Post St Patrick’s Day Hangover

Post St Patrick’s Day Hangover

I mean tunes not drink haha!

St Patrick’s has taught us that music is alive and well!

I admit it’s the first time I came across this YouTube vlogger by the name of Jack. Now I have to warn you. There are lots of expletives here. If you are like me who don’t care jumping from childlike innocence to morbidity in a split second then this is for you! Why? Because St. Paddy’s day covers everything under the sun!

Irish Time With Jack ► https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyZw-…

►Twitter : https://twitter.com/Jack_Septic_Eye
►Instagram: http://instagram.com/jacksepticeye
►Facebook : https://facebook.com/officialjacksept…
►Merchandise: http://jacksepticeye.fanfiber.com/

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Celtic Thunder Billboard St Patrick’s Day

I love these guys. They continue to make good music in the midst these dark times. Wonderful performance of Galway Girl and many more!

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So fitting for the times: And the Wasters are making music for the millennials!

This post originally appeared in http://www.spheremusic.me. I thought of sharing in here because I want more people to take notice.

Music is a substitute for caffeine. If you wake up in the morning and the music is right then the day is auspicious! I am always looking forward to releases from this group (Now called And the Wasters) as their subsequent albums have proven to be really good! Notice the change in the line-up(and name). Here’s a blurb from their site:Screen Shot 2017-03-21 at 1.27.06 PM

2016 saw the band change name and take on a new lineup to play main stages at UK festivals such as Bearded Theory and Boomtown Fair, complete an extensive tour of Europe and bring global influences into their sound with their instrumental diversity of accordion, trumpet and violin.

They are the most hard-working group I’ve known and they get better every year in both their studio and live recordings. It is no brainer that everyone in the group has his or her own musical influence and the diversity makes And the Wasters appealing to all music lovers. There is also nuance and complexity I’ve noticed in their music as they strive for artistic growth:

Lyrically, the EP reflects on a sense of sadness, anxiety and uncertainty faced in the modern world, while also promoting an empowering message of solidarity, DIY culture and collective action in their rowdy Punk sound and spirit.

I think this is shown in their song Small Victories. I get that mournful tune on top of the ska-powered rhythm. It is fitting for the times. This contradicting forces are present in all songs. Notably in Reduce, Reuse, Rebel. The Wasters are showing us that the punk spirit is still alive. Despite the excesses and the entitlement that litter this generation, there are still those going against the flow. The production quality is noted here:

Recorded in 2016 across at Music Ape studios & Worse than Bad studio. Mixed and mastered by Matt Martin at Made of Ale (Pumpkin Records). Overdubs on ‘Intro Dub’ by Ian Upsettah.

So the album just dropped. Check out their awesome video below:

Give this band your two thumbs up and buy their albums! It’s a pay-as-you-fee download. Free if ya like 😉 Show your support by giving the world conscience through music!

Peregreni by Eve Williams:Preview and Thoughts

Peregreni by Eve Williams:Preview and Thoughts

Northern Irish singer-songwriter Eve Williams has carved a musical path that is not for the faint of hearts. It is not easy to just have a beautiful voice and songwriting skills these days. You gotta have grit. And grit is the very thing that pushed the release of her new album Peregreni. The new album has nine songs-a labor of love and took a lot of time to make. Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 11.05.16 AM

Although Williams did not encounter any writer’s block after the release of Twenty Miles From Home, health issues along with other personal challenges almost drained her creative energy. Yet those challenges did not deter her from finishing these nine songs. You can hear the inner strength in each of them. Even if her lyrics talk of something else, her voice is unmistakably saying, I’ve been through a lot. This is my story.

With her supple Mezzo-soprano, Eve Williams can glide between power ballads and Celtic folk with remarkable ease. Peregreni is a delightful album that showcases her songwriting genius and impeccable power of interpretation.

The album will be released on June 10, 2016. I am so glad to get a preview and I think with Peregreni, Williams has achieved another musical height that is more confident than her previous efforts. The album sees her growth both as a poet and arranger. This is also a work of endless chores in front of the computer (if she is not with her piano)mastering Excel and also Accounting.

Yes, all musicians should be taught accounting and how to use Excel!!! She replied in one of our online conversations about the plight of indie artists.

I get the feeling that Illumination is going to be a single off this album because it has this catchiness that is pure pop, even though the song is grounded on acoustic folk and gospel. Her voice sounds at home with a big bands(complete with strings). But there are also moments when her simple arrangements shine through like the haunting Ailsa Craig. Big voices are a trend these days and I think Eve Williams has this lighthouse effect that will continue to attract travellers from all walks of life.

Peregreni will soon be available here: http://evewilliamsmusic.com/store/cdbaby_store/

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Wow it’s really 2016. More exciting things happening in music. There many bands lining up to be featured, and so many tunes to be savoured. Yes you will hear then soon. I just keep them in my ‘drafts’ section and I am not revealing yet as I want to keep the suspense 😉

So for starters let me wish everyone a great new year and the best in 2016. Here are the picks of the day :

 

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

 

 

Moxie: Taking the Heat for Being an Innovative Trad Band?

Moxie: Taking the Heat for Being an Innovative Trad Band?

