Archive for July, 2010

Today, The World of the Blue Bells Trilogy is pleased to offer a free copy of DruidSong’s new album to one lucky winner.  To enter, leave a comment with an e-mail address where I can reach you.  This is the only requirement, but for fun, please also tell us your favorite song or novel or historical fact about the Celtic world.  The winner will be chosen July 28, approximately 9 p.m.

Once upon a time the Celtic speaking world was vast. As peoples migrated west from other lands, their languages slowly took over, leaving the Celtic languages in pockets in parts of western Europe: northern Spain, Brittany, the British Isles. The Celtic peoples’ music left an indelible impression longer than their languages, so you will find bagpipes and familiar melodies and rhythms where you least expect it.

Radio de Danann

If you love the Celtic world and you love music, if you love either one, chances are great you’ll love Radio de Danann, the on-line station run by Nan Hawthorne, author and musician.  Nan puts a lot of work and research into her play lists, searching out music not only from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, but from Cornish, Breton, Galician, and Asturian traditions, and from the Isle of Man, the Orkneys, and Hebrides. 

I love the variety on the station, ranging from the well-known groups like The Irish Rovers to independent artists doing covers of well-known traditional pieces, or their own original music in Celtic styles.  You’ll hear instrumentals and vocals, lively and slow, fiddles, drums, flutes, harp, pipes, and more; large groups and soloists.  You’ll hear some of the Celtic favorites, like Nancy Whiskey and Danny Boy, and newer and lesser-known pieces, including Nan’s own Ballad of Rory McGuinness. And you’ll hear twenty-first century rock from the Celtic countries.  Nan puts up a new playlist each Sunday,

I also like Nan’s creativity.  She has recently instituted her “The Same Difference” hour, in which she plays the same song, as performed by a variety of musicians.  I love the concept and the experience of hearing how so many people have interpreted the same melody.  Recent pieces include Whiskey in the Jar, Rising of the Moon, and The Foggy Dew.   

Radio de Danann, in short, is a station you can simply turn on as pleasant and relaxing background music.  Or, thanks to Nan’s research and creativity, both in programming and seeking out new music, you may find this a wonderful and, dare I say, educational excursion into the Celtic world and Celtic and musical history.  A recent playlist, for example, featured all Scottish music, including a number of pieces about Scotland’s great battle at Bannockburn.

Among performers you’ll hear are Druidsong, aka Bruce Golightly.  Druidsong has been performing since the 1960′s on 6 and 12 string guitar, bodhran (a Celtic hand drum), and tin whistle.  He plays solo and also with the groups Twisted Knickers and Hiraeth.  His music spans the range from pieces dating back to the 17th century or earlier, up to the 20th century, all reflecting the Celtic musical tradition, world view, and patterns.

Bruce currently has 3 albums out: DruidSong, Johnny Jump Up, and Rebels and Rogues, which includes Nan Hawthorne’s Balld of Rory McGuinness.  It is his Rebels and Rogues that is being offered as our giveaway today.  To enter, please leave a comment, including an e-mail address where you can be contacted, if you win.  For fun, tell us your favorite piece of music or novel connected with the Celtic world, or one fact about the history of the Celtic world.

Below is an interview with the multi-talented Nan Hawthorne.

Laura: Ironically, my own interest in the Celtic world came about through music.  What brought about your interest in Celtic music?

Nan: I grew up with a father who was a fine tenor and even did a stint in live radio in the 1940s under the  name “Danny Shannon”.  However, we were not really encouraged to compete with him, er ah, develop musical interests of our own.  So I suppose it went hand in hand with my interest in Ireland specifically and my later gleeful awareness that “Celtic” meant a lot more than Irish.  When I was about fourteen I saw the movie “Fighting Prince of Donegal” and fell head over heels in love with Irish history.  That’s when I created the two Irish bards who are characters in my first novel, An Involuntary King.  I went nuts for everything Irish, even convinced my tightwad father to send me to Ireland for a couple weeks, and while my mad burst of passion for Celtic music really came later, I was well on my way.

Laura:  How long have you been running the station?

Nan: I actually started out doing an hour long show on the Phoenix State College Internet radio station a couple three years ago.  Their faculty adviser, Miguel Fernandez, was very positive about the music I sent to one of his broadcasters for her Society for Creative Anachronism show, so even though I was nowhere near Phoenix, Arizona, he encouraged me to do my own program.  That was the Shannon O’Neill Memorial Celtic Music Hour.  When the school dropped the station, I decided to go 24/7.  The station on was my husband’s Christmas present to me in 20o8.  I have been running the station, Radio Dé Danann now since January 2009.  Though I am constantly involved in wonderful projects like writing novels and blogging and other artistic pursuits, I would say I get the most fun out of doing the station.

Laura: Where do you find your music?

