Sligo Rags
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Sligo Rags

Long Beach, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2002

Long Beach, California, United States
Established on Jan, 2002
Band Folk Celtic

Calendar

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Aug
04
Sligo Rags @ MusikFest 2007

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

Jul
27
Sligo Rags @ Dublin Square

San Diego, California, USA

San Diego, California, USA

Jul
26
Sligo Rags @ Rancho Los Cerritos

Long Beach, California, USA

Long Beach, California, USA

Music

Press


After mulling over what a peculiar name Sligo Rags is, I popped their new release into my discman, and started flipping through the liner notes and track listings. As I was scanning the song titles and production credits, the fiddle-ridden musical concoction I had ordered up started pouring into my ears.
Hailing from Long Beach Sligo Rags is Michael Kelly, David Burns, and Gordon Rustvold and they seem to really know their Celtic music.
This band can lighten up an atmosphere as dim as the Guinness stout you just ordered at the bar. Candles on the tables, mahogany booths, and these guys sitting in the back, hooting, stamping, and slapping their knees, while their instruments and great harmonies struggle to keep up with the melodies.
According to Rob Williams of the Fenians, 'The arrangements are interestingly different and yet sensible. Music choices are made in favor of artistry not gimmick of happenstance.'
How refreshing! With some songs topping five minutes, it's clear that commercialism is not welcome in their music. But they also remember that music is for fun. Take 'The Irish Rover' for example. It's an uptempo, smokin' fast track about a ship full of workers, sailing over to build New York's City Hall. Over Burns' vocals, Kelly adds humorous sound effects and harmony vocals.
The true gem of the album is the shining, relaxed love song 'Dirty Old Town,' which tells the story of a town where a man met the woman he loves. The chorus may sing, 'It's a dirty old town,' but the way the you are taken through the song, it's evident that the man loves the town as much the girl he met there.
The most telling piece of information I garnered from the album booklet was on the back: the seemingly nonsensical phrase, 'CeltHick Music.' I disregarded it, but looking back now after two full listens, I'm back to the 'aha' moment that slipped through my fingers. This album, a blend of Celtic and country music, with just as much of an old Irish jig as there are Johnny Cash-esque alternating baselines. I always knew the two genres shared common musical instruments like the fiddle and the banjo, but I had never grasped just how similar they are.
This album proves that the musical experience is one and the same regardless of whether you slap your galloping knee or tug on your 10-gallon hat, while doing the two-step.

by Kate Kowsh - San Diego Troubador


Sligo rags, a trio with a repertoire that expertly crosses Irish vocal and instrumental music in twinkling fashion . . . the vocals of both Michael Kelly and David Burns sound like pure Irish . . . the music is of high quality throughout, and the CD comes with the fullest recommendation for purchase and repeat listening.

John McLaughlin, April 4, 2005, “Roots & Wings” WMUC Radio
- John McClaughlin


by RICH KANE

SLIGO RAGS
THE NIGHT BEFORE THE MORNING AFTER
CELTHICK MUSIC
16-TRACK FULL-LENGTH CD

If you talk of Irish music and Orange County, that talk will inevitably turn to the band that’s been doing the Eire thing for years: the Fenians. So omnipresent are the Fenians that their name pops up in casual conversation in weird, unexpected ways: “The Fenians ran over my cat.” “The Fenians cured my rheumatism.” “The Fenians were almost elected pope.” “The Fenians stole my identity.” “The Fenians got my sister knocked up.” “How would the Fenians get rid of the body?” “Would you like some fresh, hot Fenians for just 59 cents extra with your order, sir?” “Is that the Fenians in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”

Woe, then, to poor Sligo Rags, a trio of mostly acoustic Irish music players, who can’t escape the Fenians’ gaping maw. (Who wrote the liner notes for this album? A Fenian!) Yet Sligo Rags are really only similar to the Fenians in that both share the same sonic geography. They’re a much mellower outfit: while Fenians gigs can make you want to get tanked on Guinness till it spews back out your mouth, we sense Sligo Rags music works best over a plate of salmon and a simple pint whilst sitting in a quaint seaside Irish pub (or lately, judging by their show calendar, Stubrik’s Steakhouse in Fullerton). Mandolins, banjos, fiddles and accordions dominate the mostly traditional tunes, and for the sake of familiarity, they throw in “Dirty Old Town” and “Star of the County Down,” which most novices would probably remember from old Pogues and Van Morrison albums. As Irish-trad bands go, you’d pretty much have to journey to Sligo to find anything better. We’ve actually been to Sligo, too, five years ago on a drive from Limerick to Belfast; the town wasn’t all that, but for road tunes, we sure would have preferred to have this record along instead of the sleepy Enya tape we picked up at the Waterford crystal factory gift shop.
- OC Weekly


Long Beach Press-Telegram
Wednesday, June 8 2005

... It's also a place where you can catch some great evening entertainment -- much of it from talented and dependable hometown musicians.

