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Album Review : The Ultimate Guide To Irish Folk

The Ultimate Guide to Irish Folk is a new double CD compilation album produced by ARC Music Productions Ltd. In all 34 tracks are included with meticulous notes by music journalist John O’ Regan. His insightful knowledge on such matter makes for very good reading in a very detailed 32 page booklet that is also included.  He writes that ” While Irish folk and traditional music never needed a revival like those in Britain and the US during the late 50’s and 60’s, there were times when folk music was often in danger of being forgotten or rendered obsolete as a term of social expression” He goes on to trace the history of this tradition from ” The Emergency” years of World War 2, and on through the 50’s and into the 60’s ballad boom period. He takes it right up to present day with the impact of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance and all the new artists that continue on the tradition.

The artists included cover the scene from the 60’s right up to the present day.  We don’t often cover compilation albums and this is only the second one we have touched on in 3 years.  Its a quality production featuring some classics like Luke Kelly’s Raglan Road, Andy Irvine and Paul Brady’s Plains of Kildare and Kevin Burke & Mícheál O’ Domhnaill’s Lord Franklin.  In addition you have lots of modern day artists that mix in the traditional elements with Réalta, Martin Hayes, Luka Bloom, Clannad, Caladh Nua, Dervish, The Willis Clan and a whole lot more featuring.  It is highly recommended for anyone that wants to dip their toe into a mix of classic and modern traditional and folk music.  We have put together a short playlist of available tracks.

Available from www.arcmusic.co.uk or www.amazon.com



Music Industry Masterclass

Music Industry Masterclass

Saturday 23rd July

10 am – 12 pm

£5 entry fee

Acclaimed music journalist John O’Regan will be in Belfast on Saturday as a guest of the Francis McPeake Summer School and he will be giving a talk about building up publicity for music and building up relationships with music journalists.

John O’Regan, Senior Writer, is a broadcaster and freelance journalist from Limerick, Ireland. His work has appeared in magazines such as Irish Music, Folk Roots, Rock ‘N’Reel, The Living Tradition and Hot Press. He has also had articles and reviews published in the USA, Canada, Germany, Norway and Australia. John is one of the contributors to Clancy’s Irish Music Radio.Com an internet Web site and Radio service devoted to Irish music. He contributed to The Companion to Irish Traditional Music (Cork University Press 1999).
Through his broadcasting and journalistic work, John O’Regan has achieved a reputation as an authority on both Traditional and Contemporary music. He presents “Regan’s Rambles” with Radio Galtee on Sundays from 7.30-9.30pm. John has appeared as a guest contributor on RTE Radio One, 2FM, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio Merseyside, BBC Radio Derby, Downtown Radio (Northern Ireland), 98FM (Dublin), and Radio Kerry. He appeared as a guest contributor on the BBC Radio 4 Arts Show “Kaleidoscope” in October 1997 and on “De Groote Boodschaap” on VRT Radio 1in Brussels in September 1998.
John O’Regan has written liner notes for albums by Irish and International artists. He wrote the liner notes for The Celtic Heartbeat Collection and A Winter’s Tale released by Celtic Heartbeat. His most recent compilation album projects include A Magical Gathering -The Clannad Anthology for which he compiled the tracks and wrote both the liner notes and track notes featured in the 46 page colour booklet attached with the 34 track double CD compilation released in the US on April 16th 2002. John has also lectured on Music Journalism and Media Analysis to City &Guilds and N.C.V.A. Sound Technology /Sound Engineering students in Pulse Studios Dublin and Carrick On Shannon V.E.C. During July/August 2002 John led workshops on ‘developments in Irish Traditional Music’ at Cleveland Irish Festival in Cleveland Ohio and Peoria -‘Erin Feis’ in Peoria ,Illinois USA.
If you require information please contact Mairead Forde on Belfast 07708709946

Eclectic Celt and U Kan Knot B Serious Podcasts on Mixcloud. (www.muxcloud.com) 

Eclectic Celt Podcasts 

You can now listen to podcasts of  Eclectic Celt presented by John O’Regan on the Limerick City Community Radio page on Mixcloud.

