Sunday, July 03, 2016

July Music Is Usually About Roots

Radio Rebel Gael'sSummer of Ramblers & Rebels

with some of the finest musicians there ever were :

Bog Savages (San Francisco)

Brick Top Blaggers (Orange Co.)

Claymore (Glasgow)

Colm O'Brien (Boston)

Damaris Woods (Co. Meath)

Damien Dempsey (Dublin)

Dancin' Knuckles (New Jersey)

Neck (London)

Pól Mac Adaim (Belfast/Co.Louth)

Rogue Scholars (Australia)

The Bible Code Sundays (London)

The Freemen (Belfast)

The Mighty Regis (Los Angeles)

The Pogues (London)

The Prodigals (New York)

The Rebel Hearts (Tipperary)

The Skels (New Jersey)

The Tossers (Chicago)

The Wakes (Glasgow)

Radio Rebel Gael is dedicated to Roots, Revolution, Rhythm and Rebel Frequencies.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

"We do not seek to make this country a materially great country at the expense of its honour in any way whatsoever. We would rather have this country poor and indigent, we would rather have the people of Ireland eking out a poor existence on the soil; as long as they possessed their souls, their minds, and their honour. This fight has been for something more than the fleshpots of Empire."

- Liam Mellows, 25 May 1895- 8 December 1922

Friday, May 13, 2016

The People Speak - Stephen Rea reads James Connolly

Daily News : Susan McKeown speaks about Easter Rising and Two Month Festival

Songwriter assembles NYC cultural festival to celebrate Ireland's Easter Rising 100th anniversary

Susan McKeown (seen in January 2011) is the founder of CualaNYC.

Susan Mc

Keown (seen in January 2011) is the founder of CualaNYC.

A Grammy award winning songwriter who splits her time between New York City and Dublin is putting together an Irish cultural festival to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising.
The first CualaNYC kicks off on Tuesday. The two-month festival hosts over 35 events, including a performance of a William Butler Yeats play on the beach in Coney Island, Irish poetry performances on NY Waterway’s East River Ferry and a music festival at the Knockdown Center in Queens.
Susan McKeown, CualaNYC’s founder, said it was only natural that celebrating the Rising — a key moment in the fight for Irish independence — would involve the city.
“I was inspired by the amount of New York history related to the Rising, from the fact that two of the rebel leaders, James Connolly and U.S. citizen Thomas Clarke, lived in the Bronx and Brooklyn, to the immense connections with the labor movement,” said McKeown, 49. “It's known now that the Rising wouldn't have happened without New York.”
Send a Letter to the Editor

Cuala NYC Presents : The People Speak Monday May 16, 2016 @ The New School Auditorium

The People Speak: Ireland will bring to life, through words and song, the dramatic history of political struggle and protest in Ireland and beyond, from its earliest history to the present day.

Featuring: Stephen Rea, Steve Earle, Ciarán Hinds, Amber Tamblyn, Brian Jones, Geoffrey Arend, Geraldine Hughes, Griffin Dunne, Marin Ireland, Mercedes Ruehl, Williams Rossa Cole and musicians Ivan Goff, Susan McKeown, Isabelle O'Connell and Old Hannah, and other guests to be announced. Seating is first-come, first-served and some seating will be reserved for students, faculty, and staff of The New School (with ID).

The New School


The New School, Auditorium - 66 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10011 - View Map
New York, NY Events Festival Community

Monday, May 09, 2016

"The drink is like music. How can you explain it to someone who has not fallen in love with it ? How it floods your head and pushes the blood three times faster through your veins. The blessed moment of the first one the morning after when it starts to clear away the fear and anxiety it put there the night before. Drink makes the world a place of certainty. In every way.

I remember the day I played 'Lord McDonald'. I sat in a small studio in the South Bronx at noon. Pulled the bow across the strings for a couple of minutes and then it started. I played it through just once and I could feel it pulsing through me. Something. Every second of it was like an hour and the notes were coming from a place so far back in myself I could hardly stand it. I followed the music, chased the music with colours going through my mind and Killavil and my dead brother and the men who taught me to play and the end of all this and the twist in myself and green and brown. It was bringing me somewhere and I finally got there."

