Beerjacked! Got to Dublin on Friday evening in plenty of time to hit the festival hotspots in the Big Smoke. As the Johnny Jump up line goes – Says I sure a pint wouldn’t do any harm. I shudda known. Met a friend and reckoned I had some time to play with; Ones to Watch in Whelan’s was running all night and the Art O’Neill challenge was kicking off from Dublin Castle at midnight. You see, that was the problem right there, too much feckin’ time. I had a great night all together, but none of it was festival related. I got to the places where there had been stuff happening alright, not in the best of conditions either, but there was a Mother Hubbard’s cupboardness to them by the time I got there. The Art O’Neill Challenge is an event that reenacts the 1592 escape of Art O’Neill and Hugh Red O’Donnell from Dublin Castle. Participants head off from the city centre location just before midnight and cover the 53 kilometers that our two bowld historical heros scarpered over during their Great Escape, no motorbikes in them days buttie! The participants reenacted the escpae route and I reenacted the jailer arriving to find the lads gone. Shite!
There they were. Gone!
At this very moment, there is a mystery guest blogger preparing a section of text to insert here, him being craic’d enough to have done the bloomin’ thing ‘n’ all. At least I think he’s preparing something, either that or he’s sorting out his blisters….
I bounced down the road to Whelan’s, holding on to the hope that there might still be some bands playing into the small hours of the morning, it was a festival after all. Nah. There were drums, amps and the trappings of up and coming bands onstage, but these were pushed to the side to make room for the DJ who was in fuller swing than a gibbon whose bananas have been dipped in the anabolics… an a bolics is right! The crowd living it up in Whelan’s were enjoying the post gig atmosphere though, friendly bunch…
Fear not! I located some one who was at the Ones to Watch festival on Saturday night. Well… she wasn’t at the festival, but she was in the same place the festival was on, which was more than I could manage. Another guest blogger!? Yay! I’m diggin’ this delegating buzz. Say hi to Leonie everyone…
The last gig experienced: Bon Jovi, approximately 85% ironically.
Qualifications to do this review: None – see above.
Circumstances under which I am writing this review: Duress.
Venue: Whelan’s front bar – By the main door.
Date: Saturday the 14th January, 2012.
Time: 20:39 – 21:00
Band Name: Errrmm, not entirely sure but until some falsifies my claim (made based on the presence of a banjo, long grey hair and alcohol) that Willie Nelson and his band were in Whelan’s last Saturday, I’m going with that.
Chances of being asked to guest blog again based on the quality of this review: Working towards 0%.
On a steel horse I ride… not sure if that horse is actually dead or alive
My background is science, I hang out in laboratories and I like Star Trek. I do a lot of un-cool sports, and when I was 14, I was given the trumpet to play based, I suspect, on my physique and lack of proximate neighbours, rather than any natural talent or inclination. My trumpet has been languishing in a storage unit for the best part of 12 years and my repertoire has eroded down to two bars of Nightswimming (both hands though) when confronted with a piano. That’s not to say I don’t like music. I do. I discovered iTunes two years ago and better still, I discovered Genius on iTunes about 6 months ago. The Genius mix for Savage Garden’s ‘Hold Me’ however makes me blush, even when I am alone. I feel as comfortable making a value judgement on the performance of a band, as Willie Nelson would feel giving an endocrinologist advice on how to calculate the new IFCC units for HbA1c from the old NGSP system.
Objectively I can say that the performers seamlessly moved from Chubby Checker, through Kings of Leon and into a rousing Johnny Cash number to the obvious delight of drinkers. I happened to like the banjo and the fact that I recognised the songs and enjoyed the delivery was a bonus. The remainder of the set, I was either defending the table I had just acquired against roving opportunists, or questioning on a deeper level why I felt slightly grubby/alcoholic sitting at aforementioned table by myself and thus too preoccupied to absorb the music. I decided that the rules are different for girls. Happily for me, my infinitely cooler/more musical friends arrived. Sadly, for the quality of this review, it was after the band had packed up so I can’t take their opinions and pass them off as my own.
Banjo solo a la Whelans
Eeeeeehhhhh…. not enjoying the guest bloggers so much when they are better at it than me. Thanks Leonie, bit duller the next time thanks!
I parked the van out at the Red Cow LUAS stop and that is where I bedded down for the night. I don’t think there were many disturbances, I certainly wasn’t aware of anything anyway. Not the most ideal place to conduct my roadside ablutions the next morning, if you catch my drift; but there were a few hedges around the place, so I managed. But let’s bring this post up a notch or two. Prepare yourselves for a severe blast of positivity and enthusiasm, it’s gonna be like we’re in that Danny Boyle film Sunshine, but in a camper van driving towards a blinding light of hope, intelligence, energy and youthfulness…. (I really hate teenagers when you can’t give out about them!)
