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)
Well it seems like only yesterday that I was sitting in Mannions in north London totting up the votes for the Best Album Of 2017 over a couple of pints and so here we are again. Everyone loves to give out there opinions and we are no different so for what it’s worth, here’s who we think made the best music in the celtic-punk scene over the last year. It’s been another outstanding year for the music that we all love and some truly fantastic records came out in the last twelve months. 2017 saw just about every major player in the scene release an album while in 2018 they left it to many of the lesser known bands to dominate! Remember though this is only our opinion and these thirty album’s are only the tip of the iceberg of what was released last year. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. As a bonus we figured out how to attach a poll at the end so you can even vote on your favourite release of 2018 yourself. If it’s not listed then simply add your choice.
We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…
So absolutely no surprises here at all. In fact The Rumjacks have pretty much swept the board across the Celtic-Punk scene with what we even thought was their best release since their groundbreaking debut album Gangs Of New Holland. The Bhoys are going from strength to strength and are set to go through the roof in 2019. They remain as humble as ever and downright lovely folk to know which reminds me, congrats from us all here to Frankie and LCP’er Anna on their engagement. Other notables were Sir Reg who even flew over to London to premier their new album The Underdogs before later returning to embark on a successful nationwide tour… while I was on holiday! London-Irish band Clan Of Celts, despite a few teething problems, delivered a fantastic debut album as well as, my personal favourite of the year, Belgium’s Krakin’ Kellys. A dual release of an album and a EP on the same day is a novel approach but it paid dividends for Lexington Field as they were both brilliant. Sinful Maggie have just been getting bigger and bigger all year and we expect this to continue into 2019. Three albums from the Celtic nations with two from Galicia from Falperrys and Bastards On Parade and Cornwall’s Pirate Copy. All together we have bands from twelve countries with Germany with the most placings alongside Australia, USA, England, Belgium, Sweden, Hungary, Canada, Italy, Galicia, Cornwall and Japan.
I was not the only one at London Celtic Punks Towers to be abso-fecking-lutely blown away by the Krakin’ Kellys debut album. Fast and melodic skater style punk rock with bagpipes that will blow the cobwebs away off off anyone! They made quite a wave in the scene thanks to their brilliant videos so go check them outhere. This section was the easiest one to award by far!
MOSCHE DI VELLUTO GRIGIO- Of Pain And Glory hereand RAISE MY KILT- A New Tartan here
At one point this was heading towards being an Australian #1, #2 and #3 but at the last minute our local favourites The Lagan released Let’s Do It Again at the end of December and wrestled it away from Medusa’s Wake. Their first studio release in a hell of a long time it came out too late to trouble many of our friends ‘Best Of’ lists but their loss is our gain! Besides them and our Aussie friends the list was made up from bands from the USA, Holland, Italy and Austria which goes to show the international nature of the scene. As an aside you can get the brilliant bagpipe punk debut EP from Scotch for free by following the link to their review. For lovers of the McKenzies you’ll not be disappointed!
bubbling under: THE BRANDY THIEVES- The Devil’s Wine here
Always the hardest to do this section as our scope has become fairly wide over the years and gone beyond Celtic-Punk but Irish-American’s Marys Lane managed at once to be a record both me and my Mammy love! Even better the Cleveland based band have made it available to download for free/donation so follow the link above. Scot Louis Rive’s debut album really impressed me and was one of my most played albums of the year and The Craicheads capped a great year with a fantastic single and their lead singer Mick making the papers and the telly for saving a Mum and her babies lives (here). Good on yer Mick. It’s a privilege to know you. More local talent at #4 which ended a year where Man The Lifeboats have gone from first band on to headline shows and a mention for the amazing Finbar Furey who put a most excellent LP at the tender age of only 72.
MERSEY CELT PUNKS
We may be a wee bit biased here but last years winners take it again this year too. 2018 saw them continue to develop the site into an all-round resource for Liverpudlians and further afield. Yeah these guys are always blowing our trumpet we know and we have shared a good few scoops with them, and will again not long after this is published, but we enjoy what they write and it’s all done with an enthusiasm that us auld hacks are constantly jealous of. Plus you are not a major player in the Celtic-Punk scene unless you had your picture took with Elliot! You can also join in their fun and games on their Twitterand Facebookand their Web-Zine. Be sure to subscribe.
So there you go. Remember we don’t pretend to be the final word on things in fact if you check the other celtic-punk media I’m sure we’ve all come up with relatively different lists. Our Best Of’s are cajoled and bullied out of the admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page. The assorted scraps of paper and beer mats were then tallied up please remember not all of us heard the same albums so like all the various Best Of’s ours is also subjective.
This is our 6th year of us making these lists so if you would like to check out out who was where in our previous Best Of’s then just click on the link below the relevant year.
