Off The Recordby Mike Farragher
- An open letter to the Catholic League on rant against David Bowie video “The Next Day” - VIDEO
- All-star benefit for great Irish musician Mickey Finns’ Ray Kelly who died tragically
- Amen to Rend Collective Experiment - VIDEO
- Finally some new U2 music from Bono and the boys?
- The Jersey Shore is back after Hurricane Sandy - The Irish Festival kicks off
Well, looks like you got yourself noticed yet again with a whacked-out rant against the new David Bowie video.
As for the Mickey Finns, Tracey assures us that you have not heard the last of them. “We will continue on with The Mickey Finns, and plans are on the way to do some shows in the summer and fall,” he reveals. “We're not ready to announce anything as of yet, but we will go on, as tough as it may be at times.
“Music is what we do. It helps us to heal and I know it's what Ray would have wanted. We'll be working on that as soon as we get finished with the benefit.”
The drum beats in the press and the headwinds out of Dublin would lead us to believe that new U2 music might be seeing the light of day very soon.
A U2 fan has posted what he claims is material capturing the band in rehearsal for the new album they've been assembling over the last few years.
My business travel and book tours take me all over America, and prior to Hurricane Sandy somebody would always make a joke about big hair and MTV’s “gym/tan/laundry” ethos of our shore when I revealed I am from New Jersey.
Sandy natural disaster changed all that. “How are you guys making out?” people now ask sympathetically, their furrowed brow showing concern and a begrudging respect for the Garden State’s toughness.
Greetings from Key West!
As you read this, my toes are in the sand and my bride is by my side as we celebrate 20 years of wedded bliss. With two college tuitions facing us and conflicting schedules too busy to comprehend, there is never a good time to get away from it all but we got away nonetheless.
"Days are long gone/when life was simpler/now the rat race rules/the mighty dollar quest/when you lose inside of what truly matters, time to walk a less traveled road,” singer songwriter Thomas Johnston sings on “A Less Traveled Road,” the lead track from his excellent album, 'Highway Signs and Highway Lines' album opener.
For a man who is starting his rock and roll dreams at a time when most hopefuls have decided to pack it in by now, these are words to live by indeed.
Boston local heroes the Dropkick Murphys raised $65,000 in just 15 hours for those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings by selling a new t-shirt on their website.
The tee is priced between $24.99 and $26.99, based on size, and the front reads "For Boston" with a photo of the skyline.
"I wanted the fun we have onstage to make it onto the album.”
That’s how jazz and blues chanteuse Tara O’Grady describes the spontaneous energy that crackles through her excellent new album, A Celt in the Cotton Club.
I got a phone call out of the blue from Seanchai leader and Black 47 founder Chris Byrne not long ago, and there was a real sense of urgency in the man’s normally deadpan voice.
“I’m sending a guy your way -- you’ve just gotta hear this.”
I had the rare pleasure of seeing Celtic Cross not once but twice in the last seven days. The band’s long-awaited follow-up to the award-winning Shores of America was derailed when their Hoboken recording studio was flooded following Hurricane Sandy, so they’re taking the time to road test the new songs in front of a rapturous audience.
“I think everyone is overly ready for some new material,” jokes singer Kathleen Fee. “Everything has been positive and digging the new stuff. It’s been fun. Having this studio delay allows us to work out the kinks so that we will bang out the rest of the album quickly.”
With the onslaught of iPads and other digital devices, publishers have been wringing their hands about the future of the good ol’ fashioned pulpy newspaper.
Toronto's Enter The Haggis (ETH) has made a resounding case for the newspaper with their new disc, which was based on and inspired by the contents of one day in one newspaper.
Dublin's Little Green Cars have been revving their engines on both sides of the Atlantic with the release of their excellent new album, Absolute Zero.
The band’s sound is a dizzying mixture of instruments -- the jangly addictive chord structure of REM, the sunny harmonies of the Mamas and Papas, and the crisp alt-rock production of the Smiths.
When you’re a bass player, you bring out the percussive rhythm of music. So, it’s no surprise to have people dancing to your music.
But what if that person dancing is Mick Jagger?
You gotta love a rock star knight and the way he asserts his supremacy without doing so at the expense of others.
During their nineties heyday, Oasis routinely compared themselves to the Beatles and Stones, offering on a weekly basis to get the old codgers in a ring, etc.
The Easter season is upon us, which means that my parents are doing a tour of North Arlington Cemetery and other plots around Hudson County, New Jersey with my cousin Diane.
This ritual is going on right now, as I write this on Saturday morning in my pajamas with a steaming cup of joe next to me.
Mike Scott and his Waterboys made a memorable “appointment with Mr. Yeats” in front of a jam-packed and adoring crowd on Broadway’s Town Hall last Tuesday.
The show, the only one of it’s kind in North America, coincides with the stateside release of An Appointment With Mr. Yeats, an epic album of songs fashioned around the words of the famous poet.
