Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Am I the only one out there who doesn’t like Lúnasa? I mean i respect them all as musicians, there is no doubting they are a talented bunch, but their sound just doesn’t do it for me. Whenever I say to people I don’t like Lúnasa I’m almost always greeted with a look of shock.

Has the Lúnasa sound so penetrated ITM that it is now the new standard for ITM, so therefore to criticise them is heresy?

They’re often called the successors to the Bothy Band, but is it just me or are they not worlds apart.

The Bothy Band were full of soul, aggression, direct rhythm, counterpoint, darkness and power whereas Lúnasa are all ‘sophisticated’ rhythmic syncopation, cool chords, happy lightweight melodies, they even manage to turn great dark tunes into happy tunes! They are taking the darkness, soul, melancholy and aggression out of the tunes, ITM isn’t simply jolly, lovely music.

In the words of Tommy Peoples.. ‘The music expresses joy, terrible loss, hope, love and defiance. It has stayed with us when we had our own people crushed by oppression, our language killed by force and intimidation… Irish music was a joy to me…it spoke to me of the people who bore all this hardship and came through singing."

Do Lúnasa and their numerous imitators express these feelings? Not to my ears. Is it not high time some new groups appeared to take ITM by the scruff of its neck and take it out of the trendy trenches it is in at the moment. Lets get back into the depth of what it is all about and maybe then we can look at it afresh and create a new interpretation of it that won’t take away from the real emotions the music expresses.

All those in favour say I and please feel free to email me. All those against please don’t take any personal offence, I don’t really mind trendy trad, some of the tunes are nice enough, I just think that it is dominating too much these days and that dominance needs to be reassessed.

Right that’s me off my soapbox for now.

Dave

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Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Well, I actually like Lunasa but I don’t think of them as particularly trendy. There certainly are some newer bands which would fall into that category and I’d agree with you there.

Incidentally, the Edinburgh and Glasgow dates of their latest tour were cancelled due to poor advance ticket sales. So, you’re probably not the only one who doesn’t like them.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

I’d go along with the broad sentiments of that alright.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Some of the new bands I like, and some I don’t. I don’t care for Flook, for example—a little too far off the beaten track for me. Same for those Afro Celt guys. While I respect their musicianship, and especially their ability to get into a groove, Lunasa is just OK for me, I don’t rush out and buy all their CDs. While I have always liked Solas, sometimes when they stray too far from the tradition in odd ways, I don’t like what they are doing as much. My favorite young band is Danu, to give you an example of what I do like to listen to.

None of this is a value judgement, just personal taste. These young bands are full of talented musicians who do amazing stuff. So Dave, if you are saying that these bands like Lunasa are bad, and the Bothy Band is good, I would disagree. If you say, I prefer the Bothy sound over Lunasa, then I am right there agreeing with you.

And, if we must have a "standard for ITM," as far as I am concerned, it would not be ANY of these recording groups, it would be the old greyhaired guys in the corner of the local pub, cranking out tunes just for the joy of it….

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

I’m a huge Lunasa fan, but since they don’t sing, it’s hard to compare them to other trad bands. I love a good, angry ballad, but you’ll never hear it from Lunasa. You gotta love Lunasa for the way they put the sound together. See a former thread about "what’s tight?"

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

You make a good point Dave. And i am largely in agreement with you—especially regarding Flook. For me, treny trad is like icing on a cupcake: I like to scrape 95% of it off, sprinkles and all.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

I’ll say aye to that Frisbee. Your quote from Tommy Peoples is apposite—-there’s a lot more to ITM than paying lip service to Mammon.Think on aspirant successors to TBB.! Aspire to higher ground

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

I think Lunasa,Flook,Mike McGoldrick Band…..etc are all good bands.Trendy,Traditional Folk whatever you want to call it!Does it matter?If you don’t like’em don’t listen to them.I bet you when The Bothy Band,Planxty…..etc came on to the scene people were saying the same thing!!!
De Dannan and their Beatles covers lol!
Things evolve including music.The newer bands have certainly bought the music to a wider audience.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

"They are taking the darkness, soul, melancholy and aggression out of the tunes, ITM isn’t simply jolly, lovely music."

I’m trying to think about sitting down with my friends and playing a set of reels in that light…Forgive me, Dave, I’ve failed the trad test. :-(

I guess I just don’t think about a band like Lunasa in that way. I happen to like them; good band. I don’t really think of them as carrying the torch of traditional music, though. They play great diddley music and give a good concert.

If all I listened to was old, scratchy archive recordings of great trad players, I would go mad. Lunasa, though, is great Cleaning the House Music.

Good point, Meri. I’m sure Bothy was sacrilege in thier day.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

We don’t mind that people don’t like Lunasa, Flook, Solas, etc. We mind when people are really vocal about not liking them. I mean, so far as I can see, you can’t mention Solas on this board without prompting at least one anti-Solas tirade.

Solas, Lunasa, Flook and all the rest are innovative. I recognize that for every awesome ‘trendy trad’ band, as you put it, there are two boring, new-age type bands-but they (the good ones) push the boundaries, they try new things. If traditional music had stayed straight-edged traditional since its conception it probably would have died out.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Don’t you know anything trendy will soon become outmoded? I love old-fashioned stuff simply because it doesn’t age quickly.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

I’ve briefly sampled Lunasa and some other similar young bands and nothing I heard really grabbed me, so I haven’t been strongly motivated to pursue them any further. But I don’t think they represent a bad or good phenomenon, from the point of view of changing the tradition, just natural processes at work. They will inevitably feed back into the core tradition, but I trust that in the long run the core values will prevail there.

I’d rather see the young folks playing music that’s 80% what I love than something that *completely* sux. I’ll keep checking out the new stuff occasionally and I expect that something will eventually ring my bells.

I’ve been enjoying my new Junior Crehan CD. I’m currently fascinated by the way he could render a slow air and make me believe in it. There may be technical “imperfections,” but somehow he was able to express real emotional density with an almost imperceptible finger and bow nuance. I hope the succeeding generations never lose sight of these gifts from the past.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

I think one service Lunasa have provided is encouraging double bass in ITM (I know I’m biased, but bear with me). It helps preserve the "non-chordal" nature of some tunes by providing an accompaniment which isn’t chord (triad, diad or whatever) based (ie guitar in any tuning, mando, zouk, piano, left hand on a box that isn’t a free-bass etc) in the same way that the cello did in Scotland 100 years ago. And they are all skilled musicians. So on these grounds (and the one that they encourage new people to trad music), I like them. Whether or not I’d listen to them for long periods however…..

And anyway, do we really need any kind of "standard" for ITM, it’s music and it’s all different? I rejoice in this, not complain - I’m always going to hear something I don’t like, but for every set I don’t like I assume I’ll hear one that inspires me, challenges me to improve, provides an alternative way at looking at the music, or just makes my foot tap and makes me want to play.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

You’re right about the Bothy Band not going down with everyone at the time, the bouzouki ("jangle-box.."), and especially Triona’s presumably amplified keyboards, being singled out for particular disapproval. Their sound was described to me as being run down like an express train. For all that, I enjoyed seeing them live, and bought their records. Certainly, though, no-one could dismiss them as musical candyfloss.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

I have never actually heard "Lunasa", a bit like the old judge who asked "What are the Beatles?"

