Sermon by Billy Joe O’Martin

Sermon by Billy Joe O’Martin

I searched for this and didn’t find it so I am passing it on. Forgive me if this is a duplication.

—Eliot

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CELTIC BITCH
A sermon by The Rev. Billy Joe O’Martin

Irish folk music is old-time in my book, so you will have to put up with the following or skip over it:

Celtic?! What is that fantasy all about? I tried to listen in my car to “The Thistle & Shamrock” on public radio last night and had to grit my teeth to get through the first song. I have a passion for real Irish dance tunes done on a scratchy fiddle or breathy whistle, so its disappointing to rarely hear any of that on the Portland "celtic" music programs.

What passes for Irish music on the radio these days is easy- listening pap, clueless hymns to an invented prehistoric spirituality, sophomoric political chest-pounders, intensely self-aware evocations of cheap sentiment, and frenetic "celtic" ensembles that all use the same tawdry tricks in their tiresome, predictable arrangements. And the conga drums. Saints preserve us.

Listening to Thistle, I wondered where was the Irish solo fiddler to get my feet pounding and my car weaving? The solo Irish song that is both sweet and strong and earns a quiet and respectful listening? After four tunes I bellowed "Pretenders!" "Fakers!" "Mountebanks!" and flipped off the radio.And then I turned off the radio.

"Celtic" music has left behind the blood-simple vitality of the Irish and Scottish music that is found between the leather sole and the floorboards. There is no "celtic" culture, other than the contrived fusion that now supplies hypnotizing background music to massage clinics. I’d love to hear more of the traditional Irish solo singers with their spare, lightly ornamented style that paradoxically uses an unsentimental presentation to move the hearts of the listeners.

The same thing applies to North American folk music like the Southern mountain ballad singers and square dance fiddlers. Like its American sibling, Irish fiddling is primarily dance music, and brother, "celtic" don’t dance. Oh yeah? Well what about the Celtic Women, Bill?

"Jaysus Sufferin’ Christ!" says the good Father.

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Re: Sermon by Billy Joe O’Martin

Yes it’s annoying, especially when I mention to someone that I play Irish fiddle and they start talking about how much they like "celtic" music, which is of course nothing like what I play.

"Celtic" music is main-stream, mass-market pop that has nothing to do with trad. They are completely different things. It’s like the difference between Mozart and Musak.

The really sad thing is that a lot of the people who like "celtic" music would really like Irish or Scottish trad, if they every got a chance to hear the real thing. Unfortunately, they think they are already hearing the real thing.

Thistle and Shamrock plays a good tune once in a while, if you hang in there. It’s not great but there’s nothing better on American radio, unless you’re luckly enough to live where there’s a real trad station (I’m guessing that places like Boston have such stations).

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Anyone catch the Brian O’Donovan show 26th Feb? Correct me if I’m wrong but I think I heard him refer to a ‘celtic scottish mouth organ’.

?! ‘scuse me?

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Many artists and record companies use the term "celtic" to describe music. Its ok with me because even the term "Irish Traditional Music" at least here in the USA is misused. Like all of the USA "Irish" bands that beat on their guitars and sing a few verses, but cant lay down a reel or a jig for anything. I guess in reality, we have no idea what "celtic" music sounded like… tunes on bagpipse? Were they structured in 2 parts, one high and one low? This 2 part structure is found ina mnay countries… USA, Canada, Ireland, England, Germany, Spain Norway on and on and on… where did that come from? I really don’t know. Some people think that fiddling is a relatively "new" thing but people have been sawing on rebecs for a long long time… and those Scandinavians had alot of influence on the fiddle and culture all over Europe. Im not arguing anything or a point, but I do know that ignorance in traditional music is a hard pill to swallow for me… Most musicians in the USA think "Whiskey Before Breakfast" is an Appalachian tune! Ive been to Appalachian jams and play a jig I hear whispers of "lets find a real traditional jam… I dont get into this Irish stufff…"

Re: Sermon by Billy Joe O’Martin

What *is* the provenance of "Whiskey Before Breakfast", MH?

