What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

I’m just asking out of curiosity. I got into folk music a few years ago. When I was very very young I had a toy that played some jig music, so later I wanted to get listening to the real thing. The first trad group I ever found (on YouTube) was an Irish band called "Na Connerys." You should give them a listen… they’re very good.

Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

Alex Campbell Live. My first Irish one was the McPeake Family. Still have both albums, and even the means to play them!

Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

It was a Chieftains CD. I believe it was 7 (looking at the covers). I was directed toward ITM kind of through a band I used to dig called Rare Air, which led to hearing local (to Berkeley, CA) bands Annwn and Tempest, which led to interest in more traditional sounds.

Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

Jimmy Shand counts (why wouldn’t he?) And I love The Chieftains.

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I’ll go with the McPeake family. I had an album o I think the Fontana label on which I think "me da" piped The Winding Banks Of Erne."
I’d like to have it now …

Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

The Bothy Band - Old Hag You Have Killed Me. Still my favorite.

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Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

Indeed that is a very good reel set. My favorite by them is the Clare jig set.

Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

Sándor Balogh, a Hungarian citera (zither) player. It was a cassette I bought from a musical instrument stall at a craft market in Old Buda, Budapest when I was 17.

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Clannad in their heyday, and then a progression through Capercaille, Altan, Lunasa, and then Liz Carroll. Those were the artists that were prominent enough to end up in the vinyl and CD bins at record stores in the USA under the "Celtic" tab (remember record stores?). I was living in Miami Florida at the time, a place where I was never going to hear any of this music live in concert, or in local sessions.

I just liked the tunes. Never thought in a million years that I’d ever play the music, because I was playing electric Blues guitar at the time. It was fun to listen to, but I thought of it as something akin to Classical music. A different world than the one I had grown up in, as a rock drummer and then guitar player.

And then I bought a mandolin 12 years ago. After a brief diversion into OldTime music as a way to learn the fretboard, I found that — oh, cool — Irish music just *fits* on a mandolin! And down the rabbit hole I went. For the last 10 years I’ve been filling in the back catalog of recorded music I missed listening to. It’s a deep well and I’ve just scratched the surface.

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Can’t remember the first album I listened to, but I started listening to Brian O’Donovan’s Celtic Sojourn show on WGBH out of Boston back in the late 1980s. First albums I bought were the original Solas album, Whisper of a Secret by Deanta, and a Battlefield Band album. Good stuff!

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Lunasa’s debut album was my primary introduction. From there I decided to seek out albums with tenor banjo, as it was my first trad instrument after whistle.

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I honestly can’t remember. I first became aware of both Irish and Scottish trad being ‘something different and exiting’when I was about 3 years old in the 1950’s, but that was all from the BBC radio. I do recall quite clearly that around that point of my life my two favourite songs/tunes were "The Teddy Bear’s Picnic" and "All The Way to Sligo". Irish music conjured up magic in my imagination back then. And then came TV. Jimmy Shand was unmissable in out house. My dad *made* us watch him. We still have all his old albums. My dad is 90 years old in a couple of months (I am his carer) and he still drives me potty, drumming along to Jimmy Shand.

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Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

The Dubliner’s Greatest Hits circa late 60’s.
John Sheahan and Barney McKenna blew me away with their version of the Mason’s Apron.

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I first heard ‘the pure drop’ at a St. Paddy’s Day bash by a group that someone dubbed ‘An Tréad’, a group thrown together for the weekend to get free drink. Then I heard Paddy Moloney play the pipes and was totally beguiled. The first album I bought was ‘The Bothy Band’ on tape. It’s been downhill since :)

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Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

Chieftains LP, "Bonaparte’s Retreat". I was particularly captivated by Derek Bell’s version of "Blind Mary".

Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

It would have been tune sets by the Dubliners or Na Fili that I first heard as a young wan.

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OK, I had to laugh at the Jimmy Shand band link. I’ve heard some of his dances from his albums, but if I had heard this song first I’m not sure I would have considered that as genuine folk. Still think he counts though!

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When i was 16 someone lent me a Big Bill Broonzy e.p. then it was a long journey through country blues branching into cajun [Les Freres Balfa] old timey and bluegrass [Doc Watson, Bill Monroe] until the first time I became conscious of ITM was a radio broadcast featuring Cathal McConnell and Robin Morton, probably in the mid 60’s, must have been before the formation of Boys of the Lough. When I was a wee lad I used to see Robin Hall and Jimmy McGregor on BBC TV, but I had no idea what trad music was, they were just a couple of Scots guys singing funny songs.

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"Big Bill Broonzy" Oh yes… you just hit my nostalgia button there Christy. Doc Watson too. It takes me back to what made me take up finger picking the guitar in the 60’s.

