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Gallowglass gearing up for debut album release

Triumphant 'Dear Ruin' features exquisitely crafted traditional folk songs

Gallowglass
Gallowglass
By Jesse Stanton CDN Contributor

Since their founding in 2014, the band Gallowglass has been one of the leading lights of the local acoustic Celtic scene. After years of intense practice, steady gigging and carefully researching and arranging a wide array of traditional Irish and Scottish folk songs, they’ve finally recorded their first album, “Dear Ruin.” 

I’m glad to report it was very much worth the wait. The long gestation period has given the 10 songs on the album a level of intricacy and tightness rarely seen in the realm of folk music. They’ll celebrate its release with a special evening at the New Prospect Theatre on Sunday, Dec. 17.

In the group, Jan Peters and Mishon Kirkland trade off on lead vocals while also playing melodies on harmonica and flute, respectively. The rhythm section is Zach Bauman on the bouzouki (essentially a bigger mandolin tuned down an octave) and David Lofgren on the bodhran (an Irish frame drum). 

Notably, this lineup doesn’t include either guitar or fiddle, probably the two most common instruments in this style of music these days. This gives their arrangements a fresh and distinctive sound compared to other groups in the same genre, as does the unusual harmonica/flute combination. 

Typically they have the melody played or sung in a solidly traditional way, with the chords and rhythms underneath it showing a more modernist approach. Although they’re certainly capable of breaking out fiery instrumental medleys of reels and jigs in their live shows, on the album, they save the instrumental tunes for use as interludes or codas. This choice makes sense — you can hear those sorts of tunes in lots of places, but the vocal blend in this group is something truly extraordinary. 

photo  In Gallowglass, Jan Peters and Mishon Kirkland trade off on lead vocals while also playing melodies on harmonica and flute, respectively. The rhythm section is Zach Bauman on the bouzouki and David Lofgren on the bodhran. (Photo courtesy of Dennis Kirkland)  

Their repertoire is generally traditional, although they tend to seek out unusual or unexpected versions of some of the songs. For example, their take on the standard “Wild Rover” uses the familiar lyrics with fresh, surprising melodic phrasing. They also draw occasionally from more modern sources, like their version of Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country.” 

The characters in the songs form a veritable rogues’ gallery of sailors, star-crossed lovers, criminals and rebels. A highlight for me is “Bold Jamie,” which uses dark, minor key bouzouki arpeggios and a driving drum beat to accompany Kirkland’s gorgeous singing of the story of a lovelorn farmer’s daughter, all tied together by soft wails on the harmonica. 

The album was recorded with immaculate clarity by Michael Thomas Connolly at Empty Sea Studios, thanks in part to a huge outpouring of crowdfunded fan support. A lot of people have been looking forward to this one! The release show will also feature a performance by folk/old-time trio The Dream Goats, who have an album of their own on the way soon. 

Looking ahead, Gallowglass has a new batch of songs already taking shape and is working on plans for more out-of-town shows this year. If the album is not out for streaming by the time you’re reading this, it should be soon, but it will also be available on CD at the show. 


So if you’re looking for some exquisitely crafted traditional folk music, the New Prospect will be the place to be. It’s your chance to celebrate how far they’ve come and maybe even get a glimpse of where they’re headed next.

News

That Pure Halcyon album I talked about a few weeks ago, “Nothing Set In Stone,” is out in the world, so check that out wherever you stream music. For another release with a strong local connection, The Rhetorician produced all the beats for Seattle rapper Blksknn’s new EP, “Late Bloomer,” so definitely check that one out as well if you’re looking for creative hip-hop. 


JESSE’S PICKS

Hot Tomatoes at Honey Moon
8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14, Honey Moon
The Hot Tomatoes play an energetic brand of vintage jazz with style and aplomb. They’ll be livening up the Honey Moon on Thursday, Dec. 14. It’s probably too tight in there for anyone to get up and properly dance to them, but it should be a lovely evening anyway. You might even want to get dressed up for it.

Jack Mattingly at Conway Muse
8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15, Conway Muse
After several years as Skagit County’s favorite country/rock/Americana-type band, Whiskey Fever went on indefinite hiatus last year. Lead singer Jack Mattingly is still doing solo shows, and he’ll be at the Conway Muse on Friday, Dec. 15. Expect the sort of sad songs that still leave you feeling happier when you’re done listening to them. 

