Updates from Moya Brennan, Kyle Carey, The Ballyfermot Rakes and Jennifer Licko!

Updates from Moya Brennan, Kyle Carey, The Ballyfermot Rakes and Jennifer Licko!


Moya Brennan

Album progress 

Moya Brennan has the spirit of rock n roll. Maybe not overtly as one would expect but it is there. As a longtime fan of Clannad, and have researched  the band’s history, I’d say it is only fitting that she would shine on her own. She might not be as hyper as Icelandic singer Bjork or outspoken as Tori Amos but the need for constant challenge and restlessness is there.She is also prolific and has an amazing body of work to boast!

Innovation is always part of her evolution as an artist. You can hear it in her melodies and arrangements. She does not shy away from collaborating with other big artists. Her associations with Schiller and Chicane brought forth good results. It exposed her voice to the younger audience who were not born yet when Clannad’s first UK top 40 hit “A Theme From Harry’s Game” shot into the mainstream.

Provisionally titled River of Songs, she picked her children to work with her in this album. I have heard a few snippets via Paul Jarvis’ Snapchat posts and I can say they are amazing! There is no shortage of experimentation there. And although 10 seconds cannot reveal everything, I sort of get the idea what it’s going to be. It is bold, big and contemporary. It will definitely appeal to the younger ears while still enchanting and captivating original Clannad fans.

Her son Paul Jarvis is doing interesting things with the guitar and some experimentation with other musical instruments(including technology). Aisling Jarvis(apart from making a name for herself as a singer-songwriter/ sound engineer) is manning the sonic landscape. She was also hired by Clannad for the same job with their recent album Nádúr.

Apart from her ability to play many musical instruments along with the harp, she is also a philanthropist and a mom. And we all know, moms are awesome!

The new Moya album will be released early next year and I am so excited!


Kyle Carey…


Kyle Carey combines Gaelic tunes and artfully crafted songwriting.

Have you been following the Kickstarter Project of singer-songwriter Kyle Carey? She has one week to go to fulfill her campaign in order to record a new album. Check it out The Art of Forgetting here:

I’d say she’s one of a kind. A true gift to the Celtic music community. Supporting her art means preserving the musical culture that we really love.


From Dublin…


The Ballyfermot Rakes

For those who love Irish folk in its true sense can now bask under the artistry of The Ballyfermot Rakes. A little bit about the guys:

The Ballyfermot Rakes are a folk duo who formed following many great sessions together in the vibrant Dublin traditional music scene.
Their intuitive ability to entertain pub crowds with folk songs and lively traditional dance music has already taken them around the country this summer, exciting audiences at festivals and venues.
They have quickly honed an exciting, dynamic set which draws influence from some of the great Irish folk groups such as Sweeney’s Men, The Dubliners and the Fureys.
As the name suggests, this duo of Darren Lynch (bouzouki, vocals) and Derek Copley (banjo) are natives of Ballyfermot in Dublin, and both take great pride and influence from the rich musical connection of the celebrated Furey and Keenan families, as well as from singers like Liam Weldon and Paddy Sweeney to name a few.Darren Lynch’s keen ear for a song, along with intricate bouzouki work, adds a rich, diverse layer to this folk outfit. The bouzouki is also the perfect compliment to the driving melodies of Derek Copley’s tenor banjo playing, which ranges from haunting airs to wild, foot-stomping jigs and reels.
Christmas in in the air…
The Lights of Christmas by Jennifer Licko featuring Patrick Mangan from Riverdance. 
I did a review of Sing by Jennifer Licko so I am sure you have an idea what she is capable of in musical terms. Glad she is releasing aholiday album called The Lights of Christmas. Here’s a snippet of what to expect from the new recording:

Album Information: 

Celtic Album of the Year winner (Celtic Music Radio), Jennifer Licko releases her first Christmas Album – The Lights of Christmas – via Sabas Records. The album features the Jennifer Licko band which is comprised of Riverdance Star, Patrick Mangan on fiddle and award winning Irish guitarist, Patsy O’Brien. The backbone of the band is Jennifer’s long time British producer, arranger and keyboardist; Bob Noble.  He has produced five of Jennifer’s seven albums including this release ‘The Lights of Christmas’ .  Vocal production took place at Remidi studios in Florida as well as Estudio Cajueira in Brazil with Grammy award winning sound engineer, Mauricio Cajueiro. 

