Category Archives: Yorkshire
Today is our birthday. The 30492 – London Celtic Punks blog was born today on the 7th July, 2014 . It’s been an enjoyable slog I must say and it’s been an pleasure to meet so many like minded people. There is plenty more to come from us and we just hope that we can continue to introduce you to good music and good craic for many years to come.
One thing that we have been asked more than any other is how is the word ‘Celtic’ pronounced. For us over here in England it seems pretty natural but I can see how it can be a bit confusing if you are from overseas. During the so-called Celtic Twilight period in the late 1800s and early 1900s both hard c (‘Keltic’) and soft c (‘Seltic’) were used. The word Celt is derived from Keltoi, which is the name the Greeks gave the ‘barbarian’ tribes along the Danube and Rhone rivers. The Romans borrowed the Greek name, but spelled it ‘Celtae’, and the word entered French in the form ‘Celtes’, from which the English derived Celt. In French the soft c pronunciation is standard for ‘Celtique’, following standard French pronunciation rules. The Irish (‘Ceilteach’) and Breton’s (‘kelt’-ethnicity and ‘keltiek’- language) both use a hard c sound. Modern Breton also has a word ‘Keltia’, meaning the Celtic world.
The Celtic Twilight period was also around the time when many sporting organisations were springing up with the name Celtic in them. Most were based outside of Ireland and were formed either by first or second generation Irish immigrants. The most obvious being of course Glasgow Celtic in 1888 but their are many other great examples. Dewsbury Celtic Rugby League Football Club (1879) are the oldest Irish sporting organisation outside Ireland. Formed in 1879 when the Irish escaping post-famine poverty and hunger arrived in Yorkshire to work as labourers and in the local mills. They settled in the Irish ghetto of Westtown and formed a rugby club which soon after changed to being a football club before changing again shortly after and returning to rugby. They began life as Dewsbury Shamrocks and changed their name in around 1910 to Celtic. The club today are based in Irish National League Club in Dewsbury and play in the National Division of the Rugby League Conference. The club field a dozen or more youth teams and are doing an absolutely amazing job of keeping alive the ‘Celtic’ spirit and traditions in West Yorkshire.
As more and more Irish flooded into England and Scotland football teams like our very own (1888) and Stalybridge Celtic (1909) or Farsley Celtic (1908) in the north of England were established and then later in America the Boston Celtics Basketball Club (1946). These are all referred to with the soft c pronunciation and the modern convention is to keep the soft c pronunciation to refer only to sports teams.
The use of the hard c version in cultural matters indicated, until recently, that the user was somewhat knowledgeable in these matters. This has changed since Riverdance, Titanic, etc., and also the use of the term ‘Celtic Tiger’ to refer to the improved economy of Ireland and Scotland. Personally I would use the hard k when talking about Celtic culture, language or traditions except when talking about sporting clubs but to be honest both can be ‘korrect’!!
“the band that took punk ideology most seriously”
Directer: Joe Angio Release Date: November, 2013 Running Time: 99 minutes
“A loving ode to an unsung band” – LA Times
“Marvelous” – New York Post
“Jubilant” – The Village Voice
Emerging soon after the first blasts of UK punk rock, the Mekons went from being a group of socialist art students with no musical skills to the prolific, raucous, rabble rousing progeny of country legend Hank Williams. Formed in Leeds by Jon Langford, Kevin Lycett, Mark White, Andy Corrigan and Tom Greenhalgh they were from the outset highly principled stating
”That anybody could do it; that we didn’t want to be stars; that there was no set group as such, anybody could get up and join in and instruments would be swapped around; that there’d be no distance between the audience and the band; that we were nobody special”
They took the band’s name from the Mekon, an evil character from the Dan Dare comic strip in the popular 1950’s comic The Eagle which briefly resurfaced when I was a kid in the 80’s. Their first single, released in 1978, was ‘Never Been in a Riot’, a piss take of The Clash’s ‘White Riot’ and was a masterpiece of simplistic DIY punk, rock and roll.
