Cutting her teeth as a sideman in Boston’s roots music scene, Laura Cortese forged a unique path through a pool rich in talent (due to a large population of Berklee School of Music graduates like herself) including stints as an instrumentalist with Band of Horses, Pete Seeger, Rose Cousins, Jocie Adams (of the Low Anthem), and Uncle Earl. Her Compass Records debut, CALIFORNIA CALLING, is the next step in her career as a frontwoman and bandleader – she and her Dance Cards, (Cellist Valerie Thompson, fiddler Jenna Moynihan, and bassist Natalie Bohrn) break new ground with a bold and elegant new album, based in the lyrical rituals of folk music but exploring new territories of rhythm and sonics. With the support of Sam Kassirer, album producer of folk-pop favorites like Lake Street Dive and Joy Kills Sorrow, they’ve created something that’s simultaneously rowdy, delicate and cinematic. This is post-folk that seriously rocks.
CIGF17 & FAI PRESENT: A DOUBLE BILL WITH LAURA CORTESE
“MOXIE is the music of a new era, where fluidity, cross-pollination, and innovation are the future and salvation of Irish music.” – Irish Examiner 2016
’Irresistible, revolutionary energy’ – The Irish Times *****
“Every track is a triumph” – Irish Music Magazine
“Harmonious, energetic and tenacious, there’s no idea where Moxie will take
you.” – Lynette Fay, BBC
“A high energy cocktail that defies easy categorization…accordion trad meets
banjo bluegrass with a contemporary rhythm section that takes many a
jubilant left turn. This is highly charged 21st Century Irish music.”
Carl Corcoran, RTE
All hailing from Ireland’s untamed West Coast MOXIE are: Cillian Doheny (tenor banjo/guitar), Jos Kelly (button accordion/keyboard), Darren Roche (button accordion), Ted Kelly (tenor banjo) and Paddy Hazelton (percussion).
Their music has a solid traditional backbone, inspired and shaped by the surrounding of the west of Ireland, but with progressive, world and jazz influences creeping into their music it makes for a truly heady and distinctive sound, putting them at the forefront of new acoustic music from Ireland.
In August 2014 they released their debut album ‘Planted’ to critical acclaim. With their unmistakable approach, MOXIE are becoming a festival favourite in Europe, America, Australia and beyond garnering a reputation for their highly charged live performances.
In 2016 MOXIE provided the musical landscape for the dance show: ‘Prodijig, The Revolution.’ After 3 weeks of performance in Ireland’s famous Cork Opera House, extra dates were added due to demand. The show has received rave reviews and will no doubt be back for a run in 2017.
Reviewers called it –
’Irresistible, revolutionary energy’ – The Irish Times *****
‘Streetwise, fast moving, clever…full of superb moments’ – Irish Examiner ****
Acclaimed singer and guitarist John Smith announces an Irish tour following the release of his fifth album, Headlong and it’s lead single Living In Disgrace. Produced by Sam Lakeman and featuring Cara Dillon on BVs, Headlong comes dedicated to the memory of John Renbourn and is the follow up to Great Lakes, John’s Joe Henry produced release of 2013 which featured Salty & Sweet, a duet with Lisa Hannigan that became somewhat of a radio hit in Ireland. Headlong has already been an RTE Radio 1 album of the week in Ireland.
Headlong is the fifth album in a hard-working, under-the-radar career that has earned the Devon-born Smith a dedicated following and secured the respect and admiration of his peers. The late Renbourn called him “the future of folk music”, and Smith has opened shows for artists as diverse as Iron and Wine, John Martyn, Tinariwen and Gil Scott-Heron. He has also played on sessions for Joan Baez, Cara Dillon and Joe Henry among others, with Lianne La Havas and Lisa Hannigan both recruiting him to play lead guitar in their bands.
