I've always been a fan of folk-rock and punk-folk - for instance, The Pogues - but a bit over a month ago I was getting another tattoo at the excellent Glory Bound in Exmouth, and they had on an album by another Celt-punk band the Dropkick Murphys (a particular trackwas Fields Of Athenry). This led to a general swapping of recommendations: I recommended to them the Square Word Calligraphy site, and they recommended further Dropkick Murphys tracks, as well as the bands Flogging Molly and The Real McKenzies.
They're all very good - Flogging Molly is rather more political in tone, if that's your inclination - but as a favourite I'm leaning toward The Real McKenzies, for their greater range. Their Farewell to Nova Scotia is a good, but rather standard Celtpunk, version of a much-covered traditional song, but their latest studio album Westwinds has varied and brilliant tracks: for example, the wistfully nihilistic I Do What I Want; the frenetic Fool's Road; the bizarrely upbeat version of the classic Massacre of Glencoe; the bagpipe-rock tribute to the late Billy Millin, My Head is Filled with Music; Stan Rogers' brilliant mixed-metre modern folksong Barrett's Privateers; and the inspirational shanty-style The Tempest:
We are all born free but forever live in chains- Ray
And we battle to exist and soldier on,
We'll take whatever comes to be while keeping hopeful melody
And we'll cruise through the darkness until the warmth of dawn.
So row, row you bastards, you never can tell,
Through water like glass above a briney hell.
So row and a-holler, come give her all you can,
Or the sea she will best us, we'll never see the land.