In Defense of Folk, New Age and World Music

In music , improvement does not necessarily mean changing of sound. When you improve, you are simply polishing your style or progressing in the style you have already cultivated. What applies to restless disposable Pop music does not mostly apply to our musical culture. We adhere to tradition for its own sake. Tradition is all we have or else we will loose our credibility.

That is why it is funny when critics start to say something bad about artists who don’t change their sound. It also goes to show that whoever these critics are, they have a serious case of ADHD-always looking for a different sound or the shock value which has nothing to do with the technical aspect of music. Now I do have that kind of affliction, only that it is mild and CERTAINLY not with music which I write about!

These critics have no respect for the craft. And we know based on their reviews that they haven’t listened to the complete albums themselves (track by track and liner notes) to understand the intention of the artist behind. These critics are not here to preserve civilization or improve it. They want to ruin it-hastily, as an errant child would. And they get paid to do it.

But for us serious bloggers (who aren’t paid to write but write because we love to do it), we keep our jobs so we can do the things we love to do including blogging about music that really matters.

Now not to divert from the nature of this discussion, we might take into other forms or styles through time (as what Alan Stivell or Donal Lunny does), but it is through the instruments used, the guest players, and the definitive sound that this brand of music really shines with.

Oftentimes new artists bring something fresh to what is already there but we know that straying away from the bonds of what the music is defined(even teetering on top 40 radio fame) can sometimes compromise its integrity. And I don’t know about you but for me , that standard to which a music is defined as Celtic should not narrowly be based on its acoustic form-therefore ignoring the richness that electronic artists bring to the fold. After all, it not just music and style. It’s  about sound and perception too. So everything has to be considered as long as it brings forth the spirit.

And now for the news….

If you want to hear the future of traditional music, then you better not miss Flaithrí Neff’s musical projects. From country Cork, Flaithrí was joined by Eoghan that form the Neff Bros, bringing together passionate and innovative playing of traditional tunes. In the early days, they were in a family band called ‘Teaghlach’, composed of researcher, composer and musician Flaithrí Neff (flaithrineff.com) and Eoghan . The duo is joined by parents Muireann (Marion) and Éibhear.

His latest project is Partholón. According to his site: recounts the gripping story of a mythological Sicilian prince in the ancient Irish text, LEBOR GABÁLA ÉRENN (The Book of Invasions). The 9-minute piece was performed with The Cork Youth Orchestra under the direction of Tomás McCarthy, Cork City Hall, April 25th, 2009 www.myspace.com/neffbros .

Cited by Nanci Giffith as the sweetest voice of Ireland , Frances Black (Twice Winner of the “Best Irish Female” IRMA Award”) continues to charm audiences all over Ireland with her live performances and well-crafted recordings. Recently her own RISE foundation has achieved more accolades. Check out http://frances-black.net/news/news.htm for your source of the latest Frances black news and concerts. Her latest double CD album The Essential Frances Black can be purchased here Contact: Manager Brian Allen, E-mail:brianallen@ireland.com, Publicist Andrea Smith E-mail:francesblackpr@eircom.net.

Breton tradition is alive and well because of Dom Duff. I recently featured a link to his new single here (please use the search engine on the upper right to refer to old articles as well as names of artists you are looking for). Dom (voice, guitars, mandolin, bodhran) along with band members Nicola Hayes : violin, Dom Bott : electric & acoustic bass and David Seite : percussion; continue to bring innovation and grit to Breton tradition with their crafted recordings and live performances  For an in depth look at his band and music , please refer to   www.myspace.com/domduff and WWW.DOMDUFF.COM and the Interview I did for him.

One String Loose is a band from Caldicot Wales composed of five members: Scott McKeon on fiddle and banjo, Jack Stewart – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bodhran, Joe Brady – whistle, low whistle, flute, Baz Barwick – bass and Owen Emmanuel – drums. The band has been building reputation with their dynamic renditions of traditional and original materials. I myself was swept away upon hearing one of their songs for the first time. According to their site: One String Loose have always recognised that their style of music is deeply rooted in dance, and have sought to contemporise it with grooving rhythmic patterns from the bass and drums, intricate accompaniment from the guitar and foot stomping melodies from the fiddle and whistle. As a consequence, a gig that doesn’t get at least a substantial part of their audience up and shaking has now become a rarity. Sounds really awesome eh? They have cemented themselves as the who’s who in the music scene which according to the site: The past few years have been exceptional for One String Loose. The band reached the finals of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards, followed with a polished performance at the highly prestigious Glastonbury Festival on the Avalon Stage. Breath taking performances in Poland and France further cemented their popularity in Europe and plenty of gigs up and down the UK helped the band to progress to where they are now. More recently the band released their second studio album “KUMQUAT” which has been received superbly both by critics and fans. With that in mind, never go off your radar. You can catch them as they tour UK this July(the last happened this June 19): http://events.myspace.com/Event/3964511/The-Big-Session-Festival . More on   www.myspace.com/onestringloose and http://www.onestringloose.com

If you haven’t got your copy of Honey and Holy Water by Oona McOuat yet, then don’t miss this jewel of an album. I have been listening to it back and forth for more than a month and I never get tired of it because it has been beautifully conceived and artfully crafted. Oona has the gift of mesmerizing melodies, a visionaries’ depth and a perchance for eclectic arrangements that truly mark this album’s strength. I have a lot of personal favorites including This is A Prayer and Sleepy Maggie but I am sure you will find your own. Listen to her and I am sure this I the kind of album that will get worn out after a lot of plays. Listen to  www.myspace.com/oonamcouat,  visit and buy the CD at www.oonamcouat.com. The Oona McOuat band: Oona: Harp and voice, Corbin Keep: cello, electric guitar and back up vocals. Richard Lee: sax, flute, clarinet, pennywhistle, recorder, guitar & back-up vocals and Chris Bertin: didgeridoo & percussion. I tell ya, the instruments speak for themselves!

The new video by Barleyjuice ‘Weekend Irish’ is now available for general viewing on  on YouTube. The band’s latest album Bonny Prince Charles is now out.  Original link is : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUxhIAJYwWo I have been enjoying this video!

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3 thoughts on “In Defense of Folk, New Age and World Music

  1. In a similar vein, I was kind of disappointed with one of the Celtic Women shows I saw, in which they incorporated modern songs. Perhaps I was just being picky, but I was glad I’d previously decided not to buy the CD…

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  2. took me a while to browse all the comments, but I really enjoyed the subject that you chose. It looked to be very helpful to me and I am sure to all the other people who have looked at this blog, Its always nice when your not only informed, but your also entertained! Im positive you had fun writing this article. Im going to grab your rss feed so I dont miss anything important that you guys may come up with in the future, Thanks..

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