“A true reminder of what the Christmas season means” says one music fan.  ’The Lights of Christmas’ is a follow up to The Jennifer Licko band’s extremely successful annual Celtic Christmas tour hailed by critics as one of the best Christmas traditions of the year. The album continues the theme with favorite Christmas carols, given the unique special celtic touch, and some traditional Irish Christmas songs that share traditions and stories of Celtic lands.

The Jennifer Licko band will be touring the Southeastern United States from Dec 8 – Dec 18th with their ‘Celtic Christmas’ concert in support of ‘The Lights of Christmas’ album. For more information and tour dates, please visit www.jenniferlicko.com 

Track List

1. Pat a Pan

2. The First Noel

3. Brightest and Best

4. Soilse na Nollag

5. The Holly and The Ivy

6. There is a Star

7. Children’s Winter

8. Silver Bells

9. Bread and Fishes

10. O Little Town Of Bethlehem/Hark The Herald Angels Sing 

11. Rebel Jesus

Awesome. Will be reviewing this as soon as I get a copy. Cheers!

Autumn Leaves Are Falling

Autumn Leaves Are Falling

I took the title of this blog from a Clannad song. It is a track taken off their late 90s album, Landmarks. It also happens to me one of their strongest albums in my opinion. 

Autumn is the time of the year when everything slows down. Everything becomes quite. People become more contemplative. And what better way to celebrate the month of October than to listen to new and upcoming albums from your favorite Celtic bands and solo artists!

Now for the list:

Kyle Carey id launching a kickstarter campaign ‘The Art of Forgetting’ – which will be released in the fall of 2017. The album will be produced by Dirk Powell and will feature some of the finest in Celtic and American music. 

This will be her third album following the critically acclaimed North Star. Her vocal style is unique. And she can sing in many languages. I am sure this upcoming album will be as strong as her previous ones.



New album by Clanu out!


From Belfast!

For fans of Bluegrass, Traditional Irish, folk and instrumental music, Clanu will be a welcomed released. We have seen and heard releases that are loud and fast and it is time to quiet down a bit with Long Way Round. The album art is not the only thing that’s beautiful in this album. Hint: use your ears 😉

Members are Dee McIlroy, Niall McIlroy, Damian McIlroy, Paul Conlon and Fiona McIlroy. Grab this album now while it is fresh from the recording studio!


Famous Lead Vocalist of Goth/New Wave band The Bolshoi is now a Celtic Rocker with Rathkeltair

I am talking about Trevor Tanner. This came as a surprise because I was going to write a story about his former band for this Goth magazine that I also write for but further research pointed me to his new music. This is exciting because it shows that when a door closes, another door opens and that goes to any form of art. Music is fluid and it doesn’t matter what style you play, it is still music. Check out more videos of Rathkeltair via YouTube.




Padraig Duggan-The Spirit of His Music Will Always Live in our Hearts.

Padraig Duggan-The Spirit of His Music Will Always Live in our Hearts.


August 9. Moya Brennan posted a photo of Padraig Duggan with this caption: My dear uncle and fellow Clannad member, Padraig Duggan, passed away peacefully this morning. Rest in Peace Padraig and thanks for all your music over the years


Today, we reflect and remember Padraig Duggan of Clannad.He passed away this week due to a recurring illness. It was  a shocked because he was only 67 and this is so unexpected. For lovers of Irish music, The Duggans are a duo that I am sure you are familiar with. I am currently listening to their music via YouTube and these are songs from their 2005 album Rubicon.


