Concerts

Willie Clancy Summer School – Monday.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. The sun was shining, not too much wind – I’ll ride to Miltown! It’s only five kilometres. Great. No problem with traffic or parking. What was I thinking!  I rode home in the driving rain at 1am buffeted by squally winds in the pitch black being overtaken at breakneck speed by an endless stream of Willie-ites heading back to their cottages, caravans or campsites. The Bellbridge was a safe haven about halfway so the obvious solution was to sit there, soaked through, in the warm pub and play tunes with complete strangers. A silk purse from a sow’s ear?

In between though I experienced just a little of the magic of Willie Week. I played with Sean Moloney from East Galway in the sun at the back of the Blondes, I saw Frankie Gavin and Noel Hill at Michael A’s (no chance of a seat there!) , then there was Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and Eileen O’Brien at Friels and Jacky Daly and Matt Cranitch at the Yard and…….

In the evening we were treated to a smorgasbord of fiddling styles from some of the best in the country and beyond. It is so good to hear all these fiddles back to back. I know it’s unfair but highlights for me were Tara Breen and the wonderful sweet fluid playing of Yvonne Casey and then Claire Egan. Perhaps I’ve been in Clare too long.

Then I finished the night with a session at the Bellbridge; but I’ve already mentioned that.

And this is only Monday.

Just a handful of photos.  I will wait until the end to sort them all.

1-fiddle concert

1-Willie Clancy Monday1-IMG_7532 2-IMG_7555

2-IMG_7652 3-IMG_7675 4-IMG_7757 5-IMG_7766

1-IMG_76486-IMG_7776 7-IMG_7815 8-IMG_7843 9-IMG_7888

 

Categories: Concerts, Festivals, The Fiddle, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Doolin Folk Festival 2015. People.

A festival such as Doolin is obviously about the music. But it’s also about the people.

That people of all ages and from all parts of the planet, enjoyed themselves at Doolin is beyond question. What has been created here is an atmosphere where everyone can be part of the festival on their own terms.  Families, people who just want to listen, people who want to party.  All the little spaces around the marquee create that ambience.  You can curl up on the couch or sit around the fires or sit in the front row and hear and watch every note or just catch up with friends.  Or make new ones.  Or you can chat to the musicians that stay to listen.

When I wasn’t photographing musicians, I turned the camera in other directions. I think  I have caught some of these moments.

15-056-IMG_0509 30-099-IMG_1212 29-098-IMG_1203 28-096-IMG_1191 27-095-IMG_1186 26-091-IMG_1123 25-090-IMG_1122 24-084-IMG_1066 23-083-IMG_0945 22-077-IMG_0754 21-076-IMG_0743 20-074-IMG_0723 19-071-IMG_0705 18-062-IMG_0567 17-061-IMG_0553 16-059-IMG_0522

01-001-IMG_8488 14-049-IMG_0450 13-041-IMG_0270 12-037-IMG_0249 11-030-IMG_0216 10-019-IMG_0213 09-022-IMG_0166 08-016-IMG_0139 07-014-IMG_0033 06-013-IMG_9998 05-010-IMG_9025 04-008-IMG_9012 03-006-IMG_8652 02-004-IMG_8644

31-101-IMG_1224 70-177-IMG_3495 69-176-IMG_3471 68-175-IMG_3351 67-172-IMG_3316 66-171-IMG_3214 65-169-IMG_3187 64-166-IMG_3047 63-165-IMG_3045 62-163-IMG_2955 61-162-IMG_2907 60-161-IMG_2902 59-160-IMG_2881 58-159-IMG_2803 57-157-IMG_2741 56-156-IMG_2734 55-153-IMG_2704 54-150-IMG_2620 53-149-IMG_2602 52-148-IMG_2594 51-146-IMG_2559 50-145-IMG_2549 49-144-IMG_2545 48-143-IMG_2538 47-142-IMG_2531 46-141-IMG_2523 45-140-IMG_2351 44-139-IMG_2327 43-138-IMG_2268 42-134-IMG_2029 41-133-IMG_2022 40-130-IMG_1694 39-126-IMG_1675 38-122-IMG_1648 37-121-IMG_1634 36-110-IMG_1426 35-020-IMG_1425 34-109-IMG_1392 33-105-IMG_1334 32-102-IMG_1235

 

 

Categories: Concerts, Festivals, Real Ireland, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Doolin Folk Festival 2015 Day 3

Phew! How did I survive?

