New York Music Daily

Global Music With a New York Edge

Category: irish music

A Dynamic, Riveting Performance by One of the World’s Great Organists

About midway through the concert this past evening at St. Ignatius of Loyola, a sad, rustic Celtic air wafted from the organ console. For fans of Irish folk tunes – many of whom were in the audience – it was a familiar and probably comforting sound. But others were taken by surprise, notwithstanding that the piece was on the program. After all, it’s not every day that you can hear the plaintive microtones and otherworldly drones of uilleann pipes at a performance of classical organ music.

And it wasn’t organist Renee Anne Louprette who was playing those particular pipes. It was Ivan Goff. As his composition To Inishkea slowly built austere, funereal ambience, Louprette added calmly resonant chords whose harmonies were counterintuitive to the point where it seemed that this might have been a joint improvisation. Cornered after the show, she revealed that she’d actually written out her parts. Is she also a Celtic musician? Avidly so – she also plays uilleann pipes, and Goff is her teacher. If she’s a tenth as good as he is, she’s a force to be reckoned with.

That world premiere interlude – which also included a lively if sepulchral Irish air from 1852, a more subdued Swedish waltz and a traditional slide dance – was typical of the poignancy and innovation that Louprette is known for. The big news is that she’ll be premiering a new commission for all those pipes with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and if that we’re lucky, we’ll get her to air out the smaller ones all by herself sometime in the future.

She opened the concert with a confident, ultimately triumphant build through the long upward trajectories of two Bach organ pieces from the Klavierubung. The effect was heroism but not pageantry. At the reception afterward, more than one spectator commented on how Louprette does not let notes die on the vine – she lets them resonate for every millisecond of what the score requires. That issue is a big deal these days among string players, but it also applies to keyboardists.

Louprette’s steadiness and sometimes subtle, sometimes dramatic dynamic shifts carried a theme and variations from French composer Nicholas de Grigny’s abbreviated but pioneering Livre d’Orgue. She took that energy to the rafters throughout Ad Wammes’ colorful Myto, from playful motorik rhythms, to what could have been the robust title theme from an action movie – Snowboarding the Matterhorn, maybe? – to sudden blasts of angst.

A transcription of a Nadia Boulanger improvisation made an aptly pensive introduction to the evening’s coda, a transcendent, often harrowing interpretation of Maurice Durufle’s Suite, Op. 5. As with the Bach, she built steam matter-of-factly through an epic with a chilling, stalking opening theme, towering peaks punctuated by clever echo effects, a ghostly dance on the flute stops and a deliciously icy interlude played with the tremolo way up before the mighty gusts began. Durufle was a friend of Jehan Alain, and was profoundly saddened by Alain’s death: the many plaintive quotes from Alain’s music leapt out precisely at the most prominent moments. Or at least that’s how Louprette played them. Beyond sheer chops and emotional attunement to the piece, Louprette knows this organ like the back of her hand, having been at St. Ignatius for several years beginning in the mid-zeros.

Louprette’s new album Une voix françaisee/A French Voice is just out; her next concert is March 18 at 3 PM at St. Joseph Memorial Chapel at Holy Cross College in Worcester, MA  And the slate of organ recitals at St. Ignatius continues on March 21 at 8 PM featuring a lavish program of solo, choral and orchestral works by Bach. $25 tix are available.

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The Bryant Park Accordion Festival – Pure Sonic Bliss

Wednesday night, the four corners of Bryant Park were awash in the blissful, plaintive, bittersweet and sometimes boisterously pulsing tones of many of New York’s most captivating accordionists. Booked by Ariana Hellerman, publisher of the irreplaceable free events and concert guide Ariana’s List – a primary source for a lot of what you find on the monthly NYC concert calendar here – opening night of this year’s Bryant Park Accordion Festival featured music from France, Russia, Colombia, Ireland, Brazil, many other countries and all over the US as well. Hellerman’s setup – a single accordionist or small group situated in every corner of the park, as well as over by the fountain on the west side, works out perfectly since each act is far enough away from the others to ensure that there’s no sonic competition.

