As we celebrate the ninth birthday of our first post our special feature continues. Based on the feature that use to appear in the football magazines of my youth it’s just a short series of questions about stuff’n’nonsense as me auld Nan would have said.
Great to have Ben from Hillbilly Irish band The Tan And Sober Gentlemen for today’s Q And A. The bhoys have a brand new album out that we reviewed just last week and we bloody loved it. A high energy combination of Irish, Celtic, Country and Rock’n’Roll that I’m not shy to tell you is among the contenders for album of the year!
Name / Nickname : Ben Noblit
Age (Estimate allowed!) : 30
Status : Single
Birthplace / Nationality / Ancestry : Chatham County, North Carolina/American/Irish, Scottish, Scotch-Irish, Icelandic.
Where do you live : Alamance County, North Carolina
Occupation : Musician
First job : Farm labor
A job you would have loved to do : Hunting guide
What / Who makes you laugh : Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Favourite movie star : Andy Griffith
Favourite film / TV show : Justified
Favourite band/s : The Freight Hoppers, Gid Tanner & the Skillet Lickers, Tyler Childers, Waylon Jennings, Alison Krauss & Union Station
Favourite venue / gig played : Hacketts Bar, Schull, Ireland
Describe yourself in 5 words : Long-haired country boy
Most embarrassing moment : Split pants down the middle onstage
Favourite song and why : Pretty Saro-first song I learned to play
Favourite album and why : Alison Krauss & Union Station-Live. I listen to it most every morning while I make coffee.
Favourite song you’ve been involved in : All the Time, off of Tan and Sober’s “Regressive Folk Music.”
Team/s supported as a kid : Carolina Tar Heels
Favourite sportsperson : Dale Earnhardt
Favourite sport : Basketball, ice hockey
All time hero : George Noblit
Favourite book : Shelby Foote’s Civil War series
Best friend : My accordion player, Alan Best
Biggest influence on career : old-time fiddle player David Bass
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given : The best judge of a man’s character is whether or not women feel safe around him.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be : Alamance County, North Carolina
Your five dream dinner guests : Dale Earnhardt, Shane MacGowan, Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams
Your favourite quote : For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.-H.L. Mencken
Anything to plug / promote : New album by the Tan and Sober Gentlemen. “Regressive Folk Music” streaming now on all platforms
‘Cold Chicken Skin’ isn’t on the new album, Regressive Folk Music, but check it pout anyway and have a look at our review where you can find out about the history of the band and what the new album is like and hear some songs from it.
Celtic-Punk-Grass played by some Hillbilly Irish. The Tan And Sober Gentlemen explore the Gaelic roots of North Carolinian music, and to play it with as much energy as possible. Their new album out this week sees their sound developing into something really special.
Since we reviewed The Tan And Sober Gentlemen’s debut album Veracity four years ago I reckon we have received maybe 400+ releases here so I don’t get the chance to regularly revisit albums once they are reviewed. Veracity is one of a handful though that often gets a play. We described it back then as
” Raw and unfiltered, a blend of hard-driving, danceable roots delivered with a punk edge and whisky-fuelled abandon they call ‘Celtic-Punk-Grass’.”
Recorded in the woods of Chatham County, North Carolina, Veracity is a riotous take on ‘Scotch-Irish hillbilly music’. North Carolina has a rich history of Irish, Scotch and Scotch-Irish history going back generations and the Tan And Sober Gentlemen are rightly proud of their state’s Celtic musical heritage. Musically they embrace the glorious foot stomping sound of their home while welding to it Irish and Scots tunes and melodies. Totally acoustic this is the kind of wide-open-throttle, no-holds-barred band that could drown out most Punk bands with their passion, energy and sheer ruggedness.
So four years on and with just a couple of singles inbetween it’s hard to keep a track of bands over there from over here but they have kept plugging away and playing whenever they could do or were allowed to. Founded in Snow camp their music is Irish-folk-music-meets-the-American-South sound of the North Carolina backcountry where they were born and raised. The State has over a quarter of a million people of Scotch-Irish ancestry (second only to Texas) and coupled with those of just Irish ancestry the number is almost a million residents. The States traditional Folk music can be traced right back to those who started arriving in North Carolina long before the ‘famine’ and to those who came in it’s aftermath. And The Tan And Sober gentlemen play it with as much energy as humanly possible!
