Loaded: Finding hidden treasure
Isn't there something lovely about happening upon an exciting band that comes unencumbered by hype? Last Saturday night, I enjoyed this increasingly rare phenomenon when I encountered Txutxukan (below), a French gypsy punk combo who were playing the Spinnaker pub in Dunmore East, Co Waterford.
Over the course of two hours, this five-piece embraced all manner of traditional music, from the Balkans to Brittany and calling at Turkey and the Middle East along the way. As befitting a group who spend much of their time in Ireland, there were shades of traditional Irish music thrown in too.
The group plays An Sanctoir, which is described as a "holistic community centre" in Ballydehob, Co Cork tonight and The LV Bar in Cork city on Thursday. Dublin residents can catch them at Twisted Pepper on May 22. Full details can be obtained on their website, txutxukan.com.
- We may be slap bang in the midst of economic turmoil, but it's good to see money still being spent on the arts. Next week, Sligo's live music scene is set to get a whole lot better with the opening of the hugely redeveloped Model Arts Centre, which now features an eye-catching modernist extension.
British avant-garde composer Gavin Bryars will be the first performer to play the venue on The Mall next Friday (April 16). Bryars appears as part of the Sligo New Music Festival and is best known for his influential 1969 album, The Sinking of the Titanic. The Model announces its programme for 2010 this Tuesday.
- The Dublin-based Electric Penguins made small ripples in 2007 with their debut album Goodbye from Electric Penguins, but many of those who heard it -- including this writer -- were taken with its smart electronica that nodded in Kraftwerk's direction.
It's disappointing, then, to learn that there won't be another album from Sean Quinn, Mark Cummins and Paul Murphy (below right). The following terse email from Quinn arrived in my inbox on Monday: "It is with great sadness that I announce the demise of Electric Penguins. I will not bore you with the details except to say that due to insurmountable personal differences within the band we will not be working together again and the extremely difficult second album has been scrapped."
Meanwhile, the band's MySpace page is promising that the album will be released in the summer with Cummins and Murphy still listed as members. There's no mention of Quinn.
- It may be firmly established on the Irish summer music calendar, but there will be no Slane this year. On Tuesday, the organiser, Henry Mountcharles, revealed that difficulty securing a suitable headliner had led him to abandon the plan.
He denied reports that he had been in talks with Paul McCartney, only to be knocked back by the former Beatle who's playing the RDS in June for rival promoters, Aiken Promotions.
Meanwhile, acknowledging the Facebook campaign to bring Kings of Leon to Slane, he revealed that they are one of the acts he was considering for 2011, which will be his 30th anniversary of running concerts.
- The times they ain't a changin'. Bob Dylan has axed a series of dates in east Asia after being refused entry to perform in China. His promoter, Brokers Brothers Herald, said Dylan had been blocked by the Chinese government, forcing the veteran singer to scrap the rest of his tour.
"China's Ministry Of Culture did not give us permission to stage concerts in Beijing and Shanghai, so we had no alternative but to scrap plans for a South East Asian tour," Jeffrey Wu, the promoter's head of operations, told the South China Morning Post.
Wu said officials became more cautious after Bjork caused controversy when she performed Declare Independence in Shanghai two years ago. Oasis were also banned from performing in China last year after their links with the Free Tibet campaign caused the Chinese government to revoke their licence.