Performances are staggered, Golden Fest style, with brief fifteen minute sets and virtually no time lost between acts. Some of the accordionists rotate, so that you can catch more of them if fifteen minutes isn’t enough for you  – seriously, is fifteen minutes of accordion music ever enough?

A tour of the festival’s first hour was as rapturously good as expected. It was tempting to pull up a seat in the shade to be serenaded by the Wisterians’ poignant French musettes, or the great Ismail Butera’s edgy, supersonic take on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean sounds, or Phil Passantino‘s wildly spiraling Cajun songs. But just like Golden Fest, it’s like being a kid in a candy store here, a great way to discover dozens of new artists. For starters, Mindra Sahadeo played calmly lustrousIndian carnatic music, singing in a sonorous baritone and accompanied by his mom on mridangam, another woman to his right adding vocals. He was a ringer, considering that he was playing harmonium (there were also a couple of others on the bill playing the concertina).

Next, in the northeast corner, the charismatic Alan Morrow entertained the crowd. Is there anything this guy can’t play? Segueing breathlessly between styles, he fired off bits and pieces of songs across pretty much every conceivable genre. About a minute after Dave Brubeck, we got James Brown: “Say it loud, I’m a New Yorker and I’m proud,” Morrow grinned, and the audience agreed. By then he’d already made his way through classical, ragtime, jazz, hints of klezmer and finally the longest number of his set, the Moody Blues’ Nights in White Satin, which turned out perfect for the accordion – and for a second seemed that he was going to do the whole album version, complete with hazy string-and-poetry interlude.

The highlight of the hour – at least from this perspective – turned out to be Guillermo Vaisman, who played a tantalizingly brief set of chamame tunes. It’s a popular folk style that’s common on the Uruguay-Brazil border, like tango but less classically-tinged, or a more lively counterpart to candombe. And it’s hard to find in New York. Vaisman’s elegance and dynamics throughout a mix of waltzes and more upbeat material put him on the map as someone who would be even more enjoyable to see stretching out with a longer set.

The festival continues for the next two Wednesdays, starting at 6 PM. The July 5 show features, among others, the haunting and amazingly eclectic Melissa Elledge, playful avant garde jazz and Romany accordionist Shoko Nagai, and Jordan Shapiro, better known as the organist in Choban Elektrik, the Balkan Doors. Closing night is Friday, July 21 at 8, hosted by the mesmerizing Rachelle Garniez, featuring Middle Eastern, Brazilian and Colombian music, to name just three styles. And it’s free.      

How Do You Say Jethro Tull in Czech?

What an encouraging omen that in 2016, a band would be unafraid to record a hauntingly vivid, 70s-style art-rock suite. One that vividly echoes Jethro Tull, no less.

Jethro Tull.

Say it slowly. Jethro. Tull.

If you’re stoned, you’re already laughing. But stop. In this blog’s five-year history, the most popular review here is a writeup of a show by that band’s founder. So today’s front page news should be the second most popular piece ever, right?Psychedelic art-folk band Jull Dajen earn that distinction, evoking Tull in the best possible ways, and without the Stonehenge vibe that earned them Spinal Tap immortality. The Prague-based group’s new album Salamander is streaming at Soundcloud.

The opening diptych pairs a jaunty seafaring waltz theme of sorts with a bouncier one in 4/4, with a psychedelic wah violin solo by the band’s not-so-secret weapon, Pavel Cingl, at the center. The title track is a surreal Slavic take on Tull with a crystalline yet inscrutable vocal in perfect English by Bara Malkova anchored by slinky, sliding bass from Czech punk legend Jaroslav Kestra Kestranek.

