Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Wolfe Tones To Retire

Brian Warfield announced recently in his Newsletter that The Wolfe Tones would retire from 2014 after 50 years as the most successful ballad group ever. This is another blow to the music scene around the world. They could not continue forever, we all knew that, but when the news came from Brian it was a shock nonetheless. Just like The Dubliner's and The Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem The 'tones are an institution in Ireland. Not too many bands keep it together for 50 years without some members being replaced over time. When Derek left the group some years ago all The Wolfe Tones fans assumed he would be replaced by an similar kind of musician, someone who played mandolin. It never happened. This in my opinion was a mistake. The reason I say this is because the Wolfe Tones had a unique sound unlike any other ballad group in the world. Their albums up until Derek left had that raw unblemished sound in every recording. After Derek left a more synthesized sound crept into their music. I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to folk and ballads and The Wolfe Tones were also traditionalist up until this parting of the ways. Even during their live shows they used backing tracks. Using backing tracks to me is a sin. All that was needed to capture the sound they once had was to bring in a mandolin player and hold on to their unique sound.
Some people don't mind the new sound, I'm talking about those who on the odd occastion go to see a show just because the 'tones are playing nearby, but for the die hard real fans this new sound was not what they wanted to hear. Don't fix it if it wasn't broke to begin with. Don't get me wrong, I still go to watch the Wolfe Tones and enjoy the show.
With The Dubliner's retiring this year and The Tones next year who have we got left ? there is not many groups about playing ballads that can replace these institutions. The Irish Brigade continue to do gigs but on a smaller scale than they used to. Charlie And The Bhoy's are not as well known in Ireland as they are in Scotland except those who follow Celtic Football Club. There are a few other groups like The Druids who do their best but who is going to write the new songs that need to be written ?. Brian Warfield from The Wolfe Tones is one of the finest song writers in Ireland and has written over 200 songs and stories. This man will be truly missed when the lads retire. He has highlighted the injustices in Irish society for nearly 50 years and in his own words being knocked and ridiculed for highlighting theses injustices by begrudgers at every hand's turn.

I have seen and heard The Wolfe Tones songs being banned from the national airwaves in Ireland. It was 1982, the British government send their navy to the Malvinas [ Falkland ] to retake the islands from the Argentine Army. Derek Warfield saw an opportunity here to write a song, and out came Admiral William Brown as a single. The song reached No 1 in the charts, along came the top 20 on the radio on Sunday. When it came to playing Admiral William Brown the D.J. read out the usual statement ''Under Section 31 Of The Broadcasting Act R.T.E. is forbidden To Play The No 1 Song In Ireland'' This act was brought in by Fianna Fáil, the so called ''Republican Party'' . But this ban didn't matter too much as the song was bought by the public in big numbers. The song itself is true in it's content but that didn't stop the ban. This was pure censorship of The Wolfe Tones by the state. The section 31 act is long gone but Admiral William Brown has still not being played on the radio. The Wolfe Tones begrudgers are still operation in high places to this day,,,,,,,,,to be continued.

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