Tag Archives: Enter The Haggis


Today the 30492- London Celtic Punks web zine is four years old today so what better way to celebrate our birthday than to give you this small but perfectly formed potted history of Celtic-Rock. We have never just wanted to be a place that only reviews new records we want to celebrate everything that makes us celtic-punks. Our love of our roots and our history and our traditions and the love that those with no Celtic ancestry have as well. Celtic-Punk is for all that share our common values of friendship and solidarity and the love of a good time. Music cannot change the world but it can certainly make it a better place to live in and in these uncertain times that is something we all need. The roots of celtic-punk should be important to us as that is where we come from and we must never forget that.

The London Celtic Punks Admin Team

Celtic rock is a genre of folk rock, as well as a form of Celtic fusion which incorporates Celtic music, instrumentation and themes into a rock music context. It has been extremely prolific since the early 1970’s and can be seen as a key foundation of the development of highly successful mainstream Celtic bands and popular musical performers, as well as creating important derivatives through further fusions. It has played a major role in the maintenance and definition of regional and national identities and in fostering a pan-Celtic culture. It has also helped to communicate those cultures to external audiences.


The style of music is the hybrid of traditional Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh and Breton musical forms with rock music. This has been achieved by the playing of traditional music, particularly ballads, jigs and reels with rock instrumentation; by the addition of traditional Celtic instruments, including the Celtic harp, tin whistle, uilleann pipes (or Irish Bagpipes), fiddle, bodhrán, accordion, concertina, melodeon, and bagpipes (highland) to conventional rock formats; by the use of lyrics in Celtic languages and by the use of traditional rhythms and cadences in otherwise conventional rock music. Just as the validity of the term Celtic in general and as a musical label is disputed, the term Celtic rock cannot be taken to mean there was a unified Celtic musical culture between the Celtic nations. However, the term has remained useful as a means of describing the spread, adaptation and further development of the musical form in different but related contexts.



Celtic rock developed out of the (originally English) electric folk scene at the beginning of the 1970’s. The first recorded use of the term may have been by the Scottish singer Donovan to describe the folk rock he created for his Open Road album in 1970, which itself featured a song named ‘Celtic Rock’. However, the lack of a clear Celtic elements to the self-penned tracks mean that even if the name was taken from here, this is not the first example of the genre that was to develop.


It was in Ireland that Celtic rock was first clearly evident as musicians attempted to apply the use of traditional and electric music to their own cultural context. By the end of the 1960’s Ireland already had perhaps the most flourishing folk music tradition and a growing blues and pop scene, which provided a basis for Irish rock. Perhaps the most successful product of this scene was the band Thin Lizzy. Formed in 1969 their first two albums were recognisably influenced by traditional Irish music and their first hit single ‘Whisky in the Jar’ in 1972, was a rock version of a traditional Irish song. From this point they began to move towards the hard rock that allowed them to gain a series of hit singles and albums, but retained some occasional elements of Celtic rock on later albums such as Jailbreak (1976). Formed in 1970, Horslips were the first Irish group to have the terms ‘Celtic rock’ applied to them, produced work that included traditional Irish/Celtic music and instrumentation, Celtic themes and imagery, concept albums based on Irish mythology in a way that entered the territory of progressive rock all powered by a hard rock sound. Horslips are considered important in the history of Irish rock as they were the first major band to enjoy success without having to leave their native country and can be seen as providing a template for Celtic rock in Ireland and elsewhere. These developments ran in parallel with the burgeoning folk revival in Ireland that included groups such as Planxty and the Bothy Band. It was from this tradition that Clannad, whose first album was released in 1973, adopted electric instruments and a more ‘new age’ sound at the beginning of the 1980s. Moving Hearts, formed in 1981 by former Planxty members Christy Moore and Donal Lunny, followed the pattern set by Horslips in combining Irish traditional music with rock, and also added elements of jazz to their sound.



There were already strong links between Irish and Scottish music by the 1960s, with Irish bands like the Chieftains touring and outselling the native artists in Scotland. The adoption of electric folk produced groups including the JSD Band and Spencer’s Feat. Out of the wreckage of the latter in 1974, was formed probably the most successful band in this genre, combining Irish and Scottish personnel to form Five Hand Reel. Two of the most successful groups of the 1980s emerged from the dance band circuit in Scotland. From 1978, when they began to release original albums, Runrig produced highly polished Scottish electric folk, including the first commercially successful album with the all Gaelic Play Gaelic in 1978. From the 1980s Capercaillie combined Scottish folk music, electric instruments and haunting vocals to considerable success. While bagpipes had become an essential element in Scottish folk bands they were much rarer in electric folk outfits, but were successfully integrated into their sound by Wolfstone from 1989, who focused on a combination of highland music and rock.



