London Celtic Punks favourites Nova Scotian Folk’n’Rollers The Stanfields have just released the incendiary live album Welcome To The Ball.
The Stanfields trod a well trodden path to 2020 by beginning their career back in 2008 playing cover songs during open mic performances at the Seahorse Tavern in their hometown of Halifax in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. As the years rolled by The Stanfields may sound like have taken some dramatic turns but to any long turn fan (ahem!) it’s been easy to follow their trajectory from full on their Celtic-Punk to where they are now. Influenced by the many many strands that make Canada and the description of them as “the bastard children of AC/DC and Stan Rogers” their music blends Working Class Hard-Rock with the strands of Folk that make up traditional Canadian music with much of it heavily influenced by Scotland and Ireland.
So far the guys have released seven albums, multiple singles, and have toured extensively throughout North America and Europe – sharing the stage with many of the Rock scene’s most popular bands. So, despite the Covid lockdown, they have been especially busy compared to a lot of bands with the release of the critically acclaimed Classic Fadeout, a bunch of great video releases (be sure to check out their You Tube channel) and now they have returned with their second full-length release of 2020, Welcome To The Ball. Band frontman Jon Landry says
“Since Covid-19 has effectively made it impossible for us to play live shows safely, and on our own terms, we thought that the time was right to release a live album. Luckily, we had this performance in the can, it’s fun to see how much the songs have evolved over the years, although it’s been a stark reminder to us of how much we miss our natural habitat.”
Welcome To The Ball documents The Stanfields performance at the 2019 Blacktop Ball and includes tracks from across their career along with an added bonus track. Welcome To The Ball begins with the aptly titled ‘Blacktop Blues’ from their 2012 album Death And Taxes, as do the first three songs.
The first thing to say is that the songs here are well chosen and include not just the fan favourites but also some important songs from the bands history. The other thing is that many of these songs are quite lengthy (notice I said lengthy NOT boring!) with three over seven minutes long! The sound recorded, mixed and mastered by Darren van Niekerk (hats off!!) and is absolutely fecking brilliant. Taking you right into the heart of the mosh pit! Nothing is spared as the band steam along at full pelt with the traditional anti-war Folk ballad ‘Mrs. McGrath’ given the epic Stanfields treatment next followed by ‘The Road to Guysborough’. Now I’ve never been much a fan of live records but when they are done well like here they can be explosive, capturing the very essence of a band. Next up are firm fan favourites ‘Fight Song’, taken from 2015’s Modem Operandi, and ‘Hard Miles’ from 2013’s For King And Country. Both songs saw the band tweak their original Celtic sound and bring in more harder Rock elements.
‘Dagger Woods’ is the first of three tracks here from debut album ‘Vanguard Of The Young And Reckless’ from 2010 and is over eight minutes long and while that may displease the Dead Kennedys it fully deserves the word epic. A fantastic song that literally spills emotion and while it’s not just worthy it’s catchy as hell too. ‘Ship To Shore’ is relatively short at just four minutes while ‘Ghost Of The Eastern Seaboard’ at almost eight returns us to epic territory along with the final song from their set that night, the outstanding ‘Fox in The Heather’ at over eight.
‘Welcome To The Ball’ brings the curtain down as the bonus track and the only new song and sees The Stanfields accompanied by the Hatchet Lake Reverb Choir (Heather Harris, Sasha DeSouza, Brad MacDougall, Craig Eugene Harris, Trevor DeSouza) in a song that fully deserves to be the curtain puller at any future gigs.
“Take a look at the one beside you
Let the power of us provide you
The means to guide you, right beside you
Welcome to the Ball”
Written as a tribute and in the spirit of the Blacktop Festival which was sadly cancelled this year but The Stanfields love for the fest grows and they will return for their annual visit next year. Written as an over the top, 80’s-style Pomp-Rocker it comes with the most brilliant video you really ought not to miss.
The line up for the gig that night was Jon Landry – Vocals, Guitar, Calen Kinney – Fiddle, Vocals, Jason MacIsaac – Guitar, Vocals, Dillan Tate – Bass, Vocals and Mark Murphy on Drums and the show is that kind of rambleshackly perfect that Celtic-Punk bands seem to be perfect at. Their may not be a better band around doing what The Stanfields do. Combining hard rock music with Celtic and Americana in a perffectly acessible way. Not only that be here they proove they can do it in style on the stage too. As they say themselves
“we play what we want, sing what we feel and leave nothing on the table”.
A *Free Download* of the last ever concert performed by Joe Strummer before his sad death on this day in 2002.
I remember exactly what I was doing when I heard of Joe Strummer’s untimely death. It was Sunday 22nd December 2002 and myself and a mate had spent the whole night listening to Punk records and boozing and carousing at the home of a close friend. In the morning when we were saying goodbye at the door I thought I heard the radio say that Joe Strummer had died. “Bloody hell” (I exclaimed or something stronger) “I think the radio just said Joe Strummer had died”. We all instantly dismissed it as not possible and probably a result of my delirium tremens and all went on our separate ways. It was later that day recovering from an insane hangover the news was confirmed when I saw the news.
Joe died at home in Broomfield, Somerset suddenly due to an undiagnosed congenital heart defect, He had collapsed after returning from walking his dog and he could not be revived. He was survived by his wife, two daughters and a stepdaughter. Now almost twenty years after his death it’s fair to say his legacy still lives on through his music and the Joe Strummer Foundation charitable trust which continues to do good works in his name.
Joe’s last concert was performed at Liverpool University on November 22, 2002 just a month before he sadly passed away. The set was recorded and is of a very high standard and is available for you to download today on the 18th anniversary of that gig. Joe chose a cross selection of songs from his extensive career in the twenty song set but with the majority from his days in The Clash and his more recent project Joe Strummer And The Mescaleros, whose final album, Streetcore, was released posthumously the following year.
Joe once said
“When you meet people who say you had an effect on their life, you realise it was all worth it. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the music. Remember, The Future Is Unwritten”.
(You can stream the whole set lasting just over ninety minutes over on You Tube)
To download click on either of the following links
With a new studio album on its way ShamRocks, founding fathers of Ukraine’s Celtic-Punk movement and originators of ‘Stout Rock’ – a blendof Irish, Scots, Breton, Finnish Folk -release FCP Live a album that sounds like it could have been recorded down Mannions!
When exactly did the ‘clampdown’ begin? Well for me it was a bit earlier than most as a couple of days after St. Patrick’s Day my Doctor rang me and told me the date for an operation and so I was confined to base as it were. This made my long walk up to the local Lidl to get 4 cans of Guinness to watch the Dropkick Murphys Live Stream my last venture out for quite a while. While those few days saw some fantastic live music streamed over the internet with the Dropkicks, Brick Top Blaggers, 1916 and Bryan McPherson standing out in my memory one Live Stream deserved a much wider audience but went under the radar a little and that was ShamRocks from far away Ukraine. On March 20th the Bhoys got together with a bottle or two of Jamesons and played one hell of a show over Facebook and You Tube. One hour + of some of the best Celtic-Punk played that weekend.
It‘s been four years since the release of their acclaimed debut album Captains Log which hit the dizzy heights of the Top 5 in that years London Celtic Punks Best Of 2016. A real innovative and interesting album that took songs like ‘The Rising Of The Moon’ and ‘Wild Cats of Kilkenny’ and injected them with just enough of the original but with an equal amount of themselves as well. They followed this up the following year with an EP Ye Olde Chariot which did even better at #2 in our Best Of 2017 charts so this is a band with a pretty good pedigree and one that we are big fans of.
