Since The Daily Music Break doesn’t update on Sundays and since any reason to post Irish music is a good reason, the site is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day a day early with The Dubliner’s playing Whiskey in the Jar (above) and The Irish Rover (below).
Here is the beginning of a long but worthwhile profile of this hugely influential band.
Around 1961, Ronnie Drew returned to Dublin from Spain, where he had learned the guitar, and began to perform informally at parties, singing songs, and telling stories. A relatively well-known comedian by the name of John Molly heard Ronnie at one these parties and invited him join his show at the Gate Theatre. Ronnie was glad to go along as the “curtain warmer”, as well as to perform solo spots throughout the show and feed Molloy straight lines. Molloy wanted to add another musician and Ronnie suggested tenor banjo player Barney McKenna. Molly lived around the corner from O’Donoghue’s Pub and there they would meet every Friday night to get paid for the Gate gigs. Luke Kelly had come home from England with an interest in folk music, singing and playing 5-string banjo, and Ciarán Bourke played the whistle and guitar while studying in the University.
In 1962, there were few sessions in Dublin at the time. O’Donoghue’s Pub in Merrion Row was a quiet place where, according to Ronnie, “civil servants used to be sneaking in from their offices to have small whiskeys and things”. “One night,” says Ronnie, “we asked Paddy Donoghue, round about Christmastime, could we play a few tunes. So we played a few tunes. That was it.” “The music has never stopped in Donoghue’s since that day. That was more or less how the whole thing got going—or how the whole thing began.” From there, according to Ronnie, “people used to ask us to sing in places and we got a few pounds for playing. All these pubs which they used to euphemistically call cabarets—they’re just pubs—a room where you can sing. So we got a few of these.” In the beginning they were know as “The Ronnie Drew Group” because, as Ronnie states, “I had—which isn’t hard to do—attained a little fame in Dublin, because Dublin’s very small and you know all the reporters.” (Continue Reading…)
The AllMusic’s bio begins by contrasting The Dubliners to The Clancy Brothers. It sounds like the Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Indeed, the early days of all four bands were separated by just a few years and not too many miles:
Nearly three decades since they first came together during informal sessions at O’Donoghue’s Pub in Dublin, the Dubliners remain one of the most influential of Ireland’s traditional folk bands. Unlike their counterparts The Clancy Brothers, the Dubliners have never strayed from the raw looseness of the pub scene. According to Dirty Linen, “Whereas The Clancys were well-scrubbed returned Yanks from rural Tipperary, decked out in matching white Arab sweaters, the Dubliners were hard-drinking backstreet Dublin scrappers with unkempt hair and bushy beards, whose gigs seemed to happen by accident in between fist fights”. (Continue Reading…)
Here a band site featuring a nice picture of Barney McKenna, a founding member who died in April 2012.by
The Pogues were formed in London but really are an Irish band. I don’t know much about Irish music other than there is a whole lot of very great stuff. In the year since I’ve been doing this website, one of my favorite clips is The Clancy Brothers’ rendition of Finnegan’s Wake. There also is Black 47 and Flogging Molly, which whom I (and many others, of course) share a great love of Johnny Cash. Bands I haven’t gotten to yet include The Dubliners, The Chieftains and the Dropkick Murphys.
Two other things that are obvious is that I’ve missed a ton of other great performers and bands and that the Irish–both here and in Ireland–greatly influenced the broader vision of American music.
Here is the beginning of Wikipedia’s entry of The Pogues:
The Pogues are a Celtic punk band from London, formed in 1982 and fronted by Shane MacGowan. The band reached international prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. MacGowan left the band in 1991 due to drinking problems but the band continued first with Joe Strummer and then with Spider Stacy on vocals before breaking up in 1996. The band reformed in 2001, and has been playing regularly ever since, most notably on the US East Coast around St Patrick’s Day and across the UK and Ireland every December. The group has yet to record any new music and, according to Spider Stacy on Pogues.com, has no inclination to do so.
Their politically tinged music was informed by MacGowan and Stacy’s punk backgrounds, yet used traditional Irish instruments such as the tin whistle, cittern, mandolin and accordion.
The Pogues were founded in Kings Cross, a district of Central London, in 1982 as Pogue Mahone—pogue mahone being the Anglicisation of the Irish póg mo thóin, meaning “kiss my arse”. (Continue Reading…)
For Columbus Day, here is a look at some folks who came to America and thrived. Black 47 has been playing around New York City for years. Here is a bit of its profile at Last.fm:
If anyone is left standing, it’ll be Black 47. The band is celebrating an astonishing 20 years of rocking the world with the Celtic-influenced genre it pioneered, not to mention championing various political and social issues. Known for its partying as much as its politics, Black 47 has released 13 albums on major and indie labels, toured the world and blown the genre of Celtic rock wide open for many a band to follow.
Other Black 47 songs:by
The Los Angeles-based post-grunge seven-piece Flogging Molly are an interesting mix of traditional Irish music and spunky punk rock.
The Clancy Brothers, who played with Tommy Makem until 1969, were great talkers as well as great singers. About half of the above version of Finnegan’s Wake is a reading by Tommy Clancy from the James Joyce novel that is based on the same story: A man revives at his own wake when whiskey thrown by one mourner at another hits him.
Perhaps I’m thinking this way because Easter just passed, but there seems to be a religious subtext:
The corpse revives! See how he raises!
Timothy rising from the bed,
Says,”Whirl your whiskey around like blazes
Thanum an Dhul! Do you thunk I’m dead?”
The clip, by the way, is from the old David Frost show. Here are a later version of the same routine and the lyrics. Information about the influential Irish band is available at the group’s Facebook page and at more than one site.by