Off The Recordby Mike Farragher
- Singer Jake Bugg’s new album brings us to paradise by way of Memphis
- Pierce Turner returns to US for New York, Philadelphia concerts
- The Celtic Tenors Christmas CD lends an Irish vibe to the sounds of the season
- A year after the tragic loss of lead singer, Mickey Finns rise again
- Back to Boston for Colm O’Brien (VIDEO)
While the rest of the world was looking backward at the memories of an old Kennedy last week, others were looking across the Atlantic to a new Kennedy.
Jake Kennedy, who goes by the handle Jake Bugg, released his new album Shangri La. A sensation in his native U.K. with his first album, Bugg is poised for greatness on this side of the Atlantic with this new Rick Rubin-produced album (Shangri La is the name of Rubin’s studio).
Pierce Turner is back in New York for the holidays and all is right with the world!
By any measure it has been a banner 12 months for this legendary singer songwriter from Wexford. He released the gloriously cool and quirky Songs for a Verry Small Orchestra, a brilliant suite of orchestral pop.
I have a policy not to touch Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, yet the gorgeous delicacies found on the new Celtic Tenors Christmas disc are like trying to stop yourself from tearing into a plate of fresh-baked sugar cookies!
Matthew Gilsenan, James Nelson and Daryl Simpson have been weaving their voices for over a decade, thrilling a global audience along the way. This album, called "The Celtic Tenors Christmas," is an early Christmas present to their fans.
So there I was, the wind whipping through the cobblestone streets of Boston. I was wandering aimlessly, head down, trying to figure out how to pay for the enormous bill that I would be getting from any of the colleges that my daughter fell in love with up here during our tour of Beantown over the weekend.
KYF Brewer and his madcap pirates in Barleyjuice are back with yet another batch of hard driving pub sing-alongs called, ingeniously, "This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things."
As the name would imply, the songs on this album are as about as dainty as a charging bull. The band has finally cracked that mythical code of producing an album that sounds exactly like their legendary live shows!
You take one look at the ruler-straight posture, starched shirt, and the perfectly perpendicular tie bar on the guy in the corner of the Starbucks on this casual Sunday morning and you know you have your man.
The private investigator shakes your hand firmly, thanks you for your time, and acknowledges how difficult this line of questioning will likely be for you. He opens his leather clad notebook and writes your name and date on the next blank page in precise block letters.
Van Morrison is giving his fans on both coasts an early Christmas present with a series of concerts in San Francisco and New York this month. He will play Masonic Hall in the Bay Area on the 22nd and 23rd, followed by a stop at The Theater in Madison Square Garden on the 25th and The Beacon Theater on the 26th.
His daughter Shana Morrison, a formidable talent in her own right, is his special guest.
Just in time for the holidays, Celtic Thunder's latest album Christmas Voices has just been released. It’s the latest CD from Celtic Thunder creator Sharon Browne and musical director David Munro.
The album travels around the world to bring an eclectic selection of much loved Christmas standards, delivered with Celtic Thunder’s signature big production sound.
Celtic Thunder has been thrilling audiences for the past six years. They’ve racked up a string of successful albums connected to big production tours.
The juggernaut sees no sign of slowing down, with a Celtic Thunder cruise, another record-breaking tour, Mythology, booked through June of 2014, and a Christmas CD on the way.
You’d have to be living under a rock not to know that Paul McCartney last week released New, a “new” collection of songs.
He was everywhere — hosting live Twitter chats with fans, making the rounds in talk shows, giving interviews to countless magazines, and stopping traffic in Times Square to play a concert on a flatbed truck for a delighted lunchtime crowd.
Black 47 planted seeds in Asbury Park for what will hopefully grow into a thriving annual St. Patrick’s Day parade last week.
“We want to be the all-inclusive parade so that all manner of Irish and Irish Americans are free to march proudly,” said Jacqueline Pappas, executive director of the Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce. I’ll drink to that!
There was a time in the 1990s when the trend in the music business was to go “unplugged.” It was a period of music history where I suppose both fans and artists reacted against the '1980s over-produced band' feeling in the tunes.
One of the great things about that trend was that the songs revealed something new about themselves when stripped of the studio trickery and synthesizers.
Mayo didn’t produce an All-Ireland football championship this year, but it did churn out one of my favorite groups. Mick Lynch and Kevin May formed Guggenheim Grotto back in 2003, an innovative folk-rock duo that has landed on my Best of the Year list every time they release an album.
They’re back with a new disc, a new publishing deal and a new name! They are now working under the name Storyman, but fans of Guggenheim Grotto will still find a rich banquet of complex and deeply satisfying songs to sink their teeth into.