If you want vivid and live evidence of this claim, swing down to the Dubliner (71 S. Pine Ave) at 9 pm Saturday to catch Sligo Rags, a Long Beach trio that has totally nailed the Celtic sound.

We've been spinning the band's latest CD, "The Night Before the Morning After", which ranges from rollicking reels to the sort of sad that only the Irish can deliver. Both sounds go well with a nice Harp or a not-so-nice Guinness.

Sligo Rags, headed by Poly alum David Burns on guitar, banjo, mandolin and vocals, with bassist Gordon Rustvold and fiddler/vocalist Michael Kelly, has been named Best Folk Band in Orange County (close enough) at the Orange County Music Awards for the last two years, and there's no reason to believe the streak will be broken soon. - Tim Grobaty


Material: An Irish pub band extraordinaire, L.A.-based Sligo Rags deliver a rich and satisfying mix of traditional jigs and reels, put ballads and Celtic-influenced originals. Classics like "Star of the County Down" and Ewan McColl's "Go, Move, Shift" are presented along with originals like the poignant "The Whiskey Never Lies." While the Rags don't stray far from the original intent of these time-honored tunes, they are not afraid to be innovative. By adding bluegrass-style flat-picking and world-beat rhythms to these traditional arrangements, they keep things interesting form the first note to the last.

Musicianship: All veteran musicians playing at pro level, these players are well rehearsed and confident. Kelly's vocals are steady and well-suited to this genre. Burns' flat-picking is inspired, while Kelly's fiddle playing -- lightning fast and always accurate -- is nothing short of phenomenal. Hartwell's unique percussion combination of cajon, djembe, chimes and cymbals, all slapped or tapped with open hands, along with Rustvold's steady bass, provide an intriguing array of rhythms that keeps this traditional fare vibrant.

Performance: These bandmates are clearly committed to this project, and it showed in the level of intensity they maintained throughout the evening. With only an occasional ballad to slow the pace, these guys never lost their stamina. The Rags thrive on audience participation, and they were determined to make true believers out of anyone within earshot. More than once, Kelly invigorated the crowd by leaving the stage and going from table to table as he played. At one point, he was joined on the dance floor by an enthusiastic waitress who treated the audience to an impromptu Irish dance performance.

Summary: The Sligo Rags have mastered the ability to take songs from a time gone by and make them fresh and relevant for a modern audience. Their passion for the music and their willingness to take risks combine for an outstanding live show. --Lisa Elaine Scott
- Music Connection, vol 31, #21 10/08/07 to 10/21/07


Orange Pop
By ROBERT KINSLER
Special to the Register

Talk about being all over the map. The latest crop of new releases includes a singer-songwriter-piano virtuoso, an outstanding Irish music trio, and one of Orange County's most genre-defying ensembles.

Sligo Rags, "The Night Before the Morning After" (CeltHick Music) - For those who enjoy the Celtic rock of the Fenians and American Wake, but wonder how those local artists might sound in an unplugged setting, get Sligo Rags' "The Night Before the Morning After."

Listening to the 16 tracks on the disc, it's easy to see how the trio was named Best Folk Band at the Orange County Music Awards in 2004 and again this year. Whether performing the melodic "Dirty Old Town" or the traditional "The Irish Rover," singer-fiddler Michael Kelly, singer-guitarist-mandolin-banjo player David Burns and bassist Gordon Rustvold blend the acoustic instrumentation of old recordings with the contemporary approach taken by ensembles such as Solas and the Chieftains in bringing unbridled energy to their arrangements.

Although there are countless recordings of the traditional "The Star of the County Down," few are as emotive as Sligo Rags' version.

You might like if you enjoy: the Chieftains, Solas, Fairport Convention

- Orange County Register


"Sligo Rags" reminds me a lot of the great Irish band "Gaelic Storm" in terms of making Irish music sound contemporary, powerful, and appealing to young and old. Mike Kelly's sizzling fiddle playing and Dave's extraordinarily good singing and guitar play define this band as one of my favorites. And I've seen them all having produced six Celtic music festivals in Southern California since 2001. Like Gaelic Storm, I expect them to break through soon to national and international audiences.