December is usually the time when all the various Celtic-Punk media begin to compile and release their Best Of charts. There’s already been a couple and we are no different with ours traditionally released in the first couple of weeks of January. Our stablemates over at The Celtic Punkcast have just put out a special episode featuring the best song from the ten best Celtic-Punk albums of 2018 and I can tell you it’s a good one.
Hi everyone, I thought I’d drop a little something extra this year for December in addition to the Christmas Special, it’s my top 10 albums of 2018 as judged by me and my old kelpie Banji. Some fantastic music came out this year and I swapped a lot of these artists albums positions around many a time before settling on the final rankings. Rankings are always suggestive so if you disagree with my list then feel free to let me know yours. Here’s the rankings/playlist:
10: ALTERNATIVE ULSTER – ‘No Queen, No Crown’ from BOOBIES BANJOS BEER AND BAGPIPES
9: THE LANGERS BALL – ‘No Irish Need Apply’ from HARD TIMES IN THE COUNTRY
8: THE O’RIELLYS AND THE PADDYHATS – ‘Green Blood’ from GREEN BLOOD
7: BASTARD BEARDED IRISHMEN – ‘Pirates Of Three Rivers’ from DRINKIN’ TO THE DEAD
6: MR. IRISH BASTARD – ‘Oliver Cromwells Head’ from THE DESIRE FOR REVENGE
5: KRAKIN’ KELLYS – ‘Anarchy In The Double K’ from PROMISED LAND
4: SIR REG – ‘Don’t Let Go’ from THE UNDERDOGS
3: MEDUSAS WAKE – ‘Hobart Sailor’ from RASCALS AND ROGUES
2: THE RUMJACKS – ‘The Foreman O’Rourke’ from SAINTS PRESERVE US
1: THE MUCKERS – ‘Black Irish’ from ONE MORE STOUT
The London Celtic Punks Best Of 2018 lists will appear in the next few weeks covering the best albums, EP’s, Folk/Trad releases, Celtic-Punk media and more so if you don’t want to miss it then be sure to subscribe to our E-Mail alert list. The box is on the right or below depending on how you are viewing this page.
The debut album from Pennsylvania-Irish band Hold Fast takes both traditional Irish and original material in a blend of Celtic, punk and rock.
Hold tight, hold steady, Hold Fast!
The term Black Irish is thought by many to originate back in Ireland for the offspring of Spanish sailors shipwrecked on the west coast of Ireland back in 1588. Far more likely is it became a term of abuse for poor Irish immigrants in the latter half of the nineteenth-century. The necessity for these immigrants to take the lowest and most dangerous jobs thought by the more well off classes to be the preserve of Blacks came to see them labelled Black Irish. It came about as a result of English/Protestant prejudices imported to the USA by the early colonists who saw the Irish as uncivilised and Catholicism as anti-everything for which Protestantism stood. In recent years the term has been reclaimed and is now worn as a badge of honour by working-class Irish-Americans who sometimes ‘cross the line’.
Hold Fast left to right: Buzz Klinger- Bass, Harmonica * Michael Parks- Drums, Percussion * Dave Thompson- Tenor Banjo, 5-String banjo, Mandolin, Acoustic Guitar, Piano * Cole Brown- Vocals, Acoustic Guitar * Jon Heller- Accordion, Bagpipes * Kayla Rosencrans- Tin-Whistle *
Formed only a couple of years back by Cole and Drunk Dave Hold Fast hail from Harrisburg in Pennsylvania, home of a flourishing Irish rock and punk scene with the The Kilmaine Saints at the very top of it ably supported by other local bands in the Bastard Bearded Irishmen, Punkabillys , Lucky Lad Green and The Tradesmen. In fact piper Jon also pipes for the Kilmaine Saints. The Saints have been very instrumental in helping Hold Fast get on the scene and get their name out there.
Black Irish Sons is their debut album and features ten tracks, eight original tunes and two covers, one rather overexposed and one that is much less well known. The album begins with ‘Gangway’ and the sound of bagpipes fills the air and then the sound of a pub before the band join in and when the banjo comes out the song instantly reminds you of a rather famous Dropkick Murphys song. They follow this up with ‘Drunken Irish Bastard’ and lead singer Cole has that unmistakable Irish-American twang to his vocals and a clear voice that sounds like he smokes 60 a day! The band cite trad Irish ballad bands like The Dubliners and The Wolfe Tones as influences and they do sound quite a lot like a punked up version of these bands rather than The Pogues folkier version of them.
