Celtic Woman: The Best of Christmas

Celtic Woman: The Best of Christmas

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I love obscure tunes and the history behind them. For example I learned that Coventry Carol has a long history that dates all the way to the 16th century. And learning about one song will also encourage you to look at the wide vast of knowledge that covers holiday tunes.

Once in Royal David’s City is not something you get to hear in mainstream recordings(of pop and non pop singers). But Celtic Woman took the chance to pin this wonderful gem. So and I learned something about this Christmas carol. Here’s an interesting info from Wikipedia:

Originally written as a poem by Cecil Frances Alexander. The carol was first published in 1848 in Miss Cecil Humphreys’ hymnbookHymns for little Children. A year later, the English organist Henry John Gauntlett discovered the poem and set it to music.[1] Cecil Humphreys, meanwhile, married the AnglicanclergymanWilliam Alexander in 1848 and upon her husband’s consecration became a bishop’s wife in 1867.[1] She is also remembered for her hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful.

Since 1919, the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at the King’s College ChapelCambridge has begun its Christmas Eve service, with Dr Arthur Henry Mann‘s arrangement of “Once in Royal David’s City” as the Processional hymn.[1] Mann was organist at King’s between 1876 and 1929.[2]In his arrangement, the first verse is sung by a boy chorister of the Choir of King’s Chapel as a solo. The second verse is sung by the choir, and the congregation joins in the third verse. Excluding the first verse, the hymn is accompanied by the organ. This carol was the first recording that the King’s College Choir under Boris Ord made for EMI in 1948.[3] Among others who have recorded it are Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Chieftains, Daniel O’Donnell, The Seekers, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Petula Clark, Jethro Tull, Sinéad O’Connor and Sufjan Stevens, St. Paul’s Choir School and most recently by the Irish group Celtic Woman in their album Voices of Angels.

Now this blog is not just about that one song but about an album that contains twenty Christmas tunes from Celtic Woman. I think this is also a ‘practical’ approach because when we are hosting a party, we don’t want an album to end too soon and then we are forced to put a new album in (I am an albums kind of guy as opposed to playlist) and this is it!

The Best of Christmas has a more Classical Pop appeal than Celtic. For Jazz lovers there are swinging songs like Let it Snow. I love this song so much as I always associate Christmas with something Jazzy.

Yes twenty songs will not disappoint you. Better grab this album while it is hot!

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Celtic Music for Millenials

Celtic Music for Millenials

November 17, 2017

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Ryan MacNeil has that keen ear for tradition and mainstream smarts.

Chill-out, party music, these are the terms that evade Celtic music genre for a long time. But multi-instrumentalist Ryan MacNeil has become a mediator between the great divide, and I am talking about tradition and mainstream music. If you think about it, most of the things out there are marketed in disposable pop. You know, tunes geared towards the 20-something working crowd with too much stuff in their playlist, they forget most of the artists in the morning after.

Shuffle(as the title implies) will feel at home in any playlist or genre that you might (mis)place it. It has that oomph and verve associated with Jazz music but also the sweetness of Pop that will not alienate even avid listeners of the podcast generation. I like his cover of Wild Mountain Thyme. He has a knack for arranging each song with appropriate grooves like Reggae, Folk, or an occasional dip of Electronica. Though his music is rooted in Folk, he knows what is going on out there and he is attuned to the vibe of the young generation.

There are introspective numbers here that begs to remain in one’s playlist for a long time, like the instrumental track Summer Evening. Here, he pours his gift of playing exquisite notes without sounding too New Age.  Shuffle is an artfully crafted album that will sound good (albeit stylish) anywhere, anytime and it deserves more attention!

You can get your copy of Shuffle here: https://www.ryanonthepiano.com

The Dead Kings song by Irish poet Francis Ledwidge (performed by Lorcán Mac Mathúna)

The Dead Kings song by Irish poet Francis Ledwidge (performed by Lorcán Mac Mathúna)

 

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The Dead Kings artwork. 

I always think that the soul of Irish music is in the sean-nós style of singing. Why? Because it is a sound not like any other. It has that stillness that is both ancient and haunting. For someone to sing that, one has to embody the the atmosphere of the old Ireland. One song came to my attention recently and it is called The Dead Kings. Here’s a brief background provided by performer Lorcán Mac Mathúna. According to him, it’s a recently (live) recorded song by the Irish poet Francis Ledwidge, who died in 1917.

Complete soundcloud link-https://soundcloud.com/evolutionofsound/the-dead-kings

Ledwidge was known as the poet of the Blackbird. He was killed in the First World War in Paschendael on July 31 1917.

It is such an inspiration to see artists continue to perfect and pay homage to this wonderful musical art form. I would like to hear more of these.