The band carried on for several years playing their noisy brand of post-punk rock releasing singles on a variety of labels and their first album, The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strnen, was recorded using a friends bands instruments. Due to an error by the record company art department the cover featured pictures of, fellow Leeds band, Gang of Four by mistake. After The Mekons Story compilation in 1982 the band called it a day, with Langford forming The Three Johns.
They soon returned and began pumping out album after album again on a multitude of labels and even at one time making it onto a major though the resulting album was a commercial flop and though it was loved by the fans they were soon dropped like the proverbial hot potato and cut adrift again.
Over the years and as the band have learnt to play their instruments their musical style has transformed and The Mekons are now as famous for playing country and folk music as well as brief forays into rock and even dub reggae. With around twenty albums to their name plus untold amount of singles and EP’s as well appearances on dozens of compilations they have a massive discography so a good place to start would be Mekons, Mekons, Mekons which you can download by clicking on the record cover on the right. It covers the years 1987-1992 which includes both their punkier days and their transformation into a post-punk, cowpunk or alt-country band (or whatever label the press give them at that moment in time).
Around 1985’s brilliant Fear And Whiskey the first signs of a full on change in style began to show. Taking the outlaw country’n’western of Hank Williams/Johnny Cash rather than the cowboy hat and glitter of Nashville and The Mekons successfully reinvented themselves. Joe Angio’s exuberant film ‘Revenge Of The Mekons’ documents the unlikely career of this genre-defying collective. Following their improbable history- a surprising and influential embrace of folk and country music, forays into the art world and consistent bad luck with major record labels. Featuring interviews with fans, from musician Will Oldham, author Jonathan Franzen to film director Mary Harron and comedian Fred Armisen, ‘Revenge Of The Mekons’ reveals four decades into an ever-evolving career how The Mekons continue to make bold, unpredictable music while staying true to the punk roots.
Critically and cultishly adored The Mekons deserve to be much more well known and this film reveals how, four decades into a still-evolving career, the Mekons continue to make original, genre-defying music while staying true to the punk ethos.
(Q&A and performance with band members Jon Langford and Lu Edmunds following the screening of Revenge of the Mekons in 2015)
WATCH REVENGE OF THE MEKONS
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3. The film will start playing.
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The Mekons On The Web
Fast, ruthless and uncompromising traditional folk music and frantic bluegrass style picking with self penned songs of protest and debauchery!
Johnny Campbell is a name that will be familiar to regular viewers of the London Celtic Punks blog-zine as we have been long time fans of pretty much everything Johnny has come up with over the years. We first crossed paths with Johnny when he played in the excellent Yorkshire celtic-punk band Three Sheets T’Wind but since those days Johnny has spreads his wings and has become a quite successful and well travelled solo artist. After numerous tours and gigs and a EP we now arrive at the release of Hook, Line And Sinker back at the arse end of last year. We did a very interesting interview with Johnny in September just gone (here) so drop over there to have a read and find out lots more about Johnny and his various gig antics across Europe including how ISIS nearly screwed up his tour!
Hook, Line And Sinker is eight songs of stand out traditional folk music lasting just shy of half an hour with Johnny ably supported by Rosie Eade on backing vocals and an old bandmate of Shane MacGowan, Kieran O’Malley on the violin. A story of a journey from York to Middlesbrough begins the album with ‘Hills Of Cleveland’ and name checks places of outstanding beauty along the way. A sort of North Yorkshire national anthem that I am sure sounds mental to anyone who doesn’t know or appreciate ‘Gods own country’.
“Sneck Yate over Hambleton it’s where we made good time
The smog caresses Middlesbrough you could see it to the Tyne”
This is followed by ‘Johnny McGhee’ a comedy song that came about after a night out on the lash and with a gut full of ale and arriving home and after listening to the great Irish balladeers like John McCormack and The Clancy Brothers Johnny decided to write a traditional old school folk song with the emphasis on the lyrics and using different volumes of the voice when singing. Play the song below and you’ll understand instantly what I mean.