Cole’s voice is very much to the fore throughout the album and on crowd favorite ‘The Banshee Wail’ it is given full reign to go from shouty to soft but always tuneful. An album standout the music veers from hard to gentle with Cole accompanied by a understated mandolin most of the time until the song comes to a tremendous end with the music not getting faster just louder. Any Celtic-Punk worth a sniff these days needs a few ingredients to make the correct mix and one of these is a decent sense of humour which Hold Fast certainly have and ‘My Girl Is A Singer In A Punk Rock Band’ is evidence. Played as a straight up punk song with tin-whistle its got energy and bite and gives Cole a good opportunity to test those vocal chords. We love our Celtic-Punk here but we also love a good auld ballad and Hold Fast deliver a beauty with ‘Cthulhu’. Named after the monster created by writer H. P. Lovecraft that would drive any sailor who looked upon it insane. Never read any of his books though I did try once and found it a heavy going with very very tiny print but the song conveys the terror of the being quite admirably. The album’s first cover is titled ‘Belle of Belfast’ here but is much better known as ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ and is rapidly heading to the #1 spot of covered classic Irish tunes. Have to say I do roll my eyes soon as I see the song listed on a new album but there’s a great reason for it being covered by so many and that’s because it’s such a fantastic song and perfect for a Celtic-Punk re-tune. Done and dusted in seventy-five seconds Hold Fast certainly don’t hang about! Next up is the rowdy title track and ‘Black Irish Sons’ takes the Black Irish theme onwards and chugging guitar and loud vocals makes for a perfect singalong.
“Because all day long whiskey and shenanigans
Every bastard that we meet turns out to be another friend
You can pour another round and we’ll raise a pint again
Cuz we’re the Black Irish sons of Erin”
You get the feeling that the band play their instruments with one hand while the other holds a beer! We are back in ballad territory again next and it’s another Hold Fast beauty with ‘Curse of the Drinking Class’ with Cole’s voice nicely reigned in and sounding never better. Accompanied by acoustic guitar and restrained accordion and tin-whistle it’s a great song. We get another alcohol laden track now and it’s to the seas me Bhoys as ‘Pour Me Grog’ hits the deck. A great banjo sound and gang vocals make this one of my favourites here. The album ends with one of my all-time favourite sons ‘Big Strong Man’. The writer of the song remains unknown but if not for the Wolfe Tones I fear the song would have been lost for forever. The date the song was written can be guessed from the references to the actress Mae West, the ‘Jeffries-Johnson’ boxing match of 1910, the famous Irish-American boxer Jack Dempsey, whose career began in 1914 and to the RMS Lusitania briefly the world’s largest passenger ship, the ship was sunk on 7 May 1915 by a German U-Boat off the southern coast of Ireland at the cost of almost 1,200 lives. The Hold Fast version punk up The Wolfe Tones version (check out the Tones version here) somewhat but keeps the tune intact and the hilarious lyrics keep the tune afloat. One for the crowd to go wild too and a cracking way to bring the curtain down on the album.
At only twenty-eight minutes long it’s over far too quickly but that’s what makes Black Irish Sons such an interesting album. Moments of fast punk rock and slow and gentle ballads mixed together to make an album that is laid out perfectly and at a ideal pace. The bands Irish roots are stamped all over things and they may look to the past of the Tones, Clancy’s and Dub’s but are not stuck there and have added their own stamp to everything they do. The more I hear of bands like Hold Fast I begin to realise the importance of Celtic-Punk to the Irish-American community.
Hold tight, hold steady, Hold Fast!
(listen to the whole of Black Irish Sons for free before you buy by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below. Enjoy!)
Pittsburgh celtic-rockers the Bastard Bearded Irishmen deliver an original, ferocious blend of traditional and contemporary Celtic music, mixed with punk, gypsy and high-energy rock n’ roll on their third album out this week.
Bastard Bearded Irishmen are one of the hardest working bands ON the Irish-American celtic-rock scene and their hard work has paid off with the band now known right across the States and even beyond. Formed back in 2008 the band celebrate ten years together with the release of their third studio album, Drinkin’ To The Dead. Originally planned as a one off tribute for a friend’s funeral, George H. Evans IV, a friend of the band and guitarist who died in a car accident in 2004. George was a big Irish-American guy who loved the Dropkick Murphys and during that one-off show Jimmy Bastard and Ben Jaber decided their passion for Irish music needed a further outlet so after recruiting a couple more local guys and gaining a rather nice sponsorship deal from Jameson’s Irish whiskey the Bastard Bearded Irishmen were born.
Bastard Bearded Irishmen left to right: Jimmy Bastard- Lead Vocals, Acoustic/Electric Guitar, Banjo * Paul Dvorchak- Fiddle * Danny Rectenwald- Mandolin, Banjo, Vocals * Ryan Warmbrodt- Rhythm Guitar * Dan Stocker- Drums/Percussion * Ben Jaber- Bass, Vocals (Ben has since left amicably and the new Bastard bassist is Sean-Paul Williams)
This is the band’s third album behind their self-titled debut of 2011 and ‘Rise Of The Bastard’ in 2014. That debut trod the well worn path of mostly auld Irish standards and though an excellent album it only left their fans wanting to hear more of their own stuff. They got their wish with Rise Of The… which was an album of solid self penned songs with just three covers chucked in. One of the most pleasing things about the Bastards was their ability to switch from Irish punk to folky trad and though on their new album the rougher edges have been smoothed down this ability still shines through.