Here is the address : https://www.mixcloud.com/LCCR/  scroll downwards for Eclectic Celt . All recent shows are included here since April 2015 and updated weekly.

You can now listen to podcasts of  Eclectic Celt presented by John O’Regan on the John O’Regan and Eclectic Celt pages on Mixcloud.

Here is the address : https://www.mixcloud.com/johnoregan/ for John’s page

and https://www.mixcloud.com/eclecticcelt/  for Eclectic Celt .

All podcast shows are included here up to March 2015.

U Kan Knot B Serious Podcasts 

You can now listen to podcasts of  U Kan Knot b Serious which includes John O’Regan on the Limerick City Community Radio page on Mixcloud.

Here is the address : https://www.mixcloud.com/LCCR/  scroll downwards for U Kan Knot B Serious . All recent shows are included here since April 2015.

Some earlier shows can be found by putting  U Kan Knot B Serious in the query box in Mixcloud. This query will bring you access to shows from September 2014 to February 2015.

Enjoy and don’t forget to leave feedback…..

Updated Biography 2017

October 8, 2017

John O’Regan  32 SIngland Crescent Garryowen Limerick Ireland  – phone: 00353 87 2308600,

email jor32@hotmail.com

John O’Regan Biography 2017

John O’ Regan is a Broadcaster and Freelance Journalist from Limerick City, Ireland. His work appears in magazines such as, ‘Hot Press’, “Irish Music”, fRoots, MOJO, ‘Record Collector’, “Rock ‘N’ Reel’ and “The Living Tradition “.

His work has also been featured in online publications including, “Caught in the Act” and “The Greenman Review”.

He has been involved in local radio since the 1970’s and writing for magazines in Ireland and abroad since 1981. By day he works as an administrator with St Mary’s AID a community project based in Nicholas Street Limerick, serving St Mary’s Parish and the local community.  Other times finds him at festivals, writing CD liner notes, reviews and articles and broadcasting on local radio.  He has also graced the catwalk recently at the Strand Hotel Limerick for a fundraising fashion show for St Mary’s AID.

He holds a BA (Hons) in Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Journalism from University of Limerick and also an MA in Irish Media Studies from Mary Immaculate College/University of Limerick.

John O’Regan’s  articles and reviews  are published in Australia, Canada, Germany, Norway, the UK and USA.  He contributes to “The Companion to Irish Traditional Music” (Cork University Press. 1999). His work is cited in ‘Irish Folk, Trad and Blues- a Secret History’ by Colin Harper and Trevor Hodgett (Collins Press. 2006) and ‘Beautiful Day-40 Years of Irish Rock’ by Sean Campbell (Cork University Press. 2004).

John O’ Regan’s depth of background knowledge is “Encyclopedic” earning respect for his broadcasting and writing abilities. Irish radio presenter, Mike Moloney described him as “Unreal, the guy really knows his tunes and he is passionate about his music.” The Programme for the 1998 “St. Patrick’s Day Celebration Festival” Celtic Music tour of Germany refers to John O’Regan as, “One of Ireland’s leading Music Journalists.

John O’Regan contributes to arts, music, and news programmes on RTE Radio One, 2FM, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio Merseyside, BBC Radio Derby, Downtown Radio (Northern Ireland), 98FM (Dublin), and Radio Kerry. He has also contributed to shows on VRT Radio 1 (Brussels) and College Radio programs in Chicago, Cleveland and Milwaukee USA.

Currently, John O’Regan presents “Eclectic Celt” on Limerick City Community Radio on Sundays at 2pm (www.lccr.ie) Eclectic Celt  features – songs, instrumentals and stories from the Ambient, Celtic, Folk, Singer Songwriter, Traditional scenes and more with new releases, archive tracks, special features, tour dates and live interview sessions. https://www.facebook.com/eclecticcelt

John also  presents “Hav Yez No Homes Ta go Ta?” a weekly satirical comedy/ music show on Saturdays at 11pm on Limerick City Community Radio (www.lccr.ie).  “Hav Yez No Homes Ta Go Ta?” is  “A zany hour of fun, banter, stories, music, and whatever you’re having yourself. Perfect entertainment for a Saturday night with an eye for the ironic and surreal. John mans the deck with Senor Barman and Igor the Bouncer to give you thrills spills and fun on the radio on Saturday nights


