Category Archives: Music Mondays

The One With Poppy Seeds

Irish music is delightful even if it doesn’t originate in Ireland. For Music Mondays today, I’m taking you to France.

If you know me very well, you know how much I love the French language and the region of Brittany. Brittany is a beautiful cultural region in the north-west of France and considered to be one of the six Celtic nations (Brittany, Cornwall, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Scotland, and Wales). The Breton language is spoken in this area, much like Irish is spoken mainly in western Ireland. It’s a beautiful language that is related to Cornish and Welsh.

Because Brittany has Celtic ties, you can hear a lot of Celtic music in the area. Musicians that once played exclusively at pub sessions, are now branching out and releasing albums of some really great traditional tunes.

It was at Irish sessions that four friends came together to form the band Poppy Seeds. This quartet revisits traditional Irish themes but does not hesitate to borrow from other styles.

Poppy Seeds Irish Music
via Poppy Seeds

Composed of Benoît Volant on violin, Pierre Cadoret on flute, Tom Lemonnier on guitar, and Camille Philippe on mandolin and vocals. Poppy Seeds presents Irish music with a French flair; in a way that, I think,  will appeal to anyone with a love of traditional tunes.

They have released two studio albums, the self-titled Poppy Seeds, and their latest Close Shaved.

Both albums are exceptional in my opinion. And who can’t resist an Irish song in English with a French accent? Definitely not this girl!

Take a listen to Antrim Rose, the first track off of Close Shaved.

Another favorite of mine is the Polka Set.

Poppy Seeds can be found online at their website, but be forewarned, it’s in French. If you can read some French (like a few of us dancers) you’re in luck! They can also be found on SoundCloud where you can stream multiple tunes from both albums; no French required.

À la prochain!

The One on St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all, but especially to those who Irish dance in Utah!

In the spirit of the day, I’d like to bring you local artists who really represent all the good things we love about Irish music. I love our local musicians and hope you will join me in supporting them.

Wayward Molly

Wayward Molly
courtesy Wayward Molly

When you combine Mona Stevens, Allison Ottley, Jani Gamble, and Nicki Singleton, magic is made.

The ladies of Wayward Molly mix a heady concoction of bluegrass, folk, country, blues, classic rock and roll, and gospel; and blend it with the smooth strains of Celtic longing. It all adds up to a delicious cocktail for the ears. This gal is hooked!

Just take a listen and you’ll see why these ladies are fast becoming a favorite of mine.

David’s Jig/Hoop Reel | Wayward Molly


courtesy CrossStrung

What do you get when you have a family of talented musicians? You get CrossStrung, one of Utah’s most exciting acoustic groups. Five musicians, twelve instruments, tight harmonies, hot instrumentals, and on occasions three of them can be seen playing on the same instrument at the same time. This family band enjoys performing a variety of music including Celtic, bluegrass, folk, country, and gospel adding their own unique style.

Colin Botts

Colin Botts
courtesy Colin Botts

Music has taken Colin Botts around the world, having studied guitar from gauchos in Argentina, concertina and bouzouki from traditional musicians in Ireland, and fiddle from gypsies while traveling through Romania. In 2013 Colin was awarded a masters degree in Irish Traditional Music Performance from The University of Limerick, Ireland.

Listen to the entire album below.


The One With the Killer Soundtrack

Soundtracks have some of the best pieces of music I’ve heard. Now I know what you’re thinking; a soundtrack? What soundtrack could possibly have killer Irish dance music that isn’t Riverdance, Lord of the dance, or any other Irish dance show? Boy have I got a soundtrack for you!

Secret of Kells Movie Poster

Secret of Kells is not only a gorgeously animated movie, it has one of the most beautiful scores I’ve heard. And I listen to my fair share of movie scores. Bruno Coulais is a genius when it comes to weaving Irish music into a rich Irish legend. And Kila. Who doesn’t love Kila?

The soundtrack, “Brendan et le secret de Kells” can be heard in its entirety on YouTube (playlist below) or it can be purchased on Amazon or on iTunes.

Images courtesy Secret of Kells.