ShamRocks left to right: Serge Vdovychenko – Lead Vocals, Bass * Andrew Neretin – Guitar, Vocals * Alexey Sletkov – Drums * Anatoliy Khomenko – Violin, Mandolin, Vocals * Sergiy Khudoliy – Keytar, Accordion, Vocals *
ShamRocks have continued to play and tour in the intervening years and plans were laid this year for their follow up album which has of course had to be delayed. So in the meantime ShamRocks have handed us this. A live album which has taken the songs from their St. Patrick’s Live Stream session and seamlessly edited them together. The album features songs from both previous releases and also a handful from their forthcoming album. ‘We’ll Be Drinking’ kicks off the album and we are straight into it. I commented before that they have a way of recording that gives it a real ‘pub feel’ while not taking away any of the professionalism and that is evident here. These guys must be one hell of a blast to catch live… Well of course you can kind of experience that via that Paddy’s Live Stream here.
A couple of songs fell by the wayside but thirteen survive and end up on this forty-five minute album. The guys do play some well trodden Folk tracks like ‘Leaving Of Liverpool’ but add to it a skanking beat making it as different a version as I have ever heard. It even closes with something more resembling Reggae! Next up is their ‘pièce de résistance’ the amazing ‘Rising Of The Moon’ which takes John Keegan Casey’s, the ‘Fenian Poet’, 1866 poem and conjures up something absolutely brilliant. The tune is still (mostly) intact but ShamRocks have real fun here mixing the Sex Pistols song Anarchy In The UK into it and while it may upset some folk music snobs purists I thought it was an absolutely fecking belter! Serge has a great voice for this Punk/Trad/Folk hybrid switching from one to the ther with ease. The band have Anatoliy covering the Celtic bases on fiddle and mandolin and Sergiy on the keytar manages to replicate bagpipes as well as a myriad of other sounds too. ‘Bring It On!’ is a new song and from this showing I’m very excited to hear the new album.
A very catchy and hard driven Celtic rocker followed by the Bobby Sands penned ‘Back Home In Derry’. A song that began behind the bars of the Maze Prison in the north of Ireland has become a staple of the Celtic-Punk scene over the last few years. Popularised first I think by Neck but here the song becomes a thrashing Punk-Rock classic. ‘Yellow Ribbon’ is the shortest song here. A cover of the trad Folk song that is also the official anthem of the United States Cavalry! Not a song you may think you know but wait till you hear it. Like every cover here they may change and adapt and add to the songs but they still manage to make them instantly recognisable. ‘Roll The Old Chariot’ is next and starts off in acapella style before the mandolin comes in and you may suspect that the time for a slow one is now but ShamRocks soon blow the lid off and the song ends off speeding towards the end with Sergiy’s keytar sounding remarkably like Tex-Mex trumpet! ‘Sails To The Wind’ is another new one and has an American Celtic-Punk feel to it while ‘Kiltartin Cross’, based on the poem ‘An Irish Airman Foresees His Death’ by Irish writer and nationalist W.B.Yeats, is a beautiful song and Serge’s vocals are fantastic as he sings in Ukrainian about an Irishman in WW1 fighting for Britain but dreaming off his home in Kiltartin in Galway. ‘Rogers Rangers’ is another new one and you get the feeling that the new album will be a lot more heavier Rock style then their previous stuff but still very much within Celtic-Punk. ‘Jacobites’ is the old Scots Folk rebel song, re-written by Robert Burns around 1791, about the 1688–1746 Jacobite risings. ‘F!C!P!’ is of course F**K Corona Patrick’s the name of this album and is dedicated to “all those who play Celtic-Punk… badly” and is a rollicking great ride through several styles of Celtic-Punk and has several auto-biographical passages I think! Great fun all together and one of the highlights of the album. FCP Live comes to an end with one of the great Irish Folk classics ‘Molly Malone’ and for once the Bhoys play the song straight up… except in Ukrainian!
ShamRocks are definitely one of the most innovative and original bands in the Celtic-Punk scene and usual deserve a much wider audience. The album is the fully fledged ShamRocks experience with no ‘post-production magic’ or any such nonsense, just the live mix with a bit of mastering on top and edited together to make something pretty damn good. I’m not a fan of live albums usually but every now and then I hear one that really hits the spot and as an example of their old and new stuff it’s well worth getting while we wait for their new album. I will end with the words I used to review their album as i don’t think I have said it better since.
“There is plenty to upset the folk purists (or snobs as I prefer to call them) here but these people like to keep Folk music locked up in a box. Put away and kept out of the hands of people who (in their opinion) don’t respect or cherish them as much as they do. Their way is noble yes but is also a surefire way to kill off folk music. They attacked the Dubliners and then The Pogues in their time and now they fawn longingly over the bands they once called sacrilegious.”
St. Patrick’s Day 2020 was cancelled so if you’re stuck indoors like me looking for something to do enjoy an hour or so of what made The Pogues so memorable and have a free download too and carry them around with you from room to room!!
The Pogues were just an incredible band. In fact some think the #1 band of all time. It went beyond music making important changes to how we perceived ourselves. Here The Pogues perform shortly after the release of If I Should Fall From Grace With God, considered their best album. All their greatest songs are here alongside many friends including Joe Strummer and the dearly departed Kirsty MacColl.
So Paddy’s Day 2020 came and went and all I can say is thank Heavens for the Dropkick Murphys and their utterly brilliant Live Stream which saw me up until the early hours shouting drunkenly at the telly! With no gigs and the flow of new music, though not so bad at the moment, eventually set to dry up we are taking a trip back to 1988 to see The Bhoys in majestic full flow live at the iconic Town And Country Club in North London. Based in Kentish Town just up the road from Camden the venue played host to numerous Pogues concerts and in the aftermath of The Pogues gigs by Shane MacGowan solo and with The Popes. So no better venue for the London Irish community (near 2,000 of them) to flock to one night in the middle of March over thirty years ago to celebrate the patron saint of the country most of their parents came from.
That night saw one of the most raucous and memorable nights in the venues long and illustrious career and saw several stand out moments on a night that saw them joined on stage by Joe Strummer leads The Pogues through a Irish-ed up version of The Clash’s ‘London Calling’ while Kirsty MacColl accompanies Shane for an outstanding version of ‘Fairytale of New York’ which is only topped by the encore performance of ‘A Message To You (Rudi)’ featuring The Specials’ Lynval Golding himself sending the beer and sweat drenched crowd off into the night. For a band that had many special nights St. Patrick’s Day at The Town And Country 1988 was most definitely one of them.
Live at the Town and Country Club, London St. Patrick’s Day Concert March 1988
Special guests: Kirsty MacColl, Joe Strummer, After Tonite, Lynval Golding, Joe Cashman, Eli Thompson, Brian Clarke, Paul Taylor, Steve Lillywhite
James Fearnley- Accordion * Jem Finer- Banjo, Saxophone * Darryl Hunt- Bass * Terry Woods- Concertina * Andrew Ranken- Drums * Philip Chevron- Guitar * Spider Stacy- Tin Whistle * Shane MacGowan- Lead Vocals
Design- The Leisure Process * Film Director- Billy Magra
The accompanying video that came out soon after clocked in at a just paltry sixty minutes which left a hell of a lot of footage on the cutting room floor and leaves us crying out for more. Joe Strummer acts as narrator introducing band members and songs before taking the stage himself. Most notably for me Strummer pays tribute to who he saw as The Pogues powerhouse, Terry Woods
“That brings me on to Mr T. Woods, who I see as the master musician of the band. I don’t know what groups he’s been in and out of but he’s run the whole gamut of rock and roll. I like the story he tells me he used to go ‘In those days you know, I had a white horses head on my head when I go on stage’, and it makes me think ‘wow, we’ve all been through a few trip”.
