Thursday, July 16, 2009
Les Ramoneurs de Menhirs are from Brittany/ Breizh. In Gaelic it's A' Bhreatainn Bheag, literally 'the Little Britain', referring to the nation's Brythonnic Celtic speech and not to backward Brits like Gary Bushell, Richard Littlejohn or even the Lord George Foulkes. Like Scotland's Oi Polloi, these punks have been around a while and now use their own Celtic tongue as well as French or English as a medium.
Though Oi Polloi haven't made much use of traditional instruments like the bagpipes, the use of traditional Breton instruments such as the bombard are central to Les Ramoneurs' sound. Occasionaly, they are joined on stage at huge Cetlic festivals by tradtional Breton singer Louise Ebrel who sings a kind of mouth-music very similar to our Gaelic port-a-beul.
The Bretons have their own water of life too, though it's a kind of strong cider brandy called lambic. On a visit to Breizh some years ago with a group of Scots and Irish cultural activists, i had the pleasure of swapping homemade lambic - 60% abv - for some of our own Poit Dhubh single malt - bottled at mere 46%.
To my knowledge, Les Ramoneurs have only made it to Scotland once. That was in 1998 when they played a handful of gigs with Celtic cousins Oi Polloi and Na Gathan from Skye. Most memorable though was the Celtic Punk Connections in Glasgow, timed to coincide with the commercial Celtic (tenuous) Connections festival. Apparently the high heid yins at Celtic Connections thought that real Celts, who actually speak Gaelic and Breton, were a bit too rough. There's punk for you - banned from the pubs... er banned from the Glesgow Royal Concert Hall.
Fortunately though BBC Alba's Rapal were interested enough to document the night. Click here to view.