Bastard Bearded Irishmen hail from Pennsylvania’s second largest city Pittsburgh located in the northeastern and Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The city is known as ‘The Steel City’ due to its history of steel production and way back in the 1830’s, many Welsh people from the Merthyr steelworks immigrated to the city following the aftermath of the Merthyr Rising. By the 1840’s, Pittsburgh was one of the largest cities west of the Allegheny Mountains. The Great Fire of Pittsburgh destroyed over a thousand buildings in 1845 and the city was rebuilt by Irish immigrants who had arrived in the area escaping The Great Hunger back home. By the end of the century Pittsburgh’s 1,000 factories were consuming 22 million coal bushels yearly with coal mining and iron manufacturing attracting waves of European immigrants to the area, increasingly from southern and eastern Europe, and including many Catholics and Jews fleeing injustice and poverty in their homelands. Today the Irish still number 16% of the cities population and the Saint Patrick’s Day parade is second only to New York in the whole of the USA.
(the Bastard Bearded Irishmen bhoys discuss their upcoming 2018 album, Drinkin’ to the Dead and the evolution of the group)
So coming from an area with a rich working class history and confident in it’s Irishness the Bastard Bearded Irishmen found much work around the city playing to their fellow Irish-Americans but as has been said hard work and solid graft has seen them voted ‘Best Rock Band in Pittsburgh’ for four years in a row, ‘Best Bar Band’ twice, opening for the Dropkick Murphy’s and Stiff Little Fingers and a whole host of major folk and rock bands while, of course, playing just about every decent Irish music festival including last years mega Shamrockfest. Their third album Drinkin’ To The Dead came out on that most special of days for sc-fi fans, May the 4th, kicks off with ‘Salutations, Memoirs, Denouements’ which was their first single from the album released last February. They seem to have lost none of their bite since 2014’s Rise Of The Bastard and despite promising to have moved away from the Irish punk of the first two album’s I can tell you there’s plenty here to keep fans old and new very happy indeed. As is the way the opener is always one of the strongest songs and no different here with Jimmy Bastard belting out the lyrics about remembering close lost friends and comrades.
” But through the tears (we arise) as we honour the lives of the ones we left behind”
Fast and furious and tuneful with great fiddle work its a brilliant way to start things and I can tell I’m in for a good time here! Drinkin’ To The Dead also sees mando player Danny Rectenwald step up to the plate vocals wise and him and take the lead on a handful of songs here that gives some nice balance to Jimmy.
So if the opener made me think we were in for more of the same ‘No Problems, No Drama’ took me by surprise with its combination of celtic, reggae, klezmer and eastern European tunes all bashing up against each other. At over six minutes long it’s a bit risky but the risk was worth it as the lads take time to build up the song layering each others instruments on top of each other and building the song up to a climax. Maybe not one for live shows but it certainly works here and shows that there is a lot more to the Bastards than drinking songs… though they are pretty fecking good at them too as in next track ‘Let’s Have A Party’. It’s straight up Irish folk-punk though perhaps with just a tinge of country and again Paul’s fiddle is on fire as the band bash through the song as quickly as they can.
It may be overplayed as hell and appeared on every Celtic-Punk band’s play list but lets face it you can’t beat ‘Dirty Old Town’ can you. We have gone into this song so many times here but Ewan MacColl’s song is played so often for a reason and that is because it is such an amazing song. The Bastards play it Dubliners style. Nice and slow with Jimmy showing he’s got a decent set of lungs on him and the band with a nicely subdued backing but then half way through they kick it off and bring it in fast as yer like. Ewan was a bit touchy about this song especially about how Shane MacGowan sang it (apparently putting the emphasis in the wrong place) but sure wouldn’t he happy hearing it still blaring away sixty-nine years after he wrote it. Next up is a solid Irish folk instrumental ‘Harvest’ before the gypsy-punk of ‘Ya, Ya, Ya’ begins with the familiar sound of a can of beer opening! It’s not all as expected and they can still bring out a few surprises and ‘Moscato’ is a nicely understated gentle tune dedicated to the delights of drinking wine. Just Jimmy’s voice, acoustic guitar, bass and mandolin lead us into another nice drinking song but more in keeping with the Irish tradition. The bittersweet tale of ‘Another Bottle Of Booze’ of realising what the stuff does to you but not be able, or wanting, to stop. A slow song but played tough and a real foot stomper. This is the quieter section of the album and ‘Green Side Of The Hill’ may start off as a ballad before incorporating reggae and gypsy into it. Great words too reinforcing what I have always said about them that their story-telling is an integral part of what they do. Eventually the song bursts out at you and the quiet section is no more and the band whip through the ending. The song is another long one at five and half minutes and never drags and the extra length of some of the songs on Drinkin’ With The Dead is evidence of a maturity that the band have faith in themselves to deliver songs that keep the listeners interest. ‘Drunken’ Drinkin’ is about being drunk and still drinking and the song again doesn’t stick to the Celtic-Punk blueprint and neither does it stick to just keeping it fast either.