The One About Ceili at the Roundhouse

If you’re interested in a full blown Celtic festival in March (a festival that includes entertaining traditional music and dance, ethnic foods, various workshops, demonstrations, and more) you’ll have to head to Evanston, Wyoming because Utah just doesn’t  have one.

Ceili at the RoundhouseCeili at the Roundhouse is an annual two day festival that draws internationally famous performers from Ireland and Scotland, as well as top performers from here in the Intermountain West.

Held in Evanston’s beautifully restored Roundhouse and Railyards Complex, the festival offers “traditional Celtic music, entertainment, Highland dancing, children’s activities, traditional music and dance workshops, ethnic foods, the drink, and more, all day, all weekend!”

The One With Fullset

You’ll recognize one of the headliners from our Music Mondays post “The One With Full Set.” They’ll be playing Friday, March 21, with local Celtic Jazz quartet Synkofa opening for them.

“Full Set create a stunning and unique sound that is full of energy and innovation, whilst all the time remaining true to their traditional roots. Having received critical acclaim for their debut release, even being compared to supergroups such as Danú & Altan by respected Irish Music Magazine. FullSet are set to thrill audiences throughout the world.”

The Prodigals, band

Headlining Satuday, March 22, The Prodigals “are one of the most successful bands to emerge from the East-Coast Irish scene. The band members grew up largely in Ireland; their original songs blend a funky and anarchic energy that is pure New York with a passion for the traditional music of Ireland. The band has headlined major venues and festivals throughout the United States, Los Angeles and Las Vegas to Chicago, Boston and Maine, as well as abroad in Canada, Germany and Ireland.”

This year’s local performers include Antrim Rose, Colin Bott, CrossStrung, Flint and Steel, Rovin’ Boozers,  Red Branch, The Salt Lake Piping Club,  and Mark Cantor of KRCL’s “Fret and Fiddle” show.

Besides music and dance, Ceili at the Roundhouse will include various lectures (like the one on Irish Life & Culture given by members of Full Set), Medieval fighting demos, leather working and jewelry making instruction, a Beginning Irish Stepdance workshop with Eamonn Moloney, and lots of storytelling and craft making for kiddos.

There are just too many incredible activities to mention!
Head over to the Ceili at the Roundhouse website by clicking HERE to see the Festival Schedule as it is being developed (subject to change).

Festival Dates –

March 21 – 22, 2014

Festival Hours –
Friday, March 21: 3pm – Midnight
Saturday, March 22: 10am – 10pm

Festival Ticket Prices –
All/Full Weekend Pass – Single: $30.00
All/Full Weekend Pass – Family: $75.00
Headline Concert Only – Full Set, March 21, 8 pm: $15.00
Headline Concert Only – The Prodigals, March 22, 7 pm: $15.00
Daytime Only Friday Admission 3-8 pm: $5.00
Daytime Only Saturday Admission 10am-7pm: $5.00
Children 7 and under: FREE!

Festival Location – All Events Held Indoors
Roundhouse & Railyards Complex, 1440 Main St., Evanston, Wyoming.

Ceili at the Roundhouse is just a little over an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City!  For more information and to order tickets, go to

Images courtesy theilr on Flickr,, FullSet, and The Prodigals. Thank you!

The One With Take the Floor and Beoga

For Music Mondays today I thought I’d share the Fleadh Cheoil with you.

The Fleadh Cheoil, meaning “Festival of music” is an Irish music competition run by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (CCÉ).

I was introduced to Fleadh this past summer through Fleadh Live which had the world’s best traditional Irish musicians performing in a series of shows broadcast live and direct from the Fleadh Cheoil in Derry City (Londonderry), Co. Derry, N. Ireland, daily on and Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann Doire 2013.

This past year was the first year the Fleadh was live online and included not only performances from big names, but was interspersed with impromptu music lifted off the street by visiting musicians and winners of Fleadh competitions.

This year the Fleadh will be held in beautiful Sligo between 10th and 17th of August 2014. Sligo is located in the north west of Ireland and is famous for its beauty, heritage and culture.

This video includes a nice sampling of what you were able to find online this summer.

Enjoy a bit of Irish craic and culture today, only a few weeks until St. Patrick’s Day!

The One About Irish Tin Whistles

I love the tin whistle.