As a blogger, I learned to be careful what I write online. Well, it doesn’t matter what I write about myself especially if I do it in a self-deprecating manner. It is part of my humor. But writing about bands is different. Your criticisms appear in search engines. You could be tagged with it forever. And it is quite unfair to do that to a band that is still trying to build their roots or fanbase. Of you do that to stalwarts, most likely they have fans who can defend them. Or they don’t care because nothing you will say will affect their careers. But if you do that to new bands who barely released five albums then there are things that you need to consider.

Are you writing that to help them improve? Most likely they don’t need your suggestion. Because they are professional musicians and they have a clear vision of what they want to happen with their music. They are just starting to tap into that musical segment that appreciate the kind of music they do-and not what you would like them to do.

It’s a big musical world. There are styles that you like and there are those that you don’t. If you don’t like the music then you move along. There is no need to write scathing reviews. There is no need to kill another creative spirit just because you you think you know what is right for everyone. I read a post from Irish band Moxie a couple of days ago. And this is what it says:

We would like to say something about this talk of the tradition being broken as we have been a heavily mentioned part of the topic. We are playing music that we create ourselves. The root of our music came from playing both ‘Traditional’ and ‘Modern’ Irish Music while bringing in influences of Jazz, Hip Hop, funk, bluegrass, Classical and other world music. There are a lot of people saying we are bastardising ‘Traditional Music’ but that is not true. The pure traditional music is safe in the hands of many bands, solo performers and hard working people behind the scenes who dedicate their careers to the Tradition and play the music they WANT. What we are doing is creating a new wave of fusion music which we have labeled MOXAGE. We are proud to say that we are all rooted deep in traditional Irish music and that we will love it forever. With Moxie we play something that is NOT ‘Traditional’, however it is ‘Irish’. Regardless of the fact that we are pushing boundaries, working hard to enhance our career and playing the music we WANT to play, we are also providing audiences all over the world a taste of something new and fresh. Regardless of the people who dislike our music we are proud to represent a new form of ‘Irish Music’. We live in a multi-cultural society. With the growth of technology and the melting pots of mixed cultures in cities all over the world, music is bound to evolve and we believe in evolution!
If everything stays the same then we will live everyday just like the last. We are changing the way that WE play Irish Music, not the way traditional music is played. At the end of the day Music is Music and people enjoy what we are doing, young and old. That is why we will continue to do so. 

Thank you everyone for the support,

MOXIE

I think what Moxie is doing is great. It is refreshing. It is adventurous. I love how they introduce something new to traditional-inspired music. They are not a traditional band. They are musicians making beautiful music. There is always a place for any type of music. I love traditional music as it is played which is in a traditional way. But if artists start exploring other avenues then let them be. It is time to move on. But love music. And never create discord because of it. We should support one another because hey, independent music is a small community.

I love what Fiach Moriarty posted in defense of them:

Fair play lads. You can’t be a heavyweight without taking a few slugs to the chin. Seolaigí ar aghaidh!!


If everything stays the same then we will live everyday just like the last. We are changing the way that WE play Irish Music, not the way traditional music is played. At the end of the day Music is Music and people enjoy what we are doing, young and old. That is why we will continue to do so.

Thank you everyone for the support,

MOXIE

Karl Nesbitt is working on a new album The Constant!

Karl Nesbitt is working on a new album The Constant!


Karl Nesbitt, The multi instrumentalist Irish musician is working on a new album. The album is titled The Constant . Details are coming soon. He has been busy with many musical projects. These are recitals and Master classes.

He has already released two recordings Vista Point and the Good News EP. You can get updates about his latest releases and projects by visiting his official website

www.karlnesbitt.com

 

Videos:

Listening to Ramblin’ with the Rats – Stolen Songs of Struggle by The Rathmines

Listening to Ramblin’ with the Rats – Stolen Songs of Struggle by The Rathmines

It’s been a while since I checked my Celtic Music Fan Facebook inbox. I got a neat message from these German artists. I am enjoying their new album. They have a general appeal as they combine folk, rock, reggae and traditional Irish. A really fun album you should listen when you are depressed.I am attaching the note below:

I hope this finds you well! We are The Rathmines, 4 guys from Berlin, Germany addicted to folk (mostly Irish plus own compositions). We make folk which locates somewhere between The Clancy Brothers and The Pogues but mostly with a critical or political attitude. Last year we released our first album “Ramblin’ with the Rats – Stolen Songs of Struggle” and after we celebrated it with numerous gigs in and outside of Berlin I think it is now about time to widen our audience. Whether getting featured, reviewed or put on a playlist we think it is worth to lend us an ear and see what we’ve done with 16 songs (including 4 own songs) in the living room of our singer. I admit – it is not the same without a chanting and beer drinking crowd in the background. Enough text now – if you like to take a listen, you find our album playable on bandcamp (www.therathmines.bandcamp.com). If you like it I am happy to send one or the other copy of our CD over.

In the social media world you find us here:

Website: www.therathmines.de

Twitter: https://twitter.com/therathmines

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjqdfRC8bbe5XAxpemejP7Q

Facebook: http://www.facebook.de/therathmines

Bandcamp: therathmines.bandcamp.com

Songkick: https://www.songkick.com/artists/8249003-rathmines

Reverbnation: http://www.Reverbnation.com/therathmines

So far from my end and a happy week!