And so not by chance is it that John’s new record comes bearing a title implying impulsive, breakneck motion- written as it was, across various touring stints playing guitar for the likes of La Havas and Hannigan (who fittingly lends a co-write to Headlong, on ‘Coming Home’), across the U.S. Having wound up his own successful 2 year stint touring Great Lakes round the UK & across Europe (taking in sold out shows at Union Chapel, London and Unitarian Church, Dublin. In early 2016 John was finally afforded a chance to come off the road, settle in one place for a while. An opportunity which, for better or worse, Smith elected to decline. Says John; “When I finished touring Great Lakes I felt like I had time on my hands, and I thought rather than go home and try to write where it just didn’t feel natural, I wanted to keep on touring. It felt right”.
And so in stark contrast to the agonising 24 month period of writer’s block which frustrated the arrival of Great Lakes – the songs that would eventually become Headlong came together at nimble pace, during woodshedding in the isolated lulls afforded to touring musicians.
Many of the songs here are inspired by John’s wife and newborn baby- together they form a magnetic north of sorts for Headlong. His wife is the source of the redemptive, unconditional love to which ‘Save My Life’ is indebted – she’s also the ‘Joanna’ of the track that bears the same title, spurring Smith through the humdrum niggles which invariably pepper lengthy stints on the road, from clearance issues on the Oregon country border to inter-band squabbles. Yet for all that Headlong is informed in part by separation, it is also an album full of hope and trembling promise for the future. “Open the door into my time,” John sings on the joyously surging “Threshold”, inspired by the rite of passage of becoming a father for the first time
Headlong also bears the indelible loss of John’s close friend Renbourn. The death of the Pentangle legend took a particularly strong toll; “His death really hit me hard” says Smith; “He was so much more to me than someone I’d played with, and who had encouraged me. He was a friend as well, so I wanted to reference him on this album- that’s why I’ve dedicated it to his memory”.
Renbourn’s presence is particularly palpable in Smith’s equally sparing and striking electric guitar work, which weaves through Headlong, marking a break of sorts from the lush string orchestration that characterised Great Lakes. “I learnt a lot about guitars on those big U.S. tours” says John, “Finding the best tone, getting a big guitar sound for a big room. Bringing that back to my studio, and playing that kind of electric guitar on my songs, felt really good.” And so the remit for John and producer Sam Lakeman (brother of Seth & Sean) – when they eventually repaired to Lakeman’s Somerset studios – became aligning the glistening Petty and Clapton guitar lines of which Smith was so in awe, with the paired-back world inhabited by Headlong.
The success of this distillation is borne out in spades- particularly on the freewheeling outro to ‘Joanna’, galvanised by sparing blasts of Smith’s telecaster & the silken backing vocals of Cara Dillon (who also lends vocals to John’s homage to belt-tightening, ‘Living In Disgrace’). John and Lakeman’s labours were smoothed by the easy creative shorthand the two friends enjoy; “We’re really direct with each other, but it actually makes for a friendly working relationship. If we disagree, we can have a raging argument about it, but 5 minutes later we’ll be recording again and everything’s fine. For Headlong I really wanted someone who could challenge me, dare me to chop out that part of a song, or add in an extra chorus.”
Whilst John Smith has stood still just long enough to commit this new album to record, there’s yet little danger of moss gathering. Currently gearing up for a 3 month autumn tour of the UK & Europe, Smith has also been tapped to play guitar on the forthcoming album from Joan Baez (with an appearance on the forthcoming Martin Simpson album also in the works), alongside his Great Lakes’ collaborator, Joe Henry.
It’s rare these days to find an audience so wrapped up in a performance as this one**** The Independent
John Smith has captured something specialAcoustic Far from the connotations his name brings, John Smith is one of a kindWonderland This is the sound of a hugely underrated songwriter revealing more of himself, and it’s resulted in a wonderful record 9/10 Guitarist Should see him reach the bigger audience his talents most definitely deserve **** Total Guitar The searing thrum of ‘Undone’ is testament to how powerful his music can be Uncut
“I’m an architect. But it’s not my profession. I live making music. At times, I design things… and it’s a welcome release. But music is what I do.”