I was wrong the other day when I said the hardest gig was playing first up at the Festival. Sorry David, but Dingle-based Ríona had an even tougher job opening the Sunday. Clearly many had not yet got up after Aldoc and whatever after that, but this was a shame for them as they missed a great new voice with her own heartfelt songs and lovely understated guitar. How do you find these gems, Conor?

Then two of the real stars of Clare music got together to revisit their seminal album ‘Setting Free’ released over twenty years ago. Cyril O’Donoghue and Tola Custy. For Tola this was back to his roots and very different to recent explorations such as Guidewires and Tradivarious. But we were reminded what a good traditional fiddler he really is. And Cyril’s magic voice! we hear it so rarely these days in sessions around Ennis.

What a treat, the virtuosic mandolin of Brendan O’Regan. And the inspired combination with Floriane Blancke’s harp and Dermot Byrne’s exquisite box playing transported us from an Irish pub to a French café, to the drawing room of a stately home, to ‘Deliverance’ country and then back to Ireland. There is no other word for it – delicious!

Stone the Crows! (Aussies will know what I mean). Sligo boys, No Crows were a revelation. I had never heard them before, though I had heard of them during my visit to Sligo last year when I had the interesting experience of playing with Seamus Tansey at Shoot the Crows. With the amazing Steve Wickham and two other extraordinary fiddlers their music defies pigeon-holing. Celtic meets gypsy jazz with a dose of Jimmy Hendrix! I was absolutely blown away when I heard Steve sing. What an extraordinary voice. And his inspiring narrations of tales of the Aran Islands made for riveting listening.  I almost forgot to take photos.

How could you beat that? You bring on Paddy Keenan and Daoiri Farrell. And then you get Paddy to invite his mates onto the stage: Eddie Lee (amazing bass player with No Crows), Katie Theasby, then Conor Byrne. Then you bring Flo and Dermot and Seamus back and you lift the roof off the tent. Great songs from Daoiri and those wonderful old favourite tunes such as Jenny’s Wedding and Craig’s Pipes and then Paddy on the low whistle with A Stór Mo Chroi seamlessly blending into The Boys of Tandragee.

Then we had Luka Bloom’s most recent carnation Oh! Sahara, a trio with Jon O’Connell and Quentin Cooper.  Their set built up after a mellow start until by the end they were rocking and the audience was belting out the lyrics.  I won’t say anymore as I reviewed them at a previous concert they gave recently at Kenny’s(https://singersongblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/osahara-at-lahinch/). Was this their last gig?

The tent then swelled in expectation of Stockton’s Wing. Their wings were unfortunately clipped with the unfortunate absences of Maurice Lennon and Steve Cooney (speedy recovery guys) but the replacements who included Tara Breen on fiddle stepped into the breach magnificently. The light continued to shine in the western sky and the audience loved it. I reviewed their recent concert in Ennis in March. Check it out at https://singersongblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/stocktons-wing-concert-ennis/

And to finish the night and the Festival, and what a great choice, Arum. I know little about them but that mattered not. The crowd that was left after midnight did and they were all there to see the amazing flute of Conor Crimmins. Unfortunately I had hit the wall and left soon after 1 am. I have no doubt the party went on till the small hours became large.

Well done Conor, Lisa, Hana, Roisin and all the other nameless helpers that worked so hard to put on this Festival.

I have one more blog to come. Keep an eye out for it.

01-IMG_2018 02-IMG_2011

10-IMG_2114 04-IMG_2055 05-IMG_2049 06-IMG_2103 07-IMG_2127 09-IMG_2152

11-IMG_2352 14-IMG_2452 12-IMG_2384 15-IMG_2474 16-IMG_2509

17-IMG_2665 18-IMG_2644 21-IMG_2817 22-IMG_2838 20-IMG_2698 24-IMG_2857 19-IMG_2678

26-IMG_2944 29-IMG_3066 27-IMG_2974 30-IMG_3088 31-IMG_3111 33-IMG_3162

28-IMG_2981 34-IMG_3249 42-IMG_3459 41-IMG_3446 36-IMG_3307 37-IMG_3293 38-IMG_3359 39-IMG_3385 40-IMG_3399

43-IMG_3498 44-IMG_3514 45-IMG_3517 46-IMG_3524 47-IMG_3550 48-IMG_3562 49-IMG_3567 50-IMG_3577 51-IMG_3581 52-IMG_3584 53-IMG_3604 54-IMG_3606 55-IMG_3609 56-IMG_3617 58-IMG_3706 59-IMG_3707 57-IMG_3677 60-IMG_3818 61-IMG_3828 62-IMG_3835

