Enter the Haggis-The Modest Revolution

Featuring: Book review:Naked in New York, Nolwenn Leroy, Mandolin Improvisation in A minor track, Karen Marshalsay, Clannad 70s flashback and John Breen‘s new track.



The Modest Revolution by Enter the Haggis is courting mainstream listeners. The songs are all catchy with pop hooks and definitive Celtic sound. The style has always been part of the band’s emblem since they formed in 1996. The songs stick like bread and maple syrup. And I mean stick immediately after hearing the first track Year of the Rat. Strings and uilleann pipes hug the chorus- verse -chorus structure. It is  a tune that is also radio friendly.

I mentioned about maple syrup hinting that they are from Canada. Yes a nation that has contributed amazing acts in all genres all over the world including Celtic  music. Now we move to the second track Can’t Trust the News. Yes who does these days? Everything seems to be filled with agenda. This song has a chorus that’s really easy to remember and also great to sing.

“trust your eyes
they will follow the light
it’s a new tragic story
trust your heart
it will swallow the dark
it’s a mecca of heartache and doom
you can’t trust the news.”

You bet I am singing along to this part raising my voice the way lead singer  Brian Buchanan does. Craig Downie knows how to make a listener smile with his trumpet playing. There are lots of great arrangements all over The Modest Revolution.

Down the Line is straight ahead alternative rock with hints of ska and blues. I like that part that starts at 2:50, where the drums create these beats of anticipation amidst the teasing bass lines of Mark Abraham, only to explode in a harmonica driven instrumental riffs around 2:56. I encourage you to check that part out and tell me if I am wrong. These guys know how to start the fire!

Scarecrow is upbeat with a touch of cajun, bluegrass and even melodic style reminiscent of American band Gin Blossoms.

“if you fall
fall with grace
don’t let ’em see the fear upon your face
if you break
break the reins
it’s better up in lights than down in flames.” Yes another great singalong chorus that never fails to please listeners across genres.

Balto has that Celtic fiddling that will temp you to do step dancing. Trevor Lewington  gets listeners on their feet. This is also made solid by Bruce McCarthy’s drumming. After the adrenaline rush of the previous tracks, we are greeted by the gentler Letters.

your love is a compass rose
steadfast through this sand and stone
wind, carry these letters home to Joan
old memories come to life
a last dance in this amber light
wind, carry these letters home tonight

By this time one can notice the beautiful lyricism that wraps around Enter the Haggis. The guitar riffs are contained during the verse part which sets the mood for the song. Instrumental bonanza near the end part of this track along with the rolling drums that make up an ecstatic listening experience. Pardon is another alternative rock driven track. It is an ok song for me. But Hindsight pulls my interest due to its unique arrangement. It almost sounds like a hymn.

Footnote is groovy with a pop rock kind of vibe.  Copper Leaves in a little bit country.The kind of track you would be glad to play in your car when you are driving long distance. Blackout dips into a relaxing mood in the first verse only to build up into an emotional release in the chorus part.

Up in Lights closes the album with a spiritual vibe. I think it is a perfect placement of the track. kind of serenade after the energetic arena rock vibe of the entire album. Yes this is Celtic rock with a top 40 appeal. This is likely to be embraced by old and new listeners…even those who are not familiar with the genre. Actually it sounds hip. Very urban, sophisticated and can fit anywhere. But the Celtic vibe is definitely there. The band just made sure that part is accessible to all.


