A blog documenting my education and progress as I learn to play traditional Irish music on tenor banjo, mandolin, whistle, bodhran and hopefully one day, mandola, bouzouki and more.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Musical influences

I probably first noticed the music I was listening to when I was around 4 or 5, maybe sooner. Hell it was a long time ago! Anyway, my mother played a variety of music. We had everything in the house from the Kingston Trio and The Pentangle to The Beatles or John Denver.
I mention the Kingston Trio and Pentangle because they were my first introduction to traditional/folk music. I still listen to a the Pentangle. Cruel Sister and Basket of Light were what my mother had on vinyl and now what I have on CD. There's so much talent in that band, as I look back on them, knowing what I know now, they were truly amazing.

Music was always on in our house. We didn't have a TV for a long time.
As the 70's progressed we listened to a lot of Beatles, Pink Floyd, Robin Trower, Moody Blues and Van Morrison, James Taylor and Cat Stevens.
Mom & Dad had pretty good taste in music. It's really a shame they don't listen much anymore.

I remember when my 1st grade school teacher asked us to each bring a record to school and we would play one song from each person. I heard a lot Jackson 5, The Osmonds, The Monkees, etc. When it was my turn I played "One of These Days" from Pink Floyds "Meddle" album. My classmates where saying what amounted to WTF? My teacher just smiled HUGE.

Later, like most kids my age, I turned to the commercialized sounds of KISS and eventually Van Halen, Rush and other hard rock bands. Van Halen was my favorite. They were the kings of hard rock.
I was also introduced to "heavy metal" about this time. The album was Judas Priest's "Unleashed in the East" and the song was "The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown)" And the damage was done! LOL I listened to metal for many years afterward.

Into the 1980's, along with hard rock and metal, I also was also listening to the "new wave" sounds that MTV was playing. It was different but familiar too. Bands had fused elements of punk rock with disco to come up with something kinda unique. Conventional electric instruments were being played alongside synthysized sounds.

There was a lot of great music being made. But those years of really GREAT "80's music" really only lasted from '79 until '84. After that it was really just bands re-hashing the same old sounds. Music got kinda dull again. By 1986 I had joined the Army and it was about that time I got into Jimmy Buffet a bit and started appreciating acoustic guitar. I was feeling the need for SOMETHING different.

The late 80's had few truly unique bands and it wasn't until '89 and '90 that some new sounds were being heard. I had just gotten out of the Army and was enjoying being back in Southern California. Primus was a favorite. Jane's Addiction and Nine Inch Nails were cool too. And of course there was Nirvana. Holy crap what a ton of bricks the Nevermind album was. Soundgarden and Pearl Jam had a great sound as well. Metal as I knew it had just been shot in the head.

But as soon as the novelty of Nirvana and Pearl Jam began to wear off, rock-n-roll went and changed again. Rap started sneaking it's way into my hard rock. And I HATE RAP. You can't spell C-R-A-P without R-A-P. And I started turning the radio off.

Sometime around '97 or '98, I suggested to my girlfriend that we should go out and get some old English style fish-n-chips. She told me she didn't know of any "English" fish-n-chips but she did know of a good "IRISH" place. So we went to the "The Rose", an Irish pub in Santa Rosa, CA which served a great plate of fish-n-chips. The Rose also had a great selection of beers and hosted live bands on a regular basis. As fate would have it, the live band playing that night was a locally based Irish band called "Atlantic Shore". They were absolutely awesome. What a great band! The music was fast, and before I knew it, we had abandoned the game of darts we were playing and were totally paying attention to the band. We each bought CD's they were selling from the stage. Ten years later, traditional Irish music has taken over my cd collection. I'm totally hooked on it.

Irish, and Scottish, traditional music is to me what rock-n-roll used to be. It was all about the musicianship. It had intensity and fire. It could be raucous and loud. It was also honest. Real music played by real musicians on real musical instruments. The music, by it's very nature is so intense that rock-n-roll bands have really been around for decades that have been influenced by it. One that has been around the longest is probably Jethro Tull. But more obvious bands with an Irish slant to their music are The Pogues, Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys.

Oh yeah, didn't Jethro Tull beat out Metallica for "Best Metal Band" at the Grammy's the first year they had the category? YES... like I said, the music is intense. By the way, the members of Jethro Tull would tell you they are NOT a metal band. Most folk wouldn't argue. What were the Grammy folks thinking???
And speaking of Metallica, they recorded a traditional Irish folk song as well. "Whiskey in the Jaro" or more properly titled "Whisky in the Jar".

So I'll end this blog entry with my current musical obsession; The Bothy Band.

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