Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Fergal Smith-Growing-Surfing on Ireland's West Coast

Some of the music from our 'Castlebar note' album is being used in a series of programmes documenting Fergal Smith-one of europe's top surfers.

The programmes are filmed by Kevin Smith, a good friend of mine.

You can watch all the episodes by clicking here.

If you enjoy the work drop him a line on his website, I'm sure he'd appreciate it!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Long awaited post, learning traditional songs, online resources.

Hello everyone and apologies for the long delay in getting this post published. Thankfully I have a bit more time on my hands so you can expect the blogs to be a bit more frequent from here on in.

In my first post I spoke about my interest in finding old ballads and songs. There's really two ways in going about this: you either spent a great deal around traditional singers or you start digging into old books and recordings. (A combination of both of them is the ideal formula). As I've been living in Italy for the last year I've been relying on the second option.

There are a huge amount of ballad books out there, and many of them offer different things. Some give the words, some the words and melody and some offer additional information about the song, singer etc. I think as a singer you have a responsibility to learn as much about the song as possible. You'll be performing this song to a listening audience and they're sure to have questions about it.

For example, a lot of these ballads have old words which aren't in use anymore or they might have some geographical reference. I think an understanding of these words is essential for a singer to fully interact with what he's singing. This might mean digging through dictionaries or forums but at least you can then be sure that you know what you're singing about.

I want to start with some online resources that I use quite a lot.

1: Mudcat. Mudcat is an online forum which specialises in folk and traditional song from the States, Ireland etc. I find it very handy for getting background information on songs. You'll also be able to get the words of many songs and also sometimes a midi recording. I'm not so keen on learning a melody from a midi recording, and I'd always recommend getting a real recording if at all possible. The guys on the forum are usually friendly and helpful.

2: Tobar an Dualchais Archive The Tobar an Dualchais archive is based on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. You can listen to recordings dating back to the 1950's, be they songs, stories, tunes etc. These recordings are field recordings and they're rough around the edges but I really like them. If you learning a Scottish tune or song type it into the search bar on the site and if you're lucky you'll find a couple of recordings to listen to.

I visited the archive a few years ago and it made me realise how much work goes into digitising these old recordings, so we should use the resource!

3 Irish Traditional Music Archive The ITMA is based in Dublin City and it's well worth a visit if you're ever passing through. If that's not possible check out the website. There's a huge amount of information such as recordings, printed scores etc. My personal favourite is the Inishowen Song Project which allows you to listen to recordings from the traditional singers circle which took place in the Inishowen Penisula in County Donegal. One of my favourite singers from the project is Charlie McGonigle (James Eoghain). You can find his recordings on the site. The website also provides words for the songs, which can be useful as it sometimes difficult to get them all by just listening. There's also background information on the songs aswell.

Have a look at the three sites above. I'm sure you'll find them very useful in learning new traditional songs. In the next blog I'll continue with this theme, but will shift focus from online resources to books and publications. Until then slán go fóill!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014


Hello everyone!

Firstly, I think it's probably best to introduce both myself and what we'll be speaking about in the blog.

I'm a 27 year old folk musician from the west of Ireland. I've been playing music for a number of years. I started off playing a combination of different genres but I'm now firmly focused on folk music, especially that of Ireland but also further afield.

I've always written songs and tunes and some of these recordings can be found on my main website here.

But I also have a great passion for finding old traditional songs and tunes and making people more aware of them. In the blog I hope to share some of these discoveries.

I also am very passionate about the Irish language but also the food, dance and history. I'm hoping to publish a bi-weekly blog covering these interests.

If you're interested please check back for the next blog!

Slán go fóill,