Talos is Eoin French. A musician from Cork, Ireland, and also an architect. But first and foremost, a musician. That’s why he’s surrendered certain things. That’s what drove him to an attic in Dublin; further afield to Iceland and finally, to splendid semi-isolation in the expanse of West Cork. The end result: a private world that becomes public, and a debut album called ‘Wild Alee’, released on April 21.
Produced and mixed by Talos and Ross Dowling over the course of 18 months, the 13-track record – released on Feel Good Lost – includes new single the New Music Friday-approved ‘Contra’, recent single ‘Odyssey’ plus earlier cuts ‘Your Love Is an Island’ and his debut release, ‘Tethered Bones’. ‘Wild Alee’ is a personal, emotive and ambitious electronic pop record; one that both looks to the past and signposts to the future.
Since debuting in December 2014 with ‘Tethered Bones’, Talos has picked up nods from the likes of Fader, New York Times, Wonderland, BBC Radio 1, The Line of Best Fit, Nialler9 and more, and racked up over 5 million streams on Spotify. Live, Talos expands out to a five-piece, and with appearances at Electric Picnic, Eurosonic, Other Voices, Longitude and more under their belts, the band have just completed a sold-out debut album tour in their native Ireland, with further dates to follow.
‘A spectacularly assured debut deserving of a wide audience’ 4/5 Album of the Week The Irish Times
‘A breathtaking, emotionally intelligent alt-folk debut.’ 4/5 PressPlayOK
‘The biggest surprise is just how catchy the entire thing is, with melodies that rise like mist rising from a forest at dawn. An outstanding debut.’ 4/5 Irish Examiner
SLIM CESSNA’S AUTO CLUB
The Commandments According to SCAC
In September 2016, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club is releasing its new album The Commandments According to SCAC. It has been twenty-four years since Slim Cessna parted ways with The Denver Gentlemen, that grand progenitor of the peculiar strain of Gothic Americana unique to the Mile High City, to form Slim Cessna’s Auto Club with a group of talented peers.
Many bands with a long and successful run like that would stick close to its roots. But rather than rest on well-earned laurels, the Auto Club challenged itself to break with well-worn modes of operating for the new record. Wallace Stenger may have captured the spirit of the west in his 1971 novel Angle of Repose. Jim Thompson surely exposed the lurid underbelly of the Western experience. Cormac McCarthy definitely evoked the conflicted, tortured spirit of small town life on the frontier. William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor informed all of them with a humor and soulfulness. It is that literary tradition that imbues the harrowing and celebratory sound and riveting stories of Slim Cessna’s Auto Club. And for a full twenty years it was largely in that realm of art that the Auto Club reveled and garnered a loyal cult following well beyond the boundaries of The Queen City of the Plains.
The Commandments According to SCAC, will be the first full length album of original material released on the Auto Club’s own imprint, SCACUNINCORPORATED.
The title evokes the themes of cosmic punishment and redemption that have served the band’s songwriting engine so well in the past. But this set of songs sounds more hopeful and expansive, a quality that was always there but this time out the brighter sides of the songwriting are emphasized. Hints of this saw early full-flown expression on 2008’s Cipher and Unentitled from 2011.
With The Commandments, however, the Auto Club seems to step forward into the promise of its own possibilities. It remains capable of the heady darkness and celebratory intensity with which it made its name.
Now that charmingly dusky and spare sound breathes with a color and delicacy of feeling that perhaps sat in the background in times past. Maybe it’s partly due to the greater creative contributions from longtime collaborator Rebecca Vera and The Peeler or the inclusion of upright bass player Ian O’ Dougherty. But the core of the band’s songwriting and sound is anchored firmly in the vision of Slim, Munly Munly and Lord Dwight Pentacost.
