The Cultural Book of Celtic Music: Wide Waters by Hibernia

The Cultural Book of Celtic Music: Wide Waters by Hibernia

If you are an avid fan of Celtic music then songs in Wide Waters by Hibernia will sound familiar to you. Susan Toman (Celtic Harp) and Ellen MacIsaac (Voice) have captured the ‘great Celtic songbook’ in this album. Comprising of 14 tracks from Ireland and Scotland,  they are sung in Gaelic and in English.

Beautiful in its clarity and simplicity, Wide Waters captures the essence of how these songs were supposedly performed hundreds of years ago. Aroundhibernia every art, I think it’s the sentiment that’s the very foundation of every creation. The aesthetics may change with time, but the raw emotions around these songs remain untamed across centuries.

Songs like Bothan Àirigh Am Bràigh Raithneach, The Water is Wide, An Coisir and the captivating ‘s Toigh Leam Fhìn Buntàta ‘s Ìm / Tha Fionnlagh Ag Innearadh / Hùg Oiridh Hiridh will always remain as my favorites in this album.

Here’s a brief bio of the artists from their CD Baby profile:

Susan Toman – Based in Ottawa, Ontario, Susan Toman enjoys a diverse freelance career as a harpsichordist, Celtic harpist, and music instructor. She holds a Doctorate in Music from McGill University and is an Associate Faculty member at Carleton University. Susan came to the Celtic harp (as many do) with a background in keyboard instruments and a love of Irish & Scottish music. Having first studied with Annabelle Renzo, she then continued her studies with Grainne Hambly in Ireland. In addition to giving solo and collaborative concerts, she frequently performs at weddings and other events. Upcoming performances include the NAC’s Fourth Stage, and the Irish Ambassador’s residence.

Ellen MacIsaac – Ellen specializes in the Irish traditional singing style and repertoire in Irish Gaelic and English. Since 2000, she has been involved in traditional singing in Ottawa, giving guest lectures on sean-nós (old style) Irish singing, and performing at local céilís and sessions and further afield. In 2012, she won first place in the sean-nós competition at Canada’s first Irish-language festival and competition, Oireachtas Gaeilge Cheanada, and represented Canada at the 2012 Oireachtas na Samhna, Ireland’s Gaelic-speaking festival. Ellen lectures at the University of Ottawa in the Modern Languages Department as part of the Minor in Celtic Studies and is an associate vocal instructor in the Celtic Music Performance option at Carleton University’s Music Department. She created the Ottawa Celtic Choir in 2007, and acts as its musical director and musical arranger.

I love Skipinnish!

I love Skipinnish!


Randomness is beautiful. I stumbled upon this group while looking for a Science documentary on YouTube mobile. They appeared on my feed. The name itself is interesting. Skipinnish. I was sure it’s Scottish. I watched Walking in Waves featuring a woman with red hair throwing bottles in the ocean. These bottles contain messages. With a great surprise at the end of the video. Ok, I was impressed

Then I watched December which is their latest single. And that’s it. I became a fan. The music is haunting, beautiful and unforgettable.

Current line-up consists of:
Angus MacPhail: Accordion, Vocals
Andrew Stevenson: Highland Bagpipes, Small Pipes, Whistles, Fiddle.
Robert Robertson: Lead Singer, Guitar
Ross Wilson: Piano, Bass
Alasdair Murray: Drums, Highland Bagpipes

Regular Guest Musicians Also Include:
Archie McAllister: Fiddle
Duncan Nicholson: Small Pipes, Bagpipes, Whistles

February 2015 Celtic music updates.

February 2015 Celtic music updates.

..And so we have amazing tunes to start the big bang of Celtic music for 2015!

Welcome to my ‘conversational post’ where I talk like a normal person especially when I am not doing album reviews or interviews. 2015 brings us fantastic tunes in the trad and fusion department. Celtic music is colorful as it embraces many. I will

The winning image from the Bodojo Header competition by Matthew Olwell.

The winning image from the Bodojo Header competition by Matthew Olwell.

bring you fresh uploads from musicians you have not or probably heard already. But guess what they have in common? Yes it’s fantastic music. These are artists who dedicated their lives in perfecting their craft. They have released albums independently and I think their persistence is admirable. Especially in a world where ‘common’ or ‘ordinary’ music is praised. But think about it. What’s so great about common right? Why not spice up your life with something you seldom read up the Billboard or Rolling Stone reviews. Why be part of the herd when you can be different. Think different. Act different and dare to be you.

This is a fresh upload from Irish musician Enda Seery(with James Hughes). I think a new album is on the way. What do you think? I love this tune.


I will be posting an album review of this amazing artist. He is John Breen. 


Have a taste of Buan, the new album by Danu. Yes they have a new album out if you haven’t heard yet. It’s been creating quite a stir in the trad community these days. Worth a check! Thanks to Trad Connect for this link.