As for the ‘Godfather Of Celtic-Punk’ himself, Shane is in classic Shane form. Hiding behind his shades for most of the night and drunk of course and while obviously pished you can still hear and understand him. His last few remaining teeth are also evident as he pops back and forth to the dressing room as he drags on a ciggie and swigs something exotic while clinging tightly to the mic stand. The Pogues and Shane continued to perform for years afterwards but whether it would ever reach these heights again is perhaps debatable but we never stopped loving them and with the recent news that Shane is all set to return to the recording studio and had already recorded new tracks for a forthcoming album The Pogues story continues. So for now enjoy the sound of a band whose style of Punk and traditional Irish made the most perfect cocktail, served with brilliant lyrics from a poetic soul.
Well here we go again. It only seems like five minutes since I was compiling all the votes into last years Best Of that saw The Rumjacks romping home with Album Of The Year. This year has been a bit quieter on the Celtic-Punk front but as last year was so busy that is perhaps not surprising. That’s not to say their weren’t some fantastic releases as their were plenty and it was still really difficult to come up with the various lists below. Not so many big bands this year so it was left to the lesser known bands to shine but remember this is only our opinion and these releases are only the tip of the iceberg of what came out last year. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. As a bonus we are adding the Readers Poll again this year so you can even vote on your favourite release of 2019 yourself. If it’s not listed then simply add your choice.
We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…
(click on the green link to go where you will find more information on the release)
How to compete with last year? Every single top band in the genre released an album so things were always going to be a bit quieter for 2019. Top spot this year unsurprisingly goes to The Walker Roaders Celtic-Punk super group! With Pogues, Mollys and Dropkicks making up the team how could they possibly go wrong! Everyone’s ‘next big thing’ Mickey Rickshaw came in a well deserved second and Ferocious Dog took third after releasing their best album, for me, since From Without. Greenland Whalefishers celebrated 25 years on the road with their best album for quite a while and what Best Of would be right without some bloody brilliant Irish-American bands challenging at the top too. Pipes And Pints new album with a new singer received acclaim from across the Punk media and The Rumjacks couldn’t follow up last years unanimous victory despite having two album releases (both sort of live) in the top thirteen. Fiddlers Green continue to make consistently great albums and go into 2020 celebrating thirty years together! Good to see homegrown bands The Whipjacks, The Tenbags, The Filthy Spectacula and Sons Of Clogger making it too. The top thirty was made up of thirteen countries from USA, England, Norway, Czech Republic, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Argentina, Japan, Quebec, Hungary, Spain and Japan.
The Lucky Trolls took #1 spot with their brilliant self-titled EP following on from fellow countrymen the Krakin’ Kellys multi award winning 2018. Trust me it would have taken an exceptionally good release to keep The Party by Drunken Dolly off the top spot but that is what happened. Dolly’s excursions over to these shores this year j=has seen them grown in stature and you can’t go to a Ferocious Dog gig without spotting at least a dozen of their shirts. Loretta Problem wowed us with their single ‘Waltz Of My Drunken Dream’ which took us right back back to The Pogues glory days and what about that accompanying videotoo!! If we had a award for best video then that would have walked it. The Kellys had a quiet year with comparison to ’18 but still managed a respectable #5 and great debut releases from The Placks our sole representative from a Celtic nation (big things are going to happen to this band in 2020 mark my words), Italian/Aussies The Cloverhearts and, from just down the road from my Mammy, Shanghai Treason from Sheffield who only put out one song… but what a song! Eight countries represented from Belgium, Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Scotland, Argentina, Australia and Yorkshire!
Argentina is becoming a bit of a hot-spot for Celtic-Punk with not only some well established bands but also some new ones starting up too and with this release Aires Bastardos announced their arrival on the international scene too. Not afraid to dive straight into a folk number after a Cock Sparrer cover they veer from standard Celtic-Punk to Folk and back to fast as hell Punk but in that really accessible way that only Celtic-Punk (and maybe Ska-Punk) bands can do.
The Dreadnoughts don’t really think of themselves as Celtic-Punk so I reckon they’d be happier to win this than Celtic-Punk Album Of The Year. A superb collection of sea shanties that is a pleasure to listen to that was always going to be #1. Crock Of Bones representing the London Irish in 2nd with an album of trad folk with punk rock attitude and it’s especially good to hear some originals done in the style of the ‘auld ways’. 6’10 challenged for the top spot as they always do with everything they release and Bryan MacPherson and Callum Houston both produced great releases of singer-songwriter acoustic folk with Irish roots.
Sadly the Celtic-Punk world has shrunk a little regarding Web-Sites. Winners of the last two years the Mersey Celt Punks have been slacking (sort it out lads!) and enjoying their gigs too much to tell us while Shite’n’Onions have been too busy transferring everything onto a different platform and preparing for a bit of a re-launch I expect. Sadly celtic-rock.de have shut up shop after twelve years so it just makes it all the more clear how much we all miss Waldo and his fantastic Celtic-Folk-Punk And More site. As regular as clockwork and all the news that was ever fit (or not!) to print. Closing down the site in its 10th year in March must have been a tough decision to make and so this year we award best Website to Waldo and let it be known that no Celtic-Punk site will ever come close to replacing you. We would certainly not exist without his kind help and inspiration. All the best comrade enjoy your retirement! One welcome addition is Michu and his Celtic-Punk Encyclopediasite from Poland. Worth checking out especially if you are in a band.
We are not alone in doing these Best Of 2019 lists in fact all the major players in celtic-punk do them so click below to check out what they thought.
So there you go. Remember we don’t pretend to be the final word on things in fact if you check the other Celtic-Punk media I’m sure we’ve all come up with relatively different lists. Our Best Of’s are cajoled and bullied out of the admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page. The assorted scraps of paper and beer mats were then tallied up please remember not all of us heard the same albums so like all the various Best Of’s ours is also subjective.
This is our 8th year of making these Best Of lists so if you would like to check out out who was where in our previous ones then just click on the link below the relevant year.
Last year we introduced a new feature THE READERS PICK. We had no idea if it would work or not but it was a raging success so we going to do it all again this year. With well over 500 votes cast you lot chose the debut album from the Krakin’ Kellys as a worthy winner. Only the Top Ten albums are listed but there is an option to write in your favourite release or just to send us love… or abuse!
You are allowed to vote twice but not for the same artist.
The Poll will close at midnight on Friday 31st January with the result announced soon after.
remember any views, comments or abuse or slander we would love to hear it…
Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2020
The glorious Rumjacks are back with their second release of 2019 an excellent live recording of their November 2018 gig at the Piraeus 177 Academy in Athens, Greece!
After their critically acclaimed stripped back acoustic album Live In London Acoustic Sessions The Rumjacks release another compilation to celebrate their tenth anniversary. 2018 saw The Rumjacks become somewhat of a European hit. A tour lasting almost the entire year saw them perform in pretty much every European country from East to West and North to South. Their album of that year Saints Preserve Us was also hailed as their best since their incredible debut album Gangs Of New Holland. The album would go on to receive the #1 album of the year voted unanimously by all the London Celtic Punks admins. Crowds on the tour saw them selling out venues regularly and performing at some of the biggest festivals around. The band continue to go from strength to strength helped no doubt by their down to earth attitude and consistently good songs and live performances.