Nan: I take every opportunity to buy music, whether on CDs at stores or as single downloads on Amazon MP3 Downloads.. the latter is nice because if I want to do my Same Difference program of the same song played by a dozen or so different artists I don’t have to buy a whole album to get one track.  As much as I would like to have the whole album, I can’t afford 12 albums to get 12 tracks.  I also encourage unsigned acts, small local bands, for instance, to send me their mp3s for me to play on RDD.  I can’t pay them but they get airplay they might not otherwise get.  I love that people tell me about musicians they enjoy.. that is how I learned about Hevia, the Iberian Celtic bagpiper and many other artists.  The proceeds of my web site goes entirely to purchasing more music.

Laura: What is your favorite group?

Nan: My two favorite artists at this point are Hevia, whom I mentioned above, and an Irish singer named Eugene McEldowney, who sings a lot of great rebel songs.  I love rebel songs.

Laura: What is your favorite piece?

Nan: I could give you a different answer every time you ask that.  Overall probably the version of The Foggy Dewperformed by Sinéad O’Connor with The Chieftains…she is so passionate in that song.  I also love The Lark in the Clear Airperformed by just about anyone, but this is for an odd reason.  I think of my Irish bard character Rory McGuinness singing it.  Of course that brings me to my own published song, Ballad of Rory McGuinness, which is on the album you are giving away!

Laura: I also love The Foggy Dew.  It’s one of the pieces my daughter loves to sing while I play it on harp.  It’s a beautiful piece about Irish history.  Tell us about some of the interesting people you’ve met through your interest in music.

Nan: Well, obviously, Bruce Golightly, who performs as Druidsong, the Pennsylvania based guitarist and singer.  Last year at a Renaissance Fair I met Gareth Davis of the Celtic Band Celt Check! who is himself a terrific solo act and will be doing a special program on RDD soon.  Mick Hurray of  The Mickeys in Akron, Ohio, has a rock beat to his Celtic music that I really enjoy.  I have just been making some contacts in the gay and lesbian musicians community and have a song called Irish Lass by a woman with a lovely voice named Linq on my current play list.  I can’t forget to mention Marc Gunn, who is sort of the godfather of Celtic music on the Internet with his Songhenge and other sites.  He has a couple albums of “Irish drinking songs for cat lovers” with tracks like “Whiskers in the Jar” and “Wild Kitty”.  He’s brilliant and a wonderful fellow and is based in Austin Texas.  One of the singers in a British folk group, Pig’s Ear, is Sue Rule, a historical novelist like you and I, and since I pepper my Celtic tracks with British folk and some Renaissance tracks, I get to play their songs.

Laura: How often do you change the music on the station?

Nan: I upload about 4 hours of music every weekend.  I have about 1500 tracks to choose from, and 4 hours is about 85 tracks.

Laura: That’s a lot of music!  What is it you are trying to do with your station?

Nan: Primarily I want to offer play lists with as diverse a scope as possible.  I don’t just play Irish and Scottish music, but also Welsh, Cornish, Breton, Asturian and Galician, not to mention Cape Breton in Canada.  I also try to play different genres, so you will get folk music, music hall songs, rock music, and a lot more.  I want to offer airplay to unsigned bands if only so they can hear their work played to the world but hopefully to spark interest in their work.  I love any excuse to buy more Celtic music.

Laura: Is there anything you think would surprise my readers about you?

Nan: Um, yeah, I don’t like Celtic Woman and I don’t like the Irish Tenors, yet whenever I tell someone about Radio Dé Danann they instantly tell me how much they enjoy those two!  They are OK but just not my cup of mead.

Laura: So you mentioned special programs like Same Difference.  Are you planning more of these?  And how can people keep up to date?

Nan: Oh definitely, not only Same Difference but the Gareth Davis show and I am hoping to get permission to rebroadcast a particular podcast.  I want to branch out more into the less well known Celtic cultures, like Cornish and Iberian, and also find music by bands in places like Australia and New Zealand and especially Japan.

To keep up, visit our web site, our blog at,  and also join our Yahoogroup at

Laura: Thanks for being here, Nan!

To my readers, a copy of DruidSong’s new album is being given away.  To enter, leave a comment with an e-mail address where I can reach you.  This is the only requirement, but for fun, please also tell us your favorite song or novel or historical fact about the Celtic world.

The winner will be chosen on July 28 approximately 9 p.m.

Maple Grove Days was held in Maple Grove, Minnesota this week, with a parade, street festival, face painting, crafts for sale, art projects for kids at the Maple Grove Arts Center, a group book signing by the Night Writers, and a spoken word with musical accompaniment performance by Night Writers John Stanton and Justin Knauss of John’s piece Flying Monkeys.

We all like to think, of course, that our books are beloved, but we were very flattered when visitors came from as far as the Caribbean. 

Yes, Jack Sparrow stopped by to browse Lyn LaCoursiere Miller’s Lindy Lewis Mysteries. 

And it appears he was overcome to get a signed copy of Blue Bells of Scotland!

Also present today to sign books:

Genny Zak Kieley, author of Hot Stamps and Green Pants: Growing Up in the 50′s and 60′s and three books on Northeast Minneapolis.

Ross Tarry, author of four mysteries.

Many thanks to Lorrie Link at the Maple Grove Arts Center for a good day!

Stay tuned for Monday’s announcement of the giveaway of Druidsong’s Rebels and Rogues.