Regressive meaning “returning to a former or less developed state; characterised by regression” kinda sums up the sound of The Tan And Sober Gentlemen and they even downplay what they do
“You know our deal-we ain’t lighting the world on fire with songwriting or anything, we’re just a bunch of rednecks that like playing fiddle music real dadgum fast.”
but the truth is that music is a major way for people to find their identity and to keep culture alive and their are times when I think the Yanks are doing a better job at doing it then modern Ireland is.
The fella’s raised the necessary to record and release Regressive Folk Music with a very successful Kickstarter campaign where they sailed past their target. The album kicks off with ‘Kelly Sullivan’ and bursts through the speakers at you. Fast and furious from the very start and utterly brilliant too! The fiddle work is amazing and being a bit of a auld rocker I really enjoyed the sound of the thump-thump of the double bass too. The Celticness of the tune is unmistakable while next they play the first of a handful of covers. They turn to their local roots for ‘Corn Likker’, also known as ‘Old Corn Liquor’, a song that’s roots are obscure but found favour in the early days of recording in the repertoire of African-American musicians. On ‘Happiness Ain’t Happening’ they get the first chance to properly combine both traditions and chuck in some great humour and the song infectious tune would see the stiffest Joe clapping along and stamping his feet. After three songs it’s time for a breather and ‘All The Time’ sees Courtney take on vocals with a tender and tuneful song. It’s fair to say that the best Celtic-Punk bands out there, no matter how Punky they are can also knock out some great slow songs and ballads and I’m always a bit disappointed to hear an album without one. I thought on first listen this was the album high point and while I have changed my mind a little I think it is still up there. Another cover is up next and the Irish war song ‘The Foggy Dew’ has become very popular these days on the Celtic-Punk scene and several band shave already recorded it this year already. Set during the 1916 Easter Rising when a small group of Irish rebels rose against the might of the British Empire. The rebellion was crushed and it’s leaders executed but the event lit a fire in the hearts of the Irish people that would see them rise again only a few years later.
Unusually the song is delivered with female vocals and the rather un-straight forward version is uplifted by Courtney’s beautiful and emotional vocals. As impossible as it would seem to breathe new life into a song you’ve heard a 1000 times it’s managed here. An outstanding version. ‘Banks Of The Roses’ is dates from 18th century Ireland and is an perfect opportunity for Eli Howells to really let fly on the fiddle. Eli was born and raised in the hills of Burke County, North Carolina, and learned from master fiddlers such as Jane Macmorren at an early age. Honing his skill at fiddlers’ conventions, barrooms, and back porches across the state. His distinctive Scotch-Irish fiddle stylings provide the core of the Tan and Sober sound. ‘Mickey’s Grave’ and ‘Heart Is Haunted’ highlight their two wings with the former a rowdy shouty Irish Larkin-esque riot while the latter is a jolly uplifting County-ish / Bluegrass romp. Along with the slow songs another thing I look for is a bit of trad Folk. ‘Miss Shephard’s / The High Drive’ is a chance for the whole band to flex their collective muscles and prove to detractors that Celtic-Punk does have some real musicians in it and is even helping keep trad music alive and relevant. ‘Barbed Wire’ takes the Country route again and some quite stunning banjo leading into Courtney’s delivery of the Rockabilly swing of ‘You’ll Never Know’. We nearing the end and next up is the popular ‘Leaving Of Liverpool’. Again it’s roots go back much further than the first time it was recorded but it has became part of Irish musical history. There’s no way of course it wouldn’t find favour in the Celtic-Punk scene as well with a chorus that has always cried out to be turned up to 11 and belted out at the top of your voice.
Played as expected with wild abandon and absolutely guaranteed to make you lose your voice with all the band getting a chance to solo their instruments, it really does rock your socks off! Only a couple more left and ’30 Years Of Farming’ is up now. Written by Fred Eaglesmith, who as a teenager, hopped a freight train to western Canada and began his career as a musician. Specialising in ‘twist’ songs, where there’s a twist in the tale in the final verse ranging from “tear at your heartstrings” to tongue in cheek. This song is the former. A real tear jerker. The curtain comes down on Regressive Folk Music with ‘Samhain’s March’ and a beautiful lament played led mainly by Eli on fiddle and Tucker’s banjo picking. The best album ‘outro’ I’ve heard in such a long time and with a album packed with so much energy a very clever way to end things.
Another triumph for The Tan And Sober Gentlemen and their legendarily rowdy live shows will be winging it back across the broad Atlantic, from whence their forefathers left, in the Summer with the band looking forward to playing some Irish festivals and club shows. We will include dates and infos in our month Odds ‘n’ Sods Celtic-Punk news round up so be sure to subscribe (you need to do this on a laptop). A riotous encapsulation of the band’s Irish roots and it’s members ancestry. Hard- driving, danceable roots music delivered with Punk edge and wild abandon. They are quite simply the best drinking and dancing band in Celtic-Punk.
March is over and I hope we all made up for two years of frustration by having a bloody good time but now it’s another Odds’n’Sods. A place for all the news on Celtic-Punk scene’s bands big and small, established or just starting out.
A reminder too that we need your news so anything you would like to share with the rest of the Celtic-Punk scene send it onto us.
In case you missed it Ukrainian ‘Stout Rock’ band ShamRocks from Kyiv have just put out a new single based on an auld Irish rebel song some of you may recognise! We support all countries right to self-determination, free from aggression. ShamRocks have featured here several times in the past so check out their last album, FCP Live,from 2020 and maybe chuck the lads a quid or two if you can manage it. You can show support via https://www.defendukraine.org/donate
The Nebraska based Celtic-Punk band THE KILLIGANS seem to be calling themselves a Ska-Punk band these days but they are still one helluva band and they are back after a wee hiatus with a new 4-track EP, Dread Naught, including their new single about a sausage or something!
THE SCRATTERS are fine country folk made up of various members of The Skimmity Hitchers, The Dreadnoughts, The Surfin Turnips and The Mighty Shinkickers. Expect multiple Folk-Punk-Folk songs about Scrumpy and Western Cider.
THE FEELGOOD McLOUDS had a new single out last month. ‘Head Up’ was originally planned as an encouraging anthem during the pandemic but present events have unfortunately made the track even more appropriate.
Celtic / Folk metal is not a scene we know a great deal about. It’s more a case if we like it and hear it but the new track from THEIGNS & THRALLS is utterly brilliant. The brainchild of Skyclad singer-songwriter Kevin Ridley the video features guests from across the Folk-Metal and wider scene. Their self-titled debut album is out in April on Rockshot Records and we will definitly be listening out for it.
CALIFORNIA CELTS sound really interesting with their new single a sorta Ska-Folk-Sea Shanty hybrid it comes with a really outstanding video which if their to be believed was done by someone who has won two Emmys !!
We could start including a whole section here for THE CLOVERHEARTS each month such is their prolific output. Just in the last month they have put out two fantastic tracks. Kicking off with a brilliant cover of the Johnny Cash penned ‘Ring Of Fire’ and ‘You’ve Got A Friend’. Both available for $1 from the bands Bandcamppage.
Hungarian band PADDY AND THE RATS are certainly one of Europe’s best Celtic-Punk bands and they just announced the release of their album From Wasteland To Wonderland at the end of April. The band have released one song so far and the album is available to order below.
A new band I just found are Celtic-Rockers BOG IRON from California and I’ve had their recently released live album, recorded at the Midsummer’s Fairytale Celtic Ren Faire playing non stop at London Celtic Punks towers over the last month. Very nice recording too. A notch above most live albums I have heard. If you click on the link be sure to take a listen to the brilliant ‘The Night Pat Murphy Died’ brilliant!!!!
Scottish-born Texas-based singer/songwriter HUGH MORRISON from Murder The Stout has another solo album out this month. Lift Your Head is 14 fresh new songs with the help of New Orleans legend Beth Patterson and percussion guru Pete Sosa. The album comes out on April 8 and is available for pre-release.
BRIGADE 77 – Rebellion (review on its way)
THE GARLIC KINGS – Громко, Крепко, Честно
GREGOR BARNETT – Don’t Go Throwing Roses In My Grave
THE BRIDGE CITY SINNERS – Unholy Hymns
MOONSHINE WAGON – Self-Destruction
THE KILLIGANS – Dread Naught EP (review also on its way!)
SIR REG – Kings Of Sweet Feck All (reviewed yesterday!!)
Remember we can’t review it if we don’t hear it
Blast from The Past is dedicated to bands, many of whom are no more, who put out great music but were never featured on these pages at the time. Usually they come with a free download link. This months band is still alive and kicking up a storm in the Manchester area. PARCEL O’ROGUES doing their best to keep Irish music relevant blending the traditional sounds of the Dubliners with the band’s many influences. They released Hope The Rain Keeps Up back in 2012 and the CD has long sold out but can be downloaded as a ‘Name Your Price’ download. They did some absolutely craic-ing live streams during the pandemic and have shown what a great live band they are.
THE TAN AND SOBER GENTLEMEN are one of the more inventive Celtic-Punk bands out there. From the Piedmont of North Carolina traditional music is in their blood.
All of us grew up playing the traditional music of our beloved state. “Our kind of music,” as the old-timers call it, is descended in part from the music brought over by the settlers from Scotland and Ireland. Irish music and North Carolinian music are long-lost relatives, and we aim to bring them back together. Furthermore, we believe in playing this music the way it used to be played. Not as performance art, or to put the musicians on a pedestal, but as a way to bring folks together in joy, merriment and community. Not to mention having as much fun as we possibly can.
One of the beautiful things in the scene is that many bands attempt to release records themselves far away from corporate control. To this the ‘sober gentlemen’ need your help so they’ve begun a Kickstarter appeal. if you want to hear our kind of music exist in recorded form, and to keep the Bhoys and Ghirls on the road, then this is is how to do it.
We love Aussie Celtic-Punk and we love the debut single ‘Mutiny!’ from CAPTAIN O’BRIEN’S CRAIC from Launceston, Tasmania. Catchy as feck and great fiddle! A 7 piece Pop/Punk band drawing influence from traditional Irish and Celtic sounds. Try and support all new bands as best you can. All their links available through Linktree.
Can’t wait for the MR. IRISH BASTARD tour. We’ll be supporting it throughout and hopefully making a trip outside London too. Seems THE SAW DOCTORS are back on the road with a tour announced for the end of the year. News on the London Celtic Punks front is we are pleased to announce our first gig in a couple of years with Italian band DIRTY ARTICHOKES – the tidiest Celtic-Punk band in the Celtic-Punk scene – returning to London at the beginning of August and will be playing with THE LAGAN and ANTO MORRA, two artists popular on the London Irish music scene that sadly haven’t been able to play much of late. The gig will be at the Bird’s Nest in Deptford and all details are on the Facebook event.
DROPKICK MURPHYS announced their only 2022 dates for the UK. They will play the Slam Dunk festival, headlining the Dickies stage, taking part in Leeds and Hatfield over the weekend of June 3/4. Tickets are almost £100 (nearly a tenner booking fee) so good luck with that folks!
What about this for a bloody good video !! MR. IRISH BASTARD St. Patrick’s Day single dedicated to auld Marmite man Conor McGregor. Utterly superb but bejaysus Conor could do with a dacent PR man.
THE GROGGY BOYS first single from upcoming second album Still Groggin’ is another great slab of Pirate themed Celtic-Punk’n’Ska. The album out on Vampire Productions is like their debut album eight tracks loaded with Punk, Metal, Ska, Traditional Celtic Melodies and Ancient Sea Songs.
Facebook is shit. Proper shit. It’s telling that it only has 2/5 in the play app store! It’s stranglehold on all forms of expression is not good and people are leaving in droves. Don’t despair though you can still keep up with London Celtic Punks posts via our group on the new phone app Telegram. Very similar in style (but better and easier to use) than What’s App but the best thing of all is that it is completely free from outside interference. Join us on Telegram, don’t miss a single post and even receive the odd exclusive and special offer!https://t.me/londoncelticpunks/
Even though we hate it Facebook does supply the occasional ray of sunshine so a shout out to some good friends of ours over on Facebook. The Dropkick Murphys- Fan Pageand the Celtic Punk, Folk And Rock Fans are two of the best music forums on FB let alone Celtic-Punk. Ran By Fans For Fans just like you and me. Like and join in the fun!
If you like what we do then you can support us by checking out the London Celtic Punks online store. The Harp’n’Bones design is back in all sizes and on either black or white shirts. We have recently in polo shirts, in all sizes, and some nifty woolly hats as well as the last few remaining Green’n’White ‘Skully Cap’ ringer shirts. Click the link below for the full range of all our other tatt. Shirts, badges, stickers, flags, CD’s and fridge magnets all the discerning Celtic-Punk fan could ever need! Help keep Punk Celtic! https://the30492shop.fwscart.com/
We’re far more use to giving out these sort of thing than receiving them but it really did make our day to receive this from the original and best Celtic-Punk web site out there – SHITE ‘n’ ONIONS. ‘Best Celtic-Punk Zine’ for 2021. For this and also the very kind words means a lot as we would certainly not be here if not for the inspiration and support from other Celtic-Punk media. #OneBigCelticPunkFamily. They finally got around to putting out their Best Of 2021 list and unsurprisingly, like on ours, The Peelers ran away with the #1 spot. You can check out their list here.
And finally here’s another great *FREE DOWNLOAD* for you this month. Now we’re neither hippies nor are we warmongers but realists. War is sometimes a necessary evil but only after all avenues have been explored and always we must beware of politicians ready to send young men and women from our class not theirs off to fight and die. With that in mind here’s the 3-track single from CHUMBAWAMBA (remember them?) ‘Jacob’s Ladder (Not in My Name)’ that was first released in response to the illegal Iraqi war.https://www.mediafire.com/file/xjkiayngyiwc4sa/jacladde.rar/file
If you are new to the London Celtic Punks blog it is easy to subscribe / follow and never miss a post. Bands, promoters, record labels, venues send in any news to firstname.lastname@example.org or via the Contact Us page.
Their has been a few great debut Celtic-Punk albums during 2018 but here is one of the very best from North Carolina’s the Tan and Sober Gentlemen. Raw and unfiltered, a blend of hard-driving, danceable roots delivered with a punk edge and whisky-fuelled abandon they call ‘Celtic-Punk-Grass’.
Holy f*$%*£g shit this is a one hell of a great album!! If anyone out there is still mourning the loss of the great Cutthroat Shamrock then dry your eyes and sit yourselves up as grieve no more as the Tan And Sober Gentlemen are here to fill that big Celtic-Bluegrass-Punk gap in our hearts. We were lucky earlier in the year to be chosen to showcase their debut single a release of the auld Celtic rebel number ‘Follow Me Up To Carlow’ which, needless to say, was absolutely fantastic. This though just left me itching for more so I was doing cartwheels when they sent me their debut album last week and it’s not been out me lugholes ever since!
Recorded in the woods of Chatham County, North Carolina, the album is a riotous take on what the band calls ‘Scotch-Irish hillbilly music’. North Carolina has a rich history of Irish, Scotch and Scotch-Irish history going back generations and the Tan And Sober Gentlemen are rightly proud of their state’s Celtic musical heritage. Musically they embrace the glorious foot stomping sound of their home while welding to it irish and Scots tunes and melodies. Totally acoustic this is the kind of wide-open-throttle, no-holds-barred band that could drown out most Punk bands with their passion, energy and sheer ruggedness.
Tan And Sober Gentlemen from left to right: Alan S. Best- Mandolin, Accordion, Penny Whistle * Ben Noblit- Bass * William Maltbie- Singing * Jake Waits- Drums * Tucker Jackson Galloway- Banjo * Eli Howells- Fiddle * Courtney Raynor- Guitar
Since forming in the summer of 2016, Tan and Sober Gentlemen’s reputation has garnered them wide support at home in the Appalachians, across the East Coast and even back ‘home’ in Ireland. Veracity was released on 1st December this year and recorded and mixed at BNB Audio by Brett Scott and he has done an amazing job taking Tan And Sober Gentlemen’s live sound and transfering it successfully to record. Kicking off with ‘Rabbit’ and as ferocious banjo picking you ever gonna hear. It’s lively, catchy and totally awesome. The kind of song that almost forces you to onto the dancefloor to kick up the dust or as Black Water County would say “Beat up the floor!”. The song is based on a old black banjo tune from their home in the North Carolina Piedmont. First mentioned in 1913, it is thought to be much much older. Played at breakneck speed leaving the Country’n’Western me Mammy use to listen to in its dust. Mandolin, fiddle and Banjo are on fire while the rest of the band struggle I reckon to keep up. The pace doesn’t let up next with ‘The Day Has Come’ and neither does the catchyness! The first signs of the bands roots comes with an amazing cover of The Pogues classic tribute to Irish-America ‘The Body Of An American’. Beginning with Eli’s tender fiddle that almost stretches into the auld rebeller ‘Boolavogue’ before the band all come together as the song builds up and like the original bursts into life. Guitarist Courtney takes over ably on vocals and belts it out with gusto and heart. Yeah it maybe impossible to fuck up this song but it’s just as hard to impress with it too but a great version and a surefire way to get the dancefloor moving I am sure. ‘Waterbound’ is more traditional Hillbilly/Bluegrass fair but again played at a pace that’ll leave you out of breath just listening to it. A 20’s fiddle tune from Grayson County Virginia, though also thought to be much older. They slow it down slightly for ‘Deep Chatham’ but not by much! Courtney takes over from William on vocals again for ‘Knoxville Girl’, the albums longest song at just under six minutes. As far as I can tell it tells of a rather vicious fight but wrapped around a beautiful country and western ballad with some great fiddle. It’s the sort of song that would have fit perfectly on Nick Cave’s infamous Murder Ballads album. From the 17th century, the song was originally from Shropshire England, where the murder was commited, but it made its way across the broad atlantic to America by Irish immigrants, who sang it as ‘Wexford Girl’. It again took on new life when it was renamed ‘Knoxville Girl’ two centuries later after a second murder occurred. One of the album’s highlights is one of their own compositions and ‘Hold My Hand’ is what every country song should sound like. No mistaking the highlight of the album for me and it totally justifies them releasing it as the lead single for the album too. ‘Follow Me Up To Carlow’ is one of my favourite songs anyway but the Tan And Sober Gentlemen perform one hell of a good version of it. You can check out our review of it as a single here where we also dig into the interesting history of the song too. Veracity ends with ‘Going Home’ and it’s a song packed with history. Black churches in western North Carolina sang hymns in Gaelic well into the 20th century, and many Southern Baptist hymns are based on Scottish melodies. Antonin Dvorak was staying in the mountains of North Carolina when he stole the tune of two different bagpipe songs and wrote the 9th Symphony. It is thought the melodies of those two bagpipe tunes made their way into the repertoire of the black churches in Asheville NC, where Dvorak heard them and incorporated them into the Largo Theme. The song is now sung as the last song of every ceili. The band actually learnt it in Fort William!
So we’ve nine songs that clock in at thirty-three minutes and while they may be better known at home for their raucous, energetic live performances and with Veracity they have captured their wild abandon perfectly. With sold-out shows across the South, and, more interesting for us, international tours on the horizon, Tan And Sober Gentlemen are set for great things.
(you can have a free listen to Veracity before you spend your 10 bucks on it on the Bandcamp player below)