Edited by Tom Rhoads
Here's where you can learn all about the bands and performers
we like or who have influenced our music, or both.
The descriptions were written by Tom and constitute a cheap,
probably opinionated guide. (No angry e-mails about my implied
dissing of Yes, OK?)
There are, of course, lots of other musicians whom we like and/or
draw inspiration from, but we don't know of an Internet resource
for information about them. In most cases the resource is a web
site, but there are some mailing lists and other things as well.
It's organized alphabetically by band/artist name. If the only
resource is a single web page, the band name is the link - just click!
have their own pages of musical links.
There are a number of other directories of musician pages ...
try www.liveirishmusic for one.
Mike's vast repertoire of songs and tunes makes his concerts delightful,
and his playing on guitar, concertina and piano is the icing on the cake.
He's also one of the vital forces behind the Folk Project and the
A fine Stick player and Joe and Helene's partner in crime...
One of Scotland's most consistently excellent and enduring folk bands,
they maintain a busy schedule or recording and touring. Over the years
their membership has included such notables as Brian McNeill, Ged
Foley, Pat Kilbride and fiddle wunderkind John McCusker. Former
Ceolbeg singer Davy Steele was a member for a few years before his
Boiled in Lead
Magnificent world-punk band from St. Paul, Minnesota. Irish music is
the strongest thread in their work, but many other traditions both
Eastern and Western are represented. The band seems to be more or less
dormant these days, alas!
BiL page is part of the
website. The Leadheads mailing list also has a
Dark Aether Project
Very cool, somewhat Fripp/Crimson-influenced progressive rock from
Einstein's Little Homunculus
If you live in or near Boston, like Celtic and/or Klezmer music and have
a sense of humor, do yourself a favor and check this band out. Take a
fiddle- guitar- percussion trio and weld on a couple of saxes and a stack of
humorous original songs ... it's more fun than you can shake a stick at.
"Fairport" were the cornerstone on which British folk-rock was built, and
the launch pad for Richard Thompson, Ashley Hutchings and (to some
extent) Sandy Denny and Dave Swarbrick. Their rock delivery of
jigs and reels and meteoric instrumental skill, together with their
combination of well-chosen traditional songs and killer originals that
flowed out of the tradition, set the standard for the genre. They
have also had more lineups than the Chrysler Building has floors (over
the years enough musicians have passed through the ranks to form at
least three complete bands), and there's a good deal of stylistic
variation in their canon, but every version of the band has something
to recommend it (except maybe that clunker from 1976) and a lot of them
are very good indeed. The current version is a rather acoustic-
oriented outfit, very tight and excellent players, though without the
raw edge that marks the best of the band's history.
As for web sites, let's see ... there's the
Fairport domain site,
and the official Fairport Web
site. Take yer pick!
The tri-national trio of Ian Robb, Ann Downey and Shelley Posen -
straight-ahead folk music indebted to the 50s-60s revival tradition,
but never sounding dated. They're wonderful on stage - catch 'em if you can.
This Swedish band combines traditional Swedish (and some other
Scandinavian) music with a powerful rhythm-and-drone assault that
fuses old and new instruments, rumbly looping grooves, and great
vocals by Emma Härdelin.
Pretty much the dean of Scottish folk singers as far as I'm
concerned, and a fine guitarist and songwriter to boot. His album
Handful of Earth is on my short list of the best folk records
by anyone, anywhere, ever.
A too-often-neglected English progressive-rock band of the 70's, they were to
Yes (to whom they bear some musical resemblance) what C is to Visual
Basic - not as slick, but more flexible and powerful. Their records,
especially the earlier ones, demonstrate a seldom equalled combination of
reckless inventiveness, amazing musicianship and just plain fun. (Not unlike
Frank Zappa, whose influence is evident in many of their more anarchic
pieces.) Unfortunately, they eventually tried to sell out, only to discover
that nobody was buying (truly a sad fate!).
