Category Archives: USA

1916’S BILL CHATS WITH LONDON CELTIC PUNKS ABOUT THE BANDS LATEST ALBUM

Upstate NY, Celtic rockers 1916 are an explosive concoction of modern Irish Folk, Punk and Psychobilly which makes 1916’s sound both highly original and at the same time traditional! A band that truly stands apart from other bands in the Celtic-Punk genre.

Our man Raymond Lloyd Ball caught up with lead singer and songwriter Bill Herring to talk about the band’s origins and their highly rated latest album Revolutions.

So here’s the story. 1916 is a band from Rochester, NY, about 45 minutes from where I am in Buffalo. We’ll touch on it, but this region of New York State was a place where, in the 1850s-1860s many Irish immigrants made their way from New York City or Boston. Obviously, the name “1916” needs no explanation. I was able to get an interview with Bill Herring, singer and guitarist in the band about the latest album “Revolutions” and the general gist of the scene as is.

Ray: First of all, we get the prominence of the name 1916, but what in the community in Rochester gave you guys both the incentive and the ability to put together the group and really make it work?

Bill: Well the “working” of 1916 is always something I consider to be a work in progress. Always evolving, changing with the times.

The name came about as a result of a healthy respect for Irish history and as a desire to get Americans interested in their own shared past. When we first started the group there were many many people who had no idea what “1916” stood for or what the significance of the name was. We always try to respect that history in our songs whenever we can-with undertones of revolution and forging your own path throughout the vibe of the music. That being said we do try to have some fun with it as well, with a songs like Ordinary Man and Khaleesi.

Rochester and most of central/western NY state is heavily steeped in a rich history of Irish culture. You’d be hard pressed to stumble through a post colonial churchyard west of Syracuse without finding Irish names on half the headstones. That rebel spirit has revealed itself in the existence of the Molly McGuires in the 1800’s and later on the Hibernians as time passed. I’m sure you even probably heard of the Fenian raids of post civil war Buffalo into British owned Canada in hopes of seizing a new Ireland. Now I’d be lying if I said we did name the band with all this in mind…but maybe it was all this history that led us to inevitably choose that name. I will say there is a quote from Dave King of Flogging Molly, where he talks on the Whiskey on a Sunday film they released several years ago. He mentions growing up in Ireland and seeing the young men of Dublin falling into a life of war with the IRA, and that there must be a higher form of communication to let people know what is happening over there. The only thought I had after hearing that was that-through intense, super fun music, you could engage people enough to get them interested in learning about this past…and how it affects the present day situation between Ireland and the USA.

Ray: Awesome answer, I’m AOH Myself.

Bill: As am I…

The Ancient Order of Hibernians is an Irish/Catholic fraternal group that does everything from charitable work to commemorations of things such, as Bill mentioned, the Fenian Raids from Buffalo to then British Canada. As a member from here, we hold an annual ceremony to the raids and to those who gave their lives for the cause of Irish independence.

Ray: So, given that history, how do you feel it’s important to incorporate modern music in a way that’s different then the traditional sessions you here at every other pub?  I know you incorporate modern instrumentation while still harkening to topics that are either old in premise, modern, or similar (I’m thinking of a man you don’t meet everyday) and make it fresh?

Bill: Yes I think it’s important, at least for 1916, to provide a bridge between Irish traditional music and American folk/rock music. Even early county music has its roots steeped in Irish and Scottish music. That’s really the sound we’re going for. An American band that pays tribute to our immigrant cultural heritage.

Ray: Lastly, in terms of Revolutions, that came out just at the end of last year if I’m not mistaken. How on earth did you cut a record, and a good one at that, during the pandemic?  How how did that effect the process 1916 has either writing or recording?  Obviously “When We Reopen” is directly about it, but did anything else about the pandemic change the record?

Bill: The record wasn’t really about the pandemic. We actually wrote all of those songs (except for When we Reopen) well before any of this craziness ever happened. If anything there was a palpable vibe that I felt during the writing of those songs that you could feel out on the streets. People were edgy…combative. It felt like something bad was about to happen. The song that most mirrors that I think is The Falling. I wanted to write a song about my observations on the devolution of humanity in the face of our own technological achievements. Then I saw how bad things really could get the following year with the plague and the riots.
We recorded that record, mostly, with Bob Schmidt – (formerly of Flogging Molly) at the engineers booth along with our trusted friend Doug White, owner of Watchmen Studios in Lockport NY.
Having missed two consecutive St Patrick’s Days now, we are still trying to save up enough money to release the album on disc. I think people don’t realize how hard the shutdowns were on bands like ours. It was a tough tough time and I hope this bullshit is over soon.

Ray: That said, “Revolutions” is a solid record. I’ve been listening to it on and off for some time now. It’s got the classic 1916 vibe, upright bass, classic (though I’m definitely biased) Gretsch guitars, and a handful of traditional instruments with a solid kit. Is it reinventing the wheel?  No. And better for it. We’ve all come a long way since The Pogues and earlier, more brash bagpipes-over-Minor Threat-style Celtic Punk. And there have been a number of bigger and smaller acts that have definitely left their mark upon the scene. They take some rockabilly, some punk, and a lot of Celt to make a fine Irish/American blend. Cheers to the guy from down the I-90.

Buy Revolutions  Amazon

Contact 1916  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  Bandcamp  YouTube

Thanks to Raymond Lloyd Ball. He has already featured on these pages as the driving force behind The Fighting 69th from Buffalo. The review of his 2-volume set of Dropkick Murphys covers was one of the most viewed of that year. One of the most prolific and diverse artists in the Celtic-Punk scene we are proud to have Raymond on board the London Celtic Punks team. Writer, artist, musician he is a credit to the American-Irish community and you can find a wealth of his material available at his Bandcamp site.

During the lockdown 1916 played several full concert live streams, as well as some great solo performances from Bill himself. Here’s just under two hours of 1916 from this years St. Patrick’s Day live stream performance. I can barely remember it through a fog of stouts and ales though I know I must have woke the neighbours! The music starts at nineteen minutes.

IT’S A NEW FLOGGING MOLLY SONG !

A band that need no introduction! 

FLOGGING MOLLY

We spotted a new song that appeared on You Tube a couple of days ago. Flogging Molly are one of the two BIG Celtic-Punk bands but do spend a lot of time in the Dropkick’s shadow due mainly to how busy the Murphys keep themselves. So it is that when we get a morsel we do tend to get over excited about it. Maybe that’s the same reason why Beth Schmit has labelled it ‘Coffee Boy’ rather than ‘Croppy Boy’! Only joking Beth thanks for uploading.

No other information on where / when it was recorded but they are currently on a co-headline tour in the States with the Violent Femmes so it must have been on one of them. Maybe someone can confirm?

The phrase ‘Croppy Boy’ dates back to the late 1700’s and the fashion at the time among the aristocracy was to wear powdered wigs (think series 3 of Blackadder) and revolutionaries in Ireland followed the lead of their friends in France by shunning these wigs. These young men cropped their hair instead and were often found to be associated with the patriotic Society of United Irishmen. Because of this they were often picked up by the British authorities for interrogation. This interrogation was more akin to torture as the use of flogging, picketing and half-hanging was commonplace . As was the horrific use of pitchcapping, or An Caip Bháis in Irish, which was the act of pouring hot tar into a paper cap which was then placed onto the suspect’s head, let cool and then ripped off taking with it skin and tissue. This was used specifically against the Croppies but they retaliated by cropping the hair of their enemies making it harder to identify people and their sympathies.

EP REVIEW: HEATHEN APOSTLES – ‘Bloodgrass Vol. 3’ (2021)

The Los Angeles-based dark roots and gothic country band Heathen Apostles release their third volume collection of songs at once as timely as they are timeless.

Imagine bands doing to Country / Bluegrass music what the bands we all love doing to Celtic music? Add on a bit of Goth and you’ve got the Heathen Apostles. A LA based band featuring ex-members of Radio Noir (Mather Louth), The Cramps (Chopper Franklin), Kings of Nuthin’ (Thomas Lorioux), and Christian Death (Stevyn Grey) in its ranks. They have been on these pages before but not for a in-depth review Mather, of course, was recently on these pages as co-vocalist on the new album from fellow ‘Doom-billy’ merchants The Phantom Of The Black Hills. An album that still holds the #1 spot in my heart of all 2021 releases. Though she had recorded with the Phantom before this time her input was a lot more than just a great voice with her assisting with writing and lyrics.

Sadly this review is going to be published after their tour of mainland Europe comes to an end so any new fans who may have had the chance will have missed them. Their tour of Europe was cancelled twice times as the music industry ground to a stop because of the Covid pandemic but it did mean the Heathen Apostles were gifted time. Time that they were not expecting due to their busy schedules and while some bands were happy to rest upon their laurels they channeled the turbulent year’s events and its complex emotions into their music. It was only last month that they released a 3-track EP as featured in Lorin Morgan-Richards Western animated series The Goodbye Family, a fictional family of undertakers based on a comic book. The show is available on You Tube and features the Heathens music throughout.

The third volume of Bloodgrass follows on from one and two released in 2017 and 2018 respectively and Bloodgrass #3 is a worthy follow up to the two previous volumes both available on the bands Bandcamp (link below).

So Volume three arrives and begins with ‘Bad Patch’ and continues their dark interpretation of Bluegrass, Country and Blues. Fiddle, banjo and mandolin accompany Mather’s beautiful voice as she sings of the tragedy of the 1930s Dust Bowl. A series of severe dust storms that greatly damaged the ecology of mid-west American prairies during the 1930’s. Besides the great lyrics the song is musically a bit more ‘radio friendly’ Heathen Apostles while ‘Careful What You Pray For’ is more the dark Gothic-Americana they are known for. The song tells of the danger of religious dogma and cements Mather as having one of the best voices in alternative music… or just music. ‘Black Hawk’ was the lead single for the EP and I’ll not pretend to have any idea what the lyrics are about except it’s a a tale of transformation by shedding the darkness in order to welcome in the light.

Yeah that is from the press release as if you didn’t know but be sure to check out the video as along with their label-mates The Phantom Of the Black Hills their videos tell entire stories and are as far from our usual fare as you can get. Despite being closely linked in many ways to the Phantom the Heathen Apostles have a very definite and original sound. There is no one else who resembles them making it hard to review them as it’s so original. Rooted in the definition of ‘Folk’ they mangle up several genres while adding much to the final sound. ‘Demi Monde’ is a slow song dominated by all the usual elements and shrouded in occult imagery paying homage to the fires of Beltane. ‘Tall Rider’ brings down the curtain on the EP on a positive note. I mean even the Sisters of Mercy were sometimes upbeat (ish!). Catchy as hell and a reminder of the possibility to heal through love. Great fiddle throughout that does lead a lot of the time but without dominating thanks in no small part to the excellent production of master producer Chopper Franklin.

The EP may only be five songs long but it’s length at almost twenty minutes in is almost as much as some albums we hear. Their recent tour took in mainly Germany (the Germans are good at spotting American bands) but I can’t see how this band with a bit of luck and the right promotion it won’t be long before their a name on everybody’s lips and they’ll be back touring in your country too.

(You can stream or download Bloodgrass Vol. 3 on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Bloodgrass Vol. 3  Bandcamp

Contact Heathen Apostles  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

EP REVIEW: SHADOWS OF BOSTON – ‘Demo’ (2021)

FREE DOWNLOAD!!

Amid the ashes of the Boston music scene burns an ember. A glowing promise of the raging fires that used to burn. The keepers of the flame are SHADOWS OF BOSTON.

A new Celtic Street Punk band band formed out of ex-members of Boston Punk bands Dropkick Murphys, Toxic Narcotic and The Blue Bloods. Raymond Lloyd Ball was among the first to hear the Shadows Of Boston debut release, a 4 track EP that has already set the Celtic-Punk scene alight, and here lets us know what all the fuss is about.

Did anyone believe a band out of Boston would be playing a mix of rock, punk, folk, and Celtic music? Of course you do. We all know and love the Murphy’s. And I’ll happily buy their records, merch, etc. because they’re something I grew up loving and shaped my musical trajectory.

I read in a review of the last album that it was “dad rock”. And it’s true. We can’t all be 20-something or younger pisspots forever.

For me, it’s a bittersweet pill to swallow, but that’s for another day. Fast forward to August 2021. I caught some random post that there was a new group coming out of Boston with ex-DKM piper “Scruffy” Wallace.

Shadows Of Boston left to right: Eric – Bass * Benny – Accordion, Banjo, Harp (yes feckiing harp!!!, Bagpipes * Tim – Drums, Bagpipes * Tony – Vocals, Guitar * Al – Lead Guitar, Vocals * Herb – Mandolin, Guitar, Bagpipes *   Scruffy – Vocals, Whistles, Bagpipes *

I didn’t pay a whole ton of attention at the time. Much like the Street Dogs and the Walker Roaders, I didn’t want to think of them as a cool offshoot of DKM.

While each of said groups I love, my skepticism is always there. How can we really keep reinventing the wheel? Frankly we can’t. In the words of the McKenzies- “It’s all been done before”. But that sure as hell doesn’t mean we can’t revisit it.

Enter “Shadow of Boston”. They released a four track demo EP just days ago. Skeptic or not, the rumblings of Celtic punk out of Boston was enough to make me get a copy.

I was floored. Hard. Brash. Unrefined. In-your-face punk music with a Celtic twist. To those of us who still listen to “Sing Loud, Sing Proud” or “Do or Die”, or at least spent our youth doing so-this album is for you.

Part of the beauty of it is it’s format. It’s not squeaky-clean overproduced. It’s rough around the edges. I would love to delve into lyrics and styles but I can’t. And that is awesome. Other than the titles, I can’t make most of it out. And unless you google them, I can’t make a damn word out of a DKM record until “The Gangs all Here”. We’re not reinventing the wheel here. But to old, curmudgeonly bastards who have heard not only the Murphy’s, but important bands from the late-90s / early-00s Celtic punk-download a copy of this. It’s a diamond in the rough of a million bands playing the same thing. Not to knock anyone-and I’ve already talked about that other Boston Celtic band more than I wanted. But for those who remember Far From Finished or Righteous Jams – older Boston punk bands that didn’t make it past an album or two. This record is for you. Forget the connection with that other band. Yeah, ex members, great. But for everyone who’s complained over the groups of this era losing their edge – shut up and download the record. It’s truly a breath of fresh air you didn’t even realize you needed.

(Download or stream the Shadows Of Boston EP from the Bandcamp player below) 

SOB Demo  on all platforms!! ..Spotify, itunes Tidal…etc.etc but free on Bandcamp

Contact Shadows Of Boston  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

Scruffy and Benny sat down with Mistress Carrie and did The Mistress Carrie Podcast at the end of 2020. Scruffy spoke of his time in The Dropkick Murphys, touring the world, learning the bagpipes and Punk-Rock, while they both talked about their time deployed in combat (would love to hear what they think of the current situation!), what makes Boston the city that it is and all things Shadows Of Boston.
*
Thanks to Raymond Lloyd Ball for the great review. He has already featured on these pages as the driving force behind The Fighting 69th from Buffalo. The review of his 2-volume set of Dropkick Murphys covers was one of the most viewed of the year. One of the most prolific and diverse artists in the Celtic-Punk scene we are proud to have Raymond on board the London Celtic Punks team. Writer, artist, musician he is a credit to the American-Irish community and you can find a wealth of his material available at his Bandcamp site .

ALBUM REVIEW: DIE STROMMS – ‘Vinum, Et Domina Canticum’ (2021)

There’s a new sound rumbling out of the ‘red dirt’ countryside on the third album from North Texans Die Strömms. A winning combination of Celtic-Folk, Western, Bluegrass, Punk with loud guitars, mandolins, banjos and fiddles they have created a sound they call ‘Southern Celtic Cow Punk’.

The Ramones meets Willie Nelson by way of Celtic-Folk!

Amazingly this is the third Celtic-Punk album we have reviewed from the state of Texas in just the last few months. Both The Real McCoys and The Dead Rabbits released albums around St. Patrick’s Day to great acclaim and now Die Strömms join them as another contender for album of the year. The north Texan outfit with the least Celtic-Punk name in Celtic-Punk celebrate the release of their third album of what they call ‘Southern Celtic Cow Punk’. Cowpunk to those who don’t know is to Country music what Celtic-Punk is to traditional Celtic Folk. Their was instant crossover with many of the bands labelled ‘cowpunk’ playing with The Pogues and The Men They Couldn’t Hang in the London clubs back in the earliest days of Celtic-Punk. These bands rubbed off each other and incorporated each others sound to a great degree. There’s a brilliant article on the history of the genre, ‘A Brief Y’Alternative History’ , on Pop Matters written by a fan.

Formed in Dallas, Texas in 2015 by Kane Kelly using the alias ‘Killian Strömm’ Die Strömms {pronounced die stromz) have independently released two albums (Der Aufstig von Texas Keltishes Kuhpunk / Rise of Crazy Southern Cowpunk in 2017 and Viva el Dia de los Muertos in 2018. Like most active bands plans were waylaid with the arrival of the pandemic and so it was that Vinum, Et Domina Canticum / Southern Summer Anthem was somewhat delayed after it’s initial launch on Soundcloud.

The album kicks off with ‘Bleeding Hearts’ and not a million miles away from recent favourites Phantom Of The Black Hills. Chugging guitar and Tex-Mex melodies along with clear yet forceful vocals give the album a craicing start. ‘Whiskey Ship Down’ continues in the same vein but with much more a Celtic Hoedown going on. ‘Drunkard’s Progress’ is one of the most memorable songs here with a simple yet effective tune and tongue in cheek lyrics celebrating the likes of heroes like nurses, teachers and bar-tenders. The music again floats the line between Celtic and Country and is incredibly catchy and doesn’t take itself too seriously but the drinking songs here are definitely a notch above the drink, fight, fall over kind we usually hear. The production is perfect and it helps that the vocals of lead singer Killian Strömm are absolutely perfect too. Clear and distinctive their is no need for a lyric sheet for this album as even on the more raucous songs its all very easy to understand and as I’ve hinted this is intelligent Celtic-Punk with a good dose of black humour. ‘Absinthe & Gin’ is a album highlight with banjo and mandolin put to extremely good use. ‘Makes Them Money’ takes aim at the wealthy but again done with great humour and a great song that drops the folkier influences and still works well and doesn’t sound out of place either, before the album title track next and the first song to be released from the album  ‘Southern Summer Anthem’. The fiddle is back and pure Rock’n’Roll Celt style.

