Category Archives: Scotland

ALBUM REVIEW: MUIRSHEEN DURKIN AND FRIENDS- ’11 Pints & 3 Shots’ (2018)

And we all thought Muirsheen Durkin had gone off to mine gold in California but would seem he got lost on the way to Amerikay and ended up in Arnsberg and started playing some proper kick-arse Irish-Celtic-Folk-Punk-Rock!

I have a feeling we’ll still be reviewing celtic-punk releases from March well into the Summer at this rate! Here’s another that arrived in time for St. Patrick’s Day and has hardly been out of my ears since. The quality of what we received here at London Celtic Punks Towers has been amazing and when I said I thought Krakin’ Kellys new CD was already the album of the year I hadn’t heard 11 Pints & 3 Shots by this awesome German collective of musicians.

Having known each other for some thirty years it was only a few years back in 2009 that the idea to start something new came up. Wanting a band with its feet based firmly in traditional Irish music and with an emphasis on emigration songs Muirsheen Durkin & Friends was born. Their name comes from the auld song about a happy go lucky Irishman heading off to mine for gold in America during the  California Gold Rush of 1849. The song is unusual in that its a happy song and Muirsheen (a reference to the phonetic pronunciation of ‘Máirtín’ (in English Martin) in the West of Ireland.The feet may be in trad with mandolin, banjo, tin whistle, accordion and two pipers but with the addition of classic rock music instruments the band joined an ever growing scene

” set about re-voicing Irish traditional’s with pulsing bass runs, pumping beats and the use of relatively rare instruments, making it hard to recognize the contemplative shanty or seafaring vocation , Pure enjoyment and a little punk rock is still…”

Modern day celtic music and celtic-punk music has moved away from the areas well known for Irish/Celtic emigration and is now played throughout the world inspired by hundreds of bands throughout the globe. They no longer come from Ireland or London or New York but from Indonesia, Russia, Japan and even China. This is the proud legacy that the Pogues leaves to the world.

11 Pints & 3 Shots is the third release from Muirsheen Durkin with their debut album, Last Orders, hitting the streets back in 2012 and their follow up to that, Drink With The Irish, a four track EP, arriving in 2014 which features ‘The Pogues and Whiskey’ a stunningly great homage to Kings Cross finest. Each release came with mighty press from around the celtic-punk world with everyone from Celtic Folk Punk & More to Shite’n’Onions raving to the high heavens about how good they are.  Formed in the central German town of Arnsberg the band were first revealed to me when they played at the Celtic-St. Pauli football and music festival and loads of fellow Celtic supporters arrived back over here raving about a band they had seen. That was a couple of years ago and with 11 Pints & 3 Shots I finally had the chance to hear them for the first time.

What we have here is fourteen tracks that clock in at three quarters of an hour which includes three instrumentals and and a bunch of songs that you may have probably heard before but done in a style i’m sure not many are accustomed to outside these pages! Mix in some re-workings (updating?) of a couple of songs and a smattering of original compositions and you got yourself one hell of a an album!

So onto the actual review and the fun begins on 11 Pints & 3 Shots from the very off with a great album opener ‘Another Drunken Night’. Self penned by the band this was the song that announced the new release to the waiting public and needless to say it is a corker! Banjo and accordion led with nice drumming it has a definite Rumjacks feel to it but these Bhoys and Ghirls have been around long enough, and on another continent!, to come up with it themselves. A grand song and what a way to start.

The subject matter well have a gander at the video above and you’ll easily work it out. We stay in the pub next for ‘One Whiskey’, another band penned number. The song really evokes an Irish sound to me. This is the Gaelic music music that we grew up here but with plenty more bite to it. Its still folk music but played at a breakneck speed and with a real passion. Vocalist MacRünker was a member of the first Irish folk punk band in the area, Lady Godiva, who released four albums and his voice fits in superbly. Hoarse and raspy but never too much and totally in tune with the music. The bagpipes are out for ‘Itchy Fingers’ and it puts the mental into instrumental. It’s the same tune as The Kilmaine Saints signature tune which I am sure is well known but beyond my feeble memory. A killer of a song and you’d expect it to be from a band with two pipers and where half the rest of the band can pipe as well!

The first totally recognisable cover is the Scots classic ‘Donald Where Your Troosers’. Written by the great Andy Stewart in 1960 while sat on the toilet in a recording studio. The song tells the hilarious story of a kilted Scotsman travelling round London shocking the well heeled residents of London.

“I went down to London town
To have a little fun in the underground
All the Ladies turned their heads around, saying,
“Donald, where’s your troosers?”

This is followed up with another classic Scottish song in ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ and make no mistake I tells you this is the best bloody version of it I have ever heard in all my days! Folk music is put aside somewhat for a moment as the band punk it up with a thundering bass and MacRünker and acoustic guitarist Sonja and accordionist Mine kick up a real storm on vocals that captures Muirsheen Durkin perfectly. Talk about catchy this album sounds like there’s about twenty people playing and if i never thought I’d hear a better version than you-know-who’s then i was wrong. Another classic cover up next and its one perhaps made famous by The Dreadnoughts, ‘Old Maui’. The song can be traced to records going back to the mid 19th century and tells the story of a whaling ship returning to Maui in Hawaii after a long season of whaling.

“It’s a damn tough life full of toil and strife
We whalermen undergo”

The song is strong as any on the album but doesn’t add much to the Dreadnoughts version for me and for a band that really can stamp their brand onto any song maybe it might have been better to cast their net for a less known song. After a smattering of covers the next couple of songs are self-penned by the band and ‘Peggy The Waitress’takes us back to the auld sod of Ireland and a tin-whistle led instrumental that takes in a variety of tunes some sounding familiar and others not before the banjo takes over and leads us until the accordion takes over and then all kick in before we get ‘Land Of 1000 Mountains’ and its a country/Irish folk crossover and again MacRünker’s voice is exactly what is needed here. The song steams along at a steady pace and you know its gonna take off and when it does it lifts the roof. Another album standout here proving they are not just a brilliant covers band but a brilliant band in their own right. Next up we get another cover and Sonja and Mine again take up the vocals on ‘Botany Bay’ and again it’s a great version but perhaps a bit overdone. For a band so in touch with ‘Irishness’ this would be my only wee complaint here. ‘MacRunkers Junk’ is another belting Irish folk punk instrumental with what could easily pass for a ska interlude if they wanted. The tunes fly at you and once again some familiar and some not but they make for one hell of a song when they all put together. On ‘Drink With The Irish’ Muirsheen Durkin pay tribute to one of Ireland’s best ever bands and one that at times could have got you arrested for just listening to! The Wolfe Tones classic rebeler ‘Erin Go Bragh’ is chopped and changed and adapted with love and respect into a celtic-punk number.

“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 that great game they called Erin Go Bragh”

Written and arranged by banjo/mandolin player Thomas ‘Lanze’ Landsknecht I bet the tones would whole heartily approve. With the King Of Celtic-Punk’s recent 60th birthday Muirsheen Durkin then pay tribute with ‘Last Of McGee’ written by Shane himself.

“Rope of hemp, around his neck
To hang from an old gum tree
And as he hung
The branch came down, and finished the last of McGee”

You may not have heard it as the song was unreleased and was recorded in 1990 during the recording sessions for the Hell’s Ditch album and produced by Joe Strummer. The song stays fairly true to the MacGowan version and is a timely reminder of the great mans talent. Fast and furious and how could it be anything other than absolutely fecking brilliant!! We are steering up towards the end and the quality hasn’t waned and in ‘When The Pipers Play’ we have what for me is the albums standout track. Originally played by the amazing Black Tartan Clan from Belguim the lyrics are by Muirsheen Durkin and leans heavily on songs as varied as ‘The Water Is Wide’, ‘Danny Boy’ and ‘Auld Lang Syne’. If you like bagpipes in yer celtic-punk then this is the song for you. Absolutely stunning pipes from Andre and Simon and arranged into a completely new song.

11 Pints & 3 Shots comes to a glorious end with the hilarious ‘Botany Bay Reggae’ and aye you guessed it is a reggae infused version of everyone’s favourite emigration song. Now I hate reggae but I love this so there! What a way to wrap up the album and the perfect way!

Overall the album has a fantastic sound. Quite a feat with the amount of musicians at work here and thanks are due to Sebastian Levermann of German progressive metal band Orden Ogan who along with the band members has managed to capture the band perfectly. The CD also comes with a very elaborate twenty page booklet with everything you need to know about the album and with some amazing cartoons of the band drawn by Sebastian Kempke. Last year was the year all the giants of celtic-punk released albums and this year may seem quieter because of that but so far we have a handful of albums that must have the giants quaking in their shoes and up at the top of that list is this one!

Buy 11 Pints & 3 Shots

FromTheBand

Contact Muirsheen Durkin

WebSite  Facebook  ReverbNation

Advertisements

ALBUM REVIEW: THE SKIDS- ‘Burning Cities’ (2018)

Thirty-six years since their last album Scottish post-punk pioneers The Skids, currently on a hugely successful comeback tour, have released their fifth album ‘Burning Cities’ and could it be the greatest comeback album of all time?

I wonder if there will be many readers here, who will never have heard of The Skids. If that is so, then that’s a sad situation. The Skids were a four-piece band from Dunfermline in Scotland. They formed in 1977 and had a very distinctive sound, mainly because of guitarist’s Stuart Adamson’s fantastic ability. This is why we at LCP are looking at this new release. Many people said that Adamson could make his guitar sound like the pipes; although he himself hated that comparison. When he left the band, he went on to form Big Country, who I’m sure most readers will have heard of and probably have enjoyed listening to. Big Country were one of the first commercially successful rock groups to incorporate Celtic instruments and themes into their music (hence our interest!). Anyway, back to The Skids, who had an all too brief impact on the Punk / New Wave scene in the late 70s and early 80s. Along with Adamson the band was fronted by Richard Jobson, who was the chief lyricist. Will Simpson and Tom Kellichan (bass and drums) completed the line-up.
Their highest charting single was the classic Into the Valley, still covered by many a band! When Virgin Records heard their self-produced Charles EP, they immediately signed them up to a long term multi album deal and perhaps this was their downfall. Adamson was a real ‘home bird’ and wanted to stay based in Scotland. Jobson and Virgin wanted the band to be based in London. This split between the two driving forces was inevitably going to be their undoing. Adamson, despite his guitar genius, was still a shy introvert. Jobson was a much more outgoing extrovert, he was getting plenty of attention from the London art and media fraternity. After three albums and a couple of line-up changes, on drums and bass, Adamson left, Jobson brought out one album (Joy), with the remainder of the group. And that was that, Jobson worked in TV presenting, acting and directing movies. Adamson, as I’ve said formed Big Country and received worldwide acclaim, until his sad passing in 2001.

Stuart Adamson- 11 April 1958 – 16 December 2001. RIP.

The reason for this little history lesson is that The Skids ‘reformed’ a couple of years ago; they went on a nationwide tour and received rave reviews for their performances. Following on from this tour they went into the studio and the result is the fantastic new album ‘Burning Skies’. The line-up of the band is, Jobson, Simpson, Baillie (he joined the original band in 79 after Kellichan left) and most interestingly Bruce Watson and his son Jamie. Whilst Watson wasn’t in the original Skids he was in Big Country with Adamson and obviously learned a lot from him. When you get these old bands re-forming, it’s usually a nostalgic trip down memory lane for most fans (witness the Rebellion festival every August) and The Skids of course play many of the old favourites when they perform. Burning Cities however is chock full of new original music. The sound is unmistakably Skids and this is where you see the wisdom of bringing the Watsons in. All the years that he played with Stuart obviously gave Bruce an insight into his playing style and sound. He’s not imitating Stuart in any way, but the ‘feel’ of him can be heard here.

(The Skids and their iconic and legendary hit single from 1979)

The album starts off with what could be called a ‘clarion call’ in the shape of This Is Our World, an up-tempo rail at the world, don’t let the opening piano fool you it soon bursts into life. One Last Chance follows and the almost bagpipe like sound of the guitar is there in all its glory. Next up is Kaputt with some choppy sounding lyrics that put one in mind of Belfast’s very own Defects (not a bad sound to make!). Jobson’s delivery over the recurring guitar riffs show he still has the cohones for a row. A World On Fire is next and this one has the anthemic lyrics in the chorus for everyone to sing along to. The kind of track you could imagine a football crowd belting out!

The title track is another anthemlike offering, the pace is a bit slower, but all the power is still there, a track that (if you’re anything like me) you’ll have running around in your head all day. Up On The Moors comes next speeding things up again, it sounds quite lively like some of the early Skids offerings, a catchy number that would have made a good single back in the day! Refugee is a much slower paced almost reverential track. There is a sound that brings Clannad or Enya into my head which just sounds daft, but listen to it yourself and then try to categorise it!! Subbotnik brings you out of the Celtic misty meanderings into another punky typical Skids tune. The intro alone into Kings Of The New World Order is worth the price of the album. The guitar work makes such a unique sound and is a joy to listen to. Into the Void is a fast-paced track with edgy sounding guitars and lyrics from Jobson that will make it another ‘earworm’ of a track with its “down and down and down we go“ hook.

The final track is like a ballad, Desert Dust tells the tale of someone signing up for the army. It has wonderful fiddle work weaving through it and will definitely be many people’s standout track. For me there are at least 6 standout tracks and 0 duff tracks. Although I have gone on at length about the guitar sound here, I don’t want to take away from the rest of the band, they sound tight and certainly contribute to making a unique all-round sound. This album was released in January and is already a contender for the album of the year slot. It really is that good, old fellas like me will revel in the feelings it brings and those who have never heard The Skids are in for a real treat!

Ger Mellon

Discography

Scared to Dance (1979) * Days in Europa (1979) * The Absolute Game (1980) * Joy (1981) * Burning Cities (2018)

Buy Burning Cities

Amazon  Amazon-DuluxeVersion  iTunes

Contact The Skids

WebSite  Facebook

2017 REVIEW ROUND-UP’S PART THREE: THE CELTIC NATIONS- BIBLE CODE SUNDAYS, THE DECLINE!, BRUTUS’ DAUGHTERS, REAL McKENZIES, VINCE CAYO, THE BOTTLERS

So welcome to 2018 and the first post of the year and the last of our round-ups from 2017. We simply could not keep up with the volume of releases we keep receiving so rather than completely neglect them here’s some much shorter reviews that will at least give you a taste of what they are about. We much prefer to do really detailed reviews but these are still worthy of your time so go ahead and check them out and apologies to the band’s concerned that we had to squeeze them in. This week we concentrate on bands hailing from the Celtic nations or the Celtic diaspora. You can still catch up with our North America (here) and European (here) round-up’s.

BIBLE CODE SUNDAYS- ‘Walk Like Kings’  (Buy)

Described by the band as being made by accident we, and they, should be thankful for such unexpected delights. This is an album of thirteen glorious tracks covering themes of loss and longing and hope that show the Bhoys reaching new heights, musically and lyrically. Tracks, such as the fun filled ska beat ‘Disorganised Crime’ leap out of the speakers in a joyous racket that simply defies not being danced to and then there’s ‘Stand Up And Fight’, a collaboration with New Yorks finest Da Ded Rabbits, that punches it’s way through in a hard hitting pounding track that will be a surprise to some fans. Never fear the Bible Code sound is still evident as are other influences including an Oasis tinged ‘You Got Me On The Run’ but the title track, ‘Walk Like King’s’, is pure Bible Codes, a majestic thumping track full of defiance and pride for 2nd and 3rd generation Irish immigrants who weren’t born with silver spoons in their mouths. Guests abound on this release – Elvis Costello, Matt McManamon, Brian Kelly… All adding to an eclectic mix of an album on which every track is worthy of your attention, be it the ethereal ‘America’

“Why we leave behind family, to a foreign land for to roam”

or the haunting beauty of ‘Snow Falling On Fire Escapes’ or the MacManus family collaboration ‘Willie Redmonds Volunteers’ all the tracks show a band at the top of their game and this is one that all London Celtic Punkers will want to check out. It has been a tough year for the band but this album is one thing that they can look look back on with fond memories and pride, let’s hope for more, someone once sang ‘accidents can happen, but only once…’ may the Bible Code Sundays fall into more.

“We face out, chest proud, In this town we walk like kings”

RIP Carlton.

WebSite  Facebook  Twitter

THE DECLINE!- ‘Heroes On Empty Streets’  (Buy)

More celtic-punk for you now but in the sense that this is a punk and from the Celtic nation of Brittany! The music scene in Brittany is very strong and is reflected in the growth of ‘Celticness’ and the resurgence in the Breton language. The Decline! are a five piece punk rock band from Rennes who formed in 2009. Their first EP, ‘An Old Indian Cemetery’, was released in the middle of 2010, and showed what proper genuine music today should be all about. They followed this up with their debut album ‘Broken Hymns For Beating Hearts’ the following year and was a mix of punk rock and acoustic folk tunes. 2014 saw the release of ’12a Calgary Road’ which saw the and branching out into celtic melodies but ploughing much the same furrow while taking on varying tempos with ease. This new album released in May may not have the asolute urgency of previous releases but more than makes up for it with it’s catchy singalonga punk rock. Kevin’s strong and distinctive voice and rumbling rhythm section certainly gets your blood pumping and while ‘Someday Somehow’ could pass for bleak post-punk maybe even Gothic in places the following track ‘Joyfull Thrill’ would make the early Dropkicks jealous.

We have to wait till track seven for the first signs of anything acoustic and it’s well worth the wait ‘We Love Our Scars’ hits the spot both lyrically and musically too. Its all very well done and very well produced too and while it may be possible to mistake this for an American punk release The Decline! are proud members of the Breton music scene. If catchy as feck melodic punk rock is yer thing then here’s the band for you.

WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

BRUTUS’ DAUGHTERS- ‘Hueso y Madera’  (Free Download)

Formed in November 2008 in Carabanchel, a suburb of Madrid as a straight forward punk rock band before they added Asturian bagpipe and fiddle and one of the most original bands in celtic-punk was born. This is the bands third album and, as usual, comes with songs written in Castilian, English and Asturian. As one of only a tiny handful of bands in the scene with female vocals they certainly stand out and with a defiantly anti-fascist message to boot. The music is fast and loud and punky but there is an undeniable hardcore traditional folk edge to it as well. Elements of their own countries as well as Celtic are merged together very successfully. As said I don’t understand much of the album but the sleeve notes speak of the endangered languages of the Celts, Celtic mythology and defending the underprivileged. The punk side of this reminds me of the Spanish punk music I use to hear in Hackney squats over the years but the folk influence is strong and comes out in reels and jigs throughout the album.

Only nine songs and twenty-eight minutes long but played at breakneck speed from the opening bars of the instrumental punky trad folk of ‘De Hueso Y Madera’ to the English language ‘Brazen’, the album moves at a great pace and its them pipes that really dominate here, holding it all altogether. Vocals are shared around the band and the standard gang chorus works very well especially on tracks like ‘Carretera’, for me the high point here with its catchy chorus while ‘Unidad’ is bass heavy and rumbles along nicely while the fiddle and pipes work overtime. ‘Carcel’ is another high energy number that offers up more of the same. Here’s a real Celtic band that is something quite apart from the herd. Alex voice is harsh and strong and fits the music perfectly. They are a lyrics heavy band so it’s a shame I can’t catch most of it as I am sure they have something important to say. Here’s a proper punk band playing proper punk rock songs that are littered with jigs and reels and a sea shanty about to break out at any moment. The hidden song here is the real folk gem though proving they can really play their instruments and you can find out yourselves for *FREE* yes you read that correct the album is available for sweet F.A from the link above.

Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

THE REAL McKENZIES- ‘Two Devils Will Talk’  (Canada / RestOfTheWorld )

Well what to say about Two Devils Will Talk? How it managed to escape a decent review is beyond me seeing how popular this awesome and is. Up there with The Mollys and the Murphs the Real McKenzies have been going an amazing 25 years and this, their tenth, is up there with the est I kid you not. I wasn’t overly enamoured with 2015’s Rats In The Burlap but here they have returned with fourteen rousing tracks of pure, unabashed Canadian-Scots celtic-punk mayhem. From the opening anthemic ‘Due West’ to a fantastic re-working of early McK song ‘Scots Wha Ha’e’ its absolutely brilliant. Once again they missed out of playing here so we never got to see them live but we can’t wait till they do darken these shores again. Punk, folk, acoustic, electric with pipes throughout weaving in the Celtic influence for which the band is best known. ‘Seafarers’ is one hell of a stand out tune. You can’t change how the waves roll only how you roll through them. The sense of humour they are famous for is riddled throughout the album and nowhere better than on the laugh out loud ‘Fuck The Real McKenzies’ where the band take the piss out of themselves, and everyone else too! They find room for a cover of Stan Rogers ‘Northwest Passage’ that only adds to this great song. Originally sang as an acapella song the McKenzies do it justice as you would expect. The album ends with my favourite McK song of all and plenty of rebellious, Scottish charm and wit here on an album that shows a band who are still capable of hitting the high notes even after a quarter of a century. A defiant return to form for one of the Premier League bands of celtic-punk.

The Real McKenzies on 25 years of Canadian Celtic punk rock here.

WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  YouTube

VINCE CAYO- ‘Bound For Glory’  (Buy)

This debut album from talented multi-instrumentalist Vince Cayo has been bouncing around London Celtic Punks towers for a good six months now without making much of an impact until I decided to revisit a few albums for these round-ups and I can only think I didn’t listen to it properly as it is absolutely fecking brilliant. Not so much celtic-punk but def in the country-punk realm of things and Vince has a very strong voice that growls out at you like Tom Waits lashing it up with McGowan backed by The Street Dogs. Opening track ‘Wasteland Blues’ is a great start to proceedings with fast rock’n’roll country and harmonica shining out and Vince putting McGowan to shame! Vince says his influences range from the cream the celtic-punk but most importantly Flogging Molly, and the title track takes this adulteration to epic proportions, alongside such luminaries as Social Distortion, Billy Bragg, The Gits, Tim Barry, Bob and Dylan and they are all in there but with a bit of good auld Yorkshire grit and determination.

Not afraid to take a risk either with the epic ‘Folk The World’ seven+ minutes of heavy and hard hitting folk music that builds up and up into a real anthem of a tune with fiddle and mandolin taking it recklessly close to celtic-punk territory Vince! ‘Turn It Up’ is classic catchy punk rock that doesn’t seem out of place here at all and in fact slots in nicely among the folkier tunes. ON hearing this properly I though I could imagine him sharing a stage with the likes of Matilda’s Scoundrels so was no surprise to read after that he already had done. When I hear album’s like this I wonder if this is the start of something new. Well I say new but what I mean is a resurgence of folk and country music but with a modern interpretation. The album’s dozen songs wraps up the absolutely awesome country rock’n’roller ‘The Garbageman’ and ‘You Wont Be Marching Alone’. Great songs and a great production make Bound For Glory as good a debut album I heard in 2017  and I will be looking him up for any London dates I can tell you.

WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

THE BOTTLERS- ‘The Bottlers’ EP  (Buy)

Our final review comes from the land of Oz. A place I am constantly telling you and telling you is where the best Celtic-punk scene is and where the best Celtic-punk bands hail from. Why this is so is anyone’s guess. Perhaps one of these great Aussie bands would like to give us over here on the other side of the world a bit of an insight? The Bottlers come from that world and are a hard playing, nine piece (yes, nine!) celtic-punk band hailing from the capital city, Sydney. They may be city dwellers but you get the feel of the country off these Bhoys and Ghirl. Kicking off with ‘Hades Way’ its a rollicking good stroll through Irish folk-punk as filtered through the Aussie experience. Drawing from not only the vast rural reaches of the Australian nation but also the city and suburban streets with a solid tip of the hat to the folk, punk and folk punk pioneers that have traipsed and trekked the trails well before them.

This is both Australiana AND celtic-punk so intertwined are the two. ‘Take Back The Streets’ is a call to arms to the nations poor in a swirling waltz of anger and beauty. Only three songs on this EP and the curtain comes down with ‘Up She Rises’ and The Bottlers go out with a song that has a nod toward to 70’s English folk-rock in there somewhere amongst the rabble.

“The Bottlers believe folk based music should progressively speak of the times it exists in whilst hearkening back to it’s past, to the true heart of folk music, people. Because you truly can’t get where you’re going till you know where you’ve been”

and you can’t get better than that. In fact we may put it on a London Celtic Punk sticker.

  • yeah yeah I been reliably informed that Canberra is indeed the capital city not Sydney so congrats to Celtic Punkcast for spotting out deliberate mistake! Australia’s finest celtic-punk podcast. Check them out here or here.

WebSite  Facebook  Twitter 

So ends Part 3 and our final part of the 2017 Round-Up’s. Again apologies to all the bands as each and every release fully deserved that full London Celtic Punks treatment. We have still probably missed some fantastic music so all the more reason to send in your stuff to us to review. We are always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy if you fancy giving it a go. If you don’t want to miss any of our posts then you can follow us by simply filling in your e-mail address in the box that is either below or to the left depending how you are viewing and you will receive every post to your in-box.

  • COMING SOON- THE BEST OF 2017! What we thought were the best releases of the year covering Albums, EP’s, Celtic/Folk-Punk, Traditional and more.

CELEBRATING A CELTIC CHRISTMAS 2017. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS FAMILY

Each December we pick the best Christmas themed song we’ve heard that year to showcase in our end of year message and this year the runaway victors are from just up the road from us in Berkhamsted. We give you Flatcaps & Fisticuffs and their wicked version of ‘Good King Wenceslas’. The EP it’s from is availanble as a free download from here.

CELEBRATING A CELTIC CHRISTMAS

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

Christmas

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

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

SCOTLAND

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

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

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

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

IRELAND

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

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

WALES

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

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

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

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

ISLE OF MAN

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

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

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

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

CORNWALL

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

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

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

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

BRITTANY

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

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

GALICIA

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

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

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

Nollick Ghennal as Blein Vie Noa (Manx Gaelic)

Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath ùr (Scottish Gaelic)

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

Nedeleg Laouen na Bloavezh Mat  (Breton)

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda (Welsh)

Nadelik Lowen ha Bledhen Nowyth Da (Cornish)

Further Christmas themed fun with this London Celtic Punks Top Twenty

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

Now go have a drink…

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: DICK GAUGHAN- ‘Handful Of Earth’ (1981)

AND FREE DOWNLOAD

Considered one of the great folk voices of our time and acknowledged as one of Scotland’s most outstanding musicians. Handful Of Earth is renowned as not only his best album but also as one of the best folk album’s of all time.

Dick 1

Though steeped in the traditions of folk and Celtic music, Scottish singer/songwriter Dick Gaughan has enjoyed a lengthy and far-reaching career in a variety of pursuits. The eldest of three children, he grew up surrounded by the music of both Scotland and Ireland. His mother, a Highland Scot who spoke Gaelic, had as a child won a silver medal for singing at a Gaelic Mòd and his Leith-born dad played guitar while his Irish grandad the fiddle and his Glaswegian grannie played button accordion.

The family experienced considerable poverty, but the area they lived in possessed a strong community and many of Gaughan’s songs celebrate his working-class roots. In his teens Gaughan served an apprenticeship at a local paper mill, but had wanted to be a musician since he first started playing guitar at the age of seven. Born in 1948, he first picked up the guitar at the age of seven, and released his debut solo album, No More Forever, in 1972. He then joined the Scots folk-rock group the Boys Of The Lough before returning to his solo career with 1976’s Kist o Gold. However, he soon formed a band named Five Hand Reel. Over the next two years, Gaughan issued four more records – two solo releases (1977’s Copper and Brass and 1978’s Gaughan) as well as two more Five Hand Reel outings (1977’s For a’ That and 1978’s Earl o’ Moray).