René

‘When Music Speaks’ by Ranagri as Part of National Charity, Music in Hospitals

‘When Music Speaks’ by Ranagri as Part of National Charity, Music in Hospitals

https://www.facebook.com/RanagriMusic?fref=photo

I am one of the staunch supporters of the belief that music heals the soul. I think as we help people recover physically, it is also important to look after their emotional and mental recovery. I am delighted to know that one of the bands I covered in the past is part of this charity project. The music of Ranagri is a fusion of traditional Celtic, World, Jazz and Classical music. The energy is irresistible which fills you with joy and makes you want to dance. Here’s the statement from the group about ‘When Music Speaks.’

We are very proud to be associated with this project for the great national charity Music in Hospitals (est 1948). ‘When Music Speaks’ will be released on May 10th for Mental Health Foundation awareness week. 100% of the proceeds from this song will go to MIH enabling fantastic free concerts in a variety of health care establishments. Please support them by pre ordering ‘When Music Speaks’ here https://itunes.apple.com/…/when-music-speaks-si…/id977780090

Get your copies of The Widening Gyre by Altan now!

Get your copies of The Widening Gyre by Altan now!

The title The Widening Gyre appeals to us and depicts the spiral of life, widening and embracing the new. It has an innate energy. We think that idea is reflected in the album’s music,” says Mairéad.

Every Altan release is defined by craft and experience. The Widening Gyre is no exception. It just goes to prove that Altan continues to feel the excitement and growth of their music after being together for so many years. Batch mates include Clannad and the Domhnaill siblings (and you see them together in concerts and tours occasionally). Maggie’s Pancakes is the first single off The Widening Gyre which was presented on the RTE One sessions. The music is irresistible which is something that Altan have given us through the years. I have read so many positive reviews and my newsfeed is flowering with links posted by fans of the band.altan-widening-gyre-600

At the centre of this artistic band is the fiddler extraordinaire Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh. I follow her on social media not solely for her talent but also for her advocacy. She is a staunch supporter of causes that matter in Ireland and the world. She is really outspoken with her beliefs. Traditional Irish musicians have been pigeonholed as people who are just mainly concerned with the stye of music that they’re playing – which is reasonable given the kind of discipline that goes to the mastery of the instruments. But this revelation proves that the traditional music community is constantly evolving comprising of people who are forward thinkers and visionaries. It is a great genre with great people around it.

So if you have not yet gotten your copy of The Widening Gyre by Altan, you better get one! The music will embrace you and keep you happy through troubled times.

Father Ray Kelly Has A Moving Singing Style.

Father Ray Kelly Has A Moving Singing Style.

The first time I heared father Ray Kelly, I thought he’s the preaching Elvis Costello. But this Irish priest is more comfortable with the like saving the flock than with fame. I think his rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah fresh and spot -on.

He has the pipes of a folk and rock singer. It is worth noting that his debut album is eclectic. You get a Celtic touch with old folk and rock plus something in-betwween for everyone. People call his voice ‘soulful’ but his spiritual influence prevents him from going ‘mainstream’ pop. I think it is a solid combination that will please a lot of listeners. And it is seldom you get something like this in saturated mainstream. He is not like any of the people you hear out there. And I think it is time..

Father Kelly

Father Kelly

Check out the press release below:

FATHER RAY KELLY brings pure, soulful voice to US just in time for Easter 

Father Ray Kelly, the Irish priest who shot to fame on YouTube for his rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, makes his major label US debut with the album ‘Where I Belong’, out on Manhattan Records March 17, 2015.

Over 39 million people around the world have fallen in love with Father Ray Kelly since the video of his performance of “Hallelujah” at a wedding first appeared on YouTube in April 2014. After the bride and groom were moved to tears by Father Ray’s adaptation of the song, a wedding guest uploaded the video, which drew more than a million views within a few days. The viral video attracted worldwide attention and led to late night performances on Ireland’s The Late Late Show, as well as radio, documentary and wedding requests from as far as Australia, Brazil, Japan, Chile, Lithuania and Croatia.

Each of the 10 songs on ‘Where I Belong’ showcase Father Ray’s powerful range and clear, “soulful” (Huffington Post) voice. Blurring the line between secular and spiritual, Father Ray’s lofty, ethereal timbre soars over Celtic-infused arrangements featuring acoustic guitar, piano, fiddle and Irish flute on classic ballads (REM’s “Everybody Hurts”, Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven”), Irish folk songs (“O Danny Boy”, “Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears”) and hymns (“Amazing Grace”, “How Marvelous”), as well as two original songs, “Together Forever” and the dramatic title track “Where I Belong”.

Recorded at St. Brigid’s Catholic Church and parochial house, where Father Ray presides in the small manufacturing town of Oldcastle, the album features a 200-voice choir comprised of local residents, reflecting the tight-knit community Father Ray has brought together through his music since his appointment as parish priest in 2006. “We have our own Diocesan choir in our church, of 100 people,” says Father Ray, “and we brought in some other choirs as well. [When recording “Amazing Grace” for the album,] I was absolutely mesmerized by the quality of the sound when all 200 voices come together to join the chorus.”

www.facebook.com/fatherraykelly
www.twitter.com/fatherraykelly
www.instagram.com/frraykelly

Interview with Larry Kirwan about his live show at the Cutting Room NYC, St Paddy’s Day Eve.

Interview with Larry Kirwan about his live show at the Cutting Room NYC, St Paddy’s Day Eve.

