In 2007, the Irish & Celtic Music Podcast released Victims of Irish Music, an album of seventeen incredible traditional Irish tunes by seventeen incredible indie Celtic music groups and artists. The album is the most-popular released on Marc Gunn's record label, Mage Records. This is due mostly to its success on iTunes where it remains one of the top 10 albums for “Irish music”. The album and its singles have climbed into the World music Top 100 charts several times over the past few years. It's success has allowed Mage Records to donate thousands of dollars to Celtic non-profits around the world. It is now one of the top-selling CDs on CD Baby.
After six years topping the charts, I thought it was about time to visit the artists who made this album a hit. What are they up to these days? Let’s find out:
The Wild Clover Band was formed in 2000 in the heart of Nebraska. They broke up a few years back with members reforming into Miles From Dublin. The new group continues to play traditional Irish tunes, pub songs and ballads.
Kennedy’s Kitchen is an Irish group that formed in Indiana in 1998. Their original tune “Sleeping Under the Tables” came from their CD A Pocket Full of Lint. They followed that album up with the amazing Hotting Fire in 2009. They disappeared from my radar over the last year. A couple weeks back, I received a new CD from them. It’s called A Bird Upon the Trees. It was released on January 9th and I can’t wait to hear it!
Cady Finlayson is still a favorite of mine. I think I first heard her on Take Two, an album she recorded with Sean McCabe in 2000. However, it was Harp and Shamrock that first peaked my interest. My attention was held by the release of her 2007 album Irish Coffee. It's still a favorite of mine. In 2010, she joined Vita Tanga to record Electric Green. She continues to perform with a band, solo and with several duos around the nation.
The Jolly Rogues are a group of diverse entertainers from the Northeast. They are dedicated to historic and Celtic music. They have four CDs which are still available on Amazon, the latest from 2010. They continue to perform and are available for historic and corporate events.
Arabesque is a unique musical duo who combine Celtic music and other world folk music, including Arabic, Turkish and Judeo-Spanish. They are also storytellers and entertainers who bring humor as well as history and lots of audience interaction to their performances. They live in Norman, Oklahoma, where Miranda teachers World Music and Steve works in archaeology.
Bow Triplets is a multinational band of musicians from Ireland, Sweden and Germany. They aim to present all sorts of Celtic music, from ancient songs to contemporary melodies, jigs and reels to laments, hornpipes to melancholy tunes. Their latest CD Secret Signs was released in 2010 and is only available through their website.
Thomas “Doc” Grauzer is a harp player and storyteller who loves traditional Irish harp music. He plays traditional tunes from Scotland, Ireland and Wales, Medieval and Renaissance songs. He also enjoys sharing historical anecdotes about the music. He is from Austin, Texas and plays weekly at Mother's Cafe & Garden as he has done for over a decade.
Boston Blackthorne has been performing what they refer to as “Celtic Music with a Rock and Roll Heart” for over 20 years. They are a New England band, and in 2010 they released a CD titled From County Kerry to Kerry Park, with music that illustrated how Irish music has transitioned from the Old World to the New, represented by County Kerry, Ireland and Kerry Park, MA where many Irish immigrants settled.
Celtic Stone were very popular at Renaissance Festivals in the South and Mid-West in the 80s. In the beginning, they played mostly traditional Celtic music fused with 60’s rock. After 1985, they moved in a more new grass/gypsy/jazz direction before breaking up in 1990.
I found Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer through their former band Serious Kitchen. They are a brilliant UK based duo. They perform traditional material as well as their own original songs on the Scottish smallpipes, accordion, and Swedish nyckelharpa. Their last album, Stones on the Ground, was released to rave reviews in 2011. In 2013, they reunited with Nick Hennessey to reform Serious Kitchen. However, they continue to perform to packed houses as both a duo. They are awesome!
Marc Gunn & The Dubliners' Tabby Cats. Well, one of those guys sounds very familiar! I assisted my cats as they created their own album of cat-centered Irish Drinking Songs, appropriately titled Irish Drinking Songs for Cat Lovers. While the band belongs to the cats, they graciously allowed me and some other human friends to assist them. In 2008, they released the follow-up album, Whiskers in the Jar, and there is talk of a third album, but nothing has come of it so far. The whistle tune was performed by Apryl Knight of The Cats. She's currently recording her first solo CD while performing at Sherwood Forest Faire in central Texas.
Poitin is one of the hottest indie Celtic bands I know… and they are from the Czech Republic. I don't even remember how I first found them, but it was this brilliant performance of “The Congress Reel” that grabbed my attention. I got several albums after that and even helped get them distribution in the U.S. when they released their album Jiggery Pokery in 2009. They followed it up with their most amazing album yet in 2010, Bofiguifluki. It's one of the top albums on Celtic Radio.
Vince Conaway is an exceptional hammered dulcimer player who performs a wide variety of music, mostly in the Medieval and Celtic styles, including his own original performances. He performs regularly all over the states and in Europe. In 2001, he released Mosaic, an album of Medieval and Celtic-influenced music. He's currently recording an album of tunes that he's worked on for the past two years. Vince is musical dedication in its highest form.
One of my all-time favorite Celtic groups is The Tea Merchants. They are a traditional Celtic music trio from Austin, Texas. They have been touring extensively over the past few years. At long last, they released their third CD, Gas Light Snaps. I'm still impatiently waiting to get a copy of the album since it is not yet available for national distribution.
Highland Fling was a 2005 band featuring Donna Germano and Susan Kidney. It was like echoes of a fiddle ringing through mists of the Scottish Highlands along with lively dance tunes and haunting melodies. As far as I can tell, the band is no longer performing. However, Donna Germano has released three albums since then. The last was in 2007 called Spirit on the Wings. It featured “traditional Celtic tunes touched by the New Age spirit”.
Bedlam Bards are close personal friends of mine. I met them at my first Renaissance festival in 1999 and have loved their music ever since. We perform often at the same conventions. In 2006, they released an album called On the Drift. It became the first full album inspired by Joss Whedon's famed TV show, Firefly, and a best-seller on CD Baby. In 2009, they released Barnyard Bedlam, A Cock and Bull Story. It was recorded live and features some of bawdiest, most-filthy songs that will leave you rolling in laughter. In 2011, we collaborated on a CD called Firefly Drinking Songs. A portion of the sales of both the Firefly albums benefit non-profits.
Culann’s Hounds refer to their music as “Irish Zydeco Root Rockin’ Rebel Party,” and I guess that pretty well sums it up. They are from San Francisco and are currently playing extensively, especially in California. It seems they released two albums since I was first introduced to their music: The House of Faith Session and One for the Road. It looks like I have a LOT of catching up to do with their music since I haven't heard a peep.
So there you have it, Victims of Irish Music six years later. There are some changes. There are some bands that are no more. Yet, the great Celtic music still remains. Great indie Irish and Celtic music is what this CD is all about. Do yourself a favor, buy a track. “Congress Reel” is the top-selling track on iTunes (where it has 46 glowing reviews), but you really can't go wrong with any of these 17 tunes. They are awesome! Do yourself a favor this St. Patrick's Day and help save Victims of Irish Music on March 10th on iTunes and/or Amazon. Then subscribe to the Celtic Music Magazine to get a free album of more great indie Celtic music. Spread the news!
Irish drinking songs and science fiction. Nowhere else but from the bizarre imagination of Marc Gunn would those four elements be so riotously integrated. He is the Chief Editor of the Celtic Music Magazine and host of the award-winning Irish & Celtic Music Podcast. His newest album Not Every Day Is St. Patrick's Day topped the charts on iTunes and Amazon in January 2013.