Additional info: Recorded live at Musictown2017 during The Book of the Dead at The Chester Beatty Library. Written by Francis Ledwidge, music composed by Lorcán Mac Mathúna and Eamonn Galldubh. Performed by Lorcán, Éamonn, and Martin Tourish

 

They are loud and stunning: The Go Set

They are loud and stunning: The Go Set

Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 4.36.32 PM.pngOccasionally, something comes to awaken us from the stupor of so much mediocre music out there. The Go Set band are the answer to that. It is futile to resist such bewitching music-a combination of Celtic and punk energy that grab you by the collar and shake you all over the floor. It is great to have an album to jam to when you want something unique (but at the same time catchy enough) that will delight fans of any genre of music.

One Fine Day got its release around August of this year along with their US tour to promote the new album. Raise a Glass is is making waves via YouTube(taken from Rolling Sound) and this video showcases their live appeal.

How it all started?

When singer/songwriter J. Keenan and bassist Mark Moran formed The Go Set in 2003, it seemed only natural to combine the elements of the music they had grown up on. Having both been brought up on everything from traditional celtic and folk music, to early seventies punk rock, and with a voice for political perspective and social conscience, The Go Set embarked on a unique musical journey. Combining the folk elements of the bagpipes, accordion, and mandolin, with distorted punk guitars and a rock n roll ethos, The Go Set created a sound and direction all its own…-from their official website.

One Fine Day contains new tunes plus live recordings. If you are a fan of the band then this album will feel like collector’s release, and you will be able to explore the extent of their artistry beyond the confines of the recording studio. I personally like Drums of Chelsea and Rooftops but simply because I can relate to the lyrics.

There are so many energetic tracks that you will enjoy especially if you love bands like The Pogues, Dropkick Murphys and the like. There are six members in the current lineup.

That “Outlander” Theme – The Skye Boat Song

That “Outlander” Theme – The Skye Boat Song

There was a commotion when the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon got released in the 90s. I had no idea that years later they would finally end up in the small screen! Good reviews came pouring in and I found myself watching each episode.

I love the great thought that was put in many aspects of this show-cinematography, costumes etc. At first I was hesitant to watch because I thought it’s no different from the many TV shows that they are putting out there. But it is not.

If you are keen on watching every episode of Outlander, then you might have noticed the opening theme. It’s by Bear McCreary featuring the voice of Raya Yarbrough. It’s called The Skye Boat Song. I think it is a fitting intro to a beautiful series that will inspire people who are into Scottish history (or historical shows of any form).

I will surely follow this series. I could not add anything more than what has already written by fellow bloggers. But let me tell you this. When life is hard, you turn to stories not just for escape, but also for encouragement. These shows give you hope. You learn about yourself through the characters. Yes, strange as it may seem reading or watching beautiful movies or TV shows can be a form of personal reflection.

Never loose hope. Never give up. And most of all, strive to be happy, when happiness seems fleeting.

I hope you can take something inspiring out of the songs that I recommend-and the shows where they came from.

Prisoner Zero, Now on Netflix!

Prisoner Zero, Now on Netflix!

 

Moya Brennan made an official announcement yesterday regarding the soundtrack to the animated series Prisoner Zero. If you’re keen on reading my posts then you might have read something from two years ago regarding this topic.

If you are in the US, UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand you can now stream the TV show that Aisling Jarvis and I composed all the music for, Prisoner Zero, on Netflix!! Go check it out! Can’t wait to hear what you all think of the music -Moya Brennan

I think everyone will love this TV series as the trailer looks great. And yes you can hear the music of Moya Brennan and Aisling Jarvis right there! The music sound’s really edgy and this is something really great coming from the mother and daughter team.

Moya Brennan started her career as the lead vocalist of Clannad. She pursued a successful solo career and worked with diverse artists including Paul Young, Shane MacGowan and Michael McDonald. Her voice can be heard in major Hollywood films and she tours tirelessly.

Listen to Jacqui Sharkey – The Whole Of The Moon

Listen to Jacqui Sharkey – The Whole Of The Moon

Have you ever took a leave from your primary passion to find yourself liking it again? I feel that with blogging. After devoting most of my time riding my bike (fixed gear), I feel it is time to once again talk to my old self. Sometimes blogging can be an enigmatic part of you, in a sense that it has taken a big chunk of your psyche. But then, we add layers and in doing so we start to branch out into other avenues. If only we are superhuman but we have limited resources and one of them is time…

Thanks to this wonderful artist by the name of Jacqui Sharkey, I am once again enjoying the feel of the keys and also how thoughts flow freely. She has a distinctive sound. It reminds me of a beach at sunrise. Her resonant voice is both raw and elegant, displaying the frayed edges of what it takes to weather storms in one’s existence and still continue to be human.

