Folked up

I wish more folk music sounded like this. I don’t understand why so many fans of traditional Celtic and Anglo-American music, at least here in the states, insist on acoustic instruments.

1. Cordelia’s Dad. They’re still together, and have just recorded what they describe as their first true rock album. But the video gives some indication of the energy and depth of their earlier work.

2. Bad Livers. Syncopated newgrass from Texas. Despite the poor lighting, this is a highly entertaining cut. Note the electric tuba.

3. Flogging Molly. Heirs to the Pogues. Very Irish, very rockin’.

4. (Update) I couldn’t find a listenable video of them on YouTube, but Nyah Fearties should definitely be on this list as well. Follow the link to listen to some cuts from “the loudest and fastest band ever to use acoustic instruments.”

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11 Comments


  1. Leon Redbone often travels with a tuba-ist as his backing bass instrumental;ist.

    Check out Boiled in Lead, Runrig, Tiger Moth, and The Battlefield Band as example of traditional music rockers from the 70’s & 80s.
    BB really rocks out with bagpipes.

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  2. For bands commercially recording their music I agree that a ban on electronic instruments doesn’t make much sense, but when playing in sessions for pleasure there is a good rationale. Amplification is a slippery slope; once one person amplifies, others start in and before you know it the traditional feel of the session goes out the window and you have a rock-and-roll band.

    When an informal regular session becomes popular and gets big enough so that quieter instruments (such as mandolins and guitars) can’t be heard…. this is a signal and a hint, and people start congregating elsewhere in smaller groups. Then the cycle begins again…

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  3. handdrummer – Thanks for those recommendations. I’m familiar with Leon Redbone and the Battlefield Band, but not the other three.

    Larry – I hoped it would be obvious I wasn’t talking about jam sessions and front porch music. Even most rockers enjoy an acoustic jam. And it makes sense that there’d be a size limit beyond which any jam wouldn’t work. I was talking about the attitude of the fans. On the public radio station here, there are many hours of folk music, programmed by local volunteers, and there seems to be an ironclad rule not to play anything that isn’t acoustic. This becomes especially arbitrary and absurd when playing music from other parts of the world.

    B.A. – Up the Arsh! (That’s how we pronounce “Irish” in Tyrone, PA.)

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  4. I remember when Bob Dylan went electric in the early 60’s. What a scandal! The anti-electric purists don’t mind listening to electric powered radio. A band that from the 60’s that combined acoustic and electric that I still like is Pentangle. Also, once you amplify(electrically) your acoustic instrument you have started down that slippery slope to AC/DC damnation!

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  5. that slippery slope to AC/DC damnation

    On the highway to hell, as it were.

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  6. What, no Country Fried Scrapple? :-)

    There is a group called Hayseed Dixie. I just lifted this quote, “Hayseed Dixie World Service – rockgrass for world domination.” Google them.

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  7. Huh. I must admit, I wouldn’t mind hearing bluegrass covers of AC/DC.

    Country Fried Scrapple – now there’s something I haven’t thought about in fifteen years! (The band, not the product. We had scrapple just last week.)

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  8. The Bad Livers were an awesome group — and last I heard Mark Rubin’s still in Austin, doing great creative musical things (since I don’t get out for music much, am out of that loop.)

    And Flogging Molly…I lurve Flogging Molly!!! Forgot all about ’em until your post, and now have to hunt some tunes up to get me roaring into the workplace…

    :-)

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