In the late ’70s and early ’80s, he worked as a writer and in a theatre company but after a three-year absence from the studio, Dick returned to regular musical duty with the release of 1981’s Handful of Earth. The album has gone onto become one of the greatest recordings of traditional folk song’s ever made. His guitar playing is innovative, expressive and powerful and his voice is by turns tender, angry and passionate and even old songs sound new in his hands. The mixture of love songs, odes of parting and political commentaries such as ‘Worker’s Song’ and ‘World Turned Upside Down’ is Gaughan’s most complex and emotional work, and has come to be recognised as a masterpiece being named as Album of the Decade by Folk Roots magazine.

His version of ‘Song For Ireland’ is the album’s highlight capturing the sadness of emigration and evokes perfectly the feelings that those poor Irish must have felt when forced to leave their homes. Handful Of Earth is a brilliant album and features Brian McNeill, Phil Cunningham, and Stewart Isbister and is, without doubt, Gaughan’s best blend of traditional and contemporary songs.

In Dick Gaughan’s own words on Handful Of Earth

“This was the first album I had recorded in Scotland. For some reason, it seemed to strike a chord with people and it is the most successful recording I have made in terms of acclaim and sales.

It was Melody Maker’s Album of the Year in 1981 and in 1989 it was voted in the Critics’ Poll, and more important to me, the Readers’ Poll, in Folk Roots as Album of the Decade. I have had hundreds of reviews, good and bad, and I pay little attention to them. But when the actual people you’re playing to confer an honour like that upon you, you shed the odd tear of thanks that you’ve been privileged to be able to do something which means something to them.

Why they voted it such was a complete mystery to me then and still is today. As a friend of mine says, “Never ask one of the actors what they thought of the play”

A Different Kind of Love Song followed in 1983, and in 1985 he released a live album and a year later True and Bold. After 1988’s Call It Freedom, Gaughan again retreated from view devoting much of his time to his increasing interest in computer technology. In the mid-90’s he formed a new band, the short-lived Clan Alba, who disbanded after releasing a 1995 self-titled debut and he returned to making solo album’s and began to tour the country regularly to packed audiences everywhere. That was sadly until September 2016 when he announced that he was cancelling all public performances until further notice. This was because he believed that he had had a stroke, which was affecting his ability to perform. 

Statement from Dick Gaughan’s management

‘”This statement about Dick Gaughan’s health should be read before reading or believing anything else. Dick has now stated publicly at two recent gigs that, “In order to prevent rumours spreading, I think I have had a stroke”. It is untrue to say that he cannot sing or play guitar. However in saying what he has said, Dick is acknowledging that ‘something’, as yet unconfirmed, is not right. Dick has an appointment with a neurologist in early October 2016 when the situation will, it is hoped, be clarified. Until then “I think I have had stroke” is not an opinion based on medical fact”

London Celtic Punks send our best wishes to Dick wherever he may be laid up and look forward to seeing him performing again down here in the smoke. Get well soon Dick the scene needs you.

FOR YOUR FREE DOWNLOAD PRESS

*HERE* or *HERE*

Password: folkyourself.blogspot.com

Track-Listing
1 – Erin-Go-Bragh
2 – Now Westlin Winds
3 – Craigie Hill
4 – World Turned Upside Down
5 – The Snows They Melt the Soonest
6 – Lough Erne-First Kiss at Parting
7 – Scojun Waltz-Randers Hopsa
8 – Song for Ireland
9 – Workers’ Song
10 – Both Sides the Tweed

Dick Gaughan: Vocal, Guitars, Brian McNeill: Fiddle, acoustic bass, Stuart Isbister: Bass, Phil Cunningham: Keyboard, Whistle

All tracks trad. arr. Dick Gaughan except Track 4 Leon Rosselson; Tracks 6b, 7a Dick Gaughan; Track 8 Phil & June Colclough; Track 9 Ed Pickford

THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS ‘STEPPING STONES’ CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW SERIES

This album was brought to you as part of our regular series where we bring you something a little bit different to what you’re maybe use to. Lost or hidden and sometimes forgotten gems from the legends and also unknowns that have inspired and provoked folk music and musicians right up to modern age celtic-punk music. The albums are usually out of print so we can provide a free download link for you.

You can find our Steppin’ Stones page here with the full list of albums to choose from.

(if the links are broken please leave a comment and we will fix)

REMEMBERING WILLIAM WALLACE RALLY IN LONDON AUGUST 20th 2017

“I have brought you to the ring, now dance the best you can!”
Words shouted by William Wallace to the Scottish army at the Battle of Falkirk on the 22nd of July 1298 as the English cavalry began to charge.

REMEMBER THE SCOTTISH PATRIOT AND MARTYR WILLIAM WALLACE EXECUTED AT SMITHFIELD IN LONDON AUGUST 1305

SUNDAY 20th AUGUST 2017

ASSEMBLE 2pm BY THE WILLIAM WALLACE PLAQUE ON THE NORTH OUTSIDE WALL OF ST BARTHOLOMEW’S HOSPITAL, WEST SMITHFIELD, LONDON EC1A 7BE.

(TUBE: ST PAULS/ BARBICAN/ FARRINGDON/ BLACKFRIARS ALL BETWEEN 5 AND 10 MINUTES WALK. RAIL: BLACKFRIARS/ CANNON STREET/ CITY THAMESLINK/ FARRINGDON. BUS: 4/ 8/ 25/ 56/ 172/ 242)

To the immortal memory of Sir William Wallace, Scottish patriot, born at Elderslie Renfrewshire circa 1270 AD, who from the year 1296 fought dauntlessly in defence of his country’s liberty and independence in the face of fearful odds and great hardship, being eventually betrayed and captured. Brought to London and put to death near this spot on the 23rd August 1305.

His example heroism and devotion inspired those who came after him to win victory from defeat and his memory remains for all time a source of pride, honour and inspiration to his countrymen.

Dico tibi verum libertas optima rerum nunqual servili sub nexu vivito fili.
{Latin: I tell you the truth. Freedom is what is best. Sons, never live life like slaves.}

Bas Agus Buaidh
{An old Scottish battle-cry in Gaelic: Death and Victory}

SIR WILLIAM WALLACE – A BIOGRAPHY

Blind Harry. Blind Harry was a wandering minstrel in Scotland in the 1400’s, and he told tales of William Wallace on his journeying round Scotland. This book is the second biggest selling book ever in Scotland, outsold only by the Bible. This work gives us much detail of Wallace’s early life, but as there is no other source to back any of the tales up, it must be looked at critically from an academic viewpoint.

It was Blind Harry’s work that was used as the basis for the motion picture ‘Braveheart’ -it is still in print, but it is in the form of an epic poem and may seem dated to modern sensibilities.
William Wallace jumps onto the pages of our history books in 1297, when he stabs the English governor of Lanark to death. It is said this was in retaliation for the slaying of his sweetheart. We do not know the exact year of William’s birth, but educated guesses put it between 1270 and 1275, so he was still a young man.

Little known plaque to William Wallace in the Mitchell Arcade in Rutherglen. It was in Rutherglen that Menteith agreed to betray wallace to the English.

From this point on, young men in Scotland, dismayed at the English occupation of their native soil, flock to join Wallace’s banner.

By mid 1297, Wallace has a rag tag army. He joins forces with Andrew Murray, (sometimes spelt Moray, but the pronunciation is Murray) a young man who has started a similar rising in the north of Scotland.

While these two are besieging the castle of Dundee, word comes that the English have sent a great army against them. The two armies come to battle at the bridge over the River Forth at Stirling on September 11, 1297. Wallace’s base at this battle was a huge rocky outcrop named the Abbey Craig, so called because of its proximity to Cambuskenneth Abbey, and today this rock is crowned by The National Wallace Monument, a 220ft tower celebrating the life of Wallace, and containing as its prime exhibit, what is believed to be the sword of our hero.

The Scots routed the English with much slaughter, but unfortunately Murray received wounds, which were to prove fatal, and he was taken north to Fortrose Cathedral to be buried.The Scots went on to invade northern England to bring back much needed supplies, and on return from this invasion Wallace was made “Guardian of Scotland” at the Kirk of the Forest, the remains of which stand in the town of Selkirk. He was also knighted, as from this time on he is referred to as “Sir” William Wallace.

Looking toward the great window of Westminster Hall, the oldest part of England’s Houses of Parliament. It was in this hall that Wallace’s sham trial took place.

The English king, Edward I, commonly known as “Longshanks” returned from his continental wars, and gathered another great army and marched north to deal with Wallace. These two armies came face to face at Falkirk in July 1298, and this time the English longbow was to prove the undoing of the Scots spearmen.

The Scots fled, and Wallace resigned the guardianship, preferring to fight the overwhelming might of England with guerrilla tactics.

In late 1299, Wallace decided to travel abroad and try and enlist foreign help. He travelled to France, and to Rome, hoping that the Pope would exert influence to try and curtail English deprivations in Scotland.

He returned to Scotland in 1303, only to find that the English had tightened their grip and that he must start from scratch to try and regain his countries liberty. The fight back began, but the odds were very much stacked against him. Wallace was eventually betrayed and captured at Robroyston near Glasgow, on 3rd August 1305. He was taken first to Dumbarton Castle, where his sword was left behind, and then he was taken south to London. He arrived in London on the 22nd August. The crowds were so great, so eager to see this Scottish “murderer” that he had to be kept the night in a house in Fenchurch Street. The next morning he was taken to Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Houses of Parliament, where his sham trial took place. He was allowed no defence, but he managed to shout above his accusers that he was “ A Scot, born in Scotland, and did not recognise England as his sovereign nation”.

He was tied to the tails of horses, and dragged through the streets of London for 6 miles, eventually arriving at Smithfield Elms. Here he was hung, then cut down while still alive. His stomach was opened and his entrails were pulled out and burnt before him. His heart was then ripped out, ending his life. His body was cut to pieces, his head stuck on a spike on old London Bridge. The parts of his body were sent north to dishonour the Scots. Longshanks thought by giving him such an ignoble death that the Scots would forget Wallace, and there were religious connotations too. Wallace would have no body to rise on Judgement Day, and so be damned forever.

But Sir William Wallace needs no tomb. His memory lives on in the heart and souls of Scots, every generation recognising his devotion to his native soil, and he will be remembered by Scots men and women till the end of time.

BEYOND THE FIELDS NEW VIDEO AND TRIBUTE TO ALISTAIR HULETT

The new video from Swiss band Beyond The Fields is a fantastic cover of the Alistair Hulett penned classic ‘Blue Murder’.  Their fine homage to one of Scotland’s finest folk musicians was recorded live at this year’s traditional Grabenhalle Irish Night in St. Gallen, Switzerland on March 18th, 2017. Mixed by Eddy Sloof and filmed by Metunar.
By kind permission of The Alistair Hulett Memorial Trust.

They say it’s easy money
A full page ad in the local rag,
Always nice and sunny.
Come on lad, and pack your bag.
It’s off to West Australia.
Leave the old hometown behind.
Be a winner, not a failure.
There’s money to be made in the Wittenoom Mine.

Day in, day out, everyday they drive us harder.
Day in, day out, they’re getting away with blue murder.

They took me to my quarters,
A stinking bed in an old tin shed.
Got my working orders,
With a lamp, and tin hat on my head.

Day in, day out, everyday they drive us harder.
Day in, day out, they’re getting away with blue murder.

My girl she’s a cook and a cleaner.
Works all day in the canteen hall.
Six days since I’ve seen her.
Some don’t have no girl at all.

Day in, day out, everyday they drive us harder.
Day in, day out, they’re getting away with blue murder.

Sweeps the fine blue dust up.
Tips it into an old wool pack.
Never had a check-up.
If she did she’d get the sack

Day in, day out, everyday they drive us harder.
Day in, day out, they’re getting away with blue murder.

I feel my health is failing
Working down in the thick blue dust.
The kids play in the tailings.
The boss says work, and work I must.

Day in, day out, everyday they drive us harder.
Day in, day out, they’re getting away with blue murder.

For those who aren’t too familiar with Alistair Hulett’s (1951 – 2010) life and work, he was born and raised in Scotland but spent half of his life in Australia. He made a name for himself both as a solo artist and as the lead singer of legendary Australian folk rock band Roaring Jack. Apart from being a gifted singer/songwriter, Alistair was a committed socialist and a dedicated political and community activist. He was indeed one of those artists who consequently used his art trying to make a difference, to fight injustice and exploitation wherever and whenever he could. Alistair wrote songs about crimes against indigenous people, whether it was the British nuclear tests in Australia (‘Plains of Maralinga’) or human rights violations in Papua New Guinea (‘Good Morning Bougainville’). He wrote songs about the Highland Clearances (‘Destitution Road’), detention centres (‘Behind Barbed Wire’), the mistreatment of workers, you name it. ‘Blue Murder’ was one of two songs he wrote about the suffering of those who worked in the blue asbestos mine in Wittenoom, Western Australia. Countless miners and their families who paid with their health and lives after being exposed to lethal asbestos fibres, a health hazard well known to those who ran the mine.
Alistair originally wrote the song for a play while still in Roaring Jack. He eventually recorded it for his third solo album “Saturday Johnny & Jimmy the Rat”, together with folk legend Dave Swarbrick on fiddle!
To find out more about Alistair Hulett and his amazing body of work, visit
http://www.alistairhulett.com

BEYOND THE FIELDS

Eva Wey (Fiddle) * André Bollier (Vocals and Acoustic Guitar) * Marcel Bollier (Bass) * Uwe Schaefer (Mandolin) * Eddy Sloof (Drums and Percussion)

A Celtic folk rock band from the Lake Constance area, playing both acoustic and electric shows. Founded by singer/songwriter Andre Bollier, and featuring classical, folk, jazz and rock musicians from both Switzerland and Germany, the band offers its own distinctive mix of Irish and American folk traditions with rock, punk and other elements.

THE HISTORY OF CELTIC-ROCK MUSIC

Today the 30492- London Celtic Punks web zine is four years old today so what better way to celebrate our birthday than to give you this small but perfectly formed potted history of Celtic-Rock. We have never just wanted to be a place that only reviews new records we want to celebrate everything that makes us celtic-punks. Our love of our roots and our history and our traditions and the love that those with no Celtic ancestry have as well. Celtic-Punk is for all that share our common values of friendship and solidarity and the love of a good time. Music cannot change the world but it can certainly make it a better place to live in and in these uncertain times that is something we all need. The roots of celtic-punk should be important to us as that is where we come from and we must never forget that.

The London Celtic Punks Admin Team

Celtic rock is a genre of folk rock, as well as a form of Celtic fusion which incorporates Celtic music, instrumentation and themes into a rock music context. It has been extremely prolific since the early 1970’s and can be seen as a key foundation of the development of highly successful mainstream Celtic bands and popular musical performers, as well as creating important derivatives through further fusions. It has played a major role in the maintenance and definition of regional and national identities and in fostering a pan-Celtic culture. It has also helped to communicate those cultures to external audiences.

Definition

The style of music is the hybrid of traditional Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh and Breton musical forms with rock music. This has been achieved by the playing of traditional music, particularly ballads, jigs and reels with rock instrumentation; by the addition of traditional Celtic instruments, including the Celtic harp, tin whistle, uilleann pipes (or Irish Bagpipes), fiddle, bodhrán, accordion, concertina, melodeon, and bagpipes (highland) to conventional rock formats; by the use of lyrics in Celtic languages and by the use of traditional rhythms and cadences in otherwise conventional rock music. Just as the validity of the term Celtic in general and as a musical label is disputed, the term Celtic rock cannot be taken to mean there was a unified Celtic musical culture between the Celtic nations. However, the term has remained useful as a means of describing the spread, adaptation and further development of the musical form in different but related contexts.

History

Origins

Celtic rock developed out of the (originally English) electric folk scene at the beginning of the 1970’s. The first recorded use of the term may have been by the Scottish singer Donovan to describe the folk rock he created for his Open Road album in 1970, which itself featured a song named ‘Celtic Rock’. However, the lack of a clear Celtic elements to the self-penned tracks mean that even if the name was taken from here, this is not the first example of the genre that was to develop.

Ireland

It was in Ireland that Celtic rock was first clearly evident as musicians attempted to apply the use of traditional and electric music to their own cultural context. By the end of the 1960’s Ireland already had perhaps the most flourishing folk music tradition and a growing blues and pop scene, which provided a basis for Irish rock. Perhaps the most successful product of this scene was the band Thin Lizzy. Formed in 1969 their first two albums were recognisably influenced by traditional Irish music and their first hit single ‘Whisky in the Jar’ in 1972, was a rock version of a traditional Irish song. From this point they began to move towards the hard rock that allowed them to gain a series of hit singles and albums, but retained some occasional elements of Celtic rock on later albums such as Jailbreak (1976). Formed in 1970, Horslips were the first Irish group to have the terms ‘Celtic rock’ applied to them, produced work that included traditional Irish/Celtic music and instrumentation, Celtic themes and imagery, concept albums based on Irish mythology in a way that entered the territory of progressive rock all powered by a hard rock sound. Horslips are considered important in the history of Irish rock as they were the first major band to enjoy success without having to leave their native country and can be seen as providing a template for Celtic rock in Ireland and elsewhere. These developments ran in parallel with the burgeoning folk revival in Ireland that included groups such as Planxty and the Bothy Band. It was from this tradition that Clannad, whose first album was released in 1973, adopted electric instruments and a more ‘new age’ sound at the beginning of the 1980s. Moving Hearts, formed in 1981 by former Planxty members Christy Moore and Donal Lunny, followed the pattern set by Horslips in combining Irish traditional music with rock, and also added elements of jazz to their sound.

  • THE POGUES AND IRISH CULTURAL CONTINUITY (here)

Scotland

There were already strong links between Irish and Scottish music by the 1960s, with Irish bands like the Chieftains touring and outselling the native artists in Scotland. The adoption of electric folk produced groups including the JSD Band and Spencer’s Feat. Out of the wreckage of the latter in 1974, was formed probably the most successful band in this genre, combining Irish and Scottish personnel to form Five Hand Reel. Two of the most successful groups of the 1980s emerged from the dance band circuit in Scotland. From 1978, when they began to release original albums, Runrig produced highly polished Scottish electric folk, including the first commercially successful album with the all Gaelic Play Gaelic in 1978. From the 1980s Capercaillie combined Scottish folk music, electric instruments and haunting vocals to considerable success. While bagpipes had become an essential element in Scottish folk bands they were much rarer in electric folk outfits, but were successfully integrated into their sound by Wolfstone from 1989, who focused on a combination of highland music and rock.

  • HOW THE IRISH AND THE SCOTS INFLUENCED AMERICAN MUSIC (here)

Brittany

Brittany also made a major contribution to Celtic rock. The Breton cultural revival of the 1960s was exemplified by Alan Stivell who became the leading proponent of the Breton harp and other instruments from about 1960, he then adopted elements of Irish, Welsh and Scottish traditional music in an attempt to create a pan-Celtic folk music, which had considerable impact elsewhere, particularly in Wales and Cornwall. From 1972 he began to play electric folk with a band including guitarists Dan Ar Braz and Gabriel Yacoub. Yacoub went on to form Malicorne in 1974 one of the most successful electric folk band in France. After an extensive career that included a stint playing as part of Fairport Convention in 1976, Ar Braz formed the pan-Celtic band Heritage des Celtes, who managed to achieve mainstream success in France in the 1990’s. Probably the best known and most certainly the most enduring electric folk band in France were Tri Yann formed in 1971 and still recording and performing today. In 2017 celtic-punk band Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs fly the flag for Brittany singing in their native language and playing regularly and often accompanied on stage by Louise Ebrel, daughter of Eugénie Goadec, a famous traditional Breton musician.

  • ALBUM REVIEW: LES RAMONEURS DE MENHIRS- ‘Tan Ar Bobl’ (here)

Wales

By the end of the 1960’s Wales had produced some important individuals and bands that emerged as major British or international artists, this included power pop outfit Badfinger, psychedelic rockers Elastic Band and proto-heavy metal trio Budgie. But although folk groupings formed in the early 1970’s, including Y Tebot Piws, Ac Eraill, and Mynediad am Ddim, it was not until 1973 that the first significant Welsh language rock band Edward H Dafis, originally a belated rock n’ roll outfit, caused a sensation by electrifying and attempting to use rock instrumentation while retaining Welsh language lyrics. As a result, for one generation listening to Welsh language rock music could now become a statement of national identity. This opened the door for a new rock culture but inevitably most Welsh language acts were unable to breakthrough into the Anglophone dominated music industry. Anhrefn became the best known of these acts taking their pop-punk rock sound across Europe from the early-80’s to mid-90’s.

  • TRIBUTE TO WELSH PUNK ROCK LEGENDS ANHREFN (here)

Cornwall and the Isle of Man

Whereas other Celtic nations already had existing folk music cultures before the end of the 1960s this was less true in Cornwall and the Isle of Man, which were also relatively small in population and more integrated into English culture and (in the case of Cornwall) the British State. As a result, there was relatively little impact from the initial wave of folk electrification in the 1970’s. However, the pan-Celtic movement, with its musical and cultural festivals helped foster some reflections in Cornwall where a few bands from the 1980s onwards utilised the traditions of Cornish music with rock, including Moondragon and its successor Lordryk. More recently the bands Sacred Turf, Skwardya and Krena, have been performing in the Cornish language.

  • ALBUM REVIEW: BARRULE- ‘Manannans Cloak’ (here)

Subgenres

Celtic Punk

Ireland proved particularly fertile ground for punk bands in the mid-1970s, including Stiff Little Fingers, The Undertones, The Radiators From Space, The Boomtown Rats and The Virgin Prunes. As with electric folk in England, the advent of punk and other musical trends undermined the folk element of Celtic rock, but in the early 1980s London based Irish band The Pogues created the subgenre Celtic punk by combining structural elements of folk music with a punk attitude and delivery. The Pogues’ style of punked-up Irish music spawned and influenced a number of Celtic punk bands, including fellow London-Irish band Neck, Nyah Fearties from Scotland, Australia’s Roaring Jack and Norway’s Greenland Whalefishers.

  • FROM OPPRESSION TO CELEBRATION- THE POGUES TO THE DROPKICK MURPHYS AND CELTIC PUNK (here)

Diaspora Celtic Punk

One by-product of the Celtic diaspora has been the existence of large communities across the world that looked for their cultural roots and identity to their origins in the Celtic nations. While it seems young musicians from these communities usually chose between their folk culture and mainstream forms of music such as rock or pop, after the advent of Celtic punk large numbers of bands began to emerge styling themselves as Celtic rock. This is particularly noticeable in the USA and Canada, where there are large communities descended from Irish and Scottish immigrants. From the USA this includes the Irish bands Flogging Molly, The Tossers, Dropkick Murphys, The Young Dubliners, Black 47, The Killdares, The Drovers and Jackdaw, and for Scottish bands Prydein, Seven Nations and Flatfoot 56. From Canada are bands like The Mahones, Enter the Haggis, Great Big Sea, The Real McKenzies and Spirit of the West. These groups were naturally influenced by American forms of music, some containing members with no Celtic ancestry and commonly singing in English. In England we have The BibleCode Sundays, The Lagan and others.

  • THE EFFECTS OF NEW DIASPORA CELTIC PUNK: THE CREATION OF A PAN-CELTIC CULTURE (here)

Celtic Metal

Like Celtic rock in the 1970s, Celtic metal resulted from the application of a development in English music, when in the 1990s thrash metal band Skyclad added violins, and with them jigs and folk voicings, to their music on the album The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth (1990). This inspired the Dublin based band Cruachan to mix traditional Irish music with black metal and to create the subgenre of Celtic metal. They were soon followed by bands such as Primordial and Waylander. Like Celtic punk, Celtic metal fuses the Celtic folk tradition with contemporary forms of music.

  • CELTIC-METAL’S TOP FIVE BANDS (here)

Influence

Whereas in England electric folk, after initial mainstream recognition, subsided into the status of a sub-cultural soundtrack, in many Celtic communities and nations it has remained at the forefront of musical production. The initial wave of Celtic rock in Ireland, although ultimately feeding into Anglo-American dominated progressive rock and hard rock provided a basis for Irish bands that would enjoy international success, including the Pogues and U2: one making use of the tradition of Celtic music in a new context and the other eschewing it for a distinctive but mainstream sound. Similar circumstances can be seen in Scotland albeit with a delay in time while Celtic rock culture developed, before bands like Runrig could achieve international recognition. Widely acknowledged as one of the outstanding voices in Celtic/rock is the Glasgow born Brian McCombe of The Brian McCombe Band, a pan Celtic group based in Brittany.

In other Celtic communities, and particularly where Celtic speakers or descendants are a minority, the function of Celtic rock has been less to create mainstream success, than to bolster cultural identity. A consequence of this has been the reinforcement of pan-Celtic culture and of particular national or regional identities between those with a shared heritage, but who are widely dispersed. However, the most significant consequence of Celtic rock has simply been as a general spur to immense musical and cultural creativity.

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS PRESENTS THE BEST OF 2016!

Yes I know it only seems like five minutes since the last one but it’s that time of year again when we give you, for what it’s worth, our opinion on who made the best music in the celtic-punk scene over 2016. It’s been another outstanding year for the music that we all love and some truly fantastic records came out in the last twelve months. So read on to find out who came #1! Remember though this is only our opinion and these twenty-five album’s are only the tip of the iceberg of what was released last year. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…

bestof2016b

TOP 25 CELTIC PUNK ALBUMS

1. THE RUMJACKS (Australia)-‘Sleepin’Rough’  Review

2. THE NARROWBACKS (New York)- ‘Arrogance & Ignorance’  Review

3. THE CLOVES AND THE TOBACCO (Indonesia)- ‘Across The Horizon’  Review

4. MICKEY RICKSHAW (Boston)- ‘Behind The Eight Ball’  Review

5. THE WAKES (Glasgow)- ‘Venceremos!’  Review 

Absolutely no surprise here at all. For the first time we had an unanimous vote from all the admin’s that sees The Rumjacks sail away with the #1 spot for the second year running. It’s been an outstanding year for the Bhoys and with an American tour on the horizon they about to take another giant step in their campaign of world domination! Other notables were NYC’s Narrowbacks whose second album really showed the depth of their songwriting and could just have easily won the folk/trad best of too! The Cloves And The Tobacco deserve plaudits galore in another fantastic year for Indonesian celtic punk bands while Mickey Rickshaw could probably be said to have won the ‘unified title’ across all the various celtic-punk sites. In all we have twenty five bands from fourteen countries including USA x 6, Australia x 3, Indonesia x2, Germany x2, Netherlands x2, Catalonia x 2, Scotland, Italy, Sweden, Brazil, Spain, Czech Republic, Russia and Belarus with The Wakes being the only Celtic country based band which goes to show how international the scene has become.

