Seeking gym-friendly folk music
November 7, 2010 9:32 AM   Subscribe

Help me find seriously good, uptempo folk music for the gym. Like, acoustic techno?

So, I'm looking for good, fast Irish/Scottish/Bluegrass/Trad/Old Timey/Jug Band-ish... like Mumford & Sons' "Little Lion Man" (and the three or four other fast songs on that album).

It doesn't have to be purely acoustic or traditional, but I don't really want rock (Pogues) or Celtic electronica (Afro-Celt Soundsystem), although I'm open to persuasion on both those points.

posted by thinkingwoman to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
punk goes acoustic works for me. Apparently there's a sequel out too.
posted by chookibing at 9:35 AM on November 7, 2010

Clumsy Lovers is very upbeat bluegrassy Celtic with a ska sort of twist. Tons of fun! I think After the Flood has the greatest concentration of fast songs.
posted by drlith at 9:52 AM on November 7, 2010

Response by poster: Oh, Acadian/Cajun suggestions also welcome. Thanks!
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:00 AM on November 7, 2010

Salsa Celtica
posted by idiomatika at 10:36 AM on November 7, 2010

Laura Marling? Some of her songs are fairly up-tempo, like "Devil's Spoke" and "Ghosts".
posted by neushoorn at 11:14 AM on November 7, 2010

Previously, Phillip Roebuck is a pretty energetic one-man banjo and drum band.
posted by JiBB at 11:15 AM on November 7, 2010

Possibly The Destroyers? (Nothing to do with George Thorogood!)

A lot of the tracks have some rhythmic variation and fairly rubato vocals, which could count against them gymnastically. But it's great music and for sheer contagious energy they're hard to beat.
posted by d11 at 11:22 AM on November 7, 2010

Best answer: The Chieftains? I particularly like the albums they did in collaboration with American bands/music -- Down the Old Plank Road and Further Down the Old Plank Road, they make me want to dance uncontrollably. Sample here.
posted by obliquicity at 11:25 AM on November 7, 2010

Slavic Soul Party
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 11:59 AM on November 7, 2010

Best answer: Oh this is going to be such a fun thread to watch!!! :-)
Acadian: Genticorum, acoustic, French lyrics, very consistent acoustic beat. (The percussion is the lead singer's feet! They're great live) Albums and MP3s here!

The Peatbog Faeries are Celtic-club-soul fusion... instrumental stuff. veer towards techno-sounding sometimes but have a GLORIOUS horn section. Music downloads here.

Ashley MacIsaac, specifically Helter's Celtic... Big crunchy guitars and trad rhythms.
posted by SaharaRose at 12:14 PM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Trampled by Turtles. It's bluegrass on speed.
posted by youcancallmeal at 1:16 PM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by starfish at 1:56 PM on November 7, 2010

I'm sure not if it fits into your genres, but I would try the David Grisman Quintet, specifically songs from Dawg '90. Here is a sample.
posted by TrarNoir at 2:01 PM on November 7, 2010

Devil Makes Three live album A Little Bit Faster And A Little Bit Worse. The non-live stuff is mellower but it's all made of awesome.
posted by fshgrl at 3:11 PM on November 7, 2010

Le Vent du Nord! French Canadian! Reels and such!
posted by that girl at 3:58 PM on November 7, 2010

If you like traditional Atlantic Music (Scots/Irish/Bluegrass), you should check out traditional Scandinavian music which shares many of the same great qualities. Northside Records sells CDs in North America; I can't see what's available now, but a few years ago their website had many example MP3s. (Note to producers/sellers: Northside sold 4 CDs to me based on example MP3s -- they are excellent advertising.)

For a specific artist, Stan Rogers was one of the greatest modern songwriters/singers. He's most famous for "Barret's Privateers", but wrote many other great upbeat songs, as well as beautiful, but less-gym friendly songs.