“Rambling and roving and smoking and courting
And drinking black Porter as fast as you feel
In all your days roving you’ll find none more jovial
As the wondrous wanderer Johnny McGhee”
‘Blue Mountains’ is a fast paced instrumental with great fiddle work from Kieran and as close as this album comes to the sound of Three Sheets T’Wind. Personally I think the album would have benefited from a few faster paced numbers but that is not Johnny’s shtick here. Waking up hungover on a boat to Denmark with no money, no phone, no bank card and no wallet was the inspiration for ‘Copenhagen’ and having to busk for three days for food and money just to get to the airport providing the background for the story. ‘Complaint’ was written in mind about those affected by the Bedroom Tax and forced out onto the street and put to a very old traditional Irish tune. The romanticism of tramping the high roads belies exactly how difficult and traumatic it can really me. Like anything it’s simple with a safety net but there’s not many of us who will ever find ourselves with no other option. There are too many songs in the folk genre romanticising the idea of living a homeless life and glamorising the idea of being a wanderer without commitment or troubles. The ‘roving minstrel’ image portrayed in folk song about travellers and gypsies having a carefree life just isn’t true when weighed up against all the daily shit and blatant discrimination traveller families have to put up. Next up is ‘The Death Of The Public House (skit)’ and that witch Maggot Thatcher snarls out at you from the speakers. Many of you will have no idea or will have forgotten what she was like so remind yourself with her spouting the miserable anti-human claptrap she was famous for. Hook, Line And Sinker’ was wrote with Woody Guthrie in mind and the legendary American folk pioneer will be smiling down from above on hearing this. The song steers clear of preaching and has a real catchy foot tapping way about it. References to the optimism of the radical movements in the US and UK that haven’t come to full fruition as well as religion and the two party political system.
‘Jock Stewart’ is the famous song made famous I suppose by The Pogues as sung by Cait O’Riordan. Originally an Irish ballad it was shortened and adapted to an Aberdeenshire drinking song. And what a song it is!
“So be easy and free,
When you’re drinkin’ wi’ me,
I’m a man you don’t meet every day”
If you’re a fan of traditional folk music and folk singer’s like Christy Moore and Paul Brady then you will love this record. Passionate and straight from the heart Johnny takes his music very seriously and his commitment is amazing. A record that is evocative of the past but is rooted very firmly in the here and now. Fans of celtic-punk music deserve to give artists like Johnny a go. The music he plays is where the music we all love comes from and is living proof that the soul of celtic-punk belongs firmly in the past.
(you can have a free listen to the whole of ‘Hook, Line And Sinker’ before buying by pressing Play on the Bandcamp player below)
Buy The Album
Yorkshire! Yorkshire! Yorkshire!
A beacon of good, old fashioned, no frills celtic-punk music.
The policy on 30492-London Celtic Punks blog is to only review music from the current year. We have broken this maybe once or twice tops over the years but I had no hesitation in doing it again when I heard this release from Leeds based celtic-punk band The Hydropaths. I must admit that until the band posted something on our Facebook page I had never heard of them but that soon changed very quickly!
‘Wailing Away’ is the first official release from the band though they also have a five track release called ‘Basement Demos’ which is also available for Pay What You Like so click on the record sleeve to go to the download page. The band rose out of the ashes of a great Leeds punk band The Dead Pets that I had the pleasure of seeing quite a few times. They were famous for great energetic live shows and raucous punk rock cabaret so it seems kind of natural, to me at any rate, that they should have morphed into a celtic-punk band. ‘Wailing Away’ was recorded in the summer of last year in Leeds and is a real gem.