Whatever the true source of this transformation, The Commandments According to SCAC sounds like a band marshalling its creative inspiration to mark out a new chapter of its existence. When you get to see the Auto Club tour following the album’s release, you’ll get to see an already mighty band reinvigorated by this new spirit as well as by the fire that has long burned in its collective belly.
Lankum are a four-piece traditional folk group from Dublin, Ireland, who combine distinctive four-part vocal harmonies with arrangements of uilleann pipes, concertina, Russian accordion, fiddle and guitar. Their repertoire spans humorous Dublin music-hall ditties and street-songs, classic ballads from the Traveller tradition, traditional Irish and American dance tunes, and their own original material.
Having spent the last number of years performing as ‘Lynched’, the band decided that they would no longer continue with the name due to the unavoidable implications that it has in regards to acts of racist violence. Their new name comes from the ballad ‘False Lankum’, as sung by the Irish Traveller John Reilly Jr.
The band was originally formed as an experimental-psychedelic-folk-punk-duo by brothers Ian and Daragh Lynch in the early 2,000’s, and has since progressed through a number of incarnations.
As their interest in traditional music and song grew, the brothers began to attend sessions around Dublin, where they formed friendships with Cormac Mac Diarmada and Radie Peat, amongst a whole host of impressive young musicians. When Ian began work in the Irish Traditional Music Archive, after completing a folklore masters, he had the rare opportunity to record in the ITMA studio with friend, colleague and in-house technician Danny Diamond, whenever a spare evening presented itself, so he and Daragh asked Cormac and Radie to provide some backing vocals and instrumentation on “one or two songs”.
After some preliminary practice sessions it became obvious to all involved that something much more interesting was happening, and the group quickly became a dedicated four-piece, gaining experience and confidence as they played together at the Grand Folk Club gigs, which they hosted monthly. They also applied around this time for the Arts Council’s 2013 Deis Recording Award, for which they were fortuitously approved.
‘Cold Old Fire’ was recorded by Danny in ITMA in August of 2013, and although fundamentally an album of traditional Irish song, heavily influenced by Irish legends such as Frank Harte, Planxty and The Dubliners, subtle traces of the group’s collective influences can be detected, from American old-timey music, ambient techno and psychedelic folk, to black metal, punk and rock n’ roll.
The album was released in May of 2014 and has since seen them appear on Later with Jools Holland and playing some of the world’s most renowned music festivals, including Cambridge, Sidmouth, Edmonton and Electric Picnic as well as being nominated for three awards at the 2016 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and featured on covers of notable music magazines such as fRoots and The Thin Air.
They have a number of gigs and festivals already booked around Ireland, the UK, Europe and North Africa for the coming year, as they continue working under the name Lankum.
‘They do mark a turning point in folk… that authentic voice of the streets is back in a big way.’ Mark Radcliffe
‘Anarchic, yet connected, rootsy and gutsy… I love their music, it is just so damn good!’ Mike Harding
‘The most convincing folk band to come out of Ireland in years.’ ★★★★★ The Guardian
‘The most exciting album of traditional Irish song in decades.’ TradConnect
‘A sure contender for any Irish album of the year lists.’ Songlines
‘A passionate, utterly engrossing album.’ fRoots
To suggest that Steve Poltz isn’t normal is about as safe a statement as one could make. You would basically require the powers of the Hubble space telescope to locate Steve Poltz from any region of normalcy.
For music fans on both sides of the equator, this is a very good thing.
Born among the hearty seafaring folk of Canada’s Halifax, Nova Scotia, Poltz has lived most of his life in Southern California, where the sun treated his rocky Canadian DNA like clothes in a dryer. Naturally a spectrum of cultural and emotional tensions arose and he eventually sought refuge in the art of songwriting, where he tapped into an unforgettable and often horrifying depth of unhinged genius.