As well, Natalie McMaster is a great fiddler; like Ashley MacIsaac, she does both traditional and fusion work. Her Welcome to the Trossachs always makes me want to jump up and dance around real fast.
posted by jb at 4:11 PM on November 7, 2010

Finally a good excuse to listen to Mumford and Sons. Reminds me a bit of Danny Michel.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:16 PM on November 7, 2010

Best answer: McMaster and MacIsaac are a good introduction to the world that I think of as folk-pop or folk-fusion. MacIsaac's "Sleepy Maggie" was a huge breakout hit in the 90s in Canada; McMaster's "Space Ceilidh" is always on my party-rotation.

Great Big Sea is also a great band for upbeat folk. Their cover of Oysterband's When I'm Up is one of my favourites for being upbeat, though the rhythm might be too uneven for the gym; Their Mari Mac is definitely upbeat -- one might even say frantic.

And Oysterband, for all that I prefer the GBS version of one song, is also totally worth checking out. I really like The Road to Santiago.


If there are a lot of folk fans on mefi, maybe we should have a folk/traditional Mix CD exchange?
posted by jb at 4:36 PM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh -- I realized that some of my links are to the mobile Youtube site. Hopefully, they will redirect - otherwise, just remove the "m."
posted by jb at 4:38 PM on November 7, 2010

The Horse Flies!
posted by mareli at 5:16 PM on November 7, 2010

Some of Gaelic Storm might suit you - some are a little rockish, but lots more has a great trad sound.
posted by korej at 6:34 PM on November 7, 2010

Best answer: Rodrigo y Gabriela aren't folk but they do play fast acoustic guitar with a good beat.
posted by smackfu at 6:00 AM on November 8, 2010

Great Big Sea is a lot of fun. The longer they have been around the more original music they do, so go back to their older records for more trad (and trad-sounding) stuff. "Up" and "Play" and "Turn" are good, most of which is collected on ""Rant and Roar." The "Road Rage" live album is fantastic from end to end (except for the swoony "Boston and St. John's" and "Feel it Turn" tracks, ugh).
posted by wenestvedt at 9:20 AM on November 8, 2010

Best answer: A good friend of mine specializes in collecting and compiling exactly the sort of music you are looking for, upbeat acoustic folk and polyrhythmic world music suitable for a workout. She buys CDs at folk concerts and acquires a lot of material from the online indie music store "EMusic." I've asked her to take a look at your request here, and make suggestions.

A few months ago she sent me a workout CD sampler of songs full of this variety of energetic acoustic folkiness. The following track list is probably what you're looking for:

1. Poi Dog Pondering - Fact Of Life
2. Bela Fleck & the Flecktones - Shocktime
3. Spirit Of The West - Expensive/Cinema of Pain
4. The Kennedys - Midnight Ghost
5. Jean-Luc Ponty - Rhum 'n' Zouk
6. Stephen Fearing - Anything You Want
7. Chris & Meredith Thompson - Ontario
8. Great Big Sea - Mari-Mac
9. Les Chauffeurs a Pieds - Viridam, Sanctam Et Nominam
10. The Clumsy Lovers - Groove Set
11. The Bills - Oeil Au Beurre Noir
12. Chris & Meredith Thompson - Lines of Longitude
13. The Clumsy Lovers - Mercy
14. Hart Rouge - Grain De Mil
15. The Nields - Superhero Soup (live)
16. Grace Brechin - Na Spioradan Briste (The Broken Spirits)
17. Stephen Fearing - Blind Indifference
18. Susan Werner - All Of The Above
19. Le Vent Du Nord - C'est Une Jeune Fille Mariee
20. Tarika - Tsy Kivy (Don't Be Discouraged)
21. Moxy Fruvous - My Baby Loves A Bunch Of Authors
22. Folk UnderGround - Going Wodwo

She considers the first song to be the best thing in the world for a workout. I would quibble only in that I think "Living With The Dreaming Body" from the same album is even better. (It's a pity Poi Dog Pondering doesn't write that sort of thing anymore.) As you can tell, there's an awful lot of traditional French-Canadian folk music on the list; turns out that genre does the trick.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 6:36 PM on November 8, 2010

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