Tag Archives: Celtic Woman

2019 World Music Central Holiday Music Guide

We didn’t even hit Thanksgiving this year and already a tidal wave of mall Christmas trees had been lofted skyward, stores sporting holiday gear are now glowing with twinkling lights, stacks of unsightly Christmas sweaters now crowd store shelves and smartly packaged gift merchandise snake along labyrinthine trails hardly wide enough for a jolly Santa to maneuver his considerable bulk to his red and gold throne.

OMGAI waterproof meteor shower rain lights

Chalk this early holiday frenzy up to almost a weeks’ worth of lost shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, kicking the holiday fervor into full throttle festive. Stores clogged with weary, sweaty shoppers, angry traffic snarls, temper tantrums and crying jags can’t be far behind, and, hey, maybe even some of those crying and cranky will be children. What we all could use is a little holiday music.

This is the time of year where it’s possible to get away with belting out a tune for no apparent reason and seems like a viable and sane response. And, perhaps, that’s just exactly what we should do when confronted by those frustrating problems this year. Child in the throes of a temper tantrum in line at the mall? Let loose with a little “Feliz Navidad.” Crabby customer complaining? How about we all burst into song with “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” Family members discussing politics at the dinner table? Crank up the “Jingle Bells.” Imagine putting an end to uncomfortable silences with a little “O Holy Night,” or stamping out bad behavior with “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” or finding that little slice of humanity in everyone with bit of “O Come All Ye Faithful.

Various Artisst – Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow

No doubt that there’s a young, woke individual ready to enlighten us on our perceived foibles, a vegan who’s just plunked down at your country cookin’ Aunt Sally’s dinner table or a contentious malcontent on our journeys this bleak and dark time of year. I think this year’s call is to hang some extra twinkly lights and sing loud – even if we don’t want to. It’s time to belt out “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” with some gusto. Maybe we can snag others along the way with a round or two of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” or “Joy to the World.” I’m sure a little “Winter Wonderland” will brighten the dark, especially if it comes with an adult beverage.

Now on to some of the new offerings this year.

Los lobos – Llegó Navidad

One of my personal favorites this year is Llegó Navidad by Los Lobos. Out on the Rhino Records label this CD is a delight. Putting together a collection from the vast wealth of holiday songs out of Latin America and the landscape of the Spanish-speaking world, Los Lobos have created some fine musical merriment with goodies like “Donde Esta Santa Claus,” “Llego Navidad,” “La Rama,” “It’s Christmastime in Texas,” “Feliz Navidad,” “Las Mananitas,” “Arborlito de Navidad,” “Reluciente Sol,” “Armaga Navidad” and “La Murga.” Whether is East LA (Los Angeles) flavor or the song remembered from a small Latin American plaza, Los Lobos lays down the sweet and the wryly clever with Christmas aplomb.

Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters – Christmas on a Greyhound Bus

The Asheville, North Carolina based Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters have on offer Christmas on a Greyhound Bus on the Crossroads Records label. Deliciously twangy and better than grocery store bought Christmas cookies, fans will easily take to tracks like title track “Christmas on a Greyhound Bus,” “One for the Ages,” Willie Nelson’s “Pretty Paper” and a version of Buck Owens’s “Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy.”

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis – Big Band Holidays II

If it’s a jazzy Christmas you’re looking for, well, look no further than Big Band Holidays II by Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis on the Blue Engine Records label. Let’s face it this is the kind of Christmas music recording that will make anyone run around the living room in circles like a three year old it’s that good. Jam packed with shiny delights like “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Cool Yule,” “We Three Kings,” “What Will Santa Claus Say? (When He Finds Everybody Swingin’)” “Brazilian Sleigh Bells,” “Snowfall” and Aretha Franklin singing “O Tannenbaum” it’s hard not to squirm when Santa gives up treats as good as this. Wynton Marsalis and Ms. Franklin should be incentive enough, but there’s so much more talent on this recording with the likes singers Audrey Shakir, Denzal Sinclaire, Catherine Russel and Veronica Swift, The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and enough trumpeters, trombonists, drummers and Dan Nimmer on piano and Carlos Henriquez on bass to make everything right with the world for your holidays.

Jordi Savall – Messiah

Label Alia Vox has put out the two-disc of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah. This gorgeous recording is sure to satisfy classical fans with soprano Rachel Redmond, counter tenor Damien Guillon, tenor Nicholas Mulroy and bass Mattias Winckhler, as well as Capella Reial de Catalunya and Concert des Nations led by the esteemed Jordi Savall.

Chicago – Chicago Christmas

Perhaps you’re looking for a little feel-good mood. Well, you might want to check out Rhino Record’s Chicago Christmas by Chicago. Didn’t see that coming, did you? Well, the band members of Chicago have decked out the season for their fourth holiday music recording with “All Over the World,” “What the Wold Needs Now,” “All Is Right,” “Sleigh Ride 2019” and the silky smooth “I’d Do It All Again (Christmas Moon).”

The Oak Ridge Boys – Down Home Christmas

The country and gospel quartet The Oak Ridge Boys have put out Down Home Christmas for your listening pleasure on the Lighten Rod Records. This recording is packed with goodies like “The Family Piano,” “ Angels,” “Down Home Christmas,” “South Alabama Christmas,” “Amazing Grace” and “Bring Daddy Home for Christmas,” a song I’m sure is certified by some institution or other as a means to make truck drivers, lumberjacks and general all around burly guys a little weepy.

Eugene Ormandy – Complete Columbia Christmas Albums

Real Gone Music has on offer the Complete Columbia Christmas Albums by Eugene Ormandy this season. This is just simply chocked full of classic holiday fare like “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Joy to the World,” “Ave Maria,” “The First Noel,” “Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly,” “O Come, Little Children” and “Away in the Manger.” The remastered double CD set has all your holiday favorites backed by The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Temple University Concert Choir and The St. Francis de Sales Boychoir.

