LAU NOAH (ESP)
GEORGE LOWDEN (N.IRL)
LAU NOAH (ESP)
GEORGE LOWDEN (N.IRL)
“They remind me of my first days at ‘Les Cousins’ in Soho in 1965… Ye Vagabonds are a modern expression of a tradition that is truly robust and important to these islands.”– Roy Harper
“Going backwards to go forwards, [Ye Vagabonds] look not to modern day influence to inspire their sound but prefer to absorb and reflect the most genuine leanings of deep tradition, playing folk music that resonates as pure and honest as it has since time immemorial. In an age where styles have a limited shelf life, and musicians so often live by definition of their sell-by date, Ye Vagabonds make music that honours timeless sincerity with acoustic fireside storytelling that will sound as current a hundred years from now as it has a hundred generations past.”– Myles O Reilly (Arbutus Yarns)
Brothers Brían and Diarmuid Mac Gloinn grew up playing music together around their hometown of Carlow, a small town in the southeast of Ireland. After moving to Dublin in 2012, they quickly became a staple of the live music and session scene in Ireland, playing their own original songs as well as folk songs from Ireland, Scotland, England and America.
In 2014 they came to the attention of Arbutus Yarns’ music filmmaker Myles O Reilly, whose videos gained international attention for the brothers for the first time.
After a chance meeting at Electric Picnic in September 2015, the brothers performed onstage with Glen Hansard, who immediately invited them to open for him on his European tour the following October.
Their debut EP Rose & Briar was released on October 7th 2015.
Since then, they have been busy touring Ireland, the UK and Europe, opening for acts such as Villagers, Roy Harper and Lisa Hannigan (whose band they played in for her Irish tour, June 2016). They have also played sold out headline shows in Ireland, Paris, Geneva and Solothurn, Switzerland.
They have made numerous television and live radio appearances in Ireland, and were featured in Ep. II of Myles O’Reilly and Donal Dineen’s music programme This Ain’t No Disco in March 2017. They were also part of ‘Imagining Home’, a live broadcast concert in the National Concert Hall of Ireland, 2016, curated by Glen Hansard, Philip King and Gary Sheehan.
Ye Vagabonds are currently finishing their highly anticipated debut album, due to be released in Autumn 2017.
Lisa O’Neill has a remarkable voice; a Cavan twang, a growl, a song-call. It can be many things. She needed to make an album about that voice. ‘Pothole in the Sky’ is a recording of “the voice”. The voice is everything for the folk singer – a conduit for the words, the emotion, the thought process. This is no ordinary record.
O’Neill’s voice goes to all sorts of places throughout the course of this album, and the music provided by Emma Smith, Seamus Fogarty, Joseph Doyle, and Mossy Nolan follows her like a dark swirling storm, often bringing to mind the loose impressionism of the Dirty Three. On ‘Planets’ O’Neill delivers her most extraordinary vocal and lyrical performance to date. It is remarkable and on this form she could go toe to toe with Nick Cave at his most fire and brimstone. Except O’Neill’s prose is elemental and mysterious, not angry.
As any truly great singer knows, it’s not all about those big reaching numbers. There is some truly brave singing on this record. For instance, the odd high-pitched flourishes on ‘Nasty’, or the shrill parlour style singing on ‘Black Sheep’. The latter features some of the best accompaniment too, a mellifluous psychedelic montage that literally sets sail one-minute-thirty in as Lisa goes off on one of her patented hypnotic stream-of-conscious word-play trips. The album closes out on a succession of brilliant songs. ‘The Banjo Spell’ is a tender ode to the aural folk tradition without being throwback. In fact it has a big lush modern feel to it. And ‘The Hunt’, featuring guest fiddle and banjo from Colm Mac Con Iomaire and Glen Hansard respectively, is just another meandering epic Lisa O’Neill number, twisting and turning and changing its phrasing and tempo to suit the story and accommodate the words. She makes it sound easy. But it’s not.
At a time when sameness threatens to drain the world of charm and surprise, Lisa O’Neill stands tall for difference, as an outlier with a mission to frame the world as she sees it and to perform it accordingly. Joe Breen, Irish Times
In the end of the day and the heel of the hunt, you’re left with the songs. Everything else comes and goes – the shows and the tours and the applause and the acclaim which goes with them, the prattle and the palaver which accompany an album release. Everything else fades out of view. Everything else doesn’t matter in the long run.
But the songs remain. The songs you write on your own stick around. They’re going to be here for many years to come so they deserve to be treated with due care and utmost respect in the creation process.
Mick Flannery realised this a long time ago. He also realised that songwriting was the best part of this strange job of being a jobbing-gigging-talking-singing musician.
“It’s never a chore”, Flannery says about the craft. “The creation is the nicest part, it’s something you always have and you can use it to work through stuff that’s in your head. You have to take it seriously if it’s going to be any good. It’s always my favourite thing, like putting Lego blocks together. You can make a lot of things with Lego.”
You can make an album like “By the Rule”, for instance. It’s Flannery’s fourth album but it’s a world on from anything he has put his name to before now.
“Evening Train” (2007), “White Lies” (2008) and especially 2012’s best-selling and critically acclaimed number one album “Red to Blue” had their advocates and champions. They were significant staging posts along the road for the songwriter from Blarney, signs that he was finding an unique voice and vision, signs that he was finding his feet as he was finding an audience.
We can now consider the apprenticeship to be over. “By the Rule” is the work of a confident, assured songwriter, someone who knows how to turn a list of nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs into graceful, minor-key pen-pictures and poetry which will resonate with the listener.
