The Bothy Band

The Bothy Band

It is often said that the Bothy Band revolutionized trad music. "During the remainder of the band’s five-year career The Bothy Band laid down a benchmark for the development of Irish traditional music over subsequent decades." from wikipedia, for instance.

Since I am not very familiar with music before their era, I am curious to know what changes did they introduce? Was it in the use of instruments, or the playing style itself or something else?


Ananya

Re: The Bothy Band

I’m sure others more qualified will come in and give you the drum, but as far as I recall they were a break away from both the ceili bands of the 50-60s and the more mannered approach of Sean O’Riada and the Cheiftains. They were young, they played tunes at a fast (but not TOO fast) pace, and were among the first to kind of bring the sound of the most excellent session you have ever heard onto the stage.

I have 2 CDs in front of me now - Seamus Ennis "The Best of Irish Piping" on Tara and the Bothy’s "Live In Concert" BBC Radio 1 on the Green Linnet label. They could not be more different, even though in years theres not all that between them.

What was nice about the Bothy Band is they could at the same time appeal to young long haired people and older folk. The energy of them was amazing

Anyway I’m sure someone will come along to set me straight.

Scotty

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I don’t think it was as much the speed that was the revolution, although it was part of the appeal for some people. It was the rhythmic, almost percussionist nature of the backing that was the new thing.

That said, out of your two CDs (they weren’t that originally you know) I think Ennis’ subtlety and purity will eventually be the more enduring music.

Posted .

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It was the step from trad entertainers for the public / trad pure-drop soloists for consenting adults, to young trad gods who played for and awed the young. They had an attractive girl singer with a hackle-raising voice. They didn’t seem to make many concessions to the audience, but they were taking on music that wasn’t going to make any concessions to *them*, if they didn’t cut it. And they did cut it. Therein lay the respect in which they were held by their fans.

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I wonder whether my experience was typical… other than being given a couple of Dubliners LP’s, the Bothies were my way in to trad music, aged 17 in the early ‘80’s. I remember spending ages in my local record shop deciding whether to take the plunge with my scarce funds, and eventually I did.

What sold them was the fact that the LP covers looked not too dissimilar from the pop/rock bands that most of us listened to (I was previously into Blondie and Sky…), and some of the instruments were recognisable. It was probably my best musical decision ever.

Those same characteriistics would probably have put off older musicians, but the lack of them might have made me decide otherwise at that time. I wonder how many others found the same.

Until recently, I had never seen any film footage of the Bothies, but finding them on You Tube was a shock. They look nowhere near as media-polished as I had expected, and it is interesting to spot the various positions between the more trad musicians and the more obviously revival ones in the band.

The music is great, but compared to some of the slick modern acts, they *look* decidedly old-school (and all those wooden audiences… 😉 )

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Prof. Prlwytzkofsky

<I don’t think it was as much the speed that was the revolution, although it was part of the appeal for some people. It was the rhythmic, almost percussionist nature of the backing that was the new thing.’

I could’nt Agree More — jim,,,

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Aren’t they the ones who pioneered the use of hideous sounding electrical keyboards?

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here’s an amusing stretch: in some churches the clergy face the altar (think chieftains), and in some they face the congregation (think bothy band). the chieftains were my door into the music, and they faced, and refracted, the players who preceded them (not to slight their progressive contributions, which are many). the bothies were part of my time, and were, in some sense, speaking directly to my crowd. and yes, surely the rhythm was a big factor.

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hmmm, it must be sunday….

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Eh?

Is it not the case that the driving, strummy style of bouzouki and guitar characterising the playing of Donal Lunny and Michael O Domhmaill (sorry…. can’t figure out how to do fadas on this thing) significantly impacted modern accompaniment on those instruments?

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They were a bunch of superb musicians who developed one way of playing Irish music. It was a very exciting way, the results were brilliant and it’s as valid as any other way, but it was just one way.

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And I love it and it inspired me. No, it inspires me.

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I prefer the way Lunny plays accomp with Planxty to the way he does it with the Bothy. Not that I dislike the Bothy, just saying.

- chris

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Yes, Planxty has more subtlety. I saw Lunny (and Irivne, Molsky, Parov and van der Zalm ) with Mozaik last year. That had a nice balance of the different things Lunny is capable of .

The unfortunate thing about brilliant ideas is ofcourse they spawn a following of less brilliant followers who take one element out of a good concept and run with it.

Recently I heard some lovely Clare concertina playing on the radio, very sweet with a guitar player trying to recreate a Bothy backing all by himself. It was grossly unnecessary and misplaced.

Posted .

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‘Yes, Planxty has more subtlety.’

Fine, and I probably agree, but that’s never what The Bothy Band set out to be.

The whole point about TBB was that that their appearance on Ireland’s music scene was a sheer matter of syzygy - five musicians in the right place together at exactly the right time (though that ‘right time’ probably didn’t occur until Tommy Peoples replaced Paddy Glackin).

There’s never been another band in Ireland’s musical history that has matched the sheer energy and joy presented on both the band’s first album and in live performances around that time.

Kevin was an ideal replacement for Tommy because he was ‘on message’ from the very beginning and the two subsequent studio albums amply support that fact.

