Traditional Irish music?
August 24, 2008 3:33 PM   Subscribe

Suggestions for traditional Irish music?

I have a friend that will be visiting Ireland. He's excited to study the history and culture of Ireland. I'd like to give him some traditional Irish music to listen to while planning his trip.

But I've realized I know nothing about Irish music and have no idea what has it's roots in tradition and what doesn't (or what is authentic and what's just created to sell me what I think is authentic).

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

(I realize the word authentic is a loaded word, just trying to find a way to ask the question.)
posted by gtr to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
When we were in Ireland, we saw Pat Kelleher & Dan O'Sullivan, and bought their cd Take the High Road Together. I'd recommend it -- it has some traditional stuff, some stuff that they wrote, and he could probably actually see them in a pub if he wanted to!
posted by dpx.mfx at 3:59 PM on August 24, 2008

I am third generation white trash but i found Sinead Oconnor sean-nos nua to be pretty good. Take it with a grain of salt.
posted by Rolandkorn at 4:10 PM on August 24, 2008

There's a few forms of traditional Irish music, but I think folk songs are the first that come to mind. You should have no trouble finding albums from The Chieftains and The Dubliners in the US, and both are just great.
posted by Kellydamnit at 4:25 PM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Get him/her something by Planxty, The Bothy Band or De Dannan. That will give anyone a good start.

The Chieftans are probably the closest you will get to something that is "created" for the market, but damn, they are some fine musicians, if they'd only fire their management. Matt Molloy, the flute player, (to call him a flautist would be an insult) is a god in his own right.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 4:41 PM on August 24, 2008

Altan is a less well known than The Cheiftans, but they are really incredible... I've seen them live.
posted by kimdog at 5:42 PM on August 24, 2008

Ewan McColl was a musical archivist, and any recordings under his name will be pure drop glimpses into an Irish time that really wasn't that long ago, but mostly doesn't exist anymore. Great stuff!
posted by Aquaman at 5:44 PM on August 24, 2008

Mr. F introduced me to Danny O'Flaherty. The store on that site sells Live at O'Flaherty's Vol. 4, which is a fine album of Irish standards.

(Man, I wish O'Flaherty's hadn't closed after Katrina. Never made it there.)
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 6:15 PM on August 24, 2008

The Pogues, pretty similar to the Chieftains and the Dubliners.
posted by Nelsormensch at 6:26 PM on August 24, 2008

Folk traditional/traditionalesque: The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem

Rocked-up traditional/traditionalesque: The Pogues

Jigs and reels: The Bothy Band
posted by Flunkie at 7:31 PM on August 24, 2008

Joe Heaney is actual sean nos, closer to the earth. I've listened to the music for years, and I'd be happy to send you a couple tracks.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 8:01 PM on August 24, 2008

slainte (1 2 3)

loreena mckennitt
posted by dorian at 10:05 PM on August 24, 2008

The Rough Guide to Irish Music and Rough Guide to Irish Folk CDs are great primers for Irish music, with representatives from different streams of the tradition.

I happen to have Danu on the mp3 player right now.

Cran are also a great band.

Niamh Parsons is a fantastic traditional singer.

Dubliners, Clancy Brothers and that type of stuff does have its roots in authenticity, but it's been so thoroughly co-opted by the tourism industry in Ireland, that your friend will immediately brand himself a tourist if he goes into a pub expecting to hear that stuff and calling it traditional.
posted by LN at 8:05 AM on August 25, 2008

The Saw Doctors are popular, and good, and not embarassing to ask for. They play rock with folk influences (so less "trad"), plus many of their songs are larded with football & local references seemingly designed solely to endear them to their Galway neighbors. And awesome live.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:09 AM on August 25, 2008

They're a pop band now, but in the '70s, Clannad recorded a number of albums with traditional music. (Very bottom of the page.)
posted by NemesisVex at 11:30 AM on August 25, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions. I'm more interested in the traditional suggestions, but I'll check out the more rock oriented also.

Thanks again.
posted by gtr at 8:10 PM on August 25, 2008

Jesus, how did I miss this question?...

Okay. The Chieftains are indeed kind of like mass-marketing of Irish music -- approachable enough for those unfamiliar with the genre to warm to it, but their style is more on "appealing to the public" rather than the music itself. But they are indeed still good, and they would make for a good "if you've never heard traditional music before..." place to start. They did a live album in the late 1980's that may be especially fun to hear -- it's a recording of a concert in Belfast, and Roger Daltrey is a guest star -- and they do an Irish-folk version of "Behind Blue Eyes" which is just fun to hear on its own right. Another possible "intro" into the genre -- believe it or not -- may be the Riverdance soundtrack; I know, I know, but the soundtrack to the original piece isn't bad if you listen to it out of context of the flash-and-sizzle of the show. (Disclaimer: I have met Bill Whelan, the composer of "Rivercance," and I may be slightly biased because he's a nice guy.)

After that -- there's a band called Solas I rather like, which is based in the U.S.; their music was used extensively in the movie The Brothers McMullen, so you may have heard them. But their solo albums are quite good. I've also seen Altan recommended, and they're even more "hardcore" straight-up Irish folk.

As for the trad-rock field -- Irish folk rock -- some have mentioned Saw Doctors, Pogues, Clannad, etc. I'd call the Pogues more of a punk band and Clannad more "new age" these days. There's also a band called "Sine" I rather like that isn't hugely well known, but I've an album of theirsthat's got some fun stuff on it. It's not....folk and rock, as such, but it's not straight folk either.

...I'm verbose on things I like. Sorry.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:38 PM on October 20, 2008

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