February is so long for a short month

Maybe it was spending a couple of weeks in Hawaii but I’ve had enough of winter already. As winters go around here, it was not a bad one but the high winds and low temps this past week are keeping me inside and I’m getting cabin fever. I love living near the ocean but the constant winds at this time of year are the price that must be paid.

Hawaii was beautiful and exceeded my expectations. I thought it would be much more developed. I loved Maui and Kauai in particular but all the islands had a lovely laidback feel to them. One of the great things about being on a cruise is that you get to sample all the islands. It was also great to hang out with all the other musicians and swap yarns. Liam Clancy was in rare form and gave a masterful performance at our Wednesday concert on Maui as did the Makem and Spain brothers in Honolulu before the cruise. You can find out more about the cruise here: Irish Music Cruises
Details of next year’s cruise of the Mexican Riviera may not be posted yet but they should be soon.

Maui is also home to Hamish Burgess who helped promote the cruise and joined us on board. He is a fine highland piper and an inveterate surfer, but not at the same time, I hope although I would definitely pay money to see that. Believe it or not, he runs a business called Maui Celtic that is well worth avisit:
Maui Celtic
And I always thought the Celts only made it as far as Maine!

Hamish also does a weekly two-hour Celtic radio show on KEAO community radio. You can listen online every Sunday at I:00 PM Eastern time:
That’s 7:00 AM in Maui or “sparrow fart” as we used to say when I was growing up. I’ll never forget that phrase as it got me in big trouble when I was in primary school. I had to recite a W.B. Yeats poem called the Ballad of Father Gilligan that contained the line, “Upon the time of sparrow chirp, When the moths came once more.” You guessed it. I greatly improved the poem by substituting “sparrow fart” for “sparrow chirp” but my literary improvisation did not go over well with the teacher. The ridicule that followed may have stifled a budding writing career.

I am addicted to the Internet and one of the things I enjoy most is Internet radio. RTE, the Irish radio station has some wonderful shows: RTE Radio 1
as does the BBC: BBC Radio

Both stations have large archives and there are some rare gems to be found there. Irish and English radio is much more eclectic than in the USA where programming is geared to marketing to certain demographics.

The archived shows on RTE can be found here:
Past Shows

For you traditional music lovers I recommend the following:
The Late Session
The Rolling Wave
Mo Ceol Thu

The series “Documentary On One” had a show on the great accordion player Tony McMahon that was stunning. It really captured the Ireland of the 1950’s and Tony’s honesty and sincerity were riveting. To my mind, this is radio at its best.
Port na bPucai

For those more interested in songs, there’s the brilliant series presented by Ian Lee that explores the connections of the songs of Ireland, England and Scotland.
Shamrock, Rose & Thistle

Tommy Sands did a short series that is a must-listen for all of us Tommy fans Songs to be Sung

His brother Colm did a lovely series too Rootin’ About

Pádraigín Ni Ullacháin has a series on the songs of Oriel, South East Ulster that is a perfect companion for her wonderful book ” A Hidden Ulster.”
Songs from a Hidden Ulster

The late great Franks Harte’s Singing Voices series is also wonderful. Singing Voices

Sunday Miscellany is not a music show but has been a favorite of mine for over thirty years. RTE describes it as follows: “Now in its fourth decade on the airwaves Sunday Miscellany is one of Ireland’s longest running shows on RTE Radio 1. Today the programme’s mix of ‘music and musings’ continues to be as fresh as ever with contributions to the programme coming from open submissions and commissioned work delivered on the air with new voices complementing more established writers across each programme. From radio essays to reportage, appreciations, memory pieces, poetry, travel writing to personal accounts of events and happenings this programme is essential listening on the radio and the web to thousands of people all over the world.”
Sunday Miscellany

I got a Nokia 9300i Communicator recently that has an Opera web browser and Real Player so it can double as a radio for online stations as well as a phone. To my great disappointment it does not play “.smil” files which is what RTE uses. However after weeks of combing the web for a solution, I discovered Radio Feeds
It covers just about all the internet radio stations in Ireland and Britain and is
a handy way to access stations in different formats. They had a connection to RTE as a ram file so now I can listen on my phone. Luckily I have an unlimited data plan so it doesn’t cost me anything extra.

I guess I’d better stop now. This is only the tip of the iceberg and I haven’t even mentioned the BBC shows. Remember too that many of these shows are also available as podcasts, a great way to shorten the road on long trips. So turn off that TV, throw a couple of logs on the fire and listen away to your heart’s content.

Speaking of TV, I just have to mention Deadwood, the HBO series. My kids gave me the first two seasons on DVD for Christmas and it is spectacular. I always hated westerns but this is not at all what I expected. It is the best series I have ever seen on TV. It is positively Shakspearian at times. It is not for the squeamish or prudish and if you are offended by colorful language and sexual situations you might want to stick to the Disney channel. The writing is phenomenal and the acting is excellent. Ian McShane, in particular, is incredible. This may be old news to many of you but I always lag behind when it comes to pop culture. I like to get in when the winnowing has been done for me.

By the way, I’d love to hear your suggestions for must-listen downloadable shows or podcasts. Just click on “comments” to include yours.

Last but not least, check out this clip on YouTube.
Introducing The Book
Brilliant! Thanks Gene.


  1. Susana says:

    Wow! What a wealth of interesting info and links! Thanks, Robbie. This is my first, but surely not the last, visit to your website; prompted by just having played my old LP of Love of the Land. We met a long time ago at several of your Irish concerts in West Virginia, and I hope to look you up again when you return to Irish Week at Augusta this year. Since that time, beginning in the late 90’s, I have made yearly trips to Nicaragua to do medical mission work, and I nearly always call to mind your poignant song Full Moon Over Managua, especially the time there really was a full moon while I was there.
    Enough for now. For all I know you may not have time to read these comments. Dios te bendiga, S.

  2. kerry dexter says:

    you may want to add liveireland.com to your list — some days they even have presenters and one may make requests, although their database of music is still a bit limited. they have two channels, actually, and I’ve only really listened to the trad one.

    please give my greetings to aoife, matt, and shannon when next you meet — I have interviewed each of them, M&S recently, aoife a couple of years back.