The tin whistle, also known as a pennywhistle, is used in a lot of Irish tunes. The most commonly used whistle in Irish music, is in the key of D. It’s inexpensive, relatively easy to play, and sounds…Irish.

Take a listen to my favorite YouTube whistler, Ryan G. Duns. He is a Jesuit priest that enjoys sharing his talent online and by playing at feiseanna.

Brian Finnegan, from Flook plays Rolling in the Ryegrass.

Cherish the Ladies give us Cailín na Gruaige Báine.

There are loads of resources online to learn how to play the Irish tin whistle. Some of my favorites are free and show you fingering without musical notation. I’ve found that most whistlers learn to play by sitting next to someone that already plays, and watching them over and over.

The following are free online resources to learn to play:

Online Academy of Irish Music
Whistle Tutor
Ryan G. Duns’ YouTube channel

Grab yourself a whistle (you can find one at a music shop or Amazon) and learn a few tunes for St. Patrick’s Day! It’s fun!

The One With FullSet

I thought that for Music Mondays today, we’d feature a fantastic traditional band, FullSet, based in Co. Tipperary. I really love the blend of old and new in their music. They choose folk songs to play that aren’t strictly Irish. Their repertoire includes folk tunes that are Scottish, American, and English as well.

All accomplished young musicians in their own right, FullSet create a stunning and unique sound that is full of energy and
innovation, whilst all the time remaining true to their traditional roots. In recent years this young group has received much critical
acclaim, even being compared to groups such as Danú & Altan by respected Irish Music Magazine.

FullSet have performed on some of Ireland’s most prestigious TV programmes including “The Late Late Show” and
TG4’s hugely popular Irish music series “Geantraí”. They have also performed at various festivals and venues across America
and Europe including Copenhagen Irish Festival, the Festival Interceltique de Lorient, The Michigan Irish Festival and also
The North Texas Irish Festival. During this time they have shared the stage with some of the biggest names in folk and world
music including Moya Brennan, Fred Morrison, Lúnasa, Carlos Núnez, Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny and Beoga.

Band members include:
Andy Meaney – Guitar
Eamonn Moloney – Bodhrán/Irish Step-Dance
Janine Redmond – Button Accordion
Martino Vacca – Uilleann Pipes
Michael Harrison – Fiddle
Teresa Horgan – Vocals/Flute

FullSet perform the traditional Scottish folk song “The Bonnie House of Airlie”. Filmed at the Nenagh Arts Centre in Co. Tipperary.

FullSet perform three reels from their new album “Notes After Dark”: Gus Jordan’s, The Glen Road to Carrick and The Road to Edenderry. Filmed at the Nenagh Arts Centre in Co. Tipperary

They can be found online and on iTunes.

The One Explaining Jigs, Reels, and Hornpipes

Sometimes new dancers have a difficult time with the music we dance to. No worries. Unless you’re well versed in music, you may not be able to immediately pick up on what tune is what. The following is a quick tutorial with examples on the differences between a jig, reel, hornpipe, and slip jig.

Let’s get started.

So, first off, how do you tell the difference between a jig and a reel?


For the purposes of Irish dance, a JIG is a tune in 6/8 time (6 beats to a bar). If you find it hard to count the beats, try to think ‘diddle-dee-diddle-dee…’ or ‘1,2,3,1,2,3…’ and it should fit the beat pattern. Most jigs are in 2 parts; an A part and a B part. For Slip Jigs, see the end of this post.

Jigs can be danced in soft shoes or hard shoes.

A great example of a jig is the traditional tune, The Irish Washerwoman.


And now, the REEL. Reels are tunes in 4/4 timing. This means that there are four beats to every bar. Each beat is counted in even measure as ‘1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4…’. I think it’s the easiest to understand because it’s the most common music timing we hear. If you aren’t sure, try saying ‘double decker, double decker…’ to the music.

Reels can be danced in soft shoes or hard shoes.

This example of a reel is the traditional tune, Fairy Reel.

So now we know how to differentiate between a jig and a reel. What the heck is a hornpipe?


