Dragons vs. Pirates Countdown, Starfest Rocks!

It was an excellent weekend at Starfest in Denver, CO – five shows with great energy and great crowds. Marc got together with Jessica Brawner to talk about marketing, reigniting the idea of a Brainstorming / Masterminds group online for this type of thing.

Also, Dragons vs. Pirates reached the first stretch goal, so stay tuned for new Podcasts, Videos, and Stories – a video was filmed at Starfest, so that’ll make its way online soon! Thanks for everyone’s support!

To subscribe, go to iTunes, or go to Celtfather.com where you can also join my mailing list. This show is sponsored by my Patrons at marcgunn.net. Your generous monthly donation feeds a human family of three and half plus three cats. Post feedback in the shownotes, use the hashtag #celtfather on social media, or email me marc@marcgunn.com

 Mentioned This Week on The Celtfather #21

Please Make Another B-Side!

Mumford & Sons - Wilder Mind

One of the bands I enjoy is Mumford & Sons. A while back I posted an article saying that their latest album Babel just sounded like a B-Side to Sign No More. My blog said there was nothing new, and the songs were less memorable. I can’t find the article. I guess I must’ve deleted it when I fell in love with the album.

I confess I now like Babel more than first album. Once I got to know the songs, I fell in love with it. There are indeed a lot of memorable songs after listening to it over and over again. Will that happen again?

I pre-ordered their newest album, Wilder Mindas soon as I heard it was being released. They pre-released the first two tracks and so far I’m disappointed. The only thing I’ve heard so far that sounded like the band I loved was the singers voice. There’s no banjo, no driving rhythms, nada. In fact, someone on Twitter said they heard the single “The Wolf” and thought it was a new Blink 182 song.

Therein lies the problem. And it definitely offers some good advice for musicians and business people everywhere.

At the end of 2008, I released my first solo CD after the breakup of the Brobdingnagian Bards. It was a very personal album. I was setting a lot of poetry to music. I also wanted to experiment with effects. The result was A Tribute to Loveand it was… different. Turns out it was a fan cleanser much like Head was for The Monkees. A few years later, I had a former Bards fans ask, “WTF?”

Wilder Mind seems to do the same thing. It seems like an out-of-touch producer in LA said, “Okay, do you want to be the next Lady Gaga. Alright, we’re gonna make you sound like everyone else who’s currently topping the charts right now.”

“Okay! Let’s do it!” They said.

Marketing is all about focus. I know this intuitively even though I fail miserably about following stuff I know. (Hello, Steampunk album! although to be fair, Dragons vs. Pirates is basically sea shanties on my defining autoharp, and will appeal to Ren Faires, Sci Fi Conventions and possibly Steampunk fans as well).

The point is that this is NOT a good move. Mumford & Sons sounded indie. They skirted the edge of pop and thus were able to infiltrate the pop market. It’s sorta why I’m disappointed in the band Enter the Haggis who are trying to become more mainstream and thus renamed the band to Jubilee something-forgettable. They don’t want to be a Celtic band any more.

I know I’m a little out-of-touch. My music doesn’t sound mainstream enough to do just about anything. Hell, I just rejected by Pandora… again. Pandora doesn’t know what to do with an autoharper playing Celtic comedy music… whatever.

I do occasionally experiment with my music and I will again. Some of it will not meet your expectations. You will be disappointed. And sometimes you will be thrilled beyond belief. However with me, you can expect I will return to music you love with the next album, only 6-12 months down the road.

Will Mumford & Sons return to their good music? Or will the rest of the album actually sound like the band that I love instead of the pop crap I despise? We shall see.

 

Music Influences and Inspirations

I found this old blog post in html format on my website. I thought I’d reshare it now. It already seems a little out-dated, but oh well. I’m not entirely sure when this podcast was first published..

As you may have realized by my strange pick of instruments, the autoharp, I was late bloomer to the Celtic music world. Before I fell in love with Celtic music and culture, my musical tastes ran the gambit though formed solidly around modern rock. As a result, I sometimes refer to my musical style as Fringe Celtic, the type of music that is not mainstream traditional music. Instead, it is strongly fused with a mix of old and new music with a of heart through and through. The music is Celtic American through and through.