The Molly Burch Christmas Album

If it’s silky smooth, slightly quirky, take on the Christmas album then you should check out Captured Tracks Record’s The Molly Burch Christmas Album. With an eye to crafting “a Christmas album for people who love Christmas music and people who don’t love Christmas music,” singer and songwriter Ms. Burch has wrapped up a neatly supply of holiday originals like “The Secret of Christmas,” “Hard Candy Christmas” and the silky smooth “Holiday Dreaming.” She also offers up truly lovely versions of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

Rob Halford – Celestial

Perhaps you’re looking for something a little harder. Well, then look no further than Celestial by Rob Halford with Family & Friends out on the Sony Legacy label. And, yes, that Rob Halford, the Judas Priest Rob Halford. Flashing for the season heavy metal reindeer horn signs instead of devil’s horns, Mr. Halford, Family and Friends rock their way through “Donner and Blitzen,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Deck the Halls.” Fans might also want to check out “Away In a Manger,” “Morning Star” and “Good King Wenceslas” just for good measure.

Dionne Warwick & The Voices of Christmas

S-Curve Records has cool on tap this year with Dionne Warwick & The Voices of Christmas. Ms. Warwick’s smoky vocals should be enough to warm up you holidays with sweet treats like “Silent Night,” “God God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” with Dianne Reeves, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” with Jason Scheff, the smoothly lush “White Christmas” with Johnny Mathis, “This Christmas” with Aloe Blacc, “The Christmas Song” with Wanya Morris and “Jingle Bell Rock” with Michael McDonald,

Bing Crosby – Bing At Christmas

Verve Records has put out Bing At Christmas featuring the famed crooner Bing Crosby. Tracks like “White Christmas,” “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” with David Bowie, “Winter Wonderland” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” are surely classic Christmas fare, but these were the days where orchestration and backing vocals mattered and well worth a slot in your holiday listening.

Frozen soundtrack

Okay, I know some you parents out there will lapse into seizures or run screaming, but I have to do it. If there are young ones in your life you might need to pull out the soundtrack Frozen 2 out on the Walt Disney Records label to soothe the savage beasts crammed in the back of your SUV. Try to look at it like this – if they are singing, they’re probably not selling crack on the street corner, planning running off to become a hobos or plotting some destructive mayhem that will result in a visit from the police or agents from federal law enforcement agency. So, suck it up and sing along with Even Rachel Wood, Kristen Bell, Johathan Groff and Idina Mezel as they make their way through “All is Found,” “Some Things Never Change,” “Reindeer Are Better Than People,” “Show Yourself” and “The Next Right Thing.” While not exactly Christmas fare , it’s better than listening some of the cheesier stuff for kids and if you get them through it now by spring they’ll be on to something else.

Brynn Stanley – Classic Christmas

Make your Christmas easy and bright with some servings of Brynn Stanley’s Classic Christmas out on the Sonopath label. Ms. Stanley’s jazzy, buttery vocals are a welcomed way to smooth over the hustle and bustle of the season. And Classic Christmas has got the goods with “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let it Snow!,” “This Time of Year,” “Santa Bring My Baby Back,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and stunning version of “Meet me in the Middle (In the Snow)” with Slim Man.

Ana Gasteyer – Sugar & Booze

There’s also Ana Gasteyer’s gimlet gaze on the season with her Sugar & Booze on the Henry’s Girl Inc. label. Catchy and infectious with Ms. Gasteyer’s fun and flirty vocals, Sugar & Booze is just the swinging jazzy bag of tricks we need this season. Fans should check out title track “Sugar & Booze,” “He’s Stuck in the Chimney Again,” “Blue Black Friday” and “The Man with the Bag.”

C.K. B. – First Christmas on Mars

If it an otherworldly state you are trying to achieve this holiday season, might I recommend First Christmas on Mars by C.K.B Magnetophone out on the LF Recordings label. Electronic dreamy and groove cool, First Christmas on Mars takes listeners on a soundscape that’s sure to capture electronica and space music fans. First Christmas on Mars rides the cosmic waves by way of “Hello Phobos Hello Deimos,” “ Interplanetary Super Skate,” “Anthem for Our New Sphere,” “New Life New Year” and “New Globe Obit Opus.”

Opium Moon –Ahava Ve Shalom

For Opium Moon fans out there the group has put out the holiday track “Ahava Ve Shalom (love + peace)” as a sweet offering and wish to listeners this year on the C Minor label. It’s also a clever little tease for their upcoming second album. Fans will just have to settle in with the exotic dreams of “Ahava Ve Shalom” during this season.

Various Artists – Putumayo Presents Blues Christmas

Putumayo never disappoints this time of year. Putumayo Presents Blues Christmas is on tap for listeners looking to the blues to settle into the season. Blues Christmas offers up Charles Brown’s “Christmas Comes But Once A Year,” Nathan and The Zydeco Cha-chas’s “I Don’t Want You Just for Christmas,” Chuck Leavell’s “Please Come Home for Christmas” and Mel Brown’s “Merry Christmas Baby” among others.

Dave Stryker – Eight Track Christmas

Putting some cool into your holidays is easy as listen into Dave Stryker’s Eight Track Christmas out on the Strikezone Records label. This a razor sharp Christmas cool offering by jazz guitarist and composer Dave Stryker and his kickass Eight Track Band with some equally cool guests like Stefon Harris, Jared Gold and McClenty Hunter. The bright and shiny just stacks up with glittery goodies like “This Christmas,” “What Child Is This?,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “Soulful Frosty” and “Christmas Time Is Here.”

Flamenco isn’t what normally comes to mind during the holidays, but this year there’s a real treat for flamenco fans. Female flamenco singer Argentina is spectacular and now she has the Christmas recording Su Primera Navidad, out on the Rosevil label, to her credit. Fans should definitely check out the simply gorgeous video “Es la Navidad” because Ms. Adelanta’s vocals are well worth it as is the stunning visuals.

Perhaps something instrumental would be to your tastes. I’d recommend DSQ Music’s A Very Merry Christmas with Dallas String Quartet. Full of cheer, the Dallas String Quartet’s sweeping lovelies crowd this recording with the likes “O Holy Night,” a swinging “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of Year,” “My Favorite Things,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” and a sweet version of “The Christmas Song” all by way of violin, viola, bass, guitar and drums just in case you need go without vocals or perhaps add some of your own.