Home Sweet Carpark! Frosty night but a strategic hedge in the back garden
The Young Scientists Exhibition is a wonderful thing. If you’ve never gone, pencil it in for next year, especially now, when we keep hearing how bad things are. I was lucky enough to travel up to it for the first time four years ago with work; we had a stand and I rigged up a noise making contraption, it was great fun. It is definitely whole school bags of fun, and the young people who put together projects for the competition really seem to enjoy themselves. But the fun and social element isn’t the best bit. There’s a positivity and enthusiasm on display that will have the cynic inside the most stalwart of misanthropes cowering in the corner, faced with a kryptonite of honest endeavour, vivacity and keenness. Take that Whine Line!
Healthy Happy Scientists. Where’s Wally!?
The Young Sceintists Exhibition is a competition for secondary and primary school students, they submit science projects that are then judged in a number of different categories, the main one being “Young Scientists of the Year”. There are thousands of entries each year and these get whittled down to the hundreds that end up in the final exhibition and adjudication process in the RDS in Dublin.
The main exhibition hall, more science than a Loreal ad!
The exhibitions are amazing, informative, entertaining and bewildering; ranging from how electricity effects plants to designs for stronger hurling helmets. There was a young drummer from Cork who has invented a single pedal solution to the double bass drum pedal; surely he must also play another instrument (besides the bass) to display that kind of intelligence!? He had two rosettes pinned to his project, so he did well and the patent is pending. One of my favourite projects was entitled “Do Redheads Feel More Pain?”. Conclusion – Every single day of our miserable existence, every day I tells ya…
Yes! Pain is proportionate to the Mick Hucknall association coefficient
The winners of the title of “Young Scientists of the Year” had a project entitled “Simulation Accuracy in the Gravitational Many-Body Problem”. It was very impressive… I’m lead to believe. These two lads worked for a year and discovered a new class of algorithim to work out projected orbits for multiple celestial bodies that come within gravitational proximity to each other, I think. I have the abstract in front of me and I’m still not sure about it. They won anyway, so it must be good. Did I tell you about the drummer with the pedal??
Something to do with the gravitational pull of heavenly bodies? I’m starting to get a grip on it, but I probably need grinds… pleeeease??
Well you’ve missed it now, but it will be back next year and I recommend you do yourself a favour and check it out at least once, you will definitely enjoy something at it and you will leave enthused and enlightened. There are all the exhibits to get through, but there are a clatter of other areas, industry exhibitors, eco zone (where those lovely ladies above hailed from), a robot show and a myriad of mind blowing material for you to take in. There is a cover charge, but to be honest I don’t know how much it was because I kind of inadvertently and totally by accident like, snuck in through a chink in the fence at Anglesea Road. I really didn’t know, scout’s honour! Not until I was chatting to a chap, discussing how we thought the exhibition should be in situ for longer than a week, to give more people an opportunity to get to it; he mentioned how €25 was great value for a family ticket. Whoops! I did get media accreditation when I went in, out of necessity, I think there was a plain clothes security man following me as I wandered around through the school children with a camera :-O I hope I haven’t ended up on some kind of list! Eric Doyle and Mark Kelly won the top prize and the lads were delighted, as were their families and their school, Synge Street CBS in Dublin. The work that the pupils put in is evident, but you’d have to imagine there are some pretty good teachers and parents standing in the shadows there somewhere too. Well done to everyone involved, this is an event that it is difficult to find anything negative to comment on (unless it’s a study of Brahmagupta’s use of negative numbers and zero for computing) and the 40,000 punters who passed through the doors of the RDS are no doubt more positive than a proton as a result. (Did I get those nerdy jokes right? I’ll look like some dope in front of the teenagers if I didn’t)
Eric and Mark. Cham-pion-ays! Explain that last bit to me again..!?
After the science it was time for a session, so Wanderly Wagon trundled across Ireland from the east coast to the west coast (on a bit of a trad type Tupac vs. Biggie tip yo!) only to screech to a halt behind a funeral parlour in Sixmilebridge. It’s the first time I’ve slept behind a funeral home, it was fairly quiet, but I was just hoping I didn’t hop out for mourning ablutions, if you catch the clasp of my coffin It was about 3ish when I landed and there was a session in full swing and not just any auld session, this was a County Clare session! In the pub, I had that age old argument with myself - “Is it too early to start into a pint or two?”. One of the great advantages of social media in your pocket is that as the good little festival monkey and the bad little festival monkey on either shoulder argue at each other around your head, you can pose the question to the World Wide Wob. I was reliably informed that it was bed time in China. Sorted!
