View Full Version : Celtic Bands of the mando

Sep-04-2004, 9:03am
Ive been playing bluegrass and celtic folk music and some jazzy stuff and i must say that it is fun.
However, i am without any celtic bands that have a good mandolin in them. Sure there are bands like nickle creek but they are hardly playable (and chris thile makes me feel hopeless)
So; what celtic mandolin bands do you listen to? I was listening to the pouges and they tend to have very little mando in them, same with the cheiftians.
anything helps

Sep-04-2004, 9:19am
Hi Kirby,

One of my favourite melody players is Declan Corey (okay, he's also a good friend of mine so I'm biased). You can hear him on Lia Luachra's two CDs, "Lia Luachra" and "Traffic", and on "I Can Hear You Smiling" by the Josephine Marsh Band.

For exquisite song accompaniment, look for any of the Planxty albums (except maybe "Words and Music" - often gets a thumbs-down from folks here), as they feature the wonderful Andy Irvine.

Sep-04-2004, 11:34am
I must repeat my recommendation for Shooglenifty not only is Luke Plumb hot but he writes great tunes as well.The Arms Dealers Daughter is one of my records of the last year

Sep-04-2004, 12:57pm
Great Big Sea, from Newfoundland, play traditional Newfoundland tunes. It'a a mix of Scottish, Irish, French, English, and more. Bob Hallett plays mandolin and Celtic bouzouki (in addition to concertina, buttona ccordion, fiddle, high and low whistles, tin whistle, bagpipes, acoustic guitar and banjo) and Alan Doyle plays bouzouki, madola and mandolin, in addition to acoustic guitar. They also write their own music, and Alan Doyle has amazing hair.

Bobbie Dier
Sep-04-2004, 9:22pm
The Family Mahone. I saw them at Cropredy festival. Their mandolin player kicks butt. Check them out.

Dagger Gordon
Sep-05-2004, 4:27am
The bands that always get a mention are Planxty and Shooglenifty.

From the original post, I'll assume you aren't familiar with either, so a bit of background info:
Planxty are easily the most influential Celtic band in terms of use of mandolins and bouzoukis. They formed in Ireland in the early 70's, making a series of classic albums based around trad Irish music and Andy Irvine's interest in Bulgarian music. They have recently reformed for the second time, and have made a new live album and DVD of some of their best loved material - Planxty Live 2004, which wouldn't be a bad place to start with them. They feature 2 strong singers, Christy Moore and Irvine, and the Irish pipes of Liam O'Flynn.

Shooglenifty, from Scotland, are a much more modern sound altogether. Their original mandolin player Ian MacLeod has recently been replaced by Tasmanian Luke Plumb, but they sound as good as ever. Their first album Venus in Tweeds is a classic, but all their stuff is worth hearing. Their third one, Solar Shears, is more experimental and perhaps an acquired taste, but Venus in Tweeds, A Whisky Kiss or The Arms Dealer's Daughter are all recommended.

Sep-07-2004, 4:18pm
pogguuuuesssss. and deffinetly plaxty, fantastic stuff.

Sep-07-2004, 4:28pm
Dagger is perhaps too modest to mention his own CDs, which are great examples of Scottish mandolin-led playing and composing - not strictly a band but not pure solo either. Get some of Dagger's or other MandoCafe posters Kevin MacLeod or Dan Beinborm CDs and you will have guaranteed mando content as well as good listening.
And anything by Hom Bru.
And while the technique on these CDs can be pretty amazing, it's about the tunes, not showing off so you will find plenty of stuff that you can play.

Sep-07-2004, 10:29pm
I would add anything with Mick Maloney on it to the list.

In my decidedly inexpert view he is a great example of a very traditional approach to the instrument.

Sep-08-2004, 7:04am
The Dubliners also pull out the mandolin once or twice an album; Barney McKenna has a lovely touch. In fact, I recently made up my own CD of Dubliners' mandolin stuff.

If you want to go a bit more down the rock path, then Anthony Thistlethwaite from The Waterboys played quite a bit of mandolin in their Fisherman's Blues era.