Larry Kirwan will be performing live at the Cutting Room NYC St Paddy’s Day Eve. It will be the first since the announcement of doing separate musical projects from Black 47. See the details below:

1. You will be doing  first solo St Paddy’s Day show in NYC! Are you excited?

Sure! Playing on St. Patrick’s Day in NYC is like jumping atop a wild stallion.  You try to guide

it but you usually end up just hanging on and going with the excitement and glow.  I did a solo

show at the Boulton Center in Bay Shore on Saturday and it went really well, so I’m wound up and ready for St. Patrick’s Night.  When I did solo shows during the Black 47 era I usually contrasted the performances – take the solo show down and make it more introspective.  But now I just take the Black 47 fire onstage with me and attack the electric/acoustic Takemine just as I did the Stratocaster for 25 years.

2. Can you share with us your set list? 

I won’t even decide on that until just before going onstage, and even then I’ll change that set list around while onstage.  I have a lot of Black 47 songs to choose from and will re-imagine them, oftentimes adding a bit more of the back story before the actual song; so it’s somewhat a different experience.  People will hear more of the lyrics and perhaps get deeper into the soul of the original song.  I’ll also be doing some songs from my musical Hard Times, and setting the scene back in July 1863.  I’ll probably do a couple of covers.  And there’s a Yeats poem that I set to music about 10 years ago that I’ve never really performed.  We’ll see… but whatever, it will all be fresh.

3. What can we expect from you this year, in terms of live shows and also solo projects?

I’m developing Hard Times for a bigger production up in Toronto so will be up there quite a bit.  I’m also doing a solo show of Foster in the Five Points out in Bergen Community College Theatre in Paramus, NJ on April 16th.  I was commissioned to do that by the Lincoln Library and will probably do more of those shows.  I have a new book coming out in April, A History of Irish Music – and will do some readings from that over the next six months.  I’m also working on a new musical about Iraq that will incorporate a number of the songs from Black 47’s IRAQ CD.  But I will do some strictly solo music shows – I’ve really gotten back into guitar playing again.  I miss the Fender Strat – it was like a part of my body for all the years of Black 47 – but I’m enjoying the acoustic again.  So, onwards and upwards, as the bishop said to the actress!

4. Message to your fans?

“Treat every day as if it’s your last – and one day you’ll be right.”  That’s actually from my friend, Malachy McCourt.  But it’s so true.  On a more personal basis, thank you so much for all your love and support down the years.  Even though Black 47 will no longer play, the spirit of the band will go on.  The songs are still there and I’ll be playing them.

It’s going to be an exciting event. Go to his website for more details: http://www.black47.com

The Ashokan Farewell and McIlroy Guitars.

The Ashokan Farewell and McIlroy Guitars.

His arrangement of The Ashokan Farewell for acoustic guitar. Played on a McIlroy AJ16

Dermot McIlroy is a versatile artist. Apart from playing in his project bands, he is also a guitar builder. Have you tried visiting McIlroy Guitars? The video will give you an idea what one of them sounds like(the McIlroy AJ16). And he plays really good! He executes that depth and craft in the video Ashokan Farewell which has a rather interesting background.

Dermot McIlroy in Antrim, Antrim, United Kingdom.

Dermot McIlroy in Antrim, Antrim, United Kingdom. Photo by Daniel Burne.

I love instrumental music. They don’t have resistance or aggression. They are compatible with almost anything. The Ashokan Farewell plays like a peaceful river. Everything flows without bumps and uncertainty. And the notes are clear like golden silver. Can you hear it? That certain feel to it?

I think there should be a solo instrumental album from McIlroy don’t you think? I think, for that to be realized one day will be a truly wonderful experience. Solo guitar music is timeless. I love collecting them. I can play them anytime and anywhere. I hope this post(and most importantly the accompanying music lights up your week) inspires you as you start your day or recline to sleep.

http://mcilroyguitars.co.uk

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I will be posting a blog about Derek Smith of this Welsh trio, Glasnant. According to him:

“Glasnant means Blue Stream in English. Our music will be like a stream flowing through the Celtic countries.” They will go to Ireland on March 12th-16th to take their interceltic music to the Aran Isles. Sounds exciting!

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Make way for Talisk

Make way for Talisk

 

Members:
 Mohsen AminiHayley Keenan and Craig Irving

Above are the stunning previews of this interesting band from the Glasgow. I know of them from Mohsen Amini(accordion) who also collaborated with other traditional bands. It also features Hayley Keenan (fiddle) and Craig Irving(Guitar). This new project called Talisk is straightforward and the music celebrates the beauty of Scottish music. They now often appear on Celtic festivals all over UK and will definitely spread their wings further.

There is not much material to present here, as the trio is still organizing and recording new tunes which will hopefully become an album one day.

 With Mohsen Amini, Hayley Keenan and Craig Irving


With Mohsen Amini, Hayley Keenan and Craig Irving

ATLAS:The Tale of Two Cillians

ATLAS:The Tale of Two Cillians

They’ve come a long way – performing with their previous and current groups- and have now unveiled an exciting Irish trad duo.

