswas one of the most viewed of the year. One of the most prolific and diverse artists in the Celtic-Punk scene we are proud to have Raymond on board the London Celtic Punks team. Writer, artist, musician he is a credit to the American-Irish community and you can find a wealth of his material available at his Bandcamp site .
Fiery, Folk-playing, Irish-American blue-collar Boston native Bryan McPherson is back aided by a ‘Molly’ and a ‘Murphy’ among others with a new album and bejaysus if it’s not one of his best ones yet!
I’ve often wondered at the word ‘fan’. As a longtime Leyton Orient supporter we don’t get many ‘fans’ down Brisbane Road. Over the years when we have had the odd moment of success some have drifted by before decamping to follow more media friendly teams that they can brag about on Facebook. See I think of ‘fan’ as opposed to ‘supporter’ as a rather trivial term for someone who isn’t really invested in what they follow. In that sense I don’t like to think of myself as a Bryan McPherson fan I think I’m more of a Bryan McPherson supporter! So with that in mind I’m a keen supporter of whatever he gets up. It’s been two years since Kings Corner was released and for Bryan believe me that’s quite a gap. A simple search for Bryan on this site will throw up reviews and articles reaching into double figures, a number reserved only for the likes of scene stalwarts like The Pogues or the Dropkick Murphys.
It doesn’t seem like two years that must be said as Bryan is one of those performers who keeps his audience, his supporters, close by him. Throughout the lockdowns Bryan was a regular face on our screens with his live streams and videos so it never seems he’s too far away and always there ready to connect with us. Perhaps it’s his Working Class background that keeps him so grounded, especially when all I ever see is huge amounts of praise and adulation for him! His ability to sing everything with passion imbued with a raw sense of emotion is second to none. An interesting anecdote here is (she’ll not be happy I told anyone) on hearing this album for the first time alone in the car my Mrs cried. She couldn’t put her finger on why but just a few snatched lines of lyrics and the mere sound of his voice seemed to be enough for the tears to flow.
Unusually for Bryan he has roped in some friends to aid on the recording of How To Draw Everything. Use to just voice, harmonica, acoustic guitar this album feels more fleshed out compared to much of his previous work with the ex- Dropkicks and current Walker Roader Marc Orrell on mandolin, Dustbowl Revival’s drummer Josh Heffernan, violinist Chris Murphy, who has worked with everyone from the Waterboys to Mike Watt, and Grammy Award-winning record producer and original guitarist for Flogging Molly, and also a Walker Roader, Ted Hutt on bass and percussion. Quite the roll call I’m sure readers, here especially, will agree. The album opens with ‘2 Birds’ which was also the first single/video released. With a rare opportunity to film outside his Mam and Dads house it’s a great video. Simple and effective and fits the song perfectly. I always get the impression that Bryan prefers the ‘home’ setting to set ups like this but he throws himself into and even manages to not look uncomfortable!
(Director of Photography: Eric Wagner * Production Assistant: Joe Bennett)
“There’s something about the sky that makes me grateful to be alive.”
A beautiful song with an unbelievably catchy chorus Bryan wraps so much round a simple tune. Lyrically there’s plenty to unwrap with Bryan triumphing over the demons in his life and coming out the other side. ‘Alameda St’ keeps it upbeat and tells of his move from Boston to Los Angeles and trying to figure out what to do with your life, and what lies deep in your heart. ‘Sweet Kari’ is more trad McPherson with a soft whisper cracking over a gentle folk song telling of moving on from lost love. The video here is from one of Bryan’s many live streams and is included here just for reference as like the video for ‘American Dream’ below many aspects of the song changed from these recordings to what eventually would appear on the album.
The harmonica is one of my favourite instruments and I think it’s a shame it doesn’t get used more in Celtic-Punk. It’s most definitely a folk instrument as you don’t need a music lesson to learn, making it the most working-class of all musical instruments! Here it gets an airing for both the upbeat and the gentler songs with ‘Hello, So Long And Goodbye’ a perfect example of the former. Catchy and tuneful but then the whole album is. How To Draw Everything has several anthems and ‘Lightning Lullaby’ is one such with several lines jumping out at you. “A bridge in England where everyone falls” and “going on tour with my depressing songs just like my Grandma use to sing to me” are just two as Bryan sings of the power of music in bringing people together. These are divided times and while each side thinks it’s because of the other their is always hope they are both wrong to think so. All the tracks here are written by Bryan except for ‘Shooting Star’ next up, where he was joined by Josiah Mazzaschi. A gentle beautiful song followed by another in ‘Troubled Times’. Bryan McPherson isn’t scared of an epic. My favourite of his songs is ‘I see A Flag’ check out the video from London where he performed to a small but adoring crowd back in 2015. Who would open their set with a eight minute song? Bryan McPherson that’s who. ‘American Dream’ is more than double that and it’s telling that it was several plays before I realised it’s length so gripping was it. Written in 2020 as tensions across the USA were greater than many even ever remember their was a need to remind ourselves that
“good outweighs the bad no matter how imperfect the country is, and there is power in recognizing our similarities.”
Chronicling his years on the road, playing and visiting every corner of the USA, meeting good and kind people everywhere he went. People with many differing views and experiences but still with the time to bond with this travelling musician living out of his car. A song full of optimism and a song I hope that looks to the future.
We are heading towards the end and ‘Home’ and on an album so strong while it is hard to pick this is my standout track. The word ‘beautiful’ has been overused in this review I’m sure you get my drift. ‘Bedroom Eyes’ is an optimistic love song and it’s just like Bryan to make some beautiful (groan..) out of something that on the face of is tragic.
“where I come from we grow up too tough”
After the first few plays I had insisted this was one of Bryan’s best albums but now while all the eleven songs are sitting at the top of my phones ‘most played’ list I would go so far as to say this is his best work to date. Each song is crafted with so much love and attention. This is what writing ‘musician’ on your passport really means. The album ends with the title song ‘How To Draw Everything’ and another standout track among the many. An amazing end to an amazing album.
How To Draw Everything was recorded at Kingsize Soundlabs in Los Angeles, California and produced expertly by Ted Hutt and engineered by Ryan Mall. Bryan’s journey from his raw debut Fourteen Stories, released in 2007 (I recommend checking out his back catalogue at the Bandcamp link below) has been a roller coaster of emotions with us being allowed into every aspect of his life and his thoughts. With age does come understanding, As he puts it
“From the perspective of age comes a spiritual death of what was, and in its place, a re-discovering of peace, country, and self are found. Hope finally outweighs despair and can be reclaimed, like a child wondering at the seeds of a dandelion. Hope was there all along.”
It may be a peculiar to put it but I support Bryan McPherson.
(Stream/ download Buy How To Draw Everything on the Bandcamp player below)
Buy How To Draw Everything Stream/Download/Vinyl/CD
All Bryan’s previous studio releases are available via Bandcamp plus many interesting live concerts and tracks, many available for free download and all available to stream. You can also support Bryan by buying some merchandise including a brand new How To Draw Everything t-shirt.
Syr is a Celtic Folk Rock band from Columbia, South Carolina. Music inspired by Celtic history, mythology, and folklore… like what you would listen to just before smashing a Roman legion!
Our first ‘proper’ review of 2022 and it falls to Syr a Celtic-Rock band from South Carolina. Sentinel is the bands third studio album and comes after a series of predictable pandemic-related delays. Two years of canceled and postponed live shows, live streams and uncertainty about the future only seems to have amplified Syr (pronounced Sire) and their stories of Celtic history, stories and myths taking in themes like battle, love, and victory. Lead singer and founder Kyle MacCallum says
“The idea is to write about Celtic history, legends, and stories finding themes that would resonate with a modern audience.”
Taking the well trod route of humble beginnings of pubs and local venues, the band’s high-energy live performance has since received a welcome at regular performances at some of north America’s biggest Celtic events and festivals. Sentinel is their third album after the self-titled Syr in 2015 and The Winter King in 2017. These have been accompanied by a couple of singles all available via the band.
Syr is Kyle MacCallum – Lead Vocals, Guitar * Laurel MacCallum – Vocals, Percussion * Kelly and Greg Vance – Bass and Drums * Ben Campbell – Guitar * Worth Lewallen – Fiddle
Not a band I’m familiar with so fresh ground to be trod for the site and while Syr think of themselves as more a Celtic-Rock band
“While I wouldn’t characterize the band as “punk” you’ll definitely pick up on the metal influence, and the defiant tone that has always been a feature of us Celts!”
I couldn’t agree more! Sentinel begins with ‘Isolation’ a short atmospheric intro that sounds like it could come from a movie that soon bursts into ‘Revenant’, a track that spans everywhere from trad Irish Folk to New Model Army to Euro Folk-Metal. This is the kind of Celtic music that is accessible to all. Tuneful, catchy, light hearted (in a serious way!) and 100% genuine. ‘Tir N’aill’ was the albums first single and here Laurel takes over from her brother Kyle on lead vocals. Kyle has more the ‘rock’ style vocals while Laurel is more folk orientated reminding me of the lovely Aoife O’Donovan.
Like the music the video is also atmospheric and features the lyrics above sweeping landscapes from the Celtic nations. The tribal sound of the drums is used to great effect in ‘Specters’ despite its slightly poppy sound (though that’s probably just by our standard!). Title track ‘Sentinel’ stands out with it’s unrestrained power even though it’s played little more than a ballad.
The music itself is played simply but effective with only Worth Lewallen’s constant fiddle (alongside the occasional whistle and mandolin) embracing Celtic instrumentation but then the voice is as powerful as any instrument especially in Folk music and in Kyle and Laurel both have the most expressive voices that seem to cross both ancient and modern. Of course the drumming adds a dimension to the music lost in the more ‘traditional’ style Celtic-Punk and nowhere on the album is this expressed better than on the instrumental ‘The Painted Ones’. ‘Baobhan Sith’ has shades of great trad crossover band Planxty. Slow, gentle and beautiful. ‘Lay of the Ashes’ kicks it up a notch with a lively song led into with some great fiddle. ‘Idistaviso’ gives us a positive slice of Celtic-Americana that wouldn’t be out of place being ruined by many a star (BS anyone?). It may sound funny that as editor of a Celtic-Punk site it is the slower more Folky Syr offerings I prefer especially this. ‘Oran Na Gaillinn’ is upbeat and catchy and also the longestvtrack here at almost six minutes. Known in the Celtic-Punk as either a head-nodder or a thigh-slapper. Kyle sings in Irish next on ‘Albion II’ and understand the meaning of that. Of a Irish-American who has taken the time to learn the language of his ancestors. It’s a shame more Irish musicians don’t follow him. A great rocking song with some super fiddle. We are almost at the end and ‘Legacy’ starts with what sounds like the feet of marching men off to wage war and fight to defend their homes. Stirring stuff alright. The curtain comes down on Sentinel with ‘To Avalon’ and an instrumental fit to see out the album. Great in scope and style and a rousing way to say goodbye.
