Friday, December 06, 2013

Derek Warfield & The Young Wolfe Tones “ Let Ye All Be Irish Tonight” CD:

It takes a special skill, fortitude, grace, Fenian spirit and staying power to remain as long as Derek Warfield and his Young Wolfe Tones, in the business of rousing the crowd, entertaining fans on three continents, and lifting the spirits of countless generations of Irish music enthusiasts and with the latest melodious bout of Fenian fealty, “Let Ye All Be Irish Tonight”  is yet another inspirational testament to the international love for Irish musicians like these accomplished, Young Wolfe Tones.

  There’s always something magical about listening to Irish Rebel music, it has the power to either make you cry in your beer or pump your fist into the air, depending on the mood of the melody. Beginning this 19 song Rebel opus with a cheerful sing along written by Derek Warfield and banjo maestro, Damaris Woods, the title track “Let Ye All Be Irish Tonight”, this uplifting tune reminds listeners of the global appeal of good Irish music, and that it’s not only on St. Patrick’s Day that :

“Big Herman Moser, the fat German grocer
sat down by the side of contractor McCann
While Sandy MacPherson the tall Scottish parson
Paired off with McGinty the big alderman
And Tony Moreitti who deals in spaghetti
Held hands with charming Bedelia Mc Gee
While the Swede Arthur Swanson and “English Bill” Johnson
They both strained their throats, singing ‘Mother Mo Cree’ ….”

Next, “The Three Flowers”, is a  mighty tribute to Irish heroes Theobald Wolfe Tone, Michael Dwyer and Robert Emmett, and is really turned into a buoyant dancing jig, thanks to the brilliant banjo work performed by Damaris Woods. This rousing tune reminds us of a memorable quote (printed in the in-depth and full bodied insert booklet that comes with this handsome CD) by Padraig Pearse on the power of Irish music :

“Had the Gaelic race never produced a scrap of literature, had our treasures of history and romance never had a being, had our Cormac’s, Keating’s and our O’Clery’s and Donnachadh Rua’s never written a line, these folk songs of ours would have been sufficient to prove for all time the glorious capabilities of our race.”

Wise words, indeed.

Afterwards, “Step It Out Mary”, features the stirring singing of Fintan Warfield, with a lively chorus in an unforgettable song about the dark side of arranged marriages, written by Sean McCarthy in the 1960’s, who also wrote other classics like “Highland Paddy” and “Shanagolden”. This track really resonates with me musically, with the powerful voice of Fintan Warfield, the amazing banjo backing of Damaris Woods, and Padraig McGovern’s tin whistling, and not to forget Damaris Woods brother, Jim Woods on bodhran, and Luke Wards on bass guitar boom boom, ladies and gents, please make room for another magnificent traditional reel made merry and mighty, by Derek Warfield and his Young Wolfe Tones.

   Next, 4th track on this rocking, reeling, and crooning Celtic jamboree of Fenian harmony and Rebel melodies, “Song of the Celts”, is a new tune that was written by Derek Warfield and Damaris Woods, a song that calls for Celtic solidarity across the six Celtic nations, reminding us of the shared heritage of Irish, Bretons, Scots, Manx, Welsh and Cornish, whom are all connected through our Celtic ancestry and as this mighty tune reminds us :

“There’s a blossom that’s red as the life’s blood we shed
And for Liberties cause against alien laws
When Loughgeil and O’Neill and Llanellen grew steel
For Alba and Erin and Cambria’s weal..”

Next, 5th track, “Boys of the Old Brigade”, is again given a victorious boost by Damaris Woods banjo finesse, and the uillean pipes of Padraig McGovern take us back, to raise our voices and raise the green banner of The Republic. Love the jubilant chorus that accentuates this Rebel classic.

Afterwards, “Dusty Dublin Streets Set”, is a merry medley of reels and slip jigs arranged by Damaris Woods, where yet again, her banjo prowess shines like the sunset over Tara’s halls. Traditionalists will be pleased and surprised by the bouzouki backing by Alan G. Murray, Luke Ward’s guitars. Padraig McGovern’s pipes, and Jim Woods proud percussion accompaniment in this stellar set of traditional classics.

Next, “Sweet Kitty Neil/Jimmy Ward’s Jig”, is an old harmony written by Limerick native, Francis Waller in the 19th century, and one that reminds us of the importance of dance in the Irish tradition. A tune that’s bound to cause even the most die hard of couch potato to get up and dance, only the Young Wolfe Tones could make such an old time ditty sound so relevant today. Fair play, ye Young Wolfe Tones, may your sons and daughters, carry on your proud talent and tradition.

      Afterwards, “Admiral William Brown” is a fine tribute to Foxford, Mayo native, Argentine naval hero and founder of the Argentine Navy, Admiral William Brown, whose naval genius sent the Brits running. So much of a lasting legacy was left by this proud Irish sailor, that to this day, every year,  the Argentine Navy still marches down the streets of Dublin City in commemoration.

