December hasn’t started yet but it is always a good idea to release a holiday compilation album ahead. With all the competition around, people are given so many choices that it becomes hard to decide. What album should I buy my friends for Christmas?And this is what makes A Celtic Christmas(various artists) truly stand out. It is getting into the hands of the community at the right time. I even streamed this on my radio show via www.radiohappy.eu the moment I got my hands to it! I am posting the liner notes from the album at the end of this post.
Marc Gunn has the Medas touch as he’s the one who produced this collection. He also introduced them through his podcast. The artists are familiar and some are new to me. But all of them gave their best recording in this album. The first track “Galician Carol” brings back pleasant memories as I recall hearing the Carlos Nunez version in the 90s. “Bog Down in Christmas” is fun to listen to as the words become faster as the song gets nearer to the end. Iona also made a pleasant surprise by being part of this project.
There are seventeen songs which means there are seventeen bands/artists who performed in A Celtic Christmas. I can say that, everyone who’s been part of A Celtic Christmas made a great contribution. There’s variety and loads of awesome talents. This is one of the best holiday albums to come out recently. And oh, I love the album artwork. Check it out.
You can listen to the samples or buy it here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/acelticchristmas2
LINER NOTES by Marc Gunn
A warm fire glows in the hearth of Celtic culture with this warm compilation CD of Celtic Christmas music. Celebrate the holidays with “A Celtic Christmas”, featuring a mix of traditional and original songs and tunes about Christmas by indie Celtic bands.
All these artists were hand-selected for outstanding music by the award-winning downloadable radio show, the Irish & Celtic Music Podcast. It is the largest Celtic podcast in the world and the #1 promoter of indie Celtic music. Find out more at http://www.celticmusicpodcast.com
1. “Galician Carol”
by Mithril, http://www.mithril.us
from the CD Winter’s Day (Flying Frog Music FF0401)
Mithril’s unique progressive style has its roots in traditional Celtic music but moves far beyond that, weaving such diverse influences as American folk, classical, and Middle Eastern melodies in…to their full tapestry of sound.
2. “Hunting the Wren”
by Heather Dale, http://www.heatherdale.com
from The Green Knight
words and music traditional
Heather Dale writes songs for ‘modern dreamers’: witty, fun-loving, imaginative people who aren’t afraid to be different! Heather’s original songs tap into legends, mythology, history and fantasy
3. “Gloucestershire Wassail”
by John McGaha, http://www.facebook.com/jklmstudios
from The Longest Night: A Winter Celebration
John McGaha is a multi-genre musician based out of Norman, Oklahoma, with over thirty years of musical experience. The McGaha’s are a musical family, descended from Scottish and Irish immigrants.
4. “(Without You on) Christmas Day”
by George Papavgeris, http://www.folk4all.net
from Ordinary Heroes
words and music by George Papavgeris
The most prolific of creative men; the grandest of hearts and maker of songs that sear into the soul, George is unique, to say the least. His lilting accent lends a fantastic clarity to his delivery that is matched by deceptively simple guitar work. Few have written so many songs that demand your full attention and then insist, in the finest of ways, on staying with you forever. (Graham Searle)
5. “Cold Frosty Morning”
by Tom Morley, http://www.thefiddlecenter.com
from the CD The Raven’s Wing (a curious collection of fiddle tunes) (Flying Frog Music FF2010)
As a classical, folk, jazz and swing musician, Tom Morley is one of the most visible violinists on the Gulf Coast. Classically trained with a degree in music education, Tom has earned a living with his violin in almost every conceivable musical direction. He has played professionally on stage or in the recording studio in Celtic, Cajun, country, folk, classical, swing, and jazz styles.
6. “Banjos We Have Heard On High”
by Jed Marum, http://www.jedmarum.com
from Rejoice! A Christmas Album
words and music Jed Marum
Jed Marum albums play regularly on Folk/Bluegrass and Celtic radio programs around the world. His music is also distributed widely on all the major MP3 services. Throughout the US each year Jed plays over 150 shows at festival, club and concert venues.
7. “Christmas Day”
by The Elders, http://www.eldersmusic.com
words and music Ian Byrne, Brent Hoad, Norm Dahlor, Steve Phillips
Their music has been dubbed as “Ameri-Celt,” a cross-pollination of styles that is high octane and progressive, yet rooted in tradition. The Elders are not a “traditional” act, so they are at liberty to pick and choose from among the catchiest bits and pieces of their rather diverse, collective musical past. The result is a skillful mix of amped-up Americana roots rock with a strong Celtic twist – featuring powerful vocals, blazing instrumentals and top-notch song writing.
