The Louth Contemporary Music Society’s annual midsummer festival has quickly established itself as an event of prime importance, not only in Ireland but internationally. Composers and performers from around the world are drawn to Dundalk by the qualities of enthusiasm and attention they meet from a growing local audience.
This year’s instalment of “The Gathering” runs from the evening of Friday 19th – 20th of June and goes further than ever before, welcoming Cuba’s foremost composer Leo Brouwer. Half a century ago, Brouwer was the favoured guitarist of the leading German composer Hans Werner Henze. He brings to “The Gathering” a selection of his own pieces, for solo guitar and quartet, music deeply steeped in Cuban traditions. The performance will also include the world premiere of a new work Irish Landscape with ‘Rain’. Pascale Criton, whose hovering music made a big impression at last year’s festival, returns with a piece for the French guitar duo Lallement Marques Concert in An Tain Arts Centre Dundalk at 8pm Friday 19 June 2020.
A sublime programme of music will be performed by Sabine Oehring and Yuriko Ozaki at the 1pm concert on Saturday in the beautiful surroundings of St.Vincent’s School Chapel. The programme titled Silence and Sound explores the music for voice and guitar by Japanese composer Toshio Hosokawa.
The German violinist Carolin Widmann lends her top virtuosity and expressive drive to a programme of new and recent solo pieces including a new work by Gloria Coates, pursuing her own fascinating course through her eighties. Carolin’s concert takes place in the Chapel of St. Vincent’s School, Jocelyn St Dundalk at 3pm on Saturday 20 June 2020.
“The Gathering” takes its name from a string quartet by the exciting Greek-Canadian composer Christos Hatzis. This will be played by Ireland’s own Esposito Quartet, on a programme that also includes music by Kevin Volans. The Esposito performance will take place in St. Nicholas Church of Ireland Dundalk at 5pm on Saturday 20 June 2020.
The festival closes with voices: the Vox Clamantis choir of Estonia, singing music by Arvo Pärt including LCMS’ commission The Deer’s Cry, Helena Tulve, Kevin Volans’ ecstatic work Glosa a lo Divino and a new work Storm in Devon by Siobhán Cleary. Vox Clamantis concert takes place at 8pm on Saturday 20 June 2020 in St.Nicholas Church of Ireland Dundalk.
Programme for the Gathering.
Music of Leo Brouwer including the new work Irish Landscape with Rain.
(Andrey Lebedev, Alec O’Leary, Duo Lallement Marques and Cecilia Bignall, cello)
Friday 19 June 2020 at 8pm in An Tain. €12
Music of Toshio Hosokawa for guitar and voice
Sabine Oehring and Yuriko Ozaki
Saturday 20 June 2020 at 1pm St.Vincent’s €5
Carolin Widmann performing Bach, Hildegard, Benjamin and a new work from Gloria Coates
Saturday 20 June 2020 at 3pm St.Vincents, €5
Esposito Quartet performing Christos Hatzis The Gathering and Kevin Volans’ This is How it is.
Saturday 20 June 2020, 5pm St.Nicholas. Free.
Vox Clamantis (Estonia) singing Arvo Pärt, Kevin Volans, Helena Tulve and Siobhan Cleary
Saturday 20 June 2020 at 8pm St.Nicholas
A full festival ticket for all shows costs €20 (€22.20 including booking fees) available from https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/the-gathering-festival-early-bird-ticket-tickets-74723653459
‘What Have You Got’ is the opening track to ‘Night Painting’ by Video Blue. It was recorded in Jim’s Hackney flat and SARM studios in Notting Hill.
Paul Campbell provides piano & synth contributions. The spoken-word piece is a collage of anxieties, fears and affirmations. The loaded imagery of the verse gives way to the mantra/refrain of ‘breathe easy’.
These anxieties are appropriated and anthropomorphized as a dinosaur who loses his balloons in film director Freddie Leyden’s companion video clip.
Video Blue is Dundalk-man Jim O’Donoghue Martin. Embracing ambient electronica, guitar-driven alt-pop & spoken-word, all of the music is recorded in his east London bedroom.