Categories: Concerts, Festivals, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dungarvan TradFest and Danú

How many Festivals have you gone to recently with a line-up of musicians such as this? Connie O’Connell, Gerry Harrington, Andrew MacNamara, Eileen O’Brien, Charlie Piggott, Matt Cranitch, John Carty, Jackie Daly, Donal McCague, Sean Ryan, …… oh and Danú and heaps more. This was Dungarvan TradFest 2015 held in the Waterford town over the June Bank Holiday weekend. It’s a pity more musicians don’t make the trip to take part, because it was well worth it.

There were only a few formal functions with a free choral concert on the opening night a concert with John and Maggie Carty and the highlight, Danu’s 20th anniversary concert. In between was a gig rig with appearances from well-known groups along with local bands and wall to wall sessions. The festival coincided with the County Fleadh so it was possible to attend these competitions also. And there were events that I hadn’t seen elsewhere including a Busking Competition (for which yours truly was dragooned into being a judge!) and a Bucket Singing Competition.

It started on the Thursday with the Official Opening by the worldwide head of Comhaltas, Vince Jordan, some tunes from local young musicians and then a concert by the Cor Fear na nDeise,  a local male choir and 120 children from local schools. Aside from the spectacular achievement of coordinating this throng, the music was delightful. All in Irish and all sung with gusto. The choir led by Darren O Droma really pulled it off and to see the unbridled enthusiasm of the children performing to a packed auditorium of largely proud parents was wonderful to see.

IMG_3282

IMG_3231 IMG_3346 IMG_3519 IMG_3506

There was no formal session that night but I was told of a session afterwards at Lismore, an half an hour away. It was held in the appropriately named Classroom Bar and led by young musicians including All –Ireland champions, Sarah and Seamus O’Gorman. Great tunes. Fast and energetic. The session was hijacked though by locals and it became a good old Irish ‘sing song’ with one song starting almost before the other had finished. We had a plethora of old favourites and some rousing and not-so-rousing renditions. In fact we had songs sung in keys not yet invented. Nevertheless it was all sung with passion and it was great craic. It was amusing to watch the frustrated musicians waiting patiently for the tiniest gap to jump in with a tune.

IMG_3546 IMG_3611 IMG_3615

I had got a tip there may be music out at Ring. Ring (An Rinn) is only fifteen minutes from Dungarvan and on the way to to Helvic Head (I really must learn that tune). It is a small Gaeltacht area and fiercely proud of it. So I headed out there next day. After a long chat with fisherman Jack at the harbour at Helvic and a few deep breaths to recharge the batteries I headed to Mooney’s Pub where sure enough some of the best local music talent was gathered to help celebrate the end of the school term. I recognised musicians from the concert the night before including the leader Darren.. What a pleasant way to spend a sunny afternoon.

IMG_3839 IMG_3853 IMG_3873 IMG_3884

IMG_3926

That night there was a concert by John Carty and his daughter Maggie at The Local, so I got there early to take up a seat in the front row. I have always admired his playing since I met him in Perth back in a previous century. How deliciously sweet it is, with effortless bowing and a beautiful flowing rhythm, Maggie’s talented banjo playing provided a terrific counterpoint. It was gorgeous music enhanced occasionally by guest spots from Donnchadh Gough from Danu on the bodhran, who just happens to own the pub. And then the icing on the cake, they stayed around for a session with some of the young local musicians and a few others dropped in such as Andrew MacNamara. I was privileged to be part of this . Perhaps the less said about the dancing though the better.

