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Folk column: Same old Damo
While fans mourn the Seamus Ennis Centre, there’s a great line-up at the Kilkenny Arts Centre, and Damien Dempsey returns to Ireland.
Greg McAteer, 17 Aug 2006
They say you never miss it until it’s gone and that’s certainly true of my favourite place to catch a gig. Not particularly cool, not particularly comfortable and not endowed with many of the niceties of concert-going, The Seamus Ennis Centre in Naul managed, however, to create a unique atmosphere which drew fantastic performances out of artists who in many cases were real finds.
Set up to promote traditional music in memory of piper and archivist Seamus Ennis, the centre’s director Sean Mac Philbin has chosen a more organic approach and it has become a haven for a broad spectrum of music from folk, through blues and Americana.
The news that much of the centre had burned down came as a huge shock, although tempered by the fact that the venue itself is unscathed. With much of the original house destroyed though, the centre will be closed to the public until further notice.
In the meantime, the centre’s upcoming shows have been moved out to the Hollywood Lakes Golf Course where White Raven will be performing their trademark three-part harmonies with a repertoire drawn from folk and traditional song on August 17. Next night Bruce Mathiske, the Australian steel-string guitarist, known for his formidable finger-style technique will be taking to the stage. Saturday, August 19 sees a whirlwind visit from Teada, who must have the heaviest touring schedule of any band out there, yet have still delivered the freshest traditional album of the past year, unrepentantly old-school and performed with a drive and dynamism which should put their elders and betters to shame.
Teada also play at this year’s Kilkenny Arts Festival which runs in the Marble City from August 11 to 20. They share a double bill with Beoga on August 12 at the city’s Rivercourt Hotel. It should be an interesting pairing as stylistically the two bands have chosen different seams of the tradition to mine.
At lunch-time on Sunday August 13 the majestic Iarla O Lionaird will perform in the intimate surroundings of the Parade Tower, accompanied by special guests fiddler Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and piper Mick O’Brien. Best known still for his seminal involvement with roots fusion super-group The Afro-Celt Sound System, this will be an opportunity to hear Iarla with a more straightforwardly traditional ensemble.