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Folk and trad news by Greg McAteer
Greg McAteer, 19 Aug 2005
Gay McKeon and his sons, Sean and Conor, have just released an album, The Dusty Miller. It was launched with a gig on August 9 at O’Shea’s Merchant’s, Dublin. It never fails to amaze how two instruments as similar as the Scottish bagpipe and the Uillean pipes can produce such radically different effects.
While the bagpipe leaves me completely cold, good music played well on the Uilleann pipes – and these guys are good – can be completely rivetting.
Since she decamped to Wexford a few years back, we don’t see nearly enough of Eleanor McEvoy in Dublin but this year the ESB BEO Celtic Music Festival made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. And so the National Concert Hall will see her tie together two threads in her musical career.
Having graduating from Trinity College Eleanor McEvoy was accepted into the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, where she spent four years before finally deciding to leave the world of classical music and concentrate on her passion for songwriting.
Since then, she has released a cluster of fine albums, most recently Early Hours,and written enough good songs to put her well ahead of the posse, making her Ireland’s most sucessful female songwriter.
On Friday August 19, McEvoy will return to a world she left behind but still holds in great affection, when she performs a selection of her songs with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.
Conductor David Brophy, McEvoy herself and a number of others composers have arranged her better known songs for orchestra and there is a promise of some lush interpretations there.
Don’t worry that it will get too polite though. According to the press release, the orchestra will be supplemented for the occasion by a ‘contemporary rhythm section’, which, I guess, means a drummer to you and me.
Kilkenny Arts Festival has a few treats in its world music programme this year.
Venues for this year’s festival, which takes place August 12 – 21 will range from the medieval grandeur of St Canice¹s Cathedral to the natural amphitheatre of the Ballykeefe Quarry.
Hailing from Madagascar, off the coast of Mozambique, comes East Africa’s answer to James Brown – Jaojoby. Blending African, Indian, Arabic and European influences this is rhythmically irresistible music.
From Pakistan come the Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali Group, following in the footsteps of their late uncle Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who brought Qawwali into the conscience of a global audience through his work with Peter Gabriel.
The group will be leading Kilkenny audiences into the world of Sufi mystics, in a performance in which audience and artists alike reach the ecstatic state known to the Sufis as ‘fana’.
The festival also features a strong jazz line-up; many of these performers are at the blurry edge between jazz and world music.
The Frankie Gavin International Fiddle Festival, which will take place in Galway from August 18 – 21 will have something to suit a broad spectrum of music tastes.
The event aims to capture a blend of various styles of music, all anchored around the fiddle as the main instrument.
The festival is being well supported locally with sponsorship from Ireland West Tourism, the Radisson, Radio na Gaeltachta, the Galway Advertiser and Galway Bay FM. The festival certainly promises some interesting musical couplings.
Things kick off on Thursday August 18 with ‘Jigs meet Gypsy Jazz’ in the Radisson. Artists performing on the night include Frankie Gavin and Roby Lakatos. An institution now in Galway, Gavin is delighted to be able to welcome so many of his musical friends to play in his home town.
Gypsy violinist, Roby Lakatos, is equally comfortable performing classical music as he is playing jazz and Hungarian folk.
The following night sees the classically trained exponents of the instrument hit the stage at the Radisson.
Opening up proceedings is the Galway Youth Quartet, young musicians from both Headford and Galway city, who will be joined by Cora Venus Lunny, and Zoë Conway. Although she started classical violin at the young age of nine, Conway is very much at home playing Irish traditional, jazz or Scottish and Appalachian styles of fiddling ‘Fiddles on Fire takes place on Saturday August 20, once again in the Radisson. To begin the evening, three outstanding young fiddle players, Maureen Browne, Ronan O’Flaherty and Tara Breen, will showcase music from the West of Ireland.
This will be followed by performances from the ‘Big’ Fiddles on Fire, with well-known players Tommy Peoples,John Carty, Maeve Donnelly, Brendan Larrissey and Paddy Canny.
For those wishing to master the fiddle, there will also be Fiddle Masterclasses in the Backstage Bar of the Radisson SAS Hotel, Galway on Saturday 20th August, presided over by Frankie Gavin and Tommy Peoples.
Looking a bit further down the tracks, the programme for Belfast’s 7th Open House Festival has been announced.
The booklet, if that isn’t too prosaic a word for it, is a beautifully produced thing in its own right and I’ve been combing it trying to see why Wayne Rooney is namechecked next to Bob Dylan on the credits page!
The festival is heavy with Americana and you’ll be able to sate yourself on Hayseed Dixie and Seasick Steve and the Level Devils and the Foghorn String Band. There’s a film festival with a special focus on the semi-legendary John T. Davis and a raft of quirky shows – who’s up for seeing Adrian Dunbar belting out a few numbers?
As well as performances there is a dizzying array of classes in a number of instruments, where skills can be honed at the feet of the master (well, I’m sure they’ll have chairs, but you get the picture). Various members of Flook, Four Men And A Dog and others will be passing the knowledge along.
With Liz Doherty taking on her new role as Traditional Arts Specialist with the Arts Council, hopes were high that the lot of traditional musicians would see some degree of improvement. Now, it seems that this is to be the case with the announcement of Deis, a new scheme established under the Arts Council’s Traditional Arts Initiative.
It’s to be a proposal-based scheme rather than the usual practice of filling out forms which is hated by musicians everywhere. In an initiative aims to encourage and facilitate the traditional arts community to seek funding from the Arts Council for a range of projects.
It has deliberately been kept open ended – proposals may be submitted for any traditional arts projects, or projects involving the traditional arts in collaboration with other art forms.
The only requirement is that they are in line with the Arts Council’s policy on the traditional arts. There are no deadlines so proposals can be submitted at any point with a pilot scheme operating until the full blown affair takes off at the start of September. The world, as my father would have said, is your oxter.