IMG_4215 IMG_4045 IMG_4272 IMG_4363 IMG_4328 IMG_4386 IMG_4420

The weather was not kind the next day with squally rain and occasional hail though there were sunny breaks. I had just ordered my hamburger at the The Local when an harassed organiser came in. “We have a problem, can you help”? Turns out that a judge for the busking competition had pulled out and they needed an urgent replacement. Like right then! The busking was underway and there was about half an hour to go. Never one to refuse a challenge I agreed and after scoffing my burger I was discussing strategy with the Chairman of Comhaltas, who was the other judge. There were no guidelines;  how on earth do you judge a busking competition? So we went our separate ways and arrived at three “winners”. Turns out however that this was just Day One and there were another 15 contestants next day AND Vince was leaving that night so I would have to judge the remainder and and pick the winners out of both days. As it turned out the winners were obvious and I was able to remain in town unscathed without being hacked to pieces by irate parents.

IMG_4440 IMG_5244 IMG_5267

Of course my raison d’etre for being at festivals is to session and each day from 4 pm I followed the Session Trail until the small hours. In fact most nights I went to bed as the sun rose. There were many highlights. For example a truly tasty session in a quiet pub with Gerry Harrington, Charlie Piggins and James Duggan being one. Another was to be joined on a couple of occasions by living legend and genius John Dwyer (brother of Michael, Finbar and Ritchie), a delightful man and a wonderful musician. Here is a selection of photos. You’ll get the picture.

IMG_4532 IMG_4554 IMG_4611 IMG_4669 IMG_4729 IMG_4768 IMG_4870 IMG_5084 IMG_5487 IMG_5757 IMG_5927 IMG_5930 IMG_5937

IMG_4812 IMG_4989

The headline concert on Sunday night was at a function room at the Park Hotel and 600 plus people crammed into a space that they really shouldn’t have. It was bursting at the seams and there was a mad rush to get more seats to accommodate some of those standing. The warm up act was a group of young local musicians featuring Claire and Niamh Fennell, Clara Mannion & Sarah O’Gorman and really they did a fantastic job.

Danú are local heroes and one of Ireland’s most durable traditional bands. Most of their current line up was there and a few guests including previous singer Ciarán Ó Gealbháin joining Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh and Donal Lunny, producer of two of their albums. . This was a high energy concert and there was a buzz in the hall as they were celebrating their twentieth year together. They were clearly happy to be there and from the opening chord to the electric dancing and the rousing climax kicked off with a bodhran solo from Donnchadh Gough there was never a dull moment. The loyal and loving home crowd was screaming for more.

IMG_6069 IMG_6108 IMG_6148 IMG_6217 IMG_6300 IMG_6354 IMG_6387 IMG_6407 IMG_6409 IMG_6414 IMG_6430 IMG_6468 IMG_6485 IMG_6529 IMG_6552 IMG_6670 IMG_6675 IMG_6698 IMG_6743 IMG_6747 IMG_6779 IMG_6792

There were a few intrepid survivors on the Monday and they gathered at Downey’s Pub for the Bucket Singing Competition. This long standing Waterford tradition (well it is at least two years old) involves singing with a bucket over your head and then being savagely demolished by an entirely unsympathetic adjucator. Quality had nothing to do with the final result with rules being invented and broken as the competition went on. The majority of competitors suffered the Downey’s Drop announced solemnly after the adjudicator donned a black handkerchief.  It was great craic and at the risk of my never being allowed to compete again the organisers would have great difficulty defending the accusation that the winner was a not home town decision! I have contacted my lawyers! Congratulations to the organisers and in particular to the MC (Sean) and Judge (Dick) who kept it all together with a marvellous commentary. Bucket Singing may have a controversial history with some saying it goes back hundreds of years but the winner on the night was that other Irish tradition of slagging.

IMG_6862 IMG_7197 IMG_7364 IMG_7392

There were more sessions on the Monday but the enthusiasm was waning and by midnight everyone and believe it or not, yours truly, had had enough.

A memorable weekend and seamlessly organised by the ever present Michael Marrinan and an amazing committee. Well done all.

Categories: Concerts, Festivals, Sessions, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Fleadh Nua 2015 Day 8

Sunday. A late start.

Got to town about 3pm and managed to catch the last of the session at Knox’s with the Healeys, Tom Delaney, Derek Hickey, Caroline Keane, and heaps more, but there was a long wait for a seat. And when I did get one it finished. C’est la vie. Nice to listen though for a change. Lovely rousing version of Black is the Colour from Niamh Parsons.