In a Circle bookends a purposeful, propulsive minor-key dance theme with bandleader/acoustic guitarist Petr Stambersky’s pensive fingerpicking alongside Dusan Navarik’s similarly thoughtful flute. They hand off to Cingl, who raises the morose energy a little before the dance kicks in.

Unfortuantely I Haven’t Met You Yet goes a moodily bouncing psychedelic Britfolk direction. There’s a hint that the gnomes will go frolicking at the end – whether or not they do is worth sticking around to find out.Old Indian Man is a sad, hypnotic take on what could be a Native American theme, although it sounds closer to Shonen Knife with more expressive vocals. Cingl hits his wah pedal and channels a century of deep blues as it winds out.

Forgotten Tull gives Navarik a chance to channel his inner secondhand Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Meanwhile, the rhythm section gets  a chance to have devious fun with 70s disco (Kestranek’s lines are hilarious), and Cingl to offer a snide response via his wah pedal. For Anoushka Shankar reprises the opening theme as a moody fugue and then pouncing 70s art-rock, an eclectic elegy for her paradigm-shifting dad who like this band never met an idiom he could resist appropriating and adding his original voice to.

Malkova sings Starless – an allusion to the classic King Crimson dirge, maybe? – with a haunted resignation in contrast to the band’s slowly crescendoing dynamics and a lively, combative conversation between Cingl and Navarik. Greedy Pigs – Hungry Sharks is a funny juxtaposition between bouncy and sinister. There’s a final, closing benediction, a variation on the Scottish seaside theme that opens the album, Cingl”s psycho blues and Frantisek Tomasek’s terse, purposeful accordion signaling that all here ends well. Dare you to give this a spin even if Jethro Tull is no more than a signifier of wretched 70s excess to you.

The Led Farmers Bring Their Smart, High-Voltage Irish Sounds to NYC

Smart, propulsive Irish folk-rock band the Led Farmers make stop at Arlene’s at 10 PM tonight, Sept 10 at 10 PM; cover is $10. Isn’t it cool when a good out-of-town band gets a prime weekend slot at a Manhattan venue with a good sound system? Everybody wins. The venue gets to show off their good taste, the band gets exposure to a new crowd and you don’t have to drag yourself to deepest, creepiest Bushwick on Tuesday night at 11 PM where you’ll have to figure out how to get home on your own afterward because the trains have stopped running.

On one hand, every high-energy original Irish band is going to draw the obvious Pogues comparison. The Led Farmers distinguish themselves with their focus, and tightness, and their songwriting. Sure, their new album, Katie – which hasn’t hit Spotify yet, although there are some tracks up at the band’s music page – includes familiar, friendly favorites including a salute to Galway bay moonshine, an unexpectedly plaintive, spare version of The Foggy Dew, and a boisterous live take of the Irish Rover. But their own songs and instrumentals are the best part.

The album opens with the brisk, minor-key populist anthem Share the Wealth: “People with their cash must be smoking hard if they think we’re going quietly…let yourself be alone at last, put aside your technology,” the band encourages. And then scampering uilleann pipes break for the dancers pops up midway through. Brendan Walsh’s banjo spirals and spins and shoots off sparks over Seamus Walsh’s rich bed of guitars and the hard-hitting rhythm section of bassist Ross O’Farrell and drummer Glenn Malone on the instrumental The White Set.

To Offer follows a brisk, mysterious, hardscrabble band-on-the-run narrative over similarly dynamic, unexpected changes. The deliciously spiky, bitingly ominous banjo/guitar textures as the hit single Row by Row gets going are worth the price of the album alone – and the song’s the mutedly sarcastic anti-prejudice message packs a similar wallop. Likewise, Star of the County Down rocks about as hard as an acoustic band possibly can: for all intents and purposes, it’s acoustic heavy metal. And the all-too-brief, feral, lickety-split banjo/guitar break midway through Thomas Jefferson is pure adrenaline.