We have a lovely Irish folk tune next in ‘Slip (the) Jig’ and a song that’s been around a couple of years now, ‘Pirates Of Three Rivers’ that is classic Celtic-Punk territory. The three rivers, the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio, converge in the city and Pittsburgh owes its existence to them.
We coming up towards the end and ‘What A Life That Would Be’ is a song that maybe shouldn’t work but by hell it does. Shift changes all over the shop and packed with influences from all over the place it on the face of it is all over the place but yeah it still gets you there! Down to the last two songs and they are both called ‘Drinkin’ With The Dead’ and as Jimmy Bastard says
“It’s kind of funny because the name of the album has been around for two years, we just had to get it done. And on the same day Danny said he wrote a song called ‘Drinkin’ to the Dead’ (the second version), I told him I wrote one, too. We thought we couldn’t have two song called ‘Drinkin’ to the Dead’ on the album, but then thought, ‘Yes we can. We can do whatever we want.’”
‘Drinkin’ To The Dead (Prelude)’ is a sad but glorious, thought provoking piano driven ballad dedicated to the friends they have lost. Danny’s voice achingly recalls loved ones.
“Raise a glass to tomorrow and the past
to the ones that we love
down here or above
for this may or may not be the last time we can.”
They follow it up with the second version of ‘Drinkin’ To The Dead’. At near eight minutes long you can bet your arse it’s an epic and rousing way to bring the curtain down on things. Solidly based on Irish folk the words speak of respecting the dead and moving on with your life and making those you loved proud of you. We Irish are obsessed with death though I have always found in a good way. A damn fine way to end things.
As a band whose whole existence was to commemorate fallen friends and family Drinkin’ With The Dead is a more than just a couple of steps forward for the band. Proof if it was needed that Irish-American music is both inventive and innovative and willing to push the boundaries of what we think of as Irish music. Bastard Bearded Irishmen have stepped it up a notch and though still well grounded in celtic-punk the extra touches they have introduced will I am sure gain them recognition and friends far beyond our narrow little scene and Good Luck to them while they do it!
from a Bunch Of Bastards from The Hague, Rotterdam and Dordrecht!
I’m not sure quite what it is about the word Bastard in celtic-punk but their are a whole host of bloody brilliant bands about with it in their name. Think Mr Irish Bastard from Germany, Bastards On Parade (now shortened to just Bastards) from Galicia, Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards from Italy, Middle Class Bastards from Russia and Bastard Bearded Irishman from Pittsburgh in the United States. It’s just a shame we don’t have a decent band here in the UK to add! Well to this bunch of Bastards we can now add another Bunch Of Bastards from the Netherlands.
Bunch Of Bastards left to tight: Cor- vocals * Huib- electric guitar and mandolin * Dex- bass * Andries- accordion * John- drums * Peter- electric/acoustic guitar and banjo
Coming together in mid-2013 the main inspiration for the band was accordionist Andries (better known in the celtic punk scene as Mr Dutch Irish Bastard) who has graced the stage with many of the top European celtic punk bands like Circle J, Mr.Irish Bastard (and even The Mahones) and recorded with the likes of Bastards On Parade, Sir Reg, Greenland Whalefishers and Firkin. Fed up of being a guest he decided it was time to form his own band and vision and this is what he did, over what seemed like a loooong time to those of us watching on Facebook!
perfect timing too as Feyenoord won the Dutch Cup yesterday beating Utrecht in the Final. well done from all your friends at Celtic.
(Listen to one of the tracks from the album here but it was recorded at their 5th gig sometime ago so they have moved on and got much tighter as a band since then. Just to give you an idea!)
And so the trials and tribulations sorted The Bunch Of Bastards began to play live and picked up some nice support slots along the way before they released My Drinkin’ Ain’ Done their debut long player to an eager and awaiting public. Now Holland has some amazing bands like Circle J and LQR both of whom we have featured recently and the Dutch celtic-punk scene is famous for not solely sticking to celtic music allowing other genres and influences to seep in. Bunch Of Bastards keep it mainly celtic and punk though and is no poorer for it.