So off to the CD launch at The Old Ground for Neansaí Ní Choisdealbha’s new recording. She had enlisted Eoin O’Neill, Jack Talty and Michael Hynes to help out and then we were progressively joined by flutes and fiddles from the floor until there were maybe 30 musicians. This was something else. It was a Who’s Who of Clare music with a number of welcome visitors from other counties and other worlds. Richie Dwyer, Danny Meehan, John Carty, Tony Smith, Denis Liddy; and that’s just the fiddle players. To hear Lord McDonald played by so much talent was a special experience. There was some great dancing and a wonderful recitation from Oliver O’Connell who was the host for the event. I could have stayed and listened all day and it was all I could do to stop myself running back to the car to get my fiddle and join them!

Downstairs the music continued with Eileen O’Brien, Mary MacNamara, Sorcha Costello and Geraldine Cotter, But I had to drag myself away from there for the Bobby Casey Tribute concert and CD launch. A four hour extravaganza with an incredible array of musicians who knew or were influenced by Bobby. I won’t list everyone but check out the photos. I am sure you will see many familiar faces.

On the way home I popped into Cruises for Los Paddys de las Pampas and they had the crowd bopping as usual and then it lifted a notch when three quarters of the Four Winds joined them on stage. A fitting way to end the day.

The Festival is winding down. Monday brings Recovery Sessions and time to reflect on what has been a wildly successful Festival. It augurs well for the Fleadh Cheoil next year. I kept visualising the streets pedestrianised and packed with thousands and music coming out of every pub. Good luck Alan and the team!  Ennis is definitely the right place!

IMG_1855 IMG_1857 IMG_1870 IMG_1877 IMG_1894 IMG_1907 IMG_1967 IMG_1973 IMG_1986 IMG_1993 IMG_2038 IMG_2044 IMG_2132 IMG_2138 IMG_2202 IMG_2204 IMG_2208 IMG_2218 IMG_2246 IMG_2250 IMG_2251 IMG_2256 IMG_2259 IMG_2261 IMG_2269 IMG_2291 IMG_2300 IMG_2307 IMG_2341 IMG_2351 IMG_2365 IMG_2373 IMG_2395 IMG_2407 IMG_2412 IMG_2419 IMG_2445 IMG_2463 IMG_2469 IMG_2474 IMG_2482 IMG_2518 IMG_2519 IMG_2527 IMG_2543 IMG_2552 IMG_2562 IMG_2569 IMG_2578 IMG_2588 IMG_2602 IMG_2619 IMG_2635 IMG_2650 IMG_2670 IMG_2688 IMG_2720 IMG_2733 IMG_2759 IMG_2767 IMG_2798

Categories: Concerts, Festivals, Sessions, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fleadh Nua 2015 Day 7

It’s Saturday and the Festival is in full swing. Ennis is buzzing. People everywhere. So much choice. For me the day kicked off with another Café session. Rowan Tree is an amazing location on the river with bay windows and high ceilings and music led by Eoin O’Neill and Joan Hanrahan. The usual Fleadh Nua Family were there and it was great to catch up with some old friends. I left early so missed a song from Luka Bloom on his birthday. You can’t be everywhere.

IMG_1198 IMG_1207 IMG_1209

Off to the CD launch where Caitlín Nic Gabhann and Ciarán Ó Maonaigh delighted us with their fiddle and concertina and of course the effortless and extraordinary sean nos dancing of Caitlin. This is dancing fit for a President (she has).

IMG_1246 IMG_1320 IMG_1332 IMG_1382

In contrast an hour later we were rocking to the sounds of Four Winds at the launch of their cd. They are Caroline Keane on concertina Daoiri Farrell on bouzouki and vocals, Tom Delany on pipes and whistles and Robbie Walsh on the bodhran. A band without a fiddle? How could I possibly like that? But these guys nailed it.l   The explosive energy of Tom’s pipes and the driving rhythms of the bouzouki and bodhran carry the music forward. Surprisingly Caroline’s concertina does not get lost and merges perfectly with the pipes. It reminded me a bit of Moving Hearts…..

IMG_1402 IMG_1440 IMG_1450 IMG_1458 IMG_1489 IMG_1496 IMG_1516 IMG_1535 IMG_1549

Then the session search began and I found a few beauties. There were quiet tunes in Queens with Eileen O’Brien, Martin O’Connor and Thierry Masur, a cracking session at Faffa’s with Blackie O’Connell, Damien O’Reilly and Cyril O’Donoghue and great tunes at Knox’s with Kevin Finucane, Martha Clancy, Kieran Kissane with, Nicole, Maureen, Steve, Fu, and the lovely Cliona and Abby from Cork. A couple of great dance sets and some sean nos from Suzanne Leahy. Didn’t want it to finish. How on earth do you beat that?