Leeds is without a doubt the most Irish place in Yorkshire with emigrants drawn to the city from the time of the Great Hunger onwards. It was in the forties and fifties though that Irish emigration to Leeds, and England, hit its peak. By the early seventies the Irish community numbered well over 30,000 and in fact, in 1971 there were more Irish per square kilometre in inner-city Leeds than in Co. Mayo! Irish culture, sport and traditions are alive and well in the city and have been throughout the subsequent decades and are still flourishing now. The story of the Irish in England is often neglected and the children and grandchildren of those immigrant Irish who grew up in working class communities with the children of other immigrants do have a unique take on life. Dismissed as either English or ‘plastic’ many of us turned to punk and/or politics and its certainly not unusual to find multiple Irish backgrounds in punk bands (maybe its something to do with our Catholic education?!?!). The Hydropaths vocalist Joe explains how his Irish background influenced him as a lyricist
“Growing up listening to traditional songs like The Rising Of The Moon and Kelly, The Boy From Killane had a huge impact on me as a writer. It’s about story telling”
The band was formed way way back in 2006 when The Dead Pets broke up but only lasted for four years till the band split. They reformed last year for a four gig tour with fellow Leeds band Kleine Schweine and are now embarking on a tour from November 8th-15th. They play Sun 8th 0The Union Bar Hastings, Weds 11th Unicorn in Camden, Thurs 12th The Parish in Huddersfield, Fri 13th Corner House in Cambridge, Sat 14th McGuires in Liverpool and finally their home town for the Pie Race Festival on Sunday the 15th. Check their Facebook page for more details.
The EP begins with the title track ‘Wailing Away’ and the mandolin begins the tune before the band join in and Joe’s distinctive voice starts up and its classic celtic-punk we’ve got here. The shitty state of the country for the working class is their concern and how nothing changes by just talking about it. A great song and superb all round production with the mando out loud and clear but all the multitude of instruments as clear as anything. ‘Where Have All The Good Men Gone?’ is again a fantastic tune with, again, Joe’s voice and words dominating proceedings. If I had to declare a band as a comparison I think The Tossers would be close but as for anyone here in Blighty their sound is their own. The song name checks Brendan Behan, Luke Kelly and Joe’s dad among others. ‘Long Gone Feeling’ is my favourite song here with the accordion giving it a Poguesy feel and once again the superb lyrics reminding me of MacGowan.
‘Another Night In Hell’ is about six stories in three verses including spending the night in a police cell or how the Bhoys put it
“a working class hotel”
Fast paced, as the whole EP has been so far, and no let up for ‘In Romance’ either. The song slows down a little but as you can imagine that aint saying much and finally ‘Wailing Away’ ends with I suspect with the song closest to The Hydropaths hearts. ‘To Sinners And Saints’ is the story of the lads ancestors leaving the green of home and coming to West Yorkshire to live and die and survive. The story is familiar to all of us who come from similar backgrounds. ‘To Sinners And Saints’ ends the record on a real pint (or fist) in the air/ arms round your mates moment that the The Pogues or The Tossers would be proud of.
So what you get here is over twenty minutes of absolutely brilliant Irish influenced folk-punk with plenty of rabble rousing with not much room for many ballads but a whole lot more than you’d imagine from this great band. The EP is available to download for whatever you want to pay so whether you think its worth £20 or 20p get it downloaded and be sure to make your way to Camden town for November 11th. Its my birthday so I may even let you buy me a drink and I can think of no better way to spend my 21st (ahem!) birthday than seeing The Hydropaths for the first time. I am positive it will be the first of many.
(you can listen to the whole of ‘Wailing Away’ by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below. To get the album follow the link below the player)
Buy The EP
Contact The Band
More On The Leeds Irish
B. McGowan, ‘Taking the Boat: The Irish in Leeds: 1931-81’, 2009.
M. Patterson, ‘The Ham Shank’, 1993.
C. Silva & B. McGowan, ‘Róisín Bán: The Irish Diaspora in Leeds’, 1996.
A fast, ruthless, uncompromising sound with influences from far and wide. Material that embraces traditional music and sometimes frantic Bluegrass style picking with self penned songs of protest and debauchery.