Thirteen tracks that come in at just under a hour and absolutely note perfect production. Syr play the sort of music that bridges not just the gap between Celtic-Punk and the Trad/Folk scene but also the sounds of the 70’s and 80s Irish Folk scene and now while also embracing the better bits of the Folk-Metal scene too. This is a grand record and it’s easy to see why they are becoming so well known on the American Celtic circle. Music played with a passion but also a belief in it.
(You can listen to / steam/ download Sentinel from the Bandcamp player below)
Our last post was an attempt to catch up with a few albums that we loved but had missed for reviewing during 2021. Part One wasn’t originally planned to be but they all ended up being ‘solo’ albums and so today we have a bunch of albums from bands. Apologies for not being able to do more detailed reviews but as we say each and every month “we can’t review what we don’t hear”.
WILD COLONIAL BHOYS – Remote Ruaille Buaille
Not a band I’m particularly knowledgeable about bar coveting one of their great t-shirts but here goes. I’m pretty sure I had some stuff from them in the past but was all lost in the great external HD crash of a few years ago. Hailing from Minnesota the album was recorded remotely, hence the name, which makes the expert production even more impressive.
Things start with the self penned ‘Red haired Lass’ and a upbeat bouncy Country /Celtic number. The production here is maybe one of the best I’ve heard all year. The sound is so full with the many instruments here all complimenting each other. The talented band show their ability throughout the album able to switch from more rocking numbers even to trad Folk. Their harder edge comes out early on, on the first of a handful of covers and ‘Rocky Road’ never fails to disappoint. Their are several excellent covers like Ewan MacColl’s ‘Homes of Donegal’, and Luke Kelly’s ‘Schooldays Over’ but as usual it’s the originals that I’m really interested in. The standout track here is the ‘Tragedy At Duffy’s Cut’ where the Bhoys tells the tragic story of the death of 57 Irish immigrants whilst working digging the railroad near Philadelphia in the 1830’s. The death and unmarked grave containing these men’s remains was hidden for decades and is a stark reminder that the lives of working-class Irish Catholics in those days were worthless. A fascinating story well worth reading more about but the story is well told here. The album ends with a great upbeat version of ‘The Auld Triangle’ and it all reminds me what I have been missing. A fantastic album that captures the spirit of Irish-America perfectly.
The Pokes had quite a lengthy several year hiatus between this album and their last but have returned with an album that reminds me of them at their best. Another Toast is their fifth studio album and takes off from where Mayday ended. Their distinctive Folk-Punk sound is left intact as well as the humour they are famous for. Kicking off with an ode to their beloved Berlin wart’n’all. Accordion led with a real catchy beat chugging along. As I’ve said before The Pokes remind me a hell of a lot of the Geordie band The Whiskey Priests. Unafraid to venture into political commentary but it’s pure bold and absolute brazen entertainment that is the goal here and is achieved 100%. My personal favourite here is ‘Gambler’, now talk about bloody catchy! but several songs could all be described the same. With the album’s artwork it’s no surprise The Pokes take a deep look at death here but always with a jig in their heart and a beer glass being slammed into a table.
The CD album comes with the added bonus of the vinyl only Sail single from earlier this year and also with a extensive 16-page booklet. The album was released on the famous Mad Butcher Records and is available in all formats. This to me is Celtic-Punk without being particularly Celtic but it is nevertheless absolutely superb party music!
We have just literally done a review of another band from Arizona (the new album from Swainn) and his has been in the to-do pile for a few weeks without us giving it much of a chance. hawthorns roots began in another local Celtic-Punk West Winds and they have previously released a 6-track EP in 2017 before this. Hawthorn are, rather unbelievably, a duo with Sarah Elizabeth and Brent Anderson playing all the instruments. The band is rather mysterious with blurred videos and artsy photos never quite giving you a decent view of the band. Still we here for the music and that is damn good.
I didn’t know they were a duo for a good while after I heard this album and I still find it hard to believe now after several listens. The amount of instruments here is incredible with flute, tin-whistle, uileann pipes, upright bass, mandolin, banjo and plenty more all in the mix here. At times the music is aggressive Celtic-Punk and at other times gentle Celtic inspired Folk. Basically the perfect model for an album on these pages. Of the former the brilliant intro ‘Beltane’ that leads into the fast bagpipe led ‘A Green And Ancient Light’, ‘Gardner’s Ghost’ and the album’s closing song ‘Raven’ all rock along with Celtic intensity, while of the latter the Irish trad instrumental ‘Lughnasadh’, the atmospheric ‘Samhain’, with almost Gothic sounding uileann piping, and the gentle ‘Solstice’ all stand out. Overall it’s a great album with a bit extra than most Celtic-Punk albums. Definitely not yer typical American album with both it’s style and lyrics. The album is available at the link below for ‘name your price’ download so basically a £100, a pint of Guinness or bugger all. Up to you but make sure you do download it.
THE SURFIN’ TURNIPS – Down The Allotment (Download)
The Surfin’ Turnips have been with us now a good few years and round their way (Bristol and the south-west of England) they have become quite the institution. Known primarily as a festival band they have a decent enough back catalogue too and their latest album Down The Allotment came out back in March. These guys are the real deal when it comes to West country Cider Punk anthems and its all heads down Folk’n’Roll as on the album opener the Ramonesy ‘Mermaids Leg’ that leads into the Folky but Punky but still Folky ‘Windbound’. It’s all done in great spirit and with tongue lodged firmly in cheek with salty songs of the sea, some of the fields and some of the orchards too. There’s plenty here but maybe you have to be a local for it to really click with you. Some of the subjects sailing right over me head but I loved the uncomplicated Punk-Rock sound that is only improved by the addition of accordion. The kind of band that when asked your standout tracks it would change every listen. At the moment the spoken word ‘Evesham Wheel’, UK82 style ‘Cider Police’, the piss taking ‘You Are My Cider’ and the album’s closing song, and also one of my favourite songs, ‘The Bonnie Ship The Diamond’ all stand out though I can guarantee that will change. One for ‘turnip’ up loud and getting your dancing boots on!
Before I became active on social media; I had noticed a lot of hostility, even abuse directed toward Irish-Americans on Irish groups and pages. I even experienced a bit myself. Before that I suppose I was aware of how unpopular Americans are abroad, but had hoped the relationship of the Irish with their American cousins would somehow have overridden that.
Here, I would like to sincerely and sensitively (as objectively as I can) examine what I have observed about Irish-American attitudes toward Ireland and native Irish attitudes toward Irish-Americans. My purpose is for understanding and bringing together the branches of our worldwide diaspora. In trying to see both sides of the issues, I am not trying to be patronising, derogatory or offensive. The opinions and observations here are mine alone. I speak for nobody else.
More than blood, I believe the millions all over the world who love Ireland makes a worldwide family. I mention that for the sake of members of that family with no Irish blood. The blood thing really hit home for me, though when I visited my cousins in Yorkshire, England. There we were with our different accents; English-born Irish, American-born Irish, Irish-born Irish. The distinctions disappeared into the common denominator, our shared heritage. My cousin in England is a gifted musician. I make some noise myself. When we play Irish music together, we instantly can read each other’s minds. It’s an instinct. American or English birth doesn’t undo that.
Four out of five children born in Ireland in the 1930’s, emigrated in the 1950’s, including my parents who came to the US. Of course, untold numbers fled here from the genocide of the Great Hunger in the 1840’s and afterward and spread pretty thoroughly so that one isn’t surprised to hear anyone here say that they have Irish heritage. The US version of the show “Who Do You Think You Are” featured many US celebrities who had Irish heritage of which they didn’t even know. A big part of tourism to Ireland is genealogy from Americans wanting to trace their Irish roots. With the popularity of ancestral DNA, many people are discovering they have Irish ancestry. I have seen much of this myself.
There is a wide variance of connection to Ireland among the over 33 million Americans who claim Irish ancestry. Some, like myself; were born of Irish parents (first generation), have been to Ireland many times, keep up with current events there, and maintain close ties with relatives there. It’s important to know and remember that I grew up in New York, a city with a large Irish community.
That community enabled me to grow up with a strong sense of what it was to have Irish heritage. Having spent summers in Ireland as kid made me fall in love with Ireland in my own personal way. This also made me take a strong interest in Irish history and what was then happening in the North. I read Irish-American newspapers such as The Irish Echo that kept its American readers well-informed on events there. We even got a Republican newspaper called The Irish People. I rubbed elbows in pubs drinking and singing with Irish immigrants. We had Gaelic Park in The Bronx where my dad took my brother and I to see hurling and Gaelic football played. I went to Irish fairs and festivals where I was able to hear lots of good live Irish music and buy lots of books and videos of historical interest.
All these things I mention would not have been accessible years ago to probably most of the number in America who call themselves Irish, that did not live in places with large Irish communities. This information is all available to them now that we have the internet, and Facebook, which is the purpose of our pages; to promote Irish history and culture. I have known people who are several generations removed from Ireland that have an instinct, or a calling for their heritage that even they don’t understand.
Their link may be only that they have an Irish last name, red hair, freckles, oral family tradition, or have recently discovered that an ancestor came from Ireland. My brother lives in a city in the southern US where there is no Irish community to speak of, nor many catholics. When I have gone to visit, I meet people who think or suspect they may have Irish heritage. I am amazed at how one wouldn’t know that, but this is what happened over the course of generations in the US. The people there know so little about Ireland that they would probably believe anything they heard about it. I recently met a nurse here in New York named Megan who wore a shamrock on her name tag, identifying herself as Irish. When I asked where her family was from, she said “Cork, I think. Not sure.”
Why would she call herself Irish? Because in the States, many of us tend to define ourselves by whence our families came. Remember, the US is a nation made up of people who came from everywhere else. Every language on earth is spoken in my county of Queens, NY. American is a nationality, not an ethnicity. For a person of Irish heritage who is born in Ireland, his nationality and ethnicity are one and the same. One does not have “American” blood or an “American” family name (except Native Americans, of course. That’s a whole other story…). Here in the states we tend to confuse the term nationality with ethnicity, which is ironic considering it is a nation of multiple ethnicities.
“What nationality are you?”
“Irish” (This is how an Irish-American would respond in the US.)
“Why? What are you?”
“Half Irish/half Italian”.
That’s another thing I think people in Ireland couldn’t understand; how someone could be “half Irish”. My neighbourhood was full of such Irish-Italian and Irish-German kids.
A bartender I knew was nicknamed Scotty for his Glasgow accent. The subject of nationalities came up and referring to himself he said; “You figure it out. I’m from Scotland. My parents were from Kerry, I was raised in Canada, and now I’m an American citizen.”
I saw it this way:
He was born in Scotland, with Irish blood.
He was raised in Canada, with Irish blood.
He will likely die in the USA, with Irish blood.
