Good Celtic Music
August 8, 2007 11:03 AM   Subscribe

Looking for good Celtic music and I need your help…

I am Scottish and Canadian and I have grown up around Celtic music. I have been living in the USA for the past several years and I have lost touch with my roots (at least as far as music goes). I am looking for some music with lots of fiddle and/or pipes.

I listen to NPR on Saturdays when they play a lot of really good music. However, by the time I get to a place with a pen I have forgotten the band names.

I am looking for a faster style like Ashley Macisaac, but not Ashley Macisaac.

posted by birdlips to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
How about this -- go to the music page -- there might be something in all the different projects he did that you'll like. He was quite a character on the Boston/Cambridge scene.
posted by nnk at 11:33 AM on August 8, 2007

Natalie MacMaster, Martyn Bennett, Catriona McDonald, and The Battlefield Band are some of my favorites.
posted by melissam at 11:35 AM on August 8, 2007

also, a Celtic Sojourn from WGBH Boston -- I've linked to the playlists, but you can also listen online.
posted by nnk at 11:35 AM on August 8, 2007

I'm currently listening to "Banish Misfortune" played by the Appalachian Celtic Consort - might fit what you're after.
posted by paduasoy at 11:42 AM on August 8, 2007

putumayo has a pretty decent celtic collection
posted by Flood at 11:44 AM on August 8, 2007

Altan is good, and their instrumentals are very fast. (I find their songs a bit too ethereal for my tastes, but YMMV.) I like their albums "Island Angel" and "Harvest Storm" a lot. Dervish is another popular Irish super-group that plays pretty fast. If you're interested in Scottish stuff, Silly Wizard, the Battlefield Band and Capercaillie are all popular.

I don't know how traditional you like your traditional music, but I'm a big fan of a Scottish band called Old Blind Dogs. They do fancy-schmancy things with percussion, and purists are generally not impressed, but I think they're pretty swell.
posted by craichead at 11:48 AM on August 8, 2007

I really like Leahy
posted by happyturtle at 11:50 AM on August 8, 2007

I recently saw The Glengarry Bhoys and The Sevens. Both were outstanding Celtic groups, imho.
posted by wg at 11:54 AM on August 8, 2007

Liam O'Flynn's The Given Note is an uilleann master on his top game.
posted by Abiezer at 11:55 AM on August 8, 2007

I don't have a lot of knowledge about Celtic bands or even the ones you've mentioned, but I've always enjoyed Highland Reign. Warning: music streams from the main page.
posted by jmd82 at 11:56 AM on August 8, 2007

The "Thistle & Shamrock" website always posts each week's playlist if you can't keep up with Fiona Ritchie's intros and outros.

Seconding the recommendation for WGBH's "Celtic Sojourn". It is one of my favorites.
posted by briank at 11:58 AM on August 8, 2007

Nobody has mentioned The Chieftains yet? They're the golden standard!
posted by widdershins at 12:02 PM on August 8, 2007

You may want to start out with classic groups like the Bothy Band or Planxty. Oh, and the Chieftans of course, when they're playing traditional Irish stuff. More modern bands like Altan, Danu, Solas, Cherish the Ladies, Lunasa and Capercaillie all have some fairly good stuff - very much worth checking out - but their albums tend to have some number of the slow gaelic chanteuse-type songs, which aren't quite what you want.

You may also want to check out solo artists who do primarily instrumental stuff. Fiddlers like Kevin Burke (Sweeny's Dream), Tommy Peoples (The Iron Man), or Eileen Ivers (Wild Blue, though the earliest stuff by her is the most traditional), tin whistle players like Matt Molloy (The Stony Steps), players of the uillean pipes like Eoin O'Riabhaigh (Handed On), etc.

Also, while you're at it, you might find yourself interested in checking out traditional Scandinavian stuff as well - it's also heavily based on fiddle, and there are some pipes. The style is very European, but because most Americans are more familiar with styles descended from Irish/Scottish music, it's an odd mix of familiar and strange. Frifot, Ole Hjorth, Ale Möller, Björn Ståbi, etc. The Folkways recording "Folk Fiddling from Sweden" [featuring Ole Hjorth and Björn Ståbi] would be a good starting point.
posted by ubersturm at 12:20 PM on August 8, 2007

Old Blind Dogs from Scotland are exactly what you are looking for. Lots of fast-paced fiddle and flute, with great percussion. They do both traditional and original songs. I've seen them twice live, and can't recommend them highly enough
posted by kimdog at 1:04 PM on August 8, 2007

posted by kc0dxh at 1:36 PM on August 8, 2007

posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:58 PM on August 8, 2007

For faster, not-quite-traditional music, try the Afro-Celt Sound System (aka Afro Celts).

Green Linnet's Twentieth Anniversary Collection is an absolute treasure trove of great music. Two CDs, one song from most of their big artists. It's a really wonderful sampler of a lot of different musicians.
posted by fuzzbean at 2:03 PM on August 8, 2007

Enter the Haggis are a lot of fun and fairly fast paced.
posted by plinth at 2:13 PM on August 8, 2007

Barrage, The Corrs, The Irish Rovers, The Irish Descendants, The Rankin Family. Seconding Leahy too...... :)
posted by aedra at 5:07 PM on August 8, 2007

sláinte. it's free, even.

for (much) faster, try dropkick mairphys.
posted by dorian at 5:14 PM on August 8, 2007

also also: shelagh mcdonald -- less traditional, and most probably influenced by the north american folk and jazz (which of course was influenced strongly by e.g. carter family, who were in turn strongly influenced by, yes you guessed it...)
posted by dorian at 5:33 PM on August 8, 2007

Oh man, I can't believe no one has suggested this podcast! It has introduced me to so much amazing music, and the guy who puts it together, Marc Gunn is really great. I really cannot reccomend it to you enough...I guarantee you will find some music you like!

Also, a couple bands you might check out, although they don't exactly do the traditional fiddles & pipes stuff:

The Elders
, leaning a bit more Irish than generally Celtic

Great Big Sea, Newfoundland folk songs and sea shanties
posted by gueneverey at 7:31 PM on August 8, 2007

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