Na Fianna -Making Modern Irish Music That’s Very Catchy

Na Fianna -Making Modern Irish Music That’s Very Catchy

If traditional-based Irish music needs a wake up alarm then leave it to the members of Na Fianna. Their energy is punk-like but they owe most of their aesthetics Irish music like the ballads of Christy Moore and the melodic wonder of The Clancy Bothers and Dropkick Murphys. They play lively tunes that are so catchy Thin Lizzy will be proud of them. 11223581_10155793250160504_1664260918107804656_n

I became familiar with the band’s name after browsing Reddit and see them trending under ‘Celtic’ category. But even though the musical identity of Na Fianna is distinct, their sentiments are inclusive and that makes their music universal.

Still not convinced? Go ahead and listen to their new single via YouTube and you will know what I mean:

 

There are four people in the band comprising of:

Hugh Finn: Banjo & Vocals

Ciaran Finn: Guitar & Vocals

Peter McMahon: Percussion & Vocals

James O’Connor: Accordian & Vocals

Unearth is the new album and it has twelve songs. There are traditional songs that are familiar like Step it Out Mary, Star Of County Down, The Lakes Of Pontchartrain and more. Fans of Christy Moore and Luka Bloom will love both this album and these four lads. Check out the EPK below:

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“It was recorded in real time with minimal overdubs” Caitriona O’ Leary Talks about The Wexford Carols

“It was recorded in real time with minimal overdubs” Caitriona O’ Leary Talks about The Wexford Carols

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Happy Holidays! I wrote an entry about The Wexford Carols by Caitriona O’Leary a few days ago. And it is a delight to receive a response from the interview questions I sent her with the help of my friend Anita Daly. So here they are and I was not really surprised that she mentioned Bjork as one of her influences. These two have amazing voices.I am sure Bjork would love O’Leary’s rendering of the traditional carols. The album’s production is superb, the artwork is exceptional-plus you gotta get your hands on the liner notes as a lot of inspiration was poured in making this project. Read further and more surprises await you!

  1. The Wexford Carols was released very early of this year. What’s the story behind the re-release?

Actually the album was released for Christmas last year! But I feel that The Wexford Carols has the potential to be a long-lived perennial offering and that we hadn’t reached every music lover just yet!

  1. You are backed by fantastic studio musicians, singers and sound  tech people. It must be an exciting recording session.
 

It was indeed a very exciting session. It was recorded in real time with minimal overdubs. Basically, we were all in the room (a beautiful, converted 17th-century stable house with huge windows overlooking woodland), making the music at the same time – watching each other, responding to each other’s musical impulses.

  1. How extensive was the background research for this album?
 

I spent many years researching the carols. I started dabbling about 20 years ago, but it has really been the past couple of years that I completely submersed myself in the material. I have visited the church in Kilmore (where the carols are still sung), spoken with local Wexford historians, and spent many happy hours in Dublin libraries and music archives unearthing clues to the melodies that had been lost.

  1. Are you working on a new album and if you are what can we expect?
  1. What’s the inspiration behind this album, and the musical direction you took in recording this(see answers to question 6).
 

I am indeed working on a new album – The Wexford Carols, volume 2! There are still a dozen carols hiding in Wexford history and we want to bring them into the light too. We will be recording in the spring with the renowned producer Ethan Johns and taking a different musical approach to the first volume. It’s a very exciting prospect!

  1. Who are your major musical influences?
 

I have many, many musical influences! Nina Simone, Skip James, Sara Ghriallais, Chabuca Granda, Jordi Savall, Björk…you can probably hear bits of all of them in my work (Björk not so obviously…yet…)

  1. what your biggest Christmas wish?
 

Peace on Earth and goodwill towards all creatures and the planet.

Enjoy your copy of The Wexford Carols. It is an album that’s meant to enchant you not just this holiday season but for all seasons!
Listen to the Delightful Breath Of Heaven (Mary’s song) by Caitlin Grey

Listen to the Delightful Breath Of Heaven (Mary’s song) by Caitlin Grey

I got goosebumps listening to this beautiful song by Caitlyn Grey. You just know based on the first few notes that the song works. And this one touches on many things. I think it has a personal meaning to me because of things that I experienced. And we all have struggles great and small. We always need help to be strong. This is the central theme of the song. According to Ms Grey:

 I’ve recorded my version of Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant & Chris Eaton. It’s been released in association with the UK charity Music in Hospitals  http://www.musicinhospitals.org.uk/ and it’s available on their website and also on mine at the moment. It’s essentially about Mary’s struggle with the enormity of the task ahead. 
Caitlin Grey recently released a beautiful and haunting album titled The Promise. If you haven’t gotten your own copy yet, please have a listen because I am sure this album will delight you:

Download link: https://caitlingrey.bandcamp.com

And we will continue to think of Mary and the many more undergoing the same situation in this holiday season.