6. THE CLAN (Italy)- ‘All In The Name Of Folk’  Review

7. HOIST THE COLORS (USA)- ‘Mourners’  Review

8. SIR REG (Sweden)- ‘Modern Day Disgrace’  Review

9. FOX n FIRKIN (Australia)- ‘No Vacancy’  Review

10. FIDDLER’S GREEN (Germany)- ‘Devil’s Dozen’  Review

11. LUGH (Brazil)- ‘Histórias Do Mar’  Review

12. JAY WARS AND THE HOWARD YOUTH (Australia)- ‘Love In The Time Of Fear’  Review

13. BUNCH OF BASTARDS (Netherlands)- ‘My Drinkin’ Ain’t Done’  Review

14. SIGELPA (Catalonia)- ‘Rabant Original’  Review

15. TENHOLES (Indonesia)- ‘Loyalty’  Review

16. THE O’REILLYS AND THE PADDYHATS (Germany)- ‘Seven Hearts One Soul’  Review

17. 13KRAUSS (Spain)- TheEnd Is Nigh’  Review

18. DRINK HUNTERS (Catalonia)- ‘Shameless’  Review

19. PIRATES OF THE PUBS (Czech Republic)- ‘Drunken Forever’  Review

20. THE MUCKERS (USA)- ‘The Muckers’  Review

21. LQR (Netherlands)- ’10 Pinter’  Review

22. THE Пауки/THE PAUKI (Russia)- ‘La Isla Del Muerto’  Review

23. Всё CRAZY (Belarus)- ‘По Морям’  Review

24. RUSTY NAIL (USA)- ‘Bitter Ale, Bitter Heart’  Review

25. THE LANGER’S BALL (USA)- ‘Whiskey Outlaws’  Review

A special mention here to the ever prolific and always a pleasurable experience The Mahones who released a greatest hits entitled The Very Best: 25 Years Of Irish Punk which couldn’t be included in the Top 25 but if it did would have given The Rumjacks a run for their money!

TOP TEN CELTIC PUNK EP’S

1. MICK O’TOOLE (England)- ‘A Working Class Battalion’  Review

2. THE RAMSHACKLE ARMY (Australia)- ‘Whitewashed Graves’  Review

3. DRUNKEN FAIRY TALES (Russia) – ‘Пьяные Сказки’  Review

With The Rumjacks returning a year later to sweep the Album Of The Year it’s no surprise then that Wiltshire lads Mick O’Toole follow up last year’s win in the EP Of The Year awards to do the same thing. A great year for them that has seen them play less and less within the celtic-punk scene and really start to make waves outside of it. A foreign tour and more support slots to various punk rock legends than most bands play in a lifetime and all in the space of twelve months. The Ramshackle Army EP got lost in the post leaving us to do a rush-job review and given time I’m sure they may have given the O’Toole’s a run for their money. Drunken Fairy Tales impressed everyone and Matilda’s vinyl only release deserve a mention as well Mick O’Toole grabbing the 5th spot too.

4. MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS (England)- ‘Crowleys Curse’  Review

5. MICK O’TOOLE (England)- ‘False Flag Collapse’  Review

6. BAY STREET BASTARDS (Canada)- ‘Small Batch’  Review

7. LEXINGTON FIELD (USA)- ‘Redwood’  Review

8. HANDSOME YOUNG STRANGERS (Australia)- ‘Battle Of Broken Hill’  Review

9. MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS (England)- ‘The Organworks Recordings Session’  Review

10.  BALSALL HEATHENS (England)- ‘Life’s Too Short’  Review

TOP TEN FOLK/TRADITIONAL RELEASES

1. ANTO MORRA (London)-’16’  Review

2. THE LOGUES (Ireland)- ‘Comin’ Of Age’  Review

3. MICKEY RICKSHAW (Boston)- ‘Wild Atlantic’  Review

Possibly the hardest Best Of List of them all to do is this one as so many releases cross over the genres between rock and punk and folk and trad but our good friend Anto Morra, the ‘London Irish folk-punker’, just edging it from The Logues with his superb tribute to the 1916 Easter Rising. Mickey Rickshaw swept to third with their specially recorded acoustic EP that came out for their European tour and ShamRocks put out an album of high quality and original Irish folk with imagination galore. A special mention for Blackwater Banshee whose EP came out later in the year and shows enormous promise and one or two original songs would have seen a much higher position I am sure.

4. ShamRocks (Ukraine)- ‘Captain’s Log’  Review

5. LARKIN (USA)- ‘A Toast To St. Jude’  Review

6. FOLK THE SYSTEM (England)- Unrest In The Wolds’  Review

7. SHAMBOLICS (Australia)- ‘Riot On Race Day’  Review

8. CLEAR THE BATTLE FIELD (USA)- ‘Set Me Free’  Review

9. SOLAS (USA)- ‘All These Years’  Review

10. BLACKWATER BANSHEE (Bristol)- ‘Blackwater Banshee’  Review

TOP CELTIC PUNK WEB-SITE

Now this has over the years become the Celtic Folk Punk And More Top Celtic Punk Web-Site award so often has that esteemed site walked away with the top spot but there’s a new kid on the block and this year we are happy to award top spot to our good mates over at Mersey Celt Punks. They only kicked off the site a few months ago but super regular postings on all manner of celtic-punkness has seen them triumphant. You can join their fun over at Twitter and Facebook and we heartily recommend you do. A special mention here also for Viva La XV another new kid on the block which looks amazing but sadly as none of us can read Spanish we can’t tell if it’s as good as it looks! We’re sure it is and you can check it out for yourselves at the Blog or over on Facebook.

mersey-celt-punks

Right now the details. The Best Of lists were cajoled and bullied out of the four admins on the London Celtic Punks Facebook page. The various scraps of crumpled paper were received and then tallied up over several pints of Guinness in Mannions in north London while watching the football on the telly.

We are now in our fourth year of doing these Best Of lists so if you would like to have a look at the previous years best in celtic-punk then click the link below the relevant year.

all the major players in celtic-punk do Best Of lists so click below to check out what they thought

CELTIC FOLK PUNK AND MORE

PADDYROCK

MacSLONS IRISH RADIO

CELTIC-ROCK.DE

remember any views or comments we would love to hear them…

Only one more thing to mention about 2016 and that is to remember here Erik Petersen the lead singer of the influential folk-punk band Mischief Brew who sadly passed away earlier this year. I still find it hard to believe that he has gone but he will always be commemorated.

“So tattoo our arms and raise our glasses, call out your name at New Year’s Eve, maybe next time we kneel at a casket, we can say at least the story’s complete”

Read our obituary for Erik here and raise a glass the next time you get the chance to.

 Rest In Peace comrade.

 Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2017

CELEBRATING A CELTIC CHRISTMAS 2016. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS FAMILY

All the best for a happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous new year for us all…

Every year we pick the best Christmas themed song we’ve heard to showcase in our end of year message and this year the runaway victors is from NYC’s The Narrowbacks.

Starring Rigel Byrne as Santa Claus. Filmed by Tamara Lee and James Haag. Recorded at Paddy Reilly’s Music Bar, 519 Second Avenue, New York. The Narrowbacks music available on iTunes and Amazon.

Buy The New Album- iTunes  Amazon
Contact The Narrowbacks-

FIRE IT UP!!

CELEBRATING A CELTIC CHRISTMAS

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

Christmas

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

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

SCOTLAND

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

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

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

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

IRELAND

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

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

WALES

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

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

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

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

ISLE OF MAN

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

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

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

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

CORNWALL

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

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

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

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

BRITTANY

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

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

GALICIA

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

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

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

Nollick Ghennal as Blein Vie Noa (Manx Gaelic)

Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath ùr (Scottish Gaelic)

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

Nedeleg Laouen na Bloavezh Mat  (Breton)

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda (Welsh)

Nadelik Lowen ha Bledhen Nowyth Da (Cornish)

Now go have a drink…

ALBUM REVIEW: SAOR- ‘Guardians’ (2016)

A unique blend of Scottish folk and atmospheric black metal inspired by traditional Scots poetry and heritage.

saor-guardians

In reviewing this amazing album I really hope i can do it the justice it truly deserves.Sadly celtic-metal is not a music genre I am too familiar with although I can myself returning if theres more bands like Saor knocking around! Now Saor (which means ‘Free’ or ‘Unconstrained’ in Scottish gaelic) are not strictly a band they are the brainchild of talented multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Andy Marshall. Andy was originally a member of Glasgow band Falloch who received great critical acclaim for their debut album Where Distant Spirits Remain in 2011 although Andy left the band the following year. Striking out on his own Andy released his first solo album Roots in May 2013 again to an avalanche of critical applause. There were only four tracks, that came in at nearly fifty minutes long, which upon listening to managed to evoke the essense of Scotland from the first few bars of the self titled opening track. As one reviewer described it

“The sensation of standing among ancient Scottish mountains captured in sonic form, it speaks to my soul, utterly beautiful”

The following year in June, Andy released Aura. A five track album with the sound fleshed out somewhat by several guest musicians. Passionate and majestic the music soars and again won them an array of positive reviews. Around this time Saor played a handful of live shows but it has now been decided that Saor will remain a studio-only project and there will sadly not be any more live shows.

andy-marshall

So after a two year absence Saor have returned with an album laden with their trademark celtic melodies with their new release Guardians out on November 11, 2016Recorded over two years, in Cairndow and the Isle of Skye, Guardians begins with the self titled track and as is the way with a lot of celtic albums its the sound of a running stream and birdsong that opens the song. It doesn’t take long before crashing guitars and the glorious sound of pipes fills the air and we off on our journey. The drums rock in and the speed ramps up and ‘Guardians’ soars and ebbs and flows while Andy gives it that true death metal growl while he’s singing of tragedy and loss.

“On the mountains of heather they slumber together.
On the wastes of the moorland their bodies decay.
How sound is their sleeping, how safe is their keeping
Though far from their kindred they molder away.

Oh, never to perish, their names let us cherish,
The martyrs of Scotland that now are away”

The song lyrics are all inspired in some way from real events in Scottish history and various parts have been taken from ancient Scottish poetry and the absolutely amazing way that Andy has managed to incorporate that into the songs.

In ‘Guardians’ Horatius Bonar poem ‘The Martyrs of Scotland” is utilised while ‘The Declaration’ is inspired by the Declaration Of Arbroath and Robbie Burns. The declaration was in in the form of a letter submitted to the Pope dated 6 April 1320 declaring Scotland’s an independent, sovereign state.

“By oppression’s woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty’s in every blow!—
Let us do or die!”

The words come from a poem previously put to music by The Real McKenzies, the poem ‘Scots Wha Hae’. Written by Burns in 1793 it took the form of a speech given by Robert the Bruce before the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. The song which served for centuries as the unofficial national anthem of Scotland until the present day popularity of ‘Flower Of Scotland’ overtook it. It retains its anger and its passion and Saor pay tribute to it faithfully. The shortest of all the tracks here it still lasts over ten minutes giving it plenty of time to build up and release and build up again. Starting fast before the whole thing slows down for the fiddle while the drumming is simply superb emphasising the sound of the other instruments without ever taking over. The words for following track, ‘Autumn Rain’, come from ‘Culloden Moore’ by Alice MacDonnell and was inspired by her direct descent from a hero of the battlefield.

“Noble dead that sleep below,
We your valour ne’er forget;
Soft the heroes’ rest who know
Hearts like theirs are beating yet”

The battle of Culloden was the final confrontation between the Scots and the English in 1745 and the last major battle fought on this island. Lasting only forty minutes the devastating slaughter marked the end of the military phase of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745/6. Following the battle repression rained down on the native Scots and officers and chiefs who had escaped left for Europe while many of the Jacobite rank and file fled to the American colonies. The sorrow is palpable and Andys voice cries out in pain for them. Even today, they say that the birds don’t sing at the site of the Battle of Culloden. Alice Macdonell of Keppoch, writing at the end of the 19th Century writes of the bleakness of the place, after seeing it in the rain in autumn.

(spare an hour to watch this amazing docu-drama from Peter Watkins made in 1964. Cleverly reconstructing the battle of Culloden as if TV cameras were present.)

Fourth song ‘Hearth’ starts with acoustic guitar and the simple rhythm of the drums before it explodes into action with Andy’s vocals never more powerful than on this song. The words come from ‘My Native Land’ by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). Andy sings with a passion here, its the only time on the album you can hear some of the words, and while the words could apply to any country it is Scotland they were written for.

“This is my home
My heart
My soul
My hearth”

This is clearly the most celtic of the songs on Guardians and I love it. The swirling upbeats, the fiddle and tin whistle and the crashing guitars give this song in particular a feel of Scotland.

Guardians ends with ‘Tears Of A Nation’ and the words here come from ‘The Tears of Scotland’ written by Tobias Smollet (1721-1771). As is obvious from the title it’s another mournful tribute to those who laid down their lives over the centuries for a free Scotland.

“Mourn, hapless Caledonia, mourn”

So while Andy undoubtedly provides the backbone, at the very least, of Saor it would be unfair not to give the guest musicians who also appear a mention here. Bryan Hamilton from Falkirk metallers Cnoc An Tursa on drums, John Becker from Chicago prog-rockers Austaras on strings, Meri Tadić- Fiddle, Reni McDonald Hill on bodhrán and Kevin Murphy on highland bagpipes all provide excellent accompaniment for Andy. Vinyl and tapes will be available soon and the Digipak CD comes with a ten page booklet with lyrics. Guardians may have only five tracks but the word epic could have solely been invented to help me to review this album clocking in as it does at just over fifty five minutes, with each song lasting over ten minutes. As Andy explains

“I start off with a riff or melody on guitar and start recording demos. Once I’ve got the basics down, I begin adding other instruments and vocal ideas. I’ve no idea how the songs become complex and long, it’s just something that naturally happens when I write music”

From the admittedly little I know it would seem that the genre of folk-metal has long been the domain of Scandinavian bands whose traditions and songs seem to more revolve around trolls and Lord Of The Rings-esque characters while the small band of actual Celtic based celtic-metal bands seem to add something more substantial and real. Ireland’s Primordial, the first celtic-metal band, and Cruachan and Saor keep that flag flying and here on Guardians it is that fury and anger at the ills inflicted upon Scotland and the sadness and melancholy of the history of their land while at the same time the realisation that freedom has surely never been so close that gives Guardians such a dramatic feel to it. The music sweeps you away and if like me you are a stranger to celtic-metal then this is a perfect place to start and immerse yourself in the soundscape of Scotland.

(you can listen to Guardians by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy The Album

*THIS IS A PRE-ORDER. RELEASE DATE IS NOVEMBER 11TH*- FromTheBand

Contact The Band

Facebook  Bandcamp  Instagram  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: THE WAKES- ‘Venceremos!’ (2016)

by Pete Morgan

Glasgow Irish folk’n’roll hooligans.

They might all be Jock Tamson’s bairns but their Mammy is Roisin Dubh!

the-wakes

London Celtic Punks friends and favourites launched their fifth studio album at the end of September just gone with a fantastic hometown gig at the Classic Grand, Glasgow.  A gig that saw the band enhanced with a small brass section that added to the sound and showed how the boys are growing musically.

The CD, like the gig, doesn’t disappoint: Thirteen tracks over forty-five minutes show the band in top form and giving all and more that we’ve come to expect from Glasgow’s finest ‘punk, folk’n’rollers’. Building on and growing from previous CD’s including No Irish Need Apply and The Red and the Green, Venceremos shows a growth in musical maturity and songwriting while staying true to the bands fundamentals will have you hitting replay button time and time again.

wakes3

For this release the band have teamed up with Drakkar Records and the result is an all singing, all dancing package with a gatefold sleeve CD that includes a pullout booklet of photo’s and lyrics which can be bought from the band’s website below and also from the Glasgow independent radical bookshop Calton Books (link below).

Opening with an irresistible punk/new wave beat of ‘Within These Towns’ the gauntlet is thrown down: the song delivers up a crushing criticism of politicians  of the Thatcher era who turned their backs on those towns and people reliant on manufacturing as they allowed industry to fall into irreversible decline and communities abandoned. A bleak subject of towns

“where we are born to die, to live our lives …”

is nonetheless invested with defiance and pride in it’s delivery and any thought of being downbeat is erased with the upbeat, ska infused, Rise. A story that dances along and is bound to become a live favourite, telling a tale of Dublin, Easter 1916, and provided lots of opportunities for a sing-a-long while raising a clenched fist…

wakes1-2

‘No Human is Illegal’ as a song is a class apart. This song possibly best defines the ethos of the band: humanitarian, international, caring, willing to stand up, to wear those hearts on sleeves … A simple enough statement, but a statement that carries undeniable power, delivered almost in an understated manner. This song is impossible to resist and invites us into a quiet corner, the lyrics falling softly, yet challenging the scaremongers and those who use sensationalist headlines to turn a profit  … but we’re left in no doubt

“That old bullshit just don’t cut it any more”

There’s no time to sit around as ‘Whisky Afternoon’ has us back on our feet as the band ‘rock-out’ to an enjoyable wee number of an afternoons drinking that we’ll all be familiar with, same goes for this tune that has a solid back beat that moves it (too?) quickly to a conclusion and then it’s on into ‘The Battle of George Square’: Tanks on the streets of Glasgow to quell the red Clyde revolution. Again the music and lyrics invoke an atmosphere that’ll put on the ground, shoulder to shoulder with Glasgow’s working class.

wakes2The Wakes don’t do shying away and, just as with No Human, they address issues head-on: the turning of young men into state killing machines in ‘Kings Shilling’, (touch of Skids/Big Country?) the bloodshed  in the ‘Holyland’. The domestic home-grown issues of poor housing and rising rent are highlighted in ‘Nae Soft Touch’ (touch of Christy Moore about this one) telling the story of issues from Govan, 1915, that are just as relevant today.

Track 8, ‘I Believe’, a ‘up-beat’ cry of positivity , a rallying cry and affirmation of the power of people is driving along on the back of some beautiful brass that shows how the band, as musicians, have grown and the sound of the Wakes continues seeking out avenues to explore. While ‘Ramblin’ Man’ pays tribute to the great Woody Guthrie in a tune that will almost have you up on the floor square dancing! But wait, whats next, a fecking polka! ‘Freighter of the Dead’ sails us over choppy waters navigating the straits of Pogue Mahone and onto the shores of Gorgol Bordello in a rollickin’ rocking good time tune that shows the boys are well able to let their hair down (sorry Chris!) and this is another tune that will fill the dance floors. As we’ve come to expect there’s a track from the ‘homeland’ that’s given the Wakes unique and personalised  treatment: ‘Erin Go Bragh’ starts off familiar enough but the bass playing and thunderous drumming supported by the chants gives this a whole new life and the song feels ‘epic’, a TV shows turned into a blockbuster of a movie!

wakes-4

The Wakes (left to right): Paul- Vocals/Guitar * Conor- Banjo/Mandolin * Chris- Vocals/Bass/Saxophone/Flute * Danny- Whistles * Eamonn- Drums * Christopher James- Harmonica/Guitar.

Closing on the title track, ‘Venceramos’ the song as well as the album as a whole, is a triumph: carried along on the back of a guitar sound that gets under the sink, drums & bass that get the heart pumping, the piercing harmonica, everything comes together with the united rising vocals in a song that is an affirmation of the power of truth against evil, the truth of those who struggle against the evil of corruption, greed, inhumanity … In an echo of Bobby Sands we’re told:

“You can try to kill the dreamer but the dream never dies’ and the heart grows huge with the refrain Venceremos! Venceremos! We Will Overcome …”

Venceremos is a must have, the Wakes a must see.

Discography

These Hands (2007) No Irish Need Apply (2009) Stripped Back Sessions Vol. 1 (2011) The Red and the Green (2013)

Buy The Album

 FromTheBand  Amazon  iTunes  CaltonBooks 

Contact The Wakes

WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  Twitter  Soundcloud  YouTube

(live in London last year at the Cock Tavern in association with London Celtic Punks and the Hayes Bhoys CSC- thanks to Deano for filming)

 

ALBUM REVIEW: RED HOT CHILLI PIPERS- ‘Octane’ (2016)

A fusion of traditional tunes and rock classics taking ‘Bagrock’ to a whole new level!

rhcp

Just the other day we reviewed the new single from Scots folk-rockers The Red Hot Chilli Pipers and we were so impressed that we’ve decided we had to check out and review their new album Octane as well. Released last June, Octane continues The Pipers quest to introduce the world to their very own genre of music- Bagrock!

Red Hot Chilli Pipers

The Red Hot Chilli Pipers are an Scottish pipe and drum group formed in 2002 and since their formation have combined guitars, keyboards, drums and, of course, bagpipes to create a style of music they have labelled ‘bagrock’. The band have toured the world performing a fusion of traditional pipe tunes and contemporary songs ever since. They have released a host of successful and acclaimed albums including their debut, the self titled, The Red Hot Chilli Pipers followed by Bagrock To the Masses and in 2008, their third and first, live album, Blast Live. 2010 saw their most popular album to date’s release Music for the Kilted Generation, which reached Number Two on the US Amazon Chart. The title is a parody of the Music for the Jilted Generation album by The Prodigy which sets the tone for much of what The Pipers do. Breathe was released in July 2013 and their latest album Octane, which came out earlier this year, continues to mix up both traditional Scottish tunes and rock classics, taking bagrock to a whole new level! Famed for their exhilarating live show it has led to them playing festival after festival around the world and seen their star rise above heights they must have thought unimaginable back at home in 2002!

rhcp-1

Octane carries on in much the same way as those previous album’s with a selection of stone cold rock classics and some of the bands own compositions all done and re-arranged with some of the best bagpipe playing you will find put down on record in 2016. Kicking off with ‘La Grange: La Grange / The Green Room’ its starts with a bit of boogey-woogie and then some strong guitar and then the pipes stroll in and takeover. ‘Starlight: Starlight / Charlie Brown’ is up next and aye its the Muse song intertwined with a track by Coldplay. Now some of the keyboard arrangements are a bit cheesy I’m afraid, it has to be said, but who cares cos as soon as the piping starts your away and you don’t give a toss! Its time for some trad next with a song called, yes you guessed it, ‘Time for Trad: The Kesh / Old Wullie’s Dog / Merrily Kiss the Quaker’s Wife’ where the Pipers go to town with a truly brilliant bit of celtic-rock that for me is the standout track on Octane. ‘Fat Bottomed Girls: Fat Bottomed Girls / Fat Arsed Lassies’ is up next with Queen’s famous non-PC track.

One of the better, but little known, Queen tracks and here given a brilliantly catchy rendition and accompanied by a fantastic video as well that you must check out above. Another unusual, but again superb, cover next with The White Stripes ‘Seven Nation Army: Roadhouse Song / Seven Nation Army’ before their own composition ‘Pressed For Time’ which again stands out among the covers. Now is a good time to tell you that (almost) all the songs are instrumental with no vocals. I am torn between thinking this is a good or bad thing. The album is great as it is but would they benefit from a singer I’m just not sure so I will stick to the old adage

“if it aint broke don’t fix it”

‘The Fallen’ was written by Red Hot Chilli Piper Roddy S. MacDonald and was released just the other week as a charity single as a tribute to the 343 heroes from the Fire Department of New York who made the ultimate sacrifice on September 11, 2001.(you can find more on the single release and how to buy it/donate here). ‘Chasing Love’ is another Pipers composition and as you could probably tell from the title is a much slower song before transforming into ‘The Way It Is: The Way It Is / Chasing Love’ and like nearly all the covers here you’ll be instantly racking your memory as you know the song but can’t quite reach who the artist is! As the album nears the end there’s more famous rock and pop songs here like Van Halen’s ‘Jump: Jump / Dancing Feet’, John Mayer’s ‘Neon: Neon / Wee Derek’s Song’ and Tears For Fears’ Everybody Wants to Rule the World: The Bung / Everybody Wants to Rule the World’. They wait till the second last track to give us a real old traditional favourite with ‘The Wild Mountain Thyme’ which is credited to Francis McPeake back in 1957 though thought to be at least two centuries older. For the only time on the album we get treated to vocals and nowhere here do the band sound so Scottish especially as the song so strongly resembles the famous Scots tune ‘Go Lassie Go’ so much. Octane comes to an explosive end with ‘Urban: Rip the Calico’ and goodbyes are said with another catchy Red Hot Chilli Pipers song that really hits the spot.

So their you go fourteen tracks, mostly covers but with a decent smattering of self penned numbers that comes in at just over fifty minutes. Great value and the energy doesn’t cease for a single second throughout. The piping is simply brilliant and the accompanying mix of guitar, drums, brass etc., is inspired. Production is superb but if you’re not a fan of bagpipes (if so then why are you here?) then this won’t interest you BUT if, like me, you fecking love them then this album is an absolute must. It definitely errs towards the easy listening section of your local (if you got one!) record shop but let that not distract you from what is a excellent album of traditional Scottish music for the present day.

Buy The Album

FromTheBand  MusicScotland  AllCelticMusic  Amazon  iTunes

Contact The Red Hot Chilli Pipers

WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram  Twitter  Google+  LastFM

9/11 FIREFIGHTERS CHARITY SINGLE RELEASE BY THE RED HOT CHILLI PIPERS

Bagpipes with Attitude! Drums with a Scottish accent!

For all firefighters the world over.

September 11, 2001, will rank among the bloodiest days in the history of the Irish people. Nobody knows exactly how many were lost but we do know that thousands of members of the global Irish community left home that day never to return and see their loved ones again. Many of the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania perished in a valiant struggle to save the lives of others. The heroics of the members of the Fire Department of New York and the 343 souls they lost that day alongside other police officers and emergency workers will be remembered for their unfathomable courage. Leaders in their chosen professions. Success stories of an Irish diaspora built on the many sacrifices of their ancestors.

irish-fireman

The Red Hot Chilli Pipers are pleased to announce the release of a new charity single and a glowing tribute to the 343 Heroes from the Fire Department of New York who made the ultimate sacrifice and saved thousands of lives 15 years ago on September 11, 2001. Every penny of the proceeds raised from this track will be donated to two very important fire service charities – The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Family Support Trust and The FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums. This highly emotive piece of music show’s how much firefighters mean to us all, something that not only says thank you to them but is also a lasting and fitting tribute to all firefighters worldwide. The tune was written by RS MacDonald in memory of the members lost that horrible day and, former fireman and founding band member Willie Armstrong put together a great group of musicians in Scotland to make this happen. The stunning video, featured below, begins in Edinburgh before heading to New York before returning to the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond for the final tribute to The Fallen.

The Red Hot Chilli Pipers are an Scottish pipe and drum group formed in 2002 and since their formation have combined guitars, keyboards, drums and, of course, bagpipes to create ‘bagrock’ sound. The band have toured the world performing a fusion of traditional pipe tunes and contemporary songs. They have released a host of successful and acclaimed albums including their debut, the self titled, The Red Hot Chilli Pipers followed by Bagrock To the Masses and in 2008, their third and first, live album, Blast Live. 2010 saw their most popular album to date’s release Music for the Kilted Generation, which reached Number Two on the US Amazon Chart. The title is a parody of the Music for the Jilted Generation album by The Prodigy. Breathe was released in July 2013 and their latest album Octane, which came out earlier in the year, continues to mix up traditional tunes and rock classics, taking bagrock to a whole new level! Famed for their exhilarating live show it has led to them playing festival after festival around the world and seen their star rise above heights they must have thought unimaginable back at home in 2002!
rhcp-1

BUY THE TRACK FROM iTUNES FOR ONLY 99p

HERE

YOU CAN ALSO CONTRIBUTE ANY DONATIONS HERE

Information on the charities benefitiing from the single can be found here

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Family Support Trust here

The Emerald Society Pipes and Drums here

Contact The Red Hot Chilli Pipers

WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram  Twitter  Google+

LIVE REVIEW: THE CUNDEEZ IN SOUTH LONDON SEPTEMBER 2016

KEEPIN’ IT OARY DOWN AMONG THE SASSENACHS DAY TWO

by Vincent Mahon

CundeezVegBarColour (2)

Fresh from their triumphant London debut at the Gunners in Finsbury Park on Friday, Saturday finds the Cundeez saarf ov ver rivver at the Veg Bar in sunny Brixton as guests of the London Celtic Punks.
The Veg Bar is a vegan restaurant on Tulse Hill, just up from Brixton station. It’s a quiet, unassuming place and certainly not the sort of establishment generally considered home to the kind of mayhem and shenanigans associated with punk rock. However, there is a cellar bar. And that’s where the chaos ensues…

Dissent

Dissent

There’s other bands tonight, all of whom are good at what they do and some more to my taste than others. The stand outs for me were Comrade X, who always delivers the goods, and Black Water County, whose punk-infused folk may invite some obvious comparisons, but they play with enough talent and conviction to mark themselves out as contenders in their own right. I’d definitely be up for seeing them again.
By the time the Cundeez fire up, it’s hot in that little cellar bar. Damn hot. And there’s a pissed-up bunch of good natured yobbos and n’er do wells more than ready for them. The choice of London Calling as an opener is superb. It’s The Cundeez saying hello to their southern friends, and it’s an acknowledgement that wherever we’re from, we share similar tastes, backgrounds and experiences. And that’s what matters.

