Folk folks, tell me more!

I’ve been delving into folk music for some time now. Started with the Renaissance faires - no, that’s not entirely true. A lot of the music from my misspent youth was handed down from hippie relatives and my country-bumpkin Mom, so I have been exposed to variations of folk music for a long time. But anyway. Back to the ren faires: I’ve gotten to like a lot of “traditional” Irish, Scots and English music, most of which I learned does NOT date from the Renaissance era. I started looking for bands/artists performing this type of music, found a bunch of 'em and enjoy them. Learned a little history along the way, too. And THAT, I love. And I want more.

I think I prefer my folk music with some historical touches. Give me rebel songs, drinking songs, war songs, sea-shanties! I have some Italian and Indian folk music, but I would like to concentrate on stuff that is in English.

Would someone kindly point me in the direction of some good stuff?

(For comparison’s sake, I like Great Big Sea, Seamus Kennedy, Minstrels of Mayhem, Hair of the Dog - if you know of stuff in this vein, please share!)

I’ll recommend two you can check out; they are wonderful musicians with whom Mr. S and I have also been privileged to become good friends. Regardless of my personal bias, I think you’ll find that their music stands on its own and both have been widely and very favorably reviewed. They also meet your requirements for music with a historical bent (especially C&L).

Curtis and Loretta
Ariane Lydon

Both sites have sample MP3s for your listening pleasure.

Go to the Mudcat Cafe at for a wealth of info and many knowledgeable people concerning folk music and related topics.

For fairly straightforward traditional Irish music, I’d suggest Altan. And for something very different, but fitting into your historical edge, are the Warsaw Village Band.

(Search for either of them on Amazon for sound clips :slight_smile: )

…and both bands are also playing in Chicago this year :wink:

For folk music, I would highly recommend:

Stan Rogers- Canadian folk singer, Home in Halifax is a good started.
Jez Lowe & the Bad Pennies- I like Tenterhooks & The Parish Notices.

For traditional music, I always think of Silly Wizard. Wild and Beautiful and Live Wizardry are two of my favorites. Another one I would recommend is Capercaillie’s The Blood is Strong.

You might find these sites useful:

Music Scotland
Radio Celt
Online Folk Music

Irish music is a chapter to itself. Will need a 20 page long post for that.

Quick pick: Bothy Band, De Dannan, Planxty are all classics. If you’re interested in that side of things, please ask me for more info!
Nice English traditional:

  1. Classics: Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span (earlier stuff is better. Before they discovered the joys of the synthesiser in the eighties and enthusiastically overdid it IMO). The people from these bands turn up in varies configerations as offshoot bands.)

  2. New stuff: Eliza Carthy (daughter of famous folk singers Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson. She also made a nice album with the parents), Kate Rusby (who also shows up in Irish/Scottish/English band The Poozies who are great)


Sileas, Malinky, already mentioned Silly Wizard, Dick Gaughan.

I agree the Warsaw Village band are cool. I know some more good ones in the “miscellaneous countries” category but I think that’s outside of what you’re asking. Do ask if you want to know about Scandinavian, Eastern European etc.

P.s. What’s the Italian music? I’m just getting into myself and am curious to know what you have.

An old friend of mine does the RenFest circuit and records with groups with a nautical/tavern theme. Check these out:

Ship’s Company (Historically accurate sea chanteys)
Pyrates Royale (Pirate music)
In Our Cups (Cute girls singing unbelievably filthy tavern songs)

Huzzah, we are on the right track!

Stan Rogers, Silly Wizard, Capercaille and Planxty are already in my collection. Re: Silly Wizard, I like Andy Stewart’s songwriting, but his voice grates on me. Thanks for the suggestions so far - I’ll be checking them all out!

On a semi-related note - Owain Phyfe recorded a Sephardic song called A La Una Yo Naci. Anyone into Sephardic folk who can recommend more?

Pookah - the Italian stuff I have is as old as the hills and not very good - I’m not sure who the artists are. A friend put a CD together for me from what I think are old 78s. It’s very … operatic. I plan to pursue further eventually, and I’ll try to remember to give you a heads-up if I discover anything.

LifeOnWry, check out Ravenboy Music . I am particularly fond of Ken and Lisa Theriot (good musicians, and really nice people to boot!)

You can hear clips of their music at the site…hope this helps!

For some yummy - I mean talented - Irish music from boys who know how to have a good time, check out Gaelic Storm (best known as the “Steerage” band from Titanic, or as they like to put it, their $200 million-dollar, 3 hour music video guest-starring Leonardo DiCaprio. :smiley: )

Green Crown is another of my favorites no one knows. We camp next to them every summer for a week-long festival, and I love hearing their practice sessions outside my tent just as much as their concerts!

Life…Sandy Denny era Fairport Convention!
Start with, 2 CD Anthology,“Fairport Convention, Meet Me on The Ledge”
The Classic Years (1967-1975)

Sandy died tradgically young, once you hear her voice, you will be mystified.

You might like The Rankin (s/Family) and/or Jimmy Rankin. Jimmy’s solo stuff is much less traditional than the music he made with his siblings and farther away from what you’re looking for.

Mostly a reply to Pookah , who asked about Italian folk: The Putamayo series of folk collections has an Italian CD which is very interesting. The bands seem to be trying to do for Italian folk what the English folk/rock bands did for English folk. Also, the Smithsonian series of folk cds has some Italian field recordings. And in my basement somewhere I have an LP of Northern Italian folk songs sung by someone in the 1980s. When my in-laws heard that they were amazed; they were the same folk songs they grew up hearing. Usually you just get the Sicilian or Southern Italian stuff on collections.

PS - So glad to see that there are other folk fans out there!

In addition sources previously mentioned there are also the magazines Sing Out and Dirty Linen (& their websites). No Depression is a mag that veers slightly more toward the country, but is still worthwhile.

Awwww, Krokodil – yer too kind! Thanks for the plug!

LifeOnWry, take a look at Gypsophilia for some Sephardic music. Their CDs are great, but in person they are just the biggest pile of fun EVAH.

Also, Tinsmith does some great stuff. Brooke used to be in Clishmaclaver years ago (also a great group if you can find any recordings), and she and a few other geniuses get together and play amazing music.