Author Archives: Alex van der Jagt

From Russia with Reels – Frauke

This week we once again added new music to the stream. Some albums we acquired at the Midwinter Fair, which is within cycling distance from Alex’s home, but others had to come from lands far beyond our horizon, travelling from hand to hand through what we refer to as our Community.

Here’s the story of how the wonderful music of Random Reel reached our shores.

Once upon a time in Mother Russia.

Random Reel Not so long ago I randomly offered my services to Alex. As a big folk music fan, I didn’t mind helping out a bit, but as a German-Russian interpreter to be I didn’t expect I could really be of use.

Strangely enough Alex contacted me a while later asking me for a favour. He wanted me to contact “this Russian band they had found out about”, but could only contact through VK, which is the Russian version of Facebook.

I then translated the mail CeltCast wanted to send and I quickly got an answer from Random Reel’s bagpipe player. They were eager to accept our offer and share their music with CeltCast. They even invited me to their gig in Kazan!

Oh, I forgot to mention my university shipped me off to Moscow for several months. 🙂


Frozen Wolga I was keen on some travelling so I asked a few of my colleagues to join me on the trip I was planning. That’s how we ended up taking the night train to capital of Tatarstan, a 13-hour ride through Russia’s middle of nowhere. The beds in the train were very decent, and if it wasn’t for the tropical 33°C and the snoring Russian woman I probably would’ve gotten some sleep! I slept for three hours in the morning and woke up to see some beautiful landscapes outside. We even crossed the completely frozen Wolga and saw some minuscule dots which appeared to be people fishing in the ice.


Poster Kazan is a very beautiful city. Probably not the first one you’ll think of when visiting Russia, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. Compared to the other city’s I visited, this one was much more quiet and peaceful. But we were here for a show, let’s not forget that! On Saturday, the 6th of December, Random Reel celebrated its 3rd birthday. Upon arrival we were warmly greeted by violin player Elvira and introduced to some people. As the first band, D’Green, hadn’t arrived yet, so we could sit down and have a drink.

The show itself was a blast! It had been a long time since I saw so much atmosphere at a concert. Random Reel has many members and they all look so different, but in the end they fit together perfectly on stage and share a passion for traditional Irish folk. The sound was pretty decent for the many instruments they had. I could clearly hear everyone except for the percussionist and the flute player, but the reason for this might be that I was standing left of the stage and not directly in front of it. But how could I when most of the room was occupied by people dancing and having fun?! I am more of a quiet listener, but nevertheless I enjoyed the sight of this.


Random Reel on stage Random Reel, clearly enjoying their set, played their own version of the usual traditional Irish songs, so that I could sing along even though I’d never seen or heard them before. But they also played some traditional songs with Russian lyrics and they even did a folkish cover of ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’! Of course they also have songs of their own, especially ‘Towards the Sun’ is a song that’s still occasionally stuck in my head.

After the show we talked some more with the violin player and I received their EP ‘Roots & Leaves’. I was secretly very happy I had to wait before sending the CD to CeltCast until I was back in Belgium. That way I could first enjoy the CD myself! We then also met singer and guitar player Timur, who was very fluent in English as you can hear on their CD. Afterwards we were invited to the after party by bagpipe player Ivan, with whom I had had contact before travelling to Kazan. They offered us a ride, but since my colleagues weren’t sure about it yet, they even looked up a taxi for us! In the end my colleagues were too tired and I went back with them to the hostel…

I quickly got this gnawing feeling of regret, but lucky as I always am Ivan texted me the address of the after party and after a short cab ride, I was sitting in a Russian apartment along with the talented Russian musicians of D’Green and Random Reel. Russian people, Russian hospitality, Russian food and… well, Irish music! It didn’t take the musicians long to pick up their instruments again and start a random jam session in the kitchen. If it wasn’t for the early plain we had to catch, I would’ve stayed there all night to enjoy the music. After the goodbyes and many hugs it was time for me to go to sleep.

This is an experience I won’t easily forget. I went to Kazan for CeltCast but was presented an entertaining show with talented, passionate musicians and a dancing crowd that occasionally went totally wild. This was the story of how I got to meet the friendly, hospitable and very grateful members of Random Reel and how I came to the conclusion that even in Tatarstan, they make pretty damn good Irish music!

