The Mountain Road

Mondays | 6 PM - 9 PM

Streaming on KBCZ.ORG, broadcast on 90.1 FM Radio, Boulder Creek

A new Irish music and culture show, is broadcasting live every Wednesday at noon. The Mountain Road is produced locally, but streams globally from https://www.kbcz.org, and broadcasts on 90.1 FM, from Boulder Creek Community Radio, KBCZ hosted by Julie O.

KBCZ is a listener supported, non-profit, non-partisan, non-commercial, educational (NCE), live broadcast and cloud streaming radio station committed to serving the local community of the San Lorenzo Valley with all locally produced original programming. KBCZ studios are located at the Boulder Creek Recreation and Park District visitor center, 13333 Middleton Ave, Boulder Creek, CA 95006. Call the BCRPD hotline at 831-200-4295 and leave a message for Leslie Buchanan.

For more, check the KBCZ website at https://www.kbcz.org or the Facebook Page www.facebook.com/BCRadioNow.


High Country Celtic Radio @ KNVC.ORG

On Demand - Live Broadcast & Streaming Shows!


High Country Celtic Radio focuses on traditional, acoustic Celtic music, with a laid-back, Nevada attitude.

Katie and Joe feature both new and old traditional music from across the Celtic nations and the world, with a little extra focus given to artists from the west coast of the US.

Full details are maintained on their High Country Celtic Radio webpage https://www.knvc.org/show/high-country-celtic-radio/. Email Joe Bly at joebly@knvc.org.


To listen to the most recent 'High Country Celtic Radio' or other KNVC programs On Demand, click on. KNVC's On-Demand page, https://www.knvc.org/category/music-on-demand/ which features not only their material, but other locally-produced pieces.

To stream KNVC programs live, just click here for their streaming webpage https://elastic.webplayer.xyz/knvc.

Wherefore Traditional Music? Part 3

Streaming Playlists Awaiting Your Contributions

By Elise MacGregor Ferrell

It's been a few weeks since I last wrote about today's music listeners stampeding away from buying CDs and toward streaming. During those few weeks, I've been exploring Spotify, the current leader among streaming services. I'm writing this follow-up article because apparently many (if not most) Celtic music fans don't use Spotify (or possibly any streaming service), so some might be curious to learn its upsides and its downsides.

Streaming Basics

First of all, here are some basic facts that will only be of interest to people who have never streamed before:

• Compared with buying CDs, or downloading any significant volume of music from a vendor like iTunes, streaming is incredibly cheap.

• The music pops up instantly, so you can whimsically flit from song to song (especially if you have a Premium plan, rather than the Free plan which imposes some advertisements).

• Apparently you cannot hear every song you might want to hear in full if you only have Spotify's Free plan (I don't know why I have never encountered that problem, but maybe being a recording artist gives me some kind of plan that's between Free and Premium.)

• Streaming gives you access to so much music from all over the globe that it may seem overwhelming. However, using Spotify doesn't feel overwhelming in practice, because you automatically choose which music you WANT to hear, just like flipping the dial on a radio (rather than, for instance, sifting through an avalanche of links pushed at you by social media, which can feel very overwhelming). Spotify makes personalized suggestions of selections for you listen to, but if you don't want to hear these, the suggestions are easy to ignore.

If you have grown bored with your favorite genre(s), because you've heard all your favorite bands ad nauseam, and none of the new music you're getting offered floats your boat, the huge amount of works available for streaming is a great boon. For such poor dejected thrill-seekers, Spotify is a great medium! Their algorithms are pretty sophisticated, and having a huge library (including lots of niche music and authentic folk music) enables them to make some pretty good guesses about what kinds of music you might enjoy (especially after you've used the service enough for them to 'get to know you.' Also, you can effortlessly add Google's search results to Spotify's to discover playlists created by other Spotify listeners whose musical preferences resemble yours; by doing this during the past couple of weeks, I've found some great musical treasures that I never could have found by walking into a record store.

Podcasts and blogs are another good way to discover new music, but not all of us have the needed equipment or enough free time to enjoy podcasts, so for those who are busy and equipment-impaired, Spotify can be a great resource.

Spotify from a musician's perspective

The musician's perspective is important, because it's probably starting to have a huge impact on modern folk music. Spotify enables you, as a music 'consumer,' to influence the music industry with your listening choices (exactly the same way that you can influence the world's food-industry and clothing-industries with your spending decisions - but in a much more powerful and immediate way). Seriously, I'll repeat that last thought - you can actually influence the whole world's perception of a band from Ireland right from your own living room! Here's why...

• Whether by design or by coincidence, Spotify space is turning folk music into pop music. This is because Spotify only shows Band Profile visitors a band's 5 most popular tracks (unless they become interested enough to dig deeper), and since most people naturally click on whatever they are shown first, those are the tracks most likely to get played before they move on to something else.

• Each track's popularity is determined by its number of plays, and plays only count if a visitor listens for more than 30-seconds. Therefore, merely listening to a band's Top 5 helps keep their Top 5 cemented as the Top 5, even if better music is hidden farther down the list. Also, listening (and thereby adding another play) to the Top 5 increases the odds of other listeners hearing the same 5 tracks. So when you do nothing more than merely flit around checking out different music on Spotify, you are manipulating the whole world's perception of the bands you are listening to!

• When a band's music first enters Spotify's library, it's up for grabs which tracks will get favored, and natural selection will not always maneuver the best music up to the top. More likely, the first music to reach the top will be whatever gets chosen first by a major playlist curator. In theory, those first choices could end up being the music most listeners will hear from that band forever, especially if additional popular curators choose music from the same Top 5, and so forth. So

• Yikes! So how can a band influence the presentation of its own music on Spotify? Well, they need to pitch the music they want featured to some huge playlist curators right from the get-go. Or else, they can create a playlist of their own, and hope for it to become popular quickly. They can also ask their friends to help, by sharing links with a broader network of friends, and posting tracks on their own playlists. How successful this effort will be depends upon many things, one of which is whether or not the band's music is well designed for streaming.