Full Color Dream at The Shakedown
8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, The Shakedown
Full Color Dream is gearing up to release their excellent debut album, “Blooey,” with a show at The Shakedown on Saturday, Dec. 16, with support from Harbor Day. Their sound blends crunchy alternative rock guitar riffs, just a hint of classic rock bombast, and subtle yet memorable vocal melodies. If it helps you place them, they were formerly known as PS Webster, and their lead singer used to be in Fossil Fire. Impressively, they’ve already got a second album recorded and ready for release next year.

photo  Full Color Dream is gearing up to release their debut album, “Blooey,” with a show at The Shakedown on Saturday, Dec. 16. (Photo courtesy of Tommy Calderon)  


LIVE MUSIC LISTINGS

Tuesday, Dec. 5

  • Aslan: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Jam:30 (open jam night)
  • Culture Cafe: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Open Mic
  • Menace: 7 p.m.,  Invitational Blues Jam
  • Wild Buffalo: 8:30 p.m., Cannons (electro-pop)
  • Zeeks: 6 p.m., Open Mic

Wednesday, Dec. 6

  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Open Mic
  • Rockfish: 6 p.m., Joan Penney (jazz)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Tyler Clarke

Thursday, Dec. 7

  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., High Peak Trio (jazz/funk)
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., WWU Jazz Night
  • Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Eagle Haven: 7 p.m., Olson Brothers (country/Christmas)
  • Farmstrong: 6 p.m., Joshua Red Uttech
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Jazz Jam
  • Ramble Tamble: 7:30 p.m., Sunflecks, Verboten, Lily Miller
  • Shakedown: 8 p.m., Yak Attack, Swindler
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • That’s What I Like: 6 p.m., J.P. Falcon and Friends (folk/rock)
  • Wild Buffalo: 8 p.m., Mason Jennings

Friday, Dec. 8

  • Aslan: 8 p.m. Tenderpile’s Smile Aisle (jazz)
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Thomas Harris Quartet (jazz)
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Heroes, Beatroots, Bellingham Rock Orchestra (rock)
  • Brown Lantern: 9 p.m., Joey Hendricks
  • Corner Taphouse: 7 p.m., Dry Martini (jazz)
  • Fireside: 7 p.m., Jeffrey Slough and Friends
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Quickdraw String Band (folk)
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Fog Bodies, Bird Bones, Cat Positive (rock)
  • New Prospect Theatre: 7 p.m., The Lowest Pair
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., Wet Temple, Myonia, Done to Death (hard rock)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Michele D’Amour and the Love Dealers (blues/R&B)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., J.P. Falcon Grady
  • Vault: 7 p.m., Darla Kendrick
  • Wild Buffalo: 8:30 p.m., MUST DIE!, Tisoki, Ceilia, Pathos, Hiryann (electronic)

Saturday, Dec. 9

  • Bison at the Granary: 6 p.m., Cami Flage (holiday/indie/jazz)
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Heavy Bloom, Kazmyn, Bellflower
  • Birdsview: 6 p.m., Tom Mullin
  • Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Clark Point Rounders (bluegrass)
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Oly Mountain Boys (bluegrass)
  • FireHouse: 6 p.m., Jeff and Jenn Christmas show (Elvis and Celine Dion tribute)
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., The Moving Hats
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., The Happy Hour Storytellers:  Matney Cook and Stone Jones, ft. Wille Reavis and Dean Luce (singer-songwriters)
  • Jansen Art Center: 3 p.m., Noel Ensemble (Celtic/Christmas)
  • Make.Shift: 6 p.m., Open Mic
  • McIntyre Hall: 7:30 p.m., Skagit Symphony (holiday program)
  • Old Edison: 8 p.m., The Mosstones, The Dangerous Curves
  • Ramble Tamble: 7 p.m., Sarah Goodin, John Swanke
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., Pacific Twang (country)
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., Acid King, Kadabra, Dark Meditation (doom/stoner metal)
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., Eric Kosarot and Rosahlee (folk/Americana)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., J.P. Falcon Grady
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Gruv (jazz/funk)
  • Wild Buffalo: 8:30 p.m., EPROM, EASTGHOST, Lotus Drops b2b Squanch, Keags
  • Zeeks: 7 p.m., Cardova (funk/R&B)

Sunday, Dec. 10

  • Kulshan: 5 p.m., The Devillies
  • Main Street: 6 p.m., Open Mic
  • Mount Baker Theatre: 3 p.m., Bellingham Symphony Orchestra (holiday program)
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m., The Bow Diddlers
  • Shakedown: 8 p.m., The Veldt, Tremours, The Wyrds (rock)