Juan Luis Guerra
With and (occasionally) without his group 440, this Dominican star
is one of the masters of Latin pop.
Señales de Humo is a
well-done fan site.
Masterful Chapman Stick® player, one of the very best
on the national scene.
Yup, the monsters of '80s metal! Their music has a progressive edge,
especially in Steve Harris' magnificent bass playing. (A web search
can also turn up a lot of fan sites.)
A band that seems to have covered every corner of the musical map -
idiosyncratic blues and jazz, riffy AOR classics, 80s technorock,
hypercomplicated electric folk, classical pastiche -
without ever sacrificing their own identity.
There's something for almost everyone in the Tull catalog - a lot
more than just "Aqualung."
Progressive-rock supergroup centered around guitarists Robert Fripp and
(at times) Adrian Belew, not to mention many other
luminaries who have passed through the ranks.
Very exciting folk-rock outfit from England. Cross Steeleye Span with
Queen and you might get something like it. Maybe I can get Joe to
write a better description of them. (Sez Joe: Long overdue and forthcoming!)
The Oyster Band
Stalwarts of the English roots-music-to-rock movement of the latter
'80s; they never seem to have quite gotten their due commercially,
which is a shame, but they consistently produce fine albums and they
can really do the business on stage. Too bad they don't tour the US
There is an Internet mailing list for Oysters fans. Send email to
with the words "subscribe oysters" in the body of the message.
A band that few outside of Switzerland have heard of. Jim says do
yourself a favor and track down any of their four CDs! Excellent,
stylistically diverse pop-rock, mostly sung in the Bern dialect of
German (some of it is in Italian). There's also a web
Swiss-dialect rock bands.
The essential folk-punk band; semi-aptly described as "the Clancy
Brothers meet the Clash," they fused Irish lyricism, excessive
quantities of alcohol and a small army of mostly
acoustic instruments with a rock rhythm section and hurricane energy.
For web resources, try
Longtime lead singer of Steeleye Span, of which band her stunning
vocals were the watermark. Now busy with her solo career.
A band best known for a very small number of chart hits ("Whiter
Shade of Pale"), but whose work really goes way beyond those few songs.
Remarkable for their orchestral-sounding approach to rock... without hiring
an orchestra to play along.
Our friend Vroomfondel has a fun
(featuring Broadside founder Rachel Hall)
All-instrumental, all-international, all-female, great players and
infectious fun to listen to.
A current pop-culture fixation ... since disbanded (oh no!)
The other biggest band in British folk-rock history, founded by Ashley
Hutchings after he left Fairport. They crossed over to some mainstream
success in the mid-70's. A big influence on Broadside in their
approach to the arrangement and use of traditional music. The group is
officially disbanded these days, but that's happened before.
Sites: a Web page in
a real nice one in Germany, and one in
and one from I know not where.
A five-piece, Ontario-based folk band with a big sound - they all play
hard, and they all sing. Their material is mostly originals which
tell stories drawn from Canadian history and folklore. The songs have
great choruses, and the band's onstage energy is fantastic.
Among the main bearers of the Brit-folk-rock torch in the US, this Bay
Area band have improved markedly in the past few years and mix in some
Scandinavian music here and there. While perhaps not the most original in
their approach (or, to be fair, the least), they play with great skill
and energy (not to mention great stage antics). Their records are
enjoyable, but I personally think they are best heard live. In
addition to the official site, here's a semi-official
They Might Be Giants
An underground pop/rock duo (sometimes a full band), anarchically
humorous, quirky to a fault, often hilarious lyrically. Highly
entertaining but not easily described - better check 'em out for
A great songwriter (arguably the best to emerge from the English
folk-rock scene), a very good singer, and a fantastic guitarist who
sounds like he learned to play on three different planets - he's
capable by turns of beautiful acoustic playing, pure rock'n'roll
groove and out-of-control modal skronk. In addition to Richard's own
site, see The
Bee's Knees, or this nice Aussie fan page, or
this discussion site.