• Expert playlist curators want music that will keep their listeners playing the same track for at least 30-seconds, and also they don't want them to ever get bored and click away to someone else's playlist. Therefore, they must choose music with instant appeal that can hold peoples' interest all the way through to the end (or at least until they click to the next track on the playlist). This means no drawn out introductions (unless they are super catchy), no boring interludes, and the shorter the better in most cases.

So you can expect streaming to have a big influence on folk music in the coming months and years, and every time you use a streaming service you can enjoy knowing that you have the power to significantly aid your favorite bands - anywhere in the world - by simply clicking, enjoying and sharing their music!

Spotify Playlists Curated by Elise

Now, for anyone who's interested, here's an opportunity to jump right in and flex your muscles as a music influencer!. My own band, Charmas, has been on Spotify for about a year, but we didn't have much of a streaming audience until just a few weeks ago, when I started interacting with the platform. During those short few weeks, we have gone from about 50 listeners per month up to 417 listeners per month. We are eager to keep that trend going, and we are also eager to help other bands we enjoy get their music noticed - so I've created 5 new playlists, both in hopes of sharing my favorite music with you, and in hopes that you will contribute suggestions for my playlists.

Bands, this is a great opportunity for you and us to help each other!

Music fans, if you want to promote any of your favorite bands, just send me a Spotify link for any music you want to suggest and I will listen and decide if it's right for my themes (note: I have to be choosy, because thematic consistency is what makes a good playlist).

Here are the 5 playlists I have started. If you enjoy them, please add them to your Library on Spotify (more great music will be added to each list soon, and ongoing).

  1. CELTIC ADRENALINE RUSH Inspiring, melodic, high-energy, optimistic, no punk or metal, emphasis on instrumental music.
  2. CELTIC ON REPEAT Slower, hypnotic, intoxicating, polyrhythmic music that gets better every time you listen.
  3. FRESH CELTIC COMEDY Funny songs most Celtic fans have never heard before - not The Sick Note!
  4. CELTIC MAN CAVE Don't take this too seriously. And for goodness sakes, don't tell your guy friends that you're listening to a list of man music complied by a woman! (I created it because my band is full of men, and I needed a place to put our manliest music.) Note - my definition of 'Celtic' is a little loose for this playlist, and can include any songs whose subject matter might interest manly Celtic men.
  5. WORLD FUSION MUSIC INTERNATIONAL BUFFET Yeah, it's a heck of a long name. Well, 'World Music' was taken, and so was 'Whirled Music.' Anyway, this playlist can include modern, polyrhythmic, fusion music from anywhere, and I especially love World Music with Celtic and Indian influences.

Lastly, if you enjoy hearing Charmas' music on the above playlists (or if you already liked it before you read this article) please Follow Charmas on Spotify. Conversely, if you have a band which needs Followers, please send me a Spotify link for your music to eliseelise@aol.com.

That's how it's being done now folks. When life gives us waves, we might as well surf them...

Elise MacGregor Ferrell
bandleader, manager, and performer with Charmas


KKUP broadcaster David Stafford

Editorial: CDs versus Streaming - Part 2

Community Radio and the Evolving Music Industry

By David Stafford, davstaff@ix.netcom.com Published 2018-06-08

This article is sort of an addendum to Elise MacGregor Ferrell's essay regarding Traditional Music on CD's from a musician's viewpoint (Read it Here). As a community radio programmer and a Member of KKUP's (KKUP Cupertino, 91.5 FM) Board of Directors, I have a little different perspective on a few of the issues that Elise raises, but, in some ways we are in the same boat, as are you the music lover. First of all, KKUP and I have no direct financial interest in record sales or other aspects of the music business. We don't sell recordings, book concerts or collect any remuneration from music other than direct subscriptions from our listeners. KKUP is noncommercial, we don't sell ads or get institutional monies (grants and so forth) and we subsist entirely on subscriptions to our little radio station directly from our listeners. Try explaining that business model to a banker sometime. :) We do however, pay thousands of dollars per year to the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) for permission to play any commercial recording and report it to them, allegedly so that artists can be compensated. You will have to ask the artists themselves how that works out for them. Trust me, this is a complicated and detailed legal process that takes a great amount of time, money and effort to which radio stations must comply.

How, you ask, does this impact me, the music listener? It was memorable for me to read Elise's desire to look at cover pictures and art on CD's. I am old enough to remember these exact same arguments against CD's because they are so much smaller than LP's, and have less room for beautiful Cover Art, liner notes etc. There was and still is the argument for better sound that continues to this day (analog vs. digital etc.). It is important to remember that all forms of recording have technical limitations that limit how close a recording can come to live music. Personally, I have rarely, if ever heard a recording of any kind that truly sounds enough like live music to fool me when listening in the next room, much less listening in the same room. Don't get me wrong, I love recorded music, it just does not substitute for live music, for me anyway. So, arguments like analog vs. digital, CD quality vs. mp3 quality sound, or even analog tape vs. direct LP recording are secondary to me-it's results that count. I have heard good sound and bad sound from all of these formats. Much depends on the skill of the recordists involved and the musicians playing the music. However, none of them sound exactly like the real thing to me, namely, live performance. However, any or all of these recording techniques can bring a great deal of joy to the music lover. We can't carry a band in our pockets or set them up in our living rooms, but we can listen to music in just about any location via recordings. Yay!

Now, for the technical part of this essay. Both FM radio and streaming have inherent limitations above and beyond those mentioned above. By law, Stereo FM radio is frequency limited to 50-15,000 Hz (cycles per second). The range of human hearing for pitch is generally regarded as 20-20,000 Hz, so, stereo FM loses some information right off the bat. Humans can hear sound levels from about 0 to 120 decibels, (dB), but if we exclude the loudest, harmful levels, our safe dynamic range is more like 90 dB. If we account for the background noise level of, say a very quiet listening room, our available dynamic range is more like 70 dB. More importantly, for these various media, signal to noise ratios (hiss mainly) are, at best about 60 dB for stereo FM, 70 dB or so for LPs, 90 dB for digital sources and infinity for live music. FM being by far the worst. Having said that, FM can sound pretty darn good.  Digital sources of all kinds tend to be quiet in even the softest music.