BWC

Black Water County

A Cundeez gig is a thing of great joy. Like a cross between a benevolent riot and the greatest party you’ve ever been invited to. Every song they play represents what’s great about punk rock when it’s done properly: energy, excitement, anger and humour are all present, wrapped up in killer tunes that hit you full-on and take no prisoners. What marks the Cundeez out from so many of their peers is that even when they are angry (“Austerity,” “Mr Politician” or the magnificently vitriolic “Yer Talkin’ Shite”), there is a sense of positivity and energy that’s sadly missing in so many other bands who generally seem content to just moan and wallow in it. There’s no room for negativity or despondency when the Cundeez are playing because you’re too busy having a bloody good time. Just watch them performing “Roota” and I defy you not to end up grinning from ear to ear and at the very least, tapping your foot.
Cun10Tonight’s crowd need no second bidding to get stuck in and show their appreciation by leaping around like a bunch of loons. The sweltering heat means “taps aaf” is pretty much obligatory. New single, “Rebellion” sounds incredible, and is a definite highlight in a flawless set. The Buzzcocks’ classic “Ever Fallen in Love…” is given a grand shake up, and by the time they hit “Night Boat to Cairo” everybody in the crowd is going ballistic. The energy and excitement this friendly bunch of Dundonians generate in one gig would be enough to power a small town.
Cun11And so the Cundeez came to London and it would be no exaggeration to say that they absolutely smashed it on both nights. For me personally, it meant I got to support a band I’ve been raving about for the last year, and see them twice in one weekend. That’s pretty good going as far as I’m concerned. Not only are they an amazing live band, but they’re also some of the nicest, most decent folk I’ve met on the punk scene. Gary, Stevie, Trotsky and Tez, you’re welcome back anytime. London loves the Cundeez. Keep it Oary!

Contact The Bands

The Cundeez  Facebook  ReverbNation  Soundcloud  Twitter  YouTube

Black Water County  WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  Bandcamp  YouTube  Google+

Kilburn Bomb Squad  Facebook

Comrade X  Facebook  YouTube  Twitter  ReverbNation

Dissent  Facebook

Cheers and beers to Dissent, Kilburn Bomb Squad, Comrade X, Black Water County and The Cundeez. Absolutely spot on and all were just brilliant. Ta to The Sweat Box… sorry Veg Bar. I didn’t eat myself but was told the grub was fantastic, to the bar man didn’t catch yer name but you was a star and Assad thanks for the brilliant sound everyone was really happy with it. Hope to catch you at The Go Set on the 30th I hope. To Patrick and Peter who did the door. God bless you both.

Again thanks to you all we love and respect youse all. xx

Thanks to Vincent for the great review. He plays in another great London band worth checking out Morgellions so in the absence of any vid’s from the gig here’s one of them playing the night previous.

Their is a Facebook file with photos from the gig over at the London Celtic Punks page here.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE RUMJACKS-‘Sleepin’Rough’ (2016)

Bloody ‘ell! Close the Best Of 2016 poll we have a winner already! The Bhoys have only pulled it off again. 

By Shane O’Neill

Rumjacks

Wow!!! These guys never fail to impress. 2016 should be renamed The Year of The Rumjacks. Firstly, they hit us with a mammoth 5-month European tour and then they release the 12 song masterpiece that is “Sleepin’ Rough” in early August. If that’s not enough they have also just announced that they will be ending the year with a 4-month tour of Australia once they return from Europe. Impressive or what?? Nobody can question them on their hard work this year. This band is going from strength to strength.

LCP Frankie

Frankie with Andy Mac of The Lagan

When I first heard The Rumjacks I never dreamed I would ever see them live, however they toured Europe in 2015 and again in 2016. I have to say they do not disappoint live either. I was lucky enough to share a few beers with The Rumjacks during their current tour. I have to say they are a really down to earth and humble bunch of really talented punks. None of the Bono type rock star bulls@#t from these guys. They are happy to mingle with the crowd and share stories about their music and tour. It is evident that these guys love what they are doing and we love it too so keep it coming….

Now where do I start with ‘Sleepin’ Rough’? One of the guys said to me it gets better every time you listen to it and I agree. I was a bit dubious when I heard the album was being released so soon after Sober & Godless (2015). Releasing back to back albums so soon after each other doesn’t always work but this is The Rumjacks – of course it works and has exceeded all expectations. ‘Patron Saint O’ Thieves’ is a crackin’ album intro to get you warmed up for what’s to follow.

“…..burn it bhoys…..”

The album has some fine tin whistle solos. This really brings out the best in tunes like ‘Murder Shanty’ and ‘Eight Beers McGee’. Personally my 3 favourite tunes are (in no particular order) ‘The Pot And Kettle’, ‘Fact’ry Jack’ and ‘A Fistful O’ Roses’.

‘Fistful O’ Roses’ was released as a single a few months back to give us a taste of the album. It a mighty fine offering about the dying pub / club scene in Sydney. As Frankie relates

“An agenda of sweeping law reforms and increasingly heavy tactics by our state government have crushed the city’s nightlife, the livelihood, and in many cases even the lives of many of its inhabitants. Iconic pubs, bars & restaurants are forced to close their doors, elderly residents are driven from their homes and Sydney is growing more desperate & hostile with every passing day.
This is a city under siege by those who rule her, set to become a playground for the elite, while the people who made it the treasure it was are squeezed out to wherever they hell they may venture.
We performed the video for the song as a macabre ‘dry wake’, set among the decay, in a derelict pub, one of many to fall victim to the states new order. Historic footage flits across the screen like memories of a life flashing before one’s eyes. ‘A Fistful O’ Roses’ is one last great send-off for the old girl, but make no mistake…”

This is an unfortunate theme which applies to most major cities and towns where we see traditional pubs, clubs and live music venues being closed down by developers. It really is such a shame to see the heart of cities and towns being ripped out not to mention the impact it has on the live music scene and new up & coming acts.

“Oh, this boozer is a wreck, all up & down the deck,
Like a tired old sinner off her game,
Wi’ her blood red lips, and her youth about her hips,
Still the regulars all love her just the same,
Where the mud-spat boots cut their way among the suits,
And the Sally’s come to rattle the can for Jesus,
‘Til they chain up all the doors & toss out all the whores,
Wi’ a fistful o’ half dead roses”

Be warned, before you press play on ‘Dead to me’ make sure you’re firmly strapped in. This tune will pick you up, spin you around and drop you flat on you’re a#$e before you know it – hard hitting or what? Throughout the album you can pick up many different influences from traditional Irish, Scottish and Aussie to sea shanty to hardcore punk. All this blended together give us the unique blend of Celtic punk that is The Rumjacks which others aspire to. Lyrically the album gets 10 out of 10 and no better man to pelt them out than Frankie with a mixture of Aussie / Glaswegian dialect. For me The Rumjacks are by far the best Celtic punk band on the scene at the moment and ‘Sleepin’ Rough’ is a fine example of what they are capable of. Not much more I can say other than go get yourself a copy of ‘Sleepin’ Rough’ and if you get half a chance go and see them live. I would personally donate body parts for a chance to see them again.

(left to right) Anthony- drums Adam: banjo/mandolin Frankie: vocals/tin whistle/ Gabriel: guitars Johnny: bass

(The Rumjacks left to right) Anthony- drums Adam: banjo/mandolin Frankie: vocals/tin whistle Gabriel: guitars Johnny: bass

Buy The Album

FromTheBand  Google

Contact The Band

WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  YouTube  Soundcloud

for more on The Rumjacks check out the following articles

Album Review: ‘Sober And Godless’ (2015)  here

Single Review: ‘Blows And Unkind Words’ here

30492-London Celtic Punks Top Twenty Celtic-Punk Albums Of All Time here

The Rumjacks And Irish Pubs here

ALBUM REVIEW: Oi POLLOi- ‘Saorsa’ (2016)

Rocking hard berating the system while shouting “Oi! Oi! Oi!” in Scottish!
by Shane O’Neill
OiPolloi

‘Saorsa’ means ‘Freedom’ in Scots Gaelic and is the sixth studio album of long running Scottish anarcho punk outfit Oi Polloi and the first since 2012. The album is hard hitting anti fascist, anti establishment, anti racism, anti homophobia, anti sexism ( did I miss any anti…..) Oi! punk with strong Gaelic flavour wrapped up in no less than 15 tunes.

Again they don’t shy away from addressing politically relevant topics accompanied by a healthy mix of crusty, punky, singalong Oi! Oi Polloi must be commended for the use of their music to promote the Gaelic culture in particular the use of the Gaelic language in their lyrics.

” …this is class war we’re fighting back…”

“…..progressive Oi! is kicking back…..”

The fourth song on the album ‘No’ is a demonstrated best by the picture below. As they say sometimes a picture paints a thousand words.

Oi Polloi No

The album also contains a track titled ‘Yes’ to voice the bands support of the recent Scottish independence referendum. This one may be getting more air time sooner than we think!!

‘Dirty Protest’ tells of the protest in Ireland’s British prisons about the criminalisation of republican prisoners. Prisoners held in the north of Ireland were regarded, quite rightly, as political prisoners but that status was being eroded and finely was abolished in 1976. Among other things, this meant that they would now be required to wear prison uniforms like ordinary convicts. The prisoners in the infamous Maze, also known as Long Kesh, refused to accept that they were ordinary criminals, and refused to wear prison uniform and instead dressed only in prison issued blankets. The fight led later to the hunger strikes that resulted in ten deaths. For an excellent documentary on The Blanketmen check here)

‘GCHQFU’ is a fine ode dedicated to our friends in the secret service who spend their time ensuring we all tow the line.

“They’re watching me, they’re watching you…GCHQ fuck you”

One thing you can’t accuse them of is not having a sense of humour though as evident on ‘Our Winged Sisters’. Check out the brilliant video!

“This one’s for our sisters who we owe so much, so very much
Neonicotinoids are leaving them fucked, dead in the dust
We must all become pesticides resisters, rezizzterzzz!
Don’t you think we owe it to our winged sisters, our sizzterzzz?

Our winged sisters! Our winged sisters! Our winged sisters!
Sizzzterzz! Sizzterzzz! ZZZZZZZ! Sizzzterzz! Sizzterzzz! ZZZZZZZ!

Fight for the bees will give you a buzz, give you a buzz
Just like listening to our mighty streetcruzzt, mighty streetcruzzzzt!

Our winged sisters! Our winged sisters! Our winged sisters!
Sizzzterzz! Sizzterzzz! ZZZZZZZ! Sizzzterzz! Sizzterzzz! ZZZZZZZ!

Agro-chemical companies – we must resizzzt them, rezizzzzt them!
We muzzt oppose their apicidal syzztem, zyzzztem!”

Other notable tracks include the opener ‘Let’s Go’, ‘The Face’ and ‘Spelling It Out’. The CD comes in a digipack with fold out poster including lyrics and infos with the album due out on vinyl any day soon. Check with the record companies listed below. The artwork was once again provided by the talented hands of SONIA L. who also was responsible for the stunning celtic knotwork based art of Oi Polloi’s classic 90’s album ‘Fuaim Catha’. This is definitely an album you need in your collection. You won’t regret it.

Tracklist
1. Let’s Go!
2. Soil Yourself
3. The Face
4. NO!
5. Dirty Protest
6. Contra El Sistema
7. GCHQFU
8. Da Mhionaid
9. Destroi Phallocentricity
10. Metal Detector
11. Our Winged Sisters
12. YES!
13. Vos Vilen Di Anarkhisten?
14. Sing A Song Of System
15. Spelling It Out

Get The Album
RuinNationRecords  MassProductions  (CD only, Vinyl available soon!)
Contact The Band
the full live set from last years 0161 Festival at the Miners Community Arts and Music Centre in Moston, Manchester.

Oi POLLOi ON WHY THEY SING IN THE GAELIC LANGUAGE

There are estimated to be somewhere in the region of 6,000 different languages currently spoken on planet earth. In the face of rampant globalisation, however, 90% of them are expected to be extinct by the end of this century. Here in Scotland our indigenous Celtic language, Gaelic, is one of those threatened. For hundreds of years Gaelic speakers here have been subject to oppression and persecution from central government and its attempts to wipe out the language. Up until the 1970s children in the Scottish highlands could be beaten for speaking Gaelic in school and even today Gaelic speakers still lack the same basic linguistic human rights as those of English speakers. Today the number of those speaking the language is down to somewhere around 55,000 people or just over 1% of the population but a growing number of Gaelic language activists are now fighting back to demand their rights and preserve their ancient tongue. These songs here are part of that struggle to defend our indigenous language – not, we hasten to add, out of some kind of narrow-minded xenophobic patriotism (which as anarchists we totally oppose) – but out of a belief in the value of diversity and respect for different cultures. We believe that ALL minority languages and the linguistic human rights of their speakers should be respected. Whether it is Saami in Finland, Sorbisch in Germany or Gaelic in Scotland we believe it is a tragedy for ANY threatened minority language to disappear. The Gaelic songs on this album then are part of our contribution to the fight for multicultural societies where all indigenous languages like Manx, Welsh and Gaelic are able to thrive and where children have the opportunity, if they so choose, to be able to grow up with a bi-lingual education, having both the benefits of the indigenous language of the area where they reside as well as English or whatever as a lingua franca. Those interested in more information about the links between indigenous cultures and bio-diversity and linguistic diversity should visit www.terralingua.org or read some of the great books on the subject out there like David Crystal’s excellent ‘Language Death’, Mark Abley’s ‘Spoken Here – Travels Among Threatened Languages’ or the highly recommended ‘Linguistic Genocide in Education – Or Worldwide Diversity and Human Rights?’ by Dr Tove Skutnabb-Kangas. For more information about the Gaelic language itself visit www.smo.uhi.ac.uk/gaidhlig/english.html or just come and ask us at our gigs.

ALBUM REVIEW: ‘JOY OF LIVING: A TRIBUTE TO EWAN MacCOLL’ (2016)

Fearless and uncompromising Ewan MacColl’s influence is still felt far beyond the folk world. We owe him a lot… more than we can ever imagine.

Joy Of Living

Regular readers of the London Celtic Punks blog will all know how much we like Ewan MacColl and we have regularly featured him within these pages. Though long gone Ewan’s massive volume of work lives on and only the other day were we raving about the Irish-American celtic-punk band 1916 and their amazing version of another Ewan song (sadly not featured here) ‘Hot Asphalt’. Ewan’s songs were uplifting whether proclaiming love or war or peace. He wrote about things that would now be forgotten about and has kept their memory alive. He gave birth to a folk revival that continues to this day, many years after his passing, that remains in great health. The songs he wrote and championed are still being played and explored and adapted and still being made great. Ewan MacColl’s musical legacy is, to put it simply, just out of this world. We owe him a lot… more than we can ever imagine.

Ewan was the Scots-born son of a Gaelic-speaking mother and Lowland father from whom he inherited more than a hundred songs and ballads. He worked as a garage hand, builders’ labourer, journalist, radio scriptwriter, actor and dramatist. After the end of World War II Ewan wrote and broadcast extensively in Britain about folk music. He was general editor of the BBC folk-music series, ‘Ballads and Blues’, and frequently took part in radio and television shows for the BBC.

Ewan MacColl 1His folk song publications included ‘Personal Choice’, a pocket book edition of Scots folk songs and ballads, and ‘The Shuttle and the Cage’, the first published collection of British industrial folk songs. Eventually he was ousted from the BBC due to his socialist beliefs. He wrote many songs that have become folk (and celtic-punk standards) the most famous of course being ‘Dirty Old Town’ popularised by The Dubliners and then The Pogues. It is wrongly assumed to be about Dublin but it is in fact about his home town of Salford in Manchester. He is also famous for writing one of the greatest ever love songs ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ which he wrote for his second wife, the influential American folk singer, Peggy Seeger. He was also the father of Kirsty MacColl who of course guested on The Pogues enormous Christmas hit ‘Fairytale Of New York’. After many years of poor health Ewan died on 22 October 1989 but it can be safely said of him that his songs and influence will live on forever. Comparable only to Woody Guthrie in more than one way.

This fantastic double album marks 100 years since Ewan MacColl’s birth and the album has been produced by two of Ewan’s sons, Calum and Neill, and features a wonderful bunch of diverse artists from right across folk, rock, pop and celtic music. Disc one begins with, for me, one of the stand out tracks with Damien Dempsey singing ‘Schooldays Over’. The only song here we have heard before nevertheless it is more than welcome. Made famous by the late great Luke Kelly’s version with The Dubliners Damien is no stranger to Ewan’s work and does him truly proud.

This is followed by a track from one of the most influential figures in folk music today, Martin Carthy and is the first of several and several individual contributions by the Waterson-Carthy family. He performs the unlikely tale of a fish delivery man in ‘I’m Champion At Keeping ‘Em Rolling’. The Unthanks may sound like a rock band but are in fact two sisters (Unthank is their great surname) who perform a gentle lullaby ‘Cannily, Cannily’. Tracks from legends old and new follow from Seth Lakeman and Marry Waterson and Bombay Bicycle Club are up next, BBC famously include one of MacColl’s grandchildren, Jamie. They contribute a moving version of ‘The Young Birds’, a song written back in 1961 to commemorate a tragic plane crash that killed 34 London children of whom some were known to MacColl’s oldest son, Hamish. Another artist we are familiar with here is Dick Gaughan who contributes ‘Jamie Foyers’. Dick is an influential Scottish musician, singer, and songwriter who was a founding member of the famous celtic band Boys Of The Lough. Martin’s daughter Eliza Carthy, ‘Thirty-Foot Trailer’ and Chaim Tannenbaum, ‘My Old Man’, are up next before honorary Irishman Steve Earle presents a new take on a song that needs no introduction ‘Dirty Old Town’, except to say that it does sound like the spirit(s) of Shane MacGowan were present at its recording.

The first discs last song is from Jarvis Cocker and the erstwhile Pulp front man gives us a amazingly beautiful whispered version of  ‘The Battle Is Done With’. I am sure it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but its great to hear something that just isn’t a straight cover of Ewan’s work.

Ewan MacCollDisc two begins with the most famous of Ewan’s compositions and Paul Buchanan vocalist of 80/90’s Glasgow indie band The Blue Nile croons beautifully through the ‘First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’. Ewan wrote the song for Peggy Seeger and it became an international smash hit in 1972 sung by Roberta Flack. On hearing this version it made me wonder how Shane MacGowan would have mastered it. Paul Brady will be a name known to many and his version of ‘Freeborn Man’ shows Paul to have lost none of his talent in a career that spans right across modern day Irish folk music. Another travellers song follows and Norma Waterson provides us with a fauntless rendition of the gypsy’s plight in ‘The Moving On Song’. Karine Polwart’s version of ‘The Terror Time’ is again beautiful, and Martin Simpson, The Father’s Song, is up next before the ultimate Irish living folk legend, and former band mate of Paul Brady in Planxty, Christy Moore appears with ‘The Companeros’. Again yer man has lost nothing and its a stunning version. Now there’s one name missing from this album so far and he’s up next. It must be written into law that Billy Bragg must appear on any folk compilation and whatever you think of him he gives us a really nice but angry copy of ‘Kilroy Was Here’ which strips Billy back to those early days when he was at his best. Folk siblings Rufus and Martha Wainwright play the magnificent ‘Sweet Thames, Flow Softly’. A small gentle snapshot of life before Kathryn Williams, ‘Alone’, and David Gray brings the whole project to an end with one of Ewan’s best but sadly little known songs, and album title, The Joy of Living.

As you may expect traditionalists might not appreciate some of the versions here but this enhances, rather than detracts and all the various strands of Ewan’s political and musical life is represented here. This double album does not pretend to be the ‘be-all-and-end-all’ as with an artist with such a massive repertoire it would be impossible to please everyone but it does provide a gateway. Collections like this serve only one purpose. That is to steer listeners away from the modern day versions to the original source and with Ewan their is plenty to catch up on. We have included some links at the bottom where readers can find more information and free downloads so I hope you take the opportunity to. It is impossible to calculate the range and influence of this remarkable singer and song-writer but we can rest assured his memory lives and this album is a great testament to him.

“My function is not to reassure people. I want to make them uncomfortable. To send them out of the place arguing and talking”

Disc 1
1. Damien Dempsey – Schooldays Over
2. Martin Carthy – I’m Champion At Keeping ‘Em Rolling
3. The Unthanks – Cannily, Cannily
4. Seth Lakeman – The Shoals of Herring
5. Marry Waterson – The Exile Song
6. Bombay Bicycle Club – The Young Birds
7. Dick Gaughan – Jamie Foyers
8. Eliza Carthy – Thirty-Foot Trailer
9. Chaim Tannenbaum – My Old Man
10. Steve Earle – Dirty Old Town
11. Jarvis Cocker – The Battle Is Done With

Disc 2
1. Paul Buchanan – The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
2. Paul Brady – Freeborn Man
3. Norma Waterson  – Moving On Song
4. Karine Polwart – The Terror Time
5. Martin Simpson – The Father’s Song
6. Christy Moore – The Companeros
7. Billy Bragg – Kilroy Was Here
8. Rufus & Martha Wainwright – Sweet Thames, Flow Softly
9. Kathryn Williams – Alone
10. David Gray – The Joy of Living

Buy The Album

Here   CookingVinylRecords  Amazon

Official Ewan MacColl Sites

Facebook  Twitter  YouTube

For more on Ewan MacColl the internet is awash with sites but trust us and head straight to the official sites but also to Wikipedia as well as this tribute from the Working Class Movement Library here. You can listen to some of his music for free here on LastFm.

We have a regular series ‘Classic Album Reviews’ where we feature records from the past that have had influence far beyond their years. Ewan (of course!!), Leadbelly and several compilations have featured so far and all come with links to free downloads. You can check out the full series here.

(Just to prove Ewan’s work lives on here’s the aforementioned 1916 from New York with their recent  version of the classic Ewan song ‘Hot Asphalt’)

SINGLE REVIEW: THE CUNDEEZ- ‘Rebellion’ (2016)

Unashamedly Dundonian working class band promotin Scots culture an havin a laugh!

Cundeez- Rebellion 7"

Been following these boys for a while and was meaning to review their album ‘Sehturday Night Weaver’ from last year from the moment I first heard it. In the end I had to sneak it in with the end of the year round-ups (here) sadly denying it the chance to get the full-on London Celtic Punks style review. Luckily they have just released this 3-track single so here’s a good chance to introduce them to you.

The Cundeez were formed back in 2010 in Scotland’s fourth largest city in Dundee. Interestingly Dundee during the defeated Referendum Vote in 2014 had the highest Yes vote for any local authority in the whole of Scotland leading Dundee to be christened ‘Yes City’ and The Cundeez are no exception to their fellow Dundonians! The city has two professional football clubs, Dundee who were founded in 1893 and Dundee United who came a little later in 1909, originally as Dundee Hibernian. They both (at the moment!) play in the top division of Scottish football and the real ‘pub fact’ is that their respective grounds are only 100 metres apart. Not sure which team the band follow but on this season’s performances I hope for their sakes its Dundee!

The Cundeez band

The Cundeez have released four albums with each one better than the previous one and this progression shows no signs of stopping with this release. The title song, ‘Rebellion’, kicks off the single and its mixing up their own unique style of punk rock with Highland bag pipes that gives them bit extra. Beware though the faint hearted. They are not The Real McKenzies and neither are they trying to be. Fast, punchy and catchy as hell punk rock with shouty vocals delivered in a raw Dundee dialect. Following this is ‘Roota’, the single’s best song with energy dripping right out of it. This time adding ska into the mixer and some great guitar work keeping it chugging along.

The single’s final track is ‘Jist A Number’ and its more straight up political punk rock that this time reminds me a bit like what fellow Scots punkers Toxic Ephex would have sounded like if they could have got their guitar’s sounding better.

Sadly for all you youngsters out there the single is available only on vinyl. Yes only vinyl. You don’t hear that much these days and not only that but is limited to only 300 copies so get your skates on if you want a copy from Urinal Vinyl Records. We will be hooking up with The Cundeez to get them all the way down from Dundee for a gig in London later this year on Saturday 3rd September. Details are yet to be finalised but keep an eye here or check out the Events section at our Facebook page here but keep the date free it is guaranteed to be something special.

Buy The Single

UrinalVinyl (only 300 copies on yellow vinyl)

Contact The Band

Facebook  ReverbNation  Soundcloud  Twitter  YouTube

Urinal Vinyl Records here

THE CUNDEEZ… KEEPING IT OARY!

CELEBRATING A CELTIC CHRISTMAS 2015. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS FAMILY

All the best for a happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous new year for us all…

(Danish/Dublin band ROVERS AHEAD have released a new Christmas single for 2015)

CELTIC CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS

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

Christmas

Although a celebration of the Son’s birth replaced that of the Sun’s, still a number of ancient Celtic Christmas traditions remain today.

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

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

SCOTLAND

Flag ScotlandChristmas was not officially recognized in Scotland for nearly four centuries. The Puritan English Parliament banned Christmas in 1647 and it did not become a recognized public holiday in Scotland until 1958.

However, according to Andrew Halliday, in his 1833 piece Christmas in Scotland, Scots were not discouraged from celebrating Christmas. Halliday wrote

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

Halliday’s 19th century account went on to describe festive sowens (sweetened oat gruel) ceremonies, “beggars” (actually “strapping fellows”) singing yule song, dances and card parties and children’s teetotum games.

Despite Puritan rule, some long-time Christmas traditions are preserved. These include burning the Cailleach (a piece of wood carved to look like an old woman’s face or the Spirit of Winter) to start the new year fresh; or on Christmas Eve burning rowan tree branches to signify the resolution of any disputes. The Celtic tradition of placing candles in windows was also done in Scotland to welcome “first footers” (strangers, bearing a small gift) into the home.

Traditional dishes also continue to be featured at Christmas lunch and throughout the holidays, including Cock-a-Leekie soup, smoked salmon, beef or duck, Clootie dumplings, black buns, sun cakes, Christmas pudding and Crannachan.

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

IRELAND

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

Other customs include the Bloc na Nollaig or Christmas Block (the Irish version of the Yule log), candles in the window (perhaps one for each family member), and leading up to Christmas, ‘Calling the Waites’ where musicians would wake up townspeople through serenades and shouting out the morning hour.

Christmas Eve Mass is still a grand affair; a time for friends and family to reconnect. It is not uncommon for churchgoers to end up at the local pub after service to ring in Christmas morn.

On Christmas Day, traditional dishes include roast goose or ham and sausages, potatoes (such as champ), vegetables (such as cabbage with bacon) and plum pudding, whiskey, Christmas cake and barmbrack (currant loaf) for sweets.

Traditionally on December 26th, St. Stephen’s Day, Wren Boys with blackened faces, carrying a pole with a dead bird pierced at the top, tramped from house to house. Today the custom sometimes sees children caroling throughout the neighbourhood to raise money for charity. It is also quite common to go out visiting on this day.

WALES

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

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

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

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

ISLE OF MAN

Flag Isle Of ManCarolling also holds a special place in Manx Christmas celebrations, but traditionally an unconventional twist characterized it. On Christmas Eve, large numbers attended church for Carval. While the congregation sang, all of a sudden women would begin the traditional food fight, having peas on hand to throw at their male counterparts!

