Godspeed 2012, Joyful Welcome 2013

As many of my faithful readers know, 2012 was a turbulent year for me. This was a rock bottom year in which I had to make the choice of wallowing or rising above and forging myself into something new and better. I chose the latter route and while I am glad to see 2012 depart, I will always take the lessons learned with me. I look forward to 2013 being a stellar year – musically and personally.

My year started with a resolution of writing more and being more proactive. I had a great start of the year till I made a poor decision one evening and went out, had too much drink and on my way home, wrecked my poor Paddy Wagon and was arrested for a DWI. The morning after, sitting in the impound lot, waiting for AAA to tow my car home, while filled with regret for my poor decision, I was quite thankful I did not hurt physically hurt anyone. It was at that time I made the commitment to sobriety. I was very public with my ordeal, my pain and my decision. While it may have been uncomfortable reading for some, I gained many words of encouragement and support that I cannot even begin to express my gratitude of receiving. Much it was from people in the Celtic Rock and Punk scene, which as many of you know, is quite alcohol fuelled giving me encouragement in my commitment to sobriety.

For months my writing languished as I struggled to work on the demons that drove me to drink and other self-destructive behaviors that have not only hurt me, but those that I love. It was a constructive time for me – I learned much about myself, what drove me and my decisions, learning to trust in myself and gain the inner strength that I never knew was in me. Alcohol has always been a crutch for me. Something to hide behind, something to give me the false sense of strength. Once I stopped hiding who I was, channeling my inner strength, the decision of sobriety was easy.

Over the next few months, I had to miss a few shows that rolled through St Louis – Cutthroat Shamrock, Mighty Regis and Red Rebel County as I was still in severe emotional turmoil.

My first real test of my new life decision was going to a Whiskey of the Damned show. It was my first time in a bar since my fateful night. I went with my friend Ron, who I knew would have my back. My strategy that night was to bring my new camera and take pictures. As the night wore on and I watched some of the most inebriated patrons, I started to feel a strengthening of my conviction. At the end of the show, a quite drunk Eoin McCarthy was attempting to tempt me, to give up my choice and go back home with the band to go to college show full of nubile co-eds. Needless to say, I rejected the offer, knowing I was doing the right thing, not just for me, but for my kids. On my drive home, I drove with calm and peace with the knowledge that I had nothing to worry about it – as far as I am aware, there is nothing illegal with driving with excessive caffeine and nicotine.

After the Whiskey show, I had to face my punishment and accept my loss of driving privileges. I unfortunately missed The Real McKenzies but accepted it with grace as I chose to make my whole experience a learning tool. Not something to bemoan my luck, the cops, the legal institution but to accept my failings and stand tall. Over the years, I had become disconnected from the person I was. I gave up not only my will, but my personality and my voice. I reached back to the last time I was alcohol free – my high school self. I held nothing back, I did not hide myself or my quirks. And during that time, as many of you know by reading (and may be tired of hearing of) “Poor Troubled Life” became the song that  got me through the rough days, the song spoke to me like no other song had before.

Come June/July, I got a message from Beau of Lexington Field they were going to be playing in St Louis in August, during the last two weeks of my restricted driving, which only allowed me to drive for employment or community service. So I could see the band, Beau agreed to hire me as a photographer for the show, so I could have a legal reason to drive. I wrote up a contract, had business cards made and included a pre-shoot consult the day before the show which was conducted at the Cardinals game. That night, Beau really encouraged me to get back to writing, that my voice was being heard. His words that night still help give me the drive to write.

Since that night, I have worked to become more proactive – instead of waiting for bands to contact me and send me their stuff, I have utilized my Xbox Music subscription to find albums to review. I have written a few things to help spread the word about upcoming works. In all, as I have rediscovered myself and become more comfortable in my sobriety I have found my ease in talking to bands has not diminished. I no longer need the social lubricant, I just need to be myself.

So after boring you all, here are some of my top moments of the year

  1. Hanging out Lexington Field on their night off with Chad Ross of Rusty Nail. They are wonderfully down to earth, funny a joy to spend time with
  2. Going to the Weston Irish Festival – yes it was a long day, but it was a blast seeing Flannigans Right Hook up close when the rain ran them off stage. In addition, it brought back some good memories seeing Eddie Delahunt play. Third, it was great to see The Langers Ball play live and meet with the band and get some more grief over my views of their version of “Fields of Anthery” – I still stand by my point of view though!
  3. Yes another road trip – this time going to Urbana, IL to see The Mahones and meeting Finny and Katie. The gratitude of their words about my review of Angels & Devils has been a great motivation to keep writing. I look forward to seeing them play again (they told me they are planning an US tour in 2013 and said St Louis would be a stop!)
  4. In general, the music community of this genre is outstanding! All the friends I have made, even virtually has been fantastic – I hope some day to meet you all in person!
  5. Some of my favorite albums this year, in no order of preference has Hoist the Colors, the Kilmaine Saints, the Killigans, Lexington Field, Flatfoot 56 and Celkilt.