Padraig Duggan.

You can feel the passion of the brothers as they are joined by special guests: Moya Brennan on vocals, Bridin Brennan, Deirdre Brennan, Andrew Roberts, and Ciaran Byrne on backing vocals, Maire Breathnach on viola, David James on cello, Peter Jack on bass, Ingolf Kurkowski on drums, Ian Parker on piano and keyboards, and Ian Melrose in guitars, whistle, dobro and backing vocals.

According to Noel and Padraig Duggan:

The Rubicon is the point of no return. It is the place at which someone must continue on their present course of action. For us, the Rubicon is very significant. Musically, we felt that this album was the only direction that we could take at this time. The night was approaching and we could hear the wind rise. We now feel that we have crossed the Rubicon. Clannad-Banba-Frontal

Duggan played guitar, mandola, mandolin and provided vocals for Clannad. I think his most memorable contribution was with Banba. It’s the album that introduced me to the Clannad discography and I just fell in love with their sound. His mandolin playing was highlighted especially in tracks like The Other Side and Sunset Dreams.

Apart from the Duggans, Padraig was also a member of Norland Wind with his nephew Ciaran Brennan.

His contribution to music will never be forgotten and peers mourn for his passing.

Moya Brennan Has A New Single Plus My St Patrick’s Day Podcast.

Moya Brennan Has A New Single Plus My St Patrick’s Day Podcast.

Great news about Moya Brennan! The first lady of Celtic Music(and the voice of Ireland) has just uploaded a new single via iTunes. It is called Erin Gra Mo Chroi (Ireland the Love of My Heart). I love it when she gives emphasis on the Irish Gaelic language in her songs.

Have you heard it already? Let me tell you what I think. Her voice sounds pristine in this song. Like the way she sounded in the early Clannad albums (circa the 70s). It is great to hear such a voice unadorned by technological armour which is so prevalent not just in pop music but also among her musical culture. That is how you sing with confidence! She is joined by the amazing harpist Cormac De Barra.Thank you Moya (and Cormac)for continuing to shower us with your artistic gifts! You can download Erin Gra Mo Chroi  via iTunes: id1092658199

Here’s my latest podcast for those who miss the kind of music I love to listen to:

A fantastic essay from Fraser Fifield and more updates.

A fantastic essay from Fraser Fifield and more updates.

Here is an interesting update that musician Fraser Fifield posted on his Facebook page. I thought that it would be great to share this post for everyone (with his permission of course) to read. And yes he gave his approval:

“A jig with no melody per se, perhaps.a wee pre referendum musing, feeling pensive at the time I think, but optimistic, stupidly. audio a bit a low side, but you can just turn it up, a fair bit. hope you like. it’s optimistic with a hint of certainty of getting done in and overtones of despair. ”

http:www.fraserfifield.com for more

My newsletter, to show unsubscribers just what they’re missing out on…

Welcome. Enough has happened in the life of this freelance musician, I feel, to warrant sharing an update for any vaguely interested, muse upon an existence which is pretty varied if not opulent, recount some highs and lows of the past year and so draw a line in the sand.

Then step over it and into the future. 2015 looks interesting, but first a non-chronological look at some of what was has been so far, 2014.

(Why? Because I like my work to remain current and vaguely in people’s consciousness at times, it’s healthy given my job, plus there’s good music involved which I’m genuinely happy to advertise).10387424_790070994388029_5241127912082493114_n

I’m happy to have contributed to a variety of nice recordings. Still unreleased, but soon to be, are 2 lovely records by Inge Thomson ‘Da Fishing Hands’ and Sophie Ramsay’s 2nd solo album, respectively. Already filtering through to discerning ears are records by Patsy Reid ‘The Brightest Path’ and Jim Sutherland aka Struileag aka Children of Smoke and one by me and Graeme Stephen lest I forget – Esotero, released this time last year, and still flying off the shelves. And there’s an unmixed record by David Milligan, Graeme Stephen and I, resting on a hard disk for some months now, quite happy, look forward to share that in due course.