We are extremely happy that Johnny took time out from megabussing it around the country from gig to gig to do a little interview for us.
The obvious one to get us started so can you tell us how long you’ve been playing music and what bands you have been in before?
Johnny- I’ve been performing live for a decade now, and for the last couple of years as a solo performer. Before those ten years I was playing a battered classical guitar to Bad Religion live albums pretending I was in Bad Religion.
You have played in a celtic-punk band before with Three Sheets T’Wind so how do you see the celtic-punk scene here and abroad?
Johnny- I haven’t performed in other bands to any full-on level of commitment, apart from numerous and humorous side projects and filling in space for musicians who couldn’t make shows…and once trialing for The Popes as a fiddle player but that was a long time ago… I personally feel the scene in the UK is much broader, encompassing Anti-Folk, Alt-Folk and other offshoots. Though across the underground in The Netherlands for example, there are a number of fantastic ‘Folk-Punk’ bands using Banjos, Mandolins, Accordions that you couldn’t label as ‘Celtic-Punk’. It is great to see people’s horizons to ‘Punk’ don’t just start and end with an Electric Guitar.
I would like to think so but does it follow that celtic-punk fans also listen to folk from the past or present?
Johnny- For me yes. Right back to Planxty, Hank Williams or even contemporary folk like Julie Fowlis. The ‘Celtic-Punk’ fans I’ve come across like their fair share of Tom Waits and other artists that are hard to define by genre. I think if you’re into niche music, as in ‘Celtic-Punk’, you’re probably going to be listening to some other interesting styles!
Which figures or bands do you think have been the important links between the past and the present and folk/celtic/traditional music and punk/rock music?
Johnny- Obviously The Pogues…but I think we all know that. The Tossers are in my opinion, the logical progression from The Pogues taking influence from Behan and Joyce and managing to create it in their own American sound. Silly Wizard (possibly Scotland’s Planxty) manage to create an equally ‘rocky’ feel to their sound which leads neatly onto artists like The Horslips, Thin Lizzy and Moving Hearts.
Bit of an odd question this but how would you describe what you do on stage?
Johnny- I describe myself in my write up as an ‘Alt-folk’ musician. This is about as broad as I could make it. It isn’t a musical ‘style’ it is simply a way of saying ‘It is folk music…but a bit different.’ Some have said that shows can differentiate from stand-up comedy to thoughtful political song. I’ll do traditional Irish Anti-war songs like Arthur McBride to A Cappella songs about getting blind drunk and catching STDs from ladies of the night.
It has been said (and I am in agreement) that being a solo artist is the hardest thing to do. Just yourself on the stage and nowhere to hide. What does it take to be a solo performer. I would say big nuts and a big ego but obviously that’s not right for everyone!
Johnny- There’s a certain amount of balls/ego in there to get up and ask people to listen to what you’ve got to say for an hour, definitely. If you manage to fuck up the set, then it really is your own fault. That’s something that is pretty daunting but a challenge to relish I suppose, as the credit (if there is any to give out) is all yours.
At the moment there is a big ‘folk-punk’ thing happening in the UK that seems to have a lot in common with celtic-punk like the politics and aspirations but without major celtic influences. Have you noticed this at all?
Johnny- Because the genres are getting broader and ‘Folk-Punk’ is the easiest umbrella to put yourself under if you perform anti-authoritarian/alternative Folk music… I think that is how it is coming about. Celtic/Irish music has transported well as there is a mythology built up around the Irish. But also the way we can consume music nowadays, we can search for Mongolian Political Folk Punk on Youtube and get an instant response. Which is broadening our intake very quickly. I speak for myself here when I say 10 years ago, when I was 18, the only Folk-Punk you could really find was Dropkick Murphys, The Pogues, and anything else on a major label as you had to go to the local (if you had one) independent record shop. Now we are blessed with so much choice, which is generally free which brings its own negative impacts like de-valuing a product and other factors.