We get fourteen songs lasting exactly fifty minutes and like all the aforementioned bands its all brilliant stuff alright. From the first bars of opening song ‘Lucky Break’ the mandolin kicks it all off before the whole band join in and its great joyous sounding music even though the story is about one of life’s losers. ‘Back In The Day’ follows and ‘Middle of Nowhere’ and the pattern is forming. The music is fast and definitley on the folky side without being any less punk. Shouty vocals that fit in perfectly with gang choruses (that I especially loved) and the production is amazing. All the instruments are clear as crystal with Cor’s vocals over the top they have got everything just right here. We all here in England never cease to be amazed how well the Dutch speak English and here they sing in it as well as one or two English bands I could mention! The lyrics are all pretty damn cool as well. Mostly dealing with the downside of life but the music is never less than uplifting even if the tales sometimes aren’t! The first signs of that famous Dutch style is, unsurprisingly, next on ‘Katuska Kalashnikova’ where Andries lets his accordion do the talking and some great Russian/eastern European music seeps in. ‘Hey Barkeeper’. next and from the off its as catchy as hell, accordion and vocal led. The mix is great with the balance just right and fitting the Bunch Of Bastards sound perfectly. This is followed by ‘Sky Over Rotterdam’ which tells the moving and emotional story of the bombardment of Rotterdam by German planes during World War 2. Desperate to destroy the city and its manufacturing base hundreds of people per week starved to death or were killed in the bombing.
“The sky over Rotterdam is so peaceful now
But my old man, he still remembers how
That war made that sky such a restless place
And airplanes were never hard to trace
First them planes brought war, then they raised hopes high
And in the end, they dropped food from the sky
The sky, the sky, the sky, over Rotterdam”
The song celebrates the ending of the blockade and the allied food drops into the city that saved countless lives. The song is Andries Dad’s war time memories as a kid in Rotterdam. He wrote them down and Andries made them into first a booklet and later into this song so when I said it was moving and emotional you can bet it is. ‘Sing With Us Bastards’ sounds like a celtic-punk Toy Dolls and the humour is self evident. Not much of a story to this one but
“we are part time punks but full time folkies”
its a happy pint in the air moment before ‘Michael Malloy’ tells the true story of a homeless Irish man in New York who is famous for surviving a number of murder attempts on his life by five friends, who were attempting to commit life insurance fraud. Iron Mike (or Durable Mike) was originally from Donegal and was a fire fighter till he fell on hard times. After several attempts he was finally finished off but his murderers were caught and all bar one went to the electric chair.
“not easy to kill Michael Malloy, this tough Irish bloke was hard to destroy”
‘Run’n’Drink’ is another ode to the pint and the Bunch punk it up for this but you still get plenty of accordion for your ear holes. Not remembered much these days but Holland was very much a colonial power back in the day and like most of the European countries that dabbled in imperialism they have lots to be ashamed of. Don’t get me wrong though pretty much every country in the world has something that they are embarrassed to teach in schools. ‘The Dutch’ tells of their role in slavery in times past and smuggling in modern times. AS usual the Ruling Classes have a lot to answer for. They slow it right down for ‘Live Again’ and a beautiful song about a loved one slipping away. ‘Let’s Call It A Day’ again has a strong and positive message like a lot of the lyrics on My Drinkin’ Ain’t Done. We have all got pissed, nicked, left, beaten up etc., haven’t we but the pain soon goes and what better advice than
“head’s up tomorrow and you will be okay”
Catchy is not the word for ‘Many a Good Reason’ as again the Bunch give us a brilliant drinking song. The Dutch know plenty about the pleasures of alcohol and its celebrated here in song and ‘Many a Good Reason’ is as good as they get. Definitly one of the album highlights!
So fourteen songs and fifty minutes worth of quality celtic-punk comes to an end with the only cover and it’s a good one in both choice and execution. Traced back to the 17th century and made most famous by The Dubliners and later Thin Lizzy ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ is a classic Irish folk song and well deserving of its place too. Bunch Of Bastards give it plenty of oompf and bring the curtain down on the album very nicely indeed.
Well what to say except we are not even half way through 2016 and already we have a tonne of fantastic album’s challenging for that coveted Album Of The Year award. Here is fifty minutes of some of the best celtic-punk you are going to hear this year I promise you. Now for the good (and bad) news. Bunch Of Bastards are heading over to England in early May but the bad news is they are sadly not coming to London. You can still catch them playing three gigs around Hampshire and Shropshire. They play 5th May at The Vaults in Bishops Castle, 6th May at Percys in Whitchurch and 7th May at The Bear in Bridgnorth. The support for all gigs will be Paul Henshaw and friends so if you fancy a few days away in a lovely part of the country then there’s your chance. I just might join you!
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Last year our ‘Best Of’ list was completely dominated by bands from these shores but this time there’s a much more international flavour to 2014’s Best Album’s list. Again Irish influenced bands dominate but the absolute standout album for me was without a doubt Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards from Italy who nailed their fusion of punk rock and traditional music completely. With their own roots and influences included along with some amazing uilleann piping they are deserved winners of the Best Album spot. Kitchen Implosion join them in what has been a great year for Italian bands. Sure not all of these twenty bands are celtic-punk in the dictionary definition of the phrase but sod that anyway. These are what we liked and they all fit in in some way. Twenty bands from thirteen countries (Italy, England, Sweden, Brittany, Canada, Ireland, USA, Australia, Brazil, Catalonia, Germany, Switzerland and Belguim) which only goes to show the international appeal of the celtic-punk scene these days. A special mention for London Irish band Creeds Cross superb debut album. Only just caught them live and they were awesome so hoping to see much more of them around town in 2015.