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The Wexford Carols brings the 17th and 18th century Irish Christmas songs to your Living Room

The Wexford Carols brings the 17th and 18th century Irish Christmas songs to your Living Room

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Like the warm hearth of the past, The Wexford Carols is a joy to listen to!

For the rest of us who respond to our shared musical genre (especially in terms of holiday tunes), The Wexford Carols is a perfect release. This album is the focus of interest not just among ‘academic’ listeners but also among those who are looking for a solemn musical mood. The are twelve tracks off this album and my personal favorite is the a cappella song The Darkest Midnight In December. This song has a special meaning to me. It is from an unknown author. The original text has around 11 stanzas. Now, those who are unaware since the album’s release last January of this year, The Wexford Carols, is a collection of 17th and 18th century Irish Christmas songs. So that should be interesting!

The rest of the tracks have this common simplicity even when there are instrumentations in the arrangements. Catriona O’Leary has a voice of an earthly angel. She is also backed by talented musicians, singers and technical people including:

Rhiannon Giddens – Voice, Fiddle, Minstrel Banjo

Rosanne Cash – Voice

Tom Jones – Voice

and also:

Adrian Hart – Fiddle

Eamonn de Barra – Flute, Whistle

John Smith – Guitar, Mandola

Dónal Lunny – Bouzuki

Kate Ellis – Cello

Greg Cohen – Double Bass

Mel Mercier – Bodhrán, Bones

Graham Hopkins – Drums

Joe Henry, Producer

Ryan Freeland, Recording Engineer, Mix and Master.

The Wexford Carols is a perfect gift to listeners of all genres of music. It is not often when we come across a collection of work that’s well researched and rendered in a passionate manner. This album by the way was mixed in the studio to sound like a live recording. So when you listen to it, it seems like you are listening to an actual live performance in an intimate setting like a cafe or pub.

TRACK LISTING – 61 Minutes

  1. Tell Shepherds – Caitríona O’Leary, Singer
  2. An Angel This Night – Caitríona O’Leary, Singer
  3. Jerusalem Our Happy Home – Tom Jones, Singer, Caitríona O’Leary & Rhiannon Giddens Backing Vocals
  4. This Is Our Christmass Day – Caitríona O’Leary, Singer
  5. Now To Conclude Our Christmas Mirth – Rhiannon Giddens, Singer, Tom Jones & Caitríona O’Leary Backing Vocals
  6. The Darkest Midnight In December – Caitríona O’Leary, Singer
  7. An Angel This Bright Midnight – Rosanne Cash, Caitríona O’Leary, John Smith, Graham Hopkins Vocals
  8. Behould Three Kings – Rosanne Cash, Singer, Caitríona O’Leary, John Smith, Graham Hopkins Vocals
  9. The Angell Said To Joseph Mild – Tom Jones, Singer, Caitríona O’Leary & Rhiannon Giddens, Backing Vocals
  10. A Virgin Queen In Bethlehem – Caitríona O’Leary, Singer
  11. Christmas Day Is Come – Rhiannon Giddens & Caitríona O’Leary, Vocals
  12. The Enniscorthy Christmas Carol – Rosanne Cash, Rhiannon Giddens, Caitríona O’Leary, Tom Jones, Vocals

 

Visit: http://www.caitrionaoleary.com

http://www.amazon.com/The-Wexford-Carols-Catriona-OLeary/dp/B00N35JA2I

http://www.amazon.com/The-Wexford-Carols-Catriona-OLeary/dp/B00N35JA2I

http://www.amazon.com/The-Wexford-Carols-Catriona-OLeary/dp/B00N35JA2I

 

Download The Heavenly Echoes of Winter by Sleepthief for Free Now!

Download The Heavenly Echoes of Winter by Sleepthief for Free Now!

The holiday season always brings the best in every artist. Justin Elswick, a.k.a. Sleepthief has just dropped a collection of holiday tunes via Soundcloud. And they are amazing! Echoes of Winter has six tunes recorded in the Sleepthief manner:intricate, dreamy and artfully layered. Dues Meus is the opening track performed by his sister Amanda Elswick. The succeeding songs in this collection have vocal contributions by artists who collaborated with him in his previous recordings like Labyrinthine Heart. These are familiar names like Kirsty Hawkshaw, Coury Palermo and Zoe Johnston who blend their voices like celestial siblings for O Come O Come Emmanuel.