Brittany also made a major contribution to Celtic rock. The Breton cultural revival of the 1960s was exemplified by Alan Stivell who became the leading proponent of the Breton harp and other instruments from about 1960, he then adopted elements of Irish, Welsh and Scottish traditional music in an attempt to create a pan-Celtic folk music, which had considerable impact elsewhere, particularly in Wales and Cornwall. From 1972 he began to play electric folk with a band including guitarists Dan Ar Braz and Gabriel Yacoub. Yacoub went on to form Malicorne in 1974 one of the most successful electric folk band in France. After an extensive career that included a stint playing as part of Fairport Convention in 1976, Ar Braz formed the pan-Celtic band Heritage des Celtes, who managed to achieve mainstream success in France in the 1990’s. Probably the best known and most certainly the most enduring electric folk band in France were Tri Yann formed in 1971 and still recording and performing today. In 2017 celtic-punk band Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs fly the flag for Brittany singing in their native language and playing regularly and often accompanied on stage by Louise Ebrel, daughter of Eugénie Goadec, a famous traditional Breton musician.



By the end of the 1960’s Wales had produced some important individuals and bands that emerged as major British or international artists, this included power pop outfit Badfinger, psychedelic rockers Elastic Band and proto-heavy metal trio Budgie. But although folk groupings formed in the early 1970’s, including Y Tebot Piws, Ac Eraill, and Mynediad am Ddim, it was not until 1973 that the first significant Welsh language rock band Edward H Dafis, originally a belated rock n’ roll outfit, caused a sensation by electrifying and attempting to use rock instrumentation while retaining Welsh language lyrics. As a result, for one generation listening to Welsh language rock music could now become a statement of national identity. This opened the door for a new rock culture but inevitably most Welsh language acts were unable to breakthrough into the Anglophone dominated music industry. Anhrefn became the best known of these acts taking their pop-punk rock sound across Europe from the early-80’s to mid-90’s.


Cornwall and the Isle of Man

Whereas other Celtic nations already had existing folk music cultures before the end of the 1960s this was less true in Cornwall and the Isle of Man, which were also relatively small in population and more integrated into English culture and (in the case of Cornwall) the British State. As a result, there was relatively little impact from the initial wave of folk electrification in the 1970’s. However, the pan-Celtic movement, with its musical and cultural festivals helped foster some reflections in Cornwall where a few bands from the 1980s onwards utilised the traditions of Cornish music with rock, including Moondragon and its successor Lordryk. More recently the bands Sacred Turf, Skwardya and Krena, have been performing in the Cornish language.

  • ALBUM REVIEW: BARRULE- ‘Manannans Cloak’ (here)


Celtic Punk

Ireland proved particularly fertile ground for punk bands in the mid-1970s, including Stiff Little Fingers, The Undertones, The Radiators From Space, The Boomtown Rats and The Virgin Prunes. As with electric folk in England, the advent of punk and other musical trends undermined the folk element of Celtic rock, but in the early 1980s London based Irish band The Pogues created the subgenre Celtic punk by combining structural elements of folk music with a punk attitude and delivery. The Pogues’ style of punked-up Irish music spawned and influenced a number of Celtic punk bands, including fellow London-Irish band Neck, Nyah Fearties from Scotland, Australia’s Roaring Jack and Norway’s Greenland Whalefishers.


Diaspora Celtic Punk

One by-product of the Celtic diaspora has been the existence of large communities across the world that looked for their cultural roots and identity to their origins in the Celtic nations. While it seems young musicians from these communities usually chose between their folk culture and mainstream forms of music such as rock or pop, after the advent of Celtic punk large numbers of bands began to emerge styling themselves as Celtic rock. This is particularly noticeable in the USA and Canada, where there are large communities descended from Irish and Scottish immigrants. From the USA this includes the Irish bands Flogging Molly, The Tossers, Dropkick Murphys, The Young Dubliners, Black 47, The Killdares, The Drovers and Jackdaw, and for Scottish bands Prydein, Seven Nations and Flatfoot 56. From Canada are bands like The Mahones, Enter the Haggis, Great Big Sea, The Real McKenzies and Spirit of the West. These groups were naturally influenced by American forms of music, some containing members with no Celtic ancestry and commonly singing in English. In England we have The BibleCode Sundays, The Lagan and others.