Celtic Woman – The Magic of Christma

No holiday music list would be complete without the latest from Celtic Woman, I think it might even be a law somewhere. This year Celtic Woman offers up The Magic of Christmas out on Manhattan Records label. Just a download away and you can be enthralled with the delights of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Deck the Halls,” “Dia Do Bheatha,” “Silent Night” and “Wexford Carol” all by way of Celtic Woman’s own Tara McNeil, Megan Walsh, Mairead Carlin and Eabha McMahon.

Looking for a little Hanukkah fare for the season? Well, look no further than Weihnukka by Andrea Pancur out on the Galileo Music Communication label. Ms Pancur romps through “Drey Dreydl,” flickers like a flame through “Es Wird Scho Glei Dumpa,” glides smoothly on “Ned No Amoi” and dazzles through “Di Tsukunft. Full of bells, clarinets, saxophones, trombones, accordions, piano, guitar, whistles and drums, Weihnukka is powerful.

Kristin Korb – That Time of Year

Bassist and singer Kristin Korb delivers some seriously cool tunes on her holiday offering That Time of Year, out on the DoubleK Music label. Joined by pianist Magnus Hjorth, drummer Snorre Kirk and harmonica player Mathias Heise, That Time of Year is a slice of sleek and smart and will certainly up your reputation on sophiticated holiday party. Goodies include “Christmas Will Really Be Christmas,” “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,” “That’s What I Want for Christmas,” “Christmas Is,” “Silent Night” and “We Three Kings.”

Looking for a little retro Christmas this year? It just so happens Ume, Universal Music Group has paired some newly crafted footage and animation with some old favorites. They have The Jackson 5’s “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” The Supremes’s version of “My Favorite Things,” The Temptations singing “Silent Night,” Dean Martin’s “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!,” Bobby Helms sing “Jingle Bell Rock,” Burl Ives singing “Holly Jolly Christmas,” Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and Frank Sinatra’s “Jingle Bells” all for your viewing and singing pleasure.

I hope your holidays are filled with family, friends and music that’s makes you smile. And, remember to use holiday music wisely. Don’t make the neighbors angry because you think the animated deer at the end of your yard magically move in time to “White Christmas.” And, I sincerely hope you suddenly burst into song for no apparent reason. Hey, some jolly guy might just give you a Christmas cookie.


2019 St. Patrick’s Day Music

So, here we are. We’ve come to that time of year when I have this sudden insane desire to rip paper shamrocks from the walls and turn them into origami swans. With a few deft strokes of a Sharpie, I yearn to give every cheap, cheesy leprechaun a fabulous Salvador Dali mustache. I want to fill every faux pot of gold with squid and give every green, gaudy hat its proper due by handing it off to the nearest Labrador Retriever to be rendered into a slobbery, slimy cheap piece of felt as it so richly deserves.

It must be St. Patrick’s Day season.

I am currently without Sharpie, Labrador Retriever or squid, but, my fine readers, I do have music for your St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve got raucous music, soothing music, poetry within music, music so fine as to make a pint of Guinness shed a tear. I’ve got music with fiddles, music with guitars, music with pipes and music with voices so lovely it will give that Labrador Retriever pause and so drop that chewed hat. I’ve got music from across the ocean, music from down the road, music from across a green field and music from a dark wood. So, let’s get to it.

Irish Relaxation: Calming Celtic Instrumental Music and Beautiful Nature

Those seeking to find a kind of Celtic serenity this St. Patrick’s Day have to look no further than New Age NY Company’s Irish Relaxation: Calming Celtic Instrumental Music and Beautiful Nature. Celtic Chillout Relaxation Academy and Calm Music Zone offer up tracks like “Irish Relaxation,” Spiritual Awaking,” “Nature of Ireland,” “Irish Soundscapes,” “Patrick’s Day,” “Waves & Cliffs” and “Ancient Hills of Ireland” for those looking for a bit of Celtic Zen (I’m sure all you Druids out there have your own name for a Zen-like state so just fill in your own word).

David Arkenstone – The Celtic Heart

David Arkenstone has on tap for this St. Patrick’s Day The Celtic Heart. Sweet instrumentals like “Hearts Entwined,” “May Dance,” “the Promise Ring” and “Secret Wedding” are comfortably easy and enjoyable. This is perhaps a little sedate for a raucous St. Patrick’s Day party, but might be held in reserve if the mayhem needs to be taken down a notch or two.

The Outside Track. – Rise Up

The label Lorimer has put out Rise Up by a group called The Outside Track. Comprised fiddler and singer Mairi Rankin, singer and flute player Teresa Horgan, composer and harpist Ailie Robertson, composer and accordionist Fiona Black and guitarist Michael Ferrie, The Outside Track boasts such previous recordings like Light Up the Dark, Flash Company, The Mountain Road and Curious Things Given Wings. Rise Up possesses some real charmers such as “Dark Reels,” “Road to Rollo Bay,” “The Wahoo Set,” “Eleanor Plunkett” and “Happy Reels.”

Eabhal – This Is How the Ladies Dance.

Out of the Scottish Gaelic tradition comes Eabhal and their 2019 recording This Is How the Ladies Dance. Musicians Megan MacDonald, Jamie MacDonald, Nicky Kirk and Hamish Hepburn have crafted a fine fiddle and accordion soaked album on This Is How the Ladies Dance with delicious fare like “Beir Soiridh,” “MaSim,” “Windsong,” “An Ribhinn Donn” and “The Artist.”

Claire Hastings and her album Those Who Roam

Luckenbooth Records has on tap Claire Hastings and her album Those Who Roam. With her previous recording Between River and Railway under her belt, this Scottish singer and songwriter dazzles her way Those Who Roam with tracks like “The Lothian Hairst,” “Seven Gypsies,” “Jamie Raeburn” and “Ten Thousand Miles” with some truly spectacular vocals.