It took two years in my not so accurate memory to witness something exciting from these two stars of traditional Irish music. I am taking about the two Cillians: Cillian King and Cillian Doheny. I know of King from Ealu and Doheny from Moxie. Both have devilish fingers that can tap through hundreds of notes in a few seconds. This agility matched with their youth and photogenic appeal can be intimidating. But this is also part of their assets. They are good to hear and good to look at. Such combination works!
I’ve listened to them perform in their other projects as well as solo artists.The passion for perfection is there. Give them any musical instrument and they will record tunes that will make angels weep. But you might say ATLAS is too young to make such revelation. If you’ve seen their performance in Musicophilia(August 2014) then you’d know what I am talking about. It’s savage and elegant. Everything that we love about traditional Irish music-of the instrumental kind.
I’ve learned that the project has been conceived back in 2009 and it’s only now that this has taken a front seat. Just goes to show that these artists are very serious about crafting and also the emphasis on artistic maturity. They call their style as more ambient folk but still has heavy leanings on traditional Irish music.
What makes these two lads interesting? Just perusing through their influences made me smile: Coldplay, Jon Hopkins,Hanz Zimmer, Chris Thile, Imogen Heap etc. And yeah I listen to these artists too and I am hoping to find their styles seep into one of their recordings.
ATLAS is exciting. It is already showing volcanic promise at its early stage of unveiling. Because they have already mastered their craft before putting this project to the fore makes me really passionate.

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Review of North Star a new album by Kyle Carey

Review of North Star a new album by Kyle Carey

Why a casual Celtic music fan would love North Star by singer/songwriter Kyle Carey-It has a universal appeal. 

Every album is a musical journey. The experience is always complete when one listens to all the tracks in the album (in the order they were recorded) instead shuffling.I think Kyle Carey has worked hard in recording every track in North Star. This is a follow -up to her highly acclaimed Monongah. Every nuance is given emphasis.

North star is a journey across continents. It has taken her to Scotland, in order to record the twelve tracks, each with its own story to tell. In the title track (Northern Star), she sings of how each point of light draws a constellation. Like the album itself, it is about seeing the bigger picture from the complexity of notes and melodies. We are part of each other. We are connected by this endless chain of histories. The album is a testament to the modern and ancient Celts. North Star Cover

Apart from the melodic merits, North Star has superb packaging and meticulous recording process.The music doesn’t intrude. Yes it draws you in because of the beautiful songs (this includes the instruments, the chords and yes the amazing voice of Kyle Carey). This is highly recommended for lovers of chill out pop and indie folk. Her sound has evolved. She blends Gaelic and English songs in this album seamlessly. Everything feels supple, organic and also healing.

The word north conjures many thoughts. One of them is the cold and quiet that an artist needs in the gestation period of his or her creativity. North Star is Polaris which has been embodied in a lot of myths. The fact that this album is produced by Seamus Egan proves that she is backed by stalwart talents.

North Star is one of the great releases of this decade. Everything works. Her vocals are more stretched and exploited as there are tracks where she lets those pipes loose. I love Sios Dhan An Abhainn. I got goose bumps listening to that song. It is my personal favorite. Across the Great Divide is also poignant and memorable.

And lastly…I love the album artwork. I think the images and overall design give justice to the feel of the album. Her persistence and professionalism has paid off. This started off as a crowdfunding project. This album proves that those who are passionate about this kind of music are out there! Now looking forward to the next album.

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I among those fascinated by the music of Breton singer/songwriter Cecile Corbel. It has something more to do with the melodies in her songs than her vocals or arrangements. Although it is worth noting that her arrangements are superb as well! She’s one of those artists celebrating the beauty of Breton music(the other one is Nolwenn Leroy). I think these two artists are the best  in terms of putting out Celtic music with pop appeal. She continues to dazzle our imagination with her Arthurian concept.

This is a captivating song called Entendez-vous from  La Fiancée. Would you agree it’s beautiful in all aspects?

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Celtic Colours Int’l Cape Breton, Canada

Celtic Colours continues to be an influential festival in North America. Great shows, fantastic artists and a wide array of genres (or colours). Here’s a Soundcloud sampler of music you get to hear when you attend the festival.

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I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Next, I will be writing about American group Soulsha: Afro-Celtic Funk, so watch out for this one.

Thoughts and Music this Christmas

Thoughts and Music this Christmas

Still with Allison Crowe… About the song: Canadian poet, singer-songwriter, sailor and islander Andy Vine (http://www.andyvine.com) composed this song in the late 1970s. While music-making in St. John’s, Newfoundland he discovered “Woman of Labrador”, the remarkable autobiography of Elizabeth Goudie. Of Inuit, Indian, French and English roots, Goudie (née Blake) was born in 1902 in Mud Lake, Labrador. At 18 she’d wed a trapper, raising their eight+ children in the brush – her memoirs recounting life and travails and dwellings from a trapper’s “tilt”, and log cabins to a Summer lake-shore fishing house and beyond – all that comes with and from such a pioneering existence in territory that encompassed family homes in Mud Lake, North West River and Happy Valley-Goose Bay To read the complete description, go the You Tube link: http://youtu.be/uYBp3ooX-2Q About the song:  From Corner Brooker Allison Crowe’s album, “Newfoundland Vinyl II”, comes this stirring song of a shipwreck and brave rescue efforts that occurred on November 29, 1875. To read the complete description, go to the You Tube link: http://youtu.be/LEM9DIRAGyk After listening to Souling and The Newfoundland Vinyl !! repeatedly, I notice something I never mentioned in my last article. Allison Crowe has a strong and distinctive voice. Singer/songwriters or musical artists who play their own instruments have always been associated with having soft singing voices. There are those who do have powerful voices but this is rare. Feel free to correct me but this is my observation. I think it comes with the fact that singing while playing an instrument is hard. You got to pick at least one instrument to channel your skills and emotions. Pop divas have their voices as their primary instrument. And for instrumentalists who don’t sing, they channel their power to that instrument they are using. But to master both is a challenge-I think. I have tried performing before and it is really hard to channel intense emotions when you are strumming a guitar. It feels awkward. When you belt out a tune, you do it easily when you are just holding a mic. And this is what I have noticed in Allison Crowe’s singing. She sings like a pop/rock vocalist but she is also that woman with the guitar. But he is certainly not Suzanne Vega or Judy Collins. She’s more like the late Nina Simone with bit of Natalie Merchant.