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Does it strike anyone else as odd that we are discussing new trends in traditional music? In a semantically perfect world, shouldn’t the words "new" and "traditional" be mutually exclusive?

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Definition of "classical ". Something that has a permanent appeal.

Definition of "vulgar". The obtrusion of the inappropriate. Nuff said. ?

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

I’ll echo what a couple of people have said: be glad that it’s a *living* tradition. Bands like Lunasa appeal to a lot of people who don’t care for pure drop—yet. If they make more friends for Irish music, that’s a good thing. No such thing as "bad publicity," as the old show-biz saying goes.

Time will tell whether the newer sounds enrich the tradition, or are just fads that will be replaced with the next "flavor of the month."

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

So duffgen, who defines what has permanent appeal and who defines what is inappropriate?
Qui custodiet ipsos custodai? (or something like that, my Latin is NOT good)

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Before Ptarmy jumps in and corrects me, here is the actual term, spelled correctly: "Quis custodiet istos custodes?"

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Geez now I feel like I must have philistine tastes or something. I like Lunasa! I think they are fantastically talented and make some truly gorgeous and engaging music. I had the pleasure of seeing them live earlier this year in a small pub and I was stunned by how wonderful they sound live. Several "hair standing up on neck moments". Some moments of powerful stirring emotions to the point of being kind of choked up. Some absolutely achingly beautiful playing. And I listen to their CDs and I find them to be very very enjoyable.

As a fiddler myself, I like the playing of Sean Smyth. He is very talented although perhaps kind of understated when playing with Lunasa, which is understandable pehaps given that he is playing with such a talented group of people.

Perhaps there is indeed some sort of "trendy new faux-ITM" scene marked by gimmicks and watered-down-ness and significant departures from the "good old" style, and so on. If so, is Lunasa really a representative example of this phenomenon? I guess I just don’t see it. As far as I am concerned, they are innovating but in tasteful ways that respect the tradition.

OK I’ll duck for cover now… :-)

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Al, I think that it is very healthy that we are discussing new trends in traditional music. Otherwise, we’d all be out polishing our shawms or oiling our auroch horns. Chant, anyone?

Tim, I think Lunasa is one of those bands that is best seen and heard in the flesh. Their CDs don’t do much for me (other than the housework thing), but they can play their brains out.

Hey, how about that Enya? :-D

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

OK Batlady, now you’ve crossed the line!!!!!!
;-)

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Oh, I’m sorry, Al. Didn’t mean to out you…

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

LMAO! ~ :-) ~ I was feeling a bit guilty recently after having dropped a slam concerning my not liking this group, Lúnasa, but acknowledging their collective talents, admiring thise talents. So, I decided I needed to get things in perspective and sat through four of their albums complete, no, not in my collection, on loan. Well, my opinion is more fixed. I still won’t be adding any of their albums to our little collection, unless by some odd chance we end up being given one as a gift. I still admire their talents, but neither of us like the band or their music. In our respect for their talents, we don’t include ‘composition’, as, personally speaking, that isn’t a talent we believe they have.

Hey, so we’re out of step, they get 5 stars and no less than 4.5 on the Amazon hit lists ~ but I suspect it is only their groupies that are bothering to leave messages of adolation and stars of approval. I’d give them each 5 stars for talent, but the albums, well, I’m one of those who doesn’t care enough to leave comment there. It isn’t like we don’t enjoy the occassional leap of style, we enjoy the Sharon Shannon and Capercaillie CD’s and some other ‘new wave’ ways with the trad. But there aren’t many we’d add to our library…

Ohmmmmmmmmm…
Damn, is that lint in my naval. Phew! That stuff stinks… :-P

Oh yeah! God bless variety ~ something for everyone… ;-)

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

I like that Tommy Peoples quote, especially the bit about "Irish music was a joy to me…it spoke to me of the people who bore all this hard ship and came through singing."

But far from wallowing in historical misery and sorrow, I think one way of showing appreciation for the people who kept this music and culture going through hard times is to find and share joy in the music—what better way to honor the past than to celebrate the music and give yourself over to it. From what I’ve seen of the lads in Lunasa, they’re doing that, in their own way.

Yes, it’s important to understand the heritage—good times and bad—of this tradition, but I don’t think the people who suffered through oppression, famine, migration, etc., would want us to miss the happy-go-lucky, flirtatious, inventive, carefree side of the music they helped pass on.

In short, whether you like Lunasa or not is a matter of taste. Personally, I don’t see the point in judging musicians by how well they echo old persecutions.

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Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

I have to agree with Frisbee to a point. Lunasa’s music seems a little formulaic to me. However I agree with those who say that they’ll become part of the tradition in the future.
In my early twenties (a long time ago, lemme tell ya) I bumped into a cassette recording of Planxty. I’d heard little bits of ITM but never taken too much notice of it. I was more into the Pink Floydish sort of stuff. That cassette changed my life.
That was early seventies and I imagine that Planxty were derided by the ‘trad’ population at large at the time.
I’d say that most of the players my age around where I live were turned on to ITM by Planxty and the Bothies and other groups who were giving ITM a more modern, relevant-to-the-times sort of feel. If Lunasa and their like attract young people to ITM then the rest of us can all die happy knowing that the tradition is alive and well

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

I think Lunasa’s first two albums are brilliant. Aggressive, innovative, musical, and fun. There are sections or the other albums that I enjoy as well, but they don;t see nearly as much time on my CD player. I’d rather put in a Danu CD or Kevin Crawford’s solo stuff (which is both more interesting and more traditional than the Lunasa stuff)

I will also say that Lunasa puts on a fantastic show, in a way that the albums cannot really capture.

I also like Solas on occasion, so my opinions are automatically suspect.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Thank the spirits we don’t all like the same thing and have the right to dislike somethings. What a hell it would be if everything that had roots had to be ‘appreciated’… I like dandelions, but I know that isn’t universally shared and that’s O.K. I would defend your right to like or dislike as you choose, by your own sensibilities, but don’t go asking me to like something just because it has some connection and because the ‘lads’ are nice and talented ~ yeah, so they are, I still don’t care for their music ~ and I think we all have that right. And as to discussing it, well, what harm there? It does good to pass ideas around, and even disagreement. This wasn’t about "how well they echo old persecutions", which I’m not sure I understand what you mean anyway ~ it is about freedom of choice, and having a wide choice of things to choose from…

Some folks don’t like Tommy People’s playing ~ I’m not going to rag on them for that. Some folks don’t like pasta, and I do, I love lasagna ~ any type, even the veggie versions, but I wouldn’t force it on someone else who didn’t have the same appreciations. This for me isn’t about old and new, it is something else ~ and in my ‘personal’ selection of music I’d take to a desert isle with me, Lúnasa definitely does not figure… But for others ~ it very well might…

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Lúnasa for me is like a old wave in Celtic clothing ~ some version of elevator musak, but that’s how my ears hear some of this stuff… It’s cute in a Wyndam Hill kind uh way, but that isn’t for me…like beets aren’t… ;-)

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Hey, ceolachan. You got some kind of problem with beets?