As ever we have reviewed some, though not all of these albums, so click (here) after the title and you will be re-directed to our review.
We compiled the ‘Best Of’ lists together from the scraps of paper handed to me by the various admins from the London Celtic Punks facebook page.
1. UNCLE BARD AND THE DIRTY BASTARDS- ‘Get The Folk Out!’ (here)
20. THE BLACK TARTAN CLAN – Scotland in Our Hearts
a special special mention for three absolutely brilliant compilation albums too. Can’t really include them in the Best of charts so heres all three in no particular order at all as they are all 11 out of 10!
a class album with 4 songs per band and an absolutely beautifully put together record. THE PORTERS/ THE JUDAS BUNCH/ THE MAHONES/ MALASANERS 4-WAY SPLIT DOUBLE ALBUM- ‘Welcome To The Folk Punk Show’ (2014) here
a mostly Russian compilation paying tribute to all (lets just face it they are!) our favourite celtic-punk band- ‘Ex-USSR Tribute To The Dropkick Murphys’ (2014) here
this ought to be the number one album of the year to be honest. a fecking amazing compilation of Indonesian celtic-punk bands.the quality is amazing throughout.absolutely stunning. I cannot recommend enough!! ‘Wind From The Foreign Land- Indonesian Celtic-Punk Compilation’ (2014) here
TOP FIVE CELTIC PUNK EP’S OF 2015
No question which EP deserved this and Russia’s Middle Class Bastards just blasted us away with their follow up to their 2013 album. Superb use of bagpipes and brass instruments combined with fast but tuneful punk rock. A bit unfortunate for Black Water County who looked nailed on to win this for most of the year with their fantastic 2nd EP. The Breton band The Maggie Whackers released their EP back at the start of the year while The South Sea Ramblers from South Africa literally released theirs just a couple of weeks ago while LQR from Holland slipped theirs out in time for St Patricks Day… ooh err missus! So spread out across the year but these are the ones that left their mark. Looking forward to hearing more from them all and long players must be arriving soon I hope.
As the blog is for (mostly) celtic punk so it is that we only review stuff that isn’t celtic punk if we really really (really!!) like it. All these rocked our boat and we loved them all to bits. Hard to decide which order they should go in but this is how we ended up. Turned out to be an all Irish list with I DRAW SLOW from Dublin with beautiful alternative country sounds and both Cork’s THE BUACHAILLS and London’s THE CRAICHEADS going head to head with both bands playing similar styles of music while Irish-American supergroup THE ALT’s debut album was a worthy runner-up to fellow Irish-Americans RUNA’s brillliant fourth album.
keeping the whole wide world up to date with what’s going on and who is doing who within celtic punk (and more!) while also supplying us with regular free downloads and free compilations. Waldo you’re great. Keep it up mate!
Apart from the ones we put on which were all amazing and showcased some amazing performances from JAY WARS and THE DEAD MAGGIES from Aus, THE GREENLAND WHALEFISHERS from Norway, a couple of benefit gigs for Mad Dog out The Popes (hope youre back on your guitar highkicking soon pal!), BLACK WATER COUNTY played their London debut and went down a fecking storm, me O’s mates STEVE WHITE AND THE PROTEST FAMILY were as superb as ever and released a fantastic album. One of the major highlights was discovering the quintessential London Celtic Punk in ANTO MORRA and we look forward to working with him again in the future. We teamed up with fellow Londoners of Urbankelt and will be doing so again too.
I also saw DAVID ROVICS for the first time, THE MEN THEY COULDN’T HANG’s amazing 30th anniversary show was incredible, NECK and their sadly ended residency at TChances which had us all pissed on Polish lager on Sunday afternoons for the first 6 months of the year, FLOGGING MOLLY in Reading in June which showed they havent lost a thing and are as great as ever, THE POGUE TRADERS were the best Pogues tribute band I ever seen. Disappointing was missing so many gigs where I just didnt have the cash especially The Pogues various outings. THE STANFIELDS from Canada seemed like a decent bunch of lads but their London gig was a total rip-off. The pre-gig ticket price was £7-50 which more than doubled to £15 on the door on the night. Oi bands watch out for charlaten promoters won’t you? Rebellion music fest brings loads of decent bands over to play but that means that they all end up playing in the same week so I had to forgo THE GO-SET’s return to London. Missed out on THE WOLFE TONES London gigs too due to work. All three of them! THE LAGAN have been brilliant. Far far too many of their gigs to go into detail so we have choosen the whole of St Patricks Weekend as our Number One! With NECK playing three gigs over the weekend and both THE BIBLE CODE SUNDAYS and THE LAGAN playing on the same day as well it seen a clean sweep of all the London bands done. Afterwards sick days were phoned in, headache pills were taken and the best St Patricks in donkeys was had.