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Holiday albums I listen to year after year.
 
The list of Holiday albums I listen to change year after year depending if there are artists who are able to squeeze into my top 5. This usually happens upon new releases. But here are the albums that made it to my holiday list which I will be listening to next year.
  1. Loreena McKennitt- Midwinter’s Night Dream: This Canadian artist never fail to dazzle me with her amazing voice and marketing smarts. What is Christmas without the elfin appeal of McKennitt’s music?
  2. Enya-And Winter Came: Every year I listen to this because her arrangements bring down the snow. I won’t say more but perhaps you know what I mean.
  3. Moya Brennan-An Irish Christmas: After her US tour, she will be performing a Christmas special in Ireland. The first lady of Celtic music continues to dazzle.
  4. Souling-Allison Crowe: Yes she made it to my top 5 and I know I will be playing this album next holiday season.
  5. Together at Chritmas-Various artist: I want to thank Anita Daly for giving me this sampler as there are many amazing Celtic artists out there worth discovering.

*** Martin Tourish and how Celtic music continues to inspire me. I sometimes get asked, how I am able to keep up my passion for blogging . Especially that it’s been years since I started this baby? The answer is simple. Music. When I hear something that I like , that tune inspired me to write something about it. It is like discovering a beautiful plant that you just want to take care of it because seeing it bloom give you much pleasure.1458141506_bb96e77eb0 Of course it’s been obvious that I also like other types of music. And this liking for other styles of music made me marvel at the beauty of Celtic music. Because it remains different and ‘not mainstream.’ We all have our degree of elitism and this is my little elitist guilt ….and well, let’s face it, you don’t want to be part of the herd right? You gotta find your niche and hone your creativity around it. For me the sound of uilleann pipes, harp and other Celtic instruments inspire me. I love hearing them and also the comments that I get from people when they say that my music is something they could not find anywhere and that when they hear it they are soothed. So let me give you a taste of this wonderful playlist by the very talented Martin Tourish. This is presented by Trad Connect, the leading site for lovers of traditional Irish music. http://www.martintourishmusic.com

My Christmas thoughts. Warning it’s a little bit personal. 
Never be afraid to be vulnerable. I read that via Flipboard this week. I must confess, one of my fears to bare my weakness for anyone to say. And so I hid behind the guise of a blogger who just wants to post updates and ‘new stuff.’ Of course the ‘enterprise’ can be about that and building a brand. But that’s way behind me now. What I just want to do is to share music, and my thoughts about music. And perhaps a bit of my ‘voice.’
I know everyone has his or her own holiday plans. It could probably involve visiting relatives or holding a party. Mine is receiving relatives, playing Yuletide tune, completing a book by Anne Rice about werewolves of mid-winter and watching great movies. My aunt who raised me to become who I am today passed away last May 16, 2013. So it’s the second Christmas without her. I have to tell you, it is not an easy thing to go through year after year. But she also raised me to be strong and despite the pain I might be feeling inside, the ‘show must go on.’ There are moments of crippling pain especially when I am alone. There are moments when I feel I lave lost my relevance. I feel that she took the meaning out of existence with her, when she went away. As if living is a just a task I have to do because there is nothing else to do but to endure and to live for others.
I want to thank everyone who followed this blog through the years since its first launch in 2009. So may things happened. Amazing and tragic things. I met amazing people through this blog. And I know nothing lasts forever. We don’t have inexhaustible source of energy. Who knows one day I might stop writing simply because I could no longer go on. Perhaps because I have moved on to another venture. But I just want to say that this is my baby. I nurtured it, poured my love and sometimes pain to it. And I tell you, there is one thing that makes life beautiful and that is the feeling of being connected. That we are all part of a bigger picture, whatever that is. That we are not alone. No one is insignificant.
For my late aunt:
To my late aunt whom I call mama. You were the meaning of my life. And when all the stars fade and I have given all I have to give to life, your smiling face will be the last thing I will see…your voice , the last thing I will remember. And the universe will go on.
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Coming up…
I will be posting a review of North Star by Kyle Carey
Two New Albums by Allison Crowe

Two New Albums by Allison Crowe

Souling

Album description/liner notes:

Allison Crowe’s gorgeous voice brings tidings of comfort and joy with “Souling” – her 11th full album release.

The artist, one of our greatest living musicians, singer-songwriters and performers, has always created authentic music.

With this newest song set her voice is heard wholly a cappella.

The songs themselves have a purity of expression – a 21st century take on music of faith and spirit – sounds and themes aired by carollers and soulers of old.