Your nationality can change, but your ethnicity doesn’t change. Ironically in Ireland now, because of the immigration that came from The Celtic Tiger, there are lots of people who are Irish by birth, but not by blood. I believe this serves well to expand the idea of an inclusive Irishness, “cherishing all children of the nation equally”.
I hear people from Ireland say that they feel that their nationality is being watered down or cheapened by Americans calling themselves Irish, particularly those with only a remote connection. I must admit at times I have been disgusted with the ignorance of many of my fellow Americans who call themselves Irish, who know or care nothing about Ireland. That is, except for one day of the year. I have been accused of being arrogant in my attitude about my own Irishness. I have strong opinions on Irish things because of my familiarity with them. I have little tolerance for fools and bullshit in general, but most especially when it comes to Ireland. So I do understand the irritation.
However, those who do care about Ireland (to varying degrees) see her as our Motherland, that instinct again. People from Ireland don’t seem to understand this feeling that’s widely felt all over the diaspora…until they leave Ireland. Just as one fails to see the forest for the trees. That’s who our parents and grandparents are, the ones who left and subconsciously passed along their homesickness. Christy Moore described this longing of which I speak quite beautifully:
“In the City of Chicago
As the evening shadows fall
There are people dreaming
Of the hills of Donegal.”
I have a friend I have known for 30 years since he came to New York from Ireland. When he first met me, I don’t think he understood how I felt about Ireland. In the years since, he has married a woman from Ireland and had a son, whom they had baptised in Ireland. He totally gets it now. His son is an American, but I’m sure he will also know he is Irish and be proud of it.
As I mentioned earlier, people without close ties to Ireland or who have never been there may not know very much about Ireland. Something I would ask people to remember is that Ireland is a country you hear nearly nothing about in the US. No more than you’d hear about Finland. So, many Irish-Americans have never heard of Dáil Éireann, Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil, etc. Contrast this to how much the Irish hear about US politics, quite a lot.
Even during the conflict in the North, the mainstream media in the US reported little and it was one-sided. Proportionally very few Americans were knowledgeable about the North, though let it be said the few who were were active in taking a role in putting pressure on the US Government to get involved in the peace process. They were also very supportive of the Republican movement. This lead to another perception that Irish-Americans are naive and romantic on the subject. I have recently seen venomous hatred directed at Irish-Americans from Loyalists for their reputation of support for the Republicans, which actually made me quite proud.
A lot of misconceptions about Ireland were put out by terrible Hollywood movies. Also a lot of misconceptions about Ireland survive because of folk memory; the Irish grandparents fill them with the image of the land they left, not as it is now. I have seen this with my own eyes. People who return after many years are total strangers in their own hometown and don’t recognise the place.
The image of the backward, superstitious, strictly catholic country is dying hard. When I predicted confidently and correctly that the Gay Marriage referendum would pass in Ireland, Americans were astonished, could hardly believe it. Some don’t realise, (or maybe don’t want to realise) that Ireland is no longer as it was depicted in “The Quiet Man”.
The invention of Social Media has definitely added a new dimension to this discussion. It has put Americans who would normally not interact with anyone from Ireland, let alone someone in Ireland; conversing with Irish people who only meet the Americans who go there, some of whom are just tourists. Of course, so many Irish have relatives here that return to visit. I would hope the Irish with a negative image of Americans make exceptions for or overlook their own cousins. I hope mine do. But even if not, they’re still my cousins.
Social Media is where I first became aware of this hostility toward Irish-Americans and experienced it a bit myself. It was usually to the effect of that I’m not Irish because I wasn’t born there. Of course I wasn’t, but I feel that doesn’t negate my right to claim it as my heritage, to take an interest or contribute my knowledge where it is helpful or informative.
I don’t claim to be Irish in the same way as someone who was born there, did live there or does live there, but I do claim to be Irish. How are you not what your parents are? One guy commented to me “You may have an Irish passport, but it doesn’t mean you’re an Irish citizen!” To which I responded “Actually, it does. One must be a citizen to obtain a passport.”
I was well able for it, but who wants to subject themselves to that? I thought then about how discouraging that is to Americans who visit sites and pages to learn about their heritage who didn’t have access to the stuff I did. What bothers me is that I have heard more than one American tell me they have reconsidered going to Ireland because the abuse they get on some pages makes them feel that they wouldn’t be welcome. That’s the damage that does, and it is sad. That is something about which I have sought to do what I can, and why I’ve written this piece.
Many Americans sometimes do also fail to appreciate or understand Irish humour, in which sometimes insults are terms of endearment. Many Irish also enjoy doing the “wind-up”; provoking an argument to flare tempers purely for entertainment. We see this especially on Social Media. Also, the word “Yank” applies to all Americans, even Americans from the South. Being called a Yank can be affectionate or insulting, depending how it’s used. Normally, no offense is meant. I take no offence to it. But if you choose to always take offense, then prepare to be constantly insulted. I say own it.
To be honest, I never personally experienced any hostility about being an American in Ireland. But then, I have relatives all over and know my way around pretty well. I used to visit regularly until 2000. My next and last visit was in 2005. The political climate had changed a lot in those few years. After a few days, I had noticed that nobody said anything political pertaining to the US around me, which was unusual. I broke the ice by saying “Say what you will. You will not offend me.” There’s nothing so uncomfortable as feeling like you have to watch what you say. Once I said that, the hair came down, and shoes came off, so to speak. That being said, perhaps in general, a change in the political climate is a source of this gap.
Here I will discuss politics in the general, historical sense. I will not comment on current US or Irish politics or personalities. I think there is a huge difference in how the US perceives itself as opposed to how it is perceived around the world, including Ireland. Americans believe their troops are protecting them, and keeping the world safe for democracy and from terrorism. Many people in Ireland see the US as an imperialist power that goes to war for oil and business in which thousands are being slaughtered. The Irish have suffered from occupation by an imperialist power, so their natural sympathy is for those who are occupied or oppressed. Many Irish see the Middle East, particularly the Palestinian/Israeli conflict very differently than Americans; sympathising with the Palestinians. Many Irish, particularly Republicans admired Gaddafi of Libya, whereas Americans saw him an a crazy tyrant.
Americans believe Communism was a great evil that was necessary to eradicate with great loss of life. Many Irish sympathised with the people of Vietnam during the war with the US. Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese leader was inspired by Irish revolutionaries, particularly Tom Barry; who commanded the Third (West) Cork Brigade of the IRA in the Irish War of Independence. Recently, we saw another example of the disparity of opinion about Ernesto “Che” Guevara, who now graces an Irish stamp. Americans couldn’t fathom that they would put Che on a stamp. Americans consider him an evil communist tyrant fanatic. The Irish consider him a freedom fighter (of Irish descent) who was killed by the CIA. Ireland was neutral during the Cold War and did not share American paranoia about communism.
A key thing for Americans to remember about Ireland is that it is a small, peaceful European nation. It has a history of neutrality going back to World War II. Ireland did not join NATO. It does not have nuclear weapons nor does it want them. But, if huge world power nations like the US destroy the world with nuclear weapons, that would include Ireland. This is why they hear a lot about the US in Ireland, but very little vice versa. There is a certain amount of resentment about that as well as the fact that US military aircraft stop and refuel in Shannon Airport. I for one wish they would do so elsewhere, as I don’t want Ireland involved in any other nation’s disputes or to become a target for terrorism for this reason.
Irish-Americans: Go to Ireland. Don’t live up to negative expectations about Americans. Visit Irish sites and pages on-line. Let your love for Ireland be based on truth, not misconception. Learn about your roots. Learn especially about where your people are from in Ireland. Learn about the history and culture. Remember that people from Ireland have a very different view of the world. Don’t let anyone stop you.
Irish-born: Try to to understand why we call ourselves Irish. Try to understand how little we may know. When we do ask dumb questions, please try to educate or advise, rather than abuse. That way you will be strengthening the diaspora, spreading knowledge instead of misinformation, correcting misconceptions, contributing to her “exaltation among the nations”. These people have a calling for their Irish heritage Please don’t discourage them.
Our thanks go out to Kevin Rooney for this fascinating article. Hopefully it will help educate those that make disparaging remarks about the foreign born Irish. A 2nd generation Mayo American Irish writer and musician living in Queens, New York. You can hear more from Kevin over at the Irish History 1916 through to 1923and Everything IrishFacebook pages where he is an admin. Kevin also contributed to the Happy Birthday Mr Bobbook, a celebration of Bob Dylan’s 80th Birthday, with submissions from Irish poets, writers, singers, songwriters, artists, photographers and an eclectic mix of admirers!
The third album from Arizona based Swainn (also known as Cockswain). Sunburnt Celtic-Rock sealed by Punk-Rock energy and desert heat.
Sitting here in a big jumper with a icy droplet hanging off the end of me nose trying to escape the bitter cold it’s hard to imagine a world where people listen to Celtic-Punk all year round in t-shirts and shorts but we Irish are a travelling race and we are everywhere! What those first Irish settlers thought when they first washed up in Arizona we can only imagine but it may have been along the lines of “phew” ! So it is that wherever you go you’re always guaranteed to find a Irish pub and more than likely a band inside it.
Swainn left to right: Mandy Lubking – Fiddle, Backing Vocals * Neil Ward – Vocals, Acoustic / Electric Guitar * Brian Daily – Drums * Wake Lubking – Banjo, Backing Vocals *
It’s not uncommon for Celtic-Punk bands to trace their origins back to St. Patrick’s Day. The lure of a bit of cash (or free drinks!) must seem appealing and many seem to enjoy it so much so that one or two offs become four or five and eventually become permanent. Well nine years on from their humble openings around the pubs of Tucson and marathon three hour sets at packed pubs throughout the wider Phoenix area it’s now time for Swainn’s third album. They have appeared on these pages before back in 2017, when known as Cockswain, with a review of their second album ‘For The Whiskey’, a follow up to their debut album ‘Seamus’ in 2014. Taking the well worn route of mixing originals and Irish standards their audiences soon grew alongside many successful festival appearances but the appeal for a musician is always to play your own material and that is where they are now with Under A Willow Tree. As Neil says “we started out as a scruffy sea shanty Irish band who wrote drinking songs, and we’ve come so far”.
The title of the album Under A Willow Tree represents for the band symbolism, myth and history. As fiddle player Mandy explains
“The Willow itself has Celtic symbolic origins, the tree really represents a lot of synchronicity for us, because Neil regular references nature in the lyrics. When we were settling on the title, I was studying mandolin techniques online one night, and the video was set to none other than ‘Bury Me Beneath Willow’ by Woody Guthrie. It was meant to be.”
The album kicks off with ‘Voices’ and for those this side of the pond it has certain resonance with English band Mick O’Toole. Fast and heavy with the banjo pushed hard into the mix and Neil’s vocals growling out at you. A grand opening and while I may have made it sound like like some sort of Celtic Napalm Death it has that undeniable accessibility that any generation could warm to. Next up is the album’s lead single ‘Bag O’ Bones’ and sometimes a press release can get a wee bit too flowery
“I was reading a bunch of Ram Dass, he was a psychedelic Buddhist teacher who moved on to another plane. ‘Bag o’ Bones’ is basically your body in a sense. Your spirit is anchored down until you pass on. That’s what the song references.”
