2011 Black History Month Special,
The Celtic Show, WRFG Atlanta (89.3FM)

There's not much scope for hosting an edition of The Celtic Show which ties in with Black History Month, in February, right?

Wrong: we've done it before, a couple of times, going back to the 1990s, and we did it again this year, with bells on.

The Celtic Show on Sunday 27th Feb 2011 was arguably the most ambitious one we ever aired. It was really two completely different one hour specials: hear here (podcast, and see the music playlist below).

One new listener (JB) who lived through the US civil rights turmoil of the 1960s, emailed after the show: "Congratulations on an excellent discussion!! As your namesake reminds us, 'Discretion is the greater part of valor'–I think memory serves me well with the quote!–your discussion was really probing, interesting, revealing and appropriately discrete! Seriously, it was a great interview/discussion!"

In addition to music ranging from Louis Armstrong singing "Irish Black Bottom" in 1926 to an Atlanta Gospel group (The James Bignon Ensemble) singing the Bill Whelan composed "Hope to the Suffering" from the original Riverdance–one of two Irish gospel numbers they'd performed live during the first Dublin and London runs of that show–we interwove new and not so new Irish takes on blues, and a "traditional Scottish reggae" pro-labor song, wrapping up with Paul Robeson singing the Welsh national anthem.

There were two complementary themes:

First hour: Two special guests. 1. Jim Gaffey from Brooklyn, who visited Belfast as an observer in August 1969, staying at Gusty Spense's house, having no idea he'd just walked into history unfolding. 2. Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall, whose father worked for Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr, from 1963 to 1968.

Topics: the role of the teachings of MLK in the Northern Irish Civil Rights Movement, both as inspiration ("one man, one vote") and as guide to how to respond in the face of violence, eventually leading to the Good Friday Peace Accord. "Featuring" John Hume, Frederick Douglass, Dr. Ralph Abernathy, Andrew Young, Bernadette Devlin and the Black Panthers. Not to mention Screaming Jay Hawkins via Van Morrison's Them, and Atlanta's upcoming Civil Rights Museum. And the 18th century poetic Irish source of the multiple occurrences of the placename Auburn in Georgia.

Second hour: The musical influence back and forth between Africa & her diaspora and the Celtic lands, featuring Iarla O Lionaird & N'Faly Kouyate, Huddie Ledbetter, Blind Boy Fuller, Phil Lynott, Shirley Bassey, Nelson Mandela, Paul Robeson and more.

Grand finale: the Chieftains grew out of Sean O Riada's group Ceoltoiri Chualann who made their debut in 1960. They in turn were directly modelled on the mid 20th century New Orleans jazz band. Listen to original Ceoltoiri Chualann singer Sean O Se speak on this topic (recorded in Savannah a week before our show), followed by a 1944 Bunk Johnson romp in the style which propelled jazz-trained O Riada to have his ensemble radically rework "Ag Scaipeadh na gCleiti" (among other tunes) for a landmark 1962 LP. Some have argued that this innovation reset the course of traditional Irish music, and the above named tune, under its more well-known English title "Toss the Feathers", certainly helped to launch a generation of folk rock when it showed up on Fairport Convention's influential Liege & Lief LP in 1969.

The conundrum of the completely coincidental Canadian/Caribbean Celtic connection

We also featured plenty of music by acts who were about to play in town, opening the show with Celtic rockers Enter the Haggis from Canada. That prompted YP to email: "That first cut you played last Sunday reminded me of Bahamian music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bz4s3fbGd8& ". She may have a point.

Hear here to "see" for yourself.

27 February 2011

Compiled, hosted & produced by John C. Falstaff
with input from Jenny Hubbard Young & Jeff Crompton
Special Black History Month edition
with guests: Jim Gaffey & Atlanta City councilman Kwanza Hall

Sam Cooke --- A Change Is Gonna Come (excerpt) --- RCA
Enter the Haggis --- One Last Drink --- Soapbox Heroes --- UFO
Atlanta Pipe Band --- Steam Train to Mallaig --- Phoenix Rising --- atlantapipeband
The James Bignon Ensemble --- Hope to the Suffering --- Riverdance --- Celtic Heartbeat
Louis Armstrong --- Irish Black Bottom --- 78 from 1926 --- Okeh
Paddy Keenan --- Cuckoo's Nest --- Na Keen Affair --- HoT Conya
The London Welsh Festival of Male Choirs --- Give Me That Old Time Religion --- The Power and the Passion --- Sain
Them --- (Screaming Jay Hawkins' 1956) I Put A Spell On You --- Them Again --- Decca
MacDara --- Beidh Aonach Amarach --- Love Token --- macdaramusic
Munnelly --- The Mac Jigs --- Tight Squeeze --- DMB
Ceolbeg --- Stand Together --- An Unfair Dance --- Greentrax
Iarla O Lionnaird & N'Faly Kouyate with Afro Celt Sound System --- Eireann --- Volume 2: Release --- Realworld
Jarvis and Justice --- Poca River Blues --- 78 from 1929 --- Brunswick
The Unwanted --- (Lead Belly's 1943) Out On the Western Plains --- Music From the Atlantic Fringe --- Compass
Chieftains --- San Patricio --- San Campio --- Hear Music
Rory Gallagher --- (Blind Boy Fuller's 1938) Pistol Slapper Blues --- Live In Europe --- Polydor
Shirley Bassey & Black Mountain Male Chorus --- We'll Keep A Welcome --- Land of My Fathers --- Decca
Phil Lynott --- Cathleen --- The Phil Lynott Album --- Polydor
Cor Meibion De Cymru --- Siyahamba --- Anthem 2002 --- Black Mountain
Bunk Johnson --- We Will Walk Through the Streets of the City --- 78 from 1944 --- American Music
Sean O Riada 7 Ceoltoiri Chualann --- Ag Scaipeadh na gCleiti --- Reacaireacht an Riadaigh --- Gael Linn
Paul Robeson --- Land of My Fathers --- Best of Paul Robeson --- Delta Music Group