I guess I just marvel that there are so many musicians that seem to make a living playing music that is not exactly mainstream. So it isn’t like they’ve sold their souls to the devil so that they could be rich and famous.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Hey Batlady, how’s it goin? I love beats, just not beets. Odd thing that, it is the only thing I just couldn’t eat as a kid, no matter how often family and friends said ~ "Try this, it’s different!" I ate the chocolate covered ants my grandad fed me, and the locusts, I ate sweet and sour dog in Asia, but I just could never get together with beets without feelin’ ill ~ until the Russian’s got to me with borsch ~ they were so overcooked it just didn’t go bad with me.

I have to say, I’m happy for anyone that can make a living at the music, and I would never take that away from them, as if I could. Lots of folks like that Wyndam Hill swing on things, just not me and fortunately it seems my closest is in agreement. But, if she was otherwise inclined, I’d still love her and I’d buy the stuff for her and we’d have it in our meager library of recordings… But, and I guess that is fortunate, aside from her loving beets and me blue cheese, music wise we seem to be in agreement ~ well, almost, I like some hard and twisted rock and roll that she doesn’t quite ken to. I only listen to that stuff when she is elsewhere… But we both like the Poques…so not all is lost eh? ;-)

Pogues! ~ how’d that ‘q’ get in there anyway?

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

All of a sudden I feel hungry. Think I’ll head off to the dessert isle….

Actually, it’s time to head home. My backup guy (aka My Dear Husband) is back from the forest fire thing and available to play tunes again. Yea! Cocktail hour and tunes!

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Are you accepting company? Just so long as I don’t have to eat beets… I like bats, love the things, I always had this dream of having land and building shelters for them, mind you, I was going to build them in a way that would make the guano accessible for garden use… :-)

Did you notice, any of yuh, that frisbee started this and then disappeared? Maybe lurk mode? Is this one of those wind-up things let loose on the table to see if it makes it to the edge and falls off?

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

I have four Lunasa cds, they used to be one of my favorite bands…until (just recently) I bought Sean Smyth’s solo fiddle cd. I was so disappointed! He’s such a talented fiddler, I couldn’t wait to hear him without all the other instruments around him…but he went and recorded all these cross-cultural things—-one has a Jamaican rhythm, there’s an electric guitar, some very weird percussion—-I’m gonna sell it. And I just don’t hear Lunasa the same way any more. I hear all the modern influences more strongly now, and it doesn’t sound as nice.

I read a Smyth interview once where he talked about how people who are descended from emigrants (like us here in the US) are much more narrow-minded about the music than they are there in Ireland, that it’s changed, and people want to put it in a box and let it fossilize. I don’t know, maybe that’s true. I still don’t like that Jamaican tune on his cd. Awful stuff.

I just hate it when the musicians I love record music I hate. It’s the Barbara Streisand syndrome.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

the answer to the original question? no. but why does it matter if other people do? i would be offended if someone started a post insulting "kitty lie over" (caoimhin ó raghallaigh and mick o’brien) or "melodic journeys’ (james kelly). the answer to that would be the same, "no, you’re probably not the only one who doesnt like unaccompanied irish music." frisbee, i know you said no offence, and your topic was far from unfair, but i still wonder about it.

it is acceptable here to insult lunasa, but i wonder if someone started a willie clancy bashing thread (even if it were so polite as frisbee’s)that it wouldnt degenerate into name calling.

my personal preference is that i like any recordings in which the backing does not take away from the music. there are many tracks on many cd’s that start off amazing when it is one or two of the musicians, but when everyone else comes in it degenerates into missing the beat and playing out of time.

i was on a band’s website once, and it remarked that one player "was the driving rhythmic force behind the band" and on every album, that player has always been the one to lag the beat behind the most. i keep my nitpicky opinion to myself in that matter, and i still continue to by their cd’s every time i am at a festival that they are playing at. i am glad that most of the responses (including frisbees) talk about respecing the musicians, but i still find it disrespectful to start threads trying to banding together people who dislike a group. what about banding people together who like a style of playing?

i understand that other people want to express their opinion, and that is fine. i just dont understand why it has to mandate "new groups to come out". there are so many fantastic players today who play the way they "used to play" that i feel that i will never have enough time to ever learn and appreciate them all. there are even more musicians who expand the tradition by drawing from within itself. i have not yet found the time to take a good listen to lunasa or any other bands that are more progressive, and i’m sure that when i get around to it i will find that i will not have enough time to ever learn and appreciate them all.


b lane - i wonder if singing has anything to do with the merit of a band. i like singing, and i also dont like it. some of my favorite albums dont have a single song or air on them, all dance tunes, and some of my other favorite albums have songs and airs outnumbering the jigs and reels.

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Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Spitting down the flute and jazzy bass runs dont really make me want to listen to the tunes any more than in their purest form. Like it or not they are considered trendy by young trad enthuisiasts compared to say the old chieftains. People use Lúnasa as a name drop because they also think it makes them look clued up to "good" new wave celtic music.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

daiv ~ you’ll find it goes all ways here in the discussions, as it does with the music, there are praise threads too gathering fans for different things, from individual players to groups to regions… In a sense, it helps us to order our thoughts and at least for me I always start with asking myself ‘why’ I feel one way or t’other… Sometimes I find a clear answer, sometimes it that disturbed and muddy water only shows hints of a glint of silver from something alive but just beyond reach… Either way I find it interesting, including seeing those glints of light and dark from other contributors like yourself and Ripthecalico… It wouldn’t be near as valuable if it was just agreement…

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Hi Dave,
I’m with you.

I don’t like any of that tripe either.

Traditional has stayed traditional cause its good. The rest will deservadly die out in time.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Just to clarify what I meant by my original post. I am not a purist stick in the mud who thinks the only good trad is unnaccompanied music on fiddle and pipes. However lately I probably get more satisfaction out of solo’s and duets either accompanied or not than any band out there. Harry bradley and Paul O’Shaughnessy, Mick O’Brien and Caoimhin O’Raghallaigh, Ronan Browne and Peadar O’Loughlin, Paddy Glackin and Robbie Hannon, Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill etc.all have wonderful CD’s out in the last 10 years or so that are far superior to any band CD’s I’ve heard.

I’m all for experiments with fusing different styles, I do a bit of that myself, the main point I’m trying to make though is that the Lúnasa type of sound is so popular these days that it is not just taking over all the band sounds, it is penetrating into session culture to an alarming extent and I’m frankly sick of Lúnasa influenced sessions, I don’t mind the odd trendy tune or cool chord progression in a session, again I do that myself sometimes, but I’ve turned up at sessions in recent times which were dominated by Lúnasa type tunes and accompaniment, and that really gets on my nerves after a while.

I’m sure the Bothy band were treated with derision when they came out by some, but to me their experiments with trad were far more successful than most of the current groups. Dervish are the only band I can think of who experiment quite a bit and do so successfully. Most of the other bands are either Lúnasa clones or Bothy band/Planxty clones. So what I’d like to see is for a band to take inspiration from the kind of duets I mentioned above and to create a band sound around such a template. I’d like to hear a band that really brings the balls and soul back into trad but does so in a new way. Hell, if no one else is prepared to do it, I may just do it myself!