– Frauke


Random Reel - The band Random Reel is:

Timur Milyukov – Vocals, Guitar
Ivan Churkin – Bagpipes, Tin whistle
Elya Feytsekh – Violin
Artur Karimov – Bass
Nikolay Perminov – Percussion
Andrey Kazancev – Drums





Philip Xander contributes!

Bridge - Philip (750p, crop) We have another new addition to our CeltCast team! 🙂
Starting today Philip Xander, formerly of Omnia and now of course of L.E.A.F., will occasionally contribute reports and reviews for your reading entertainment.

And to to start things off nicely, his first text is a report of his musical year 2014, that reviews several albums that were released in 2014, and a look ahead to what 2015 will bring:
Highlights of 2014 and a glimpse of 2015


Happy New… Competition!!

Harmony Glen - Prizes (750p)
HAPPY NEW YEAR!! HAPPY NEW COMPETITION!! 🙂

Our good friends of Harmony Glen have graciously donated some great goodies for a brand new joined competition. So if you want to start the new year with some nice shiny gifts, pay attention!

What can I win, you may ask? Well, we have:
– 4 posters,
– 2 T-shirts,
– 1 copy of “Where the Wind Blows” and
– 1 copy of their latest album “The Cure For Everything”

So, 8 prizes, 8 winners!

In order to have a chance to win one of these prizes, post a message to the Facebook page of Harmony Glen. But not just any message. We would like to know what your favourite track by Harmony Glen is, so we can make sure to play it on CeltCast. So the sentence that you should post is:

“I would like to win a new years prize from Harmony Glen,
and I would like to hear
(enter track here) on CeltCast.”

Make sure that you tag CeltCast in this sentence, otherwise it will not show on our page so we will have no idea that you entered in the competition. 🙂

And if you don’t know The Cure For Everything yet, well, it just so happens that we have made a review! 🙂
http://www.celtcast.com/harmony-glen-the-cure-for-anything-2014

Good luck everyone!

(Competition closes on the 15th of january at 18.00 CET)


Harmony Glen – The Cure For Anything (2014)

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Harmony Glen is a group that has been playing since 2005 and their experience shows! A Dutch band with their roots firmly planted in a base of Irish folk, they have no problem mixing it with other styles and genres, and making it sound awesome. But to prove their excellence in the Irish scene, they are the only Dutch band ever to have been invited to Fleadh Ceoil (2013), a large international festival and competition for Irish Folk musicians.
This year they have released their fifth album, The Cure For Anything. The band describe it as showing their nine year journey to find their musical power and identity. If that is the case it certainly sounds like it has been an interesting journey.

The first track is called Abu Dhabi. It immediately shows that combination of musical styles, as it is definitely Irish, but with lots of Bluegrass sprinkled on top. A combination that makes sense, as modern day Irish folk and Bluegrass share the same origin. But that is not all there is to this song. If you are a visual thinker, like I am, it is very easy to see a story unfold during this song. Chasing someone down the streets and narrow alleys of Abu Dhabi isn’t a very far fetched idea and that adds just a little middle eastern touch to it all.

Next up is the song Harmony Glen. Where the previous track conjured up images of a fast pursuit through a busy city, this song makes me think of a camp-fire on a beach, between an forest and a lake, dancing and singing and sharing this song with friends. During this song they sing “Harmony Glen is forever our love”. Well, I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I certainly love it!

The third track of the album picks up momentum again, as Lay Down Rosie blasts through the speakers. The vocal in this song is a bit more raw, which fits perfectly with the overall sound. The flute play adds just that touch of light that makes this song more cheerful.

When listening to The Charlatans Barnacle it’s hard to choose between taking a sip of good old moonshine or some fine Irish whiskey. But either way, the song is a feast for the ears and it feels like a party! The song seamlessly moves into…

Runaway Maid, again a different musical style, but very fitting. A song with very soothing vocals that allows everybody that jumped on the dance-floor during the previous track to pair up and do a little one on one dancing.

