Category Archives: Traditional

ALBUM REVIEW: SHANGHAI TREASON – ‘Shanghai Treason’ (2022)

2 years ago, Sheffield-based Shanghai Treason played their first gig. Now the wait is over…January ’21 sees the release of their self-titled debut album! If you’re partial to a bit o’ Dropkicks, Flogging and Roughneck Riot (and if you’re reading this, you probably are), then these “Yorkshire banjo punks” should be to yer liking. This record sounds like a band working hard, having fun, and determined to make a difference.

Shanghai Treason. From Sheffield, and keen to keep the local music scene going.

As we all know, the banjo is a firm favourite in any Celtic punk line-up. And on this record, the instrument makes its mark immediately. “Emerald Causeway” is a cracking tune to start things off, an energetic number where banjoist Tom Hardy leads the way.

This is a sign of a band that shows promise, and we’re not the only ones who’ve noticed. The boys have been picked up by none other than The Rumjacks, who’ve taken them out on their current UK tour. Sadly, some shows have been cancelled – including Glasgow, dammit – but it’s a great early opportunity for the band in any case.

Now, the music might make an impression on the listener, but so too do the lyrics. In next track “Gatling Gun”, which has been released as a single, we hear clever lines from singer Sam Christie such as The city sucked me in, and moved the goalposts. A better one is Would you sew my eyes shut? I got a needle – you got any thread? That one’s from “The Fiendish Blue”, and I had to grin when I heard it. It’s always good to see a band using words in an intriguing way, right down to their band name.

Dynamic music

Shanghai Treason stays true to the Celtic punk tradition, by boasting its fair share of speedy, 2/4-time songs. Listen to “On The Ropes”, where the accordion takes over and gives the banjo a wee rest. “Wildfire” sounds like it’ll be another thrasher, but a break in the middle saves it, before we’re plunged back into the fast-paced fun. Importantly, “Wildfire” also features Dan Booth, well known for his work with Ferocious Dog. Dan played fiddle on the track, and also co-handled production of the album. For Shanghai’s take on FD’s “Crime And Punishment”,

Despite the faster numbers, the band is apt at writing slower tunes too. “Uphill Battle” is a good example, with a steady jig rhythm commencing halfway through, making the song one of my favourites on the album. A much sadder example is “Hero’s Welcome”, a song about a POW returning home from war, only to be suspected of being a spy and tragically killed. Closing track “Boatman” is the other acoustic-led one, where the eponymous boatman could be literal, or maybe a metaphor, leaving it up to interpretation.

Where can I hear the album?

The best way to show these lads some support is to head to their Bandcamp page. There, you’ll find not only the album but some kick-ass merch. If ye fancy a listen first, there’s a wealth of videos on the band’s YouTube page for you to try, and be sure to subscribe!

If streaming’s your thing, and ye wanna contribute some royalties to the band, you can also give them a listen on Spotify or Apple Music. Last of all, be sure to drop ’em a message and stay in touch on either Facebook or Instagram. Their Facebook page lists lots of upcoming shows as the world slowly gets back to gigging ways.

Thanks for readin’! Or as they say in Scotland…slàn leat agus pòg mo thòin 😁☘️

Andy x

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

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

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

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

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

CHRISTY MOORE – Flying Into Mystery   (Here)

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

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

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

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

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

JIM LINDBERG – Songs From The Elkhorn Trail (Here)       

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

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

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

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

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

DAN WALSH – Live at the Floodgate   (Here)

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

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

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

WATCH OUT FOR PART 2 COMING THIS WEEKEND!

IRISH-BORN AND IRISH-AMERICANS; SEPERATED BY COMMON HERITAGE?

by Kevin Rooney

Before I became active on social media; I had noticed a lot of hostility, even abuse directed toward Irish-Americans on Irish groups and pages. I even experienced a bit myself. Before that I suppose I was aware of how unpopular Americans are abroad, but had hoped the relationship of the Irish with their American cousins would somehow have overridden that.

      Here, I would like to sincerely and sensitively (as objectively as I can) examine what I have observed about Irish-American attitudes toward Ireland and native Irish attitudes toward Irish-Americans. My purpose is for understanding and bringing together the branches of our worldwide diaspora. In trying to see both sides of the issues, I am not trying to be patronising, derogatory or offensive. The opinions and observations here are mine alone. I speak for nobody else.
       More than blood, I believe the millions all over the world who love Ireland makes a worldwide family. I mention that for the sake of members of that family with no Irish blood. The blood thing really hit home for me, though when I visited my cousins in Yorkshire, England. There we were with our different accents; English-born Irish, American-born Irish, Irish-born Irish. The distinctions disappeared into the common denominator, our shared heritage. My cousin in England is a gifted musician. I make some noise myself. When we play Irish music together, we instantly can read each other’s minds. It’s an instinct. American or English birth doesn’t undo that.

DIASPORA

      Four out of five children born in Ireland in the 1930’s, emigrated in the 1950’s, including my parents who came to the US. Of course, untold numbers fled here from the genocide of the Great Hunger in the 1840’s and afterward and spread pretty thoroughly so that one isn’t surprised to hear anyone here say that they have Irish heritage. The US version of the show “Who Do You Think You Are” featured many US celebrities who had Irish heritage of which they didn’t even know. A big part of tourism to Ireland is genealogy from Americans wanting to trace their Irish roots. With the popularity of ancestral DNA, many people are discovering they have Irish ancestry.  I have seen much of this myself.

CONNECTION 

        There is a wide variance of connection to Ireland among the over 33 million Americans who claim Irish ancestry. Some, like myself; were born of Irish parents (first generation), have been to Ireland many times, keep up with current events there, and maintain close ties with relatives there. It’s important to know and remember that I grew up in New York, a city with a large Irish community.
        That community enabled me to grow up with a strong sense of what it was to have Irish heritage. Having spent summers in Ireland as kid made me fall in love with Ireland in my own personal way. This also made me take a strong interest in Irish history and what was then happening in the North. I read Irish-American newspapers such as The Irish Echo that kept its American readers well-informed on events there. We even got a Republican newspaper called The Irish People. I rubbed elbows in pubs drinking and singing with Irish immigrants. We had Gaelic Park in The Bronx where my dad took my brother and I to see hurling and Gaelic football played. I went to Irish fairs and festivals where I was able to hear lots of good live Irish music and buy lots of books and videos of historical interest.
       All these things I mention would not have been accessible years ago to probably most of the number in America who call themselves Irish, that did not live in places with large Irish communities. This information is all available to them now that we have the internet, and Facebook, which is the purpose of our pages; to promote Irish history and culture. I have known people who are several generations removed from Ireland that have an instinct, or a calling for their heritage that even they don’t understand.
       Their link may be only that they have an Irish last name, red hair, freckles, oral family tradition, or have recently discovered that an ancestor came from Ireland. My brother lives in a city in the southern US where there is no Irish community to speak of, nor many catholics. When I have gone to visit, I meet people who think or suspect they may have Irish heritage. I am amazed at how one wouldn’t know that, but this is what happened over the course of generations in the US. The people there know so little about Ireland that they would probably believe anything they heard about it.  I recently met a nurse here in New York named Megan who wore a shamrock on her name tag, identifying herself as Irish. When I asked where her family was from, she said “Cork, I think. Not sure.”

NATIONALITY/ETHNICITY 

         Why would she call herself Irish? Because in the States, many of us tend to define ourselves by whence our families came. Remember, the US is a nation made up of people who came from everywhere else. Every language on earth is spoken in my county of Queens, NY. American is a nationality, not an ethnicity. For a person of Irish heritage who is born in Ireland, his nationality and ethnicity are one and the same. One does not have “American” blood or an “American” family name (except Native Americans, of course. That’s a whole other story…).  Here in the states we tend to confuse the term nationality with ethnicity, which is ironic considering it is a nation of multiple ethnicities.
“What nationality are you?”
“Irish” (This is how an Irish-American would respond in the US.)
“Why? What are you?”
“Half Irish/half Italian”.
That’s another thing I think people in Ireland couldn’t understand; how someone could be “half Irish”.  My neighbourhood was full of such Irish-Italian and Irish-German kids.
          A bartender I knew was nicknamed Scotty for his Glasgow accent. The subject of nationalities came up and referring to himself he said; “You figure it out. I’m from Scotland. My parents were from Kerry, I was raised in Canada, and now I’m an American citizen.”
I saw it this way:
He was born in Scotland, with Irish blood.
He was raised in Canada, with Irish blood.
He will likely die in the USA, with Irish blood.
Your nationality can change, but your ethnicity doesn’t change. Ironically in Ireland now, because of the immigration that came from The Celtic Tiger, there are lots of people who are Irish by birth, but not by blood. I believe this serves well to expand the idea of an inclusive Irishness, “cherishing all children of the nation equally”.
       I hear people from Ireland say that they feel that their nationality is being watered down or cheapened by Americans calling themselves Irish, particularly those with only a remote connection. I must admit at times I have been disgusted with the ignorance of many of my fellow Americans who call themselves Irish, who know or care nothing about Ireland. That is, except for one day of the year. I have been accused of being arrogant in my attitude about my own Irishness. I have strong opinions on Irish things because of my familiarity with them. I have little tolerance for fools and bullshit in general, but most especially when it comes to Ireland. So I do understand the irritation.
      However, those who do care about Ireland (to varying degrees) see her as our Motherland, that instinct again. People from Ireland don’t seem to understand this feeling that’s widely felt all over the diaspora…until they leave Ireland. Just as one fails to see the forest for the trees. That’s who our parents and grandparents are, the ones who left and subconsciously passed along their homesickness. Christy Moore described this longing of which I speak quite beautifully:
“In the City of Chicago
As the evening shadows fall
There are people dreaming
Of the hills of Donegal.”
       I have a friend I have known for 30 years since he came to New York from Ireland. When he first met me, I don’t think he understood how I felt about Ireland. In the years since, he has married a woman from Ireland and had a son, whom they had baptised in Ireland. He totally gets it now. His son is an American, but I’m sure he will also know he is Irish and be proud of it.

KNOWLEDGE/PERCEPTION 

      As I mentioned earlier, people without close ties to Ireland or who have never been there may not know very much about Ireland. Something I would ask people to remember is that Ireland is a country you hear nearly nothing about in the US. No more than you’d hear about Finland. So, many Irish-Americans have never heard of Dáil Éireann, Fine Gael or Fianna  Fáil, etc. Contrast this to how much the Irish hear about US politics, quite a lot.
       Even during the conflict in the North, the mainstream media in the US reported little and it was one-sided. Proportionally very few Americans were knowledgeable about the North, though let it be said the few who were were active in taking a role in putting pressure on the US Government to get involved in the peace process. They were also very supportive of the Republican movement. This lead to another perception that Irish-Americans are naive and romantic on the subject. I have recently seen venomous hatred directed at Irish-Americans from Loyalists for their reputation of support for the Republicans, which actually made me quite proud.
        A lot of misconceptions about Ireland were put out by terrible Hollywood movies. Also a lot of misconceptions about Ireland survive because of folk memory; the Irish grandparents fill them with the image of the land they left, not as it is now. I have seen this with my own eyes. People who return after many years are total strangers in their own hometown and don’t recognise the place.
       The image of the backward, superstitious, strictly catholic country is dying hard. When I predicted confidently and correctly that the Gay Marriage referendum would pass in Ireland, Americans were astonished, could hardly believe it. Some  don’t realise, (or maybe don’t want to realise) that Ireland is no longer as it was depicted in “The Quiet Man”.

SOCIAL MEDIA 

         The invention of Social Media has definitely added a new dimension to this discussion. It has put Americans who would normally not interact with anyone from Ireland, let alone someone in Ireland; conversing with Irish people who only meet the Americans who go there, some of whom are just tourists. Of course, so many Irish have relatives here that return to visit. I would hope the Irish with a negative image of Americans make exceptions for or overlook their own cousins. I hope mine do. But even if not, they’re still my cousins.
        Social Media is where I first became aware of this hostility toward Irish-Americans and experienced it a bit myself. It was usually to the effect of that I’m not Irish because I wasn’t born there. Of course I wasn’t, but I feel that doesn’t negate my right to claim it as my heritage, to take an interest or contribute my knowledge where it is helpful or informative.
       I don’t claim to be Irish in the same way as someone who was born there, did live there or does live there, but I do claim to be Irish. How are you not what your parents are? One guy commented to me “You may have an Irish passport, but it doesn’t mean you’re an Irish citizen!” To which I responded “Actually, it does. One must be a citizen to obtain a passport.”
         I was well able for it, but who wants to subject themselves to that? I thought then about how discouraging that is to Americans who visit sites and pages to learn about their heritage who didn’t have access to the stuff I did. What bothers me is that I have heard more than one American tell me they have reconsidered going to Ireland because the abuse they get on some pages makes them feel that they wouldn’t be welcome. That’s the damage that does, and it is sad. That is something about which I have sought to do what I can, and why I’ve written this piece.
           Many Americans sometimes do also fail to appreciate or understand Irish humour, in which sometimes insults are terms of endearment. Many Irish also enjoy doing the “wind-up”; provoking an argument to flare tempers purely for entertainment. We see this especially on Social Media. Also, the word “Yank” applies to all Americans, even Americans from the South. Being called a Yank can be affectionate or insulting, depending how it’s used. Normally, no offense is meant. I take no offence to it. But if you choose to always take offense, then prepare to be constantly insulted. I say own it.
         To be honest, I never personally experienced any hostility about being an American in Ireland. But then, I have relatives all over and know my way around pretty well. I used to visit regularly until 2000. My next and last visit was in 2005. The political climate had changed a lot in those few years. After a few days, I had noticed that nobody said anything political pertaining to the US around me, which was unusual. I broke the ice by saying “Say what you will. You will not offend me.” There’s nothing so uncomfortable as feeling like you have to watch what you say. Once I said that, the hair came down, and shoes came off, so to speak. That being said, perhaps in general, a change in the political climate is a source of this gap.

WORLD VIEW 

        Here I will discuss politics in the general, historical sense. I will not comment on current US or Irish politics or personalities. I think there is a huge difference in how the US perceives itself as opposed to how it is perceived around the world, including Ireland. Americans believe their troops are protecting them, and keeping the world safe for democracy and from terrorism. Many people in Ireland see the US as an imperialist power that goes to war for oil and business in which thousands are being slaughtered. The Irish have suffered from occupation by an imperialist power, so their natural sympathy is for those who are occupied or oppressed. Many Irish see the Middle East, particularly the Palestinian/Israeli conflict very differently than Americans; sympathising with the Palestinians.  Many Irish, particularly Republicans admired Gaddafi of Libya, whereas Americans saw him an a crazy tyrant.
        Americans believe Communism was a great evil that was necessary to eradicate with great loss of life. Many Irish sympathised with the people of Vietnam during the war with the US. Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese leader was inspired by Irish revolutionaries, particularly Tom Barry; who commanded the Third (West) Cork Brigade of the IRA in the Irish War of Independence. Recently, we saw another example of the disparity of opinion about Ernesto “Che” Guevara, who now graces an Irish stamp. Americans couldn’t fathom that they would put Che on a stamp. Americans consider him an evil communist tyrant fanatic. The Irish consider him a freedom fighter (of Irish descent) who was killed by the CIA. Ireland was neutral during the Cold War and did not share American paranoia about communism.
       A key thing for Americans to remember about Ireland is that it is a small, peaceful European nation. It has a history of neutrality going back to World War II. Ireland did not join NATO. It does not have nuclear weapons nor does it want them. But, if huge world power nations like the US destroy the world with nuclear weapons, that would include Ireland. This is why they hear a lot about the US in Ireland, but very little vice versa. There is a certain amount of resentment about that as well as the fact that US military aircraft stop and refuel in Shannon Airport. I for one wish they would do so elsewhere, as I don’t want Ireland involved in any other nation’s disputes or to become a target for terrorism for this reason.

SUGGESTIONS

Irish-Americans: Go to Ireland. Don’t live up to negative expectations about Americans. Visit Irish sites and pages on-line. Let your love for Ireland be based on truth, not misconception. Learn about your roots. Learn especially about where your people are from in Ireland. Learn about the history and culture. Remember that people from Ireland have a very different view of the world. Don’t let anyone stop you.
Irish-born: Try to to understand why we call ourselves Irish. Try to understand how little we may know. When we do ask dumb questions, please try to educate or advise, rather than abuse. That way you will be strengthening the diaspora, spreading knowledge instead of misinformation, correcting misconceptions, contributing to her “exaltation among the nations”. These people have a calling for their Irish heritage Please don’t discourage them.

Our thanks go out to Kevin Rooney for this fascinating article. Hopefully it will help educate those that make disparaging remarks about the foreign born Irish. A 2nd generation Mayo American Irish writer and musician living in Queens, New York. You can hear more from Kevin over at the Irish History 1916 through to 1923 and Everything Irish Facebook pages where he is an admin. Kevin also contributed to the Happy Birthday Mr Bob book, a celebration of Bob Dylan’s 80th Birthday, with submissions from Irish poets, writers, singers, songwriters, artists, photographers and an eclectic mix of admirers!

ALBUM REVIEW: FEROCIOUS DOG – ‘The Hope’ (2021)

Having gone to see Ken and the boys live in Edinburgh this year, it seems only right that we review Ferocious Dog’s new album before the year’s out. Enjoy The Hope, a triumphant slice of folk-punk from a band at the top of their game.

The Hope by Ferocious Dog. Don’t forget to spin this one!

From the epic opening seconds of “Port Isaac”, it’s clear that this is an album that the band put a lot of thought and work into. With a sense of foreboding we’re chucked on board a ship, with Cap’n Flint barking the orders (not really) and the opening lines of “Haul Away Joe” chiming into view. After that, the band’s cover of this sea shanty gets going properly, and we knew it wouldn’t be long before the Dog’s familiar brand of folk-punk and polka beats came to kick us in the ass. Some o’ the lyrics are also a fresh deviation from other versions of the song out there.

Follow-up track “Pentrich Rising” continues in the same vein. The band filmed a video for this one, which reconstructs the failed Pentrich rising of 1817. To check out the video, and a “making of” that the band put together, go HERE and HERE. Or just watch it below:

“Pentrich Rising”. About the workers’ uprising of 1817 that foundered due to an inside job.