- Eamonn Sweeney, "Lord McDonald"

Friday, April 08, 2016

66 Days : New Film on the heroic struggle of Bobby Sands


From the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival comes the first trailer for Irish documentary Bobby Sands: 66 Days, which will premiere at the festival on May 3rd.
Bobby Sands: 66 Days, directed by Brendan J Byrne, is a cinematic portrait of the Irish Republican martyr’s epic 66-day hunger strike that grabbed the world’s attention in the early 1980s. The premiere will coincide with Sands’ 35th anniversary, as he passed away on May 5th1981.
Sands famously led a hunger strike against conditions inside Northern Ireland’s notorious H Blocks that made him an international icon. Seeing himself as a soldier in a conflict, he died for the right to be recognised as a political prisoner. The film’s narrative spine is comprised of Sands’ own words, drawn from his hunger strike diary, a unique insight into the man and his beliefs as he embarked on his final journey.
Using eye-witness testimony, unseen archive, reconstructions and animation, this cinematic odyssey serves as both the definitive account of a self-created Irish martyr and a seismic moment in 20th century Irish history.
The film was produced by Trevor Birney and Brendan J Byrne for Belfast based Fine Point Films / Cyprus Avenue Films with the Oscar winning filmmaker Alex Gibney a consulting producer.
Bobby Sands: 66 Days will receive its World Premiere at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto on May 3rd 2016, 9pm EST in the TIFF Bell Lightbox.
Wildcard Distribution will release the film in Irish cinemas this summer.

Monday, March 07, 2016

The Langer's Ball "Whiskey Outlaws" CD :

These Twin City treble makers and rhythm rapscallions have yet again awakened me from my doldrums, breathing new life into the term "Celtic Rock", and once again restored my faith in humanity and old school merry- making.

   Beginning a mighty album with a high velocity ode to the Prohibition years, the album's title track, "Whiskey Outlaws" gallops in like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and with a Rockabilly ferocity that compliments The Langer's 

Ball tried and tested Celtic Rock & Reel, this humdinger will really get you off your proverbial arse as you pogo your head through the ceiling and these St. Paul brigands will not only raise the rafters but get you dancing to their
glorious fusion of Roots Rock & Roll, 70's era Punk Rock, and old time rowdy sing-a-long Irish drinking songs, because :

        "There's nothing you can do but sit there in wait
         Devil's spawn they sprung from Hell,
         Kicking down the gate
         Blood and guts and whiskey is their intoxicate.."

Next, "World Turned Upside Down" is resuscitated from the folk song graveyard, reinvigorated by the prowess of these crazy Minnesotans, dug up from the earth as it were, with a stellar cover of this classic Leon Rosselson tune. (Although this 1960 hit may be loosely based on the 1640 English workers ballad written as a protest against the policies of Parliament regarding Christmas celebrations) A rousing heartfelt tune that no bunch of musicians could have done a better version of and one that will have you singing along at the top of your lungs, pumping your fist, demanding more and reminding you (whether your collar be blue or white) who it is that has built the world around you - the indomitable worker - and nurtured it over the ages. Fair play ye Langers ! This really is one of the best versions of this old Diggers anthem that I've heard and sung along to yet.

     Afterwards, "Jug of This" really takes you away from the daily turmoil and tragedy of the modern world, transporting you to a simpler time where all that matters is good music, good friends and a barrel of the brewers finest. Come on folks, don't dismay, quaff of the intoxicating harmonies and rhythms of The Langer's Ball and forget your cares and the unpaid electricity bill and bar tab while these Minnesotan merry makers help you escape from it all for a few magical moments. Friends, don't let your throat stay dry, heed the wise words of The Langer's Ball and let their mirthful melodies take you away :

           "Turn me into a fish and let me swim in a jug of this"

    Next, "Drinking for Two" keeps the high spirits soaring above the modern miasma, raising the   rafters, lifting your own chin and never failing to make you grin at the devilish art that The Langer's Ball are so well known for crafting and delivering to you like an illegal cask of  Connemara's finest poitín. I love the way The Langer's Ball can go from bluesy ballads of the dewy-eyed and the heartbroken to the boisterous and rip-roaring rhythms of the pub or the Punk 

Rock pit, and then back to the battlefields of love and loss, to only astonish you in a few short seconds with another musical thunderbolt shaking the ground beneath your feet like an earthquake on the San Andreas Fault. Flawless, rowdy, blitheful and absolutely unique, The Langer's Ball will never disappoint.