The album’s most entertaining track is the instrumental Space, where the band makes it impossible to figure out what they’re going to hit with you next, especially when it takes a turn in a darker direction. The band winds it up with the vividly weary Raglan Road, just acoustic guitar and vocals. These guys are excellent musicians, strong singers and sound like they’re an awful lot of fun live. This is the point where music writers spin all kinds of cliches like good craic and raising a pint, but you can figure all that out by yourself and the band will help if you can’t. And you don’t have to drink or be Irish to like this stuff.

Celtic Americana Trio the Henry Girls Play a Rare, Intimate Barbes Show

Where does one of the most interesting and unique bands in Ireland play when they come to New York? Barbes! The harmony-rich Henry Girls – multi-instrumentalist singing sisters Karen, Lorna, and Joleen McLaughlin – have an intimate 8 PM gig there on March 18, quite a change from the big concert halls they’ve been playing on their current US tour. Their latest album Louder Than Words is streaming at Soundcloud.

There’s no other band who sound like them. While much of their music is rooted in oldtimey Americana, they’re just as likely to bust out a brooding traditional Irish ballad. They mash up American, Irish and Scottish influences and have an unorthodox core of instrumentation anchored by Joleen’s concert harp, Lorna’s accordion and mandolin and Karen’s fiddle, ukulele, piano and banjo. On album, they’re backed by an acoustic rock rhythm section; it’s not clear from the group’s tour page if they’ll be by themselves or they’ll have the whole band with them.

The album’s opening track, James Monroe, is a swaying, angst-fueled minor-key ballad, spiced with a punchy chart by the Bog Neck Brass Band. Presumably it predates the guy with the Doctrine. Then the sisters take a leap forward a couple hundred years into the present with The Weather, a cheery, bouncy number that’s part oldtime hillbilly dance, part Brilll Building pop. Likewise, Maybe has a lushly yet rustically arranged current-day folk-pop feel – it wouldn’t be out of place on a Sweet Bitters album.

Driven by Ted Ponsonby’s rich web of acoustic guitars, the catchy, anthemic, backbeat-driven No Matter What You Say could be a Dixie Chicks tune, but with organic production values. The sisters’ spiky instrumentation and soaring harmonies add an extra surreal edge to a shuffling cover of Springsteen’s creepy roadside anthem Reason to Believe.

The Light in the Window, the most Celtic-flavored tune here, manages to be as ominous as it is wistfully elegaic, Karen’s fiddle rising over Liam Bradley’s clip-clop percussion. Home paints a broodingly detailed, sweepingly orchestrated tableau set amongst the down-and-out. The sisters’ gorgeous take of the old proto-swing tune So Long But Not Goodbye compares with the version by longtime Barbes band the Moonlighters.

It’s Not Easy sets a flamenco melody to a gentle country sway: it’s sort of this band’s Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood. Producer Calum Malcolm plays churchy Hammond organ behind the sisters’ harmonies, and a gospel choir, on the album’s closing cut, Here Beside Me. If Americana or Irish sounds are your thing, get to Barbes early on the 18th.

An Astonishingly Eclectic, Global Album and an Auspicious Laurie Anderson Collaboration at BAM from the Kronos Quartet

The original indie classical ensemble, the Kronos Quartet – violinists David Harrington and John Sherba, violist Hank Dutt and cellist Sunny Yang – are teaming up with Laurie Anderson for what promises to be one of the year’s best, and potentially one of the decade’s most auspicious runs at BAM next week. They’lll be performing their collaboration, Landfall, which explores Anderson’s experiences during Hurricane Sandy here in New York a couple of years ago. The concerts run from Sept 23 to Sept 27 at 7:30 PM. $20 balcony seats are still available as of today. You’ve been given the heads-up – this could be major.