Celtic Metal

Like Celtic rock in the 1970s, Celtic metal resulted from the application of a development in English music, when in the 1990s thrash metal band Skyclad added violins, and with them jigs and folk voicings, to their music on the album The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth (1990). This inspired the Dublin based band Cruachan to mix traditional Irish music with black metal and to create the subgenre of Celtic metal. They were soon followed by bands such as Primordial and Waylander. Like Celtic punk, Celtic metal fuses the Celtic folk tradition with contemporary forms of music.



Whereas in England electric folk, after initial mainstream recognition, subsided into the status of a sub-cultural soundtrack, in many Celtic communities and nations it has remained at the forefront of musical production. The initial wave of Celtic rock in Ireland, although ultimately feeding into Anglo-American dominated progressive rock and hard rock provided a basis for Irish bands that would enjoy international success, including the Pogues and U2: one making use of the tradition of Celtic music in a new context and the other eschewing it for a distinctive but mainstream sound. Similar circumstances can be seen in Scotland albeit with a delay in time while Celtic rock culture developed, before bands like Runrig could achieve international recognition. Widely acknowledged as one of the outstanding voices in Celtic/rock is the Glasgow born Brian McCombe of The Brian McCombe Band, a pan Celtic group based in Brittany.

In other Celtic communities, and particularly where Celtic speakers or descendants are a minority, the function of Celtic rock has been less to create mainstream success, than to bolster cultural identity. A consequence of this has been the reinforcement of pan-Celtic culture and of particular national or regional identities between those with a shared heritage, but who are widely dispersed. However, the most significant consequence of Celtic rock has simply been as a general spur to immense musical and cultural creativity.



Startling news from Toronto on a name change for one of North America’s most favourite celtic-punk/rock bands. Formed back in 1996 they released six studio albums and one live one, and in the process built up a massive following who called themselves ‘Haggis Heads’. Anyroad here’s what the band themselves have to say on the matter, lifted directly from their web-site.

Enter The Haggis

It all happened rather quickly, as is often the case with musical endeavors.

In March, 1995, Craig had just secured a gig and although the songs had been written, he didn’t actually have a band or even a band name. Amazingly, within a matter of weeks, Craig had a kilt-rocking band of Canadians ready to take the Toronto pub scene by storm. Looking back to those early days, one could say that the world was a different place than it is today. By the same token, Enter The Haggis is a different band today than it was then, with Craig remaining as the only original member. Most of us were teenagers when we joined Enter The Haggis and today some of us are married and have kids of our own. Many of you have witnessed this transformation before your very eyes.

During this time, we’ve tried to push ourselves to continue learning and improving as musicians, songwriters and hopefully, as people. Ultimately, we feel like every bit of growth we’ve achieved has been realized honestly, organically and always with the best interest of the music at heart – but nothing can grow and thrive as we have without an incredible support system and for us, that support system is you: our fans, friends and supporters.

After almost twenty years as Enter The Haggis we have decided to change our name.

Truth be told, we’ve been wrestling with the idea since 2004, when we released our album, Casualties of Retail. This debate has come up with every new album and we feel that now is the right time to take this next step on our musical journey. We’re very proud of our history as Enter The Haggis, but the legacy of that name no longer fits our identity. While it does convey the Celtic side of what we do, it also paints a one-dimensional picture that doesn’t represent our varied musical influences. Since Craig is the only original member of Enter The Haggis, a new name also gives a common start for something that we’re all creatively invested in.

As for our new music, we describe it as ‘Northern Roots Rock’. We feel that that speaks to our Canadian spin on American roots music and our use of traditional instruments with a rock edge. Folk music focuses on the power of meaningful lyrics, which continues to be a focus in our writing.

Rest assured that when you come to a show you’ll find the same five guys pouring their hearts and souls out on the stage, playing all of your favourite ETH songs, happy to say hello and share a pint with new and familiar faces. We’re super excited for what the future holds and we hope that you will allow us to continue to bring you the very best of what we have to offer as musicians and as people.

Enter The Haggis celebrate their last show as Enter The Haggis on October 11th, 2014, at the Westcott Theater in Syracuse, NY.

– Your friends, Jubilee Riots (Brian, Bruce, Craig, Mark and Trevor)

Any questions? Yes? Okay, shoot:

YOU: This is a great decision and I support you 100%!
US: That’s not a question but THANK GOD!!! We thought you were going to hate us.

YOU: How can I help?
US: The best thing you can do is purchase a ticket for one of our upcoming shows in your area. And if you want to take it one step further, you can contact the venue in your area that we’ll be performing at and let them know that you continue to support us and you will be attending the show.