The Tannahill Weavers –Orach

Scottish group The Tannahill Weavers has put out Orach -The Golden Anniversary Album, out in the U.S. On the Compass Records label. This is a wonderful collection of traditional and contemporary song celebrates The Tannahill Weavers 50th anniversary and their 18th album with the group’s current line-up members Roy Gullane, Phil Smillie, John Martin and Lorne MacDougall and fondly honoring past band members. Fans get goodies like title track “Orach,” “Jenny A’ Things,” “Oh No!,” “The Asturian Sessions,” “The Ghost of Mick McDonnell” and “Gordon Duncan Set.”

Ciaran Tourish and Keven Doherty –Hotel Fiesta

The goodness just keeps on coming with Altan and 4 Men & a Dog heavyweights Ciaran Tourish and Keven Doherty and their release Hotel Fiesta. This album is a punch to the gut, a kiss on the cheek and a warm embrace all wrapped in one with tracks like “The Oak Tree (Jackson’s 1 & 2),” “Hawker’s Blues,” “A Visit to Ireland/The Lark on the Strand/Peter Byrne’s Fancy,” “Boots of Spanish Leather,” “Ur Chnock Chein Mhic Cainte,” “The Foxhunters/Dusty Miller,” “Dan the Man” and “My Love Is in America/The Cup of Tea/The Donegal Reel.”

Various Artists – Live Recordings from the William Kennedy Piping Festival, Vol. 2

If it’s piping you want, it’s piping you get with Live Recordings from the William Kennedy Piping Festival. This double CD set is a compilation from various performances at the William Kennedy Festival from 2003-2017. There’s more pipers here than you can shake a stick at, including Sean McKeon’s “The Maid on the Green/The Humours of Glin,” John McSherry and Francis McIlduff’s “Son Ar Rost/Song of the Chanter/The Foxhunters/James Kelly’s/The Limestone Rock,” The Goodman Trio’s “An Roguire Dubh/Airgiod Cailighe,” Paddy Keenan’s “The Broken Pledge/The Skylark/The Bucks of Oranmore” and Jarlath Henderson and Ross Ainslie’s “Jim Tweedie’s Sea Legs/Iain Ruadh/Thunderstruck/Angus Thing/Limestone Rock.” This is a sort of glorious piping overdose.

Grainne Holland – Corcra

Following up on recordings Teanga Na nGael and Gaelre, Irish singer Grainne Holland has out this year a whole CD’s worth of her own original songs called Corcra. Teaming up with a stellar cast of musicians including Aidan O’Rourke, Liam Bradley, Brendan Mulholland, Cormac McCarthy, Niamh Dunne, John Joe Kelly, Paul Dunlea, Conor McCreanor and Steve Jones, Ms Holland turns out a stunning collection of songs including “Mise Agus Tusa,” “Coinsias, Corp Agus Croi,” “Harry’s” and “An Ri Rua.” There will be no dry eye in the house by the time she’s done.

Farsan – Gaelic Traditions in the New World

Lead vocalist Mairi Britton, fiddler Katie McNally, pianist, accordionist, mandolinist and vocalist Neil Pearlman and border and highland piper Elias Alexander make up the group Farsan and their debut recording “Gaelic Traditions in the New World” is rich and rewarding and well worth a listen. Masterly moving through tracks like “Taladh A’ Phuilein,” “Pronn An Caoran,” “The Water Boiling Machine,” “Fear Drabastach,” “A’ Mhisg A Chuir An Nollaig” and “Gun Togainn Air Hugan,” Farsan turns out a recording that’s equal parts achingly lovely and joyfully jaunty.

Gary Innes –Imminent

Scottish accordion player Gary Innes shows off his chops on his recording Imminent. Leaning heavily on his own compositions, Mr. Innes casts a wide net over the tracks of Imminent, offering up goodies like “The Doctor’s Order,” the raucously wild “Welcome to New York,” the sweetly solemn “Sheerwater,” the completely entertaining “Alpha Runrig” and the easy mood of “Trade Winds.”

Hannah Flowers – Amhran na Cruite: Songs of the Harp

St. Paul, Minnesota native Hannah Flowers takes a turn in Irish with her recording Amhran na Cruite: Songs of the Harp. Angelic vocals and fairy compositions woven throughout tracks like “Buachaill on Eirne,” “Cul Tiubh na bPearlai,” “Urchnoc Chein Mhic Cainte” and “Dun Do Shuil” will surely earn Ms. Flowers a nostalgic tear at the thoughts of the old country.

Daoiri Farrell – A Lifetime of Happiness

If you are looking for some straight up Irish folk then look no further than Daoiri Farrell’s A Lifetime of Happiness. This is the real deal Irish folk fare to cozy up along with some properly pulled pints and a few friends. You’ll want to snag a listen to tracks like “The Galway Shawl,” “Valentine O’Hara,” “Theres the Day,” “Sweet Portadown,” “Rosie Reilly” and “Via Extasia” if for no other reason than Mr. Farrell’s plumy Irish vocals.

Brighde Chaimbeul – The Reeling

The Skye born, Scottish smallpipes player Brighde Chaimbeul’s recording The Reeling is shockingly good and I mean leaked out of the air, bubbled up from some strange lake good. Recorded live in a historic church in Cromarty, Scotland, the music of The Reeling sounds as if it had just lingered in the air for a couple of centuries before a wee lass captured it and put it down for the rest of us. Don’t believe me? Check out tracks like “A Bhriogais Uallach/Highean Donn nan Gobhar,” “Moma e Moma Rodila,” “An Leimras/Harris Dance” and “Gur Boidheach Nighean Donn Mo Chridhe.”

Jose Manuel Tejedor – Miraes

Brandishing pipes and whistles, Jose Manuel Tejedor gives listeners a taste of Spain’s Celtic flavor on Miraes. Mr. Tejedor lays down the goodness with tracks like “Automatas,” “Espiona,” “Miraes” and “Rihonor/Rio de Onor.”

In addition to Mr. Tejedor on pipes and whiles Miraes is packed bouzouki, mandolin, bodhran, violin, concertina and with some steel guitar from fellow musician Angel Ruiz on “Valles.”

