Tag Archives: Wolfe Tones

ALBUM REVIEW: HOLD FAST- ‘Black Irish Sons’ (2018)

 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!)

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ALBUM REVIEW- FINBAR FUREY- ‘Don’t Stop This Now’ (2018)

We rarely use the word legend on this site so when we do then it is only when it is well deserved. Multi-instrumentalist, composer, songwriter, storyteller and actor, Finbar Furey is celebrated around the world as one of the great folk icons and is a supreme storyteller as well as a versatile and multi-talented artist.

We have often spoken here on what Irish music and culture meant to the children of the Irish growing up in Britain in the 80’s. When The Fureys and Davey Arthur appeared (watch it here) in the middle of the 12th November 1981 edition of the popular music TV show Top Of The Pops featuring the likes of Kool & The Gang, Haircut 100 and Earth, Wind & Fire the effect it had on the Irish community here was gigantic. As Finbar said on the groups entry into the Top Of The Pops studio

When we walked in, people went ‘What in the name of Jaysus is this!’

There had been success for Irish bands but it was years before many of us were born. The Wolfe Tones played to thousands wherever they went and all without press or publicity so when these band of hirsute middle aged Irishmen took the stage playing ‘When You Were Sweet Sixteen’, a beautiful ballad that I’m sure over the years has brought a tear to most Irish peoples eye over a certain age! The band included brothers Finbar, Paul, George and Eddie as well as Davey Arthur. That day it became a defining moment in many a young 2nd and 3rd generation Irish person’s life. I remember it clearly how proud my family were at the bands achievement the smiles beaming across their faces. It would climb to #14 in the singles chart at a time when that meant selling 10’s of thousands a week. At a time with the war raging in the north of Ireland and spilling over onto English streets the Irish were having a bad time of it over here. Suspicion, aggression and bigotry against them was everywhere and countless Irish men and women were being jailed on very little evidence (all later to be cleared of any crime) with the effect that many Irish born people kept their heads down and put up with the abuse. But things were changing. There were around a million Irish born people in Britain in the early 80’s and their children were not going to be silent and act ashamed of our roots. We were still a few years away from The Pogues and Irish culture and accents were never seen on TV or the media except to be ridiculed so when Finbar Furey sang

“Come to me, and my
dreams of love adored
I love you as I loved you
when you were sweet
when you were sweet sixteen”

in front of watching millions it planted something in our minds that would later come to fruition just a few years later when The Pogues would erupt onto the music scene.

The Fureys And Davey Arthur

The band were no one hit wonder and several of their songs like The Green Fields of France and The Lonesome Boatman have gone on to become solid gold Irish classics. Go to any Irish pub on any day of the year in ant part of the world and there’s a very very good chance you’ll hear one of their tunes. Born in Dublin into a Irish traveller family on 28 September 1946 in Ballyfermot, Dublin Finbar came from a highly respected musical family and began playing the uilleann pipes as a child. By his teens he had won just about every medal he could win and his amazing ability had spread across Ireland. IN the late 60’s Finbar and brother Eddie were part of the legendary Irish folk group, The Clancy Brothers with Finbar playing the pipes, banjo, tin whistle, and guitar. The brothers left in 1970 and began to perform as a duo and in 1972 their single, a version of The Humblebums ‘Her Father Didn’t Like Me Anyway’, was enthusiastically received by John Peel becoming his favourite song of 1972. Peel like many over here fell in love with the glorious sound of the Uilleann pipes (listen to it here) and they more than played their part in the coming celtic-rock phenomenon that was about to shake the music industry at home and abroad. It was though when his other brothers joined the band and they teamed up with Davey Arthur that fame came a calling and they carved out a very fruitful and successful career until in 1997, after almost thirty years in The Fureys Finbar decided to pursue a solo career as a singer songwriter.

Finbar released his first solo album ‘Colours’ in 2013 with a powerful mix of contemporary originals and modern interpretations of classic Irish songs his status as one of Ireland’s most treasured performers was cemented further. The album featured Mary Black and the second-generation Irish Mancunian Shayne Ward and instantly brought Finbar to a whole new audience too young to remember The Fureys in their heyday. Alongside his solo career he also found time to take up acting, appearing in the Martin Scorsese directed feature film ‘Gangs Of New York’ as well as 2004’s ‘Adam And Paul’ and the RTÉ TV series ‘Love/Hate’. In 2014 Finbar was honoured by the City of Dublin with the Lord Mayor praising him for

“Bringing life and laughter to many homes in Ireland”.

He followed that album up with 2015’s The Slender Promise an instrumental album of pipes and flute which brings us bang up to date with Don’t Stop This Now. The album, unsurprisingly, made #1 in Ireland under it’s original name Paddy Dear. Obviously that title was deemed too sensitive for these politically correct times so a new name was chosen. The album begins with ‘Sweet Liberty Of Life’ and the first thing that sprung to my mind was how similar in both delivery and emotion it is to the late great Johnny Cash and his American recordings. The voice is unmistakably the same as one that lit up our TV screen in that tiny living room in England twenty-seven years ago except now its more weathered and one magazine’s description of him as a “played out Dublin born Tom Waits” fits admirably.

Finbar sings of freedom and peace on a song he wrote back in 2010

“Liberty, life and freedom are words that capture the true spirit of humankind in every imaginable way”

At 71 years young Finbar’s voice comes alive and after his near-fatal heart attack in late 2012 in a gentle country-folk number it’s no wonder emotion is evident in his voice. Next is title track ‘Don’t Stop This Now’ and again there’s a strong country feel to proceedings with a string section backing and the first appearance of the uilleann pipes. Finbar’s voice is strong and direct and the wonderful words all present a song that anyone could sing and make a maudlin mess out of it but in his capable hands it becomes the beauty it is. The only downside I found is the annoying ending where they fade Finbar’s voice out rather than just simply ending. We go back to 1994 now with ‘Annabelle’ and the first exercise of the auld tear duct’s. A true story of a homeless woman in the Dublin of the 1950’s. Having lost her love in the Irish War Of Independence Finbar’s auld Mammy befriended her

“I’d often be with them as they’d share a bar of chocolate sitting on the roadside”

It’s a beautiful and simple song and leads us into the tragic story of a family caught up in The Great Hunger in ‘We Built A Home’. Both songs songs show Finbar’s strength is in his storytelling. After the amazing recent release the album ‘Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine’ by Declan O’Rourke (read our review here) this song could easily fit onto that album telling the fact of why The Great Hunger happened.

“To bear witness to heaven’s eye of cold,cold genocide”

Again its a beautiful song this time led by Finbar on the banjo. ‘The Galway Shawl’ follows and is the only cover on this album. Not much is known of the origins of this traditional Irish folk song but it has been covered widely over the years. Telling of a musician who meets the love of his life but has to leave her behind.

“Said she, “goodbye sir”; she cried and kissed me,
But my heart remain with the Galway shawl”

The string section is back for ‘Sarah Waits’ and is the tale of soldiers away at war while their love awaits their return. Linking World War One to today’s the wars continue… even as I write these words. My favourite song here is up next and it’s not even very Irishy! On ‘Co-Exist’ Finbar weaves an Eastern tune out of his banjo and the simple but effective words tell universal truth. Finbar’s daughter Aine Furey accompanies him on the two following songs, ‘The Taxi’s Waiting’ and ‘Hail, Rain Or Snow’, and her wonderful voice brings a sprightly youthfulness to the songs. The first is a catchy folky number while the second is bluesy folk number with a real foot-tapper with a lovely singalong chorus. Not surprisingly their voices are perfect together. On ‘Michael Power’ Finbar tells of a man at sea dreaming of his love at home in Dunmore. On ‘Paddy Dear’ Finbar’s voice is strong and powerful as the strings connect with the tin-whistle in a gentle tune later joined by the pipes.

We are washing up towards the end and for a man who spent so much of his life away from Ireland its a charming song about that scourge of the Irish nation- emigration. On ‘I Was Further Than I Thought I Was’ his voice cracks with emotion as the banjo and whistle lead us gently along with the story known to many of us of a old man thinking of a home he will never see before he dies. Now Irish lads and their Mammies is a story in itself and it’s kind of heartening to know that I’ll still be like this when I’m Finbar’s age! The tear ducts get another airing here and it just goes to show that his wonderful storytelling is a joy to behold.

The album ends with the haunting ‘Lament for John’ an instrumental starring Finbar on flute and uilleann pipes.

An outstanding album showcasing the amazing talent of Finbar Furey. Shane MacGowan had this to say about him recently

“proves he is not just a massive force in Irish music’s heritage, he is a massive force in shaping it’s future as well.”

It may be twenty seven years since he lit up our living room but Finbar has lost none of that sparkle and this album will please not only his own fans but will announce him to a whole new range of fans too. The album is packaged with a free DVD of Finbar in concert performing many of the songs from the album and his better known hits too making this a must have album. As stated at the beginning legend is a word far too often used in this day and age but it belongs far and squarely after the words Finbar Furey have been written.

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ALBUM REVIEW: MUIRSHEEN DURKIN AND FRIENDS- ’11 Pints & 3 Shots’ (2018)

And we all thought Muirsheen Durkin had gone off to mine gold in California but would seem he got lost on the way to Amerikay and ended up in Arnsberg and started playing some proper kick-arse Irish-Celtic-Folk-Punk-Rock!

I have a feeling we’ll still be reviewing celtic-punk releases from March well into the Summer at this rate! Here’s another that arrived in time for St. Patrick’s Day and has hardly been out of my ears since. The quality of what we received here at London Celtic Punks Towers has been amazing and when I said I thought Krakin’ Kellys new CD was already the album of the year I hadn’t heard 11 Pints & 3 Shots by this awesome German collective of musicians.

Having known each other for some thirty years it was only a few years back in 2009 that the idea to start something new came up. Wanting a band with its feet based firmly in traditional Irish music and with an emphasis on emigration songs Muirsheen Durkin & Friends was born. Their name comes from the auld song about a happy go lucky Irishman heading off to mine for gold in America during the  California Gold Rush of 1849. The song is unusual in that its a happy song and Muirsheen (a reference to the phonetic pronunciation of ‘Máirtín’ (in English Martin) in the West of Ireland.The feet may be in trad with mandolin, banjo, tin whistle, accordion and two pipers but with the addition of classic rock music instruments the band joined an ever growing scene

” set about re-voicing Irish traditional’s with pulsing bass runs, pumping beats and the use of relatively rare instruments, making it hard to recognize the contemplative shanty or seafaring vocation , Pure enjoyment and a little punk rock is still…”

Modern day celtic music and celtic-punk music has moved away from the areas well known for Irish/Celtic emigration and is now played throughout the world inspired by hundreds of bands throughout the globe. They no longer come from Ireland or London or New York but from Indonesia, Russia, Japan and even China. This is the proud legacy that the Pogues leaves to the world.

11 Pints & 3 Shots is the third release from Muirsheen Durkin with their debut album, Last Orders, hitting the streets back in 2012 and their follow up to that, Drink With The Irish, a four track EP, arriving in 2014 which features ‘The Pogues and Whiskey’ a stunningly great homage to Kings Cross finest. Each release came with mighty press from around the celtic-punk world with everyone from Celtic Folk Punk & More to Shite’n’Onions raving to the high heavens about how good they are.  Formed in the central German town of Arnsberg the band were first revealed to me when they played at the Celtic-St. Pauli football and music festival and loads of fellow Celtic supporters arrived back over here raving about a band they had seen. That was a couple of years ago and with 11 Pints & 3 Shots I finally had the chance to hear them for the first time.