It would seem sometimes, and there is certainly a history of it in England (the band that must never be mentioned!), that bands who play Irish/celtic tunes won’t label the tunes as Irish/celtic and would instead categorise it as English folk (so as to not be seen as Irish I suppose) but do you see this as cultural appropriation or not? it sometimes reminds me of Prince Charles roaming round his billion acre estate in Kernow/ Cornwall wearing a kilt!
Johnny- Hmm, it is an interesting one. I don’t think anyone would get offended if you said a tune was English when it was an Irish tune if you believed it was initially. I think it is important to try and research a song or a tune and find out its origins and to recognise it. I can also see some cultural appropriation in there as it is a small way of denying heritage by simply taking is as your ‘own’. I think we must be more concerned with things like the far-right using traditional folk music and making a patriotic gesture with the songs.
You have a new album due out soon I hear. What’s the latest on that? Is it purely yourself or will you be aided and abetted?
Johnny- It’s been a long process, I haven’t released something with new material for about three years. I’ve had writer’s block for a while and since I’ve been on the road the last couple of years I’ve picked up new influences which has come out on the record. I am aided by Kieran O’Malley, a violin player from Leeds who performs with Spirit of John and many other acts..he’s also performed on a Shane MacGowan’s release ‘Rockier Road To Poland’ and backing vocals from Exeter singer/songwriter Rosie Eade. http://www.rosieeade.co.uk/ It will be released early October.
You seem to be on a non-stop tour of anywhere and everywhere so where does the future take you and do you think you will be able to keep it up more importantly?
Johnny- I’m sure I’ll be able to carry on for a few more years as long as my legs still carry me. I only use public transport and we managed to get from Istanbul from Yorkshire in 28 days on public transport on the Summer European tour with James Bar Bowen and Cosmo. We hit squats and social centres through eight countries and the final show in Istanbul got cancelled as the promoter had left to go and fight against fascist ISIS and didn’t tell us! We had about five days to waste in Istanbul because of the cancellation. This was during Ramadan which is an amazing spectacle. We decided to imbibe the culture by visiting mosques, walking the streets and eating kebabs. As long as the gigs keep being interesting, I still have some life left!
Thanks Johnny for taking time out of your busy touring schedule (where are you as you write this?) so all that’s left is for you to plug plug plug and is there anything else you want to add or anyone you want to thank?
Johnny- I’m currently in the South West for a week between shows and getting ready for the release of my album ‘Hook, Line & Sinker’ which will be released on my website and Bandcamp in early October! I will be doing a UK and USA East Coast tour in March 2016 with Tim Holehouse www.timholehouse.com (UK tour) and James Bar Bowen https://jamesbarbowen2014.wordpress.com/ (USA tour) but in the meantime I have shows across the UK and The Netherlands with Rob Galloway http://www.theyallayallas.com/rob-galloway which can all be found on my website! Cheers and beers! x
(you can listen to Johnny Campbell’s debut solo EP below)
- keep your eyes peeled for a review in the next couple of weeks of ‘Hook, Line & Sinker’. I’m lucky to have had a sneak preview and can guarantee its an excellent debut record!
The first in a series of EP’s from Johnny Campbell, the lead singer of Yorkshire celtic-punk band Three Sheets T’Wind. With the band currently dormant for now Johnny has gone back to his Scot’s roots and recorded this five track EP which consists of four songs in which Johnny has put music to the words of famous Scottish poet Robbie Burns plus one original song, The Hills Of Cleveland, written by Johnny. Since Three Sheets Johnny has began a solo path performing new, old and traditional material from a wide repertoire, mostly original. Including Scottish, Irish, Norwegian traditional folk music, mixing it with a punk edge and punk spirit.
Encompassing influences as wide ranging as Bob Dylan to Bobby Sands and Charles Bukowski to Ewan MacColl it instantly reminded me of the amazing Scottish legendary folk singer Hamish Imlach. A fast, ruthless, uncompromising sound you can have a listen to via Bandcamp below.
Contact Johnny Campbell
check out Three Sheets T’Wind here.