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Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

No idea, how could you possibly recall what you heard as a young child? I think though the first trad related LPs I bought though were Planxty, The Lark in the Clear Air and O’Riada’s Farewell.

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Gobby, Broonzy was only the beginning, then it was Rev Gary Davis, Lizabeth Cotten, Mississippi John Hurt - but thats all another story…………….

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Well, the question wasn’t "What was the first… acceptable…or even Irish…. traditional group or album you ever listened to?"

So, the likes of Jimmy Shand and other dance bands and the "ould" Irish ceili bands all qualify. They all had traditional tunes in their repertoires, many of which we still play regularly today in sessions.
There were also the pipers, fiddlers such as Ian Powrie and so on plus lots of Gaelic and Scots singers who all sang and played traditional material although not necessarily in the style which enjoy it today.
The only Irish music we heard used to be on Radio Eireann(Now RTE One) a Saturday night but it was very enjoyable too.
Of course, we also listened to pop music, rock and roll, skiffle, and various forms of "folk" music too.

Most of us here, I imagine, weren’t brought up in the tradition but came to the music via the "back door" or by some even longer journey. It is probably easier too for the "younger ones" to name a "sensible" recording if they were growing up in the seventies when the likes of the Bothy Band, Planxty, and so on were in their hey day.

Basically, I’ve always had a leaning towards the more "folky", acoustic, trad stuff although I wouldn’t necessarily have thought about it at the time. e.g.Lonnie Donegan’s music, "Freight Train", and so on. Also Scottish music, of course.

During the sixties, I enjoyed a lot of the music from the increasingly popular and fashionable "folk scene". Also, blues music and singer songwriters etc. I also enjoyed The Beatles , Stones, and so on but, probably, preferred their more reflective and "folky influenced material. Looking back, the likes of The Byrds, CSN and Young, and many other of the late sixties material was exceedingly "folky" if not folk as such.

As more traditional albums, I suppose my first ones back then included The Dubliners but also the likes of Fairport, Steeleye Span and so on.
Later in the seventies, as far as Irish music was concerned, it would be Planxty, Bothy Band, Horslips(Not strictly Trad) and…later De Dannan and so on. Also, The Chieftains,of course, who I first heard on John Peel’s programme.
There were many others, of course, I was also enjoying Scottish bands such as Tannahill Weavers, Battlefield band, Silly Wizard, Ossian to name but a few.

Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

It was this album that my Dad had, the Smithsonian Folkways album "Scottish Bagpipe Music", a solo recording by John MacLellan (1967)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drZmMe_6h3E


I listened to that large rotating flat plastic thing over and over. I was totally fascinated. It was what made me become a piper! My Dad also had a few albums of Pipes & Drums bands, my favourite was "Farewell To The Greys" (1971).

I knew nothing of Irish music.

There used to be a Sunday morning TV show that presented a different musican or musical group each week. I saw The Canadian Brass, E Power Biggs, Baroque ensembles, and so forth. One Sunday it was an interesting ensemble the likes of which I’d never seen: a Baroque ensemble with violins and Baroque wooden flute and harp, but also a fellow playing a strange drum, and most interesting of all a fellow playing some sort of quiet bagpipe! The music was lovely, mostly Baroque music but also with some reels and jigs which I was familiar with through Scottish piping.

The group was The Chieftains.

This would have been around 1973 and it was my first experience of Irish music. You can see how someone who had heard quite a bit of Baroque music but not Irish music would interpret The Chieftains in the way I did, with their somewhat Baroque presentation of Carolan tunes.

My first Irish album was Bonaparte’s Retreat, due to that TV show. Next, around 1976, was the first Bothy Band album and a Plantxy album.

It was then that I took up the uilleann pipes. Little wonder that "the sound" for me was the Rowsome sound, due to Paddy Moloney and Liam O Flynn playing Rowsome pipes.

Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

Re last post, to sum things up in short…
Where I am today as regards my musical tastes has really been a long gradual journey as opposed to a "Road to Damascus" conversion after hearing one particular album or even one great band.

Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

Oop, sorry Richard. My last post, I meant. ;-)

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My "Road to Damascus" (a good way to put it) for ITM was hearing The Chieftains on TV! I hadn’t imagined that bagpipes could blend with fiddles and other instruments like that. But by that time I already had Highland piping in my blood.

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Great thread with some music I haven’t heard. My first album was Dervish’s ‘The boys from Sligo’ that I picked up in a record shop in Sligo when I was about 16 (Until then I was into rock/metal) I still listen to it a lot, great album. But my first introduction to the music was listening to my grandad lilting and playing tunes on his jaws harp when I was little.

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After hearing some folk music on the radio I bought four worn scratched LPs second hand at the same time in the late 1960s. One was Alex Campbell Live mentioned by trish santer, another was the various artists ‘A Jug of Punch’ .