‘Glass Of Beer’ is pure country. Simple and again effective despite lasting only ninety odd seconds before we go dashing headfirst into the albums most Celtic number the brilliant ‘Swagger’s Tale Jam’ based on the famous ‘Swallowtail Jig’ dating back it is thought to the mid-nineteenth century. One of the most distinctive and well known Irish instrumental tunes guest fiddler Koi Anunta does a incredible job with a nice rockin’ backing. There’s certainly plenty of talent here and originality too as they follow this with another trio of ‘southern-rock’ number type numbers ‘Where Are The Songs’ (with a utterly brilliant intro), ‘Greater Life Academy’ and ‘Speak No Lies’. Another famous Irish trad tune is utilised for ‘The Alchemist’ and almost sees the album out in great style with another high class drinking song before the whole thing comes to an end with the standout track ‘A.O.T.’. Catchy is just not the word trust me!!!!

I’m a sucker for a bit of trad Country (even the embarrasing stuff!) so this album is right up my street and even when the songs lean more towards rock or country you still hear the Celtic influences. Seriously not a single weak tune on this album and I have to admit that on face value I wasn’t really expecting anything much but what we got instead is one of 2021’s best albums.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/artist/6By6FMJQjTrSJJNMgJ6Wwk

Buy Vinum, Et Domina Canticum  Vinyl/CD FromTheBand  Download Here

Contact Die Strömms  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: SETH MARTIN – ‘Through Dark Valleys’ (2021)

Hear the new album from Seth Martin, Oregon born singer/songwriter from Oregon living in South Korea. T.C. Costello reviews his latest album, Through Dark Valleys, and discovers his music has deep roots in the American Folk tradition as well as strong political convictions.

During these unprecedented new-normal and blah blah blah times, artists across the globe have been forced to adapt, improvise, and learn to create in new ways. While I’ve dealt with said times by entering a period of unprecedented unproductivity, other artists have embraced the new normal and have turned to the internet. Live streams have been ubiquitous across social media these last 12 months, often times with stylish masks and links to fundraisers.

But Seoul-based folklorist and singer-songwriter Seth Martin, with his reputation for collaborative efforts bringing together various artists and traditions from around the world, was faced with a unique challenge. How was he to collaborate at a time when social interaction was to be kept, by law, to a minimum? In the end, despite his fairly pronounced luddite sensibilities and approaches to performing and recording, turned to the internet. The result was an album that never would have happened, had it not been such an unprecedented, blah blah blah, nightmare of a year.

“Through Dark Valleys,” says Seth, “is both part of a half-decade long project and a fairly sudden decision to finish an album, however unconventionally, that resulted in an unusual and explosive collaborative final recording process.”

A part of this “Mountain Trilogy,” ¨Through Dark Valleys” is built around a set of studio performances from 2015-2016 in Portland, Oregon, with Seth and his longtime producer and collaborator David Fuller, “as well as “a handful of live, lo-fi phone or camera recordings I had made in recent years here in Korea,” Seth adds.

Different versions of the album had been in the works for years, but circumstances kept getting in the way of its completion. Finally the needed spark came unexpectedly last winter. The album would not have happened without the sudden chance to perform with and get inspired by well-known Korean folk rocker Hahn Dae Soo, one of Seth’s musical heroes. Hahn was not part of the album, but his influence is largely what made its completion possible.

Hahn Dae Soo was so kind, hilarious, and fun to work with, and the experience of joining him for a recording session, a show, and several meals and times of sharing stories deeply inspired me. He only had a few weeks to make a full album, and his main concert in Korea to support the album–which he claims, sadly, is his “last”–had to be switched from in-person to online due to Corona regulations.

But instead of disappointment, writes Seth, Hahn Dae Soo “used his influence to simultaneously include and encourage a large group of musicians in his project,” and to preach “caution, cooperation and solidarity in efforts to respect mask and group regulations, to keep one another safe during this pandemic.”

Seth remembers his time with Hahn as “fresh water to my pandemic-depressed soul,” and after the collaboration, he suddenly felt that it was not only possible, but that winter 2020, with all its isolation and limits for artists, was the perfect time to finish the album. In early December, he contacted violinist Zoe Youngmi Blank, producer David Fuller, and his younger brother and fellow artist Joel Martin, with hopes of finishing the process by Christmas.

All agreed to take a shot at building and completing the album together, with plans of a final project ready to share by Christmas. Zoe, who contributed backing vocals and violin from her home in Seoul, called it the “most fulfilling remote collaboration (she’s) been a part of”:

Due to the Corona music hiatus, it was a relief to finally play music together, though it being remote. Actually it being remote lead to a unique synergy between Seth, David Fuller and Joel Martin that surprised me. The project existed somewhere beyond space and time. We, all spread across the planet, could meet in this nonphysical recording space… online. In folk tradition, we echoed past generations’ struggles and strengths, yet grounded ourselves to modern day relevance present in Seth’s lyrics.”

Joel, who added guitar and vocals mostly from his homemade studio in the hills of small-town Toledo, Washington–his and Seth’s hometown–where he had been spending the fall and winter in isolation with his parents, said he is “awestruck at how spectacular a job… David Fuller did with the messy pile of tracks he got from all of us.”

Seth describes the process as “a flurry of experimentation and track sharing between myself, David, Joel, and Zoe–two of us in Korea, two in the US, all isolated from each other.”

This rag-tag and somewhat intentionally haphazard, free-flowing collaboration resulted in a low-fi, psychedelic album with atmospheric and at times disconcerting arrangements, and the choice of songs were frankly a perfect reflection for such a year.

Heavy themes aside, the album starts with a simple fiddle-and-banjo tune with that one can easily whistle or hum along to, and indeed, the cast of the album joins in with humming and whistle along.
Next comes one of the highlights of the album, the stream-of-consciousness “April 1st (Rusty Roads)”.

The base track was Martin performing the ten-minute song for the first time ever into his phone, “So parts of it were inspired and kind of made up on the spot, as I read the paper in front of me in my room and also improvised as felt right in the moment.” Martin adds, “we embraced rather than cleaned up the messiness, and real grief and wobbliness in the recording.”

Seth follows this with an interpretation of Mother, Sister, a poem by Kim So-Wol, a Korean poet under Japanese colonisation. Providing lead vocals on Mother, Sister is Gwon Jaehyoung, a Korean folk musician and leader of SMB mountain school. Martin joins him, and Seoul singer-songwriter eeho adds some wonderful background vocals. Next comes “Don’t Forget It,” which Seth wrote in 2014 when he was hiking in Korea, falling in love with Lee Nan Young, now his wife, and decided to move to Korea. The track begins with a familiar refrain from a classic children’s song about a bear that went over a mountain, but these lines are soaked in a current and heavy feeling of loneliness fitting the times we are in, and carry added significance given the mountain symbolism and themes that run through the project. There is also the Korean symbolism of bears and mountains being referenced here, adding to the beauty and intertwined, heavy history in the song, personally, and with Korea-US relations generally. As the song winds and rambles down its path, it features some truly impressive violin work from Zoe that really adds unexpected rhythms and several climaxes to the song.

Then, after nearly ten minutes of singing about the importance of walking the long and hard roads together and promising not to let go of love when life is at its loneliest and hardest, we are suddenly brought to another scene of grief and pain. Track 6 features the traditional American spiritual ¨Climbing High Mountains,¨ which is quite the pertinent hymn for 2020.

“I’ve been climbing high mountains trying to get home.
I’ve been wading deep waters trying to get home.
I’ve been burying my loved ones trying to get home.
I’ve been climbing high mountains trying to get home.”

Musically, this a slow build featuring multilayered violin tracks by Zoe, and a chorus of background singers from either side of the Pacific Ocean, that is too time consuming, if not impossible to identify by name.
In Korea, Seth recruited Yamagata Tweakster, Eeeho, Choi Sung-Hee, and No Soon Cheon, about half of whom I know, and on the US’ West Coast, David recruited close family and friends, Nicholas Von Pless, Sarah Fuller, Maya Fuller, Jonathan Behr, and Elizabeth Hadley -“All from his Corona “pod,” Seth adds.” Further, students from SMB mountain school as well as friends at an ant-gentrification vigil added background vocals throughout the album, if not this song specifically.
Next stop is America in the 1860s with Civil War ballad “Going Across the Mountain,” popularised by Frank Proffitt, who claimed it was written by a family member from South who crossed the mountains “to give (President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis’) men a little of my rifle ball.”

Another, slow build, it starts with a spacey intro of the well known Korean folk song, Doraji, and ends up with a bit of a disco rhythm courtesy of Joel Martin and David Fuller on bass and percussion. The effect is a more than a bit disconcerting, particularly with the different backup vocalists chiming in and cutting out seemingly at random. Even more disconcerting is that the song descends into another controlled-chaos remix of field recording of a Korean grandmother’s singing a protest tune called “Little Giant”

It is a mixture of David’s experimental mixing, and banjo chiming alongside a field recording of a Korean grandmother singing a satirical tune in protest of a gentrification project in (A Seoul neighbourhood), in which a group of newtown apartment folks pressured the local government to bulldoze her small diner along with many other streetside shops, to “improve” and “widen” and make more safe a street between an outdoor market and a school. The grandmother is calling out the apartment collective defiantly. Her shop had been a popular stop for locals for around 3 decades, and was called “Little Giant.”

Next is the only track on the album that Seth had absolutely no part in. It’s a sound collage put together almost entirely by David Fuller in his Portland studio–the central headquarters and final destination of everyone’s individual recordings done in isolation across Korea and the States. Using passages from the dark and often caustic verses of “45 Voices: Overheard in an American Graveyard,” Seth’s book of poems reflecting on the first 100 days of the Trump regime, written as a sort of continuation or companion piece to the first Mountain album-t proves very zeitgestiy with delivery of lines like:

“Of course not all immigrants are rapists and drug dealers, but don’t you think the stereotypes for a reason?¨Seth adds, “Fuller’s own voice is featured but in a deeply distorted fashion, and he also included several other voices of album collaborators, each taking on various disturbing Americana “characters” as they were depicted in the book. In creating this sound collage, Fuller creatively included the poetry book follow-up to This Mountain into Through Dark Valleys, not only linking it to both albums, but also endowing sections of it with its own sound, and thus cleverly recasting it as a musical work itself.” Regarding the experimental sounds in the background, Martin adds, “I couldn’t tell you all the technical weird stuff David did in that track exactly, but I love it, and I am glad it is there.”

Next, the crew of the album plays Martin’s “The Ballad of Eric Garner,” Set to the tune of the American work song “900 Miles,” the song is a tribute to Eric Garner,” famously murdered by police in New York City, but also serves as a statement on the realities of current systemic racism and police brutality across the States.

“Out in famous New York City
Famous for its lack of pity
That’s where a man named Eric Garner used to live
He was big and Black and proud
Had friends and family all around
And despite so many hassles with police
Garner’s neighbors knew him as a man of peace“

A very raw recording, you can hear Martin’s chair squeaking as he sings of Garner’s last day on earth, and his ensemble delivers some particularly psychedelic instrumentation with producer David fuller adding keyboards, trumpet and clarinet.

Another experimental track, “Ferry Boat and Passenger & smoke break during an air raid drill” follows.

The lyrics come from Buddhist Korean Independence activist Manhae’s famous poem, and Martin’s wife, Lee Nan Young, reads the poem in Korean:

“I am the boat that carried you
across the river…
You pressed your dirty feet
against my sides,
while I kept you safe and dry.
When you reached the other side
and began to walk away,
you did not look back.
Every day,
every day,
I am still here
waiting for you to return…”

Martin’s original, “Grown up Soul (These Dark Valleys)” proves to be a perfect ending to the album, once again with a raw, but multilayered psychedelic sound, Seth sings:

“I’ve been walking these dark valleys
trying to find a place called home
And everywhere I laid my head
I felt so cold and all alone”

(You can stream or download Through Dark Valleys at the Bandcamp link below)

Buy Through Dark Valleys  Bandcamp

Contact Seth Martin  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

Thanks to TC for the review. TC is currently shacked up in Barcelona and playing the odd gig or two there so give him a nudge over at his FB page to find out where and check out our review of his last album The Blackbird to hear more from him.

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

ALBUM REVIEW: DROPKICK MURPHYS – ‘Turn Up The Dial’ (2021)

Now the dust has settled and everyone else has had a go and published their reviews of the latest Dropkick Murphys album ‘Turn Up The Dial’ it is our turn. We see our role here as to promote the little known bands in the Celtic-Punk scene but we have always got time for the ‘big-hitters’ too. We are pleased to have guest reviewer Rory Quinn of New York-Irish-Celtic-Punk band The Templars Of Doom to give us a unique insight of the album from a American-Irish perspective. 

The Bastion Bhoys of Boston do it again!

After a year like 2020 you have two options for your fans: wallow in the suffering, or present the world a reprieve. Dropkick Murphys have (wisely I feel) opted for the latter. Not particularly a surprise from a band that spent the pandemic raising money for others and offering live-streamed performances to keep people entertained. So before you listen you have to ask yourself? Am I ready to say “forget the nonsense, let’s crank the music!”

Anyway, let’s dive in!

Arrangement wise this album has hooks and riffs for days between the multiple instrumental melodies to the gang vocal chant of chorus’s urging you to sing along before you’ve even finished the first listen! This band is tight, the parts fleshed out, the vocals good and snarky. Really what more could you want from classic Celtic-punk?

The Dropkick Murphy’s have had the means to create sonically fantastic worlds on record for a while now and ‘Turn Up That Dial’ is no exception. Every facet is crystal clear from the roar of the guitars to the lightest folk instruments. What really draws me in is their ability to match the intensity of their legendary live performances. At points I completely lost track of the fact I was listening home alone. I would have sworn I was in the middle of a crowd cheerfully chanting as I picked up the lyric!

Speaking of lyrics DKM are known for a combination of comedic and heartfelt songs with ’Turn Up That Dial’ continuing that tradition. You’ve got classic self deprecating “Middle Finger” vs the longing/sorrow of “I Wish You Were Here.” And of course, the occasional grateful power song as found with the albums namesake. Without explaining every song to you dear reader I believe you’ll get the idea, it’s the DKM, they have a style they love and we love ‘em for it!

We are blessed to be living in an age where the internet allows access to Celtic-Punk from throughout the globe. It’s easy to forget that not long ago this wasn’t so. My first experience with Dropkick Murphys came in the late 90’s. A cousin of mine HAD to show me this new record he got, one that combined Punk with our Irish heritage. I didn’t believe it until I heard it, and my life changed from the first riff. Being Irish was something that (as an American) was celebrated by my family and not much else. Sure the St. Patrick’s Day parade existed but it seemed more an excuse to party than to honor heritage. To hear in that music a shared sense of community opened my eyes to a world in which I firmly belonged, an understanding of family that exists from afar. Every year I hear more people dismiss DKM, maybe because they’re the easy target or because they’ve survived long enough to suffer “It’s not as good as their old stuff” syndrome. My retort is NONE OF THAT MATTERS. Love ‘em or hate them Dropkick Murphy’s opened the door for Celtic-Punk and a celebration of Irish culture all the world over, and for that I am eternally grateful. 

If you’re a Celtic-Punk fan lend this album your ear. It’s a prime example of what the DKM have been about for a while, story songs to improve your life from the sheer enjoyment of it all. This collection of 11 songs will have you moving, laughing, forgetting your problems, and most importantly turning up that dial!

Dropkick Murphys  WebSite  Facebook  Store

Now seems the perfect time to mention the #1 Dropkick Murphys group on Facebook. Ran by fans for fans. Simply click the link and join up and join in the Murphys related fun.

Dropkick Murphys – Fan Page

Thanks to Rory for the great review. The Templars Of Doom are soon to begin the recording of their third album but you can listen for free to both their previous albums at the link below.

https://templarsofdoom.bandcamp.com/

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.
*

(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)
*
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

ALBUM REVIEW: THE REAL McCOYS – ‘Outlive Death’ (2021)

Folk Drunk Folk Punk!

Third album from Texan Celtic-Punk band The Real McCoys. Combining Folk-Punk with Celtic influences for a rowdy bar or any revolution-ready extravaganza!

Funny how things work out and just a couple of weeks after reviewing an album from Houston band The Dead Rabbits comes another album from the same city. The Real McCoys have been together since 2015 when Josh left The Dead Rabbits with a notebook of songs he had written and began looking for a band to record them. Roping in Tommy on drums and a workmate on bass things soon led to the release of debut album Folk Drunk, coming out in May, 2016 and was fifteen original songs dedicated to the memory of Glen Campbell. After recording they went on a short tour and on return their bassist  would later give them the ‘Irish goodbye’ (look it up if you’re not American!). A friend Jeremy took his place and they wemt on to record Barfly in 2017, a collection of songs written from Josh’s time as a hopeful drinker. Listening to all kinds of stories and watching people’s lives unfold in wild ways sitting at the same old hole in the wall every night. Again it was all original songs and the twelve songs whizz by in under twenty-five minutes. Definitly on the jokier side of things both albums are both a fun ride through Celtic-Folk-Punk and are higly recommended.