Having studied this stuff for most of my life, I believe that different people hear sounds very differently from one another. I have my own biases, and I like to think I know what they are. Hiss generally does not bother me as much as it does some. Inherent distortions from LPs, such as ticks and pops and inner groove distortions, drive me crazy. Back in analog days, I was a fanatic about keeping my records clean and invested over $500 in an expensive, highly regarded record cleaning machine. None of it truly worked. I still remember hearing the slow movement of Beethoven's 9th symphony (very quiet) for the first time at a friend's house with one of these new-fangled Compact Disc players, and for the first time, enjoying it noise free. I went out and bought a CD player the next day. I tend to not be a sensitive as some to the particular distortions that digital recordings have. Your results will probably vary. The main point that I am trying to make is that no recording technology that humans possess is even close to perfect, and all have significant limitations, so, choose what sounds best to you. There is no 'right' or 'wrong' in any musical endeavor, most judgments regarding music is opinion, at least, beyond, is it in tune, is the rhythm regular etc. I believe that whatever is right for you, is right for you. So, what is better Pop or Folk Music, Rock or Classical? See what I mean?

Streaming or FM?

Radio streaming is virtually an all done from mp3 formatted files, usually at 320 Kbps (kilobits per second). That is what the powers that be have determined, and this is the highest quality mp3 compression generally available. It is often thought that 120 Kbps is 'CD quality', it is not, and neither is 320, but 120 Kbps is close and 320 Kbps is darn close. I have to directly compare over a very fine stereo system (or superb headphones) to hear the difference, and, even then, usually I can barely tell the difference. Your mileage may vary, of course. Still, streaming is probably the future for radio stations, with FM (and AM) broadcasting becoming more of a niche market. Just as the largest percentage of the recording buying public, young people, are largely turning away from physical recordings of all types, so, fewer and fewer new listeners are turning to broadcast media, and more and more to streamed media (audio and video too, for that matter). From what I understand, that is the opinion of most radio executives, and at KKUP, we see more evidence of this every year.

As a result of this, radio stations are being offered more of our new music as a digital download, whether we like it or not. This is the historical model of audio recording — as technology changes, so do our recording formats. Cylinders gave way to platters, 78 shellac gave way to 33 vinyl, 33 gave way to CD, and CD (the first mass digital format) is giving way to streaming. The market determines the popular format, and today's market seems to be strongly inclined to the streaming compatible formats. Sadly, Beautiful covers, detailed liner notes, and even the very best quality sound seem to be a secondary consideration, although I should note that recording studios use far higher recording standards than any of the consumer formats. The good news is that recordings can still sound great, and, I believe will improve over the years, and, as long as we have musicians to play live music, we have a standard to which we can compare all recordings.

We are all indebted to musicians like Elise MacGregor Ferrell that spend their lives doing the studying, practicing and playing music that keeps the music alive. We have them to thank for the great art of music, transcending all formats, technologies and cultures.

And of course, there is no point to this without you, the music listener.

If you have comments or questions, please email David Stafford davstaff@ix.netcom.com.


Streaming Apps
Streaming Apps on an iPhone screen

Spotify Update: Can Streaming Help You Find Great Celtic Music?

Streaming Playlists for All Ages

By Elise MacGregor Ferrell - Published August 3rd, 2018

Most Celtic music fans are old enough to remember when all kinds of music were a popular remedy for boredom, a live-metronome required for dancing, fodder for heated debates (especially about Irish traditional music), and were enjoyed for countless other reasons that might be nearing extinction. Say what? Seriously, if you peruse Spotify's playlist titles, you'll notice that today's young adults (who work long hours, drive their kids all over creation, exercise before or after work, and/or continuously use i-phones) appear to have grown too busy to enjoy music as a dedicated pastime, so nowadays they are mostly playing music in the BACKGROUND while they work, drive, jog, do their school studies, and even sleep. Music appears to have become a tool of choice for staying awake and staying motivated. Furthermore, if you listen to a lot of popular music, you'll notice that it has become quite percussive and melodramatic, probably because people spending gobs of time working and socializing on computers are getting hungry for tactile stimulation.

So, my take on the whole situation is that: Today's young adults want music they can feel while they are doing something else!

How are streaming services like Spotify reacting to this trend (or perhaps even creating it)? Technically, Spotify's subscribers can stream albums in the same manner that they used to listen to CDs. However, based on what I've recently observed, it appears that a huge percentage of (if not most) Spotify subscribers are finding new music via Topical playlists, which steer them toward music that matches their daily activities. Take, for example, playlists with names like "Sad Songs For a Rainy Day," "Stuck At Work For One More Hour," "Epic Road Trip," or "Ask Her Again, By Candlelight" (these are made up names, but you get the idea). Go ahead and snicker. Personally, I find it sad that art is getting sacrificed for utilitarian themes. But, on the other hand, successful playlist curators really are experts in their field. Take, for example, one playlist I noticed, called something like "Hipster Dinner For Two,"...which made me think to myself "What on earth would that be?" so I opened the playlist, and it only took me a minute to decide that if I ever hosted dinner for a hipster, that is exactly the playlist I would choose (served with Chinese Chicken Salad made from a Safeway dinner kit.) It not only showed me where to find such music, in case I ever need it, but it also gave me an instant education about the definition of hipster music.

Playlists can help you instantly find new favorite music you could never find on your own, either because you have stopped going to concerts, because you are chronically busy, or because you simply don't know where to look. Playlists allow you to quickly and easily share new favorites with your friends. They facilitate road-trip radio sharing with your kids, by making it easy to flip-flop back and forth between 'Dirty Old Town' and 'It's Raining Tacos.' And if you ever find yourself feeling sleepy during a long car commute, you might even save a life by listening to my road-tested playlist Celtic Adrenaline Rush (better than stale mini-mart coffee.