Fans of Scottish artist Julie Fowlis will be pleased. She has released a new album called  GACH SGEUL – EVERY STORY. As always, her vocals are in between the haunting realm of Celtic music and the simplicity of indie pop. Find out more here:


Bodhran Drum Solo – Abe Doron

Fans of bodhran music will love this! I love the bodhran and I am trying to be an expert but I guess I need more time. If you want to check out anything related to this instrument then be part of Bodojo

Have a great weekend everyone and more to follow!

Make way for Talisk

Make way for Talisk


 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

Repost your Soundcloud!

Repost your Soundcloud!


A blog featuring John Breen, Fraser Fifield and TradConnect

It is great to realize that soundcloud has grown into a site where musicians and listeners can interact and repost music. Have you been reposting the music you heard too? I have been doing this today. I have not uploaded my podcast in soundcloud as I use mixcloud for that. But soundcloud is still the biggest site where you can reach many people.
From a mere(passive)listener of tracks you can actually make a difference by reposting. So you don’t have to be a blogger to influence people if you have a soundcloud account. Just share what you are listening to and the Internet will take care of the rest.

When bloggers like us experience a downtime in traffic and comments, we launch into conclusion that perhaps we have done something wrong to put our readers off. Maybe we are not doing good enough and that is why readers are going somewhere. Well, the truth is, you are wrong. For niche bloggers like me, it is expected that I will get specialized subscribers who are really passionate about Celtic music. I don’t expect pop listeners to check out what I post. This goes with other niche blogs out there.

Too many choices.

As new bloggers crop up everywhere, competition becomes deadly. The market is no longer dominated by those who are ‘stalwarts’ in this industry. Prepare for that. When you are doing video blogs or simply writing blogs, don’t be discouraged when you have lost view counts. This is normal. It happens to everyone. It’s even happening to Tech vlogger Chris Pirillo.

Don’t be afraid to try something new.

Are you afraid that if you do something different you will turn certain subscribers off? Don’t be. In fact it might be a good thing. Blogging is like marriage. There are times when a relationship hits plateau and you need to do something different to spice the relationship up.

Going back to soundcloud, I have discovered new posts today and I am sharing them with you. Yes this post is after all about soundclous. But if you get something helpful from by detour then good!


John Breen’s Compilation



I enjoyed many songs from John Breen. There is this simplicity in his way of delivering songs. Expect a range of songs going from simple to grand treatments. This time he compiled his own soundcloud playlist of what he thinks are his top artists.


Fraser Fifield Playlist

Here’s the Scottish master of eclecticism. This is a good introduction to what his music is all about. There are other amazing talents that share the spotlight with him, in these recordings.


TradConnect playlist:

If you are looking for something purely trad then this is the best site for that.



A Tune for Burns Supper

A Tune for Burns Supper

Robert Burns was a charmer with sad eyes. Anyone can draw their own conclusions but that’s what I see in him ( the portrait by Alexander Nasmyth) and in his poems. There’s that heart breaking beauty in all his works. It is interesting how history can transcend his growing up in up poverty and hardship . Now his legacy resides in the hearts of many men and women.  Scottish folk tunes introduced me to the works of Burns. The

The best-known portrait of Burns,  by Alexander Nasmyth, 1787

The best-known portrait of Burns,
by Alexander Nasmyth, 1787

First Time I Heard Ae Fond Kiss, I was struck at the themes of sadness and longing in the song. Perhaps it’s because I find sadness in my life and I connect to that. Or perhaps Burns is really a poet who can speak to every soul of all races and classes.

Indie folk artist Layne Greene covered a  Scots tune called The Massacre of Glencoe for this occasion. Many have covered this tune including The Corries in 1976. Robbie MacInnis provided the bagpipes. This is an interesting arrangement because Greene layered the bagpipes in the mix and the result is really fascinating. I’d say this is a perfect tune for Burns supper!


Celtic Connections!!!

I will be posting more Celtic Connections related blogs but I am leaving you with this one. Don’t forget to tune in 4:00 pm German time for “The Baxteria” on

Matthew Bell and Celtic Percussion Plus Podcast #21

Matthew Bell and Celtic Percussion Plus Podcast #21

There is a thread running through this post that started when I wrote about the bodhran. To be honest, the instrument has taken a huge degree of interest on my part because I am trying to be good at it. Everyday is great when I get to practice. It also opened a big world of percussion to me and various rhythms that dominate all types of music all over the world.

This thread also pointed me to a remarkable artist and teacher in the world of percussion. I am talking about Matthew Bell who runs a successful project called Celtic Percussion.  He merges Irish and Scottish drumming styles with the infusion of other world influences. He is very zen in his vlogs as he tries to calmly explain the basics of drumming. He combines the Kerry and top end of bodhran playing.

The youtube videos are just samples of the potential that he can offer. His recent book is The Contemporary Bodhrán:
A Modern Percussionist’s Perspective on an Ancient Instrument


Here’s the general info about Celtic Percussion found in his official youtube site:

The Celtic Percussion Collective is comprised of several of the Washington, D.C. area’s biggest names in the Pipe Band and Celtic Music Communities. Matthew Bell formed the CPC in December of 2012 to expose audiences to the truly unique percussion concepts inherent in Celtic Percussion. The CPC is available for a variety of educational and performance-based functions. Please have a look around our website. We look forward to working with you.