God alone knows how I would have described it otherwise! ‘In The Morning’ began life as a straight up drinking song before becoming about mental health and depression and sadly I’m not sure anyone knows more about the sad connection between the two as the Irish and yet ones of my generation still worship the grain. Great banjo from Wake here and a real thigh slapper before ‘Take Action’ whish begins in a trad Folk style before mixing in some bluegrass style while making a simple statement without ramming it home thank Heavens. The mention of Bluegrass is quite as apt as the acoustic ‘Home’ takes it to the next level with a song that could almost come from another era. You know after that we are due a stormer and we get it in ‘Let’s Get Loose’. A quick and jaunty trip with lots of gang shouts and a right royal rowdy Celtic Folk knees up. ‘Sink Or Float’ is a bit more on the poppier side of things but still unquestionably just as catchy while telling us of the journey of outcasts.
“I sing Danny Boy and the Rose Of Tralee cannot deny the rebel in me”
‘Fairwinds’ is more traditional Celtic-Punk sounding not so far off Flogging Molly at their best. A uplifting number with great banjo and fiddle. A “raucous fight song meant to kick everybody’s ass” according to Neil. One of the things here that makes Under A Willow Tree a cut above most Celtic-Punk albums is the quality of the songwriting and ‘Up On The Mountain’ is a perfect example. Celtic-Punk should, in common with Celtic-Folk, be about story telling. There is no other genre that could ever get you jigging about to a song about famine dying of hunger or alcoholism or despair!
“I hope people have a good time when they listen to us or see us live, that’s always the goal for us.”
We washing up to the end and time for another slower number in ‘Brand New Day’ before the album ends with the fantastic piss taking ‘Another Drinking Song’ where the band take the mickey out of themselves in what could be described as ‘classic Celtic-Punk’.
(‘Another Drinking Song’ live at The Tucson Celtic Festival and Scottish Highland Games, Tucson, AZ in November 2018)
One thing I know is that whenever I have been anywhere hot I always get a urge to go sit somewhere cool where cold drinks are readily available so if the folks from Swainn are anything like me this is where they find their inspiration! On Under A Willow Tree we find Swainn moving away from the “scruffy sea shanty Irish drinking songs” that they began with but still staying true to the traditions they come from but trying something more sophisticated.
Not many folk have featured on these pages as much as Bryan McPherson has. To say we are fans is a massive understatement. Bryan’s new single landed yesterday and he celebrated after the video release with a ‘Live Stream’ show.
Been waiting for this for the last few weeks the new single from London Celtic Punks favourite Bryan McPherson. It’s two years now since fiery, Folk-playing, Irish-American blue-collar native of Boston Bryan put out the album Kings Corner and he has recently announced the release of a new album How To Draw Everything for early 2022. Produced by Ted Hutt (who makes another regular appearance on here!) and with several top-notch guest musicians including ex-Dropkick Murphys’ Marc Orrell on mandolin and a load of other instruments as well, Dustbowl Revival’s drummer Josh Heffernan, violinist Chris Murphy and Ted Hutt again on bass and percussion.
“How To Draw Everything isn’t just Bryan’s latest record; it’s a whole new beginning for him as an artist. On the meditative “2 Birds,” he muses, “There’s something about the sky that makes me grateful to be alive.” From the perspective of age comes a spiritual death of what was, and in its place, a re-discovering of peace, country, and self are found. Hope finally outweighs despair and can be reclaimed, like a child wondering at the seeds of a dandelion. Bryan defies us to admit hope was there all along.” – Aaron Carnes
A simple search for Bryan through this site will throw up a list of reviews and other articles into the double digits. So where to start? With nearly every artist I can think of I would never dream of suggesting someone start with the new (let alone unreleased!) material but for Bryan I would. That’s about the highest compliment you could pay ant musician I think. Yeah go ahead and definitely check out his back catalogue (it’s brilliant!) but be sure to keep a beady eye out for that new album when it comes out.
Two bands from completely different places and era’s pay homage to the late great John Denver with their version of his classic track ‘Country Roads’ done Celtic-Punk.
Almost heaven, West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River. Life is old there, older than the trees, younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze.
* Country roads, take me home to the place I belong. West Virginia, mountain momma, take me home, country roads.
A long time ago now I came across a band on My Space (yes it was that long ago!) and even in the heyday of Celtic-Punk this really stood out. Fast, energetic, authentic Irish-American Celtic-Punk and while most bands talked up The Clash and The Pogues, The Gentlemen took their inspiration from Sham 69 and the Cockney Rejects and The Wolfe Tones! If I can be forgiven for saying they stood head and shoulders above everything the rest the scene had to offer. I think by then they had already split up but they did leave behind two fantastic records in a full length album Stick To Your Guns and an album of early recordings imaginative titled Greatest Hits.
(Both releases are compiled below on the Bandcamp player along with a couple of extra tracks for **FREE** download)
A 9 (yes nine!) piece band from Morgantown in West Virgina it was perhaps inevitable they would turn their hand to John Denver’s classic song but it was with the video that people really sat up and took notice. Capturing the spirit of working class Irish-America they are a band that has never in the intervening years been off my stereo. Over the years we have tried to get in touch with The Gentlemen but to no avail so if anyone knows them send them over.
So it is that almost thirteen years later one of the current leading lights of the Celtic-Punk scene turns their hand to ‘Country Roads’ too. The Cloverhearts formed when Aussie Sam and Italian Chiara first met at a Rumjacks show in Manhattan, New York fresh from Chiara’s departure from fellow Italian Celtic-Punkers, The Clan. Soon joined by guitarist JJ, bassist Stefano and drummer Christian The Cloverhearts have not been slow at releasing new music onto the scene and along with some high profile support slots their rise has been meteorically and they have become one of the Celtic-Punk scenes bands to watch.
With a sound that veers off from Celtic to Ska to Punk and back to Ska again The Cloverhearts are that new breed of Celtic-Punk bands that don’t feel confined by trad Celtic / Irish Folk and just play the music that they want to. They have an new single out next week called ‘Thorn In My Side’ that you can pre-order from here: https://show.co/WHlE5cm
Ironically though the country roads in this song are set in West Virginia, John Denver had never ever set foot in West Virginia! Co-writers and married couple Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert were driving along Clopper Road in Montgomery County, Maryland when the song formed. Later that night they played with Denver and between the three of them wrote the song with Denver saying afterwards he instantly knew it was a hit. It peaked at #2 in the Billboard US charts on release in 1971 and since has gone on to become John Denver’s most iconic song with it being adopted as one of the state anthems of West Virginia and is the theme song of West Virginia University where it has been played at every home football game since 1972.
The casual Celtic-Punk fan may not be aware of Boston Irish band The Gobshites but for obsessives like us they are one of the leading Celtic-Punk bands out there. Time to change that and get these Bhoys the love and respect they deserve.
It was back in 2002 Boston Irish-American punk rocker Pete Walsh, then the lead singer and rhythm guitar player for punk band Meat Depressed, decided he wanted to start up an Irish band. Within a few weeks The Gobshites were up and running and were even supporting New York Irish legends Black 47 in their first gig. The band has seen many line up changes over the years but every now and then they manage to stick together long enough to release some of the best records in Celtic-Punk history. Debut album, When The Shite Hits The Fans, instantly struck a chord in the American-Irish community and led to them playing all over the northeastern United States as well as the renowned Shamrockfest in Washington DC. That year they even famously played on a float on the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade! Two more albums, Get Bombed and Another Round, came in quick succession then a wee gap before Songs Me Da Got Pissed To and the official live bootleg Poitin. They continued to play intermittently leading up to The Whistle Before the Snap in 2017 which featured Ritchie Ramoneon drums and which, for the first time, consisted of solely Gobshites penned songs. Since then things have slowed down leading to the release of All The Best, a Gobshites greatest hits album that I never tire of recommending to anyone. The Gobshites never give up though and just recently we have seen a return to form with a cover of the House Of Pain classic ‘Jump Around’ (almost… yes almost, as good as the original!) and now a cover of the Neil Diamond classic ‘America’. Gobshites singer Pete Walsh has also turned his hand to producing and is responsible for the release earlier this year of what is planned to be a series of albums in tribute to seminal American-Irish band Black 47. The first After Hours compilation came out earlier this year and features several of the scenes best or upcoming bands. Well worth checking out.
Far We’ve been traveling far Without a home But not without a star Free Only want to be free We huddle close Hang on to a dream
On the boats and on the planes They’re coming to America Never looking back again They’re coming to America
Home, don’t it seem so far away Oh, we’re traveling light today In the eye of the storm In the eye of the storm
Home, to a new and a shiny place Make our bed, and we’ll say our grace Freedom’s light burning warm Freedom’s light burning warm
Everywhere around the world They’re coming to America Every time that flag’s unfurled They’re coming to America
Got a dream to take them there They’re coming to America Got a dream they’ve come to share They’re coming to America
They’re coming to America They’re coming to America They’re coming to America They’re coming to America Today, today, today, today, today
My country ’tis of thee Today Sweet land of liberty Today Of thee I sing Today Of thee I sing Today
‘America’ was written by Neil Diamond and first appeared in the movie musical The Jazz Singer in 1980 and tells the story of a young Jewish man played by Diamond who is torn between tradition and pursuing his dreams as a pop singer. The film ends with Diamonds character Yussel Rabinovitch now known as Jess Robin (“and they never even got so far that they could change our names”) performing ‘America’ in a spellbinding end to a rather unremarkable film. The song tells of the history of immigration to the United States and is no doubt a tribute to Brooklyn born Diamond’s own family who emigrated out of poverty and discrimination from Russia and Poland but also the untold thousands who came to America in similar circumstances to make a better life for themselves and their children.
Get your **FREE** download of America below. Only until November 18th.
No easy task keeping the tricolour flying for Pennsylvania’s large Irish community but Hold Fast do just that. Whether tales of the sea, songs of whiskey, or lessons on love and life. Back with the follow up to their debut album three years ago Hold Fast provide more rowdy Celtic-Punk and Irish Folk.
Hold Fast can get a rebellion started and keep it going long into the early morning!
In this day and age we have easy access to music of all kinds and as you can imagine we get plenty of new music here at London Celtic Punks. So much in fact that sometimes I can find myself listening to nothing but new releases for days on end. Saying that some ‘older’ album’s do stand out and one of them has been Hold Fast’s debut album, Black Irish Sons, which I have revisited many a time in the years since it came out.
“moments of fast punk rock and slow and gentle ballads mixed together to make an album that is laid out perfectly and at a ideal pace. The bands Irish roots are stamped all over things and they may look to the past of the Tones, Clancy’s and Dub’s but are not stuck there and have added their own stamp to everything they do.”