      "Gods Gonna Cut You Down" next shows you the derring-do of a band not afraid to tackle legendary songs or hot hits written and composed by peerless musicians like Johnny Cash. Many bands botch it when it comes to covering a hit (countless covers of Pogues songs comes to mind) but not The Langer's Ball. Their rendition of this old Johnny Cash classic is nothing short of superb.

      Next, "Bottoms Up" showcases the diverse prowess of these mighty Minnesotans, as the band gets you up on the dance floor with a rousing chorus and a Slavic spirit that would make Gogol Bordello or Balkan Beat Box proud. 

      Afterwards, The Langer's Ball prove to the world that they can cover a Horslips classic without embarrassment. A mighty feat indeed. While I am not going to claim that I prefer this version over the original, it was nonethless a valiant attempt and for that I tip my hat to thee, Langer's Ball. 

   Next, "The One", shows the bands depth and grace, capturing an ambiance of love and loss and the dangerous position oneself can find themselves in, when they are betting all their odds against a lost cause. This is an exemplary tune and shines a radiance on the excellence of a Celtic Rock band that defies all expectations and soars high above like a storm crow amidst the monsoon rains and impending gale.

    Afterwards, "Mick McGuire" is another pub sing-a-long that reaffirms the loyalty to tradition that is such a part of The Langer's Ball. Michael Sturm's exuberant vocals and his and Danny McDermott's great guitar work, as well as the storming drumming of Colin McCowan and Hannah Rediske's pennywhistle and backing vocals, complimented by the resounding throb of bassist Lance "Lam" Gams, make this a fine version of one of the best pub sing-a-longs there ever was.

    And in case you imagined all this fun was coming to and end, "Cork Dry Gin" keeps us tipsy and dancing our toes off with another definite crowd-pleaser by St. Paul's finest. And in case you're not into drinking songs than I still think you will surprise yourself by singing along to this catchy and jubilant landlubber shanty.

     Right after, The Langer's Ball get in their time machine and take us back  to the Roaring Twenties, with Mort Dixon and Harry M. Woods 1927 hit, "I"m Looking Over A Four Leaf Clover", taking us back to those Tin Pan Alley days and getting us ready  for St. Paddy's carousing. And once again, another Langer's Ball cover that doesn't fail to amaze me. In fact, I think this is the best version of the hit I've heard yet.  And if that's not brilliant enough for you, the addition  of a superb rendition of 1926 favorite "Bye Bye Blackbird" definitely shall. And with these marvelous covers you are again mesmerized and amazed by the transcendent accordion accomplishments of Hannah Rediske. Fair play indeed.

    Concluding a stunning and unrivaled album, The Langer's Ball "Whiskey Outlaws" couldn't have had a better swan song for a true gem than "Pigeon at the Gate", a great tribute to traditional music and Celtic sounds.

  Whatever you decide to spend your money on this year, please don't scrimp when it comes to supporting some of the best musicians the world has known, and buy The Langer's Ball "Whiskey Outlaws" if it's the last thing you do.

             - Rory Dubhdara, Radio Rebel Gael 


Thursday, February 11, 2016

EXILE : Songs & Tales of Irish Australia

Exile- Songs & Tales of Irish Australia

Ireland’s greatest export has been her people and for centuries, emigration and exile have been harsh, repeating themes of Irish history.
An astounding array of artists from Ireland and Australia gather in a moving celebration of the Irish impact on Australian life. Through abundant literature, music, poetry and art, as well as a keen hunger for justice, the Irish spirit has stamped itself on the evolving culture of Australia.
Almost a third of all Australians claim some degree of Irish descent, so it's timely to reflect upon this history in the centenary year of the 1916 Easter Uprising, the catalyst for Ireland’s nationhood. The enduring influence on Australian history, music and politics is recounted through rich imagery and stirring performances in this special concert event.
There is no denying the contribution that the Irish have made to Australian life. It's certainly varied but rarely dull.

Feature artists:
Shane Howard (Artistic Director), Paul Kelly, Declan O'Rourke, Leah Flanagan, Sean Tyrrell, Lynnelle Moran, Pauline Scanlon, John Spillane and Aine Tyrrell.

Musicians: Greg Sheehan, Nick Martin, Michelle Burton, Paddy Fitzgerald, Ewen Baker (Musical Director) John Hudson.