Celtic Woman- Celtic Woman Homecoming Live from Ireland
Celtic Woman Ancient Land

If Celtic Woman is your thing, there are two out this season Celtic Woman Homecoming Live from Ireland and Celtic Woman Ancient Land.

This is rather typical Celtic Woman fare with “Mo Ghile Mear,” Dulaman,” and “Fields of Gold” gracing Homecoming and tracks like “Ancient Land,” “Homeland,” “Mna Na hEireann” and “Tara’s Tune” on Ancient Land. While not exactly to my particular tastes, I’m sure there’s some out there waiting with baited breath to get a listen.

Various Artists – Street Lights

It started out with a few folk. People like Dave Geraghty, Gary Lightbody, Bono, Conor O’brien,Loah, Roisin O, Cathy Davey, Galia Arad, Faye O’Rourke, Saint Sister, Little Green Cars, The High Hopes Choir and The Camden Orchestra, along with musicians Cian Boylan, Conor Brady, Ben Castle, Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Colm Quearney, Rob Malone and Graham Hopkins. Well, these folk put out the single “Homeward Bound” as a way to aid the homeless. Well, wouldn’t you know they put an album to carry their good works over. Street Lights, the album, teams up the likes of Damien Dempsey, Snow Patrol, The Frames, Vincent McMorrow, Villagers and Luka Bloom for a CD that will benefit Ireland’s homeless. Fans will want to check out Street Lights’s version of Paul Simon’s “Homeward Bound,” Damien Dempsey’s “Soft Rain,” Stephen James Smith’s spoken word coolness on “My Ireland” and Richard Hawley and Lisa Hannigan’s “Hush A Bye Mountain.”

Bangers Mash – Quicksand Cafe

Quicksand Cafe by Bangers & Mash, out on the Dancing Druid Music label might appeal those who want to gather up a gang of toughs and rock out this St. Patrick’s Day. Pulling together the talents of vocalist and percussionist Liam Hudock, electric bassist Seth Lesselbaum, vocalist and bodhran player Carole Lesselbaum, vocalist and guitarist Chad Herth, vocalist and fiddler Alexandra Adams, drummer Anthony Anastase and guest guitarist and drummer Brian Gabriel, Quicksand Cafe is a quick-paced Celtic steamroller as it rollicks along with tracks like “Fields of Athenrye,” “Star of the Country Down,” title track “Quicksand Cafe,” “Rambling Rover” and “Morrison’s Jig.”

YR Hwntws – Y Tribanw

From Wales there’s the stunning recording Y Tribanwr by the group YR Hwntws. Lushly sweet with jazzy overtones, Y Tribanwr is downright delicious. Corralling the talents of vocalist Gregg Lynn, vocalist, tabor player and percussionist Nia Lyn, fiddler Bernard KilBride, vocalist, flute and whistle player Imogen O’Rourke, mandocello player Dan B. James and double bassist and bass guitarist Dean Ryan, YR Hwntws has a tight, neat sound throughout tracks like “ Ym Mhontypridd mae ‘Nghariad,” “Aradwr a’i Ychen,” “Bro Morgannwg,” “Ffarwel I Dai’r Cantwr” and “Diawledig a Nefolaidd/Pibddawns Gwr Wrecsam.” The music is downright lovely, the recording excellent and the liner notes contain the Welsh lyrics to all the songs if you want to give your Welsh a go and the English translations if you’re a scaredy cat like me. Yeah, I think speaking Welsh might just need a wee bit of courage.

Lleuwen Steffan – Gwn Glan Beibl Budr

Another offering from Wales and a sort of off-the-beaten track comes Gwn Glan Beibl Budr. Fans might recognize Lleuwen Steffan’s voice by her previous recordings Tan, Duw A Wyr/God Only Knows and Penmon. While Gwn Glan Beibl Budr might be a tad more experimental than the Celtic Woman set would tolerate, but Ms. Steffan’s vocals on tracks like “Y Garddwr” and “Can Taid” are just too good to miss. Fans should check out the silky smooth vocals of “Cwm Rhondda” against some pretty fabulous percussion and instrumentation. Other goodies include the lazy smoky feel of “Caerdydd” and the sweet elegance of “Mynyddoedd.”

The Gloaming – The Gloaming 3

One of the real gems this year has to be Real World Records’ The Gloaming 3. So finely wrought, so utterly elegant, The Gloaming 3 is likely to cause normally placid people to turn to others and snottily ask, “Must you breathe in and out so loudly?” for fear of missing a single note. The Gloaming 3 gang of vocalist Iarla O Lionaird, hardanger d’amore player Caoimhin O Raghallaigh, guitarist Dennis Cahill, fiddler Martin Hayes and pianist Thomas Bartlett transform a voice and four instruments into a Celtic music lover’s wonderland. There’s no need to point out particular tracks, simply because it’s wonderful from the opening notes of “Meachan Rudai (The Weight of Things)” to the very last note of “Amhran na nGleann (The Song of the Glens).” All one needs to do is to surrender to the timelessness of each precious note and let the rest go hang.

I hope some of this music might go a long way to soothe the irritations of cheap green beer, insanely drunken revelers in matching T-shirts with “Irish you were naked” printed on the front and the stupidly obnoxious guy dressed as a leprechaun this St. Patrick’s Day. If not, my advice is to grab a Sharpie, a Labrador Retriever and a bucket of squid.

I’ll leave you with the Gaelic saying, “Giorraionn beirt bothar.” It essentially means “Two people shorten a road.” So, grab a friend, order up a pint, tell a tall tale and revel in some fine music.


Artist Profiles: Méav

Méav Ní Mhaolchatha

Méav has a broad range of performing experience in Ireland and abroad. Her first solo album, Méav, sold 40,000 copies and is particularly popular in the US, Japan and Korea. Several of the tracks from the debut Meav album were featured on compilation albums, including one (Ailein Duinn – Warner Special Marketing), which sold 100,000 units.

Méav inherited her love of classical and traditional music from her family in Dublin. She began her studies of voice, harp and piano at an early age and continued them while completing a law degree at Trinity College Dublin.

