Irish Fusion

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by Murf, Mar 30, 2001.

  1. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    Just wondering if any of you guys have ever checked out some of the pretty cool stuff happening with Irish trad music (and no I dont mean facking Riverdance or feet of flames/arse of destiny or any other Michael Flatley abomination).

    It all started in the early 80s with a band called moving hearts who did a way out thing and mixed Irish trad with rock, funk and jazz some of the stuff is amazing, and what made it for me was (in my opinion) the best fretless player no ones ever heard of..a guy called Eoghan (Owen) O Neil, I swear if any of you get a cance to check out an album by Moving Hearts called Dark end of the street there are 2 outstanding tracks, one is an old reel/jig called downtowntown which is primarily a showcase for piper Davy Spillane but just listen to the bassline O'Neil lays down behind him!!!!! incredible (and the live version is even faster)..the second track is the last track on the album (damned if I can remember the name) which is a beautiful jazz tinged instrumental with one of the most beautiful fretless lead parts I've ever heard.

    Also Eileen Ivers (very famous New York trad violinist) last album had Steve Gadd on drums and some interesting bass work from Bhag..(I'm not gonna even attemp to spell his name..ya know Paul Simons call me Al guy).

    peace y'all
  2. oddentity

    oddentity Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Yeah Murf!!! I'm glad someone else has heard of Moving Hearts... O'Neil is a nasty bassist (and I mean that in a GOOD way!)!

    Check early Clannad too, before they got all new-agey... there is some nice jazz influence there.

    I'll have to check out that Ivers record.

    Do you listen to Solas? Great band, not so much fusion but wow, they always blow me away. I used to take tin whistle lessons from Seamus Egan like 10-12 years ago... wish I had paid attention back then!

    Also, Afro Celt Sound System are doing AMAZING things... I find their work incredibly inspiring. Most of the basslines are synth, but the songs are SO good - and they put on a fantastic live show!
  3. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    Solas eh? as i recall they had/have a lead singer called Karan Casey (think I'm thinking about the same band??) well anyway she used to front a jazz band I was in years ago...she's an amazing jazz vocalist surprised the hell out of me when I heard she was doing Trad.
  4. oddentity

    oddentity Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Actually, I think she may have left Solas... one pf the female members left, and I'm pretty sure it was her... You're right, she is a fantastic singer...
  5. bootyquake


    Mar 29, 2001
    Washington, DC
    I'm glad to hear people interested in new Irish/Celtic fusion music. There's been a ton of stuff that has appeared in the last 20 years, and I've been all over it. (and by the way, Riverdance has done nothing but help the financial success of more "legitimate" Irish music, so I never complained.)

    Egotistically, I could start with myself. From 1995-1998 I founded a Vermont, USA based band called Whisky Before Breakfast that did Irish, Scottish, and Breton funk music before a lot of the new bands were hitting the mainstream. We were playing traditional jigs and reels, airs, and ballads with a modern funk/rock rhythm section. I hear dozens of bands doing it now, and strangely we all started around the same time, so no one was imitating, and no one was really leading--but for a time we had some great fun touring the American Celtic festival circuit! Our CDs are still floating out there. More recently I produced a yet-to-be-released disc called JigHead. The theme is "Irish Music in Space." Hopefully that will make waves.

    Ashley MacIsaac, a phenomenal Cape Breton fiddler, has been pushing the boundaries seriously since around 1996. His band was incredible--they could play disco and trad Cape Breton stuff with equal conviction. Today he does drum'n'bass & electronica with fiddle tunes. Alas, Ashley has trouble keeping his emotional life straight, so he's not so prolific.

    Slainte Mhath, also from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, does Celtic trad plus afro-cuban, funk, and rock. They put on one of the finest shows I've seen, and they're all really nice people.

    Seven Nations are super. They are more of a pop group with bagpipes and fiddle, but everyone of them are also killer trad players, too. Kirk MacLeod just happens to be one of the best songwriters in America, so they're more pop.