Re: Sermon by Billy Joe O’Martin

"Oh Canada…"

http://www.ibiblio.org/fiddlers/WHI_WHZ.htm

WHISKEY BEFORE BREAKFAST. AKA and see "Spirits of the Morning." Canadian (originally), Old‑Time; Breakdown. D Major. Standard tuning. AABB. A widely known tune, often mistaken for an old traditional old‑time tune (it was even listed on one album as "an Irish tune which has been popular in America for a number of years”). It has generally been credited to the mid‑twentieth century by Manitoba, Canada, fiddler and composer Andy de Jarlis (known for his fine waltzes) probably on the strength of his copyrighted arrangement (it is a common practice among music publishers to copyright arrangements of traditional tunes). " “Whiskey Before Breakfast” was included in de Jarlis’ book Canadian Fiddle Tunes from Red River Valley (1957), where he is credited for the arrangement only. According to Paul Gifford, the tune’s popularity in the United States is fairly recent, probably stemming from its inclusion on a Voyager Records LP called “More Fiddle Favorites,” by Canadian fiddle champion Lloyd Sexsmith, who probably learned it from de Jarlis (sometimes DesJarlis). It is often used as musical accompaniment for the quadrille ‘Reel of Eight’ in Canada. Gibbons (1982) notes that “Whiskey” is a favorite of Metis (native American) dance troupes in Western Canada, and in this connection Gifford suggests that de Jarlis learned the tune from Metis fiddler Teddy Boy Houle’s father (de Jarlis himself had Metis blood). It seems that de Jarlis and the elder Houle were up playing till dawn with the aid of libation before finally passing out. On finally awaking, de Jarlis remembered the last tune they played and perhaps gave it the “Whiskey” name. Perlman (1979) identifies it as coming from Canada’s Maritime provinces where it is called "Spirits of the Morning." It has been pointed out by several sources that the ‘A’ section is similar to the older melodies “Liverpool Hornpipe,” “Great Eastern,” “Bennett’s Favorite” and the Irish reels “Silver Spire” and “Greenfields of America,” however, the original source for all these tunes may be “Speed the Plow.”

Re: Sermon by Billy Joe O’Martin

"What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet"
I’m with Shakespeare. (He wouldn’t want to be with me).
Unless one wants to specify ‘Irish Traditional Music’ (and still, probably, have to go to great lengths to explain what was meant by that), what term should be used to include Irish, Scottish, and Welsh dance tunes and songs? Not to mention the variations found in other regions. And which of you don’t play, knowingly or not, the odd English tune?
When the English speaking world became aware that Bob Dylan had invented folk songs, some of us continued to use the term anyway. We knew what we meant by it.
What is wrong with starting with a recognizable identifier, and then qualifying what we mean, rather than finding a completely new word to describe a wheel?
The bewildering (to me) technology built into CDs seems to identify much of my collection as World Music. WTF is that?
There is a local radio station which proudly describes itself as New Country. If you weren’t aware that the musicians were wearing Stetsons, you might think it was any old pop.
BTW, Screetch, sometimes Muzak IS Mozart, only not the way you would prefer it to be played.

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"World Music" —- Hot button!

It’s designed to force me to wade through Sounds of Greece and Sitar concertos in the record store on the off chance I’ll find some Irish music. Despite the obvious problems, "Celtic" would make life a lot easier.

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Re: Sermon by Billy Joe O’Martin

I cringe when I see albums of "The Celtic Panpipes", but I imagine it’s quite possible that the ancient Celts actually used panpipes - the materials and the craft of making panpipes would have been well within their grasp. I don’t know if any have been found on archaeological digs in the relevant areas.

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Damn Billy, how’d you get out of the basement. Sorry guys, my deranged brother. I’ll have to use heavier chains, if we can ever catch him… Ignore the card and certificate, he bought his ‘highness’ from some fly-by-night church of the holy digital… Ma and Pa blame me for his dementia, but they think I should have stuck to church music and remained soprano… 😏

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I was working a dig in Dublin where we found pan pipes, bozoukis, various drums including tabla ~ amongst various other paraphernalia ~ and the remians of some holy order called ‘The Chieftains’, and a great hoard of round flat black things in cardboard sleeves… 😎

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I forgot my last sentence from my previous post…..Ive been to Appalachian jams and play a jig I hear whispers of "lets find a real traditional jam… I dont get into this Irish stufff…"

sentence I forgot…

—When jigs were definitely a part of Appalachian music at one time!

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I just learned that in a few weeks there will be a “Celtic Music Festival” right here in our little town. The headline act is Altan and the other acts are far lesser known “Celtic bands.” I wonder if Altan knew what they were getting into.

Re: Sermon by Billy Joe O’Martin

Just go and hear the music, Bob. Ignore the names and stay away from the green beer.

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Good link to The Fiddler’s Companion, SWFL Fiddler.
Now, will everyone please correct their titles to "WHISKY" ?

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"Uisge."

Gaelic for "breakfast", right?