(Sinead O’Connor will play New York’s City Winery November 6, 8 and 9)
International sensations Celtic Thunder return to North America this week with the launch of their eagerly awaited fall 2013 Mythology tour.
The show features live songs from Celtic Thunder’s top-selling world music CD and DVD, Mythology, released earlier this year, including hits “My Land,” “Turning Away” and “Rocky Road to Dublin.”
Clannad, the first family of Celtic music, is back with a new album, their first as a reunited group in 18 years.
Nádúr (pronounced ned-dur), is the Gaelic word for nature and the title of their new disc. It’s a fitting title as the album sees the family band – siblings Moya, Ciarán and Pól Brennan and their twin uncles Noel and Padraig Duggan – back together on record as the full original line-up for the first time since the 1989 album Past Present.
Amazing the things you find on Facebook. I saw my friend, the jazz chanteuse Tara O’Grady, was raving about the Henry Girls in one of her posts.
I dug a little further and came up with my new favorite band! Their most recent album, December Moon, is a rewarding trail through the Appalachian Trail by way of Donegal.
Let's turn back the clock — May 1, 1988 in Galway to be exact. A young band called the Saw Doctors was playing at the Late Late Breakfast Show in the Warwick Hotel, a fundraising event for the Galway Arts Festival.
Eleven miles away in the seaside village of Spiddal, the Waterboys were creating their new record Fisherman’s Blues. Waterboy Anthony “Anto” Thistlethwaite arrived at the Warwick with his sax and got up and started blowing along with the band.
With seven words uttered during a hastily arranged conference call from the corporate office, your life has detoured into the dark neighborhoods of one of your worst nightmares.
I’m afraid your position has been eliminated.
After their sold out March 2013 tour of the U.S. and after touring for 25 years, the ever popular Irish rock band the Saw Doctors decided to take a year-long sabbatical.
However, knowing that rust never sleeps, two band members and friends, Leo Moran and Anthony Thistlethwaite, have decided to team up and put together an acoustic show to take on the road.
This will all be staged to raise awareness for bone marrow registries. The Love Hope Strength Organization will be on hand to collect cheek swabs from attendees that will in turn produce DNA samples that will be logged into a bone marrow registry. So, get cheeky with us at the Blackthorn (651 N Michigan Avenue; 908-687-3311.)
The Origin Theatre Company’s annual 1st Irish Theater Festival has become a staple in Irish American culture as it runs the full month of September. This year the festival is bringing a musical component to the performances and presents the first annual 1st Irish Music night.
Taking place on September 20 at Arlene’s Grocery (95 Stanton Street), the show will include some familiar faces as well as fresh voices on the scene who will get the recognition they deserve.
Since catching Morrissey live over the last few months has been tough, given his many cancelled shows and illnesses, you might have to settle for "The Moz" on the big screen.
Eagle Rock Entertainment's legacy concert film, Morrissey 25: Live From Hollywood High, the first authorized film about the legendary musician in nine years, will open in cinemas across the U.S. this month.
Filmed live during Morrissey's most intimate gig in decades at the Hollywood High School in Los Angeles on March 2 of this year, the film celebrates 25 years of the solo career of one of the world's most iconic and enigmatic performers.
Everlast has shed more skins over the years than a rattlesnake and now he has done it again with The Life Acoustic.
He began his career as lead rapper for the House of Pain, the Irish American rap group that produced "Jump Around."
Fair play to Foy Vance, who impressed the tastemakers on iTunes enough to make his swooping single, " Closed Hand, Full of Friends" the "free tune of the week."
Vance was born in the Northern Ireland town of Bangor before settling in Oklahoma. He was raised on southern fried sounds that he heard when he traveled with his dad in the deep south and it shapes Joy of Nothing, his excellent new disc.
I’m sitting in a hotel room on vacation and the kids are glued to the MTV Music Awards. As I watch one untalented processed pop star after another strut across the stage (did the crowd really lose their minds when a lame band like NSYNC reunites?), I cant help but raise a defiant fist to the heavens and complain to my Maker that a great band like Stand never made it big.
This Dublin rock outfit moved to America (not far from the same Barclays Center hosting MTV’s event) with an eye on one prize -- world domination.
It's been four years since Irish folk legend Damien Dempsey graced the U.S. with a tour. Despite the runaway success of his new album Almighty Love overseas, is he worried about facing an audience that may have forgotten him on this side of the Atlantic?
“I’m just gonna play my heart out,” he says, unconcerned about things like rebuilding an audience.
I'm typing this some 36,833 feet above the earth, somewhere over the deep blue ocean waters of the Atlantic between Newark and London.