‘The Nashville Callin’ is the title of the ninth studio album by Irish artist Ben Reel. Produced by Will Kimbrough and Tommy Womack and featuring Garry W Tallent on bass from the legendary E Street Band. The album contains eleven new tracks all written by Ben Reel and is released 6th March.
It was recorded at Skinny Elephant Studios in Nashville. This album was done and dusted in just three days with all live takes. Following Ben’s critically acclaimed experimental slow burner ‘Land of Escape’ from 2018, this new record has a more Americana, rootsy rock, live band feel.
Since his debut album ‘This Is the Movie’ back in 1999, Ben has reinvented himself from album to album, influenced by different styles of music over the years.
As one critic said, “He’s not afraid to throw in some folk, soul, reggae vibes, which in turn call to mind John Hiatt at his best.” Another describes him as, “somewhere in the middle ground between rock and jazz or a sound that is sometimes reminiscent of Dylan and the Band”.
In a solo career which now spans over twenty years, Ben has received worldwide critical acclaim with numerous high profile TV/Radio appearances like BBC, RTE and Dutch NPO Radio. Supporting Jools Holland, Alabama 3 and The Cranberries, and he has collaborated musically with such names as Hal Ketchum and The Blockheads. He has co written and performed live with his fellow countryman Tony McLoughlin and some of Nashville’s finest such as David Olney & Irene Kelley.
In the past Ben was selected to play an official showcase at Folk Alliance in Memphis TN and has toured as double bill with Tommy Womack (Nashville) in the U.S and UK and also with legendary American folk singer/songwriter Eric Andersen in the UK and NL. While in Nashville he was invited to play the famous Bluebird Cafe on a number of occasions, most recently September 2018.
Over the last ten years Ben has enjoyed successful tours in Ireland, UK, Europe & U.S.A, receiving rave reviews and attracting a growing loyal fan base. He has graced big festivals such as Jamming@Hippie Jacks (USA), Musiktan Festival in Bilbao (ESP), Haarlem Jazz & Huntenpop (NL), Robin Hood Folk Festival (UK), Kilkenny Rhythm & Roots, Cork Jazz and Electric Picnic (EIRE).
The Late David Turpin has just released his latest single. ‘The Arrow Of A Sleeping Heart’ is a collaboration with French-Irish singer Samyel and features production from Stephen Shannon (Mount Alaska) and Conan Wynne (Contour), as well as saxophone by contemporary classical saxophonist Stephen O’Brien (Irish Composers Collective).
‘The Arrow of a Sleeping Heart’ is sung in both French and English, and is played in dual overlapping time signatures. Lush, mysterious and erotic, the result is David’s personal favourite from his most recent, and most acclaimed, album. For the cover art, by Ruth Medjber, he was photographed submerged in an estuary, in January.
Also from February 14, The Late David Turpin can be heard as co-composer and co-vocalist in ‘Folly & Diction’, a new film-and-installation piece by the artist Alan Phelan, showing at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin. The piece will be on display until March 27, before exhibiting internationally.
‘The Arrow of a Sleeping Heart’ is taken from David’s album, ‘ROMANCES’, was released in late 2019 as a limited-edition art book (which has now sold out) and download.
Irish music luminaries The Pale will celebrate 30 years in the music industry this year, and they will be undertaking a special 30th anniversary Irish tour to commemorate this achievement before the summer. This tour will see the band returning to some of Irelands legendary venues as part of the celebrations, while performing songs from across their lengthy career.
“It’s dizzying to think that The Pale are 30 years together this year, that’s a shocking 10,950 days in existence. In light of this milestone we are going out on tour. Which is clearly the best response, as we love to play live. We will be playing shows over the coming months in Ireland and the U. K. as part of our 30th Anniversary tour. We cannot wait.”- Matthew Devereux
During this time the band have released 13 albums and performed numerous tours across the world. Playing shows in Russia, Japan, Eastern Europe to name but a few, 2020 will also see the band return to the UK for their first tour there in many years. The band plan to announce some other surprises during this year of celebrations.
The Pale started life in Dublin’s Northside in 1990 but drew their influences from far beyond. the band cut their teeth busking on Dublin’s Grafton street, alongside fellow Irish musicians like Kila, Paddy Casey, Mic Christopher and Glen Hansard.