Accounts from the 1700s and 1800s describe 12 days of non-stop Christmas celebrations where every barn was filled with dancers accompanied by fiddlers the local parish hired. The Reverend John Entick recorded in 1774

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

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

Other Manx customs include Mollag Bands, wearing eccentric clothing, swinging a mollag (fishing float) and demanding money (a practice since outlawed); the kissing bush (a more elaborate ornament than a sprig of mistletoe); and Cammag, a sport that originated on the Isle of Man traditionally played on December 26th and/or Easter Monday.

Finally, in older times but even as recently as the early 20th century, Christmas decorations were not taken down until Pancake Tuesday (when they were burnt under the pancake pan). Now holiday décor tends to be packed away on Old Christmas (January 6th).

CORNWALL

Flag CornwallAs a result of Oliver Cromwell banning Christmas, authentic holiday carols began to fade through much of Britain. However, throughout the 1800’s, Cornish composers and collectors sparked a revival of local Christmas song.

Certain carols well-known around the world, such as Hark the Herald Angels and While Shepherds, are credited to Cornish origins.

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

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

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

BRITTANY

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

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

GALICIA

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

Food is very important during the Galician holidays, featuring at least two feasts (on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Not surprisingly, seafood is on the menu, including lobster, prawns, shrimp, sea bass, and cod with garlic and paprika sauce. Other culinary delights consist of cured meat, cheese and bread, roast beef with vegetables and for dessert tarta de Santiago (almond cake), filloas (stuffed pancakes) and turrones (nougats).

The children of anticipate the coming of the Three Kings or Magis by filling their shoes and leaving them outside on Epiphany Eve, January 5th. Many Galician’s communities also parade on the 5th.

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

support a fantastic celtic-punk band by giving just a measly dollar (or about 66p in Brit money) by downloading the new Rovers Ahead single below from Bandcamp)

Now go and have a drink!

2015 REVIEWS ROUND UP PART TWO- WILL TUN AND THE WASTERS, SKONTRA, LOUISE DISTRAS, HAPPY OL McWEASEL, THE CUNDEEZ, ANTO MORRA

This year has been quite brilliant for celtic-punk releases. In fact it has been far the best year since we began doing this here thingy. Good news surely but it also sadly means we didn’t get a chance to review everything we received or heard. So after catching up with our North American cousins (here) last time in Part 1 this time round we catch up with some a wee bit closer to home.

WILL TUN AND THE WASTERS- ‘The Anachronist’s Handbook’  (BUY)

Will Tun And The WastersThis album release came accompanied with the sad news that lead singer Will Tun was leaving the band. An amicable split and the rest of The Wasters have decided to carry on without him and so this is the swansong of Will Tun’s Wasters. Formed in 2010 by a gang of students based all over southern England Will Tun And The Wasters released a smattering of EP’s and singles and managed to get pretty popular so it was only a matter of time before an album was due. I suppose losing your lead singer would also also help lose a big slice of momentum as this album sneaked out rather than be unleashed and that was a mighty shame as this is a album deserving of being unleashed! Impossible to pigeonhole they were a hard working bunch ready to arrive from several starting points to play gigs at a drop of a hat. Though starting off more as a folk/celtic/ska-punk band they never stopped evolving and traces of hip-hop, Balkan and Latin found a home and nowhere more so than on The Anachronist’s Handbook. Twelve songs and over fifty minutes long the album takes you on a roller-coaster ride of musical styles but its the accordion and fiddle that stand out for me as well as Will’s great distinctive vocals. The energy is infectious and ‘Red & Black’ and ‘A Criminal’s Waltz’ could be The Pogues but whatever genre they turn their hand to they master it. The album ends with ‘Downtime’ another album highlight but this time a reggae/ska beat dominates. I really hope The Wasters can regroup and carry on (as they do intend to) as they would be sorely missed.

Facebook Bandcamp YouTube  Soundcloud

SKONTRA- ‘Foguera’  (DONATE/FREE DOWNLOAD)

SkontraHere’s some authentic celtic-punk for you played by Skontra from the city of Gijón in the celtic region of Asturias currently under Spanish control. There is a school of thought amongst celtic scholars that to be a true authentic celtic nation you must have your own language but if to be truly celtic is based on culture then we must instead expand our thinking to include both Asturias and their neighbours Galicia as well. Celtic culture is alive and kicking and the people are especially proud of their celtic roots. Formed in 1991 Skontra this is their fourth full length album and the thirteen songs are mingled with elements of punk, hardcore, ska and reggae but always with a celtic base and with the traditional Asturian bagpipes leading the way. Seven of Foguera’s songs are in their native Asturian and the rest in Spanish so can’t tell you what the songs are about but its all dead catchy and if you’re looking for a comparison then this would please all you Real McKenzies fans but its very well played celtic-punk that ought to get you all moving your feet. Typical of Skontra is the fantastic title track which includes just about everything that makes them tick. They have made the album available for free for download so you’d be a mug not to get this fantastic album.

Facebook YouTube  WebSite  Bandcamp

LOUISE DISTRAS- ‘Dreams From The Factory Floor’  (BUY)

Louise DistrasMaybe not a celtic-punk album but Louise has popped up supporting both The Mahones and Bryan McPherson in the last year and her folky-punk solo set is right up our alley. She has been called the next Frank Turner but as I don’t think she went to the poshest most exclusive school in Britain I reckon we can ignore that. There’s no style over substance here, what you see and what you hear is what you get. ‘Dreams From The Factory Floor’ is twelve songs of over half an hour of folky punk that sometimes veer into almost poppy tunes like the great ‘Bullets’ but then the album goes in a direction that (very) early Bragg or Springsteen at his best would approve of. Plenty of harmonica (I love that) and great politics too. The politics of the working class and its struggles in every day. The spoken word title song is amazing and delivered in Louise’s broad Yorkshire accent sounds about as authentic as some others don’t. The use of both acoustic and electric guitar and the poetic lyrics and every song is both catchy and meaningful. No filler or fluff here and though not as punk rock as Louise is with her full band this album certainly shows an artist who is on her way to stardom.

Facebook  WebSite  Twitter  YouTube

HAPPY OL’ McWEASEL- ‘Heard Ya Say!’  (BUY)

Happy Ol McWeaselFrom the first moment I heard this album I fell in love with Happy Ol’ McWeasel’s brand of joyous uplifting celtic punk rawk! Formed in 2007 in the Slovenian town of Maribor this is their second album and while on No Offence they relied maybe a little too much on traditional folk covers on this album they decided to take the more risky route and play only their own songs and I tells you it works… and it works well! All the usual instruments are here as well as accordion, fiddle, and banjo making as authentic a celtic sound as you are likely to hear in celtic-punk in 2015. Most important of all through the album’s twelve tracks you get the feeling that the band really love doing what they are doing. Their is a real sense of enjoyment running through this album and though you could bracket it with Flogging Molly style celtic punk it certainly ploughs its own trough too though it certainly could compare with bands like Rancid as well. Well played instruments, clear vocals and these fun-loving tunes are a definite hit. Its criminal that bands like Happy Ol’ McWeasel don’t get the applause they deserve but they are definitely one of the scenes best bands. They have given us an album that doesn’t just pump out standard celtic-punk rock but something with a whole lot more substance. One of the best productions on a album I have heard helps a lot but this innovative band will go far I am sure.

Facebook  WebSite  YouTube  Twitter  ReverbNation  Soundcloud

THE CUNDEEZ- ‘Sehturday Night Weaver’  (BUY)

The CundeezIf their was a prize for best pun in a album title then Dundee band The Cundeez would walk it. Do you get it? Anyway this is their third album and with each one the band have got more polished and accomplished. Saying that it’s still ramshackle punk rock in all its glory. The lyrics are mostly either political or a bit daft and shouted in a raw Dundee dialect and combined with the punching guitars, pounding drums and occasional bagpipe The Cundeez certainly offer something well different to yer usual punk rock fare. The opening song is pure bagpipes and well played they are too but with the next song ‘Scaffie Radio’ the album steers away from celtic-punk into more standard (but still very good) punk. Elements of ska too especially on the brilliant ‘Rooota’ The pipes return occasionally and the album ends with a cover of ‘Teenage Kicks’ where the pipes return again to great effect. The rest of the album rocks by and can’t wait to catch them live from what I have heard they put on a great show.

The Cundeez unashamedly Dundonian working class band promotin the culture an havin a laugh!

Facebook  ReverbNation  Soundcloud  Twitter

ANTO MORRA- ‘Patriotism Is Not Enough’ EP  (BUY)

Anto MorraNow this EP from London Celtic Punks favourite Anto Morra sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb here. I can say that freely as it was Anto himself who said it first! Those coming along to this EP expecting more of the same as Anto’s previous releases will get a shock as what you get here is hardcore ‘finger in the ear’ folk music that brings back reminiscences of people like Ewan MacColl and Pete Seeger. Famed for his wordplay and the way he somehow manages to inject the spirit of punk  rock into his London Irish acoustic folk Anto has come up here with something very novel and you can listen to the whole EP below on the Bandcamp player first before you buy. Again the amazing fellow London Irishman and artist Brian Whelan has provided the artwork and the whole EP is a tribute to Edith Cavell. Edith was a nurse and is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers from both sides during the First World War. She aided some 200 Allied soldiers to escape from German occupied Belguim and it was for this that she was arrested and accused of treason. Edith was found guilty and sentenced to death and despite international calls for mercy, she was executed by firing squad with her execution receiving worldwide condemnation. She is well known for her statement that “patriotism is not enough” and it was her strong Anglican beliefs that compelled her to help all those who needed it. She was quoted as saying, “I can’t stop while there are lives to be saved”. Edith, who was 49 at the time of her execution, was already notable as a pioneer of modern nursing in Belgium and this EP tells of her glorious life. Five tracks of Anto recorded in a church in Norfolk last Summer including ‘Edith Louise Cavell’ which was performed and broadcast live at the Edith Cavell’s centenary memorial service on BBC Radio 4. So a lot different to what Anto has previously done and I doubt we’ll get to hear any of these songs at a London Celtic Punks gig but full marks for producing this beautiful tribute to Edith and I do hope you will give it a chance.

Contact Anto Morra

Facebook  Reverbnation  Twitter  Bandcamp

So ends Part 2 and again we’re sorry we weren’t able to give each album the full-on London Celtic Punks treatment but it was just not possible with work and family commitments. Soooo only one more part to come and in Part 3 we will checking out some cracking releases from across the other side of the world. Yes from Japan, China and Australia. If you don’t want to miss any of our posts then you can follow us by simply filling in your e-mail address in the box that is either below or to the left depending how you are viewing and you will receive every post to your in-box.

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: EWAN MacCOLL- ‘Scots Drinking Songs’ (1956)

AND FREE DOWNLOAD!

Ewan

2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the legendary Ewan MacColl’s birth and although ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ and ‘Dirty Old Town’ remain his biggest ‘hits’ he also wrote and recorded hundreds of traditional songs baring the experience of the working class. A huge body of work that demands to be heard. We have often featured Ewan on these pages, much to the chagrin of some who don’t see what he has to do with celtic-punk, but here we like to introduce a bit of history and context into proceedings. Good old Wikipedia states

 “celtic punk is punk rock mixed with traditional celtic music”

so as much as the punk bands have influenced the music it is really the folk and traditional music of our parents and grandparents generation that have really  made celtic-punk what it is today. In this series of ‘Classic Album Reviews’ we have seen their have been musicians who would put Ozzy Osbourne to shame with tales of their excess, or dazzle you with their wordplay, stories of sadness and joy and of rebellion and death and of remembrance and much much more. All music that has had an untold influence on modern music. We would ask you to take a chance. Check out this music from another era and remember at the time this was the music that your parents AND the government did not want you to hear!

Ewan MacColl

EWAN MacCOLL was the Scots-born son of a Gaelic-speaking mother and Lowland father from whom he inherited more than a hundred songs. He worked as a garage hand, builder’s labourer, trade union organizer, journalist, radio scriptwriter, actor and dramatist. MacColl wrote and broadcast extensively about folk music and frequently took part in radio and TV shows.

Of the songs he included in this album, MacColl recalled

“I can remember as a child being allowed to stay up at Hogmanay parties when a dozen Scots iron-moulders and their wives would settle down to serious drinking. ‘A Wee Drappie O’T’ would be sung with everyone joining in the chorus with maybe a few English friends looking a bit embarrassed at this display of celtic emotion and the beer jugs would be circulating freely and whiskey bottles would empty at an alarming rate. In between the songs the company would argue the merits of Edward Clod’s ‘History of Creation’ and Volny’s ‘Ruins of Empires’ and then as the singing became more and more rough I would be sent off to bed. As these junketings often lasted for a whole week I had plenty of opportunities to learn the songs”

‘SCOTS DRINKING SONGS’ ALBUM LINER NOTES

It has been observed that the pattern of social drinking in Scotland corresponds roughly to the three movements which comprise a pibroch[1]. First, there is the leisurely philosophical discussion, argument or monologue during which the theme of the evening is stated. The second movement consists of a set of variations in the form of repeated patriotic utterances and the last movement is a scherzo in which amorousness and bawdiness are combined to show the national prowess in a sport which, as far as we are concerned, has all the competitive features of international football. The first movement is non-melodic; being confined to pure talk. The second movement is a synthesis of talk and patriotic song and the third and longest movement is wholly song.

Scots licensing laws have done their best to destroy this ancient pattern by making singing in pubs an offence and, wherever possible, by segregating the sexes. The legislators appear to have operated on the basis of the good old Calvinistic maxims that women are the root of all evil and that singing and licentiousness are interchangeable words. However, what is lost in the pubs is gained in the family circle and many a child who might otherwise have grown to ignorant maturity has learned some of the more interesting and pleasurable facts of life from listening to songs sung by Auntie Mag and Uncle Alec at a Hogmanay (New Year) party.

As in Italy, love is the great theme of Scots folk song but, unlike Italy, it is the act of love rather than the emotion which is celebrated. John Knox might rave against the sins of the flesh and numerous Holy Willies might rant against evildoers but the commons of Scotland had a healthy, realistic attitude on love which no amount of Calvinistic preaching could pervert. True, there were the prying elders and the cutty stool to be faced after the act but the joys of love and the body’s needs outweighed all such considerations.

The frank expression of physical desire in Scots folk song has been a subject for dismay with collectors and anthologists for more than two hundred years. Only David Herd’s collection (“The Ancient and Modern Scots Songs,” 1769) escaped the embalmer’s knife of polite hypocrisy. Bishop Thomas Percy, famed for the “Reliques of Ancient English Poetry,” offered to clean up Herd’s collection but Herd, being an honest man, refused and published the songs as he had found them.

Since that time, the majority of Scots collectors, apparently unaware of the fact that babies are not found under cabbage leaves, have divided their time between attempting to castrate the muse and apologizing for Herd and the lower classes’ capacity for lovemaking.

The fig leaf of Calvinism cannot disguise the virility and appetite of the Scots muse and under the influence of a few drinks the fig leaf disappears through the window and the muse, with a smacking of lips and a bellow of laughter, proceeds to celebrate the most universal of man’s pastimes.

SIDE ONE—

1. WE’RE A’ JOLLY FU’: This centuries-old song lends itself to interminable improvisations and is a great favorite at all-male drinking sessions where the fantasy tends to become exclusively sexual after a while.

2.  THE CALTON WEAVER: The linen mills of the Calton district of Glasgow have been gone these fifty years but this song is still well known among those who take their drinking seriously. Alf Edwards accompanies me on the concertina.

3.  WHEN SHE GAME BEN SHE BOBBIT: I learned this from William Miller of Stirling. The Laird of Cockpen, though largely a mythical figure, is the questionable hero of scores of Scots songs and ballads. A brushed up version of this song was made by Robert Burns but the folk song anthologists have, without exception, avoided the older and broader versions and made use of Lady Nairn’s admirable little song The Laird of Cockpen in which the original ribaldry is replaced by a rather pawky humor.

4.  THE LAIRD OF THE DAINTY DOON BYE: It is strange that Professor Child did not include a version of this traditional ballad in his collections for it was already of considerable age when it first appeared in print in Herd’s collection in 1776. It is still a prime favorite with good company. I learned it from Jeannie Robertson of Dundee.

5.  BLOW THE CANDLE OUT: Originally an English song, but now widely sung throughout lowland Scotland. It has been popular in various versions in the bothies for the best part of three quarters of a century. In this and all other numbers employing the guitar I am accompanied by Brian Daly.

6.  DONALD BLUE: The drunken wife is a popular subject in Scots folk song and, indeed, Scots classical literature, too. It was from songs such as this one and The Drunken Wife of Galloway that the 16th and 17th century poets like William Dunbar and Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount took their fabulous heroines.

7.  THE BREWER LADDIE: A ‘cornkister’, this song has been popular in the North East for at least the last hundred years. The forsaken and jilted heroes and heroines of the bothy ballads do not die for love; instead they meet their misfortunes head on and, with a good deal of sound sense, start looking around for another sweetheart.

8.  WE’RE GAYLY YET: This is sung at the height of the party, when the drink is flowing freely and all the barriers are down. I learned this from Samuel Wylie of Falkirk.

9.  A WEE DRAPPIE O’T: This is the work of Robert Tannahill (1774-1810), the cotton weaver bard of Paisley. Like many other Scots workers of his time, he was inspired by the example of Robert Burns to write poems and songs in the language of his workmates. At least three of his songs have become part of the. Scots tradition. This one belongs to that part of a drinking session which is characterized by the first glow of good fellowship and a good deal of philosophizing.

10.  THE CUCKOO’S NEST: The veneer of Calvinism is wafer-thin as far as the Scots working class is concerned. A few drinks are all that is needed to set the company singing songs like this one. I learned it from Jeannie Robertson.

SIDE TWO—

1. GREEN GROW THE RASHES, O: In spite of Burns’ remaking of this old song, the old version continues to be sung fairly widely. Both the original and Burns’ song would be likely to turn up at most any drinking session.

2.  THE DAY WE WENT TO ROTHESAY, O: In rural Scotland they still sing The Tinker’s Weddin’ O, but in the towns the tune has become fixed as part of Urban folklore and the saga of a rough weekend in Scotland’s most popular resort will bring down the house at any south Scots ceilidh.

3.  THE BONNIE LASSIE WHO NEVER SAID NO: This is a real song of low life, one of the great corpus of such songs which inspired Burns’ folk cantata, The Jolly Beggars. The scene is a drinking howff (part pub, part brothel). A man and a harlot make a night of it and when the woman passes out the man robs her. The choice of gin as the liquor suggests that the song is the product of the early eighteen hundreds when every town in Britain had its ‘Gin Alley’. It is unusual for any other drink than whiskey to be celebrated in a Scots song.

4.  THE MUCKIN’ O’ GEORDIE’S BYRE: This is probably the most well known song in Eastern Scotland and no “boose-up” is complete without at least one rendering. I know it from the singing of Jimmie MacBeth of Elgin.

5.  JOCK HAWK’S ADVENTURES IN GLASGOW: This is a bothy song set to a tune dear to all bothy singers, The Guise O’ Tough. The basic bothy theme of the ploughman being taken-in by the rich farmer is altered slightly and becomes the ploughman taken-in by smart city folk. The general bothy pattern is, however, the same; as always, the ploughman implies that nobody is to blame but himself.

6.  THE BRISK YOUNG LAD: Here is a song of rich, native humor. The boisterous chorus makes it a natural for a boozy gathering. I originally learned it from my mother and later collated the text with the one found in Herd’s collection.

7.  I WISH THAT YOU WERE DEAD, GUIDMAN: Here is another song that first appeared in print in Herd’s collection. It is still popular at masculine drinking sessions at which a number of verses are sung which never get into print.

8.  THE WIND BLEW THE BONNIE LASSIE’S PLAIDIE AWA’: A great favorite in the bothies, this ballad has appeared in a number of printed collections usually somewhat cleaned up for popular consumption. It is a typical example of the Scots’ genius for calling a spade a spade, Presbyterianism notwithstanding.

9.  ANDRO AND HIS CUTTY GUN: Burns described this as “one of the bonniest and certainly one of the most vigorous of our old songs.” As a record of a drinking party it is certainly unequaled in Scots national music.

1 The dictionary defines pibroch as: “A wild, irregular form of martial music played by Scottish Highlanders on the bagpipe, consisting usually of an air with profusely ornamented variations.”

FOR YOUR FREE DOWNLOAD CLICK

HERE

For more on Ewan MacColl the internet is awash with sites but trust us and head straight to Wikipedia for the basics as well as this tribute from the Working Class Movement Library here. You can listen to his music for free here on LastFm but for absolutely everything you need to know then check out the Official Ewan MacColl Website here.

“My function is not to reassure people. I want to make them uncomfortable. To send them out of the place arguing and talking.” – Ewan MacColl

Part of the ‘Classic Album Reviews’ series (here) where we bring you something a little bit different. Lost gems that have inspired and provoked folk music and musicians right up to modern celtic-punk music. Usually out of print so we can provide a free download link for you.

99p FOR THE KANO FOUNDATION- CHARITY SINGLE RELEASED

The Kano Foundation is a group of volunteer Celtic supporters working to help young children. They work in partnership with other Celtic fans to offer a match-day experience at Celtic Park to a range of children’s groups and charities.

Joe McKenna

The song ‘Have You Ever Seen?’, written and performed by Joe McKenna And The Kanettes, has been released through iTunes and PlayStore with all money raised to go to fund the excellent work of the Kano Foundation. Joe is one of the hosts from the HomeBhoys podcast on Hail Hail Media. The proceeds of another of his songs are also being donated to us. Joe has also wrote and performed ‘We Still Won’ for fellow HomeBhoy Paul Larkin’s ‘The Asterisk Years’ documentary.

“Well if you wanna go, K-A-N-O, ‘Hail Hail’, rain, sleet or snoooooooooooooooooooooow!”

Origins

The KANO Foundation took inspiration from the highly successful ‘Bringing Martin Home’ fundraising effort that was undertaken by the Celtic support.

Overnight in 2008, Martin Kane, a Celtic supporter living in Australia, was struck down by a rare neurological condition called Devic’s Syndrome.  The condition is an extreme form of multiple sclerosis and causes the immune system to attack the protective material that covers the nerves. Martin, known as ‘Kano’ to his friends, was a regular contributor to the Celtic Quick News forum and once other members of the forum found out about his situation they quickly kicked off a fundraising effort to raise £60,000 to pay for modifications to his house to get him home for Christmas with his family after spending a year in hospital. The overall campaign exceeded the target and it was decided to use some of the extra money to take a group of children, who had volunteered at the bucket collection, to a match at Celtic Park. The idea for The KANO Foundation was born.

Soon after, The KANO Foundation was formed and since season 2010/2011 The KANO Foundation has been Keeping Football Free for Kids by giving over 3000 kids a unique match day experience at Celtic Park.

About Us

The KANO Foundation is a group of volunteers Keeping Football Free for Kids.

Our mission is to treat youngsters, regardless of background and circumstance, to a day out at Celtic Park.  Since season 2009/2010 we have given a modern day ‘lift over the turnstile’ to over 3000 children varying from boys and girls football teams to local youth clubs and young people with special needs.

We are fully self-funded and rely on the generosity of the Celtic Fans.

Kano

Buy The Single

iTunes  PlayStore

The Kano Foundation

Facebook  Twitter  WebSite  YouTube  Flickr

So our message to you the generous readers and supporters of London Celtic Punks is simple. Honour the fantastic work that the Kano Foundation do and put your hand in your pocket and download the song for just 99p…

*Catch Joe with the rest of the HomeBhoys on their weekly podcast, Monday nights at 7.30pm on the Hail Hail Media channel on Spreaker.

LONDON’S GREEN’n’WHITE: THE WAKES LIVE AT THE COCK TAVERN SATURDAY 29th AUGUST 2015

IMPORTANT NOTICE:

CHANGE OF VENUE

LONDON’S GREEN’n’WHITE

CELTIC SUPPORTERS IN LONDON UNITE!

wakes @ cock

supported by the
UNDERGROUND CELTIC SUPPORTERS CLUB
HAYES BHOYS CELTIC SUPPORTERS CLUB
BRIGHTON CELTIC SUPPORTERS CLUB
LONDON CELTIC SUPPORTERS-FACEBOOK
URBANKELT
LONDON CELTIC PUNKS

Buy Tickets Here

click above to buy advance tickets

THE WAKES

we are pleased to announce the headliners who will be making a very rare London appearance. The Wakes are a folk rock band from Glasgow, Scotland. The band’s sound is a mixture of Celtic traditional music fused with punk rock. The band’s lyrics embrace their culture, heritage and surroundings. They cover all manner of subjects from anti-fascist politics, immigration and unemployment to uprising and rebellion in Scotland, Ireland and beyond.
http://www.thewakes.info/

supports act will include
ANTO MORRA
the music of London Irish Celtic and QPR supporter Anto can be found somewhere between the Pogues and Ian Dury with a dash of Madness.
http://www.antomorra.com/

BUCKETS OF COURAGE
an old school streetpunk band made up of Celtic fans all the way from County Kilburn!
https://www.facebook.com/bucketsofcourage

GREENFORD BHOY

our resident DJ Mr.GREENFORD BHOY will be spinning his ipod playing a whole host of celtic punk and rock, trad folk, rebel Irish and just plain auld rebel before, inbetween and after the bands.

more acts to be announced (and SPECIAL GUESTS to be confirmed!) so keep an eye out here…

the proceeds for the gig will go to the Clapton One. an anti-fascist Celtic supporter who was recently arrested unfairly in London and received a huge fine. lets show that we look after our own…

Entry is from 7-30pm and is £10 and advance tickets are available (click the giant ticket stub above). If their are any tickets left then it will be Pay On The Door. The gig will end at midnight.

The Water Rats is closed for refurbishment (thanks for telling us!) so we have had to move to The Cock Tavern, home of the Underground Celtic Supporters Club, literally just around the corner from Euston station and not far from the Water Rats either!
Plenty of trains, tubes and buses galore will get you back to pretty much anywhere all through the night. Map and some other shit here and here.

cock tavern

The Cock Tavern

23 Phoenix Road, Euston, London, NW1 1HB

020 7387 1884

Facebook event here

https://www.facebook.com/events/933811693308277/

come down before the gig and join the infamous UNDERGROUND CELTIC SUPPORTERS CLUB for the Celtic v St Johnstone game which will be shown live in the pub at 3pm.

ALBUM REVIEW: PYROLYSIS- ‘On Mountains High I Stand’ (2015)

Five crazy Bruchem people. Let them explode. Get a joyful mix of celtic, punk, rock, and folk.

That’s Pyrolysis!

PYROLYSIS- ‘On Mountains High I Stand’ (2015)

On first listen this seems a rather odd album here from Dutch folkies Pyrolysis that sits very nicely on the folkier side of celtic-punk. Repeated listening to ‘On Mountains High I Stand’ reveals a really nice traditional folk sound that isn’t afraid to go heads down into celtic-punk territory sometimes. The band I am most reminded of here is The Whisky Priests who flamed very brightly cross Europe in the 90’s with their unique brand of Geordie (Newcastle) English folk-punk music. The album begins with a pirate-punk song called ‘Yarr’ and from the off you can tell this is not going to be an album you will be able to pigeonhole easily. A quest for adventure and treasure while plundering and drinking! The accordion reigns here and in pretty much every song is the dominant instrument.

