Tag Archives: Batallón de San Patricio

ALBUM REVIEW: BATALLON DE SAN PATRICIO- ‘Hermanos De Guerra’ (2020)

Celtic-Punk again shows it’s international appeal as Mexican band Batallón de San Patricio celebrate the release of their debut album. Named in respect of the famed Irish battalion that fought in the America-Mexico War of 1846-1848 these Bhoys are more than just a pretty name.

Here’s a first for London Celtic Punks a review of a Celtic-Punk release from Mexico. The band in question are called Batallón de San Patricio and for those in the know that is Spanish for St. Patrick’s Battalion and something extremely significant in the relationship between Ireland and Mexico. The band chose their name with great care taking their inspiration from the St. Patrick’s Battalion (see our extensive article The Irish Soldiers Of Mexico In Film And Song from the other day). A group of immigrants, mainly of Irish descent, who deserted from the US Army because of anti-Catholic bigotry and went to fight for the Mexican Army during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). It’s a tale of great adventure and heroic valour but ultimately it is another sad chapter in Ireland’s history. They are still commemorated today by the Mexican government and its people with a parade featuring a bagpipe troop. Musically the first links were forged by The Chieftains who collaborated with Ry Cooder on their 2010 San Patricio album which combined Irish and Mexican Folk music to great effect to tell the tale of the Saint Patrick’s Battalion. The album featured a long list of guests, including narration by Liam Neeson of a poem in tribute to the San Patricios. Still those of you who read our article earlier in the week The Irish Soldiers Of Mexico In Film And Song will already be well versed in the history of these giants of men.

Batallón De San Patricio from left to right: Juan Alcalá ‘Peludito’ – 5 String Banjo/Backing Vocals * Ricardo Martínez ‘Ricky’ – Lead Vocals/Harp/Tin Whistle * Adrián Flores ‘Kazio’ – Drums * Elias Rubio ‘Ponko’ – Guitar/Backing Vocals * Emanel Muñoz ‘Alan’ – Bass/Backing Vocals * Ricardo Lupercio – Fiddle / Backing Vocals

So at last we move onto the review and I can hear the relief from here! Batallón de San Patricio were formed in July, 2017 in the city of Guadalajara and right from the start the idea was to pay tribute to their namesakes. In many ways the name was a obvious choice for a band whose chief aim was to play Celtic-Punk mixing Irish and Mexican culture. Their first few months were spent practicing and playing covers of you know who (!) and with a few line up changes they were ready to go and began to pay locally and eventually further afield. It’s been a steady procession for the Bhoys with a 6-track demo in 2018, a 2-track single last year and now finally the album has been completed.

The album is titled Hermanos de Guerra (in English Brothers Of War) and was released on May 30th. Recorded at the Bilbao studio  in Guadalajara Mexico by Alex León it’s twelve songs are all sung in Spanish and as I’ve said before I’m a product of the English education system at a time when languages were thought of in the same category as Cooking and Needlework. We had to do them but no care was put into how they were taught. So it is that whatever is being sung about here has, bar a couple of songs, completely passed me by. Not to worry though as the message they spread is a positive one of love, friendship and loyalty. What Celtic-Punk is all about if you ask me.

“We strongly believe in brotherhood, honesty, dignity and respect. Our slogan will always be ‘Family First’. Our music forms part of our life and people around us and to remember those who passed away. We will always step forward on this long hard way making it Green and not forgetting Mexico’s unity with the rest of the world.”

The album begins with the title song ‘Hermanos De Sangre’ and the sound of marching feet soon erupts into a fast and furious Celtic-PUNK number which unless my ears betray tells the story of the St. Patrick’s Battalion. ‘Familia’ featured on their single from last year and unsurprisingly is about the love of family. More folk than it’s predecessor and this will become a common thread throughout the album as they manage record twelve songs that cross all boundaries of Celtic-Folk-Punk and  make an album where each song stands on its own feet. Todo Sigue Igual (in English ‘Everything Remains The Same’) slows things down and the lonesome banjo combined with some beautiful Cowboy atmospheric fiddle and almost verging on Country it threatens to come bursting out the blocks but they quite rightly restrain it when it comes and the song is all the better for it.

It may not be as polished as some releases we review here but those slight rough and ready edges give it a live feel that really works for them. ‘Piratas’ introduces one of my favourite instruments, the harmonica, to the fray alongside banjo, violin, harmonica and Irish flute (which I have only recently realised is what some folk call the tin-whistle) and the usual Punk-Rock instruments of bass, guitar and drums.

Let’s face it it wouldn’t be a Celtic-Punk album without a alcohol song and Después Del Alcohol (- ‘After Alcohol’) begins in an usual way with just bass and banjo but Bhoy is it catchy. El Ultimo Partir (- The Last Leaving) takes the previous songs banjo and turns out a more country-fied song again with excellent fiddle work while ‘Fadir’ even has a bit of an English 80’s Punk vibe around it all be it with the fiddle still fiddling expertly away. As I said they skate round a lot of genres here and I have to admit I am drawn to the less Punky ones and songs like ‘Amigo’ really hit the spot. Catchy, well played and with a nice balance of Punk and Folk. For ‘Viciosa Lujuria’ (- ‘Vicious Lust’) though they return to a classic Celtic-Punk sound with tin-whistle to the fore. The video for ‘Leal’ (- ‘Loyal’) came out on St. Patrick’s Day just gone and is dedicated to all the people who have ever been stabbed in the back by someone they once held dear.