The Rumjacks left to right: Top: Gabriel Whitbourne- Guitars, Vocals * Adam Kenny- Mandolin, Banjo, Bouzouki, Bodhran, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals. Bottom: Johnny McKelvey- Bass, Vocals * Frankie McLaughlin- Vocals, Tin-Whistle, Guitar * Pietro Della Sala- Drums, Vocals.
So it was that The Rumjacks rolled into Piraeus 177 Academy in Athens on November 3rd 2018 to play one one of their biggest ever headline shows to date. The atmosphere in the venue that night was electric and the band went on to play one of their best sets of the entire tour in front of an appreciative crowd that seemed to know the words to every song. Thankfully the entire show was captured and has been released as The Rumjacks first ever live album release. Featuring twenty-one songs split fairly evenly between their very earliest days and their latest album. Four songs come from their first two EP’s while five tracks each from Gangs Of New Holland and Sober And Godless with four from Sleepin’ Rough making up the bulk of the songs.
Kicking off with ‘Plenty’ the first thing to strike you is the absolute authenticity of the recording. Having seen The Rumjacks a stack of times I can confirm that the sound is as perfect as you could hope for and is definitely the next best thing to actually being there. Its all here from Frankie’s somewhat strained tin-whistle on ‘Kirkintilloch’ to Johnny’s in between song banter consisting of shouting at the audience! All the best songs from their current and back catalogue there is no filler whatsoever. As hard as it is to pick the best tracks here some of the ones that stood out for me included the catchy as feck ‘Cold London Rain’.
“If you wait for me here, I’ll return with a joy for your sorrows,
A cure for your heart & a wee drop to soften the pain,
And no matter the mark that we make on each others tomorrows,
I will sing to the glory of you and your cold London rain.”
Soon after the ska tinged ‘Kathleen’ and ‘Spit in The Street’ tumble after one another and hidden away right in the middle of the album is the song that broke them to the world ‘An Irish Pub Song’, now sailing up to 60,000,000 (that’s sixty million) views on You Tube! I remember sitting in Bootsy Brogan’s in Fulham with Guy from Neck the day the Ireland football team were playing someone or other (go easy I’m 50!) up the road at Craven Cottage and this came on in the middle of a random selection of Irish classics. That was the moment i realised The Rumjacks were going places. The Greek crowd go mad as soon as they realise as Frankie starts the intro on acoustic guitar.
(fan video of ‘The Reaper And Tam McCorty’, ‘The Bold Rumjacker’, ‘Uncle Tommy’, ‘Jolly Executioner’ and ‘Saints Preserve Us’)
Another great song that here sounds utterly fantastic is ‘The Bold Rumjacker’ the highlight of their debut release Hung, Drawn And Portered. The song always give them a chance to muck around and they don’t disappoint here turning the ska and calypso tinged song into something special. A couple of their fastest songs next with ‘Uncle Tommy’ and ‘Jolly Executioner’ before the Celtic-Ska ‘Saints Preserve Us’ keeps the atmosphere at its highest possible point. The only disappointment on the album is that it does strip away all the friendly banter from Frankie mainly but also Johnny too confining them to just the occasional shouts of encouragement or the introducing of, at the time, new drummer, Pietro Della Sala, to the masses. They play an awesome version of ‘The Black Matilda’ and wrap things up with a string of Rumjacks best and most popular songs before ending with the classic Irish folk song ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ which saw them end with another song taken from their debut release.
(another great fan video of ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ as filmed on the night)
So while not a massive fan of live albums this gets a double thumbs up from me solely because it captures the gig so completely. Its a warts an all performance of a band that really knows how to put on a great show. With such a fantastic back catalogue it will always be hard to please everyone but this is as a comprehensive compilation of their best songs as you could wish for. With their touring schedule second only to none (perhaps Ferocious Dog maybe?) they are sure, as long as you live in Europe that is!, to rock up near to you sooner or later so get this album to whet your appetite for when the day arrives!
Discography Hung, Drawn & Portered EP (2009) * Sound As A Pound EP (2009) * Gangs Of New Holland LP (2010) * Crosses For Eyes 7″ (2012) * Blows & Unkind Words 7″ (2014) * Sober & Godless LP (2015) * Sleepin’ Rough LP (2016) * Saints Preserve Us LP (2018) * Live In London Acoustic Sessions LP (2019) * Live In Athens LP (2019) *
In February 2019, The Rumjacks arrived in London town at the You Tube Space Studio in Kings Cross, and recorded a set of stripped back acoustic versions from their back catalogue. Where once the band would have been at home among the dirt and grime of Kings Cross station where untold amount of Scots disembarked over the years with little more than the clothes on their back it’s now a shiny gleaming soulless example of the new London. The songs were drip fed to us one at a time over the course of the next ten Fridays and here we present them all together. The recordings arenow available for download across the usual platforms, links at the bottom.
The Black Matilda
A Fistful O’Roses
Bar The Door Casey
My Time Again
Cold London Rain
The Leaky Tub
The Bold Rumjacker
Barred For Life
Director / Producer – Phil MacDonald * Director of Photography – Archie Guinchard * Sound Engineer – Paddy Fitzgerald * Editor – Phil Macdonald
Full blooded Highland bagpipes and chugging punky guitars from one of Europe’s greatest Celtic-Punk bands. The new album from Switzerland’s Tortilla Flat is a special dual CD and DVD release of their concert in Langenthal at this refurbished beautiful old cinema.
A week after we reviewed our first live album in over a year lo and behold another one lands on our doorstep. While The Fighting Jamesons album was recorded at a outdoor festival Tortilla Flat have chosen their headlining gig at the exquisite Old Capitol music venue from 4th November, 2017. Taking their name from the John Steinbeck humorous novel of the same name about a bunch of Californian outsiders who want to own nothing and get drunk, Tortilla Flat formed in 1991 and have at their core Chris, Ritchie and Lexu who at various times are joined by the The Independent Pipers who keep up a steady supply of expert bagpipers whenever they are required. For a lot of bands in the Celtic-Punk scene the priority has always been the live show and so for a lot of bands their releases don’t quite tally up with how long they have been together but Tortilla Flat have never neglected the recording side of things and this will be their eighth album release during their eighteen years together. Their last release being 2018’s tribute to the vinyl single The 45rpm accompanied by garage-surf-punk legend Jorgen Red Westman which we featured here.
Here’s a band that easily sits slap bang on the line between Celtic and Punk and in a scene where most bands naturally try to sound like the two biggest bands in the scene, the Murphys and the Mollys, here though is a band that tries to steer their own path. Also rather unusually they take the Celticness of Scotland rather than Ireland as their major influence. That’s not to say that a few Irish tunes don’t show up but that it’s Scotland calling the shots here.
Tortilla Flat left to right: Ritchie: Bass, Harp * Tom MacFly- Bagpipes * Lexu- Drums, Acoustic Guitar * Violin- Christine * Accordion- Asi MacHasi * Rob Highlander- Bagpipes * Chris- Electric Guitar, Lead Vocals
The album kicks off in style with a duo of great songs with the traditional ‘Scotland The Brave’ and Tortilla Flat penned number ‘The Great Escape’ getting things started. It’s the roar of the pipes that gets you going here so if you’re one of that rare breed of Celtic-Punk fans who don’t like bagpipes then this band isn’t for you. On the other hand if you love bagpipes then you will bloody love Tortilla Flat! After all their are not many bands in the scene with two pipers at its core and sometimes they have been known to have even more!
