Irish Music be so fair and luverly, it brangs a tear ta yer eye

Tonight PBS showed a Kennedy Center presentation of a bunch of lovely people playing lovely music from the Auld Sod and the New World. I gazed, transfixed and rapt, at the Gaelic singers, the accordion-playing babe, the riverdancers and Emmylou Harris dueting with Steve Earle. I haven’t digged music like this since O Brother Where Art Thou. I haven’t gotten choked up like this since hearing “Jamaica Farewell” at a street fair (the very first song I learned to play on guitar). Happy or sad, lively or slow, Irish music takes the cake!

The closest I’ve come to true Irish music is a Canadian band known as Great Big Sea, but I have to agree

Couldn’t have said it much better…

I listed most of my picks here, but I would reiterate my love for Donal Lunny’s music. Also Kornog, Silly Wizard, and Davy Spillane are just powerful artists.

Now what cds to bring to work today…hmmm…

Try these:

The Chieftains.
Natalie MacMaster.
Mary Jane Lomond.
Clandestine (not real famous, but they tour all over the US. You should go see them when they’re in your town.
Steve MacDonald.
Gael Force.
Loreena McKennit.

Go to and search for Celtic music. You’ll find a lot of so-so stuff and some great stuff. There’s a group called the Ceili House Band that does some good stuff and has some downloads there.

A lot of people would add Enya to my list, but she’s to new-agey and synthesized for my taste.

One last thing - find a local Scottish, Irish, or Celtic festival and go to it. They happen all over the country, mostly in the fall and spring. You’ll find great music there, and most bands that play there will have tapes and CD’s for sale.

And if you’re really daring you could try Afro Celt Sound System. Somehow they combine African tribal drums with Celtic pipes with some electronic elements thrown into the mix. Not all of it is good, but when they really stick with the Irish sound it’s a winner…try “Lovers of Light” for a good example. (That’s a song title.)

You can’t beat the Chieftans or the Irish Rovers.

Two other Newfoundland groups (in addition to Great Big Sea): The Masterless Men, and the Irish Descendants.

“What is worn under the kilt?”

“Madam, there is nothing worn under the kilt. Everything is is perfect working order.”

I just spent the whole day at the North Texas Irish Music Festival, and loved it (despite the cold rain that drizzled down the whole time). I’ll not argue with any of the recommendations that have been made–although I will note that Loreena McKennitt has a lot of songs with a bit of a Middle-Eastern influence, too. Don’t worry, those are just as beautiful.

Amberhawke (I’ve already plugged them in two threads tonight, why not a third?) does some very nice Celtic music, but you’re not likely to find them or any of their music outside of Texas. They don’t do the Faire circuit, and I don’t think their music is available on the web. I had to track Amber down directly to get a copy of her latest CD.

“And they both wore clothes of patchwork/When they found them the next day/Frozen fingers on a fiddle/Frozen tears upon a face.”
–From “Patchwork”, one of the most chilling songs I’ve ever heard. It’s about two orphaned buskers.