Plenty to dance to

Following the trend set by “Joe” and “Rising”, there’s plenty more to dance to on this record. Take your pick from some o’ the ones below ☘

“Born Under Punches” is about the sad story of a broken home, where the youngest runs away to follow their dreams in London, only to end up “on the old main drag”, as Shane MacGowan might have put it. But bleak or not, the song’s danceable from the start. So too are the equally-themed “Slayed The Traveller” and “Sea Shepherd”. The latter of these shows direct support for Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd charity who promotes an Earth-centred (rather than human-centred) view of the world. And if “Haul Away Joe” was a re-imagining of a trad song, so too is the band’s take on “The Parting Glass”. To quote Billy Bragg, they really put the power drill on this tune, to see what would come out.

Born Under Punches” talks about homelessness on the dark streets of London.

Music of the heart

The picture we’ve painted so far is of a fast-paced jumper of an album. But don’t be fooled – there are plenty of sombre moments on this record too. The first of these is “Broken Soldier”, a beautifully sad song about war, inspired no doubt by the sad fate of Ken’s son Lee Bonsall, who had served in Afghanistan. The line “it’s a far cry from the blue skies” particularly strikes you – it hints at the fact that war is horrific, but that our Western society can be ugly and unkind too.

“1914” is another example. Here, lead vocals are taken by fiddler Dan Booth, whose delivery of the line “there was whiskey on Sundays and love in the wings” is definitely reminiscent of “The Broad Majestic Shannon”, another MacGowan masterpiece. If this song takes a look back at WWI, “Khatyn” is about WWII, and a village in Belarus that in March 1943 was all but wiped out by the Nazis. Credit to the Dog here for not being afraid to bring in events and countries from outside the Celtic world.

The masterpiece of the album, however, has to be “The Hope”, an outstanding title track that is worthy of being a title track. A strong ballad, featuring beautiful singing from Ken, this one slowly builds to a wonderful choir-like singalong at the end, bringing a tear to the ol’ eye. This is music of the heart, written for those struggling to find any joy in life, walking around thinking, “I hope one day happiness comes my way.” If you’re reading this and you feel that way, then we hope you find happiness too. There are different answers that work for different people, so never stop searching for solutions.

“The Hope” – an outstanding and moving title track if ever there were one.

Go check it out!

With 17 songs, you won’t be shortchanged (or disappointed) by what’s on offer here. The album is a success, a masterclass in folk-punk with top-notch production values. The band put a lot of graft in here, so well done to them on reaching #1 in the UK Folk charts, and even #31 in the mainstream charts. Not that charts always matter, but it’s nice to let the mainstream know that there’s more music out there than just what gets played on national radio. There’s a wealth of great underground music out there, and it’s good when some of it succeeds on its own terms.

Now, as Jack Nicholson famously said after his wife locked him in a storage cupboard: “GO CHECK IT OUT!” 😁 If ye have the money, buy “The Hope” from Amazon (it’s not available from the band’s website until after Christmas, ye ken). If money’s a wee bit tight, then the album’s up on the major streaming platforms too. And whatever ye do, be sure to follow the Dog on Instagram or Facebook.

CELEBRATING A CELTIC CHRISTMAS 2021. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS FAMILY

We think Celtic-Punk is about embracing the traditions of the past and bringing them to the present so here’s some of the Christmas customs of each of the Celtic nations.

At this point we also pick the best Christmas themed song we’ve heard to showcase. Their was a time it was quite easy to choose which song. Not any more!

This year our chosen Christmas track is by the fantastic Walker Roaders. Already a bit of a supergroup what with James Fearnley from the Pogues, Marc Orrell, and occasionally Tim Brennan, from the Dropkick Murphys and Ted Hutt from Flogging Molly but they are joined here by the wonderful KT Tunstall and Chris Leonard and fueled by coffee and mince pies got to work and came out the other end with ‘Run Rudolph Run’.

Contact Walker Riders  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

CELEBRATING A CELTIC CHRISTMAS

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

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

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

SCOTLAND

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

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

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

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

IRELAND

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

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

WALES

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

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

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

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

ISLE OF MAN

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

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

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

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

CORNWALL

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

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

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

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

BRITTANY

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

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

GALICIA

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

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

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

Nollick Ghennal as Blein Vie Noa (Manx Gaelic)

Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath ùr (Scottish Gaelic)

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

Nedeleg Laouen na Bloavezh Mat  (Breton)

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda (Welsh)

Nadelik Lowen ha Bledhen Nowyth Da (Cornish)

Further Christmas themed fun with this London Celtic Punks Top Twenty

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

CLICK HERE

Couldn’t leave it there without another ’21 Christmassa! ‘I Auditioned To Be Santa’ by our most favourite Pirate-Punk band Jolly Roger. All the way from the historic Celtic nation of Kernow. It’s the hilarious tale of two friends competing to be a store Santa Claus. One loves Christmas time and the other loves being a pirate. Listen on for what happens and who gets the job. Jolly Roger recently released a great EP Ship Or Bust and have a new van and are looking to busk in YOUR town!

Contact Jolly Roger  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram Bandcamp

CHRISTMAS 2021 SONGS ROUND-UP! FINNEGAN’S HELL, YE BANISHED PRIVATEERS, MISSING THE FERRY, SONS OF CLOGGER, HELLRAISERS & BEERDRINKERS, MICK THE BUSKER

🎵🎵 Ding Dong Merrily On High 🎵🎵

Christmas Day is almost upon us and a recent development in the Celtic-Punk world has been bands doing Christmas songs. Every year we see more and some from quite unusual sources. Of course it being Celtic-Punk most have more in common with the darker side and ‘Fairytale Of New York’ than with ‘Rocking Around The Christmas Tree’. No harm in that after all we should all spare a thought for others at this time of year and go out of our way to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Enjoy this varied collection of Christmas songs and see you at a gig sometime soon!

FINNEGAN’S HELL – ‘Christmas Day’

the season’s upon us as Scandinavian big-hitters Finnegan’s Hell were first out the traps to celebrate a Celtic-Punk Christmas. Their new song ‘Happy Christmas’ shines a light on the dark side of Christmas and is aimed at broadening the general perception of the holiday, which, to some people, is nothing but a nightmare. Not us though, we love it… but some people.

YE BANISHED PRIVATEERS – Carol Of Bellows

Another bunch of Scandinavians go mad this year and Ye Banished Privateers have released a whole album of if not exactly Christmas fun then at least Christmas songs. This song is the lead single from A Pirate Stole Our Christmas and is a  take on the traditional ‘Carol Of The Bells’. A mix of choral’s, bawdy Swedish trad folk tunes and a Ukrainian nursery rhyme, they tell of Bellows triumphant return from the grave. Theatrical Pirate-Folk-Punk and second to none at the genre!

MISSING THE FERRY – Home For Christmas

Luton 2nd generation Irish band have had a busy year with several new releases hopefully building up to a full length album. It’s a bitter sweet song, hoping that the lost and displaced, the grieving, the addicted, the sick in mind or body will again see home this Christmas….if only in their dreams and imagination. The track is free on Bandcamp but the Bhoys ask that you make a donation to a mental health charity.

SONS OF CLOGGER – In Time For Christmas

After 10 years and nearly 400 gigs English Folk-Rockers Sons Of Clogger have finally got round to doing a Christmas single. With new members all bedded in it’s probably the most ‘traditional’ song here and wouldn’t be out of place on any Christmas compilation.

HELLRAISERS & BEERDRINKERS – Warmes Schwarzes Faxe

The Brits like to think that the German race have no sense of humour but German band Hellraisers And Beerdrinkers certainly look like they are having a great time filming the video for their seasonal track. Named after a song by Motorhead they call what they play ‘Gaudi Folk’, Celtic-Punk that is more Folk related but with serious Punk Rock attitude.

MICK THE BUSKER – Fairytale Of New York

Mick McLoughlin (aka ‘Mick The Busker’) has been a familiar face busking on Henry Street now for over a decade. He’s been through the hard times ant the other side and while every year their are umpteen recordings of FONY we loved Mick’s version. Many take the cowards way out and unnecessarily censor the song but not here.

EP REVIEW: FOGGY DUDE – ‘More Ain’t Less’ (2021)

Our favourite Czech Republican Celtic-Punk band Foggy Dude are back with an amazing studio EP of seven songs to follow last years Pub 10 live recording. 

These guys came to our attention last year with the release of Pub 10 a live EP of five songs recorded at their favourite Prague pub. Sadly for them, being live, it wasn’t eligible to be included in our end of year Best Of’s or else it would have definitely featured so impressed were we. Recorded ‘warts’nall’ it really captured this talented band perfectly so I was delighted to hear they were still going and had recorded new material.

Foggy Dude left to right: Jirka – Bass * Drunken Joe – Acoustic Guitar * Caba – Mandolin * Štofi – Electric Guitar * Ilia – Violin * Jirka – Tin Whistle * Peťa – Drums *

Foggy Dude (great name!) were formed in the Summer of 2017 by a group of friends who were studying at Strahov Technical University in the Czech Republic capital of Prague. In their earliest days they were a 8-piece gigging round the local student/punk scene in Prague at mainly the Vagon Rock club, 007 club Strahov and, what would become their spiritual home, the Block 10 Pub. A few years later they may no longer be students but they can still be found hanging around the pubs of Strahov. As any Celtic-Punk fan will tell you it’s next to impossible to keep that many people together long term and so it proved as people have come and gone from the band and no sooner had they released Pub 10 then two members up and left. Foggy Dude have risen to the challenge though and now a mere 7-piece instead of bringing in a singer they now share the vocal duties among the band. A very novel and commendable approach.

A wise man once said: Do you know why you should drink more? Because more ain’t less! Or so the story goes according to Ilia, who decided to demonstrate said proverb to us one drunken night at Pub 10. Since then, we took it to our hea… livers, as we got through many more drunken nights. We wrote some songs, we sang them loud for the entire drinkery to hear and thus this album came about. – Taken from the album notes.

More Ain’t Less begins with ‘Raise Your Glass’ and Ilia, the fiddle player takes on the main vocal in a tribute to The Dreadnoughts. So impressed by the Canadians love of sea-shanties (they recorded a whole album not long back) they decided to write one themselves to open shows so only right it should open here too. Next up is bass player Jirka and a song he wrote in the Himalayas (!) about the small things in life sometimes being the most enjoyable. In this case being in the Himalayas and missing a pint in your favourite bar with your friends.

“I sailed the deepest ocean
and climbed the greatest mountains
I know what is the life
I slept with many girls
and beat a lot of men
I know what is the life”

Great words and musically it’s bloody fantastic too. Great fiddle and a tune to die for. Five minutes of pure unabashed kick-arse Celtic-Punk party music. Catchy beyond words. All I can say is you’ll just have to check it out yourselves.

Cába of the mandolin sings ‘Hunt For Leprechaun’ and it’s actually the very first song ever written by the band about having your gold stolen by a leprechaun and then gaining your revenge. Again it’s a belter of a song and as catchy as hell. Word is they only wrote this song as they wanted to shout “NOW THE GOLD IS IN HIS ASS” in public! This is one hell of a bunch of talented guys and I don’t just mean musically either as they next turn their hand to an instrumental and ‘Felfire Dance’ includes two jigs both written by the band. The origins of the song lay in the time Cába was studying in Ireland. Jirka is back next for ‘Old Man’ and a sad tale but told with amazing gusto and such a uplifting Eastern influenced tune. A old man slaves his life away breaking his back till he can work no more and on finding his life in ruins finds solace in the bottom of a glass.

“Once there was an old man,
in a grotty pub, siting alone
and he had a story to tell
I got one bottle of whiskey
and I sunk across the table”

We see plenty of these old fella’s in the Irish community but truth be told they are everywhere and they built everything. Cába is back on vocals for ‘You Didn’t Even Appear At All’ and a more straight up Punk track but still with all the Celtic instrumentation. Based on a habit of old singer Sam to leave funny messages on peoples phones when angry or drunk or drunk and angry. The EP ends with another fine instrumental ‘Slainte Pico’ of two Foggy Dude original compositions.

Altogether this is a really wonderful release and it really made my day. With a pile of releases to get through of mostly Folky stuff it was an absolute pleasure to get this and it ended up taking over my day so good was it. The only disappointment here is that their is not more of it! The balance struck between Folk and Punk and Trad is perfect as is the production and it comes with the best booklet I’ve seen on any release this year. If we did give marks out of ten then put More Ain’t less down for a 9!

Download More Ain’t Less  Spotify  YouTubePlaylist

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE OUTCAST CREW – ‘Myths & Yarns’ (2021)

The debut album from Ireland’s newest Celtic-Punk band- The Outcast Crew. Ten original roaring trad punk songs about myths, folklore and singalong sea shanties!

Strangely there aren’t a huge amount of Celtic Punk bands based in Ireland, so we were delighted to receive the debut album Myths & Yarns from The Outcast Crew. It is extremely encouraging that the genre is alive and kicking back in the homeland.

The Outcast Crew are 6-piece band including Brian O’Mahoney (Vocals/Guitars); Paul Flynn (Drums); Niall Harney (Bass); Adela Mealy (Accordion); John Davidson (Fiddle) and Alasdair McCann on banjo. Myths & Yarns has been released though the Los Angeles publishing company ‘Songs to your Eyes’.

Lead singer and songwriter Brian O’Mahoney explains how the album came about.

“I had written a couple of instrumental folk/trad albums for publishers in both London and LA. Austin Seltzer had mixed and mastered a previous album of mine and he suggested I write an album with folk instruments along with heavy guitars and vocals.”

The album is made up of 10 songs and is a perfect blend of all that is Celtic Punk. You can clearly hear influences of 70’s classic punk (The Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, Sex Pistols) which are blended perfectly with the more Celtic influences of The Pogues and more recently bands like Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly.
As the title suggests the album is fully of tales of folklore, myths, sea voyages and of course the odd session which are brilliantly delivered with gritty vocals, guitar, banjo and fiddle.

“You are the one I want”, “Renegade” and “Bound for Hell” are worthy of a specific mention as songs which stand out on the album. In saying that the whole album is an excellent offering as a debut album. I have no doubt that based on Myths & Yarns we will be hearing much more of The Outcast Crew in the future. Keep it coming lads.

Buy Myths & Yarns  Amazon  Apple

Contact The Outcast Crew  Facebook   Spotify

SHANE MACGOWAN: THE NEW BIOGRAPHY

A Furious Devotion is the new biography of Shane MacGowan, authorised by Shane himself! Author Richard Balls is a devoted Pogues fan, who has also written about Stiff Records. Now Richard has tackled the task of writing the ultimate Shane biography. His early life, his family, his big influences, the good times and the bad – it’s all accounted for here. Let’s have a look at the result, and learn about the Celtic punk legend like you’ve never seen him before.

A Furious Devotion by Richard Balls. The authorised story of Shane MacGowan.

It would be impossible to paint a full picture of Shane, The Pogues and Shane’s life in general if you just observed it from afar. So you won’t be disappointed by A Furious Devotion: The Life of Shane MacGowan. Richard Balls is the author, and he visited Shane and Victoria at their Dublin flat, spending time with ’em over two years. Richard also interviewed an extensive number of people who’ve shaped Shane’s life; everyone from closest family members to lifelong friends, bandmates and even Shane’s English teacher are quoted here. This provides us with a unique, detailed overview of this extraordinary man, one that helps us understand him better than we already did ☘

This holy place

For example, one place that Richard draws special attention to is The Commons. A cottage in rural Co. Tipperary with its thick stone walls, cobwebs and a fistful of character, this is Shane’s spiritual home. It’s the place where he spent the first years of his life, and even today it remains practically untouched by the ravages of time. So it’s fitting how we learn from Richard that Shane was introduced to Irish music here by his family, and of course to Catholicism.

Years later, after father Maurice and mother Therese moved the family to England for work, Shane would still return to The Commons for months at a time, bringing many a girlfriend along to this holy place. But you don’t need to go there to know it’s a world away from the very English backdrop of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, where Shane spent the rest of his childhood, feeling like a fish out of water. Trust me, I’m from Maidstone, and while Kent has some beautiful places, it ain’t Irish and it certainly isn’t republican 😉

A well-read mind

You may have wondered why Shane’s songs have stood the test of time so well, especially among us Celtic punk fans. That’s partly because his interest in writing and reading developed very early on, paving the way for those memorable, heartfelt lyrics. Therese and Maurice both encouraged Shane to follow in their intellectual footsteps. As a result, having barely hit his teens, Shane was already reading James Joyce and Thomas Mann and winning national writing competitions.

This gift for writing, and Shane’s growing love of music, would later be two key ingredients in his work with The Nips, Pogues and Popes. Richard reveals the final, explosive ingredient to us in the back room of a pub in 1976. That night, Shane watched The Sex Pistols for the first time, and discovered his heart’s second home in punk. He remained in London, and so The Nipple Erectors were born.

A wee pic of Shane and Richard, taken a few years back.

Highs. Lows. Recovery.

We all know and love The Pogues’ rapid rise to fame, and sadly their moment in the public eye was over too soon, with Fairytale of New York serving as today’s sole reminder of the success the band once enjoyed. Nonetheless, everyone can learn something new from Richard’s in-depth analysis of the ’80s and ’90s. We learn how Jem Finer had been told he was “tone-deaf”, only for him to shake this off and emerge as the other prolific songwriter for the band. We learn how Shane really did go and “work for a five” on those streets in The Old Main Drag. And how, in spite of the clear Irish direction of their music, it wasn’t until the height of The Pogues’ success that Shane really got political for the first time with The Birmingham Six, a song that Ben Elton – and eventually the BBC – refused to broadcast. In that respect, 1991 couldn’t come soon enough.

I won’t say a lot about the much darker times in the years that followed, between when Peace And Love signalled the band’s growing musical differences and Sinéad O’Connor eventually reporting Shane to the police for heroin abuse. The horror of those bleak times is very tangible, and Richard’s descriptions make them all the more tangible. But one good thing that finally came of it was that Shane visited a visionary lady in the West of Ireland, one Christina Gallagher. We discover during this passage that she “sucked all the badness out of him”. If Shane truly does see other people as souls, rather than as humans, then we hope he finally found his match in Christina, who has given him some of the spiritual support he needs to deal with the world.

