One of my least favorite questions: “Oh, you play Irish music? So, are you like Celtic Woman?”

This episode explores why I do NOT think I am like Celtic Woman. And why, maybe, nobody (and everybody) is like Celtic Woman:


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With Seamus Egan, Neil Pearlman, Marc Gunn, and Ellery Klein, I explore the specific/academic meaning of the word Celtic—the term that festivals and radio shows to present a variety of traditions. And I also unpack the more ubiquitous, vague, simplistic, fantastical concept of the term. It’s a many splendored journey, guys!

When I asked the well informed and trad-credentialed Neil Pearlman why he calls his music Celtic instead of Scottish, he said:

Neil: I see it more of a broad community. I don’t want to shut myself out of the Irish community, or shut the Irish community out of my community by drawing these lines.

Shannon: And by calling it Celtic it’s inclusive. And descriptive?

Neil: Yeah, I think it’s a useful descriptive term, but allows open borders.

Podcast host/musicians Marc Gunn said “You could say you become a Celt by falling in love with it. By listening to the music, by experiencing the culture that you love and appreciate.”

And Ellery Klein chimed in on why miscellaneous Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish (and even Scandanavian) elements can really resonate with people when they’ve got that “Celtic” handle:

Ellery: I think it’s a little bit about people’s need for identity. .. You’re allowing yourself to feel your place in the universe through your heritage and your story… And I think it’s evoking that spirit of the Gods and Goddesses being closer to us.

Shannon: Right, the spirituality thing?

Ellery: That yearning for magic. Obvious magic to be in the world.

Here’s a little magic (with Ellery on fiddle) from a few years ago:

And with just Maeve and me:

When you get a room of people connecting—whether it’s two or two thousand souls…. well, there’s magic in that. No matter what you call it.

Thank you for listening and reading. And if you’ve worked up an appetite, well, I’m just sayin’:

CELTIC NACHOS: Slice 3 russet potatoes into 1/8 inch thick slices. Soak slices in a bowl of water with ONE minced garlic clove. Soak 4 hours (or overnight)…..Then drain the potatoes, pat dry, and toss with 1/4 cup vegetable oil. Bake at 400 degrees F, 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and top with 1.5 cups shredded cheese, 4 green onions, 1/4 cup jalapeño pepper slices (layer toppings, so they are evenly distributed). Bake for another 10-15 minutes, until cheese melts. Garnish with diced tomato, salsa, sour cream (or plain yogurt)… and eat with the Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Breton, Cornish, Manx, Galician, or pan Celtic soundtrack of your choice!

Thanks again for listening and reading! Next month’s show about vintage Irish DANCE HALLS will air on Tuesday March 13th. And if you haven’t heard all of Season One, I hope you’ll also check out:
Episode 01-Trip to Sligo
Episode 00-Introducing Irish Music Stories
Episode 02-Cuppa Tea with Karan Casey
Episode 03-Every Tuesday at Nine
– Episode 04 – Cuppa Tea with McKinneys and McCarthy
– Episode 05 – Handed Down
Episode 06 – The Backer
Episode 07 – The Piper
Episode 08 – Miss McCleod’s Reel at 113
– Episode 09 – Want of Wit
– Episode 10 – Cuppa Tea with Daithi Sproule
– Episode 11 – Return to Sligo
– Episode 12 – Season Two Preview


Music Heard on IMS Episode 13
all music traditional, unless otherwise indicated

Tune: “Free the Heel” (reel), from Rehearsal, circa 2013
Artist: Shannon Heaton (flute), Matt Heaton (guitar)

Tune: “Many Splendored Celtic Music Fantasia,” from Production Music Made for Irish Music Stories
Artist/Composer: Ryan Beveridge

Tune: “Many Splendored Acoustic Reprise,” from Production Music Made for Irish Music Stories
Artist/Composer: Matt Heaton

Tune: “Hugo’s Big Reel,” from The Turning Tide
Artist: Solas

Song: “Weep Not for the Memories,” from Brothers McMullen Soundtrack
Artist: Sarah McLaughlin
Composer: Seamus Egan

Tune: “Hector the Hero Medley,” from 2015 Worlds Competition
Artist: Inveraray District Pipe Band

Tunes: “Jig Runrig, The Ramnee Ceilidh,” from Highlander’s Farewell
Artists: Alasdair Fraser, Natalie Haas

Song: “Jedi Drinking Song Prequel,” from Sci Fi Drinking Songs
Artist/Composer: Marc Gunn

Tune: “Fingerstyle Fantasia,” from Production Music Made for Irish Music Stories
Artist/Composer: Matt Heaton

Song: “The Call,” from The Greatest Journey – Essential Collection
Artist: Celtic Woman
Composer: David Downes

Song: “A Place in the Choir,” from The Very Best of Celtic Thunder
Artist: Celtic Thunder

Song: “Johnny Tarr,” from Special Reserve
Artist/Composer: Gaelic Storm

Song: “Kiss Me I’m Irish,” from
Artist/Composer: Gaelic Storm

Tune: “Marie’s Cabin, Rachel on her Feet,” from Salt & Pepper
Artist.Composer: Ellery Klein

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Thank you for listening. Thank you to Kevin O’Neil, Rex Edwards, Hannah Derusha, and Brian Benscoter for underwriting this episode. Donations help me share this show with everybody.

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