Among the music cognoscenti, Steve Poltz is regarded as one of the most talented and prolific songwriters of our time. His songs have been among the longest running ever on the Billboard Top 100 and they regularly appear in movie soundtracks, television shows, and even the odd commercial. His touring schedule is ferocious, ping ponging between continents with enough frequency to earn him manic followings in scores of different accents and languages.
Any musician who has traveled as extensively as Poltz will have their share of colorful road stories, but Poltz’ adventures read like a bucket list. Starting out auspiciously, Poltz recalls meeting Elvis Presley at a small airport and beaming proudly as The King hugged his sister for an inordinately long time. Growing up in Palm Springs, California, he trick-or-treated at Liberace’s house and was Bob Hope’s favorite altar boy. In an alcohol-soaked haze, he infamously accosted David Cassidy, who had summoned him to Las Vegas to write a hit song for the aging Tiger Beat cover boy.
His rich and colorful legacy is the stuff of legend, but it is his distinctive style of songwriting that has caused the world to offer up its stages, clubs, and alleys. Poltz’ sound is entirely unique- from his inhuman fingerstyle techniques to the inimitable melodies that roll from his guitar like cool waterfalls, you know a Poltz song as soon as you hear it. To see Steve to perform live is one of the most entertaining shows a human could ever see. Frenzied, aggressive, hilarious, and heartbreakingly sincere, his live performances have become bona fide events, with sub-cultures popping up all over the globe to entice him to come and tour. As relentless as he is in concert, he is also the guy who famously co-wrote the timeless ballad “You Were Meant For Me” with platinum-selling songwriter Jewel. Of course, because we’re talking about Steve Poltz, it should surprise no one to learn that the song was written on a lazy Mexican beach, where Poltz and Jewel were soon snapped up and sequestered by Mexican Federales and required to witness and eventually assist in a large marijuana bust on the beach. Don’t believe it? See for yourself in the pictures on his web site.
Poltz, an ex high school wrestler (98 pound class), is also an obsessive baseball fan, a die-hard yoga practitioner, a hopeless romantic, a smart-ass philosopher and a child-like adventurer with an absurdist’s view of the planet and all of its curious life forms.
Music fans have adored him since he first fronted the hallowed punk-folk legends, The Rugburns, whose live shows earned the band a following that is best described somewhere between the terms “cult” and “crazed substance-abusing fanatics.” Once touring over 300 days a year, the Rugburns occasionally reunite for wildly popular sold-out shows.
Poltz’ solo body of work is an impressive collection of ballads, rockers and uniquely melodic acoustic numbers that reflect his incomparable style of alternate tunings and savage finger picking techniques. Guitar geeks fall prostrate at his feet trying vainly to learn how to play his stunningly gorgeous and deceptively complex songs. To see him play guitar is a visual feast so frenetic that close proximity to his playing exposes one to risk of seizure.
His live shows have captivated audiences far and wide with a mix of singing, storytelling, shredding, and the occasional spoken word rants which have been known to incite riots. He can take an audience from laughter to tears and back again in the space of the same song. Steve Poltz transcends the word “talented.” He is unforgettable in all the right ways.
“We want our records to be punchy, lean and blazing. Straight in, no kissing” – Otherkin
Otherkin are a new band from Dublin.
Luke Reilly – vocals, guitar
Conor Wynne – lead guitar
David Anthony – bass guitar
Rob Summons – drums
Otherkin enjoyed a manic 2016 summer of festivals in the UK, Ireland and across Europe, in support of their second EP release, entitled ‘The New Vice’.
Luke, Conor and David first had the idea for the band in 2013, but Otherkin did not coalesce until they found drummer Rob later that year, drawn together by a shared love of bands like The Clash, QOTSA, Ramones and Blur.
Early gigs in college dorms and house parties gave way to regular shows on Dublin’s vibrant live venue circuit, which in turn blossomed into a step up to the Irish festival carousel – Longitude, Electric Picnic, Hard Working Class Heroes and Other Voices – in 2014.