Some 2,400 miles from this hurtling flight, my mother is pacing the floor with worry. As a parent of a teenaged girl with a driving permit, I can sympathize with the woman's concern over a child not making it to their destination in one piece.
Van Morrison will revisit one of his classic albums with a five-disc deluxe edition of his 1969 classic Moondance.
Yes, once again the classic rock dinosaur teams up with the panicked record company to shore up the declining revenues of album sales in this digital age.
"This is our journey/this is our place/this is our time.”
That’s the first chorus out of Willie Nile’s mouth on American Ride, his brilliant new album, and this writer and long-time fan is praying that THIS be Willie’s time.
There were two significant stories I followed over the weekend that brought back a long buried memory.
The first involved the trial of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin. This trial of a “neighborhood watchman” untrained by law enforcement that shot and killed a teenager became, in my humble opinion, a media-sponsored circus that provoked unnecessary racial unrest in our nation.
It was almost too much to take in.
The Mass had just ended, and I sat with my wife and girls in the back pew as we waited for the christening of my friend’s baby to start. The alter boy strode down the aisle, his oversized and untied shoes making a loud clumping sound with each step he took.
Some sad news has emerged from the Pogues. Guitarist and founding member Philip Chevron, 55, has been successfully battling head and neck cancer since 2007, but doctors have deemed his latest tumors inoperable on this second round.
According to Hot Press magazine, a star-studded cast will gather to perform a selection of songs penned by Chevron and the bands he was part of.
Mark Fisher, the stage designer and architect who created sets for some of the world's biggest music shows, including the Rolling Stones' 50th anniversary tour that finished its North American run Monday in Washington, D.C., died last week in London.
Fisher died in his sleep at a hospice after a long, undisclosed illness, according to an announcement on the website of Stufish, the company he co-founded. He was 66.
Fans of the Waterboys likely missed the one concert they staged on the East Coast for their Appointment with Mr. Yeats disc.
Fear not! As Mike Scott promised me in our last interview, they have just announced a coast to coast North American tour this autumn. This will be the first full North American tour for the band since 2007.
To celebrate July 4, a great lineup from both sides of the Atlantic will converge in Gaelic Park on July 6. The sounds offered on this day guarantee a great diversity that will appeal to every palette.
Padraig Allen and the McLean Avenue Band is a crowd-pleasing group at the crossroads of folk, country and trad that is familiar to many.
Dublin’s the Von Shakes might not be such a household name. The group members, leader Paddy Brazel, Hugh O’Reilly (guitar) and Cillian McSweeney (bass), have been together since school in Howth, Co. Dublin. They all attended the same school and have known each other since childhood, which calls to mind U2. Their power punk pop, however, calls to mind The Strokes.
Nar·row·back [nar-oh-bak], noun, slang -- a person of slight build who is unfit for hard labor.
Who among us Irish Americans hasn’t been called that at one time or another? The Narrowbacks, a band lead singer Seamus Keane says was “born in a slummy Iona College dorm after some late night sing songs, a couple whiskeys,” is a boozy, fun soundtrack to the experience of being a narrowback!
"It's great to see you at a happy occasion instead of running into one another at a wake,” I joked in the midst of a warm embrace with a long-lost distant cousin recently.
Wrong thing to say. You see, there was a certain unnamed Irish matriarch in our family just waiting at stage left to pounce and voice a dash of melodramatic disappointment over not being called when this cousin’s mother died.
If it’s June in New York City, it must be Bloomsday!
The usual crowd of writers and performers -- Larry Kirwan, Colum McCann ands Colin Broderick --assembled at Ulysses Folk House on Wall Street over the weekend to give praise to the immortal James Joyce masterwork Ulysses. For Aedin Maloney, daughter of Chieftains leader Paddy Moloney, the event is the highlight of the year.
Call me a calloused, cynical urban music critic if you must, but it’s been a while since music moved me to tears. When you reach a certain age and you’ve seen so many shows you enter any gig situation with a jaundiced been there/done that vibe.
Two concerts I attended last week changed all that.
Paul McCartney’s show in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center on Saturday night was not only the best concert I’ve seen in years, it also provided an evening of daddy/daughter bonding that’s so rare as my oldest girl asserts her adolescent independence.
When McCartney opened with “Eight Days a Week,” it was telling how my teenaged daughter screamed her head off in the same way the young girls did when “the cute Beatle” landed at JFK for the first time 50 years ago. And yes, her father screamed right alongside her! For it is a privilege and a pleasure to stand in the same space as a man who has made so much music that means so much to so many people.
Ah, the wooden spoon. Who among us doesn’t shiver with a sense of deep-seeded dread whenever we remove one from the dishwasher?
To be sure, it conjures up many memories of hard-handed discipline of our Irish parents from days gone by.