Folk-Inspired Ballads, Male Edition (Special Podcast)

Monday, March 24, 2014


Listen to folk-inspired ballads, featuring male folk-singers & wandering minstrels on this New Sounds.  There are surreal songs from a haunting record, “Hirta Songs,” by Alistair Roberts and poet Robin Robertson, with texts inspired by the history, landscape and people of the remote Scottish archipelago of St. Kilda (about 100 miles off the coast of Scotland.)  The record is named after the largest of these islands, where the main employment was fowling the great quantities of sea birds.  (Sheep-herding, crofting and fishing were ways of life as well.)  The eerie songs we’ll hear are both based on Celtic melodies; "A Fall of Sleet," is based on the tune 'The Battle of Inverlochy.' while the other, "Exodus," concerns the 1930 voluntary evacuation of the islands and is based on two tunes.

Then there’s music from the all-star Irish and American band, the Gloaming and their self-titled recording.  Sean Nos singer Iarla O Lionaird together with fiddler Martin Hayes, Hardanger fiddle player Caoimhim O Raghallaigh, guitarist Dennis Cahill, and pianist/producer Thomas Bartlett, draw on traditional Irish forms to make lovely, aching and brilliant tunes - somehow both powerful and fragile. The one we’ll hear, "Song 44," is adapted from an 800-year-old Irish poem, “Poem no. 44” by Domhnall Mac Carthaigh, about a man who sees the woman he loves in his dreams.  Plus, hear bleak and beautiful music from Scotland’s bard and singer Robin Williamson setting the poetry of Dylan Thomas along with music from the unconventional folk-singer Sam Amidon. 

Special thanks to our hardworking New Sounds Assistant, Isabel Kim, for making this podcast possible.

PROGRAM #3572 Folk-Inspired Ballads (First aired on 3/3/2014)  





Alasdair Roberts & Robin Robertson

Hirta Songs

Exodus, excerpt [1:00]
A Fall of Sleet [6:49]

Stone Tape Recordings  006

Sam Amidon

I See the Sign

I See the Sign [6:15]

Bedroom Community Records HVALUR9  OR

Ebe Oke


I ask [5:43]

The Gloaming

The Gloaming

Song 44 [6:45]

Brassland HWY-037

Sam Amidon

I See the Sign

Pretty Fair Damsel [3:06]

See above.

Robin Williamson

The Seed At Zero

Poem On His Birthday [11:21]

ECM 1732

Alasdair Roberts & Robin Robertson

Hirta Songs

Exodus [7:22]

See above.


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The most cutting-edge, worldly-wise music show on the airwaves returns with nearly bi-weekly installments available for download.  For more than three decades, host John Schaefer has been exploring more genres of music than you knew existed.  A truly compelling hour of radio, and now you can tune in wherever you are, whenever you want. As if you weren’t dependent enough on your MP3 player…

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