IMG_1393 IMG_1401 IMG_1611 IMG_1616 IMG_1619 IMG_1627 IMG_1648 IMG_1667 IMG_1675 IMG_1717 IMG_1727

Well, you go to Kelly’s. I’ve raved about this pub before. I go every Saturday night I am in town and just love playing with the regulars there. This night it felt like a giant party to which the whole of Ennis were invited. Kelly’s is Irish for “good time”. Coming a bit late there was already no space and I was surprised to see Eileen O’Brien with Andrew MacNamara and Jack Talty on piano rather than the usual. Great tunes indeed but not what I expected. Then there was a shift change. Eileen left for another gig and Joan Hanrahan and Brid O’Gorman joined us. And then Carmel O’Dea and then Geraldine Cotter. Let the party begin. Just a few lucky visitors were there to experience this including Tony Illanes, Steve Brown and Beannie O. The session ebbed and flowed from one glorious set to another. Impromptu dancing from the omnipresent Suzanne Leahy, and then when you thought it was all over, a singing session that went to 2.30 am led by Alan Hogan and the inimitable Hanrahan sisters. You knew it was a good night when they started singing Scottish songs! This was another of those magic moments I spoke of in an earlier blog. I could write a book on the nights at Kelly’s alone.

IMG_1740 IMG_1750 IMG_1757 IMG_1771 IMG_1782 IMG_1788 IMG_1798

I heard the craic was continuing at O’Keefe’s so I headed there but a frustrated doorman wouldn’t let me in saying they were closed and he was trying to get rid of everyone. Fat chance! A sneak look in the door and the place was packed. Oh well there’s always tomorrow. You can’t be everywhere.

Categories: Concerts, Festivals, Sessions, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fleadh Nua 2015 Day 6

Friday and the Festival proper has begun. A struggle after getting to bed at 4am but I made it to the Café session at Bia Agus Caife. This is a great spot tucked around the back near the Abbey but Yvonne Casey and Eoin O’Neill really gave us a treat. It was more like a big house party or a family reunion than a session. And in many ways it was. The tune selection was brilliant ensuring that everyone could play along and the joy was evident everywhere, dare I say even among the session leaders!

On then to the Sanctuary for some terrific music from Conor Keane, Johnny Ringo, Kevin Finucane and Dave Harper. The Riches of Clare concerts continue to be packed out. Excellent move to relocate it to the Queens.

Then sessions. And there were some beauties. Just caught the end of some tunes at Fawls with Cormac Begley, Jack Talty and Claire Egan. Wow. I would walk across hot coals to hear these guys. Too short. Then stayed at Fawles with Moya Fitzgerald and Dave Harper.

After dinner I ended up at Knox’s for the early session. Hugh Healy, Brian O’Lauglin and Johnny Kelly among others. Love playing with these guys. And so did the audience. In fact this tall Texan (I’m assuming here) dressed in black and with a black Stetson threw $200 on the table as a tip. There was a stunned silence! No one had ever seen a tip of this size. God bless Americans.

Then I took a break and had a wander, popping in to sessions at Ciaran’s, Faffas, Old Ground, Fawls and Temple Gate, Check out the photos.

Today (Saturday) promises a lot with three cd launches, wall to wall sessions and a concert. Some hard choices coming up.

IMG_0708 IMG_0725 IMG_0751 IMG_0782 IMG_0815 IMG_0819 IMG_0880 IMG_0894 IMG_0991 IMG_1040 IMG_1054 IMG_1058 IMG_1063 IMG_1067 IMG_1072 IMG_1075 IMG_1095 IMG_1110 IMG_1114 IMG_1141 IMG_1163 IMG_1182

Categories: Concerts, Festivals, Sessions, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fleadh Nua 2015 Day 3

A much brighter day Tuesday with the storms and freezing wind of the day before somewhat abated. So off to the Café session at Food Heaven. This is a large modern café with plenty of room for the musicians, today led by Murty Ryan and Desi Kelliher. These sessions continue to be well received by the punters.

