Friday 24 May 2019

MusicTown 2019: What’s on across Dublin from Damien Dempsey to Blindboy and an Irish skateboarding film with live score

Damien Dempsey performing at Shane MacGowan's 60th Birthday Celebration Concert at the National Concert Hall. Picture: Steve Humphreys
Damien Dempsey performing at Shane MacGowan's 60th Birthday Celebration Concert at the National Concert Hall. Picture: Steve Humphreys
Natalya O'Flaherty
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

MusicTown has evolved from a small festival of gigs across Dublin city to a much more comprehensive and diverse offering for 2019.

Taking place across two weeks from April 5 to 21 the festival includes concerts, masterclasses, collaborations, and workshops as well as a special children’s programme, MusicTown Jr, running from April 5 to 12.

Of course there will be gigs featuring artists from various styles and genres - Damien Dempsey leads the charge with a performance, with special guests including Lisa O'Neill and Imelda May, of his new album Union - but the programme also includes more diverse offerings from Blindboy’s live podcasts delving into the music artist’s mindset to a screening of an Irish film about skateboarding accompanied by a live score.

Here are some of the highlights across the festival schedule:

Damien Dempsey at Vicar Street

Damien Dempsey performing at 'Raise the Roof' housing rally. Molesworth Street, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn

On Friday, April 12, Dempsey will perform his latest album Union at Vicar Street with an incredible line-up of pecial guests: Imelda May, Lisa O’Neill, Paul Alwright, Pauline Scanlon, and Seamus Begley.

The 14 track album features seven new tracks as well as classic Dempsey songs re-imagined and featuring collaborations with three generations of his favourite vocalists.

Tickets €42 from Ticketmaster.

Natalya O’Flaherty

Spoken word artist Natalya’s performance as part of the St Patrick’s Day Festival Young Blood concert at the National Concert Hall brought her to the attention of the Word Up Collective whom she joined last year. 

She has since performed at the GPO, Culture Night, Electric Picnic, First Fortnight Festival and on the Late Late Show and is now bringing her debut headline show, More than Words, to The Sugar Club on Sunday April 14 along with guests Marcus Woods, Tebi Rex, Sick Nanley and Local Boy.


Blindboy Boatclub: at the Presentation Centre in Enniscorthy on April 14.

The always engaging and insightful Blindboy brings his podcast live to Vicar Street on April 6 and 7 with Blindboy in conversation with two yet-to-be-revealed musician guests.

Crash Ensemble present Grey Area

Irish skateboarding film Grey Area will screen with a live original score. Shot and edited by skate photographer and videographers Niall O’Byrne and Sam Curtin, Grey Area is a skateboarding film which will screen with a live original score featuring music by Cork composer and skater Sam Perkin, performed by Crash Ensemble. The documentary Saint Denis will screen before the concert at The Studio, National Concert Hall, Friday April 19.

Junior Brother & PowPig


Kerry singer/songwriter Ronan Kealy, aka Junior Brother, will join Limerick four piece PowPig for a gig at The Grand Social on Thursday, April 18.

Screenwriting for teens

Writing and film fans aged 13-17 are invited to explore storytelling, writing, art and filmmaking with filmmaker Anne Maree Barry.  They’ll take a silent walk through the Music Library for inspiration and write about their own experiences through choosing a musical book/cd in a stream of consciousness style.  It’s taking place at the Music Library in the Ilac Centre on April 16 and is free but booking is essential as places are limited. 

Radiohead Reimagined

Islander presents Radiohead Reimagined features two gigs - Neil Leiter and Margaret Hermant, aka Echo Collective, will play Radiohead’s album Amnesiac at The Studio at the National Concert Hall on April 20 while Wooden Elephant will tackle Kid A the following night at The Grand Social.

Macdara Yeates presents My Father’s Kind

The literary works of Dermot Bolger are interwoven with music performed by some of Ireland’s finest contemporary trad musicians.  Based on a collection of Bolger’s poems depicting 20th century trad musicians including Seamus Ennis, Mary Ann Carolan, and Johnny Doherty, My Father’s Kind weaves music with words to celebrate a bygone generation of Irish artists – delving into their work and their personal lives.

Director’s Choice

Presented by the Royal Irish Academy of Music, this event sees Ireland’s theatre directors nominate musical works of special personal significance to them to be performed by musicians from the Academy.

MusicTown Jr

There’s a fantastic programme of events for kids this year from April 5 to 12 including Big Bang Dublin from The Ark from Friday 5 to Sunday 7 for children aged 2 to 12 which features music from Ireland and across Europe. 

On Saturday there’s Old McDonald’s Farm, a free drop in choral walking tour from Dublin Choral Foundation kicking off at 12 noon from South King Street as well as a chance to Meet the Orchestra with RIAM.  Let the kids experience using the musicians instruments from tubas to flutes.  11am, St Andrew’s Church, Westland Row, tickets €8.

On Sunday RIAM presents My First Concert with very young musicians making their debut concert performance, from 12 noon at Royal Academy of Music.  Also, Tales from the Shadows, storytelling with shadow puppets at the Royal Irish Academy, is aimed at ‘mature children and childish adults’, are free and take place at 11am and 2pm.

For more info on these events, the full MusicTown and MusicTown Jr programme, and ticketing details check out

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