The band remains one of the most influential in Ireland’s musical history.

Posted by .

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‘Fine, and I probably agree, but that’s never what The Bothy Band set out to be’

I realise that ofcourse. The Bothy Band was a vehicle for another evolution of Lunny’s imagination. But I was responding to the post above and agreed with what was said there.

Posted .

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Actually, it wasn’t Lunny, but Mícheál who was the initial driving force.

Posted by .

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For fecksake you really have to put it on don’t you.

But it was Lunny who developed the style of backing on the bouzouki wasn’t it? And that is what I was talking about.

Posted .

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"The whole point about TBB was that that their appearance on Ireland’s music scene was a sheer matter of syzygy - five musicians in the right place together at exactly the right time"

indeed 🙂

I think Michael’s and Lunny’s style is definitely one of the factors…

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Aha - I knew better qualified folk would come along and give the answer. It so happens TBB are the kind of band that I like - but also I’m partial to a bit of Cheiftains as well, and a bit of solo piping. In fact looking at my collection of music…its mainly solo piping and the like…..

Percussive rythym - THATS what I was thinking off.

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syzygy? There’s a word you don’t hear every day. But having looked it up, a pretty apt word for the Bothy Band!

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The album that first got me sitting up was The Planxty Collection. Bugger, I found that I’d got all that overlap when I went and bought those other Planxty ones! One very big difference in sound between early Planxty (by which I mean those first three albums) and the Bothies was that Planxty had no fiddle. To me, that meant a complete difference in "colour" (bear with me - I drink wine on Sunday evenings…), and this possibly has a bearing on that subtlety thing that was commented on above. What I love about both bands is that they gave it us without artifice, without forcing, from the hip and with no big ego. Qualities that, to a greater or lesser degree, have eluded most bands ever since I reckon.

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"The music is great, but compared to some of the slick modern acts, they *look* decidedly old-school."

Thankfully, there were no ‘boy’ bands or ‘girl’ bands back then. It was all about the music and how it sounded, not about how they looked.

They were our best instrumental band ever and sound as fresh today as they did way back then. They’ve never been bettered.

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im too young to know but from what I hear groups like TBB and planxty were seen as hippies from the older trad generation and their break away from the norm (use of a bouzouki and an organ/harpsichord) was too much for the ‘purists’, maybe their success in the face of a degree of criticism at the time is why theyr seen as being so influential.
Like I say, im only going on what I heard

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The whole concept of purists is a myth. It’s like suggesting traditional music exists according to the tastes of museum curators.

Posted by .

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No its not at all Random there are plenty of purists, of all shades.

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I could agree with that but I also think we should accept that this music is a broad church. What’s more, it has more than enough heart and soul to embrace all manner of innovatory ways of playing it and still thrive. I love all of it except for out-of-tune regulators. Heheh. Only joking!

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That was a response to Random _humour, obviously.

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Well, I almost finished up my online activity. Just saying, getting back to seamyderry’s post, sometimes the term purist is cast like a wide net & comes to be used too easily as a generalization.

Spellbreaker, I hope my comment wasn’t too cryptic. I was going for nuanced.

Cheers, Steve.

Posted by .

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Prof. Prlwytzkofsky states that Planxty had more "subtlety," especially with regard to Lunny’s bouzouki style. Perhaps a more precise statement would be that when he was with Planxty Lunny relied on counterpoint a lot more than he did with the Bothy Band.

But, the Bothy Band was certainly capable of subtlety. For an example of Planxty-like bouzouki, just listen to "16 Come Next Sunday." And for beautiful, restrained playing, with beautiful harmonies, what about "The Maids of Mitchelstown"? And while "The Streets of Derry" probably isn’t the most popular of their songs, I like it because the harmonium and pipes show that they were probably the only trad band able to use dissonance effectively.

Posted by .

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feck it, Bothy Band were amazin - enough said!!!!!

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yeah, truly amazing 🙂

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I became interested in playing Irish music after attending a workshop on Folk Keyboard which was taught by Triona Ni Dhomhnaill at a Folk Festival at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia in October 1981. It was an eye and ear opening experience. Before attending this workshop, I didn’t think there was any place for a piano in this music but this workshop showed me that I was wrong.

Laurence

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I’m pretty much with amhrán on this, they sound as good now as they did then, and also can stand perfectly well now by the likes of Danu, whereas some others mentioned on this page, excellent as they were, have dated.

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The music is great, but compared to some of the slick modern acts, they *look* decidedly old-school."
Thankfully, there were no ‘boy’ bands or ‘girl’ bands back then. It was all about the music and how it sounded, not about how they looked.

I agree, Amhran - but I meant slick modern ‘folk’ acts. It’ s probably more to do with how the media present the music than the people themselves.

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Ian..

< It was all about the music and how it sounded, not about how they looked.>

Very Well said !

jim,,,

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Yes, I entirely agree, Jim - but in my mind’s eye, back in the ‘80’s, I had a picture of something much more like a folkie rock band , *not*, I hasten to add, a folk-rock band. Some of their album covers were clearly influenced by the boom in pop/rock album covers of the time. Bear in mind, as a teenager, I missed them ‘live’ by around three years, so had no moving images to go on. Damn!