8. “Christmas in Scotland”
by Marc Gunn, http://www.marcgunn.com
words and music Marc Gunn
Celtic music, the traditional and the twisted. Marc Gunn combines his love of traditional Irish drinking songs with fun, twisted lyrics. It’s like a satirical jam session between The Clancy Brothers and Weird Al Yankovic. Enjoy Celtic-style songs about hobbits, cats, kilts, Firefly, Star Wars, Star Trek, plus, Gunn’s rhythmic acoustic renditions of traditional Scottish and Irish songs.
9. “Irish Holiday”
by The Gleasons, http://www.thegleasonsmusic.com
from A Letter to Erin
words and music Dave Stevens
Fiddles, flutes, guitars, percussion and rich harmonies define the sound where Celtic and Pop music meet. That sound is The Gleasons. A mix of Celtic stylings and down home country soul, The Gleasons will take you on a musical journey leaving you smiling and stomping your feet.
10. “Yule Long and Holly Berries”
by Rathkeltair, http://www.rathkeltair.com
from Something Good for Christmas
Rathkeltair (pronounce rath-KELT-ur) is one of North America’s premier Celtic rock bands. Based in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, and touring internationally since 2003, Rathkeltair delivers one of the most energetic, entertaining, audience-friendly shows you will see anywhere. Bringing together world-class musicians from Ireland, England and America, Rathkeltair is a seasoned group of veteran road warriors with incredible stories to tell. Together, they will take you on a rollicking journey through time and space. So hop in, and hitch a ride in the big white van- we don’t know where we’ll end up but you can bet it’ll be great fun. Because as any old road dog will tell you, it’s all about the journey, not the destination. That’s Rathkeltair.
11. “The Holly and the Ivy”
by Pandora Celtica, http://www.pandoraceltica.com
from On Thin Ice
words and music traditional
A 5-piece, dark faerie, acapella band. They sing traditional Celtic tunes, the occasional cover, and lots of original pieces in Celtic style.
12. “I Saw Three Ships Medley”
by Iona, http://www.ionamusic.com
from Mid-Winter Light
words and music traditional
IONA was founded in 1986 by lead singer/bouzouki/bodhran player, Barbara Tresidder Ryan & flute/whistle player/vocalist, Bernard Argent. One of the first & foremost pan-Celtic bands (performing music & dance from all the European suspects as well as their transplants in America), IONA tours internationally with 11 albums to date.
13. “Christmas in Pittsburgh 1943”
by Boston Blackthorne, http://www.bostonblackthorne.com
words and music by Jim O’Connor
Celtic and Irish-influence original music in a driving style with 3 part harmonies and traditional Irish instrumentation. The group’s second album, County Kerry to Kerry Park is inspired by one family’s emmigration from Dingle Ireland to Holyoke MA as featured in their original songs. “Bog Down in Christmas
14. “Bog Down in Christmas”
by Brobdingnagian Bards, http://www.thebards.net
from Christmas in Brobdingnag, Vol. 1
words Andrew McKee, music traditional
Scottish and Irish folk songs combined with the Lord of the Rings music and a wee bit o’Celtic fun. The Brobdingnagian Bards (pronounced brob-din-nahg-EE-en) are The Original Celtic Renaissance music duo. It’s great Celtic music from Austin, Texas. Their unique brand of folk music on the autoharp, recorder, and mandolin made them one of the most-popular Celtic groups online.
15. “We’re All Home for Christmas”
by The Malarkeys, http://www.themalarkeys.com
from Bloody Brilliant
words and music Gail and Karl Hourigan
Contemporary Canadian Celtic rock popsters, noted for their live performance Celtic mash-ups that throw traditional Irish pub songs into unlikely medleys with more modern rock songs.
16. “Christmas Waltz”
by The Brigands’ Folie, http://www.brigandsfolie.com
music Jake Weller and Karen Garland
Brigands’ Folie is an exciting acoustic duo playing traditional Irish, Scottish, English, and colonial American music together around the Midwest since 2005. The band’s mission is to educate the public about the lives and stories of 18th & 19th Century settlers, soldiers, and sailors through music of the period.
17. “Silent Night”
by The Gothard Sisters, http://www.gothardsisters.com
words Joseph Mohr, music Franz Xaver Gruber
The Gothard Sisters are three young Celtic and classical musicians who write new arrangements of traditional celtic and christmas favorites. They are emerging young artists and dancers from the pacific northwest and play several instruments each, creating a warm sound of acoustic progressive celtic-classical folk.
Special thanks to Cary Whitney for his generous support of this album.
The Irish & Celtic Music Podcast is an award-winning free Celtic radio show of independent Irish & Celtic music hosted by Marc Gunn. The show won “Best Podsafe Music” in 2009 and 2010 in the People’s Choice Podcast Awards. Each hour-long show features a mix of Celtic music by indie Celtic bands with styles ranging from the traditional to the contemporary. It is syndicated on a number of internet and terrestrial radio stations. Find out more details at http://www.celticmusicpodcast.com
Cover art and graphic design by Amanda Carman http://www.carmandaartsthings.com
Copyright 2013 Mage Records