If you're after celtic tunes (as opposed to songs) played on mandolin, then I can also recommend the CDs by Kevin, Dan or Aidan (I haven't heard Dagger's as yet).

From Australia, there's Weddings Parties Anything or anything with John Munro on it (Eric Bogle or Colcannon).



Sep-08-2004, 7:12am
I listen to Dagger's CD quite a bit on the train back & forth from London. I get a lot of inspiration from tenor banjo players, Seamus Egan (the Oregon one, not the one from Solas!) being my personal favorite. Track down his "In your ear" CD on Aniar records.

If your tastes are broader than Celtic, try Skip Gorman's two CDs (Old style Mandolin).. they're currently getting the most play on my iPod. Spectacular instrumental playing, all mandolin. Lovely!

mad dawg
Sep-08-2004, 8:10am
There's also this guy called Dan Beimborn with some great mando content on his CDs; I've got Shatter the Calm, which is chock full o' tunes featuring mando family instruments. (I think this Dan guy might even hang out at MC from time to time http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif )

steve V. johnson
Sep-08-2004, 10:46am
I've been just fascinated with the Planxty DVD... Man, Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny are amazing!

I also like Andy Irvine's playing with Patrick Street, and there are ... what?... six or seven of their CDs?


Sep-08-2004, 2:57pm
THE POGUES sorry I know it was already said. Flogging Molly has some good mando parts sometimes. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Sep-08-2004, 9:13pm
Also: "Paul Brady/Andy Irvine" and Brady's "Welcome Here Kind Stranger" have lots of great mando on them.

Sep-09-2004, 4:56am
Mad Dawg: http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

I'm working on the new one at the moment actually. Got 3 tracks in the can on Jack's Loar (joined by Tim O'Brien on fiddle, 5-string banjo, and mandolin) from my Nashville trip about a month ago, and 3 with Craig Harbauer ("Craigtoo" here).. now working on the other half of the disk. This one'll be almost 100% mandolin, including Jack's Loar F5, Tim's Nugget, "Pokey" (the 1903 F2 I picked up on the trip), a snakehead, and my Lebeda. Can't keep 'em all sadly, but the disk falls on a nice time slice where many of them overlapped! Not sure exactly when I'll finish it, but I'm hoping to have them by summer at the latest. Thanks for your support

Bret Roberts
Sep-09-2004, 5:10am
Hi, I'm very new to the mandolin thing but the band that got me started is a celtic typ punk band called the Dropkick Murphys. On there last few records they have a mandolin on most songs, they also have a DVD out where they use the mandolin a lot.
Hope this helps.

Dagger Gordon
Sep-09-2004, 8:23am
Thanks guys,

Personally, I'm a huge admirer of Tim O'Briens playing when he's in Celtic mode. Some very good jigs and reels on '2 Journeys'.

Sep-09-2004, 9:15am
I highly recommend the Irvine/Brady CD for all. When I first searched for it, I found a used copy that had an asking price of $98.00! It's widely available now at normal prices.
BTW, Just got Shooglenifty and Kila CDs last night based on this and other threads; great suggestions.

steve V. johnson
Sep-09-2004, 11:02am
Dagger sez: "Personally, I'm a huge admirer of Tim O'Briens playing when he's in Celtic mode. Some very good jigs and reels on '2 Journeys'. "

I love that CD, too, along with Tim's other 'Celtic" CD, "The Crossing". Great songs, great playing, mando and OM/zouk..!


Aidan Crossey
Sep-10-2004, 2:00am
I don't think anyone's mentioned Michael Kerry yet. I'm not sure if his "The Rocky Road" is still available, but if it is, then it's definitely worth a listen. Kerry's is a very sweet, expressive style of playing. Good to hear that the man, Dan, is bringing out a new album ... his Shatter The Calm is a belter, muscular and yet very lyrical. I know few players who match Dan's mix of assertiveness and invention/innovation. Also worth wrapping your ears around are both of Kevin MacLeod's albums "Springwell" and "From Polbain To Oranmore". Finally, a new album by the members of Danu, "Up In The Air", showcases the players and singers in solo mode (hence they bill the album as being by members of Danu, rather than just Danu). There are some sterling solo OM/bouzouki tunes here.

mad dawg
Sep-10-2004, 9:05am
Thanks for your support
My pleasure Dan. Hey, are you coming back to Gryphon anytime soon? I really liked your ornamentation workshop a while back.