Now were just looking forward to catching THE DROPKICK MURPHYS ‘Celtic Invasion ‘ Tour in Dublin and London this year round St Patricks Day.
Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- 2015
Of course all these things are very subjective so don’t be dismayed if your album ain’t here. What appeals to one don’t neccessarily appeal to another. It would be impossible to keep up with the multitude of celtic-punk related releases so these are the best of of what we actually did get to hear. All the various sites in the celtic-punk family had different winners so to see what they thought check out the Best Of lists of the following sites…
Music. Beer. Music and beer. Whiskey. Music and Whiskey. Music and Beer and Whiskey.
‘Rise Of The Bastard’ is the follow up album to Bastard Bearded Irishmen’s self-titled album of 2011. Hailing from Pennsylvania’s second largest city Pittsburgh. Famous for its largely working class communities of Irish, German and Eastern Europeans the city was built upon steel making and has been a home for Europeans fleeing injustice and poverty since the 1800’s. The Irish still number 16% of the cities population and the Saint Patrick’s Day parade is second only to New York in the whole of the USA. So it is this background that lead to the formation of the Bastard Bearded Irishmen back in 2008. Originally started as a planned short term tribute for a friend the guys had so much fun they decided to stick around, and with a sponsorship from Jameson’s Irish whiskey who can blame them!
L to R: Dan Stocker- Drums, vocals Danny Rectenwald- mandolin, vocals, banjo, piano Ben Jaber- bass, vocals Jimmy Bastard- lead vocals, guitar Paul Dvorchak- fiddle, vocals Jon Pitcher- guitar, vocals, whistle **not pictured: Mike Hall- accordion, vocals
On their first album the boys trod that well worn path for celtic-punk debut albums of choosing mostly standards to record. The few originals showed they were more than just a covers band and had the potential to go places. With ‘Rise Of The Bastards’ the band have gone the opposite way and recorded a album of solid self penned songs with just three covers chucked in. Their choice of cover song has them playing two absolute classic celtic-punk songs ‘All For Me Grog’ and ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ and one of my all time favourite traditional songs ‘Three Drunken Maidens’. All are played to perfection and you’ll find yourself shocked that the same band who can knock out an album of full on Irish punk rock can also play these folky trad numbers so well. The album has fifteen tracks and comes in just shy of fifty minutes. All encased in a beautiful fold out cardboard cover with all the song lyrics, band photos and some rather nifty illustrations too. So while you could get the download for this for once we’d recommend forking out that bit extra and getting your hands on a physical copy..
The album kicks off with ‘Mama’ and begins with expertly played fiddle before soon exploding with chugging electric guitar and a gypsy influenced Irish number. Catchy is the word for to describe this album and its chockablock full of foot-tappers, fist in the air shouty choruses and moshpit friendly celtic punk. ‘Switchblade Molly’ has some of the fastest mandolin playing you’ll hear in a song that easily rivals those other Mollys for superiority! ‘Tomorrow’ has more fiddle and when you hear that that violinist Paul is classically trained you know that ALL the music on this album is exemplary. ‘Paddy O’Shea’ has a country feel to it but is still played at breakneck speed. The song tells the story of an Irish immigrant to Pittsburgh who was murdered because he wouldn’t throw a boxing match.
“He was a saint to some but a judge to those that sinned
The last thing that sinners saw was his Daingean grin
A blood thirsty shepherd whose fists held fast
Choose your words wisely for they are your last”
The album sails on in much the safe way but every song is set to become a celtic-punk standard itself! ‘Bastard Blarney’ is a cracker of a song with a great story of a lovely auld man until he takes drink and then
“he’ll kick your ass to a bloody pulp just to pass time”
They slow it right down for the beautiful but sad ‘Last Drink’ and show they can play as good a ballad as anyone when needed as well. Finely played instrumental ‘Rotten Irish Plank’ has a bit of a Mollys feel to it followed by the before mentioned ‘Three Drunken Maidens’ which reminds me of The Dubliners and the boys have certainly breathed new life into this old traditional song. ‘Land Of The Free’ salutes those poor immigrants who battled through the many hardships to set foot on American soil.
“Salute to those who came before us, through us they’ll live on again
We’ll make the masses remember, what was given up for them
See the past repeatedly before us, strive to find the purpose we lend
See the path of those laid before us, stand to unite what they died to defend”
Setting the pace for the last songs of the album its more manic fiddle and mando plucking and by the time ‘Bartenders Friend’ is over and the final, and standout, track ‘Whiskey, Rum, Bourbon, Beer’ hits you I’ll be surprised if you’re not leaping around your living room knocking over the furniture! Surely one of the contenders for album of the year its a whole lot of fun and superb musicianship with great vocals and good story telling lyrics. All the various strands of celtic-punk are here but rarely have they come together so perfectly!