Beneath and beyond the beautifully understated, uncomplicated and uncluttered production on “By the Rule”, Flannery’s songs usher us into a world which is by times emotional, romantic, dark, insightful and hopeful.
It’s a world he brought into being in Berlin. He took a notion to go to Germany and, after a bitter cold winter initially beat him home again, he settled and spent seven months there in 2013. In a flat with big, open rooms and lovely acoustics, Flannery set up base and went to work.
He was largely by himself in the city. He did a college course to learn the language, but there was no social circle or gigs to distract him. He’d wander around that great city, taking in the history and grandeur and pace of the place.
Occasionally, he’d throw on a pair of runners, stick Eminem on the headphones and go for a run. “There’s things he does with words that no-one else does”, Flannery says of the Detroit rapper. “He rhymes two words with one word, the two syllables of one word with match two separate words, internal rhyming, skip rhymes.”
Back at his little room in Kreuzberg, Flannery’s new songs began to slowly take shape. His songs are usually based on stories and experiences he has heard from people or overheard in the clatter of a café or bar.
“I’d be a bit of a detective about people, the way they are, how they behave. You have to care about them. If you only want to write about your own experiences, your own break-ups and trials, you can do that without leaving the house.”
The compelling strengths of “Pride”, “Get What You Give” and “Live In Hope” benefited from Flannery’s methodical approach to getting the lyrical dimensions just right. “It takes me a while to pare them down and get the lyrics correct and make everything as concise as possible. You have to think about the songs again and again and again. You have to have a foothold in the song.”
Back in Ireland, the next job was to record the songs. Flannery called on O Emperor’s Phil Christie (piano) and Alan Comerford (guitar) to give him a hand and liked what they were doing in rehearsals. “They were finding things in the songs and I thought the things they were finding were nice.”
The pair of them joined Flannery, Christian Best (drums), Shane Fitzsimons (bass) and Karen O’Doherty (violin) for a fortnight in Beechpark Studios in Rathcoole in December 2013 with Ryan Freeland (Aimee Mann, Ray LaMontagne, Joe Henry, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Carolina Chocolate Drops etc) producing alongside Best.
Flannery knew the sound he wanted and that meant less rather than more playing. “The most effective thing to me is a dynamic when something just swells and gets louder and tenser and effects the listener. There’s no need to play a lot of notes to get that. It’s simple stuff, really.”
A few months on from recording, Flannery is still digging what he and the band produced over that winter fortnight. Unlike his other albums, he an imagine himself listening to this one for many years to come. He likes the way it was recorded and the way it sounds.
He likes the way he sounds too. “I sound like myself here. I’ve been trying to get away from singing with that old American twang which is left over from listening to too much Tom Waits. The more I get away from it, the more comfortable I feel.”
This satisfaction with “By the Rule” could also be about the growing up process. Flannery turned thirty last year and finds he’s less bothered than he used to be by the small stuff. When you get to this age, you’re happy to let the small stuff go.
“When you get to the end of your twenties, you become less self-obsessed. You start worrying less about your feelings. You become calmer. It gradually becomes easier to be yourself.”
“By the Rule”, then: the sound of Mick Flannery getting comfortable in his skin. The sound of a man at ease with his work. The sound of a master songwriter creating his best work to date.
CIGF17 & FAI PRESENT: IN THE ROUND..’ FEAT: WALLIS BIRD, JOHN SMITH, LISA O NEILL, MICK FLANNERY
Ireland’s Choice Music Prize Nominee 2017
Germany’s Deutscher Musikautorenpreis Winner 2017
Wallis Bird is steadily becoming a household name, and not only in Ireland. Nominated for a Choice Music Prize at home this year, she’s also been making big waves in mainland Europe. Wallis won a Deutsche Musikautorenpreis – a national prize chosen by composers and awarded to their peers. Wallis was the only non-German up for an award – a huge and rare achievement.
Wallis released her fifth studio album ‘Home’ in September 2016 on Mount Silver Records / Caroline International, and has been touring relentlessly all over the world since its release. The ‘Home’ tour encompassed over 70 shows, with Wallis playing to rapturous audiences across Europe, Japan and Australia. On the Australian leg of the tour, Wallis gained a new fan in American artist Amanda Palmer, who tweeted repeatedly to her million-plus followers to go and catch a show. Palmer subsequently invited Wallis to join her on stage for a duet during one of her festival appearances, and Wallis reciprocated by having Palmer sing at one of her own headline shows.
Wallis’ energy on stage is one of her trademarks; even the Irish Times once noted it could ‘kickstart an entire economy’. In 2016, she played a 12-hour free gig in aid of refugee charities in Berlin, even finding enough strength to play an encore. Never your average troubadour, Wallis already has two Meteor Awards to her name, as well as a previous Choice nomination, and has recorded for Island Records and Columbia Records, as well as touring with the likes of Rodrigo y Gabriela and Billy Bragg. Though you might not catch another 12-hour show anytime soon, you can be sure that few can enrapture an audience the way Wallis Bird can.
“Home is an eclectic pop record that ticks every box. It also might just be her best yet” **** Irish Times
“Wonderfully eclectic and unpredictable…easily Wallis Bird’s most accomplished album to date” 9/10 Hot Press
“The energy, the emotion…it’s all there…the new album ‘Home’ is out. Get it.” Nicky Byrne, 2FM
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.”
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 special Acoustic
Far from the connotations his name brings, John Smith is one of a kind Wonderland
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
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!’
‘The most convincing folk band to come out of Ireland in years.’ ★★★★★
‘The most exciting album of traditional Irish song in decades.’
‘A sure contender for any Irish album of the year lists.’
‘A passionate, utterly engrossing album.’