Plus of course, the media in the 1970’s were simply not as sophistated as now - and they probably had no idea how to present a band imaginatively (?). I don’t know whether Irish TV had different ideas at the time from British TV, but looking at the clips on YouTube, I am almost left with the impression that the producers didn’t quite know what to do with them. Or maybe that was how all trad. music was presented at the time?

I am not saying that that was a bad thing, mind. But if you look at a lot of the production today, whether the flying cameras which I even saw in use at HebCeltFest (not my choice of name!), the stage lighting shows (luckily mostly still fairly restrained by pop standards) or the ‘staged’ pub settings of programmes like Blas Ceoil, a lot has changed.

I totally agree that it is the music that matters, but IMHO so far the music has not widely suffered - technically - for the sexier presentation. Whether it adds anything is a moot point, though I quite enjoy watching some of those Fowlis/Danu/Deafies clips as they stand - perhaps it adds more televisually than it does ‘in the flesh’?

I wonder how the Bothies would be presented were they still functioning on the circuit today?

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Just found some images of album covers to show what I mean…

http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://www.timbuktunes.com/covers/cover-766397303024.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.timbuktunes.com/cd/cd-list.php%3Fyear%3D2008%26month%3D4%26type%3Dgenre%26welt%3DWorld%26title%3DApril%25202008%2520Music%2520of%2520the%2520World&usg=__M3a5gAFizQgZxmlhbieAZIoJw_I=&h=201&w=200&sz=10&hl=en&start=23&sig2=6tHBQeSaS4aBONjFmmIziA&zoom=1&tbnid=XY3zgR—_MJMcM:&tbnh=151&tbnw=150&ei=f6q9TP_KI8yTjAf5pZmcAg&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dbothy%2Bband%2Balbum%2Bcovers%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26rlz%3D1G1ACPW_ENUK365%26biw%3D1579%26bih%3D642%26tbs%3Disch:10%2C770&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=326&vpy=218&dur=2439&hovh=160&hovw=160&tx=80&ty=96&oei=cKq9TOyGINCRjAf978S1Ag&esq=3&page=2&ndsp=24&ved=1t:429,r:17,s:23&biw=1579&bih=642

http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://img697.imageshack.us/img697/9332/coverwt.jpg&imgrefurl=http://fulcanellinewworld.blogspot.com/2010/06/bothy-band-out-of-wind-into-sun.html&usg=__6rjwQr9BMKJrkSPiYXxjI2C3DiM=&h=600&w=599&sz=46&hl=en&start=71&sig2=5nHB5EfAwvFkhl3vJqcr1g&zoom=1&tbnid=TahT79MhRhqKfM:&tbnh=152&tbnw=152&ei=yKq9TJCfFIW6jAeA7KS2Ag&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dbothy%2Bband%2Balbum%2Bcovers%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26rlz%3D1G1ACPW_ENUK365%26biw%3D1579%26bih%3D642%26tbs%3Disch:10%2C1540&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=130&vpy=306&dur=2926&hovh=225&hovw=224&tx=118&ty=109&oei=cKq9TOyGINCRjAf978S1Ag&esq=4&page=4&ndsp=24&ved=1t:429,r:8,s:71&biw=1579&bih=642

…and the original blue/silhouette cover on ‘Best of…’ which I can’t find an image for…

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Are Mr Stock’s links the longest ones you’ve ever seen?!

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Sorry about that - I realised too late. What comes of posting in a hurry 🙂 Still no sign of the Best of album - is it deleted or re-issued?

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I don’t want to delve into that question, yhaalhouse!

‘The Best of The Bothy Band’ was first issued on vinyl in 1983 and reissued on CD by Green Linnet in the late 1990s. Copies of the latter are still available here - http://www.musicscotland.com/cd/best-bothy-band-musicscotland.html.

Willie Matthews - http://www.williammatthewsgallery.com - was responsible for a couple of The Bothy Band’s album covers (and for several others issued by Mulligan in the 1970s).

Here’s a competition question. Only four of the band’s members appear on the cover of ‘Out of the Wind Into the Sun’. Which two are missing and why were they absent?

The best answer, posted on this thread by 23rd October, gets a free copy of ‘Fidil 3’, by Ciarán Ó Maonaigh, Aidan O’Donnell and Damien McGeehan.

By the way, Random, it’s not a good idea to post links to sites offering illegal downloads of commercially available albums (as in your second link above).

Posted by .

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>>Here’s a competition question. Only four of the band’s members appear on the cover of ‘Out of the Wind Into the Sun’. Which two are missing and why were they absent?

Well the first bit is easy, and the second bit is….err, not…
So I won’t ruin it for those who might know the whole answer…

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The Bothies weren’t an instrumental band, as someone stated above. I loved them as much for their song interpretations.

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To me they brought the spirit of rock’n’roll into the music without using electric stuff.
At a time when I was bored with myself, I wrote down the notes of all their studio cd tunes plus Cooley’s Reel and found some reasonable chords with them.
The zip-file with the tifs is fairly small.
Who wants it can have it.