The Road To No Town is the brand new album from Northern Irish singer-songwriter Matty James, set for release on Friday 29th April on Pirate Heart Records / Cargo Records. Following from his critically acclaimed debut Last One To Die (2014), it features lead single ‘Sticks & Stones’ and journeys through rabble-rousing folk, country rock sing-alongs and reflective, well-versed ballads. It’s the soundtrack to a bar fight and a lament for the morning after. For the rogue, the romantic and the resilient. What ties this genre-defying work together is the sheer quality of the songs, which see Matty maturing as an artist and refining his craft. Handling most of the instruments and the production himself, it features some choice guest spots including fellow Fermanagh musician Pat McManus of Mama’s Boys/ Celtus on the fiddle, adding to the distinct Irish spirit in the music.
The album is available on CD and digital formats and if you pre-order now you will receive the tittle track ‘The Road To No Town’ instantly, ahead of release.
“Sounds like the work of someone twice Matty’s age who has many albums under their belt. Surely he has no right to be able to pen such epic songs.” – Uber Rock
The record was funded through a highly successful PledgeMusic campaign which reached it’s target in just 4 days and finished on a staggering 218% of it’s goal. The project featured many exclusives including a limited edition acoustic record entitled Cut To The Bone. To celebrate, Matty hit the road across the UK with full backing band The Irregulars for the first time. After relentless touring over the last few years with only a guitar for company, the band‘s electrifying show made quite a stir.
These pictures have been taken from many sources. The majority were taken by our photographer, Clicker and myself back in 2000 & 2001. Thanks must also go out to Patricia and Caroline for all their efforts when we originally put the photo gallery together. If you have any pictures of Celtus that you would like featured on this page just e-mail me here along with a brief description.
This was the place where Celtus fans shared their stories, gigs they attended and the Celtus music they loved. It was also the place where they put their questions to John or Pat McManus.
If you would like to have any of your other Celtus stories shared on this page then email me here with the details. The folkmaster.
What goes Around by Vicki Smith
As an avid Celtus fan, I was extremely excited about the release of What Goes Around. There was absolutely no question in my mind, of course, as to whether I would like it or not!! All their material is superb.
The tracks on this CD have fantastic lyrics, and you can hear every single word John sings, clearly, which I feel is so important. I have all their albums and have happily listened to them for hours upon end.
Celtus are magical – whether on a CD at home, or on stage. Whatever mood you may find yourself in, you will find a Celtus track to suit. What Goes Around continues on this theme – their traditional Irish instrumentals are happy and fun, their love songs are heart-wrenching, their medium tempo songs tell wonderful stories of life and love we can all identify with – with great choruses you find yourself singing to all the time.
I often wake in the morning with one or another of the tracks floating around in my mind. Their harmonies give me goosebumps!! This album is full of the most wonderful surprises. It is so well balanced and takes the listener through a whole host of gorgeous sounds and emotions – I am thrilled to bits with it.
Their albums do stand the test of time – you can keep on playing them, month after month, year after year, and they will sound just as fantastic.
Alan and I saw them in concert last week, and they went down an absolute storm. Tracks to watch for, although they are all wonderful, are Jigsaw: which is fun and funky with a great lilting section, Changes: I’m sure you’ll be singing the chorus to this track all the time, Angel: A sad story beautifully told, What Goes Around: very exoctic indeed and another great chorus to sing to, and Shelter: absolutely stunning, very haunting indeed (get your hanky at the ready). Perfection: speaks for itself – fantastic track.
There are many, many gorgeous sounds to soak up, haunting pipes, acoustic guitar, bouzouki, mandolin, electric guitar, fiddle and some lovely piano playing – lots to excite the senses. Great variety of rythms too. I’m sure you will agree, the Celtus magic is as evident as ever – sheer class!!! Well done boys – we really appreciate you.
What goes Around by Lynn Jones
My first impression of What Goes Around was that it’s full of surprises! It kicks in spectacularly with What Goes Around – this I first heard at Whitchurch, along with Liberate, Shelter and Hole Inside My Heart. I knew then I really liked these new numbers and have really been looking forward to this album.
This is an interesting mix that works brilliantly, there are the beautiful heartfelt lovesongs, touching thoughtful tales with a funky-techno-trad feel!
I love the harmonies on Perfection – what a treat! Changes is a fantastic sing a long number, I thought What Goes Around was ‘catchy’ when I first heard it but this may be more so. I really like Breathe, Touch Too Much and Live Again too and as for Jigsaw; that is just delightful and makes me smile!