The music is cool again

So now…read the book and discover the rest for yourself 😉 But overall, A Furious Devotion makes it crystal clear what Shane has done for Irish music. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, Irish music and “being Irish” was not seen to be fashionable in Britain. Shane, along with The Pogues, The Popes and all the musicians he’s shared stages, songs and records with, is a big part of why the music is cool again, and why on Paddy’s Day people celebrate being Irish even though they’re not! Only The Pogues could have achieved that in Thatcher-era Britain, and they could not have done it without their mercurial frontman at the helm. A man who came from the English establishment, even attending two public schools, but at the same time couldn’t have been further from it all.

We at London Celtic Punks would like to congratulate Richard Balls on a job well done! His book, A Furious Devotion: The Life of Shane MacGowan, is out now on Omnibus Press, the world’s most rock n’ roll publisher, and is available from all well-known retailers. We would like to thank Omnibus Press for giving Richard this chance to keep the life and music of Shane MacGowan at the front of people’s minds.

Stay tuned for part 2!

Shane pictured in September 2021.

GIG REVIEW: FEROCIOUS DOG – EDINBURGH 6/11/21

Ruff ruff! This weekend Ferocious Dog took to the stage in Edinburgh, at legendary venue La Belle Angele. They played a blinder, as if you needed telling 😉 Here’s a review o’ the gig by The Celtic Punk Author, who was there. With support from Mucky Scoundrel.

It feels bloody good to watch live gigs again after that pesky virus stopped ’em. If there’s one band that doesn’t disappoint, no matter how many lockdowns we’ve had, then Ferocious Dog is it. On Saturday 6th November the boys set up at La Belle Angele, an awesome wee venue in Scotland’s capital that brings in the finest in underground music names.

Supporting: Mucky Scoundrel

I got to the venue early, bought the obligatory pint and made a donation to the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund (more info below). Soon after, it was time to enjoy Mucky Scoundrel, last-minute replacements for the injured Gimme Gimme Gimmes. Frontman Mark Feeney broke a string during the first song (a nightmare that all us guitarists can relate to!), but he played to an obliging audience as the club floor started to fill. Opening as a solo act can be a wee bit lonely, lemme tell ya, but Mark had an excellent accompaniment in Danny Kelly, who supplied some slick basslines and backing vocals.

The duo played 8 songs as I recall, with a mixture of humorous lyrics and more serious numbers, and some sweet vocal harmonies to bolster the music. To get a feel for what they can do, check this oot:

Mucky Scoundrel. Last-minute replacements for the injured Gimme Gimme Gimmes.

To hear more from Mucky Scoundrel, check ’em out on Facebook, or watch the well-made, if slightly sad video to “Last To Fall” on YouTube. It’s a full studio version of a song that featured in Saturday’s setlist. Click HERE to watch it.

Headlining: Ferocious Dog

The Angele was nicely filled by the time The Dog’s walk-on music “Port Isaac” chimed into view. The band were to play many songs off their newest album The Hope (UK #31), and sure enough, they kicked things off with their rendition of fisherman’s shanty “Haul Away Joe”. After that it was straight into “Pentrich Rising”, arguably the band’s finest song to date (and there are many candidates for that!) A sample of the live performance, and how it got folks up and jumpin’, can be seen below:

“Pentrich Rising” – about the armed workers’ uprising of 1817, which started in ex-mining village South Wingfield.

Next up was “Victims”, another track in E minor with a more melancholy fiddle riff. The front-row faithful, known affectionately as the band’s “hell hounds”, kept the mosh pit going and were well up for the “OK, let’s go!” shout during the song. We then moved into “Broken Soldier”, the first of a number of songs the band played about the horrors of war. For those who don’t know, Lee Bonsall (mentioned above) was lead singer Ken’s son. Lee gave the band their name when he was a boy, and went on to serve in Afghanistan at the age of 18. Sadly, he later took his own life at the age of just 24, unable to overcome what he’d seen and been through in the war. This gave rise to the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund, and if you can spare a few quid for these guys, then get in touch with them HERE, and show your support for those still fighting the war in their hearts and minds, years later.

On the subject of charitable giving, “Sea Shepherd” is a song with a pirate-like feel to it, dedicated to the marine conservation charity of the same name. Ken was proudly sporting his Sea Shepherd T-shirt at the gig, and volunteers from Sea Shepherd themselves were at the doors with merch (I bought a beanie to replace the one I lost years ago). I first heard of these guys years ago through the Dutch band Omnia, who play[ed] pagan folk with a big dose of “fuck authority” thrown in. Sea Shepherd are more into direct action than Greenpeace, but they stay on the right side of the line. To learn more about these guys, make a donation or buy something, check ’em out HERE.

On “1914”, another track off The Hope, fiddler Dan Booth stepped up to sing lead vocals. Dan is one of two remaining members from the original 1988 line-up, with Ken being the other one. I particularly smiled at the line “there was whisky on Sundays” – if that ain’t a nod to The Pogues and “The Broad Majestic Shannon”, a fine piece of MacGowan magic, then I don’t know what it is, ye ken.

Ferocious Dog live in Edinburgh. L-R: Ryan Brooks, Dan Booth, Ken Bonsall, Alex Smith (hidden), Sam Wood and John Alexander.

Music has the right to children

After a reel or two, which broke things up nicely but kept folks dancing, the band returned to their eponymous 2013 album, and the songs “Too Late” and the reggae-tinged “Freeborn John”. After these two strong tracks, it was back to The Hope again for “Born Under Punches”, another poignant song about homelessness in London. “Punk Police”, meanwhile, was written about those who feel they can tell others what’s punk and what’s not, or what they can listen to and what they can’t. As a famous Scottish duo once pointed out, “music has the right to children”. So although a punk band must understand what punk is about and how it originated, punk does have the right to morph and grow, as do all forms of music. With a “fuck the punk police” shouted at the end of the song, Ken made this clear.

The Dog closed their set with a few more songs, but were eagerly welcomed back for an encore. They had three more songs ready to go, the strongest of which was arguably the finisher, “Slow Motion Suicide”, taken from 2015’s From Without. This closer was another sad reminder of the terrible consequences of mental health problems, if the victims don’t get the support they need. Having suffered from depression and anxiety myself, I believe there’s an answer for everyone. People react differently to different types of treatment; what’s important is that people get the help that works for them.

All in all…

All in all, this was a fine gig, with a good dose o’ speedfolk to keep out the November cold. The band tore through their set impressively, never letting up but remaining as tight as we all knew they would be. As the crowd put their hands in the air for the obligatory end-of-gig photo, I was glad I went, and I’ll keep me ear to the ground for future FD gigs in this neck of the woods. Okay, my one complaint: the band didn’t play “Crime and Punishment” 😁 But that’s jammern auf hohem Niveau, as they say in Germany (English: “nitpicking”).

We would like to thank La Belle Angele for putting the show on, and for all they do to support live music. Show ’em some love and attention by visiting their website for further info and news about upcoming events. Next time you’re up Edinburgh way, we recommend checkin’ out what’s on there 👍

Folk on!

Andy x

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Leaving  CD-TheBand  Download-Bandcamp

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

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

ALBUM REVIEW: KEVIN O’DRISCOLL – ‘Operation Underdog’ (2021)

A solo album from Irish Folk ballad singer Kevin O’Driscoll that steps away from his usual material. A ‘Rock’ album that dips it’s toes into several other genres but always with ‘Folk’ at its heart. 

A solo album with a big difference in that Kevin O’Driscoll actually plays every instrument on this album and seeing as how the album veers from trad Folk right up to Punk then trust me that’s a lot of instruments to be playing. Kevin is a native of Tyrone in the north of Ireland and when not recording Kevin usually puts food on the table by touring the length and breadth of Ireland (with occasional visits to Scotland) as a Irish ballad singer performing Irish Folk songs and the ‘rebs’. He’s been doing this now for well over a decade and he was one of a handful of Irish singer/songwriters that took good advantage of the Covid lockdown to carry on performing if only virtually on Facebook. It was on one of these live streams that I first came across him and looking deeper I found some material that I thought warranted further investigation on behalf of the London Celtic Punks!

Operation Underdog kicks off with ‘Enemy’ and one of the best songs on the album. Chugging guitar and Kevin spits out the bitter and angry lyrics about friends falling out and the lengths we go to after. This is followed by ‘Favourite Drug’ and some of these songs have been around on social media for a while but this is the first time they have been compiled with new stuff into one album.

The topic of this song is unsurprisingly drugs. While Ireland does have a serious drug problem it is of course only the working class that die from overdoses. The song ties us in nicely to compare Kevin favourably with my own favourite Irish singer-songwriter Damien Dempsey. If you could imagine Damo singing for a rock band you’d not be a million miles away. Operation Underdog is undoubtedly a Rock album though ‘From Dublin To El Paso’, the most Irish song here, I’m sure is a firm fan favourite when Kev is doing the ballad sessions too. A song about the days when the Irish left Ireland for work and the places they went and what it is that defines us.

” There are two kinds of Irish. Those that are and those that wish they were”

From the earlier comparisons to Damo on ‘One Man Show’ Kev never sounds better. A great slow song about a friend who passed away. For all the differing styles here the album flows remarkably well thanks in no small part to Kevin’s fabulous vocals. Here on ‘For You I Die’  he takes a Mod-ish number that could also pass for some much bigger bands and the type of song they can only dream of writing these days. Catchy as it all is here and spilling over with emotion.

A great song and one of the best here. ‘Letting Go’ sees Kevin O’Driscoll the ballad singer coming out with a tender song that changes tempo half way through from ballad to something with more oompf and finally settles in a song that drifts along making you tap your toes and nod your chin. He follows this up with another album standout ‘Alcoholiday’ and some great guitar work in a catchy story of a man whose let the drink get the better of him and sees his life slipping away unless his does something about it.

Kevin turns up the rock again for ‘Fighting God’ and puts his voice to good use,. I could almost describe it as ‘grungey’! The mod-ish/ Monkeys/ Chiefs sound of ‘How Does It End?’, the ‘Gravity’ and ‘Watch Over Me’. The album ends with ‘Back From The Dead’ and a ballad about that other curse of the modern Irish – suicide. A long song about the horrors that such a act brings. If this album had one epic then this it.

So what to say? I’m sure to fans of Kevin’s ballad singing it will come as a bit of a surprise especially the more Punky bits! Kevin has a great voice and can certainly hit the notes whether he’s belting out one of them Punky songs or a ballad. Like I mentioned earlier some of these songs have been around a handful of years but it’s great to hear them in one place among like minded newer material. All the songs were recorded in various Dublin recording stations and it’s one hell of a thing to be able to produce a album of such quality when you’ve played every instrument. Cap off t’Kevin.

Buy Operation Underdog  Contact Kevin via Facebook

Contact Kevin O’Driscoll  Facebook  Soundcloud  Spotify

F** K CANCER

Barely a week after the news of the very sad passing of ‘Celtic Warrior’ Danny Sheehan we are again left shaken by the news from Germany from Sven, a well respected member of the MacSlons team, of his terminal cancer.

Fuck Cancer! So, how to tell you about this? Sven Kanitz has been with the MacSlon’s Team for years. He supplied us with all the news about our folk-punk scene, always hard-working and with an almost inexhaustible energy. No matter if it was about new videos, the latest album etc. He compiled a huge stock of information and made everything accessible, so we got all the news we could ask for. Many of you probably know him or consider him a friend. For some time now we haven’t heard anything about him. And so it’s been a real shock when Sven sent this around:

Hey guys, it’s hard to say goodbye!
Thank you for your birthday wishes.
I have long thought about posting this, but since I neglected many people and was only sporadically there for you and the groups as well as for MacSlon’s, I decided to write this, sorry for that.
Unfortunately I am suffering from cancer severely and incurable, now I live in a hospice and don’t know how much time I have left. 🥺
The time with you was just beautiful. 😊
I’ll stay with you for as long as I can, but eventually I’ll leave.
Even after a few days’ time we are still stunned and can’t find the right words to express our sorrow, compassion and all our thoughts about it. Sven has no idea how much time there’s left. There is no cure. Our deepest compassion is with Sven and his family. We thought to start a donation campaign for him and his family. We are absolutely aware that this won’t heal him. But we do know that such a situation isn’t only catastrophic for us but even more so for him and his family. To support Sven and his family we would like to ask you (with Sven’s consent) to help:

www.paypal.me/kanitzsven

If each of you could donate just one euro, that would be great and add up to quite a considerable amount. However every penny or cent is helping and it would be also really great if you could just share this to let even more people know about it. The money goes straight to Sven and his family. No fees, no nothing and 100% safe and secure! And to say it loud and clear: Sven – you are one of the best guys of our scene. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your work, your eagerness and most of all for being a friend. You will, once you found your peace, leave a big gap. We only hope this will help you and your family in this horrible time. We spare empty words like “stay strong” or “get well soon” and just want to say that we’ll meet again over there one day!

MUIRSHEEN DURKIN RELEASE NEW SINGLE. COVER OF THE UK SUBS ‘RIOT’

German Celtic rockers Muirsheen Durkin release ‘Riot’ as a tribute to old school indestructible Punk-Rock legend Charlie Harper of the UK Subs.

“Closing down our club for no good reason” A wake-up call after the forced Corona break!

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 feet may be in trad music with mandolin, banjo, tin whistle, accordion and two pipers but the addition of classic rock and Punk sees Muirsheen Durkin as one of the leading lights in the German Celtic-punk scene.

Their latest single is a pretty damn good cover of the UK Subs ‘Riot’. Released in 1997 on the album of the same name which was the first in decades to re-unite original members Nicky Garrett and Alvin Gibbs back together with the Peter Pan of Punk Charlie Harper. Formed in 1976 the UK Subs were one of the original bands in the first wave of Punk in the UK. Famous outside of Punk for their album releases starting with consecutive letters of the alphabet from Another Kind Of Blues in 1979 to Ziezo in 2016. Since then this most prolific of bands have added another two albums and a EP. Born in Hackney and now aged an incredible 77 years old Charlie Harper has been the mainstay of the band throughout the years. Still energetically performing at up to 200 UK Subs gigs a year he is an inspiration to us all.

Inner City life
Is getting me down
Police and gang wars
All over town
Closing down our clubs
For no good reason
Hassle us on the street
Take away our freedoms
*
Oh, oh, we want a riot
Oh, oh, so sick and tired
*
Here come the riot squad
They’re closing in
Guns and riot shields
And gas grenades
They see us standing there
All in a line
Black and white unite
Confrontations high
*
Oh, oh, we want a riot
Oh, oh, we’re sick and tired
*
Oh, oh, leave us alone
They have a justice bill
That’s what they say
Now, they have the power now
To put us away
There were four of us
Minding our own
We’re a riotous assembly
Walking down the road
*
Oh, oh, we want a riot
Oh, oh, so sick and tired
Oh, oh, we wanna riot
Oh, oh, leave us alone
*
The song is available on the MacSlon’s Irish Pub Radio compilation album Raise Your Pints #6 – Coronoa Sessions which features twenty bands from eleven countries celebrating (might be the wrong word- editor) the virus lockdowns in Celtic-Folk-Punk style. Every variation of Celtic-Punk is covered from trad to Hardcore and is available from the link below.

RAISE YOUR PINTS #6

Contact Muirsheen Durkin  WebSite  Facebook  ReverbNation  Spotify  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: PHANTOM OF THE BLACK HILLS – ‘That Witch’ (2021)

One of the best bands to wield a banjo IN THE WORLD Phantom Of The Black Hills  soak in influences as varied as Country, Punk, Goth, Folk, Bluegrass with distorted vocals and mysterious mystique and a dark (very dark) western ethos. 

That Witch is their 6th studio album and they are accompanied by Mather Louth from renowned ‘Gothic Americana’ band Heathen Apostles.

To put it simply Phantom Of The Black Hills are fantastic!!

When I saw that their was a new Phantom Of The Black Hills album on the way I can admit to being pretty bloody excited. Even though I love music we receive so much here at London Celtic Punks Towers that it is hard sometimes to rally up enthusiasm for new releases but for That Witch I was even willing to pay (those that know me will know how incredible that is!). Luckily for my Scots /Yorkshire sensibilities I was incredibly lucky to receive a free download from Ratchet Blade Records and it’s not left my lugholes ever since!

The Phantom and Mather Louth

That Witch had originally been planned for release in 2020 but with all the shit going on was delayed almost a year. For those wishing to pigeonhole the label’s most bandied about for the Phantom Of The Black Hills are ‘hellbilly’, ‘frontier-core’ or ‘doom country’ and all capture them pretty fairly squarely and imaginatively. Taking elements of Country, Folk, Punk, Psychobilly, Bluegrass and mixing traditional instruments like mandolin, banjo and fiddle but combining them with fiercely dark and angry polemic, crunching guitars, snarling distorted vocals, intense sound effects and cleverly used movie dialog this is one ‘country’ band you won’t see at the Grand Ole Opry! Shrouded in secrecy hiding themselves away from the glare of publicity the bandana’s they wear in their videos and photos are very careful not to give away any clue as to their identities so it’s kind of hard to tell you anymore about the band themselves! That Witch is their sixth album, the last being Scalped in 2017. That album was to first to feature guest vocals from the lovely Mather Louth on ‘Wild Witch Of The West’ (be sure to check out the brilliant video). She also doubles up as the lead singer of excellent fellow ‘Gothic Americana’ band Heathen Apostles and she guest vocals on pretty much the whole of That Witch giving the album that little extra special range.

The Black Hills of the bands name are in the American state of South Dakota and are most famous for the Mount Rushmore memorial of the four presidential heads of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln, each measuring over forty feet high,  carved into the granite by Gutzon Borglum from 1927 to 1947. It’s also an area where huge numbers of Scots and Scots-Irish settled. This may explain the propensity for moonshine in the area! Production of illegal alcohol that is still widespread today. Another possible by-product of the Celt on the local population is widespread mistrust of all government institutions and even today in a age where yuppies and hipsters seem to have overtaken everywhere you are unlikely to find a Vegan coffee shop or a demand for stricter gun control laws in the Black Hills. Having been forced out of their homes over here they brought that mistrust with them and it still permeates through the local populace.

That Witch begins in superb form with ‘Rising Son’ and The Phantom snarling his way through a song that takes the point of view of Native American’s and their resistance to the early settlers who sought to steal their land and force them onto special reservations.

“This ain’t Oklahoma
And I was here long before ya
Mistress Darkness has come
And when the night is done
I’m the rising son”

The song is a slow burner. A dark foreboding of what is to come building to a climax in the lyrics rather than the tune. Excellent fiddle throughout from El Gato is matched by Popeye on guitar, banjo and bass and Deacon on drums.