Monday, Dec. 11

  • Kulshan: 6 p.m., The McHughs (folk)

Tuesday, Dec. 12

  • Aslan: 8 p.m., Jazz Night
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Jam:30 (open jam night)
  • Culture Cafe: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • Menace: 7 p.m.,  Invitational Blues Jam

Wednesday, Dec. 13

  • FireHouse: 6:30 p.m., Noah Simpson Quartet (jazz)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Open Mic
  • Rockfish: 6 p.m., Heron and Crow (folk)
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m. Naughty Blokes Trio

Thursday, Dec. 14

  • Admiralty Lounge: 7 p.m., Kera-Lynn Newman & Jan Peters (traditional folk)
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., High Peak Trio (jazz/funk)
  • Brown Lantern: 8:30 p.m., Open Mic
  • Farmstrong: 6 p.m., Sweetwood
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., The Hot Tomatoes (vintage jazz)
  • Menace: 7 p.m., Hopnotic (jazz/funk)
  • Ramble Tamble: 7:30 p.m., Paige Woods, Lucas Warford, Luke Moore (singer-songwriters)
  • Thirsty Badger: 7 p.m., Open Mic
  • That’s What I Like: 6 p.m., J.P. Falcon and Friends (folk/rock)
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m., Pure Halcyon, The Problem, No Mars
  • Zeeks: 7 p.m., Pat Mcfarland (blues)

Friday, Dec. 15

  • Aslan: 8 p.m. Mindset Concept (jazz fusion)
  • Bistro at Shuksan: 5 p.m., Thomas Harris Quartet (jazz)
  • Blue Room: 8 p.m., Cozmic Sauce (funk/R&B)
  • Conway Muse: 8 p.m., Jack Mattingly (singer-songwriter)
  • FireHouse: 7 p.m., North Country Highway (Christmas country/folk/rock)
  • Fireside: 7 p.m., Carr Parker
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., Delta Promenade (acoustic blues)
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Devin Champlin, John Bellows (folk)
  • Make.Shift: 8 p.m., Drayton, Red Roulette, Mad King, Back to the Loud (rock)
  • New Prospect Theatre: 7 p.m., John Prine Christmas ft. Jenner Fox Band
  • Skagit Cellars: 6 p.m., Jaden Oscar
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Badd Dogg Blues Society
  • Vault: 7 p.m., JP Falcon
  • Wild Buffalo: 9 p.m. Nite Wave (’80s cover band does “The Wedding Singer” soundtrack)

Saturday, Dec. 16

  • Birdsview: 6 p.m., Marcia Keester
  • Bison at the Granary: 6 p.m., The House Wrens (traditional Irish)
  • Brown Lantern: 9 p.m., Pension King & The Dependents (classic rock)
  • FireHouse: 6:30 p.m., The Atlantics (Christmas rock ‘n’ roll)
  • Greene’s Corner: 6 p.m., The D’vas
  • Honey Moon: 8 p.m., Chris Nunn (singer-songwriter)
  • Karate Church: 7:30 p.m., Culloden, Drayton, Blind Heresy (rock)
  • Ramble Tamble: 7:30 p.m., Mode 3, The Harris Twins
  • Rockfish: 7:30 p.m., Badd Dogg Blues Society
  • Shakedown: 9 p.m., Full Color Dream, Harbor Day (rock)
  • Skylark’s: 8 p.m., Vince Bigos
  • Stones Throw: 6 p.m., Michael Dayvid
  • That’s What I Like: 8 p.m., Chelsey Monique (R&B)

Sunday, Dec. 17

  • Kulshan: 5 p.m., Katie & Kevin (folk/bluegrass)
  • Lincoln Theatre: 3 p.m., Magical Strings (Celtic/Christmas)
  • Main Street: 6 p.m., Open Mic
  • New Prospect Theatre: 6 p.m., Gallowglass, The Dream Goats
  • Old Edison: 5:30 p.m. The Atlantics (classic rock ‘n’ roll)
  • Shakedown: 8 p.m., Somerfeld, YELLOW, Late Lunch (rock)

Before heading out to listen to live music, check with individual venues to make sure the event is still taking place as scheduled. 

The Beat Goes On is published online Tuesdays and in print Fridays. Email: jsbhammusic@gmail.com or Twitter: @JSBhamMusic.

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