John O’ Regan writes liner notes for ARC Music, BGO Records, Celtic Aires, Celtic Heartbeat,  Rhino Records and Music Club Records. He has written liner notes for over 200 albums by leading artists in the Folk/Roots/Rock, Blues and World Music including

Eric Andersen,  Auto Da Fe, Joan Baez, Shirley Bassey, Capercaillie, Catfish,  Clannad, Guy Clark, Judy Collins, Perry Como, Rodney Crowell, Curved Air, John Fahey, Fairport Convention, Jose Feliciano, Firefall, Janie Fricke, Gravy Train, Merle Haggard, Heart, Catherine Howe, David Johansen, George Jones & Tammy Wynette, Labelle, Nicolette Larson, Gordon Lightfoot, Taj Mahal, John Martyn, Dave Mason, Iain Matthews, Charley McCoy, Mellow Candle, Christy Moore, Geoff Mudaur, Natural Acoustic Band, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Nobody’s Business, Tom Paxton, Poco, Charley Pride, Jim Reeves, Terry Reid, Renaissance, REO Speedwagon, Buddy Rick, Tom Rush, Savoy Brown, Boz Scaggs, Ravi Shankar, Grace Slick, Jimmie Spheeris, Stepaside, John Stewart, Stoneground, Sweeney’s Men, The Allman Brothers Band, The Dubliners, The Incredible String Band, The Isley Brothers, The Johnston’s, The Ohio Players, The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, The Young Tradition, The Youngbloods, Jennifer Warnes.

More artist have been added to this list and will be so in the future…..

He compiled several anthologies of Irish Folk Music including the 2014 Live Ireland award winning compilation, “The Ultimate Guide to Irish Folk”, also “Gaelic Ireland” and “The Best of Celtic Folk” for ARC Music.  Further compilations include, “Legends of Ireland”,  “A Magical Gathering – The Clannad Anthology”, “The Very Best of Nicolette Larson” for Rhino Records and “Celtic Spirit” for Music Club. He also wrote the liner notes for “The Celtic Heartbeat Collection” on Celtic Heartbeat Records/WEA, which reached No. 3 on the Billboard World Music Charts.

John lectures in Music Journalism to City & Guilds and NCVA students in Cork, Dublin and Leitrim.  He delivers a lecture entitled, ‘Developments in Irish Music’ at major festivals in Europe, Ireland, UK, and USA including ‘The Return to Camden Town’ festival in Camden Town, London, Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival in Cleveland Ohio USA, Copenhagen Irish Festival (Denmark), Dublin Ohio Irish Cultural Festival in Dublin, Ohio, USA, Erin Feis in Peoria,  Illinois USA and the Milwaukee Irish Fest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA, ,.

John also branches into Artist PR handing press campaigns for albums by Clannad – “Nadur”, Ger Costelloe – “Letting in Water”, Iron Mountain -“Unum”, The Young Folk – “The Little Battle” and currently “The Very Round Robin Tour” with Roesy, Declan O’Rourke and The Young Folk. He is available for PR projects based in Ireland and the UK.

John O’Regan is a consummate professional broadcaster and writer.  He lives for music and believes that spreading its good vibes is his vocation.

© John O’Regan October 2017  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


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Ultimate Guide to Irish Folk wins Live Ireland Award for Best Compendium Album of 2014.

Eclectic Celt and U Kan Knot B Serious Podcasts

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‘The Ultimate Guide to Irish Folk’ album wins LiveIreland’s 2014 Compendium Award.

The Ultimate Guide to Irish Folk

‘The Ultimate Guide to Irish Folk’ album wins LiveIreland’s 2014 Compendium Award.

LiveIreland’s Music Awards for 2014 includes ‘The Ultimate Guide to Irish Folk’ compiled by ARC Music’s Director, Julia Beyer and Ireland’s legendary music journalist, John O’Regan. The LiveIreland Annual Music Awards are now in their 13th year, from one of the biggest Irish music sites in the world.