Pat Moran
Celtic Festival Organizer

(On 10/16/2007, Pat also wrote: "Always use me as a reference (cell# 562 500-3551) anytime another promoter wants info on you."
- Pat J. Moran, 10/16/2007


Artist: SLIGO RAGS
Title: THE NIGHT BEFORE THE
MORNING AFTER
Label: CeltHick MUSIC
BY LINDA DEWAR

Quick—name an Irish band from Orange County. OK, if you’re at all into the local Celtic scene, that was probably
pretty easy. Now name one that isn’t called The Fenians.
If you found the second task a bit more difficult, it’s no surprise. The Fenians and their signature brand of Irish trad-rock are
certainly the dominant presence in O.C. Irish music. But they’re far from alone; there’s a short but sterling list of other,
more acoustic Celtic bands who are based in the county to the south. One of the finest of these is a trio called Sligo Rags,
who were named Best Folk Band at the Orange County Music Awards for the past two years.
I have to admit that I’d never heard Sligo Rags before this CD was given to me for review, but I’m definitely a fan now. The
Night Before the Morning After is a collection of familiar and mostly-traditional Irish songs and tunes. My first take when I read the
track list was dismay at the thought of having to listen to yet another version of The Star of the County Down or Dirty Old Town.
But you can’t, or shouldn’t, judge a CD by its cover, and the old standards on this album are anything but boring.
Sligo Rags has absolutely captured the sound of a traditional Irish pub band; so much so, that you could book them to play in Dublin’s Temple Bar and no one would be the wiser. Instrumentals are their strong point, particularly the fiddling of Michael Kelly
and the guitar styling of David Burns supported by Gordon Rustvold on bass. Their songs have unusually long and complex
instrumental intros, making the vocals seem almost incidental.
Having admitted to cringing at the thought of hearing The Star of the County Down, I must now confess that it’s one of my favorite
tracks on the album thanks to a brilliant intro and unorthodox tempo. I’m also partial to Red is the Rose for the same reasons,
and to The Irish Rover, which features Burns on the banjo, Kelly on fiddle, and a great blend of voices.
The only thing I didn’t love about The Night Before the Morning After was the insert. While it may not be necessary to include lyrics with an album of such well-known songs, I’d still like to see a bit of a message from the band members; maybe a blurb about each song or
something witty about their music. The main feature of the insert is a full-page reprint of a review written by Rob Williams of
The Fenians. Williams’ praise is definitely a point of pride, but these guys don’t need an endorsement to validate their album…
the music speaks for itself.
- FolkWays Magazine Dec 2005


Sligo Rags - The Night Before the Morning After
by Carol Elaine Cyr

Irish News & Entertainment
Southern California Edition
March 2006

Sligo Rags' debut CD, "The Night Before the Morning After", is definitely a disc to keep in the ol' stereo. Traditional Irish tunes dominate the album, with The Star of the County Down, The Foggy Dew, John Riley and the instrumental Jackie Tar/Harvest Home/Banish Misfortune the best of an excellent lot. But more contemporary songs pepper the CD, including the opening From Clare to Here -- perfect tune to start out the album -- and the superbly heart-breaking Ordinary Man.

Every song is a gem, ably complimented by arrangements that preserve the music's Celtic origins while playing with flavors of other genres, including bluegrass and country. Purisits might cringe at such license, but believe me when I say that it works. Add to that intros which, in the words of Rob Williams (of The Fenians -- Mr. Williams provided liner notes for "The Night Before the Morning After"), "...are lush, woven as expertly as an Aran sweater."

Not that any of this is surprising. After all, this Southern California group has ben voted Best Folk Act in Orange County for 2004 and 2005 at the Orange County Music Awards, and with good reason. The trio consists of the multi-talented -- and multi-instrumented -- David Burns, the rousing fiddle work of Mike Kelly and the marvelously rhythmic bass sounds of Gordon Rustvold. David and Mike trade off lead vocal duties, depending on the needs of the song. Mike's lively tenor brings The Jolly Beggar to bawdy life, while David's moving baritone paints a lovely picture in Red Is The Rose.

Some have compared Sligo Rags to the Fenians, but "The Night Before the Morning After" demonstrates that this Celtic band has a robust style all their own. Sligo Rags Web Site: http://sligorags.com - Irish News & Entertainment


Sligo Rags is a California trio whose disc, "The Night Before the Morning After" [self-released (2005)], demonstrates that in this age of frantic pub bands, it's still possible to play Irish standards at a reasonable pace and make them sound good. Sligo Rags' sound is based on fiddle, guitar, or mandolin, and bass backing up comfortably smooth singing, and it's the melodic but unpretentious arrangements that are this trio's strength. Just about everything here is likely to be familiar to most fans of Celtic music: much-played songs like "Arthur McBride" and "John Riley," tunes like "Harvest Home" and "The Flowers of Edinburgh." But there's nothing wrong with that because the material is sung and played well. - Dirty Linen Magazine


Artist: SLIGO RAGS
Title: THE NIGHT BEFORE THE
MORNING AFTER
Label: CeltHick MUSIC
BY LINDA DEWAR

Quick—name an Irish band from Orange County. OK, if you’re at all into the local Celtic scene, that was probably
pretty easy. Now name one that isn’t called The Fenians.
If you found the second task a bit more difficult, it’s no surprise. The Fenians and their signature brand of Irish trad-rock are
certainly the dominant presence in O.C. Irish music. But they’re far from alone; there’s a short but sterling list of other,
more acoustic Celtic bands who are based in the county to the south. One of the finest of these is a trio called Sligo Rags,
who were named Best Folk Band at the Orange County Music Awards for the past two years.
I have to admit that I’d never heard Sligo Rags before this CD was given to me for review, but I’m definitely a fan now. The
Night Before the Morning After is a collection of familiar and mostly-traditional Irish songs and tunes. My first take when I read the
track list was dismay at the thought of having to listen to yet another version of The Star of the County Down or Dirty Old Town.
But you can’t, or shouldn’t, judge a CD by its cover, and the old standards on this album are anything but boring.
Sligo Rags has absolutely captured the sound of a traditional Irish pub band; so much so, that you could book them to play in Dublin’s Temple Bar and no one would be the wiser. Instrumentals are their strong point, particularly the fiddling of Michael Kelly
and the guitar styling of David Burns supported by Gordon Rustvold on bass. Their songs have unusually long and complex
instrumental intros, making the vocals seem almost incidental.
Having admitted to cringing at the thought of hearing The Star of the County Down, I must now confess that it’s one of my favorite
tracks on the album thanks to a brilliant intro and unorthodox tempo. I’m also partial to Red is the Rose for the same reasons,
and to The Irish Rover, which features Burns on the banjo, Kelly on fiddle, and a great blend of voices.
The only thing I didn’t love about The Night Before the Morning After was the insert. While it may not be necessary to include lyrics with an album of such well-known songs, I’d still like to see a bit of a message from the band members; maybe a blurb about each song or
something witty about their music. The main feature of the insert is a full-page reprint of a review written by Rob Williams of
The Fenians. Williams’ praise is definitely a point of pride, but these guys don’t need an endorsement to validate their album…
the music speaks for itself.
- FolkWays Magazine Dec 2005


Discography

"The Whiskey Never Lies", released in June 2007, is Sligo Rags' latest studio album. It contains recordings of five original songs in addition to the traditional arrangements.

"The Night Before the Morning After", full-length studio recording being played on over 75 radio stations across the United States

"Farewell to Your Dirty Lies", full-length live recording

"Far Away From Killarney", Sligo Rags' second live recording, was released in 2006

Photos

Bio

Traditional Celtic music that energizes everyone! Since 2002, Sligo Rags has fused Celtic music with bluegrass stylings to create a highly entertaining stage show. Their solid vocals (David - baritone; Michael - tenor; Jonathan - tenor) and top-notch musicianship, along with their lush arrangements, are winning over fans from the rock 'n' roll and country crowds as well as the died-in-the-wool folkies.

Sligo Rags has performed regularly at Disney California Adventure since 2011.  They have performed at festivals as diverse as MusikFest in Bethlehem, PA; Longspeak Scottish & Irish Festival in Estes Park, CO; Monterrey Scottish Festival & Games in Monterrey, CA; Ventura Scottish Games in Ventura, CA; Orange County Scottish Games in Costa Mesa, CA; and the Temecula Bluegrass Festival in Temecula, CA.

Awarded "Best Folk Band" at the 2004 & 2005 Orange County Music Awards, Sligo Rags was named as one of the top 5 folk bands in Southern California.

The current lineup in Sligo Rags is Michael Kelly, fiddle & vocals; David Burns, guitar, banjo, & vocals; Jonathan Baer, percussion & vocals; and Nathan York, Jr., bass guitar.

Sligo Rags has four studio albums currently available:  The Night before the Morning After; The Whiskey Never Lies; Roll Me Down the Mountain; and If The Skies Be Ablaze.  They have two LIVE albums available:  Time To Stop the Yawning; and When The Bottle's Talking.


Band Members