Black Irish Sons was universally well received at the time sitting just outside the London Celtic Punks Best Album Of 2018 top ten in #12 and finishing Top Ten for both Paddyrock and Celtic Folk Punk And More. So with the winds at their back they continued doing what they do playing regularly around their home state until the Covid lockdowns and things were put on hold. The recent appearance of Last Of the Rebels signifies two things to me. The triumphant return of Hold Fast and the return also of (even if just a little) a normal life.
Founded in 2016 in the state capital of Harrisburg Hold Fast are but part of a flourishing local Celtic-Punk scene along with the mighty Kilmaine Saints, Bastard Bearded Irishmen, Punkabillys, Lucky Lad Green and The Tradesmen the best known and all of whom have featured on these pages at one time or another. The Irish make up the State’s second biggest ancestry group at just under 20% (#1 is German) but in many places that rises to over 40% and so there’s a very good reason for such a wealth of Celtic-Punk bands alongside the State’s many traditional Irish Folk acts.
So can Last Of The Rebels compete with Black Irish Sons or not is the question? The first thing I noticed is the number of tracks on their debut was a bog standard ten but here the album stretches to fourteen songs and lasts just under a hour. That’s a risky thing with peoples attention spans not being what they were and especially in Celtic-Punk where we all accept that the best place to hear the music is down the pub in the company of others rather than sitting at home. The album kicks off with ‘Silver Shamrock’ and while I was expecting a ditty based around the unforgettable theme tune from Halloween 3 it turns out to be a rocking Paddy-Punk bagpipe heavy tribute to the Silver Shamrock tattoo parlour run by a horror mad Irishman. Not the blazing opener I was hoping for but a good toe-tapper singalong and anyway ‘Three Can Keep A Secret’ supplies the rowdiness next and it’s top quality Piratey Punk. Cole’s vocals are just the right side of raspy here, strong and powerful. Not quite Tom Waits but Shane-ish compared to most. Glad also to see our auld mate Mike McNaughton has joined the cast here since the album’s release on drums too.
Title track ‘Last Of The Rebels’ was the first single from the album and came out with a rather uninspiring video but these guys don’t have time to get all artsy-farty and the video did it’s job in letting us all know that Hold Fast had lost none of their spunk in the intervening years. Hold Fast keep the covers to a minimum and concentrate on their own material like ‘Magh Meall & Tir Nan Nog’ a Punky, fast and furious (the shortest song here) modern sea-shanty. On past experience the ballad holds no fear for Hold Fast and Cole’s vocal range can more than handle it and so they show on ‘Prodigal Sun’. A outstanding song with some great writing too. They follow this up with a dark and foreboding short instrumental ‘Gentlemen And Rogues’ which more than tips it’s cap at legendary Irish act Horslips. ‘The Sails Are On Fire’ takes us on another nautical voyage which even includes some nice brass instruments. The challenge from piper Jon was to find the Tuba and if I had to guess than I’d say it was here. Of all the American sports I think it is Baseball that we over this side of the Atlantic don’t get the most. As far as I’m aware its the sport of choice for the working-class American and especially the Irish-American working class. As an aside I live about a 20 minute walk from where the first ever Baseball game was played! Still I just don’t get it but I’m happy and willing to agree that it’s more than just a American version of Rounders! ‘The Ballad Of Joe Savery’ is next and when I looked up the name I found local Philadelphia sporting idol Joe Savery but on listening to the song it has bugger all to do with him and is another superb tribute to sailors.
‘To Davey Jones’ tells of the well worn metaphor (Davy Jones Locker) for the bottom of the sea where the souls of drowned sailors dwell and shipwrecks lay consigned to the depths of the ocean. Jon puts down the pipes to concentrate on accordion duties and another great song of the sea. When the Yuppies were doing their sea-shanty impersonations a while ago on Tik-Tok I never seen one that you could even compare to this. Time for another crowd pleaser and ‘Brody’s Lament’ gives them that. A great singalong chorus and plenty of thigh slapping Country infused elements here to enjoy. One thing missing so far has been a proper overt Irish rebeller and they don’t disappoint with a great version of the famed Wolfe Tones track ‘Erin Go Bragh’. On Black Irish Sons they performed another Tones song ‘Big Strong Man’ that they absolutely owned and is well worth checking out. Here named simply ‘The Erin Go Bragh Suite’
“I’ll sing you a song of a row in the town
When the Green flag went up and the Crown flag came down
Twas the neatest and sweetest thing ever you saw
And they played the great game they call Erin Go Bragh”
The song is about the events that took place during the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin and was written by Peadar Kearney, who also wrote the Irish national anthem. At almost 10 (ten!) minutes it can definitely be described as the album’s epic and as I hinted earlier never outlives it’s welcome. Played slow and purposeful before half way through a sudden surge into life and a Punky Celtic-Punk tale of the ‘boys’ taking on the Tans in county Cork and wiping out the whole ‘f**king lot’. Well worthy of being called epic it’s the album standout track and shows Hold Fast cramming every element that makes up Celtic-Punk into one song. We are treated to another great cover next as the album comes to an end. ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ is a Scottish Folk song that is perhaps best known as played by Irish acts like The Pogues and The Dubliners ( and indeed The Pogues And The Dubliners) and this is a perfect example of how to play a popular standard. Take it and inject it with some energy and passion and some of yourselves too. ‘Raise Your Glass’ takes us back to where we all like to be- the pub before the curtain comes down with the final track and ‘Slán’. Irish for goodbye Hold Fast say goodbye with a gang-vocal cover of ‘Raise Your Glass’ accompanied on piano before a few seconds of silence before the bonus track and I’ll say no more and leave it to you to find out.
(The Hold Fast set from the Paddyrock Live Stream fiesta from this years St. Patrick’s Day)
So an absolutely outstanding album from the Hold Fast Bhoys. To be honest I was never in any doubt, These guys have the spirit of Irish-America flowing through them and seem to know exactly what the community (and it’s friends) want. This is a great record but sadly for many of us we will never get to experience it in it’s ideal environment. Why the public house of course!
(You can stream / download Last Of The Rebels on the Bandcamp player below)
What happened when Shane MacGowan met Ronnie Drew back in the ’90s? Well, a few things happened, but here’s one thing ye might not know about. Let’s take a trip back through time, but not one that will bore you.
Back in the day, Ronnie Drew was makin’ a solo record called Dirty Rotten Shame. He was short of a few songs, so he contacted the ol’ legend himself, Shane MacGowan. Shane sent him a song he’d written, called The Dunes.
Like most of MacGowan’s work, it’s a beautiful piece of music, and it shines a light on the ugly side of life. On one of Ireland’s toughest times. The Famine of 1845-52.
The Great Hunger
I walked today on the cold grey shore Where I watched when I was much younger Where they built the dunes upon the sand For the dead from The Great Hunger.
Those are the first lines Ronnie sings in the song. It sets the scene of the terrible famine of 1845 to 1852, caused by a potato blight. The Irish, especially the working class, were heavily dependent on the potato, often eating 5 kilos a day. So the Famine struck right at the heart of their livelihood.
Ultimately, a quarter of Ireland’s population was either wiped out, or left to find a home elsewhere. This is what Shane writes and Ronnie sings about in the song, almost like they were there. More to the point, Shane was, when he was 18 or 19. “I was up near Louisburgh in Co. Mayo, and I heard the story about people burying their dead on the beach, during the Famine times,” the singer said once. “The place was eerie, all these bones lying about. I’ll never forget it.”
And Shane didn’t forget. Just listen to the line, “the children kicked the sand about, and the bones they are revealed, then”, and there’s your proof.
Shane at his best
Despite being about such a grim topic, The Dunes showcases MacGowan at his finest. While it’s hard to pick out the best lines Shane’s ever written, I particularly like the penultimate verse, which goes like this:
A crack of lightning split the sky The rain on the dunes, it poured I left them lying where I shot them down The bailiff and the landlord Then I went for a drink in Westport.
He’s had his problems, but Shane is a fucking genius. And the “Westport” line is the only moment of hope in the song. The only moment where the narrator seems to hint at a normal life, like going for a drink in the pub. Sadly, it’s also a strong reminder of the part of Ireland that was hit the hardest by the great hunger.
It was the West, and the South, that copped the worst of it. Many of those who died were Catholics, as referenced by the “rosary” line earlier in the song. And one of the truly tragic factors about it all was the soup kitchens. These were set up to provide relief to the starving poor, and it did help. But since the kitchens were Protestant, and Catholics were sometimes reluctant to go in case they got converted, we’ll never know how many people died out of fear of losing their religion.
Busting a myth
Most of what I know about the Famine was written in a book by Joseph Coohill. His father was an Irish-American, and Coohill is a respected academic. His book Ireland: A Short History is informative without being hard to follow. Also, to Coohill’s credit, the book is fair to the Nationalist and to the Unionist sides. It’s fair to the Irish, but portrays the British in a factual light too.
That brings me on to something. The myth you’ll sometimes hear is that the Famine was entirely the fault of the British. While it’s a popular myth, it’s not completely true. The Quakers, and even Queen Victoria, donated a shitload of money, to try and stem the impact of the Famine. Robert Peel was PM when the Famine started, and he genuinely tried to help, but was stabbed in the back by his own government. They didn’t want him importing cheap food from abroad, even though people in Ireland were already starving to death. Sometimes it was the rich Irish landlords and bailiffs who turfed the starving people out of their homes, and effectively “stole their grain”, like it says in The Dunes.
If you’re looking for people in Britain who cocked things right up, try the following:
Peel’s successor, PM John Russell. He believed in economics, rather than fixing an agricultural problem.
The scientists appointed by PM Peel to investigate the Famine. They disregarded a specialist’s opinion that the potato blight was caused by a fungus (which it was).
The arrogant people among the British, who believed the Famine was “sent by God to punish the Irish”. So much for love thy neighbour. Ireland was part of the UK at the time, so why didn’t more people look out for them?
Charles Trevelyan, treasurer to PM John Russell. Trevelyan was slow to give the Irish any kind of proper aid, and he also believed in the God-punishing-the-Irish crap. A poor treasurer and economist if ever there was one.
As Ronnie returns to the opening verse of The Dunes to finish, he sings about a man walking on the same shores where he witnessed the horrors of the Famine as a young boy. That implies that the Famine may have passed, but that it lives in the hearts and minds of the people connected with it. There’s a lesson to be learned in life, then. And that lesson is this: do what you can to help others. As human beings, we can’t work miracles. But we can all do something or other to make a difference.
It could be doing a Ferocious Dog and organising a food bank at a music venue. It could be raising money for, or donating money to the homeless, as I’ve done in the past and still do. It could even be as simple as looking out for folks during the terrible COVID-19 pandemic. In a world where ordinary people can feel powerless, let’s all do a little bit to make it a better, more humane place.