The Baxteria Podcast #21


Alan Stivell-Eliz Iza
Sinéad O’Connor-Oró, sé do bheatha ‘bhaile
Baal Tinne-Toss The Feathers
Brendan Mulholland-The King of The Pipers
Clannad-In a Lifetime
Luka Bloom-How Am I To Be
Ashley MacIsaac-To America We Go
Sleepthief-Reason Why
J.P. Kallio-Greener Grass
Teenage Fanclub-Take The Long Way Around
Von Shakes-Last Day on Earth
Jazzotron Vs Jamie Berry-Kiss Me
Róisín O-Here We Go
Who Does Music-Looking Around
Samuel Smith-The Agony

Traditional Music: The Music of the People

Traditional Music: The Music of the People

A set of reels recorded for the fleadh program in Cavan 2012. Thanks to Brian Cunningham for sharing this video.

We can’t deny that traditional music is the music of communion. Be it Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Breton or any music of the seven Celtic nations, there is always that sense of community whenever one goes to these sessions. Unlike the ‘star versus the spectator’ culture of pop music, Celtic music encourages the audience to participate-be it dancing or playing. It is after all the music of the people.

As someone who is trying to learn how to play traditional Irish music instruments, I feel that sense of connection to the culture through these instruments. As if the music is telling me that it doesn’t matter if I am no expert but to play is to be part of something timeless.

My bodhran and tin whistle.

My bodhran and tin whistle.

I think there are more and more music schools being built and organized because the demand to learn traditional music is increasing. People can just buy a bodhran, Celtic harp, tin whistle or fiddle from ebay.  Everything you need is there. You just have to know where to look. Even youtube offers free lessons. You just have to be enthusiastic enough to learn how to play.

Jeremy King of Poitin mentioned that his son is learning the accordion at such an early age. I mentioned in my previous post that there seems to be a resurgence of interest in the accordion. Scottish singer/harpist Anna McLuckie has wowed the mainstream audience with her unique performance of a mainstream tune. People now know that her musical upbringing is rooted in traditional music.

As I have mentioned above, traditional music is the music of the people. Wherever you are in the world, when it touches you, then you belong.

Kickstarter campaign for “North Star”by Kyle Carey is up!

Kickstarter campaign for “North Star”by Kyle Carey is up!

Yep folks. The one and only Kyle Carey from New-England is releasing a follow-up to her beautiful debut ‘Monongah’  North Star will be produced by  Seamus Egan, founder of the acclaimed Irish American band Solas, So I know what you are thinking out there. It’s going to fantastic! She has the gift of writing songs and the delicate voice to give justice to both traditional and original tunes.  I fully support this artist because she adds a beautiful part in this huge tapestry of our musical culture.

The recording will begin in January 2014 in Glasgow Scotland. It will be during the Celtic Connections.

Visit the kickstarter site here.

I will be playing a tune by Kyle Carey on my radio show this Saturday 3 to 6 pm German time.

3-4pm: Auto DJ (I will be playing the whole Clannad album Lore)

4-5pm: The Celtic hour which I will be playing Celtic music including Kyle’s.

5-6pm: Indie variety for those who are into other music genres.

Way up north in Manitoba, Canada--on my Home Routes 2012 tour. This photo was taken by Craig Werth, one of my favorite touring partners and songwriters.-Kyle Carey

Way up north in Manitoba, Canada–on my Home Routes 2012 tour. This photo was taken by Craig Werth, one of my favorite touring partners and songwriters.-Kyle Carey



Celtic Music Fan Podcast #3

Celtic Music Fan Podcast #3


.My radio show from Saturday is now a podcast available in youtube and mixcloud. This is my first show in which starts at 4pm German time. I linked the sites of the artists with the tracks of the show. There will be skype interviews soon so keep on listening. I haven’t given up on writing blogs because it’s my first love but radio is a great way to expand my creativity. I hope you enjoy the amazing tunes from these wonderful musicians! I feel so blessed knowing them. I couldn’t ask for more 🙂

1.Iona-Les Mardi Gras-Reuben’s Train-Le Reel Beatrice
2.Aulaga Folk-Los Motiladores
3.Realta– Open the Door for Three(slip jig)
4.Brendan Mulholland-The House of Hamill/Sean’s Reel
5.Kinfolk-This Land
6.Celtic Twist-Looking for Moss
7. Kaliorne– Scottish Purple
8. The Gothard Sisters-The Landing
9. Jamie Smith’s Mabon– Summer’s Lament
10. Fiona J Mackenzie-Tha thu Beo nam Anamsa
11. Maxim Cormier-Big Sampie’s Reel
12. Cara-Rain
13.Kevin O’Donnell-Factory Girl
14. Qristina and Quinn Bachand-D Set.