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The Irish Rovers: “Black Velvet Band” and “The Titanic”

There seems to be a very tangible continuum between the generations of Irish music. The mantle is systematically handed down from bands such as The Irish Rovers, The Dubliners and The Clancy Brothers to later bands such as The Pogues and then to even new bands, such as Black 47, Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly.

I am not an expert, but the sense I’ve always had is that there is a very strong cross-generational, almost familial relationship between these bands. The newer bands keep it fresh by integrating other forms of music — rap, punk and other influences — in a way that stays very true to the older styles. Expert or not, I know that it’s great music, and the close ties to what came before is very compelling.

One of the best known bands is The Irish Rovers. Despite the name and the fact that they indeed are predominantly Irish (with one member from Scotland), the band has long made Canada its home base. The Irish Rovers formed in 1963 and is in the midst of a long farewell tour.

The members are cousins George and Ian Millar (from Bellymena), Wilcil McDowell (Larne), Sean O’Driscoll (Cork) Fred Graham (Belfast) Morris Crum (Carnlough) Geoffrey Kelly (Dumfries, Scotland) and Gerry O’Connor (Dundalk).

Above is “Black Velvet Band” and below is “The Titanic.” The photos are very interesting and moving.

Wikipedia and The Irish Rovers’ website were used to write this post.

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.