Somehow they have only featured on these pages with only the briefest of mentions. A mystery to me personally as I’m actually a big fan of The Real McCoys and have all their releases. Anyway we got here in the end and nows a good a time as any to wax lyrically about this class band. With the Covid lockdowns musicians have suffered imeasurably but Josh has used the time wisely despite not being able to practise and gone back to his DIY Folk-Punk roots and recorded the album pretty much by himself and that is about as DIY as it can possibly get!

So now onto the present day and whats the score with The Real McCoys here in 2021. Well I was really suprised that Outlive Death just sort of appeared. One day just popping up on my Bandcamp feed, somewhere I very rarely check, It certainly deserved more than its low key arrival and hopefully this will review will go a tiny way to rectifying that. The album kicks off with ‘We All Fall Down’ and the album is pretty much sign posted from this one song. Fast, catchy, clever and over in just over 100 seconds. The kind of song yoy’d love to go on a lot longer but perfect for some of us to dance around to before we get too tired!! Josh has got a distinctive voice that really suits this style (and that accent is pretty damn cool as well!) and writes a real good tune as well as managing to tell quite a story too. ‘True Punx Don’t Need Kidneys’ is lashed with the kind of humour that The Real McCoys are famous for and even lasts three minutes plus!

The title track is up next and features Marissa Sendejas of anarcho-folkies Days N Daze and Asa Martin on baritone guitar. It’s a slow moving song that Josh wrote about the passing of his Dad when he was only 21.

“My Dad passed away from cancer when I was 21, it was a really crazy point In my life that was the source of my excessive drinking in my barfly days. Helping my mother clean her house over quarantine she was throwing some books so I had a look. I pulled out The Road by Cormac McCarthy and when I opened it up to start reading a few days later on the first page in my dad’s handwriting was “to Micah (my brother) love Dad, 2009” (a year before he passed). All through the book were little notes written to him of various little things… like my Dad was passng me wisdom from the grave..it was beautiful. And it got me thinking about how even those passed can speak to us sometimes in various ways. The Road is about a father who’s dying and trying to teach his young son how to survive in a post apocalyptic world. It culminates in him passing away and his son going on to use what he’s learned … It was very very very fitting. Uncanny. It was like all that I went through in the 11 years since he died kinda resolved in part from my father after the fact from the grave…it was beautiful. And ‘Outlive Death’ just came spewing out as a result.”

An emotional ballad and one that a loving son should be very proud of. The kind of song that would make even the stoniest face shed a tear. ‘Barfly’ is one of a handful of songs here that was originally planned to make the debut album but didn’t make the cut. Reworked and partly rewritten again managing to be both catchy and tell a real story of someones life. ‘Sonder’ is 90 seconds long but seems so much longer. Great use of the mandolin here and it certainly has a sound of the full band.

‘LADADA Whiskey’ is the catchiest song here with a lovely tune and a beat to slap your thigh red raw too. Again a nice wee short number we love both our serious songs and pour drinking/fighting songs here we are against all that Folk snobbery and The Real McCoys have the perfect blend of both.  ‘Stingers’ again  comes with some furious strumming and I’ve only just realised this album is purely acoustic. ‘You’ll Be Fine’ is the most Celtic-ee number here and they slow it down but not too much. My favourite track of the album with great lyrics and a great sound. It’s worth saying at this point that the whole albums production is perfect which leads us nicely to the final track and ‘Cold Moon’ brings down with another catchy number packed full of meaning and even manages to incorporate a Poguesy ‘See You In Hell’ style Western vibe.

All three of the Real McCoys albums are available for free as a ‘name your price’ download but there is aso an option to leave some money and while I am sure Josh don’t mind we would like him to have a beer of two out of it so feel free to leave something… or not. I would recommend grabbing all three at once and we give you the London Celtic Punks promise that you’ll not be disappointed. A sort of seal of approval if you like! Outlive Death flies past in only twenty-two minutes but it is time well spent with someone with a lot of talent that I feel has lot more in him once things return to normal.

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

Download Outlive Death  Bandcamp

Contact The Real McCoys  Facebook  YouTube

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

*

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!

BEANNACHTAÍ NA FÉILE PÁDRAIG ORAIBH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EP REVIEW: SEAN TOBIN AND THE BOARDWALK FIRE- ‘St. Patrick’s Day Forever’ (2021)

Influenced by local hero Springsteen and countless other country troubadours, Sean Tobin grew up in the New Jersey bar scene and owes his high-energy performances to his time spent busking on the streets of Galway. With a handful of releases behind him his excellent new EP celebrates his Irish roots and St. Patrick’s Day.

Born and raised on the New Jersey shore, Sean Tobin was influenced by Folk-song troubadours like Guy Clark, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, as well as high-energy rockers like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger and Tom Petty. Self-taught and trained by the New Jersey bar scene, Tobin owes much to his time spent busking on the streets of Galway, Ireland throughout 2015 and 2017. 
 After graduating college in 2017 and uncertain of which direction to take he undertook the El Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile trail through Spain, with his guitar tied to his pack. Upon completion, the future became obvious and on returning to New Jersey he worked hard to fund his music. He released his first album, This Midnight, in the summer of 2018, and in 2019 he played Frank Turner’s Lost Evenings III Festival at the House of Blues in Boston and soon after quit his day job.

In July 2019, Sean released ‘Dreams & Black Caffeine,’ a four-song EP recorded in Ocean, NJ with his band, The Boardwalk Fire. The group played several shows promoting the work, and had planned a tour for the summer of 2020, but were forced to cancel due to the Covid lockdown. The last year has seen the release of ‘East Coast Artifacts’, a compilation of his first EP, various tracks recorded through lockdown and three new songs.

“We’ve all played together as duos or trios in the past, but St. Patrick’s Day Forever really fortified us as a band,” said Tobin. “I just wish we could play live. That’s what we’re best at.”

Well he has a lot of catching up to do and on his new 4-track EP, accompanied by his band The Boardwalk Fire, he has made a pretty good start.

Released at the end of February, 2021 the EP features two originals and two covers and kicks off with the title track, a fast paced Irish trad influenced Celtic-Punk song about the lockdown and it’s first anniversary in New Jersey. It was after all the cancellations of St. Patrick’s Day events around the world that set the scene for what was going to follow. Lively, upbeat and catchy as hell Sean Tobin tells a great story with a brilliant accompanying video too!

‘St. Patrick’s Day Forever’ by Sean Tobin And The Boardwalk Fire

Directed by Jarrett Allen * Edited by Sean Tobin

It was winter 2020, we were playing on the roof,
Jack was slapping stand-up to another song by Bruce.
A mere twenty hours later, we heard it on the news:
the Jersey Shore’s in lockdown, so stock up on your booze!
*
Now it’s one, two, three fuckin’ months inside this house.
There’s not too much I need, but I need fuckin’ out.
So I make my way down Main Street, the flag’s on every door–
it’s St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore,
St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore.
*
Not long later it was Easter, I was sippin’ on some stout.
I’d horded fifty cases out of fear that they’d run out,
but I couldn’t taste a drop ’cause I gave it up for Lent.
So come Easter, fifty cases, up the field they went!
*
Now it’s one, two, three fuckin’ months inside this house.
There’s not too much I need, but I need fuckin’ out.
So I make my way down Main Street, the flag’s on every door–
it’s St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore,
St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore.
*
Murphy! Your laws are screwin’ me!
But frankly, I don’t blame you. If it’s what we gotta do,
to keep people from dyin’, then I’ll stay home for you.
I just miss my friends…and the bar…
*
So now it’s comin’ up on summer, and I’m still drinkin’ stout.
I would be switchin’ to Corona, but I don’t think that’s allowed…
So instead I’ve got a toucan on one can, three cans, five.
If Guinness makes you stronger, I’m the strongest man alive!
*
Now it’s one, two, three fuckin’ months inside this house.
There’s not too much I need, but I need fuckin’ out.
So I make my way down Main Street, the flag’s on every door–
it’s St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore,
St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore.
Now it’s one, two, three fuckin’ months inside this house.
There’s not too much I need, but I need fuckin’ out.
So I make my way down Main Street, the flag’s on every door–
it’s St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore,
St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore.
*

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

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

Buy St’ Patrick’s Day Forever  Here

Contact Sean Tobin  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp  Instagram

ODDS’N’SODS. CELTIC-PUNK ROUND UP MARCH 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.

Well it looks like St. Patrick’s Day is cancelled again this year. Still loads to keep us occupied during the ‘Celtic month’ of March. Here’s all the Celtic-Punk news that’s going on and a load of new music and videos to check out as well to forget your troubles to!

No question what the big news recently has been. The announcement of the release date for the new DROPKICK MURPHYS album. Turn Up That Dial is out on April 30th and is available for pre-order here. No doubt their will be multitudes of different packages and merchandise options so get saving now! They also put out the first song from the album, ‘Middle Finger’.

New Jersey Irish singer/ songwriter SEAN TOBIN is my new favourite artist and he played a Live Stream last week on You Tube well worth checking out. Blue-collar, working-class Irish American Folk music. Watch out for a review of his new EP in the next few days!

BROPHY’S LAW release their favourite live track ‘The Bachelor’, a traditional authentic Folk-Punk sound with an alternative edge. Neil Brophy says he wrote this aged 18 influenced by watching The Pogues performing in their glory days on the London scene. They sang about the drinking holes of London, a great recipe for ‘The Bachelor’ a song that paints a picture of a working class guy who surrenders his life to the devil in the jar and drinks himself insane.

FEROCIOUS DOG have signed to Graphite Records and are currently recording their 5th studio album called The Hope!

More news out of the Ferocious Dog camp is that FD’s Dan and Nick Burbridge (ex- McDermott’s Two Hours) have collaborated on a new album titled Icons. A year in the making now of 12 songs, maybe 13. Once the FD album is off for  mixing it will be finished and out by the end of spring/early summer. Jeremy Leveller is doing the album and t-shirt artwork. To pre-order the CD, t-shirt or bundle visit the web-site at  https://nickanddan.co.uk/

The Bandcamp vultures are waiving their massive revenue share on all sales next Friday, March 5, 2021, from midnight to midnight Pacific Time. If the greedy bastards really wanted to “support musicians during Covid-19” then maybe they wouldn’t take so much of their money the rest of the time. So only buy on that day for the next couple of weeks and you can support us here, we have a handful of releases where all money raised goes to support the Justice For The Craigavon 2 campaign (#JFTC2)

There’s a extensive interview from NY State Celtic-Punk band THE TEMPLARS OF DOOM in the new Winter edition of Punk N Praise. Its a new internet Christian Punk fanzine and is available for **FREE** simply by sending your email address to pamsbnb@aol.com or at tinasaol@aol.com. This issue also includes British Christian Punk band, Peter118.

Lockdown Lullabies is a 5-band compilation CD featuring four major kick-ass Celtic Rock and Punk bands THE SHAMROGUES, KILMAINE SAINTS, BARLEYJUICE, POEHEMIA and JAMISON. Twenty tracks from the Tri-state area’s best bands. Available from Ryf Records.

THE PLACKS from the Scottish Highlands and Islands are one of the most prolific bands around at the moment and not letting the lockdown hold them back too much! The Sabbath’ is their fourth single in the last 12 months and comes out on the 5th March but is available now for pre-order.

To France now and hot on the heels of the Toxic Frogs recent EP comes the Folk’n’Punk band THE MULLINS with a great new video. Lots of new music on their You Tube channel worth checking out.

Fellow Frenchies THE MOORINGS have a new album out soon and you are invited to help get it released here.

The first news out of the MATILDA’S SCOUNDFRELS camp in a very long while sees them release a new 7″ single/ download. Available to buy now on pre-release from Bandcamp. Also a new video featuring ‘Jousting Crowd’ from the single.

The legendary show that started PEAT & DIESEL’s sold out 2020 tour at Glasgow’s most iconic venue, The Barrowlands Ballroom. All the favourites from their first two albums Uptown Fank and Light My Byre played live in front of 2000 diehard fans and the atmosphere they brought with them that special night. It is not in any way recorded with any fancy tools to sort any mistakes or nonsense, its 100% raw, just the way Peat & Diesel wanted it!

THE RUMJACKS – Hestia

PEAT & DIESELLive at the Barrowlands 2020

MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS – The Devil’s Dues

THE PEELERS – Down And Out In The City Of Saints

SEAN TOBIN – St. Patrick’s Day Forever (reviewed soon)

THE FEELGOOD McLOUDS – Saints & Sinners (reviewed soon)

NEVERMIND NESSIE –  Another Sixpack Drinking Songs

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

Thanks to Owen for putting me onto the Grand Rapids, Michigan band THE BILLIES. Dedicated to bringing Celtic music to a more main stream audience, blending modern Pop/Rock tunes and Celtic songs. Never heard this band before and I can’t find them on Facebook so we have to suppose that they are no more. Still they have left their mark and Who Wants Some is a fantastic album. Seven mostly original songs that includes one of the best (and surprising) covers I have ever heard- ‘Mighty And Superior’ by London anarcho-punk band Conflict!

Sad news from Australia and the demise of one of the countries best Celtic-Punk bands FOX ‘N’ FIRKIN. A bit of a cryptic announcement on their FB page but we wish the guys well and thanks for some bloody brilliant music. You helped make the Aussie scene the best in the world!

In light of a recent event and information we have only just been made aware of we are no longer able to move forward as a band. We wish to give no further comments on the situation. Robbie, Adrian & Leigh want to thank our fans for the years support.

Originally from Cork, Ireland, CATHAL COUGHLAN is the co-founder and singer of acclaimed 80s/90s groups Microdisney and Fatima Mansions. Widely considered to be one of Ireland’s most revered singer/songwriters, beloved by fans of caustic literate lyricism and erudite song craft. He has a new album, Song Of Co​-​Aklan, out at the end of March available for pre-order now.

A new song of high-octane Folk from Massachusetts (and a little bit Rhode Island) band THE KING’S BUSKETEERS. Traditional songs from the British Isles and North America shake the rafters, with some bardic acapella hollering and floor-stomping originals added in for flavour.

A new track from Dutch band THE ROYAL SPUDS over on Bandcamp. The Spuds were one of the bands whose tour we had to sadly cancel due to the original Covid lockdown last year. Available as a ‘name your price’ download is all you need to know. Well that and that it is brilliant!

Great new song/ video of ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ from Italian Celtic-Folk-Punk-Trad band PATRICK’S telling the story of Tim Finnegan the only man who escaped death thanks to whiskey and the incredible adventures of poor Tim and his drunken friends during his funeral wake!

Loads of live streams going on around St Patrick’s Day. The main ones of course being Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys of course. It will go live at 2am on the Thursday but loads of live music to take you up to then. Expect sets from 1916, Cutthroat Shamrock and more. Check the London Celtic Punks Facebook page on Paddy’s Day for what we will be watching and recommending!

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 before we end something a little bit different. Celtic-Folk-Metal pioneers TUATHA DE DANNANN from Brazil release their 7th album In Nomine Éireann. Known for their merry Celtic dance rhythms, flute melodies and Celtic mythology-inspired lyricshere they pay tribute to Irish music and culture. Songs and Tunes taken from the traditional lore with special guests like John Doyle (Solas) and Keith Fay (Cruachan) making this album truly unique and special.

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.

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: THE JOHNNY CASH SHOW (1970)

Songwriter. Six-string strummer. Storyteller. Country boy. Rock star. Folk hero. Preacher. Poet. Drug addict. Rebel. Saint AND sinner. Victim. Survivor. Home wrecker. Husband. Father. Son. and more…

FREE DOWNLOAD

I was rather fortunate to grow up with The Man In Black in my ear. It was thanks to my Mum who kept up a steady stream of Johnny Cash, Rock’n’Roll and Irish-Folk that me and my siblings all developed huge interests in music. Johnny himself may have passed away sixteen years ago but interest in him and his life still hasn’t waned and as new material is periodically released it is snapped up eagerly by fans old and new. He still remains the coolest man ever in Rock’n’Roll.

The Johnny Cash Show was Johnny’s 35th album and was released to tie in with the TV series that he was hosting at the time. From the summer of 1969 through to spring 1971, pretty much the whole of America sat down together in front of the TV set waiting for the famous opening line “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash”. The perfect gentleman with an indomitable spirit and down to earth grit the ever popular Johnny struck a chord with people right across the country. All creeds, classes and colours were united in their love for this great man. His willingness to take risks is what made his show incomparable. Johnny knew talent when he saw or heard it, and his word meant a lot. So, it was no small feat, nor beyond reasonable expectations, that many reclusive stars joined Cash on the pilot show. Though this album is one of Cash’s lesser-known records, it did spawn the highly successful single ‘Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down’, which helped kick start the career of singer-songwriter turned actor Kris Kristofferson with the song and album eventually both going on to reach #1.

This song is about the dreaded hangover, with Johnny singing about ‘coming down’ on a Sunday morning after being ‘stoned’ on a Saturday night. In the song, our hero puts on his cleanest dirty shirt, drinks a few beers, and heads out to face a lonely day.

Well I woke up Sunday mornin’, with no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad, so I had one more, for dessert
Then I fumbled through my closet, for my clothes and found my cleanest dirty shirt
And I shaved my face and combed my hair and, stumbled down the stairs to meet the day

I’d smoked my brain the night before on, cigarettes and songs that I’d been pickin’
But I lit my first and watched a small kid cussin’ at a can, that he was kickin’
Then I crossed the empty street and caught the Sunday smell of someone fryin’ chicken
And it took me back to somethin’, that I’d lost somehow somewhere along the way

On the Sunday morning sidewalks, wishin’ Lord, that I was stoned
‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday, makes a body feel alone
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’, half as lonesome as the sound
On the sleepin’ city side walks, Sunday mornin’ comin’ down

In the park I saw a daddy, with a laughing little girl who he was swingin’
And I stopped beside a Sunday school and listened to the song that they were singin’
Then I headed back for home and somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringin’
And it echoed through the canyons like the disappearing dreams of yesterday

On the Sunday morning sidewalks, wishin’ Lord, that I was stoned
‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday, makes a body feel alone
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’, half as lonesome as the sound
On the sleepin’ city side walks, Sunday mornin’ comin’ down

Before Johnny performed the song on The Johnny Cash Show, ABC censors asked him to change the lyric, “Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned” to “Wishing, Lord, that I was home” but never being one to accept being told what to do Johnny sang the song the way Kris Kristofferson wrote it, even stressing the word ‘stoned’!