It’s the quickest song here at under two minutes and showcases the banjo admirably as they kick out a straight up Punk number though that doesn’t quite prepare for ‘Asesinos Por Naturaleza’ (- ‘Natural born Killer’) which turns the guitar up to 11 and a heavyness and energy we haven’t seen so far. A cracker of a song and one that will no doubt get the dance floor heaving once a few beers have been downed. The album ends with ‘Trotamundos’ (- ‘Globetrotter’) and a slow funereal end to proceedings.  The Bhoys harmonise together over a gentle tune with only occasional fiddle over the quiet banjo, bass and drums. A quality end indeed.

So there you go and it’s been an enjoyable forty minutes. To be honest this is the kind of album that I would normally buy regardless of what the music sounded like. The very idea of a Mexican Celtic-Punk band and one based inn such noble Irish history just ticks all my boxes. That the music is also pretty damn good is a bonus. Definitely one for our Spanish speaking readers but don’t be dismayed as this is a thoroughly pleasurable album for non speakers too. A great album for all! 

(you can stream or download Hermanos de Guerra on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Hermanos de Guerra  TotemRecords

Contact Batallón De San Patricio  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

Batallón De San Patricio played a Live Stream on Facebook last weekend and although tremendous good fun and a brilliant watch they suffered the same fate as we did recently when we featured Callum Houston doing his. That of the dodgy internet connection!!! Well worth persevering with so here’s Part One, Part Two and Part Three. I think I have them in the right order!

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!

EP REVIEW: GYPSY VANNER- ‘Five Distilled Celtic Punks’ (2019)

The brilliant debut six track EP release from Argentinian Celtic-Punk band Gypsy Vanner. A band dedicated to the fusion of traditional Irish music and rock, with the aim of converting traditional songs to rock and vice versa.

The last couple of years have seen quite a decent Celtic-Punk scene kicking off in Argentina. At the forefront of the scene have been Raise My Kilt with a couple of extremely well received releases behind them as well as newer bands like Aires Bastards who have not long released their debut album and the band we are featuring today Gypsy Vanner. All three bands are located in the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires and, as is typical in the Celtic-Punk scene, they often play and work together to make the scene a welcoming place. As we often say- #OneBigCelticPunkFamily.

Their are many historical links between the Celtic nations and South America but for the Irish it is often Argentina that is held closest to our hearts. It was the place that most Irish settled during the 19th and 20th centuries in a non-English speaking majority country. Added to this the vast amount of Welsh farmers who flocked to the country in the 1860’s. Encouraged by the Argentinian government up to 5,000 people arrived to populate the part of the country on the Southern tip now known as Patagonia. In the early 1800’s, heavy industry, coal, slate, iron and steel, were beginning to take over the Welsh heart lands and rural communities began to disappear. Many Welsh patriots believed Wales was being absorbed into England so many turned to the ‘New World’ in an attempt to preserve Welsh language, culture and traditions. At first these communities struggled to survive in conditions markedly different to those back home but soon the resilience of this remarkable Celtic nation within a nation began to succeed to such a point that the Argentinian authorities felt threatened enough to end the teaching of Welsh within their school system though it always remained, as at home in Wales, the language of the home therefore ensuring its survival. Even now

“Each year in late July and early August, flights arrive at London airports carrying folk from South America. Many of these visitors experience difficulty in understanding the English spoken to them at passport control, however once they have travelled along the M4 motorway and crossed the border into Wales, destined for wherever the National Eisteddfod is being held that particular year, they find that they can communicate fluently with the locals.

The visitors in question have travelled 8,000 miles from the Welsh speaking outpost of Patagonia, on the southern tip of Argentina. The fascinating history of how these visitors from an essentially Spanish speaking country, also come to speak the ‘language of heaven’ dates back to the first half of the 19th century.”

So Celtic traditions and music are not unheard of in Argentina and the Celtic-Punk scene is a vibrant and exciting part of that, especially in the capital. Here on their debut release Five Distilled Celtic Punks the band play a variety of well known Irish classics both old and new alongside a classic of Punk Rock! The EP kicks off with the much maligned, these days, ‘Galway Girl’. Written by alternative Country star Steve Earle in 2000 and tells of meeting a beautiful black-haired blue-eyed girl in Galway. In the intervening years the song has gone stratospheric and has become a regular fixture for every single bloody busker and singer-songwriter in Ireland and beyond! Of course despite being butchered by untold artists it is Steve Earle’s version that is the songs high point and I am glad to say that Gypsy Vanner’s version belongs with the latter  in the Celtic-Punk hall of fame. It’s given a real Punk-Rock boost but still manages to keep its Celtic roots intact. Silvio’s vocals are raspy and hoarse and the perfect foil for the music. He also plays the uillean pipes and as anyone into Celtic-Punk will know that always makes for a special kind of music. They follow this song up with a lesser known one ‘True Love Knows No Season’ about an Irish gunman inKansas City in the days of the old west. A beautiful ballad best known for Planxty’s recording but here Gypsy Vanner give it the Dropkick’s treatment and turn into a full blown Celtic-Punk classic. Absolutely brilliant!!! They give it a Country twist for ‘Colours’ with some excellent banjo from Guyon accompanying a pure full on thigh slapper!

