Home now from Ireland, with this marvellous extract from Flann O Brien’s “At Swim-Two-Birds” that somehow captures my experience of living a week in Ballyvaughn listening to the rush of na Gaeilige spoken from the mouths of scholars and poets and activists and to the floating tunes on the air of the night [...]
Bruce Cockburn is probably my favourite songwriter. This is Pacing the Cage, a hymn for our times:
Sometimes the best maps will not guide you
You can’t see what’s round the bend
Sometimes the road leads through dark places
Sometimes the darkness is your [...]
Over the past 15 years First Nations artists in Canada have taken to hip hop as a powerful storytelling method. First Nations hip hop is an incredible blend of traditional art forms, evocative imagery and raw and real exerpience relayed with a beat. It’s as if hip hop was built for indigenous [...]
All the best stuff I have learned about mentoring has been in the context of traditional culture, whether with indigenous Elders from Canada or in the traditional Irish music community. Traditional Irish music is played and kept alive in a structure called a “sessiun.” There is a repertoire of thousands of tunes, but most [...]
I used to be a huge fan of Anthony Braxton back in the day. Braxton is an unapologetic free music practitioner, a brilliant composer and improviser and a disruptive influence in the world of American music, and jazz in particular.
Here is a a lovely piece from him talking about the difference in perception [...]
Last night in Vancouver listening to Le Vent du Nord, a terrific traditional band from Quebec. They put on one of the best live shows I have seen in a long time with outstanding musicianship combined with incredible energy. Listening to them and watching people dancing I had a deep experience of why we [...]
Hard on the heels of Deborah Frieze and Meg Wheatley’s new book Walk Out Walk On comes a commissioned single from my mates Tim Merry and Marc Durkee by the same name. Tim and Marc have beenmaking poems and music for the past five years or so about the work we all do [...]
As a traditional musician schooled primarily in the Celtic tradition, I am fond of traditional themes and devices for communicating messages. On our home island right now there is a sometimes fierce debate occurring about the future of the Crown lands, that involves the possibility of creating a national park. Today I was thinking [...]
From “Smart Flesh” the new album from Rhoda Island band The Low Anthem comes a beautiful collection of tunes, led by Ghost Woman Blues.
In this video piano soloist Maria Joao Pires is confronted with a nasty situation. As the conductor begins the piece of music they are to play, she discovers that it is not the piece she prepared. She has left her music at home Imagine that.
Undaunted, she engages in a short conversation with the [...]