( Sadly none of the series have been released officially so any that appear the sound and picture quality is definitely not DVD quality. What does appear are random performances some better than others. Here athough the possibility of a third season existed, Cash knew the writing was on the wall. The last twelve minutes of the last episode of the last Johnny Cash Show features Cash performing ‘I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen’, ‘He’ll Understand And Say Well Done’, The Statler Brothers singing ‘When You And I Were Young’, June Carter singing ‘Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes’, Carl Perkins playing ‘Your True Love’, the Carter Family singing ‘Come All Ye Fair And Tender Ladies’ and Cash’s final words to his television audience)

The ratings for the show were excellent (reaching #17 in the nationwide Nielsen ratings in 1970) and ABC extended the original 15 show run to a whopping 58 (fifty-eight!) episodes. The end of the series came in 1971 as the show was cancelled as part of the so-called ‘rural purge’ in which urban executives at all three major broadcast networks eliminated rural and older skewing programs. ABC viewing figures over all were in massive decline and so they cancelled one of their only successes a horrifying testimony to just how mismanaged the network was at the time. That the copies of all the shows still lay unreleased in the vaults is I think a terrible mistake and we can only hope someone pulls their finger out about it soon.

CLICK HERE FOR FREE DOWNLOAD

With the exception of the album’s obvious highlight, ‘Sunday Mornin’ Coming Down’, each of these songs sings of the history of the working man in the United States with the centerpieces of the album the two jaw dropping medleys: the first concerning truckers, the other concerning the cotton belt. Performed with backing vocals and music by the Tennessee Three, The Statler Brothers, and The Carter Family and Bill Walker’s Orchestra the closing performance of the spoken word ‘Here Was A Man” is a superb piece of Gospel and shows how easily Johnny could turn his hand to different styles.

To these ears though it sounds like classic Cash. His voice instantly taking me back to my childhood of sitting round the record player listening to my mammy’s Johnny Cash collection. All the adults I knew, especially the Irish ones, seemed to be a massive fan of his with their record collections bulging with his albums. it was impossible not to like him. The subject matter was so much darker than other country artists and lets face it he was as cool a fecker as ever there was in music! He was himself the quintessential Scotch-Irish American, with a bit of Native American too he use to say!

Johnny Cash  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  The Johnny Cash Trail  

(this amazing video popped up on my feed recently and it never takes much to set me off on The Man In Black so give it a twirl. Its great to hear Johnny just chatting away and the animation is top notch capturing Johnny perfectly)

for more like this…

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.

REMEMBERING MICHAEL KILROE 1957-2021

It was with great sadness that on last Saturday morning I woke to the very sad and shocking news that Mike Kilroe had passed away peacefully in his sleep at his home in New York state. At a time when the Celtic-Punk scene was floundering Mike started the Celtic Punk, Folk And Rock Fans group on Facebook. Pleasing everyone in such a diverse scene would prove impossible but I doubt anyone else would have come as close as Mike did. His regular postings and light handed but firm management kept the group on track and would prove massively successful with the group growing to over 8,000 members. We chatted regularly about all sorts of things but what shone through our conversations was his passion and enthusiasm for music (not only Celtic-Punk) and his Irish heritage. Ireland has lost one of her own. Back in May last year I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike for this site where we talked about music, being Irish. the Irish community and sports. Besides music Mike was a massive sports fan particularly baseball and the NY Yankees. He was especially proud that his cousin pitched for them in the 1950’s. Mike was also a coach in the little leagues teaching kids for many years. He had a hard life losing his Mother as a teenager and struggled somewhat after that but found peace in nature and music and was incredibly gifted with numbers. When I did the interview he was absolutely adamant that he did not want a picture of himself to accommodate the interview. Instead he wanted the ‘My Nation My Heritage’ graphic as he thought that summed him up. This I found very endearing and yet another reason, if I needed one, to like the man! A very sad loss for the Celtic-Punk family and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

Go n-éirí an bóthar leat
Go raibh an ghaoth go brách ag do chúl
Go lonraí an ghrian go te ar d’aghaidh
Go dtite an bháisteach go mín ar do pháirceanna
Agus go mbuailimid le chéile arís,
Go gcoinní Dia i mbos A láimhe thú.

May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

HARLEM VALLEY NEWS OBITUARY

Michael J. Kilroe, Sr passed away at his home in Millbrook, NY on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at the age of 63.

A resident of Millbrook for 28 years, he was born in Sleepy Hollow, NY on April 25, 1957 and was the son of John and Jean (Haines) Kilroe.  Mike attended and graduated from Roy C. Ketcham High School.

Mike was a groundskeeper for Hallmark Farm, a horse farm in Millbrook.  He had a great passion for music and baseball and was an avid amateur ham radio operator.

He is survived by his son Michael Kilroe and his wife Nina of North Adams, MA; his grandchildren, Mia Dillmann of Centereach, NY, Max Dillmann of Kenai, AK, and Dylan Nastasi of Marietta, GA; his brother John Kilroe of Highland, NY; his former wife and close friend, Marybeth Kilroe, and step-daughter Katie Nelson, both of Pawling.

“I’m glad that we met man, it really was nice talking and I really wish there was a little more time to speak” – Lou Reed.

Thanks to Mikes cousin Karen for the wonderful photo of Mike and his daughter-in-law Nina on her wedding day.

CELTIC PUNK, FOLK AND ROCK FANS

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

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

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Now go have a drink…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Glass To Mouth  CD/Vinyl

Contact The Stubby Shillelaghs  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

EP REVIEW: LEXINGTON FIELD – ‘Win The Day’ (2020)

Formed in 2009, hundreds of shows, three national tours, five albums and a whole bunch of EP’s and singles, Lexington Field from San Diego, CA is Rock music but with an Irish fiddle right in the epicenter!!

“Don’t let the little things bring you down. Rise up, fight, and Win the Day!”

On a list of bands that have graced these pages the most Lexington Field would be high up on that list. Maybe even at the top. Now this is not just because they are a prolific band when it comes to recording but also because they are one of our favourites and while the music may not be strictly Celtic-Punk anymore, or even Celtic-Rock, it still fits on these pages absolutely perfect.

Lexington Field from top left to right: Bryan Hane – Electric Guitar * Cami Smith – Fiddle * Beau Gray – Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar * Nick Freeling – Bass * Jon Berghouse -Drums, Percussion

Formed in 2009 the band from the sunny climes in California release their latest EP, Win The Day, in just a few days time and the record follows quickly the release of their greatest hits compilation Here’s To You- Ten Years Of Fiddle Rock (including a couple unreleased tracks!) earlier this year which gathered together the best songs from their five albums and four EP’s in one place. A busy band they spent 2018 recording the dual release of an album, Modern Times, and an EP, Dreamers, on the same day (#13 and #5 in 2018’s Best Of list). The band label what they do as Fiddle Rock and it’s a good moniker for them as the fiddle is integral to what they do and in Cami Smith they have one of the best players in the scene. While their early releases were full of Irish spirit and led the wave of American Celtic-Punk bands of their era subsequent releases have shown their progression to a band that is unafraid to bring in influences from across the board and unlike most bands around their message is always a positive one, even if I do sometimes hark back to the wild abandon of songs likeTracy Boys Fight The World’ from their debut album.

Here on, as on all their releases, the production is second to none with Sean Tolley down at Clarity Recordings in downtown San Diego in charge of all recording and mixing. The EP opens with the title track ‘Win The Day’ and as is the Lexington Field way it’s all incredibly tuneful and Beau and Bryan have written some fantastic lyrics that leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling but sometimes the lyrics have a much deeper and darker meaning than you would imagine from the joyous music accompanying them.

“I wonder if I’m right to question everything
I need a special someone to break it down to me
Tell me I am wrong
Give me a second chance
To face my inner demons and try to take a stand
This is my moment to shine”

‘Dear Sorrow’ is abit of a throwback to their olden days but with the ‘wild abandon’ reigned in somewhat. Chugging guitars and loud drums at first give the song a Punky feel but the influence of Folk and Americana loom large and you would be forgiven for considering that the song was Folk or Punk on alternate listens.

Not many can capture the true meaning of the phrase Folk-Punk. It is after all a hell of a lot more than music students playing acoustic guitar with fake working class accents. While on the surface it is held together by Beau’s distinctive vocals and Cami’s brilliant fiddling the whole band work seamlessly together. One must is to check out the video above. Recorded on iPhones and edited together by mate of the band Rick Romero. A true example of the DIY spirit. As someone once said “necessity breeds ingenuity” F**K Covid! ‘Turns’ is the EP’s first slow song but Bryans guitar gives it a heavier feel and needless to say they can’t help giving it  bit of pace after a while. Probably my favourite song here the catchiness is unbearable and had me tapping me toes while I tap away at the keyboard writing these words! ‘Steps’ is another rocker that will leave you with a glow and sore feet!!! 

“Alone in my thoughts once again
Anxieties are never the same
Turn up the music to ten
Depression will not win the day”

We coming up towards the end and one thing Lexington Field always supply and that is value for money. Here their six tracks last twenty-three minutes which is just as long as plenty of albums I have to listen to. ‘Fake Paper Money’ is another slow burner though it’s not quite what you would call a ballad. The song slowly builds up and Beau’s aching vocals giving it a real passion. At almost five minutes the EP’s closing song ‘Alive’ brings down the curtain on Win The Day and its countryfied opening leads us into classic Lexington Field territory with a song that sits nicely on the fence between rocker and ballad. A grand way to see things out with a especially poignant outro.

Beau says of the EP

“We spent 2019 writing a collection of songs as a follow-up to our uplifting, optimistic, double release Dreamers/Modern Times. We wanted to tap into the reality of our current lives, some past experiences, while still capturing that true fiddle rock sound. We kept with the catchy theme throughout the record, and found a really good balance throughout all six songs. We are so lucky to continue writing fiddle rock songs and performing them on stage for over 11 years. We are very proud of Win the Day and can’t wait to share it with the world!”

and it is heartwarming to hear a band who have lost none of their joy at playing together. The band has been a constant throughout the existence of this site and we look forward to them accompanying us into the future. As they say in ‘Steps’

“Embrace what is next, A new day has just begun”

(Stream or download Win The Day on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Win The Day  Bandcamp (released October 2nd)

Contact Lexington Field  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

Lexington Field performed a acoustic set during the Paddyrock ‘Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day’ Live Stream all-dayer on 19th September and despite some sound issues played an excellent set. It’s now available on You Tube and features the whole days line up. Eight hours in total of superb Celtic-Rock and Punk but if you just want to jump to Lexington Field they come on stage (!) at three hours seven minutes.

You can also catch Beau alone this time chatting to Timmy D on the recently aired Timmy D And The Industry pod-cast about the new EP.

ALBUM REVIEW: NEVER SAY DIE – ‘Punk Rock Pirates’ (2020)

Maryland Irish PUNK-ROCK band Never say Die release their third studio album of loud blaring noisy as hell Punk-Rock!! 

The journey of most Celtic-Punks (Particularly those of Irish descent and of a certain age) seems to be that you grew up listening to your parents music. This tended to be Irish Folk and Rock’n’Roll. This was replaced by Punk as they got a bit older and then at some point in their adult life the love of Irish Folk music came back to them and luckily their was a whole genre of music specifically for them! This was my journey anyway and for a solid twenty years inbetween the Folk/R’n’R of my childhood and my late thirties all I listened to was loud blaring noisy as hell Punk-Rock. Maybe its a mellowing but I’m as likely these days to listen to the Clancy Brothers as I am the Anti-Nowhere League but that’s not to say those days are completely behind me and so it is I love it when I hear a band playing that loud blaring noisy as hell Punk-Rock but with a Irish edge to it. Never Say Die are a band that does just that.

They hail from the strangely named Germantown in Maryland in the mid-Atlantic region of the South-Eastern United States. The town was founded in the early 19th century by European immigrants and was named Germantown due to the prominence of German businesses, even though most residents of the town were of English or Scottish descent. These days the Irish population of Maryland stands at just under 13% which is just above the national average and so no signs that the Irish are going anywhere and a good example of that is Never Say Die. They play good old fashioned Punk-Rock but with an Irish edge to it. You wouldn’t tell straight away as they have no Celtic instruments or any overt tunes but it’s there in the spirit of the band!

Punk Rock Pirates is the bands third album after Surrender Is Not An Option from 2010 and Convictions & Addictions in 2014. They also had six tracks on Live Your Gimmick from last year, a compilation from Tuna Forsushi Records featuring the classic ‘Irish Goodbye’. All their previous material is available on Soundcloud (link below).

The album kicks off with the band’s theme tune ‘Battlecry’ and it’s over in just sixty-five seconds. Gang vocals shouted over a fast and furious Punk number gives you all you need to know about where this album is going. It leads straight into Irish Folk and Celtic-Punk favourite ‘Drunken Sailor’ and Never Say Die play it dark and heavy. No great surprises here but its spirited and a nice nod to their Irish roots.

(Never Say Die live at Fishhead Cantina May 2019. Never Say Die performing ‘Battlecry’, ‘Drunken Sailor’ and ‘Saturday Night’)

They get into their stride with ‘I Hate Punk Rock’ and ‘Six Gun Lullaby’ mid=paced Punk but played with a heavyness making you imagine its lot faster. Vocalist and guitarist Captain Kelley has a great voice for this style of music with clear and distinctive ‘gruff’ vocals meaning you can hear every word he utters! Sadly though this as this album came out both bassist Thunderbilly and drummer Ziggy Bax both left the band. There’s never been a worse time to be in a band especially a DIY band but things are bound to get better so if you’re in or know some musicians near Never Say Die then send them their way.

(Never Say Die live at O’Gannigans Bar December 2019)

‘The Cursed Mariner’ is and to the pirates of the albums title while ‘I’ll Stand Strong’ slows it down with a Punk Rock ballad. Of course this means its nothing like your usual ballad but the same themes of standing strong in the face of daily life and keeping your chin up are present. The standout track for me here is the title song ‘Punk Rock Pirates’ and even those all the songs here are catchy dance floor fillers this is one that would even persuade the likes of me onto the pit. Never Say Die could, if they wanted, make a pretty damn decent Celtic-Punk if they went the acoustic route but I get the feeling that they make like the odd acoustic number like ‘The Legend Of Stingy Jack’ it’s not where their hearts lie and its songs like ‘Working Class Nobody’ where their full power comes into play that they prefer. Gang vocals and “Oi! Oi! Oi!” belted out alongside the important message of standing your ground and relying on you mates to get you through the bad times with the help of a beer or two. Like on many a Celtic-Punk album the theme of alcohol pops up regularly and ‘Raise Your Glass’ is another ode to that most wondrous of things! pretty much all the songs here hover around the two and a half minute mark which is on the short side of what we usually review but about average for Punk songs. ‘The Outlaw’ is the exception here and at three and a half minutes can be described as the Punk Rock Pirates ‘epic’ song. I like the extra length giving it a chance to develop and stray into both grunge and metal.

(Never Say Die live at Sparta Inn August 2019)

‘Breakaway’ is another great track. Well played, simple, no fuss, uncomplicated, no ego Punk. Chin up and chest out songs for simple, no fuss, working class people. The curtain comes down with another great number and ‘One More Time’ sees the album out admirably. Punk Rock Pirates was funded by the band and their fans through Kickstarter and they raised all the money for recording and printing the CD easily. The ‘clampdown’ over Covid came at the just the wrong time for Never Say Die and as their name suggests the show does go on and there’s a lot more to come from these guys I am sure.

Buy Punk Rock Pirates  FromTheBand

Contact Never Say Die  Facebook  Soundcloud  YouTube  Bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: THE KONA ROGUES- ‘Batten Down The Hatches’ (2020)

Debut release of Celtic Rock Rebels The Kona Rogues from Kailua Kona, Hawaii. Rock/Punk fueled music with Celtic roots taking rebellion to a whole new level making music for an insurrection we can all dance to. Among the many great original songs it takes a lot to give songs like ‘The Foggy Dew’ or ‘ Whiskey In The Jar’ something new but these Bhoys manage it.

Well here’s a first for the London Celtic Punks! We thought we had covered just about every corner of the world but then somewhere pops up that totally astounds you. Today’s review is of the band The Kono Rogues from the beautiful island of Hawaii right out there in the middle of the Pacific ocean. It is the only U.S. state located outside North America, the only island state, and the only state in the tropics encompassing 137 islands spread over 1,500 miles and just as you would imagine the Irish even washed up here with almost 5% of the island of proud Irish heritage.
So it is that the charismatic Irminsul a native musician of the island who has spent most of his life playing Celtic music and who was guesting on St. Patrick’s Day for the band Creacialtie on his Celtic harp (another first for London Celtic Punks. A Celtic-Punk band with a harp!!!) alongside fiddle player and island musical icon Joanie Collins, who was also guesting. Well a year on Irminsul calls Joanie and the end result has been The Kona Rogues. Kona for their home town on the island and Rogues because no one had ever tried to do what they were doing. They were literally smashing conventions. As Irminsul says
“Be open to what comes next, because this aint your granddaddy’s Celtic music.”
As I said Irminsul has spent years of his life playing in Celtic bands, both as a solo artist and singer/ songwriter. Joanie had a similar background in Celtic music while guitarist Seishi Saegusa is famous on the island for his musical ability and drummer Todd Oldham has played with some of the greats in the music world but their short time together hasn’t been without controversy.
“We got a fair amount of flack from traditionalists who just think it’s not possible to perform original, modern Celtic rock on this island but thanks to some ground breakers like Creacailtie and The Kilt Lifters, that was completely wrong.”
Batten Down The Hatches is the perfect title for an album representing both the island that is regularly hit by hurricanes and a style of music that most will never have come across before. The album kicks off with ‘The Pikes Will Be Together’ and if unabashed catchy as feck rebel music is your thing then we’re all in the right place! Music and lyrics are by Irminsul, like on most of this album, and based upon ‘The Rising Of The Moon’. A pike is a long pole used by infantry until the early 18th century when it was later replaced by the bayonet and was used extensively by Irish rebels during this time.
“The pikes will be together and the nation will be one.”
The music is as I said is very catchy with the fiddle and harp leading the way and Irminsul’s great and distinctive vocals while electric guitar and tribal drums give the tune a very modern twist to its ancient Celtic roots. Next up a couple of songs well known to readers with ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ and Celtic-Punk favourite ‘The Foggy Dew’. Not a lot to say except yeah, they are very good and are not just simple covers with ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ also including the famous traditional Irish jigs ‘Swallowtail’ and ‘Kesh’ showcasing Joanie’s amazing fiddle skills while ‘The Foggy Dew’ is played significantly different to any version I have heard before with the tribal beat of the drums and a great almost ballad like speed. Tremendous.