Méav toured South Africa for three months as the lead vocalist with Lord of The Dance in 2000. As the sole vocalist on three extensive tours from 1996 to 1999, Méav has toured the U.S. and Canada with the RTE Concert Orchestra conducted by Proinnsias Ó Duinn. She has performed a variety of traditional and contemporary works from the tour including Riverdance by Bill Whelan in a series of concerts in Dublin, Belfast and Limerick.

As a principal soloist with the Celtic choral group Anúna, she has toured extensively in Canada, Morocco, Spain and Scandinavia and has performed with such diverse musicians as Elvis Costello, Brian Kennedy and The Chieftains. As a soloist with Anúna she sang at the inauguration of President Mary McAleese. She sang in the London and Dublin runs of Riverdance and in the New York premiere at Radio City Music Hall. As a soloist with the Irish National Chamber Choir, she has toured Brazil, Sweden, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic.

Méav has broadcast frequently on Television and Radio, in Ireland, South Africa, Korea and the U.S. Her other recordings include featured tracks on Aujourd’hui l’Irlande and on Celtic Spirit with the RTE Concert Orchestra; the theme music for the BBC TV series, The Aristocrats and three albums with Anúna.

She is a featured soloist in “Celtic Woman”, the highly successful DVD and CD.


Méav (Celtic Collections, 1999)
Silver Sea (Celtic Collections, 2002)
Celtic Dreams (Valley Entertainment, 2006)
A Celtic Journey (Manhattan Records, 2006)
Celtic Woman Presents: Méav (Manhattan Records, 2006)6
The Calling (Warner Music, 2013)

With Celtic Woman:

A Christmas Celebration (Manhattan Records, 2006)
A New Journey (Manhattan Records, 2007)
Home for Christmas (Manhattan Records, 2012)
Destiny (Manhattan Records, 2015)
Voices of Angels (Manhattan Records, 2016)
The Best of Christmas (Manhattan Records, 2017)


Music for St. Patrick’s Day 2018

St. Patrick’s Day. How exactly did the Catholic patron saint feast day of the the people of Ireland, a relatively small island in the North Atlantic, evolve into a worldwide celebration? With festivities and parades in communities large and small that traverse from United States to Australia from Germany to Argentina from Japan to South Africa, the logical answer of course is the ability of the Irish to pick up and move to wherever the road takes them with all the mitigating factors of migration mixed in like famine, disease and oppression. By why this extravaganza of green? Some might point to mass marketing with promises of barrels of beer, a good time party and a lively parade in those dark days that mark the lull between Christmas and the genuine start of spring. The spread of St. Patrick’s Day by way of the cross pollination of culture seem so reasonable, so rational, so plausible.

But the Irish in me wants it to be us. The Irish in me wants it to be our storytelling, our music, our dance. Yes, the Irish in me wants it to be the utter surety that “if you knew us, you’d like us,” which I’m not sure if it makes us charmingly likable or just a wee bit obnoxious. Those not quite spring days of March seem a good time for us heathens in the Northern Hemisphere to settle in with a pint against the backdrop of a sweet tune and listen to someone’s Da tell a story that couldn’t possibly be true, but then again it just might. See, I have no doubt that there’s a Irishman out there, right now, that’s looking at a lovely woman and saying, “Ah, Mo stoirín, you remind me of a girl …” before weaving a fantastical tale. Perhaps that’s the real lure of St. Patrick’s Day.

To lure you in further let’s find some music for your St. Patrick’s Day and there is indeed some fine music this year to tempt you.


Celtic Thunder – Celtic Thunder X


There’s the standard St. Patrick’s Day fare of Celtic Thunder’s Celtic Thunder X with tracks like “Sons of Light,” “Toora Loora Lay” and “The Wild Rover.” While a little overblown and a bit more commercial pop than I personally prefer, their version of “Lannigans Ball” is lively.


Celtic Woman – Homecoming – Live From Ireland


The late 2017 releases of Voice of the Celts and The Voice Within by Dulaman follow along the same vein, but “Dulaman,” “On Raglan Road,” “Sally Brown,” “The Sally Gardens” and Na Ceannabhain Bhana” are worth a listen. Also, Celtic Woman has put out Homecoming – Live From Ireland for Susan McFadden, Mairead Carlin, Eabha McMahon and Tara McNeil fans.

Linn Records has put out Celtic Experience Vol 1: Haunting Themes from Scotland & Ireland by Scottish harpist and composer William Jackson for your listening pleasure. “My Laggan Love,” “Ca The Yowes,” “The Rocky Road” and “The Raggle Taggle Gypsies” are charming.


Altan – The Gap of Dreams


The Gap of Dreams by Altan is certain to set your Celtic heart all aflutter. The stunning bright and beautiful recording is full of the goodness of Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh’s vocals and fiddle, Ciaran Curran’s bouzouki, Daithi Sproule’s guitar and vocals, Mark Kelly’s guitar and vocals and Martin Tourish’s piano accordion. They threw in Tommy McLaughlin on keyboards just for kicks. On The Gap of Dreams fans get a dose of “The Gap of Dreams/Nia’s Jig/The Beekeeper,” “The Month of January,” “Nion a’ Bhaoigheallaigh” and “The Tullaghan Lasses/The Cameronian/The Pigeon on the Gate,” as well as “Cumha an Oileain” and the sweetly simple Mark Kelly composition “Port Alex.”


Maeve Mackinnon – Stri


Equally delicious is the third offering Stri by Gaelic singer Maeve Mackinnon. Fans will want to check out this for tracks like “Iomaraibh Eutrom,” “Roisin Dubh,” “Dh’fhalbh Mo Run air an Aiseig” and “O Mo Cheist am Fear Ban.”