The Kronos Quartet’s latest album, A Thousand Thoughts – streaming at Spotify – is also pretty major. It’s basically a survey of string music from around the globe, accent on intense and substantial. It’s also an unusually successful take on a format that’s often overrated and underwhelming: pairing a famous group with a bunch of equally famous special guests. But the Quartet has always been a mutable unit, as these fifteen tracks – recorded across the years, with every Kronos Quartet lineup – prove over and over again. They literally can play anything, yet always manage to put their own individualistic, out-of-the-box stamp on it. Celtic traditional music reinvented as ambient soundscape? Check. The Blind Willie Johnson delta blues tune Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground remade as Vietnamese art-song, with eerily quavering dan bao from Van-Anh Vanessa Vo? Doublecheck.

Maybe what’s most enjoyable here is that virtually all of these performance are acoustic. To be completely fair, when the Kronos Quartet have employed electronics, those effects aren’t usually gratuitous: the group tends to use them for extra atmospheric bulk and heft when a piece calls for it. But these performances are intimate, with an immediacy and vivid chemistry among the ensemble and with the guests. The Quartet teams up with Syrian star Omar Souleyman for a Bollywood-ish jam with biting accents and swirling microtones over a steady, hypnotic beat. Vo returns to join her countryman Kim Sinh for another alternately spiky and swooping Vietnamese number. A suspensefully crescendoing, rather epic Ethiopian theme by Ethiopiques sax legend Gétatchèw Mèkurya is one of the album’s highlights.

A far more stark, haunting highlight is Sim Sholom, by klezmer legend Alter Yechiel Karniol. A long, dynamically rich, slowly unwinding take of a Turkish classical theme by early 20th century composer Tanburi Cemil Bey might be the best track of them all. Or it could be the spare, haunting Greek gangster blues tune Smyrneiko Minore. Or for that matter, a rare. achingly beautiful excerpt from Astor Piazzolla’s Five Tango Sensations featuring the great bandoneonist/composer himself.

There’s also a shapeshiftingly lush Terry Riley piece featuring the vocals of Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares; a Homayun Sakhi Afghani rubab tune that straddles the line between Middle Eastern and Indian music; a scampering collaboration with Chinese pipa virtuoso Wu Man on a rousing traditional song; and a little gentle Bollywood and Irish folk at the end. It’s an apt summation of this group’s hall of fame career, one that simply refuses to stop.

The Mahones Bring Their Irish Drinking Madness to the Knitting Factory

The Pogues may be done but the Mahones are going strong. One of the world’s best-loved Irish punk bands has a pretty self-explanatory new double live album, A Great Night on the Lash, recorded at the twentieth anniversary of the Rock Im Ring festival in Italy last year. They’re playing the Knitting Factory on May 8 at around 10; advance tix are $12. And this is where it gets interesting, for both the band and the person writing about the album: how do you take a basic formula and vary it enough to keep everybody’s attention over sixteen originals and the three covers that serve as the bonus tracks here? After awhile, as the band suggests with one of the alltime most brillliant song titles, doesn’t this go on Past the Pint of No Return?

That song hits right in the middle of the set. “Are you fucking drunk yet? accordionist Katie Kaboom asks the crowd. “This song is about the last time we were here last year and Finny went out for drinks on his birthday and he doesn’t remember.” For a band that endorses extreme alcohol abuse, the Mahones are incredibly tight. The song has a long buildup and then some whirling, spiraling accordion over the roaring guitars. The singalong riff is “we all fall down.” If the band is telling the truth, those pints weren’t beer – they were hard liquor.

They segue from there into King of Copenhagen – is this about a guy who “discovers beer?” Denmark, after all, is the home of the Green Death a.k.a. Carlsberg Elephant malt liquor. Then they segue into Ghost of a Whiskey Devil, which the pennywhistle and accordion elevate above the level of a generic punk anthem. There’s barely any room between songs, the band hell-bent on keeping the party going.

