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Paddyrasta - Celtic Reggae with tenor banjo

Posted by sixwatergrog on Friday, November 18, 2011

Paddyrasta - Listen to Your Heart

The other day I Googled the words "Celtic Reggae".  I basically just wanted to hear how these sounds would sync, and fortunately a band that mixes these styles well called Paddyrasta came up in my search. Paddyrasta is just like the name conveys - an Afro-Irish group based out of Scotland that blends Jamaican rhythms, beats and bass-grooves with traditional Irish melodies on fiddle, accordion, whistle and more...tying it all together with the universal sounds of the banjo.

I gave Paddyrasta's album Listen to Your Heart a spin on Rhapsody and I think they do a good job taking what could be (and will be) perceived as something cheesy and infusing it with a good-time energy. The mix of instruments is the appealing thing here - how well the Celtic melodies jive with the Reggae rhythm backup.  That is, assuming you can get past the preachy and overtly socially conscious lyrics, characteristics of Roots Reggae. 

Irish music can easily fall into cliches as well - think Riverdance, Celtic Woman, pub songs, too many whistles, pipes, audiences clapping along, and so on.  To their credit, Paddyrasta doesn't play into those stereotypical aspects of Irish music.  At the very least this was simply an inspiring study of how these sounds intersect - perhaps giving me the affirmation I need to pursue something along these lines with my own tenor banjo playing as I strive to play both Irish trad and Jamaican Mento music, as well as Maritime and Southern String Band influenced 4-string banjo.

Good craic!  Jah rastafari!

Lanny Fields is learning tenor banjo. He writes about music, travel and more on his blog  Follow Lanny on Twitter @sixwatergrog.

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