This year has been filled with great music and new friendships. I cannot even place a value on what has meant to me and the reforging of myself into something new and better. So with that I say Godspeed 2012 – you were rough on me, but you have taught me some invaluable lessons.

To 2013, I give a heartfelt and joyful welcome to 2013! This upcoming year should hold many new reviews, with many great bands releasing new albums this year, I am anxious to hear them and write about them. New concerts to see and new bands to discover and new road trips to take. Personally, I look forward to continuing with my personal growth and making new friends (hopefully some that will take said road trips with me, lol.)

So to all my readers and friends, I bid you a happy new year and slainte!

Forged anew, the Red Wolf rises!

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Uncle Hamish & The Hooligans – Operators Are Standing By Review

uncle hamish coverWell readers, here it is my, my last review of 2012 – this is from a band out of western North Carolina. Uncle Hamish & The Hooligans are a 5 piece Celtic Rock band that creates some truly original pieces of work. “Slante Mhath” starts out with a darkly humorous tune about the beginning and then bitter end of a relationship, the music is infectious hiding the deeper side of the side of the lyrics and even then, there is some bitter humor to it. Next up is “Jolly Beggerman”, bagpipes introduce the song before bringing it up. It is a fast instrumental piece showcasing their musicianship with a jazz feel to the arrangement. “Paddys Green Emerald Shore” is a finely crafted lament, that starts quite originally, the instrumentation sounding like whales calling, adding to the feeling of the song being sung aboard the ship. The vocals are haunting and clearly evoking the homesickness of those that immigrated. “Mr Wotzit” will quickly have you over your tears, it is a fast instrumental that quickly brightens your spirits. “As Bullets Hit Sand” was a bit of hard song to listen to, as the first time I listened to the song was when I heard about the school shooting in Newtown, CT – as such, I have had an emotional block as I keep thinking of when I first learned of the shooting – so I am going to pass on my thoughts of that song and will hopefully come back and update my review once the association has passed. “Fanfare For The Common Scotsman” is another nicely crafted instrumental. “The Legend Of Uncle Hamish” is a light storytelling song, reminding me of Jimmy Buffett’s “Jolly Mon Sing”. Finishing out the album is “When I’m Famous”, a funny song about what the band members will do when fame and riches hits them. It is a joyous and light piece that is a nice bit of fluff to lighten up your day. In all, the album is very enjoyable and has been honored by Paddy Rock as one of the top 25 albums. I would say it well worth a listen!

Track listing:

  1. Slante Mhath
  2. Jolly Beggerman
  3. Paddys Green Emerald Shore
  4. Mr Wotzit
  5. As Bullets Hit Sand
  6. Fanfare For The Common Scotsman
  7. The Legend Of Uncle Hamish
  8. When I’m Famous

Slainte!

Bastards On Parade Shallow Waters EP Review

bop shallow watersBastards on Parade is a Spanish hard rocking band from A Coruña (Galicia). They have recently released a 4 track EP, Shallow Waters that serves as a reminder that old Celtic culture is more than the British Isles. Galicia, in the northwest part of Spain, is considered one of the seven Celtic Nations and Bastards on Parade channels that heritage and spirit and blend it with some hard thumping Celtic music. The Shallow Waters EP is far too short and I look forward to hearing a full album from these talented musicians.

Starting with the title track, “Shallow Waters” sets the tone and feet a thumping with the tin whistle and growling vocals and melodic chorus. “Old Man’s Booze” flows nicely from “Shallow Waters”, the drumming setting the rhythm, the bagpipes rolling piping are well blended, not overpowering the song. “Pastoriza” is an instrumental, that really highlights the accordion, while sounding very old country, the other instrumentation brings this into the 21st century. The EP ends with “Time To Go Out” finishes out the EP on a very high note, finding myself “Oi”ing with the chorus loudly and gathering weird looks from the other drivers on the road – hopefully they don’t think it is road rage as it has been too cold to drive with the windows down.

Track listing:

  1. Shallow Waters
  2. Old Man’s Booze
  3. Pastoriza
  4. Time To Go Out

If you are not familiar with band of the lesser known Celtic nation, give them a listen and enjoy! You can find the EP at Bandcamp to stream or purchase.

Slainte!

Celkilt Self Titled EP (2011) Review

Celkilt_logosepiaThe Cosmic Joker is at it again. I woke up today in a bit of a funk for no discernable reason. When that happens I will put on “Poor Troubled Life” by Lexington Field. With my attitude on the rise, I downloaded Celkilt’s 2011 self titled EP release.