Straight away it has to be noted that the sound here is absolutely perfect. No surprise I am sure after all why bother if it didn’t but it as well as the perfect sound it also manages to portray transfer their live in concert sound to disc. Live At Old Capitol is great value with twenty-three songs and a running time of a very impressive seventy-two minutes which is almost the maximum you can fit on a compact disc. Alongside a collection of great tracks from their back catalogue such as the brilliant ‘1946’ as well as ‘Don’t Ask Why’ and ‘Tough Love’ from their debut album. On a album that’s split roughly 50/50 between covers and originals it’s the self penned tracks that stand out for me but these lads know their way around a fair traditional tune tune too with a bunch of Scots and Irish tunes that the band have been playing since their early days. ‘Rare Old Mountain Dew’, ‘I’m A Rover’, ‘Dirty Old Town’, ‘The Rising Of The Moon’ are among the highlights and ‘Amazing Grace’ may only be ninety odd seconds long but would give the Dropkicks more than a good run for their money and even better as it morphs into the albums standout track, the wonderful, ‘F.U.C.K.U.’! The album ends with a great run of songs from last years tribute to the punk rock 7″ vinyl single ‘The 45 rpm’ to a spirited version of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ that sounds more like Dropkick Murphys trying to sound like AC/Dc than you could ever imagine possible. The Hank Williams Country classic ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’ sees the band cast their net further than the Celtic nations and a great version though I would recommend checking out the original as well (here) before the curtain comes down with the song that burst Celtic-Rock into the mainstream Whiskey In The Jar’. When Thin Lizzy stormed the charts with it back in 1973 they were one of a handful of bands that would begin the process that leads right up to where Tortilla Flat and contemporaries sit today.
So a whopping seventy odd minutes of full on classic bagpipe’n’roll that is full of warmth and absolutely great music. The sound as as we said is perfect so a big hats off to the band and Mauro Grossud who produced it. Tortilla Flat are a Celtic-Punk band that fully embraces the culture and sound of the Celtic nations and while their are moments when you can compare their sound to others on the whole they have ploughed their own furrow and managed to come up with something that stands on its own feet. Tortilla Flat’s sound has wide appeal and it’s completely in the spirit of Celtic-Punk that their music would appeal to both punks and traditional music fans alike.
In The Grip Of The Grape (LP- 1996) * As Usual (LP- 1999) * All Hail (7″- 2002) * Dirty Old Town (EP- 2004) * At The Tavern (LP- 2005) * From Vine To Wine (LP- 2008) * A Trainload Full Of Stout (LP- 2009) * The Great Escape (LP- 2013) * Today (Single- 2013) * Forward To The Past (LP- 2017) * The 45rpm (7″-2018)
If all the dew were diamonds”, Pablo said, “we would be very rich. We would be drunk all our lives”. But Pilon, on whom the curse of realism lay uneasily, added: “Everybody would have too many diamonds. There would be no price for them, but wine always costs money. If only it would rain for a day, now, and we had a tank to catch it in”. “But good wine”, interjected Pablo, “not rotgut swill like the last you got”. “I didn’t pay for it”, said Pilon. “Someone hid it in the grass by the dance hall. What can you expect of wine you find ?”
dialogue from “TORTILLA FLAT” by John Steinbeck, 1935
The Fighting Jamesons deliver a live recording from last year’s Get Shamrocked Festival. Traditional style Irish music but with an aggressive and energetic modern-day approach.
With two solid studio album releases behind them The Fighting Jamesons have chosen their fantastic live set from Get Shamrocked 2018 as their next album to hit the stores. Hailing from the resort town of Virginia Beach in California they have quickly gained a strong presence on the East Coast with their constant touring and great relationship with their fans. Formed in 2010 they play a style of Celtic-Punk akin to Flogging Molly in that they are almost acoustic but still mange to kick up a racket. As we said in our review of Every Day Above Groundback in 2014
“Heads down and fast as humanly possible is how The Fighting Jamesons like it and we have to say we bloody love it too!”
and as they are a band that earns their bread and butter on the live circuit it’s no surprise that A Moment In California is more of the same in a extremely tight set of 50% well known and loved trad Irish folk covers and 50% of their own material.
The live set was recorded at Get Shamrocked Festival which, now in its seventh year, has the whole Celtic-Punk community salivating every year when it’s line up is released! Much like Flogging Molly’s Salty Dog festival it’s sadly something most of us will only ever watch via You Tube but with its mix of Celtic-Rock and Punk alongside Folk, contemporary and traditional music it’s definitely on my To-Do list when i win the lottery. Started in 2012 by second generation Irishman Paul Little the festival is held in California attracting thousands to watch some of the best bands around as well as international bands such as The Go-Set and Sir Reg in recent years.
The album begins with one of The Fighting Jamesons most famous of their own tracks ‘How I Ended Up This Way’ but starts with a touching tribute to the parents of 17 year old Irish-American Cullen Connolly who tragically died in a car crash in 2015 caused by a drunk driver. A huge baseball and Celtic-Punk fan who loved The Mahones, Gaelic Storm and The Young Dubliners among others. Cullen lived with neuro muscular disorder but never let it affect him and he lived a full and enjoyable life surrounded by loved ones before it was snatched away. One of the stages at the festival has been named after him. A really nice touch from the festivals organisers.
(the opening song from The Fighting Jamesons 2016 set at Get Shamrocked)
The album begins with the Jamesons original ‘How I Ended Up This Way’ telling of life in an Irish-American family and a day on the lash that gets out of hand! The Fighting Jamesons play hard and fast but in a completely accessible way and I’m sure half the audience would think they are Celtic-Punk while the other half Celtic-Rock! Great tune, catchy as hell with great lyrics and a band at the top of their game. Listening to this first song you can see why they chose to release it as the production (hats off to Chris Kendrick) and sound is absolutely perfect. Plans are afoot for them to have their set at this years festival properly recorded and maybe released so keep an eye out for that among other things in The Fighting Jamesons camp. Next we have, without a doubt, the most overplayed cover in Irish history, Drunken Sailor! They do a good job of it is all I can say. The next couple of songs were my favourites off Every Day Above Ground starting with ‘What Does It Mean?’ and show what great songwriters they are. It remains a favourite again here in no small part to its absolutely fecking great chorus. Jeffrey’s fiddle and Miles accordion really come into their own here. Again the song is fastly played but still firmly with its feet in the folk camp despite George’s thrashy guitar and Justin and Vince on drums and bass giving it that extra ‘punky’ bite. ‘Year Gone By’ lulls you into the belief it’s going to a slow dirge of a sea shany before exploding in yer ears and we get more catchy full throttle Irish music that is made equally at home in the intimate pub or any big festival. We earlier compared them to Flogging Molly but the comparison is to the Molly’s at their best.