The whole of the Moon has been covered by many artists, but this acoustic feel is so fresh that you just want to play it again and again. Sharkey is based in Donegal, the same place that gave us Altan and Clannad. The beautiful music video was filmed on location in Donegal, Ireland at Doon Fort, Portnoo, The Grianan of Aileach, Burt, The Poison Glen, Dunlewy, Gweedore and at Magheraclogher Beach, Bunbeg  around August 2017.

For more info visit: www.jacquisharkey.com

Summer Musical Happenings at Daly Communications !!

Summer Musical Happenings at Daly Communications !!

Screen Shot 2017-07-16 at 10.50.27 PMMy friend Anita of Daly Communications has a treat for all of you Celtic music lovers. I encourage you to watch out for them and if you don’t know yet, we have already posted past events and releases:

 

Fiddler and original member of Celtic Woman, Mariead Nesbitt just released her traditional Irish album recorded with her Family called ‘The Devil’s Bit Sessions’
Grammy Nominated Violinist Máiréad Nesbitt’s  latest endeavor comes straight from her home where she grew up in Co. Tipperary,  Ireland.  Máiréad has gone back to her roots and has created this unique live album experience with her entire family.  Devil’s Bit Sessions was recorded over a weekend in a “seisun,” a traditional Irish Music session,  in the Nesbitt Family’s home at the foot of Devil’s Bit Mountain. https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/devils-bit-sessions-live-feat-mairead-nesbitt/id1249003979
 
Originally from the Scottish Hebrides Isle of Benbecula, the Celtic pop band COAST has released their first cd in the US called ‘Windmills in the Sky’ 
Founded by singer songwriter Paul Eastham the band’s music has a character and style that has been shaped by the dramatic landscapes and cultural aspects of where they grew up or, their roots.
See the video for the song ‘River’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=St4OOLWzd7Y & get the cd at
 
SACRED EARTH is Irish Accordian master and music producer, Sharon Shannon’s, first new studio album in 3 years and her 10thstudio album to date. Sharon Shannon is a musician who likes to surprise. While best known for her arrangements of traditional Irish tunes and Irish-influenced compositions, she’s always been eager to explore new styles. 
There are Irish influences here of course but these are cheerfully mixed in with often unexpected styles from around the world, including for the first time, Africa;  Sharon has perfectly mastered an African/Irish crossover. But Sacred Earth is more than this: it contains multiple musical elements from the around the world along with the Shetland Fiddle Tradition, Hip Hop, Country and Blues that all combine to make this album a ground-breaker in many ways.  SACRED EARTH is available at https://www.celticcollections.com/  Also available at Celtic Collections is the 50th Anniversary multiple cd of The Wolfetones and other great albums by multiple Irish artists including The High Kings and Celtic Woman.
The Go Set are a Celtic Rock band from Australia who are releasing their first ever cd here in the US on August 5th called ‘One Fine Day’
Combining the musical elements of the bagpipes, accordion, mandolin and with distorted punk guitars and a rock n roll ethos, The Go Set created a sound and direction all its own. The Go Set is coming in from Australia to appear at the Dublin Ohio Irish Festival on August 4th and 5th for their schedule go to: http://dublinirishfestival.org/schedule/
 ‘One Fine Day’ will be out in the US on August 4th, 2017 to pre-order the cd go to:
http://thegoset.mywaterfrontstore.com/    The first single from the album is ‘Drums of Chelsea’ see the video here  https://youtu.be/MrTah6zWUXY
Find Your Way Home, an Irish Musical Drama hits Albany, Boston & NYC
After opening to rave reviews in Dublin, Ireland, FIND YOUR WAY HOME (An Irish Musical) is making its American debut. Written by Jeff Strange and Jimmy Kelly, two Albany, NY musicians well known on the Irish Music scene, the show has been in development for the past eight years. A true labor of love from both sides of the Atlantic, FIND YOUR WAY HOME is set in post-famine and pre-uprising Ireland and follows an Irish family as they encounter unexpected tragedies and joys in the face of economic hardship  The play features 17 original songs, many of them in the Irish idiom. “But there are scenes where it comes to America,” Kelly said. “There are Appalachian influences, blues influences, and American pop musical influences.”
FIND YOUR WAY HOME  will debut in the US at the Palace Theatre in Albany, NY, July 17th, Boston on July 20th at the Hancock Theatre and NYC on July 25th at Symphony Space.   For tickets and further information go www.findyourwayhomethemusical.com Find Your Way Home trailer:  https://youtu.be/J8raJER9jOg
Last but never, ever, the least! A new Van Morrison album out in early september called ”Roll With The Punches’
Van Morrison’s 37th studio album – sees him simultaneously hand-picking a selection of rhythm and blues classics (by the likes of Bo Diddley, Mose Allison, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Lightnin’ Hopkins among others) and recording a set of new self-written songs. It’s an album that features raw, intimate interpretations of some of the cornerstones of rock’n’roll alongside five new numbers by one of our most consistently brilliant recording artists. But the first single ‘Bring it on Home to Me’ is available now get it at:  https://vanmorrison.lnk.to/BringItOnHomeToMeSo
Please share will all of your Irish/Celtic music fan friends and enjoy the summer!!
The Warm Elegance of Fraser Fifield’s In Buenos Aires-Listen Today!