YOU: I’m a card carrying Haggis Head. Can I keep my card?
US: Well… we never printed cards but for sure!

YOU: What is Jubilee Riots’ official bird?
US: The African Swallow.
Enter The HaggisYOU: Can I still buy a Haggis Head t-shirt?
US: Yes, but we aren’t printing any more so order them online or come to a show before they’re gone!

YOU: What does Jubilee Riots mean?
US: The Jubilee Riots are an integral part of Toronto’s Irish cultural history. You can find it on “The Google.” They came at a cost but the positive outcome was greater freedom of expression. Our band formed in Toronto and we’ve been influenced by Celtic music, so our new band name is a nod to both our geographic and musical roots. This new name also reflects our many contrasts: the celebration and sorrow found in many of our songs (One Last Drink for example), our use of traditional and modern instruments, and our story as a Canadian band finding love and affection in the USA.

YOU: I have a Haggis Head tattoo and have devoted my entire life to your teachings. I’m now spiraling in a spiritual vortex of confusion. What do you recommend?
US: Your unbelievable devotion isn’t something we take lightly. You’ve chosen to carry us with you – both in your hearts and ON YOUR BODIES through all your life’s twists and turns, and it’s humbling. That’s why Brian is collecting the names of everyone with ETH ink – once he’s confident he has a comprehensive list, he’s going to design a tattoo for himself with all of your initials, so we can carry all of you forward with us.

YOU: Will you continue to play my favorite ETH songs?
US: Yes!

YOU: Great, I want to hear “Donald, Where’s Yer Troosers?”
US: No.

YOU: But –

YOU: If I’m not a Haggis Head, what am I?
US: You guys are amazingly creative so we’ll leave this up to you. Let us know when you figure it out!

YOU: Will http://www.enterthehaggis.com and social media sites continue running?
US: Yes, but we’d love you to join us at http://www.jubileeriots.com, and get active in our new social media communities: http://www.facebook.com/jubileeriotsband http://www.twitter.com/jubileeriots http://jubileeriots.tumblr.com

YOU: What other names did you consider?
US: Today’s Modern Camel, The Strolling Drones, Lewd Reeds, Early Machines, A Portrait of Penguins, Schmenter the Shmaggis, Whaggis, Trevor Lewington and The Shipwrecks… it was so hard to choose.

YOU: Can I use the name Enter The Haggis for my band now?
US: No, this is like an ex-girlfriend situation where we don’t want to be with them but don’t want anyone else to have them either.

YOU: When is Jubilee Riots’ “Penny Black” being released?
US: November 1st at Port City Music Hall in Portland, ME – and November 4th worldwide!

YOU: When is the band’s first show as Jubilee Riots?
US: October 15th and 16th at Hugh’s Room in Toronto. We thought it fitting as the first Enter The Haggis show was in Toronto.

YOU: Can we expect anything different at a Jubilee Riots show or will it basically be the same as an Enter The Haggis show?
US: We’ve got a few things up our sleeves to make the live experience even more exciting, and of course we’ll be featuring music from Penny Black. We’ve also ordered a massive Stone Henge-looking set piece that will be lowered down behind us during our shows – it’ll be at least 18” tall.

YOU: In a fight between Batman and Superman who would win?
US: According to Trevor’s 3-year-old, Superman would win. More specifically he would use his super strength and throw Batman into the garbage then he would make a fort out of the couch cushions and hide there because there are moose coming.

YOU: If I wear my Haggis Head garment to a show can I have something for free?
US: Ummm… sure. How about a free copy of the new CD?

YOU: Can I have a free domestic beer or well drink too?
US: No.

So their you have it! Hopefully the name change will lead to bigger and better things for the band but I’m sure there’ll always keep their celtic roots close to their hearts. Do the band a favour and follow them on their new media and share this news if possible.

for more on the anti-catholic Jubilee Riots go to the facebook page Pilgrims: The Jubilee Riots And The Irish Experience In Victoria Toronto which has all you need to know. Pilgrims is a short film that seeks to tell the story of Toronto’s Irish population in the mid-1800’s through the largely forgotten Jubilee Riots of 1875. Beginning in 1847 thousands of Irish immigrants poured into the newly industrialized city of Toronto. Though they came to Canada seeking a better life they faced extreme poverty and fierce discrimination but they began Toronto’s transformation from a British city to a multicultural one.

or you can try Wikipedia!

%d bloggers like this: