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Feautring: Kinfolk, Jamie Smith’s MABON, McAuley/Horan/O’Caoimh, John McSherry, Michael Shimmin, Joe Dart, Wilber Calver with Moya (Maire) Brennan & Shane McGowan

Featured Single: The Lady of the Woods

I mentioned the new single from Jamie Smith’s MABON in my last edition (with the amazing Corrina Hewat as featured artist). A few months ago, drummer Iolo Whelan announced that they are in the process of recording the new JSM album. It was later revealed that the title of the said album is “Windblown”. Anyone who followed their career in the old line up will know that they have always played lively instrumental tunes. You have to understand my surprise when I discovered that the carrier single Lady of the Woods features male vocals including top  notch harmonization. The song uses influences from pop/rock and traditional music. The song is radio friendly enough that I am sure with the right timing and promotion will be one of those top 40 UK singles like what fellow Celtic bands  Capercaillie did with Coisich, a Ruin and Manran with Latha Math.

Download the single that is given by the band for free here: http://www.jamiesmithsmabon.com/windblown/

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Introducing: McAuley/Horan/O’Caoimh

Artwork by The Celtic Music Fan

More from this link: http://www.mcauleyhoranocaoimh.com/

And check out their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Mcauleyhoranocaoimh

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Album Review: Kinfolk- This Land

A track by track review of the amazing CD.

Principal musicians: Brian McDaid & Gerry Power

Other players: Johnny Cameron,David Mclean, Damien Mullany, Alan Burton, San Proctor, Dorothy Swift and Paul Fox.

From the first few notes emanating from the acoustic guitar of the intro to This Land, one is given a tip that this album is composed of songs that you can sing along. Coupled with great accompanist from the trad scene , Kinfolk has an album that makes you feel like you are watching a family album. I call this a grand offering due to the number of guest players ranging from bouzouki, mandolin, keyboard, banjo, accordion, fiddle, uillean pipes, and other vocals and instruments. The harmonies are solid and breezy. When you are driving long distance, this is one of those albums that you’d like to listen to on your way home from a long day’s work.

Tracks:

There are 13 tracks. There are ballads , instrumentals and upbeat songs. They are arranged in a way that reminds of of a plot in a novel. Each song tells a different story but still related to the bigger picture that makes this album solid.

This Land: A tribute to Ireland and anyone who has an immigrant soul will relate to this:

” Well I hope and pray her smile will be there to greet me

Though my home’s far away I can still hear her sing so sweetly”.

Donegal: The upbeat tempo of this track makes one wonder. If this album has enough airplay and this track has enough promotion, this could be one of those top 40 folk tunes. The fiddling and singing reminds me of Scottish pop rock band Simple Minds. It is irresistibly catchy and poppy.

Stac Pollaigh: Acoustic guitar, whistle, keyboards make this instrumental track have that New Age crossover appeal. Something spiritual, relaxing but still very traditional sounding.

The Hunger Roars: Hunger Roars recall the term ‘starving artist”. I personally think it is about one goes through in life mourning over relationship we can’t salvage from the ruins. A kind of existential anguish permeates the track. It is a song that you can interpret based on your own personal feelings. It has that kind of hoe down tempo. In spite of its lively tempo, the melody is steeped in melancholy atmosphere. Something luminous but somber at the same time.

Wonderful Day: Another finger snapping and toe tapping track. An uplifting and positive track which is a tribute to a beautiful landscape. Embellished by the nice sound of the banjo and the other instruments, this song is one of those undiscovered gems in the folk music scene.

Campsie Glen:

“ Will you come with me this summer,

To the fells in Camsie Glen..

This idyllic track takes me back in those years when everything seems like a scene through a rose colored bowl. Thoughts of childhood are precious and this is something that will save us from the twist and turns of adult uncertainty. The fiddle is bright and the vocal harmonies are rich. The simplicity of this med tempo track is what makes it such a pleasure to listen to. There are ven sounds of birds at the end of this.

Bound for New York: No need to expound on the thoughts of this one because I am sure you know what t is about. And I agree! Once again, the vocal harmonies and the chorus that goes:

“So I’ll have to go,

I’ve got to let you know,

My ship will leave the harbor in the morning

Cross to the sea so blue,

But my heart will stay with you,

I’m bound for New York City in the morning..

If this song doesn’t make you misty-eyed then you are either made of steel or a frickin’ robot. I just lost it!