Now here's the big news: Once a playlist guides you to discover a new band, and then you click to the band's Profile page...before spending any hard-earned cash on a better listening experience via CD or vinyl record, first You can stream the band's entire album to decide if it's worth buying Whoa!! Can you feel the earth shaking? How many CDs and LPs have you bought that contained 1-2 great songs but then totally bummed you out after you discovered the rest of the songs were duds! Think how much good whiskey you could have purchased with all that money you've wasted!

But here's some different food for thought: Historically, Celtic music (like all genres of folk music) has derived some of its appeal from nostalgia, cozy settings, human interest, and tradition. Sometimes we love a performer's music partly because of the wood grain on their old fiddle, or the transcluent worn spot on their hand-me-down banjo. Suddenly, streaming is subtracting all of that ambiance, and music is getting judged solely on its ability to provide auditory/kinesthetic/intellectual satisfaction. Any music that modern people don't enjoy without such trimmings will fail to reach future generations via streaming, even if it's Irish Pure Drop, or if the entire band got knighted by the queen. 

Before you start groaning, consider the flip-side...any music that sounds great to streamers might potentially spread like wildfire all over the world, even to places where people have never enjoyed Celtic music before. If you dread tradition getting watered down, this might you depress you. But if you embrace "progress" and you want Celtic music to expand its reach for decades to come, then you'll perceive this as being great news. It could also be great news for bands, and for those bands who feel skeptical, please consider a little encouragement from my own experience: Slightly over one month ago, only about 50 people per month were listening to Charmas on Spotify. But now that I've put in some time making connections, we've got over 900 listeners per month, from all corners the world. These are people we could never reach by any other means (because we are not a touring band), so we are not sacrificing any CD sales by giving them free music). And, most importantly, most of our new fans are between the ages of 18-40! How cool is that? We're not talking about kids listening to Irish punk and metal. We've got hundreds of young adults from the US, Canada, Europe and South America, listening to solo Great Highland bagpiping and traditional Irish dance music!

The worst news is that a lot of great Celtic recording artists are still shying away from streaming, so the whole genre hasn't yet gotten well established on Spotify, AppleMusic, etc. If this trend keeps up, streaming services will think Celtic Music is only enjoyable one day per year! So how can you help convince Spotify (for instance) that Celtic music is enjoyable year-round? It's easy (and this a win-win situation for bands and music fans)...

1. First sign-up for a FREE subscription to Spotify or any other streaming service. Then (note that the following are Spotify links, because that's the only platform I've researched so far)...
2. Start adding Celtic playlists to your Library...

  1. Celtic Adrenaline Rush
  2. Celtic on Repeat.
  3. Fresh Celtic Comedy
  4. Celtic Man Cave
  5. World Fusion Music International Buffet
  6. TradConnect's Top 100 Irish

If you are a recording artist, and you discover some of your music on my playlist, please seize this opportunity to publicize your band by following my playlist!! The more Followers a playlist gets, the more new Spotify listeners will hear it, which helps your music get heard along with mine! (Isn't that great? When bands book live shows, we have to compete with each other for an audience, but on Spotify everything bands do to promote other bands in our genre helps all of us!) And if you don"t see your band on any of my playlists, please send me a link to anything you think would be a good fit.
3. Follow your favorite/local bands....
Molly's Revenge
The Fire
Culann's Hounds
The Wicked Tinkers
Michael Mullen's Trio of One

4. Create playlists of your own and share them via Facebook and the Spotify Community
5. Add local music to your own playlists 


Extra Credit: You could also e-mail Tony Becker, asking him to create a playlist! (Then, if he does create one, please reward him by adding it to your Library :)

And, by the way,  I wasn't joking about 'It's Raining Taco's.' If you don't believe it's a real song, just find it on Spotify....

Cassette and iPod

Wherefore Traditional Music Part 1?

Albums & CDs vs. Streaming Singles

By Elise MacGregor Ferrell - Published May 25th, 2018


How can you get a Millennial to laugh? Just tell them your band is recording a new album, and releasing it on physical CDs. 'Are you kidding?' they'll joke. 'While you're at it, why don't you also buy some new encyclopedias! Give it up, old timer. Everybody streams now.'

Well, call me old-fashioned, but I still think a 'stream' is a good place to go fishing. And I still enjoy admiring my CDs' beautiful covers, shoving them into my van's CD player, giving the dash a good hard thump to jumpstart its disc changer, and then playing whole albums from start to finish, exactly as their creators meant for me to enjoy them.

If someone waggles an i-gadget toward my input jack, I roar 'GET that away from me,' while turning up my CD loud enough to drown out their age-jokes. In fact, if I had been a teenager in the 60's and early 70's, every time one of my favorite bands released a new album, I would have done like as those Boomers did, and invited some friends over to listen to the whole album from top to bottom (a suggestion that would shock most people today). However, the buzz among today's music influencers is that 'albums' are becoming moot, and henceforth almost everyone will only listen to single releases.

Be that as it may, my preference for CDs versus i-gadgets partly stems from wanting better sound quality. Although not everyone agrees with me, one expert who does is sound engineer Paul Stubblebine. When bands started asking him for MP3 conversions, he researched how to get the best possible quality, but on his fifth attempt the sound came out so much worse that his client wanted a refund, so that's when he decided to just let musicians convert to MP3 themselves. Paul points out that converting from CD-format to MP3 somewhat reduces sound quality, but what really degrades the listener's experience is further conversions (for instance, from CD or WAV format, to Phone MP3 and then to a Car Stereo via an average (328kbps) Bluetooth connection - the reason being that each format change may subtract some of the information from the original format, resulting in poorer a lower quality music experience.