I was delighted to find out that later that night in The Courthouse, the home of the Sixmilebridge Folk Club, Ger Wolf was going to be among the acts on a jam-packed bill. That wasn’t ’til ages away, so in the meantime I was keeping an eye out for a small scurrying, ferocious and sharp tongued animal, indigenous only to this part of Ireland, the Davyaldae Fitzgealrdicus. Not a sign of it, but it is hard to spot, it’s quite small, but don’t pat it on the head, it’ll have the arm off you for a hurley. In fairness Davy was probably taking a well earned break after helping Santa out all Christmas. Everything seems right in the universe now that we don’t have to stand up for Davy anymore, it wasn’t natural. Up the Desie!
One of the Carrivick Sisters getting into the tune at the Acoustic Concert
Most of the groups involved with the festival were in Bunratty on Saturday afternoon, where they took over the castle and the folk park to bring the place alive with music. I didn’t make it, but a chap I was talking to in The Courthouse told me that it was one of the highlights of his weekend. Himself and the Missus were able to bring the kids and wander around listening to great tunes on the unseasonably mild day and it was a unique opportunity to hear folk, bluegrass, trad, cajun and allsorts being played live inside bunratty castle. A perfect day! Topped off by a savage gig in the head-quaters of the Folk Club that night.
Zoe from Trio Alatha kicking things off in style
I thought that €25 for a ticket for Satuday night’s concert was a bit on the steep side, even though there were six different acts on the night, but I’m a bit of a hunger. Steep or not it was sold out and it’s no wonder, I found out what this festival is about, and it’s simple really… Good Music. Trio Alatha started the proceedings with a touch of New Music that was strongly flavoured with the smoke from Irish turf fires. A great blend of the old and the new carried off with elegance. The style and skill of the Carrivick Sisters belied their years and English accents at times, with some lovely playing and harmonies that would suit a dusky porch in Kentucky. The dobro playing on one of the tracks complimented the set perfectly, In Tall Buildings was probably the highlight.
The Carrivick Sisters
I’ve liked the work of Ger Wolf for a long time, and was delighted, driving back from a festival one night, to hear a documentary on the wireless about him. A down to earth and humble kind of fella who is a legend, a kind of musician’s musician, John Spillane immortalising him in “Magic Nights in the Lobby Bar”. I was hoping that he might sing it, and low and behold Zoe from Trio Alatha had requested it and Ger finished his set with Curra Road. Happy days! There is a richness and depth to the songs of this Cork Man that is enhanced by the seeming simplicity of the setting and lyric, but peaceful waters run deep and they can bathe, drown, buoy and quench. definitely a tune to sooth the savage sou… the savage Curra Road
Ger Wolf – Legend!
I recognised a few of the heads getting ready for the second half of the show and I was expecting a bit of raucous bluegrass, but the lads who had been down in the Folk Park told me that this was a band called I Draw Slow. I hadn’t heard them before, but I knew a couple of the fellas in the band to be better than handy, so it was shaping up well. Ah lads but they were like something from Searching For The Wrong Eyed Jesus set in The Burren. Subtle, considered, moody and melodic songs, Neo Hiberno Appalachian Anthems! (That’s the section right beside New Age in Tower). When it came time to put on the shit kickers, Bread and Butter had an authenticity to it that would make you want to dance with your cousin. Only dance! Careful now. I saw The Carter Family playing when I was 17, I enjoyed this more; mind you, the intricacies of autoharp murder ballads may have been lost on a teenager!? I Draw Slow - I’m tellin’ ya lads… I Draw Slow – Swans (have a google for Yurodny while you’re at it for a mesmerising blend of Eastern European and Jazz influenced tunes. See if you can join the dots)
The may draw slow, but they sound deadly
With a wonderful night wrapped up in The Courthouse, there was still more going on down the road in The Mill Bar where Sarah Savoy and the Francadians were trading in the two step, the cajuns had come to Clare. The back room of the bar was stuffed and the crowd were up for it and they weren’t disappointed. Can you do The Siege to a Bayou beat? No one fell over anyway… well… not many
Back home on the cliffs in Boatstrand Co. Waterford before sunset on Sunday evening
Back to the Wesht next week for some more music, a spot of astronomy in Galway and a pinch of Yeats in Sligo. But right now… I will arise and go now, and go to… the leaba!
Safe Travels, Don’t Die