The Warm Elegance of Fraser Fifield’s In Buenos Aires-Listen Today!

Fraser-Fifield

Musician photo from his official website.

Jazz is not the popular culture. Jazz is in the same position in our culture as classical music. A very small minority of people really love it. John Corigliano

I think the same can be said about music that is not part of the mainstream like Celtic music. I have followed the musical career of Scottish musician Fraser Fifield and every album from him is an exquisite art meant to be savored!

There is that kind of alchemy that happens when you put two contradicting forces together: the clarity of the instruments against abstract melodies. If you want to know what I mean, try listening to ‘Lament” from  Honest Water. That tune still haunts me just like the day I first listened to it. In-Buenos-Aires-1.jpg

In Buenos Aires highlights the warm and playful side of his musical range. From the liner notes:

Beautiful album of original pieces, recorded in Buenos Aires, Argentina. A unique combination and sound!

Featuring the composer’s soulful low whistle and bagpipes with bandoneon, guitar and double bass from three of the most highly regarded exponents of New Tango, Walther E. Castro, Quique Sinesi and Mono Hurtado.

Recorded & Mixed by Hernan Caratozzolo.

The album cover features an original art by Victoria Fifield.

In Buenos Aires has eleven original tracks. My personal favourite is Cordoba Canntaireachd due to the interesting pipe sound. There are other tunes not to be missed like As A Child, Gaita Y Bandoneon, Improvisation 3 and the rest.

This album is a good one to chill to. Especially when you are in a quiet coffee shop, munching oatmeal cookies and enjoying your espresso. Your fixed gear bike awaits outside, ready to tango with the wind. Yes just like this album. So beautiful and true.

You can buy a copy of  In Buenos Aires from his own website.

 

Sharon Shannon – Sacred Earth album will draw new listeners

Sharon Shannon – Sacred Earth album will draw new listeners

 

SACRED EARTH is Irish Accordian master and music producer, Sharon Shannon’s, first new studio album in 3 years and her 10th studio album to date. Sharon Shannon is a musician who likes to surprise. While best known for her arrangements of traditional Irish tunes and Irish-influenced compositions, she’s always been eager to explore new styles.

1. Rusheen Bay 3:55

2. Sacred Earth 5:04

3. The Machine 4:08

4. Bas Pelles 2:52

5. Pull Out the Stops 3:12

6. He’ll Have to Go 4:08

7. Frenchie’s Reel 2:41

8. The Merry Widow 3:37

9. Let’s Go 4:00

10. Sea Shepherd 5:09

11. The Bull Fiddle 3:48

Every Sharon Shannon release is an occasion to celebrate. Her last release, In Galway In Galway (2015) with Alan Connor, received great reviews. Sacred Earth is a great addition to her discography. I think it is her eclectic style that is the formula to her popularity not just within the genre, to the point that she even got a cameo role in the Colin Farrell movie Ondine(2009) as herself!SharonFinal600

I think the most notable track in this album is The Machine due to its pop friendliness. This is a kind of song that will usher younger fans to her music. I admit I love dancing to it. I also play it when I am out with friends. It’s really a good song with positive driving beat on top of its social commentary nature.

There are eleven track in Sacred Earth. Some, you can expect for their traditional styles like Rusheen Bay, the title track Sacred Earth, Bas Pelles; Pull Out the Stops ..among others. Her accordion playing shines in all these tracks. She is also known for her fiddle technique and  I think it is the percussive nature of her playing is what draws me to her music.

If you are new to her, then I’d suggest you give her a listen as this will open many doors and add a spark to your music appreciation. So, even though Sacred Earth is an eclectic recording, Sacred Earth is still grounded to her Irish roots. Listen to He’ll Have To Go and you’ll know what I mean

P. S. She reminds me of actress Julia Roberts in this album photo but that’s beside the point. Enjoy the music! Buy Sacred Earth here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/sacred-earth/id1203288830