I find it very difficult to have favourites tracks with Celtus albums because they are all so good that I am spoilt for choice! This is an excellent album with so many textures, it’s truly terrific. Departure is a great number to finish on; a very satisfying conclusion.
I’d liken the album to a carousel ride – when the music stops you’re ready to ‘go around’ again having enjoyed it so much!
REFLECTIONS & ECHOES OF WHITCHURCH FESTIVAL – 4 AUGUST 2000 – FROM: VICKI SMITH, NORTHAMPTON
I would like to start by saying it was quite difficult knowing at first whether to ask Darren if he would be kind enough to consider the following words for the Review section, or this section. However, as I have been happily “reflecting” all week-end on Friday evening, and the new track “What Goes Around” has most definitely been “echoing” in my head all week-end too, the answer came to me!! The new tracks the boys treated us to on Friday were just wonderful – we all have allot to look forward to regarding the next Celtus album!! They are pure class.
My family and I had never been to a Folk Festival before and didn’t really know what to expect. Ellie, aged 3, had never been to any live musical event. Laura aged 7 is a budding musician, so I knew she would love it. I suppose the natural thing to do initially is to compare it on arrival to a small theatre or club. However, it was nothing like that, of course. A very ordinary sports complex, nothing special, not very big. However, I can honestly say I would rather stand up the front at Whitchurch, with the children stood on chairs up against the stage, with all our new fan club friends, singing, dancing, cheering, shouting and generally having a FANTASTIC time, than sitting quietly in a theatre seat trying very hard to behave myself, when really I just want to get up and party!! How can anyone be expected to sit still with all that fabulous rhythm.
I am actually a fairly reserved person – we don’t drink or go out that often, and lead a quietish, but very happy, family life. BUT, when Celtus are on stage my personality seems to change. I am sure if I saw myself on video I would cringe!! (but who cares) As Jean Camp, a lovely lady in the folking.com team from Devon said, it was one of those nights you wish you could keep in a bottle, to be able to enjoy all over again. I couldn’t agree more. I witnessed the looks on people’s faces in the audience whom I guess hadn’t seen Celtus before. It is not an exaggeration to say they looked on in disbelief at their skills – how do they play their instruments to that level of skill!!! It made me feel very proud of “my” band.
We all met up with the boys and Lindy after the show; there’s always so much I want to tell them, mostly just to praise them and hope they understand just how much we all enjoy and appreciate their talents. The boys are so charming and interested in us too, and it seems all the fans enjoy that part of the evening immensely.
I hope very much Celtus will be invited, and want, to return to Whitchurch next summer – the relaxed, yet electric, atmosphere is something I would definitely love to relive.
THANK YOU CELTUS – YOU ARE THE BEST!!
Lynn and Elise Jones, Bournemouth.
We first saw Celtus last November when the Jimmy Nail tour came to Poole Arts Centre. It was Elise’s (my 14 year old daughter) first live concert that she had been to. I looked across to see how she was enjoying herself during the first number – we’d never heard of Celtus before and did not know what to expect. Well, she just had this smile that got bigger the more she heard and I was completely hooked after the first few minutes, totally enthralled
We then got the Portrait CD which the boys signed for us, we were delighted to meet them and it is really great that they take the time and trouble to meet people, it is really appreciated, I’m sure that others feel the same too. Having really enjoyed Portrait we began to wonder what Moonchild was like. We then decided the only thing to do was to catch the tour again at Portsmouth in December, see them play again and get Moonchild. We got hopelessly lost, and kept seeing a pub called the ‘Navigator’ and by this time concluded that we couldn’t navigate our way out of a paper bag! Eventually we found the Guildhall and it was there we heard ‘Navigator’ for the first time which seemed a strange coincidence!
We loved the concert and must confess it wasn’t Jimmy we’d gone to see this time but Celtus! (Sorry Jimmy!) We got the Moonchild CD and had that signed too. Pat told us about the forthcoming headline tour in March of this year and that they’d get to be on for longer – sounded like heaven to me! Moonchild proved to be fantastic also.
The tricky thing for me is I can’t commit myself to a favourite track or CD at all. There is something about all of their music which I enjoy so much. It might be the lyrics, the melody, or a particular instrumental piece. It could be great to sing along to or it could be great hand clapping, foot stomping stuff but whatever it is, it is totally brilliant. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone sing like John before or appreciated it so much. The whole combination is total perfection – amazing. I next saw Celtus at the Royal Festival Hall in March. Sadly Elise couldn’t make it because it was term time, so I gave her a full report and brought home Rooted as a peace offering! Another brilliant concert and yet another fantastic CD. I decided to find out a bit more about them so I joined the fan club (a first for me!) to discover how Celtus came to be. I then found out about the Web Site and frequently visit to see what’s new and I think that was how it came about that Elise and I decided to make the pilgrimage to Sheffield on May 28th.