For some they are best remembered for their hits ‘Butterfly’ and ‘Dogs With No Tails’. but that is only the tip of the iceberg for a band that has steered clear of the beaten track, releasing a string of albums the effortlessly skip between style and genres, all the while retaining a strong lyrical focus.
Flirtations with chart success, forays into alternative circuses, tours way off the beaten path in Russia, Japan, Eastern Europe and beyond are all par for the course for a band that have refused to trade off past glories.
2019 seen them release their 13th studio album to date ‘Merciful Hour’, Followed by shows across Ireland, as well as Electric Picnic and closing the Friday night of Feile 19 in Tipperary. while November 2019 saw their hit single ‘Dogs With No Tails’ being featured in Season 2 of the BBC hit series ‘The Young Offenders’.
30th Anniversary Irish tour
Portlaoise, Kavanagh’s – 17th April
Dublin, Whelans – 8th May
Mullingar, The Stables – 9th May
Dundalk, Spirit Store – 15th May
Cork, Kino – 16th May
Listowel, Mike the Pie’s – 12th June
Photo credit – Damien Hickey
Stills Road’s new single ‘One Will Walk Out’ is available now on iTunes, Spotify and all music platforms for download and streaming.
Stills Road are an original Country Rock Band formed by Nashville regular Shane Sullivan. Published by Bardis Music here in Ireland Shane wanted to find a new sound for his music so he went back and recruited old band members with some new additions.
All the band are professional musicians that love their work.
With the new single ‘One Will Walk Out’ the band hope there’s a gap in the industry for their sound as a country/rock influenced original band.
A new documentary following Irish band Cry Monster Cry’s journey through the Swiss Alps to play a sold out show in a clifftop cabin 2,200 metres above sea level is to be released on 14th March.
“I took a deep breath, wiped the sweat from my brow, and grasped the rusted metal bar that had been drilled into the rock face. Above me, my brother Richie had just disappeared over the top of the mountain. My heart was hammering. The mandolin in my backpack shifted slightly as I put all of my weight onto the makeshift ladder. Before us, the milky glacial lake glinted in the sunlight. We were on our way to The Gaulihütte, an alpine base built in 1895. Ten hours of hiking lay ahead of us. The crowd was waiting. The gig was sold out. We could not fail.” – Jamie Martin
Last September, Dublin brothers Richie & Jamie Martin (Cry Monster Cry) travelled to Switzerland to play one of the most challenging shows of their career. The journey to the venue (a traditional Swiss mountain cabin dating back to 1895 that sits on the edge of a cliff) saw them hiking for 10 hours, instruments on their backs. Rising before dawn and setting off under a blanket of fog, they journeyed through forests and meadows, over rocky ridges and steep ravines, climbed over precipices and dipped their heads in a freezing glacial lake.
Led by guides René Reusser and with Mirjam Huber, the band completed the journey to play a show for a crowd of hikers who had also made their way to the cabin.
The new documentary, “When The Snow Falls I’ll Be Gone” was produced and directed by Elijah Egan of Seven Figure Films, and tells the story of the lengths that people will go for their craft. The brothers’ story weaves into that of René and Mirjam, whose passion for music, creativity, artistic expression and shared experiences is explored during the 30-minute documentary.
The film is due to be launched during a special screening in Dublin at IFI on March 14.
Following a sold out theatre tour with Irish legend Mary Black, and their own sold out headline tour across German, Cry Monster Cry are currently showcasing their critically acclaimed new album Tides with live shows across Ireland.
‘The Heart Of Saint Laurence O’Toole’ is the first single to be taken from Joe Chester’s new album and will be released digitally on Friday 6th March, 2020. Joe calls it, “A modern folk ballad based on a true story.“
The album, ‘Jupiter’s Wife’ is released as a double-CD and digitally on Friday 1st May, 2020.