The Riches of Clare concert was moved to the Sanctuary Night Club behind the Queens Hotel due to overcrowding at the Museum. I had misgivings about how an acoustic gig would work in this cavernous space but the sound was great. It certainly helped having musicians of the quality of James Devitt, Christy Barry, Conor McCarthy & John Faulkner. It really was lovely music with two terrific songs from John. Great to hear Christy play Christy Barry Nos 1 and 2.

I skipped the Fionn Seissun today but there was an early session at Knox’s with Hugh and Eric Healy, Brian O’Laughlin and Caroline. Brilliant stuff. Clogher Road got yet another airing! Then it was on to Cruises again to finish the evening with Quentin Cooper and Eoin O’Neill and the usual mob of reprobates.

You can feel the build up to the weekend as more musicians arrive every day.

IMG_0852 IMG_0827 IMG_0846 IMG_0868 IMG_0880 IMG_0894 IMG_0907 IMG_0924 IMG_0927 IMG_0943 IMG_0021 IMG_0041 IMG_0055 IMG_0062 IMG_0123 IMG_0129 IMG_0141 IMG_0151

Categories: Concerts, Festivals, Sessions, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fleadh Nua 2015 Day 2

It’s Monday and the day kicked off with a brunch session at Cafe Aroma. You had to get there early to get a seat even though no one knew who the musicians would be. What a nice surprise to get Blackie O’Connell and Cyril O’Donoghue. The foreign contingent lapped it up and Blackie made everyone feel welcome.

I missed the lunchtime Riches of Clare concert with Niamh O’Dea, Anne Marie McCormack and friends but my spy on the ground tells me it was brilliant high energy entertainment.

Another permanent feature of Fleadh Nua is the afternoon Fionn Seissun. The venue has moved but the format remains the same. Frank Custy and his friends lead the beginner’s session and everyone gets a go at starting a tune or song. I even sung; giving the Clogher Road an airing.

The evening concluded with tunes at Cruises led by Yvonne Casey and Brid O’Gorman, with musicians from France, Japan, UK, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Wales, USA, and Australia and hardly an Irishman to be seen. Lovely to see an ovation from the appreciative audience at the end.

All roads lead to Ennis.

IMG_0493 IMG_0504 IMG_0526 IMG_0546 IMG_0557 IMG_0577 IMG_0627 IMG_0639 IMG_0670 IMG_0697 IMG_0729 IMG_0743 IMG_0752 IMG_0774 IMG_0777 IMG_0796 IMG_0801 IMG_0812 IMG_0819 IMG_0823

Categories: Concerts, Festivals, Sessions, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Baltimore Fiddle Fair

Baltimore lies in the very southwest corner of Ireland in one of the most beautiful parts of Ireland – West Cork. It is a very pretty town nestled on a protected harbour with a strong maritime heritage. Very popular with the yachty set but for one weekend a year the sound of clinking gins-and-tonic is replaced by fiddles and pipes. That is the Baltimore Fiddle Fair and that’s where I headed for the last Festival of my first year in Ireland, which is rapidly coming to a close. And a fitting way to end the year it was.

IMG_9340 IMG_9214

Four days of music centred on the fiddle and covering many genres. We heard Old Timey, Cape Breton, Bluegrass, Swedish, Gypsy Swing, Scots and a variety of traditional Irish. There were fiddlers of the class of Gerry O’Connor, Zoe Conway, Liam O’Connor, Danny Diamond, Dermot McLaughlin and Shane Cook. The core of the festival was the concerts though I have to admit I only attended one, so I can’t really comment on them but the one I did attend was a show stopper. Warmed up by the fiddle and pipes of Liam O’Connor and Sean McKeown the crowd was blown away by Swedish superband Väsen.  I had never heard of them (shame on me) but I know them now.  Slick and professional and as tight a sound as you will ever hear, with five string viola, nyckelharpa and guitar combining effortlessly. This music was a revelation with its dynamic range and variations in tempo and rhythm. I was truly ‘polskafied’.

IMG_9951

IMG_9939-001

IMG_9969

IMG_0030

IMG_0055

IMG_0017

I attended five workshops. A big stretch but I was able to get exposure to Donegal style, Old Timey and Cape Breton as well as picking the brains of Gerry O’Connor and Zoe Conway. I never tire of these workshops. Every time I learn something.