Sep-10-2004, 9:13am
I might see if I can come through before Zoukfest this coming summer again.. I also would have some Mandolin Archive photography business to attend to if I did http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Sep-10-2004, 4:12pm

I'll keep an eye on the Gryphon website for your workshop; it would be great to see you there again. Have you posted photos of your new F2 on the Archive yet?

As for more Celtic mando, Wake the Dead's CD's feature the mandolin playing (and no doubt arranging talent) of Paul Kotopish on every track; they're fabulous!


Sep-10-2004, 4:14pm
Sorry for the misspelling - it's Kotapish.

Sep-11-2004, 12:49am
Yes- I listen to Open House a lot for mandoinspiration, Paul's a great player. Also his "Moving Cloud Orchestra" and "Hillbillies From Mars" disks..


here's pokey (http://www.mandolinarchive.com/perl/show_mando.pl?2922)

Sep-11-2004, 10:26am
Wow Dan - that's a remarkable mandolin. I've always been tempted by those really early A's that pop up from time to time. Everything about it feels ever so slightly different than later F2 models. Is the body mahogony? What's the scale lenght? Is the neck profile very different from a teens profile? How does it feel after spending time with that F5? Can't wait to hear it on your next recording!


Sep-11-2004, 12:49pm
Pokey has normal scale & feel (it's probably re-worked 1910s).. trebly tone with very "Crisp" sound compared to anything else. Actually fairly tenor banjo-y. I'll make sure it appears on the next disk. Neck is pretty normal. There's mounting evidence it was "redone" circa 1910. I played one other vintage 3-point, and it felt.. delicate..

It's especially good at fast, articulate triplets. I'll record some crazy-fast reels with it, I think http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

The back might be mahogany, hard to tell .I'm not a wood guy. It's vastly different from the Loar, of course, but in nice complimentary ways

Sep-11-2004, 3:06pm

That banjo-y tone is what I think makes early Gibsons so great for Irish tunes; it looks like great fun to play. Are you using J-74's on it? Finally, to keep a bit more on topic, do you know of any recordings of similar vintage 3-point Gibson mandolins?


Sep-14-2004, 6:56am
I'm going to try D'Addario medium gauge on it. j67 maybe? I think Mick Maloney recorded his "Strings Attached" on an artist model Gibson A circa 1904-1908.. the inlaid pickguard on the cover is the giveaway. the "Artist Model" is a trim designation, usually means there are little bowtie inlays on the fingerboard. As far as I know, that's the only Irish mandolin recording using a pre-teens Gibson..

Grisman did a lot with a 3-point oval-holed F if I recall correctly..

Mick's a heavier picker than I (if such a thing is possible) and you can here a sharper twang on his playing on "Strings Attached". The mandolin he uses is quite close to "Pokey" in tone though. Very trebly, attack-y.

BTW, a 3-point doesn't always sound like that. Mine's an odd hybrid, s/n dates it to 1903 perhaps, the other features of it (no inlaid 'guard) place the top to be a likely 1910 or so job. I'm not positive really, but it may be a re-top circa 1910. Frank Ford suggested that to me from the pictures, and though I can't really see evidence to be sure either way, the lack of an inlaid guard with the 1903 serial makes it quite probably that's what's going on there.

Oct-09-2004, 10:30am
There's a band form Shetland (some might argue that they are therefore not 'Celtic', but they play Irish and Scots, as well as Shetland tunes) called Hom Bru. They have an excellent mandolin and banjo player, Gary Peterson.

Milan Christi
Oct-16-2004, 10:26am
Grewat advice on the Planxty DVD! I just got mine in the mail today - 100% pure music presented in a great production. Thanks for the tip!

Oct-16-2004, 2:22pm
I hope someone mentioned John McGann here already..