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Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

p.s. to those who say if you don’t like it don’t listen to it, that’s fair enough when it comes to CD’s but if I’m at a session and trendy trad begins to take over I’ve not much choice but to leave or stop playing and that can be a real pain in the arse, especially if I’ve travelled a long way to get there!

Posted .

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Plus ca change—it will be interesting to see what survives the test of time. I wonder what Capt. O’neill would comment.?

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

I love Lunasa. They are the band that really got me into ITM. Yeah, I liked it before I heard them, but if I hadn’t gotten into them I wouldn’t be so into it now.

Dave, I ask you to take a good listen to their album "The Merry Sisters of Fate" or "The Kinnitty Sessions" and then tell me you still think they play everything in a happy, jolly maner. In my mind an up beat tempo doesn’t mean happy. I do agree a lot of bands try to take the Lunasa sound, and they just do a sh*tty job. Now without thos "trendy" chords almost every ITM tune breaks down into a 1/4/5 progression.

I notice you are in Dublin, here in the states I have not encountered a session that was "trendy" the closest I have ever been to was one lead by a Box plyer who played every reel at exactly 120 bpm, a great player, but I hatetd playing with him. Ther interesting part is I would rather listen to something like that, but one of my favorite sessions was one hosted by Mike and Mary Rafferty which completly changed my style of playing. I was also in a session in Montreal once which was also not trendy.

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Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

I hear you, person who started this.
The trouble with a lot of modern bands aka Lunasa is that they play too well. They give the impression that they are bored by and not challenged by the traditional music. Therefore they play harmonies, counterpoint, wierd rhythms, jamaican beats etc etc. There is almost a frustration for the the tradition, which is, it has to be said, musically constrained.
Harry Bradley has got it - driving, soulful, usually "easy", tunes, beautifully played.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

ceolachan - i love sorting through things and going through opinions. i agree its no fun when everyone agrees. the thread has been very nice and tame, which is why i said anything at all; if it was not, i wouldnt have touched it with a ten foot pole.

sometimes its nice to try and call away the generalities and the harsh, quick judgements, to see what lies underneath. i like and agree with daves "clarification" response addressing the appropriateness and use of innovation at sessions and in music.

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Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

i haven’t checked lately, but on tony macmahon’s site you used to be able to click on a speech or paper he gave somewhere that apparently caused a flap in the egghead community, but to me seemed eminently reasoned and nailed my own position on this lunasa-solas-etc stuff—-the problem isn’t the advent of all these different styles, some of them very commercial, speed-demonish, etc. the problem is the attitude among many that they are or should be rendering the more traditional stuff somehow obsolete or valueless. that animosity you get from people (like me) about the flooks/solases/lunasas of the world isn’t really about those musicians. it’s about the marketers and morons out there who think they are the last word, or the only word, in itm. the session scene in my city is dominated by lunasa/solas wannabes who don’t know, play, or care much about anything beyond the greatest hits from the latest cds of the fusion-y bands or music-conservatory-virtuosos du jour. sure, some purists are purists because they are reactionary old poops. but many of us who love the so-called "pure drop" love it because we like our music soulful, passionate, wild, and blue, and that’s the stuff that gives it to you straight, no chaser.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

I believe the music is robust and vigorous enough at its core for there to be all sorts of interpretations and explorations of the tradition. The heart of the music will endure.
Lunasa play with great originality, spirit and energy and I don’t think anyone doubts their virtuosity. I think they are to be applauded for their contribution to ITM though of course they’re not to everyone’s taste. Nor should they be.
I would guess a lot of people here have been drawn to irish music through them.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Oh Dear Unseen122, what a terribly ignorant thing it is to say ‘without all those ‘trendy’ chords almost every ITM turns into a 1/4/5 progression.’

Try putting a 1/4/5 progression on any Paddy Fahy or Ed Reavy tune and you’ll soon come unstuck, there are in fact very few ITM tunes that turn into a 1/4/5 progression if you accompany them properly. I hope that when you take up bouzouki you’ll begin to appreciate this!

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Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

I agree with what you’re saying, Dave. At a local session there’s a group that plays sets exactly as they’re played on Lunasa’s albums, typically saying things like, "That’s track 3 from the Kinnity Sessions". Now, unfortunately, these are the good players at the session. So, yes, it’s damn frustrating that Lunasa has had such a profound effect on these younger players.

Doing a once a month radio show of ITM on the college radio station, I’ve come up with a theory. There are two kinds of ITM. The first is the Lunasa stuff that appeals to the "masses" (who ever they really are). Typically, this music produced by bands (not in the ceili band sense). Younger players seem to find this stuff first, attracted to the speed and volume, and that’s what brings them into the session. It appeals to non-musicians as well. I must admit that I got into ITM years ago because of the Bothy Band (well, actually, it was going to see Paddy Keenan on a lark and leaving the concert with "After Hours" to listen to for the next three years).

Then there’s the music that only musicians who’ve been into this for a good deal of time like. It is solo and duet performers, mature players that have taken the time to delve deeper. This music doesn’t appeal to everyone. I’ve gotten calls several times, after playing cuts from Bobby Casey or Paddy Canny on my show, to play some of the more upbeat stuff. Frankly it makes me nuts so I play Willy Clancy instead (I can be petty).

It’s not really about pure-drop versus innovation. I think it’s more a matter of maturity. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Lunasa or groups like them. Individually they are accomplished, brilliant players. But there sound is produced to appeal to the largest possible audience. It’s fine for what it is, but I prefer the less polished, more mature sound.

Mark

PS Okay, so I’m judgmental and elitist. But, what, really, is wrong with that.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

"…many of us who love the so-called "pure drop" love it because we like our music soulful, passionate, wild, and blue, and that’s the stuff that gives it to you straight, no chaser"

Here! Here! ceemonster

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

"I’ve gotten calls several times, after playing cuts from Bobby Casey or Paddy Canny on my show, to play some of the more upbeat stuff. Frankly it makes me nuts so I play Willy Clancy instead (I can be petty)."

Haha. That’s awesome.

I like Lunasa, but you have to appreciate them for what they are and be aware of what they’re not. I also like "Animal House," but I understand that it’s not an incredibly deep, meaningful movie. You can like it all.

I feel that Lunasa, Altan, Solas, etc. smooth out the rough edges of trad and make more palatable to more people. Which is well and good and brings more people into the music, but then I think, if you’re really serious about Irish music, you have to listen to the rougher stuff. Maybe you’ll start liking the solos and duets and older music more than the classy "supergroups!"

When I have non Irish trad friends in the car, I plug in Lunasa or the Chieftains or anything along those lines if I’m in a good mood. That’s pretty much the closest thing I own to "pop music." If I feel like annoying people, I have solo or duet CDs playing. One time I had "Drones and Chanters 1" playing, and my friend commented, "You know, you could learn the piano and for less work, actually sound good."

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

I recently showed a couple of my teenage nephews a video of the band At First Light (who would probably qualify as "trendy") for their education. I pointed out what a unique sort of instrument the piper was playing. One nephew said, "Humph. He must have a lot of time on his hands." Time that could be better spent cutting and pasting computerized percussion tracks, I assume….