‘That Witch’ sees The Phantom and Mather dueling it out on vocals and it’s another dark slower song and I think it’s fair to say that while their albums have progressively darker the sound has mellowed somewhat though the heaviness of the music does mitigate that. You often think you’re listening to a much faster song than you actually are. We get a fast one next with the album’s lead single ‘Buck Knife’ and the tragic tale of a veteran of the Civil War suffering from PTSD. On returning to his home town he is shunned and the story climaxes in a orgy of deadly violence before ending with the kind of twist to make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.

Heathen Apostles are one hell of a band in their own right and it is absolute genius to team her up with the Phantom Of the Black Hills. The perfect foil to The Phantom’s vocals her beautiful voice on ‘Lady Judas’ belies the story while we do see a lot less of the electric guitar like on next track ‘Moon Killer’ with vocals now dominating but it works a treat and the distorted vocals are still clear enough to understand every word and the various tales of  violence, drunkenness, debauchery and revenge.

“Time to take a vow and consecrate

Using skin and motion as my bait

The cauldron is a-bubblin’
Got to go and show him sin

Lucifer just don’t want to wait…”

‘Hunger’ is co-written by Mather Louth and the band and she leads here her voice soaring above the bands train-like rumble and that majestic fiddle.  The Phantom takes the rein back for ‘Road To Bleeding’. This is the kind of song that previously they would have slung hard and heavy electric guitar all over but now they treat more gently. ‘Sin & Sanctify’ is as close (still not that close really) as they come to a traditional Country song while the album continues to its violent conclusion with two of the album’s best songs ‘Wicked Storm’ and the storming ‘Attack’.

That Witch was released July 2nd on Ratchet Blade Records. The Los Angeles based label home to the Heathen Apostles, Doghouse Lords, the Mau Maus, Charley Horse, Berlin Brats and many more. Ratchet Blade Records describes itself, correctly, as “the best in dark roots music”. Once again it features the amazingly talented former Cramps bassist, and current Heathen Apostles one, Chopper Franklin on production duties. The digital sale of the album is only $7 and the CD not much more but comes with buttons and stickers. Their is also an option for international orders which has drastically reduced ($5 international shipping as opposed to $15) postage charges. To be honest I’m kinda upset this ain’t a Celtic-Punk album as it would definitely be up there in our end of year Best Of awards. Looks like I’m going to have to make up a special new category just for them!

The Phantom Of The Black Hills have come a long way since Ghosts and while their sound may not be quite as raucous as then they still are as powerful and heavy and even more darker than ever before. The teaming up with the beautiful Mather Louth adds a whole new dimension to the sound. It’s a dark world out there and the imagery The Phantom Of The Black Hills conjure up in the mind may not be a pleasant one but it’s an imaginative one filled with the ghosts of the wronged, deserted mines and villages, dust and dirt and the people who lived there and also the  best music the ‘old’ west can produce.

(you can stream/download the whole of That Witch on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy The Witch  Bandcamp (Download/CD)

Contact Phantom Of The Black Hills  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp

Ratchet Blade Records  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

Discography: Ghosts (2009) * Born To Gun (2010) * ENEMY! (2012) * Black Hearted Killer EP (2013) * Moonshine Bright (2014) * Scalped (2017)

If you would like to check out the Phantom Of the Black Hills previous albums (and I’m sure you can tell from our glowing review what we think!) then we ran a feature back in late 2018 where we tried to introduce the band to a wider audience, especially this side of the Atlantic. Links are included to listen to all their previous releases so click below and enjoy being lasso’ed in! You can but their entire catalogue for less than £20 through Bandcamp.

PHANTOM OF THE BLACK HILLS

ALBUM REVIEW: RAISE YOUR PINTS. CELTIC- PUNK SAMPLER. VOLUME 6 – VARIOUS ARTISTS (2021)

From the scene. For the scene.

After months of planning, organising and fund-raising the compilation album Raise Your Pints #6 has finally been delivered. Twenty bands from eleven countries celebrating (might be the wrong word- editor) the virus lockdowns in Celtic-Folk-Punk style. 

Anyone remember the original Celtic-Punk samplers from Shite’n’Onions? I think they stretched to three volumes and came at a time when I had never been on the internet. Yes I was one of the select few who never even had a MySpace account! So to come across these samplers with upwards of twenty  bands on and pretty much all new to me (even the English ones) was eye-opening… or should that be ear-opening? Them days are long ago and we can thank Shite’n’Onions for being early pioneers of the Celtic-Punk sampler though they have long passed the baton onto MacSlon’s Irish Radio. Now in their 11th year the radio station brings out the best in Celtic-Rock, Celtic-Punk and trad Irish Folk both modern and ancient(!). They have also for the last few years been a major player on the merchandise front organizing merch for a whole host of bands from across mainland Europe and even the United States.

This is the 6th in the Raise Your Pints series and all the songs have been written and recorded over the last 16 months while the Corona virus has done it’s best to wreck the music industry. We are yet to see what long term damage the lockdown have caused but already here in London, and across England, many music venues have closed their doors permanently and several bands have handed in their guitar straps. The thirst for live music though seems at a all time high but bands are still finding it difficult to book gigs and tours with so much uncertainty around about whether or not the lockdown will return.

So the arrival of Raise Your Pints #6 is to applauded for many reasons but chiefly among them is that the bands will directly benefit from the sales of the CD and with not much else going on it’s a chance for them to remind their fans and followers that they are still here and still fighting.

Reviewing a compilation album is hard enough but one made up of different bands is even harder so I will forego the usual review and just tell you a small bit about each artist and song and link to them so they can tell you more. Of course the best way to find out more is to buy the album!!!

RAISE YOUR PINTS VOLUME 6

THE MULLINS (France) – ‘Part Of Me’

The album kicks off with The Mullins. Hailing from the south of France their song began life before the lockdown but the band took the opportunity to perfect it and even managed to get together inbetween lockdowns to record the cracking video!

THE CEILI FAMILY (Germany) – ‘Corona Chesay’

The album is perhaps a bit top heavy with German bands but that is totally understandable. They do have the #1 scene in Europe you know. The Ceili Family are one of the better known established bands. The band first stirred back in 1996 and even had a great recommendation from the late Philip Chevron: “Enjoyed listening to the CD, by the way. Always good to see people doing something of their own with the basic idea we invented!”

THE FEELGOOD McLOUDS (Germany) – ‘Dirty Bastards’

More Germans here with The Feelgood McLouds formed in January 2015 southwestern Germany. More than any country in Europe the Germans have embraced Celtic-Punk with the number of bands, gigs and fans far outstripping anywhere else this side of the Atlantic. This track is taken from this years critically popular ‘Saints & Sinners’ EP.

GRASS MUD HORSE (China) ‘ Absent Friends’

Grass Mud Horse only seem to have around a year or two but already have more releases than many more well established bands. Formed when Scouse-Irish musician Chris Barry mover to China the band has had some set backs with members coming and going because of the virus (they are based in Wuhan) but luckily things have settled down and they recently recorded a single with yer man Frankie McLoughlin.

UNCLE BARD AND THE DIRTY BASTARDS (Italy) – ‘Back On Your Feet’

From playing with ALL the Celtic-Punk superstars to headlining festivals across Europe and even getting to the United States several times Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards are without a doubt one of the select few you could describe as ‘Premier League’ Celtic-Punk bands. ‘Back On Your Feet’ is one of the standout tracks from last years album Men Behind The Glass that the Bhoys have recorded an acoustic version for here. One of many great Celtic-Punk highlights during the lockdown was the Bastards hour long acoustic live stream. Brilliant!

JACK IN THE GREEN (Germany) – ‘Old Maui’

Yeah we may have all heard it a 100 times by now but popular covers are popular for a reason. That we never tire of hearing them! Hamburg’s Jack In The Green play a great acoustic version rather than the ‘choir/acapello’ type I’m more use to hearing. Vocals remind me a lot of from The Whisky Priests who in their day were massive so wonder if they were an influence here. 

THE MOORINGS (France) – ‘Champion At Keeping It Rolling’

Cracking version of the Ewan MacColl penned classic about lorry driving from French band The Moorings. Formed in 2011 the band have released several albums and EP’s a Folky version of this song appears on their debut EP Pints & Glory but they have re-recorded it in proper Celtic-PUNK style here. They have just completed a successful crowd-funding campaign for a new album so can’t wait for that.

JOHNNY HASH (Ireland) – ‘Ride On’

Johnny Hash is a bunch of people from various Belfast bands who got together during the lockdown and released a few videos of Irish Folk classics. Christy Moore’s ‘Ride On’ was their first attempt at a video. Still knocking them out months later let’s hope they develop into something more permanent.

THE RUMPLED (Italy) – ‘If I Should Fall from Grace With God’

The Pogues track gets an airing here from the Italian band The Rumpled. Hard to compete with the originals but gutsy to try and they give it a great go. A relatively new band having got together in 2013 in Trento, Italy. Known for fast paced Celtic-Punk, combining Irish Folk, Rock, Ska and Punk. They have a new album out at any moment so watch this space for news on that.

MEDUSAS WAKE (Australia) – War Of Independence

The debut album from Sydney based Celtic-Folk-Rockers Medusa’s Wake hit the top spots in all of 2018’s Celtic-Punk medias yearly ‘best of’s’ and since then they have gone from strength to strength. Writted by Tipperary born Eddie Lawlor, he sings from the heart of the war back home between 1919 and 1921 against the British. Much of that war took part in the fields and villages of the ‘Premier County’ and those of us with Tipp backgrounds grew up hearing of the tales of heroic activities of those ordinary men who took on the worlds strongest army.

HELLRAISERS AND BEERDRINKERS (Germany) – ‘Stay At Home’

Hellraisers And Beerdrinkers may just have the best name in Celtic-Punk but they are a pretty shit-hot band as well. They take their name from a song by rockers Motorhead so should give you an idea about them! Another band that hails from Germany from the small town of Schwäbisch Gemünd. ‘Stay At Home’ is a re-recorded re-jigged new version of a song from their debut album Folk’s Gaudi in 2016.

AN SPIORAD (Germany) – ‘Carry Me Home’

German band that began life as a two-piece band “The Plästik Päddies” in 1997 before changing name to the far more complicated An Spiorad (Scots Gaelic for The Spirit). ‘Carry me Home’ is taken from their recent album Album Dord Na Mara.

SONS OF O’FLAHERTY (Brittany) – ‘The Pack’

More Celtic Celtic-Punk now from Vannes in Brittany Sons Of O’Flaherty formed as a duo in 2010 they soon fleshed out to a whole band due in no small part to the popularity of Irish music in this Celtic nation. ‘The Pack’ is a new song and with it being four years since the release of their last album The Road Not Taken hopefully this signifies some new sounds on the way.

NEVERMIND NESSIE (Belgium) – ‘Lock Him Up’

Formed in Belgium in 2009 Nevermind Nessie‘s track comes from this years EP Another Six Pack Of Drinking Songs that came out in March. A fast, raucous song about Donald Trump.

KILKENNY BASTARDS (Germany) – ‘Be A Bastard’

More bastards!! This time from Iserlohn in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Like many German bands their emphasis is on playing live such is the demand for their music so their recording output sometimes doesn’t match up with the age of the band. Kilkenny Bastards are one such band and we look forward to them rectifying this soon!

ALL THOSE EMPTY PUBS (Switzerland) – ’40 Days’

Based up in the Swiss alps ’40 Days’ was the debut release from All Those Empty Pubs (what a great name!) earlier this year. We loved it so much we ran a feature and a small interview with Diego the genius behind this one-man-band. Diego utilises all his talents here with mandolin, flute, acoustic guitar and even Hammond organ alongside your more usual Rock band instruments. It just don’t get more DIY than this.

RAPPAREES (Germany) – ‘Las Vegas (In The Hills Of Donegal)’

Another band from Hamburg Rapparees kicked off thirty years ago in the dive bars before changing their name. A straight up acoustic cover of the Goats Don’t Shave song. A ‘raparee’ was the name given to Irish soldiers who survived the Williamite war with the British in the 1690’s and used guerilla tactics or became highwaymen after the war ended.

LA STOATS (Germany) – ‘Raise Your Pints’

German band La Stoats come from Essenbach in Bavaria in the south-east of Germany and incorporate the traditional tunes and melodies of their Bavarian home into their brand of Celtic-Punk. ‘Raise Your Pints’ is one of the standout songs here with chugging guitar and a real cool early 80’s Punk Rock sound with some superb bagpipes. Definitely a band worth checking out.

MUIRSHEEN DURKIN (Germany) – ‘Riot’

The last of nine German bands on Raise Your Pints features one of the best Muirsheen Durkin And Friends. ‘Riot’ is a bloomin’ brilliant Celtic-Punk cover of a UK Subs song from 1997. The original is superb but here it is mastered with the energy intact and growling vocals and a core of Celtic instruments chugging along.

SEAN TOBIN (USA) – ‘St. Patrick’s Day Forever’

The last of the 20th songs belongs to New Jersey Irish singer/ songwriter Sean Tobin. Theirs 2 versions of ‘St’ Patrick’s Day Forever’ and I guess you could call this the ‘radio edit’. Blue-collar, working-class Irish American Folk music and one of the standout tracks on the album to bring down the curtain.

So that’s yer lot. There’s bound to be a load of bands here that you have never heard of. Some are new even to us and the styles of music is varied from Folk and trad right across to Punk but the songs are all totally accessible at all times. This (like the previous five volumes) is essential listening to all fans of Celtic-Punk and we cannot put it any clearer than that! Raise Your Pints #6 is out on July 9th and is available for pre-release order from the link below.

https://macslons-shop.com/v-a-raise-your-pints-vol-6-cd

NEW COLLABORATION FROM GRASS MUD HORSE AND FRANKIE McLAUGHLIN

Two exiles. A Scouser living in China and a Aussie living in Glasgow collaborate on a traditional Liverpool-Irish song. Performed by Grass Mud Horse and featuring Frankie McLaughlin on lead vocals and tin-whistle. Read on for an exclusive interview with Grass Mud Horse founder Chris Barry.
The international nature of modern Celtic-Punk rears its head again as two of the scene’s major players get to together to collaborate on the new single from Grass Mud Horse. Fusing the worldly storytelling of traditional folk with the fiercely untamed energy of Celtic-Punk; Grass Mud Horse are an emerging band made up of international talent. Currently based out of China and bringing their raw, Celtic anthems to the worldwide stage. Award-winning musician Chris Barry formed the group, which has gone on to perform alongside some of the biggest names on the Celtic-punk scene. To date, the group have released three singles, an acoustic EP and have another album and EP in the works. We spoke to Chris about the history of the song and the recording process.
Johnny Todd he took a notion
For to cross the ocean wide
And he left his love behind him
Waiting by the Liverpool tide
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For a week she wept with sorrow
Tore her hair and wrung her hands
Till she met another sailor
Walking by the Liverpool sands
*
Fair young maiden are you weeping
For your Johnny gone to sea
If you’ll wed with me tomorrow
I will kind and constant be
*
I will buy you sheets and blankets
I’ll buy you a wedding ring
You shall have a silver cradle
For to rock the baby in
*
Johnny Todd came home from sailing
Sailing on the ocean wide
And he found his fair and false one
Was another sailors bride
*
All young men who go a sailing
For to fight the foreign foe
Do not leave your love like Johnny
Marry her before you go
I’m from a proud Liverpool-Irish family, me Grandad read Irish history at Liverpool Uni and I grew supporting Everton and Celtic. I remember going me first match, was about 7 or 8…was in the late 80s, we drew with Nottingham Forest I think. I don’t remember that much, but I do remember the crowd going silent as drum rolls started over the speakers and then erupting when the boys in blue all ran out as our Everton’s anthem ‘Z Cars’ kicked in. I remember fuck all about the match like, it was thirty odd years ago…but i remember that moment the drum rolls started and the crowd going mental as the players ran out, it was the first time I had the hairs on the back of me neck stand up.
A bit of background ‘Z Cars’ is essentially a sixties telly theme song based on an old Liverpool Irish kids song ‘Johnny Todd’ and it was infused with whistles and snare drums as a sort of homage to the Liverpool-Irish community the TV programme was set around. The original song isn’t that well known, but even Bob Dylan did a version. I wanted to do this song for me Grandad, who sadly passed a few years back. He was a mad Evertonian, and fiercely proud of our Irish roots. When I got older he taught me a lot about our roots as well as the city of Liverpool and Everton football club. I also wanted to do it for me Dad, Evertonians everywhere and all the Scousers with Irish roots whether red or blue.
Frankie’s involvement came about as we’d been writing together and discussing ideas about the future of Celtic-Punk for some time. I asked if he fancied collaborating on a track and he felt the time was right to get his hands dirty again so I sent him some stuff I was working on and he jumped at ‘Johnny Todd’ right away as he’s always loved it too. I recorded everything at my home studio in Ginhuangdao China, sent it to Frankie and he laid down the vocals and whistle parts at his studio in Scotland. I was cast in a Korean War film and left for a desert location right as I got his tracks. When time allowed me and me mate Didi, who was also on the film, but is also a talented engineer mixed the track. That was five months ago and I’ve just wrapped that film and now the singles coming out. Our plan is to release an album of pirate songs and sea shanties with ‘Johnny Todd’ being the lead single, it’ll feature previously released stuff like ‘No Prey No Pay’ as well as some new originals, versions of traditional songs and some reworks of other things we did previously but wanted to improve.
Anyway we all hope you enjoy it!

JUSTICE FOR THE CRAIGAVON 2 BENEFIT SINGLE FROM NEW YORK’S ALTERNATIVE ULSTER

A new track from New York State Celtic-Punk band Alternative Ulster to raise awareness of the campaign to free the innocent Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton. Now in their twelfth year of imprisonment and otherwise known as The Craigavon 2.