Next a bunch of more originals written by Irminsul beginning with an ode to the legendary Michael Collins. Collins was the driving force behind the Irish revolution during the War Of Independence (1917-1921). A soldier and politician who was was unafraid to get his hands dirty if you know what I mean! He was assassinated in August 1922 during the Irish Civil War.
“If I had a dime for every Irish hero
Taken in the height of all their fame
They would see his face, in every Irish hero
Laid into a dark and early grave”
Beautiful lyrics that make the hairs stand up on your neck. One thing sadly missing from Irish music these days is decent modern Rebel songs. Most tend to be pretty cheesy and predictable while The Kona Rogues have plenty of good ones that don’t follow the ‘Irish rebel song blueprint’ like most. ‘The Bairns Of The New Brigade’ even has Gothic pretensions while cheering the Bhoys home in a song that is quite poppy and accessible.
“What remains of the old Sinn Fein
A marketing charade
Now the Royal Fop sent a mob to stop The Bairns of The New Brigade’
‘Crofters Song’ is an amazing trad ballad that sounds 300 years old. Again stunning lyrics and Irminsul’s clear, distinctive and heart aching voice giving the lyrics a real passion.
“Now we sail for a strange land, we don’t know a soul
They’re telling us that now we’ll be harvesting coal”

Next is ‘Link Arms (Until Freedom Has Won)’ and a heart lifting song giving hope that one day injustice will be banished not just from Ireland but everywhere. For the first time we hear more traditional harp playing from Irminsul and it is indeed a beautiful instrument that adds much to this song that switches several melodies along the way. Definitely a standout song on the LP. ‘Oro Se Do Bheatha Bhaile’ is a traditional Irish song meaning ‘Oh, Welcome Home’ in English. It’s origins are unclear but it has become associated with Irish nationalism and recorded by many Irish Folk greats. Perhaps the most amazing thing here is Irminsul’s immaculate Irish in telling the songs story. At a time when most Irish bands know as much Irish as I do (basically nothing!) it’s great to hear. The song itself is quite unlike any version you’ve ever heard with a lengthy Prog-Rock interlude in the middle led by Seishi’s electric guitar work. The Kona Rogues take a much darker route next with ‘Yeah’ which just so happens to be my favourite song here. Clever and humorous lyrics (this man Irminsul is a true seanchaí) abound with a song that manages humour, revenge and bloodlust with ease with a song that encompasses The Cure, The Cult and Siouxsie And The Banshees!

We are steering up towards the end now and its about time for a love song and its delivered via ‘Whiskeys The One I Take Home’. Not yer traditional Irish love song it has to be said with the object of his desire not some lass- not for the want of trying though but that other well known subject of many a Irish song. Another class song bursting with humour so in a way it is a traditional Irish love song. Batten Down The Hatches comes to an end with ‘Lenadoon Lament’ a beautiful commemorative funeral air for all the battles lost by the Irish Republic. A quite amazing way to bring down the curtain.
Batten Down The Hatches is over forty minutes and eleven songs of mostly original material and even the few covers can be described as anything but covers really given The Kona Rogues treatment. To say I am surprised at this album is a MASSIVE understatement. From the lyrics to the musicianship displayed it is simply an outstanding piece of work. Added to all that is Irminsul leading the way (like someone said ‘Sid Vicious on electric harp’ !!) achingly re-telling and telling of the struggle that is still ongoing now to unite one island far away from it on another island known by many to be a paradise. Irish music that would make you believe it is from ancient times butting up against ‘electric high octane rock bordering on punk’ that even then seems to come from another era. From beginning to end I heartily loved this album and recommend it to all who love a good shout out to Ireland from across the world.

(you can stream and download Batten Down The Hatches from the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Batten Down The Hatches  Here  Amazon

Contact The Kona Rogues  Facebook  Soundcloud  

EP REVIEW: LUCKY LAD GREEN- ‘Get There Somehow’ (2020)

Hailing from a small town just east of Pittsburgh, PA, Lucky Lad Green take Punk Rock, Hardcore, and old school Rock’n’Roll and make into a Celtic jigger that’s best served straight on a Saturday night at the local pub!

Now technology ain’t my thing anyone can tell you and London Celtic Punks always arrived on a new social media platform a good while after everyone else has discovered it and got bored. So it was with Instagram but it was on that platform I first discovered Lucky Lad Green and their always interesting posts. So it was I had to wait a short while to see if their posts matched their music and they prove it amply with this short ten minute long three track EP.

Like all bands it’s been a difficult time but that they ever recorded at all can be laid at the door of the fellow Pittsburgh-based Celtic-Rockers the Bastard Bearded Irishmen! Formed in early 2013 Metalheads Ryan and Eric were friends who had just been kicked out of left a local Rock band and were jamming a few songs celebrating Ryan’s Irish roots. Interest in what they were doing grew and before too long a band had fully developed and in November of 2013 after a summer full of writing, Lucky Lad Green landed their first show in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania at The Castle. Regular shows followed and they developed a decent following too leading to their debut release, a four track self titled EP. I can’t say much about it as I have just downloaded it myself but it is available as a ‘Name Your Price’ download so grab a copy yourselves at the link below.

It was after this release that things began to fall apart beginning with drummer Bret leaving and in 2016 after a show with the Real McKenzies the band called it a day. That was until the Bastard Bearded Irishmen rolled into Pittsburgh and saw the guys reunite for a photo that went viral and led to the reformation of Lucky Lad Green and the new EP. I say new but we are a bit late as the EP touched down at the beginning of March which unfortunately coincided soon after with the ‘clampdown’ as we call it here! So with a host cancelled gigs and festival appearances all cancelled we are very glad to hear that the Bhoys have performed a few intimate shows in the last couple of weeks.

(There’s nay videos out there of them performing songs from the EP so enjoy this one from St. Paddy’s Day which shows them pretty damn well!!)

Get There Somehow begins with the powerful ‘Through The Door’ and chugging electric guitar and accordion and we have ourselves a rather nifty little number here. Catchy as hell and superb musicianship and great vocal too from new band member Andrew.

“And I can’t hold on to you anymore, I’m moving on, I’ve got one foot through the door.”

The song stays at the same pace throughout thanks to that guitar chugging away but has a very interesting arrangement that is hidden slightly behind the guitar/accordion but adds to it magnificently. ‘Chase The Snakes’ takes a far more ‘rocky road’ but again Jim’s accordion is given a starring role in a song chock full of fist in the air moments and a guitar solo at the end. The song ends with ‘Irish Eyes’ and unsurprisingly the guys go Gaelic with a song that shows 2020 American Celtic-Punk still knows where its roots are. Love Shane’s drums on this song. I suspect he was allowed to whack ’em as hard as he liked so the song has a much more Rock feel to it than the song would have otherwise.

Lucky Lad Green from left to right: Shane Boyer – Drummer * (top middle) Ryan McDonald- Mandolin and Guitar * (bottom middle) Jim Vizzini – Accordionist, Jim Berkin – Bass * Andrew Roberts – Vocals and Rhythm Guitar *

All in all a great start to Lucky Lad Green Mk.2 and even though it s over in a flash things look pretty good for their future and with things getting back to normal the guys look to have the ability and drive to produce some fantastic music and I for one cannot wait.

(Hear the whole EP by streaming Get There Somehow on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Get There Somehow  Bandcamp

Contact Lucky Lad Green  Facebook  ReverbNation  SoundCloud  YouTube

THE TOP TEN ANTI WAR SONGS

There hasn’t been a day since the invention of the phonograph record when the world has not been at war someplace.

We are told that the world stands on the edge of a precipice, and there is very little we can do so instead of a fallout shelter I’ve built a list of the ten best anti-war songs ever.

By

Starting at number ten we have….

10. ‘The Ballad Of Penny Evans’ – Steve Goodman

The best ‘one guy with a guitar’ performer who ever lived, Goodman’s music was primarily in the ‘good times and more beer’ zone peppered with moments of genuine pathos but rarely political. On a 1973 album on the Buddha label he included a powerful acappella treatment of a song sung by a 21 year-old woman whose husband has been killed in Vietnam and whose rage against the government who sent him there can barely be contained:

“And now every month I get a check from an Army bureaucrat / And it’s every month I tear it up and I mail the damn thing back / Do you think that makes it all right, do you think I’d fall for that?”

In his clear voice, loud with anger, it’s an amazing performance.

9. ‘Jimmy Newman’ – Tom Paxton

Paxton’s ‘Talking Vietnam Pot Luck Blues’ about a young soldier’s discovery that everyone on both sides is smoking dynamite dope is almost as funny as this song about a hospitalized soldier’s slow realization that his friend has died during the night before they are scheduled to be shipped back home is emotionally devastating.

“Get up damn it Jimmy! They’re loading us next, and you’ve only to open your eyes.”

8. ‘And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ – Eric Bogle

An Irish songwriter’s story about a soldier returning home from the battle of Gallipoli in 1915. The song is in the voice of a soldier whose legs have been blown off

“I never knew there were worse things than dying”

who watches as all the people who’ve come to greet the returning soldiers turn away in silence as the injured are brought off the boat. There are a million or more ways to ruin this kind of song and Bogle avoids every one. The song’s been done by many people including The Pogues but this version is beautiful and heartbreaking.

7. ‘Machine Gun’ – Jimi Hendrix

All the elements of a great screenplay are here. New York City, New Year’s Eve, hours from the end of the 1960’s, The Fillmore East and the greatest electric rock guitarist in history is a black man, a former US Army paratrooper. Pressured by a growing black militancy, he’s fired his white British backing band and has formed his ‘Band Of Gypsys’ with Billy Cox (bass) and Buddy Miles (drums). He knows he has to address Vietnam somehow, and in the twelve minutes and thirty-nine seconds of ‘Machine Gun’ Jimi says as much about the war as John Coltrane said about God in ‘A Love Supreme’. Here’s the audio footage from that New Years Eve Fillmore show.

6. ‘Universal Soldier’ – Buffy Saint-Marie

This is the anti-war song that speaks an awful truth that we would really prefer to ignore: while we can point fingers at the presidents and generals all we want, it is the individual soldiers who feed the war machine. The fact that these are our sons and brothers and sisters and daughters (and fathers and mothers) makes it a horrible and ugly truth (and, who knows, maybe some truths are best turned away from) but the Lysistrata solution offered here is a hard one to ignore.

5. ‘Between The Wars’ – Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg was to Margaret Thatcher in the 1980’s what Phil Ochs was to Richard Nixon in the 1960’s. Far from his most vitriolic political song, ‘Between The Wars’ examines the British working-class experience with verses like

“I kept the faith and I kept voting / Not for the iron fist but for the helping hand / For theirs is a land with a wall around it / And mine is a faith in my fellow man / Mine is the green field and the factory floor / Theirs are the skies all dark with bombers / And mine is the peace we knew / Between the wars.”

4. ‘I Feel Like I’m Fixing To Die’ – Country Joe And The Fish

The archetypal 1967-San Francisco-LSD-hippie-band led by a psychedelicized and politicized US army vet, ‘Country Joe’ McDonald. I remember in 1968 or 1969 sitting behind a row of guys in Navy uniforms either on their way to or back from Viet Nam at a Country Joe And The Fish show in Philadelphia as they played this song

“Be the first one on your block to have his boy come home in a box.”

Watching them cheer every line was around the time I began to suspect that the world was, well… complicated. Bring back the draft and we’d have this again in twenty minutes, half hour tops.

3. ‘Masters Of War’ – Bob Dylan

The studio version from 1963 is brilliant, but the live-in-Italy version on 1984’s ‘Real Live’ with former Rolling Stones’ guitarist, Mick Taylor, on a distorted, almost heavy metal, lead guitar is 1,000 times angrier than Johnny Rotten ever was or will be. There’s a talk that the critic Griel Marcus gave to the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley called ‘Stories Of A Bad Song’ that is really worth reading.

“Come you masters of war, you that build the big guns / You that build the death planes / You that build the big bombs / Not even Jesus would forgive what you do / I hope that you die”

2. ‘What’s Going On?’ – Marvin Gaye

“Father, father, father we don’t need to escalate / You see, war is not the answer / For only love can conquer hate”

wasn’t the kind of rhyme one expected to hear in 1971 from a million-selling soul artist who had earned the title ‘Prince Of Motown’. The title track from an album that his label flatly refused to release at first, calling it commercial suicide, became the crown jewel in what Smokey Robinson still calls ‘the greatest album of all time’. This version is all the evidence of his incredible power over audiences anyone should require.

1. ‘I Ain’t Marching Anymore’ – Phil Ochs

In 1976 Phil Ochs, the best ‘Protest Folk’ songwriter of his (or maybe any) generation, hung himself at his sister’s home. The victim of the sort of clinical depression we now have the drugs to treat and feelings of despair in the aftermath of Watergate, the rise of disco and the failure of the 1960’s to live up to its grand promises of social change (let’s face it, if the 60’s had succeeded Nixon would have died in prison and Kissenger would have gone on trial). Put simply, any top-whatever-list of anti-war songs that doesn’t start with Phil isn’t worth the ether it’s printed on. The solo acoustic version on the 1965 album of the same name remains the finest two minute and thirty-two second lesson in the history of international conflict ever recorded on to a roll of magnetic tape.

To be honest, “best of” lists are almost always a bit of a sham and Bob Marley, Elvis Costello, The Clash, R.E.M., Edwin Starr, The Dead Kennedys, Sun Ra, Fred Small, Richie Havens, Neil Young and, OK, even the Sex Pistols are all absent here. But these ten songs collectively represent a diverse body of response to our shared history and any one you may not be familiar with is deserving of your time and attention.

First published on These Things Too. Thanks to Stan.

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)

ALBUM REVIEW: HUGH MORRISON- ‘The Other Side’ (2020)

Scottish-born Hugh Morrison has spent the couple of decades baking in Houston,Texas and playing and singing in a range of styles. As part of The Street Dogs and lead vocalist of Celtic-Rockers Murder The Stout he has toured the world and has released his second solo album of New Orleans influenced Folk-Rock.

After spending twelve years in the USA, the Scottish Highlands born Hugh Morrison returns to his homeland for inspiration on his latest project. His first solo album Robert Burns Rocks came out in 2010 taking his favorite Robert Burns’ work and adapting them for the present time. Burns work has been re-interpreted many times including by many Celtic-Punk bands and this album was designed to bring attention to Scotland’s Bard, opening up his material to a whole new and audience. Hugh Morrison has spent his time in the USA wisely fronting the popular Houston, Texas based Celtic-Punk band Murder The Stout and playing squeezebox in the sadly now no more Street Dogs. 

He released his second studio album in 2016 called Prison Ballads ten popular songs all with the theme of Prisons or going to jail! Songs from another age brought back to basics like ‘Banks O’ The Ohio’, ‘Down In The Valley’ and ‘The Auld Triangle’. His new album came out at the turn of the year and has been sitting in our to do list since being played sporadically but thoroughly enjoyed.

The album begins with ‘Passing Place’ and features only Louisiana musicians, mainly the Louisiana legend, Beth Patterson on backing vocals, bazouki and bass. With many friends and guests here its far from yer usual singer/songwriter type of thing. Hugh slightly ached vocals over a catchy acoustic guitar and female background vocals give it a feel of 1980’s UK indie bands. The albums title track is next and ‘The Other Side’ features some choice brass from the New Orleans Second Line Percussion. Be warned this isn’t the upbeat celtic-Rock of Murder The Stout and even with South Louisiana’s Cajun bursting through it’s a sad song about death and Hugh’s vocals and accordion works great here. In the article referenced at the bottom in The Ripple Hugh states that the two following songs are his most favourite ones he has ever written. On ‘Life Can Be Short’, a five minute epic with a definite Irish tinge to it, reminding us to enjoy every moment with the ones around us and ‘Old Scotland’, a ode to his faraway home.

The songs so far have a sadness attached to them that is specific to Celtic music. Death looms large here but without the sentimentalism even when on a song like ‘Old Scotland’ you can tell easily how much the words mean to him. The music is acoustic excepting the bass and while its possible to play really fecking loud with acoustic instruments here Hugh takes another approach with the music almost delicate but still coming out with plenty of fire and bite. ‘Sunshine’ is another folky indie number while ‘Ballad Of Thomas Higgins’ the air of which sounds remarkably like ‘The Patriot Game’ which in itself was stolen from ‘The Merry Month Of May’ and probably several songs pre that one too. Telling of whaling in New Bedford its a great track and shows pretty much all the albums guests in one place. ‘Dance Hall Girl’ is a gentle folky tale while ‘Ticket Out Of Here’ sees the drums pounding just that bit heavier than before with Hugh and Beth combining beautifully on a song whose subject is well known to many of us. I’m a big fan of the harmonica and it gets a good airing on ‘Not Hanging Here’, a catchy melancholic song while on ‘Edge Of The World’ the upbeat modernist Cajun / Country belies the songs serious side.