Musical Influences

Below is a list of my musical influences. It is far from complete. I’m still building it up. So please be patient and check back every now and then.

  • Elvis Presley. By far was my biggest musical influence growing up. I listened and sang-along to vinyl records of his music almost non-stop. Well, I say “sang-along”, but admittedly, I didn’t understand half of what he sang. It’s taken years… and the internet to translate some of the lyrics. As a result, I don’t always pay attention to lyrics to songs I listen to today. I love vocal melodies.
  • My Dad. He played every folk instrument under the sun, it seemed. But the instrument that makes me think of him most is the banjo. I’m still trying to get him to record “Cripple Creek” with me. He also had a bizarre sense of humour inspired by Roger Miller and some of the comedic artists out of the 50s and 60s. It was from him that I really learned parodies early on, and he also brainwashed me into loving American folk music by taking me to frequent folk music clubs while growin up. Oh! My dad gave me my first autoharp.
  • My Mom. My mom played piano and sings with a definite jazz and Broadway feel to the songs I remember most from her. Songs like “Devil Moon” stand out firmly and my mind. And it was she, I believe, who introduced me to musicals.
  • Fabrizio de Andre. I found his music in college while taking an Italian class. As I said, I like vocal melodies. Fabrizio was brilliant at them. I still don’t understand half his lyrics, but I love his voice.
  • The Wolfe Tones. When I first started learning Irish music, a fan at the University of Texas at Austin gave me a cassette to learn from. The Wolfe Tones were one of the artists on the cassette. The power of the songs they sing and the quirkiness of their voices made me fall in love with their music.
  • The Irish Balladeers. The other band that I fell in love with from that UT fan’s cassettes. The Irish Balladeers had a nice working-class Irish American feel to their music that struck home.
  • Ed Miller. Ed Miller sings “Songs of Scotland”. As a musician, folk singer, and ethnomusicologist, I love learning about the origins of the many folk songs he sings. He has a brilliant voice, and a wonderful musical niche which draws me back to his albums time and time again. Live at the Cactus Cafe is one of my favorite albums of his as it captures his live performance.
  • Bryan Bowers. I heard about Bryan Bowers a lot growing up, but I don’t remember hearing his actual music until I first started learning the autoharp. Then I learned he was the autoharp God. His first album, Home, Home on the Road is fantastic which features the recording that made “The Scotsman” song famous.
  • “Weird Al” Yankovic. While my dad was the man who really trained me to parody songs, it was “Weird Al” who brought that love to the forefront of my being. He is an immensely funny musician.
  • David Garza. David Garza is an alternative rock musician out of Austin, Texas

 

Some Favorite Musicians

  • Enya
  • Angelo Branduardi
  • Leonard Cohen
  • Johnny Cash
  • Black 47
  • Clannad
  • The Corries
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Christy Moore
  • Cat Stevens
  • Jackopierce
  • Radiohead
  • Clandestine
  • Ceann
  • Joni Minstrel

Fair Harbor Radio – A Refuge for the Busiest of Us

FairHarbor

For those of us with busy lives, it’s important to try and carve out some time and space to relax and center ourselves.

Much like providing a safe-haven for sturdy ships, Fair Harbor Radio provides a refuge for busy souls to rest, restore, and refresh themselves with easy-listening music. All of their services are free to listeners, though any donations are appreciated go directly to maintenance of their website.

Newly added to their relaxing offerings is Marc Gunn’s Heart’s Ease album! Stop by and give them a listen, and check them out on Facebook!

What advice would you give to older people trying to start in music?

As with all art, passion and extremism can help make your music successful – it’s simply finding your niche. Know your strengths, keep practicing, and don’t be afraid of trial and error! Finally, just do it! Don’t wait – create content, get it out there, and build your community. We won’t all immediately be great, but taking the leap and creating is the only way to pursue making music.