Justice for Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton, who were unjustly convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. We believe the case to be corrupt and the ‘evidence’ inconclusive, contradictory and discredited. Both men are victims of a system that sought to find suitable scapegoats in the wake of the political and media backlash following the killing. All money raised from the sale of the track go directly to #JFTC2.
The campaign, which is run by the families of the two men, was supported by the late Gerry Conlon, himself falsely imprisoned for 15 years as a member of the Guildford Four, who argued that the case was “inconclusive, contradictory and in places discredited”.
“We can’t have innocent people going to jail and 15 years down the line them being released, their lives ruined … I believe a miscarriage of justice took place here on the basis of all the evidence I have read.”
You can contact the #JFTC2 campaign via The C 2 Justice for the Craigavon Two Facebook page.
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(CHORUS)
Here’s what I’ve got to say to you,
Justice for the Craigavon Two
Next time it could be me or you,
Let’s have justice for the Craigavon two.
*
Craigavon 9th March the news man read,
constable Stephen Carroll was shot dead
A police investigation soon began
and they would stop at nothing to get their man
CHORUS
Mc Conville and Wooton got the blame
Since that day their lives have never been the same
The spooks have framed before and they’ll do it again
Unless we come together and break their chains
CHORUS
The trial of these two innocents was a sham
Justice without a jury was the scam
They produced a single witness with bad eyesight
And claimed that he saw everything on that dark and rainy night
CHORUS
Witness ‘Z’ was the father of witness ‘M’
‘My son’s a Walter Mitty’ was his claim
An eye specialist cross examined said the same
That he could not have see clearly in the dark and through the rain
CHORUS
Gerry Conlon, thank you and farewell
You rotted 14 years in a prison cell
For something that you had never done
You drove this campaign hard so it wouldn’t happen to another one
CHORUS
While the British injustice system does prevail
Any one of us can be framed and sent to gaol
The Birmingham 6 and the Guildford 4
Are among the many of whom the Brits have done this kind of thing before
CHORUS
Let’s have justice for the Craigavon two (last line repeats)
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Written and originally recorded by Pol Mac Adaim @Polmacadaim

Justice For The Craigavon 2 is performed by Alternative Ulster. A kick ass North American Irish Celtic-Punk band from NY State’s Catskill’s region. Members are John McGovern on bagpipes and banjo, Todd Henry on vocals and drums and Jay Anderson on guitar and bass as well as all recording and mixing. This song is taken from their album Craic Agus Ceol and the CD and download is available from

alternativeulster1.bandcamp.com/album/craic-agus-ceol

The song is available for just a single pound and can be downloaded through the Bandcamp player below. Please share through your social media and sign the petition to demand the Criminal Case Review Commission (CCRC) to thoroughly examine all evidence disclosed and undisclosed in the case.

https://www.change.org/p/ccrc-the-craigavon-2-deserve-justice-now

JUNE 2021 EPISODE OF THE CELTIC PUNKCAST #44 OUT NOW

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

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

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

THE NEW RUFFIANS – ‘The Parkdale Jig’

THE WELCH BOYS – ‘Methadone Mile’

BROPHYS LAW – ‘The Bachelor’

MICKEY RICKSHAW – ‘Rope’

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

THE LANGERS BALL – ‘Real Old Mountain Dew’

THE RUMJACKS – ‘Hestia’

THE WORKING CLASS SYMPHONY – ‘The Holy Ground’

DIAMONDS AND GUNS – ‘Cheers To Us’

MR. IRISH BASTARD – ‘You Spin Me Round’

THE BLACK CLOVER – ‘Pure Whiskey’

THE MAHONES – ‘Shakespeare Road’

THE TOSSERS – ‘The Crutch’

BLACK WATER COUNTY – ‘There Will Be A Day’

DROPKICK MURPHYS – ‘L-EE-B-O-Y’

THE GO SET – ‘Treasures’

SHAMBOLICS – ‘Goin’ off!!’

THE CELTIC PUNKCAST #44

Contact The Celtic Punkcast  Facebook  WebSite  Shop  Twitter  E-Mail

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

THE POGUESTRA LATEST RELEASE ‘TURKISH SONG OF THE DAMNED’

Just over a year old The PoguestrA is a flexible group of musicians from around the world who love to play and record the music of The Pogues playing together remotely.
A community powered by passion, diversity and inclusion.

The PoguestrA strike gold again! A flexible group of musicians from around the world who are also fans of The Pogues. It all started in May 2020, during the lockdown, when Daniele Rubertelli, an Italian fan who plays accordion, launched a ‘Call For Musicians’ to perform (remotely) ‘Dirty Old Town’ within the Facebook community of Pogues fans. As a result, sixteen musicians from the UK, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands and USA contributed to the cover of the great Ewan MacColl track. The song even reached the ears of Peggy Seeger, the late Ewan’s wife and renowned singer/songwriter in her own right, who sent over words of appreciation. Since then The PoguestrA have covered other songs of The Pogues, always using “public calls” on Facebook to ensure inclusion for all the musicians moved by the same passion. They recently covered both ‘The Broad Majestic Shannon’ and ‘Misty Morning Albert Bridge‘ and they have begun to attract some pretty amazing star guests with Cisco, frontman of the legendary Italian band Modena City Ramblers alongside Irish international Kevin McManamon on mandolin and Pogues members Jem Finer and James Fearnley joining the gang to perform.

Of ‘Turkish Song Of The Damned’ Shane has said it was the result of a hilarious mix up that the song got it’s title and inspiration when he misheard a German fan asking if he liked “The Turkey Song” by The Damned. Their are of course, it is the internet after all, several different versions of this  but we’ll stick with the one credited to Shane himself. The song itself mentions several maritime myths and legends with tales of [un]dead pirate and sailors. In the song the debt is collected by a servant, who is already dead and carries a “shadow” on their back (Meaning a curse) from whoever has not paid, dead or alive. Such stories go back centuries in Celtic mythology as does the “Woman with a comb in her hand” which refers to a Banshee, a type of faerie spirit from Ireland (or sometimes Scotland) who forewarns someone of a death by singing a song of mourning and typically carries a silver comb. The special guest this time is Justin Adams playing guitar one of the worlds most popular music producer’s having worked with Robert Plant, Brian Eno, Sinead O’Connor and many world music artists.

Turkish Song Of The Damned performed by The PoguestrA

Recorded in May 2021

I come old friend from Hell tonight
Across the rotting sea
Nor the nails of the cross
Nor the blood of Christ
Can bring you help this eve
The dead have come to claim a debt from thee
They stand outside your door
Four score and three
Did you keep a watch for the dead man’s wind
Did you see the woman with the comb in her hand
Wailing away on the wall on the strand
As you danced to the Turkish song of the damned
*
You remember when the ship went down
You left me on the deck
The captain’s corpse jumped up
And threw his arms around my neck
For all these years I’ve had him on my back
This debt cannot be paid with all your jack
*
And as I sit and talk to you I see your face go white
This shadow hanging over me
Is no trick of the light
The spectre on my back will soon be free
The dead have come to claim a debt from thee

(Written by Jem Finer and Shane MacGowan)

Justin Adams: Electric Guitar, Req Tambourine (Bath, England) / Brendan Burke: Tin Whistle (England) / Brandon Caylor: Mando-Guitar (California, USA) / Giacomo Chiaramonte: BanjoBass (Faenza, Italy) / Chris Cunningham: Banjo, Octave Mandolin (Indiana/USA) / John Dunne: Ukulele, Vocals (England) / Chris Goddard: Fiddle, Guitar, Vocals (England) / Matt Goddard: Drums (England) / Roy Geurts: Mandolin, Vocals (The Netherlands) / Aapo Halme: Vocals (Kuopio, Finland) / Robin Hiermer: Vocals (Germany) / Marc Hoper: Vocals (Dortmund, Germany) / Jeff Ingarfield: Vocals (England) / Kim Karvonen: Mandolin, Vocals (Finland) / Mattia Malusardi: Bouzouki (Italy) / Vince Martini: Bass (California, USA) / Nick Neale: Drums (Lanzarote, Canary Islands) / Rick Nuttall: Vocals (England) / John O’Donnell: Guitar (Chicago, USA) / Moisés Álvarez Rodríguez: Ukulele (Spain) / Daniele Rubertelli: Accordion (Italy) / Marco Scheepers: Accordion (Dongen, The Netherlands) / Stuart Swann: Guitar, Vocals (London, England) / Marcel van Bergen: Guitar (The Netherlands) / Tim van den Hombergh: Tin Whistles (The Netherlands) / Derk Venema: Mandola (The Netherlands) / Paddy Vervoort: Vocals (The Netherlands).

Audio & Video editing by Tim van den Hombergh.

If you are interested in joining the PoguestrA for future songs then get in touch with the gang viaYouTube orFacebook

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

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

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

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

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

Our audiences always had a good time!

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

“Alex Harvey auditioning for X-Ray Spex”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selection of Glasgow Tremens releases

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

Cheers, Raymy Tremens

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

ALBUM REVIEW: THE DEAD RABBITS- ‘7 Ol’ Jerks’ (2021)

Fueled by cheap whiskey and Lone Star beer The Dead Rabbits have emerged out of Texas as one of the American Celtic-Punk scenes best bands. Charged by the ole songs of Irish rebellion and the speed and harmony of Punk, they combine a potent mix of Irish Folk, Bluegrass, Gypsy and Punk Rock.

Taking their name from the real life street gang of American-Irish criminals active in Lower Manhattan in the 1830s to 1850s The Dead Rabbits hail from Texas but these guys are from your typical Texans! These original Dead Rabbits took their name after a dead rabbit was thrown into a gang meeting, prompting some members to treat this as an omen, their battle symbol becoming a dead rabbit on a pike. Besides their criminal activities they often clashed with so-called ‘nativist’ groups and gangs who viewed Irish Catholics as threatening and dangerous.

Formed in mid-2009 with the band’s founder, Seamuis Strain, a guest of the state at Louisiana prison he returned to Houston and bagan to put together what would become known as the ‘Warren’. Since that day, as with all bands, members have come and gone but always Seamuis has led from the front pushing and promoting the band across social media and he has become a known face on the many Facebook groups and pages specialising in Celtic-Punk. Their debut release was the excellently titled ‘Tiocfaidh Ar La’ which went onto be voted one of the best releases of 2013 by both Paddyrock Radio and Celtic Folk Punk web-zine! As far as I can tell the band spent the next few years playing gigs and touring and it came as a suprise to me that it wasn’t till last year that they followed up ‘TAL’ with the sort of greatest hits self-titled album The Dead Rabbits. It was basically a re-release of TAL but with a handful of new tracks and covers.

The Dead Rabbits: Seamuis – Lead Vocals, Guitars * Banjovi – Vocals, Banjo * Danger Dave – Fiddle * General Woundwort – Vocals, Guitar * Bigwig – Drums and Vox

So a new album is long overdue and their is certainly no messing about here on 7 Ol’ Jerks with the nine tracks clocking in just short of twenty-one minutes it’s a fast and furious, blink and you’ll miss it rollercoaster ride through the angrier side of Celtic-Punk alternating between Discharge styled hardcore Punk and a just slightly more Celtic version of them. Not for the faint hearted these are not likely to turn at Renaissance fayre’s or family orientated Celtic festivals (mores the pity!). Laced with humour and Irish spirit(s) I bloody loved it but then again I am an aging auld anarcho-punk but these days with better politics and hair!

They follow this up with another quick blast through the Shane MacGowan penned ‘If I Should Fall From The Grace With God’. The title track of what is often thought to be the pinnacle of The Pogues career it is here given the full Punk-Rock treatement with some great fiddle work giving it that Irish feel. Played at breakneck speed Seamuis has a great voice for this style but the rest of the band too showing how good the production/mixing is. Another ‘quickie’ with ‘L-Elaine’ not even breaking the minute mark but still manages to tell a story of love and love of the bottle. ‘Father McGregor’ is a oldish song with the version below from Bandcamp a few years old now but has been reworked for 7 Ol’Jerks.

You might expect The Dead Rabbits to not be the kind of band to play the ‘auld favourites’. The kind of song that when your Mammy walks in while you’ve got Celtic-Punk turned up to 11 asks “do they play such and such?”. You reply of “don’t be daft. Of course not Mum, this is Celtic-Punk” and then the next song that comes on is ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ and she walks away smiling! Well here the Rabbits turn their ear to that most loved of all Irish songs, especially among the American-Irish, ‘Danny Boy Medley’ in which they stick in half-a-dozen classics before the clock strikes three minutes. ‘Train Song’ is a song about trains. Just that but with banjo and fiddle before we get another classic and  ‘The Leaving Of Liverpool’ is one of many Irish Folk tunes that is perfectly suited for ‘punking up’. The sound of the Dubliners version is still intact and recogniseable while the Rabbits add a new dimension to the song. The album ends with two original tracks the short more trad Celtic-Punk sounding title track, ‘7 Ol’ Jerks’, and the epic 4 (four!!) minute ‘Dreams’, originally recorded by The Cranberries. I think it’s a shame they didn’t choose this as the opening single to promote the album as its is utterly brillliant!! They can do the hardcore stuff very well but this song lifts the album from just pretty good into album of the year material, yes it is that good. Seamuis voice aches and strains over a tune to die for that depsite being classic Celtic-Punk still has that harder edge than most bands which I’m sure is what they were striving here on 7 Ol’ Jerks.

Buy 7 Ol’ Jerks  Amazon  Apple  Spotify

(Pre sale orders for vinyl are available now from Grimace Records)

Contact The Dead Rabbits Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

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Facebook has become an unlikeable monster with more and more good folk leaving. Can’t say I blames you. So we have set up a Telegram group. Similar but better (and easier to use) than Whats App and free from Facebook control. Join us on Telegram and you wont miss a beat!

ALBUM REVIEW: AFTER HOURS- BLACK 47 TRIBUTE COMPILATION (2021)

Thirty years since the release of Black 47’s eponymous first album comes the first part of a trilogy of tribute albums celebrating this popular and controversial band of who Time magazine wrote in 1993 it was

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

Seven songs from Larry Kirwan and Black 47 with Celtic Cross, Pat McGuire, Screaming Orphans, The Gobshites, Rory K, Gary Óg and Martin Furey produced by Peter Walsh of The The Gobshites and Larry Kirwan of Black 47.

Taking their name and inspiration from the worse year of An Gorta Mór (the Great Hunger) in Ireland Black 47 were one of the brightest lights of the Irish music scene on the American east-coast for twenty-five years from 1989 till they called it a day in 2014. Their influence still spreads across the whole of America and wherever Irish music in America is mentioned then the name of Black 47 will be included. So it is fitting that Valley Entertainment have announced a series of tribute albums to be rleased over the next few months starting with After Hours celebrating thirty years since the release of their debut self-titled album in 1991.

Executive produced by Peter Walsh of the much loved Celtic-Punk band The Gobshites and Black 47’s very own Larry Kirwan, After Hours will be released in three parts, each comprising a selection of reworked Black 47 favourites beginning with the first volume that came out on St. Patrick’s Day 2021. Playing over 2500 live shows across three continents during their time together (including one memorable evening down the Haringey Irish Centre in north London) these collections feature musicians that the band met along the way while performing everywhere from stadiums to theatres, rock clubs to Irish bars. In addition to working on these releases, the ever busy Larry Kirwan has been working on several other projects:  His latest novel Rockaway Blue was published by Three Hills/Cornell U. Press on March 15th.  He conceived and co-wrote the Broadway bound musical Paradise Square that tells the story of the immigrant Irish and African-Americans in the Five Points neighborhood of New York City during the Civil War. While for Peter Walsh and The Gobshites they have come storming back onto the Celtic-Punk scene with their latest single ‘Carry Me Away’. The music on After Hours includes songs from the entire Black 47 catalogue, each one featuring a guest artist.

(Each song is featured individually but to hear them together go to the Bandcamp link at the bottom)

Celtic Cross – ’40 Shades Of Blue’

Pat McGuire – ‘Too Late To Turn Back’

Screaming Orphans – ‘Sleep Tight In New York City (Her Dear Old Donegal)

The Gobshites – ‘Livin’ In America’

Rory K. – ‘Desperate’

Gary Óg – ‘James Connolly’

Martin Furey – ‘Rockin’ The Bronx’

 

Buy After Hours  Fanlink  ValleyEntertainent  Bandcamp

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

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Facebook has become an unlikeable monster with more and more good folk leaving. Can’t say I blames you. So we have set up a Telegram group. Similar but better (and easier to use) than Whats App and free from Facebook control. Join us on Telegram and dont miss a beat!

NEW POGUESTRA SONG FOR ST. PATRICK’S DAY 2021

The You Tube sensation the PoguestrA are back again with another classic Pogues cover for us. This time they are again supported by two musicians who played large parts in The Pogues story. Read on to find out who! 
The PoguestrA are a group of musicians from across the world who are big fans of The Pogues. Beginning in May 2020, during the lockdown, when Daniele Rubertelli, an Italian fan who plays accordion, launched a ‘Call For Musicians’ to perform (remotely) Dirty Old Town within the Facebook community of Pogues fans. As a result, sixteen musicians from the UK, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands and USA contributed to the cover of the great Ewan MacColl track. The song even reached the ears of Peggy Seeger, the late Ewan’s wife and renowned singer/songwriter in her own right, who sent over words of appreciation. Since then The PoguestrA have covered other songs of The Pogues, always using “public calls” on Facebook to ensure inclusion for all the musicians moved by the same passion. They recently covered the Shane MacGowan penned ‘The Broad Majestic Shannon’ with an amazing twenty-eight musicians from around the world and featuring Cisco, the founder and former frontman of the legendary Italian band Modena City Ramblers and their last video ‘Misty Morning Albert Bridge’ from The Pogues fourth album, Peace and Love, featured Celtic-Punk royalty with the songs writer Jem Finer and James Fearnley joining from the faraway shores of London and Los Angeles respectfully.
The Boys From The County Hell tells the story of a group of workers out to gain revenge on their boss. One of MacGowan’s more swearier tracks it first appeared on their debut album in 1984 and is famous for the bands performance on The Tube TV Show with Shane valiently trying to avoid swearing on the show broadcast at tea-time! Another lyrical masterpiece from the man one of the more interesting parts of the song is “The boys and me are drunk and lookin’ for ya’, We’ll eat your frickin’ entrails and we won’t give a damn, My father was a Blueshirt, my mother a madam, my brother earned his medals at My Lai in Vietnam.” The Blueshirts were Irish fascists from the 1930s, his mother was a prostitute and his brother was involved in the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. Joining the Poguestra here are yet more Celtic-Punk royalty with original Pogues member Spider Stacey on tin-whistle and vocals and Andy Nolan from Shane MacGowan And The Popes playing accordion.