A pleasure to play alongside and learn from (and travel, rehearse, eat, drink etc) Angus Lyon/Duncan Lyall Band, Gavin Marwick’s Band, Corrina Hewat’s Band, Graeme Stephen, Dave Milligan, Mr McFalls Chamber, Red Note Ensemble, Allan MacDonald’s ‘Bruce 700′, Big Big Sing, Jerry Donahue and crew, and all others..Thank you all, very much.

And the Eurovision song, for Montenegro, glorious, I didn’t see that one coming. Thanks Slobodan. A lovely song too… No, no I didn’t appear in the final, just the singer and a rollerskater did. I didn’t even leave my own flat…been doing a few bits of remote recording this year – just last week on a cover of You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC for a musician in USA. And also last week, in another studio right enough, a kind of sultry Marilyn Monroe version of the Proclaimers’ 500 Miles kind of gobsmacked me momentarily, but I regained composure and pitched in with everything I could blow or squeeze no problemo. They won’t mind me mentioning, it’s not meant for folks like you.

My week in Gavoi, Sardinia, in June, courtesy of the British Council, collaborating and making friends with fellow European musicians, was a small sunny highlight and felt perhaps like something of a holiday whilst being allowed to pursue an interest in making experimental music, without guilt. I’m not an experienced holiday-maker, some would argue a professional one, but they don’t know.

Sad news came regarding the untimely passing of Georgi Petrov this year. He’s missed. A virtuoso player of the Gadulka, he kindly played along with Nedyalko on my 2008 record Traces of Thrace. His warmth of character, stories, good company and the music which resulted was loved by all who knew him.

The musical year started with a chance to play on a couple of songs with Capercaillie on their 30th anniversary gig in the Glasgow Concert Hall. Having gone through teenage years listening to them a part of me felt a tiny bit fraudulent being on stage.. For the 15 mins on the night and only a day or two of anticipation beforehand in typical, loveable, Shaw style, this was really exciting. Later in the year if I hadn’t missed his call I could have got to play my whistle with Kylie Minogue.

The musical year actually started bang on the 1st with Graeme and I playing our part in Lau-Land Edinburgh, which was perfect, my guitarist colleague almost managed to sleep in, but didn’t.

What else…became increasingly politically charged re the Scottish referendum for a while, insulted quite a few people with contrasting views probably, got crushed, returned to normal.

The Martyn Bennett Prize for composition happened for the 2nd year in Edinburgh. This time I had the job of trying to play the finalist’s pieces along with 4 other musicians – fun and challenging. The standard was great but I would urge more composers to have a go – it’s restricted to Scottish based composers (I think) but that’s pretty much the only restriction. It’s got a 1st and 2nd prize of 2 and 1k respectively. It’s a kind of high-brow X factor, not to be taken overly seriously as competitions shouldn’t, but an event that can help motivate new ways to integrate elements of our traditional music in composed music. Fingers crossed it’ll run next year.

Now, looking over that line and beyond the approaching festival of consumerism, is Celtic Connections Festival 2015 and my pal Greg Lawson’s work to arrange Martyn Bennett’s great last album, Grit, for a large bespoke acoustic ensemble. As you do. To be performed in the festival’s opening concert, January 15th. All being well it will (must surely) be quite epic I imagine.

Inge Thomson’s Da Fishing Hands – Celtic Connections 23rd January, Glasgow. Inge and I are also beginning to play as a duo which I’m chuffed about. More info about this soon. But the Celtic Connections gig is a 5 piece and will surely be lovely. The 1st gig of this collection of music/song, on the tiny island of Fair Isle, May 2014, was one of my favourites. Inge and I also play Dec 12th in Kilbarchan, nr Glasgow.

