Beltaine's Fire
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Beltaine's Fire

Vallejo, California, United States | SELF

Vallejo, California, United States | SELF
Band Hip Hop Folk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Interview with Emcee Lynx (Beltaine's Fire)"

Emcee Lynx is an independent hip hop musician from the San Francisco Bay Area of California. He is currently working with Beltaine's Fire, a folk-rap fusion band, and they are set to release their third album titled "Anarchitechture" this summer.

Lynx has given away his music for free online since 2001 has never made money off it, instead prefering to use his albums as fundraising tools to support movements for social change. He's played hundreds of shows, been on over a dozen compilations and mixtapes all over the world, and had the Anarchist Black Cross and other similar groups doing support work for political prisoners reprint & sell his albums as fundraisers in Germany, Russia, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Indonesia, Chile, Spain, France, the UK, and the USA.

Greetings, Can you give us a brief explanation of who you are and what you do?
I'm an independent musician, poet, writer, theorist, poli sci nerd, husband, brother, uncle, news junkie, hopeless romantic, dreamer, and revolutionary. I've always been better at agitation then organizing so that's where I put most of my energy. I write songs about the world I see around me in all of it's splendor and squalor. Bertold Brecht said that "art is not a mirror you hold up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it." So like the song says I hammer in the morning, I hammer in the evening, all over this land...

So far the revolution has completely failed to materialize but I keep hoping, and every so often I see glimpses of it. I think there's an incredible number of people in this country who are ready for revolution, hungry for change. They just need the tools to make it happen. My job as a revolutionary is to help them find those tools.

What Goals do you have with your music and its impact on the world?
Well, there are the things I'd like to see happen and the things I can actually make happen. When I was younger all my goals had to do with revolution and social change and I spent a lot of years feeling disappointed and depressed because the change we need just wasn't happening. I'd like to think I've finally gotten over that and now I'm trying to keep my goals focused on things I can accomplish on my own. So for now I'm putting most of my energy into booking for my band and getting us the press coverage we need to get the music out there. I feel very confident in our songs and in my lyrics and feel like if I can just get us heard the music and the message can't help but spreading.

As far as my goals as a songwriter, I try to speak on real things. It's really easy when your trying to write new material to fall back on things you've already said - especially for someone like me who's written over 150 songs and put out 8 albums in the last ten years. Capitalism sucks? yup, said that. Corporations are killing the planet? Said that too. A broad-based directly democratic movement based on direct action and local control is essential in order to save our planet from an ecological collapse that will probably result in the extinction of our species and has already resulted in the extinction of thousands of other species? Yep, said that too. I even wrote a song with a 12-step plan for building that revolution a couple albums ago. So unless I've got something new and insightful to say about a specific topic I try to steer clear, I really don't want to devolve into one of those songwriters whose lyics are all filled with the same "conscious" or "revolutionary" catchphrases.

So instead I've focussed my writing for the new album on more personal issues. We've got a song on Anarchitechture (the working title for the upcoming third Beltaine's Fire album) called "Left Coast that looks at national politics and the case for californian independence from the perspective of a touring band. The title track is a poem I wrote while taking architecture classes in response to a professor who tried to greenwash the ecological impacts of clear-cutting to feed the construction industry. "Bail Out" is a song about some of the things in this world of ours -that really ARE "too big too fail", unlike the corporate profiteers who robbed us all blind under Bush & Obama. And then there's "loose, loud, low" and "Quit my Job" which were both inspired by a crappy job I spent most of last year working. At this point in my life my goal is to speak honestly and truthfully from my own perspective and I feel like I've achieved that with these songs.

What message or messages are you trying to instill in your audience and listeners?
Live your life because it's yours. No one else has the right to claim it or blackmail you into spending it working shit jobs to make them rich. Modern Capitalism is sharecropping, writ large, and Visa is the Company Store. We have the choice to buy in and let them own us or do with less, stay debt free, and have the freedom to get out and live our lives.

We only have one life, there's no heaven waiting for good little boys and girls who do what the nice boss-man / cop / politician/ priest / etc says. I refuse to spend that life working for someone else. I'm gonna live for me & fight for my dreams. I encourage everyone else to do the same.