“I turned to Shane MacGowan, I said, what the fuck,” frontman Finny McConnell tells the crowd as the defiantly hardcore title track gets the party started. From there they reel through Paint the Town Red, blast their way down Shakespeare Road, go back to shoutalong electrified folk on A Pain From Yesterday, fire off an Irish take on Social Distortion on Angels & Devils and then rip into the punked-out Wild Rover. A waltz through the wee-hours ambience of London, Katie switching to string synth, makes a bit of a lull before they take it up again with Down the Boozer, then dedicate Give It All You Got to Joe Strummer.

They end the set with a surprising choice, the slow, downcast, Beatlesque Whiskey Under the Bridge and then hit the encores hard: the hardcore-infused Queen and Tequila; the best song of the night, the grimly snarling antiwar anthem Blood Is On Your Hands; and a triumphant mashup of Celtic Pride, Drunken Lazy Bastard, the Undertones’ Teenage Kicks, with a volcanic noise jam. The album’s bonus tracks include the Sham 69 ripoff Going Down the Bar along with boisterous Ramones and Undertones covers. Is anyone who isn’t a serious drinker going to like this album, or this band? Probably not. But for fans of the Celtic rock pantheon – Black 47, the Pogues and Flogging Molly among them – it doesn’t get much better than this

A Tasty Bluegrass/Janglerock/Irish Blend from Chamomile & Whiskey

Central Virginia band Chamomile & Whiskey play a unique mix of newgrass, high-voltage Irish folk music and jangly rock.  Their album Wandering Boots is streaming at their Reverbnation page; they’re at Rock Shop on Jan 24 at 11 PM for a $10 cover,

The album’s opening track, Blue Ridge Girl is a briskly pulsing electric bluegrass tune with incisive mandolin and a surprisingly austere solo from fiddlet Marie Borgman. Dirty Sea veers back and forth between a darkly lively Irish reel with fiddle and whistle, and a backbeat country anthem. It’s cool to hear those sounds together, considering how much of a source one is for the other.

Impressions. another clanging electric bluegrass shuffle, has a similarly gorgeous, lush blend of electric guitars, banjo and fiddle. Long Day works a two-chord Just My Imagination vamp that rises on the chorus with more sweeeping strings, frontman Ryan Lavin channeling mid-60s Dylan with a brooding unease. Buckfast Tuesday is sort of an acoustic You Can’t Always Get What You Want – except that in this crazy tale, the band of burglars does.

The alhum’s title track makes fiery, anthemic punkgrass out of a doomed, minor-key country blues theme. They keep the edgy intensity going with the bitter anthem Sara Beth, which might be about a murder, or just a metaphorical one. Inverness, a purposeful, propulsive train song, sets Lavin’s surreal narrative over eerie, muted, staccato fiddle and more delicious layers of guitar: “Saw your face on a train, over on a seat by the windowpane, you were bettng races on the beads of rain.” he intones, and it just gets more surreal from there. The album winds up with the ominous, minor-key, swaying noir blues Second Lullaby, a booze-drenched singalong. This band has so much going for it: smart original tunesmithing, interesting cross-genre pollination and richly textured sonics that should come across well through Rock Shop’s excellent PA.

The Sultans of String Bring Their Sweeping Sounds to Joe’s Pub

Wickedly eclectic Canadian instrumentalists the Sultans of String play a cosmopolitan, global take on acoustic string band music. Informed by the flamenco and Romany traditions but not reverential to them; they cast a wider, more diverse net than the Gipsy Kings. Fans of the more expansive side of Balkan music also ought to check them out. They’re at Joe’s Pub on Dec 6 at 9 PM; tix are $20.

Their latest album, Symphony!, finds the groupl ensemble bolstered by a massive orchestra. With such lush sonics, much of the album has a gentle, even lullaby feel to it – some people may hear this and think Pink Martini, but even if the music can be pillowy and soft around the edges in places, there’s no denying how solid and tasteful the playing and arrangements are. And the explosiveness of the louder parts makes the contrast all the more powerful. The opening track, Monti’s Revenge, has them doing with strings what Fanfare Ciocarlia does with brass – with droll breaks for horns and whistling as the bass walks frantically, all the way up to a titanic conclusion. Palmas Sinfonia makes elegant flamenco chamber-jazz out of a sweeping chart that has the guitar trading riffs with an entire string section, building slowly to a whirlwind and then some unexpected funkiness.

