DJs On RadioFlag Spark a Time Traveling Exploration Into the Lore of Celtic Music



In spite of my overall enthusiasm for New Music and Artists, now and again, I find myself in a nostalgic mood, that brings out the “music time traveler” in me, beckoning my ears on a tryst and galloping back in time.

I have several DJ’s on RadioFlag to thank at the end of this article, for igniting this last trip. While exploring RadioFlag on St. Patrick’s Day, I tuned into the DJ’s who were giving spins to Irish and Celtic tunes. I began to wonder, is there a difference between Celtic and Irish music? If so, what is it? Maybe you’re asking yourself, “who the heck cares anyways?” Well, as a person who truly “digs” music (I mean that very literally), I like to dig deep into it. Think of it as music archaeology combined with music farming, hunting, and gathering, if you will. Investigating, exploring, digging, and gathering the roots to a song, is a big part of the pleasure; all in due preparation for a satisfying scrumptious sound feast.

It’s like the difference between fast food and a slow and sensuously indulged meal, whose whereabouts can be traced to an artisan farmer (which on exceptional occasions I would go so far as to liken it to bio-dynamic farming, although not all bio-dynamic farming is what I could consider artful). From there, consciously procured to induce a thoroughly engaging relationship with the food, taken into a persons body temple as empowering fuel. Music is like fuel in that way, just taken through the ears instead. Simply said, its like the perfect condiment, and it enhances the flavor of each tasty tune that rides its wave towards an honest desire for profound musical exhilaration.

“Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.” ~ Hunter Thompson

This unfeigned passion spurred me to capture one single evocative tune; one that hearkened the feeling of lore and music tradition, with roots that plunge into the oldest history of Ireland. At the same time, I wanted this song to hold its place in the line of time and space, coming all the way to touch the present day, in an all pervading, global, and creative way. The song that stood out was a medieval ballad called ‘Scarborough Fair‘, first made famous in the 1960′s, by Folk Rock Artists Simon and Garfunkel. Although it’s traditionally an English ballad, there seems to be a lot of room for debate regarding the original medieval source; one being that the song is rooted in a Scottish ballad called “Elfin knight”. The magical  story is about an Elf who kidnaps a woman, and will only release her from his love grasp if she can succeed to do “impossible things”. Sounds like a good time. ;-)

In light of that fanciful perspective, there seems plenty of chance for an Irish influence, whereas not to be forgotten. It’s true that the song’s title places it in the Medieval English “hot spot” of Scarbourough, a town in Yorkshire. The Scarbourough Fair was like a big and popular party scene in the 14th century, and whose jubilation’s endured all the way into the 1700’s. This yearly festival heralded in all kinds of colorful characters from mighty distances for the purpose of trade, eating,  drinking, mirth and merriment, and in this particular case, unrequited love.

The lyrics detail a young man requesting impossible tasks of his lover, and promising if she accomplishes the charge, he will have her back. Likewise, she counters with equally impossible tasks for him to perform. They then agree to set forth on their lover’s challenge simultaneously, wishing each other “all good things”, symbolized by herbal references to “parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme”.

Most people today don’t give much credence to The Doctrine of Signatures, or the idea that herbs are anything more than something you add to a salad or marinade. However, herbs charmed the romantic imagination of medieval lovers, much the same way chocolate in heart shaped boxes, and red roses on Valentines day, fan the fires of modern day romantics. So in the context of the day, parsley was used by medieval doctors to turn spiritual bitterness into mildness, sage as a symbol for strength and protection, rosemary to build faithfulness and counter loneliness, and thyme to instill courage. Thus, in essence, each time this chorus comes up in the song, it instills a blessing from one lover to the other, while they do the impossible. How romantic is that?

Returning to the question; what is the difference between Celtic and Irish music? The key to opening a door to answering this quest, was handed to me by DJ Blondie on RadioFlag, when she played an iconic Celtic inspired artist by the name Loreena Mckennitt.

This video depicts Mckennitt performing live from one of Spain’s most wondrous ancient and exquisitely intricate architectural masterpieces, The Alhambra. In the introduction she explains her deep life long musical fascination with Celtic music and the expansive influence of the Celt people. 

In fact, the answers to the Celtic questions are not easily unveiled, being heavily shrouded in a tempest of time and magical tales, cultural and religious inoculations, raucous and drunken silly talk through centuries of Scarbourough fairs, scholarly opinion, and ceaseless ornery gibberish and senseless shenanigans surrounding the topic.

The simplest answer, is that Celtic music cast a wider net than simply “music from Ireland”, because it encompass music from Great Britain; which is Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. However, there is much more to the story of the Celts, whose culture, language, and art of all kinds spread across the majority of the European continent, before the rise of the Roman empire. The music has roots that go very deep, high and wide, and making it your study, is like climbing a giant “Tree of Life” with roots that penetrate middle earth, and branches that spread throughout the heavens. It’s like peeling through the layers of a macro-cosmic onion, that emanates from many mystical places across this earth. This exploration turned into  quite an unexpected excavation, that had me digging back into a fantastically adorned realm of medieval laden musical mysticism.