We were lucky enough to have front row seats that virtually touched the stage, we couldn’t believe how close we were and it was incredible to watch them performing in such detail. Apparently the band were experiencing sound problems which I have to say didn’t spoil it for us because we were too busy having a good time for it to interfere with the evening! They have managed to create a live performance of Cathedral which is excellent, and the air on the end of Moment In Time which I think was called Dear Irish Boy was breath taking. The audience were totally transfixed whilst Pat played and hung on every note, it was absolutely enchanting. After another terrific concert, Elise was lucky enough to have her photograph taken with the boys, which she was absolutely thrilled with. We met Lindy and also Darren from the Web Site which was nice. We went home with wonderful memories of a great evening, as ever and Elise has officially rated it as the best day of her life which I think I’d have to agree with her. Marvellous!
Jacqueline Brikkels – Wanted to know how the idea for the song Cathedral was born.
This is Pat’s response…
Hmmm.. Reason being because of the several ‘scandals’ in Ireland with priests who had hidden illegitimate children, and also the child abuse case – made me cross because of the hypocrisy & that’s basically what inspired the song. The reverence in which priests were held – no longer exists in the same way, by the public. That’s my view anyway…
This is Jacqueline’s response…
Dear Pat, thanks for the answer on Cathedral. I am glad you have the guts to sing out loud about ‘sensitive’ issues that need to be addressed. I thought it quite brilliant Portrait and Cathedral deal with the present, past and future situation, but the way you have worded them, there is no blame or finger pointed at anyone in particular. Thanks again for the explanation, I needed to be sure. Take care and keep on making music, it’s great.
Patricia and Caroline, Avid fans from Switzerland, present us with their personal view.
We have known the Boys for nearly nine years (May 1991); we were thirteen years old when we first met them, little school girls! It was the very first time we had ever met a rock group personally… which of course was something special for both of us even now!
It was Tommy who introduced us to the band Mama’s Boys. From then on, we were their biggest fans! During three years we saw them 17 times in Switzerland. We saw Tommy the last time on the Mama’s Boys farewell tour in December 1993. We were devastated when he died and thought of John & Pat often, the thought of them both seemed to help us with our grief.
Last year we saw our first CELTUS show at the Borderline in London and last Monday was our first show this year. We really LOVED it!
Hopefully many shows will follow! It was great to be able to meet the boys again after the show especially John and Pat’s parents who were thrilled with our gift – a painting of Tommy.
Reviewed by Vicky Smith of Northampton
The Reflections & Echos section is absolutely made for people like me. After any of the shows, I’m absolutely bursting with enthusiasm, excitement, memories, words etc. etc. – it is so wonderful to have an outlet for all that emotion. I don’t sit and write words out first – it’s straight from the heart, unrehearsed, unrestrained!! Thank you for giving us all the opportunity to be involved. I’m looking forward to reading other fan’s pieces too.
Here is Vicky’s review
Reflections of the Celtus March Tour
Of the three shows I was privileged enough to be a part of, Ronnie Scotts in Birmingham is most dear to my heart. Our table was virtually touching the stage, hence it was a very personal experience, with lots of eye contact and smiles between Celtus and ourselves. I was absolutely spellbound all evening. I sang all night, glancing across to Lindy’s table to exchange grins of approval and happiness. I felt as if I was in a “Bubble”, which I did not want time to burst, it was such a brilliant evening.
I am 41 years old, happily married with two young daughters, and I can with hand on heart say, I have never enjoyed my music SO much. WHY? How much space can you give me!! My first Celtus experience was in May 1998, during the Paul Carrack tour. It was the spine-tingling harmonies that initially hit me – WOW –
I bought Moonchild that night and have been well and truly smitten ever since. I am full admiration and wonder at John & Pat’s musical skills – not only do they sound fantastic, but they are quite a spectacle to watch too.