My point: Why complain about bands like Lunasa when the world is full of gangsta rap and other forms of non-music? At least their tunes are tunes, rather than soulless, overamplified automatic thumping. I only wish Lunasa, etc. were more famous, because that would be a win for trad music, in the Big Picture.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

What’s wrong with gangsta rap, and who says it is soulless, overamplified automatic thumpin’?

Well said all ~ frisbee, what?!!?, Daiv, ceemonster, lastnitesfun ~ etc…

Let’s talk drink ~ Lunasa is alcopop, atificially coloured, sweetened and the alohol spiked a bit for a quick high, along with the sugar and additive rush… I can’t stand that sickeningly sweet stuff. It will always be a good single malt, whiskey, ale or stout for me… If the trendy stuff were a restaurant meal it would be one of those decorative things that shorts all the real ingredients and stacks everything to look ‘cute’ on the plate, all presentation and no real content. You spend a fortune for it and you go away feeling hungry and disatisfied… At least that is as it is for me, and also fortunately one of the points of agreement I have with my wife…

I like trad that has the roughness and community of a good barbie…

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

A lovely analogy, ceolachan — whiskey vs. alcopop. I always enjoy your writing.
Of course, in this case, I think your opinion is crap! (not about whiskey or stout, though, eh?)
Why are we so-called musicians judging Lunasa from the perspective of the consumer? Look at it from the artist’s/artists’ perspective: "Lads, let’s get together for some tunes — sure, bring that big ol’ double bass thing, if you want….oooo, you and Donough have something cool happening there, what if I add a little of this?" Next thing you know, there’s a CD and some people are liking it, so then there’s another.
I agree that it’s crummy when sessions turn into Lunasa set lists. That, surely, is a sign of immaturity. But why criticize Lunasa? Because they’re commercially successful? It seems to me they’re putting together CDs the way people in other musical genres are — they’re getting something going that’s their very own, and apparently there’s enough consumers around to like it.
I like some things better than others, and sure, Lunasa presents a pretty smoothed out version of trad tunes, but I suspect anybody here would get a real kick out of sitting in with them and helping put together tunes.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Hey cuchulain54, how’s it hanging. It is damned late here and I need a good long soak, which I’ve no doubt you agree with, head first, eh? I never said I didn’t like double bass, or cello for that matter ~ and I’ve had that pleasure, in what I’d call ‘the right hands’, but also O.T.T., alcopop fashion too… Alcopop wouldn’t be there if folks didn’t want it, and it seems, for the present, to be a big seller amongst those that like to get blotto on alcoholic kiddie drinks. Hey, you can’t stop the behemouth of the market, ‘free’ as they say, to do as it pleases just so long as it can convince us of needs we didn’t know we had.

I don’t think the ‘lads’ will be asking you or I to join them any time soon for a sesh Cuch, do you?

I haven’t been reading so much a criticism of the ‘lads’, hell, a lot of praise and confirmation of their talents. The criticism of the collective noun ‘Lunasa’ has not been so much a criticism as a statement of preferences, likes and dislikes. There are, without actually having counted, just a guesstimate, at least as many "I like Lunasa"s as "I don’t like Lunasa!"s ~ so, actually a fair and balanced discussion, even if we do use cheap analogies like alcopop. Hey, it is obvious I am speaking from a personal and biased place. ~ except, my bias isn’t on innovation and experimentation, or on folks making abuck with their bent on the music ~ hell no, bless them for that ~ I just don’t like their particular take on it all, and that has nothing at all to do with using a bass or a certain selection of chords.

I did the mad thing of sitting down and digesting four of their LP’s complete, so, after that insanity, wanting to give them a fair hearing ~ heh, heh ~ Yes, they are talented, no, I don’t like them and won’t be purchasing any of their CDs… But hell, what difference does that make, loads of folks will continue to support them, I hope, rather than pirating copies, and loads of folks will consume alcopop, whatever I say, maybe in spite of what I say? But I won’t… Yeah, I tried a few of those flourescent coloured things, even the gells ~ enough that the expression, appled to it all, has some basis ~ YUCK!

Actually, maybe BLUCH! or BARF! would be more appropriate?

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

They asked me, actually, but I had to turn them down, as I’m more of a pure drop guy.
Yes, the alcopop stuff isn’t to my taste. My defense of Lunasa wasn’t really intended as a live-and-let-live screed, though. And I do realize people were acknowledging their raw talent. I just think they’re more worthy of being liked than alcopop is, or more than "a crap concept by a bunch of great players." Judging them from the perspective of trad lovers is, of course, wrong. That’s my point.
I once heard a man performing Bach two-part inventions on a chromatic harmonica. I think if it’s Bach you’re after, you may wisely prefer to go elsewhere for your listening pleasure. Yet this guy was talented, entertaining, inventive and a whole lot more. God bless him. I won’t buy his CD (if he has one), but I don’t want to call him an abortion, either. And if I’d meet him face to face, I’d shake his hand.

Am I the only one who doesn’t like all the Additives and all the other trendy E’s?

Lucky you, and I do mean it, but don’t write them off as not ‘pure drop’, they can swing that way too and have and do, and I suspect they are a nice friendly lot, or hope so, and if they did invite you they’d show you respect, or they wouldn’t have made the offer in the first place, and it would be great craic, seriously…

Ham or Spam or Nut Loaf?

I know what you’re saying, and I guess I wasn’t clear, I’m not ‘just a TRAD lover’. I do read that French magazine on occasion and happen to like it, in all its variety, better than the English and American equivalent periodicals, the few I’ve known…

‘Alcopop’, as said previously, might not be the perfect metaphor, but the additives and the flourescent colours and the hype, well, I think they fit, at least as I’m sensing it after drowning myself in it. Yes, they are great players, and I expect greater things and understanding from them in the future. I like a good experiment, and I love bass and percussion, especially when the person behind it is considerate and doesn’t overshadow they subject, in this case music, with themselves and what they can do with their instrument. When that happens it has more the sense of an ‘additive’ that is masking the true nature and flavour of the subject at hand, overpowering it. When a listen draws my attention more to the twiddles and tweaks than the thing presented as a whole, that I find irritating and not something I want in my ears…or on my tongue…or attacking any of my senses… This is not from the perspective of a purist or a solely TRAD lover, as if that had a single pure unadulterated meaning in the first place…

I’m just not a great fan of overly, overtly processed food either. It is another one of my ‘minority’ dislikes. I do indulge it now and then, including for ‘convenience’ or laziness, but I more often than not regret it afterwards. When ‘processing’ goes so far that it takes away from the subject ~ that seems to me to be silly? In the case of alcopops the flourescent colourings and the excessive sweetness masks the alcohol ~ I guess so folks can get sick drunk without the imposition or reminder of alcohol on the taste buds?