Boys Of The County Hell (Shane MacGowan) performed by The PoguestrA

Recorded in March 2021

On the first day of March it was raining
It was raining worse than anything that I have ever seen
I drank ten pints of beer and I cursed all the people there
And I wish that all this raining would stop falling down on me

And it’s lend me ten pounds and I’ll buy you a drink
And mother wake me early in the morning

At the time I was working for a landlord
And he was the meanest bastard that you have ever seen
And to lose a single penny would grieve him awful sore
And he was a miserable bollocks and a bitch’s bastard’s whore

And it’s lend me ten pounds and I’ll buy you a drink
And mother wake me early in the morning

I recall we took care of him one Sunday
We got him out the back and we broke his fucking balls
And maybe that was dreaming and maybe that was real
But all I know is I left that place without a penny or fuck all

And it’s lend me ten pounds and I’ll buy you a drink
And mother wake me early in the morning

But now I’ve the most charming of verandas
I sit and watch the junkies, the drunks and pimps and whores
Five green bottles sitting on the floor
And I wish to Christ, I wish to Christ
That I had fifteen more

And it’s lend me ten pounds and I’ll buy you a drink
And mother wake me early in the morning

The boys and me are drunk and looking for you
We’ll eat your frigging entrails and we won’t give a damn
Me daddy was a blueshirt and my mother a madam
And my brother earned his medals at My Lai in Vietnam

And it’s lend me ten pounds and I’ll buy you a drink
And mother wake me early in the morning

On the first day of March it was raining
It was raining worse than anything that I have ever seen
Stay on the other side of the road
‘Cause you can never tell
We’ve a thirst like a gang of devils
We’re the boys of the county hell

And it’s lend me ten pounds and I’ll buy you a drink
And mother wake me early in the morning.

Spider Stacy: Tin Whistle, Vocals (London) / Andy Nolan: Button Accordion (London) / Daniel Al-Ayoubi: Mandolin (Bonn, Germany) / Patrick Arnehall: Tenor Banjo (Sweden) / Juan Brown: Vocals (Shetland Islands) / Scott Buhrmaster: Drums (Chicago, USA) / Brendan Burke: Tin Whistle (England) / Brandon Caylor: Mando-Guitar (California/USA) / Derek Cryan: Vocals (Dublin, Ireland) / Chris Cunningham: Mandolin (Indiana/USA) / Maxim De Kìnnjele: Guitar (France) / Tijl Delannoy: Vocals (Belgium) / John Dunne: Vocals (England) / Bob Gibson: Whistle, Vocals (London) / Chris Goddard: Fiddle (England) / Matt Goddard: Drums (England) / Roy Geurts: Vocals, Mandolin (The Netherlands) / Robin Hiermer: Vocals (Hagen, Germany) / Jeff Ingarfield: Vocals (England) / Kim Karvonen: Vocals (Finland) / Dave Keating: Mandolin (Chicago, USA) / Sophie Liebregts: Harp (Italy – The Netherlands) / Heather Macleod: Bodhran (Isle of Arran) / Mattia Malusardi: Banjo (Italy) / Vince Martini: Bass (California, USA) / Rick Nuttall: Vocals (England) / John O’Donnell: Guitar (Chicago, USA) / Moisés Álvarez Rodríguez: Ukulele (Madrid, Spain) / Daniele Rubertelli: Piano Accordion (Italy) / Andy Scarborough: Vocals (Zante, Greece) / Marcel van Bergen: Guitar (The Netherlands) / Tim van den Hombergh: Bagpipes (The Netherlands) / Derk Venema: Banjo, Mandolin (The Netherlands) / Paddy Vervoort: Vocals, Vibraslap (The Netherlands) / Zac: Vocals (Italy).
Audio and Video editing by Tim van den Hombergh.

If you are interested in joining the PoguestrA for future songs then get in touch with the gang viaYouTube orFacebook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TIR NAN OG – Sing Ye Bastards (Album)

BARDS FROM YESTERDAY – Demia (EP) -See Reviews

YE BANISHED PRIVATEERS – Drawn and Quartered (EP)

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

TOXIC FROGS – My Lucky Own (EP)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ALBUM REVIEW: THE NEW RUFFIANS – ‘Shenanigans’ (2020)

A heady mix of traditional Celtic music and Punk for late night pubs and afternoon garden parties alike!

The New Ruffians are the type of English band that usually comes from the rolling hills of Devon or Somerset. Alcohol loving folkies playing spirited covers at 110mph and totally enjoying themselves! Instead they come from the West Midlands town of Wolverhampton home of Wolves FC, the mighty Slade and the even mightier Kevin Rowland of Dexys Midnight Runners. The New Ruffians were formed in 2015 by four multi-instrumentalist ‘Wulfrunians’, as natives are called, and have been playing a chaotic mix of traditional Irish, Celtic-Punk, vintage Ska and leftfield folk to inebriated locals since.

These are not yer typical Celtic-Punk band by any stretch of the imagination and I don’t just mean because they include a trombone player! A seasoned live band and popular on the local pub scene they recorded their first album ‘Shenanigans’ in early 2020 but thanks to you-know-what (!) wasn’t released till the end of November. Still it snuck into the London Celtic Punks Best Album list at #28.

The New Ruffians left to right: Dave Dunn – Guitar / Bass Guitar / Backing Vocals * Paul Dunn – Cajon / Bongos / Trombone / Vocals / Guitar /Banjo / Harmonica / Percussion * Daran Crook – Vocals / Guitar / Mandolin / Banjo / Cajon / Harmonica / Tin Whistle * Rich Harvey – Piano Accordion / Melodica *

Shenanigans is the bands debut release and features seventeen songs with the emphasis on covers and most of those Irish songs. Its a good selection but as usual we would have liked to have heard a few more originals but with the album lasting a 3/4’s of an hour there’s no denying you get great value for money but what about the music?

The album kicks off with ‘Wake Up’ and true to form it’s a song about being at a music festival (probably in Devon or Somerset!) and trying to get up despite a sore head. The music is acoustic guitar, accordion and thumping heavy bass line and that trombone! To say the mix is unusual is a understatement but somehow it works but it always helps to have a strong vocalist and Daran is that. Loud, perhaps a tad too loud in the mix, but if you’re looking for an album that will transport you mentally to the boozer then this is it and there is nothing wrong with that! This is followed by a bunch of covers, ‘Waxies Dargle’, the instrumental ‘Lark In The Morning’ and the lively ‘Courtin’ In The Kitchen’. These three songs pretty much sum up the band. Full of energy and passion and emphasise their link to Irish music and especially the kind made popular by The Pogues/ Dubliners.

Another new one ‘Tipsy’, a classic take on that staple of Celtic-Punk the drinking song witha unusual Ska-ish accordion beat and even featuring the gibberish chorus of

“fol deedah, fol deedah, fol deedah fol de hey fol de ho, fol de alley alley oh! Hey!”

‘Millionaires’ is a cover of Cornish buskers Phat Bollard and again is a lively song, easy to singalong to and next a bunch of Folk songs some better known than others, but all played with gusto. The Irish trad instrumentals ‘Father O’Flynn’ and Siege Of Ennis’ along with ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy’ and the Scots tune ‘Come By The Hills’ before we are treated to a couple of originals. ‘The Parkdale Jig’ is short and sweet catchy instrumental while ‘Daddy Was’ my favourite song on the album is definitely the sort of song to get your feet moving despite its sparse arrangement. The spirit of Shane and Ronnie lives on in The New Ruffians final few songs with ‘Rare Old Mountain Dew’ leading into the original ‘Merry Hell’ with more tales of drinking and its effects. Matthew O’Reilly’s ‘To The Devil With Your License’ is the longest track here and the most elaborate. Another standout while the album closes with two Celtic-Punk staples ‘All For Me Grog’ and ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’.

Not a bad effort at all by The New Ruffians. Their debut album and you get the sense they tried to cram as many of their songs onto it as possible! I think the last two were probably not needed and it would have been better to finish on the great ‘To The Devil With Your License’ but I guess they wanted to leave the album exactly how they came in. With upbeat humour and plenty of shenanigans. There is no other genre of music that fits the pub quite as much as Celtic music does and The New Ruffians are made for the pub and treating everyday as St. Patrick’s Day. This is as faithful a copy of a pub set as I think any band has managed and I bet they can’t wait to get their raucous drunken table dancing mayhem back to the pub!

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

Buy Shenanigans  Bandcamp (also iTunes/Apple, YouTube Music, Amazon, Spotify)

Contact The New Ruffians  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

EP REVIEW: BARDS FROM YESTERDAY – (EP)DEMIA (2021)

The first review of 2021 features the new EP from Italian band Bards From Yesterday. Five young, capable and multi-talented musicians , originally from the areas of Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta, in northern Italy have chosen to embrace an ancient and distant culture, just as the bards did, Celtic minstrels who wandered from land to land, looking for as many incredible stories to retell and entertain.

And so 2021 carries on from where 2020 left off… Nevermind we get on with it and carry on the best we can don’t we? The Bards From Yesterday emerged over the last twelve months onto the Celtic-Punk scene despite being formed originally back in 2015. With 300+ gigs behind them and two official releases: Barney! their studio debut an EP with their favourite songs and Live In Brintaal! This was the culmination of over sixty gigs across northern Italy and Switzerland, ending at the Brintaal Celtic Folk Festival where the album was recorded. The album also contains the first song entirely written by the band, ‘Johnny Is Ainm Dom (Johnny Is My Name)’. So there you go this wee site carries just a drop in the ocean of all the bands out there and it is a battle we are more than happy to keep losing as it shows the scene is in a healthy state!

On (EP)Demia they have again recorded five songs and they are all covers bar the opening track. I was a bit disappointed initially as this is a band with undoubted talent and potential so it would be nice for them to take a risk and push their own material. I am sure they are more than capable of doing it and doing it extremely well. Still that disappointment subsided when I played the EP. Instantly a band we are very fond of’s influence can be found. That of fellow Italian Celtic-Punk band Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards. Both bands strive for as authentic as possible Irish music. One of the most beautiful and powerful instruments in the world are the uileann pipes and similar to Uncle Bard they are used to tremendous effect here and they give the songs that authenticity missing from some Celtic bands. Giovanni (who also plays the flute and tin whistle here) really is an excellent player, as are all the members of this great band!

(the Bhoys blasting through three traditional polkas as recorded in their homes in quarantine during while they should have been on their St. Paddy’s Tour Of 2020. Titled ‘The Unlucky Paddy’s Set’. Enjoy)

The EP opens with the trad instrumental ‘Pali’s Jig’ and the sound of the uileann pipes is a truly wonderful thing. How their aren’t more players in the Celtic-Punk scene I don’t know as it adds so much to the songs. Here the band go ‘hell for leather’ and it just emphasises they they should try and branch out with their own material if they can write songs like this. Utterly brilliant. Next up are a couple of live favourites and Irish music staples ‘Rocky Road To Dublin’ and ‘Star Of The County Down’. Both have almost been done to death but their is no denying they are fantastic songs and really when it comes down to it I never tire of hearing them. Especially of course when they are done with a bit of flair and individuality and Bards Of Yesterday give them plenty of both. Mattia’s vocals are clear and ‘Rocky Road’ is hard enough to keep up with in your native tongue so he does a great job not missing a beat while ‘Star’ starts off nice and slow before becoming exactly what you’d expect! A nice jolly upbeat romp to bump into people on the dance floor to. Next up is the pipe heavy Irish trad tune ‘Mick O’Connor’s Reels’. The song, written by north-west London based banjo playing Mick O’Connor, is quite simply superb and has an Horslips/Planxty feel to it. It also reminded me of the great late 80’s Yorkshire band You Slosh. Turning away from from Irish music for the EP’s final track with a song titled ‘Hector The Hero’. A beautiful song and one I first heard by The Bothy Band but the Bards Of Yesterday again give it their own stamp and refuse to just give us a straight cover but do their own thing. Which is exactly how it should be! It may also be familiar to any Mickey Rickshaw fans out there! Composed by Scots fiddler James Scott Skinner to honour Major-General Hector MacDonald, who had a distinguished career in the British Army, rising up the ranks from enlisted soldier. He tragically committed suicide in 1903 in Paris.

Bards Of Yesterday from top left to right: Mattia Gavin – Vocals, Guitar * Alessandro ‘Pali’ Lovisi – Greek Bouzouki, Mandolin * Glauco Guala – Drums * Giuseppe ‘Geppo’ Mastria – Bass, backing vocals * Giovanni Davoli – Low whistle, Tin Whistle, Uilleann Pipes *

So our first review of the year and already an absolute corker. Much more trad and less ‘punk’ than Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards but cut from the same cloth as regards how they treat and play Irish (and Celtic) music. One great thing the band do is a series of videos where they play a song like ‘Drunken Sailor’ or ‘The Parting Glass’ and tell of the history of the song and how to play it. Sadly for me it’s all in Italian! The friendly links between Ireland and Italy go back further than anyone can imagine and their have been many great Italian bands who play better Celtic music than the Celts do and Bards From Yesterday could just be another one.

“We’re storytellers that tell myths and legend about alcohol and shenanigans.
From the fairy tale of the drunken sailor till the mad dance of the premier bootleggers of Connemara.”

Buy (EP)Demia  Amazon  Apple

Contact Bards Of Yesterday  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

NEW CHRISTMASSY CELTIC-PUNK SONGS FROM IRELAND, CHINA, GERMANY, CANADA, LONDON AND MEXICO

Well that’s it. Christmas is over and done with and hopefully you all had a festively good time despite everything.  BUT if you are still in need of some good cheer though then wait no more as we here’s a selection of six brand new 2020 Christmas-ish Celtic-Punk songs for you to delight over.

Craic open what’s left of the Jamesons and enjoy!

ANTI-DEPRESANTS – ‘If It’s Gonna Be Cold’

Anti Depresants are four piece Rock‘n’ Roll band coming from the hills of Armagh in the north of Ireland with a lot of Punk attitude an’ a sprinklin’ of Ska to get your ass movin’, your heart beatin’ and your mind racin’ with their diverse sound embracing heavy rock, reggae, male and female vocals and blistering guitar work.

Contact Anti Depresants  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp

GRASS MUD HORSE – ‘Christmas Time In China’

Possibly the busiest band in Celtic-Punk this year (and definitely the busiest on these pages!!) Grass Mud Horse have been making, and releasing, music throughout the ‘clampdown’ to us lucky folk. Led by award-winning musician Chris Barry, a Scouser living in Qinhuangdao, China. They blend together the traditional Folk sound of Chris ancestors in Ireland with an distinctly raw and untamed Punk-Rock energy. 2020 while being quite the lame year has seen Grass Mud Horse become quite the name on the Celtic-Punk scene with their last single released dually across North America by Paddyrock and Europe by us! The song is available for download over on Bandcamp for next to nothing.

Contact Grass Mud Horse  WebSite  Facebook   YouTube

THE FEELGOOD McLOUDS – ‘Driving Home For Christmas’

St. Nicholas is on his way and The Feelgood McLouds have come up with a little present for you. Are you bored of long dark winter nights without pubs and concerts? Then here’s the solution the brand new Christmas song from these fantastic German Celtic-Punkers. Imagine if the Dubliners were only in their mid-twenties, very, very thirsty and had discovered punk for themselves. Then punk rock anthems would merge with bagpipes, banjo, tin whistle and accordion, there would be a good smell of beer and whiskey and sweat would drip from the ceiling. And that’s exactly what The Feelgood McLouds is all about. With their energetic punk rock show, the 6 Saarlanders make every concert room shake and everyone to empty their beer glass. In a nutshell: Sounding like NOFX and the Dropkick Murphys are meeting in an Irish pub for an endless party!

Contact The Feelgood McLeods  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

THE STANFIELDS – ‘(I’ll Stay Home) With Bells On

The Stanfields trod a well trodden path to 2020 from the Seahorse Tavern in their hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia to where they are now. Their trajectory from full on their Celtic-Punk to “the bastard child of AC/DC and Stan Rogers” where their music blends Working Class Hard-Rock with the many strands of Folk that make up traditional Canadian music with much of it heavily influenced by Scotland and Ireland. Here they massacre pay tribute to the great Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers song. Stanfields front man John is joined by his Mrs Shannon on this cheeky number that follows on from our review just a couple of weeks ago of their fantastic new album Welcome To The Ball.

Contact The Stanfields  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

CLAN OF CELTS- ‘A Christmas Quarantine’

Fusing together all their musical experiences & influences ranging from, Rock, Metal, Country, Punk, Classical and of course traditional Irish. Clan Of Celts have created a unique style and an unmistakable sound that is brought to you with Celtic pride, passion, commitment and respect for our traditional roots. The new team on the London Celtic-Punk scene bring you a classic cheesy Christmas song out now and available to download through Spotify and all decent streaming services. Will they ever complete the interview I sent them? Who knows what 2021 will bring!!!

Contact Clan Of Celts WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Soundcloud

BATALLON DE SAN PATRICIO – ‘F*ck Merry Christmas And F*ck You’

And finally the new single from Mexican Celtic-Punk newcomers Batallón De San Patricio. Why they got such a downer on Christmas is anyone’s guess but ding-dong merrily on high here it is anyway! It’s been a busy year for these guys with a hit album Hermanos de Guerra under their belts as well as making themselves known right across the Celtic-Punk world. The band’s name comes from the famed St. Patrick’s Battalion (see The Irish Soldiers Of Mexico In Film And Song). A group of immigrants, mainly of Irish descent, who deserted from the US Army because of anti-Catholic bigotry and went to fight for the Mexican Army during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). It’s a tale of great adventure and heroic valour. Batallón de San Patricio were formed in 2017 in Guadalajara and right from the start the idea was to pay tribute to their namesakes. In many ways the name was a obvious choice for a band whose chief aim was to play Celtic-Punk mixing Irish and Mexican culture.

Contact Batallón De San Patricio  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

So that’s almost it for 2020. Tune in on Wednesday for our final post of the year. A fun packed Odd’n’Sods – Celtic Punk Round Up full of the most recent videos and news from around the scene.