What we have here is fourteen tracks that clock in at three quarters of an hour which includes three instrumentals and and a bunch of songs that you may have probably heard before but done in a style i’m sure not many are accustomed to outside these pages! Mix in some re-workings (updating?) of a couple of songs and a smattering of original compositions and you got yourself one hell of a an album!

So onto the actual review and the fun begins on 11 Pints & 3 Shots from the very off with a great album opener ‘Another Drunken Night’. Self penned by the band this was the song that announced the new release to the waiting public and needless to say it is a corker! Banjo and accordion led with nice drumming it has a definite Rumjacks feel to it but these Bhoys and Ghirls have been around long enough, and on another continent!, to come up with it themselves. A grand song and what a way to start.

The subject matter well have a gander at the video above and you’ll easily work it out. We stay in the pub next for ‘One Whiskey’, another band penned number. The song really evokes an Irish sound to me. This is the Gaelic music music that we grew up here but with plenty more bite to it. Its still folk music but played at a breakneck speed and with a real passion. Vocalist MacRünker was a member of the first Irish folk punk band in the area, Lady Godiva, who released four albums and his voice fits in superbly. Hoarse and raspy but never too much and totally in tune with the music. The bagpipes are out for ‘Itchy Fingers’ and it puts the mental into instrumental. It’s the same tune as The Kilmaine Saints signature tune which I am sure is well known but beyond my feeble memory. A killer of a song and you’d expect it to be from a band with two pipers and where half the rest of the band can pipe as well!

The first totally recognisable cover is the Scots classic ‘Donald Where Your Troosers’. Written by the great Andy Stewart in 1960 while sat on the toilet in a recording studio. The song tells the hilarious story of a kilted Scotsman travelling round London shocking the well heeled residents of London.

“I went down to London town
To have a little fun in the underground
All the Ladies turned their heads around, saying,
“Donald, where’s your troosers?”

This is followed up with another classic Scottish song in ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ and make no mistake I tells you this is the best bloody version of it I have ever heard in all my days! Folk music is put aside somewhat for a moment as the band punk it up with a thundering bass and MacRünker and acoustic guitarist Sonja and accordionist Mine kick up a real storm on vocals that captures Muirsheen Durkin perfectly. Talk about catchy this album sounds like there’s about twenty people playing and if i never thought I’d hear a better version than you-know-who’s then i was wrong. Another classic cover up next and its one perhaps made famous by The Dreadnoughts, ‘Old Maui’. The song can be traced to records going back to the mid 19th century and tells the story of a whaling ship returning to Maui in Hawaii after a long season of whaling.

“It’s a damn tough life full of toil and strife
We whalermen undergo”

The song is strong as any on the album but doesn’t add much to the Dreadnoughts version for me and for a band that really can stamp their brand onto any song maybe it might have been better to cast their net for a less known song. After a smattering of covers the next couple of songs are self-penned by the band and ‘Peggy The Waitress’takes us back to the auld sod of Ireland and a tin-whistle led instrumental that takes in a variety of tunes some sounding familiar and others not before the banjo takes over and leads us until the accordion takes over and then all kick in before we get ‘Land Of 1000 Mountains’ and its a country/Irish folk crossover and again MacRünker’s voice is exactly what is needed here. The song steams along at a steady pace and you know its gonna take off and when it does it lifts the roof. Another album standout here proving they are not just a brilliant covers band but a brilliant band in their own right. Next up we get another cover and Sonja and Mine again take up the vocals on ‘Botany Bay’ and again it’s a great version but perhaps a bit overdone. For a band so in touch with ‘Irishness’ this would be my only wee complaint here. ‘MacRunkers Junk’ is another belting Irish folk punk instrumental with what could easily pass for a ska interlude if they wanted. The tunes fly at you and once again some familiar and some not but they make for one hell of a song when they all put together. On ‘Drink With The Irish’ Muirsheen Durkin pay tribute to one of Ireland’s best ever bands and one that at times could have got you arrested for just listening to! The Wolfe Tones classic rebeler ‘Erin Go Bragh’ is chopped and changed and adapted with love and respect into a celtic-punk number.

“I’ll sing you a song of a row in the town,
When the green flag went up and the Crown flag came down,
‘Twas the neatest and sweetest thing ever you saw,
And they played that great game they called Erin Go Bragh”

Written and arranged by banjo/mandolin player Thomas ‘Lanze’ Landsknecht I bet the tones would whole heartily approve. With the King Of Celtic-Punk’s recent 60th birthday Muirsheen Durkin then pay tribute with ‘Last Of McGee’ written by Shane himself.

“Rope of hemp, around his neck
To hang from an old gum tree
And as he hung
The branch came down, and finished the last of McGee”

You may not have heard it as the song was unreleased and was recorded in 1990 during the recording sessions for the Hell’s Ditch album and produced by Joe Strummer. The song stays fairly true to the MacGowan version and is a timely reminder of the great mans talent. Fast and furious and how could it be anything other than absolutely fecking brilliant!! We are steering up towards the end and the quality hasn’t waned and in ‘When The Pipers Play’ we have what for me is the albums standout track. Originally played by the amazing Black Tartan Clan from Belguim the lyrics are by Muirsheen Durkin and leans heavily on songs as varied as ‘The Water Is Wide’, ‘Danny Boy’ and ‘Auld Lang Syne’. If you like bagpipes in yer celtic-punk then this is the song for you. Absolutely stunning pipes from Andre and Simon and arranged into a completely new song.

11 Pints & 3 Shots comes to a glorious end with the hilarious ‘Botany Bay Reggae’ and aye you guessed it is a reggae infused version of everyone’s favourite emigration song. Now I hate reggae but I love this so there! What a way to wrap up the album and the perfect way!

Overall the album has a fantastic sound. Quite a feat with the amount of musicians at work here and thanks are due to Sebastian Levermann of German progressive metal band Orden Ogan who along with the band members has managed to capture the band perfectly. The CD also comes with a very elaborate twenty page booklet with everything you need to know about the album and with some amazing cartoons of the band drawn by Sebastian Kempke. Last year was the year all the giants of celtic-punk released albums and this year may seem quieter because of that but so far we have a handful of albums that must have the giants quaking in their shoes and up at the top of that list is this one!

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ALBUM REVIEW: RESTLESS FEET- ‘Homeward Bound’ (2017)

German celtic-punk band Restless Feet’s second studio album playing fast Irish folk from Traditionals to more asskickin‘ stuff about sailing far away and returning home.

In a genre that most music fans would probably think of as being extremely small its heartening when you come across a band that you think is new only to find out they have been around a while and this is not their debut album as originally thought. That after all is a sign of a very healthy scene and long may it continue that I don’t know every band out there!

Restless Feet originate from the beautiful old town of Freiburg in the south-west of Germany and were in fact formed back in November, 2011. Their debut album Almost Irish contained seven tracks of which but two were covers but did contain the amazing track ‘Empire Of Gold’. If I had come across this song back then then I can tell you with all certainty that I would have been following them ever since.

The mini-album also contained a couple of Breton songs showing that Restless Feet know their onions and were not content to just rattle out the old favourites. That’s not to say they can’t play the old faves as it also contained a couple of Irish folk standards but it set the pace for their following album, which was about to hit the streets over three years later, just in time for St Patrick’s Day 2017.

I have mentioned on this site before the special affinity that German’s hold for the Irish. Time and time again when I have met German folk I have been impressed by their knowledge of Irish culture, music and history. That Celtic are by far the most popular foreign team among German football supporters is testament to that affinity. There are several theories for this but my guess is that the Germans love a drink and a good party so it has got to be between us and the Mexicans aint it? Here Restless Feet offer up six self penned tracks and seven carefully chosen covers that go to show that the German love for Erin still shines strong and shows no signs of abating either.

Homeward Bound begins with ‘I Hold Sway’ and gets proceedings off to a great start. All acoustic but with a real punk rock feel. The Irish/celtic sound is supplied by the energetic fiddling of Marcy and Kai on tin whistle and banjo while the rest of the lads, Maggu, Arthur and Alex, supply a steady and sturdy back drop.

(the first single and official video released from Homeward Bound)

Fast and over in a flash and leads into ‘The Cabin’ a very short accordion number used as the intro to the following song ‘Wake’s Souvenir’. Slowish but still tuneful and catchy that speeds up in the middle and its not often you will hear an acoustic guitar being thrashed so loudly! Many Euro celtic-punk bands include flute and I was a late convert to the idea but here, as it usually does, it sounds fantastic.The first cover is ‘The Shores Of Botany Bay. First time I ever heard this was by the legendary Irish folk band The Wolfe Tones and Restless Feet do it justice with a wee Irish trad tune slapped into the middle making it extra bit special. Restless Feet have two main vocalists and they slip from song to song so forgive me for not which is Kai and which is Maggu. They both sing in a distinct German style with the accent strong but at the same time absolutely clear as crystal and while the CD does come with the lyrics included you don’t need them at all. ‘Sailor’s Yarn’ is a great tune with superb fiddle and backing gang vocals. In the search for the song that represents celtic-punk the following, ‘Waste My Throat (On Irish Folk)’, song is a worthy contender. A real footstomper and one for the crowd to join in with cries of “yeah” peppered throughout. Would have maybe perhaps benefited from some driving electric guitar but still a album high point. Restless Feet next show us that their is more to their band than just punked up folk songs with ‘Tuneset’ which is in fact two and a half minutes of full on Irish trad folk with three superb reels- ‘Irish Washerwoman’, ‘Cooley’s Reel’ and ‘Maid behind the Bar’. Banjo, fiddle and flute giving the impression that what you got here is a trad band not an actual celtic-punk one. Next we have ‘Greenland Whale Fisheries’ which I am sure most of you will know as it has been covered by most bands between The Dubliners and The Pogues and has even been taken as a name for one of the celtic-punk scene’s most popular bands. Now I love this song but would have preferred something a little more off the map but we have to remember that to audiences not accustomed to Irish music this is a song that will get people off their bar stools and up jigging. On that first album Restless Feet showed they weren’t adverse to playing the odd rebel song and here they serve up the glorious ‘The Boys Of Wexford’. The song commemorates the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and, more specifically, the rebellion in Wexford.

“We are the Boys from Wexford
Who fought with heart and hand
To burst in twain the galling chain
and free our native land”

Made famous by The Clancy Brothers and The Wolfe Tones its a great version and sure to get the blood pumping of any freedom loving patriot. The last self penned number is ‘The Ballad Of Johnny Doran’ and bejaysus it’s an absolute corker. Loved it. Slowish and catchy with the backing minimal and the fecking brilliant chorus telling of a traveller’s life.

“I’m the Everywhere Man, slán and I’m gone”

The album standout and not just for me either (see the review on Celtic Folk punk here). We are back in Pogues/Dubliners territory again next with version of ‘The Irish Rover’ and not much to add but its as good as you will hear and the Bhoys stick fairly close to that most famous version. We are shipping up to shore and I feel I really must take off my hat and salute Restless Feet for including ‘By Memory Inspired’ here. Growing up with Irish music I thought I had heard just about every rebel song but this had passed me by. Again it’s a song commemorating the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Slow and quiet and beautifully played and sung from the heart.

“By Memory inspired And love of country fired, The deeds of Men I love to dwell upon”

The tragic defeat of that rebellion is remembered and the brave men who gave their lives names are sung with a poignancy that many Irish bands could learn from. Daniel O’Connell, William Orr, John Mitchel, John McCann, John and Henry Sheares, Fr Thomas Maguire, Robert Emmet, and others are recalled. Homeward Bound comes to an end with ‘Rolling Down To Old Maui’ and I was actually dreading another acapello version of this but the Bhoys turn it into a great tune with brass instruments and superb fiddle turning it into one of the best versions I have heard straight up!

So forty minutes of class acoustic Irish folk punk from a bunch of Germans with a real feel for what they are playing. Whether it’s playing their own material, classic Irish standards or even lost and forgotten gems of Irish folk, Restless Legs are a great addition to the celtic-punk scene and to landlubbers everywhere. With recent gigs supporting some of the scene’s biggest bands, including our own Ferocious Dog, the future is looking very bright for them.

Buy Homeward Bound

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Contact Restless Feet

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ALBUM REVIEW: RUSTY NAIL- ‘Bitter Ale, Bitter Heart’ (2016)

If Liam Clancy grew up listening to Nirvana, it would sound like Rusty Nail.

St.Louis based Celtic-infused celtic-rock originals and traditional Irish Pub songs.

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Rusty Nail will be a name new to the vast majority I am sure but with this their new album they deserve a much wider audience and this just may be the one to get them it. Born and bred in the second biggest city of Missouri, St. Louis and when you find out the biggest city in Missouri is Kansas City you begin to realise exactly whereabouts in America you are. Famed through cinema history as the epi-centre of just about any decent cowboy film St Louis was a city founded by the French that transformed into a booming nineteenth-century industrial mecca. Experiencing a massive influx of people beginning in the 1840’s especially from Ireland and also from Germany, in forty years the population grew from 20,000 to 160,00 in 1860. Today the US Census Bureau gives the population of St. Louis as 318,416. Militant societies were formed, and an Irish nationalist rally at the Old Courthouse over 110 years ago filled the place to the rafters. Sadly in recent years the economy of the city has declined and St Louis has the highest percentage loss of residents of any city in the USA losing 62.7% since the 1950 census. It also has one of the highest murder rates in the USA (happily on the decline since 1993) but don’t despair as gentrification has given the business area lots of shiny new buildings for everyone to look at from across the city. Though as usual statistics don’t take into account the heart of a city and St. Louis has plenty of that. The city has also acknowledged their roots with those famine Irish who arrived all that time ago by twinning with both Galway and Donegal and while many of the Catholic churches those Irish built are gone and new residents live where they once lived the Irish community is still vibrant and strong with gaelic games and culture and tradition flourishing. The story of the St. Louis Irish is fascinating and I spent many a late night reading about them for this review. A great place to start is Bob Corbett’s Dogtown Homepage here. Dogtown is the Irish part of St. Louis and the name stems from the time of the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 when poor Irish squatters, living in makeshift shanties in Forest Park, were forced by the fair to move southward to the neighboring hill. As Bob himself says

“When they had to give up their squatters’ rights in the park, many of them moved over here. Most of them had space, so they kept hunting dogs. Quite a few of the people living over here descend from them”

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So out of this imperfect (tell me where is?) city comes the latest in a long line of Irish infused celtic-punk bands. Rusty Nail are a seven piece group formed in the winter of 2005 that plays music inspired by the likes of the ususal suspects of The Pogues, The Tossers and Flogging Molly but also of the Clancy Brothers, The Wolfe Tones and even Tom Waits. Their debut album, Ounce And A Half Of Whiskey, released in 2006 showed a band a long way from today’s incarnation. Played as a straight up four piece acoustic band the album stands up extremely well with its mix of mostly self penned ballads and a few trad covers and all with some surprisingly good country’n’western touches. They followed that up in 2011 with the release of Boozers, Bastards, and Bards. It saw the band move away from the acoustic more folkier music they had been playing. As Rusty Nail co-founder Alvan Caby says

“We always wanted to be a full rock band. So about a year into the band’s run, we added drum, bass and guitar slots to make a bigger sound”

With this ‘full sound’, as they put it, the album brought some great reviews and gained them massive exposure and they very soon became firm favourites among the St Louis Irish community and its friends. The album is again a  collection of mostly self penned tunes about drunks, unsavory characters and Irish poets chucked into a blender and mixed up with traditional folk sounds, rock and punk. The band take their name from an old-timey alcoholic beverage made with Whiskey and Drambuie Liqueur that gives a nod to the past while keeping it modern and helping along the booze-fueled festivity!

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Rusty Nail left to right: Pete McAvity- Electric Guitar * Chris Otto- Tin Whistle, Native American Flute * Dennis Frentzel- Drums * Kelly LaRussa- Violin * Alvan Caby- Mandolin, Guitar, Vocals * Chad Ross- Guitar, Banjo, Dulcimer, Accordion, Bouzouki, EBow, Organ * Mark Hochberg- Bass

So in the 10th anniversary year of the band they have come up trumps again with Bitter Ale, Bitter Heart. The album begins with ‘The Magician’ and fiddle and from the outset sets the tone. You can hear influence from The Tossers here but Rusty Nail are their own band and within the first few bars you can tell this band is something special. Alvan’s lyrics sound like they are ripped straight out from his heart and laid bare for us. He said in a recent interview that

“There’s lots of silly lyrics in our older songs. But for now it’s about the idea of honesty and true-story kind of stuff. I’m a big fan of sad lyrics with happy-sounding music. There are a lot of artists who do a similar sort of thing. It’s about being honest. I don’t know if it will mean as much to the next person as it does to me, but maybe it will. It helps me deal with feelings of failure, feelings of loneliness and feelings of disappointment. But there’s also feelings of love and hope. As dark as the songs get, then there’s still hope”

That thing Alvan said about sad lyrics with happy-sounding music nails the Rusty Nail sound perfectly. ‘Return To The Start’ the next track up gives off an triumphant air with the jolly sound of fiddle and this time the mandolin to the fore but again there’s much more to it.

(not the album version but I like it even more)

Alvan’s voice is not yer perfect croon, that much is true but I very much doubt it could be done any other way and it fits in like no ‘crooner’ ever could. ‘Giving Up’ gives it over to the tin whistle to shine and more lyrics maybe best not to listen to in the dark on your lonesome but by Christ it’d be enough to get you out yer chair and leaping around. As has been said before here on this blog the level of musicianship of some of these celtic-punk bands is incredible.

‘Less Than Angels’ is the first slower song of the album and tells of the Irish that left in those so called ‘famine’ years. Again a real and honest heartfelt song that tells the story in a way I have never quite heard before.

“The hunger drives you to do incredible things

To travel across oceans and cut off all our wings

And be less than angels with sin in our heart

Abandoning our nature, destroying all our art

 

They say that the famine was the cause for all of this

It’s a hell of a gamble, a swing and a miss

A perishable future amongst gravel and soot

The dust of our harvest is trampled under foot

 

Will the poor be poor always?

Zero hope and dream is killed

Will the classes and divisions

Become narrower still

No belief in myself

Erasing all our goals

The grave-digging starts tomorrow

Better start digging your hole

 

The hunger drives you to do unspeakable acts

To lie to your brother, exaggerate the facts

And be less than angels with blood on our hands

The hourglass is emptied of the last grains of sand

 

I’ll do anything for a job, anything for a life

I’ll suffer for the scraps, for child and for wife

Bill collectors have all taken the dignity I have left

Politicians and the banks are all guilty of theft”

The band are back rocking out with ‘It’s A Shame I Did Nothing’ and gives them the chance to show off their rock credentials but also chucks in a flute to keep it celtic and an acoustic guitar that shines through the rocking loud and clear. ‘Another Story of Unreturned Love’ is by far and away the catchiest song on this album of catchy songs. Telling of a failed relationship and its aftermath.

“I couldn’t talk to you

Standing in front of you

Holding my feelings and biting my tongue

And our “Little Ireland” is what we decided on

Things that I wish that I said when I’m young”

All the band come together in celtic-punk perfection and a wee mention for the superb drumming here too. ‘Hardscrabble Road’ is the tale of a loser told in a slow ballad that speeds up towards the end and the accordion drives it along till Alvan’s voice takes the lead.

Coming to the end and celtic-punks favourite subject pops up in ‘Liquid Miracles’ again telling of a loser who, like many, knows exactly what he’s doing but can’t help himself.

“the disease of the mind that I have caught”

Another slower song ‘Central West End’ and more misery and the common theme seems to be that the loser in Rusty Nail songs is trapped by addiction despite knowing all too well what he’s doing. Another catchy as feck number that is a great example of the excellent production here. All the instruments, electric and folk, are clear as them bells (what does that mean??) and despite the tune speeding right up in parts doesn’t lose that clarity so hats off to Chad for the excellent recording and mixing. Chad plays guitar, banjo, dulcimer, accordion, bouzouki, EBow and organ on the album so surely knows what he is doing! Next is the album’s longest song at well over five minutes.

‘Mad As Birds’ another standout track and evokes sadness upon sadness here as the song builds up and up and swirls round and round before ending on, for them, a rather positive note before coming to an end with ‘The Nightmare Will Prevail’

“It’s only fair, that you buy another round for all your friends

They’ve stuck around and stuck up for you

When the rest of us could not pretend

This bitter divide that you’ve caused for us is one that’s hard to defend

But I have faith in you,

Even though it may be hard for anyone to comprehend”

This is pure infectious dance music (proper dance music that is!) with enough fist in the air moments going on here to give you a bad shoulder in the morning! Like the best in celtic-punk its a roller coaster of emotions and the joyous music belies the seriousness of the words and though Alvin’s (and Chris) lyrics often inhabit a dark place it’s the story of Irish-America. It’s not all shamrocks and shenanigans you know. So whether you are looking for a band to get you off your feet and move and shout and scream and spill your drink to or just kick back and sit and listen to with a glass of the pure to warm you and take in every road these bhoys and ghirl have travelled then Rusty Nail are the band for you and whichever you choose you are guaranteed to find a great time.

(you can listen to Bitter Ale, Bitter Heart for free before you buy it by clicking play on the Bandcamp player above)

nail3Buy The Album

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  • for another view of the album check out Celtic Folk Punk And More here

(great video with music and band interviews)

ALBUM REVIEW: LARKIN- ‘A Toast To St. Jude’ (2016)

With traditional Irish folk music and some of their own originals Larkin rock it up while keeping it trad. Always a good yellin’, rebel song, drinkin’ song good time with Larkin!

Larkin

Larkin are a superb 6 piece trad Irish folk band from Tulsa, Oklahoma in the USA that play traditional working class Irish protest song’s. They are led by Chad Malone, formerly of the American crusty punk political hardcore racket Brother Inferior, he has swapped one kind of music that comes from the heart for another that will surely stir the emotions of even the most stony hearted punk rocker. Leaving the hardcore punk growling behind Chad sings in a vein that crosses both Luke Kelly and Shane MacGowan while the band follow in the much same way inspired by the likes of both The Dubliners and The Pogues as well.

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It has been eight years since Larkin’s last release and that is far too long. Their first release was The Curse of Our Fathers which was the first CD I had ever sent off for from America way back in 2003 when I had never even heard of the internet. Rustling up a bunch of dollars and posting them off not knowing if they’d ever get there! Lucky for me they did and a short while later the CD dropped out the letterbox and was ready for me to play constantly for months to come and tape for about at least fifty people! It was thirteen songs that included a smattering of old rebel songs and some brilliant original compositions that seriously marked them out as a band to watch. Irish-American life in song and Chad had obviously lost none of his songwriting ability’s when he made the dramatic (to some!) shift from hardcore punk to trad Irish. They followed this with Reckoning in 2005 and again it covered much the same track as their debut. More original songs this time but still a few rebs’s covering both the ‘auld days’ with ‘Broad Black Brimmer’ and the new with ‘Men Behind The Wire’. Again the music was exemplary and the energy through the roof. The following year they released a six track EP called Alexandra, named after the daughter of one of the band members, and again folks went bloody mad for it. Garnering great reviews from both folk and punk sites it seemed like Larkin were on the rise but whatever happened we this side of the pond were never to know and their international profile went down and we heard absolutely nothing till this their new album hit the streets running recently.

That new album A Toast To St. Jude has again been released, like all Larkin releases, on Know Records a punk rock and hardcore record label from Long Beach in Southern California. Available from the band on only vinyl for the moment on either orange (limited to 200) or green coloured vinyl, but that include’s a free digital download card. It is available as a download on other things like iTunes though so if you want one don’t be silly and delay… send off today.

A Toast To St. Jude begins with ‘The Ballad Of St. Patrick’s Battalion’ and straight from the off its a thigh slapping and merry fiddle led jaunty tribute to the famed battalion of up to several hundred mainly Irishmen who fought as part of the Mexican Army in the Mexican–American War of 1846–8. Famed in song already by the likes of Damien Dempsey (‘St Patrick’s Brave Brigade’) and The Street Dogs (‘San Patricios’) and countless others its a proud addition.

Larkin slow it down for ‘A Bottle And Two Days Later’ and it’s the tin whistle that dominates here aside from Chads vocals which shine out loud and proud over all. The music has a slight country twist to it but listen to the words and get carried away on the swell. ‘Row In The Town’ follows and is the first cover here and top marks for a song I have never heard covered in celtic punk before. Better known as ‘Erin Go Bragh’ it’s the story of 1916 and the brave leaders who fought and were executed in the Easter Uprising.

“God Bless gallant Pearse and his comrades who died
Tom Clark, MacDonagh, MacDiarmad, McBryde
And here’s to James Connolly who gave one Hurrah!
And faced the machine guns for Erin Go Bragh”

Written by the great Irish balladeer Peadar Kearney who also wrote the national anthem of Ireland ‘Amhrán Na BhFiann’ as well as a host of other well known and cherished Irish rebel songs. The song sticks to much the same tune as The Wolfe Tones version which is by far the most popular. ‘The Long Goodbye’ sees them back in thigh slapping mode again and despite it being almost entirely acoustic instruments they are giving it as good as any punk band and you can imagine the pit to this being pretty rigorous while ‘Shadows And Dust’ sees Chad giving it his best Shane as he sings of the evils of drink and drinking. Slow and mournful and the fiddle and whistle keep it moving on. A word here for the backline of non Irish instruments and the drumming and electric bass are both excellent additions and are as much of the sound as the others. Like all the best celtic-punk bands Larkin can switch it up and manage to follow a slow song with something like ‘The Wages Of Sin’ where Chad sings as fast as anything he managed in Brother Inferior. The beauty is though that you don’t notice that switch as it seems completely faultless. We are halfway through and they slip in ‘Lexy Slip Jig/Villain’s Octaves Jig/December Jig’ a collection of dance reels and jigs that prove Larkin are as an accomplished bunch of traditional musicians as exists in celtic-punk. Bloody superb is the only way to describe this and the fiddle playing of Karen Harmon is beyond brilliant. ‘Maybe Someday Outside Of Belfast’ slows it down again and Chad can turn his hand to much more than reb’s and rockers and he can give out a beautiful auld love song too. Of course it doesn’t have a happy ending but hey ho there you go! The longest track here and again I’m marvelling at this story teller’s words. ‘Midnight In The Fall Of Man’ ramps it up again with frantic acoustic guitar setting the pace with the band barely able to keep up. ‘A Wayward Lament’ again slows it down and Chad again hits a nerve with this my favourite song of the album. His voice may be a thousand miles from crooning but extols more emotion and feeling than anyone I have heard in a very long time.ST JUDE Album theme tune ‘A Toast To Saint Jude’ is exactly that a tribute to the apostle who is the patron saint of lost causes! He became associated with desperate situations because of a letter he wrote in which he says that the faithful must keep going even in harsh or difficult circumstances. Fast and utterly brilliant and over in just two minutes it sets up nicely for the album’s only other cover and poignant is not the word. ‘Back Home In Derry’ has been covered by a small handful of celtic punk bands and always sounds fantastic as it does here. Written by the peoples MP Bobby Sands while incarcerated in prison its an amazing song that never fails to move.

“Van Diemen’s land is a hell for a man
To end out his whole life in slavery
Where the climate is raw and the gun makes the law
Neither wind nor rain care for bravery
Twenty years have gone by, I’ve ended my bond
My comrades ghosts walk behind me
A rebel I came – I’m still the same
On the cold winters night you will find me”

A song about Irish freedom fighters sentenced to slavery in Australia by the British Government in the 1800’s the song was originally recorded by Christy Moore and Christy tells of the origins of his learning the song

“I was playing in Derry and staying with The Barrett Family. After my gig we were gathered in Chamberlain St having a banter and drinking tea when a bit of singing broke out. A lad, just home from The Blocks (prison), sang these verses and subsequently wrote out the words for me. At the time the name Bobby Sands was not known to the world as it is today.
He used the air of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald from Gordon Lightfoot, an air which I suspect has earlier origins.  My version of Bobby’s song is shorter than the original”

Finally A Toast To Saint Jude comes to an end with ‘Have Another Drink, Boys’ and its altogether thirteen of the best songs I have heard in a good while. I simply cannot say how much I loved this album.

Team Larkin

Larkin from left to right: David Lawrence ~ whistle * Dalton Williams ~ guitar, bodhran * Chad Malone ~ vocals * Karen Naifeh Harmon ~ violin * Kelly Tuttle ~ bass Johnny Walker ~ drums

Larkin are almost the perfect band to symbolise celtic-punk. Heartfelt renditions of classic Irish songs that stir the emotions that will have you sobbing your heart out into your beer one minute and belting your lungs outs and thumping the table the next. That their own songs sound perfectly at home being sung right next to songs that are over a century old while at the same time giving off a very modern vibe is a fantastic achievement. Everything about Larkin is to be recommended right down to the artwork (once again done by the amazing Dublin punk artist Boz) and while some Irish-American’s may not know all that much of the history of Ireland that is not the case with Chad and the other bhoys and ghirls. History courses through the entire Larkin back catalogue and this is no exception. The band are named after the famed Dublin working class agitator and trade union leader James Larkin (1876 – 1947), a second generation Irish man born in Liverpool. He grew up in poverty and received little formal education but became a leader and a visionary whose influence still lives on today at home in Ireland and beyond. The hard life of the Irish who made the journey across the broad Atlantic and the sometimes hard life of their descendants (you see not every man is a king is in the US of A) is rarely better told and Chad sits comfortably up there with Tony from The Tossers or Leeson from Neck as a modern day celtic-punk story teller. The high praise doesn’t end there though and the music that accompanies is of the highest quality as well. Fast paced tunes with heaps and heaps of energy mix it up with soulful ballads and instrumentals that are all guaranteed to fill the dance floor with either swaying emotional mobs linking arms and pints in the air or a mosh pit you’d be taking your life in your hands to go near. With whistle, fiddle, acoustic guitar, electric bass, drums and vocals Larkin kick up an almighty storm and may just possibly be the world’s most punkiest folk band. No sod that… in fact make that definitely the world’s most punkiest folk band!

Buy The Album

KnowRecords (available on green and orange vinyl with free download card)  Microsoft  iTunes

Contact The Band

Facebook  MySpace  Chad Malone Facebook page (Larkin singer)  Soundcloud

  • you can check the wonderful artwork of the chief Larkin illustrator, Boz here at his web-site
  • Know Records Facebook page is here.

ALBUM REVIEW: ANTO MORRA-’16’ (2016)

London Irish Folk Punk

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Somewhere between the Pogues and Ian Dury with perhaps a dash of Madness.
The ever prolific Anto Morra returns with this sixteen track album tribute to the 1916 Easter Rising. In the 100th Anniversary year of the Rising their have been many books and musical tributes paid to that heroic act and I have to say that ’16’ is up there with the best of them. For those that don’t know the Easter Rising took place in April 1916 in Dublin and is one of the most important events in Irish history. It was an attempt to win independence from the United Kingdom by force of arms. Lasting only a few days from April 24 to April 30 around 1500 members of the Irish Volunteers, led by school teacher Pádraig Pearse, joined by the smaller Irish Citizen Army of James Connolly, seized key locations in Dublin and proclaimed an Irish Republic independent of Britain. They called on the Irish people to rise up and follow them but their call fell on death ears and they were quickly crushed by the huge police and government forces sent against them. For nearly a week Dublin was paralysed by street fighting before British artillery bombardments finally compelled Pearse and his colleagues to surrender. Sixty-four rebels were killed during the fighting, along with 134 troops and policeman and at least 200 civilians were injured in the crossfire. James Connolly whilst dying from shrapnel in his chest was carried on a stretcher to the courtyard in the prison and after confessing his sins to a priest and receiving communion he was shot while tied to a chair to stop him falling out of it. When asked by the priest would he forgive the men who were about to shoot him, James Connolly replied
“I will pray for all men who do their duty according to their lights [conscience]. Forgive them father, for they know not what they do”.
After only six days the Rising was over and fifteen leaders were court-martialed and executed at Kilmainham Jail in Dublin. A sixteenth, Eamon de Valera, was saved from a death sentence because he was an American citizen. The executions caused a wave of revulsion against the British and turned the dead republican leaders into martyred heroes. Despite its military failure, the Rising was a significant stepping-stone in the eventual creation of the Irish Republic. These men would soon prove to become an inspiration to the next wave of freedom fighters in the War Of Independence who would eventually force the British Empire to it’s knees.

ProclamationThe tradition of rebel music in Ireland dates back many centuries, dealing with events such as the various uprisings over the years, the hardships of living under oppressive British rule, but also strong sentiments of solidarity, loyalty, determination, as well as praise of valiant heroes. Though not confined to Ireland it can be said that the Irish have mastered the art of oral history in song and rebel songs are a massive part of that history.

Anto’s album contains sixteen tracks that include some surprising inclusions as well as as some of his own compositions. He is accompanied on several songs by his great friend Tim Chipping on mandola and banjo but for the most part this is pure Anto. Pure London Irish folk punk as Anto puts it himself. Raised in west London by Irish parents his formative years were as a punk rocker floating from band to band and dole cheque to dole cheque in Thatcher’s Britain. Moving from the rat-race of London to the quiet of the Norfolk countryside Anto began to further explore his Irish roots by joining Whirligig, a four-piece ceilidh dance band. In 2013 he left the band after ten years and decided to concentrate on his songwriting and solo performances.

16 begins with the first of Anto’s compositions the ballad ‘Blood On The Shamrock And The Rose’ and is the story of the feelings that the war in Ireland evoked on both sides. Hatred is never a good thing and for the those of us would like to see a united Ireland sooner rather than later hate is not the way to achieve it. A truly great anti-sectarian anthem. This is followed by Kelly From Killane. Made famous in the past by The Dubliners and more recently Damien Dempsey and written by the influential poet Patrick Joseph McCall (1861–1919) about John Kelly who fought in the 1798 Rebellion. He was one of the leaders of the victory over the English at the Battle of New Ross, but was later captured from his bed and hanged and decapitated by British soldiers on June 22, 1798. A up tempo version more akin to Damo’s version. Anto is unaccompanied on ‘The Wind That Shakes the Barley’ a ballad written by Robert Dwyer Joyce (1836–1883). A beautiful tragic song telling of a young man doomed to fight and die in the 1798 rebellion spending his last moments with his loved one. ‘The Rising Of The Moon’ follows and is one of the most covered of all Irish songs and is again based on the 1798 rebellion. One of my personal favourites is up next. hearing this for the first time on one of my Grandad’s old records. ‘Down By The Glenside’ tells of a old woman of around the time of the 1916 Rising recalling her youth.

“Some died by the glenside, some died near a stranger
And wise men have told us their cause was a failure
But they fought for old Ireland and never feared danger
Glory O, Glory O, to the bold Fenian men”

A somewhat modern classic is up next with ‘Back Home In Derry’. A song written by Bobby Sands who was the leader of the Irish Republican Army prisoners in the Maze Prison and led the infamous hunger strikes of both 1980 and 1981 which would eventually lead to his death on the 5th of May 1981. Before he died Bobby was elected as an MP to the British parliament gaining 30,492 votes which dwarfed the votes his many enemies (including Thatcher) had received in that parliament who called him a criminal. He borrowed the tune from Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’ for his tale of a young Irish rebel being transported to Australia. Covered by many artists including Christy Moore and Neck it’s a beautiful song and all the more tragic that Bobby’s light was extinguished so early. ‘Wasted Life’ follows and its a brilliant version of the Belfast band Stiff Little Fingers punk rock hit from the late 70’s. Taken from what I think is the best punk rock album of all-time Inflammable Material.

Fast and emotion filled and over in a flash and Anto sings next of an emigrant thinking of his home in ‘Charleville’ in north Cork. ‘Song For Ireland’ is another classic beautiful song. Made a hit in the 70’s it was  written by an English couple, Phil and June Colclough, and was inspired by a trip they took to the Dingle Peninsula. It has been recorded by Mary Black, Dick Gaughan, Barleycorn and Clannad to name but a few.

“Dreaming in the night
I saw a land where no one had to fight
But waking in your dawn
I saw you crying in the morning light
While lying where the falcons fly
They twist and turn all in your air-blue sky”

‘Only Our Rivers Run Free’ is another personal favourite of mine and the title is self explanatory. Mickey MacConnell wrote the song in 1973 and it became a huge hit for both Christy Moore and Irish living legends The Wolfe Tones. Never has Anto sounded better but then straight away he goes one better with ‘Paddy’s Lamentation’. A song written during the American Civil War era about an injured Irish soldier fighting for the Union who dreams of returning to Ireland. ‘The Merry Ploughboy’ is known wherever you’ll ever find an Irish person from the terraces of Celtic Park to bars and clubs though out the world. It’s the first of two consecutive songs written by the great Dominic Behan (1928-1989), brother of writer Brendan. Both were committed socialist’s and republican’s and were among the most influential Irish artists of the 20th century. Anto gives it plenty of ‘ooompf’ and sings with gusto for one of the few, especially on this album(!), joyous and uplifting songs on this album.

“And when the war is over, and dear old Ireland is free
I’ll take her to the church to wed and a rebel’s wife she’ll be
Well some men fight for silver and some men fight for gold
But the I.R.A. are fighting for the land that the Saxons stole”

Definitely one of those songs that gets the blood racing and would get even yer most avid ‘west-brit’ up on a bar stool baring his chest and belting out his lungs. We are back to more serious matters next with ‘The Patriot Game’. One of the most tragic songs ever written about the war in Ireland and also contains some of the most savage put downs you’ll ever hear of the

“quislings who sold out the patriot game”

Telling of Fergal O’Hanlon, from Monaghan who was killed at the young age of just 20 in an attack on a British Army barracks on New Years Day in 1957. Another volunteer, Seán South, was also killed during the raid. ‘Rocky Road To Dublin’ is an upbeat Irish classic, an incredibly fast-paced 19th century song about a Irish man’s experiences as he travels to Liverpool from his home in Tuam in Ireland. A live favourite of Anto’s he performs the song accompanied only on the bodhran. Written by D.K. Gavan, known as ‘The Galway Poet’, for the English music hall performer Harry Clifton who made the song famous.

Another live favourite of Anto’s is up next with ‘The Foggy Dew’ perhaps the best and most widely known, and covered, of songs about the 1916 Rising. It was written by a Catholic priest, Canon Charles O’Neill (1887-1963), sometime after 1919. The song encourages Irishmen to fight for the cause of Ireland, rather than for Britain, as so many young men were doing in World War 1. The most famous version of which is by the The Chieftains and Sinead O’Connor to which The Dropkick Murphys have been taking to the stage for the last decade. With nearly an hour on the clock 16 finally comes to an end with Anto’s song, his own ‘Green, White And Gold’. Anto’s take on the 1916 Rising is well worthy of its place here amongst some of the best Irish songs ever written.

16 is released next week as a limited edition digipack gatefold CD on St Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2016. The cover art, as on all Anto’s releases is by the famous London Irish artist Brian Whelan. It is more than refreshing to hear these songs sung in a London Irish accent as I noticed that even in my head I was singing along in a Irish accent! Anto is a unique talent with an ability to tell a story in a way that grabs you and forces you to listen. Famed for his wordplay and the way he manages to inject the spirit of punk rock into his acoustic folk he has taken these famous songs and re-told them in a way accessible to everyone. One of the most moving things about this album is surprisingly not one of the songs but the small tribute on the record sleeve that I will end the review with.

“This album is dedicated to my Dad Edward Anthony Morrissey and my Grandfather Daniel Forde. Both brave Irish men who fought for the British and survived World War 1, World War 2 and the Korean War and always dreamt of an united Ireland”

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Pogues at WRYou can pick up a copy of 16 at the official record release show on St Patrick’s Day at The Water Rats in Kings Cross where Anto will be supporting the #1 Pogues tribute band The Pogue Traders well into the early hours. This is the same venue where The Pogues played their first ever gig so come along and be part of history! Tickets are only £7 and are available in advance from here and you can find all the details including set times nearer the date here on the Facebook event page.

  • we have much much more musings in the Anto Morra vaults here if you would like to catch up with them.

ALBUM REVIEW: MALASAÑERS- ‘Spanish Eyes’ (2015)

a collection of working class madrileño musicians with the requisite Irish soul needed to bring traditional Irish folk music with modern influences to life.

Malasaners- 'Spanish Eyes' (2015)

This debut album from Malasañers is as good a debut album as you’re ever likely to hear or have heard in celtic-punk circles.The band are named after a district of Madrid in Spain and while two of the band are from Spain the rest are German and the whole band now reside’s in Germany completely. From the very first spin this album hit the spot for me. With thirteen tracks and clocking in at just under forty minutes Wolverine Records have released an excellent record here. The album was recorded in both Germany and Spain and the production is crystal clear and everything from the vocals to the various instruments in play are all combined to produce a perfect sound.

Malasaners

I first came across them on the superb four-band compilation double album ‘Welcome To The Folk Punk Show’  (review here) that was also released by Wolverine Records last year featuring as well as Malasaners, The Judas Bunch and celtic punk legends The Mahones and The Porters.

From left to right: -Arturo Reyes (he didn´t record the drums, but he mixed the album with  us) -Carlos del Pino: banjo and singer -Elena MissBassplayer: guitar -Miguel Fernández: fiddle -Javier Vicius Cano: bass Photo: Jose Luis Frias

from left to right: * Arturo Reyes (he didnt play the drums on the LP but he mixed the album with us) * Carlos del Pino: Banjo and Vocals * Elena MissBassplayer: Guitar * Miguel Fernández: Fiddle * Javier Vicius Cano: Bass * Photo: Jose Luis Frias

The album’s first track is the title song ‘Spanish Eyes’ and is about those brave men and women who fought against fascism in the 1936 Spanish civil war, especially those who came from Ireland. A beautiful song and fitting tribute-

“They came from North, South, and East
From Dublin, Clare and from Kildare
Their mission here was all too clear
To halt the evil beast”

From the first few chords you get a feel for exactly what this album has in store for you. This is celtic-punk with the story telling spirit of bands like The Wolfe Tones or The Dubliners looming large. All the songs on ‘Spanish Eyes’ are the composed by the band themselves and there really are no weak tracks here at all.

The Spanish Civil War is behind the following song ‘Kings Shilling’ as well, which has moments that remind me of the great Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone, before the speed folk kicks in and we are in familiar territory. Putting the lyrical boot into the forces that take an Irishman into exile to fight in one of the bloodiest battles in Spain on the side of the fascist forces. The lyrics throughout the album are outstanding and are no different here

“To fight for those who have enslaved me/ To wave their flags and spill my blood/ To turn my back on my own country/ To leave my bones in foreign mud”

This album could quite easily fit in with both sides of the celtic-punk fan base. ‘Still Alive’ is one of the folkier songs but still comes with a feeling behind it that carries the album along with great energy. ‘Drunk And Single In Madrid’ ramps up that energy to tell of a young Irish emigrant to Madrid and his escapades. The music is fast and furious with the banjo played at breakneck speed and the song ends with the great line

“They say Ireland is the place/ But I’m better broke, drunk and single in Madrid”

‘Listen’ rattles along with a country feel to it while ‘Rights’ is one of the albums highlight’s and is also accompanied by a great video. The banjo leads the way and Malasaners nail their political convictions to the wall again with a song trying to rouse the people from their slumber and take back their rights.

“It’s not fair the way we’re feeling
So abandoned, so unsafe, so insecure
They smile watching us bleeding
Let’s stand up, fight for our rights”

Not enough bands in celtic-punk use the harmonica so always cheers me to hear it, as in ‘The Price Of A Memory’, and its an instrument that even though not celtic does fit the celtic folk sound very well. ‘Tell Why’ again has a country feel to it and is the tale of broken love. ‘Lucky Duckies’ is a catchy number and one of my favourites with the fiddle blazing away while ‘Siege Of Drogheda’ has a sound not too disimilar to the ballads of the Murphys or the Mollys. Slowish but with the accordion out front and lyrics again touching on the tragic past. The ‘Siege Of Drogheda’ took place in September 1649 when the English forces of Cromwell besieged the Irish Catholic forces and committed what was said to have been

“unparalleled savagery and treachery beyond any slaughterhouse”

towards the captured soldiers and civilian population. ‘Walking Towards The Waves’ returns Malasaners back to what they are best at and another standout track which brings this great album to an end with the superb ‘Too Many Fools’ and the punky ‘Stoneheart’.

Malasaners

from left to right: Carlos, Arturo, Elena, Miguel, Javier Photo: Jose Luis Frias

Malasaners have a very feel for their punk roots as well as a respect for Irish music and the Irish story telling tradition and have managed to meld them together in such a way that I can only see the band going on to much bigger and better things.

(press play below to hear the entire album)

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HAPPY SAINT PATRICK’S DAY TO ALL!

At the Siege of Limerick
Patrick Sarsfield won the day
but they Irish they were cheated
when his army went away
Queen Ann and her successors
forced on us those Penal Laws
denying the rights and liberty
of religion lands and property

Murder plunder faugh a balla clear the way
cheating stealing diddle idle de
ducking diving faugh a bala clear the way
diddlily i dle do di diddly idle de

Then came the three mad Georges
and they had us nearly fooled
they couldn’t speak the lingo
of the countries that they ruled
puppets of the ascendancy they kept the Irish down
and the rebels and the whiteboys had
their armies on the run

And You’ll never beat the Irish
no matter what you do
you can put us down and keep us out
but we’ll come back again
you know we are the fighting Irish
and we’ll fight until the end
you know you should have known
you’ll never beat the Irish

Then famine Queen Victoria
came to rule us by and by
she was on the throne so bloody long
we thought she’d never die
she presided over hunger
famine poverty and disease
she drove the people from their home
to their deaths or to land beyond the seas

Murder plunder faugh a balla clear the way
cheating stealing diddle idle de
ducking diving faugh a bala clear the way
diddlily i dle do di diddly idle de

All Across the 19th century we fought oppression
with great zeal
O’Connell spoke his blarney
for emancipation and repeal
Young Ireland and the Fenians
tried with dynamite and gun
Parnell, the Men of Sixteen died, then Michael Collins
had them on the run

You’ll never beat the Irish
no matter what you do
you can and put us down and keep us out
but we’ll come back again
you know
we are the fighting Irish
and we’ll fight untill the end
you know you should’ve known
You’d never beat the Irish

Murder plunder faugh a balla clear the way
cheating stealing diddle idle de
ducking diving faugh a bala clear the way
diddlily i dle do di diddly idle de (x2)

The Wolfe Tones are Ireland’s number one folk and ballad group.