 Next, “Mandella, The Legend”, written by Bronx native, Dan Hannon, and sung by Fintan Warfield, reminds us of Nelson Mandella’s historical  speech at Yankee stadium in the Bronx and his support for the cause of Irish Freedom. Fair play, Fintan, for some stirring singing in this legendary Rebel ballad.

Afterwards, “Boys of Fair Hill”, is an old yet memorable Cork tune that is really brought back to life by the banjo skills of Damaris Woods and the dynamic duo of crooners, Derek and Fintan Warfield, whose rousing singing will make you want to clap and sing along and maybe even after a few pints, move your feet on the dance floor. A remarkably Irish classic that the Young Wolfe Tones have truly reinvigorated with their notable talents.

Next, “Cead Mile Failte”, welcomes us home, and asks us to come in from the cold, sit down by the fire and have a cup of tea and listen to this uplifting aria of warmth and Gaelic hospitality. One hundred thousand welcomes indeed. The high spirits of the Young Wolfe Tones soars like the lark of the morning in this endearing ballad.

    Afterwards, “Paddle Your Own Canoe”, once again puts a smile on the face of even the grumpiest, and gives us the privilege to listen to the booming voice of Fintan Warfield, a tune that was written by English musician Harry Clifton in the 1800’s (whose most popular ballad of the time was his lively rendition of “Rocky Road to Dublin”, written by Galway poet, D.K. Gavan) and given wings to fly by the accomplished balladeers, the Young Wolfe Tones. I was surprised to find that this one, second only to “Step Out Mary” was one of my top picks of the album. It just makes you want to sing along, waking up your neighbors and rousing the dead.

    Next, “The Galtee Mountain Boy”, is a fine Fenian ballad about the daring exploits of Dan Breen, Sean Hogan and Sean Moylan and the part they played in the Irish War of Independence. Derek Warfield proves that he will never be too old to do what he does best, rouse his audience with another brilliant Irish Rebel anthem.

  Afterwards, “Let Mr. Maguire Sit Down” is another timeless classic that will never be forgotten, thanks to these accomplished balladeers, the Young Wolfe Tones.  A classic tune about old school Irish courtship, that is so old that its author and the exact time it was written has long since been forgotten. But from what I hear, some of the same sentiments still thrive in Ireland today :

  “Johnny get up from the fire, 
get up and give your man a seat
Don’t you know it’s Mr. Maguire and 
he is courting your sister Kate
You know very well he owns a farm a wee bit out of town
Will ye get up out of that, you impudent brat and let
Mr. Maguire sit down.”

Padraig Pearse’s legendary poem, “Oro se do Beatha Abhaile”, next thrills our hungry ears with the help of Damaris Woods mighty banjo strumming, the music keeps us all humming with a stimulating Young Wolfe Tones choir led by Derek Warfield himself. I really love this version of the timeless Fenian tune, especially with the pipes and powerful percussion, thanks to the skills of Padraig McGovern and Jim Woods.

Next, “The Dying Rebel”, written by Seamus Kavanaugh and Harry O’Donovan (and first recorded in Ireland in 1961 on the Glenside label and sung by Patricia Blake), is sung so gloriously by Fintan Warfield and the Young Wolfe Tones choir, with Damaris Woods banjo, Alan Murray’s bouzouki and Luke Ward’s guitars, making it one of the best versions of the tune that I’ve had the opportunity to listen to yet.

Afterwards, “Flower of Scotland” puts some thistle on your shamrock, reminding us of the fight for freedom that continues with our Gaelic brethren in Alba, this ballad was written in 1967 by Roy Williamson of The Corries, and although I prefer their version of this stirring anthem, the Young Wolfe Tones rendition isn’t bad. It’s unique because it combines that hillbilly banjo sound with classical accompaniment. Only a true musical genius can entertain you from highbrow to low, and its another talent that they have duly mastered.

     Next, “The Stone of Destiny Set”, gets us up off our arses to dance gaily to a boisterous traditional medley that will get you moving and grooving to Gaelic vibrations and Celtic sounds that will light a fire in your mind and a lightning bolt of clarity and wakefullness in your soul. Pure Irish bliss delivered with grace and skill by the Young Wolfe Tones. The old saying “seeing is believing” might be essential to some, but with these stout balladeers it’s instead a case of hearing, is believing. And the Young Wolfe Tones will kindle a roaring flame in your soul that will burn eternally.

Finally, “Patsy Fagan” concludes this momentous CD, with a funny lark of a song, an old time lullaby that is simple yet brilliant, written by Corkman, T.P. Keenan,  and yet another example of how the Young Wolfe Tones are blessed with the gift of sound and the gift of remembrance and keeping the memory of legendary Irish bards, balladeers, seanchai, heroes and composers, fresh in our minds. God Bless Derek Warfield and his Young Wolfe Tones, may they never cease to amaze us and delight us with their ability to keep us tuned into the eternal spirit of Ireland and all of her musical lore and legacy.

                                --- Rory Dubhdara, Radio Rebel Gael


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