A great opportunity has come along for me to join the tabla maestro Zakir Hussein’s ‘Pulses of the World’ project which will tour in Dubai and India at the beginning of February and in the USA in March. With Rakesh Chaurasia and Jean-Michel Viellon on flutes… shelves of my CD collection just came to life. Not that often I can reel off a tour list like this, so I’ll take this opportunity to:

13th March – Pabst Theater, Milwaulkee
14th March – Purdue University, Fort Wayne IN
15th March – Cullen Theater, Houston TX
17th March – Lisner Auditorium, Washington DC
20th March – Moore Theatre, Seattle
21st March – Chan Centre, Vancouver BC
22nd March – Boulder Centre, Boulder CO
27th March – Painted Bride Arts Centre, Philadelphia
28th March – Carnegie Hall, New York
29th March – Somerville Theater, Boston MA
31st March – Rio Theater, Santa Cruz CA
2nd April – Jazz Centre, San Francisco, CA
3rd April – Jazz Centre, San Francisco, CA

Audiences in the Scottish Highlands (mostly) will get a chance to hear my collaboration with Red Note Ensemble and Kuljit Bhamra (tabla) at the beginning of March. It was nice to meet and try some material out at the recent Sound Festival in Aberdeenshire. The Highland dates will be posted in due course.

I’ll leave it there, just before I begin to tell of a big bit of news, good news, which I had to read a few times when it arrived the other day. But that perhaps would turn this simple newsletter into something else, a short story at the least so, back soon on that.

Nice to write to you. Nothing to sell you directly but perhaps some CDs for Christmas presents, always an option, always a tenner.

Any correspondence always welcome.

All the best,




ATHY “The Electric Harper”

Athy from Latin America.He’s got style, he’s got the funk. He plays the harp like no other. Mix the Spanish soul with Irish tradition and you get Athy Electric harper. He is passionate in propagating the harp as popular instrument and not confined inside the doors of classical standards. I made an interview with him before and he is down to earth and filled with a great sense of humour. It is good to see how his fans are multiplying year after year. He has toured around the world ad have performed with the greats in the world of traditional and contemporary music.He is embraced by fans of Jazz, World, Classical and Folk. Irish musicians hold him in high regard and well, hearing his recordings myself made me a fan!


Moya Brennan and Cormac De Barra – Sailing

For those who missed this track the day it came out, here it is. So lovely! Enjoy your weeks ahead friends.


Clannad’s Daughter Aisling Jarvis in the United States

Clannad’s Daughter Aisling Jarvis in the United States


Feisty Irish singer/songwriter Aisling Jarvis is conquering the United States with her scheduled tours. She is performing either as a solo act or supporting her mom Moya Brennan. It’s only last year when she released her solo EP called Romeo and Juliet and now she is displaying that unbridled confidence playing live, and showcasing her strong voice.
Her music is very contemporary combining elements of pop, new folk and traditional Irish. You would think that this young artist would veer too far away from her Irish roots based on her punk influenced get-up and stage attitude. But she has proven that she can deliver her own fresh sound while still representing her Donegal roots.
As a sound Engineer, Aisling Jarvis introduced her own mixes adding a strong and upfront sound to Clannad’s new album Nadura. I think with her talents and amazing persona, she is going to travel far and wide, and set hearts on fire.


The Baxteria #10 Podcast

The Baxteria #10 Podcast

My post Halloween special featuring The Hothouse Flowers on autodj and special guest Kyle Carey joins us on an interview in the Celtic music hour. More goodies on the indie variety show.