Lady of the Isle: The drone of the keyboards coupled with the tin whistle makes the intro to this song very ‘soundtracky’. The vocal follows with the beat of the percussion. It has the characteristic of a slow marching song. The spacey arrangement creates a haunting atmosphere which has that lament sound.

“ But we cannot be together, So I’ll love her from afar,

For she is to wed another, and that day will break my heart”.

Thingamajig: Is a jig…but has a pop rock flavor. A great fusion of styles. The percussion and fiddling makes me want to go out and dance in the rain!

Working for the Company: Voice and acoustic guitar feels like a break from the grand instrumentation of previous tracks. A tin whistle and scattering of ‘ohhhs and ahhhs’ in between the chorus and verse plus other spare vocal ‘cloak’ makes this one a must for listeners of chill music.

Home to Ireland: The use of Major 7th chords gives this track a pastoral flavor. Major 7 reminds me of golden wine and gentle rays of the sun. “ Why don’t you come home to Ireland, All the way back to this green green land. This actually expresses my sentiments why I consider Ireland as my spiritual home.

Paddy’s Shout: Another instrumental track that showcases the mature and excellent musicianship of Gerry Power and Brian McDaid. I find my self rocking my head to this gentle uplifting track.

I Blame the Whiskey: The closing track. A tongue in cheek song about…well, you with your Celtic blood would understand and relate to. But this is also a song about trying to cope with a bad experience in life. We all have that. Yes we blame the whiskey, cigarettes or anything we can get out hands on to quell that ache..anything to keep us alive. A beautiful track that I can relate to.

My verdict is: Buy this album. It has a general appeal even to those who aren’t into Celtic music. The tracks are easy to the ears and all of them are worth your listen.Maybe music can’t really heal our pain or existential anguish but it is such a fine company when we feel lost and lonely. I love this album! Buy this album here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/kinfolksongs

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Featured mp3: Bridge of glllass

Here’s the pre-release track from  the olllam album (with John McSherryMichael Shimmin, and Joe Dart) Ah something refreshing from the trad scene. This music grows on you!

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Featured Artist: Wilber Calver (AfroCubanCelticMusic)

Gran concierto en Einsiedeln, Switzerland !

I want to introduce you to this exciting artist and whose album Diaspora is making waves! Jazz musician Courtney Pine (the first Jazz musician in my cassette collection as a kid) praises Wilber Calver’s album saying: “Wilber Calver is a unique new artist who has created a brilliant original sounding album that is steeped in the traditions of his Cuban culture and the Celtic folklore of his chosen instrument the bagpipes. I can’t stop playing it.” http://www.wilbercalver.com/

We have another legendary artist in the making!

From the official website:

About Wilber Calver

Wilber Calver Rodríguez “The Ebony Piper” was born in Holguín (Cuba).  In 1997 he enlisted as a percussionist in the traditional music group of the Centro Gallego de la Habana, with whom he performed in many festivals.  In 1998 he took his first bagpipe lessons with Professor Eduardo Lorenzo and it was from this moment that he fell in love with the pipes and took the decision to dedicate himself to the instrument.

During the following years he built up his performance experience and was included in the EU documentary “The latest Bagpipers of Havana”, won the “Premio iberoamericano ” Rey de España” ( 2004 ), appeared on the feature film “Havana Blues” (2005) directed by Benito Zambrano.

His TV appearances include : Musical ” Cuerda viva ” Cuba ( 2004 ), ” De la gran escena ” Cuba ( 2004 ) -Progra ESPECIAL ” Día da Patria gallega ” TVG España (2007) – ” A compañenos ” TVG ESPAÑA( 2008) – Serie “Padre Casares ” TVG España ( 2009 ).

He has been reviewed in the following publications : Revista Bohemia ” Con la gaita a cuesta ” Cuba ( 2004 ) -Revista ” O anuario da gaita ” Epaña ( 2000 ) – ” Gaitas con tumba..o ” Diario La voz de galicia

Wilber now lives in the Swiss Alps – Einsiedeln – and is in the process of recording his first album which will be an exciting fusion of celtic melodies with Afro-Cuban roots, arranged and produced by Alex Wilson.

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Flashback: MOYA (MAIRE) BRENNAN & SHANE McGOWAN – You’re the One

As my personal tribute to the amazing late Irish novelist Maeve Binchy, I am posting this beautiful video by two equally mesmerizing artists, Moya Brennan and Shane McGowan. The song is written by Michael Kamen. It’s the ending track for movie Circle of Friends.