According to 23andMe, I am 98% “British and Irish” with the remaining 2% being classified as Broadly Northwestern European.
There were no surprises there; I’ve always considered myself 100% Irish, with my mom being born there, and my dad’s mom being born there.
I grew up learning a few words of Gaelic, and more than a few Irish songs, which my mom would sing while she was busy working around the house. As a result, I’ve always had an affinity for Irish music, and so I thought I’d use my Music Monday blog to begin exploring a bit more about Irish music.
I’ve already written about a couple of Irish groups that we’ve been fortunate to see perform – Gaelic Storm and Cherish the Ladies, but tonight’s post is about a group I’ve never seen perform, but would certainly welcome the opportunity to do so.
Let me introduce you to The High Kings, an Irish folk group formed in Dublin in 2008. Before I provide some background on the band, let me share a video of one of their songs. Like many traditional Irish songs, drinking plays a prominent role. If this song doesn’t get your foot tapping and put a smile on your face, then I don’t know what will.
Here’s an excerpt about The High Kings, from their web site:
Back in the mid-late noughties, Ireland needed a group like The High Kings. The heyday of ballad groups such as The Clancy Brothers and The Dubliners was a distant memory for generations of music fans, and to have another bunch of Irish lads taking up the baton and continuing the tradition was great news to thousands of fans worldwide. Their self-titled debut album, released in 2008, reached a highly impressive number two on Billboard Magazine’s World Music chart. It was during The High Kings second tour of the US in 2011, however – having graduated from playing small venues to larger halls as they promoted their follow-up album, ‘Memory Lane’, which also crashed into Billboard’s World Music chart – that everyone involved realised the fanbase was growing into something that no one had predicted. Subsequently, the group’s tour of Ireland sold out within hours. “We didn’t expect that,” admits Darren, “and then about three gigs into that tour we realised we had touched not only a nerve but also a memory. People loved what we were doing, and they would tell us after the shows that what we did and how we were doing it meant so much to them – they had waited years for a group like us.” More was to come in 2013 with the group’s third studio album, ‘Friends For Life’, which featured original songs among the traditional fare. The group’s fourth studio album, ‘Grace & Glory’, released in 2016, featured a back-to-basics approach – traditional ballad songs with new arrangements.
Here is a short blurb from Wikipedia:
Since the inception of the band, The High Kings has toured Ireland, the United States, and Europe on multiple occasions. Together they play thirteen instruments during their performances. The group’s motto is “Folk ‘n Roll,” and their singing is especially noted for its close harmonies. Although they sing mostly traditional Irish songs, they are known to sing arrangements of songs from other genres as well.
They are currently on a tour of the U.S., so if Irish music has any appeal to you, you may want to check themout. Here is the link to their tour schedule.
I’ll close with a few more videos. The first two, like the one above, are traditional Irish songs, while the third one is an original.
One of my favorite comments someone posted on YouTube about this song was the following:
I walked down the isle to the whole first part of this song…we had nothing but red roses for flowers at our wedding. My husband picked this song out. First time he heard it he fell in love with it.
As I listened to Red Is the Rose, I could pick up the melody of Loch Lomond, one of my mom’s favorite songs. Here is a beautiful version of Loch Lomond in case you are not familiar with this wonderful song.
This next song shows off their musical ability and is another toe-tapper. I can just picture people dancing to this song.
The final song is the title song from their Friends for Life album and is an original composition. In this video, you will witness a couple of people just hopping to their feet and dancing to the music, something many of you will feel like doing while listening to this song.
Ireland may not have the greatest food or the greatest weather, but man, do they have some great music.