Wow! Talk about an awesome piece of work! Celkilt is a 5 piece band that hails from Lyon, France. Musically beautiful and strong powerful lyrics that really spoke to me today! This EP wad an incredible gift for my soul today! “Get The Hell Away” starts of the 6 track EP strong. Changing tempos and rocking hard will get your feet stamping hard, head banging back and forth. “Let Me Out” continues with it’s incredible lyrics and pacing, again utilizing changing tempos. “Jig It Up” is a gorgeously crafted instrumental highlighting the deft fiddle work of the band. “The Same Old Frown” features more strong lyrics partnered with music that gets you moving. “The War In My Head” features growling vocals and more wonderfully composed music. “Lay Me Down” is a haunting tune that finishes the EP with slower pacing and more electrifying lyrics.

Track listing:

  1. Get The Hell Away
  2. Let Me Out
  3. Jig It Up
  4. The Same Old Frown
  5. The War in My Head
  6. Lay Me Down

Celkilt’s use a varied tempo, insightful lyrics and gorgeously crafted music is amazing. This EP can be utilized for any listening mood – to have playing in the background, to rock out to or giving it a contemplative listen, enjoying the incredible lyrics!

When I do my reviews, I really try to be fair and balanced and not a rubberstamp, so when I say this EP and band are incredible, believe me and listen to them yourself! I look forward to hearing more from them and seeing how they have grown since 2011. So thank you Cosmic Joker for delivering this much needed deliverance today!

If you are a lucky bastard and will be at Shamrock Fest 2013 in Washington, DC you will have to check these guys out (and be sure to tell me about it!)

Slainte!

The Langers Ball Holiday Songs

tlb-xmas-cvr300OK, I am not much of a person for holiday songs – I blame too many years working retail, being force fed to listen to sappy classic holiday songs. Not that I am a Grinch – I enjoy Christmas, spending time with the kids when they were younger, marveling at the magic of the holiday. Seeing their joy opening presents and enjoying the presents I get as well! Let me tell you, The Langers Ball’s take on “Auld Lang Syne” and “A Christmas Lullaby” were great surprises and very enjoyable! So if you are looking for some fun holiday tunes to put into your mix and nix Bing Crosby and the rest of the crooners, download them from CD Baby, though right now, just “A Christmas Lullaby” is available.

Happy Holidays and slainte!

The Fatty Farmers Needs Your Help

Hey all, as the internet is a global thing and I am not an American that thinks the world revolves around the States, I am posting about The Fatty Farmers needing your help with getting their new record made via crowdsourcing. Most of the rewards are for people mainly in Spain and the rest for Europe. So for my international readers residing in Europe, be sure to check out this out:

We want to record our new album: REFARMATORY. And you are welcome to participate.

WHO ARE WE? At the start of 2009 a Group of farmers from different stables appear in the music scene in Toledo to bring us a music style never heard around here. This group brings rhythm and fun with there different costumes and there hardly seen instruments.

From the banjo to the electric mandolin played by the wild Rodrigo Farmer, to the bagpipes and Irish whistles by the sweet Javato, passing by “The little boy” Javito Farmers violin. The group is completed with Lamber on the bass, Lalo playing the acoustic guitar, Fignani the electric guitar and Juankar on the drums. The last one to join the group has been Goyo, a crack of the accordion and another big push to the group.

Celtic Punk Rock Folk music that isn’t to be heard at home but to be seen in this groups great live show that will make you want to sing, dance, jump, party hard and forget about everything for a little bit.

WE NEED YOUR HELP We thought that you can take part in this record and the best way is through the crowdfunding collaboration. So we’ve chosen to finance half of this project, exactly 55% of the cost of the disc recording, mixing, mastering, design, prints, t-shirts and music videos through crowdfunding.

Budget:

  • Audio Recording: 825 €
  • Mixing: 825 €
  • Mastering: 150 €
  • Design / Art: 550 €
  • Disc: CD + booklet: 1.000 €
  • T-shirts: 500 €
  • Video: 700 €
  • Total: € 4,550

We are proud to announce, that we will enter the 51 STUDIOS in Toledo on the 2nd of January 2013 and the new album will be ready in March.

You help us by paying in advance the album, T-shirt, or whatever you want ….. and with that money we can record our new album, make T-shirts, etc and we´ll send it as soon as possible. We´ll have 40 days to get the money and if we don´t get it,  money will not come out from our pockets.

Take a closer look at the rewards, we adjusted for all budgets. You can participate in the new album very actively.

On the website of Verkami have a blog where you can ask us any question or suggestion and we will answer you quickly

If you want to be a Farmer more involved in our album!

More information on our official sites

Web
Facebook
Twitter
Tuenti
Google+
Myspace

You can listen our first album Down in the Streets on Spotify