Pleasant and Delightful is very much that, pleasant and delightful to hear. A storytelling, acapella sung, accompanied by sound of the sea shore, it is very easy to close your eyes, envision this song being sung in a harbor pub and let your emotions run free.

Flight of the Mimosa is one of those rare songs where there is a lot of energy from the start, yet is does feel like it’s continually building up. It gives a very “Irish Traditional” feel, but it incorporates a middle eastern atmosphere without any problem.

Rest My Little Son is a song from a mother to her sleeping son. It starts off very touching and emotional, but as the song progresses the music becomes very powerful. It speaks of the darker sides of life, but also that we can make a difference. This song went straight through my ears into my soul. I would easily call it inspiring.

I can imagine Another Summer’s Morning being played fifty or a hundred years from now as a “traditional”. To me it has all the elements of the great songs of the past and I can envision versions of this song being played by a duo in a pub or an orchestra on a massive stage. The harmony towards the end of the song is amazing and invites you to sing along at the top of your lungs.

Breath of Pale calmly follows, bringing an overwhelmingly warm feeling. Definitely a song to enjoy with your eyes closed, letting your mind wander.

After a deep song like Breath of Pale, hang on to your boots as The Homecoming makes you want to jump up and dance again! The essence of the song is “No matter how far I am, don’t come to find me, I will come home one day”. Though the song speaks of past experiences, and correcting them, it’s great to shout along to when heading home from work, or especially when heading to or from a festival!

Midwinter’s night starts off feeling very medieval. The sound is very different from that of the rest of the album. However, if you only heard this song you would think that this is the type of music Harmony Glen normally plays, as it sounds very natural. Halfway through the song it seamlessly moves into other styles, more modern, then somewhat Eastern European, and then back to the medieval feel. An awesome display of musicality!

Then, as if to remind everyone, the album turns back to the Irish roots with Thelonious’ Fancy. A fast reel, I don’t know if there is anyone that is capable of sitting still during a song like this. Feet of flames anyone?!



Harmony Glen on this performance: “This is us playing Thelonious’ Fancy at the Senior Céili Band Competition, Fleadh Cheoil 2013 in Derry. It was amazing how those 2500 people couldn’t resist and started clapping and cheering 🙂 We had so much fun!”

After Darkness comes the sun. Well, there is no darkness on this album, but there sure is a lot of sunshine! The song is very uplifting and it is very fitting to have this as last track on the album, because you’ll keep smiling for hours after this. Whatever happens, after darkness comes the sun!


On the website of the band they speak of nine years of ups and downs. Well, the only ups and downs on this album are in the form of energy. The variation of the tracks is amazing and together they deliver a very balanced album. The quality of the tracks starts off very high and remains at that extraordinary level from start to finish, no downs there. I do wonder however. Even though Irish folk is the basis on which Bluegrass and ultimately all Country music is built, these two styles have their own fan-base. Does the band appeal more to one than the other? Or perhaps they can bring both together. Either way, I would think that Harmony Glen is due for a massive North American tour, as this is the home of Country music and of course home base for a huge group of Irish descendants as well as other Folk-lovers. So if you’re in North America, contact your local radio stations and events organizers!! Let’s help a great band get a great tour!

Cover

Although all of the tracks have their appeal and their own beauty, picking a favourite track was actually rather easy. I absolutely love how Rest My Little Son conveys the love of a mother and how it touched my heart. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the song is just inspiring!

This album plays a lot in my house or car, especially whenever I need a shot of happy energy. I would suggest that everyone buys the CD. If not for the amazing music, then to help you lift your spirits whenever you need it!

– Arjan


Kees returns to Maya

Another report from Kees Stravers! 🙂
20141228-002 Maya & Roger
Yesterday he returned to Maya Fridman to attend a truly Magical Winter Concert with intuitive pianist Roger Spees and, of course, Maya on cello.

Read all about how Maya and Roger even got the ‘photographer of the stars’ to lay down his camera and sit back and enjoy their music!

It may not be the music you have come to expect from CeltCast, but this performance was done using a very interesting concept, so we nevertheless really wanted to share this report with you.








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