To subscribe, go to iTunes, or go to Celtfather.com where you can also join my mailing list. This show is sponsored by my Patrons at marcgunn.net. Your generous monthly donation feeds a human family of three and half plus three cats. Post feedback in the shownotes, use the hashtag #celtfather on social media, or email me marc@marcgunn.com

 Mentioned This Week on The Celtfather #20

Concerts at StarFest 2015

This weekend, I return to Denver, Colorado for Starfest. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been there over the years. But it is a blast. This year, I have a record number of performances that you don’t want to miss. See the complete schedule here.

Friday, April 17th

10:00 PM – Firefly Drinking Songs (SF Panel 2)

Saturday, April 18th

12:00 PM Noon – Sci Fi Drinking Songs (SF Panel 2)
2:00 PM – Irish Drinking Songs for Cat Lovers (Atrium)

Sunday, April 19th

11:00 AM – Hair of the Cat (after a long night of drinking) (Atrium)
1:00 PM – The Celtfather Strikes Back (SF Panel 2)

Want to join me for a more intimate evening of fun, Celtic and Geek music? I’m playing a house concert in Centennial, Colorado. If you would like to attend, please RSVP right now!

Dragons vs. Pirates: Crimson Fire

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We saw our first dragon on day 18–a red dragon. It was terrifying, but boy did it do some damage. I’m surprised I survived to tell the tale.

If you’re not yet subscribed to the Dragons vs. Pirates podcast, subscribe on iTunes and post a review. Then go make a pledge to sponsor the album on Kickstarter.

9 Celtic Songs for #CelticThursday

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#CelticThursday is an event where our goal as Celts is to share something Celtic from our lives to help celebrate and promote Celtic culture. This week, I thought I’d compile 7 awesome Celtic songs from my Celtic music collection, plus, a special bonus from my Celtic Invasion Vacations.

If you enjoy, please share this page.

The Leprechaun

I wrote this song years ago to showcase how I got started in Celtic music. I was not raised on Irish songs. My passion stemmed from St. Patrick’s Day and Lucky the Leprechaun from the children’s cereal Lucky Charms. Now I’m an award-winning Celtic musician and podcaster. Apparently, the message of the song proved true.

Old Dun Cow

Somebody shouted, “MacIntyre!” Who would’ve known that this fun drinking song would take on a life of its own. It’s one of my most-popular songs over the past decade.

Kilted For Her Pleasure

Do you love kilts or the song “The Scotsman” by Mike Cross? This is my response to the many questions I’ve had over the years from people asking me, “What’s under your kilt?” Why do people love the kilt so much? I hope to help you understand why.

The Widow and The Devil

Here’s a little risque fun that brings the widow and devil together once more to share the one thing that could terrify the fallen angel.

The Whistling Gypsy Rover

This is one of the first songs I learned the folk tradition way, from other musicians face-to-face, from my late friend Zoe Alexander. It’s based on an old folk story of a lady who is kidnapped by a gypsy… or whatever he was.

Peggy Gordon

This is still considered by me to be my absolute best recording ever. It’s a beautiful and touching love songs with Celtic practicality.

Whiskey in the Jar

I’m not sure what the most-famous Irish song is… Maybe “Danny Boy”? For me, this is at the top of the list.

Men of New Basin Canal

This is a song that needs to be heard. It tells the story of the 30,000 Irishmen who died digging the New Basin Canal in New Orleans during the potato blight of the 1800s.

Mingulay Boat Song

This gorgeous Scottish song was written in the 1940s I believe. It’s one of my most-fun songs to sing.

You can find all of these songs on my many albums in my Celtic Music CD Store.

I hope you enjoyed that music. If you enjoy my music, then you may also want to join me on a Celtic Invasion Vacation. Every year, I take a small group of Invaders to various Celtic places around the world. This year, we’re off to the Giant’s Causeway and County Donegal.

I’m all booked up for 2015, but you can subscribe to the mailing list at celticinvasion.com.

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You can also listen to the fun we had last year on the Celtic Invasion of Wales below:

Ceili Magazine Review and Feature Story

I was featured in the Jan-Feb 2015 issue of the Ceili Magazine, the newsletter of the Southwest Celtic Music Association, based in Dallas, Texas.

You can check out the magazines in these PDFs: