Boston Celtic Music Festival

My band, Stoneybatter Band, is excited to be playing at the Boston Celtic Music Festival next Saturday, January 8th.

We will be taking the stage at Club Passim in Cambridge at 2:30 and will play until 3:25. Tickets are $15 for the day, which includes several performances before us, a session, and a performance after us. In addition there are three other stages, performances Friday evening and performances Saturday evening by many talented groups. For more information on performers and tickets please visit the BCMFest website
We really hope to see you there!

Farewell to Fiunary

Every once in a while a song comes along that you just fall in love with. Farewell to Fiunary is one of those songs that I had actually heard a bunch of times, but never took notice of. Then, suddenly, that changed. I don’t know why, but suddenly I was attracted to it.

Fiunary is in Scottland. The little I know about this song is that it was written by Norman MacLeod who lived between 1783 and 1862.

My version here is really just a demo, recorded very late last night. Really, just trying to figure out vocal phrasing as it fits into the guitar. As simple as the song sounds, some of the phrasing can be a bit tricky. And there are moments where my hands want to do something that my voice doesn’t know how to follow. Nonetheless, I find even this rough version to be enjoyable.

Farewell to Fiunary by baconworks

All Aboard the Spray

The Spray

I’ve been listening to a lot of sea chanties lately as research for a couple of projects I’ve been working on. One chantey, called The Spray, has caught my attention. The Spray is a fairly recent song that is about a man named Joshua Slocum. Mr. Slocum was the first man to circumnavigate the globe solo. His boat, The Spray, was an old rotting oyster boat that he restored. The trip, starting in 1895, took 3 years to complete.

The recording here is a demo of some iPhone software, more than anything else. I recorded this in my bedroom, directly to the iPhone using an app called FiRe (, and then uploaded the tune to SoundCloud, which is then pulled into my blog. Lastly, I posted this article through the iPhone as well using the wordpress app.

Why would I go through so much trouble just to post? Mostly just to find out if it is possible to do everything through the iPhone. But, also, I can imagine using this process in a live music setting.

Anyhow, here is the first verse from The Spray.
The Spray by baconworks

Banks of the Bann…again

Looking over the posts from the past year, it seems as if I’ve been fairly inactive. From a blogging perspective, that is definitely true. On the musical end, however, it has been quite an active year. So, I’m gonna try to get back into the blogging swing of things.

One activity that has taken place in the last few months is the organizational beginnings of a studio recording with Mustachio and Liz. As real proof, I’ve included a recording we did in my dinning room a couple months back. This is a tune that I posted a while ago on fife. This time we are trying it on guitar, bouzouki and fiddle.

You’ll quickly notice the loose nature of the recording. We recorded our whole practice and this was the first time we ever played it together. In fact, I don’t think Liz had ever heard it. So, lots of experimentation more than anything else. Sometimes these are my favorite tracks.
10 – Banks of the Bann by baconworks

Liz Alexander

Saturday night we had a great party at the Bacon house. Lots of friends, both the musical variety as well as the neighbor variety, stopped by for some food, drink and music. I set up a few mics and hoped for the best. Sometimes the best actually happens. We played lots of great stuff all evening for a lively crowd. But the best, as is often the case, happened after most of our fiends left. That’s when musicians are most relaxed, most oiled, and most able to hear and focus on what each other is doing. They are no longer playing for an audience but, instead, each other. That’s when magic starts happening.

So, here we are, past midnight, sitting in my kitchen, I convince Liz, who is ‘draggin’ and opening her fiddle case, to play just one more. Slowly, tunes we had never heard start coming from her fiddle, and we latch on for a four minute ride of some of the most beautiful fiddle playing you’re ever likely to hear.

Liz Alexander, remember her name. This is the first time she has been caught on tape. It most certainly won’t be the last.

Liz Set by baconworks

Stonybatter to Perform at Fiddlers Green Fri. 1/8

Stoneybatter, the band with the name that everyone loves to hate, is back at the Fiddler’s Green this Friday for another evening of Celtic music.
It will be our first performance at the Worcester pub with our complete lineup of musicians. Where else will you be able to hear the pipes, flute, fiddle, banjo, bouzouki, guitar and bodhrán all making noise at the same time?

Here’s a few other reasons why you should come along:

  1. Brian has a new sock muffling his banjo head. Rumor has it that the sock came from one of the Beatles.
  2. Joey ‘Scappy’ Sullivan triumphantly returns as our bodhránist after a scary motorcycle accident that broke his scapula
  3. Buchanan has a new mic that reportedly allows him to dance on tables.
  4. For those music theory geeks out there, Gleason will be featuring his Bb whistle.
  5. You’ll learn new words like Uilleann and Bouzouki to impress your scrabble friends with.

We hope you can make it for a couple of tasty pints, a burger or two, and some good music. The show starts at 8:30!

Amazing Grace

Things have been quiet on baconworks for some time. I feel moderately guilty about that. Especially since there has been a lot of good music in the past year.

For example, in April I spent two evenings with my good friends Mustachio and the White Rabbit recording in a chapel at Framingham State College. They were casual evenings that resulted in a set of recordings that I very much enjoy. One track that I was immediately enamored with was the Rabbit’s version of Amazing Grace.

The night this was recorded I came home and played the track for my wife through a set of headphones. She fell asleep listening to it before the track was finished playing. I then took the headphones off her sleeping head, and put them on mine, hit play… was hypnotized by droniness of the concertina, and fell asleep.

The next evening, being inspired by the recording, I sang Amazing Grace to my boys as I was tucking them into bed. They both fell asleep before I was done singing. I can assure you, this never happens and is a small miracle of sorts. Usually I can’t get them to quit the yackin’.

In the morning I was telling my Wife and children that I thought it was funny, not to mention a bit odd, that all four of us fell asleep to Amazing Grace. My animated son quickly replied, ‘Dad, That’s why it’s amazing’.

So, what does it all mean? I have no idea. But sometimes events happen that just mystify you a bit, you’re not sure why and you can’t let them go.

He was right, it is amazing. This popular song was originally published over two hundred thirty years ago and still has the power to move us. Quite amazing.

Amazing Grace by baconworks

Stoneybatter draws a talented crowd…

Our debut performance as Stoneybatter went great. As a band it is certainly enjoyable to get up and perform. But what make an evening really special is when we have friends and the occasional unexpected guest step in for a set or two.

Last night we had both. Our good friend, Katie O’Neill, from Westboro, once again silenced the crowd with her amazing voice. There won’t be a night that slips by where we wouldn’t ask her to sing.

Another friend, Dan Mahoney, had the entire room singing along with one of his great songs.

We also convinced a very talented young fiddler, Liz Alexander, to grace us with a few great sets. All three helped us to mix things up nicely and infuse some great energy into the room while showing off the great talent we have in our own backyards.

During the later half of the evening the crowd swelled with another group of talented musicians and dancers that we would later find out had just finished their performance at the Hanover Theater as part of the Celtic Crossroads.

They also joined us for a few. First, Zac Leger, the multi-instrumentalist, joined us on flute for a lively set. I had never met Zac, but when he sat down he looked familiar. It quickly came back to me that I had posted a youtube video of him a while back, both because I was impressed with his playing and his cool capo. Here’s another nice video of him and some friends. Zac is on the pipes, which is what he plays with Celtic Crossroads as well. Nice guy, great player, keep up the great work.

We then backed a few of the Celtic Crossroads dancers while they entertain the crowd culminating in roaring applause for the dancers. One of them, Kristen, is actually from Middletown, CT.

To end the evening we were graced with Marianne Knight from County Mayo. Marianne is a stunning vocalist with Celtic Crossroads. She joined us to sing Caledonia. George and I did our best not to embarrass ourselves as we tried to back her on a song we’ve never played. You can decide for yourself about her talents in this video of her performing with Celtic Crossroads. Really amazing.

We, Stoneybatter, would really like to thank all our friends that came to the show and joined us for some all-around phenomenal music. I hope we will all get to do this again soon. We also wish good luck to Celtic Crossroads as they make their way around the U.S.