Next up is the Irish-American classic ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye’. Made most famous in Celtic-Punk by The Dropkick Murphys who never fail to play it in each live show. An anti-war anthem for each generation since it first appeared in 1867. Like the band the song’s roots are in Ireland but it’s only with the added American experience that it became a real American folk classic. They play the first half slow before the second half comes blasting out. Superb. ‘An Irish Medley’ is arranged by the band and is a bunch of well known Irish folk songs (‘Fields Of Athenry’, ‘Streams Of Whiskey’, Seven Drunken Nights etc.,) bashed out in that certain Fighting Jamesons way. Next is ‘Tell Me Ma/The Last Thing I Remember’ and beginning with the famous folk song before morphing into their self penned tragic tale of alcohol abuse. The well known tale of a life lost in alcohol and oblivion. On the album this song is slow and angry but here is played with an urgency that tops the version off Every Day Above Ground. There but for the grace of God…
“Every day not wasted is a wasted day”
Next up is a rather interesting cover of ‘Eleanor Rigby’ by The Beatles. Now The Beatles were an Irish band without any doubt (check out our feature The Beatles And Ireland here for proof) but it’s still came as a bit of a shock to find this classic Lennon/McCartney song sat in the middle of The Fighting Jamesons set. The bhoys kick it off with a short rap with is no doubt from small massive worldwide smash that sold a billion copies but completely passed me by! It’s a spirited version and you can’t go wrong with such great material to start with though it does show the bands versatility. ‘One More Drink’ is the last of the original material and again and one to grab your mates and let loose at the end of the night. ‘A Moment In California’ is not a song but band vocalist and banjo player Mike Powers giving a nice shout out to the bands fans and hands out some goof plain old advice we could all do with listening to. The curtain comes down on A Moment In California with perhaps the traditional Irish folk song most suited to be turned into a Celtic-Punk rocker!! ‘The Irish Rover’ has been around for donkey’s years but most outside the Irish community will remember it for the brilliant Pogues and Dubliners collaboration back in 1987. That version still gets plenty of airtime and still earns the fella’s and their families a pretty penny I am sure! Here The Fighting Jamesons give it plenty of oompf go off road a couple of times before going out on a really energetic high and I can imagine on a line-up of memorable acts at last years festival The Fighting Jamesons were one on the most memorable!
The Fighting Jamesons left to right: Jeffrey McLaughlin- Backing Vocals, Fiddle * Miles Hoyle- Accordion * George Bauman- Lead Guitar * Mike Powers- Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Banjo * * Justin Conner- Drums * Vince Kafigian- Bass *
2019 will see the band hitting the studio again later this year to record their third full length studio album and even some distant plans to cross the broad Atlantic so keep an eye upon what they are up to. A Moment In California is officially released tomorrow, and will be available on almost all big music streaming outlets ie. iTunes, amazon music, Spotify Microsoft music etc. We don’t get a lot of live recordings to London Celtic Punks and on hearing this I can only regret their aren’t more. Nearly a hour of fantastically played fast Irish folk with very wide appeal from a band who though polished come across as sincere and heartfelt in all the right places and funny and ramshackle too. A great band and if they they ever come near where you live then move heaven and earth to go see them as on the evidence here you are guaranteed a night to remember.
Cullen’s Mam and Dad have set up a charity in honour of their son- Cullens Claddagh. You can check that out here and they would especially like to hear from any bands wishing to donate merchandise they could raffle off to raise money for the charity.
(raise a glass to Cullen this St. Patrick’s day. We’ll remember you in London mate)
Christy Moore is one of a handful of people who brought Irish folk music out of the backroom sessions in pubs and homes and out in to the mainstream. With influences from rock, pop, and jazz music he is one of the architects of modern Irish folk music.
Released this very day is On The Road the new album from Irish music icon Christy Moore, a two-disc, 24-song set of classic tracks Christy has made his own in an incredible fifty years of touring and recording. The tracks have been recorded in seventeen live venues from London to Westport, Glasgow to Galway, over the past three years and is the first time Christy’s biggest tunes have been made available on one album. Of course with a career as long and successful as his not everyone will be happy and personally I would have liked to have seen some of the songs that gained him notoriety in the 1980’s when he was the bain of the Irish establishment recording tracks such as ‘They Never Came Home’ about 1981’s Stardust fire where 48 people died at a Dublin nightclub. Christy was hauled before the courts and fined and had his album withdrawn for suggesting, quite correctly, that the fire exits being chained was the reason for the disaster. ‘The Time Has Come’ described the last meeting of a hunger striker and his mother receiving regular plays on Irish Radio until it was revealed exactly what the song was about and it was subsequently banned. One song included here though banned at the time was ‘Mcllhatton’, which along with ‘Back Home in Derry’ was banned after it was discovered they were written by Bobby Sands whilst in prison. So there is no ’90 Miles From Dublin’ but what were we to expect. Much of the material here is of the leftfield kind and while ‘Viva La Quinte Brigada’ may have been the embodiment of everything the Irish government hated upon it’s release the years have been kind to this roll call of the brave Irishmen and women who left Ireland to fight Franco and the fascists in 1936 Spain. With his political output having ground to a halt, hopefully temporarily, it is Christy’s renowned sense of humour that takes centre stage. It is on songs such as ‘Joxer Goes To Stuttgart’ about Irish fans travelling to Euro 1988, in West Germany and, utilizing the same tune, ‘Delirium Tremens’ telling of his alcoholic demons, an idea later stolen by indie rock band Carter USM for ‘Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere’, that Christy’s music comes alive with the audience enthusiastically singing and clapping along.
“Goodbye to the Port and Brandy, to the Vodka and the Stag,
To the Schmiddick and the Harpic, the bottled draught and keg.
As I sat lookin’ up the Guinness ad I could never figure out
How your man stayed up on the surfboard after 14 pints of stout”
As much as I love the more raucous and lively tracks there is no denying the beauty of the slower songs here. Well known standards such as ‘Nancy Spain’ and ‘Cliffs Of Dooneen’ are putty in his hands extolling emotion that not many can squeeze out of a song heard countless times. One of the highlights of the album is his take on The Pogues ‘Fairytale Of New York’ and his half whispered voice and relaxed guitar adds another dimension to this amazing song. It ends with Christy whispering of a night on the lash with Shane in Tipp and it is breath-takingly beautiful. There is a new song in the shape of ‘Lingo Politico’ dedicated to politicians everywhere! The quality of these recordings is simply outstanding and they have been edited together superbly to make an album that flows and ebbs beautifully. Accompanied by a booklet that tells you every single thing you need to know about these recordings. Christy’s voice is strong and powerful when needed and gentle and kind at other times. Their can’t be many who need an introduction to his recordings but to those who love him and those looking for an introduction to his best work this can be recommended mainly because of that excellent production..
AN ORDINARY MAN By Scott Feemster
Christopher Moore was born in Kildare, Ireland in May, 1945. His father owned a grocery shop while his mother was a keen music fan and was often caught singing around the house to Clancy Brothers records. Christy and two of his five siblings, Ailish and Barry, all went on to be notable singers, Barry adopting the stage name Luka Bloom later in life. When Christy was young, he became aware of the deep well of Irish folk songs, though, at the time, he was more impressed with rock’n’roll than folk tunes. Regardless of influence, he took up the guitar and bodhran and played briefly in a band with who would become his long-time collaborator, Donal Lunny. When he was out of school, Christy took a job as a bank clerk in Dublin and became fascinated by the local folk scene. Though he played a few gigs he couldn’t work his way into the Dublin scene as much as he wanted, and when a labour strike struck in the mid 60’s he decided to pack it in and move to England to find work. Christy spent the next few years gaining quite a reputation in England with his mix of traditional Irish and British songs and towards the end of the 60’s he decided to take the next logical step. Managing to get noted songwriter (and brother of Brendan) Dominic Behan to produce an album of traditional folk and political songs called Paddy On The Road (1969) and it has become something of a rarity in later years since only 500 copies were pressed. Though thrilled that he finally had an album to show for his efforts, he was disappointed that the English musicians backing him didn’t have the proper feel for the Irish material he was presenting. Christy moved back to Ireland and set upon finding some musicians who could play the fiery brand of politically-charged folk music he wanted to produce. Moore teamed up with his old friend guitarist/bouzouki player Donal Lunny, uillean piper and whistle player Liam O’Flynn, mandolinist Andy Irvine and bodhran player Kevin Conneff to produce Prosperous(1972), an album that marked a turning point in Irish folk music. Suddenly, younger Irish musicians were taking up traditional instruments and songs and injecting new urgency and fire into them. This combination worked so well together that they decided to carry on as a group, calling themselves Planxty. Touring relentlessly and recording the landmarkPlanxty (1973) and The Well Below The Valley (1973).