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Justin Elswick (Sleepthief)

I love the new version of Snow(originally recorded by Loreena McKennitt). The vocal style by Johnston is soft and she adds her own magic to the song. Tollite Hostias is a classical aria by Saint-Saēns performed by Lauralyn Curtis. If there is something consistent about Sleepthief, it’s his love for beautiful melodies and also angelic voices. Veni Redemptor, Solamen Gentrum continues that style with vocals by Jana Thomson Ellsworth. What Childis This by the amazing Judy Quine closes this beautiful  holiday EP.

Like any listener familiar with the works of Sleepthief, I can say that he never disappoints. His every release is anticipated with fervent passion. So what are you waiting for? Download this album and come near the fire.Let the magic of the season wrap around you like stardust.

Direct link: https://soundcloud.com/sleepthief/sets/sleepthief-echoes-of-winter-1

 

 

Music From The Show Titanicdance

Music From The Show Titanicdance

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Reverberating with the sound of the Irish heartbeat, Titanicdance is an album you should have this holiday!

I am taking some time after work to chill out to Music from the show: Titanicdance. For those who have seen the musical, you know what to expect:Superb singing, breathtaking dance steps and epic compositions. The music combines the terrific beauty of Celtic music and the contemporary slickness of Irish pop, giving you a record that is both sophisticated and can be appreciated by those who listen to Adele, Enya or Sam Smith.

There are twelve songs, with three of them featuring the beautiful vocals of Rebecca Winckworth(Most recently Rebecca was a lead singer with Celtic Nights The Emigrants Bridge on their highly acclaimed tour across the USA). Titanicdance is also a powerhouse of musical talents from musicians Conal Early (he performed with Ragus from 2004-2008), Kevin Corbet, Richard Neylon with the help of producers and sound engineers who made Titanicdance a great album!

For those of you shopping for holiday music, you have to buy this. You wont be disappointed.

 

 

Titanicdance will have you on the edge of your seat: My Interview with Raymond Sweeney

Titanicdance will have you on the edge of your seat: My Interview with Raymond Sweeney

  I wrote an entry about this Irish song and dance phenomena Titanicdance a few days ago. Now, Producer, Creative Director and Lead Dancer Raymond Sweeney, took time to answer this interview. I am currentlyqvzrbp44upehnzbms7a4

listening to the soundtrack while transcribing our online conversation. You have to see this show. This is the best thing that happened to the stage since Riverdance and Celtic Tiger. Please don’t forget to visit their Indiegogo campaign and hopefull take part as one of the show’s backers. This is music and dance arrange in a way that will captivate both young and old fans of Celtic music.

1. Hi Raymond, you are from Donegal which is known as a place that gave birth to global artists.What’s the story behind Titanicdance?
It was in 2012 on the 100th year anniversary of the tragic events of the Titanic that I came up with the idea to do the show. Creating my own production was something I always dreamed of doing so I got a team together and started choreographing the show with Louise Hayden & James Keegan in a little prefab in my dad’s work yard. It took many long hours of hard work, determination and a lot of patience but it was all worth it as the end result exceeded our expectations.
2. You joined Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance at 16. What were the challenges of being in a big and famous troupe at a young age?
Being from a small village in Donegal and heading into the unknown was exciting but scary at such a young age. It was a huge challenge trying to meet the standard required for such a large production and as well as the dancing there was a lot to learn about performing on stage. The other thing I found challenging was being away from home at such a young age and getting used to my new independence. It was a great experience. 
3. I think Titanicdance will strike a universal chord as the story (Titanic) itself is still a phenomenal success brought about by books and of course Hollywood.
This is so true and is the reason why we think we have something special.
4. What’s the training ritual of your dancers before a big event?
Well it takes many weeks/months preparing for a big show as first and foremost fitness is very important as well as learning routines etc.. The choreography of Titanicdance is of a very high standard and therefore plenty of training is required to get it perfect for show time.  
5. How do you handle the responsibilities of leading 30 top Irish dancers?
I’m fortunate enough to have the experience of being a cast member and touring in a big dance production for over 15 years and therefore I know how to find the right balance to treat cast members in a firm but fair way in order to get the best results. I have a lot of friends that I have work along side and toured with previously and that are now in my cast, now being Creative Director and having to direct them and call the shots isn’t always easy but I do it in a manor that they still so me respect. 
6. How is it like working with producer David McLaughlin? You must be great pals right now.ykusbiflr8xnphaiihly
David and the whole team have been great. Everyone really believes in this production and works endlessly to make sure it will become a huge success. I have a great relationship with David and it is growing stronger and stronger..!!
7. What do you hope to achieve this Titanicdance?
I hope to achieve everything possible with Titanicdance. It’s always been my dream to have a touring show and I am so honored to be in the position I’m in at the moment and I will continue to strive to meet my goals because I believe this show can be a huge success. 
8. Your message to the readers?
 