Tracks played:

Hothouse Flowers-I’m Sorry
Hothouse Flowers-Your Love Goes On
Hothouse Flowers-One Tongue
Hothouse Flowers-Forever More
Hothouse Flowers-Born
Hothouse Flowers-The Older We Get
Hothouse Flowers-Thing of Beauty
Hothouse Flowers-Alright
Hothouse Flowers-Gypsy Fair
Hothouse Flowers-Learning to Walk
Hothouse Flowers-Out of Nowhere
Hothouse Flowers-Saved
Hothouse Flowers-Si Do Mhamo i
Altan-Cuach mo Lon Dubh Buí
Cara Dillon-Black is the Colour
Kyle Carey-One Morning in May
Kyle Carey-Interview with
Samuel Smith-Song for Leon
Darren Lynch-Spancil Hill(live)
Steven Hawson-Banjo tribute to Jimmy Shand
Mick McAuley-The House Carpenter
Tri Yann & Alan Stivell-Tri Martolod
The Sisters of Mercy-Walk Away
Bauhaus-Bela Lugosi’s Dead
Active Child-I’m in your Church at Night
Heyward Howkins-Praline Country
Ghost Hotel-All Day Ocean
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros-Better Days Live
Grizfolk-The Struggle
Pedro Martins & Layne Greene-Into the Mystic (Van Morrison) Cover
Velvet Underground-Who Loves The Sun
Alex Pardini-No One Is Like Everyone Else
The Sisters of Mercy-Lucretia My Reflection
Peter Chains-Carrion Crows
Lisa Gerrard-All along the watchtower

As heard on www.radiohappy.eu

Affinity: Moya Brennan and Cormac De Barra.

Affinity: Moya Brennan and Cormac De Barra.

Affinity cover highres

Track list for Affinity: 1. Intro (Suas Síos) 2. Sailing 3. The Lass of Aughrim 4. Worlds Collide 5. I Feel You Breathe 6. Crúiscín Lán 7. Captain O’Kane 8. Seoithín Seó 9. Stóirín Rua 10. When the Morning Breaks 11. Ardaigh Cuan 12. Suas Síos

This year marks the release of Affinity which is a product of musical collaboration between Clannad’s Moya Brennan and Corma De Barra. This project has been anticipated due to the build up of interest mostly brought about by their live shows. Listening to Affinity( 12 tracks plus on radio edit of the single Sailing), one can’t help but notice the musical chemistry between these two artists. It isn’t surprising considering the fact that they have worked together for years.

The album’s official single is Sailing. It’s a song originally done by Christopher Cross in the early 80s and now given a new life. With the harp replacing the piano as the song’s official and consistent hook, the two have preserved the rhythmic element of the original song but added an original sound and atmosphere  to it.

Sailing showcases Moya’s contralto range that was seldom highlighted during her years with Clannad(with the exception of Banba). I often marveled at the evolution of her voice. If you picked up Clannad’s 70s recordings you will notice the difference. In this decade, she often sang in the soprano range. Then came the 80s and the voice evolved with more depth and expression. It’s also during this time that she became known for her haunting style of singing: part airy and part traditional-in which she has been known to possess up to the  present.

The Lass of  Aughrim is a moving remake. If you haven’t seen movie version of The Dead where this song was performed then you better see it. I swear it’ll give you goosebumps as the implication of the song weighs heavily on your heart:

O don’t you remember
That night on yon lean hill
When we both met together
Which I am sorry now to tell

Moya has given this song new life while adding her sound signature. Worlds Collide is notable for its dynamic percussion arrangement. Actually the whole album is a showcase of percussive beauty. They are all over (I feel You Breath, Cruiscin Lan, Captain O’Kane, Storiin Rua, When the Morning Breaks and Suas Sios)    giving the songs their driving power yet toned down for a less intrusive effect.

Cormac DeBarra shines in Seothin Seo. His sean nos style of singing feels at home to his unique way of playing the harp. He also made amazing backing vocals to Worlds Collide.The merging of acoustic and electronic instruments is what fans of Clannad will love about this album. Focusing on the beauty of voices and harps, Affinity has achieved what few albums have achieved in this decade: A haunting, captivating and inspiring listening experience.