Moore set to work on a solo album that would show all of his strengths, and decided to split Whatever Tickles Your Fancy (1975) between an acoustic side and an electric side. The acoustic side featured Moore’s voice, guitar and bodhran playing, while the electric side was similar to the folk-rock style Fairport Convention were popularizing around the same time. Moore followed it up with his self-titled Christy Moore (1976), this time concentrating on acoustic-based narrative folk songs that were his strength. Moore took on a heavy schedule of touring and playing gigs but kept his connection with his former Planxty bandmates, and by late 1978 the original four members were keen to try the band again adding fifth member flutist Matt Molloy to the band and recording three further album’s between 1979 and 1983. Wanting to branch out from the traditional sound put forth by Planxty, Moore joined with Lunny in 1981 and formed Moving Hearts, who combined traditional Irish music with contemporary elements from rock and jazz. Other members of Moving Hearts included guitarist Declan Sinnott, saxophonist Keith Donald, bassist Eoghan O’Neill, drummer Brian Calnan and uillean piper Davy Spillane. Protests against internment, the ‘H Blocks’ and in support of the hunger strikers led to several bans and Christy’s outspoken opinions left him no friends in the establishment. Two politically-charged albums resulted, Moving Hearts (1981) and Dark End Of The Street (1982), before again Christy left to concentrate on his solo career.
To say that the 1980’s was a busy period would be an understatement, as Christy managed to be a member of Planxty, Moving Hearts and a solo artist all at the same time. He released a whole series of solo albums throughout the 80’s, including The Time Has Come (1983), the critically acclaimed Ride On (1984), Ordinary Man (1985), Spirit Of Freedom (1985) Unfinished Revolution (1987) and Voyage (1989), with guests including Sinead O’Connor and Elvis Costello. If Christy wasn’t enough of an Irish national treasure with his work in the 70’s, his output during the 80’s combined with populist political commentary in his lyrics cemented his stature in Irish music as Ireland’s equivalent of America’s Woody Guthrie.
Moore entered the 90’s still touring and releasing albums, though slowing down a bit to near human levels. Releasing the over-produced Smoke & Strong Whiskey (1991) before a more traditional, stripped-down sound with King Puck (1993). The rousing Live At The Point(1994) followed but in 1997, Christy’s decades of constant touring, combined with his attraction to copious amounts of alcohol finally caught up with him. Told if he continued performing at the level he had been his heart would kill him he retired to take care of his health, but soon returned to the studio to make Traveller (1999), a giant left turn for Moore. The album was techno-pop utilizing synthesizers, drum machines and heavily effected electric guitar, along with the usual traditional Irish instrumentation. The album was greeted by surprise by Christy’s fans, but was generally well reviewed. He planned a return to performing live again in 1999, but his health still wasn’t up to it using the down time to his advantage writing his autobiography, One Voice (2000).
Though it looked like his days of heavy touring were over, he was not done recording getting together with Donal Lunny and Declan Sinnot for This Is The Day (2001), which, sound-wise, split the difference between his earlier stripped-down acoustic records and the sound captured on Traveller. Moore followed with a series of low-key appearances in Dublin, and after being profiled on an Irish TV special, renewed interest was shown towards Planxty, and Moore joined with Lunny, Irvine and O’Flynn for some reunion shows. Planxty kept their reunion open-ended, and did not rule out working together in the future but Christy returned to his solo career with the critically-acclaimed Burning Times (2006), which featured his own compositions mixed in with covers by such songwriters as Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan and Morrissey. Again, Moore took to playing some shows, although in a much more low-key manner, and put out the double album Live In Dublin (2006). Recent years have seen no let up but with his releases now tending to be of the tribute/live/greatest hits variety he is still a regular visitor to this side of the Irish sea and although recently the admission fee’s have been somewhat expensive he still remains one of Ireland’s most treasured performers and, dare I say it, now part of the establishment.
Timeless, flawless, innovative and award-winning Irish-American Celtic roots music.
After four superb studio albums the brilliant Runa release a live album, imaginatively titled Live, that captures perfectly the sound of this amazing band. With a pedigree second to none, made up of vocalist and step-dancer, Shannon Lambert-Ryan of Philadelphia, Dublin-born guitarist, Fionán de Barra, Cheryl Prashker of Canada on percussion, Dave Curley of Galway on mandolin, vocals, bodhrán, and step-dancing, and Maggie Estes of Kentucky on the fiddle they are surely bound to hit the heights again with this album and they have deservedly earned their reputation as one of the most innovative and unique Irish bands of recent times.
“Then myself and a hundred more to America sailed o’er
Our fortunes to be making we were thinking
When we landed in Yankeeland they shoved a gun intae our hand
Saying, Paddy you must go and fight for Lincoln
General Meagher to us said, If you get shot and lose your head
Every mother’s son of you will get a pension
In the war I lost my leg, all I’ve now is a wooden peg
By my soul it is the truth to you I mention
Now I think myself in luck to be fed on Indian buck
In old Ireland the country I delight in
And with the devil I do say, Oh Christ curse America
For I’m sure I’ve had enough of your hard fighting”
One of the saddest of the Irish emigration songs it is unusual in that songs of that time were written by the people escaping the ‘famine’ back home and extolling the virtues of the ‘land of liberty’. To put it glibly ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’. Truly not every man is a king in the US of A. Fionán takes over the lead vocals again and his whispered hushed tones fits perfecting the sadness in the song. ‘Farewell to Tarwathie/ The Last Leviathan’ has two parts, the first a traditional Scottish whaling song while the second part, written by Andy Barnes. The stereotype of whale fishermen is a of a hairy chested, hard working, hard drinking, hard fighting men of the sea and while, no doubt the description fitted many of them, they often showed a strong liking for gentle ballads like these. The first parts tells the whalefishers story while part two tells of how closely we came to the extinction of this majestic animal.
“My soul has been torn from me and I am bleeding
My heart it has been rent and I am crying
For the beauty around me pales and I am screaming
I am the last of the Great Whales and I am dying”
“Mhí mise lán den tsaoil is bhi cion amuigh is istigh orm
Nach mór a dáthraigh an saol nuair nach bhfuil eion ag duine ar
bith orm? / At one time in my life I was dearly loved by everyone
Haven’t times changed when no one cares a whit for me?”
“Twas hard the mournful words to frame
To break the ties that bound us
Ah, but harder still to bear the shame
Of foreign chains around us
And so I said, ‘The mountain glen
I’ll seek at morning early
And join the brave united men’
While soft wind shook the barley”
A fusion of Americana, folk, alternative and punk this Irish-American guy is a lot more than even this.
Any new release from London Celtic Punks favourite Bryan McPherson is more than welcomed and so we are happy to get our mitts on Street Lights released just last week. Recorded live at the Right-Turn which is a drug and alcohol rehab centre in Bryan’s home town of Boston. Completely un-mastered and delivered as rough and raw and ready as it was heard first hand on that night back in 2009 it was recorded. Now this isn’t an album of completely new material as several of the songs eventually made it onto Bryan’s 2012 album American Boy / American Girl. Others were not so fortunate and fell by the wayside so its great to hear them now played in this way in a intimate show in a place that is obviously very close to his heart. When you buy Street Lights, as I’m sure you will, part of your hard earned will go to the centre to help them continue their great work. Right Turn describes itself as “a creative place for recovery” helping people to recover from the devastating effects of addiction.
The entire concert is included here and you can hear a pin drop throughout as Bryan shares his life with us. What can I say as I am a massive fan of Bryan and find myself when listening to his music feeling like I’m on a emotional roller coaster. His lyrics grab at you and shake you into a reaction. We were lucky to have had Bryan over in London last year and his performance, despite some initial sound problems, was every bit as intense and captivating as here. As Bryan says himself
“I see music as a means for change. It’s a powerful and beautiful force, and it’s my life”
Street Lights was engineered and mixed by Steve Friedman and all the songs were written and performed by Bryan. The last song is a special bonus studio track, a beautiful intimate acoustic version of ‘O.F.D. (Originally from Dorchester)’. Bryan’s birthplace and home to countless Irish-Americans including the original members, and lifelong friends of Bryan, The Dropkick Murphys. Here’s an idea maybe the Irish Government could fund the work that Right Turn do? As a thank you for all the money sent home by those Irish-Americans throughout the years. Maybe their children and grand-children deserve some payback for having helped keep Ireland afloat during the tough years?
With just a guitar and a harmonica and his voice it is passionate and heartfelt and emotional and frail and powerful and uplifting all at the same time. Bryan’s music is a very real journey through his own personal hell and is altogether mesmerising. Sometimes his words can chill you to the bone as he dissects American working class life and when those pampered and privileged members of the middle classes want to lecture us about so-called ‘white privilege’ then maybe they ought to have lived a moment in Bryan McPherson’s shoes. Just a moment. Street life, politics, addiction, the prison system, class disparity and the plight of the working class, broken dreams, and discrimination litter the alleys of McPherson’s songs. Their are also moments of beauty and clarity as this modern day folk-punk troubadour hits the heights and even though it may not be a fun roller coaster ride the words are as honest as they are urgent. Come on every second counts!
(listen to the whole of City Lights on the Bandcamp player below . When you’ve done click the link below that to own a copy!)
Explosive, high-energy celtic-punk rock band from Pennsylvania will lift your hearts and your spirit…
and your pint when you’re not looking!
Formed in 2009 The Kilmaine Saints were the brainchild of two members of the Harrisburg Pipe And Drum Band (Pennsylvania). With celtic-punk taking off they decided to form a band that would get them free beer at St Patrick’s Day shows in the Central PA area. With the addition of a couple of local musicians and a couple more Pipe band members The Kilmaine Saints took off and haven’t looked back since. Hundreds of gigs and festival appearances have seen them become one of the most popular celtic-punk bands in America. Two full length albums behind them, ‘The Good, The Plaid And The Ugly’ and ‘Drunken Redemption’ as well as a mini-album ‘un-Traditonal’ from last year, their releases have all been a solid mix of ramped up celtic classics and some extremely good compositions of their own. After all it has to be said that you can be a great band playing covers, and especially if you do something with them rather than being just a standard cover, but to go further you need strong songs of your own and The Kilmaine Saints have them as well.
‘Live At The Abbey’ is just over an hours worth of celtic-punk rock that is I reckon an exact replica of a Saints show. What I mean is it captures completely the feel, as well as the sound, of a Kilmaine Saints gig. The actual recording is clear and captures the various band members and their instruments perfectly. ‘Amazing Grace/Will The Circle Be Unbroken’ kicks off the album and straight away you can feel the energy busting out of the speakers. Blimey if every show is like this then they better keep a medic by the stage with a defibrillator! ‘Haul Away Joe/Tamlin’ is a typical song of what gives the Saints that special something. They take a song and just as you think its about to end will fly off into something even more manic not giving you pause for breath. Their background in the Harrisburg Pipe And Drum Band certainly gives them an edge on other bands when it comes to playing traditional songs and also shows that the music is literally in their blood too. The best Irish rebel song ever written is next and ‘Come Out Ye Black And Tans’ could be written as a celtic-punk song so easy to turn into one is it. Shane MacGowan’s classic’Streams Of Whiskey’ is punked up to heaven while ‘Long Walk To Sonnagh’ is my favourite track on the album with a celtic/country crossover sound while not losing any of its punk rock feel.
‘Black And Blue Jig’ tells of a Irish bare knuckle boxer follows the same musical path and ‘I’m A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day’ is the trad Irish song made famous by the Pogues but imagine the Pogues playing it with electric guitars and you know what I mean. Bagpipes kick off a thrash version of ‘The Wild Rover’ with chugging guitar a 77 punk band would be proud of! ‘Swallowtail Jig/Drunken Sailor’ and ‘Rattlin’ Bog’ everyone will be familiar with but again given that Saints twist that brings something new to them. Next up is the Kilmaine Saints anthem ‘Saints Are Up’ and its what every bands signature tune should be about. The lyrics say it all
“Raise the blue raise the green and all the colors in between
Sing along, sing it loud, ‘cuz we’re Celtic and we’re proud
Raise a shot, raise a pint, put your arms around your mate
‘cuz we’re the noisy drunken bastards called the Kilmaine Saints”
‘Devil’s Den (Painting Paradise Square Pt.2) is a hill where the Battle Of Gettysberg took place in the American civil war and tells of an Irish recruit forced to defend the hill against enormous odds.
“Born on the streets he grew up hard & mean
Raised in Paradise Square
But the blood and the gore of this cruel Civil War
Five Points cannot compare”
With Black And Tans covered the Saints bring the fight for Irish independence up to date with the modern day rebel song ‘Go On Home British Soldiers’ and they certainly put some oompf into it.
‘The Whiskey’s Calling’ is another great song with brilliant pint, and fist, in the air chorus of
“So raise a pint
and give a cheer
This one’s for friends
both far and near
Some are here
and some have fallen
Bottoms Up! The whiskey’s calling”
With the first half of the album given over to the classics the second half is mostly Kilmaine Saints songs and ‘Battle Cry’ is a great example. The pipes flow the guitars chug and Mayo born singer Brendan’s voice soars over the top of it all. The lyrics are inspiring and motivational
“All men have the strength inside to get up on their feet
I’d rather stand and fight than live my life down on my knees”
Following are ‘Old Brown’s Daughter’ and ’10 Fathoms Deep’ and this is the first time I have ever heard ‘Old Rugged Cross’ on a celtic-punk band album but I soon realise that its quite a long way both musically and lyrically from my Nanna’s favourite song!
“Twenty five Hail Marys will absolve all my sins!
So don’t judge me son til you know where I’ve been
The Lord will have mercy on a man of the cloth
Who sometimes will stray from the old rugged cross”
The album ends with the amazing ‘Rakes Of Mallow/Jump Around’. Combining two of my favourite songs its no surprise its an absolute firm fan favourite and as you can see it the attached video it certainly gets the crowds going and even sitting at home listening to this with just cup of Barry’s on the go I feel the need to get up off me ass and jump around. A fecking brilliant way to close and I’m already searching for their first album to stick it on and have a listen. The Abbey is a music venue situated above a brewery in Harrisburg Pennsylvania, called the Appalachian Brewing Company so the absolutely perfect place to record a live album! With equal parts Irish swagger, Scottish pride, and whiskey The Kilmaine Saints have risen in such a short time to being one of the most popular and certainly one of the best American bands in the scene. If by chance you haven’t checked them out yet ‘Live At The Abbey’ is an excellent place to start.
(you can listen to ‘Live At The Abbey’ by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)