Titanicdance has it all. Live Irish Music, Song and Dance and a story line that will have you on the edge of your seat and possibly in tears. Audiences across the globe deserve to see this production and I will do my best to make that happen. You will not be disappointed. 

Kind Regards,

Raymond Sweeney
Watch out for my review of the Titanicdance music soon! Big thanks to my friend Anita Daly of Daly Communications for arranging this interview.
Feel the warmth of AN IRISH CHRISTMAS BLESSING by Fr Ray Kelly

Feel the warmth of AN IRISH CHRISTMAS BLESSING by Fr Ray Kelly

Father Ray Kelly Chrstimas cd cover

If An Irish Christmas Blessing is a solar system, then Make Me a Channel of Your Peace has to be sun, drawing all planets to its gravity. It is a track that’s timely as the world needs something to hold on to especially in these troubled times. An Irish Christmas Blessing recalls the auspicious debut of Father Ray Kelly almost a year ago. This happened when he sang at the wedding of Chris and Leah O’Kane on April 5th 2014 which blew the internet after it was captured and posted on You Tube.

I am listening to the title track while writing this. It brings back a lot of good feelings. Like when I was in high school and I was a teenager again haunting for good holiday albums in record stores. The classic style represents the ‘feel’ of the whole album. There is nostalgia and a sense of adventure.

His style of singing is unique. Not Gregorian or operatic. He sounds close to Elvis Costello but with a rich upper register and nuance where it is needed. In O Holy Night, he gives his all hitting those rich notes at the end of the song. The album’s orchestration is superb. I love orchestras and An Irish Christmas Blessing is a treat for those who love grand arrangements but with a modern twist.

Father Kelly  will be donating a percentage of the profits of the sales of this album and his live concerts to the Kiltegan Fathers St Patrick’s Missionary Society. It’s where he started his journey as a Catholic priest.Below is a brief interview made possible by my good friend Anita Daly of Daly Communications:

 

Hi Father Kelly, you must be ecstatic that your Christmas album is finally out! Why did you choose An Irish Christmas Blessing as the album’s title?

Yes I am very excited about the Christmas album and indeed the final production of it. When I heard the song An Irish Christmas Blessing, I fell in love with the melody and the words immediately. And in deciding a title for the album I thought there it is, the title, the first song on the Album. I guess being an Irish Man and firmly planted in my roots it was the ideal title.

What are your favorite songs in this album?

I love all Christmas music so I really love all the songs. However, when I heard my completed version of Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace, I just thought it was so prayerful and haunting, so I guess it is one of my top 3. But I love O Holy Night as I feel hearing that song at Christmas is so special and necessary. As for the song The Little Drummer Boy, I do think the arrangement of that is super. All my grand nieces and nephews are constantly listening to that one and tell me it is their favourite.

You employed an orchestra to record the thirteen songs (by the way it’s my lucky number). How did you decide to record with an orchestra plus choir instead of just the usual piano, drums, bass and synths?

I was very fortunate that Nigel Wright in the UK agreed to produce my Christmas Album, as he is up there among the top record producers in the world, so I was totally guided by him as to what was needed to create a great album.

Some of the songs are vocally challenging! But you glide through them gracefully. Do you record in one take or did you experience having to decide between two versions of then same song?

Nigel made me work very hard, he knew I could create the sound he wanted. So it took a lot more than one take in most of the songs. But that is not unusual, and having heard the final production I can understand why it took some time.

You will be donating a percentage of the profits of the sales of this album and his live concerts to the Kiltegan Fathers St Patrick’s Missionary Society right?

Yes, Kiltegan Fathers, or St Patrick’s Missionary Society will benefit from the sale of my CD and concerts. When I decided to become a priest, I joined The Kiltegan Fr’s in Co Wicklow. So they educated me for 7 years and had a huge say in my formation as a Catholic Priest. I spent a couple of years on the Mission Field in S.Africa, however I decided I wanted to work at home eventually. I always said if I could every give something back to them for all they did for me even in a small way I would, little did I realise that an opportunity like this would come my way.

What’s your biggest wish this Christmas?

My biggest wish this Christmas is that my younger sister who is quite ill will make a complete recovery. Now that would be Christmas for me.

There you go 🙂 Bax

Slan, best wishes, Merry Christmas

Fr Ray

 

And I wish your younger sister a complete recovery as well Father Kelly.