    Dan Ar Braz and Heritage des Celtes are like a giant Breton Fusion big band. If you've not heard Breton bagad bands played with heavy basslines, you haven't lived.

    Solas plays with a guy named Chico Huff, and he's a hugely funky, tough bass player.

    There's a ton of good music out there--good luck!
  6. Oh man, I can't believe someone finally brought this up! A few years ago I was listening to an FM radio station here in NY (88.something ;)) and they were doing a special on Irish funk/fusion. it was some of the greatest music I've ever heard. The only group I was able to remember was Mad Pudding. I finally tracked down one of their albums recently - Grand Hotel - and it's just amazing. More on the funk side than fusion, but really good!

    I'll definitely have to check out the artists you guys have mentioned. Are there more??!
  7. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    Mad pudding eh? well with a name like that I gotta check them out.

    Incidentally, The Riverdance thing came out of the interval show at one of the Eurovision song contests held in Ireland and I can see why it was such a huge worldwide hit however the group Planxty did something similar (and way way better in my opinion) at the same show in 1981 only their piece was called Timedance and it bassically makes Riverdance sound like starts out with a an Irish air played with a Baroque feel ie harpsichords orchestra etc which in itself is interesting until Donal Lunnys section kicks in near the end with bass, drums, synths and full orchestra (as well as more traditional instruments ie bouzoukis, mandolins and pipes) and just "tears the roof off the sucka".

    The sad thing is Its nearly impossible to get it now (I'm lucky enough to have an original 12 inch version of it)..cos they "reworked" it a few years ago and ripped it to shreds its like comparing a Damien Hirst with a about making a complete balls of something.

    (Oh yeah the "taps" in Riverdance are pre-recorded...tut tut).

    Anyway a few albums worth checking out are Coolfin..(Donal Lunnys band), Fused (by a scottish Flute player called Michael McGoldrick) and of course anything by Moving Hearts (the live album is highly recommended.for the brilliant fretless funk jam at the start before it launches into the first number)

    peace y'all
  8. Also check out The Elders, a great modern trad band from the midwest. Great stuff!
  9. NJXT


    Jan 9, 2001
    Lyon, FRANCE
    If you dig "Breton Fusion", you should check out 2 french band :
    - Manau : Celtic/Breton/Rap band
    - Matmatah : Breton/Rock/Party Rock band
    Both had a great success in France recently.

    In a more traditional way (Celtic/Breton music), you should check out Alan Stivell ( He played with Dan Ar Braz "Héritage des Celtes" a few times .

    Here's a site about "la musique bretonne" (Breton Music) but it's all in french :
  10. I have an album by a band called Shooglynifty which is irish/rock and pretty cool.
  11. oddentity

    oddentity Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    I had to revive this year-old thread, 'cause I (finally) saw Solas in concert for the first time last night here in Philly.

    Incredible show! The whole band was great, especially the jam (reels?) at the end of the regular set where the members traded solos. It was cool to see Seamus Egan switching between instruments for almost every song. Flutes & whistles, banjo, acoustic and electric guitar...

    Chico Huff was very impressive. He never over-played the material, and fit in perfectly with the drummer (forget his name). Totally laid-back and funky.

    Karan Casey is indeed no longer with Solas. I think the last album she appeared on was The Words That Remain. Their new singer, Deirdre Scanlan, is excellent.
  12. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    WOW!! this is a blast from the past (one of my very first TB postings I think) AND WHAT A COINCIDENCE My dad played me some of solas's new album only last week (cant think of the name off hand) and I was blown away by the rhythms in some of the songs (I wasnt really listening out for the bass parts they seemed buried waaaay down in the mix..then again it could 've been a pre-mastered version I heard)...just the sheer energy in the playing was fantastic (the acoustic g***ar parts were blistering).

    It was great to hear such energy and the fact that they were getting away from the standard 'dum dum dadumdadumda dum dum' rhythms which seem to plague a lot of the trad fusion stuff I've heard lately.