I am listening to Souling by Allison Crowe. It is a holiday album from the pretty Canadian singer/songwriter. What makes it different from her other albums(or any holiday albums from any artist ) is that it’s recorded entirely in a cappella.

It reminds me of many genres including old African-American spirituals. Her singing style is unique as at times there something pop about it , in other times , it is predominantly a soulful voice. But mostly her leanings are in Folk music.
Souling  as I mentioned is a holiday album and everyone who drops by at home will hear this  being played every now and then. It doesn’t sound intrusive. But it is also not something you can ignore because her interpretations of traditional materials are  like no other.That is why it is hard to compare her to other artists. Sure, guitar and piano are her prime instruments but her singing has an earthly and sensual quality. More bluesy than folk but more folk than rock.
There are 11 tracks in Souling. When you listen to each song, you will notice the scales she is using in her arrangements. This is the style I am talking about, which makes her renditions interesting. The fact that she has a strong soulful voice, makes Souling a perfect vehicle for her unique artistry.
I have my personal favorites including The Holly and the Ivy. Her background vocal harmonies remind me of water currents running underneath the sparkling surface. Her arrangements are undeniably exquisite. With the abundance of airy fairy artists out there, Allison Crowe has a style that sets her apart from the rest of her Canadian peers. Coupled with her appearance that reminds me of Pre-Raphaelite women, she creates a compelling combination of the earthly and the spiritual.
Wassail Song is another favorite as her background vocals capture the atmosphere of a chapel. Souling is an album that redefines the usual traditional holiday tunes and also about how they are being rendered. It is in this rendition that an artist tells the listeners her true identity. It’s beautiful and fresh, something that can start the test of time and seasons.
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Newfoundland Vinyl II

Album description/liner notes:

As with following William Blake’s roadmap to eternity’s sunrise, fans of musician Allison Crowe know to kiss “the joy as it flies.”

Right now, Crowe is soaring – bringing her “Tidings” tour from Canada’s Pacific coast to its Atlantic shores. And she’s on the wing with two new albums: ‘Souling”, an a breath-taking cappella collection of traditional Christmas carols, and “Newfoundland Vinyl II”, a many-splendoured music mix – songs of, and from, her island home.

  After listening to the atmospheric and sparely populated world of Souling, Newfoundland Vinyl II is like stepping into the familiar terrain that Allison Crowe is known for. As always, her guitar sparkles with energy and joy.
I am amazed that she is able to court listeners from all genres. Her forte has always been acoustic playing. There is something rugged and simple about Newfoundland Vinyl II. No wonder she made a cameo appearance in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel last year. Yes she is in the movie(as a brunette singer with a guitar) performing in this little bar before Clark Kent gets harassed by guy who gets his truck smashed up like a pancake.
The penchant for a cappella and vocal harmonies are still there. And  she is a great story-teller. Listen to the poignant ballad The Water Witch and tell me if you are not moved by the emotions underneath the seemingly simply arrangement. She incorporates a range of materials and subjects in her songwriting. Perhaps this has something to do with her independent way of making music. I learned interesting bits in my research

“After learning how the mainstream recording industry operates, inspired by the examples of Ani DiFranco and Loreena McKennitt, and Creative Commons licensing opening new avenues for musicians, Allison Crowe launched her own record label, Rubenesque Records Ltd. The label was incorporated in 2001 and began operations with the release of an EP in 2003. She has created and released the following albums independently.”

Simplicity, leisure and sensuality are all found in Newfoundland Vinyl II.There are also different instruments- both traditional and modern , appearing in each song. One  example is the song Out from St. Leonard’s. The instruments play with each other in a call and response fashion.

I think every album  of an artist is a ‘love letter’ to the world. It is a message in a bottle. And there is power in something when you express it and that expression took time and effort. Because you can fake things through flourishes and production. But you could never fake the truth behind the songs. And I guess this is what The Newfoundland Vinyl II is about. It is about singing from the heart. It is about singing the songs of people that have been passed from every generation. The enduring sentiments in all these songs make them powerful and no matter how you sing them – you sing the toils, pains,heartbreak and joy of souls across time.

Weekend Tunes and a big Happy Birthday to Kevin Crawford.

Weekend Tunes and a big Happy Birthday to Kevin Crawford.

It’s been a while since I posted something here. Blame it to the many obligations I took (which sometimes I regret because they zap my strength and creativity to blog) and that you can’t serve two masters at the same time. When you want to give your best on something, it must occupy your time and attention. And I believe that writing reviews or blogging about music is not just for the sake of putting something out there. It must be true to your heart. Music is about touching lives and putting that ‘soul’ to your existence because your music defines you. And I know that there are those who really don’t like my music preference but that’s just a matter of taste. What is important is that people are passionate about what they like to listen to. Because when you dissect music  in its barest essence, it is after all about energy. And energy is what the universe is made of. And it is part of us all.

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Happy Birthday to Kevin Crawford!

Yes the big man of Lunasa has just celebrated his birthday. They will be in the US next year so watch out for that event American listeners.

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Ensemble Eriu on Soundcloud.

These musicians are fantastic. They have created a kind of sound that is unique and also artfully crafted. I enjoyed every song from them and I think you will enjoy this Soundcloud link I posted. If you like the combination of Traditional Irish and modern music then you will love anything they release!