Mark Abraham – bass guitar, vocals
Brian Buchanan – vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, accordion, fiddle, banjo
Craig Downie – trumpet, flugelhorn, bagpipes, whistle, glockenspiel, harmonica, vocals
Trevor Lewington – vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, banjo, octave mandolin, B3, Farfisa
Bruce McCarthy – drums, percussion, vocals

Guest vocalists: The Adam Ezra Group, Erin “Izzy” Griffin, Catherine Wiegand, Kelly Elvin, Claire Rayton

Uilleann Pipes on “Year of the Rat”: Tyler Duncan

Additional Piano and B3: Joel Goodwin

Additional Percussion: Tim Price, Dave Wallace

Meaty claps and thunderous stomps: Matt Elvin, Kelly Elvin, Ellen Griffin, Erin “Izzy” Griffin, Dave Wallace, Catherine Wiegand, Claire Rayton, Patty Volpi

Cello: Michael Olsen

All music and lyrics copyright Enter The Haggis, 2012 (SOCAN/ASCAP.)
All arrangements by Enter The Haggis. Published by Firebrand Entertainment Inc.

Recorded at Saint Claire Recording Company in Lexington, KY – October, 2012.

Produced, engineered and mixed by Zach McNees

Assistant Engineers: Tim Price and Cailon Williams

Mastered by Leon Zervos at Studios 301 in Sydney, Australia

Photography by Rosco Weber

Album art and packaging design by Brian Buchanan



Book review:Naked in New York by Emmy Winning Irish actor/poet Alan Cooke.

A beautiful journey…

It seems that all great literary pieces of the world always include a rite of passage. Of a story about leaving the familiar and walking into the unknown. Dante’s The Divine Comedy starts with

“In the midway of this our mortal life,
I found me in a gloomy wood, astray….”

Jack Kerouac also made the same allusion with his real life road trip that resulted to a book On the Road. Now I am not going continue quoting tall literature or set a serious tone because I am just an ordinary reader like you. So what’s a blogger thought after reading Naked in New York by Irish multi Emmy nominated actor writer and film maker Alan Cooke?

Well, to start with, the book reads like music. He writes in a distinctive rhythmic pace. This isn’t the 3-minute-pop-song you-hear-on-the-radio kind of style. Think of a symphony. And though readers might miss the fact that this is an artistic writing using autobiography as vehicle, the sad scenes in Naked in New York are embellished by defining moments.

” History is littered with those that chose to never go outside of the familiar, men and women, dreamers that ached but refused a calling to another life and yet remained behind to toil a groove into a long weary existence.” Alan Cooke made a recurring theme along that line all throughout his book. Anyone who has undergone a personal awakening knows that this is the truth. We all want to know something behind this mundane existence. And we do unfamiliar things so that one day we may drink to that fountain of precious memory to say: I have done that. I know what it’s like!

The story takes off as he starts leaving for New York. ” My God are you mad? That place is burning.” Says the cab driver to him. Ah to be a poet in a huge city.

” As New York drew near, I look out the window and finally saw the skyline of Manhattan. I saw the ridges and jagged lines of America’s greatest city. It looks surreal. The plane veered towards JFK. I could not take my eyes off the city. It already had me in its gaze.”

There are patters of microscopic observations in passages like…

I walked down the steps and through the tunnel. The faces seemed mute and sullen. It was a sharp reminded of what had happened here. I had been above the earth in silence for many hours and now I felt the sudden rush of America.”

The thing about Naked in New York is that it is part commentary, part poetry and part autobiography. It is populated by interesting characters. Alan Cooke has this deep compassion for the lost and the forgotten :the old raggedy Ann dolls that got tossed because someone’s got a new toy to play with.

From a crazy landlady:

“I quickly found another place to live and confronted her with my deposit. But she wailed and screamed and made excuses, run out the door and did not come back.”

To being a victim of hit and run:

“…suddenly a car smashes me into an abyss. Death takes its aim at me and I am alone. This road where I lie in the Bronx is cold and full of treachery.”

His narration includes subway mad men, good friends, death of a relative an being broke, cold and sick: “My sanity vanished in these panicked moment yet something deeper was allowing this to happen, to strip away the primal essence in New York. I felt naked in New York in these moments, alone and exposed, a wire cut by a sharp blade.”