Returning to Ronnie Scotts, on that evening Alan & I met our Japanese friend, Sachiko, from Nottingham. She sat on the table next to ours, and has been a fan since way back in the Mama’s Boys days. Unfortunately, Celtus came on stage a good deal later than planned, through no fault of their own. Sachiko would have only heard one or two songs before having to leave to catch a train home to Nottingham. So, after having a brief chat, Alan and I offered to take Sachiko home with us after the show so that she didn’t have to miss any of it. We all decided that being members of the Fan Club was all the introductions we needed and so that it exactly what she did. We sat up until 2am talking about what a wonderful evening we had enjoyed, and a new friendship was born.
What note to end on? May the fan club and website continue to flourish, may the “Celtus” word spread so that many more people can share what we’ve already found.
Yoko Honda, Japan
I first saw Celtus on Time Out Magazine in Jan 98, and I just bought Moonchild…since then I’ve been addicted. I’ve been to their shows about 15 times. Some of my friends in Japan also love them when they saw their live concerts in UK.
I can’t explain what I love about them but their music just hit my heart. I’ve met a lot of nice people through them and I’m so proud of being their fan. Best of luck to them for the future
A QUESTION FOR JOHN PLEASE: WHICH PIPE/WHISTLE DO YOU USE TO PLAY THE AWAKENING?
My daughter Laura, age 7, and I enjoy playing the melody using the recorder. However, we get frustrated as we can’t play along with the CD as the key is different, and the range of notes too limited. Our knowledge of musical theory is very basic. We don’t manage to fit in as many notes as you do John, but we enjoy trying anyway!! Many thanks, Vicki Smith
It’s played on an Overton Low whistle in the key of F & if you are
interested in getting one, you’ll find it in most folk shops.
Sue and Will Morson from Dudley in the West Midlands
Just a message to say how much we enjoyed Celtus at Ronnie Scott’s in Birmingham last night. We first heard their music when we went to see Jimmy Nail last year and thought they were fabulous. They deserve to be successful and we wish them all the best. Their songs have depth and are a reflection of their talent.
Dave Grist form Portsmouth, England.
We first encountered Celtus when I bought the Moonchild album “Sight Unseen” (should that be “Hearing Unheard”?) after reading a gig review (The Borderline) in The Times. I was already into Irish/Celtic music and the reviewer’s description of the band made me think they would be worth a try.
Well, I ordered their album on-line from MVS (Our Price didn’t seem to know about them) and when it arrived my life changed. Never have I been so gripped by a piece of music. From the moment the opening bars of “Strange Day in the Country” started, I was hooked.
I played that CD continuously, getting more and more immersed in the Celtus sound and, for the first time ever, I applied to join a fan club and I sent an e-mail to Lindy. The response – so personal and “caring” – opened up a whole new dimension to the Celtus Experience. I had become a member of the “Family”.
I’ve seen them play live at Portsmouth (with Deacon Blue and Jimmy Nail), at The Stables in Milton Keynes and (last) at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. Every gig a first class event and then you meet the band afterwards! My 10 year old son, Ashley, loves the band and their music too and he was thrilled to meet them after the Deacon Blue gig – he wanted me to ask them round for tea (bless).
Well that’s about it for now – suffice it to say that CDs can wear out when the music is as good as John and Pat’s. “Portrait” set the seal on my love for their music and “Rooted” continues the tradition. All three albums bear their autographs and so does the T-Shirt I made to wear at the QEH gig. I don’t know whether I’ll be at Finsbury Park yet but I’ve already got my tickets for the Whitchurch Festival in August – see you all there I hope (I’m the one with the “Tour Flyer T-Shirt” on!).
I went to the concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall last night and it was really exciting. Five of us went and my friends thought Celtus were amazing and would love to see them perform again. The music was even better live. Are they playing anywhere on St Patrick’s Day or will they be at The Fleadh in Finsbury Park this summer?
Dave Palmer of the Heavy Metal Resource – St. George, Utah. A fairly small town of around 50,000 residents. I am 115 miles north of Las Vegas, Nevada.
It might seem awkward to some Heavy Metal fans to see Celtus on my site. You know what? Who cares? The McManus brothers had their place in metal history. They deserve the space as I think they are really doing what they do best…. Writing great songs.
Mrs Lynn Jones
Many thanks for signing cd insert at London 13/03/2000. Concert was absolutely brilliant, well done and thanks. Have also seen you on Jimmy Nail tour @ Poole & Portsmouth. Pat thought I was mad to come from Bournemouth, but it’s always so great to see you perform – you are all so talented and deserve to have great success.
Cracking website, good on yer, keep spreading the news about this excellent band. They have all the magic of Yes, brilliance of the best of the Moody Blues and acoustics reminiscent of Led Zeppellin. Never thought these jaded ears would here such sounds again. Music lives on.