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Hooray Julie Fowlis!

If you haven’t visited the website of Julie Fowlis yet, you better check it out. A new album is out plus recognition from her own country. She wowed fans of alternative rock and traditional Scottish music and her wide appeal is evident in event below.

Music Award:

Julie made history last Saturday night when she became the first Gaelic artist to be honoured alongside pop and rock stars at the ‘Scottish Music Awards – The Tartan Clefs 2014’; where she received the ‘Scottish Traditional Music Award’.(from her official website.

New album from Julie Fowlis is out now!

If you want to read more about it and also upcoming music events from Julie Fowlis, then go to :http://www.juliefowlis.com

 

 

Album Review: Four Celtic Voices with Celeste Ray

Album Review: Four Celtic Voices with Celeste Ray

Good day folks! All you music lovers out there will love what I have brought today. An album review plus a facebook event that has been making waves!

New album:

If you like Broadway Style of Singing -or classical singing for that matter then you appreciate the Four Celtic Voices with Celeste Ray album. The singing is strong, pristine and emotional.fourcelticevoiceswithcel

As for the instruments, you will hear traditional as well as classical instruments. The mood is relaxing and it is overall magical.

Although the theme is not seasonal (or Christmas) the mood is suited for the contemplative spirit of winter. This is shown in one track called The First Noel which I am sure you know how to sing by heart.You can tell that the talents involved in this project have pipes that have undergone countless performance. There is the confidence that resonates in every track.

The style jumps from medieval, renaissance, folk and even country. There are even instrumentals. My favourite is Scotland the Brave / Psattery Dance. It has that spritely energy that brings a smile on your face!

The Blessing of the Three closes this album. The dramatic soprano reminds me of Loreena McKennitt. The vocal harmonisation is beautiful. There is a playfulness there that’s been evident all throughout the album.

This is a perfect holiday album which you can play in the background if you want to feel the spirit of the winter, which beautiful voices and instruments that will take your breath away! Thanks Anita Daly for bringing the magic around.
http://fourcelticvoices.com/

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Mental Health Awareness.
Notice: St. Patricks Mental Health Foundation in Ireland. Text “shoes” to 57802 to make a donation. You can visit the website at www.walkinmyshoes.ie if you are outside of Ireland.

Below is a video about a trad challenge which has been making rounds in Facebook like the ‘ ice bucket challenge’-remember that one lads? These musicians are nominating their friends to raise mental health awareness. Yes mental health is important. Take a look at Sean Og Graham and Niamh Dunne of Beoga.

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10154846486390475&pnref=story

UPDATE!!!

Today, Blackie O’Connell also posted here own below:

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10203033252214061

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Flashback! Climbing Pendle by Celtic Twist:

I love this instrumental tune and would love to hear it from time to time. Here’s Celti Twist ( HOLLAND AND PALMLEY) for you:

http://hollandandpalmley.wix.com/celtictwist

Celtic Tenors and Other Good Music!

Celtic Tenors and Other Good Music!

THE CELTIC TENORS announce their US Christmas tour!

Feels Like Home is still going strong in my list of last year’s awesome albums! I still love to play it in the morning and I adore their version of Going Home originally composed and performed by Mary Fahl for the movie Gods and Generals. These tenors have voices that can sooth your heart and refresh your weary mind. I also love it when they start harmonising , raising their voices as if imploring the heavens to come down to us, for only then shall the impossible be made possible and all dreams will come true.celtictenors-christmas_5_small

I looking forward to play their holiday album, Christmas this December as I am in the mood for something classical with a pop flavour. And they are really good at it, as they jump seamlessly between genres. I still read the interview I did with Matthew Gilsenan way back and I like how he provides insights into the current state of music in this category. If you haven’t yet please do and leave comments.

They are coming to the US to perform their best tunes plus holiday songs. Here’s a link to Irish Central regarding their upcoming tour: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/irishvoice/Good-tidings-from-the-Celtic-Tenors-VIDEOS.html#

As usual my big thanks to Anita Daly for keeping me informed about these things!

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John Breen “Origins” Album – New Single Pre-Sale
My Irish pal, the singer/songwriter John Breen will be releasing a new album soon. I am excited about it as I already reviewed his last album Old Men in Hats and I admire the arrangements and exciting twists he adds to traditional tracks. His deep mellow voice is addicting and I know you won’t be disappointed when you get a copy of any of this albums. The new album is called Origins. Beautiful title eh? Here’s a sampler of the album. Ok hold your horses Irish music lovers!

Here’s the info: Single pre-sale from the new album “Origins” by John Breen, begins 12/12/2014 at iTunes. For more information or to sign up to be notified of the pre-sale, please visit http://www.johnbreenmusic.com
Video music is an excerpt from the new album. © 2014 Emphasis Records

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Enda Seery Soundcloud. Fantastic tunes uploaded for trad ears!

Now I don’t know when will  be the the follow up the last album
Síocháin Na Tuaithe: Peace of the Countryside
because I am constantly looking forward to Enda Seery’s new recordings. I have been listening to this playlist at work and they are great in relieving stress. But of course you do know traditional Irish music is not just about THAT. It’s about celebrating the Irish culture that touches the heart and mind.

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I made this blog at 3 pm. Now it is almost 4 and I am chilling’ out in the garden after. Please stay strong and beautiful music lovers! Talk to you soon.