Corned beef and cabbage are two great tastes that taste great together.
I’ve heard numerous versions on how best to prepare it -- boil the meet twice, once to remove the salt; boil the meet first and use the same water for the cabbage, etc.
March ushers in a wave of Irish music, and this reviewer gets to the point where the compilation CDs become drink coasters around the house.
Larry Kirwan has captained a new one, Celtic Invasion, that is decidedly different because it attempts to spotlight great music while changing the broken music business model.
The Saw Doctors are celebrating 25 years as a band by doing what they do best -- playing in front of adoring crowds thirsty for a taste of home this St. Patrick’s Day.
They also have a new compilation, 25:25 to mark the occasion. For singer and guitarist Leo Moran, the American experience never gets old.
If you’re taking the train out of the city after the parade on Saturday and heading for Jersey, make sure you stop off at Hoboken and catch “the flu” -- Icewagon Flu, that is!
The band makes a triumphant return to their hometown on March 17 as they spread their infectious music at the venerable Maxwell’s.
Padraig Allen brought his McLean Avenue Band to the Jersey Shore on Saturday, bringing some much-needed cheer to the storm-ravaged region with his delightful show “From Galway to Graceland” at the Algonquin Arts Theatre in Manasquan.
The Patricia Murphy School of Irish Dance started the evening into high-stepping gear. It was heartwarming to see the permeation of Irish culture into the American landscape in the faces of these dancers, and it was a clever prelude to an evening that celebrated the tangled roots of Irish American ethos.
The Celtic Tenors have been barnstorming across the globe, having just completed a triumphant tour of Australia and New Zealand.
“It’s been amazing and you feel like you’re ambassadors of Ireland,” remarks tenor James Nelson on the morning before a sold out gig in Alberta, Canada.
Knoxville Morning, based in Ireland, has been added to the bill of the Craic Fest that takes place this week in New York.
This folk rock outfit began life as a solo side-project of Band on an Island’s Ciaran Dwyer, before growing into something far bigger. Joined by fellow Band on an Island members Stefan Murphy (the Mighty Stef), Gavin Elsted (We Are Losers), Brian Gallagher (Humanzi), Claire Prendergast, Stephen Fahey (Super Extra Bonus Party), Deirdre O’Hagan, Rachael Caffrey and Laura Caffrey, they have created an inviting blend of folk, country and Americana, a classic sound with an Irish twist draped in Dwyer’s intuitive storytelling.
It wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s month in New York City without the return of Pierce Turner. He’s back with a show at Joe’s Pub on March 7 and a fantastic new album, The Verry Small Orchestra.
As the name would imply, Turner has created an orchestral pop masterpiece steeped in ready, steady, go-era, sixties Brit-rock. He has the quirky wordplay of the Kinks’ Ray Davies and the mad musical genius of Sergeant Pepper, all rolled into one. In some tracks, the sunniness of Brian Wilson’s Pet Sounds shines through your iPod’s earbuds.
A country cousin to the orchestral pop musings is Julie Feeney, a brilliant composer and performer from my dad’s neck of the woods in Abbeyknockmoy, Co. Galway.
She took Manhattan by storm over the summer with her captivating, avant garde performances of her compositions. With a few classically trained musicians behind her and some costume changes, she made an alternative universe in the show I caught at the Irish Arts Center that eventually earned raves from The New York Times.
The most pleasant surprise awaited me as I was rambling through town and running my Saturday errands not long ago. When I clicked on the ignition Irish music filled the car.
This is not surprising for an Irish rock reviewer, but the delight came from knowing that it was being played on the college radio station where I met my wife and got my start in this sordid music business!
Iarla O'Lionáird grew up and learned his craft in the musical heartland of Cúil Aodha in the West Cork Gaeltacht. He has established himself both as a masterful exponent of sean nos song, and as a pioneer in its renewal and development.
He is back with a new release, Foxlight, which continues his long and deep partnership with Peter Gabriel and the folks at Realworld Records.
Foxlight opens with “The Heart of the World,” an epic track that builds slowly and soon sweeps the landscape like a bald eagle in flight, helped with a repetitive riff similar to the one that propelled “Where the Streets Have No Name.”
I was recently dining with a group of colleagues I hadn't seen in a while at a meal break inside of a training seminar. After catching up on the frivolity -- how many kids you have now, how long have you been with the company -- one African American gal turned to me and asked out of the blue, "So, Mike, what are you giving up for Lent this year?"
"Uh, Catholicism?" came the reply before a wave of polite laughter (note -- I am the boss of these people, so everything I say is met with polite laughter).
One of the most interesting morsels to drop in my mailbag in many a moon is Speech Project, an album of unique compositions by Gerry Diver.
Diver weaves exclusive spoken word contributions from Irish music legends such as Shane MacGowan, Damien Dempsey, Christy Moore, Martin Hayes and Danny Meehan (as well as archive interviews) to create new songs from the inflections in their speech and native accents.