I trade security for freedom, it's highly recommended / while ya'll do just the opposite - it cannot be defended

What first led you to the decision to utilize your gifts as a musician as a tool for expressing your personal views on environmental, social, and political issues?
It's always seemed to me that there's not much point in standing on a stage and talking if you're not gonna say anything. I grew up on folk music and hip hop, the politics were always there. Over the years the details of those politics and how I see the world have shifted quite a lot, but the essentials are all still the same. I didn't ever "decide" to use my music as a tool to advance a political agenda. The two are part of the same basic impulse - to speak out, to be heard, to make a difference.

Ideally, what experience or impact would an audience member take away from your live show?

I want to blow people's minds. I want them to feel so torn between the urge to get up and dance and the urge to stand still and listen and focus on the lyrics that they have no choice but to come back again and again. To my mind it's really important to have both sides of that equation because different people experience music differently.

When I listen to music the first thing I hear is the lyrics and my mind focuses in on what the person is saying. If I'm not down with the content I can't enjoy the song, no matter how catchy the beat is. At the same time, there are artists who have great content but their delivery and / or music lags behind. Bands like that I'll listen to their songs once or twice, hear what they have to say, and that's it.

The folks I keep coming back to are the ones who combine great storytelling with great music. And, in all humility, I feel like Beltaine's Fire has finally achieved that. After 6 years as a band and a bunch of lineup changes I think that right now we're a stronger band with a better sound then we've ever been before. So when we play a new venue I want the audience to get the full package - to be able to get up and dance and get lost in the music or to listen in close to my words and hear something new that will change the way they think about something. Music without content is just noise, content without music is a classroom.

Do you have advice for other writers, musicians, or artists who are creating politically focused art?

Don't give up. This world is fucked up and our economy has its priorities completely backwards so artists starve while bankers that create nothing live in luxury. That shit is depressing and it'll get to you if you let it. Don't let it. You've got to want the music so bad you'd be making it even if every show was just you and the bartender looking at each other. And you've got to be willing to get out there and promote yourself like a madman so that when it's showtime it's not just you and the bartender. No one else will promote you if you won't. So get out there and do it.

Other then that, I'd just say what I always say to younger musicians when they ask - speak your passion. Be who you are and rep that so hard and so fully that the audience leaves with the pictures your words paint burned into their brains. Anyone can write a "political" song and most political music, frankly, sucks. I don't know how many variations on the same generic folky "peace song" filled with cliches about coming together and unity and the power of love vs the power of greed I've heard over the years. Fuck that shit. That type of songwriting is boring and lazy and the end result is forgettable drivel. If you're going to be an artist you have to make art that comes from the deepest places in your being. If you've seen it on a bumper sticker or a t-shirt it's probably not a good lyric.

What personal lifestyle choices have you made which reflect the views and opinions expressed through your music?

I've spent most of the last decade working in, organizing & agitating for, and writing songs about movements for social change. I don't have any credit cards and I try to keep my debt as minimal as possible & make double and triple payments on my student loans whenever I can. Debt is a prison and as long as the bankers have that chain around your neck they can use it to control you - it's hard to take a week or a month off to go on tour or go to a mass protest if you've got bills to pay at home. So as much as possible I try to live as simply as possible and limit my financial commitments. I bake my own bread. I get my groceries from the farmers market and my garden as much as I can. I ride my bike and when I need to go further then I can pedal I drive an old car I bought with cash. I volunteer at the local community radio station and am working on a local news website with several other writers to provide a platform for discussing things going on in our community. I know my neighbors and we all know that if there's a problem any of us can ask the others for help. And I've got a duffel bag full of sports gear that I can wear under my clothes for protection from police violence just waiting for the next action. I write, I perform, I network. I'm doing everything I know how to do to topple this monster.

Is there any hope for success?

Yes. How much hope is an open question. But there is hope.

How important do you feel it is for artists/writers to communicate and discuss these topics and themes via their art and writing, as opposed to spending their time developing sustainable personal practices?

Everybody needs to figure this one out for themselves but I don't thing the two are at all opposed. Living debt-free makes it easier to go on tour or go to an action and spread the message. Cooking your own food from local organic ingredients makes you feel better and gives you more energy to create. Riding a bicycle and walking instead of driving everywhere keeps you healthy and you need that physical endurance as a performer - being on stage in front of an audience is exhausting, A lot of folks don't realize this but it's HARD work, if I'm not sweating like a pig by the end of the set I'm not doing my job.