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RED ROSES FOR ME AND ME

by John McNally

Red Roses For Me

There is certain things that are so momentous in life we remember the exact moment they happened, where we were, who you were with , the colour of our underwear. For a great number of people of a certain age it was “Where were you when Kennedy was shot ?” it sounds a little like having to provide an alibi but the truth is that people do remember as it was a big deal. Now it might not just be something so international as that,  it’s personal stuff too. Do you remember your first kiss ? your first day at school ? when you popped your cherry ? these things matter and they are worth remembering. I remember a lot of that kind of stuff and I also remember the soundtrack to things.

Red Roses For Me

You know that thing when you hear a tune on the radio and you connect it to something in your life ? all the memories come flooding back because they are what you associate with it. Well my soundtrack runs to the Pogues and a lot of the good the bad and the ugly times have a song that corresponds and yeah I can actually remember where I was and who was with me the first time I heard them. I want to talk about the Pogues now and why they are the soundtrack to my life and why I love them now as much as I did when I heard them first.

My favourite childhood memory is of Sunday mornings. My mother would play her vinyl collection on her record player and it’s sounds would fill my bedroom up and tear me from my sleep. The playlist varied a bit but usually included music by The Wolfe Tones, The Dubliners, Count John McCormack , Percy French , Paddy Reilly and The Furey brothers. In an odd twist as Christmas approached Mario Lanza would be added to the playlist in stark contrast to everything else. So I would be roused and make my way to the kitchen, the wonderful odour of sausages and eggs filling my nostrils as my mother cooked up a storm in the frying pan. But in anycase among the vinyl was a collection of Irish folk songs and one of the tracks was a version of  ‘The Auld Triangle’ by The Pogues. So this is where Shane MacGowan and I met for the first time. I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight but there was a definite attraction. That wonderful distinctive voice, the understated piano, the rolling percussion oh I was a young lad but my ears worked quite well and it was as if Shane had served his time in that cell with Behan so well did that song translate I had a feeling there was more to these Pogues and to this bucko MacGowan. So I requested that my mother add  ‘Red Roses For Me’ to her vinyl collection and eventually she did and that’s when this attraction I had to the Pogues turned into a full on love affair.

“In the rosy parks of England
We’ll sit and have a drink
Of VP wine and cider ’till we can hardly think
And we’ll go where the spirits take us
To heaven or to hell
And kick up bloody murder in the town we love so well”

Transmetropolitan hit me like train coming out of a dark tunnel. The line was cast and I was reeled in. That album crept in through your ears and nose and occupied your brain. The songs that you heard before were reworked into such away they sounded new and different and exciting. Waxies dargle came in like a hurricane ripping and tearing at you as it was sung and screamed like an assault on you this wasn’t music to sit and listen to, this was a force of nature you danced and found something to batter the table with to keep time with the beer tray that served as an instrument in the song you were a part of the experience not just a spectator.. There was no time for drawing breath because ‘Boys from the County Hell’ let rip next, it always put me to thinking that mean faced gunslinger from the spaghetti westerns Clint Eastwood would have had it as his theme tune if he had been riding the plains of Tipperary rather than the wild west of America. My mother never approved of the wee bit of profanity and mention of ‘hoors’ as she is a good Catholic woman but she turned a deaf ear to it all the same and I was allowed to bring my own family and all the neighbours in hearing distance with me on my journey through the dark streets of London to that wonderful place Brendan Behan had made his home where streams of whiskey flowed. It was magical.

The music was familiar yet new, it walked a tightrope between sheer chaos and awkward control. It was Irish music but by God it was more, it was evolved and alive and although there was the misty eyed beauty of Kitty that you could imagine a Sean nos singer giving an encouraging nod too if you were by the fireside in your local pub it was in the organised chaos of the upbeat songs that the true beauty was the unbridled joy of drinking and shagging and living hard was layed at your feet it was raucous and untamed and bloody primal it made you want to drink those 15 pints of beer and howl at the moon with the guttural roars of ‘down in the ground’ but mostly it made you feel alive and pretty happy you were as it happened no matter how bad things were. A lot of Irish folk music was of the dead patriot strain which pulled on the heartstrings and tear ducts with equal vigour and made you cry and curse the blasted tyrants who hung our heroes this music skipped the funeral and went to the wake have a drink and a dance and worry about it tomorrow it was fucking magic.

So this life long love and obsession was born and strengthened with every song I heard and concert I went to. No other band would ever put a spark in me like the Pogues have and how could they ? MacGowan’s imagery and poetry set to the music I grew up hearing and loving was unequalled by anyone else, he remains an unequalled raconteur and all the other pretenders to his crown merely fell by the wayside. So I can answer where I was when I first heard Shane serenade me and who was with me and what happened next and clear as a bell I can remember that day right down to the delicious smell of my breakfast the moment the first chord of ‘Auld Triangle’ rings the air. That’s the first song in the soundtrack to my life but as the years have gone by Shane and the Pogues have added many more and I can only pray there is more to come.

Red Roses For Me back cover

a big BIG thank you for the article to Jim McNally. John has his own blog ‘BrainFarts’ on which you can find pretty much more of the same as this (here) so go and have a look.

The Best Pogues Related Sites

In The Wake Of The Medusa  Paddy Rolling Stone  The Parting Glass  Pogues Facebook Page

More Information

Red Roses Wikipedia  Red Roses Lyrics  

we’ve had plenty of articles on The Pogues so check out the following 

‘From Oppression To Celebration- The Pogues And The Dropkick Murphys And Celtic Punk’ here 

‘A Wee Biography Of Shane MacGowan’ here 

‘30492-London Celtic Punks Top Twenty Celtic-Punk Albums Of All Time’ here

‘Film Review: If I Should Fall From Grace With God- The Shane MacGowan Story’  here

‘Book Review: Irish Blood, English Heart- Second Generation Irish Musicians In England’  here

ALBUM REVIEW: JASPER COAL- ‘Just The One…’ (2015)

the raw and  uninhibited aggression of folk-punk with the authentic yet explosive renditions of traditional Celtic tunes

Jasper Coal- Just The One...

Well here we are with our first album review of 2015 and luckily for me its one of my all-time celtic-punk favourites Jasper Coal. They may not be a name known to too many of you but by Jiminy they ought to be. Highly innovative and super original they encapsulate everything that is good within the scene. They have total respect for the origins and the roots of the music they play and boy do they play it extremely well!

(from left to right) kevin nicholson - fiddle, vox ian hoppe - guitar, vox miguel martinez - drums jeremy burns - bass, tenor banjo, bouzouki, vox matthew parrish - lead vox, whistle ryan morrison - bagpipes, whistle, vox

(from left to right)   Kevin Nicholson – fiddle, vox   Ian Hoppe – guitar, vox   Miguel Martinez – drums   Jeremy Burns – bass, tenor banjo, bouzouki, vox   Matthew Parrish – lead vox, whistle   Ryan Morrison – bagpipes, whistle, vox

Formed on St Patricks Day in 2004 Jasper Coal performing sea shanties and Irish drinking songs around their hometown they now celebrate their eleventh year with the release of ‘Just The One…’ their fourth album release and yet again they’ve plundered folk and traditional music’s back catalogue and come up with an album of covers that simply bristles with energy, passion and emotion.

Jasper, Alabama

Based in Birmingham the capital of  the state of Alabama in the southern United States, the band’s name was inspired by stories of those Irish immigrants who worked in and around the coal mines in central Alabama in the mining town of Jasper. The discovery of coal along Alabama’s rivers can be traced back to 1815 and has gone on to influence Alabama and its development right up to the present day. Worked like dogs in terrible conditions and then thrown aside when the job or the miners body is done seems to be the lot of the miner internationally. Wherever a coal mine can be found then exploitation and desperation can be found soon after. Out of this working class life then came Jasper Coal a group of lads of Irish and Scottish desent and a willingness to take our forefathers music and give it a modern yet traditional twist and stamp it with a massive Jasper Coal brand!

Jasper Coal- 1000 feet Closer To HellTheir debut album ‘Immigrant Child’ came out in 2008 followed in 2010 by ‘1000 Feet Closer To Hell’ which hit the dizzy heights of number 13 in the London Celtic Punks Top Twenty Celtic Punk Albums Of All Time (here). An absolute belter of an album which began my love affair with this great band. The album featured their first original song named after the album and describing the miners life brilliantly as well as a fantastic cover of the The Pogues rowdy drinking song ‘The Boys From The County Hell’. Third album ‘Drowning The Shamrock’ came out in 2012 and even though with each album release their acclaim has risen they still deserve to be heard much more high and wide.

Jasper Coal

This album kicks off with ‘Tell Me Ma’ and even though its been covered by all and sundry JC still manage to give it a kick up the arse. Starting with a simply fantastic pipe intro the first thing to say about this album is that all the way through Ryan’s piping is majestic and is easily as good as anything you’ll ever hear on a celtic-punk album. Matt is the only original member left from Jasper Coals original incantation as The Immigrants and his distinctive vocal style and voice add bucketloads to the music. There’s many a electric band that wish they could kick up a storm like these fella’s I’m sure. ‘Paddy 15’ is an update of ‘Poor Paddy’ the Dubliners/Pogues classic. Again the band nail it with this story of a immigrant Irishmans life breaking his back digging the rail in his new home. ‘The Glass Of Beer Set’ is a traditional song with bagpipes leading the way and excuse me while I gush over the piping again here but it is immaculate. A fantastic song sure to get even the mardiest of people tapping their toes and slapping their sides. ‘My Son John’ is an Irish trad song set during the Peninsular War of the early nineteenth century. Based upon ‘Mrs McGrath’ the song tells the sad story of a Irish woman whose son enters the British Army and returns seven years later having lost his legs to a cannonball while fighting against Napoleon. A sad fate that befell far too many Irish over the years. Jasper Coal have never shied away from doing what may be considered ‘controversial’ songs over here but are probably standards over there in the States. ‘Snipers Promise’ is a modern Irish rebel song and is played very simply with acoustic guitar and Matt’s voice singing delicately the story of an IRA sniper who longs for the day when he can retire and lay down his gun.

“Oh mama, oh mama comfort me
For I know these awful things have got to be
But when the war for freedom has been won
I promise you I’ll put away my gun”

What many don’t realise is those men who fought were not professional soldiers they were ordinary people who rose to face the challenge of defending their communites and their country. A lovely song with a chorus that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. They crank it up to eleven next with what many consider to be Flogging Molly’s best ever song ‘Devils Dance Floor’ and they deliver a version the Molly’s would be proud of. JC have never been solely about Ireland and have often done Scots songs and ‘Bennachie’ is one of the album’s stand out tracks. Bennachie is a range of hills in Aberdeenshire.

“Gin I were whaur the gaudie rins
The gaudie rins, the gaudie rins
Gin I were whaur the gaudie rins
At the back o’ Bennachie”

Some believe that the peak had religious meaning and this theory is supported by the large number of standing stones in the area. The significance is believed to be connected to the profile of the hill, which is shaped like a female breast, which is reflected in the name ‘Mither Tap’ (Mother Top) or ‘Bennachie’ (Beinn na Ciche: ‘hill of the breast’). Extremely catchy with fiddle and pipes and drums and guitar combining perfectly. They follow this with honorary Celt Steve Earle’s fantastic ‘Copperhead Road’. If you’re looking for story telling song writing then check out Steve’s back catalogue. This great song tells the story of a moonshiner who joins the Army

“They draft the white trash first round here anyway”

and ends up fighting in Vietnam and brings his experience home and instead of moonshine grows marijuana on his farm in Tennessee.

Next is the classic Irish rebel song (Come Out You) ‘Black And Tans’. A rousing, fist in the air song that has inspired many over the years and is absolutely perfect for punking right up. The Black And Tans (so called due to the colour of their uniforms) were mercenarys brought over to terrorise the Irish back in 1919. With the nation rising and the empire on the verge of defeat the British governement decided to import the Tans and give them free reign to terrorise, murder and brutalise the population in an attempt to cowe them into submission. They never succeeded and despite the many atrocities that they were responsible for they were roundly defeated. The song was written by Dominic Behan, brother of Brendan, and is dedicated to his father. Its sure to get yer blood pumping…Irish or not!

“Oh, come out you black and tans,
Come out and fight me like a man
Show your wives how you won medals down in Flanders
Tell them how the IRA made you run like hell away,
From the green and lovely lanes in Killashandra”

The bhoys give it a modern twist with the addition of an extra verse (which I am 100% sure Dominic would applaud) that further nails Jasper Coals views to the mast and good on them for having the balls to do so.

“Oh, come out ye English Huns;
Come out and fight without yer guns;
Show yer wife how you won medals up in Derry
Ye murdered free young men,
And you’ll do the same again,
So get out and take yer bloody army with ye”

One of the many outstanding things about Jasper Coal is the bands playing of Irish gaelic songs. Matt sings ‘Óró Sé’ the albums final track with gusto and reminds me of The Wolfe Tones in a haunting version what with the military style drumming and drone of the pipes. Known under a few different names the title basically means ‘Welcome Home’ and has undergone several re-writes incuding one by the great Irish patriot Padraic Pearse. A fantastic way to bring a fantastic album to a close.

Jasper Coal are one of those rare breed of celtic-punk bands that with the same set of songs would appeal to both fans of punk and trad music. If this album had come out last year it would surely have won the London Celtic Punks Trad Album Of The Year award as well I’m sure as featuring high in the chart for the Celtic Punk Album Of The Year too. Taking the influences of the modern celtic-punk bands and seamlessly blending them with those traditions of those that came before us. A superb band with superb musicians and the first album of the year is already a contender for Album Of The Year!

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From The Band

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS PRESENTS OUR BEST OF 2014!

TOP TWENTY CELTIC PUNK ALBUMS OF 2014

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)
2. CREEDS CROSS- ‘Gods And Fighting Men (here)
3. ROVERS AHEAD- Always The Sinner, Never The Saint (here)
4. LES RAMONEURS DE MENHIRS- Tan Ar Bobl (here)
5. THE MAHONES- The Hunger And The Fight
6. BLOOD OR WHISKEY- Tell The Truth And Shame The Devil (here)
7. THE ROUGHNECK RIOT- Out Of Anger
8. BASTARD BEARDED IRISHMEN- Rise Of The Bastard (here)
9. JAY WARS- Carry Me Home (here)
10. THE RAMSHACKLE ARMY- Letters from the Road Less Travelled
11. 6’10- The Humble Beginnings Of A Rovin’ Soul (here)
12. LUGH- Quando Os Canecos Batem (here)
13. SIGELPA- TerraMorte (here)
14. KITCHEN IMPLOSION- Pretty Work Brave Boys! (here)
15. THE KILKENNY KNIGHTS- Bradys Pub Tales (here)
16. BEYOND THE FIELDS- The Falcon Lives (here)
17. THE YOUNG DUBLINERS- ‘Nine (here)
18. KELTIKON- Agenbite Of Inwit (here)
19. FM 359- Truth, Love And Liberty (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.
1. MIDDLE CLASS BASTARD- Rebel To The Core (here)
2. BLACK WATER COUNTY- Fellowship Of the Craic (here)
3. THE MAGGIE WHACKERS- Naoned Whisky (here)
4. LQR- A Touch Of Liquor (here)
5. SOUTH SHORE RAMBLERS- Bare Knuckle Blackout

TOP FIVE TRAD ALBUMS OF 2014

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.
1. RUNA- Current Affairs (here)
2. THE ALT- ‘The Alt (here)
3. THE CRAICHEADS- Brewed in London (here) 
3. THE BUACHAILLS- At Your Call (here)
5. I DRAW SLOW- ‘WhiteWave Chapel (here)

BEST CELTIC PUNK WEB-SITE OF 2014

Celtic Folk Punk And More Blogonce again there is no question who gets this
CELTIC FOLK PUNK AND MORE
 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!

BEST GIGS

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
 London Celtic Punks
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…
click on the blog logo at the top of the page to find more of this kind of stuff…

WHO DARES TO SPEAK OF EASTER WEEK?

RADIO REBEL GAEL PRESENTS :
Who Dares To Speak of Easter Week?
Radio Rebel Gael’s Tribute
to the heroes of Easter week and all Irish freedom fighters throughout history…
In Dublin 98 years ago, a tiny band of Irish rebels and patriots took possession of the main post office. There, on Easter Monday, they proclaimed the birth of an Irish Republic and the end of England’s imperial rule. At the time the rising was unrealistic, had little support and was swiftly put down. Yet with vengeful ferocity, the British ordered the execution, one by one, of 15 rebel leaders, including a trade unionist, James Connolly, suffering from gangrened wounds, who had to be propped up in a chair to be shot.

When the grisly business was done, William Butler Yeats wrote, Ireland had

“changed, changed utterly: a terrible beauty is born.”

The victims themselves sensed that theirs was a blood sacrifice that foresaw rebirth and renewal, that their deaths might some day be seen as the secular incarnation of a sacred season. But the Easter Rising also proved to be a dress rehearsal as an empire fell and ordinary people entered and seized history.

His Name Was Connolly

featuring the best in Irish rebel folk and celtic-punk from Ireland and ‘across the broad Atlantic’

1.) The Foggy Dew- ATHENRYE (Dublin)

2.) Erin Go Bragh- THE WOLFE TONES (Dublin)

3.) Bright Star- Bobby Sands- as read by STEPHEN RAE

4.) Comrades In The Dark- THE PRODIGALS (New York)

5.) Freedom’s Sons- SHARKY DOYLES (Chicago)

6.) Connolly Was There- POL Mac ADAIM (Belfast)

7. Easter Time/Freedom’s Sons- BARLEYCORN (Belfast)

8.)Meet Me At The Pillar- DUBLIN CITY RAMBLERS

9.) Culture- THE REBEL HEARTS (Tipperary)

10.) The Dying Rebel- KATHLEEN LARGEY (Belfast)

11.) Citizen’s Army- RAY COLLINS (New York)

12.)Who Dares To Speak Of Easter Week?- BRENDAN BEHAN (Dublin)

13.) Met A Proud Man- GERRY T.MORAN (Norfolk/Dundalk)

14. Who Dares To Say- THE BATTERING RAM (Dublin)

15.) The Starry Plough- THE DRUIDS (Kildare)

16.When Will We See- THE DRUIDS (Kildare)

17.) The Rifles Of The I.R.A- ATHENRYE (Dublin)

18.) Provos Lullabye- THE WOLFHOUND (Belfast)

19.) Woods Of Drumboe- THE WOLFHOUND (Belfast)

20.) Guest Of The Queen- BRIAN UA BAOILL

21.) Bobby Sands- CLAYMORE (Glasgow)

22.) McVerry’s Men- BANJO BURKE (Kilkenny)

23.) Eamon Wright- ADELANTE (Coatbridge)

24.) 1916 Proclamation- CU CHULAINN

25.) Banna Strand- FLYING COLUMN (Belfast)

26.) The Rebel by Padraic Pearse- THE DUBLINERS

27.) Padraic Pearse- THE WOLFE TONES (Dublin)

28.) Follow Me Up To Carlow- BLOOD OR WHISKEY (Kildare)

29.) The Peeler And The Goat- NIAMH NI CHARRA (Killarney)

30.) Oro Se Do Bheath Abhaile- THE DUBLINERS

31.) Sean Larkin- THE IRISH BRIGADE (Tyrone)

32.) The Rhythm Of Time- BOBBY SANDS

33.) H Block Song- THE PLAYERS BRIGADE (Dublin)

34.) Ninety Miles from Dublin- POL Mac ADAIM

35.) Mise Eire- POL Mac ADAIM

36.) The Wind That Shakes The Barley- THE BATTERING RAM

37.) Boys Of The Old Brigade- EIRE OG (Glasgow)

38.) The Boys From Tamlaghtduff- CHRISTY MOORE (Kildare)

39.) The Rising- BRICK TOP BLAGGERS (California)

40.) Henry Joy (Faithful To The Last)- CIARAN MURPHY (Armagh)

41.) Who Fears To Speak Of Easter Week- DOMINIC BEHAN (Dublin)

http://radiorebelgael.podomatic.com/

“Had the Gaelic race never produced a scrap of literature, had our treasures of history and romance never had a being, had our Cormac’s, Keating’s and our O’Clery’s and Donnachadh Rua’s never written a line, these folk songs of ours would have been sufficient to prove for all time the glorious capabilities of our race.”

– Padraig Pearse

to find out more about the 1916 Easter Uprising you could try Wikipedia or the excellent site at Easter Rising 1916.

The 1916 Societies are committed to fostering and promoting Irish unity as set out in the 1916 Proclamation and their website is here.

Radio Rebel GaelContact Rory at Radio Rebel Gael at Facebook here

ALBUM REVIEW: THE BUACHAILLS- ‘At Your Call’ (2014)

The Buachaills- At Your Call

the boys from the county Cork
The Buachaills are a very busy band. Fresh from a London double-header weekend in February comes this their debut album ‘At Your Call’. Straight away you can hear some similarities with both The Lagan and The Bible Code Sundays. They have other things in common as both these bands are regular fixtures at London Irish home games while The Buachaills are the chief house band of Munster when they play at home at Thomand Park. Don’t know why but these rugger buggers have got great taste in music!
In their short history they’ve had some pretty notable gigs aside from the rugby occasions. Touring with Irish folk legends The Wolfe Tones, The High Kings and Finbarr Furey as well as a whole bunch of festival headlining spots they’ve even reached the ears of Irish footy legend Ian Aldridge who booked the band personally to play a function he was organising!
Formed as recently as early 2012  the band comprises of Eoin Murphy on vocals, guitar and mandolin , Aaron Dolan on uilleann pipes, whistles and vocals , James Fleming on bass, guitar and vocals and Chris Carey on Drums. They’ve become one of the most sought after trad and folk bands in Ireland and this album is likely to make them so here as well. In fact world domination could be at hand as this album is simply that good. Despite being together such a short time it must be a inspiration to other bands to see how far The Buachaills have come. Mind you hard work and superb musicianship don’t come natural for everyone!
The Buachaills
The album itself consists of 12 tracks- 8 covers and 4 originals- and clocks in at just under 45 minutes. The choice of covers is inspired with Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street and celtic-punk/rock standards ‘South Australia’, ‘A Pair of Brown Eyes’ and the boys even tip their hat at our exiled mams and dads with ‘Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore’.  My own personal favourite is a cover of the Luka Bloom track ‘You Couldn’t Have Come At A Better Time’. The self-penned numbers stand up equally to these classics. As I already said the musicianship is outstanding and it’s just amazing to listen to Aarons piping. The uilleann pipes are such a beautiful instrument its sadly underused in celtic-punk with most bands preferring to use bag-pipes but I think there’s no competition myself. A couple of instrumentals get the foot tapping and a word here to Ciaran O’Shea who produced the album and done such a great job. He’s worked with Linkin Park but we’ll not hold that against him!
The Wolfe Tones and The Buachaills

The Wolfe Tones and The Buachaills

The Evening Echo in Ireland described The Buachaills as ‘The Mumford and Sons of Irish trad’ and I’m very pleased to announce that is absolute total bollocks and it amazes me how a Irish newspaper can even consider making such a comparison. The Buachaills have more passion and energy and authenticity in one mandolin string than that precious, pretentious, calculated rich guys-cum-folk band can ever imagine! Folk music has such sense of history and The Buachaills love of Irish ballads and culture is obvious and its great in this age to see a young band sharing that tradition with new audiences. While bands like The Buachaills exist those traditions will never die.

The Buachaills

Contact The Band-
Web-Site  Facebook  Soundcloud  Twitter  YouTube

I asked Eoin what The Buachaills meant and more importantly how it was pronounced and he told me na buachailli means ‘The Boys’ in Irish.  They anglicised it a bit to The Buachaills and its pronounced ‘boo cals’…
The Buachaills- ‘Baker Street’

The Buachaills- ‘the Boys From Fairhill’

http://youtu.be/DKbpJmHERXE

ALBUM REVIEW: BETWEEN THE WARS- ‘Won’t Go Quietly’ (2013)

BETWEN THE WARS- Wont Go Quietly

Another superb release from one of the best bands from one of the best and brightest celtic-punk scenes in the world from Melbourne band Between The Wars. Released on the bands own label ‘Slippery Slope Records’ and we can surely say it will not disappoint! We had the pleasure of putting on Jay Stevens, BTW’s vocalist, London gig when he came over to play a few gigs in October. To celebrate that we interviewed Jay and he spoke about the band and his song writing style.

celtic bands that tell stories – and not just stories of drinking. The difference between listening to the Wolfe Tones rather than the Dropkick Murphys means perhaps a little bit more storytelling in the writing

and that is one of the huge differences between Between The Wars and most celtic-punk bands. Theirs a real sense of history and yes, story telling in their songs akin to those old Irish folk bands we love so much like the Tones and The Dubliners.

BTW

The music is acoustic led with not that many electric instruments popping up but still sits proudly in celtic-punk! We’ve often talked about the difference between ‘folk-punk’ and ‘punk-folk’ and I’d say this is the latter with acoustic guitar, ukulele, mandolin and violin dominating proceedings. The album kick’s off with ‘Worst Enemy’ and straight away its the recognisable BTW sound we know and love “my worst enemy is me” Jay spits out over one of LPs fastest and catchiest tunes. Like a lot of BTW releases the ocean features strongly, understandable given Australia’s history and those celtic people who washed up on the shores there. The standout track though is also the most serious ‘Goodnight Sweetheart’ tells the story of the blitz in the east-end of London. The jauntiness of the song belies the subject matter like a lot of their material its layered in a way to make you think and there’s not enough of that in music. The fiddle work throughout is simply breathtaking and carries you along while Jay tells the tales. As well as the ocean theirs also a obsession with bittersweet tales of love like the beautiful ‘First Train Out’ which has you until the last few lines and then drops you like a ton of bricks! Theirs influences here of country as on ‘I Won’t Ever Get Between My Woman and Her Whiskey Anymore’ and punk as on ‘I’ll Dance On Your Grave Maggie Thatcher’ which was written by John McCullagh and tells the story of his dad who was a coal-miner and fought a year long battle against the state on strike to stop pit closures. My dad worked alongside Johns on that pit face so this song hits a real nerve. There’s plenty of anti-Thatcher songs out there now but none quite capture the hatred for her like this one. Let this song be her legacy.

The album ends with another ‘ocean’ song ‘A Sailor’s Lament’ that begins with a acapello intro before sliding into a slow and soft tune and then bursting out into more recognisable BTW territory.

Each Between The Wars release shows their development as one of the top acts in the scene today. That they refuse to stand still and rely on their trademark sound is to their credit and though you never know exactly where their going with their next song you know it’s going to be a great one!
image

Contact The Band

Web-Site  Facebook  YouTube  Twitter

Buy The Album

Slippery Slope Recordings    (and listen to it too!)

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INTERVIEW WITH JAY STEVENS FROM AUSTRALIAN BAND ‘BETWEEN THE WARS’

gig flyer
When we heard that Jay Stevens from the fantastic Aussie celtic-folk-punk band BETWEEN THE WARS was coming over to these shores to play a few solo shows we jumped at the chance to do the London leg of his tour. so we thought we’d ask him some stuff so we did and he answered it all and here it is now for you…
BTW
How long have you been playing with BTW? have you played with other bands previous? Between The Wars is a four year old band that I started, along with (ukulele player) Jason. He and I have played in plenty of bands before this one, but this is the longest I’ve ever been in a band. So many lineup changes, but we’ve been pretty solid for the last couple years. I started this band after hearing “Irish Londoner” by the Bible Code Sundays, who I get to play with on this upcoming tour!
jay5
Looks like the tour is shaping up into something special now. Who are you looking forward to playing with and any places youre looking forward to going? Being a Aussie have you been over here before? As I said before, Bible Code Sundays are a massive influence on me and our band, so I’m keen as hell to see them. Have also been a huge Neck fan for years so I’m excited to play a show with Leeson! Over the years I’ve made some good “internet” friends in England so with that in mind, I’m stoked to be playing a few shows with my boys from the Lagan and Three Sheets T’Wind – and swapping Office quotes in real life with Brendan O’Prey. I’ve been to England before, but not as an adult. Really excited to see London, watch a Blades game in Sheffield (lifelong Sheffield United fan) and to also see the Scottish villages of Stranraer & Portpatrick, where I will also be attending my cousin’s wedding! If you’re looking for a decent League One side to watch you should get along to Leyton Orient. At time of writing we’re top of the league! If I was looking for a decent League One side to watch, I wouldn’t be a Blades fan.

As the singer and main songwriter of the excellent Between The Wars how did you get into celtic-punk music? Was it through family or other music? I have to hand it to old mate John McCullagh, actually. I was in a bit of a hole, musically. After having kids and whilst I was watching my marriage go down the drain, I didn’t know what to do, I just knew I wanted to be in a band again. I was teaching John’s son (John Lennon McCullagh, now signed to Alan McGee’s label 359 Music in the UK) to play guitar, and John and I would always have banter about Bob Dylan, Celtic, Arctic Monkeys, Oasis etc after the lessons. He showed me a few songs he’d written and we got together a few times and played them. One of those songs was Ride On by Christy Moore. I hadn’t heard Christy before but I am in love with him now. From there, I looked up as much celtic folk, and then celtic folk punk, as I could – I’d been a fan of the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly for ages but never looked outside of that. I came across the Biblecode Sundays, and my musical life changed.
jay4
I’ve always thought that Australian celtic-punk has been a cut above, both musically and lyrically, bands from Europe and the States. I cant put me finger on it but does the Oz celtic diaspora experience contribute to this or are you all just better writers and musicians? I think we bring our own style to it. There have been a bunch of amazing Australian artists over the years, both in folk, punk and rock music. Personally I’m a huge fan of an old Aussie band called Weddings Parties Anything. I’ve always looked to them for influence, as well as celtic bands that tell stories – and not just stories of drinking. The difference between listening to the Wolfe Tones rather than the Dropkick Murphys means perhaps a little bit more storytelling in the writing. I suppose any country with the legendary Ned Kelly as its symbol of resistance is gonna produce cracking music! Who are the Aussie celtic/folk-punk bands we should look out for? Heard any news on The Rumjacks getting back together? Yep, that’s definitely happening. Caught up with Johnny McKelvey at a show we played with the Real McKenzies and it looks like the album that was made at the start of last year will show its head. As for Aussie bands, you can never go past our good mates the Ramshackle Army. They are just finishing up their new record which should be a cracker. Also a fan of Paddy McHugh and the Goldminers, Handsome Young Strangers and our old mates in Mutiny who have just released a twenty year retrospective.
jay2Theres always been a lot of debate in celtic punk circles about so-called ‘foreign’ bands playing (stealing?) traditional folk music without respecting where it comes from. Do you think it matters much or at all? I don’t know too much about bands that steal or play traditional folk without the respect. We try to pay respect as much as we can to those that have come before – we’ve played the traditional folk song Barbara Allen, for example. I think ultimately music belongs to everyone – the more people that play or listen has got to be a good thing for music in general. No-one has any right to claim music as their own personal property. Providing you know where it comes from, I can’t see an issue – i’m well aware that our music represents bands that have come before like the Wolfe Tones, Dubliners and the Pogues. I know the stories behind most of the songs I listen to, in regards to rebel songs and the like. There is a lot of snobbery around especially about the drinking songs. I mean its not like The Dubliners ever wrote a song about getting pissed is it? i think celtic-punk reflects the good and bad things in the lives of ordinary people. This could be both getting pissed and being a alcoholic and lets face it it very much part of celtic culture whether we approve of it or not.

Without giving the game away too much what can we expect to look forward to on this tour? who are your influences as both a solo artist and as BTWs frontman? I’ve sat down with all of our songs and played around with them acoustically. Expect some songs to be a lot softer, and some songs to remain that raucous way that we’re known for. Influences – hmm, this is a tough one. I have a huge list of influences ranging from the Wolfe Tones, Dubliners and Christy Moore, through to Frank Turner, Matt Pryor, The Boy Least Likely To. Of course, Bruce Springsteen is probably one of my bigger influences – but more in lyrics than anything else. Too many bands these days try to ape Springsteen’s voice and it kind of shits me. I take a lot of influence from literature as well as stories of war. Anything where I can be on the side of the underdog makes me write.
 When you get back home after the tour what you going to be up to with the band? Any plans to keep up the solo stuff? The solo stuff is actually my priority at the moment, I’m in the studio recording a solo record, which will be a collection of songs – some originals, some covers, and a Between The Wars song. I’m really looking forward to that being released early next year. When I get back from the UK, I’m going to sit down with Jason and we’re going to write the next batch of Between The Wars songs. I’m keen on getting back to the roots of our sound after the last record. There’s a band from Melbourne that has actually just got back together called Catgut Mary and I think I’m looking to them as well as mates like the Lagan and Three Sheets T’Wind to give me some influence on the next lot. I’d like the band to get back into the studio early to mid-next year, with a view to a late 2014 release. Looking forward to meeting friends that I only know via facebook, and making new friends. Can’t wait to teach you all the shoey!
jayDiscography:
Carried Away- 2010
The Rats- 2011
The Aces Are Coming- 2011
New Ruins- 2012
Won’t Go Quietly-2013
Tour Details Here:
The ‘I Hear You’re In For A Cold One…’ Tour traverses the land from London to Glasgow throughout October providing solo acoustic  re-imaginings of Between The Wars songs.
Come along for a night of fun folk music about drinking, heartbreak, regret, drinking, drinking and drinking…
Between The Wars:
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