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

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

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

The PoguestrA – ‘Fairytale Of New York’

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

CELEBRATING A CELTIC CHRISTMAS

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

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

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

SCOTLAND

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

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

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

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

IRELAND

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

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

WALES

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

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

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

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

ISLE OF MAN

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

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

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

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

CORNWALL

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

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

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

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

BRITTANY

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

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

GALICIA

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

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

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

Nollick Ghennal as Blein Vie Noa (Manx Gaelic)

Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath ùr (Scottish Gaelic)

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

Nedeleg Laouen na Bloavezh Mat  (Breton)

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda (Welsh)

Nadelik Lowen ha Bledhen Nowyth Da (Cornish)

Further Christmas themed fun with this London Celtic Punks Top Twenty

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

CLICK HERE

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

Now go have a drink…

DECEMBER EPISODE OF THE CELTIC PUNKCAST #43 OUT NOW! CHRISTMAS SPECIAL IV

“It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid, at Christmas time, we let in light and we banish shade”
Yes ding dong merrily on high it’s Christmas and time for the new Celtic Punkcast and an hour of the best Celtic-Folk-Punk out there. Follow the link below and stream live or download to listen to later and enjoy!

Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas ya punks! Welcome to the fourth annual Celtic Punkcast Christmas Special! I have some stuff I’ve never played and also some suggestions of some other stuff you may have heard in the past from some of you lovely people out there on the socials, so grab yourself some eggnog and unwrap this festive gift for your ears!

ALTERNATIVE ULSTER – ‘Ode To Joy’

CELKILT – ‘Christmas Would Never Be The Same If You Were Not Around’

THE LANGERS BALL – ‘A Christmas Lullaby’

THE RUMPLED – ‘Let It Snow!’

BLACK ANEMONE – ‘Christmas Day On First And Main’

DARBY O’GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE – ‘Whiskey Christmas’

GRASS MUD HORSE – ‘Christmas Time In China’

THE NARROWBACKS – ‘Prodigal Son (I’ll Be Home For Christmas)’

THE TOSSERS – ‘Merry Christmas’

BLAGGARDS – ‘Fairytale Of New York’

DROPKICK MURPHYS – ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’

THE RUFFIANS – ‘Christmas In Killarney’

NO MURDER NO MOUSTACHE – ‘Teimlad Nadolig’

FIDDLERS GREEN – ‘Auld Lang Syne’

THE CELTIC PUNKCAST #43

Contact The Celtic Punkcast  Facebook  WebSite  Shop  Twitter  E-Mail

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

Merry Christmas all!

‘RETURN TO CAMDEN’  BY TERENCE O’FLAHERTY

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

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

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

EP REVIEW: PENNILESS TENANTS – ‘Lockdown Session’ (2020)

Traditional Irish scally Punk!

Penniless Tenants are a five-piece from Liverpool, playing traditional and Irish Folk music and probably the best Irish Music in Liverpool. No Folking About.

The Irish community in England is supposedly shrinking I hear but only just a couple of weeks after we reviewed the debut release of Luton Irish band Missing The Ferry we have the pleasure of doing the same for another new band to us Penniless Tenants. The band hail from another hotbed of Irishness in Liverpool. Their is plenty written on the history of the Irish in Liverpool and unsurprisingly immigration from Ireland to Liverpool has been ongoing since the year dot and the city could possibly even lay claim to being the most Irish city in England.

With no shortage of Irish bars in the city a band playing Irish music would be pretty damn busy except for this poxy clampdown but Penniless Tenants have responded perfectly with a EP of five self written songs (with a few varied influences!) unsurprisingly titled Lockdown Sessions. They did actually already release a few songs over on Soundcloud way back in 2013 called the Penniless Tenant Sessions of a few covers of Irish Folk standards made famous by The Pogues, Dropkick Murphys, Christy Moore and The Dubliners among others. Their they keep it respectful and played the songs close to their origins so nice to her them let loose a bit on the recent release. Like all the best bands they are too proud to play anywhere and they have from Liverpool Anglican Cathedral to the Baltic Market and St George’s Hall to the corner of Pilgrim Street!

Lockdown Sessions begins with ‘The Hare And The Fainleog’ and a slow fiddle led mournful Irish tune which soon becomes a bit of a foot stamper and in Benjamin Hughes they certainly have a highly talented fiddler player. Superbly played leading us into ‘Green And Red Paper Planes’ which, while keeping in line with the Irish theme of the EP, expands beyond the opening few lines taken from another well known second-generation Irish band and takes us on a surprising, though bloomin’ brilliant, direction taking in modern Pop with a song that I must have heard a 100 times but I’ve no idea who sings it. It’ll probably come to me 10 minutes after this review is published. These Bhoys got a knack for an unusual cover in a way that reminds me of their London counterparts The Bible Code Sundays. ‘Jiggin’ Up To Boston’ is another fiddle led trad Irish tune until the half way point and BANG in comes the banjo and mandolin and we get the full Dropkicks style Folk version. This is followed by the Eric Bogle penned ‘My Youngest Son Came Home Today’. Eric is perhaps most famous for writing the well known anti-war ballads ‘The Green Fields Of France’ and ‘And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ two absolutely stunning songs covered by The Pogues and the Dropkicks, among others, in their time. Here the theme is visited again except in a more modern setting in a tale of a young man killed during the war in the north of Ireland.

“My youngest son came home today
His friends marched with him all the way
The pipe and drum beat out the time
While in his box of polished pine
Like dead meat on a butcher’s tray
My youngest son came home today
And this time he’s home to stay”

Penniless Tenants play it slow and respectful and Billy Hughes voice portrays exactly the right amount of emotion this great song needs. The EP comes to an end with the Country/ Bluegrass influenced ‘Trouble In Yer Mind’. Fast and furious Banjo plucking and fiddling and more foot stampin’ to see the EP out the door.

Penniless Tenants: Benjamin Boo – Fiddle * Billy Skank – Laud and Vocals * Dr Rosa – Flute and Whistle * Jay G – Tenor Banjo * JDillon – Bass * Paulie O’Riley O’Hanrahan – Banjolele * Tom Jones (not that one) – Bodhran * REGFX – art *  (actual lineup may vary)

Lockdown Sessions was released on November 10th and was recorded live at the Liverpool Irish Centre (suitably social distanced of course!) a and mastered by Jeff Jepson. It’s available on Bandcamp and can be got as a ‘Name Your Price’ download meaning you can pay anything from a fiver to the cost of a couple of cans to sod all if you would like but with the way things are it would be nice to throw a few coppers their way. The music here is totally acoustic but just going from what I heard here I reckon they can tear it up when required too so lets not forget The Pogues were once called “the loudest acoustic band on the planet”. They have a new EP, A Penniless Christmas, out very soon in time for Christmas and they promise “festival mashups and winter warmers”.

(Stream or download Lockdown Sessions on the Bandcamp player below)

Download Lockdown Sessions  FromTheBand

Contact Penniless Tenants  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

NOVEMBER EPISODE OF THE CELTIC PUNKCAST #42 OUT NOW

Cutting it fine again! With just one day to go here’s the November edition of The Celtic Punkcast with just over an hour of the best Celtic-Folk-Punk Podcast anywhere on the t’internet.

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

G’day again from Moyston here in the beautiful Grampians in Australia. I’m back with another show jammed full of some of the best Celtic Punk, Folk Punk and Celtic Rock from every corner of the globe, some new stuff and some old favourites. Let’s get into it!

THE CURRENCY – ‘Buckley’s Tattoo’

THE RUMPLED – ‘Grace O’Malley’

THE TOSSERS – ‘USA’

CLAN OF CELTS – ‘Clan Of Celts’

KRAKIN’ KELLYS – ‘Roots Radical’

THE CHERRY COKE$ – ‘Drunken Pirates’

THE STUBBY SHILLELAGHS – ‘The Year With No St. Patrick’s Day’

BEAVER SECRET HANDSHAKE – ‘Captain John’

DROPKICK MURPHYS – ‘Rose Tattoo’

PADDY AND THE RATS – ‘One Last Ale’

THE CUNDEEZ – ‘Bow To No One’

THE RUMJACKS – ‘Sainted Millions’

THE THINGAMA JIGS – ‘The Unforgiven IV’

BLACK RAWK DOG ‘Work Proud’

REDHILL RATS – ‘Sailing ’round The World’

FORGOTTEN GENERATION – ‘Drinking Team’

THE KREELERS – ‘Salvation’

THE CELTIC PUNKCAST #42

Contact The Celtic Punkcast  Facebook  WebSite  Shop  Twitter  E-Mail

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

Be sure to tune in next month for The Celtic Punkcast Christmas Special!!!

THE POGUESTRA WITH **EXTRA SPECIAL GUESTS**

The PoguestrA is a flexible group of musicians from around the world who are also fans of The Pogues. It was established in May 2020 during the lockdown with musicians playing together remotely.
A community powered by passion, diversity and inclusion.

The PoguestrA is a flexible group of musicians from around the world who are also fans of The Pogues. It all started in May 2020, during the lockdown, when Daniele Rubertelli, an Italian fan who plays accordion, launched a ‘Call For Musicians’ to perform (remotely) Dirty Old Town within the Facebook community of Pogues fans. As a result, sixteen musicians from the UK, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands and USA contributed to the cover of the great Ewan MacColl track. The song even reached the ears of Peggy Seeger, the late Ewan’s wife and renowned singer/songwriter in her own right, who sent over words of appreciation. Since then The PoguestrA have covered other songs of The Pogues, always using “public calls” on Facebook to ensure inclusion for all the musicians moved by the same passion. They recently covered the Shane MacGowan penned ‘The Broad Majestic Shannon’ with an amazing twenty-eight musicians from around the world and featuring Cisco, the founder and former frontman of the legendary Italian band Modena City Ramblers. Their latest video release is ‘Misty Morning Albert Bridge’ from The Pogues fourth album, Peace and Love. Written by banjo player Jem Finer about the famous Albert Bridge that connects Chelsea on the north bank to Battersea on the south and features scores of brilliant musicians from right across the world including Irish international Kevin McManamon on mandolin!!

For their new song the PoguestrA has recruited Celtic-Punk royalty to their ranks with Jem Finer and James Fearnley from the faraway shores of London and Los Angeles respectfully. Anyone interested in joining the gang then get in touch with them through their Facebook page.

Misty Morning Albert Bridge (Jem Finer) performed by The PoguestrA

Recorded in November 2020

I dreamt we were standing
By the banks of the Thames
Where the cold grey waters ripple
In the misty morning light
Held a match to your cigarette
Watched the smoke curl in the mist
Your eyes, blue as the ocean between us
Smiling at me
*
I awoke so cold and lonely
In a faraway place
The sun fell cold upon my face
The cracks in the ceiling spelt hell
Turned to the wall
Pulled the sheets around my head
Tried to sleep, and dream my way
Back to you again
*
Count the days
Slowly passing by
Step on a plane
And fly away
I’ll see you then
As the dawn birds sing
On a cold and misty morning
By the Albert Bridge
*

Jem Finer: Hurdy Gurdy (London) / James Fearnley: Accordion (Los Angeles) / Daniel Al-Ayoubi: Mandolin (Bonn, Germany) / Moisés Álvarez Rodríguez: Ukulele (Madrid, Spain) / Juan Brown: Vocals, Tin Whistle (Shetland Islands) / Brendan Burke: Tin Whistle (England) / Brandon Caylor: Mando-Guitar, Melodica (CaliforniA, USA)/ Dana Caylor & Samantha Caylor: Vocals (California, USA) / Helena Cooke: Renaissance Recorder (England) / Chris Cunningham: Banjo (Indiana/USA) / Tijl Delannoy: Vocals (Belgium) / John Dunne: Vocals, Trumpet (England) / Leigh Fowler: Fiddle (Chicago, USA) / Chris Goddard: Fiddle (England) / Matt Goddard: Drums (England) / Elizabeth Harman: Fiddle (California/USA) / Robin Hiermer: Vocals (Germany) / Dave Keating: Guitar, Vocals (Chicago, USA) / Jeff Ingarfield: Vocals (England) / Erwin Lemmens: Trumpet (The Netherlands) / Heather Macleod: Harp (Isle of Arran) / Mattia Malusardi: Bouzouki (Italy) / Vince Martini: Stand-Up Bass (California, USA) / Kevin McManamon: Mandolin (Dublin, Ireland) / Sean McManamy: Vocals (Chicago, USA) / Rick Nuttall: Vocals (England) / John O’Donnell: Guitar, Vocals (Chicago, USA)/ David O’Donoghue: Vocals (Ireland) / Daniele Rubertelli: Accordion, Vocals (Italy) / Frits Sieswerda: Vocals, Harmonica (The Netherlands) / Marcel van Bergen: Guitar (The Netherlands) / Tim van den Hombergh: Low Whistle (The Netherlands) / Paddy Vervoort: Vocals, Bodhran (The Netherlands) / Zac: Vocals (Italy). Dancers: Lian and Hans-Jürgen Klischat (Göttingen, Germany) / Rick and Heather Nuttall (England) / Jeff Ingarfield and Justine Stampton (England) / Daniele Rubertelli and Simona Rossi (Italy).

Audio & Video editing by Tim van den Hombergh.

If you are interested in joining the PoguestrA for future songs then get in touch with the gang viaYouTube orFacebook

LET THE MUSIC KEEP YOUR SPIRITS HIGH – PART THREE

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

GHOSTS OF OUR PAST

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

NOW WE’RE PRINCES

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

NIGHT CROSSING

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

THE PITTSBURG KID

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

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

RUNNING FROM OUR SHADOWS

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

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

OCTOBER EPISODE OF THE CELTIC PUNKCAST #41 OUT NOW

You may have thought he’d forgotten but Gareth over there in Australia just managed to slip the October Celtic Punkcast out in time! It was released on Halloween so we are a couple of days later bringing it to you ourselves so dig in and enjoy just under an hour of the best Celtic-Folk-Punk Podcast anywhere on the t’internet.

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

G’day all and Happy Halloween (although let’s face it, 2020 has been a nightmare all year). Here is the October show, featuring some great new tunes, a couple of Halloween tracks and of course the best Celtic Punk, Celtic Rock and Folk Punk from all over the world. Here’s what’s on this months show:

BRACE YOURSELF BRIDGET – ‘The Rovin’ Scotsman’

GREENLAND WHALEFISHERS – ‘Halloween’

FIDDLERS GREEN – ‘The Galway Girl’

McSCALLYWAG – Coming Home’

THE GRINNING BARRETTS – ‘Armstrong Ave’

BENNY MAYHEM – ‘Mother Nature Will Have Her Revenge On Old Fatty’

CHARM CITY SAINTS – ‘Half Past 10’

FOX N FIRKIN – ‘Get On The Boat’

HUNKY DORY – ‘Panjang Umur Pekerja Keras’

THE GROGGY DOGS – ‘All For Me Grog’

BLACK ANEMONE – ‘The Devils Merry Go Round’

DIAMONDS AND GUNS – ‘The Lonesome Man’

GRASS MUD HORSE – ‘Loser Back Home’

LEXINGTON FIELD – ‘Win The Day’

SELFISH MURPHY – ‘Break The Silence’

THE POGUES – ‘Rain Street’

NO MURDER NO MOUSTACHE – ‘(Serial) Killer Product Placement’

THE CELTIC PUNKCAST #41

Contact The Celtic Punkcast  Facebook  WebSite  Shop  Twitter  E-Mail

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

LET THE MUSIC KEEP YOUR SPIRITS HIGH – PART TWO

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

McBRATNEY FROM THE KITCHEN

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

WHITEY

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

MY TOWN

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

THE BOYS OF QUEENS

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

THE LORDS OF WINTER HILL

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

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

LET THE MUSIC KEEP YOUR SPIRITS HIGH – PART ONE

LET THE MUSIC KEEP YOUR SPIRITS HIGH – PART ONE

Photo- Paul Gallagher

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

THE SWAMP RATS OF LOUISIANA

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

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

SEE YOU AT THE CROSSROADS

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

THEY BUILT PARADISE

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

THE KIDS FROM THE CITY OF NOWHERE

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

THE CINDERELLA MAN

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

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

DANNY SHEEHAN – AMERICAN IRISH WARRIOR

Sending our greetings to the wee American-Irish warrior young Danny Sheehan.

DANNY SHEEHAN #1

Their is nothing worse than the illness of a child, Something Dan and Natalie Sheehan know all about after they received the news that every parent dreads. Their young son Danny was only four when he was rushed to the hospital emergency Room to alleviate Danny’s sporadic vomiting and terrible headaches. Subsequent scans would show there was an abnormal mass on Danny’s brain. Transported to Boston Children’s Hospital, Danny immediately underwent surgery for hydrocephalus, swelling of the brain caused by what is now known to be Pineoblastoma, an aggressive and cancerous brain tumor.

Danny with his Mum and Dad at home in Marshfield, Massachusetts.

Danny has battled the disease since January 2017 and Officer Danny (yes, he was made an honorary police officer in by his hometown Police Department last year!) is a cheerful, energetic, funny, gregarious, and loving little boy who revels in making friends and mischief. Life has not dealt him a good hand but Danny continues to battle on and remains positive. The embodiment of the ‘warrior spirit’ and a inspiration to us.

You’re the fighter, you’ve got the fire
The spirit of a warrior, the champion’s heart
You fight for your life because the fighter never quits
You make the most of the hand you’re dealt
Because the quitter never wins
No!

You can keep up with Danny’s fight by connecting with the Facebook Page 4TheLoveOfDanny which regularly updates his progress to his legions of fans and admirers. Head over there and leave a message of support and join us and lend your hearts, prayers, and love to Danny as he, his family, and medical team fight his cancer.

GOFUNDME FUNDRAISER

Sending best wishes to our mate Vinny at this time too. All the best.

ODDS’N’SODS. CELTIC-PUNK ROUND UP SEPTEMBER 2020

We want to move away from just being ‘ReviewReviewReviewReview’ so we have started this monthly feature that comes out on the last day of each month. All news items that we otherwise miss will get a mention but I need YOU to be the eyes and ears if it’s going to work so send over to us any band news, record releases, videos, tours (not individual gigs though yet sadly), live streams, crowd funders etc., to us at londoncelticpunks@hotmail.co.uk or through the Contact Us page and it will go in here!

BRENDAN MULKERE -REST IN PEACE – 28th AUGUST 2020

Such sad news that the legend of Irish music in London, Brendan Mulkere passed away in the early hours of this morning.
Brendan’s all-consuming passion for traditional Irish music, his unfaltering determination to pass the culture on to the next generation and put Irish music on the London stage for the first time has left an indelible mark on London’s cultural landscape.
His epic work over decades produced countless fabulous second generation traditional Irish musicians and brought a wide audience to value and respect our music as much as any other genre in this city.