COMPENDIUM ALBUM OF THE YEAR: The Ultimate Guide to Irish Folk
The people at ARC asked the famous Irish music writer John O’Regan to put together a compendium album of what he would consider a true cross-section of Irish music. He has done so, brilliantly. The double cd contains 34 cuts. Essentially, everything you would ever need is here—if you are looking for a total experience. Some of these cuts work better than others. And, that is the way it should be in a compendium album. Pretty much everything is here, and no one likes everything. But, we love enough of this to recommend it 100%. A great job, from a terrific Irish music journo.”

Click here for complete list of winners:


Media copies are available on request. E-mail: promo@arcmusic.co.uk

Kyaldan  - Breiz  Arfolk SB 377 1978

Kyaldan l to r Yannick, Christine , Danielle, and Alain Samson – cover art by Loic Trehin 1978.

Kyaldan   Biography  by John O’Regan

In the 1970s Breton folk music established itself on the international artistic platform.  While Alan Stivell had coined a dual career as solo harpist and band leader coining a unique synthesis of traditional Breton styles and contemporary idioms on his ground-breaking album Chemins de Terre (From Celtic Roots) voted Folk album of the year by Melody Maker in 1973. While Stivell was the international force that established Breton music in the Celtic music canon – he also focussed on the individual talents of his musicians and his inspirations the solo harpists, bards and bagadou or pipe bands which mixed Irish, Scots and Breton repertoires. 

Alan Stivell’s international success focused attention on Brittany and many musicians fled there to visit, tour, play and live among them Clannad, Munroe, Planxty, The Dransfields , 1691, The Laggan, Battlefield Band, Ted Furey and The Castle Ceili Band.   

Broadly the native styles could be broken into vocal and instrumental categories. The instrumental canon was wide ranging including Bagads or Pipe Bands which featured Scottish bagpipes and drums with the traditional bombard a thin reed instrument with an oboe like sound.  Then you had the dance bands that played for Fest Noz or all night dances – Fest Noz bands played mostly instrumental music highlighting the dance forms common in Breton folklore like the Andro and Gavotte and a typical fest noz band   featured a rhythm section of guitar, bass, banjo with accordion, fiddle, pipes, bombard and binou (a pipe like instrument commonly played with the bombard). 

The vocal repertoire was choral as in choirs, chants de marins as in sea shanties, vaudeville as in the songs of Theodore Botrel and bardic elements espoused by poets and bards like Youen Gwernig, Xavier Graal, and Glenmor which were declamatory poetic and often politically inclined while also being highly romantic.  Much of the singing repertoire existed as kan ha diskan a call and response type of song usually rendered in duet form for dancing.  Female singers figured in the traditional canon with the ken ha diskan style of the Soeurs Goadeg or singers with vocal dominated bands like Veronique Autret with Gwalarn or solo singers like Anne Erbril who sang scared songs or singers like Les Tregeriz and Les Soeurs D’Lhour who sang to harp accompaniment. 

There were exceptions with folk rock bands like Tri Yann who began as an Irish/Scottish influenced ballad group before rediscovering their own musical heritage and plugging into electric folk .The late Kristin Nogues and Maripol who sang their own compositions.  Kyaldan fits into the latter category – they were a vocal group, two women and two men and they wrote and sang their own material.  They were not a fest noz act but something completely different again.

Kyaldan was a Contemporary Folk Rock band based in Lorient Brittany, France during the late 1970’s. It was made up of four members of the Samson family vocalists Christine Samson and Danielle Samson, singer/guitarist/songwriter Alain Samson and singer/dulcimer player Yannick Samson.  They had been involved with other bands prior to forming Kyaldan- Christine and Danielle had featured in the all-female band  Merhed an Oriant  while Alain Samson had been in the band Tud An Arvur and also had contributed material to Merhed an Oriant’s album Folk Celtic issued by Vogue Records in 1975. Vocally the full bodied female/male harmony style is strongly in evidence and backed up by acoustic guitar and dulcimer.  When placed with a full backing band the results were remarkable.