After a couple of hand-made, self-released tracks, Otherkin hit their stride with the rambunctious grunge-pop single “Ay Ay”, which came to the attention of leading Irish indie label Rubyworks in early 2015.
The 201 EP – featuring “Ay Ay” and “Feel It” – was a quartet of quivering, shivering thumpers released to coincide with their UK festival debut at Leeds / Reading and their first full-length UK tour. Radio exposure came courtesy of support from Annie Mac on BBC Radio 1 and John Kennedy on Radio X, while MTV Rocks added videos for both songs into their new music playlists.
‘The New Vice’ EP, which was recorded in Dublin, and mixed in the UK by Jolyon Thomas (Slaves) features “I Was Born” and “Yeah I Know”; the former quickly raced to 100,000 listens on Soundcloud, and enjoyed daytime support from Clara Amfo at BBC Radio 1.
The band are currently in the studio recording their debut album, which will be released on Rubyworks in 2017.
In Praise of Otherkin…
Irish rockers Otherkin were another highlight. The band had only arrived off the ferry from Dublin the same morning, but provided a ferocious show with shirtless singer Luke Reilly constantly singing their infectious Catfish And The Bottlemen-style anthems from among the crowd.- NME live review
Blistering Dublin garage punks Otherkin play the tent as if it is Madison Square Garden – The Guardian UK live review
Otherkin are a riotous four piece, all leather jackets, torn jeans and garage rock riffs. Blazing energy, morse code guitars and caveman drums. – Clash Magazine UK
Basically they’re just a big mass of energy – four guys who write hugely infectious tracks with rough, snarling vocals and grunge riffs. – The Independent UK
Perfectly executed singles ‘I Was Born’ and ‘Yeah, I Know’ will leave you quivering in their wake. – There Goes The Fear
Bursting with roaring, captivating, loud as hell tunes – Pancakes & Whiskey
It’s an alluring whirlwind with pulsating drums, killer vocals and an unmistakably urgent yet pleasing vibe – Glam Glare
“a masterpiece” John Renbourn “beyond beautiful… it’s PERFECT!” Tommy Emmanuel
To find a unique voice on so ubiquitous an instrument as the acoustic guitar is quite an achievement: to do so within a centuries old idiom where the instrument has no real history is truly remarkable.
Tony McManus has come to be recognised throughout the world as the leading guitarist in Celtic Music. From early childhood his twin obsessions of traditional music and acoustic guitar have worked together to produce a startlingly original approach to this ancient art. In Tony’s hands the complex ornamentation normally associated with fiddles and pipes are accurately transferred to guitar in a way that preserves the integrity and emotional impact of the music.
Self taught from childhood, initially through listening to the family record collection, McManus abandoned academia in his twenties to pursue music full time. The session scene in Glasgow and Edinburgh provided the springboard for gigs around Scotland and a studio set for BBC Radio, frequently rebroadcast, began to spread the word.
Tony’s first self titled recording in 1996, followed by Pourquoi Quebec in 1999 led to worldwide recognition. However, it was with the release of Ceol More in 2002 that Tony’s stature as a first class musician reached a new level. Critics hailed the focussed, spell-binding nature of the music, from the plaintive Jewish hymn “Shalom Aleichem” to the ingenious arrangement of the Charles Mingus classic “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat”. Having been nominated as Musician of the Year by both the BBC Folk Awards and The Scottish Traditonal Music awards, in 2002 “Ceol More” hit the Critic’s Album of the year list in Acoustic Guitar magazine and named “Live Ireland Awards” Album of the Year.
Tony’s work has come to represent Celtic music in the guitar world, making regular appearances at guitar specific events where just a few years ago jigs and reels would be unheard of. He is invited annually to the Chet Atkins Festival in Nashville, has appeared at Guitar Festivals in Soave and Pescantina, Sarzana and Francacorta Italy; Frankston, Australia; Issoudun and Bordeaux France; Kirkmichael, Scotland; Bath and Kent, England; Bochum and Osnabruck, Germany. In 2004 he appeared at the famous Ryman Auditorium in Nashville in the “All Star Guitar Night” featuring Steve Morse, Bryan Sutton, Muriel Anderson, Béla Fleck and Victor Wooten and headlined by the legendary Les Paul.