Since you are reading this in a Celtic forum, there is a good chance of you being old enough, to likely agree with at least some of this and resist these changes, but we need to accept that the music industry necessarily has to keep up with the marketplace. CDs are disappearing, and for that reason I recently found myself sitting atop a box of brand new CDs, anxiously thinking 'Who's going to buy these?'

One hour of web-research turned up some disturbing facts: 1. Only a few Bay Area music stores still carry a good selection of Celtic CDs. 2. Most online retailers don't carry a good selection (unless you are primarily seeking new releases from trending superbands like Celtic Woman). 3. Many online retailer-lists don't appear to have gotten updated since Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys released, 'No One As Irish As Barack Obama.'

Still, as the manager of a Celtic band (Charmas), I need to sell CDs and I don't give up easily, so I popped some popcorn, hit the 'locator' button on my wall-mounted telephone, (more millennial giggles) and did enough more research to find out that...


You might think that a Global Economy would help Americans purchase anything they desire from Ireland and Scotland, but here's what the Bay Area's biggest Celtic music retailers told me...

Buyer John of El Cerrito's Downhome Music (which stocks about 200 Celtic albums, including both rare and popular artists, and vinyl) says it's getting harder to purchase wholesale music from overseas. 'We used to get our CD's from Claddagh...' he explained, but increased shipping costs have caused most distributors to drop out of the business.

Buyer John of San Francisco's Amoeba Music (whose inventory of a couple hundred, mostly pre-owned Celtic CDs/vinyl changes constantly), adds that a lot of old Celtic albums have simply gone out of print.

Buyer Eric of Berkeley's Lark in the Morning (who inherited a couple hundred CDs when he bought the business) is eager to sell off his inventory, because he believes that, even if some people still want CDs, most of them no longer have CD players in their cars.

Buyer Paige of San Jose's Streetlight Records (which stocks a couple rows of used Celtic CDs), says Streetlight would quickly go out of business if they could not return albums that don't sell, and for that reason she only purchases new albums from major label distributors.


Maggie Cadden, previously an agent for many touring Celtic bands, host of grand concerts, and mass-distributor for every kind of recorded Celtic music, says Celtic music's commercial boom is 'almost over.' Her retail sales company, Dara Records, has nearly stopped importing music from Ireland. They have also stopped selling CDs at festivals, because 'It's an older crowd now,' who simply aren't buying enough CDs to justify her effort. One recent trend Maggie does appreciate is the growing number of House Concerts, which affordably publicize new performers, and foster intimate connections between the musicians and their audiences.

When I asked Maggie how she thinks today's older Celtic music fans are sampling new Celtic music, her guess was that most of them aren't! Indeed, it seems plausible that most of today's new Celtic music is primarily reaching just a fraction of Celtic music fans who are still young enough to be frequenting House Concerts, festivals, and who are also…(I shudder to even say it again)...streaming!

Which brings us to the next obvious question...

Streaming Apps


I can answer this question myself.

Our band's first album, Songs of the Sea, was a 'concept album,' featuring simple folk songs and varying combinations of just a few instruments, which became satisfyingly diverse when we carefully sequenced the songs and enhanced the whole album with artistic transitions.

Upon deciding to record our second album, Stark Raving Celtic, Charmas had streaming in mind, (Here is the link: Charmas Stark Raving Celtic on Spotify), but we still wanted to take a purist approach. So we gave each track enough depth to stand on its own as an individual release, while still giving the whole album cohesion by adding evocative transitions and long-fade endings. And we even took sound engineer Ken Capitanovich's advice to transfer the whole album onto analog tape, in order to give it the kind of pleasing, mellow sound that makes LPs pleasurable for extended listening.

Charmas' next hope is to attract more young people to become interested in Celtic-influenced music, so we plan to record an album of pop-folk songs targeted primarily for streaming. In order to catch the attention of Spotify surfers and pop-music bloggers, we'll need to cut right to the meat of each song, foregoing any lengthy introductions that might cause them to lose interest, and assuming that most listeners will hear the songs piecemeal, rather than playing the whole album from beginning to end.

In a world like this...


Absolutely! I've already listed several Bay Area retail stores which STILL SELL a good selection of Celtic CDs and vinyl. Downhome Music even keeps a CD player handy, for shoppers to conveniently 'try before they buy,' and (at least in Santa Cruz) Streetlight Records is generally willing to play any CD you want to hear over their house speakers.

As for streaming, I think it's a dreadful idea, but I'm embracing it anyway. This is partly because Spotify gave me a free Premium account (one perk of being a record producer), and since then I've discovered that I can use Spotify to hear full albums from almost any band I search for (because I have their Premium service), and then buy the band's CD if I like it enough to want it for my car. (Note that Pandora also gave me a free account, but I haven't gotten far with Pandora, because I quickly discovered that their music library lacks a lot of my favorite music. On the other hand, IHeart Radio, although seemingly very commercial, has a great selection of folk music, as well as a knack for suggesting new music I might actually enjoy, and I might explore them more in the future. Hillbillies From Mars bandleader Daniel Steinberg says he personally worked on Google Music's algorithms, and their streaming service is the best for keeping folk music lovers surrounded by rare artists, rather than continually steering them toward best-sellers.

Someone with knowledge that far surpasses mine could write a great article about choosing the best streaming service for Celtic fans, and I hope they will, because I would like to read it!

Additionally, online radio and music bloggers belong to a whole different world that I'm just starting to learn about. Futuristic stuff. Check the AmeriCeltic on-demand webpage, http://www.americeltic.net/on-demand-broadcast, or their AmeriCeltic Group on Facebook, for more on these options for Celtic content.

Great for a cozy evening sitting around the fire while nibbling on plain old vanilla ice cream, without any additions of crushed candy, raw cookie dough, or other new-fangled complications added...

Email author Elise MacGregor Ferrell at eliseelise@aol.com



Multiple Weekly shows @ KKUP.org

Live Broadcast or Streaming Shows!

