New Project: A Fortnight of Irish Songs

A Fortnight of Irish Songs
A Fortnight of Irish Songs
Beginning Monday, 29th July, my birthday, I will begin recording an Irish song every day for two weeks. To be honest, I’ve let the studio get a bit messy and I need a project to force me to tidy up and begin recording the songs I’ve been working on. More than that, it’s a chance for us to interact, and I’d love your feedback on some songs you’ve never heard me perform.

So, watch for further anouncements, as well as downloadable MP3s and videos for the songs. As the project progresses, I will include the songs here, and on my Bandcamp page.

Though I have a list of songs in hand, please submit any requests you have as comments my facebook page, or tweet them.

Thoughts on The Chieftains’ Celebrating 50 Years of Spreading Irish Music

I was thinking of the Chieftains on the bus this morning, and about their 50 years spreading Irish music around the globe, and all their collaborations. It reminded me of this bit from a few months ago on CBS in the states. In the 1990s, they began what became a very successful series of collaborations with musicians known for pop, rock, and various other genres. “Still best known for sounding Irish.”

By the way, the new album is brilliant as always, and includes an even greater diversity of guests than ever: Bon Iver, Pistol Annies, Carolina Chocolate Drops. This is good stuff for those of us whose modern musical tastes aren’t incredibly mainstream.

You can get your own copy, or at least check it out at
Voice Of Ages at (disclosure: link uses my affiliate ID, btw).

If you don’t know The Chieftains, you’ve got some catching up to do.

Anyone else have Voice of Ages? What do you think of it? Leave comments below.

Going to Kansas City and Recording a Bunch of Songs: #1 “The Good Ship Calabar”

I’m heading to Kansas City Irish Fest 2012, Labor Day Weekend, and to count down, I’m recording a bunch of songs, roughly one per week, and releasing them on the Internet. Each will initially be available as a free download, and they will all end up on an EP/Album available at, and after, KC Irish Fest.

From Kansas City Irish Fest, 1 September, and until Halfway to Saint Patrick’s Day, 17 September 2012, the the album will cost a mere $5. That’s correct, $5. So, keep watching for more.

If you have suggestions for songs you’d like included, please let me know. Email me, comment here. Comment on my facebook page. Tweet me. If I can, I’ll include it on the project.

Thanks! And let me know what you want to hear.

PS: I’m also making videos for each song, if only just me in the studio goofing off. I’ll edit the worst bit out, so don’t worry. 🙂

Farewell Barney McKenna: Dubliners’ Last Original Member Dies at Age 72

Barney McKenna of The Dubliners. Photo by Jim McCann (2005). Permission: CC-BY-2.5
Barney McKenna of The Dubliners. Photo by Jim McCann (2005). Permission: CC-BY-2.5

Barney McKenna, the last surviving member of the original Dubliners lineup, died around lunchtime yesterday in Dublin. McKenna, along with Ronnie Drew, Luke Kelly, and Ciarán Bourke, began the Ronnie Drew Ballas Group, 50 years ago this year, 1962, as the folk revival was blossoming. Drew’s unhappiness with the name, and Luke Kelly’s reading The Dubliners by James Joyce, led to the name change. Ever since, The Dubliners has enjoyed a large and devout following. Many of the songs I know, even ones that my granddad taught me, I know because of the Dubliners. They, along with the Clancy Brothers, and numerous others, reminded the Irish and Irish diaspora what a rich treasure we have in our musical heritage.

Amongst his many contributions to traditional Irish Music, Barney championed the GDAE (violin, mandolin) tuning of the tenor banjo (usually CGDA) in Irish music.

John Spillane and Fanta Mbacké Kouyate: Bean Pháidín

Check out John Spillane, with help from Senegalese griot singer Fanta Mbacké Kouyate singing the peppy traditional Irish song Bean Pháidín. Spillane with in Senegal for Magamedia’s music programme Ceolchuairt. Fanta Mbacké Kouyate, from Dakar, Senegal, is a singer of modern songs as well as songs of the traditional West African storytelling tradition, known as griot, or djéli (jeli).

John Spillane is still a gregarious performer, and I love hearing him sing. I have to say that I love this pairing. Fanta Kouyate is as colourful and fabulous as her lovely clothing. If she performed anywhere near, I’d be in line for tickets first day. I encourage you to look up other videos of her. She is a very compelling singer and storyteller.

Celtic Woman’s Tommy Martin Introduces the Uillean Pipes

Fascinated? Bewildered? Frightened? How do you feel about the uillean pipes, the national pipe instrument of Ireland?

Celtic Woman Band’s own Tommy Martin is here to ease you into an understanding of the crazed, elbow-bellowed (hence uillean) brother to the Highland Bagpipes, the Galician pipes, and the Breton pipes. Tis a long way from the day when naked Bretons and Picti blew the things from the murky shroud of the morning mist to scare the crap out of invading Roman centurions. [Kids: best not to repeat my imaginative telling of history in class, mind youse; least not till the teacher’s got her/his first pint of the morning out of the way.]

Enjoy the video:

What d’ya think?

Jonathan Ramsey, Sinfinis [bare], and Robbie Hazen 2 November @ La Gra – Saint Louis

Jonathan Ramsey, Sinfinis [bare], and Robbie Hazen Live at La Gra - Saint Louis - 2010-11-02

Come enjoy and All-Acoustic evening mixing Avant-Garde, Rock, and Irish Music in the heart of Dogtown, at La Gra. Try the tapas, as Sinfinis [bare] renders –acoustically- M.E.’s darkly thoughtful lyrics, Jonathan Ramsey delivers his energetic Irish and original folk, and Hollywood, Florida’s own national artist Robbie Hazen brings his high-energy, acoustic rock and pop show to Saint Louis’ Dogtown neighbourhood. Please, come join us for a fantastic night of music.

Help get the word out about this great upcoming show!

Missouri River Irish Fest Runneth Over Again

Missouri River Irish Fest delivered huge fun, Saturday. Thanks to the festival for having me back. Special thanks to all of you who came it in support, and to you who stumbled by and stayed. With three string breaks and the semi-nautical a capella songs that ensued, it became the Jonathan Ramsey Improv and Music Hour. Great crack!

Sunday proved a bit too rainy, and shows all were canceled. Ah well.

Let me know what you thought, and feel free to send pics of the fest or links.