Ricardo Castellano – Spain
Well I’ve talked to Lindy about how hard its been for me not only to get in touch with you, but also to know simply what had happened to the three of you (I didn’t know Tommys decease…I’m so sorry for that). John, its been great for me to hear your voice again (Keith and Mike…their voices…you know what I mean…). I’m Mamas Boys main ambassador in Spain (no doubt about it), and I’ve been waiting for 15 years to be able to tell you so. I’m 32 years old, and there has been no other group for me in the past two decades better than yours. The melodies of your songs were much closer to the best AOR American groups than to the noisy European HM bands, keeping though a hard approach to rnr. Using a common expression, your records have been my life’s soundtrack. I just want to thank you for being so good musicians, for having let me go through so good times (undoubtedly, “Lonely Soul is an anthem”, and it sounds so well in a car with a girl initially beside you…) and hope to meet you if ever come back to Spain to play. Fortunately, I also like Celtic music a lot, and I promise I wont miss a concert of Celtus anywhere close to Madrid… Keep on making it.
The fourth album from Celtus featuring all live tracks with 2 Bonus Tracks. A must have. Starting with Navigator at full belt in front of an audience. Into The Pilgrim slow, soulful and the audience quiet and listening intently. We have Wide Awake next to make sure “we are not sleeping”. The Awakening, an instrumental from John, performed beautifully live, The fifth track is Believe, again you can imagine the audience listening to the words and watching John, Pat and Dan pour their heart and soul into their music. Portrait next, a true favourite leading into the enigmatic Cathedral, the live version bringing John into a new ending with his bass guitar. Stunning. The crowd love it! A true favourite from now on. Purple Diadem ends the Live tracks section and we then have the two bonus tracks. Don’t be Fooled, made me cry the first time I heard it, finishing off last but certainly not least Pat playing Dear Irish Boy. Wonderful. A traditional Instrumental perfect for the extraordinary talent of Pat on his grandfather’s violin. A wealth of talent shown in this album. A must have for any Celtus Collection.
Original Posting date – 2nd November 2001
Reviewers Name – Jean Camp
A traditional album, again different, but stunning in its own right. Irish Folk/Celtus at its best in a traditional form. Rooted brings out whistles, bouzoukis, reels and jigs in abundance. First track is Heart and Hand, slow then into an up-tempo classic foot-tapper. Next we have Voyage, an Instrumental with a beat and led by John on his whistle. Following this we have the melodic Time League. A strange somewhat eerie irregular instrumental, which gives me images of Medieval Festivities and Dancing in a Great Hall! John’s whistle prominent and Pats Fiddle Playing. Next we have Voice Cries Out, a song sung from the heart and bringing in the harmonies of these extremely talented musicians. Whisper is a gentle instrumental lead by John’s Whistle taking us into Wasteland. Back to traditional reels and jigs Celtus style! A get up and dance type of track. Navigator keeps us dancing; low beat leading into total ecstasy! We stay dancing with Purple Diadem led by Pats outstanding fiddle playing. You can tell by listening he enjoys playing this one. Unbound is a reasonably strong beat and flowing, which brings in John and Pat humming and singing gently in the background traditionally. We then have Two Worlds, Moonchild, and Bubble all live and recorded at Sheffield City Hall with full audience participation. Dan Axtell joins Celtus as keyboard extraordinaire. Another talented musician.
Original Posting date – 2nd November 2001
Reviewers Name – Jean Camp
This is the second Celtus album from the incredible McManus Brothers. The opening track Two Worlds, is an up-tempo, love song then leads into Wide Awake, a track telling of a stifled person in love with someone else. Touch You tells of love gone stale. Harmonies and stunning whistle playing from John and fiddle from Pat give us this truly beautiful song. Science of Love changes the mood, into another up-tempo number. Believe and Waiting for The Rain does not disappoint giving us images of the lyrics conveyed. The Awakening is an instrumental no one could possibly fail to be moved by. Whistle playing from John at his best as always. The effervescent Bubble whisks us away into a dream world “chasing Rainbows”. The title track Portrait gives us an idea of life in Northern Ireland at the times of the troubles. An extremely powerful self-penned song from the McManus Brothers. We end this album on the atmospheric, enigmatic Cathedral. A protest against the abuse of children by priests in Ireland. Truly dark, sullen and a force to end with. A somewhat different album from Celtus, but no less inspiring than their first album Moonchild.
Original Posting date – 2nd November 2001
Reviewers Name – Jean Camp