There are several Celtic Radio Shows produced in the South Bay Area by volunteers at KKUP FM. KKUP is a non-commercial radio station broadcasting at 91.5 MHz from high atop a mountain peak in the Santa Cruz mountains and is heard in both Santa Cruz and the South Bay Area. Staffed completely by volunteers and supported 100% by listeners, providing an alternate source for music and information not readily available on other stations for over 40 years.

KKUP Celtic Shows
KKUP programming includes several weekly shows that highlight Celtic Culture:

  • Kevin Kavanaugh's Program "The Rising of the Moon" happens on 4th and 5th Monday of every month, during the morning drive time from 6 am to 9 am. The 'Blarney Rebel' plays folk music from North America and the British Isles, as well as singer/songwriter music, and 'whatever else I feel like playing'. Email Kevin at ozonrgr@comcast.net. Like the entire Kavanaugh family, Kevin has been collecting and singing Celtic songs since the 1960's, and will bring his vast knowledge and collection of Irish and Scottish ballads, laments, and rebel songs, ensuring that your day begins with Copious Celtic Craic!
  • Greg Winslow's 'Lark in the Morning' at 6:00 AM every Wednesday morning. Greg plays a combination of traditional American folk music, current singer/songwriter material, Celtic music, and theme based programs.
  • Peter Schwarz's 'New Wood' show at 7:00 AM Thursday mornings. Peter opens his show with Celtic music, then mid-way, American and bluegrass. Find your roots!
  • Jackie Loken's 'The Moonlight Trail', 7:00 PM Thursday evenings. Jackie's show is a mix of Country, bluegrass, folk (including Celtic) and live music.
  • Dave Stafford's 'Friday Folk-off' at 3:00 PM Friday afternoons. Dave's show is an unpredictable mix of live music, contemporary acoustic recordings with a healthy dose of Celtic, English, and American melodies.

Support KKUP by clicking here, or call your favorite programmer at (408) 260-2999 or (831) 255-2999 during his or her show (during the music not while they are live and on the air!) and subscribe. An annual subscription of $25 will cost you less than 7 cents a day.

To stream KKUP programs live, just point your browser at their home webpage, kkup.org, click on the red 'Listen Live' link at the top right, and select the appropriate app from the list: desktop, laptop or mobile device.

Celtic Music Streaming, Broadcast and On Demand Programming

AmeriCeltic promotes Celtic Streaming, Broadcast and On Demand programming.

To help fund our efforts, click this 'Donate' button:

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

Click on this link to subscribe to our Email Newsletter, sent every Friday, and get up-to-date information on our sessions, concerts and other events with an accurate and up-to-date description of each.

Hamish Douglas Burgess

Maui Celtic Radio

5 Live Streaming Broadcasts Weekly

Available On-Demand at mixcloud.com/mauiceltic

Originally a British citizen by his Scottish parents, Hamish Douglas Burgess, also known as Seumas (or even Jim by old friends), is now an United States citizen living on the island of Maui, in the Hawaiian Islands, where he has promoted Celtic culture for the last 15 years, collecting new Celtic music from all the greatest Celtic artists in the Celtic homelands as well as the diaspora.

Maui Celtic Show
Weekly Broadcasts
Live from Maui:
KAKU 88.5 FM broadcast
streaming https://kakufm.org
• Sundays 11 AM-1 PM Pacific
• Sundays 8-10 PM Pacific
(during the winter both these Pacific Times shift an hour earlier, as Hawaii does not change their clocks)
From Glasgow, Scotland:
Celtic Music Radio 95.0 FM broadcast
streaming www.celticmusicradio.net
• Tuesdays 12 noon-2 PM GMT / 4 - 6 AM Pacific
• Thursdays 2-4 PM Pacific Time
• Fridays 8-10 PM Pacific Time

Hamish creates a fresh, always new 2 hour Maui Celtic Radio Show of great Celtic music with a new theme each week! These shows are always spot-on and up-to-date with what is happening in the Celtic World. Hamish blends in commentary drawn from his encyclopedic knowledge of all aspects of Celtic Culture, and often has the hottest performers as his live guests.

The show is broadcast and streamed live twice on Sundays from Maui and 3 more times throughout the week, from Scotland. Full details including the world-wide broadcast schedule are at www.mauiceltic.com/radio.htm.

After these broadcasts are done, each Maui Celtic Radio Show is available On Demand at http://www.mixcloud.com/mauiceltic. Over 2 years of archived editions are available to listen anytime, free and on-demand!

Email Hamish at: hamish@mauiceltic.com, call him at +1 (808) 264 5190, or mail him at Maui Celtic, P.O.Box 1323, Lahaina, HI 96767-1323, USA.



The Oak and Thorn Show @ KZYX.ORG

Live or Recorded Streaming Shows!

Mendocino County Public Broadcasting offers 'Oak and Thorn,' a weekly program of Celtic music, every every Sunday from 9 - 11 AM Pacific time (that's 1700-1900 GMT). Click Here, http://www.kzyx.org to listen live on the Web and the last two weeks of shows are available for 'On Demand' streaming at Click Here, http://jukebox.kzyx.org. The program is simultaneously broadcast on radio stations stations KZYX 90.7 MHz FM Philo, KZYZ 91.5 MHz FM Willits and Ukiah, K201HR 88.1 MHz FM Fort Bragg in Mendocino County and surrounding areas of Northern California.

Oak & Thorn presents a wide variety of music within the 'Celtic' genre, from pure traditional to modern contemporary sounds, including music from Brittany, Galicia, and Asturias as well as the British Isles.  In addition to the music, we occasionally offer information about the artists and/or the culture from which this wonderful music springs.  Playlists and other information are maintained on our blog at http://oakandthorn.wordpress.com.  Oak & Thorn also maintains a Facebook page where we post announcements of upcoming special shows, concerts, and other news of interest to Celtic music fans.  On either the blog or the Facebook page, you can let us know how we are doing, ask questions, and get answers!