Their debut album Breiz recorded at Kerousse Studios in Lorient was issued by Arfolk in 1978. Wrapped in an elegant gatefold sleeve with a drawing of the band members it never entered the pantheon of ground breaking Breton releases. In fact like many acid folk classics as in Mellow Candle, Fuchsia etc. it died on release, and was quickly relegated to memory and swept under the carpet only to be rediscovered in the last few years. on the front and a gothic graveyard scene on the rear it emitted a ghostly yet ethereal and strong effect. It was certainly attractive and eye catching and while it fared reasonably on release

Breiz offers a uniquely personalised fusion of Celtic folk and Progressive Rock styles. The mix of traditionally inspired singing while performing completely contemporary material with a heady mix of folk, folk-rock and progressive rock and jazz arrangements made for a cosmopolitan Celtic sound. Their musical influences ranged from Rush to Fairport Convention, Led Zeppelin, Pentangle, Steeleye Span and Malicorne to name a few to traditional folk, jazz and classical styles. The bluesy 70s Hard Rock base of La Charettes des Morts provides a compelling opener with Alain’s lead vocal recalling Gabriel Yacoub. The acoustic strains of Led Zeppelin’s plaintive moments and Pentangle’s shimmering harmonies lend themselves to Merlin while Christine and Danielle emerge as distinctive vocalists on Merlin and L’Agonie. Both these tracks are firmly rooted in Folk/Rock of the Progressive mould high on drama and Gothic atmosphere.  Cheerio offers a tongue in cheek tribute to the Breton Sea Shanty or Chants des Marins tradition with its rousing chorus and English lyrics while Djiboudjep members Gerard Bono on banjo and accordion and Patrick LeGarrec on bodhran provide the most obvious nod to Celtic roots. 

Vocally the rich tapestry of male and female harmonies and strong individual voices of Alain and Christine Samson created a powerfully effective front line. The unique Kyaldan vocal harmony sounds permeates through Prince Des Flots while Oraison offers a fluid ambient chilled out Jazz tinged groove framing the reserved vocal power. The accapella I’m Looking For is jazzy, cheeky, funny and engaging while highlighting Christine and Danielle’s sisterly harmonies and upping the register each time.  Finally Breiz itself a hymn to Brittany is introduced by the Bagad Kemper in full flight, bombarde and biniou koz with Scottish pipes and drums playing an elegiac opening to be followed by vocal and acoustic guitar before gradually the full band joining to provide a calm yet impassioned result that is powerful and attractive as well as offering a resoundingly Breton folk sound of the 70s but added with a fluid contemporary edge. One of Breiz’ unexpected charms is its ability to detour into Gothic rock while retaining a folk feel this 90degree turn is perfectly employed in Prince des Flots where the track once established in its groove turns unexpectedly Gothic before returning to the Gallic folk idiom. 

Breiz has a commendable mix of acid folk vocalising and typical 70s melting pot eclecticisms. It is folk, rock, progressive, traditional and at times a mix of all then none – it betimes glides into acid folk and pop but ultimately its unique personalised and different. The singing breathes pride and ambition and the female voices of Christine and Danielle Samson float gracefully while Alain and Yannick Samson add strong male counterparts. Musically its 70s folk rocks with a decidedly Breton ethnic feel emphasised by the use of tight male/female vocal harmonies and the use of the Bagad Kemper on the title track. Musically elements of Progressive Rock and Folk with nods to Rish, Pentangle, Led Zeppelin, Steeleye Span and Malicorne inhabit the landscape. Lyrically folk themes and mixed vernaculars of English and French join the Breton wordings and create a unified Esperanto of music and emotions delivered with panache and grace. Breiz hedges on traditional folk, acid folk and Progressive Rock with incredibly successful results and creates a work of uniqueness and originality.

Another undiscovered Folk Rock/ Acid Folk gem is found – its Breiz and Kyaldan is another long lost innovative Folk/Rock and Acid Folk crossover band years ahead of their time.  Maybe that time is coming soon????/ that’s up to you when you discover the roller coaster thrill ride that is “Breiz”.

© John O’Regan  May 2013 Image

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