A Jug of Punch is mainly songs but included a track with Francis McPeake singing and finishing with a tune on the pipes. That was probably the first Irish traditional instrumental I heard. https://www.discogs.com/Various-A-Jug-Of-Punch/master/514299

I think the other two LPs were a Topic Sampler and Joan Baez singing mainly traditional ballads. IIRC they were six shillings each or four for a pound. A pint of beer was about 2 shillings at the time.

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Probably Father Charlie’s solo cassette, if not that Road Map of Ireland. Great, straight up music that made me think I like that music and I can do that.

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A.L. Lloyd’s LP "Australian Bush Songs", released on Riverside in the US in about 1956 would have been my first exposure to folk music at an early age. I can still sing many of these (‘Bluey Brink’, ‘The Wild Colonial Boy’) from memory.

[There is a fascinating interview with Lloyd about his bush experience and the songs he collected informally as a pommy labourer in the 20’s (http://folkstream.com/reviews/lloyd/). Sadly, I’ve never managed to visit the Antipodes!]

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My father had a 45rpm of "Home to the Isles" by, I think, the Black Watch pipers, which he listened to obsessively. Still one of my favorite tunes. So…years later, in my teens, I got a hold of one of Finbar and Eddie Furey’s Nonesuch piping albums, the one with "Grahm’s Flat" on it. That’s one of my faves too, but at the time I’d expected highland piping, sort of, and couldn’t figure out what I was listening to. Then one day a buddy of mine (who’d introduced me to Martin Carthy and Maddy Prior stuff) put on an LP of The Boys of The Lough. They were playing some polkas, which sounded like Chinese music to my completely ignorant ears. So I asked, "Who’s that Chinese band? I love this stuff, I’ve got to learn to play it." At the time, mind you, I couldn’t play a note, I just knew I loved the music. "That’s not a Chinese band," says my buddy, laughing, "That’s a Scots-Irish-Shetland band". So, I ask, "Why are they playing Chinese music?" It’s been a running joke ever since, and ITM has been a huge part of my life for nearly forty years now. (And yes, I’ve since learned a tiny bit about the music of China, too! )

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Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

Bought two new records at the same time, after hearing bits of them playing in a record shop as I walked past;
"The Well Below the Valley" by Planxty, and "An Bóthar Cam" by Éamon de Buitléar & Ceoltóirí Laighean. Both still some of my favorites today.

Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

This is all very interesting.
Someone mentioned the Lark in the Clear Air LP. Is it the various artists album from the 70s? https://thesession.org/recordings/1743

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I reckon the first folk band I ever saw in concert was Ossian, in the Neilston Glen Halls. I saw Shooglenifty and the Battlefield Band there as well.
The first album might have been a JSD Band one. They were from around my home town of Rutherglen. A great band with good tunes.

Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

First group: The Chieftains. First actual trad album I listened to, though, was the big double-CD reissue of Sligo fiddler Michael Coleman’s recordings. Long story how I got into that…

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"The Chieftains 5", in 1975. Before that, it was Old Time re: Highwoods String Band and Fuzzy Mountain String Band in the early 70s. Before that, all the usual pseudo folk groups, solo performers,
new country, etc.

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Cherish the Ladies, and it was a copied tape given to me by a friend, in the early 1990s. The first group I saw perform live was Boys of the Lough, around the same time period.

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I think the first thing probably was a Burl Ives album I had as a young kid, dunno the exact album alas. There was also another album, no idea by whom, with some shanties on it.

First thing I bought myself — and only sort of traditional — was a recording of Percy Grainger’s Lincolnshire Posy I got in high school after playing the piece. (For those who don’t know, it’s a concert band instrumental setting of a bunch of trad songs collected in Lincolnshire.) Then Fairport Convention in college…

Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

The Chieftains

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Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

I heard a session at a local Irish Pub and that peaked my interest enough to go online to do a search on Irish Trad groups and then go to a local store and buy a Chieftains compilation. I just happened to pick a GREAT one. The first Irish Trad album I got and listened to was The Best of the Chieftains…the one with selections from Chieftains 7, 8 and Boil the Breakfast Early.

A few years later I got the first Planxty album and the first two Bothy Band albums and that was it for me. I had to get a whistle and start learning tunes.

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Ah well, I must admit my first introduction to trad style/Irish music was "Riverdance" in 1998 but I figured that while the sound might be Irish, the music wasn’t "something" but I had no idea what the "something" was. Fast forward, er… make that "slow’ forward a bunch of years and at the ripe old age of 61 I discovered Runa’s "Stretched on Your Grave" album. Not quite trad as they’re a singing performance band but that got me on the right track. Their songs are just dandy but I kept hearing tunes like The Star of Munster and found out that those were the ITM that explained the "something" missing from a few years earlier. It’s been downhill into the never-ending collecting of ITM music ever since but it’s been uphill the last six years trying to learn how to play a sufficient number of tunes to sit comfortably at a session. Discovering ITM at 61. Phooey! That’s a lifetime of great music that I wished I had discovered 45 or more years ago. What a progression! Rock an Roll, then smooth jazz, contemporary Christian with the final chapter being ITM.