My great-grandfather, the warrior

'Love/Hate' star John Connors is still inspired by the relative who took part in the Rising as a teenager, he tells our reporter

Celine Naughton

PUBLISHED04/02/2016 | 02:30
Inspired: Actor John Connors pictured at home in Coolock. Photo: Douglas O’Connor.2
Inspired: Actor John Connors pictured at home in Coolock. Photo: Douglas O’Connor.
Best known as bomb-maker Patrick who gunned down drug kingpin Nidge in the gritty crime drama Love/Hate, in real life, actor John Connors is a rebel with a cause of a different kind.

Describing discrimination against Travellers as "the last acceptable form of racism," he says nothing has changed for his people in the last hundred years when Irish volunteers, including his great grandfather, Patrick Ward, put their lives on the line for their country. Patrick, from Tuam, Co Galway, was only 16 when he joined the garrison at Roe's Distillery in Dublin during the Easter Rising.
"He and his uncle and cousin were among those who fought for the promise of a socialist republic where all people would be treated equally, as set out in the Proclamation," says John.
"And look at us now, Travellers living in Third World conditions in a First World country, on sites without electricity, families evicted and told to put their children into care… Where's the equality in that?"
John's inspiration comes from his great grandfather, whose story aroused in him a passion for history and social justice.
"Patrick was fearless. At 14, when his father and older brother went to fight in the First World War, he got himself a fake birth certificate and went to Coventry to join them, but his father sent him home. A few months later, his father and brother were killed in action.
"After the Rising, Patrick was jailed along with the other rebels, and he served a further 18 months in prison after fighting against the Treaty in the War of Independence. I'd heard a bit about him growing up, but when I saw a picture of him on the wall of a Travellers' centre in Balbriggan, I asked my grandfather to tell me more.
"Then I did some research of my own online and as I got to know more about Patrick Ward, I couldn't have been more proud. He had warrior blood in his veins. He had a profound effect on me."
After his imprisonment, Patrick went back on the road. He married a half-settled, half-Traveller woman called Bridget and they had 10 children, two of whom died in infancy. But he came to a tragic end when, in 1942, while camping in Athlone, the local landowner, Joseph Lee, accused him of rabbit-snaring.
"This was later proved to be untrue," says John. "Somebody else was found to have been snaring rabbits on the estate, but Lee ordered him to leave. They argued - Patrick protested he needed time - but Lee was having none of it. He shot him dead.
"In his statement Lee said, 'I killed a tinker today. I lost the head. I killed him.' Later he retracted that statement and said it was an accident. He got six months for killing my great-grandfather. Six months! After everything Patrick had done for his country."
Bridget went back to Dublin and raised her family in Summerhill in the city centre. Some of her children stayed and some went back on the road, including John's grandfather, Paddy. John himself was born in London and a year later his parents returned to Ireland.
"We lived in camps, mostly in the Coolock area of Dublin, where I live today. I came back here recently after six years of living in a house. I like having extended family around and being surrounded by people I trust. In my line of work, you get noticed by the public and that attention can turn some people into hot air balloons. It feeds the ego. Travellers wouldn't let you away with any nonsense. We're grounded, because we know who we are and we're proud of it."
Acting is not a common career path in the Travelling community, but John hopes his own success will pave the way for other young Travellers to tread the boards.
"Travellers are the best storytellers in the world! And acting is a form of storytelling too, so I'm not surprised I was drawn to it."
Straight out of acting school, John landed the lead role in the film, King of the Travellers, then along came Love/Hate, and this year the 26-year-old has more exciting projects in the pipeline, including an RTE documentary in March called The K Word, about relationships between Travellers and the settled community. He's also turned his hand to screenwriting and his film, Cardboard Gangsters, premieres this summer.
"It's about young lads who start out as low-level drug dealers. I play the lead role, Jay, who falls on hard times when his girlfriend becomes pregnant and his mother's house is taken away. He starts dealing heroin, and comes into conflict with the local kingpin. It's a gangster movie that's rooted in social realism.

My great grandfather made me politically aware and that informs a lot of what I do. I'm massively inspired by him."
That inspiration extends to using his celebrity to train the spotlight on the cause of the Travelling community.
"Travellers are an ethnic minority and we want to be recognised as such, here in our country of origin. We have a cultural tradition of our own and a shared history that distinguishes us from other groups, yet successive Irish governments deny what the UK, USA and other countries recognise as a distinct ethnic group.
"They try to assimilate us into the settled community and destroy our culture, but we won't be broken. The promise of a just and equal society that Patrick and his comrades fought for in 1916 has not yet been realised, but I haven't given up hope."
Irish Independent