His ability to reach audiences unfamiliar with traditional music is remarkable- he is quite comfortable at predominantly classical events such as the Dundee and Derry Guitar Festivals (appearing six times between the two) the Uppsala Guitar Festival and even The Bogotá International Guitar Festival where he followed virtuoso Eduardo Fernandez.
Today his live work ranges from intimate solo performance through his trio with brothers Gary and Greg Grainger to the quartet Men of Steel (with fellow guitarists Dan Crary, Beppe Gambetta and Don Ross). He is an enthusiastic collaborator both as a leader and as a sideman having worked with, among many others Dougie McLean, Phil Cunningham, Mairi MacInnes, Liam O’Flynn, Martin Simpson, Kevin Burke, Alison Brown, Martyn Bennett, Natalie MacMaster, Patrick and Jacky Molard, Mairead ní Mhoanaigh and Dermot Byrne, The Nashville Chamber Orchestra, John Jorgenson, Jean Michel Veillon, Catriona Macdonald, Seikou Keita, Xosé Manuel Budiño, Ewen Vernal and Andy Irvine.
He is also in great demand as a studio musician having contributed to over 60 albums. In addition to his solo output Tony has worked with both singers and instrumentalists providing his distinctive sound on many successful projects.
His 2009 release “The Makers’s Mark” saw him showcase 15 of the finest luthier built guitars available. Recording a solo piece on each instrument, the project caught the attention of the mainstream rock guitar press in a way that acoustic work rarely does.
The following year, a chance hearing on Irish radio led to an invite to contribute music to the soundtrack of Oscar winning director Neil Jordan’s film “Ondine” starring Colin Farrell.
Never one to be typecast, Tony’s new album “Mysterious Boundaries” is his most ambitious to date. An encouraging challenge from mandolin virtuoso Mike Marshall to learn the Bach E Major Prelude on guitar led to an exploration of classical and baroque music – seemingly very different to the jigs and reels that he grew up with. By examining the boundaries between genres and sticking to his steel string guitar (rather than the conventional classical guitar) McManus has produced a work of great originality and beauty, hailed by his peers as
“a masterpiece” (Renbourn), “beyond beautiful… it’s PERFECT!” (Tommy Emmanuel) and which contains a truly remarkable rendition of Bach’s colossal Chaconne in D Minor – one of the greatest compositions of any age.
Whatever work McManus brings within his scope the listener is assured a journey into the depths of the music in the company of a great talent.
My Fellow Sponges come from Galway on the salty west-coast of Ireland. The band is the creative union of two singer-songwriters. Donal McConnon with his lyrically-led folk ditties and Anna Mullarkey with her lush and elegant synth-pop sound. The two started a band together after performing together as actors on a number of theatre shows in university. They were later joined by David Shaughnessy (drums) and Sam Wright (bass). 2013 saw the release of their debut album Bonne Nuit. Mostly focused on a more rural sound, the single from it which received the most attention was This Dream Song, mainly for the highly-ambitious, surrealist backwards video which accompanied its release. The follow up Something Like Light (2014), displays a much more reflective, piano-driven sound from a band ever-willing to explore new possibilities with sound. Last year’s single, The Cold Hand, has been the band’s most successful release to date, gaining nationwide radio-play and convincing music lovers to flock to their shows during the festival season.
My Fellow Sponges have collaborated with story-tellers, comedians, dancers and brass-ensembles. They have played entire shows improvised, under the moniker, Community. Their live concerts are lively, unpredictable and intimate. They comfortably switch from eerie-electronica to hip-shaking-bossa-nova all with a dramatic flair that stay with Donal and Anna from their theatre days.