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I haven’t gone through this entire thread yet, and I’ve already spent almost $50 on new records.

Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

My story…
I was a bit of a music snob (jazz and classical mostly) which I blame my teachers for. My private sax teacher told me to not listen to John Coltrane - he told me his early stuff was pretty good but then he basically went crazy. Who tells a kid that?
Then, with that background, it seemed like every time I saw an ‘Irish’ band in our town it would be dominated by some guy screaming out a song Dubliner style. It just didn’t/doesn’t appeal to me. I saw a few bands doing tunes but my ear heard them as “they all sound the same”. I saw Natalie MacMaster and she really moved me and still does. I had an ear for the American bluegrass bands and at some point was ready to receive Irish music.
Then I got a customer repair (saxophone). I looked the guy up and found he had written the book ~ “1000 best recordings of all time” It has music from all over the world and across all genres. I started collecting as many of them as I could. It lead me to some really great music and also a lot of ‘Really? You like this?’ The one recording that resonated with me more than any other from his list was The Bothy Band. I believe it was “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” album. The music has that infectious drive and Matt Molloy just blew me away. I play the flute and wanted to be able to play music like that. I thought, I’ll try to learn a couple hundred tunes and see if I can get some St. Paddy’s Day gigs next year. It didn’t turn out that way. I had no idea how deep the trad ocean is and I had no idea how difficult it would be or that I would become so obsessed with it. I am ready to get back to my jazz that’s been neglected. It’s a part of who I am as a musician. But I’ll be studying and playing trad for the rest of my life. There’s so much I want to learn and I love it so much.

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What are these "CD" things you youngsters are talking about?

Albums are big thin flat black plastic things you spin around in a machine, and somehow sound comes out.

Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

AB -

I remember that Arlo Guthrie recording well, and loved it. Around 1973-74 if I recall. Kevin Burke, backed by 3-finger 5-string banjo. He also played Farrell O’Gara on that record. I didn’t know enough then to associate the playing with ITM. Didn’t connect the dots re: Burke until 6-7 years later.

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"Albums are big thin flat black plastic things "

Actually, it was on 78 shellacs I first heard traditional music.

I still have some of these old records(and the means to play them). Most of them are still whole too.

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yes I well remember that Kevin Burke recording of the Sailor’s Bonnet - anyone know if it was Arlo Guthrie playing slide guitar on it? Around the same time there was a recording of KB playing some Appalachian fiddle tunes with a harmonica player and a female clog dancer if anyone remembers that?

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That’s hilarious, Richard. I’m probably younger than a lot of you are and yep, I consider a digital cd an "album"…. Amazon even calls them that!

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@pgm3 Hearing Irish music as sounding Chinese is not so strange: the Chieftains did a tour of China in the 80s and compared notes on tune structure, and came to the conclusion that there were similarities, especially in using the pentatonic scale. There was a lovely TV programme about it.
See also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nW-5nYdP4MU


And @Alexander Gurgan: that Fontana LP (album?) of The McPeake Family is the same one that I have: have messaged you.

Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

Somehow I feel it was "The Long Black Veil" by the Chieftains. The version of Dunmore Lasses is a haunting slower version that brings out the minor key and dark mood. Ry Cooder’s slide adds a bluesy feel to the tune.
The guests of the album add something but don’t dominate the album. The Foggy Dew sung by Sinead O’ Connor is the third greatest version of the song. Luke Kelley has the best version with the Dubliners.
I love the album closing with a loose raucous Rocky Road to Dublin with the Rolling Stones.
It’s a great album all the way through.

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Christy Taylor ~ I think Ry Cooder is playing slide…Kevin Burke played in the group Open House w/dancer Sandy Silva and Mark Graham, who plays harmonica.

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Re: What is the first traditional group or album you ever listened to?

thanks AB - Open House, yes that all sounds familiar - I think the tunes were Miss McCloud and Lost Indian - if anyone could post them that would be great, my cassette stretched and broke years ago!

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Oh, I love the Chinese polka they do called "Full of Joy." I’ve always found it cool how much the two cultures link.

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Chieftain’s 5.

A friend had bought a "cut out" LP and didn’t like it. He handed it to me and said "This is weird. You might like it."

From there, it was all downhill.

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A Mile to Ride, by the High Level Ranters

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The Chieftains: Boil the Breakfast Early.

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Strawhead