Eric Ryan-Johnson – From Within


Fiddle fans will want to check out From Within by fiddler Eric Ryan-Johnson. This artist self release is packed with goodies like “Jigs: The Beginning/A Boy & His Dad/The Yelping Dog,” “Air: The Farmer of Florence,” “Reel: The Morning Cup,” “Air: February 23” and “Reels: The End Is Near/ Bound to Break.” And if that wasn’t enough sweet Celtic fiddle goodness for you, he’s also got The Wonderful Day on tap with treats like “Hornpipes: The Wonderful Day/The Bee’s Wings,” “Jigs: Knights of St. Patrick/Hast to the Wedding/Father O’Flynn’s,” “Air: Melody for Meredith Keefe,” “Reels: Bag of Potatoes/Blacksmith’s Reel/Castle Kelly” and “Reel: Coffin Ships.”

There’s Celtic Crumble’s Echos of Ireland with tracks like “Carry Me Home,” “The Rocky Road to Dublin,” “The Twins of Ballina” and title track “Echos of Ireland” to tempt fans.


Discover Celtic Music


Perhaps, a mixed bag of tricks will tickle your fancy. Well, then you might want to try out ARC music’s Discover Celtic Music. There are some real treats here with Aryeh Frankfurter’s “The Morning Dew,” Golden Bough’s “The Wren Boys/Gavin’s Hornpipe/Honeysuckle,” Noel Mclourghlin’s “The Hills of Connemara” and Mary Ann Kennedy’s “Air Leathad Sleibhe.” There’s also Gwyneth Glyn’s “Cwlwm,” Yvon Etienne’s “Si j’ai le courage,” Os Rosales’s “Muineira a Gatuxa” and Sian James’s “Mwynen merch.” Good stuff.


Damien O’Kane – Avenging and Bright


Pure Records has released Avenging and Bright by Damien O’Kane. Don’t let the goofy cover photo of Mr. O’Kane scare you off because this Northern Ireland singer and musician goes down silky smooth like the perfect pint on offerings like “Boston City,” title track “Avenging and Bright,” “All Among the Barley,” January Man,” and “Dancing in Puddles.” Mr. O’Kane’s vocal against piano, guitar and tenor guitar makes for some fine contemporary fare.


Danny Diamond – Elbow Room


Perhaps one of my favorites has to be the Danny Diamond’s Elbow Room. This fiddler extraordinaire has played previously with Slow Moving Clouds and Morga, but on Elbow Room Mr. Diamond wows listeners simply by the shape and breadth of his own solo fiddler’s soul. Whether you’re a newbie listener or a seasoned Irish fiddle devotee, it’s easy to fall under the spell Mr. Diamond weaves on tracks like “Maureen from Gibberland,” “The Pinch of Snuff,” “Watching the Evening Grow,” “The Blackbird” and “Johnny Cope.” This is truly a fiddler’s delight.


The String Sisters – Between Wind and Water


The String Sisters have out Between Wind and Water. Irish vocalist and fiddler Mairead Ne Mhaonaigh, Norwegian Hardanger fiddler Annbjorg Lien, the American fiddler Liz Knowles, Shetland fiddler Catriona MacDonald, the American fiddler Liz Carroll and Swedish fiddler and vocalist Emma Hardelin have turned out some fine tunes on Between Wind and Water with jaunty tracks like “The Crow’s Visit,” “Hjaltland” and “Late Night in Forde.” Fans get morsels of sweetness like “Wind and Rain,” “Det bor I mina tankar” and “Mo Nion O.”


Theresa Kavanagh – An Choill Uaigneach


Another stunning fiddle recording is An Choill Uaigneach by Theresa Kavanagh. Hailing from Donegal, Ms. Kavanagh dazzles listener with the bright wildness of the fiddle on such tracks as “The Wild Swans of Coole/The Abandoned Meadow,” “Jocelyn’s/Grainne’s Jig” and “The Sword of Light/Secrets of the Willow,” and title track “An Choill Uaigneach” or “The Lonesome Forest” is elegant.


Plantec – Live at the Festival Interceltique Lorient


For Celtic fans looking for a little something off the beaten path might want to check out Plantec’s Live at the Festival Interceltique Lorient. These Breton Celtic rockers dole out a ferocious performance on this recording. Full of Breton bombard, guitar and synthesizer and programming, this is a definitive kick in the pants to any sweet version of “Danny Boy.” Recorded at the 2017 Lorient Inter Celtique Festival, Plantec’s Odran and Yannick Plantec and Gabriel Djibril kick some Celtic rock ass with tracks like “Croissant de letiez,” “Speedwell,” “Koun” and “Feulz.”


Alan Simon – Excalibur IV The Dark Age of the Dragon


Another off the beaten path choice might be Celtic Rock Opera series recording “Excalibur IV The Dark Age of the Dragon” with music, lyrics and concept by Alan Simon. If you need a backing soundtrack for your noble quest down the highway or to the grocery store, well, here’s your music. Recorded with the Bohemian Symphony Orchestra Prague, this recording rocks out with electric guitars, drums and keyboards, as well as mandolins, Celtic harps and big bold vocals. It features Moya Brennan (Clannad), John Helliwell (Supertramp), Martin Barre (Jethro Tull), Michael Sadler (Saga),and Bernie Shaw (Uriah Heep).


Brona McVittie – We Are the Wildlife


Brona McVittie’s We Are the Wildlife is a lovely contemporary Celtic folk collection. Her sweet vocals on “Where the Angels Wake You,” “The Flower of Magherally“ and “Molly Brannigan” are intimate and mesmerizing. Add in Myles Cochran on “The Vast and Vague Extravagance That Lies at the Bottom of the Celtic Heart” and you definitely have a winner.


Aine Minogue – In the Name of Stillness Celtic Meditation Music


If atmospheric and ethereal is what you are looking for you might want to check out the Irish harpist Aine Minogue’s In the Name of Stillness Celtic Meditation Music. Ms. Minogue set us a serene loveliness from opening track “In the Name of Stillness” and through tracks like “Home of Belonging,” “In the Name of Solitude” and “Quiet Absence.”


Mary Ann Kennedy – An Dan: Gaelic Songs for a Modern World


Mary Ann Kennedy has An Dan: Gaelic Songs for a Modern World out on the ARC label. The Scottish singer has tracks like “Seinn, Horo, Seinn,” “Sith na Coille,” “Iain Againn Fhin” and “Air Leathad Sleibhe” on tap for listeners.