The albums penultimate song is ‘Kitty’ a sad traditional Irish love song about a Fenian saying goodbye to his sweetheart. Shane MacGowan said he recalled hearing his Mother singing it often which would explain its appearance on Rum, Sodomy & The Lash where The Pogues injected new life into the song. Here Hugh takes the gentle approach with Hugh’s Scots brogue floating over an arrangement similar to The Pogues. The album ends with the upbeat ‘Everything’s Gonna Be OK’ where we get as close to a full band as the album allows. Even the words here are upbeat as Hugh reassures us everything’s gonna be OK.

So a grand album and at this moment in time its the kind of singer/songwriter album with guests we are seeing a lot of but this came out before the ‘clampdown’ so the originality is all Hugh Morrison’s. He proves here what an excellent frontman he is and how adept he is at taking influences and welding them to traditional Scots Folk sentiments and emotions. It may not be in the same league as Murder The Stout but among its peers in Folk music yeah it’s pretty damn bloody good.

(you can stream The Other Side on the Bandcamp player below before you buy)

Buy The Other Side  FromHugh  CDbaby

Contact Hugh Morrison  YouTube  Twitter  YouTube  Instagram  Facebook

Keep an eye on these pages for a further Hugh project in Iron Roux. Scottish highlands meet Louisiana swamp as Hugh and Beth Patterson combine forces resulting in driving guitar, subversive bass solos, and tight vocal harmonies. We’re here for the ballads, but will stay for the accordion and bouzouki thrown into the mix too! A EP is slated for release very shortly…

Hugh had a very interesting interview The Ripple that is well worth a look.

ALBUM REVIEW: 6’10- ‘Carried In Retrospect’ (2020)

The second full length release from Flatfoot 56 off-shoot band 6’10. Tobin Bawinkel began 6’10 to go back to his musical roots in Americana and Folk music. Life can’t be all circle pits and spitting on sweaty crowds! The groups first full length album since 2014 Gerard Mellon finds ten tracks of childhood memories, raising a family, love and social commentary about society toxicity documenting the progression of the 6’10 story. 

What with pandemics, despotic rulers and a lack of football, we almost let this one slip past us. Thankfully Eagle Eye Eddie wasn’t going to let that happen; and who can blame him, as it comes from one of this site’s favourite artists, Tobin from Flatfoot 56 fame. Obviously, it’s from his other project 6’10. The acoustic, more ‘folksy’ sounding group. I think the membership of 6’10 is quite a fluid thing, with different contributors at different times. What is a constant though is Tobin and his good lady wife Vanessa’s, contribution. In fact, this 10 track album features a number of what could be called duets.

The recent addition to Tobin and Vanessa’s family of a baby brings a much more mellow feel to Tobin’s song-writing. Fatherhood has definitely influenced the style and content of this offering. It still contains the clever sometimes whimsical offerings, along with the expert musicianship, but maybe now has an introspective slant. There are pleasant love-songs like ‘She’s the One’ and ‘Vanessa’s Song. There are also deeper songs like ‘Wither’ that somehow carry extra punch when one considers what the world is going through in the current climate. Flatfoot and Tobin could never be accused of lacking a social conscience. (In the traditions of all good Celtic Punk artists!) ‘Weight’ is a great example of this, especially these days when so many are questioning our roles in the new normal.


I think this is one of the great features of Tobin’s song-writing, that it makes the listener think; whether it be the large faith/religious aspects of some songs, or the intimate closeness of others. These are universal feelings that we all can relate to and perhaps share. Vanessa takes the lead in a couple of tracks, notably ‘Come Home’ and she plays a major role in the whole feel of the album.

(No ‘proper’ videos of any of the songs released yet so you’ll have to go on Gerry’s word but 6’10 did perform a couple of songs from Carried In Retrospect on their recent Live Stream set on Facebook)

The whole feel of this album is different to 6’10’s previous offerings, without calling it downbeat, it just feels slower, less impactful than the Humble Beginnings of a Roving Soul. Maybe it’s the post production or the recording process, but the “feel” is pared back, fewer instruments are involved in the final sound. It harkens back to the America of the dustbowl and the 30’s, when the content of a song seemed to be more important than production effects. You can imagine Tobin and Vanessa touring this album as a complete family unit, with no razzamatazz. Genuinely good music with honest emotions and good intentions. Perhaps this is what we’ve got to look forward to over the next few years.

Buy Carried In Retrospect  Download-Here  CD- Here

Contact 6’10  WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

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!

ALBUM REVIEW: T.C. COSTELLO- ‘The Bluebird’ (2020)

With the imminent release of his seventh album next week London Irish Folk Punker Anto Morra gives his view on T.C. Costello’s The Bluebird.

The Bluebird will be launched live on Facebook on Thursday where T.C. will be debuting some new songs and a few auld favourites too no doubt.

The last time I graced a stage in London I had the pleasure of performing a song with T.C Costello so if you’re expecting an unbiased review you’re gonna be outta luck as when I took the second wave Punk oath back in 1978, I’ve been cursed into a life of artistic honesty.

T.C’s voice is a very acquired taste but what it lacks in melodic beauty, it more than makes up for in passion, expression and wild abandonment in a similar way to MacGowan and Strummer. As a musician he is quite remarkable and completely fearless, with strange instruments dropping in and out all over the place. Imaging the first Roxy Music album lead by an accordion with Ferry on a mixture of absinth and amphetamine, Eno tripping his bollocks off in a room full of chimes bells and whistles, and Manzanera’s strat replaced by a bunch of strange acoustic stringed instruments from the four corners of the earth, and you may have some idea of what you’re gonna get on his latest offering.

‘The Bluebird’ is quite a leap sonically from his previous ‘100 Years Ago’ album but has not lost any of the energy or joy. I am quite ashamed to admit I struggle with any singing that’s not in English (Even the French bit in The Beatles ‘Michelle’ gets on my nerves) and so the opening song ‘Saeya, Saeya Parang Saeya’ was quite a shock and most certainly a challenge for me, but when I applied the right head space and put aside my narrow little Englander prejudiced approach, I started to love it in a similar way I love these early Thompson Twins song’s ‘Vendredi Saint’ or ‘Animal Laugh’.

The term ‘World Music’ is always one I’ve hated (simply because all music is world music unless it’s been made in space) making it mean nothing along with ‘Fusion’ a fuckin’ bass and drum is a fuckin’ fusion!!! However Folk Punk, Celtic Punk does not seem to fully pigeonhole TC Costello’s music adequately so I’m gonna describe it as ‘World Punk’ as the influences here are from everywhere. The psychedelic 60’s india is pulled into Eastern European Klezmer moments and wrapped around the odd traditional and Irish songs and delivered in that authentic, warm, Greenville South Carolina USA accent. Traditional Irish standard ‘To The Begging I Will Go’ follows and is a song I easily relate too and this is a remarkable arrangement of it that seamlessly slides into Italian protest classic ‘Bella Ciao/Pizzicarella Mia’ the latter part sounding like a beautiful Italian love song delivered on Red Bull and Vodka.

The next two songs are very familiar on the Folk scene since the 60’s revival. ‘The Old Churchyard’ popularised by The Watersons and ‘Lord Randall’ a tale of a fool poisoned by the Fairies.

‘Malena’ is another I have to plead ignorance about but it’s full of emotion, passion and musical dexterity. This takes us into the exceptionally familiar ‘Matty Groves’ sticking lyrically close to the Fairport Convention version but musically much more adventurous. ‘Tramp Tramp Tramp’ is a great song about prejudice and discrimination that I think may have taken the melody from ‘God Save Ireland.’  ‘They’re Red Hot’ is a fantastic break neck folk Rag and before you know it, TC is informing us with great joy “who we can and canae throw off the bus”. I’ve heard more versions of ‘Haul Away Joe’ than you can shake a stick at, but the arrangement and performance is one of the best. It’s how I imagine someone like Nick Cave would approach it, very dark, very tortured passionate and authentic. ‘The Willow Garden’ closes this record appropriately, as it is a traditional murder ballad.

This is not a record for those who want a traditional song played the way they always have been, but for people that want possibilities stretched. It’s one of them you’ll listen to again and again and always hear something else going on, a complete acoustic psychedelic head fuck with all the discordant beauty of the world smashed together and made coherent by the passionately spewed lyrics and vocal delivery.
If you want to be taken from anxiety verging on a panic attack, to manic joy and laughter, then be dropped off at the nearest watering hole to cry in your beer? You better buy this album.

(The Bluebird is available for download from Bandcamp. Only $10 the album is set for release on June 1st and all Proceeds go to International Medical Corps, who provide medical and related services to 30 countries around the world)

Pre-Order The Bluebird From TC

Contact T.C. Costello  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

I’d like to leave you with this little clip from a couple of years ago, when I last played in my beloved home town and it really is the only way to put a band together; it features the great man himself as well as Brendan O’Prey of brilliant Celtic Punk outfit “The Lagan.”

ALBUM LAUNCH LIVE STREAM ANNOUNCEMENT

Par for the course and ages after everyone else has had a go we are doing a series of LiveStreams. We begin with the album launch for The Bluebird. We sadly had to cancel the TC Costello/Tim Holehouse gig but TC still wants to play for his UK based fans so he will be streaming live from South Carolina while hopefully Tim will fit in a show for us soon afterwards.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1150555188477972/

The 20th May was all set for his 5th triumphant return to The Lamb but fear not his UK and European fans T.C. will go live at 8pm (9pm- Europe) direct into our phones and computers via his page https://www.facebook.com/tccostello2/ and will play till his hands go sore… so that’s about a hour. Tune in there and then and we’ll see you in the comments section.

For more details on our exclusive Live Streams check out here

ALBUM REVIEW: CLOVER’S REVENGE- ‘Truants And Absolution’ (2020)

Based In Sarasota, Florida, Irish Speed Folk trio Clover’s Revenge exist at the dangerous intersection of two great Irish musical traditions: Acoustic pub music and Celtic-Punk-Rock. Their second full length release, Truants And Absolution, came out on Paddy’s Day.

The new album from Clover’s Revenge carries on in much the same vein as their debut release Gotta Get O’Raggednized. Very simple instrumentation with an emphasis on traditional Irish music but done with barrel loads of humour and charm. The review for their debut album declared them very much a pub band and I can still find no disagreement with that after listening to Truants and Absolution as well and just like their debut it is restricted to eight songs and while that may feel a bit on the short side at twenty-four minutes it’s not too bad. The songs are a mixture of well known classic trad and folk songs and some not so well known (but I wouldn’t quite say obscure) and the odd original track.

Clover’s Revenge left to right: Beau Wilberding- Cajon Drum * John Barron- Mandolin * Zach Johnson- Guitar *

Based in Florida I had always thought the area was largely untouched by Irish immigration but a staggering one-in-nine Florida residents are of Irish or Scotch-Irish ancestry. That works out at over two million folks!!! The Florida Irish claim to fame is that Father Richard Arthur, St. Augustine parish priest, started the first public school in America in 1606. Open to children of both sexes and of all races!  Since that time, the Irish in Florida have proudly played and continue to play key roles in the history and heritage of the state. So it is that wherever you find the Irish you will find several bands of hearty folks willing to entertain them and in Florida they don’t come any bigger, or better, than Clover’s Revenge.

Debuting, like many other bands, on St. Patrick’s Day Clovers Revenge first saw the light of day in 2015 and have performed all over the State as well as regular trips back to the ‘homeland’ while 2020 was set to be a BIG year for the Bhoys with a Northeast/Midwest tour booked in June and then in July a series of gigs in Scotland which was also going to see them perform a one-off London date organised by us. As time has ticked on these dates have looked increasingly unlikely to happen sadly but we can but hope. The band were formed by frontman, lead singer and mandolin player John Barron and he is ably backed up by Dr. Zachary Johnson, on vocals and guitar and Beau Wilberding, who also sings and plays the cajon, a box-shaped percussion instrument played with the hands. Taking influence from modern day Irish-American bands as well as the irreverence of The Pogues they manage while not bringing anything particularly new to Irish music certainly they make music that is fresh and appealing and in the right setting (guess where!!) is most definitely enjoyable.

Labelled ‘Irish Speed Folk’ Truants and Absolution kicks off with a song much loved in Irish Folk and Celtic-Punk and no matter how often I hear it I never tire of ‘The Leaving Of Liverpool’, especially when it’s played well like it is here. The song has a natural energy and a great tempo for ‘punking’ it up and Clover’s Revenge give it plenty of oompf. I also love the harmonica at the beginning (a much underused instrument in folk these days) and the song also has a touch of bluegrass/ country at times. Next is the first original and ‘The Maid Behind The Bar’ and John certainly has a voice that fits in perfectly with the sound of the band. It may not be Frank Sinatra but its slightly rough edges are perfect for Irish music. The song is dedicated to the priestesses of fun at the altars of our joy and in particular one Danae Chiaudano from McCabes Irish Pub in Bradenton, Florida who has kept the Bhoys beer glasses over-flowing through the years. It is set to be the albums second single release.

The following is a mashup of two jigs ‘Old Hag You Have Killed Me / Dinny Delaney’ and is absolutely stunning. Amazing in its simplicity and yet sounding like several more people were plucking away rather than just John and Zach. That big sound continues next with another original Clover’s Revenge song, this time written by Zachary and instrumental called ‘The Ahdmor Jig’ which soon morphs into a loud and rowdy version of ‘Tell Me Ma’ and if Leaving Of Liverpool is popular in Celtic-Punk then this has to be the #1 song of all time. Played with reckless abandon the song is irresistible played by most but Clover’s Revenge nail it. The first single from the album was another original and one the lads may go to hell for! ‘The Merry Misadventures Of Sister Mary Margaret’ is fast approaching a healthy 10,000  streams on Spotify and has seen plenty of airplay both within and outside the Celtic scene. Composed by John and arranged by the band it’s a great auld romp about a gambling obsessed Nun. My Mum went to convent school and we had plenty of Nuns teaching at my secondary school and so its hard to get offended ‘cos if you ever actually knew any nuns and while they did have their fair share of hard nosed task-masters their were also ones who loved music and football and the horses!

‘Big Strong Man’ is best known to us as one of the signature tunes of the great Wolfe Tones and with no record of who or when it was written it was the Tones version that claimed it as an Irish-American song helped no doubt by the reference to Irish-American boxer Jack Dempsey. Another well chosen track and in keeping with the high tempo sound of the album and no doubt a live favourite with its catchy as feck singalong chorus.

“He was my brother Sylvest (What’s he got?)
A row of forty medals on his chest (Big Chest!)
Well, he killed fifty badmen in the west
He knows no rest, thinkin’ a man’s hell fire
Don’t push, just shove, plenty of room for you and me
He’s got an arm like a leg
And a punch that can sick a battle ship (Big Ship!)
Well it takes all the army and the navy to put the wind up Sylvest”

The album comes to an end with a epic version of the great American traditional folk ballad, ‘The Lakes of Pontchartrain’. At over six minutes long its quite the departure on an album of short, fast and friskey numbers but I needn’t have worried as the band have interpreted the song into a musical tour-de-force. Again the origins of the song are unknown, though it is thought to have originated in the southern US in the 19th century. The story tells of a man who is sheltered by a Louisiana Creole woman who he falls in love with but when he asks her for her hand in marriage she declines as she is already engaged. The course of true love never runs smooth in Folk music! The highlight of the album for me its a great song owing much to Paul Brady’s version and a utterly superb way to close down the album.

So eight songs (or is it more like ten?) of simple Irish Folk music that the lads don’t mind admitting are heavily influenced by ‘more talented Irish musicians from history’ and their is absolutely no shame in that at all. Like their debut Truants And Absolution is best heard live but they’ve done a wonderful job transferring that live sound onto disc and the album reflects their live performance pretty damn well. A sound we were looking forward to hearing in auld London town in July and while we are still hopeful there’s no guarantees of bloody anything in 2020!

Buy Truants And Absolution  FromTheBand  iTunes  Amazon

Contact Clover’s Revenge  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

NEW SINGLE FROM TC COSTELLO ‘THE PANDEMIC’ AND LIVE STREAM ANNOUNCEMENT

Irish-American multi-instrumentalist TC Costello is back with a new album in the Summer but to keep us happy he’s released a 2-track single available as a ‘Pay What You Like’ download.

TC Costello is no stranger to these shores (in fact he’s spent more time in my spare room than me!) and was due over here in a months time for a series of dates across England before returning back to South Carolina. So then coronavirus and blah blah blah and everything is off until further notice. Luckily the Celtic-Punk scene has been well served with a bunch of shows live streamed over Facebook. The pick of the bunch so far have to have been the Dropkick Murphys, 1916 and the Brick Top Blaggers shows (all still available to view on their FB pages) so today is a double hitter for TC with the release of ‘The Pandemic’ and a Live Stream announcement for his UK and Euro fans but more on that later.

Now I’m not a big fan of The Misfits. Not that I don’t like them I just never heard much by them so the opening title track is a cover of them with TC doing his best Punky vocals. Its a fast thrashy number which TC wrote with his brother Daniel and is followed by a much more typical TC song a cover of Dexys ‘Come On Eileen’ with the lyrics suitably adapted for a song called ‘Covid19’. Armed with his trusty accordion it’s a spirited version and with TC having lost both his jobs as a musician and driver you are invited to donate to his ‘Broke Musician’ fund. This song is available as a ‘Pay What You Like’ download which as TC himself says also includes nothing.

So look after each other and wash your hands and we are all in the same boat but if you can afford it send a beer or two TC’s way.

LIVE STREAM ANNOUNCEMENT

Par for the course and ages after everyone else has had a go we are doing a LiveStream. We sadly had to cancel the TC Costello/Tim Holehouse gig next month but TC still wants to play for his UK based fans so he will be streaming from South Carolina while hopefully Tim will fit in a show for us soon afterwards.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1150555188477972/

So the 20th May was all set for his 5th triumphant return to The Lamb but fear not his UK and European fans London Celtic Punks and The Lamb Surbiton will be presenting TC playing live from South Carolina direct into our phones and computers.
He will go live at 8pm on his page https://www.facebook.com/tccostello2/ and will play till his hands go sore… so that’s about a hour. Tune in there and then and we’ll see you in the comments section.

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: SONGS FOR POLITICAL ACTION- FOLK MUSIC, TOPICAL SONGS AND THE AMERICAN LEFT

Long since out of reach for those that would most benefit from hearing it this 10 CD collection of near 300 rare political songs from between 1926-1953 is as perfect a package as could possibly be. Released on the German-based Bear Family label it features songs from folk singers Almanac Singers, Pete Seeger, The Weavers, Woody Guthrie and many others, and also bluesmen  like Josh White and Brownie McGhee.

This description from the Bear Family Records catalogue places the collection in a concise context:

“Maybe it didn’t bring about the social and economic equality that it strove for, but the American Left of the 1930’s and 1940’s did leave one lasting legacy: the urban folk song revival. The discs offer a comprehensive overview of this enduring music, from the labor choruses and New York’s socially conscious theatrical scene of the 1930’s, to the Almanac Singers postwar idealism of People’s Songs and ends with the disturbing anti-Communist hysteria of the McCarthy era.”

This set is incredible. As simple as that. A treasure trove that contains historical recordings that could otherwise have been lost to posterity. If anyone has ever said a truer thing than “Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it” then I’d like to hear it! While the Left failed to achieve any real lasting change in the States the one place they did have significant presence was in music. A band like the Almanac Singers’ politically charged influence still resonates through today’s singer-songwriters. The idealism and hope on these recordings came to an abrupt end with the anti-Left McCarthy era that silenced many of these talented, dedicated performers. Containing Folk music, of course, but their are also cowboy songs, country songs, blues and country-blues and if nothing else they destroy the stereotype of the dry and humourless political song.

(to find the download click on the Disc number highlighted in RED)

Disc One: The Leftist Roots Of The Folk Revival

Primarily given over to the oldest union songs and farm-related protest songs. The sound quality on most of the material in this set is astonishingly good

DISC 1

Disc Two: Theatre And Cabaret Performers: 1936-1941

DISC 2

Disc Three: The Almanac Singers: March 1941 – July 1941

Disc Four: Fighting The Fascists: 1942-1944

Disc Three is given over to the Almanac Singers; this body of work was recorded when the official Communist Party line (to which they adhered) was non-aggression against Nazi Germany. The music on Disc Four was surprisingly complex, given the spartan conditions under which a lot of it was done.

DISC 3 AND 4

Disc Five: World War II And The Folk Revival

Disc Six: The People’s Songs Era: 1945-1949

Disc 5 features artists like Earl Robinson, Sir Lancelot, Vern Partlow, Tom Glazer and Woody Guthrie while Disc 6 is dedicated to artists like Josh White, Lee Hays, Lord Invader, Malivna Reynolds and others.

DISC 5 AND 6

Disc Seven: Pete Seeger: 1946-1948

Disc Eight: Charter Records: 1946-1949

Disc seven is mostly made up of Seeger’s masterpieces Roll The Union On and Songs For Political Action. This collection is made up of many things from the personal archives of Pete Seeger, old recordings and photos not found anywhere else. Eight compiles songs from the famed folk and blues record label Charter Records.

DISC 7 AND 8

Disc Nine: Campaign Songs: 1944-1949

Disc Ten: An Era Closes: 1949-1953

Disc nine represents the last significant cohesive body of topical political songs to come from the American left while by the time of disc ten the Left couldn’t do more than snipe at the reactionaries setting the agenda and the passive moderates who stood by.

DISC 9 AND 10

The full package is not just the ten CD’s it is accompanied by a 200-page + hardcover book featuring historical and musical essays, photographs, session information and lyrics – one of the finest documents of the relationship between music and politics of the period that has ever been published.

Listen to little known, or remembered, songs like ‘I’m Going To Organize, Baby Mine’, ‘Commonwealth Of Toil’, ‘Write Me Out My Union Card’, ‘Bad Housing Blues’, ‘Swingin’ On A Scab’, ‘Talking Un-American Blues’, ‘Unemployment Compensation Blues’ through to more famous songs like ‘Which Side Are You On?’ and ‘You Are My Sunshine’ and what you are actually listening to is pure unadulterated American history. These days when the American Left is obsessed with identity politics that divides people rather than bring them together and is separated from the wider working class its hard to imagine a time when working people fought and died for simple things like a living wage, voting rights, the right to organize, and the dignity of the average American. The modern Left’s hatred for all things American is a far cry from the patriotism and passion and love for America found on these discs. It is fitting that the last song on the collection is Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land Is Your Land’.  This passion for America, and a stubborn refusal to accept nothing less than America’s promise of a fundamental fairness, rests right on the surface of lyrics like:

“Was a high wall there that tried to stop me
A sign was painted said: Private Property,
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing —
This land was made for you and me.

One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple
By the Relief Office I saw my people —
As they stood hungry, I stood there wondering if
God blessed America for me.”

For more like this…

 

EP REVIEW: BRAVE THE SEA- ‘The Murders Three’ (2020)

The brand new E.P from Newark, OH Celtic Punk band, Brave The Sea sees them take on three traditional folk tunes or as they say “murder them” in the classic Brave The Sea style.

Now the first thing to note is that Brave The Sea don’t actually come from near they sea. That’s not to say they don’t have saltwater running through their veins though. We have to go back to the Summer of 2015 when four friends in the small industrial town of Newark, Ohio decided to get together and form a band with the aim to cover everything from trad Irish tunes to well chosen covers of the more famous Celtic-Punk bands. Originally called A Pirate’s Life and unsurprisingly they played it Pirate style! A year later they had enough material under their belt to release an album and decided to shift course and become Brave The Sea. That album titled A Pirate’s Life in homage to their original roots as a band saw the light of day in 2017. This was followed last year with The Kraken and again highlighted their unique sound and Celtic-Rock riffs.

The state of Ohio, like everywhere in North America, has strong links back to the auld country and their are over 1,500,000 people of Irish descent there. The Irish in Newark are served well by Ohio Irish-American News and the towns multiple Irish bars (the oldest surviving being McGovern’s Tavern opened in 1936 and still thriving) present the most obvious connection. Irish culture and traditions have played an important role in Newark since the Irish first came to the city escaping An Gorta Mór in the mid-nineteenth century settling for its burgeoning industrial connections.

Brave The Sea from left to right: Dennis B.- Drums * Mattie T.- Mandolin/ Guitar/ Vocals *  Will John- Accordion * Vito G.- Vocals * Matt B.- Guitar * R. Boggs- Bass *

The boys were set for a great series of St. Patrick’s shows, including three in the Celtic-Punk capital of Boston, till you-know-what reared it’s ugly head and forced them to cancel everything so the EP’s release has been a bit subdued. Hopefully this wee review will help rectify that, if only in a small way. On their previous releases they have concentrated on their own material but here on The Murders Three they take on (“murder”) three well known traditional songs kicking off with ‘Old Maui’. This has become a bit of a staple among the Celtic-Punk community with it often sung acapello. The song can be traced to records going back to the mid-19th century and tells the story of a whaling ship returning to Maui in Hawaii after a long season of whaling. To be honest I was dreading another acapello version but Brave The Sea steam straight into

“once more we sail with a northerly gale through the ice and wind and rain”

it and its a fast and furious ride through 180 seconds of fast Celtic-Punk/Metal that sticks closely to the tune despite the furious drumming and Vito’s gruff shouty vocals. Tremendous and a guaranteed floor filler I would imagine. Next up is ‘Bully Boys’ and at first hear it sounds like another mid-19th century sea shanty but is in fact a song written by the Newfie Bros. of Great Big Sea, for the 2010 Russell Crow film Robin Hood. Again the melody remains the same but Brave The Sea throw their all into the song and make it a real foot stamper. The EP ends with the famous Irish rebel song ‘Come Out You Black And Tans’. Normally this the song that the band walk out to at live gigs and here they play a great rabble rousing version with the beautiful voice of local singer/songwriter Bonnie Humble kicking things off and some great mandolin plucking from Mattie. This song has seen a renaissance recently especially in Ireland, reaching #1 in the music charts, as it became the focal point for the campaign against the traitorous Irish government’s bold (!) idea to commemorate both the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police two forces famed for their brutality during the Irish War of Independence. The very idea was soon put to the sword and ‘Come Out Ye Black And Tans’ gained a very welcome second lease of life.

The songs were recorded and mastered by: Tim Waters at Radio City Records and as usual for Brave The Sea the amazing artwork was supplied by Omnigraphicon. In common with a lot of bands with intended releases this month their plans have had to be radically altered and with no gigs to promote the single its up to us and you to help the fella’s out. Send them a couple of quid for the EP and lets keep Celtic-Punk on the one road!

Buy The Murders Three CD’s- Here  Download- Amazon

Contact Brave The Sea  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

ALBUM REVIEW: THE WILD IRISH ROSES- ‘Full Bloom’ (2020)

The Wild Irish Roses are a true family band.
Mom, Dad and 8 kids. They live in New Paltz, NY
Josie Rose (21) sings, plays banjo
, mandolin, penny whistle, viola. Michael X. (dad) plays guitar. Kristi (mom) sings, plays bass. Hanna (23) plays bodhran. Evelyn(18) sings, plays concertina, accordion,viola. Penelope (16) sings,plays Guitar, and tambourine. Aenghus (13) drums. Lazarus (11) harmonica.

Now this is some band and also the perfect time to review them with St. Patrick’s Day just a few days off. Full Bloom is the fourth album release from The Wild Irish Roses an Irish-American family from New Paltz which is a small town in aptly named Ulster County located in the state of New York, about eighty  miles north of New York City. It’s a small place but with plenty of places to get a cold Guinness and even to learn Irish at the local school it’s a place where the Irish-American community have never forgotten their roots.

The base of the band is a group well known to readers here and that is The Templars Of Doom for it is the Templars singer /songwriter /bassist Mike whose five eldest (of eight!) children make up The Wild Irish Roses. His fellow Templar Scott Benson assists on bagpipes, tin-whistles and flute. Mam (Kristina) and Dad cut their teeth in Brooklyn based post-punk band The Astro-Zombies in the 90’s while during the 2000’s they were in The Brian Wilson Shock Treatment who released 8 albums up to 2010 so music is the blood of this prolific family. On the last Roses album, Fill Yer Boots, Man!, it featured an incredible twenty one songs while here they manage only a paltry seventeen but they continue in much the same vein with songs flying past you as faster than you can keep up with them. The album was recorded in the family’s home studio, their renovated barn, and released on Poe Records.
Full Bloom begins with ‘Garry Owen’ a famous Irish drinking song dating back to Limerick in the late 1700’s. It was adopted by the  7th Cavalry and is said to have been the favourite of General George Armstrong Custer who heard the song among the Irish troops and liked the beat so it was used as a marching song. Mike takes on vocals here giving it a Templars feel while the family supply backing vocals. The album sees three sisters take turns at singing lead and on ‘An Incident At Sea’ it is Josie, who also plays pipes in the Templars Of The Doom, who sings her own composition.

Her voice reminds me of Jacqui McShee from Pentangle while the song also has that 1970’s British folk feel to it. This is followed by a brief tin whistle and flute interlude before we are treated to the song that I feel has given Pentangle a place in music history. ‘Will O’Winsbury’, a traditional Scots ballad dating from 1775, is sung by Evelyn-Marie and while much different to the Pentangle version in fact I think it even improves on it. In conversation with Mike though he says they came to the song through Anne Briggs who in turn got it from Johnny Moynihan of the legendary Sweeneys Men. With three bagpipers in the family it’s no surprise to find the pipes featuring heavily here and the first of three bagpipe reels ‘The Atholl Highlanders’ is next and no wonder it use to put the fear of God into people! Evelyn-Marie returns to sing a beautiful acapella version of ‘Let No Man Steal Your Thyme’, a a traditional folk ballad used to warn young people of the dangers in taking false lovers. First documented in 1689 it’s another link to the wonderful Pentangle’s appearing on their debut album in 1968. ‘The Adventures Of A Young Rose’ is an interesting track sounding in part like an Aussie western song as wellas a Celtic foot stomper. Now their previous albums have been significant (as have the Templars Of Doom) for their use of covers that you just wouldn’t expect and here they throw in Sweet’s ‘Fox On The Run’ sung brilliantly by Penelope Ann (only 15!). I LOVE Sweet and this versions sure does them justice.

Another instrumental ‘The Gael’ follows. The song written by Dougie Maclean featured in the 1992 blockbuster film ‘Last of the Mohicans’ and is adapted from fiddle to bagpipes and again stirs the blood like no other instrument on earth can. ‘Rumple- Pye The Troll’ sees Mike taking vocals over a silly song about an imaginary (?) friend. ‘Jenny Nettles’ is another pipes instrumental and has a punky feel to it despite is being purely acoustic (the true mark for a LOUD band if you ask me!). ‘A Rogues March’ like most here has an interesting back story being the song played in camp when  dishonoured soldiers were drummed out of camp on their way to punishment. Here the entire Rose family of ten combine to sing accompanied only by the beat of the bodhran. We are back in Celtic-Punk territory next with ‘ICC Home (Hudson Valley Irish Cultural Center)’. The battle to build an Irish centre was a long one but in the end a successful one and here the Roses pay tribute to a place that will provide a warm and welcoming place for all who want to share in the great Irish-American experience. Polly Vaughn’ is an old Irish folk song about a boy out hunting who accidentally kills his true love. We are rounding the bend now and Armstrong’s Last Goodbye’ is better known these days as ‘The Parting Glass’ and contrary to popular opinion is in fact a Scots song. Sung at the end of a gathering of friends and more recently at funerals it’s been recorded by just about every decent Irish artist.

The album (sort of) ends with a cover of the Velvet Undergrounds ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’. Bagpipe heavy and with Josie and Evelyn on vocals it doesn’t disappoint. Well that should be it except for a bonus track which is basically the family Rose three bagpipe players going to town on ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’ which also turns out to be one of the album’s highlights.

Well what to say. Besides the obvious achievement of it being so special thanks to it being such a family endeavour it does also stand on its own two feet as well. The music sometimes has the feel of Prog-Rock at times alongside the utter abashed Celtic/ Irishness of the music. Always interesting The Wild Irish Roses have a very unique take on Irish music and on an album full of maudlin sad ballads sat next to full on Irish foot stompers they carry it off with ease. I have revisited this album several times since i first sat down and listened to it and each time I hear something different and I have no doubt that if I was to write this review again in a year it would be completely different.

(you can stream Full Bloom on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Full Bloom  FromTheBand  (CD or Download)

Contact The Wild Irish Roses  Bandcamp  Facebook  YouTube

Contact The Templars Of Doom  Facebook   Bandcamp  YouTube  Spotify  Instagram

EP REVIEW: THE KILMAINE SAINTS- ‘Off The Wagon Acoustic Sessions’ (2020)

The Kilmaine Saints are back! One of the best Celtic-Rock bands Irish-America has ever produced with a seven track acoustic EP that includes two new songs and five re-imagined Saints classics.

This explosive, high-energy Celtic rock band from Central PA will lift your hearts, your spirits, and your pint when you’re not looking!

Well what to say about the Kilmaine Saints? One of my favourite bands and one that all the writers here would agree is and has been one of the best and not only that but it is widely agreed that when the definitive history of Celtic-Punk is put to paper then the Kilmaine Saints will have one or maybe two of the best Celtic-Punk albums and maybe even a third as well!
Formed in Central Pennsylvania when two members of the Harrisburg Pipe & Drum with a mutual love of the flourishing Irish-American Celtic-Punk scene decided to kick something off with the aim of getting them free beers at local St. Patrick’s Day shows. Well from small acorns they have blossomed into a band that has always stood just a small step away from Celtic-Punk stardom. One of only a few American bands whose fame has translated into overseas success and it’s no surprise to occasionally spot a Saints shirt at gigs over the years. Others in this league would be The Tossers, Mickey Rickshaw or Flatfoot 56. One of the scenes most consistently good bands they have released four albums, a live album and a couple of EP’s with the most outstanding of all being their debut in 2010 The Good, The Plaid, And The Ugly which Paddyrock called “the BEST Celtic Rock release of 2010 hands down!” and introduced me, and many others, to the Kilmaine Saints thanks to the now long gone Paddy Punx web site.
This was followed up  a couple of years later with Drunken Redemption which made the top ten of all four leading Celtic-Punk web-sites for 2012. Five years of intensive gigging led to the release of their last studio album and Whiskey Blues And Faded Tattoos really exploded the Saints back onto the national scene. With over seventeen songs they managed not a single duffer and from the first seconds to last dirge of the bagpipes it remains, along with The Good, The Plaid, And The Ugly, one of the albums any Celtic-Punk fan must seek out.
Now a band needs a good set of releases to achieve this level of attention but in their beginning it is their live shows that sees people coming back for more and even though separated by hundreds of miles of ocean one of the things I have consistently read about is the Saints and their high-octane, blistering, high-energy live sets that keep people singing along, stomping their feet, lifting their pints and shouting for more. So the two come together and top of that the people in the band have always taken an interest in the scene and not just in how it can help them which is something that we here appreciate especially.
So history lesson delivered and what does 2020 give us? Well another drawback to being so far away from the main home of Celtic-Punk is bands can go quiet on you and you don’t always get to realise why so with a couple of years of quiet I was delighted to receive Off The Wagon from band guitarist  Rich. Quickly adding it to my phone I played the EP’s seven songs about a dozen times and then sat through the whole Kilmaine Saints back catalogue at the weekend to remind me what a utterly fantastic band they are. Their albums have tended to be a solid mix of amped up Irish and Celtic classics with extremely good compositions of their own thrown in as well. It has to be said though you can be a great band playing covers, and especially if you do something with them rather than being just a standard cover, but to go further you need strong songs of your own and this is what sets The Kilmaine Saints apart. Here though on Off The Wagon they have gone for a acoustic setting. Not that it doesn’t still mean it can be as noisy and raucous as most thrash metal bands but that the progression of the Kilmaine Saints is far is far from over yet!