Oak & Thorn also presents benefit concerts featuring many of the musicians heard on the program, including some of the top live bands in the genre.  To find out about these events (which often sell out in advance), send an e-mail to oakandthorn@kzyx.org and ask to be put on the notification list.  Upcoming events feature The Outside Track (tickets available here), Patrick Ball & Shira Kammen (tickets here), Molly's Revenge (tickets here), Runa (tickets here), Daimh (tickets here), and Skipper's Alley (tickets here).

Colleen Bassett, who originated this program, hosts on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month. Tim Bray hosts on 1st and 3rd Sundays. (We flip a caber to determine who's up on 5th Sundays.)

Tim and Colleen love to hear from listeners! During the live show on Sundays, 9-11 AM Pacific time, you can call in comments and requests: (707) 895-2448. You can email Tim Bray at oakandthorn@kzyx.org.

To stream KZYX, point your browser to on www.kzyx.org and click on the 'Listen Live' tab.

Click Here, http://jukebox.kzyx.org, to listen on demand. Then use the drop down menu to chose the 'Celtic genre', then click on the 'Play' button for one of the shows from the last 14 days listed below.


The Celtic Universe Show @ KWMR.ORG

Live or Recorded Streaming Shows!

On KWMR, West Marin, CA, 'The Celtic Universe' has been bringing listeners this wonderful music since late 2000. Hosts Loretta Farley and Lyons Filmer highlight music from all over the Celtic diaspora: Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England, Brittany, Galicia, Cape Breton, Newfoundland, Quebec, the U.S. Recently, they've also included Nordic folk music.

Loretta and Lyons bring musicians on-air, both in-studio and on the phone, and love to feature Bay Area performers and the venues that host them - but it doesn’t stop there - calls come from Cape Breton, Ireland, even southeast Asia.

The idea for 'The Celtic Universe' began when Loretta presented a special on KWMR about Irish women and Irish history, using music, spoken word, and her own research and writing. Lyons was impressed, and suggested the two of them share hosting a Celtic music show. Happily the KWMR schedule had room! Generally Loretta and Lyons alternate weeks, and are backed up by Ken Eichstaedt and Greg DeMascio (known as McMascio when subbing).

Initially, Lyons suggested the alliterative 'Celtic Kingdom' for the name. Loretta, feminist and democrat, countered with 'Celtic Universe.' Sold! Their music tastes differ and overlap; some listeners claim they can tell who’s hosting within the first 30 seconds by the music (having missed the intro, of course!). During 'The Celtic Universe' you will hear female and male singers in Scots Gaelic, Breton, Irish, English, Manx, Welsh ballad, love song, tragedy, humor, and beauty, waltzes (a Loretta favorite), jigs and reels, airs, strathspeys (a Lyons favorite), polkas, barndances the occasional electric guitar, pipes of all stripes, fiddle, mandolin, bodhrán, banjo, whistle, flute, accordions and concertinas, harp, harmonica, a keyboard or two.


To stream KWMR, point your browser to on www.kwmr.org and click on the yellow 'click to play' icon. The broadcast range is West Marin into Sonoma County, and the west side of San Francisco: 90.5 Point Reyes Station, 89.9 Bolinas, 92.3 San Geronimo Valley. To listen on demand, chose one of the shows from the last 14 days listed at http://kwmr.org/shows/celtic-universe. Loretta and Lyons love to hear from listeners! During the live show on Saturdays, 6-8 pm Pacific time, you can call in comments and requests: 415-663-8492.

Lyons is also program director for KWMR; you can reach her at programming@kwmr.org

Fiona Richie

Thistle and Shamrock

Most listened to Celtic Programming in the World

Online, Fiona offers an endless supply of great music for you to explore.

Miss something on the radio? LISTEN AGAIN to the most recent episodes of The Thistle & Shamrock either on www.thistleradio.com or on NPR Music. View the show's latest radio playlists, browse upcoming program descriptions and archived interviews and articles.

You can also stream the listener-supported, commercial-free SomaFM / ThistleRadio music channel - more than 700 great tracks streaming round-the-clock. To hear the programming, just CLICK HERE, or your can point your browser to www.ThistleRadio.com, and click on the large 'Listen Now' button.

The Thistle & Shamrock, produced by Fiona Ritchie, is the most listened-to Celtic music programming in the world. 'Thistle and Shamrock Show' is heard on many NPR stations, including Saturdays at 2:00 PM on KALW FM broadcast on 91.7 MHz from San Francisco, but is also available online at both NPR and Fiona Ritchie's websites. (See box.)

Ritchie was born and raised in Scotland, where she went to the University of Stirling for her undergraduate education. While there, she was invited to spend one semester in North Carolina in the United States, where she first heard NPR radio. After graduating in Scotland she returned to North Carolina and, although initially pursuing post-graduate research, was hired by WFAE FM, the NPR station in Charlotte, to oversee fundraising and promotion efforts.

WFAE was a new station open to new ideas and in 1981 Ritchie began a weekly hour of Celtic music for its local audience. The Thistle & Shamrock was picked up for national broadcast less in less than two years! The program's national following grew quickly and it was soon established as one of NPR's most widely heard and best-loved music offerings. During her years based in North Carolina, Ritchie visited radio stations coast-to-coast across the US, presenting live broadcasts and events, and in 1989 and 1990, traveled to 22 US cities with The Thistle & Shamrock Concert Tour.

Fiona Ritchie has presented numerous programs for BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio 2, launching the Radio Scotland world music series "Celtic Connections" in 1993. She has produced and presented many live concert performances and broadcasts, including a musical event for HRH Prince Charles in 2001 at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, and has acted in an advisory capacity for arts organizations in the US and UK, including serving on the Scottish advisory committee for the British Council.



Forest Halls Celtic Show @ KVSH VoiceOfVashon.org

Live or On Demand Streaming Shows!

Do you enjoy a bit of myth, lore, history, and the spirit of the Celts woven in with your listening of traditional and contemporary Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and other Celtic-rooted and inspired tunes and songs?

