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The Dubliners singing Weilia Walia

By Kenneth Rainey. Filed under: TweedBlog, video. Tags: , ,

Tangleweed is getting ready for our Saturday show at the Fiddler’s Hearth in South Bend, dusting off some of our Irish repertoire. We’ll almost certainly play this one, perhaps the catchiest song ever written about infanticide.

The footage is from Swedish television in 1973. Ronnie Drew has the lead vocal.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The first three Dubliners records, The Dubliners with Luke Kelly, In Concert, and Finnegan Wakes are three of the finest records you will ever hear in any genre.


O’Donoghue’s Opera, starring the Dubliners

By Kenneth Rainey. Filed under: TweedBlog, video. Tags: , , ,

This 37-minute film from 1965 captures the Dubliners in their native habitat, O’Donoghue’s Pub in Dublin. According to the Irish Film Institute’s website, O’Donoghue’s Opera was the first Irish musical film. The plot loosely follows the trad tune, ‘The Night Before Larry Was Stretched’. Lyrics are below the fold.



Fun with drunken Irish Karaoke

Here’s a fun little artifact from the Where You Been So Long sessions: a version of the Leaving of Liverpool (MP3) without vocals.

When we record our tunes, we usually do the instrumental tracks as a group, and then overdub vocals. We had done this song a few times at Irish gigs and in our usual loud bar environments, and I had gotten in the habit of belting out the lead vocal Clancy Brothers style. It worked fine then, but when it came time to record the vocal in the studio, though, I became acutely aware of just how horrible I sounded.

We did it in ‘A’ because that’s the key it was in on the Dubliners record I learned it from1. But it’s below my range. And there were other problems beyond that. The big ‘F’ sound on the first word of the song (‘Farewell’) was causing me to lose all my breath pressure. By the time I got to the second big ‘F’ (on ‘far away’), I was sounding like a bagpipe that had been run over by a semi truck.

I did about a dozen takes that day, each significantly worse than the one before, and then gave up. We contemplated redoing it in a different key, or having someone else do the lead. In the end, though, we had Mike do this Karaoke mix of the tune for me to practice to. You can still hear a faint remnant of my original guide vocal, but, otherwise, it’s just the instrumental backing tracks and some of the solos.

In our next session, I tried a completely different approach, doing the verses as quietly as I could muster. We did the choruses en masse, with Ryan, Billy, and me around a single mic, and then double-tracked it. The two tracks were panned hard to either side, giving a pleasant big vocal sound. We also lopped out part of the first solo section, as the song had gotten too long.

The result seems to have been acceptable. I will always be immensely proud of the fact that it was played on RTE. Anyway, grab a bottle of Jameson’s and sing along.

The Leaving of Liverpool (Karaoke mix) MP3

1 Egads, that’s a lot of prepositions in one sentence… four counting the one that ends it. I am appalled.


The Bothy Band playing Old Hag, You Have Killed Me

By Kenneth Rainey. Filed under: TweedBlog, video. Tags: ,

Since their out-of-print LPs and CDs command staggering prices on eBay, YouTube clips may be as close as new fans can get to the Bothy Band these days. Their work has held up well, as this thirty-year-old clip will attest.


The Clancy Brothers playing the Wild Rover

By Kenneth Rainey. Filed under: TweedBlog, video. Tags: ,

The Wild Rover has been my daughter’s favorite song for as long as I can remember. This is a great version performed by the Clancys and Tommy Makem on Pete Seeger’s old Rainbow Quest program. Beautiful.


The Dubliners playing Off to Dublin in the Green

Here’s another great old Dubliners clip, from what appears to be a German television program. The song is a rousing rebel song, delivered with conviction by the inimitable Ronnie Drew. Also, behold the majesty that is Luke Kelly’s celt-fro.

Some men fight for silver
And some men fight for gold
But the IRA is fighting for
The land that England stole


Planxty playing The Little Drummer

By Kenneth Rainey. Filed under: TweedBlog, video. Tags: , , ,

Here’s a great Planxty clip from 1974 with a wonderful Christy Moore vocal and some very sensitive mandola accompaniment from Andy Irvine.

Here’s an interesting bit on the mandola from Andy Irvine’s web site:

Classicly, a mandola should be tuned way down to CGDA but I always thought this stupid with a Gibson because it didn’t have a big enough body, nor a long enough string length to cope with the hawser-like strings required. So I thought it logical–as it was two frets longer than a mandolin– to tune it a tone lower, using mandolin strings. So I tune it FCGC (I nearly always have the top string tuned down a tone)


The Ronnie Drew Group playing McAlpine’s Fusiliers

By Kenneth Rainey. Filed under: TweedBlog, video. Tags: , ,

This is the earliest clip I’ve ever seen of the Dubliners, back when they still went by the moniker of the Ronnie Drew Folk Group. I’ve written about McAlpine’s Fusiliers in an earlier post, you can refer to that if you want to know a bit more of the history of Sir Robert McAlpine. The lead vocal is by the great Ronnie Drew. Ronnie, sadly, is apparently in ill health, and receiving treatment for cancer.

In what appears to be a wee bit of censorship, Drew changes the last line of the song from:

If you pride your life
don’t join by Christ
with McAlpine’s Fusiliers


If you pride your life
don’t join by God
with McAlpine’s Fusiliers