With music it might be that it is just a case of too much of a tweak on the reverb, because that suits the modern ear, that love of the acoustics in a tiled loo or a staircase ~ OOOOH! Maybe it is an over excited accompanist trying every possible chord or way or drum sequence they can imagine, or just repeating the same loop over and over again because it is ‘hypnotic’, or so they think? Cute chords and counter rhythmic flips just for the sake of themselves, always draw my attention like chalk squeak. You might be able to do that with it, but do you really want to, and continually? Do we really want a twisted Venusian way with it all? Well, maybe, if there’s some humour behind it, but when they take themselves so seriously as to also compose tunes that show little dance sense about them, but pretend to be dance music ~ nah, you can like that, that is probably the resuly of being part of an over processed culture, along with MacDonald’s and Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken ~ but it isn’t for me, not as a recording and not in concert or in a session, but I’d never deny anyone their little pleasure and nod of respect to what they like, as long as it didn’t dominate and impose itself…as it can and by reports above, does…

I suppose it is all in how you are brought up. If you have quick food and processed things as a general course, maybe that is also what you expect of your music, that it also be processed and full of E’s. I have had both, but my druthers are home cooking, however rough that might be. I like a good process though, definitely, but I don’t consider Lunasa to fit that, at least not yet, the processing is too evident and draws attention to itself and away from the music. For me they haven’t yet gelled and the clumsiness of their handling of the music jars on my senses. I do understand it is easy to get carried away with oneself, the possibilities, and even more so with so much adolation about, and the sales and concerts and all that clapping and cheering. But for now I think they are a bit lost in it. My hope an expectation is that they will come around to the music again and that one way or another, at least some of them, will start to show understanding and respect for it ~ whatever experiments they might be conducting in the future…



I heard a pair doing Bach and other classical pieces on whistles and recorders with guitar accompaniment in the underground ~ and it was wonderful, and if they’d had a CD we would have bought it. It swung beautifully, made me dance the length of that hall, and we made a rare contribution. It had humour and made us laugh…

I’ve never called anyone an ‘abortion’ ~ and I never would… Just to emphasize this has never been about a person for me, I don’t see the sense in criticizing an individual. It is about an act, an action, a creation, a process ~ a way that the collective noun ‘Lúnasa’ has with music related to part of my musical passions ~ Irish music. Yeah, I know, they don’t pretent to be anything other than what they create and process and produce ~ they aren’t pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes. They are providing for a need, and they are lucky enough, I hope, to make a living from it, touring and doing concerts, collectively and individually. That is admirable.

My criticism is to do with the E’s, the additives, the processing and the end result that is being sold in CD and other recorded forms. I’ve done some messing around with E’s myself, and occassionally I have a taste for certain ways some others have with it, and I get pleasure and humour out of it. But, not with what Lunasa is doing, not for me. For me the E’s overpower the heart and spirit of the music, lack humour, and if there is pathos it is overtly melodramatic, but not that I don’t occassionally enjoy that too… Some Grease can be fun… So shaking the hand of individuals doesn’t really work here, as I’m not talking about individuals, but a process. Sorry if that wasn’t clear, and thanks for forcing me to confront it and try to make it clearer.

One’s tastes and choices can and do change. As someone suggested earlier, they can ‘mature’ with experience, education, understanding, or just getting fed up and tired of the same ol’ cute tricks and cheap electrical tweaks or canned arrangement twiddles… The novelties easily wear thin with increased exposure and use, the E’s, sweeteners and colourants… I’ve known musicians who have grown sour on it all. I hope these talents don’t go that way, but too much artificial anything and you start to feel a bit tainted yourself ~ again speaking from some personal experience.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

ceolachan,
I am glad to see people like you, whoosis and others picking up on a theme I tried to introduce early in the thread—that personal taste is not necessarily linked to the quality of musicianship. There are many high-caliber musicians and bands that I just don’t care to listen to, but I understand that doesn’t make them ‘crap’ musicians.
I just saw Cherish the Ladies and Ronan Tynan on Friday in a double bill on the first night of the Newport Folk Festival. Cherish the Ladies as always hit the spot for me—very upbeat and entertaining—and hearing young Edel Fox sit in with them was an unexpected treat, there is a young concertina player we will hear more from!
And I enjoyed Ronan Tynan, whose concert had something for everybody. Now, myself, I thought the electric guitar solo in the middle took away from his rendition of Danny Boy, but I have to admit, it was a well played guitar solo. And I didn’t much care for the drum set, electric bass and synthesizer either—for myself, I would have preferred to hear Mr. Tynan in another setting, in fact, just his piano player would have been fine by me!
So there you have it, two very entertaining bands made up of highly qualified musicians, one that matched my tastes, and one that didn’t.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

I am no longer a fan of Lunasa. I agree that them and the bothy band are worlds apart. I thought when McSherry/McGoldrick were with them they had alot more imagination and variety. I have nothing against the new members but I see a gap in their music. I think there are not many bands round nowadays that have real soul.
I love all types of music and think we can never have a band compared to the Bothies as they were the real originals.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

ok this is my final contribution to this topic.

Lúnasa, a very talented bunch of musicians, no doubt about it.
Did they do something new and innovative with trad, I suppose they did, although much of what they and McGoldrick did was done by Deiseal before them and it’s not too far removed from Moving Hearts.
Should they be praised just because they were innovative and distinct? No. Stock, Aiken and Waterman were very innovative in the way they produced pop hit after hit in their very distinct style, but as music it was complete mush!

Is it a good thing that many people are turned onto trad by Lúnasa?

Yes but only if these people investigate all the many corners of trad. My fear is that lots of people think of the Lúnasa sound as being definitive Irish trad and this is reflected in some sessions I’ve been to in Ireland and the UK featuring musicians from all over the world. The truth of the matter is that Lúnasa are probably the most popular and influential trad band of the last 10 years and this influence is clearly seen and heard in sessions, I feel we are losing a lot of the soul of Irish music because of this. It saddens me that lots of people only seem to want to listen to bands and thus neglect the great diversity of music there is out there.

Do I blame Lúnasa for this? Of course not, I’ve really no problem with Lúnasa as a band or as people, they’ve got some nice tracks, particularly on their first album. I don’t think the Lúnasa/McGoldrick type of thing is the antichrist of trad, I quite like the McGoldrick/McSherry At First Light CD and I think the Tunes CD with Shannon, McGoldrick, Gavin and Murray is mostly great.

But it is how the Lúnasa sound has been adopted by other people and imposed on band and session culture that mostly upsets me. Too many bands and session goers are copying them, particularly regarding guitarists, bouzouki’s and other accompanists, I say this as a guitarist myself. Too often the Lúnasa style of backing really does not work in sessions, it only works when particular tunes are being played and particular players are playing. It really does my head in when an accompanist is so inflexible that all they can do throughout a whole session is this kind of backing. Accompanists need to be very flexible in their approach to backing and should have an array of styles, chords and progressions available to match whoever they find themselves playing with….but that’s another topic altogether!

So overall, Lúnasa as a band are not my cup of tea at but I don’t begrudge them personally and I admire their talents as musicians, so I’d be honoured to meet and/or play with any of them. But it is their imitators, be it the numerous copycat bands out there or the lazy session goers who can’t come up with their own musical personalities who get on my nerves.

Start thinking for yourselves people! There’s so much more to trad than you could possibly know!