John McSherry – The Seven Suns


If Ulileann pipes, bouzouki, bodran, fiddle, flute and cello are on your wish list for the season, then you might want to take a listen to John McSherry’s The Seven Suns. A 2016 release that some how passed us by is bold and infectiously delightful. With tracks like “Dance of the Siog,” “The Atlantean,” “Sunrise at Bealtaine,” “The Golden Mean” and “The Cloghogle,” Mr. McSherry, along with fellow musicians Sean Og Graham, Niamh Dunne, Michael McGoldrick and Sean Warren, will have you and yours feting until the wee hours.


Doolin’ – Doolin


Another 2016 out on the Compass Records label that somehow also passed us by that is well worth a listen is Doolin‘ by the band of the same name. Doolin’ is a fine time and rollicking good fun with tracks like “Mary’s Jigs,” “Sailing Across the Ocean,” “The Road to Gleanntan,” “Wind Her Up” and “The Galway Girl.”


John Duhan – The Irishman’s Finest Collection


There’s also The Irishman’s Finest Collection by John Duhan. Starting out his career at the age of 15 as the front man for Limrick’s 1960s rock group Granny Intentions, Mr. Duhan would later turn to his own writing and solo recordings like The Voyage, Just Another Town and To the Light, as well as having some of his songs recording by heavyweights such as Christy Moore, The Dubliners and Mary Black. On The Irishman’s Finest Collection, Mr. Duhan lays bare the Irish soul by way of tracks like “Just Another Town,” “The Voyage,” “All I Need” and “The River Returning.”


The Gloaming – The Gloaming Live


Should musicians like Irla O Lionaird, Caoimhin O Raghallaigh, Dennis Cahill, Martin Hayes and Thomas Bartlett mean anything to you then you should drop whatever bit of nonsense you are doing and run around in a circle of delight. A bit of girlish screaming and arm waving wouldn’t go amiss either. If you hadn’t guessed these five musicians have out on the Real World label The Gloaming Live at the NCH . And let me say this recording is lovely, lovely and even more lovely. Be prepared to be entranced by the opening fiddle lines of “The Booley House,” through the sweet charms of Iarla O Lionaird’s vocals on “Cucanandy” and “The Sailor’s Bonnet” to the very Celtic magic of “The Pilgrim’s Song” and “The Rolling Wave” and all the way to the very end of “Fainleog.” You want this CD. You need it. Your very connection to all that expresses the sweetly joyful sorrowful Celtic soul depends on it.

Recorded at Dublin, Ireland’s National Concert Hall, The Gloaming Live at NCH is breathtakingly good, so good it’s hard not to feel a little giddy over this elegant work of voice, piano, Hardanger d’Amore, guitar and fiddle. You don’t even need to think about, just get it.

Finally, let me say that in regards to St. Patrick’s Day that I’m glad to know that we Irish aren’t hoarders of the holiday. There’s enough Irish to go around. That frothy pint doesn’t care a whit if you are saint or sinner. The fiddle tune doesn’t care if your are ferocious or feckless. You could be fool or faerie folk and you would still be welcome for what the Irish call comhaltacht – fellowship. So, settle in and listen to some good music and maybe somebody’s Da will tell you a story.

Headline photo: The Gloaming


Splendid Celtic Suites

Máiréad Nesbitt – Hibernia (Cosmic Trigger, 2016)

This is the second solo album by celebrated Irish violinist, composer and instrument maker Máiréad Nesbitt. For over 10 years, Máiréad was the violinist for popular crossover act Celtic Woman. She left the band recently to focus on her solo career.

On ‘Hibernia, Máiréad brings traditional Irish/Celtic music together with classical music. And she does it beautifully. Máiréad also celebrates the anniversary of the rise of Ireland as an independent nation. Hibernia was the name the Romans gave to Ireland.

The format of most of the album is solo violin accompanied by classical orchestra, flute and percussion. The percussion featured includes traditional percussion played by percussionists as well as foot percussion made by a group of dancers.

‘Hibernia’ is divided into various suites, a sort of mini-symphonies composed by Máiréad, Colm Ó Foghlú, and Liam Bates, inspired by the music and dance from the southern province of Munster. Máiréad leads the way with her extraordinary violin, through exquisite slow airs and high-speed reels.

Although the majority of the album is instrumental, Hibernia includes a song To Bring Them Home, written by Liam Bates and performed by tenor Nathan Pacheco. This song portrays the heroes of a shipwreck off the coast of Ireland.

The lineup on Hibernia includes Máiréad Nesbitt on Celtic violin; Karl Nesbitt on flute, low whistle, bouzouki and didjeridoo; Mick O’Brien on uilleann pipes and whistle; Kathleen Nesbitt on fiddle; John Nesbitt on accordion; Seán Nesbitt on accordion; Nathan Pacheco on vocals; Noel Eccles on percussion; Nick Bailey on percussion; The Orchestra of Ireland, leader Kenneth Rice, conducted by Liam Bates; Cashel Set Dancers: Gráinne Uí Chaomhánaigh, Áine Cody, Bernie Sullivan and Coleman Lydon on foot percussion.

Hibernia is an exquisitely crafted Celtic Classical album by the talented and multi-faceted artist Máiréad Nesbitt.

Buy Hibernia


The Recording Academy Announces 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards Nominees for Best World Music Album

The Recording Academy announced today the 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards nominees for Best World Music Album:

Destiny by Celtic Woman (Manhattan Records)


Celtic Woman – Destiny


Walking In The Footsteps Of Our Fathers by Ladysmith Black Mambazo (Ladysmith Black Mambazo)

Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Walking In The Footsteps Of Our Fathers


Sing Me Home by Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Ensemble (Masterworks)

The Silk Road Ensemble – Sing Me Home


Land Of Gold by Anoushka Shankar (Deutsche Grammophon)

Anoushka Shankar – Land Of Gold


Dois Amigos, Um Século De Música: Multishow Live by Caetano Veloso & Gilberto Gil (Nonesuch)

Caetano Veloso & Gilberto Gil – Dois Amigos, Um Século de Música: Multishow Live