Much like the lore of Celtic music itself, the ballad of Scarborough Fair has a similar mystery story, with a horizon line that keeps on moving out ahead with each new discovery. One path led me to the tune, another to the  history of the ballad, onto a study of cultures, migrations, traditions, stories, myths, magic, artists, songs, cover songs, musical instruments, and musical interpretations from various artists of different countries, regions, genres and styles.

The most delightful explanation I came upon reads below:

“What is the difference between peaches and stone fruit? The peach is a stone fruit but stone fruit is a category idea that covers other fruits that have some commonality, but it is not an actual tangible thing. You cannot compare a peach to a stone fruit because a peach is a stone fruit. However , you can examine what qualifies to be a stone fruit to see if peaches , plums, nectarines, and apricots fit the idea.”

So finally, here is a testament to the enduring power of Scarbourough Fair, revealed in 31 versions of the song in various genres, and by different creative music artists around the World. Cheers & Sláinte !

Sarah Brightman – Celestial Operatic Gothic Theatrical – England

Jan Laurenz – Ukulele Harp – Switzerland

Queensrÿche -Progressive Heavy Metal -USA

Michal Zator – Acoustic Harp Traditional Medieval / Renaissance -Poland

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Classical – England


Blackmore’s Night – Traditional Folk – UK and USA

Simon & Garfunkel – Folk Rock -USA

Hayley Westerna – Neo-Classical Folk – New Zealand

Nolwenn Leroy -Celtic Folk – France

Aeon – New Age Folk – England / LA

The Harp Twins – Duo Electronic / Acoustic Harp – USA

KM Music Conservatory – Hindi – India


Nox Arcana – Gothic Rock – USA

Tracy Huang – Pop – China

Leaves Eyes – Symphonic Gothic Rock – Norway & Germany


Caterina Valente – Jazz – Italy

Laurent Voulzy – Experimental Folk Orchestral – France

Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66 – Latin Bossa Nova – Brazil

The Gotthard Sisters Celtic/ Irish Roots – Seattle, USA

Gregorian Monks – Gregorian Chant – Germany

Brainbox- Classic Rock – Amsterdam, Netherlands

Cernunnos – Folk Metal – Buenos Aires, Argentina

 Gypsy Soul – Celtic Folk & Soul – California, USA

Aoi Tada – Anime Manga Soundtrack – Tokyo, Japan

My Dying Bride – Atmospheric Doom Metal – England

Thy Blood My Gain- Power Metal -Netherlands

The Georgetown Chimes – A Capella – Georgetown University USA

Celia Pavey – Folk Country – Australia

Somerville College Choir at Oxford -Choral – England

I want to thank the following DJs in the RadioFlag community, @facesofradio @blackrandal @Djdolan @kaylaCP and @Djblondie, for getting into the spirit and celebration of the day, and lighting up my interest to go deep into this music time voyage.



@Airambrosia on RadioFlag
@AirAmbrosia on Twitter

‘Got Airplay?’  ‘Because Air Should Be Free’ 

Meet RadioFlag’s First Time INTERNATIONAL Best Show ‘RadioStar Awards’ Winners


RadioFlag’s 2013 Fall edition winners for ‘Best Radio Shows’ include international DJ’s for the very first time. After RadioFlag was the first to award call signs to international stations, its network of users started to gather their ears around all the new stations being added from various countries around the world, and RadioStar Awards nominations began to spring up on the Flagcast in support of these newly discovered shows.

RadioFlag continues to self fund its venture, and sustains steady growth thanks to its early adopters from college and internet radio all over  the U.S. They have done so entirely through a grassroots marketing approach, which continues to attract users globally. Therefore, the team is hopeful to see even more word of mouth expansion take place among international DJs, from student run stations to independent and community stations based all over the world, who have undiscovered talent, and want to share local perspectives, new sounds and emerging artists.

Selecting the ‘Best Music Show’ and ‘Best Variety Show’ winners was a collaborative decision made by a carefully selected panel of ‘Connective Listeners’ that dwell within RadioFlag Inc. — which is comprised of radio and music industry  professionals, former college radio DJs, local music artists and Radioflag interns.
The ‘Best Show’ selections were based on a combination of the following criteria :

50%  -    Show content / presentation quality / talent

25%  -    Introducing listeners to new local artists / helping launch new local artists 

25%  -    Audience size / fan base  / social interaction / ability to generate new                          listeners  

This first ever International ‘Best Music Show’ winners are represented by Italy, New Zealand, and Canada.


RadioFlag presents Italy’s ‘Best Music Show’ winner ‘Déjà la Nuit, hosted by Giuseppe Flavio Pagano and Giulia Marchetti from RadioECO, University of Pisa’s student run radio station. The nomination was ‘flagged’ by user Purple Haze, a listener  on RadioFlag from Santa Monica, California. I am sure this selection was a pleasant surprise for RadioFlag’s founder, a first generation American of Italian heritage; his mother from the region of Abruzzo and his father from Friuli.