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Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Ceolachan, I agree with everything you are saying — and again, I think you do a wonderful job explaining yourself.
I agree with frisbee’s original post, as well as his final one.
Bothy Band is 10 times better, no doubt. And there is a synthetic blandness about Lunasa that makes them undeserving of being the most copied band around right now. I just think there’s plenty of worse music out there, and so it surprises me to hear them get panned.
I actually always felt that way about Solas, too. There’s some kind of overriding "elevator jazz" sensibility throughout much of their stuff. Still, I have most if not all their recordings as well as 3-4 Lunasa CDs. Sometimes they make their way to my playing device.
By the way, I was kidding about being invited to play with Lunasa. I just thought I was being ironical by suggesting I’d turn them down because of my "higher" calling.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Ceolachan, you mention personallity of the players. Speaking from personal experience, Kevin Crawford is one of the nicest people I have ever met. It is interesting that many of you like the first album (I do too) as that is mostly live. You may also try Kinnitty sessions, it may appeal to you as it is also live, but that is probably my least favorite of all their albums. They are a very different band live, and I suggest that if you don’t like them to see them live and then say you still don’t like what they have done.

Yes, they do a lot to the music in the studio and it is perfectly fine to not like them because of what they have done to the music.

Dave, you mention likeing "At First Light." I doubt you would like the newer McGoldrick stuff, but have you heard McSherry’s latest album? I picked it up yesterday and judging by what you like I think you would like this. Even as someone who started with Lunasa, there is way more out there and people who only know of them will hopefully learn of more trad later on.

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Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

I am not surprised Unseen122 ~ as I’ve said, it is not the individual, but all the E’s conflicting with the music, in my sense of it, not adding but taking away, drawing attention to themselves and away from the whole. That can sometimes be an inbalance in a band, personalities in a chemistry of chance, which in this case just does not work for me.

As frisbee clarifies about his concern ~ the ‘copying’ of such groups, and the dissemination of their ways and sets in the session scene. Copying more often than not fails, falls flat on its face because there is no way in hell you can copy any pre-existing mix of personalitites and talent. It will always be something else, unique in itself. So, wouldn’t it be better to work from there than to try and copy someone else’s way with things.

That ‘copying’ is also something that I think more often than not fails with these groups, and they aren’t alone. Second and third rate jazz, blues, Reggae, Latin, whatever, whether a full rhythm section take or a bass run or a percussion riff, whatever ~ usually, out of context ~ it sucks! Sometimes it works. More often than not it just grates, is clumsy and feels and sounds out of place, at least to those with any sense of the thing being copied or attempted to be fused with something else. If it isn’t taken seriously and it is just for a bit of fun, and the humour is in it ~ it might pass. That is true of fledgling goups in these other traditions. Mostly they don’t pretend to be anything else but a struggling and developing group of musicians. Thing is, even a fledgling Cajun band in Louisiana tends to be way ahead of the copycats and the fusion illusions others attempt, like trying to ‘seriously’ bond Celtic music, root or nuovo, with say Reggae… We like Reggae, so if you are serious about bonding two of our musical appreciations, we’d prefer that it was either damned good, with understanding and respect for both the traditions being fused ~ or a good laugh, a hoot, for the craic…

To the two of us in this household the things that came out of the Sharon Shannon camp are full of good humour, they tickle you and make you laugh. We find joy in them. But I find others to be too damned serious and introspective, and one of the usual signs of that are the self conscious compositions by band members that tend to add seasoning to their processing of the music…and that tend to be as glaringly obvious as the flourescent colouring of some modern processed foods and packaging…’artificial’…"see me!" I find them even more jarring on my senses when someone adds one of those sets to a session. They can be an affront on the senses, especially out of it’s usual context of over processing and all the additives there to mask it’s faults. When there isn’t all the others stuff to distract from what is usually poorly concieved and which doesn’t hold together well on its own ~ or so I think, the chalk squeak in it is very evident… Most of those mutated monstrosities should remain digital and on CD’s and should never see the light of a session or a solo performance… But I have faith in the workings of time and sense. As others have said, they will eventually burn out.

I can’t fault variety, it is part of what stands as proof that the ‘tradition’ is alive, that it tests its borders, that it fuses with different styles and instruments, and from that I have faith it will bounce back to somewhere near its heart. I would not purge it of all its influences, or try to force it back to a us all knocking rocks together and grunting. It will hopefully always try new things and new ways. What is funny is that some of our most staunch ‘TRADITIONALISTS’ were in many cases experimenters in their own day. Like some folks that give up smoking, something they once valued and loved and needed ~ the reformed smoker can be very intolerant of those still afflicted with and, as they see it, deluded by the addiction… So too it seems, some have become intolerant of the experimenting they once did themselves in times past…

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Am I the only one who likes nothing but scratchy old recordings of dead people?
# Posted on August 7th 2006 by Kevin Rietmann
https://thesession.org/discussions/10850

This link will take you over to Kevin’s take on the other side of the fence…

I love the play and the wind up some of us risk at times here in discussion… ;-)

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Even though it may be fun to play in a session where Lunasa sets are being played, it would get old quickly. As I said before, a lot of the bands coping Lunasa just do a sh*tty job. I see where you are coming from, yes there are "additives" and I disagree and what effect they have on the music.

IMO, the processing that is done on Lunasa albums is not too bad. The only studio effects that are used is really the ability to multi-track. This is speaking after seeing them live and noticing that almost nothing was missing from the music excet things like one Flute playing melody and another playing a harmony.

I do agree that some of the band members’ composing is not too good (I was never a fan of tunes written by Crawford or Smyth), but I think that Donogh Hennessy’s composing was excellent and the two Cillian Vallely tunes on the new album are some of my favorite tunes on the album.

I once read a paper written by L.E McCollough (no offense to him as he is a fine musician and also very very nice), on thing in his paper that I disagreed with was saying try to copy a playing style before creating your own. IMO, one should start making tunes their own as soon as they can play them. I am all about playing in one’s won style the whole copying one band is just stupid.

I could see how one would not like them, yes it is not everyone’s cup of tea. There are a couple bands that some people love that I am not a fan of.

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Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Although I do notice that many younger players my age are learning and playing more McGoldrick tunes or Flook tunes, even entire Solas and Lunasa sets as played on the albums, I would still have to say that the bulk of our session repertoire is decidedly older.

As we all know, this music is organic and responds to changes in culture, the times, and the onward march of technology, so it only makes sense that bands like Lunasa use all the tools available to them while making great music. For example, the Bothy Band didn’t necessarily have as wide access to continental European dance music as Lunasa now enjoys, thanks to the Internet and widespread online tune publication and connectivity of the music in its natural habitat (regions of origin) to Ireland and the wide world over. This is to say nothing of recording and sound reinforcement technology!

The same flame present in the Bothy Band continues to burn brightly in the music of Lunasa and similar, more "trendy", bands. They all appeal to the same source; all tributaries of the same stream.

Sean Earnest
Camp Hill, PA

~ P.S. I’ve met the lads from Lunasa many a time and it’s plain to see they are all absolute masters of their instruments, even when viewed from a more orthodox "traditional" perspective. Just listen to Kevin Crawford’s "D’Flute Album" for Irish traditional music at its finest. Plus they’re all such great guys! Kevin is incredibly friendly and approachable, quick with a joke, and always the source of good craic whenever and wherever it is to be had!

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Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Clearly you are not the only one. But I wonder if some of this criticism is a teeny weeny hint of the green eyed monster?

All these guys are amazing musicians who have added a little of something new to the tradition. The tradition is not some dank well but a fast moving river.

Time will tell whether or not the tune sets of Lunasa remain constant and steadfast in the way that some of the arrangements of O’Riada, Ceoltóirí Cuallann, The Chieftains, De Danann, Bothy Band etc.