We back in familiar territory next with a couple of Celtic-Punk classics beginning with ‘South Australia’ and as you can imagine form my review so far it is putty in their hands and they chuck us out a fantastic version that leads us nicely into ‘The Irish Rover’ and the Bhoys go for it as only this song deserves with the whole band having a good go at the vocals! A sure fire dance floor filler everywhere you go I am sure it’s no different in Argentina either.

Five Distilled Celtic Punks comes to an end with a song from one of my favourite bands, Social Distortion’s ‘Prison Bound’. SD have literally just finished an extensive tour in the States with Flogging Molly and their ‘Country-Punk’ sound has always been popular in the scene. Here Gypsy Vanner save the best for last and turn the song into another full blown Celtic-Punk classic. A utterly brilliant ending and played at much the same speed as the original it has plenty of Gypsy Vanner stamped on it to make it their own.

So there’s my thoughts and I am only gutted to have come across the EP so late considering it was released back in March on St. Patrick’s eve. The production here is absolutely exemplary across the whole EP though no information on who was responsible but I tip my hat! There is at the moment some quite incredible music coming out of the continent of South America and beyond the bands from Argentina we mentioned earlier we are eagerly awaiting the new album from Mexican Celtic punkers Batallón De San Patricio and absolutely anything that Brazil’s The McMiners or Lugh put out so be sure to stay tuned and check them all out soon.

(You can listen to Five Distilled Celtic Punks on Bandcamp before you hopefully buy it!)

Buy Five Distilled Celtic Punks  FromTheBand  CDbaby  Amazon

Contact Gypsy Vanner  Facebook  YouTube  Spotify  Instagram  Bandcamp

SINGLE REVIEW: BATALLON DE SAN PATRICIO- ‘Familia/El último En Partir’ (2019)

The international flavour of Celtic-Punk continues apace with the first official release from Mexican Celtic punkers Batallón De San Patricio. Named after the famed St. Patrick’s Battalion of Irishmen who fought in the Mexican army during the Mexican–American War of 1846–48 this release further cements the friendly links between our nations.

The time has come and before too long if you ask me for the first official single from Batallón De San Patricio. Titled ‘Family’ it’s the first release from their upcoming debut album Brothers Of War that will be coming out later this year. They chose to call the song ‘Family’…

“because for us the Family is first. We invite you to enjoy our song with a beer in hand, whether you like it or not, help us share! So other people may like it or they may not… The idea is that the Battalion is heard wherever. ! Let the green wave grow!”

Batallón De San Patricio were formed in Guadalajara, the capital and largest city of the Mexican state of Jalisco, very recently, back in July 2017 and are now beginning to come into their own. Formed in honour of a great friend of theirs Jorge who sadly passed away in 2017 they have one previous release a six-track Demo in September of last year which you can check out below on the Bandcamp player.

The band have a strict honour code and strongly believe in brotherhood, honesty, dignity and respect. Batallón De San Patricio’s slogan is and always will be ‘Family First’. The music is part of their lives and the people around them and to remember those no longer with us. Brothers Of War will be released on all main platforms so keep an eye on these pages for our review and the release date.

Lyrics (Spanish)

Somos la legión mas grande de la región, Somos los primeros de la generación Los piratas mas buscados de esta gran nación, Y por nuestras cabezas, ofrecen un millón.

Lyrics (English)

We’re from the land the biggest legion, The very first on this generation, The most wanted pirates on this big nation, So then for our heads, they offer a million.

The band have also just released their new video for ‘Last To Leave’ only a few days ago so here that is in all it’s glory. Taken from their imminent debut album Brothers Of War the song is dedicated to all those who have lost a loved one. To all who have gone through difficult times and despite all adversity have continued to keep their chins up.

 

The bands main goal is to spread the Folk-Punk genre, heavily influenced of course by both Irish and Celtic culture, mainly in Guadalajara and in the surrounding regions. Maybe one day overseas. These are the kind of bands that Flogging Molly should be getting to play the Salty Dog Cruise so if any of them are reading or anyone who has any influence then you know what to do folks!

Contact Batallón De San Patricio  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

To celebrate the imminent release of their debut album we will have a large feature on the history of the St. Patrick’s Battalion, who the band are named after, and their gallant history. Famous throughout Mexico and the Irish diaspora many songs have been written about them but we need to keep their history alive so our feature will include the background to their forming right up to their tragic end. Let’s face it there’s no need for a ‘spoiler alert’ when talking about tragic ends and Irish history!! Subscribe to the Blog or join the London Celtic Punks Facebook page to keep up to date.

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