Music for all types gives everyone a chance to feel the rhythm and shake those hips to the beat of their favourite tunes during the start of the summer festivities, writes Ed Power
Summer music festivals are like ghost estates and GAA clubs -- every town and village seems to have one. The June bank holiday, in particular, is heaving with events (although the Cold Pro surf and music festival in Clare has been cancelled because of last-minute issues 'outside the control' of the organisers).
From the eccentric eclecticism of the Flat Lake Festival to the indie jinks of Cork X South West and the hipster vibrations of Forbidden Fruit, no matter what your musical inclination, there is surely something on the calendar to match your tastes. Read on for our definitive guide to the festivals worth catching over the next three days.
Flat Lake Literary and Arts Festival
Hilton Park, Scotshouse, Co Monaghan, day ticket €35 a day, weekend €75
Introducing a note of English whimsy to the Border region, actor Kevin Allen has created the Flat Lake Festival (above) in collaboration with writer Patrick McCabe. Last year, the event announced itself to the world when Allen's niece Lily dueted with Crystal Swing. A literary festival as much as a music one, this year's line-up includes writers John Banville, Robert Fisk and Louis de Paor -- none of whom, alas, will be sharing the spotlight with a scary wedding band from Cork. On the musical front, Mundy performs material from his generally excellent covers album Shuffle, Fred bring their patented Leeside wackiness, and the fantastic English folk troupe 30 Pounds of Bone channel the bucolic creepiness of the Wicker Man. Throughout the weekend, organisers will be working hard to evoke an atmosphere of gentle eccentricity, with the assistance of, among others, 'mind magician' Steve Gillen and 'performance poetry' troupe The Flying Testify Poetry Squadron. The Rubberbandits have just announced their intention to attend. And there is also an event described as 'Bingo With Dave McSavage' that frankly chills us to the marrow.
Cork X South West
Liss Ard Estate , Skibbereen, Co Cork day ticket €55, weekend €95
Relocated to the historic west Cork country house that housed the Liss Ard festival in the 1990s, this year's Cork X South West is perhaps the most ambitious yet. Poet-songstress Patti Smith makes a rare Irish performance (as a bonus she'll be headlining an 'acoustic poetry' show at the spoken word stage), while new-wave icons and former U2 contemporaries Echo and the Bunnymen are on hand to celebrate the anniversary of their landmark Ocean Rain LP. Also on the bill are Yuck, the baby-faced British band who sound like they've been beamed straight from an early 1990s indie disco, and New Order/Joy Division bassist Peter Hook performing his first band's classic Unknown Pleasures LP in its entirety with new group The Light.
Tralee Jazz and Soul Weekend
Earl of Desmond Hotel, Tralee, day ticket Friday and Sunday €10, Saturday €15, Monday free
Revellers will be getting their funk on at what the organisers promise will be a four night funk and soul extravaganza. Headliners include eight-piece Motown tribute group All Girl Soul Academy, deep funk specialists the Freedom 35, jazz and swing guru Cary Posavitz and blues harmonica specialists Parchman Farm. Backing them up will be DJs Colm K, Da Wise Guy and the Funk Soul Brothers. Making its debut this year, the weekend is the brainchild of hotel director Marcus White, who conceived the idea after being introduced to James Brown at the Rose of Tralee.
Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin, day ticket €49.50, weekend €90
Wackier than a clown convention at a joke shop on April Fools' Day, Flaming Lips (above centre) roll back into Ireland as headliners of a new festival in the shadow of the Irish Museum of Modern Art at Kilmainham. With any luck, their merchandise stall will include examples of their much chattered about 'gummy-bear skull', a candied cranium through which you are required to nibble in order to access the USB-stored music within. The Saturday bill also features alternative legend Yo La Tengo, pervy art popsters Wild Beasts, New Zealand's Phoenix Foundation and beatboxer Beardyman. On Sunday, it's the turn of knob-twiddling enigma Aphex Twin, instrumental boundary-busters Battles, eclectic electronic composer Caribou and Jamie Xx, whose most recent project was a collaboration with recently passed poet/ rapper Gil Scott-Heron.
Carrick on Suir Clancy Brothers Music and Arts Festival
Wicklow Gardens, North Quay (Saturday), Strand Theatre (Sunday), €22.50 (Saturday), €30 (Sunday)
Bagging the award for the biggest mouthful of a festival title is the Clancy Brothers Fest (as we have decided to abbreviate it to). Headliners Paddy Casey and Mundy (Saturday) and Paul Brady (Sunday) will showcase their divergent strains of singer-songwriter pop at this town along the Tipperary/Waterford border. Further down the Saturday bill are El Hombre Jokes, a Dublin band drawing on American southern roots rock and dance collective Chimpanbee. Alongside the music, the organisers have promised walking tours, children's parade and 'two days of free family fun'. The event is in honour of the Clancys, the Aran jumper-sporting trad singers embraced by the American folk revival of the early 1960s.
June 4- 5
Aghamore, Co Mayo, day pass, €60, weekend pass €100 (€120 with camping)
Billing itself 'Mayo's Answer to Oxegen', West Fest takes place in the scenic environs of rural Mayo, half way between Knock and Ballyhaunis. Okay, so they haven't quite managed to book Foo Fighters or Arcade Fire. Nevertheless, the bill certainly carves space for some relative heavyweights, including Imelda May (fresh from serenading Barack Obama), The Coronas (right), Republic of Loose (rapidly becoming the Aslan you can get funky too) and Sharon Shannon's Big Band (let's hope the band isn't too big -- the tent only takes 5,000). Also playing are Bagatelle, Ryan Sheridan, Brush Shiels and Big Generator.
Castlebar Blues Festival
Castlebar, Co Mayo, ticket prices vary
Just down the road from West Fest, Ireland's oldest blues festival welcomes an impressive line-up including the aforementioned Imelda May (did she clone herself recently?), Thin Lizzy and -- stretching the definition of blues a tad, we'd have thought -- Brian Kennedy. That's simply the beginning of it. Also performing are Big Daddy Webster, Shawn Jones, Shredded Duck and the Mark Black Roots Band. Many of these artists will be putting on free concerts at the After Dinner Blues trail. Plus, blues workshops will take place throughout the weekend -- though, at time of writing, places were limited. A record and CD fair will run in parallel with the festival. So if your baby's just gone and left you for an itinerant banjo player, don't mooch on the porch. Get thee to Mayo and cheer yourself up.
Bandon Music Festival
Bandon, Co Cork, day ticket €10
Starting life as the 'Humours of Bandon' trad festival, this event has been ongoing since 1996. This year, performers range from twee London folkie Jamie Lawson to funkateers Republic of Loose and quirky independent band Fight Like Apes. Sharon Shannon will also be here with Jerry Fish as a special guest (no she hasn't cracked the secret of bilocation -- her West Fest date is the following night). Plus, there will be the requisite music trail (the festival was originally dreamed up by local publications as a way of bringing in new business), a set dancing display and farmers' market with live music.
Day & Night