Josie is dreamy and lush, with Celtic tinges, incisive oboe and flute sailing over a dreamy backdrop. Emerald Swing attempts to make Romany jazz out of an Irish waltz, while Sable Island works an evocative, vividly wistful Acadian theme, with some unexpectedly Gilmouresque electric guitar and uillean pipes. They follow that with A Place to Call Home, which they manage to make both more lush and more bouncy. And just when you might think these guys are on the road to Vegas, they hit the Road to Kfamishki, a fiery, oud-fueled levantine masterpiece that’s the best track on the album – fueled by Bassam Bishara ‘s oud, it could have gone twice as long and wouldn’t be boring.

Luna brings back a clever, wryly humorous trajectory from Acadian folk to a tongue-in-cheek latin vamp. The album ends with the flamenco-folk Encuentros, a gentle knockout with its haunting changes on the turnaround out of the verse, probably the best approximation here of what this band sounds like live.

An Eclectic St. Patrick’s Day Toast to Celtic Rock

Black 47′s Larry Kirwan isn’t just a terrifically prolific songwriter and novelist. He also hosts a music show, Celtic Crush, on one of those pay-radio stations. For those who don’t have a General Motors car (which for awhile came with a subscription to the service, and maybe still do), there’s a killer new compilation, Larry Kirwan’s Celtic Invasion, out just in time for St. Paddy’s Day featuring some of the most popular songs from the show. A playlist featuring many of those tracks is up at Soundcloud; there’s also a free download at the album page. The theme: Irish expat bands from both sides of the Atlantic. Among them, the twelve acts here cover a lot of ground – the uniting thread is an Irish traditional influence, jaunty jigs and raucous reels alongside crunchy, distorted guitars – or more delicate acoustic ones.

The opening track, Weekend Irish, by Barleyjuice, is a telling one: we all know people like this. “Beware the Weekend Irish…the blood runs deep, where the booze is cheap.” Runrig, from Scotland, contribute Clash of the Ash, a stomping tribute to shinty (the competitive sport which gave birth to both hurling and hockey). Also from Scotland, the Peatbog Faeries deliver Wacko King Hako, a bizarrely effective mix of swirling electronics, bludgeoning rock and pipes-fueled folk. Black 47 are represented by the surreally amusing Uncle Jim, ostensibly based on a true account of a (possibly alcohol-fueled) attempt to convert the notorious Ian Paisley to Catholicism

Kirwan astutely snagged a previously unreleased, epic live version of the Waterboys’ best song, Savage Earth Heart. John Spillane’s Buile Mo Chroi sounds like a traditional song, but it’s actually an original, which makes sense considering the hypnotic, percussive psychedelic rock arrangement. A Celtic Cross tune simply titled 22 also works a psychedelic vibe, but with some funk to go along with the banjo and high-spirited fiddle.

The Blaggards, from Houston, turn The Irish Rover into killer punk rock. Garrahan’s Ghost call York, Pennsylvania home – they scamper through the ominously anthemic tale of Sullivan’s Lake (The Flood). New York’s own brilliant Shilelagh Law gives a shout-out to all-night Irish-American cross-pollination with Meet Me on McLean. The album winds up with a hard-charging, rapidfire folk-rock anthem by the Hothouse Flowers that turns into a reel with sizzling uillean pipes. Good craic – you can practically smell the alcohol fumes (and maybe something extra) wafting in on the sound. And in case you’re wondering, Black 47 are playing their annual St. Paddy’s Day show at B.B. King’s starting around 8.