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Re: Sermon by Billy Joe O’Martin

"Celtic" could be—should be—a convenient catch-all term for Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton, Galician, etc. It is amazing to me that there are innumerable slots for modern sound-effects recordings (house, techno, etc.) but only one big bin—World Music—for any sort of non-U.S. traditional music.

Although nothing should surprise me, in a world where Britney Spears is worth 40 million dollars, while so many great traditional musicians can’t even scratch out a living.

But advertising a Martin Hayes/Dennis Cahill concert as "Celtic Violin" (no, I’m not kidding) is just soooooo wrong.

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I think Enya started it, didn’t she?

Billy Joe

It has all been discussed into the ground.
Live & let live.

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I have nothing at all against the Celtic Music folks. I’ve enjoyed plenty of music that falls into that category. But it’s incongruous and a bit weird to mix it with Altan in a festival.

I will certainly be there for Altan.

Re: Sermon by Billy Joe O’Martin

Thistle & Shamrock comes on Saturdays after a great Irish music program on WFUV, the Fordham University radio station here in New York(a terrific station, by the way). I change the station during some songs, and get back to it to hear a good song playing. I like the information that they give about the songs and I like the program in general. It’s played a big part in generating interest for me in the music that was played in my home as I grew up. I am more focused on traditional Irish music now, but still listen to T&S if I’m near a radio when its on. My goal now, partially generated by listening to T&S, is to play so well that I’ll look down over my nose at "Celtic" programs like Thistle and Shamrock.

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I haven’t listened to T&S in several years, since our local station dropped it, but I enjoyed it for a long time. Sure, sometimes it ventured into New Age fluff, but it also introduced me to some solid trad and pure drop that I probably wouldn’t have found otherwise.

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Muse.
It was discussed before - so what?
Does that mean people can’t do it again?
Live and let discuss….

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The US internet stations seem to be at the extreems of either ‘new agey’ celtic stuff - or high speed drinking/rebel type songs, with rock style instrumentation and gruff/shouted vocals. Fortunately you can also get the real thing on the internet from the likes of RTE, TG4, and the wonderful ClareFM trad archives.

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I can’t tell the difference between Mike Hardings "folk" and any other Country & Western programme (apart from the Lancashurrre acent)

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Here’s another option:

Get this little podcast aggregator http://juicereceiver.sourceforge.net/index.php, or iTunes.

Point it at the Trad Archive page on http://www.clarefm.ie/ and tell it to download all of the programs once a week.

Then, once you’ve calmed down, write to the nice people at NPR and ask them to carry a weekly "Best of ClareFM" program so that you can listen in the car.

We’ll never have to say the C-word again!

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So what

I am in no way endorsing censorship.
What I am expressing is the right of everyone to choose what they want to listen to. If you have something to submit I will patiently & thoroughly consider your opinion.
My opinion ~ when it comes to music referred to as "Celtic"; some is good & some is not. Whatever you call it does not change what it is. I do not know O"Martin. I think some of what he would like to hear does get played on ‘Thistle & Shamrock’ I do not begrudge Fionna for not always playing to my preference. Certainly there is something beyond what takes place in my head.
I offered up links to radio programs for one reason.
They are pertinent to the discussion.
The significance of this being discussed before? I encourage everyone using this site to dig furiously into the archives. If you truly believe it has not been discussed into ground then you are one of the lucky ones.
Deep apologies if I am responsible for trampling anyones’ freedom.

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Thistle and Shamrock usually has some nice tunes. Sometimes it goes in weird directions but overall its one of the only Nationally run programs on radio or TV that features trad. music in the USA. Can anyone else in the USA name another? I cant.

Ive had this discussion before and people come back with what about all the other stuff on NPR and NPTV? Trad. music is NOT there in any regular format. And bluegrass doesnt count. (Even if it did?)And no… Garrison Keillor doesnt count. Mountain Stage? I hardly ever hear trad. music on there. Austin City Limits?? Blahhhh! Singer songwriters and jammy wammy hippy dippy stuff. Every now and then they let a fiddler play.

Geantrai and other programs on TG4 blow me away. Nationally… no ! Worldwide companies advertising and trad. music professionally presented on national TV? Wow. The USA has nothing that compares to that. And Ive already had people tell me… "TG4 is just a little Station with limited viewers…" Not true —- TG4 gets around 800,000 viewers each day. CNN USA daily viewers is estimated at around 500,000. Incredible. It seems there is a huge opportunity here in the USA for someone, but then again it would probably be overun by bluegrass and the folky types who couldnt play a reel if their lives depended on it.

So, Thistle and Shamrock is THE ticket for trad. music nationwide in the USA.