Listen to The DunesHERE. Or, you can watch an old video of Ronnie singing it HERE.
Upstate NY, Celtic rockers 1916 are an explosive concoction of modern Irish Folk, Punk and Psychobilly which makes 1916’s sound both highly original and at the same time traditional! A band that truly stands apart from other bands in the Celtic-Punk genre.
Our man Raymond Lloyd Ball caught up with lead singer and songwriter Bill Herring to talk about the band’s origins and their highly rated latest album Revolutions.
So here’s the story. 1916 is a band from Rochester, NY, about 45 minutes from where I am in Buffalo. We’ll touch on it, but this region of New York State was a place where, in the 1850s-1860s many Irish immigrants made their way from New York City or Boston. Obviously, the name “1916” needs no explanation. I was able to get an interview with Bill Herring, singer and guitarist in the band about the latest album “Revolutions” and the general gist of the scene as is.
Ray: First of all, we get the prominence of the name 1916, but what in the community in Rochester gave you guys both the incentive and the ability to put together the group and really make it work?
Bill: Well the “working” of 1916 is always something I consider to be a work in progress. Always evolving, changing with the times.
The name came about as a result of a healthy respect for Irish history and as a desire to get Americans interested in their own shared past. When we first started the group there were many many people who had no idea what “1916” stood for or what the significance of the name was. We always try to respect that history in our songs whenever we can-with undertones of revolution and forging your own path throughout the vibe of the music. That being said we do try to have some fun with it as well, with a songs like Ordinary Man and Khaleesi.
Rochester and most of central/western NY state is heavily steeped in a rich history of Irish culture. You’d be hard pressed to stumble through a post colonial churchyard west of Syracuse without finding Irish names on half the headstones. That rebel spirit has revealed itself in the existence of the Molly McGuires in the 1800’s and later on the Hibernians as time passed. I’m sure you even probably heard of the Fenian raids of post civil war Buffalo into British owned Canada in hopes of seizing a new Ireland. Now I’d be lying if I said we did name the band with all this in mind…but maybe it was all this history that led us to inevitably choose that name. I will say there is a quote from Dave King of Flogging Molly, where he talks on the Whiskey on a Sunday film they released several years ago. He mentions growing up in Ireland and seeing the young men of Dublin falling into a life of war with the IRA, and that there must be a higher form of communication to let people know what is happening over there. The only thought I had after hearing that was that-through intense, super fun music, you could engage people enough to get them interested in learning about this past…and how it affects the present day situation between Ireland and the USA.
Ray: Awesome answer, I’m AOH Myself.
Bill: As am I…
The Ancient Order of Hibernians is an Irish/Catholic fraternal group that does everything from charitable work to commemorations of things such, as Bill mentioned, the Fenian Raids from Buffalo to then British Canada. As a member from here, we hold an annual ceremony to the raids and to those who gave their lives for the cause of Irish independence.
Ray: So, given that history, how do you feel it’s important to incorporate modern music in a way that’s different then the traditional sessions you here at every other pub? I know you incorporate modern instrumentation while still harkening to topics that are either old in premise, modern, or similar (I’m thinking of a man you don’t meet everyday) and make it fresh?
Bill: Yes I think it’s important, at least for 1916, to provide a bridge between Irish traditional music and American folk/rock music. Even early county music has its roots steeped in Irish and Scottish music. That’s really the sound we’re going for. An American band that pays tribute to our immigrant cultural heritage.
Ray: Lastly, in terms of Revolutions, that came out just at the end of last year if I’m not mistaken. How on earth did you cut a record, and a good one at that, during the pandemic? How how did that effect the process 1916 has either writing or recording? Obviously “When We Reopen” is directly about it, but did anything else about the pandemic change the record?
Bill: The record wasn’t really about the pandemic. We actually wrote all of those songs (except for When we Reopen) well before any of this craziness ever happened. If anything there was a palpable vibe that I felt during the writing of those songs that you could feel out on the streets. People were edgy…combative. It felt like something bad was about to happen. The song that most mirrors that I think is The Falling. I wanted to write a song about my observations on the devolution of humanity in the face of our own technological achievements. Then I saw how bad things really could get the following year with the plague and the riots.
We recorded that record, mostly, with Bob Schmidt – (formerly of Flogging Molly) at the engineers booth along with our trusted friend Doug White, owner of Watchmen Studios in Lockport NY.
Having missed two consecutive St Patrick’s Days now, we are still trying to save up enough money to release the album on disc. I think people don’t realize how hard the shutdowns were on bands like ours. It was a tough tough time and I hope this bullshit is over soon.
Ray: That said, “Revolutions” is a solid record. I’ve been listening to it on and off for some time now. It’s got the classic 1916 vibe, upright bass, classic (though I’m definitely biased) Gretsch guitars, and a handful of traditional instruments with a solid kit. Is it reinventing the wheel? No. And better for it. We’ve all come a long way since The Pogues and earlier, more brash bagpipes-over-Minor Threat-style Celtic Punk. And there have been a number of bigger and smaller acts that have definitely left their mark upon the scene. They take some rockabilly, some punk, and a lot of Celt to make a fine Irish/American blend. Cheers to the guy from down the I-90.
Thanks to Raymond Lloyd Ball. He has already featured on these pages as the driving force behind The Fighting 69th from Buffalo. The review of his 2-volume set of Dropkick Murphys coverswas one of the most viewed of that year. One of the most prolific and diverse artists in the Celtic-Punk scene we are proud to have Raymond on board the London Celtic Punks team. Writer, artist, musician he is a credit to the American-Irish community and you can find a wealth of his material available at his Bandcamp site.
During the lockdown 1916 played several full concert live streams, as well as some great solo performances from Bill himself. Here’s just under two hours of 1916 from this years St. Patrick’s Day live stream performance. I can barely remember it through a fog of stouts and ales though I know I must have woke the neighbours! The music starts at nineteen minutes.
We spotted a new song that appeared on You Tube a couple of days ago. Flogging Molly are one of the two BIG Celtic-Punk bands but do spend a lot of time in the Dropkick’s shadow due mainly to how busy the Murphys keep themselves. So it is that when we get a morsel we do tend to get over excited about it. Maybe that’s the same reason why Beth Schmit has labelled it ‘Coffee Boy’ rather than ‘Croppy Boy’! Only joking Beth thanks for uploading.
No other information on where / when it was recorded but they are currently on a co-headline tour in the States with the Violent Femmes so it must have been on one of them. Maybe someone can confirm?
The phrase ‘Croppy Boy’ dates back to the late 1700’s and the fashion at the time among the aristocracy was to wear powdered wigs (think series 3 of Blackadder) and revolutionaries in Ireland followed the lead of their friends in France by shunning these wigs. These young men cropped their hair instead and were often found to be associated with the patriotic Society of United Irishmen. Because of this they were often picked up by the British authorities for interrogation. This interrogation was more akin to torture as the use of flogging, picketing and half-hanging was commonplace . As was the horrific use of pitchcapping, or An Caip Bháis in Irish, which was the act of pouring hot tar into a paper cap which was then placed onto the suspect’s head, let cool and then ripped off taking with it skin and tissue. This was used specifically against the Croppies but they retaliated by cropping the hair of their enemies making it harder to identify people and their sympathies.
After months of planning, organising and fund-raising the compilation album Raise Your Pints #6 has finally been delivered. Twenty bands from eleven countries celebrating (might be the wrong word- editor) the virus lockdowns in Celtic-Folk-Punk style.
Anyone remember the original Celtic-Punk samplers from Shite’n’Onions? I think they stretched to three volumes and came at a time when I had never been on the internet. Yes I was one of the select few who never even had a MySpace account! So to come across these samplers with upwards of twenty bands on and pretty much all new to me (even the English ones) was eye-opening… or should that be ear-opening? Them days are long ago and we can thank Shite’n’Onions for being early pioneers of the Celtic-Punk sampler though they have long passed the baton onto MacSlon’s Irish Radio. Now in their 11th year the radio station brings out the best in Celtic-Rock, Celtic-Punk and trad Irish Folk both modern and ancient(!). They have also for the last few years been a major player on the merchandise front organizing merch for a whole host of bands from across mainland Europe and even the United States.
This is the 6th in the Raise Your Pints series and all the songs have been written and recorded over the last 16 months while the Corona virus has done it’s best to wreck the music industry. We are yet to see what long term damage the lockdown have caused but already here in London, and across England, many music venues have closed their doors permanently and several bands have handed in their guitar straps. The thirst for live music though seems at a all time high but bands are still finding it difficult to book gigs and tours with so much uncertainty around about whether or not the lockdown will return.
So the arrival of Raise Your Pints #6 is to applauded for many reasons but chiefly among them is that the bands will directly benefit from the sales of the CD and with not much else going on it’s a chance for them to remind their fans and followers that they are still here and still fighting.
Reviewing a compilation album is hard enough but one made up of different bands is even harder so I will forego the usual review and just tell you a small bit about each artist and song and link to them so they can tell you more. Of course the best way to find out more is to buy the album!!!
RAISE YOUR PINTS VOLUME 6
THE MULLINS (France) – ‘Part Of Me’
The album kicks off with The Mullins. Hailing from the south of France their song began life before the lockdown but the band took the opportunity to perfect it and even managed to get together inbetween lockdowns to record the cracking video!
THE CEILI FAMILY (Germany) – ‘Corona Chesay’
The album is perhaps a bit top heavy with German bands but that is totally understandable. They do have the #1 scene in Europe you know. The Ceili Familyare one of the better known established bands. The band first stirred back in 1996 and even had a great recommendation from the late Philip Chevron: “Enjoyed listening to the CD, by the way. Always good to see people doing something of their own with the basic idea we invented!”
THE FEELGOOD McLOUDS (Germany) – ‘Dirty Bastards’
More Germans here with The Feelgood McLouds formed in January 2015 southwestern Germany. More than any country in Europe the Germans have embraced Celtic-Punk with the number of bands, gigs and fans far outstripping anywhere else this side of the Atlantic. This track is taken from this years critically popular ‘Saints & Sinners’ EP.
GRASS MUD HORSE (China) ‘ Absent Friends’
Grass Mud Horse only seem to have around a year or two but already have more releases than many more well established bands. Formed when Scouse-Irish musician Chris Barry mover to China the band has had some set backs with members coming and going because of the virus (they are based in Wuhan) but luckily things have settled down and they recently recorded a single with yer man Frankie McLoughlin.
UNCLE BARD AND THE DIRTY BASTARDS (Italy) – ‘Back On Your Feet’
From playing with ALL the Celtic-Punk superstars to headlining festivals across Europe and even getting to the United States several times Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards are without a doubt one of the select few you could describe as ‘Premier League’ Celtic-Punk bands. ‘Back On Your Feet’ is one of the standout tracks from last years album Men Behind The Glass that the Bhoys have recorded an acoustic version for here. One of many great Celtic-Punk highlights during the lockdown was the Bastards hour long acoustic live stream. Brilliant!