A natural successor to 2017’s critically acclaimed ‘The Easter Vigil’, the latest offering from Joe Chester moves from themes of losing inner spiritual and sacred belief to losing faith in each other and the dissolution of a lifelong union and marriage in the broader sense. ‘Jupiter’s Wife’ (Juno, Roman goddess of marriage) is a deep and rewarding well, filled with the complexities and conflicts that befall a shipwrecked relationship in a time before divorce was an option. The experience is contentious, doused in the tension between want and need. Joe draws artfully on daring imagery to give extraordinary colour to the impending abyss. The soundscape is equally rich with comforting atmospheric depth and an earthy, natural flavour that is relentlessly strewn with many a gratifying and devastating turn of phrase.
Self-produced as with all of Joe’s solo work, this album was partially recorded in Sun Studio, Memphis on legendary rock ‘n’ roll producer Sam Phillips’ original analogue machines. In fact, the entire record was first committed to tape to achieve a full and natural feel. “When I walked through the doors at 706 Union Avenue, the house engineer, Ples Hampton told me they had spent the previous night wiring in all of Sam Phillips’ original equipment. My heart quickened,” says Joe of the musician’s mecca. The bulk of the recording took place in Joe’s studio set up at his home in the south of France with powerful contributions from Julie Bienvenu (A Lazarus Soul) and members of The Waterboys – Trevor Hutchinson, Anto Thistlethwaite and Steve Wickham.
Referring to the sonic inspiration for the record, Joe says, “in 2017, while returning from some concerts with Steve Wickham in Belgium my old acoustic guitar was smashed beyond repair by the airline and so I was forced to begin the hunt for a replacement. After much searching I found, in Brittany, a near 40-year-old and fairly beaten up Lowden acoustic. Designed by George Lowden from Bangor, Northern Ireland, these guitars have a truly unique sound. More importantly, as soon as I picked it up, music flowed from it with ease and I was truly struck by the feeling that this thing was playing itself, almost as though it were possessed. The instrumental tracks on this album are a homage to this wonderful instrument.” Joe has had a stellar 2019 with the release of his lost album ‘She Darks Me’ and further widespread acclaim as guitarist and producer of “one of the greatest Irish albums of the decade” (Irish Independent) with A Lazarus Soul.
1. Jupiter’s Wife
2. Staying Together For The Children
3. My Shipwrecked Mind
4. The Heart Of Saint Laurence O’Toole
5. Somewhere Between Oblivion And Bliss
6. Nothing At The End
7. Is Cuimhin Liom
8. A Red Balloon
9. Synge’s Chair
10. A Siren Song To A Shipwreck
11. Sweet Bird
12. Hilton And Michael
Having released their sophomore LP ‘Ancestor’ on Friday 8th November 2019, The Darkling Air continue their chamber pop quest with new single ‘Old Romantic’, released on Valentine’s Day 2020.
The Darkling Air is Rachel McCarthy and Michael Keeney. They are based in Bangor, County Down on the southern edge of Belfast Lough. The music involves voice, piano and guitar and is often wreathed in string arrangements featuring Arco String Quartet. Their work is a channel for melody, song, classical and traditional forms plus a questing, modern aspect.
On the 8th November 2019 the band released ‘Ancestor,’ the second album. It is a significant development on the 2016 debut, ‘Untamed And Beloved’. As before Rachel’s voice is a singular, resonant force as she explores memory, melancholia and bliss. The songs alternate between quiet, intimate moments and searing emotion. “We’re trying to maintain the spirit of adventure,” says Michael. “That means something to us.”
They had signed off their first chapter with a concert in Bangor Castle on April 20, 2017. Rachel had been heavily pregnant and every breath had been an effort but still it was a great, swirling adieu. Songs like ‘Storyline’ had impacted on the public and on radio playlists. They had been discovered by the BBC, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and on a memorable evening in December 2016 they had performed in the modest confines of No Alibis Bookshop, Belfast, before Van Morrison and Jimmy Page. After the gig Jimmy walked away with a few copies of ‘Untamed & Beloved’ in his pocket.
‘Ancestor’ came together gradually. Music had a recuperative effect as they returned to Michael’s studio. “I had to get back in and do this,” says Rachel. “With new motherhood, you can quickly lose some of your identity. It took me a while to know what to say. I was worried it was going to sound forced. So we took our time.”
The title track is an observation from the nearby graveyard at Bangor Abbey. Rachel had noticed the visitors from all over the globe, searching out the headstones of their relatives. She heard the stories and thought about the survival of bloodlines. In her dual role as a musician and a visual artist she was also working on a historical project called Bangor’s Ghost, and so this found expression with The Darkling Air also.
Another new song, ‘Octogenarian Mermaid’ came out of swimming in the Lough. Rachel would often immerse herself in the sea before a recording session and was “buzzing” from the healing waters and open conversations with the kindred souls she’d meet bobbing about between the waves. “It’s an incredibly effective therapy.” It became a life goal – to do this always.
So the record became a holistic search and a fitting return. It had elegance and dark tones, an undimmed love song plus the signature mark of Arco String Quartet. “We tried not to stop ourselves from moving past the first record,” Michael reckons. “You don’t ask, does that sound like The Darkling Air? You have to ask, what does The Darkling Air want to sound like?”
Rachel is an illustrator and she creates arts events. She’s ensuring that the new live shows will include bespoke visuals and film projections. Michael is a composer/orchestral arranger and music producer who has worked with the likes of Foy Vance, Duke Special and Luke Sital-Singh.
The duo met when Michael arranged for Rachel’s previous band, Farriers. And so The Darkling Air became the project that has compelled and inspired them both. “It became the most natural songwriting partnership I’d ever had,” says Rachel. Her cohort agrees. “You have to have a bit of faith that what you do, people will have some interest in, but most importantly, that we have some interest in. These songs come from the truth of the heart and will one day be a little musical heirloom in the bloodline. I was happy to get back to this – the moment when we became invested again.”
Hotly-tipped Dublin quartet Inhaler have shared the video for their latest single ‘We Have To Move On’ released on Polydor Records. It’s the follow-up to their first single on the label, ‘Ice Cream Sundae’ which was released in September. The jubilant indie-rock of ‘We Have To Move On’ showcases the band’s way of combining sharp, hooky melodies with expansive, atmospheric brooding. The band have also just announced Irish dates.
Inhaler have just been announced as fifth place in the BBC Sound Of 2020 and recently completed a UK and European tour that saw them sell over 7,000 tickets and play to frenzied, sold-out crowds. They will follow that run with an extensive UK tour next year that will include a sold-out show at London’s Heaven on Thursday 20th February, their biggest headline show to date. Kasabian recently announced Inhaler as one of the support acts at their huge hometown show at Leicester’s Victoria Park next summer.
Four friends, they formed the band while they were still at school, Elijah Hewson, Robert Keating, Ryan McMahon and Josh Jenkinson bonded over a love of similar groups, taking in The Stone Roses, Joy Division, The Strokes, Depeche Mode, Interpol, Kings Of Leon, The Cure and more.
Over a handful of singles, they have amassed a diehard fanbase, with their tracks being streamed over 7 million times. They make songs about being young and finding your way, music that connects. “I’m just trying to write about the joy of being alive, being a teenager, and the bad things that can come with that. I don’t like it to be all happy, I don’t like it to be all sad,” says frontman Hewson.
Inhaler tour dates are as follows:
8 – Tokyo Stream Hall
12 – Liverpool O2 Academy
13 – Birmingham O2 Academy 2 (SOLD OUT)
14 – Nottingham Rescue Rooms (SOLD OUT)
15 – Manchester Academy 2 (SOLD OUT)
17 – Brighton Concorde 2
18 – Cardiff Tramshed
20 – London Heaven (SOLD OUT)
21 – Leeds Beckett Students’ Union
22 – Newcastle Riverside (SOLD OUT)
23 – Glasgow SWG3 Warehouse
28 – Madrid Sala Shoko
29 – Barcelona Sala Razz
2 – Paris La Maroquinerie
3 – Antwerp Trix
5 – Berlin Columbia Theater
6 – Hamburg Gruenspan
25 – Washington DC Union Stage
27 – New York Bowery Ballroom
28 – Philadelphia The Foundry
29 – Boston Once Ballroom
3 – Toronto Velvet Underground
7 – Los Angeles Troubadour
8 – San Francisco Popscene @ Rockshow Stop
14 – Dublin The Academy
15 – Dublin The Academy
16 – Belfast Limelight
18 – Cork Cyprus Avenue
19 – Limerick Dolans