    The only thing that really bugs me about a lot of the trad fusion stuff to-day is that most of the bands have thundering rhythm sections (drums percussion bodhrans etc) but TERRIBLE bass arrangements I mean am I the only one that thinks a ray riendeau/alain caron slap groove would sit perfectly with the trad rhythms? or even a busier finger funk approach?

    When I first saw riverdance with the dancers taps providing/fitting in with the rhythm I thought "wouldnt it be really cool to have a 'BASSdance' section" whereby the dancer would tap a rhythm which the bassist would copy (slapping of course for that percussiveness) and build it up from there......Hey waitaminute....I think I'm onto something here.....(now if I can just track down a good and preferably good looking and leggy Irish dancer I'm laughing).
  13. mthoople


    Nov 1, 2001
    Denver, CO
    Celtic Rock?

    Check out this website:

    The first two tunes we covered were Ashley MacIssac's "Brenda Stubbert" and Brother's version of "The Clumsy Lover". We haven't been playing "Brenda Stubbert" lately, but its a great set opener. Our latest album includes covers of the Jeff Beck Truth version of "Morning Dew" and "Copperhead Road" by Steve Earl. We also do a Jean Luc Ponty cover live. Most of our tunes are traditional with a few originals as well.
  14. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Jeez, it's nice to hear somebody else likes this stuff. I used to play in the '90s with a band called Kips Bay, and we used to hit some of the same circuit as Eileen Ivers, Cherish the Ladies, Solas, Black 47, Seven Nations, Wolfestone (OK, they're Scots), and the like.

    I'm no longer quite so up on what's out there, having been off the circuit for a few years, but I remember Rawlins Cross, La Bottine Souriante (Canada), and Brother (Australia) as being good, and in a more traditional vein, Deanta.
  15. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    No, you're not the only one; I've tried both those things myself. One thing you have to keep in mind, though, at least IMO, is that trad jigs and reels are very "notey"--that is, the melody instruments are playing notes ALL THE TIME (#$%^& fiddlers), without a lot of space. So if the rhythm section does too much of that, there's sometimes a danger of messing up the texture and the groove. Not to say that it never works--just that it's like tabasco sauce, it probably works best when not used to excess.
  16. oddentity

    oddentity Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    One thing that really blew me away last night was the rhythmic interplay -- they were experimenting with different time sigs, and there were a lot of "stop-on-a-dime" moments...

    Tons of energy too. I love going to a show where the whole band is grinning the whole time...

    I agree about the new album, too... it's really good. You're right about the bass being buried in the mix, but last night it fit in perfectly - not too loud, but not too muddy.
  17. Ciaran


    Apr 4, 2001
    :eek: :eek:
    Ohmigod! I just heard Downtown.
    I've got me a new fretless influence.

    Thanks Murf!
  18. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    No probs,
    I had pretty much the same reaction when I heard it first as well:D

    (mind you the live version is faster :eek:

    For the best fretless tone I've ever heard check out the track 'Half moon' on the same album (dark end of the street) or ye can download it from, now thats how a fretless should be played :D

    The sad thing is Eoghan O Neil never really got the recognition he deserved, after moving hearts split up he went on to play bass for Chris Rea:rolleyes:
    and then became the original riverdance bassist and I swear if you compared what he did with moving hearts to what he's doing now you'd never think it was the same player.

    Anyway for the best of O'Neil (imo) check out:

    Downtown (especially the live version)
    Half Moon
    McBrides (live)
    Let somebody know (live)

    Ah hell just buy the moving hearts live album.
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I haven't heard of any of the bands mentioned here - let alone actually heard them play!

    But just to say that I saw Franc 'O Shea's new band "Alkimia" last Friday and they blend lots of influences - as Franc said - being born in Africa and having a surname like "O Shea" - you expect a sort of African/Irish fusion. The music is mainly Jazz fusion, but with flute and violin over a Jazz/funk rhythm section of the highest quality, the title of this thread seemed appropriate! ;)

    So I thought this type of blend of Jazz Funk /Irish Folk music was unique....? But Franc's bass playing is always worth checking out!