‘Déjà La Nuit’ is described by its stylish hosts as “the program that holds space to the sounds of the night”. Radio DJ’s, Pagano and Marchetti bring their listeners sound offerings that will warmly enrapture the ears of discerning sonic tasters, with a rich feast of sumptuous acoustic amuse-bouches, or as they elegantly describe their show, “A velvety soft sonic celebration of the best Italian and international music artists…only for music gourmets”. A recent example of the sort of decadent delights discoverable on their live show, include artists like Parisian based chanteuse Cleo T, described as a chiaroscuro inspired and uniquely characterized for her ‘gold and shadow cabaret’ artistic style. She performed beautifully live on Déjà la Nuit in December 2013, while she was in Italy promoting her first album entitled ‘Songs of Gold and Shadow’, which was produced by British musician and songwriter John Parish.

Déjà la Nuit has exemplified the core mission of Radioeco as a whole, also shared by RadioFlag; to support a free-form listening experience, where promoting awareness for up-and-coming emerging artists is fundamental. An article posted this week on Radioeco’s blog, highlighted Déjà la Nuit as “Best Show” winners of The RadioStar Awards, also noting accolades they received by Italy’s Huffington Post, who mentioned them as one of the best shows of Italian web (internet / digital) radio. Don’t miss out on any more moonlit ear feasts, and chances to savor new sonic delicacies from emerging international artists. As I imagine these Italians would say it, “Mangia mangia bene, La Musica!”

Déjà la Nuit airs Live every Monday night, from 23:00 until (midnight) CET (5 PM EST/2 PM PST). For more info connect via radioflag and visit Radioeco’s station page.

Next up RadioFlag presents ‘Best Variety Show’ winner DJ Olivier Jutel Host of ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’, a nominee from New Zealand - Radio One 91 FM, University of Otago’s student-run radio station. The nomination was ‘flagged’ by RadioFlag user Oman, a listener  from San Juan Capistrano, California.


‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ is New Zealand’s duallistically beat – driven variety show that keeps you up to speed on whats pulsing in politics, yet doesn’t neglect to give you some sweet beat breaks in between all the penetrating political talk. DJ Olivier shares critical thinking opinion and engaging analysis on the steamiest political issues that matter to people around the globe, as well as of course to the local Kiwis. Olivier describes his show as,”New Zealand’s finest critical politics show…interviews, beats, rhymes and consciousness with Oliver and friends.” The show consists of co-hosts Abe and Andrew, among various thought provocateurs he invites On-Air for live interviews. New Zealand political activist John Minto was a recent guest, where together they dove past the memorial delegation surrounding Nelson Mandela and straight into the legacy of the man, his victories against apartheid, and the current political challenges facing South Africa. Other recent and past revolution-driven guests included a live on-air discussion with Marie Leadbeater, author of ‘Peace Power and Politics’, and an interview with Ralph Hogan of ‘Deep Sea Oil Free NZ & NodrilllKAIKOURA’. Get an earful and join the revolution of live and un-televised entertainment every Friday morning 10-12 AM Kiwi time (1-2 PST / 4-6 EST) For more info connect via radioflag on Radio 1′s station page.


Last but certainly not least, RadioFlag presents another international ‘Best Music Show’ winner, Ruby Slippers Radiohosted by DJ Carol Barrett, a nominee from Canada – Radio CUIT University of Toronto’s student-run alternative station. The nomination was ‘flagged’ by RadioFlag user Jellyfish, a listener from Las Vegas, Nevada.

‘Ruby Slippers Radio’, is a show featuring “Music you know, you think you know, and you’ve never heard before”.  Carol’s open format show includes everything from indie to progressive, psychedelic, rock, and beyond. Giving airplay to local Canadian talent acts are an integral aspect of what she works to do as a radio host, as she believes personal sessions and interviews with the bands and musicians allow her the opportunity to lend a birds eye view into the sights and sounds emanating from her local music community. Ruby Slippers Radio is on-air-live every Friday evening from 7-8 pm EST. Feel free to connect  with her via RadioFlag, her show’s blog, and visit CIUT’s station page.

The Best Show winners from the United States hailed from West Long Branch, New Jersey (‘Takeover Thursdays’ from WMCX ), Toledo, Ohio (‘Radio Alchemy fromWXUT), Bowling Green, Ohio ( RadioStar Awards first two time winner Dirty Glitter from WBGU), and Long Beach, California (‘Faces of Radio from KCTY). KCTY also won the ‘Station of the Year’ award for 2013, and Dirty Glitter is also the first RSA winner to have a show internationally syndicated in the UK, on London’s Hoxton FM.

RadioFlag hopes to see even more International radio DJs around the globe seek nominations for their shows, by their fellow DJs and listeners. The Spring 2014 edition of the RadioStar Awards is currently underway and accepting nominations. DJs remember to submit your ‘Best Artist’ nominations and learn more about RadioFlag’s ‘Got Airplay?’ collaboration campaign. Check out the RadioStar Awards page for all the juicy details, on how you can be the next who shines as  a RadioStar Awards winner!

Read about the  ‘Got Airplay?’ collaboration campaign, ‘Cuz Air Should Be Free’ 

@Airambrosia on RadioFlag
@AirAmbrosia on Twitter