Forest Halls Celtic Live Radio Show, is a adventure into the realm of Celtic music, with occasional forays into related genres, such as folk, World, medieval and Renaissance, and ambient/cinematic. Along the way we may pause to enjoy a poem, tale, nature note, or other snippet of greenwood magic. Join host Jane Valencia, Celtic harper & storyteller, live, on KVSH 101.9 FM Vashon, WA, every 1st & 3rd Sunday, 12-1pm PST, with an encore airing on the 2nd & 4th Sundays.

Listen from anywhere by live streaming over the internet! Click Here, www.voiceofvashon.org/forest-halls-celtic, then on the blue 'Listen' the link in the upper right. Or listen on your schedule! The latest show is always available on demand - Click Here, to listen to the latest show on demand!, then choose the latest show at the bottom of the page.

Jane's appreciation of the vitality, technical expertise, and imaginative expression of West Coast Celtic musicians inspires Jane to regularly include music from our region as well as from the six Celtic nations and other Celtic territories. Jane is a long-time performer and teacher of Celtic harp in northern California and the Pacific Northwest, and the show often features the harp, especially the early Gaelic wire-strung harp.

Also a naturalist and storyteller, Jane is fascinated by how the land itself is a voice in the music and expression of the Celtic people whether the artist is connected with the Celts by ancestry or by way of the heart. This intimate relationship with the natural world, as well as with the œOtherworld realm of Celtic myth, soul, and imagination, is explored in the choice of show themes and content.

For listeners wanting to find out more about the artists and pieces featured in a particular show Jane posts extensive program notes on her own website: http://ForestHalls.org. Music and magic awaits you at http://voiceofvashon.org/forest-halls-celtic. Contact Jane Valencia by email at jane.foresthalls@gmail.com.


Traditional Ballads with Sadie @ www.KGGV.FM

Live or Recorded Streaming Shows!

Sadie Damascus's weekly two-hour radio show is produced in Guerneville, CA and broadcast on KGGV 95.1 FM radio Thursday evenings from 6:00 to 8:00 PM, and repeats on Tuesday afternoons from 3:00 to 5:00 PM, but is also available streaming live or on demand!

Sadie Damascus shares her lifelong passion for the English and Scottish (Child) Ballads, and she discusses and plays five ballads per show from Prof. Francis Child's English And Scottish Popular Ballads (1882-1898). This year's series of shows (Sadie's second complete go-around through Child's five-volume set) began in April with Child's #1-#5, so on June 30th the show should feature Ballads #56-#60.

It's not just music; Sadie shares information about the stories told in various versions of the ballads, and about ballad variants from other cultures; she describes old customs and folklore, and ballad vocabulary and pronunciation when needed. The ballads are ancient, anonymous, traditional, narrative folk songs, which have long been passed on by word of mouth.

Some ballads tell of love, of family tragedy, elves and demons, or adventure, magical transformations, heroes and outlaws, ghosts, or tragic romance, plus themes found also in Greek myth, The Arabian Nights, and the Bible; some ballads are stories told all over the world.  Sadie will describe the families of ballads, the history of oral ballad collecting, which started in the 1700's, and how the songs, long passed down, change when they are printed; how ballads travel and evolve from country to country and period to period.  Ballads to be played range from untrained country voices to electric music and some well-known vocalists.

Sadie and her guests play and sing and discuss the old narrative songs, such as Barbara Allen, Scarborough Fair, Sir Patrick Spens, the Great Silkie, Robin Hood's Delight, the Cruel Mother, Henry Martin, and hundreds more, along with occasional scholarly discourse and debate. Singers of these songs are always welcome to join us; email Sadie at damascus@ap.net or check kggv.fm/shows/traditional-ballads-with-sadie for details. Recording artists may send Sadie ballad CD's at PO Box 52, Monte Rio, CA 95462.

To stream KGGV programming live, just press the blue 'play' button from anywhere on their website. If you're busy on Thursday evenings, KGGV archives Sadie's shows for several weeks. Point your browser to Sadie's page at kggv.fm/shows/traditional-ballads-with-sadie and click on the show you want, then click on the small grey 'play' button, or click on the download arrow and save it to your player for later listening.


Folk Music & Beyond @ KALW.ORG


On Demand - Live Broadcast & Streaming Shows!


This is the sixth installment of our series on the Live Streaming scene, and features the Folk Music & Beyond Radio Show produced in San Francisco by volunteers JoAnn Mar and Bob Campbell every Saturday afternoon on FM 91.7 MHz from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM Pacific Time.

Their program comes to you on NPR public radio station at KALW FM. Their live Streaming, live broadcasting on 91.7 FM from San Francisco as well as On Demand services bring you some of the best in contemporary folk, traditional, and original music from America, England, Ireland, Scotland, and other parts of the world at your convenience.

JoAnn Mar and Bob Campbell started the show in 1988 in response to the lack of alternative folk/acoustic-based music on the commercial and noncommercial airwaves. This was at a time when KALW had very few live music shows and their mission was and remains to inform as well as to entertain, to challenge people’s common assumptions, reclaiming and redefining the term “folk music” taking pride in its legacy, and broadening its definition.

Full details are maintained on their Folk Music & Beyond webpages at www.kalwfolk.org and http://kalw.org/programs/folk-music-beyond.

Call JoAnn or Bob while they're on the air at 415-841-4134. (during the music, not while they are live and on the air!), or email them at kalwfolk@rahul.net.

KALW, San Francisco's oldest public radio station, turns 75 this year, and is celebrating with a special concert on Thursday August 4th at 8 pm at the Nourse Theatre in San Francisco featuring the Kronos Quartet and Bruce Cockburn. Support KALW by clicking here.

To listen to the most recent 'Folk Music and Beyond' or other KALW programs On Demand, Click Here.

To stream KALW programs live, just click here for their streaming webpage, and click on the 'Play' button. They also support the 'TuneIn' app and other online radio services for desktop, laptop or mobile devices. To call in in comments and requests during the live program, call 408-260-2999 or 831-255-2999.