Deepest sympathies to Sharon, Claire, Sinéad, Collette, all of Brendan’s family, friends and to the huge number of his ‘jellybabies’ who will undoubtedly continue his legacy.

May he Rest in Peace.

DROPKICK MURPHYS are never ones to hide their political views when it is warranted and the Bhoys did a short but brilliant acoustic Live Stream to promote Joe Kennedy III in the Democratic primary for United States Senate. The vote takes place on Tuesday, September 1st so vote early and vote often as they say in the 6 counties! The music kicks in after ten minutes.

We put on THE DIRTY ARTICHOKES in London a couple of summers ago. Jeez The Fighting Cocks was hot that night. Maybe the hottest gig I ever been to! Glad to hear some new stuff from this massively multi-talented Italian band.

Godfather of Celtic-Punk SHANE MacGOWAN is looking better than he has done in years and he has even defied Covid-19 with two all-night sessions which continued into a third late one but the 62-year-old is recording — not boozing — into the small hours as he called band members back to work on his new solo album.

San Diego Fiddle Rock band LEXINGTON FIELD have graced these pages many times and have hit the jackpot again with their brand new video just out featuring ‘Dear Sorrow’ from their forthcoming new EP Win The Day due out later in the year and is previewed here.

Dutch band MAGGIES FLOCK continue with their plans to release a new song on the 23rd of every month during 2020. At the end of the year all twelve songs will become the album Party At The Cemetery. This months song is called ‘The Pogey Club’ and can be heard here but check out some of their previous songs ‘Battle Song‘,Bored Beyond Death‘ and ‘Maggie Of The Moor‘. To be kept in the loop like them on Facebook.

London Celtic Punks Facebook page put on two Live Streams during August. Both were very well ‘attended’ and seemed to have gone down a storm. CALLUM HOUSTON of Psychobilly legends The Graveyard Johnnys accompanied by Alban performed a wonderful set of Dubliners classics while TIM HOLEHOUSE did an interesting a varied set of his own material. Don’t forget to tune in on Monday 7th September for the next Live Stream starring THE TEMPLARS OF DOOM doing a full band live set.

CALLUM HOUSTON    TIM HOLEHOUSE

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

THE JAMESTOWN BROTHERS – Rebels, Rogues And Regrets

ASHPIPE – Sbandati (13 Years And Still Waiting For Wave)

THE WATERBOYS – Good Luck, Seeker (Deluxe Edition)

PADDY O’TURNER – Rocky Road To Wherever

LEVELLERS – Peace

CATGUT MARY hailed from Melbourne, Australia and released their one and only album Bourbon And Black Porter twelve years ago way back in June, 2008. Twelve songs of Australian Colonial Punk taking in a couple of Irish classics among the bands mainly own compositions. Catgut Mary received plenty of critical acclaim at the time and were famous for their high energy blend of ‘Folk’, ‘Punk’ and ‘Rock’ in a very Australian context. You can stream the album from the link above. It’s also available to download for only five Aussie dollars which works out around three quid or US $’s.

They may have abandoned progressed from Celtic-Punk but another great video for THE STANFIELDS came out last week and as to be expected its quality. These guys use to tour England regularly but haven’t seen them for a few years now.

It’s not Celtic-Punk but it sure is powerful and incredibly beautiful too. Check out the brand new album from Portland based duo KATE POWER AND STEVE EINHORN. If you’re a fan of traditional Irish Folk like Solas or Runa then you’ll love this album I guarantee.

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

… and finally some great news over at the London Celtic Punks Facebook page as we reached the fabled target of 5000 likes. Needless to say we were steaming along with likes coming in left, right and centre and then as we got closer it slowed right down dooooooowwwwwnnnnnnn and took forever to get over the line!! Still we have made it and though it may seem silly we are all very proud of ourselves and you all of course.

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

AUGUST EPISODE OF THE CELTIC PUNKCAST #40 OUT NOW

Its August and we even had a fortnight of sunshine over here which I personally spent hiding from indoors! It’s back to normal now of course and raining! Anyroad Gareth keeps on going ‘down under’ and is still knocking out the best Celtic-Folk-Punk Podcast anywhere on the t’internet.

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

Hi everyone, hope you’re all OK and staying healthy (and sane!) during this weird period of time we are living in. Hopefully this new episode of the show will help make your day a wee bit better. There’s plenty of new songs plus some old favourites, so lets jump in.

THE LANGERS BALL – ‘Drowsy Maggie-Fermoy Lassies-Cooleys

THE STANFIELDS – ‘Death And Taxes’

CHARM CITY SAINTS – ‘Bars And Scars’

KILMAINE SAINTS – ‘My Island’

OGRAS – ‘Running Wild’

THE BUTTON COLLECTIVE – ‘Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy’

THE NARROWBACKS – ‘Pope Delirium’

THE WHIPJACKS – ‘Farewell To The Ladies’

FRANK TURNER – ‘Perfect Government’

LEXINGTON FIELD – ‘Dear Sorrow’

RAGLAN ROAD – Mari Mac’

THE GALLOWGATE MURDERS – ‘Wreck Head Wedding’

THE REAL McKENZIES – ‘Big Foot Steps’

BACKSEAT HOOLIGANS – ‘Pints And Whiskey’

SMZB – ‘Ten Thousand Ways To Rebel’

JOLLY JACKERS – ‘Alone’

MEDUSA’S WAKE – War Of Independence’

THE CELTIC PUNKCAST #40

Contact The Celtic Punkcast  Facebook  WebSite  Shop  Twitter  E-Mail

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

ALBUM REVIEW: THE MUCKERS- ‘Irish Goodbye’ (2020)

The Muckers are a five-piece Celtic-Folk-Punk band from Atlanta. With a strong emphasis on Irish music, the band also blends influences of Gypsy music, sea shanties, Country, Rockabilly, and anything else they can get their hands on. According to TC Costello their name doesn’t mean what you think it means.

A year ago I found myself at DragonCon, one of the largest sci fi and fantasy conventions in the galaxy. 85,000 fans descended upon the city of Atlanta in sweltering heat to celebrate their fandom with costumes, medieval fighting demonstrations, and panels featuring famous actors (not a bad a place busking, either) but when not playing the ‘Game Of Thrones’ intro or the underwater theme from ‘Super Mario Brothers’ on accordion, I was fortunate enough to catch The Muckers, an Atlanta Celtic-Punk band I had heard of for the last year or so, but had never seen live, and what a live show it was! Aside from the twirling of light sabers, passing around of warm beers, and Star-Trek-uniformed mosh pits, The Muckers proved to be one of the most fun Celtic bands I’ve ever seen. The entire audience had huge smiles on their faces, and when they kicked out a rendition of “Drunken Lullabies,” no one in the crowd could keep still.

Frontman Jeff Shaw switched between fiddle and mandolin while providing plenty of banter, and Dave Long played some very Pogues-influenced accordion, while Randall English, Brady Trulove and Steve Lingo provided a nonstop folk-rock rhythm section with electric bass, acoustic guitar, and drums. Their set even featured a rendition of “Seven Drunken Nights” where the pipe “was made of glass instead of wood and had a little hole in the side,” and it became apparent that Long was the one cuckolding his bandmate Shaw. Never trust an accordion player. The enjoyment was so pervasive that I felt like I had no choice but to see them three more times during the convention. I was a bit skeptical that they could recreate such an atmosphere with a recorded album, but they do that and more with their latest effort, “Irish Goodbye” while sneaking in some truly heartbreaking material as well. Before the bleakness though, the craic is 90 with the ska-influenced Celtic-riffing opener, “Queen of the Pit,” an ode to the band’s friend Meg, who proved herself adept at moshing during Flogging Molly’s Salty Dog Cruise. Shaw sings in the chorus:

“Throwing her elbows, swinging her hair
Don’t start a fight ‘cause she don’t fight fair
Running in circles, you know she won’t quit
Get out of the way! She’s the queen of the pit”

They follow with “Rock on Rockall,” an Irish Protest song regarding Rockall Island, which The Irish Government claims as Irish and the UK government says is part of Scotland. Given that The Wolfe Tones made the song famous, it shouldn’t be hard to guess which side The Muckers take.

The Muckers from left to right, Steve Lingo- Drums * Randall English- Bass * Brady Trulove-  Guitar * Jeff Shaw- Fiddle/Mandolin * Dave Long- Accordion

A melancholy fiddle intro leads into the “Buzzard’s Bay” a tribute to Shaw’s friend Johnny Pike. Lyrically sparse, the song reflects on Pike’s tragic drowning in Buzzards Bay Massachusetts:

“A Boston boy named Johnny Pike
Disappeared on a summer night
Cold New England water took his life
Now he’ll never walk on land

23 is far too young to die
Unfinished life pulled out on the tide

John is gone we lost him to the sea
Left behind just washed out memories
Got in too deep, there’s nothing left to say
They found him floating out on Buzzards Bay”

Accordionist Dave Long takes the lead vocals next, with another protest song, “Building up and Tearing England Down.” With a vocal delivery somewhere between Shane McGowan and NOFX’s Fat Mike, this tale of fatalities in the English construction industry may be the perfect protest song to get people out of the pub and up to the barricades. In addition to accounts of falling off a hydro dam, death by concrete mixer, and one particularly gruesome incident with a high tension wire, this song features a blistering accordion solo that is just fantastic– and reminds me I should practice more.

They lighten the mood during a quartet of songs that seems to reclaim copyrighted material as folk songs. The songs present them as something to be changed and reinterpreted. The first is “Whale of a Tale,” a narration of nautical naughtiness that I only recently learned is from Disney’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” Bassist Randall English takes the lead on this one, telling us of maritime romances that include:

“Typhoon Tessie
Met her on the coast of Java
When we kissed I,
Bubbled up like molten lava
Then she gave me, the scare of my young life
Blow me down and pick me up
She was the captain’s wife!”

Lead vocals on this track are a joint effort, as Jeff Shaw sneaks a version of “Rare Ould Mountain Dew” that’s not about whisky, but rather that “Keefy Stuff from California”: “If the police come, try to stop our fun and lock us all away/ Away we’ll go and smoke a bowl of the good green Mary Jane.” After that high note of bridge the band blazes through one final verse about Harpoon Hannah.

Next, drummer Steve Lingo takes over lead vocals on a faithful cover of the Rumjack’s reflection on other possible life stories, “My Time Again.” Guitarist Brady Trulove next sings The Pogues; wartime waltz “A Pair of Brown Eyes.” Then the band puts The Ramones classic, “Sheena is a punk Rocker,” through a Celtic-Punk filter. While the Ramones’ “Sheena” leaves the beach party life for New York city’s part scene, The Muckers’ “Saorise” and friends dress in Scallies (another word for a flat cap) kilts and go to Ri Ra– Irish pubs in Atlanta.

Following the band is all revved up and ready to go with the Rockabilly-inspired drinking song, “Out on My Ass.” Shaw says,

“While you could easily mistake that for one of our silly drinking songs, I consider that a tragic song. A man is throwing his life away for alcohol.” Indeed, during this song’s drunken hijinks, the narrator loses his marriage, his life’s savings, his home, and is possibly bound for eternal damnation.”

Next is a cover of George Gershwin’s bluesy classic “Summertime.” It starts pretty traditionally, with some jazzy accordion licks the mandolin emulating some high-on-the-neck jazz guitar. Little did i know Trulove, Lingo and English were biding their time before launching into a high-octane, almost hardcore punk second verse. When I first heard it live, I wasn’t totally enamored with the idea, but the Muckers won me over, and by the end of it, I was moshing alongside Trekkies. Closing the album is the country-tinged title track. While mysterious in its origins, the term “Irish Goodbye” means leaving without announcing your departure. Shaw uses this as a metaphor for his divorce: “While we were still together we had a fight, and when I woke up she was gone. That wasn’t the real end of the relationship, but that feeling of waking up and finding your partner has left is what I based the song on.”

“The halls echo empty, there’s a ghost that sleeps in my bed
My heartbeat has flatlined, the stoplights all turned green to red
I know deep inside must’ve been something I could’ve said
To keep her by my side instead of an Irish goodbye”

Buy Irish Goodbye  FromTheBand-CD

Contact The Muckers  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

(The Muckers full band Live Stream set from the PaddyRock Festival last month)

THE DAY THE FIGHTING IRISH TOOK ON THE KLU KLUX KLAN

The last few days have seen ‘cancel culture’ in full flow and with the cancelling of the Washington Redskins so it was only a matter of time before they came for The Fighting Irish too. It’s a fascinating story how a mid western college, with a French name, The University of Notre Dame du Lac, to give it it’s full title, became known as ‘The Fighting Irish’, and one of the biggest Irish sporting institutions outside of Ireland. The nickname dates back to a day in 1924 when Notre Dame students violently clashed with the Ku Klux Klan. A weekend of riots gave the Klan a bloody nose and brought to an end their rise to power in Indiana at a time when even the state’s governor was among its members.

These days the Ku Klux Klan are a joke. A small tiny insignificant group living on past glories of the days when they held the key to power in states throughout America and terrorised local populations through murder, lynching, arson, rape and bombings and of dreams of 1925 when they had upwards of 6,000,000 members. Nowadays membership is numbered in the 100’s but back in the 1920’s the organisation was extremely influential and in some places, such as Indiana, it operated as a political party, dominating both local government and police forces.

So on May 17, 1924 when a group of 500 university students banded together to disrupt a KKK rally planned for South Bend, The Fighting Irish left the racist organisation with more than just black eyes and bloody noses: its reputation had been left in tatters and it would never recover from the beating it received that day from The Fighting Irish. That these students were Catholic, from the University of Notre Dame, added insult to injury. With no black population to attack, the Indiana branch of the KKK aimed its hatred towards ‘Papists’. At this time, stereotypes and ethnic slurs were openly expressed against immigrants, Catholics and the Irish. Notre Dame was largely populated by the children of ethnic Catholic immigrants, many of them Irish and the press often referred to Notre Dame sporting teams as ‘The Catholics’ , or worse, ‘The Papists’ or ‘The Dirty Irish’.

According to Tod Tucker, author of Notre Dame Vs. The Klan, a book on the South Bend riots that took place exactly 95 years ago, this was a rare instance of civilians standing up to the Ku Klux Klan.

“Especially in terms of resistance in kind. People faced off against the Klan, for sure, the military and the police did, but as far as I could find this was really a unique occurrence in American history. It was really a perfect storm in a lot of ways.”

The rally was organised for a Saturday morning, with Klansmen coming in from several points of the State. The students’ response was more spontaneous.

“It seemed to happen organically, it wasn’t planned. The students started disrupting the Klan’s activities, the parade, all they had going on. It was all kind of low-level violence and disruption”.

Klan members were used to breezing into towns and taking them over without any opposition so when they were confronted by hordes of angry young men proud of their Catholicism they were to have no idea of the violence that would be unleashed upon them that day. Klansmen were led into alleys where they were beaten black and blue and had their KKK uniforms stolen. Students from the school’s legendary football team formed wedges and ploughed into groups of Klan members like they were challenging for the state title. The remaining Klu Klux Klan members were chased to their local HQ, where students began pelting a large “flaming cross” of red light-bulbs with potatoes from a nearby grocery store.

A student from Notre Dame shows off his battle won KKK uniform

A couple of days later, the students rallied again to go in aid of a colleague who had supposedly been caught by Klansmen and was being beaten. They rushed into an ambush laid by the KKK with the help of the local police.

“This time the Klan was waiting for them, and it was a much more violent affair, with broken bones, swinging clubs, gunshots fired. Nobody was killed, but there was potential for real violence.”

Only the personal intervention of the University president, Father Walsh, kept the students from seeking their revenge. Broken bones aside, though, it was the KKK that suffered most lasting damage. A second parade was planned but never materialised. Its reputation irreparably damaged, the Klan never managed to control South Bend. Among students, it was the initial success that became school legend. Tucker explains at the time, however, the board were unimpressed by their students’ victory.

“They were horrified! The Irish Catholic organisations in America, especially, were constantly fighting this notion that the Irish were an uncivilised violent mob, so to have the students of Notre Dame involved in a riot was the worst possible scenario.”

There was a dressing down of those involved but no students were disciplined. A native of Indiana himself, Todd Tucker explains that the incident would come to symbolise a more lasting issue.

“It is emblematic of a painful divide between Notre Dame and the locals, the people of the area, which both parties have worked hard to try and fix. So it’s not something the university brags about, because it represents something that has been an ongoing problem in the university’s history.”

Only three years later Father Walsh would give permission for the unofficial nickname of the university American Football Team to become the name they would become famous worldwide for- The Fighting Irish.

(with thanks to The Irish Echo, Filipe D’Avillez of The Catholic Herald and Todd Tucker)

Notre Dame vs. The Klan. How the Fighting Irish Defied the KKK

by Todd Tucker

In 1924, two uniquely American institutions clashed in northern Indiana: the University of Notre Dame and the Ku Klux Klan. Todd Tucker’s book, published for the first time in paperback, Notre Dame vs. The Klan tells the shocking story of the three-day confrontation in the streets of South Bend, Indiana, that would change both institutions forever.

When the Ku Klux Klan announced plans to stage a parade and rally in South Bend, hoping to target college campuses for recruitment starting with Notre Dame, a large group of students defied their leaders’ pleas to ignore the Klan and remain on campus. Tucker dramatically recounts the events as only a proficient storyteller can. Readers will find themselves drawn into the fray of these tumultuous times.

Tucker structures this compelling tale around three individuals: D.C. Stephenson, the leader of the KKK in Indiana, the state with the largest Klan membership in America; Fr. Matthew Walsh, the young and charismatic president of the University of Notre Dame; and a composite of a Notre Dame student at the time, represented by Bill Foohey, who was an actual participant in the clash.

This book will appeal not only to Notre Dame fans, but to those interested in South Bend and Indiana history and the history of the Klu Klux Klan, including modern-day Klan violence.

THE IRISH SOLDIERS OF MEXICO IN FILM AND IN SONG

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

by Michael Hogan

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

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

Hanging of the San Patricios as painted by Sam Chamberlain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

Director: Lance Hool  Writer: Milton S. Gelman

Stars: Tom BerengerJoaquim de AlmeidaDaniela Romo

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

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