As far as the importance of writing on and discussing social issues in music, I very strongly believe that an artist should write about what moves them. People who aren't really invested in and haven't done their homework on social issues will not be able to write good songs about those topics because they have no clue what it is they're writing about. If you live revolution, write about it. If you don't then you should probably stop and think about why it is that you want to write a song about a topic you're not willing to invest more then just words into.

For more info on Emcee Lynx please visit the website: or - The Art of Dismantling / Bang Magazine

"Beltaine's Fire - Liberty (2008)"

"Beltaine’s Fire is a four-member Celtic Hip Hop band based in the San Francisco Bay Area. The lyrics are politically engaged, socially conscious and deeply human and the music blends melodies inspired by the traditional music of the Irish and Scottish diasporas with folk, rock, funk, and hip hop to create a bold new fusion. Proof that the difference between Bards, Poets, Rappers, and Scribes is not nearly as big as people sometimes imagine. - Paddy O'Reilly Presents

"Beltaine's Fire: an amazing patchwork"

What do you get when you take a little irish fiddle, a dash of banjo, two parts rap and one part rock? You get Beltaine's Fire: a Celtic Fusion ensemble from the Bay Area that mixes a myriad of genres and influences to create something so unique and brilliant.

I can't say that every song would be considered "pagan", but their music and the musicians themselves are very ethically, socially, morally in line with the Pagan mentality. They speak out against social injustices, corrupt government and humanity's negative impact on the world in general.

I recommend checking them out for yourselves. Lose all the preconceived notions of what you think pagan (or pagan mentality) music is supposed to sound like or that all rap is about 'bitches and hos', because this band definitely ISN'T. All they're trying to do is educate and entertain you, with intelligent lyrics and beautifully crafted music. Think Flogging Molly meets Rage Against the Machine and you'll come pretty close to what they're about, though I think to truly label them is an impossibility because they're one of a kind.

Currently, the lineup for Beltaine's Fire is:

Emcee Lynx: Rap Vocals
Laura Noel: Electric Bass
John Dougal: Electric Banjo
Steve May: Fiddle & Mandolin - Songs of the Goddess

"Whet your St. Paddy's Whistle"

"Weird Good"

Bay-Area-based Celtic hip-hop band (yes, you read that correctly) Beltaine’s Fire has a couple of local gigs this week thanks to Steve Key, who runs a weekly Tuesday night singer-songwriter showcase at the Clubhouse at This Old House. This Tuesday, March 10 at 6:30 p.m., Key’s showcase will feature Beltaine’s eclectic melodies inspired by Irish and Scottish diasporas blended with funk, rock, jazz, and hip-hop elements. On Wednesday, March 11, Beltaine’s Fire will play their own gig at Linnaea’s café. - New Times SLO

"Beltaine’s Fire - Weapon of the Future"

If Beltaine’s Fire is not the only Celtic hip hop group on the planet, I am sure it is a very short list. Their first album titled Weapon of The Future is available on Jamendo and it is a very entertaining mix of musical genres that, considering that both have a socio-political history, may have more in common than most people realize.

Rapper/lyricist Lynx is the primary voice behind Beltaine’s Fire. He is a veteran rapper whose beats and words effortlessly float over the music with clockwork precision. Yet the twist is that the branished “weapons” are traditional Celtic instruments such as clawhammer banjo, cello, and mandolin. The ever present rhythm is managed by bass and drums in a style that is respectable of both hip hop and Celtic music. The fourteen tracks are, in most cases, foot tapping revolutionary message songs. It is a strange but successful combination of the social anger of Rage Against The Machine and the traditional style of the Irish rebel band Wolfe Tones. Another comparison would be to the equally socially conscious Michael Franti who also turns to world music as his base. Beltaine’s Fire’s revolutionary zeal can be found on most tracks but best heard on songs like “Home”, “Thrive”, and the lively opening track “Carpe Diem” which is embellished by the mellow voice of bassist Laura. I also like it when the group slows down like on “A Month of Storms” and the moving “Be Myself”. I hear a little beat poetry seeping in on numbers like “A Months of Storms” which makes me wonder if there is a Celtic Tom Waits in Lynx as well. Immensely listenable and always thought provoking, Weapon of The Future is highly recommended. - Free Albums Galore

"True Melting Pot of Styles Produces Great New Sound"

Beltaine's Fire musical style is unlike anything you've heard of before. Fusing traditional Irish and Scottish music with rock, folk, and rap elements, Beltaine's Fire has succeeded in creating a truly unique sound that is still instantly accessible.