Kilmaine Saints left to right: Bill Brown- Pipes, Whistle, Bouzouki * Jon Heller- Bass/Pipes * Tommy Leanza- Drums * Liz Mallin- Fiddle * Rich Lipski- Mandolin, Banjo, Acoustic Guitar * Brendan Power- Vocals * Erich Arndt- Guitar *

The EP’s seven songs consist of five older tracks re-imagined and two completely new ones. The EP begins with a new one the title track ‘Off The Wagon’. With a tune flitting from a Walt Disney favourite to an Irish jig the song flies through in just over two minutes and is typical Kilmaine Saints. These guys can write a serious song and have done many times but its the love of a good time that dominates and their sense of humour shines through here. Next up is a song where the serious nature of the lyrics (the poor Irish arriving in the USA during the Great Hunger and the prejudice they received) belies the jaunty tune that accompanies it. Something you often find in Irish music. ‘Painting Paradise Square’ first appeared on their debut album and was written by former band member and multi-instrumentalist (tenor banjo, bass, mandolin) Frank Aponte.
“I suffered to get here and I’m not going to leave
And if you knock me down, you’d best be sure I’m dead
‘Cause when I get back on me feet, and I promise you that I will
I’ll steal your life and use your blood to paint Paradise Square!”
‘With Regrets’ is next up from Drunken Redemption and while the original was a full throttle Celtic rocker about a wastrel of a man and attempting to make sure his son doesn’t follow the same roads as him. The song is a beautiful ballad with great mournful fiddle work from Liz. Great heartfelt lyrics and Mayo born vocalist Brendan’s great voice is accompanied by Liz to great effect. A real choker of a song. ‘MacGowans Wake’ is not a tribute as I had originally thought to the Godfather of Celtic-Punk but a loving salute to a friend of the band Eddie McGowan.

Eddie was a very proud Irish-American born in Baltimore, Maryland and was a founder member of Celtic-Rock band Dublin 5 who shared many’s a stage with the Kilmaine Saints. Eddie MacGowan was a

Eddie MacGowan 1969-2018 RIP

friend, musician and father who on February 5, 2018, lost his nearly four-year battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). His energy, humor, generosity, love and friendship will be deeply missed by the multitude of people who have been lucky to know him. He made everyone he met feel like they mattered to him, and they truly did. He gave everything he had to family and friends. Those who loved him have set up a foundation the Eddie MacGowan Foundation so please take a look. Funds raised through their activities will be donated to organizations that supported Eddie through his illness and that continue to support patients with similar disabilities. A sad loss for the Irish in America. Another beautiful choker of a song and following this we are back again to their last album for ‘Pennsylvania’s Finest’ what you might call a ‘American Rebel Song’. Again the original was a barnstormer of a song fast, furious and full of righteous anger, rousing the masses to remember the War Of Independence.

“And all the world shall know, Americans are free
Nor slaves nor cowards we will prove, And England soon shall see
We’re Pennsylvania’s Finest,
And we will proudly fight our hearts are strong our aim is true,
We’ll stand up for our rights”
The English making friends wherever they go since 1776!! Played here with with an ever such slight ska-ish beat but with much the same tempo of the original. Their last album provides the last two tracks here with the marvellous ‘Whiskey Blues And Faded Tattoos’ leaping out at you as the standout track. A superb song carefully crafted and here presented in such a beautiful way. The lyrics are amazing and a positive call to sort ourselves out. 
“Don’t waste another night, getting lost in your pint
Wasted memories of wasted yesterdays
Get up off the bar stool Get your boots on the ground
You’ll never reach the top at the bottom of a round
‘Cuz age is just a number not the sum of our mistakes
Always search for new tomorrows Always hope for better days”

The EP ends with ‘Golden Pen’ and a perfect way to leave with another great song Liz wrote about the death of a friend’s Mother. A great EP that shows the amazing talent of a band that is not resting on its laurels and hopefully new material will be following soon. The Celtic-Punk scene needs The Kilmaine Saints.

(Whiskey Blues And Faded Tattoos- not the acoustic version as featured on Off The Wagon but what the hell you get the drift and I bloody love this song!)

The Kilmaine Saints are equal parts Irish swagger, Scottish pride and whiskey. Their usual explosive Celtic-Rock has taken a back seat for now but is sure to return. The scene in America is still standing strong and bands like the Saints have now begun to influence a new breed of band setting out and it’s fair to say that there’s not much better bands to take that influence from. The Kilmaine Saints have become over the years a focal point for not just their local Irish-American community but nationwide too. A band that captures what it is to be Irish in America today. A symbol for a community that isn’t just there so that TV executives can make gangster programmes about them or TV series taking the piss out of their religion. The Irish community is still very much alive just like, thank heavens, The Kilmaine Saints.

Buy Off The Wagon Acoustic Sessions  FromTheBand

Contact The Kilmaine Saints WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  ReverbNation  YouTube

The Kilmaine Saints cross the broad Atlantic later in the year to play a series of gigs in the auld country taking in some of Ireland’s biggest tourist attractions. Sadly they won’t be coming to Ireland’s 33rd county (London) so my wait to see them goes on. You can still join them as a fan if you’re in America I think but best to check with them and if you in Ireland or going to be there at the same time (April 18-25) then be sure to find out where they are playing and get along!

The Kilmaine Saints performed the whole of Off The Wagon EP live on Facebook on Saturday 29th February and its a wonderful hour+ of the Saints talking about all manner of stuff and playing the songs. Well worth the watch.

TEN OF THE BEST PERFORMANCES FROM THE JOHNNY CASH SHOW

John R. ‘Johnny’ Cash February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003

Songwriter. Six-string strummer. Storyteller. Country boy. Rock star. Folk hero. Preacher. Poet. Drug addict. Rebel. Saint AND sinner. Victim. Survivor. Home wrecker. Husband. Father. Son. and more…

Today is the birthday of the ultimate Rock’n’Roll rebel the one and only Johnny Cash. We have covered Johnny’s life several times so much are we in awe of his life and his musical career so here we are going to concentrate on a short period of his life from June, 1969 to March, 1970.

In 1968 Johnny’s career came back with a bang following the success of his two live prison shows, 1968’s At Folsom Prison and 1969’s At San Quentin A. With his star firmly back in place he was rewarded with his own television show to be called quite simply The Johnny Cash Show. Earmarked as the Summertime replacement for The Hollywood Palace variety show it was short lived but has gone down in history thanks to Johnny and the way he ‘stepped outside the box’ by inviting some of the most interesting and influential artists of the time onto the show.

The first episode aired on June 7, 1969 taped at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN, the home to country music institution the Grand Ole Opry. It had been Johnny’s ambition to play there as a child and he had achieved that dream thirteen years earlier after his chart topping #1 ‘I Walk The Line’. That first episode featured performances by singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, Cajun fiddler Dough Kershaw and to the shock of many, Bob Dylan. The Johnny Cash Show saw many memorable performances, from the likes of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and Eric Clapton to a segment of the show called ‘Country Gold’ which had guests as diverse as Tammy Wynette, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Bill Monroe, Loretta Lynn and the Everly Brothers.

The ratings for The Johnny Cash Show were excellent (reaching #17 in the nationwide Nielsen ratings in 1970) and ABC extended the original run from 15 to 58 episodes but the end came early in 1971 after just 22 shows as part of the so-called ‘rural purge’ in which urban executives at all three major broadcast networks eliminated rural and older skewing programs. ABC viewing figures at the time were in massive decline and by cancelling one of their only successes it just goes to show how mismanaged the network was at the time. Never to be repeated it’s a disgrace that the copies of the shows lay unreleased in the vaults. A terrible mistake and we can only hope it is rectified soon. This is why the quality of some of the videos isn’t quite the best. 

To celebrate of Johnny Cash’s 88th birthday we have trawled through You Tube to find you the best performances from The Johnny Cash Show. From his rendition of ‘The Long Black Veil’ with Joni Mitchell to the debut performance of his classic (and possibly THE ultimate protest song) ‘The Man in Black’ every song that left this mans lips meant something to him and to us. A man whose popularity crossed all borders creed, class and colour and was truly loved and cherished by all.

Johnny Cash and Pete Seeger – ‘Cripple Creek’/’Worried Man Blues’

Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison – ‘Pretty Woman’

Johnny Cash and Joni Mitchell – ‘The Long Black Veil’

Johnny Cash – ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’

Johnny Cash and Louis Armstrong  – ‘Blue Yodel #9’

Ray Charles – ‘Ring Of Fire’

Creedence Clearwater Revival – ‘Bad Moon Rising’

Stevie Wonder – ‘Heaven Help Us All’

Johnny Cash, John Hartford, Vassar Clements and Norman Blake – ‘Bill Monroe Medley’

Johnny Cash – ‘Man In Black’

Johnny Cash  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  The Johnny Cash Trail  

SINGLE REVIEW: BRYAN McPHERSON- ‘Berkeley Demos’ (2020)

Bryan McPherson, a fiery, folk-playing, native of Boston Massachusetts was called west to Los Angeles in 2010. Bringing with him blue collared incendiary working class folk music fusing Americana, Folk, alternative and Punk.

One of the highlights of doing this here site is that you can push artists that really made a difference in your life. I first came across Bryan MacPherson when a fellow London Celtic Punk gave me a handful of bootleg CD’s to listen to. To be honest I didn’t give them much of a chance and dismissed them early on as a wee bit lame. How wrong I could be I would learn later. Bryan toured England in 2015 and eventually wound up in London playing at the Goth bar The Devonshire Arms in Camden. It was free so a bunch of us went along and wow I can honestly say I was blown away by both the power and the passion of Bryan’s music. The gig came along after some particularly bad news so it was also a timely reminder to pull my socks up, hold my head up high and get on with it. The night could have gone a lot better with ‘technical’ difficulties mucking up most of the set but I came away that night with a warm feeling of hope and a new favourite singer-songwriter!

“Bryan sings like, we’re lucky he doesn’t own a gun.” -Filter Magazine

Here on his new single Bryan digs into his distant past and releases three tracks from when he first arrived in California around 2010. A decade on they still sound as relevant as ever and incredibly up to date. The opening song ‘East Bay Train’ has never been released before and was recorded with the help of the great Willie Samuels in a session where they were just trying some stuff out. Bryan has the amazing ability to inject into every song his heart and his voice just exudes passion. The following two tracks were both recorded in the shed of Jason White from the Californian bands The Big Cats and Pinhead Gunpowder. He is also a touring guitarist in a little known pop combo called Green Day! Well he must have a better shed than me because both songs sound immaculate. The first of the songs is an early version of ‘Born Again American Blues’. Telling the tale of travelling across the States playing music

“I got a sleeping bag I take it with me wherever I go. I always got a bed. I always got a home. I got the sky for my sky light. Don’t worry mama I’m alright. ‘Cause I was born at night. I was born born born to fight with shadows on the wall.”

The single ends with ‘I See A Flag’ and it’s no exaggeration on my part to say this is one of my all-time favourite songs. At almost seven minutes it’s a song that perfectly captures Bryan McPherson it all his glory. A story told of life- both sordid and hopeful- and love and hate and politics. A world where something better is possible.

“There ain’t no easy way to end this song. I ain’t got no answers ‘cept mountains and fog cuz I seen the buildings built and I watched them crumble. I seen a nation of braggarts stumble humbled I seen money come and go, people live and die, people giving up, standing up to try and all I can hope for is a better today cuz life’s right now and its here I’ll stay. Its here I will sing and here I will pray to a billion gods I hope they all get their way. So lets just tear it all down we can start from scratch. Keep our faces forward don’t ever look back. A place where everybody’s clothed and everybody’s fed and nobody’s dying from a lack of medicine. I don’t understand. I see a flag lowered in the wind”

It don’t get much better than this. Bryan is attempting to survive on the meagre portion that a full time DIY musician makes so he occasionally comes up with novel ways to support himself. This time he has made up bootleg numbered tapes of the single with hand painted covers by Bryan. They are selling quickly and you can pick one up here.

(you can stream Berkeley Demos on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Berkeley Demos  Bandcamp

Contact Bryan McPherson  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube  Spotify

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS 2019 READERS POLL WINNER ANNOUNCED!

The votes are in and have been counted and although it’s just a bit of fun really a champion has been declared the 2019 Readers Poll winner!

One of most popular releases of the year and it showed as they romped home as champions quite safely in the end. In true Mickey Rickshaw style they didn’t ask their fans to vote for them and even agreed with us that the #1 Celtic-Punk album of the year was The Walker Roaders. A very talented yet humble bunch of guys with a great future ahead of them. Well done fellas.

You can stream Home In Song on the Bandcamp below before you part with your hard earned. We promise you it is well worth it.

Buy Home In Song- Bandcamp   ArrestRecords (T-Shirt/Vinyl offer)

Contact Mickey Rickshaw  WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  Twitter  YouTube  Instagram

A special edition of Home In Song is available from MacSlons Irish Shop featuring seven (!) bonus tracks from their acclaimed 16 Down And Back Again demo from 2013 previously only available as a download.

With nearly 500 votes cast for thirty (plus three that came out in 2018!) different releases from 2019 it’s been a much more interesting Poll than 2018’s for a variety of reasons.The vote was slightly down on the previous year but was spread among a much wider selection of releases and a lot more votes were cast in the ‘Other’ section than ever before too. Early on it looked likely to be a four horse race between early leaders Ferocious Dog, Mickey Rickshaw, Greenland Whalefishers and Pipes And Pints. As time went by The Rumjacks made it a five horse race but Mickey Rickshaw slowly but surely overtook Ferocious Dog at the top and in the end romped home comfortably by over thirty votes.

In fact the actual winner of the Poll was the ‘other’ section with 20% of all votes. They were spread among twenty-one releases but with Ny’ers The Templars Of Doom hitting 19 votes which lifted them into joint 9th place with McDermotts 2 Hours overall and Seth Mountain not far behind on 17 votes giving him 10th position pushing out The Narrowbacks with The Whipjacks, The Rumjacks and Tortilla Flat all just behind.

So onto 2020 we go and several ‘big’ bands are promising new albums so it all seems set to be another exciting year ahead of us in the Celtic-Punk scene so if you are in a band and have something planned be sure to let us know. We can’t review what we don’t hear of and why not consider subscribing (the form is on the left or below depending how you are viewing this page) and you won’t miss any posts.

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS READERS POLL 2018

EP REVIEW: 1916- ‘Meant To Be’ (2020)

Hailing from upstate NY, Celtic rockers 1916 are an explosive concoction of the modern Irish Punk movement with an original mix of psychobilly which gives 1916 a sound that stands apart from other bands of the genre.

Kicking off on New Years Day with a new EP big fan of 1916 Marv was among the first to buy it and has been listening to it ever since so here’s our first review of 2020!

A couple of years ago on these very pages I first came across the band 1916 from Rochester, New York, when praise was rightly heaped on their last album ‘Far Beyond The Pale’. I immediately ordered their entire back-catalogue on CD, which while talking a little while to cross the pond, has since never been far from my playlists. If you are not familiar with their work (unlikely I know!) then I advise you put that right as quickly as you can. Their cover of ‘I’ll Fly Away’ is one of my all-time favourite tracks along with ‘Ordinary Man’ and ‘Nothing Left to Lose’ from the 2016 album ‘Last Call for Heroes’

Roll forward to late 2019, just before Christmas, and welcome news was received via the auspices of Facebook that 1916 would soon be releasing a new single. True to their word it went live on all digital platforms on 1st January. Now that’s how you start off a new year!

So here we have the new three-track single, every note classic 1916 from first to last. The title track of the single is ‘Meant To Be’ – Full of everything we love from the raw overdriven guitar, the solid drumming driving the track along maniacally, and Billy Herring’s gravelly wistful voice snarling through the words and harmonies.

With hardly time to catch your breath the tempo knob is cranked up a notch and ‘Khaleesi’ follows. Yes it is THAT Khaleesi. This is the condensed story of the mother of dragons from Game of Thrones with a monumentally singalong chorus:

“And it is no, no, NO! Khaleesi

Run those dragons nice and easy!

Far away, when you go far away…

And you will go, go, GO! Khaleesi

Run those dragons nice and easy,

Through the towns of Westeros today.”

Bloody hell. This is a CRACKER of a song. The energy, like most everything 1916 produces, just explodes out of the speakers. It must be an absolute belter live.

The final track is a curious cover and mashup of the old standard ‘Show Me The Way To Go Home’, a song I am only really familiar with due to my dear old mother singing it in a faux drunk slur to indicate she may be very slightly tipsy. Bless her. However, that being said, I prefer the 1916 version all day- thumping upright bass and frenetic drums with soaring guitar work and mob vocals for backing when needed.

(Check out The 1916 Shop for all their merchandise plus the chance to buy their complete discography for $35)

So there you have it, the best way to start a new year. Shake off the Christmas flab and the dire state of the political situation here in the UK. Press play on ‘Meant To Be’, crank the volume up to max lose yourself in a nine minute slab of rollicking psychobilly-tinged folk punk. Completely and undeniably 1916 on top form, I pray it heralds a new album in 2020 as much as I pray that the boys will somehow, sometime, make it across the pond to our shores so we can bask in their glory.

Buy Meant To Be  Amazon  CDbaby

Contact 1916  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  Bandcamp  YouTube