Hornpipes were traditionally considered a sailor’s tune. With a medium tempo and a dotted 4/4 rhythm, a hornpipe has accents on the first and third beat ‘ONE,and,a,two,and,a,THREE,and,a,four…’. This means the beat swings, so the beats are uneven. It sounds a bit like a skipping rhythm.

Hornpipes in Irish dance are only danced in hard shoes.

An example of a hornpipe is the tune, King of the Fairies.

And finally…

Slip Jigs

Because you weren’t confused enough already.

SLIP JIGS are in 9/8 time. They can be really confusing to count if you aren’t familiar with them. With accents on 5 of the 9 beats, you count it, ‘and one two-three four-five, and two two-three four-five…’ tapping your foot 3 times in a measure. Mark Arrington, in Understanding Your ‘Slippery’ Slip Jigs, recommends saying “slippery” each time you tap your foot.

Slip Jigs in Irish dance are only danced in soft shoes.

My favorite example of a traditional Slip Jig is The Butterfly.

Something to note

Listen for any improvisation. This can sometimes throw you. You can hear small differences in the way the fiddle player (or guitar, mandolin, whistle, etc.) is playing the melody. This is a huge part of what makes the song Irish; all the little extra bits (ornemantation) the player throws in. It doesn’t change the beat at all, it just makes it pretty.

And there you have it, the basics.

Submit any questions or comments down below!

The One With My Three Favorite Coláiste Lurgan Videos

We interrupt this Tuesday to bring you a late edition of Music Mondays (my wedding anniversary was yesterday, so sue me…).

Three of my favorite Irish-language music videos from Coláiste Lurgan
Photo courtesy Coláiste Lurgan

Today’s offering is from the Gaeltacht school Coláiste Lurgan. The school is located in Inverin (Indreabhán), in the Irish-speaking area of Connemara, Co. Galway. They are an independent Irish language summer school that helps students become competent and confident Irish language speakers. Because Irish language learning is suffering in Ireland, the school is doing what it can to get kids interested in speaking the native language. What a great way to spend a summer! They have a fun YouTube channel hosting their music videos, translations or re-imaginings of songs, and more. They can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

As you know, I love Irish. And while I don’t speak it, or read it for that matter, I love listening to people speak and sing in Irish. It’s sometimes more fun to take a song that I really like in English, and listen to it translated into Irish.

So, to celebrate Coláiste Lurgan’s awesomeness at bringing the Irish language to us via the interwebs, I have selected my favorite 3 videos of theirs in no particular order.

Lig Mé Saor (Wake Me Up)

This song from Avicii is brilliant. Stiofán Ó Fearail from Irish band Seo Linn takes the lead, along with traditional Irish musicians and, a tiny bit of Irish dancing. Looks like I’ve found a new song for practice in Performing group…

An tÁdh ’Nocht (Get Lucky)

Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, in Irish is definitely good craic. Complete with a robotic love story and killer dance moves, this one is sure to bring a smile to your face.

Tóg Amach Mé (Wagon Wheel)

This song has been covered by a bevy of artists, including Mumford & Sons. It holds a special spot in my heart and is a personal favorite of mine, due to an excellent rendition by good friends at my birthday party. But I digress. Coláiste Lurgan students are inceredibly delightful. Check out the epitome of Irishness – the tin whistle solo.

Happy Tuesday y’all!

– Brooke aka Sruthán

The One With A Gaelic Beatle

With the winter holidays over and classes begun this past weekend, dancers are returning to their practice and gearing up for the craziness that is the St. Patrick’s Day season.

Rinceoiri dancers worked really hard and had some great tunes to dance to Saturday. The first I’d like to share is one of my favorites. It’s a fun little tune called Happy Jigs by the band Flook. I can often be found dancing away in my kitchen to this song because it’s just so fun!

Next up, something you’ll recognize straight away. It’s Kíla, with Ón Taobh Tuathail Amach sung in, you guessed it, Irish. If this doesn’t make you want to do drills across the floor, I don’t know what will.

The last song is a cover of the Beatles Blackbird done this time by Julie Fowlis who is known for her work on the movie Brave. I love her voice and how lovely the Scottish language sounds.

That’s it for this Monday. Check back next Monday for more great music to help you get excited for practice every week.