IMG_9700

IMG_9689

IMG_9475

IMG_9458

IMG_9484

IMG_9379

But of course as always it was the sessions that kept me occupied. Every day from around 1 pm there was continuous music in the venues around the Square and in the evenings, after the concerts, Casey’s Hotel raged with as many as four sessions until at least 4am every night. There were visitors from all over the world and I met some wonderful new people including John from Wales, Patrizia and Angelica from Austria, Julie from Denmark, who is cycling around Ireland (https://www.facebook.com/TourdeFolk), Liam from Queensland, Kathleen from Boston, Larry from Tipp, the delightful, Joleen, Karen and Lorna who make up the Henry Girls from Donegal and caught up with old friends again such as Trish from Dublin, Clare from Cork and Aina from France.

IMG_9741

IMG_9432

IMG_9390

IMG_9236IMG_9320

IMG_9256

IMG_9816

IMG_9904

IMG_9853

IMG_9880

IMG_9209

IMG_9221

IMG_9230

IMG_9161

You meet all kinds at a festival such as this and for me that is what makes travelling to them worthwhile. Every evening, we were joined at Casey’s by Jeremy Irons. Self-effacing and just happy to sit in on the edges of the session and find his way in and out of tunes. Clearly revelling in the craic and a world that is a long way from Hollywood.

IMG_9240

IMG_9675

IMG_9245 IMG_9246

And I had the great pleasure to meet renowned Danish artist Claus Havemann. I chatted to him outside Bushes Bar as he stood there having a cigarette and staring across to Sherkin Island where he has had a home for thirty years and spends his time when not in Denmark. He told me of his journey in art over the last forty years which took him from Surrealism to Realism to Modernism to Minimalism to his current works which reinterpret the masters. He told me that he once painted a picture during his Minimalist period called ‘Yellow’ which was essentially dozens of layers of blue paint. The title made perfect sense to me when he explained that yellow is opposite blue on the colour wheel. I have included a couple of his paintings. I especially like the Velazquez ‘copy’, one of a series in which he paints in the style of the master but puts in modern references such as a Picasso and Miro on the wall and his interpretiaon of the Vermeer as a portrait of his daughter.  See more at  http://www.claushavemann.com/

Click for a closer look and zoom

Click for a closer look and zoom

Speaking of Sherkin Island, one of the highlights of the Festival was a session at the Island Rest Hotel. Sherkin is only a few minutes by boat and has about 90 residents. I met many of them that night as they lapped up the seriously good music from the visiting musicians shipped over (literally) for the event. There were some great contributions from locals also including songs and some impromptu dancing from Mary and her artist friends. I have never been to a session where I was picked up and delivered back by boat and the memory of this one will stay a long time.

IMG_9514

IMG_9546

IMG_9553

IMG_9561

IMG_9575

IMG_9542

IMG_9595

IMG_9620

I was intrigued by the Algiers Bar where I also played, having spent quite a bit of time in Algeria during my geology days. Turns out this pays homage to the notorious event in 1631 known as the Sack of Baltimore when Barbary pirates (comprising Dutch, Algerians and Ottomans) attacked Baltimore and captured 108 English settlers who were transported back to North Africa as slaves. Funny how we think of slavery in terms of Africans being sent to the new world, but in the century from 1580 to 1680 there were up to a million Europeans taken as part of the Barbary slave trade. Baltimore was abandoned and the village deserted for generations.

The face of the festival is Declan McCarthy.  It was his brainwave back in 1992 and he is still running it. And what a trooper he is. Everything  (well nearly everything) ran smoothly. The venues, the workshops and the support of the town. Hat’s off to him! Speaking of the venues some of the workshops were held at the magnificent stately home Inish Beg and at the famous Glebe Gardens. Along with the church, sailing club and a specially erected marque they really got it right with, of course, the fabulous location.  And unlike many other festivals where you’re lucky if you can buy a bucket of chips there were great food options with the Glebe Café a standout.IMG_9923

IMG_9716

IMG_9711

I was absolutely shattered at the end of this week. Workshops every morning and some afternoons, sessions all day and surviving on just a few hours sleep. To fiddle a bit with the words of Richard Thompson in Beeswing “you wouldn’t want it any other way”.

 

Categories: Concerts, Festivals, Sessions, The Fiddle, Trad Irish Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.