New Celtic CDs This Week

Seisiun - Seisiun

by Seisiún
Fiddle, banjo, whistle, bodhrán, guitar and bouzouki, performing the most amazing traditional Irish music. They are from Costa Rica, and you will not believe what you’re hearing!

by Tullamore Celtic Band
This third CD from Tullamore Celtic Band showcases the full range of this trio’s instrumental and vocal versatility and virtuosity. From a stately O’Carolan Air to a rousing unaccompanied rendition of Boozin’, This new CD has it all.

Every Day Above Ground
by The Fighting Jamesons
New age Celtic/ Irish Rock with traditional influences with a modern day approach.

Up to the Bar
by The Derby Boys
Classic up-beat Irish pub songs, including an Irish Rebel song, two beautiful ballads, and two high-spirited originals

Gwilym Morus – Celtic Music Spotlight

Today’s spotlight is on Gwilym Morus. Listen and download a free Celtic MP3 of his song “Eryri”. The Celtic Music Spotlight is an online Celtic music video show for YouTube highlighting independent Celtic musicians and bands featured in the Irish & Celtic Music Podcast and the Celtic Music Magazine. 

Celtic Music News This Week

If you’d like to submit music to the Celtic Music Spotlight and also be featured on the Irish & Celtic Music Podcast and the Celtic Music Magazine, please get 3 MP3s ready and submit here.

Concert Review: An Evening with Danu

Danu, March 12, 2014, Bowker Auditorium, University of Massachusetts

Danu, March 12, 2014, Bowker Auditorium, University of Massachusetts

March 12, 2014, Bowker Auditorium, University of Massachusetts
Review and photos by Lahri Bond

On one of the coldest nights of an exceptionally chilly New England winter, the Irish sextet Danu warmed the hearts of the near capacity crowd in Bowker Auditorium on the University of Massachusetts campus.

Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh

Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh

Danu has been active since 1995, with seven albums to their name, and several line-up changes. Though not as well known as current groups such as Altan, Dervish or Solas, they are one of the most instrumentally rich Celtic bands touring today. Danu features Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh who is not only their lead singer, but who also contributes masterfully to their instrumentation with her skilled flute and whistle playing. The rest of the band currently is made up of Dónal Clancy on guitar, Oisín McAuley (previously a member of Stockton’s Wing) playing four and five-string fiddle, Éamon Doorley on a unique guitar-shaped bouzouki, founding member Benny McCarthy on button accordion/melodeon, and their newest member, from Scotland, Martin O’Neill playing some astounding bodhran.

The band began the evening with a lively set of reels, including the Paddy Moloney composed “Garech’s Wedding,” followed by “Reel Gan Ainm,” “The Moving Bog,” and “Cliffs of Glen ColmCille.” The fun continued with a set of jigs “Peggy’s Nettles/The Butlers Of Glen Avenue/The Mountain Top,” featured Doorley’s excellent bouzouki playing, which places a strong emphasis on countermelody, and had a few people in the crowd dancing in the aisles.

Other highlights included a set of dance tunes with playful titles like “Around the House, and Mind the Dresser,” and “Mary Will You Hold the Chicken Steady While I Shave its Upper Lip.”  Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh’s rich warm voice was featured on several fine ballads, including “Cailín na nÚrla Donn” a song learned from Seosaimhín Ní Bheaglaíoch, sung in Irish and English, and the lovely “County Down” by Tommy Sands. Clancy took the lead vocal on the Scottish ballad “Broom of the Cowdenknowes,” and his “Clancy’s Farewell to Whiskey” was matched with “An Dro des Petits Bateaux,” a beautiful Breton Dance tune arranged as a lullaby. Martin O’Neill took a five-minute drum solo, where he rang every tone and nuisance out of his bodhran, using multiple beaters and advanced dampening techniques.

Caitlin and Ciaran

Caitlin Nic Gabhann and Ciaran O Maonaigh

The band were joined, for one evening only, by guests Caitlin Nic Gabhann (Irish step dancer) and Ciaran O Maonaigh (fiddle), who performed in a featured set, and later joined the band for a closing set of reels. The evening concluded with a beautiful rendition of Richard Thompson’s Fairport Convetion-era ballad “Farewell Farewell,” where Nic Amhlaoibh’s voice evoked the spirit of the song’s original singer, the late great Sandy Denny. Though most people went home to get warm after the show, a few brave souls gathered with the band at the local Irish pub The Harp to raise their glasses, as a session went well into the evening.

Thanks to Julian Kkarlen and Baylin Artists Management, Halina Kusleika, director of Center Series Programming at UMass, and Danu, for a great evening.


Buy CDs: Danu CDs

Oisín McAuley and Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh

Oisín McAuley and Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh

Review: “Sonic Travels” by Star Edwards and KingBeat


The harp is seen as the national symbol of Ireland.  It serves to represent the culture and heritage of the people of this great nation; however, as an instrument it is capable of so much more.  Star Edwards and KingBeat’s latest album, “Sonic Travels”, showcases the versatility of this instrument in a beautifully crafted symphonic manner.  The album title clearly expresses the concept they were trying to achieve as musically these musicians take the listener on a beautiful journey.

The opening track Barcelona Nights immediately makes one think of brightly colored dresses with young women dancing and old man picking out fantastic rhythms on guitars in the style of Flamenco Nuevo.   This five-piece band orchestrates it so that this beat, the heart of Flamenco music, is ever present as the harp and guitar continuously trade back and forth taking the lead.

Next we are taken to Asia with the song appropriately titled, Chinese Farmers Tale.  Once again, the rhythm of the piece and the staccato instrumentation immediately makes one think of that particular culture.  In this piece, Kent Richardson uses the instrumentation of the group to really pull out some clear intonations to take us on this musical journey.

Following this, we have perhaps one of my favorite pieces, Waiting for Summer.  It is upbeat and jazzy with a fun, almost swing, feel to it.  I think of Ella Fitzgerald and kids playing on the sidewalk with water spraying from the fire hydrant.  It still highlights the harp, but in a very unique and fun manner.

And the journey continues to St. Thomas, The Butterfly (a classic Irish tune), Cuando El Rey Nimrod, Jamaica Farewell and even in our dreams with Dream time Journeys.  Through all of these pieces and more Star Edwards and KingBeat flaunt their incredible talent by capturing the listeners ear and taking them on an evocative journey.  They call what they do World Harp Music, and they certainly don’t lie.  While some may make this claim and only stick their toe off of the Emerald Isle, these musicians explore these other cultures deeply.  This album is certainly worth the purchase.

Artist: Star Edwards and KingBeat
Buy Album: Sonic Travels

Stephen Mc Sweeney is a High School English/Drama teacher.  Besides writing for the Celtic Music Magazine, he enjoys acting, writing and playing Celtic music.  He can be seen as one of the members of the band Terrible Musicians, where he plays percussion and mandolin.