The group, consisting of Emcee Lynx (rap vocals, singing), Laura Noel (bass, backup vocals), Chris Darbyshire (drums), and John Dougal (Banjo), is rapidly gaining a loyal fan base in Northern California. They're performing tonight at Ireland's 32 in San Francisco and have a number of shows scheduled throughout NorCal in the month of September. -


"(Music is) The Weapon of the Future" - December 10th, 2007.
"Liberty" - September 12, 2008.
"Anarchitechture" - will be released May 1, 2011



Hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area, Beltaine's Fire is comprised of Lynx, drummer Cadence, bassist/backup vocalist Laura, Fiddler and Mandolinist Steve, and John on a custom-modified electric banjo. The band has a uniquely eclectic style mixing the cadence of rap with traditional folk and world sounds. The end product is a fusion of arrangements reminiscent of the Wolfetones, Dick Gaughan, and Flogging Molly, with the rebellious energy of Public Enemy, The Coup, and Rage Against the Machine.

"The new songs are a bit less Celtic than the previous two albums, and the album as a whole has a sound that's heavier on funk and hip hop," says lead vocalist/rapper Lynx. "With these songs we've settled into a new space where instead of going back and forth between traditional and modern sounds we've finally perfected the hybrid so it's it's own unique thing. We used to be a celtic band playing hip hop, now we're something altogether more important. I can't think of anyone else playing music like this."

Epitunes has described Beltaine's Fire as "that rare group that succeeds at combining seemingly disparate musical styles into an appealing new sound…unlike anything you've heard of before."

Beltaine's Fire is currently booking events for their 2011 tour schedule in support of the new album. The group has played everything from family-oriented cultural events and festivals to college campuses, folk venues, live radio, night clubs, Irish Pubs, Punk clubs, house parties, and hip-hop shows. With an infectiously danceable live show and some of the most insightful socially conscious lyrics in the business, this is a band that can do just about anything and sound good doing it.

Their debut album, Weapon of the Future was released December 2007. Liberty, the band's second CD, came out in September 2008.

To learn more about Beltaine's Fire, visit


"You are so good! ... Thanks so much for being on our show, you guys are amazing!" Pam "Pamtastic" Benjamin (co-host) - The Common Thread Collective, on PirateCatRadio 1/28/2011

"If you are at all a fan of celtic fusion of any kind, you owe it to yourself to listen to this band. The soul of the Warrior-Poet dwells with these folks."Kiadragon -

"One of the most amazing bands you'll ever see ... I can think of no one that better exemplifies the Celtic spirit then Beltaine's Fire" David, event MC - Sacramento Celtic Midsummer Festival

"I LOVE your music, [it's] real true hip hop!" Erika Blue - 89.5fm KZCT Vallejo &

"Emcee Lynx is one of my favorite performers since, like, since Time started." Charlie Getter, DJ. While introducing the band on Pirate Cat Radio. - Pirate Cat Radio, 87.9 FM, San Francisco. August 2009.

"I love it! ... Don't let anybody tell you that no one is writing good music these days." David Stafford - KKUP 91.5 fm

"For music to stay fresh and innovative it relies on musicians who will take tradition to the next level. Beltaine's Fire... takes the sounds to another level and proves evolution is essential to keep [music] inspiring. "Jerianne Van Dijk - KVMR 98.5FM, Nevada City, California

"Now I would go to see this band!" Amy - Acceptance letter for KVMR Celtic Festival

"The new face of Celtic Music." Malcom Carden - Introducing the band at the 2008 Livermore Highland Games

"Immensely listenable and always thought provoking, Weapon of The Future is highly recommended." Marvin - Free Albums Galore

"Unlike anything you've heard of before... Beltaine’s Fire has succeeded in creating a truly unique sound that is still instantly accessible " - EpitunesBlog: Artist of the Day

"Some of our people would like it and some would have a heart attack. I don't mind helping to educate the masses but I can't afford medical bills for heart attack victims" John Lowry, Chief Seaside Highland Games - Rejection letter from the Seaside Highland Games in Santa Cruz

"Everything from hard hitting political insight to songs...that can inspire hope in even the most jaded music fans " Eleni Economides - Golden Gate XPress