The band sing of their love for whiskey in ‘Black Grouse Noise’ which adds in electric guitar for the first time and Pyrolysis show their punkier side. ‘Face’ starts and within the first few bars you’re not quite sure whether its heading in a punk, ska or folk direction and in the end it ends up as a heads down rock number with distorted guitar and gang vocals but its the addition of Hammond organ that brings the song out of the ordinary. On ‘Morrison’s Jig’ the band go all out traditional and fiddle and bodhran are to the fore and they pull it off admirably. A real barnstormer this. One of the absolute album stand out tracks is ‘Battle Cry’ and to fully appreciate the song watch it with the video below.

The electric guitars are a wee bit subdued and the accordion and vocals shine right out at you.

“The grace of God from far above
Is nowhere to be found
The helmet are the sight
And the horns they are the sound”

A very definite Scottish folk sound here with the occasional nod over to the Emerald Isle and ‘A Song Called Cheese’ shows a lighter side to Pyrolysis and their sense of humour. The flute pops up with a thundering bass in the back ground and a real foot tapper begins. Sounding rather like celtic-indie they may have started their own genre but ‘Wake’ returns them to their folk roots.They pull off a fantastic version of ‘Wind That Shakes The Barley’ next and breathe new life into this classic song. Beginning with piano and then closely followed by fiddle this is an extremely well played and catchy instrumental tune. The song ends and instantly cracks into ‘Loch Lomond’ and the switch from Ireland to Scotland is at its most blatant with this superb acapella version of this classic traditional song first published back in 1841. Its origins are unsure but the most popular theory is that it is connected to the failed Jacobite Uprising of 1745 and that the lyrics describe a lover of a captured Jacobite rebel set to be executed in London. The heads of the executed rebels were then set upon pikes and exhibited in all of the towns between London and Edinburgh in a procession along the ‘high road’, the most important road, while the relatives of the rebels walked back along the ‘low road’, the ordinary road travelled by peasants and commoners.

“O ye’ll take the high road, and I’ll take the low road,
And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye,
Where me and my true love will never meet again,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond”

The version performed by Pyrolysis is best remembered by the legendary English 60’s folk group The King’s Singers with the second and third verses originally  by a bass and tenor (listen here) but Pyrolysis have added female vocals and it sounds great. In its native Scotland the song is often the final piece of music played after an evening of partying though here though it signals just over half way point of the album. ‘Salvation’takes them in another direction and reminds me a lot of The Men They Couldn’t Hang before it gets going and goes off in a pop-punk direction. ‘Standing Tall (Above It All) takes a harder musical approach with you thinking its really going to take off before it slows down again before the chugging guitars come in. Possibly the most celtic-punk sounding of the albums tracks I would say with the electric guitars sounding terrific. ‘Life At Morrisons’ is another stand out and again i think the guitars could have done with being turned up a tad but a great song that rattles along with distorted guitar and harmonica pushing it along. A great drunken video clip is worth a watch. Great fun and filmed in Morrisons Irish Pub in their home town of Rossum in the Netherlands.

The album is coming to an end and ‘Lets Do It Now’ is a short punky number that shows that Pyrolysis can turn their hand to traditional punk as well as traditional folk music! ‘Rofuss’ is the final track and is the albums most epic and ambitious song. A long rambling track of flute and bodhran and fiddle and voice and all manner of instruments that perfectly shows Pyrolysis talents.

left to right: Tim Elfring (Bass & Backing Vocals) Laurens Krah (Keys & Accordeon) Rikke Linssen (Violin & Backing Vocals) Stan Eimers (Lead Vocals & Drum) Sven Schipper (Guitar)

Pyrolysis from left to right:
Tim Elfring (Bass and Backing Vocals) * Laurens Krah (Keys and Accordion) * Rikke Linssen (Violin and Backing Vocals) * Stan Eimers (Lead Vocals and Drum) * Sven Schipper (Guitar)

Formed only five years ago this album is a follow up to the 2012 mini-album/EP ‘Remedy For The Night’ and is ever so slightly a wee bit unpolished but so what. Since when has music been about perfect production. Celtic music is music to be enjoyed live and this album has a real good live feel to it and that is what makes it such a fun listen. Fourteen songs that take just over forty minutes to play so the songs rattle along at a fair old speed and there’s no pause for breath. I can easily recommend this album for you. I have been playing it here at London Celtic Punks headquarters and have seriously enjoyed this infectious romp through celtic-folk-punk.

(to hear the whole of ‘On Mountains High I Stand’ press play on the Bandcamp player directly below. Click on the link below the player to buy the album.)

Buy The Album

FromTheBand

Contact The Band

Facebook  Bandcamp  WebSite  YouTube

and finally just in case you were wondering (I had to look it up myself!)

pyrolysis (paɪˈrɒlɪsɪs)

noun

  1. the application of heat to chemical compounds in order to cause decomposition
  2. chemical decomposition of compounds caused by high temperatures

ALBUM REVIEW: THE KILMAINE SAINTS- ‘Live At The Abbey’ (2015)

Explosive, high-energy celtic-punk rock band from Pennsylvania will lift your hearts and your spirit…
and your pint when you’re not looking!
Kilmaine Saints Live At The Abbey

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)
Get The Album
Contact The Band

ALBUM REVIEW: TIN CAN HOOLEY- ‘ Racket In The Parlor’ (2015)

folk that rocks… not folk rock!

Featuring over 75 years of artistry in Boston punk and hardcore bands playing old time Celtic pub music

Tin Can

Tin Can Hooley are a Boston Irish band right out of the Boston Irish community. Despite never having set foot there I feel I know Boston well what with the Dropkick Murphys and films like The Departed or TV shows like The Black Donnellys or Cheers and a multitude of factual programmes raking over the Irish mafia/ mob that have ruled in Boston up to the present day. Therefore it should come as no surprise to anyone that the Irish do indeed run Boston. Perhaps not as blatantly as in years gone by, and certainly no longer with guns and muscle, but Boston is still to this day an Irish city with over 20% proclaiming their Irishness. The Irish first arrived in the early 17th century as indentured servants, merchants, sailors or tradesmen. Catholicism was still illegal so many hid their religion but it was the years of The Great Hunger that saw the Irish population explode. Between 1845 and 1849, 100,000 Irish refugees arrived in Boston, fleeing starvation and pestilence. They transformed Boston into a distinctly Irish city and by the end of the 19th century, Boston’s core neighbourhoods had become enclaves of ethnically distinct immigrants with the Irish dominating, for example, the whole of South Boston. It wasn’t all plain sailing though and the Irish were met with considerable discrimination. From the first moment of their arrival, the Irish occupied the basement of American society. Much of this discrimination was the result of anti-Catholic sentiment. Catholicism was extremely important to the Irish community. Attending church was mandatory and defined what made a good citizen. No single group of individuals did more to change the face of Irish-Americans than the Kennedy family. Through their military service and political careers, Joe Kennedy and his sons became American royalty. The entrance of the Irish into politics marked the turning point and the end of blatant Irish discrimination. Famous actors and TV stars- Denis Leary, Ben and Casey Affleck, Mark Wahlberg, Mike O’Malley, Conan O’Brien, Politicians- The Kennedy’s, Tip O’Neal, and sportsman like John L.Sullivan, Micky ‘Irish’ Ward, Kevin McHale, and its basketball team- The Boston Celtics, and its infamous gangsters like James J ‘Whitey’ Bulger and James ‘Spike’ O’Toole all show the pride that Bostonians have in their Irish roots. A walk around the working class Irish areas of Boston and you could be back in Ireland or even Kilburn of the 70’s/ 80’s and you can see why Boston is known as America’s most Irish town. Added to these is perhaps the reason we are here at all, The Dropkick Murphys! I am sure they need no introduction other than to say that it was their Irish-American background growing up that inspired them to become a band fusing punk and Oi! and traditional Irish music and lyrics.

CAC down May 2014

(photo credit Billy Calmovita)

With all this in mind it’s no surprise then music has figured high in the culture of the Boston Irish. As well as the celtic-punk bands that have emerged from the city from the Murphys and The Street Dogs to bands like The Larkin Brigade and The Gobshites who took over and newer bands like Mickey Rickshaw and The Welch Boys, Boston has been at the very forefront of blending traditional Irish music and rock and punk and other music too. Punk bands like Negative FX, Death Before Dishonor and Gang Green have also all given a fair nod to their celtic roots while playing the uncompromising music you would associate with ‘Boston Hardcore’.

Left to right: Will

Left to right: Will “Sully” Toxic (guitars, bouzouki, vocals), Heavyset Joe (fiddle, vocals), Dynamite Jack (drums), Paddy Keys (piano, vocals), Benny the Fireman (accordion, vocals, tin whistle, harmonica, bagpipes)

So with all that history behind them how can a relatively new band make a name for themselves? Well one way is to make a shit-kicking album of traditional folk standards, jigs and reels that is high on energy and expertly played instruments with enough of a punk rock edge to prevent it going into ‘finger-in-the-ear’ folk territory. This is what Tin Can Hooley have managed to do with ‘Racket In The Parlor’. Fifteen songs clocking in at just under an hour’s worth of top notch punky Irish folk music.

Playing together on and off since 1999 Tin Can Hooley are a combination of two distinct Boston Irish bands. Firstly the legendary punk band Toxic Narcotic, who played a style of hardcore punk known as crust who were not for the sensitive or faint hearted. They were the real deal, working class anarchist punk rock with a ‘F’The World’ attitude and absolutely no compromises. The other band was The Larkin Brigade, who actually happen to be one of my all time favourite celtic-punk bands, and who would, I am sure, have gone onto much better and bigger things if they had managed a follow up to the brilliant ‘Paddy Keys For Mayor!’ album and managed to tour a bit more. They were described, brilliantly, as

“if the Wolfe Tones had sex with Ben Folds Five, and then, nine months later, a tearful Ben Folds Five left a bassinet on the doorstep of a bewildered Minor Threat, who, after attempting to raise the little bundle itself, passed the kid off into the social services system, where it went through a series of foster homes including the Pogues and Blood for Blood, before it was taken under the wing of the Rolling Stones, who paid for it to take piano lessons from Scott Joplin and then Jerry Lee Lewis, each of whom in turn kicked the kid out of class for not practising, and finally the kid ran away and worked in an Irish pub, where it osmotically memorized every song in the book while mopping puke off the floor, until one day the Wolfe Tones walked in to order a pint and recognized its own offspring running cases of Magner’s behind the bar, and, after a brawl that caused thousands of dollars in damage and a bar tab that cost hundreds, bestowed upon the kid a lucky Claddagh ring with special powers, then that kid would grow up to be the Larkin Brigade”

So Tin Can Hooley come from quite a musical heritage themselves and boy they don’t let Boston down one bit as these Bhoys can certainly play! ‘Racket In The Parlor’ clocks in at just under one hour and kicks off with the Irish air/Scots barn dance ‘Loch Na gCaor/Killiecrankie’ and is instantly reminiscent of The Larkin Brigade and that feeling gets stronger when Paddy sings in the next song, ‘Johnsons Motorcar’.

“Well we put that car in motion and filled it to the brim
With guns and bayonets shining which made old Johnston grim
And Barney hoisted a Sinn Fein flag and it fluttered like a star
And we gave three cheers for the IRA and Johnston’s Motor Car”

Based on a real event in 1920 during the Irish War Of Independence when a IRA flying column desperately needed transport to a town over fifty miles away. They called out Henry Johnston, the local doctor, and then ambushed him and his car at a railway bridge and commandeered the car. Humour and real history captured in a great song. A selection of more reels and jigs follow and the wonderful fiddle work drives it along with piano, accordion, bagpipes, bouzouki, tin whistle and harmonica all popping up again and again giving the album a well rounded and full sound. The piano gives it all a music hall feel but there is a respect for the people and musicians who sang these songs first while Tin Can Hooley add to and adapt so these songs can be passed onto the next generation who will perform them and celebrate them.

The usual standards are also here with ‘Tell Me Ma’, McAlpines Fusiliers’ and ‘The Fields Of Athenry’ all getting an airing and though you may have heard them a thousand times don’t be letting that put you off as Tin Can Hooley perform everything with their own personal flair and touch. ‘The Moonshiner’ again shows the bands great sense of humour

“I’m a rambler, I’m a gambler,
I’m a long way from home
And if you don’t like me,
Well, leave me alone
I’ll eat when I’m hungry,
I’ll drink when I’m dry
And if moonshine don’t kill me,
I’ll live till I die”

Tin Can Hooley must go down an absolute storm in the pubs and clubs of Boston and they have transferred their fun and raucous sound onto ‘Racket In The Parlor’ and it doesn’t fail to surprise. There is so much here within the fifteen songs with excerpts of countless songs slotted in unannounced to shock you. Its a brilliant album and chock-a-block with energy and fire to fill your hearts and stomachs. ‘John Ryans Polka/ Wild Colonial Boy’ leads you on a merry dance and this reminds me of The Pogues with their ability to make folk instruments sound as loud and as punk as any punk band. A slow version of ‘Fields Of Athenry’ features the beautiful voice of twelve year old Siobhan Hayes. It seems Tin Can Hooley are already aiding that next generation of Boston Irish. ‘Derry Air/ Gravel Work’ shows the serious traditional side to the band and if anyone would ever accuse them of not being able to play then I’d suggest they shove this in the accuser’s face! ‘Its A Long Way To Tipperary’ ends the album and the music hall favourite written by 2nd generation Irish Brummie Jack Judge in 1912 has never sounded such fun. A great finale and this song shows everything great about Tin Can Hooley.

All in all a wonderful album and one to be filed among the more trad side of celtic-punk. The assortment of punk rockers playing gives it an definite feel of a punk rock record while the music stays within the confines of a folk record. Superb musicianship and some really great adaptations of some classic, and not so, songs from Ireland, Scotland, Cape Breton and America. Would love to hear some originals from this band but with their pedigree it shouldn’t be too long I am sure.

Tin Can HooleyContact The Band

Facebook  ReverbNation  Spotify

Buy The Album

CDBaby  Amazon

*interview with Tin Can Hooley here from the excellent celtic-punk web site Shite’n’Onions

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: GIL SCOTT-HERON- ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ (1974)

The godfather of rap and hip-hop and son of Celtic’s first black player

FREE DOWNLOAD

Gil Heron

Gil Heron 1922-2008

Today we are giving you something well out of our loop as part of the ‘Classic Album Reviews’. Whereas normally we’d give you some out of print folk album from the 30s/40s/50s here’s something a bit more recent (still its forty one years young) and, some would say the very first hip-hop/ rap album. Well, I hear you say, so what? Whats the connection to us? Well it’s a little known fact (though it has appeared here before) that Gil Scott Heron’s old man, Gil Heron was the first black player to play for Celtic. Known as ‘The Black Arrow’ the Jamaican-born Heron played one season, 1951-52, in the hoops and played five games and scored two goals. His son, also Gil, is who we celebrate here though. Known in recent years as the ‘Godfather Of Rap’ he was an articulate voice for change but despite being a well respected composer, musician, author and poet he remains best known for writing and performing the spoken-word track ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’. He wrote the song when he was just 21 years old and would go on to perform and release several re-workings of it in his lifetime. He once said

“The revolution takes place in your mind. Once you change your mind and decide that there’s something wrong that you want to effect that’s when the revolution takes place. But first you have to look at things and decide what you can do. ‘Something’s wrong and I have to do something about it. I can effect this change.’ Then you become a revolutionary person. It’s not all about fighting. It’s not all about going to war. It’s about going to war with the problem and deciding you can effect that problem. When you want to make things better you’re a revolutionary”

It was never a hit, which suggests that Gil’s point that attempts at revolution are always suppressed by those in power was completely right! It is said that fans would turn up to his gigs wearing Celtic shirts but the poet-singer was estranged from his father until adulthood. Still it is truly amazing that both father and son were such pioneers in their chosen fields. His own term for himself was ‘bluesologist’, which he defined as

“a scientist who is concerned with the origin of the blues”

GIL SCOTT-HERON- 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised' (1974)

click on the album cover to get your Free Download!

You will not be able to stay home, brother
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag
And skip out for beer during commercials
Because the revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be televised
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
Blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John Mitchell
General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat hog maws
Confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary
The revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theater and will not star Natalie Woods
And Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs
The revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner
Because the revolution will not be televised, Brother

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
Pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run
Or trying to slide that color TV into a stolen ambulance
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
Or report from 29 districts
The revolution will not be televised

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
Brothers on the instant replay
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
Brothers on the instant replay

There will be no pictures of Whitney Young
Being run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy Wilkens
Strolling through Watts in a red, black and green
Liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies and Hooter ville Junction
Will no longer be so damned relevant
And women will not care if Dick finally gets down with Jane
On search for tomorrow because black people
Will be in the street looking for a brighter day
The revolution will not be televised

There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock news
And no pictures of hairy armed women liberationists
And Jackie Onassis blowing her nose
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom Jones
Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink or the Rare Earth
The revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be right back after a message
About a white tornado, white lightning, or white people
You will not have to worry about a dove in your bedroom
The tiger in your tank or the giant in your toilet bowl
The revolution will not go better with Coke
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath
The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised
Will not be televised, will not be televised
The revolution will be no re-run brothers
The revolution will be live

I won’t pretend to be too knowledgeable here so I am just gonna put it out there and give you a bit of history about the guy and the album and impact it had and hopefully you will download it and make up your own minds. That after all is all we ever want.

If the people were to rise to rebellion, there will be no news coverage of the event. That is in a nutshell what Gil is getting at. The years preceding this album America was rocked with scandals and assassinations and political strife that had shaken the very foundations of the state. There was a feeling that revolution was on the cards, though looking back it now seems mad to have thought that. Nevertheless some things did change for the better and music was at the forefront of pushing for that change. Gil was known primarily as a jazz musician though ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ is more a collection of Rhythm and Blues and spoken poetry. While it would be hard to say that Gil invented rhyming there are definitely parallels between angry poems like ‘Whitey on the Moon’,

“Taxes takin’ my whole damn check
The junkies make me a nervous wreck
The price of food is goin up
And if all that crap wasn’t enough
A rat done bit my sister nell
With Whitey on the moon”

‘No Knock’ and ‘Brother’ and 1980s onwards hip hop. Poetry doesn’t dominate though and most of the selections illustrate his excellence as a singer, including ‘Home Is Where the Hatred Is’

“A junkie walking through the twilight
I’m on my way home
I left three days ago, but no one seems to know I’m gone
Home is where the hatred is
Home is filled with pain and it,
might not be such a bad idea if I never, never went home again”

‘Did You Hear What They Said?’ and the poignant ‘Save the Children’. One of the less political tracks is ‘Lady Day and John Coltrane’, an R&B classic that articulates how easily jazz can lift a person’s spirits. ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ is  not the last word on Scott-Heron’s but it’s certainly one of the best places to start if you’re exploring his work for the first time. Besides influencing contemporary musicians, Gil remained active until his death in 2011. A memoir he had been working on for years up to the time of his death, ‘The Last Holiday’, was published, posthumously in January 2012.

“My father still keeps up with what Celtic are doing. You Scottish folk always mention that my Dad played for Celtic, it’s a blessing from the spirits! Like that’s two things that Scottish folks love the most; music and football and they got one representative from each of those from my family!”

Tracklist
1. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
2. Sex Education – Ghetto Style
3. The Get Out Of The Ghetto Blues
4. No Knock
5. Lady Day And John Coltrane
6. Pieces Of A Man
7. Home Is Where The Hatred Is
8. Brother
9. Save The Children
10. Whitey On The Moon
11. Did You Hear What They Said
12. When You Are Who You Are
13. I Think I’ll Call It Morning
14. A Sign Of The Ages
15. Or Down You Fall
16. The Needle’s Eye
17. The Prisoner

DEDICATED TO ROBERT KING

Robert King

Robert Hillary King, aka Robert King Wilkerson, was part of a trio of American political prisoners collectively known as The Angola Three. Robert became a Celtic supporter through the influence of Gil and recently appeared on worldwide televison wearing the hoops. Robert’s membership in the only prison-recognized chapter of the Black Panther Party, and his work organizing against prison injustices, resulted in his being targeted for retaliation by prison officials. Despite overwhelming evidence exonerating him, prison-snitch testimony alone convicted him and he received a life sentence for the death of a fellow inmate. Robert’s tenacity in proving his innocence came to fruition when a Federal Appeals Court finally found him “probably innocent.” In February 2001, after thirty-one years of imprisonment and twenty-nine continuous years of solitary confinement, King walked out of the gates of Angola Prison a free man. He has spoken at universities, conferences and other venues. He has made appearances on radio and television and addressed members of the European Parliament. He worked hard to win the release of his comrades, the release of all political prisoners, and an end to the new slavery that is the Prison Industrial Complex.

“I may be free from Angola, but Angola will never be free of me!”

find out more about the Angola Three case here.

Part of the ‘Classic Album Reviews’ series (here) where we bring you something a little bit different to what you’re use to. Lost gems that have inspired and provoked folk music and musicians right up to modern celtic-punk music. Usually out of print so we can provide a free download link for you.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE PROCLAIMERS- ‘Let’s Hear It For The Dogs’ (2015)

not celtic-punk but at least they’re Hibernian!

The Proclaimers - Let’s Hear It For The Dogs (2015)

The Proclaimers have been around now for nearly thirty years and they have built up a massive following across the world, and not just of Scottish exiles and within the Scots diaspora. They first hit the charts with the wonderful ‘Letter From America’ way back in 1987 and they followed this up with a stack of hits that made them popular on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond. Being one of the first bands to sing in their natural Scots accents rather than effect an English or American one might have held them back but their powerful songs and their leftfield politics hit a chord where pop, folk, new wave and punk all collide and though their star did wane somewhat they never went away and continued to plug away making their music and occasionaly troubling the charts and appearing on our television screens.

The Proclaimers

Born in Leith in Scotland in 1962 identical twin brothers Charlie and Craig Reid played in a host of punk bands at school before forming The Proclaimers. They rose to fame supporting The Housemartins on their UK tour in 1986 and an appearance on famed music show The Tube brought them to a nations attention and with the release of ‘Letter From America’ the rest is history. The brothers are fans of Hibernian Football Club and their 1988 hit ‘Sunshine on Leith’ has become the club anthem. Hibernian were the original Irish team in Scotland, based in Edinburgh, and their is more than a bone of contention on how Celtic who appeared some years later came to be the dominant force for the Scots-Irish. They have been life-long supporters of Scottish independence and donated £10,000 to the Yes campaign and threw all their weight behind the campaign last September and still continue to agitate for Scottish freedom. As the boys explain.

“The lyrics in Letter From America are about the job losses and closures that flow from Scotland not having control over her destiny — that is what happened in the 1980s, and that is why Scotland needs independence now.”

‘Let’s Hear It For The Dogs’ is the boys tenth studio album and from the first track ‘You Built Me Up’ the twins and their band rattle up a great rock’n’roll racket. Accompanied by their live band: Stevie Christie (keyboards), Garry John Kane (bass), Zac Ware (electric guitar) and Clive Jenner (drums) with additional guitars by Sean Genockey and an appearance by the Vulcan String Quartet, The Proclaimers sound as powerful as they havent done in years and producer Dave Eringa (whose past work has included The Who, Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey and The Manic Street Preachers) has done an excellent job capturing them and their differing styles of music but always keeping it within The Proclaimers broader sound.

‘Be With Me’ is another shorter number and Craig and Charlie’s band classic rock is still based around a folkish sound and the electric guitars do not diminish this. ‘In My Home’ has an orchestral sound that no doubt Dave Eringa had more than a wee bit to do with reminiscent as it is of the Manic Street Preachers. With the Independence referendum defeat its hardly suprising that their is a feeling in some of the songs of what might have been. ‘Tuesday Afternoon’ speaks of a love rekindled and of their love for Scotland and nostalgia for their beloved Edinburgh. They ramp it back up to eleven with ‘Then Again’, the shortest track on the album which sticks the boot into both the celebrity culture that allowed people on the television to commit sexual abuse and the untold amount of MP’s and person’s of power who seemingly unhindered got away with literally murder. Witty in a way that does not belittle the serious subject matter. Album standout track ‘What School?’ is a phrase many of us have heard but not in the way that some of you would think. As a kid I went to the only Catholic school in my town and if I ever did hear the words ‘What school do you go to?’ then it might sometimes be a good idea to be on your toes. How the boys bring their love of dogs into this is pure brilliance.

“I know he’s a big Wolves fan, but does he favour rebel songs or marching flute bands?”

Religious bigotry is alive and definitly kicking in the west of Scotland but like their beloved empire is surely on the way out and before long will hopefully be a thing of the past.

‘If I’m Still Around’ has the boys singing of love accompanied by a slow piano before the music builds to a climax. ‘The Other Side (Of Me)’ shows the Proclaimers singing of selfish men that make women cry. A good singalong that will have concert goers shouting along I am sure. ‘Forever Young’ has them rocking out again and has the twins voices working perfectly together. Country music is not unknown to The Proclaimers and the slow and moving ‘Ten Tiny Fingers’ a lovely song about fatherhood has a relaxed country feel to it that lulls you away. The church organ is a welcome touch. ‘Through Him’ is about religion while ‘Rainbows and Happy Regrets’ is set to become another firm fan favourite with the catchy tune and lyrics and its refrain of

“Scotland Forever- Erin Go Bragh”

The last of the albums thirteen tracks is ‘Moral Compass’ and as they sing

“your moral compass is not mine”

Witty, sharp and cutting this is a grand album and even though it contains no real suprises its a solid slice of Proclaimers life that covering subjects from silly to serious that will have you thinking as well as enjoying the music. Forged in Scotland there’s not a single weak song on this record it must be said and the boys continue to go from strength to strength and long may they do so.

The Proclaimers

The Band

WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Twitter

Buy The Album

FromTheBand(signed vinyl and CD’s)  Amazon  iTunes

‘THE SPIRIT OF WALFRID’ CELTIC CHARITY COMPILATION ALBUM OUT NOW

For Celtic Supporters By Celtic Supporters

Brother Walfrid

I tell you the Celtic Family never ceases to amaze me. While one bunch of supporters has come to the aid of a Celtic fan arrested unjustly in London recently (here) another has released this compilation album to help out several charities all close to the Celtic heart.

The album has been organised by The Celtic Network on the belief that

“if you run a site for Celtic fans it is important that charity and good works are promoted alongside the football”

There are seventeen songs, some of which have been recorded and/or written specifically for this album, uniquely produced by a set of football supporters and by Celtic supporting bands and artists. The music itself is mostly of the Irish kind and The Celtic Network is hoping to donate £5 from every sale to the nominated charities. The idea of a ‘charity’ album is nothing new, however I think this may be one of the few to be produced by football supporters, so if that is the case this album maybe a wee bit unique. Fortunately The Celtic Network supports both good causes and Celtic supporting bands and artists, which gave a good starting point for this fund raising project.

If you can, please show your support for The Celtic Network and all of the artists who have given their time and effort to produce the album and the wonderful charities who will benefit from your generosity.

Full Track Listing:

  1. Willie Maley – Charlie And The Bhoys
  2. Colours – The Wakes
  3. They Built Paradise – Bible Code Sundays
  4. Viva La Familia Celtic – Billy No’Well
  5. The Midfield Man – Dusty Bhoy
  6. The Immigrants –  Gary Óg and The Exiles
  7. Home From Home – Paddy Ryan
  8. The Spirit of Brother Walfrid – Hutchy
  9. Tell You This – Closure
  10. Inter Milan – Charlie And The Bhoys
  11. The Uncrowned King of Football – The Wakes
  12. Maybe It’s Because I’m An Irish Londoner – Bible Code Sundays
  13. Invisible – Billy No’Well
  14. Here’s To You Tommy – Dusty Bhoy
  15. Freedom – Gary Óg and The Exiles
  16. My Heart Is In Ireland – Paddy Ryan
  17. In Paradise – Hutchy

The good causes to benefit are:

(click on the charity name to go direct to their site)

Band and Artists are:

(click on the band name to go direct to their site)

you can buy the CD or the Download from The Celtic Network web-site here for just £7.50 or £6.