JACK IN THE GREEN (Germany) – ‘Old Maui’
Yeah we may have all heard it a 100 times by now but popular covers are popular for a reason. That we never tire of hearing them! Hamburg’s Jack In The Green play a great acoustic version rather than the ‘choir/acapello’ type I’m more use to hearing. Vocals remind me a lot of from The Whisky Priests who in their day were massive so wonder if they were an influence here.
THE MOORINGS (France) – ‘Champion At Keeping It Rolling’
Cracking version of the Ewan MacColl penned classic about lorry driving from French band The Moorings. Formed in 2011 the band have released several albums and EP’s a Folky version of this song appears on their debut EP Pints & Glory but they have re-recorded it in proper Celtic-PUNK style here. They have just completed a successful crowd-funding campaign for a new album so can’t wait for that.
JOHNNY HASH (Ireland) – ‘Ride On’
Johnny Hash is a bunch of people from various Belfast bands who got together during the lockdown and released a few videos of Irish Folk classics. Christy Moore’s ‘Ride On’ was their first attempt at a video. Still knocking them out months later let’s hope they develop into something more permanent.
THE RUMPLED (Italy) – ‘If I Should Fall from Grace With God’
The Pogues track gets an airing here from the Italian band The Rumpled. Hard to compete with the originals but gutsy to try and they give it a great go. A relatively new band having got together in 2013 in Trento, Italy. Known for fast paced Celtic-Punk, combining Irish Folk, Rock, Ska and Punk. They have a new album out at any moment so watch this space for news on that.
MEDUSAS WAKE (Australia) – War Of Independence
The debut album from Sydney based Celtic-Folk-Rockers Medusa’s Wake hit the top spots in all of 2018’s Celtic-Punk medias yearly ‘best of’s’ and since then they have gone from strength to strength. Writted by Tipperary born Eddie Lawlor, he sings from the heart of the war back home between 1919 and 1921 against the British. Much of that war took part in the fields and villages of the ‘Premier County’ and those of us with Tipp backgrounds grew up hearing of the tales of heroic activities of those ordinary men who took on the worlds strongest army.
HELLRAISERS AND BEERDRINKERS (Germany) – ‘Stay At Home’
Hellraisers And Beerdrinkers may just have the best name in Celtic-Punk but they are a pretty shit-hot band as well. They take their name from a song by rockers Motorhead so should give you an idea about them! Another band that hails from Germany from the small town of Schwäbisch Gemünd. ‘Stay At Home’ is a re-recorded re-jigged new version of a song from their debut album Folk’s Gaudi in 2016.
AN SPIORAD (Germany) – ‘Carry Me Home’
German band that began life as a two-piece band “The Plästik Päddies” in 1997 before changing name to the far more complicated An Spiorad (Scots Gaelic for The Spirit). ‘Carry me Home’ is taken from their recent album Album Dord Na Mara.
SONS OF O’FLAHERTY (Brittany) – ‘The Pack’
More Celtic Celtic-Punk now from Vannes in Brittany Sons Of O’Flaherty formed as a duo in 2010 they soon fleshed out to a whole band due in no small part to the popularity of Irish music in this Celtic nation. ‘The Pack’ is a new song and with it being four years since the release of their last album The Road Not Taken hopefully this signifies some new sounds on the way.
More bastards!! This time from Iserlohn in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Like many German bands their emphasis is on playing live such is the demand for their music so their recording output sometimes doesn’t match up with the age of the band. Kilkenny Bastards are one such band and we look forward to them rectifying this soon!
ALL THOSE EMPTY PUBS (Switzerland) – ’40 Days’
Based up in the Swiss alps ’40 Days’ was the debut release from All Those Empty Pubs (what a great name!) earlier this year. We loved it so much we ran a feature and a small interview with Diego the genius behind this one-man-band. Diego utilises all his talents here with mandolin, flute, acoustic guitar and even Hammond organ alongside your more usual Rock band instruments. It just don’t get more DIY than this.
RAPPAREES (Germany) – ‘Las Vegas (In The Hills Of Donegal)’
Another band from Hamburg Rapparees kicked off thirty years ago in the dive bars before changing their name. A straight up acoustic cover of the Goats Don’t Shave song. A ‘raparee’ was the name given to Irish soldiers who survived the Williamite war with the British in the 1690’s and used guerilla tactics or became highwaymen after the war ended.
LA STOATS (Germany) – ‘Raise Your Pints’
German band La Stoats come from Essenbach in Bavaria in the south-east of Germany and incorporate the traditional tunes and melodies of their Bavarian home into their brand of Celtic-Punk. ‘Raise Your Pints’ is one of the standout songs here with chugging guitar and a real cool early 80’s Punk Rock sound with some superb bagpipes. Definitely a band worth checking out.
MUIRSHEEN DURKIN (Germany) – ‘Riot’
The last of nine German bands on Raise Your Pints features one of the best Muirsheen Durkin And Friends. ‘Riot’ is a bloomin’ brilliant Celtic-Punk cover of a UK Subs song from 1997. The original is superb but here it is mastered with the energy intact and growling vocals and a core of Celtic instruments chugging along.
SEAN TOBIN (USA) – ‘St. Patrick’s Day Forever’
The last of the 20th songs belongs to New Jersey Irish singer/ songwriter Sean Tobin. Theirs 2 versions of ‘St’ Patrick’s Day Forever’ and I guess you could call this the ‘radio edit’. Blue-collar, working-class Irish American Folk music and one of the standout tracks on the album to bring down the curtain.
So that’s yer lot. There’s bound to be a load of bands here that you have never heard of. Some are new even to us and the styles of music is varied from Folk and trad right across to Punk but the songs are all totally accessible at all times. This (like the previous five volumes) is essential listening to all fans of Celtic-Punk and we cannot put it any clearer than that! Raise Your Pints #6 is out on July 9th and is available for pre-release order from the link below.
Now the dust has settled and everyone else has had a go and published their reviews of the latest Dropkick Murphys album ‘Turn Up The Dial’ it is our turn. We see our role here as to promote the little known bands in the Celtic-Punk scene but we have always got time for the ‘big-hitters’ too. We are pleased to have guest reviewer Rory Quinn of New York-Irish-Celtic-Punk band The Templars Of Doom to give us a unique insight of the album from a American-Irish perspective.
The Bastion Bhoys of Boston do it again!
After a year like 2020 you have two options for your fans: wallow in the suffering, or present the world a reprieve. Dropkick Murphys have (wisely I feel) opted for the latter. Not particularly a surprise from a band that spent the pandemic raising money for others and offering live-streamed performances to keep people entertained. So before you listen you have to ask yourself? Am I ready to say “forget the nonsense, let’s crank the music!”
Anyway, let’s dive in!
Arrangement wise this album has hooks and riffs for days between the multiple instrumental melodies to the gang vocal chant of chorus’s urging you to sing along before you’ve even finished the first listen! This band is tight, the parts fleshed out, the vocals good and snarky. Really what more could you want from classic Celtic-punk?
The Dropkick Murphy’s have had the means to create sonically fantastic worlds on record for a while now and ‘Turn Up That Dial’ is no exception. Every facet is crystal clear from the roar of the guitars to the lightest folk instruments. What really draws me in is their ability to match the intensity of their legendary live performances. At points I completely lost track of the fact I was listening home alone. I would have sworn I was in the middle of a crowd cheerfully chanting as I picked up the lyric!
Speaking of lyrics DKM are known for a combination of comedic and heartfelt songs with ’Turn Up That Dial’ continuing that tradition. You’ve got classic self deprecating “Middle Finger” vs the longing/sorrow of “I Wish You Were Here.” And of course, the occasional grateful power song as found with the albums namesake. Without explaining every song to you dear reader I believe you’ll get the idea, it’s the DKM, they have a style they love and we love ‘em for it!
We are blessed to be living in an age where the internet allows access to Celtic-Punk from throughout the globe. It’s easy to forget that not long ago this wasn’t so. My first experience with Dropkick Murphys came in the late 90’s. A cousin of mine HAD to show me this new record he got, one that combined Punk with our Irish heritage. I didn’t believe it until I heard it, and my life changed from the first riff. Being Irish was something that (as an American) was celebrated by my family and not much else. Sure the St. Patrick’s Day parade existed but it seemed more an excuse to party than to honor heritage. To hear in that music a shared sense of community opened my eyes to a world in which I firmly belonged, an understanding of family that exists from afar. Every year I hear more people dismiss DKM, maybe because they’re the easy target or because they’ve survived long enough to suffer “It’s not as good as their old stuff” syndrome. My retort is NONE OF THAT MATTERS. Love ‘em or hate them Dropkick Murphy’s opened the door for Celtic-Punk and a celebration of Irish culture all the world over, and for that I am eternally grateful.
If you’re a Celtic-Punk fan lend this album your ear. It’s a prime example of what the DKM have been about for a while, story songs to improve your life from the sheer enjoyment of it all. This collection of 11 songs will have you moving, laughing, forgetting your problems, and most importantly turning up that dial!
Fueled by cheap whiskey and Lone Star beer The Dead Rabbits have emerged out of Texas as one of the American Celtic-Punk scenes best bands. Charged by the ole songs of Irish rebellion and the speed and harmony of Punk, they combine a potent mix of Irish Folk, Bluegrass, Gypsy and Punk Rock.
Taking their name from the real life street gang of American-Irish criminals active in Lower Manhattan in the 1830s to 1850s The Dead Rabbits hail from Texas but these guys are from your typical Texans! These original Dead Rabbits took their name after a dead rabbit was thrown into a gang meeting, prompting some members to treat this as an omen, their battle symbol becoming a dead rabbit on a pike. Besides their criminal activities they often clashed with so-called ‘nativist’ groups and gangs who viewed Irish Catholics as threatening and dangerous.
Formed in mid-2009 with the band’s founder, Seamuis Strain, a guest of the state at Louisiana prison he returned to Houston and bagan to put together what would become known as the ‘Warren’. Since that day, as with all bands, members have come and gone but always Seamuis has led from the front pushing and promoting the band across social media and he has become a known face on the many Facebook groups and pages specialising in Celtic-Punk. Their debut release was the excellently titled ‘Tiocfaidh Ar La’ which went onto be voted one of the best releases of 2013 by both Paddyrock Radio and Celtic Folk Punk web-zine! As far as I can tell the band spent the next few years playing gigs and touring and it came as a suprise to me that it wasn’t till last year that they followed up ‘TAL’ with the sort of greatest hits self-titled album The Dead Rabbits. It was basically a re-release of TAL but with a handful of new tracks and covers.