Naked in New York takes us on an emotional ride but never losing the theme in which the story revolves upon: The transformation of a poetic soul in a vast city called New York. And although this is a book about his own journey, it never fails to evoke a kind of universal familiarity in all of us. After all, we have taken the same decision through different roads. And we have either safely arrived or broken. But we know this feeling. We know this symphony of the soul that transforms us into better beings. A kinder and more profound version of ourselves. It is a brilliant book that reads like fine wine. I recommend it to everyone who loves Irish writers and also the great city, the capital of the world called New York.


In search of a grand adventure, Alan Cooke decided to move to New York in 2001. Has has been an actor, writer and film maker in Dublin since the 90s. While there, he created artistic projects. One of them  was an improvised film about his life in the city as an Irish Immigrant called ‘ Home.’ It gave him an Emmy award.

to quote his Amazon bio:

“He got 6 A list stars to become involved in the project including Mike Myers Woody Allen, Susan Sarandon and Woody Allen. They all felt they needed to support a positive film about New York. Alan then went on to win an Emmy for his writing on the film. He continued his writing and acting and developed all his diaries thoughts and musings into what has become his debut literary memoir ‘ Naked In New York.’

‘ The Spirit of Ireland – An Odyssey Home’ is his follow up memoir.  He is currently trying to develop a documentary film of The Spirit of Ireland. He also has a radio podcast show called ‘ The Wild Hour Show’ which is a series of conversations with artists , actors, writers, singers and explorers from around the world.

Alan will also be releasing a thriller set in Ireland called ‘ Jack Tully and the Midnight Killer’. The first in a series about the life of a tough heroic small town cop who lives on the wild coast of southern Ireland and his pursuit of the criminal underworld in dark times.”

He currently lives near the epic Cliffs of Moher on the West Coast of Ireland.

SITES : www.wildirishpoet.com
Facebook : http:// www.facebook.com/wildirishpoet
Twitter : @wildirishpoet

Get your own copy of Naked in New York through Amazon.

Alan Cooke picture

Alan Cooke a.k.a. The Wild Irish Poet



Mama mia! You can’t believe the reaction I got after hearing Nolwenn Leroy‘s rendition of a Kate Bush classic Wuthering Heights. She nailed it! I tell you this woman is so amazing! If you haven’t heard of her then check out my database and type Nolwenn Leroy and you will get results from previous articles I wrote about her. In this Women’s Awareness Month Nolwenn Leroy certainly carries the flag with her achievements. More of this event here: http://www.mytaratata.com/Pages/EMISSIONS_voir.aspx?TvShowId=510

Traditional music meets futuristic online teaching

Online teaching has revolutionized the way Irish traditional musicians teach music. Read more of this interesting article by Martin Doyle. If you love mandolin music, check out this Mandolin Improvisation in A minor track by American musician Thomas McGregor. It really highlights the gentleness of the mandolin sound without the distraction of other instruments.

Now, if you are a harp student and you want to learn the instrument, Karen Marshalsay is taking advantage of online teaching as well:“I do skype harp lessons as do some other Scottish players – and I’ll be doing my first UHI lecture on Scottish harp from my home this month – looking forward to how that works out – with lecturer and students all over the highlands and beyond!” Check out more about her harp lessons and music via: http://www.karenmarshalsay.com/ and http://scottishharpmusic.wordpress.com/

Clannad 70s flashback

Before Clannad embarked in their huge musical success in th 80s, they sound like this in the 70s. I confess I prefer their 80s and beyond music; more than their earlier efforts. But like any listener one has certain mood swings in listening to music. So it is really great to be able to get back to the simpler audio recordings of the 70s  where everything was raw. No one was cheating in terms of effects. That video was taken during their live performance in Germany. German people really appreciate Irish music.

Before we close this episode, check out John Breen‘s new track uploaded via youtube. It looks like inspiration is boiling in the heart of our favorite Irish singer/songwriter. Have a listen to The Night Visiting Song.

2 thoughts on “Enter the Haggis-The Modest Revolution

  1. This is a very sad story! I remember the old mill so well from my chihdlood passing through on the way to Donegal. Modern day ruins are not as pleasing to the eye as the old stone ruins!


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