Join The Celtic Network

Facebook  WebSite  Twitter

The Celtic Network ‘for Celtic Supporters, by Celtic supporters’. We aim to provide a free alternative to mainstream media, promote Celtic fans sites and support good causes be it large charities or individuals.

BROTHER WALFRID

“a football club will be formed for the maintenance of dinner tables for the children and the unemployed”

Brother Walfrid4

Andrew Kerins was born on 18th May 1840 to John and Elizabeth Kerins (nee Flynn) in Ballymote, County Sligo in the north-west of Ireland. His parents were poor farmers and devout Catholics. When Andrew was just 5 years of age the Great Famine (Irish: An Gorta Mor) struck Ireland. Lasting for seven years this was a period of mass starvation, disease, death and emigration. During this horrendous time in Irish history more than 1 million people died from disease and starvation and a much larger number emigrated from Ireland to avoid the same fate.

Many of those who left headed straight for the large industrial cities of Britain like London, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The conditions that met them there were often little better that those they had just left behind in Ireland.

Andrew survived the famine. However, coming from a poor family, he would have known hunger and witnessed countless scenes of indescribable pain and suffering, the memories of which would stay with him for his lifetime. Andrew went on to study teaching and in 1864 he joined The Irish Marist Brothers Teaching Order taking the name Brother Walfrid, after Galfrido della Gherardesca, an eighth-centuty saint from Pisa, Italy.

Brother Walfrid3

In the early 1870’s his Order sent him to the East End of Glasgow. There he taught at St. Marys School and the Sacred Heart School where he was appointed headmaster in 1874. In 1884 Brother Walfrid set up the Poor Childrens Dinner Table charity, also known as ‘Penny Dinners’ whereby for a penny (or some bread and ha’penny) a child could get a nourishing meal. To fund his charity Brother Walfrid would arrange exhibition football matches.

On 6th November 1887 Celtic Football Club was formally constituted at a meeting in St. Mary’s church hall in Forbes Street, Carlton, Glasgow, by Brother Walfrid with the purpose of alleviating poverty in the East End of Glasgow by raising money for the charity he had started three years earlier, the ‘Poor Childrens Dinner Table’. A circular was issued declaring that

“the main object of the club was to supply …. funds for the maintenance of the dinner tables for the needy children in the missions of St Mary’s, Sacred Heart and St Michael’s”

In 1893 Brother Walfrid was sent by his Religious Order to London’s East End where he continued organising football matches to support his charity work. This time the beneficiaries were the poor children of Bethnal Green and Bow.

Brother Walfrid died on 17 April 1915 and is buried in the Mount St. Michael Cemetery in Dumfries.

Brother Walfrid

In 2005, a fine sculpture of Brother Walfrid was unveiled outside Celtic Park to commemorate the major part he played in the founding of the club. The chair of the Memorial Committee, Eddie Toner, observed ruefully that modern football has been taken over by many of the values and philosophies that Walfrid would undoubtedly have opposed. The memorial would act “as a humble reminder of the club’s origins”.

For more On Brother Walfrid visit this recommended web site here.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE REAL McKENZIES- ‘Rats In The Burlap’ (2015)

The original celtic-punk band!

The Real McKenzies- 'Rats In The Burlap' (2015)

In the crazy world of celtic-punk we have to admit that their are two levels when it comes to bands. The top level of course belongs to by far the two most famous bands in celtic-punk, The Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. Their appeal has outgrown the scene and most people would name them when asked about celtic-punk music. After them is level two where you would find bands who work their arses off releasing records, touring like mad and keeping the flag flying. At the very, very top of this level I would put bands like The Mahones, Flatfoot56, The Tossers and, of course, The Real McKenzies. Each of them probably spend the majority of their year on the road playing shows from across North America to every corner of Europe. What sets The Real McKenzies apart from the rest of the bands I have just mentioned, is that while the others have embraced their Irish heritage the McKenzies are a Scottish band and play Scots style celtic-punk that even though not a million miles away from their Irish celtic-punk brothers is certainly different enough to stand out like a haggis in a fridge full of Clonakilty puddings!

Real McKenzies

It all began sometime around 1992 in Vancouver when Scots-Canadian Paul McKenzie’s band split up and looking for something new he came up with the idea of combining the classic punk rock sound of his old band with the music of his Scots background and lo and behold, what we think of as modern post-Pogues celtic-punk was born. Bagpipes had of course been used by all sorts of bands throughout rock history but a proper punk band with a piper was a first and The Real McKenzies showed the world that it was no novelty either. Pre-dating The Dropkick Murphys by a handful of years, they perfectly combined the glorious soaring of the pipes with ferocious electric guitars and frantic drumming. These were not a band that wrote punk songs and just had a piper playing along with them, they were written with the pipes as an integral and important part of the band. Now having achieved legendary status they haven’t taken their foot of the pedal and still tour the world relentlessly and, even better still, release great album after great album and ‘Rats In The Burlap’ is another in a long line of classic albums from The Real McKenzies. Their eighth studio release and out on the infamous ‘FatWreck’ Record label it took only a second listen to know that this would rank among their best.

Real McKenzies The album kicks off with ‘Wha Saw The 42nd’ and its all pipes and rocking out. The Real McKenzies have long been acknowledged to be the best pipe-punk band and the quality of the piping is amazing, so hats off to their pipers Aspy Luison and Gord Taylor. ‘Up On A Motorbike’ carries on with a more folky tune about riding through Ontario. ‘Who’d A Thought’ starts off with crashing guitars and is the story of the downtrodded man fighting back. Not much celtic going on here till the chorus and then you realise just how perfect the pipes and punk do work together.

“we wrote ‘Who’d a Thought’ for the political/social climate that people just like you and I are facing today and, even more so, in the future. One of my favorite all-time bands, the MC5, were the ones who first awakened political awareness within me at a very early age. That was back when tha ‘boil’ was already infected, but just coming to a head. Now that the ‘boil’ has burst, who is expected to clean it up? Who’d a thought? Know your opponent. Here’s to the MC5 and to the awakening of all individuals in terms of worldwide political awareness. Don’t be caught with your kilt up”

Straight up punk rock dominates the story of touring,’Midnight Train To Moscow’, with  the pipes coming in again to help the chorus along. ‘Lilacs In The Alleyway’ is almost reminscent of modern day Murphys but as one of the slower songs on the album. Totally dominated by brilliant piping the song steams ahead with a great chorus. The huge disappointment of the defeat of the Scottish independence Bill last September hits home on ‘Yes’. As Paul has stated

“It’s painfully apparent the skulduggery and cheap tricks that once again played out. We as the Real McKenzies wish to let our fans and the world know how we stand on this. Scotland belongs to the Scottish….period.”

and he doesn’t mince his words in the song either evoking visions of a past filled with enforced emigration and poverty and of a future where Scots finally control their own destiny. The bright light at the end of the tunnel though is that many who voted no in the Bill have since seen the light and have embraced the idea of a Scottish republic. Its now only a matter of time before the Scots kick the empire out… the clock is ticking! Absolutely classic McKenzies with the pipes leading the way. Catchy just doesn’t describe quite how… err, well err…how catchy it is!

There’s more than a nod to Irish punk on ‘You Wanna Know What’ with the tin whistle bringing things along nicely while ‘What Have You Done’ takes on those that have irked the band and earned their wrath. The hilarious ‘Bootsy The Haggis-Eating Cat’ brings some of the bands well known humour to the fore with the brilliant jazzy/ old timey story of a cat who stole Paul McKenzie’s haggis on Robbie Burns Day. True or not it gives the listener a welcome rest before they dive head first back in with ‘Spinning Wheels’. More tales of international touring and for a band that play so many gigs, it is not suprising that they have got plenty of stories. ‘Stephen’s Green’ tells of a man facing execution. Up until the 1770s, most public hangings and executions took place in St. Stephens Green in Dublin. Great lyrics and Pauls vocals sound especially good, it is definitley one of the album’s standouts songs for me. ‘The Fields Of Inverness’ brings them back to land of their hearts. ‘Catch Me’ could be the most radio friendly track on the album and the brilliant video ought to get the Bhoys some airplay but without losing any of their appeal and sound.

“My legs are bending at the knees
I’m seeing things nobody sees
Don’t know my name perhaps it’s may be ‘Paul’
Trapped in a drunken travesty
Battling with gravity and
Feeling like I’m standing ten feet tall”

‘Rats In The Burlap’ comes to an end with ‘Dead Or Alive’ and a better pint/fist in the air song you’ll never hear. Death looms large in celtic-punk lyrics and no larger than in this. A story of loss that may well relate to the sad death of long-time Real McKenzies member Dave Gregg who passed away in 2014. Just Paul and a slow strumming acoustic guitar builds up but never takes off and I mean that in a good way. Gradually the rest of the band join in and the song soars to the heavens and back before the final sounds of a fading banjo are heard and its gone. These guys can certainly do serious too when they need it. Fourteen songs and over thirty five minutes long and not a single filler among them.

Real1The Real McKenzies like the Dropkick Murphys have been accused by the folk purist snobs of being a ‘cartoon’ band or, worse than that, of being ‘Plastic-Scots’. What they are though and what they represent is a Scotland for the diaspora of foreign born Scots who see no positive representation of themselves in the media. What these snobs should realise is that Scotland is more than shortbread and Scotty dogs and its bands like The Real McKenzies who have evolved Scots music into the modern age while still showing the utmost respect for what went before.

The Real McKenzies have been travelling the globe now for twenty three years spreading their high-octane, booze-fuelled brand of celtic-punk rock fun and thank heavens they show absolutely no sign of letting up for years yet!

Contact The Band

WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  YouTube

Buy The Record

 Union Label-Canada  FatWreckRecords-RestOfTheWorld    iTunes

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Scotball’ by STEPHEN O’DONNELL

a Celtic supporter working in the mainstream media trying to tell the truth about RFC’s liquidation finds out that the people in power not only don’t want to hear the truth but they actually want to hide the truth from the people…

Scotball

This is Stephen O’Donnells second book and the follow up to his critically acclaimed debut Paradise Road (which you can read our review of here) which told the tale of Scottish football prospect Kevin McGarry on his journey through life as he grows from a banter-loving teenager to the sudden realisation of being a directionless 30-something with but one constant in his life: Celtic. Its a great read and one which will bring out a wry smile in any Celtic supporter but with the publication of ‘Scotball’ Stephen has surpassed himself.

Paradise Road

Scotball tells the story of Peter Fitzpatrick. He has spent five years in Prague, enjoying the Bohemian lifestyle and everything that it entails, but he has itchy feet. He has married a local, Czech girl who expresses an interest in seeing and learning about his country so, short of money, he decides to return home to his native Kirkintilloch in the West of Scotland. After moving back in with his parents and reacquainting himself with his old friends, he resumes the career in banking and financial services that he abandoned just before the credit crunch hit. He feels unfulfilled however. His application to host a television programme discussing the hot topics relating to Scottish football is summarily rejected by the national broadcaster, but as the country moves towards the independence referendum he revisits the idea, and this time it finds favour in the new media environment. ‘The Scottish Football Debate’, or ‘Scotball’ is born.

Stephen O'Donnell

Stephen O’Donnell

The show is an instant hit; it tackles the problems relating to the game in a more forthright and intelligent manner than people are used to hearing and reading about in tabloid newspapers and commercial broadcasters. It is considered refreshing and wins praise for being uncluttered by the customary agendas and petty grievances which usually distort and disfigure these types of shows. The programme runs successfully for two full seasons, debating and discussing such previously taboo subjects as sectarianism, declining standards in Scottish football and the pejorative influence of finances and a too powerful media on the game, when the biggest story in the history of Scottish sport begins to unfold, namely the liquidation of Rangers. Gradually the free reign that the show was permitted for open discussion begins to be checked and …well you’ll just have to buy the book won’t you!

Written in Glasgow dialect its still very easy to follow and is full to the brim with moments of humour and pathos and in the light of the tragic defeat of the Scottish Independence vote and the mass media’s blatant propaganda on behalf of the unionists many events in Stephen’s book ring entirely true. Congratulations on a riveting and entertaining read Stephen. In a world of dreadful books written both by footballers (or ghost writers we really should say!) and about football ‘Scotball’ sticks out like a bloody sore thumb!

A Nation On The Page

A Nation On The Page

Stephen O’Donnell was born in Glasgow and after working in Scotland, London and Prague, he has returned home as a full-time writer. Currently halfway through his next book, Stephen is a welcome addition to the Scottish literary scene.

Price: £9.99 

ISBN: 978-1-901514-13-1 

Size: 198mm x 128mm 

Binding: Paperback 

Length: 280 pages

Buy The Book

Amazon (E-Book/Paperback available) 

Contact Peter

WebSite  ScotballFacebook  ParadiseRoadFacebook  Twitter

ALBUM REVIEW: JASPER COAL- ‘Just The One…’ (2015)

the raw and  uninhibited aggression of folk-punk with the authentic yet explosive renditions of traditional Celtic tunes

Jasper Coal- Just The One...

Well here we are with our first album review of 2015 and luckily for me its one of my all-time celtic-punk favourites Jasper Coal. They may not be a name known to too many of you but by Jiminy they ought to be. Highly innovative and super original they encapsulate everything that is good within the scene. They have total respect for the origins and the roots of the music they play and boy do they play it extremely well!

(from left to right) kevin nicholson - fiddle, vox ian hoppe - guitar, vox miguel martinez - drums jeremy burns - bass, tenor banjo, bouzouki, vox matthew parrish - lead vox, whistle ryan morrison - bagpipes, whistle, vox

(from left to right)   Kevin Nicholson – fiddle, vox   Ian Hoppe – guitar, vox   Miguel Martinez – drums   Jeremy Burns – bass, tenor banjo, bouzouki, vox   Matthew Parrish – lead vox, whistle   Ryan Morrison – bagpipes, whistle, vox

Formed on St Patricks Day in 2004 Jasper Coal performing sea shanties and Irish drinking songs around their hometown they now celebrate their eleventh year with the release of ‘Just The One…’ their fourth album release and yet again they’ve plundered folk and traditional music’s back catalogue and come up with an album of covers that simply bristles with energy, passion and emotion.

Jasper, Alabama

Based in Birmingham the capital of  the state of Alabama in the southern United States, the band’s name was inspired by stories of those Irish immigrants who worked in and around the coal mines in central Alabama in the mining town of Jasper. The discovery of coal along Alabama’s rivers can be traced back to 1815 and has gone on to influence Alabama and its development right up to the present day. Worked like dogs in terrible conditions and then thrown aside when the job or the miners body is done seems to be the lot of the miner internationally. Wherever a coal mine can be found then exploitation and desperation can be found soon after. Out of this working class life then came Jasper Coal a group of lads of Irish and Scottish desent and a willingness to take our forefathers music and give it a modern yet traditional twist and stamp it with a massive Jasper Coal brand!

Jasper Coal- 1000 feet Closer To HellTheir debut album ‘Immigrant Child’ came out in 2008 followed in 2010 by ‘1000 Feet Closer To Hell’ which hit the dizzy heights of number 13 in the London Celtic Punks Top Twenty Celtic Punk Albums Of All Time (here). An absolute belter of an album which began my love affair with this great band. The album featured their first original song named after the album and describing the miners life brilliantly as well as a fantastic cover of the The Pogues rowdy drinking song ‘The Boys From The County Hell’. Third album ‘Drowning The Shamrock’ came out in 2012 and even though with each album release their acclaim has risen they still deserve to be heard much more high and wide.

Jasper Coal

This album kicks off with ‘Tell Me Ma’ and even though its been covered by all and sundry JC still manage to give it a kick up the arse. Starting with a simply fantastic pipe intro the first thing to say about this album is that all the way through Ryan’s piping is majestic and is easily as good as anything you’ll ever hear on a celtic-punk album. Matt is the only original member left from Jasper Coals original incantation as The Immigrants and his distinctive vocal style and voice add bucketloads to the music. There’s many a electric band that wish they could kick up a storm like these fella’s I’m sure. ‘Paddy 15’ is an update of ‘Poor Paddy’ the Dubliners/Pogues classic. Again the band nail it with this story of a immigrant Irishmans life breaking his back digging the rail in his new home. ‘The Glass Of Beer Set’ is a traditional song with bagpipes leading the way and excuse me while I gush over the piping again here but it is immaculate. A fantastic song sure to get even the mardiest of people tapping their toes and slapping their sides. ‘My Son John’ is an Irish trad song set during the Peninsular War of the early nineteenth century. Based upon ‘Mrs McGrath’ the song tells the sad story of a Irish woman whose son enters the British Army and returns seven years later having lost his legs to a cannonball while fighting against Napoleon. A sad fate that befell far too many Irish over the years. Jasper Coal have never shied away from doing what may be considered ‘controversial’ songs over here but are probably standards over there in the States. ‘Snipers Promise’ is a modern Irish rebel song and is played very simply with acoustic guitar and Matt’s voice singing delicately the story of an IRA sniper who longs for the day when he can retire and lay down his gun.

“Oh mama, oh mama comfort me
For I know these awful things have got to be
But when the war for freedom has been won
I promise you I’ll put away my gun”

What many don’t realise is those men who fought were not professional soldiers they were ordinary people who rose to face the challenge of defending their communites and their country. A lovely song with a chorus that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. They crank it up to eleven next with what many consider to be Flogging Molly’s best ever song ‘Devils Dance Floor’ and they deliver a version the Molly’s would be proud of. JC have never been solely about Ireland and have often done Scots songs and ‘Bennachie’ is one of the album’s stand out tracks. Bennachie is a range of hills in Aberdeenshire.

“Gin I were whaur the gaudie rins
The gaudie rins, the gaudie rins
Gin I were whaur the gaudie rins
At the back o’ Bennachie”

Some believe that the peak had religious meaning and this theory is supported by the large number of standing stones in the area. The significance is believed to be connected to the profile of the hill, which is shaped like a female breast, which is reflected in the name ‘Mither Tap’ (Mother Top) or ‘Bennachie’ (Beinn na Ciche: ‘hill of the breast’). Extremely catchy with fiddle and pipes and drums and guitar combining perfectly. They follow this with honorary Celt Steve Earle’s fantastic ‘Copperhead Road’. If you’re looking for story telling song writing then check out Steve’s back catalogue. This great song tells the story of a moonshiner who joins the Army

“They draft the white trash first round here anyway”

and ends up fighting in Vietnam and brings his experience home and instead of moonshine grows marijuana on his farm in Tennessee.

Next is the classic Irish rebel song (Come Out You) ‘Black And Tans’. A rousing, fist in the air song that has inspired many over the years and is absolutely perfect for punking right up. The Black And Tans (so called due to the colour of their uniforms) were mercenarys brought over to terrorise the Irish back in 1919. With the nation rising and the empire on the verge of defeat the British governement decided to import the Tans and give them free reign to terrorise, murder and brutalise the population in an attempt to cowe them into submission. They never succeeded and despite the many atrocities that they were responsible for they were roundly defeated. The song was written by Dominic Behan, brother of Brendan, and is dedicated to his father. Its sure to get yer blood pumping…Irish or not!

“Oh, come out you black and tans,
Come out and fight me like a man
Show your wives how you won medals down in Flanders
Tell them how the IRA made you run like hell away,
From the green and lovely lanes in Killashandra”

The bhoys give it a modern twist with the addition of an extra verse (which I am 100% sure Dominic would applaud) that further nails Jasper Coals views to the mast and good on them for having the balls to do so.

“Oh, come out ye English Huns;
Come out and fight without yer guns;
Show yer wife how you won medals up in Derry
Ye murdered free young men,
And you’ll do the same again,
So get out and take yer bloody army with ye”

One of the many outstanding things about Jasper Coal is the bands playing of Irish gaelic songs. Matt sings ‘Óró Sé’ the albums final track with gusto and reminds me of The Wolfe Tones in a haunting version what with the military style drumming and drone of the pipes. Known under a few different names the title basically means ‘Welcome Home’ and has undergone several re-writes incuding one by the great Irish patriot Padraic Pearse. A fantastic way to bring a fantastic album to a close.

Jasper Coal are one of those rare breed of celtic-punk bands that with the same set of songs would appeal to both fans of punk and trad music. If this album had come out last year it would surely have won the London Celtic Punks Trad Album Of The Year award as well I’m sure as featuring high in the chart for the Celtic Punk Album Of The Year too. Taking the influences of the modern celtic-punk bands and seamlessly blending them with those traditions of those that came before us. A superb band with superb musicians and the first album of the year is already a contender for Album Of The Year!

Contact The Band

WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  YouTube  Soundcloud

Buy The Album

From The Band

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: EWAN MacCOLL AND PEGGY SEEGER – ‘The Jacobite Rebellions’ (1962)

AND FREE DOWNLOAD

Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger - The Jacobite Rebellions (1962)

to get your free download of this great album simply click on the album sleeve

It has certainly been a year of contrasts for the proud nation of Alba/ Scotland. With the loss of the Independence vote I’m sure I was not alone to slump into a form of depression but the wave of proud and non-sectarian nationalism that has swept Scotland since has been a joy to behold. With the red tories of the Labour Party about to swept into oblivion things have never looked beter and that election loss can be seen for what it is. A small blip on the way to a fully independent Scottish republic.

The Jacobite Rebellions

This review is another in our series of ‘Classic Album Reviews’ (here) where we aim to introduce you to lost gems that have inspired and provoked music and musicians right up to modern celtic-punk music. Here we have the legendary Ewan MacCool with an album from over fifty years ago dedicated to the memory of the Jacobite Rebellions. They were a series of uprisings, rebellions, and wars across Scotland, Ireland and England between 1688 and 1746. They ended in failure and the repression that the english rained down on the Scots after their victory would end with untold thousands leaving Scotland to make better lives in the America’s.

In these Jacobite songs every battle became a cry against oppression, and every soldier exhibites ideal courage, boldness and strength, without blemish. The songs are glorious. Through them the Jacobites have won their rebellions, for the songs live on, moving us who are so far removed from the events, the causes, the feelings of the Fifteen and the Forty-Five; who live in other countries and pursue other destinies. As Ewan MacColl writes

“To a world which has become familiar with the concept of genocide, which has known fascism and two world wars, the Jacobite rebellions appear as no more than cases of mild unrest. They have grown dusty in history’s lumber room along with all the other lost causes. The Stuart cause is forgotten and nothing, remains of it except the songs. And what songs they are”

As with everything Ewan put his hand, and voice, to it is witty, tender, proud, bitter, ribald, delicate and passionate. Genius is a word easily matched with his name. These are the songs of the Scottish people. People with a great zest and appetite for life. The songs of a people who after all these centuries are optimistic again. Freedom is in sight and we can see it. Let these songs inspire us all to make that push towards it.

“What force or guile could not subdue,
Thro’ many warlike ages,
Is wrought now by a coward few,
For hireling traitor’s wages.
The English steel we could disdain,
Secure in valour’s station;
But English gold has been our bane –
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!”

Such A Parcel Of Rogues In A Nation. Robert Burns. 1791

the following essay is taken from the original album’s sleeve notes

After centuries of conflict, the kingdoms of Scotland and England had been brought together in 1603 when the Stuart King James VI of Scotland became James I of England. Although united in the person of their ruler the two states retained quite different governments and institutions. They remained separate until the Act of Union in 1707 established a single government for the ‘United Kingdom’. By this time the Stuart dynasty had been deposed in the so-called ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688, when the Roman Catholic James II (VII of Scotland) was replaced by the Dutch ruler William of Orange, who had married James’ elder daughter Mary. This had been a victory for the powerful landowning and commercial classes which had been rapidly increasing in strength during the preceding century. They were strongly Protestant in religion and they were, moreover, determined to restrict the power of the monarchy permanently.

The Jacobite RebellionsScotland benefited materially from the Union with England. Its trade and manufacturing industry increased enormously and, thanks to the superiority of Scottish education over anything, existing south of the Border in the eighteenth century, Scottish businessmen, inventors and intellectual leaders figured amongst the giants of the Industrial Revolution. Adam Smith, the economist; James Watt, inventor of the improved steam engine; and Macadam and Telford, the famous road builders, were amongst the most outstanding.
The real increase in the prosperity of Scotland as a result of this important contribution to the processes of industrialisation was, however, unevenly spread. It was concentrated in the Lowlands and in particular in Glasgow, which was rapidly becoming a large commercial centre. The Highlands were scarcely affected by it. In this extensive mountainous area an ancient feudal system based on subsistence farming remained dominant. The clans which maintained it were cut off from both the material developments and currents of thought of the outside world. Personal loyalty was highly valued; the old religion of Roman Catholicism was still strongly entrenched; and with it affection for the exiled ‘King across the water’ and a romantic attachment to the ‘auld alliance” with France against England. In view of this dour resistance to all the forces of innovation which were beginning to transform England and the Lowlands in the eighteenth century, it was natural that the Stuarts should look to the Highlands as their main hope for a revival of their fortunes.
James II had gone into exile in France, where he died in 1701. His son James, the ‘Old Pretender’, inherited the claim to the thrones of England and Scotland, and it was in support of him that the Jacobite Risings occurred. The Act of Settlement of 1701 had ensured that the crown would pass to the Protestant House of Hanover. This happened in 1714, and the first Rising was thus timed to take advantage of the unpopularity of George I. But as it was inadequately planned and badly led, the Rising of 1715 never presented a serious challenge to the new regime. Apart from an abortive expedition in 1719, thirty years passed before the Stuarts made their next and final bid to recover power.
On the 25th July 1745, the 25 year old Prince Charles Edward Stuart, the ‘Young Pretender’, set foot on the Scottish mainland. Less than a month later he raised the standard of his father at Glenfinnan, and the clansmen began to rally to him. By a daring march on Edinburgh the Jacobites captured the city and repulsed an effort to dislodge them at the Battle of Prestonpans. The Prince then led his army southwards towards London, hoping that support would come to him from the inhabitants of the northern English counties. He was disappointed. Although he reached the River Trent just south of Derby on 4th December, he received an extremely cool welcome from the towns and countryside through which he passed. And his clansmen became increasingly disgruntled the further they moved from their native glens.
Meanwhile, the government had been desperately raising an army, and although hampered by incredibly bad communications a force was now ready to take the field under the generalship of the Duke of Cumberland.
The Prince was forced to retreat, and his forces fell back into Scotland and then into the Highlands, Cumberland pursued them towards the inevitable engagement. This took place on the morning of 16th April 1746, when the clansmen were mown down by the superior armaments of the government forces on Culloden Moor.The Jacobite Rebellions
The Battle of Culloden marked the extinction of the last Jacobite hope of recovering the British crown, and Prince Charles spent many hunted weeks as a fugitive before he managed narrowly to escape to France. But it marked more than that — it was also the end of an ancient social order. The government determined that there should never be another rising in the Highlands, and Cumberland earned himself the nickname of ‘The Butcher’ by ruthlessly carrying out the policy of breaking the clan system. Estates of the leading Jacobites were confiscated, and the wearing of the tartan prohibited. Even more important, the feudal powers of the clan chieftains, with their own law courts and the right of claiming military service from their tenants, were abolished.
These measures were effective. Law and order was imposed on the Highlands. Roads, bridges and harbours were built and improved. The introduction of English practices of land ownership led in time to the establishment of large estates as deer parks, and resulted in large scale depopulation. By 1759 Pitt was able to remove the ban on tartan wearing and to recruit regiments of Highlanders to assist in the conquest of Canada. In 1784, the government felt able to restore most of the forfeited estates to their original owners. Meanwhile, the whole country had begun to show signs of the rapid acceleration in the processes of industrialisation which brought greater prosperity to the nation. Industrial and commercial success in the eighteenth century did more than Cumberland’s troops to cement the political foundations of Hanoverian Britain.
With the pacification of the Highlands, the Stuart cause was dead. But like many lost causes, that of the Jacobites has retained its attraction and its power to move the spirit. More than most, the Jacobite cause, though lost, has been won in the persistent appeal of the songs which it evoked. These songs recall a social order which has long since passed away under the wheels of the locomotive, the arterial road, the factory, and the hydroelectric power station. They recall the bravery of men who died for a cause in which they believed. And above all, they recall the loyalty felt towards the young prince who, with grace and charm, came to lead the clansmen in his fathers’ cause; and who, though doomed to failure, won the hearts and devotion of men and women in his own generation and in those which have followed.
– ANGUS BUCHANAN
for more on the Jacobite uprisings you can do worse than going to Wikipedia for a start before heading to The Jacobite Rebellions or Scottish Warriors.
Greentrax Records recently released a compilation album ‘For Freedom Alone- The Wars Of Independence’ and you can read our review here and order it too!
more information on the wonderful Robert Burns can be had from this great web site here.

ALBUM REVIEW: VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘For Freedom Alone – The Wars Of Independence’ (2014)

VARIOUS ARTISTS- 'For Freedom Alone - The Wars Of Independence' (2014)

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the historic Battle Of Bannockburn, a major victory in Scotland’s 1297-1328 struggle for independence from its neighbour to the south of the River Tweed. Greentrax Records marks one of the most important events in Scottish history by releasing this compilation album of Scots rebel songs, music, poems and spoken word pieces by many of Scotland’s finest musicians and artists. 2014 has also been the year of the Scottish Referendum where amazingly the Scots voted 55-45% in favour of remaining slaves to the British empire. Though those 45% may hold their heads high a combination of media scarmongering and lies and downright cowardice and selfishness prevented Scotland from becoming the first truly independent celtic country and taking their place amongst the nations of the world. Needless to say I reckon this record may have been enough to sway many of those 55% to vote ‘YES’ if they had heard it before they went off to vote.

The title of the album ‘for Freedom Alone’ is taken from The Declaration Of Arbroath, of which a portion is included on the album.

The Declaration Of Arbroath

The album contains eighteen tracks of which sixteen are relevant to historic period of the Wars Of Independence and the exploits of Wiliam Walace and Robert The Bruce. Wallace’s famous victory at Stirling Brig and his overwhelming defeat at Falkirk are the subjects of two songs, and of course The Battle of Bannockburn features in several. Nine of the tracks have been specifically written for inclusion on the album.

Tracks include readings of the humorous short story ‘The Spiders Legend Of Robert The Bruce’, which tells of The Bruce taking inspiration from watching a spider struggling and ultimatly succededing, and a abridged version of ‘The Declaration Of Arbroath’ by BBC Scotland radio presenter Iain Anderson who somewhat makes up a very tiny bit for the shameful pro-union propaganda/bullshit and lies his employers used during the Referendum. Both are stirring enough to move even a sassenach to take up arms!

Among the other tracks on this album folk legends The Corries sing the late Roy Williamson’s ‘Flower Of Scotland’ which has become the most famous Scots rebel song in existance and the unoffical national anthem.

“Those days are passed now
And in the past they must remain
But we can still rise now
And be the nation again
That stood against him
Proud Edward’s army
And sent him homeward
Tae think again”

The Corries also contribute ‘The Black Douglas’, of which included in the accompanying 24 page booklet  is a reproduction of the painting of The Black Douglas, James Douglas (1286-1330) was a Scottish knight who was one of the chief commanders during the Wars Of Independence. The booklet also contains sleeve notes written by Jim Paris and artwork from John Slavin and deserve special mention. Brief explainations of Scottish medieval history are included as well as telling the stories of each tracks background.

More Scots legends in The McCalmans offer up ‘The Lion Wallace Saw’. They toured from the early 60’s right up to 2010 and are sorely missed on the celtic/ Scots folk scene.

“Here I stand and watch for aye, roar the hour out day by day
Freedom strong to sound the sway, from far sea to sea
Freedom is the lion’s aim, freedom for the lion’s ain
Match the lion in his den, or let freedom be”

Arhur Johnstone sings the classic Robbie Burns song ‘Scots Wha Hae’most famous in these parts I would have thought for The Real McKenzies version. Alistair Fraser brings his ‘supergroup’ of traditional musicians, Skyedance, with the haunting instrumental ‘Bannockburn’ with Highland bagpipe and uilleann pipes combining beautifully. Scots republican and banjo player Alistair McDonald contributes an older song ‘The Battle Of Stirling Brig’ which sounds a wee bit like it could have been in a John Wayne 1950’s western and a newer song ‘William Wallace -Knight Of Elderslie’

“Then the noblest heart in Scotland was revealed for all to see,
when they hacked him into pieces underneath the gallows-tree
but the butchery and slaughter cannot scar the memory
of Wallace, the knight of Elderslie.

Once again the land’s in darkness as we hang our heads to mourn
and remember how the Wallace caused oppression’s time to turn.
But Scotsmen I stand ready and prepare for Bannockburn,
thanks to Wallace, the knight of Elderslie”

Specially recorded for the album are tracks by Robin Laing, Sylvia Barnes And Sandy Stanage.  Ian McCalmans influence looms large over many of the songs on this album and the quality of his writing shows. Alex Hodgson sings ‘The Sword Of Banockburn’ and an original Ian McCalman song ‘New Day’. Ian Bruce sings ‘De Bruce, De Bruce’ a poem also put to music and arranged by Ian and his last contribution is on George Archibalds version of ‘Bruces Address To His Captains’ part of John Barbour’s epic poem put to music by Ian.

The two bonus tracks bring the 14th-century struggle for freedom into the present. Alastair Fraser and Natalie Haas’s fine instrumental ‘The Referendum’ is followed by London Celtic Punks favourite Dick Gaughans ‘Both Sides Of The Tweed’ from his 1981 album ‘Handful Of Earth’ which explains in a way only Dick can that the independence movement in Scotland is not about hatred for the English but rather about the struggle for self-determination

“Let friendship and honor unite and flourish on both sides the Tweed.”

From old fashioned folk to traditional dance music this album will surely please both those traditionalists and those who have come to the album purely to top up their patrioic fervour after the disappointment of losing the Referendum. As shocking as that No vote was to those of us who would like to see freedom for Scotland and all the celtic nations it has to be said that it has only delayed the inevitable. The clock is ticking on the empire north of the border and when finally the day dawns over a independent Scotland these songs and the traditions they come from will be greatly cherished and truly recognised for keeping the flame alight.

Buy The Album

direct from Greentrax Records here celebrating nearly thirty years of supplying Scottish music worldwide. only £10 for a limited time.

Learn Yer History

The Battle Of Bannockburn  here

Robert The Bruce  here

William Wallace  here

memorial to William Wallace on the north wall of St. Bart's Hospital in London.

memorial to William Wallace on the north wall of St. Bart’s Hospital in London.

 

SINGLE REVIEW: CHRISTOPHER JAMES SHERIDAN- ‘My Hero Was A Ramblin Man’ (2014)

Christopher James Sheridan- 'My Hero Is A Rambling Man'

Boston has the Dropkicks, New York has Black 47, London has The Bible Code, LA has Flogging Molly and Glasgow’s Irish community has The Wakes. Christopher James Sheridan is a Scots-Irish singer songwriter from Glasgow and has played harmonica in folk’n’roll band The Wakes since they were formed back in 2006. This is Christopher’s second solo single, with ‘Old Fashioned Pound Notes’ released earlier this year.  You can read our review of that great single here.

‘My Hero Was A Ramblin Man’ is a tribute to the legendary American folk singer Woody Guthrie. Woody’s legacy is immense and he left behind untold amount of songs for children, politico’s and just plain folk. Most famous for the song ‘This Land Is Ours’ and for performing with ‘This Machine Kills Fascist’ emblazoned across his guitar. The legend of Woody Guthrie lives on. Like most of Christopher’s recordings its a simple but beautiful track totally understated but completely effecting. The B-Side ‘Please Dont Make Me Feel This Way Again’ has a traditional country flavoured twang and the kind of anguished and broken hearted lyrics you’d expect from a country song!

Two more beautiful solo tracks from Christopher and we’re waiting with baited breath for more. The download is available for only £1-58 so put your hands in your pocket!

Contact Christopher

Soundcloud  Facebook

Buy The Single

iTunes

we reviewed the excellent album ‘The Red And Green’ from The Wakes here. it was also voted 4th best celtic-punk album of 2013 by the London Celtic Punks crew here.

SINGLE REVIEW: THE RUMJACKS- ‘Blows And Unkind Words’ (2014)

The Rumjacks- 'Blows And Unkind Words' (2014)

Fecking hell a new single by my all time favourite celtic-punk band The Rumjacks hits the streets and bhoy I am excited as hell!! These boys can do no wrong in my eyes and if this had been shite I reckon I would have still have raved about it but we’ve no worries there as it’s classic fantastic Rumjacks. Perhaps if anything it’s not quite as full on punky as previous but still it’s unmistakeable… and fecking brilliant too!

A collection of Scots and Scots-Irish refugees and celts of various descent all together and washed up on the other side of the world in Brisbane, Australia. The bands been together since 2008 and they’ve a few records, all critically acclaimed, behind them.

Hung Drawn And Ported (EP) 2009
Sound As A Pound (EP) 2009
Gangs Of New Holland (Album) 2010
Crosses For Eyes (Single) 2012
Blows And Unkind Words/ Plenty (Vinyl Single) 2014

‘Blows And Unkind Words’ takes on the evils of social media and the way people interact with each other. Its the age of the coward where from behind a keyboard any old arsehole feels free to comment on what ever they like without a thought for the damage they leave behind. As my old Nanna use to say its costs nothing to be kind.

“My conscience rings like a siller bell and I can waltz like a dervish my dear,
Two boots full o’ gravel through your blazin’ hell
With a shit-smeared grin from ear to ear.
Some hearts are like lightning in a bottle, and others like a moth in a can,
Some hearts are a Dead Sea apple, a poison to God and man,
I’m the sweetest bag o’ rats that you’ve ever seen,
I look like trouble & I walk like a king,
It’s my thing, why bawl when I can sing
Of all the blows and unkind words?”

As with everything The Rumjacks do its not just the music but also the complicated and intricate lyrics that complete them. They come with a message but luckily for those of you who aren’t interested, not many I’d hope, it just happens to come wrapped up in some of the best celtic/Irish/Scots folk/punk you will ever hear. Music not just to dance your head off to but to feast your brain on as well.

“You get around gob draggin’ on the ground like lifes gone pissin’ in yer mince,
Were you bullied as a child? Abandoned to the wild?
And been blamin’ every fucker ever since?
We’re all born blind but we’re born with a spine,
So get up and stop hatin’ all the world,
Keep callin’ out to me ‘cos its growin’ hard to see
Through all the blows and unkind words”

We bloody love The Rumjacks and if we’ve said it once then we’ve said it a hundred times but Australian celtic-punk is the best in the world and The best band in Australian celtic-punk is The Rumjacks. That my friends is all you need to know.

The Rumjacks

Left-Right Johnny (Bass) Adam (Bouzouki/banjo) Frankie (vox/whistle) Anthony (Drums) Gabe (guitars)

Contact The Band

WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  Twitter  YouTube

Buy The Single

iTunes  Single And T-Shirt Direct From The Band

If you’ve not come across The Rumjacks before then check them out here for their smash internet hit ‘An Irish Pub’ and also here where we celebrated our first birthday by publishing the ‘Top Twenty Celtic-Punk Albums Of All Time’ which was won by The Rumjacks first album, ‘Gangs Of New Holland’.

to go to our home page simply click on the logo at the very top of the page

ALBUM REVIEW: THE ALT- ‘Alt’ (2014)

The Alt- 'The Alt' (2014)
We don’t get to hear enough traditional music here at London Celtic Punks so we were blessed to receive this in the post from the good people over at Hearth Music. After all the roots of celtic-punk lay in traditional music every bit as much as punk so to ignore your roots is indeed a foolish thing.
On first glimpse I mistakenly took the Alt for the Irish pop supergroup of the mid-90’s of Tim Finn, Andy White and Liam Ó Maonlaí but no there’s a new Alt on the block and their pedigree could hardly be better and the word ‘supergroup’ could easily describe the new Alt as well. The three members of The Alt are John O’Doyle, Nuala Kennedy and Eamon O’Leary. John was born and raised in Dublin, lives in Asheville, NC, and is one of the pre-eminent guitarists and vocalists of his generation. He has twice been Grammy-nominated for his work with the fantastic groundbreaking Irish-American band, Solas, and also for his duo recordings with the great Chicago fiddler, Liz Carroll. John met flutist and singer Nuala at the Celtic Colors festival and while touring in Europe the two hit it off while exploring songs and tunes in common. Nuala is considered one of the finest traditional flute players and a singer of great depth and emotion and has herself recorded three highly regarded solo cd’s for the Nashville based Compass Records. Conversant in both Irish and Scots she has spent part of her life in the Scots highlands. Looking to add a third voice to the band, John suggested his long-time friend and fellow Dubliner Eamon, who also plays guitar and bouzouki. A great collector of traditional song and tunes Eamon has spent many years working with Mick Moloney, Green Fields of America, Patrick Orceau and has been a stalwart of the fine NYC traditional music scene for many years. Along with Jefferson Hamer he is the other half of The Murphy Beds, a guitar, bouzouki, and vocals duo who play a unique blend of Irish and Appalachian traditional music.
John, Nuala and Eamon

John, Nuala and Eamon

Together The Alt have taken the Irish folk music world by storm with their debut album and there’s plenty more to come!
As John explains “Nuala and Eamon have been my friends for many, many years, and we’re all interested in songs and the idea of harmony singing, we felt that there was this huge emphasis [in Irish music] just on tunes and melody playing, so we wanted to get together and have a tour and an album just of lovely songs. We started working on that in Sligo a couple of years ago.”
John Doyle’s family hail from County Sligo and the shadow of the Knocknarea mountain. In Irish folklore it is said to be the final resting place of the ancient Irish warrior-queen Maeve. The ‘Alt’ is a storied glen on the side of Knocknarea. It was in this glen in the little village of Coolaney that The Alt first gathered to rehearse. Each member of the group is a avid collector of folk songs and the songs they played  reflect some of the songs they grew up hearing and others they have collected along the road, from friends and mentors, from archival recordings and written collections. With rehearsals over plans were made to record an album. They chose the quiet isolation of a small cabin in North Carolina’s Appalachian mountains. A part of the world with long historical roots back in the auld country, as well as Scotland, the Appalachian’s have long been associated with old-time music. It was in fact those immigrant communities that settled there that brought us the music that slowly evolved into country and bluegrass. The Alt are well aware of this history.
Recorded in just three days this album shows The Alt’s ease with their native music and at once delicate, deliberate and always in deference to the song at its core. On first listen to the album you are instantly reminded of  the classic Irish sounds of The Bothy Band and Planxty. It was in the 70’s that these bands were the first to create a fusion of the traditional unaccompanied solo singer and pipes, guitar and bouzouki.
“Eamon and I do a lot of two bouzouki stuff. We’re harkening back to what we listened to as kids, to what Andy [Irvine] and Dónal [Lunny] did in Planxty”
The Alt focus on songs  from the celtic nations of Ireland and Scotland as well as both Britain and America but it is from Ireland their main inspiration comes from. The first of the albums eleven tracks is ‘Lovely Nancy’ a low key, laid back version of this magnificent song which drifts long only to be interrupted by Nuala’s superb flute playing.  Despite the band members all being very capable of writing original material this album takes the traditional route and even though I am not particularly well versed in that world I did recognise a couple of tunes from my youth.

‘One Morning In May’ is one of the  album standouts. Gentle vocal music with Nuala’s voice soaring ably backed by John in the chorus. ‘Geese In The Bog/ Covering Ground’ is the first of two instrumentals and rattles along at a grand pace led by the flute and guitar. ‘Willie Angler’, a tune made most famous by 70’s Irish legends Silly Wizard, tells of a rogue attempting to seduce a young girl but who turns out to be not so bad after all. A story of a lad off to fight overseas is  behind ‘Going For A Soldier Jenny/ The Chandelier’ with a fine instrumental tune bringing it to a end. ‘Finn Waterside’ continues with Nuala singing of a girl saying goodbye to her home and her true love before she is exiled to America. Next up is ‘The Eighteen Of June’, as in 1815 the day of the beginning of the Battle Of Waterloo. A rare recording and beautifully arranged. ‘The Green Gowned Lass/ Danger Mouse/ Dan Breen’s’ is the albums other instrumental and, similar to the other, rattles along but leaves me unsure whether or not the middle tune is any sort of ode to the 80’s childhood cartoon rodent or indeed if the ending is a tribute to the south Tipperary born hero of the War Of Independence. With the album drawing to a close Nuala sings the beautiful ‘Cha Tig Mor Mo Bhean Dhachaigh’ a stunning and mournful song in Scots gaelic. Finally the album ends with ‘The Letter Song’ a choral version of an old song featuring John, Nuala and Eamon that tells the sad tale  based on a letter written by a preacher in Kentucky to his wife in New England, warning her not to join him because of the rough conditions there. Yet again beautifully presented.
So there you have it. A fantastic first offering from The Alt. Perfection in both music and vocals and then melded together.  As they’ve already said it’s the first album that surely implies more from this super group and I for one cannot wait!
 
Contact The Band
John Doyle  WebSite   Facebook   YouTube
Nuala Kennedy  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Twitter  Myspace
Eamon O’Leary  Bandcamp
Order The Album
you can read our review of John’s other band Solas and their masterpiece album ‘Shamrock City’ which won the 2013 LONDON CELTIC PUNKS TRAD ALBUM OF THE YEAR here
A wealth of trad and roots music can be found at Hearth Music here

INTERVIEW WITH THE NYAH FEARTIES- 80’s AND 90’s SCOTTISH FOLK PUNK LEGENDS

Welcome to 30492- LONDON CELTIC PUNKS 100th post. The last couple of days I’ve been wandering around shellshocked that 55% of the Scottish people still consider themselves as serfs and are servile to a foreign government. We must continue the fight and keep agitating for a Scots republic free from outside influence. To that end we give you a post on the original Scottish folk-punk band The Nyah Fearties and remind ourselves what we were fighting for in the first place!

Alba gu bràth

Giein It Laldy

Nyah Fearties are the hidden gem in Scotland’s rich musical strata! In the 80’s and 90’s they ploughed a lone path through the mire of bland music and created a lightnin’ fast, metal bashing, feedback drenched noise… all the more surprising because they were a duo and they played ACOUSTIC instruments! 

The Nyah Fearties

Nyah Fearties were a Scottish band hailing from Lugton. Davey Fearties was kind enough to answer a few questions about the band and to give us permission to post a few of their songs.
— Nick Rogan

1) How did you all come up with the band name Nyah Fearties? I think it’s great. Were you all fans of dub and reggae at the time?

Yep, the original band played a few reggae covers. Keith Hudson’s Smoking was one.

2) What bands were you listening to when you formed Nyah Fearties?

We listened to all sorts from Nick Cave, Pogues, Violent Femmes, Alex Harvey, Suicide, Einsturzende Neubueten… and lots of Reggae. Reggae music was so alive in the 80’s. It’s so overlooked when people mention 80s music.

3) What bands did you most enjoy playing shows with? Have any good stories about playing live?

The Pogues has got to be my favourite. We were a pair of hobo street musicians when they took us on tour with them.Andrew Rankin, the drummer, used to play the last 2 songs of our set with us, and Spider would play whistle sometimes.

But there was one night when we got to the last song, and I looked across the stage and there was Shane beating on a plastic chair with a stick and doing some crazy rockin roll dance, Jem on Banjo, Phil on Guitar, Spider singing, Daryl on plastic chair, Andrew on drums just giein it laldy (it’s a Scots saying that means letting go and giving it all you’ve got) to the song Drunken Uncle that we did as our last song – cartoonesque.

The other band which, like the Pogues, had that live magic about them was Mano Negra, the most energetic live band on the planet at the time. A Mano Negra gig was like an early Clash gig for atmosphere.

4) Your music is clearly very political. At the time were you and Stephen involved in politics in any other way?

No, I was never a good liar. But Stephen would have made a great prime minister. He couldn’t have messed it up much more than the previous few in this country.

5) I’m not entirely familiar with Scottish politics in the 80’s and early 90’s. I was wondering if you could explain the meaning of a few songs: “Radiation Reign,” “Rantin’ Sonsie an’ Free,” and any other songs you particularly like.

This world’s gone crazy. ‘Radiation Reign’ was about Chernobyl and the effect that disaster had on places as far away from Russia as Scotland and Wales where for many years mutated livestock were being found on the high ground due to the spread of Radiation..and that feeling when it happened of “what have they done” and the despair of it..A bit like the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

CLICK TO PLAY ‘RADIATION REIGN’

‘Rantin Sonsie An Free’ was about how in Scotland the main language is English, even though you might doubt that when you hear what we do to it. The common tongue people speak with is a colourful mix of Scots, and when as a child you would speak Scots, you would be told it was bad English and there is always a negative spin to it. Even on TV and Radio, characters who speak that dialect will be portrayed as alcoholics, or mainly very negative role models. There’s a Scottish comedy show called ‘Burnistoun’, and a sketch called ‘Real Guy’. YouTube it, and you’ll see what I mean.

CLICK TO PLAY ‘RANTIN SONSIE AN FREE’

6) How did the song writing process normally work for Nyah Fearties?

It varied on what Instruments we had at the time, embelish stories, or whatever inspired us at the time. There was no technique. Most were spontaneous. Stephen had a great gift for coming out with these crazy comical rants which seemed to spring out of nowhere.

7) Your instrumentation is pretty unique. What did you two play?

Stephen played Ganjo, which was a 5 string guitar tuned like a banjo. He played Banjo, and found percussion. I played acoustic electric bass and a bit of guitar.

Most gigs we went for a walk and found percussion on the street. Could be a shopping trolley, oil drum, tin bath. It was great to see the look on the soundman’s face when he had to mike up an electric fire or a sheet of corrugated iron.

8) Nyah Fearties was together for around a decade. How did the band change over time?

We found other musicians, added fiddle and accordian, became more musical and less industrial. We went from an acoustic bass and a Ganjo to a full 5-piece band. But with a band it was more difficult to get to and play gigs.

The Nyah Fearties

9) What bands did you and Stephen play in afterwards?

Stephen did his Mr Luggs songs. I did Dub Skelper which was Scottish folk mixed with reggae and ska. Then Junkman’s Choir which Stephen played drums in for a few years. Junkman’s Choir is now a 2-piece and still playing mainly around Scotland.

10) What musical projects are you all currently working on?

I was travelling in India and recorded a whole load of Indian influenced music in a toilet in New Delhi, under the name Lugtone. You can find it at lugtone.bandcamp.com, or check out Lugtone on YouTube. Basically its an audio visual postcard.

CLICK TO PLAY ‘ESSENCE OF SPIRIT’

CLICK TO PLAY ‘RED KOLA’

thanks to WFMU’S Beware Of The Blog where this interview was first published.

there’s a great article on The Nyah Fearties here in Plain Or Pan blog zine.

there’s an hour long tribute to The Nyah Fearties here on No Men FM.

Junkman’s Choir are a two man band offering a big mix of cajun, country, rockin’ hillbilly, twists and turns on the works of Rabbie Burns, with some waltzes, jigs an reels thrown in for good measure. Look out for them on the street, on a stage, anywhere they can find, stomping out their steel-toed rhythm…

Check their facebook group here.

ALBUM REVIEW: RUNA- ‘Current Affairs’ (2014)

Runa- 'Current Affairs' (2014)
Runa were formed in Philadelphia in The USA in 2008 and consist of vocalist and step-dancer, Shannon Lambert-Ryan of Philadelphia, Dublin-born guitarist, Fionán de Barra, Cheryl Prashker of Canada on percussion, Dave Curley on mandolin, vocals, bodhrán, and step-dancing, and Maggie Estes of Kentucky on the fiddle. The band often performs with world-renowned, guest musicians, including Ross Holmes (Mumford & Sons, Cadillac Sky, Chessboxer) on fiddle, Matt Mancuso (Cathie Ryan Band) on fiddle, and Isaac Alderson (The Yanks, Comas) on the uilleann pipes, flutes, and whistles.
Runa1
‘Current Affairs’ is their fourth studio album and maintains the high standards they’ve set themselves. They play highly energetic and graceful, acoustic melodies with their fusion of music from Ireland, Scotland, Canada, and the United States. Reminiscent of Irish-American legends Solas the bands Irish-American roots shine through drawing inspiration from the celtic tradition and the modern realities of being Irish in America today.

Thirteen tracks that come up just a few seconds short of a hour and if its class Irish music you want then this is the place. ‘Current Affairs’ begins with the track Pete Seeger made famous ‘The Banks Are Made Of Marble’, written by a New York apple farmer Les Rice in the 1930’s celebrating the struggles of the working class. Kicking off with acoustic guitar and harmonica before the band join in. Sadly the band recorded the song the night Pete Seeger died and it’s as good a tribute to him as would be possible. ‘The Wife Of Ushers Well’ is a sad song of a mother’s loss breaking into reels half way through before returning to the song. ‘The Hunters Set’ is a collection of tunes centred around hunting from across North America and begins with the fiddle before the whole band finish the song with a almighty racket! ‘Henry Lee’ is a tune with its roots in the celtic nations and their offspring in the Appalachians and is one of the album’s standout tracks telling the tale of a jilted lovers revenge. The guitar playing is exemplary and leads the song in a quite jazzy way. Amos Lee’s ‘Black River’ is a slow ballad capturing the simplicity of the human spirit. This is followed by a beautiful collection of songs with dual vocals in both Scots gaelic and Irish. Its great to hear our native languages and it’s a true testament to the band. ‘The False Knight Upon The Road’ is a traditional song about a young boy who meets someone who tries to trick him. Claude Ely’s gospel song ‘Ain’t No Grave’ has been covered by artists as diverse as Johnny Cash and Norah Jones but never quite like this. Starting as a mournful ballad, fiddle jumps in and the song becomes upbeat with its story of overcoming life’s trials. ‘Who Will Sing Me Lullabies’ was written by Kate Rusby who is already gaining legendary status on these shores so its great to see her influence spreading across the broad atlantic. The word beautiful crops up a awful lot in this review and I can frankly find no better word for what I’m hearing. Kate is I’m sure honoured to have Runa cover this song. ‘The Ruthless Wife’ is the story of the death of vocalist Shannon’s great-grandfather James Allen Lambert in Philadelphia back in 1922.  A proper murder ballad of a policeman (what else could he have been…) killed in the line of duty and a real ladies man. Instrumental ‘Land of The Sunshine Set’ is a set of reels and tunes that gives the whole band a chance to shine and shine they do with each instrument getting a good airing and is as perfect as they come. ‘Rairies Hill’ is a traditional Scots love song from Dundee and breaks into a lovely upbeat section in the middle. ‘The Last Trip Home’ brings the album to a close with a slow and, yes, beautiful song based on the plight of plough horses in the north of england when they had become ‘obsolete’. A truly horrible word used to describe us all when we are no longer needed and stand in the way of what they call progress.
Runa3
The CD comes in a gatefold sleeve with descriptions of all the songs and has had as much care and attention lavished on it as the music that’s inside. As mentioned Runa remind me of Solas but not in any sort of derivative way. They have their own sound and ways and this album would be a welcome addition to anyones collection. With its elements of Americana and bluegrass as well as celtic it’s perfect for those quiet times when all you want to do is relax and contemplate life and its tragedies and celebrations.