9pm // Debarra’s Folk Club // September 16 (ALSO LIVE-STREAMED)
Channeling the music of her ancestors through her deep rooted Irish traditional fiddling and bilingual song, Clare Sands is a unique force in Irish music. A sixth generation fearless feisty fiddler, the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is breaking the boundaries of Irish Music. She makes pulsating Folk music, infused with a myriad of influences from around the world to create an invigorating new sound, for the young and the old, brave and the bold.
Sands has been wowing audiences around Ireland and further afield with her groundbreaking style, passionate performance, and infinite warrior-like energy. Performing with the likes of Hothouse Flowers, Mick Flannery, Albert Hammond, The Stunning, Susan O’Neill, Jack L, Niamh Regan, Luka Bloom and many more, as well as selling out dates around Ireland as an artist in her own right, this ‘force of natures’ time has come.
Throughout 2021, Clare has been collaborating with some of Ireland’s finest Folk and Traditional musicians to compose four new songs over the four seasons, inspired by the landscapes and soundscapes of the four provinces. These compositions with Steve Cooney & Tommy Sands, Susan O’Neil, Brídín and Liam Ó Maonlaí will feature on Clare’s highly anticipated self-titled debut album of pulsating Folk, due for release in 2022. Described by Mark Radcliffe on BBC Radio 2 as ‘full of life’ they are a glance into the invigorating new Irish sound to come.
‘AN EMPOWERING, EXCEPTIONAL TALENT, CHANNELING THE MUSIC OF HER ANCESTORS TO CREATE THE SOUND OF A NEW IRELAND’ LYNETTE FAYE, BBC RADIO ULSTER
‘CLARE CREATES BRAVE MUSIC THAT TAPS DEEP INTO THE WELL OF WHAT WE ARE ABOUT, OF TRADITIONAL MUSIC, AND BRINGS IT RIGHT TO THE PRESENT DAY. A PHENOMENAL MUSICIAN’ FIACHNA Ó BRAONÁIN, RTÉ RADIO 1
‘AN IMPASSIONED VOICES AND MUSICAL GENIUS ON STAGE. A UNIQUE FORCE IN IRISH MUSIC’HOTPRESS MAGAZINE
Pretty Happy are an Art-Punk three-piece from Cork. Drawing on a rebellious tradition of Cork Post-Punk, the band has sculpted their own theatre influenced, all-consuming noise rock sound.
Using a combination of spoken word, raw emotion and a demented punk style the band’s latest releases have garnered attention from the likes of KEXP, BBC 6, BBC Introducing, BBC Ulster (Stephen McCauley’s ‘Street Knowledge’), 2FM (Track of the Week), Newstalk as well as The Irish Examiner, The Sunday Business Post, Hot Press Magazine (A+R Department), Nameless Faceless, Nialler9, Golden Plec, The Last Mixed Tape and Entertainment.ie.
The members of Pretty Happy, (Abbey Blake, Arann Blake and Andy Killian), are passionate about their local arts scene. Abbey is founder of Angry Mom Collective, a movement set up to battle the gender divide in Irish arts. All members are also keenly involved in drama and film which bleeds through to their eccentric live performances.
With Abbey’s defined pedal driven guitar sound she was announced as an Earthquaker Devices Artist in 2020.
Pretty Happy kick off their Summer with a set recorded in St. Lukes Church (Live at St Luke’s) as part of Cork’s Midsummer Festival. In a special emerging artist event, Abbey is showcasing her work as a film-maker, activist and musician.
Windings are a 5-piece rock/alt/pop/indie/folk band from Limerick City, Ireland. Over the past few years, windings have had the pleasure of sharing stages, supporting, and touring with the likes of Daniel Johnston, Smog/Bill Callahan, Bob Mould, Okkervil River, Caribou, Iron And Wine, Villagers, Teenage Fanclub, Kurt Vile, and Modest Mouse, amongst others. They have performed at festivals such as Electric Picnic and Forbidden Fruit (Irl), CMJ (New York), CMW (Toronto).
2012 brought the band to Canada to play at Canadian Music Week, Toronto, for the second year running. After a successful run of shows at the festival, they continued north to Hotel2Tango Studios in Montreal where they recorded side One of their 3rd, and most recent, album, entitled ‘I Am Not the Crow’ with Efrim Menuck (Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Silver Mt Zion). Side Two was completed on their return to Ireland, with the expertise of Tommy McLaughlin (Villagers) at Attica Audio, Donegal.
Released (on Limited Edition Picture Vinyl and Digital Download) in October 2012 on Out On A Limb Records, I Am Not The Crow has been lauded by critics both nationally and internationally as one of the top Irish albums of that year, with its lead single ‘This Is A Conversation’ achieving considerable airplay on it’s release.
However, the most exciting part was yet to come when I Am Not The Crow was nominated for the Choice Music Award, the most prestigious Musical Prize in Ireland.
6:30pm & 9pm // DeBarras Folk Club // September 14
(9pm show ALSO LIVE-STREAMED)
“Free wheeling, free spirited and powered by an appetite for traditional music’s outer reaches” Séamus Begley & Jim Murray are among the most dynamic duos in Irish Traditional Music.
Jim Murray is one of Ireland’s finest guitarists and his formidable reputation has been established as a player of traditional music – both as a melody player and as an accompanist. Throughout his childhood, Jim who hails from Macroom in West Cork performed with various groups including his father’s celidh band. In his late teens he formed a group with fellow local musicians which quickly lead him to be invited to play professionally with many of Ireland’s renowned artists. Over the last decade, Jim has combined a wide range of music and influences to create a unique and exciting modern sound in guitar accompaniment bringing it to the ‘now’. Jim plays regularly as a member of Sharon Shannon’s band and has also toured and recorded with Altan, Mary Black, Sinead O’Connor, Steve Earle, Donal Lunny and many other musicians.
Accordion player and singer Séamus Begley is one of the most popular Irish traditional musicians, coming as he does from one of the most musically acclaimed Irish families. He is the quintessential Irish musician, an eager storyteller known for his sharp wit and famous for pumping out tune after tune at all night sessions. He plays with an energy that is alarming, bringing a frisky spontaneity to his box-playing, belting out jigs, slides and polkas with rapid sprays of reckless ornamentation before making a sudden key change into a bitter-sweet air, sung or played on the accordion.
His repertoire reflects his own place and his style of playing is much influenced by a now gone generation of accordion and fiddle players who came to céilí in his family home. Seamus’s style is unique and he is considered by many to be one of the finest players of the dance music of West Kerry and is never happier than when people are dancing to his music. Séamus divides his time between his small holding in the West Kerry Gaeltacht and travelling Ireland and the world playing music. He has toured extensively with Jim Murray, Altan, Steve Cooney and Mary Black to name but a few.
In 2001 Séamus and Jim released their first album, the highly acclaimed ‘Ragairne’ which was winner of the 2001 Hot Press Magazine ‘Folk and Trad Album of the Year’ and The Irish Times ‘Traditional album of the Year’. Their highly anticipated second album, Eiri Go La was released in Early 2009 and has received rave reviews to date.
“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.”
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 ****