The Dead Rabbits: Seamuis – Lead Vocals, Guitars * Banjovi – Vocals, Banjo * Danger Dave – Fiddle * General Woundwort – Vocals, Guitar * Bigwig – Drums and Vox
So a new album is long overdue and their is certainly no messing about here on 7 Ol’ Jerks with the nine tracks clocking in just short of twenty-one minutes it’s a fast and furious, blink and you’ll miss it rollercoaster ride through the angrier side of Celtic-Punk alternating between Discharge styled hardcore Punk and a just slightly more Celtic version of them. Not for the faint hearted these are not likely to turn at Renaissance fayre’s or family orientated Celtic festivals (mores the pity!). Laced with humour and Irish spirit(s) I bloody loved it but then again I am an aging auld anarcho-punk but these days with better politics and hair!
They follow this up with another quick blast through the Shane MacGowan penned ‘If I Should Fall From The Grace With God’. The title track of what is often thought to be the pinnacle of The Pogues career it is here given the full Punk-Rock treatement with some great fiddle work giving it that Irish feel. Played at breakneck speed Seamuis has a great voice for this style but the rest of the band too showing how good the production/mixing is. Another ‘quickie’ with ‘L-Elaine’ not even breaking the minute mark but still manages to tell a story of love and love of the bottle. ‘Father McGregor’ is a oldish song with the version below from Bandcamp a few years old now but has been reworked for 7 Ol’Jerks.
You might expect The Dead Rabbits to not be the kind of band to play the ‘auld favourites’. The kind of song that when your Mammy walks in while you’ve got Celtic-Punk turned up to 11 asks “do they play such and such?”. You reply of “don’t be daft. Of course not Mum, this is Celtic-Punk” and then the next song that comes on is ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ and she walks away smiling! Well here the Rabbits turn their ear to that most loved of all Irish songs, especially among the American-Irish, ‘Danny Boy Medley’ in which they stick in half-a-dozen classics before the clock strikes three minutes. ‘Train Song’ is a song about trains. Just that but with banjo and fiddle before we get another classic and ‘The Leaving Of Liverpool’ is one of many Irish Folk tunes that is perfectly suited for ‘punking up’. The sound of the Dubliners version is still intact and recogniseable while the Rabbits add a new dimension to the song. The album ends with two original tracks the short more trad Celtic-Punk sounding title track, ‘7 Ol’ Jerks’, and the epic 4 (four!!) minute ‘Dreams’, originally recorded by The Cranberries. I think it’s a shame they didn’t choose this as the opening single to promote the album as its is utterly brillliant!! They can do the hardcore stuff very well but this song lifts the album from just pretty good into album of the year material, yes it is that good. Seamuis voice aches and strains over a tune to die for that depsite being classic Celtic-Punk still has that harder edge than most bands which I’m sure is what they were striving here on 7 Ol’ Jerks.
Facebook has become an unlikeable monster with more and more good folk leaving. Can’t say I blames you. So we have set up a Telegram group. Similar but better (and easier to use) than Whats App and free from Facebook control. Join us on Telegram and you wont miss a beat!
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.
Influenced by local hero Springsteen and countless other country troubadours, Sean Tobin grew up in the New Jersey bar scene and oweshis 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!!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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-orderhere.
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 eventto 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 email@example.com
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.
Well here we go again. It seems an awful long time since we were compiling all the votes into 2019’s Best Of. Last year saw The Walker Roaders triumph but with this year being a lot quieter on the Celtic-Punk front thanks to the lockdowns around the world bands have found themselves unable to tour and promote new releases so have held onto them till things got better. Still that’s not to say it was a complete wash out and as you can see from below their have been some absolute knock-outs during the year.
Remember this is only our opinion so feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. The Readers Poll is back again this year so you can even vote on your favourite release of 2020 yourself. We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…
(for more information click on the release title in green)
Was very close between the top three this year but Ogras seem to have been not only our favourites but also most of the Celtic-Punk medias too. A lot less albums may have come out during the year but still plenty more that didn’t make the cut. Don’t be down hearted if you are one of them it could just be that one of the judges hadn’t heard that album. Again if we don’t hear your album we can’t review it so the massive majority here are ones that were sent in to us. We only need a download link (NO Spotify!) and we’re happy. Out of the 30 albums 18 countries were represented including 2 from the Celtic nations Scotland #4 and Brittany #13 and our first from Hawaii!
Several bands have taken the chance during the lockdown to release compilations of sorts. While it would be a little unfair to include them in the main ‘Best Of’ section they still deserve a mention. Among these were two 30 year celebrations from two of Celtic-Punks most successful and popular bands in THE MAHONES – This Is All We Got To Show For It and FIDDLER’S GREEN – 3 Cheers For 30 Years. Both fully deserve a round of applause, a raise of the pint and a tip o’ the hat! Band compilations included ANTO MORRA – Twenty, THE DEAD RABBITS – The Dead Rabbits, LEXINGTON FIELD – Here’s To You Ten Years Of Fiddle Rock and LQR – Barrel-Aged. A couple of live albums THE STANFIELDS – Welcome To The Ball and ShamROCKS – FCP Livewere both well received, you may have heard that a little known band THE POGUES put out a new album of previously unreleased materialBBC Sessions 1984-86andQuintessential Quarantuneswas a 6-band compilation released in the Summer featuring the Bible Code Sundays and The Reels. MacSlons Irish Pub Radio also released volume 5 of Raise Your Pints the best Celtic-Punk sampler around of 19 of the Celtic-Punk scenes best bands.
You have to go back to the beginning of January for 1916’s release and though many more would challenge it stayed top of the pile all year long. Some great debut releases here from bands that will I am sure go on to bigger things. This time last year I was crowing about Shanghai Treason and how much I was looking forward to seeing them play… well I still am!
This year’s winner of Best Debut Album comes from a continent where Celtic-Punk appears to be booming! The South American scene has been dominated in the past by bands from Brazil and Argentina (last years winners in this category were Aires Bastardos from Argentina) but with Batallón de San Patricio from Guadalajara in Mexico things are changing with several bands popping up over the last couple of years. The last twelve months have seen Batallón de San Patricio garner favourable reviews from various singles and live streams. Hermanos De Guerra/ Brothers Of War is delivered entirely in Spanish and spans the length of Celtic-Punk from trad Irish up to Celtic-PUNK making it fully deserving of the award.
Always the hardest list to compile as it covers so much ground. Some of these bands play Trad Folk with a Punk Rock heart like Clover’s Revenge while others didn’t quite fit as Celtic-Punk releases but the winners are the Rose family from NY state otherwise known as The Wild Irish Roses. An album that took us by surprise and managed to please everyone.
Now this section is tinged with sadness. There is no question which site has the biggest impact on the Celtic-Punk scene over the last year and while not strictly a web-site the CELTIC PUNK, FOLK AND ROCK FANS group on Facebook fully deserved this years award. Sadness because the group founder Mike Kilroe very sadly passed away at the beginning of the month. Created back in February 2019 it was around the time of last years ill fated St. Patrick’s day and the subsequent Dropkick Murphys live stream show that membership of the group exploded and has now passed over 8000 members. If on Facebook they should be your first port of call, alongside us of course! We had a great interview with the founder of the group Mike back in May that you can find hereand of course our thoughts go out to his family and friends.
We are not alone in doing these Best Of 2020 lists in fact all the major players in Celtic-Punk do them so click below to check out what they thought.
So there you go. Remember we have never pretended to be the final word on things in fact have a look at the other Celtic-Punk media’s Best Of’s and I’m sure they are all pretty different. Our Best Of’s, as usual, cajoled and bullied out of the admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page and then tallied up over a few pints in Mannions in north London. One important thing to note is that not all of us heard the same albums so like all the various Best Of’s ours is also subjective.
Nine years we’ve been doing these lists now. It seems incredible looking back at some of the previous winners and also-rans how so many bands are still with us from Year 1. If you would like to check for yourself then just click on the link below the relevant year.
Alongside the Best Of polls we also run a special Readers Poll where you get to pick your favourite release of the year. This will be The Readers Poll’s third year with Krakin’ Kellys and Mickey Rickshaw previously champions! There is only room to list the Top Ten albums but there is an option to write in your favourite release of 2020. You are allowed to vote for up to two releases but not for the same artist.
The Poll will close at midnight on Sunday 31st January with the result announced soon after.
Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2021
It was with great sadness that on last Saturday morning I woke to the very sad and shocking news that Mike Kilroe had passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home in New York state. At a time when the Celtic-Punk scene was floundering Mike started the Celtic Punk, Folk And Rock Fans group on Facebook. Pleasing everyone in such a diverse scene would prove impossible but I doubt anyone else would have come as close as Mike did. His regular postings and light handed but firm management kept the group on track and would prove massively successful with the group growing to over 8,000 members. We chatted regularly about all sorts of things but what shone through our conversations was his passion and enthusiasm for music (not only Celtic-Punk) and his Irish heritage. Ireland has lost one of her own. Back in May last year I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike for this site where we talked about music, being Irish. the Irish community and sports. Besides music Mike was a massive sports fan particularly baseball and the NY Yankees. He was especially proud that his cousin pitched for them in the 1950’s. Mike was also a coach in the little leagues teaching kids for many years. He had a hard life losing his Mother as a teenager and struggled somewhat after that but found peace in nature and music and was incredibly gifted with numbers. When I did the interview he was absolutely adamant that he did not want a picture of himself to accommodate the interview. Instead he wanted the ‘My Nation My Heritage’ graphic as he thought that summed him up. This I found very endearing and yet another reason, if I needed one, to like the man! A very sad loss for the Celtic-Punk family and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
Go n-éirí an bóthar leat Go raibh an ghaoth go brách ag do chúl Go lonraí an ghrian go te ar d’aghaidh Go dtite an bháisteach go mín ar do pháirceanna Agus go mbuailimid le chéile arís, Go gcoinní Dia i mbos A láimhe thú.
May the road rise to meet you May the wind be always at your back May the sun shine warm upon your face, The rains fall soft upon your fields And until we meet again May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.
HARLEM VALLEY NEWS OBITUARY
Michael J. Kilroe, Sr passed away at his home in Millbrook, NY on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at the age of 63.
A resident of Millbrook for 28 years, he was born in Sleepy Hollow, NY on April 25, 1957 and was the son of John and Jean (Haines) Kilroe. Mike attended and graduated from Roy C. Ketcham High School.
Mike was a groundskeeper for Hallmark Farm, a horse farm in Millbrook. He had a great passion for music and baseball and was an avid amateur ham radio operator.
He is survived by his son Michael Kilroe and his wife Nina of North Adams, MA; his grandchildren, Mia Dillmann of Centereach, NY, Max Dillmann of Kenai, AK, and Dylan Nastasi of Marietta, GA; his brother John Kilroe of Highland, NY; his former wife and close friend, Marybeth Kilroe, and step-daughter Katie Nelson, both of Pawling.
“I’m glad that we met man, it really was nice talking and I really wish there was a little more time to speak” – Lou Reed.
Thanks to Mikes cousin Karen for the wonderful photo of Mike and his daughter-in-law Nina on her wedding day.
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