A Listener’s Gude to Irish Music

Mackenzie’s off in Stockholm with his wife, Catherine, to check out residencies for the Several Annies interested in an immersion in all things Swedish so I’m doing the Sunday post which I’m writing up very late at night, as it was busier than expected in the Pub even for a Saturday evening. After my end of the week post on some things Irish, I decided to delve into the Archives to see what we had for worthwhile looks at this music…

First, let’s give you Geoff Wallis and Sue Wilson’s The Rough Guide to Irish Music, which our dear Jack thinks is flawed but which I think does a superb job of hitting upon all aspects of recorded Irish trad and not so trad music.

For a listening guide to this music, I recommend the Rough Guide to Irish Music and the Rough Guide: Irish Music.

As I noted there, Breandan Breathnach‘s Folk Music and Dances of Ireland is a slim volume you can read over several pints of stout in the evening and gain a complete knowledge of this subject.

The rich traditions of County Connacht are the subject of Maire Nic Domhnaill Gairbhi’s A Traditional Music Journey 1600 - 2000: From Erris to Mullaghban, which looks at what she believes is an overlooked region.

Irish music owes much to The Chieftains, and John Glatt’s The Chieftains: The authorized biography is a damn fine look at this group. You ask what my favourite album by them is? That’d be Irish Heartbeat, their collaboration with Van Morrison.

Just as important to Irish music is Christy Moore, whose autobiography is titled One Voice: My Life in Song. It’ll keep you entertained for many, many an evening. I’m very fond of his ‘Faithful Departed’ and ‘Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian Roulette’.

I’d be remiss to overlook the influence of the Pogues in taking Irish music and kicking it in its fucking ass. For the best look at them, I recommend reading Jeffrey T. Roesgen’s Rum, Sodomy & The Lash which looks at what is one of their best albums.

Just as essential to Irish music is Mike Scott and the Waterboys. Read Waterboys: A Journey Beneath the Skin to see why.

Diana Boullier’s Exploring Irish Music and Dance is a guide for teachers imparting the traditions of Irish music and dance to children. It’s also worth reading if you’d like a great primer on the subject.

Erin Hart’s Haunted Ground is a mystery set in the West of Ireland and it has, not surprisingly, some great seisiun scenes.

Erin Hart being American, it’s apt that I look next at Mick Moloney’s Far from the Shamrock Shore: The Story of Irish-American Immigration through Song, as much of the Irish music experience has been changed by the waves of immigration into America.

Pair that work with Nuala O’Connor’s Bringing It All Back Home: The Influence of Irish Music at Home and Abroad, which is the work written as a companion to a BBC series. There’s also an excellent CD.

If you must read just one book, it’s the one I’m ending with for recommendations: Ciaran Carson’s Last Night’s Fun: In and Out of Time with Irish Music, if only for the chapter on the importance of a full fry-up the morning after playing an all night seisiun!

A bit of Irish music to finish off this post in a proper manner, to wit Skara Brae’s ‘Bánchnoic Éireann Ă“ ‘ off their unreleased reunion concert. Quite superb, isn’t it?

I’ll be back next Sunday with a look at my favourite Irish trad and not so trad bands.

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