Affinty marks the continuation of the musical partnership which also includes Voices & Harps workshop in Donegal. This is their second album together. You can hear the music samples via : http://www.moyabrennan.com/ and http://www.voicesandharps.com/


Moya Brennan and Cormac De Barra both come from large musical families in Ireland and their mutual admiration for each other naturally developed into a stimulating musical relationship.

Their new album, Voices & Harps, is the culmination of their friendship and creative synergy over the past decade. They combine the simplicity, depth and beauty of the extraordinary skills which make them unique in their own field.
The album and workshop unveils a new chapter in their partnership.

Grammy award winner, Moya Brennan is the singer of Clannad as well as having a successful solo career. She has sung on most of the world’s great stages and has collaborated with many notable artists including The Chieftains, Paul Brady and Bono. She is also part of the female traditional group, T with the Maggies.

Cormac De Barra is renowned internationally as a versatile harp virtuoso. He continually pushes the boundaries of the Irish harp through his work with a wide array of artists, including Hazel O’Connor, Julie Feeney and Clannad. Cormac also tours and records with his brothers Fionán and Éamonn in the family group, Barcó. Besides his busy performing schedule he regularly gives workshops and masterclasses around the world.

Press release:


Release their brand new album ‘Affinity’ on June 7th 2013


NEW YORK:  Grammy award winning musician, Moya Brennan, and internationally renowned harpist, Cormac De Barra, are set to release their brand new album titled ‘Affinity’ this June.  The recording is the result of a merging of two of Ireland’s most acclaimed musical minds; both artists hail from highly respected Irish musical families and have successful careers in their own right.

Ms. Brennan has been admired around the world as the ‘Voice of Clannad’; she is the lead singer of that group since 1975, releasing 18 albums with them, including two with her world famous sister Enya. Simultaneously Moya has managed to parallel an incredible solo career, with 7 albums to her name. Overall her career to date includes over 20 albums, numerous film scores and performances with many great artists such as The Chieftains, Robert Plant, Shane MacGowan and Bono.

Cormac De Barra is renowned internationally as a versatile harp virtuoso. He has continuously pushed the boundaries of the Irish harp through his work and collaborations with an extensive range of artists including Hazel O’Connor, Julie Feeney and Clannad. He writes and records regularly with his family group Barcó and hosts master classes world-wide.

Affinity’ features Moya and Cormac trading talents on harps, vocals, keyboards and bodhrán backed by a host of incredibly talented musicians.  The record has been independently produced by the duo and mixed by John Reynolds (Sinead O’Connor, David Byrne, Peter Gabriel) and Tim Oliver (Robert Plant, New Order, Indigo Girls).

Christopher Cross’ mega hit, ‘Sailing’, is the lead single on the much-anticipated 12 track album.  Moya says about the song, “Sailing is part of the soundtrack of my youth. It was so exciting to interpret the song with our harps and vocal layers. We didn’t want to change it but I hope we bring freshness to a timeless classic.”  There are original tunes on the album including a number songs sung in Gaelic, the native Irish language.

Over the years Moya and Cormac’s reverence for one another has grown strong and they have forged a powerful musical relationship. The past decade has seen the musicians unite their creativity on several projects.  “I think that the fact that Cormac and I  understand Irish traditional music so well has given us a shared confidence to extend ourselves, push the boundaries and venture beyond our comfort zone”,  says Moya.  Along with their first collaborative album, ‘Voices and Harps’ in 2011, Moya and Cormac have joined forces to host an annual ‘Voices and Harps’ workshop in Ireland, which is geared towards those with a keen interest in combining singing with harp playing and is now in its third year.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Anita Daly, Daly Communications, anitadaly@yahoo.com / 212 772 0852

For online sales go to: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/affinity/id646136677 and for physcial cd :
 – http://www.amazon.com/Affinity-Moya-Brennan/dp/B00CKAHY48

www.voicesandharps.com,  www.moyabrennan.com, www.cormacdebarra.com

Enter the Haggis-The Modest Revolution

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.