The stately walls of the Garden City Hotel on Long Island are swinging to the sounds of Tara O’Grady, who brings her sultry jazz stylings to the venerable hotel every Friday and Saturday night from 7-10 p.m.
“This is a great new weekly gig that started on New Year’s Eve,” O’Grady explains.
The Dropkick Murphys have plans to shake, rattle and roll our St. Patrick’s Day experience with their new disc Signed and Sealed in Blood and a national tour.
The album is their second with producer Ted Hutt (Gaslight Anthem, Old Crow Medicine Show), a partnership that raised the band’s profile with a hit holiday song, "The Season's Upon Us."
Has it really been 25 years since the Saw Doctors broke out of Tuam, Co. Galway and conquered the world? If you are in denial, don’t bother picking up 2525, the band’s new compilation CD. It serves as a painful reminder that time does march on! Then again, perusing the track list and falling in love with these songs from the west of Ireland all over again is good for the soul and you quickly find yourself acknowledging that the band’s best years -- and perhaps your own -- are still in front of you.
Of course, it helps that this band has had a heart transplant in the form of Rickie O’Neill, the 21-year-old drummer whose ferocious rhythm drives the auld fellas into peak performances that have produced some of this legendary live band’s best shows!
Of course, signature tunes like “N17” and “Tommy K,” and “To Win Just Once” are on 2525, but the lads from Tuam have some new goodies baked into this retrospective as well.
In the cultural whirlpool that swirls in the Farragher household, my Jewish wife picked up a package of corned beef in the kosher section of our Costco a few days ago and plopped it in a pot with some cabbage to produce a sumptuous feast for my Irish-born parents.
It was a casual, rare midweek dinner punctuated by easy conversation. My two daughters were typically enmeshed in a tangle of homework, texts and wardrobe considerations for the following school day. They were so busy that they had swooped down the stairs, eaten their dinners in a nanosecond, and disappeared again before I could ask one of them to pass the mustard.
That was a shame, because they missed a great little pop culture history lesson from their Athenry grandfather as the water in the kettle rolled to a boil on the stovetop after dinner.
Open your ears and wallets this Sunday for the Ceol na nGael fund drive on WFUV!
The most popular Irish radio program in New York, Ceol na nGael (Music of the Irish) began as the brainchild of two Fordham students, Gerry Murphy and Mary Maguire, back in 1974. Over the years it has continued to be hosted by students who have kept the tradition alive.
Tune in to 90.7 FM every Sunday between noon and 4 p.m. to hear all kinds of Irish music, often accompanied by dedications, and to stay connected through the community bulletin boards.
You can find Lost Tribe of Donegal on Thursdays at 8 p.m. at The Harp (77th Street and 3rd Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn), Saturdays at 9 p.m. at Rocky Sullivan’s of Red Hook (34 Van Dyke Street), and the last Sunday of every month The Irish Haven (58th Street and 4th Avenue, Sunset Park, Brooklyn.)
Let's give those kids a reason to believe in Santa. God bless.
Coulter finished the show with a trio of songs from his idol, Jimmy Durante, before sending the crowd into the cold night air with the warmth of “The Town I Loved So Well” and “Steal Away.” It was that melody I hummed all the way to the train station en route back to Jersey! You would be wise to “steal away” to this show before it takes a bow on December 30. For tickets and showtimes, visit www.irishrep.org.
“Certainly in many of the Celtic regions there were areas that were quite isolated once winter set in and the nights grew longer. This is when the stories and songs of the Celtic culture became a necessity to pass these dark times. Many long nights were spent around the fire with the promise of spring around the corner.” For more information on Ashley Davis, visit www.daisyrings.com. Davis lends her song “Nollaig Moon” to Together For Christmas: A Contemporary Celtic Christmas Collection, a compilation assembled by promoter Anita Daly.
Daly has worked with everyone from the Pogues to Black 47 and opened her little black book to create an unparalleled look at contemporary Celtic sounds.
If your tastes veer toward the traditional, you will delight at the sounds of the “Deck the Halls” Christmas melody from Joanie Madden and Cherish the Ladies. The Celtic Tenors offer a spine-tingling read of “Silent Night,” while tough guy Damien Dempsey offers a surprisingly touching rendition of “Oh, Holy Night.”
for more information.
Then you need to run to Target after school to get the same songs packaged with exclusives not found on the iTunes edition.
Whether your tastes lie in tear-jerking pipes and drums or no-nonsense rock and roll, your palette will be quenched by the great music offered at these benefit gigs! Keep your eyes peeled to this space over the coming weeks, as more bands announce charitable events.
remains the main online resource for the event.
Hurricane Sandy toppled many trees on the lawns of homes here in the Irish Riviera, revealing deep and long-buried roots. Despite the waves of grief that crash into your soul amidst the devastation at every turn, I feel fortunate to have connected with the traditions of family time by the hearth and a sense of community within one’s village that are such an essential part of our Irish roots.