Most current artists with Celtic folk influences fall under the general umbrella of Celtic Fusion. Meaning they take elements of Celtic music and incorporate it into another style. The McKrells did this with bluegrass and Celtic music to perfection. However, they aren’t the only group we like. Here are a couple other bands that we listen to and why we like them:
- For traditional Irish music, you don’t have to look anywhere other than at The Chieftains. They’ve been around forever (they formed in 1962) and have performed with many other artists—Van Morrison, The Decemberists, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Pavarotti, and Roger Daltrey, to name a few. Their first 10 albums are conveniently numbered so you know where to start. But if you only buy one album, get The Long Black Veil.When you think of Celtic music, this is probably what you’re thinking of.
- Many other bands will cite them as an influence, so rather than list all of those bands (Dropkick Murphies, Flogging Molly, etc), we’re going to talk about The Pogues. They were an early Celtic Punk band formed in London in the early 80s. They had a hard, punk rock edge but still used traditional Irish instruments like the tin whistle. Their song, with Kirsty MacColl, “Fairytale of New York” is one of the most popular non-traditional Christmas songs out there. Alcohol abuse and other issues caused the band to have a bit of a revolving door of musicians, and by the seventh album, many of the originals had left the band. They briefly reunited from 2001-2014 but didn’t record anything new. Some of their best songs are “Dirty Old Town”, “The Body of an American”, and “Tuesday Morning.”
- If you are more into the hip-hop style, start with House of Pain. They were the first ones to generate any kind of notoriety. They stood out not because they used traditional Celtic instruments. Instead, they used time signatures more reminiscent of a Jig than the standard hip-hop 4/4 time. Their most famous song was 1992’s “Jump Around” and it rocketed them to stardom in their home of the United States but also in Ireland. It was difficult for them to reach the more traditional urban markets, although “Jump Around” is still used in movies and at sporting events.
- When you are looking for soothing and relaxing music, the sounds of Enya are probably what you’ll reach for. She started out in her family’s Celtic band and has gone on from there. Behind U2, she is Ireland’s most popular artist. All that and she has never actually gone on tour! Her last album, Dark Sky Island was nominated for a Grammy award. She is best known for songs like “Orinoco Flow” the “Book of Days” song featured in the film Far and Away, and May it Be, the theme song to the first Lord of the Rings movie.
We hope this list gives you a short list of a variety of artists that have influenced what is considered to be Celtic Fusion.