I’m not overly fussed about Flook, for example, but that does not detract from my admiration of Mick McGoldrick’s playing. Heard him recently in Belfast and he was awesome!

If Lunasa et al have brought some new kids to the music then fair play to them say I. These kids will eventually find their own voice and they themselves may add another chapter to the neverending story.

The fact that these kids are blown away by the music is absolutely fantatsic to me!

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Good response Unseen122. I should be clearer, my use of ‘additives’ doesn’t just apply to studio tweaks in getting it into the can, in this case I am meaning all the various chemists and chemistry at work here, all the different talents involved, and for me they don’t quite achieve a balanced agreement. As I keep saying, this is a personal opinion, how I hear it.

On copying, I don’t disagree with ‘copying’ elements from what a musician or a band does, things that you happen to admire and like, whoever, whatever… The problem is being obsessed with getting it ‘exact’, like copying whole sets verbatim. You can’t quite manage that, and even if you did get it mechanically exact ~ it would still be missing the soul of that individual or group, it might be a good copy, but not the original. We are each our own original…

If also not clear, I think the bulk of the tradition, despite the onslaught of fad and recordings and technology, is robust and can deal with any onslaught or intrusion of ‘fan’addicts to the latest flash tricks (usually dredged up from the past or other traditions) or silly danceless composition ~ which sometimes results in a gem. That is part of the craic isn’t it? The problem is with those that take it or themselves so damned seriously…

Good points DADGADLad, but you hint at the problem, trying to use EVERYTHING at your disposal, or too much of what in small measure could be a ‘good thing’, like, as a small example, any of the many versions of the ‘roll’. Too much of a potentially ‘good thing’ can end up taking away from good music and end up making it hackneyed, flat, even comical.

Taking things to the extreme, going O.T.T., is part of what experimentation is about, eventually, hopefully, after pushing the envelope, you find what works for you, and your mates if you’re a band, and come back to a better balance, using those twiddles and tweaks with a matured taste, with thought and with better effect, complementing the music, having achieved a clearer understanding in the extreme? What is considered O.T.T. is a matter of personal experience and background. If you are used to or like Techno or Drum and Bass or a strong Lambeg slam in the background ~ that way with things might seem perfectly normal and acceptable, even preferred… For me I look for the ‘dance’ in the play, the ‘play’, and I love it when it makes me want to dance, or to play, or it tweaks an emotion… Along with humour and laughs, I love the tears in some things… For ‘me’, Lúnasa does none of these things for me. Maybe, as some have said, live they might? I haven’t had that experience yet…and well realize the difference between a recording and flesh and blood… Mechanical reproduction always involves some kind of filtering…

As you’d see, going over the length of this discussion, if you were mad enough, no one doubts their cred or their talent, or their humour and generosity as individuals ~ damned impressive such skill… I wouldn’t hesitate for the opportunity to learn from any of them, even if I didn’t play the instrument. But for me, as it comes together collectively under the heading Lúnasa, it just does not gell into a form that inspires me or holds my attention with any favour for long. If I neglect all the glop and focus in on just one of the contributors, there is something there to admire about all of them, even the tech side of things, but stepping back and letting it all in at once ~ no, not for me, but there is no way the opinion of one peasant is going to influence the market or those sold on all those flash additions. For their sakes I’m glad they have their fans… I also think and hope, with that much talent, it will survive and grow and mature…

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Personally I think that Lunasa are ok. But i hate it when people take Irish trad music and mix it with all other types of music. If you want to play african music or european continental music then thats fine but dont start tainting trad music, a music that has lasted through generations, for example solas and to some extent flook. Thats one of the reasons why I cant stand Sharon Shannon’s playing, People might say that it moves Irish trad music forward into the "21st century" but people have to remember that without the basic elements that people like Willy Clancy and Joe Cooley founded years ago, bands and musicians like those mentioned above wouldnt have any irish music to mix!

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

I’ve got three of Sharon Shannon’s albums, and there’s certainly an irritation factor: certain tracks are just fluff and rubbish,e.g."Albatross", "Libertango" - though Kirsty McColl was a nice lass - and the terminally fatuous "What You Make It (da da da da)". If the latter is the way any TM/music/popular culture’s going, or the failsafe way to get rich and famous, heaven help us all.

Sharon Shannon’s own playing, which I really like, is so much better than some of the company it keeps.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

BoxPlayer said it well. My thoughts regarding a) trendy bands mixing other cultural styles with Ir Trad and b) newbie session players having discovered said recordings and importing whole sets into sessions with fanaticism of a religious converts: When trendy bands mix other cultural styles with Ir Trad it becomes almost impossible to recreate outside of the studio. The subtle tonal shadings, nuances, entrances and exits of various instruments, multitracking, overdubbing, and the addition of polyrhythmic percussion make for near impossible re-creation within the context of a live session.
While I love a good rollicking session that mixes and matches trad tunes into new sets that are both inspirational and exhilarating to play, I find that playing other bands’ sets (even the Bothy’s sets!) in a session are like adding spices to cooking—a little goes a long way. You risk alienating players who don’t have the said sets memorized, and the fiery spontaneity of the session soon devolves into a live (albeit sterile) attempt to perform the band’s CD. The less able session players often follow the more assertive players down this path to the point that tune A always gets paired with tune B because ‘that’s the way we play it at this session,’ or, ‘that’s the way (fill in the band name here) plays it.’
So yeah, in that sense trendy bands like Lúnasa may be great to listen to, and inspiring regarding their collective musicianship, but the reason that trad tunes at sessions still rock is because they still rock. You can’t go wrong mining the vast motherlode of tradition bequeathed to us by generations of traditional players. There is so much there to be mined, learned from, and gleaned that nothing the trendy bands come up with (fancy arrangements/rhythmms with all the "bells and whistles") will ever hold a candle to the tradition.

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

Lúnasa are all ‘sophisticated’ rhythmic syncopation, cool chords, happy lightweight melodies, they even manage to turn great dark tunes into happy tunes! They are taking the darkness, soul, melancholy and aggression out of the tunes, ITM isn’t simply jolly, lovely music.

dont agree.. I can reference numerous trad lunasa tracks that dont fit your bill.Couple of notable ones, Kevin crawfords whistle solo Rathlin Island/ Sporting paddy immediatly comes to mind as driving and aggressive. And perhaps the very first track ever put down by Lunasa on there first album an Old March Played by Mc Sherry..I sh1t myself in fear every time I hear that, its like "pipes gonna get ya"
I got bored listening to lunasa, still like them but if you are going to criticise them at least do what subsequent posters did and draw realistic conclusions , ie not talk out of your hole..

Re: Am I the only one who doesn’t like Lúnasa and all the other trendy trad types?

"They are taking the darkness, soul, melancholy and aggression out of the tunes, ITM isn’t simply jolly, lovely music."
LOL!

Right, Trucks! More bands need to take the darkness, soul, melancholy and aggression out of the blues, too. Blues isn’t simply jolly, lovely music either. :-D

You’re also right, Trucks, that people shouldn’t talk out of their holes. They should talk right out through their soft tissue and skin instead. That’d keep down the noise.:-)

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