While fans mourn the Seamus Ennis Centre, there’s a great line-up at the Kilkenny Arts Centre, and Damien Dempsey returns to Ireland.
They say you never miss it until it’s gone and that’s certainly true of my favourite place to catch a gig. Not particularly cool, not particularly comfortable and not endowed with many of the niceties of concert-going, The Seamus Ennis Centre in Naul managed, however, to create a unique atmosphere which drew fantastic performances out of artists who in many cases were real finds.
Set up to promote traditional music in memory of piper and archivist Seamus Ennis, the centre’s director Sean Mac Philbin has chosen a more organic approach and it has become a haven for a broad spectrum of music from folk, through blues and Americana.
The news that much of the centre had burned down came as a huge shock, although tempered by the fact that the venue itself is unscathed. With much of the original house destroyed though, the centre will be closed to the public until further notice.
In the meantime, the centre’s upcoming shows have been moved out to the Hollywood Lakes Golf Course where White Raven will be performing their trademark three-part harmonies with a repertoire drawn from folk and traditional song on August 17. Next night Bruce Mathiske, the Australian steel-string guitarist, known for his formidable finger-style technique will be taking to the stage. Saturday, August 19 sees a whirlwind visit from Teada, who must have the heaviest touring schedule of any band out there, yet have still delivered the freshest traditional album of the past year, unrepentantly old-school and performed with a drive and dynamism which should put their elders and betters to shame.
Teada also play at this year’s Kilkenny Arts Festival which runs in the Marble City from August 11 to 20. They share a double bill with Beoga on August 12 at the city’s Rivercourt Hotel. It should be an interesting pairing as stylistically the two bands have chosen different seams of the tradition to mine.
At lunch-time on Sunday August 13 the majestic Iarla O Lionaird will perform in the intimate surroundings of the Parade Tower, accompanied by special guests fiddler Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and piper Mick O’Brien. Best known still for his seminal involvement with roots fusion super-group The Afro-Celt Sound System, this will be an opportunity to hear Iarla with a more straightforwardly traditional ensemble.
Also performing a lunch-time gig, on Tuesday August 15 in St. Canice’s Cathedral is Caoimhin Vallely, the youngest of the three Vallely brothers from Armagh, who is joined by special guests Niall Vallely on concertina and Brian Morrissey on guitar. Caoimhin has re-thought how the piano fits into traditional music with a style rich in deft touches, which point up the influence of his study with Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin and nod towards the experience he has garnered touring with groups like North Cregg, Buille and Solas, leading to a diverse and rich sound that hints at jazz and chamber music.
One of the festival’s highpoints will be Eliza Carthy with her band the Ratcatchers. Daughter of folk guitar-hero Martin Carthy and singer Norma Waterson there was no way she was ever going to escape a life in music. She has, to borrow a phrase from The Frames, burned the maps and lit up some dark corners of English folk along the way. Having chalked up an awesome seven BBC Folk Music Awards, been nominated twice for the Mercury Music Prize and been championed by the late, great John Peel, her Ormonde Hotel show on August 16 is likely to sell out fairly sharpish.
There are a few interesting acts in the world music programme at the festival as well, kicking off on August 11 with Nigeria’s finest Femi Kuti and The Positive Force. Inheriting the mantle of high priest of Afrobeat from his revolutionary father Fela Kuti, Femi’s 14-strong funk driven ensemble should hit the stage of the Ormonde Hotel with all horns blazing.
Monday August 14 in Cleere’s sees percussionist Ramesh Shotham’s Madras Special combine funk and raga, jazz and deep South Indian temple music. This rhythmic tour de force draws on the vivid personalities of vocalist Sandhya Sanjana, herself steeped in Indian folklore, gypsy violinist Zoltan Lantos and bassist Christian Zürner.
St Canice’s Cathedral is the venue for the show by Kurdish singer Aynur Dogan on the evening of August 17. Dogan grew up immersed in the music, myth and poetry of the Alevites, a minority within a minority in the heavily supressed Kurdish region. She re-imagines this richly textured music, with its traditional lutes, woodwinds and elegiac songs for a new generation of Turks. Her voice has an emotional impact that perhaps is born out of the historical suppression of Kurdish identity.
When Messrs. Deary and Turner first opened the Spirit Store in Dundalk as a music venue there was a strong singer-songwriter feel to the programme there. Since then as the venue has gone from strength to strength, attracting world-class performers into that intimate crucible where the sheer physical proximity between the performers and the audience creates an unparalleled vibe, there has been a huge diversity amongst the acts that have performed there. There’s now a conscious move afoot, though, to try and rebuild that early sense of a community of songwriters at the venue and on August 16 the downstairs back bar at the venue will open its doors to the first of a new series of monthly songwriter sessions. Hosted by Dundalk’s own finest exponent of the genre, Stewart Agnew, the sessions aim to build on an audience for local songwriters and will feature guest performers each month. Doing the honours on the opening night will be Kevin May from the Guggenheim Grotto.
Meanwhile, upstairs at the main venue, the claustrophobic amongst you may want to practice your slow rhythmic breathing in advance of Damien Dempsey’s visit on September 7 as part of a ‘back to the roots’ tour of smaller venues. The big guy has been playing these type of venues in the US as he supports the American release of Shots on UFO and he’s obviously enjoying getting more up-close and personal with the audience. The Spirit Store show could be quite a squeeze though, even by those standards.
For those of us still sweltering in Dublin, this summer’s soundtrack will be provided courtesy of Kieron Black’s series of gigs in the Café Theatre above Bewley’s, Grafton Street. Shay Cotter returns there on August 17 and is promising another mystery guest. Last time out it was Declan O’Rourke who stepped up to the mark to provide support, so there’s no guessing what might happen this time round.
A week later there’s a double bill featuring Mumblin’ Deaf Ro (whose 2003 debut Senor, My Friend is rated as a lost classic, full of finger-picked guitar and songs of lost souls) and Michael Knight, named after the owner of KIT, the flashest car in TV history.
The following evening, Jenny Lindfors and Alyanya hit the stage together with a set that will feature songs from each of their individual catalogues as well as some collaborative material. They’ve know each other since school and did their first gig together aged 18. So the chemistry should be good.
With full band in tow, he'll be treating us to two festive specialsRead More
The Dubliner will be joined this Friday by David Keenan and James OrRead More
The award-winning Irish artist will play this JulyRead More
Damo Dempsey's typically stirring new album takes inspiration from the 1916 Rising. He talks history and the current state of the nation with Olaf TyaranansenRead More
The band launch the Rising with a Liberty Hall gigRead More
Dempsey will play the gig in his native Dublin just in time for ChristmasRead More
You can now start planning your day in WicklowRead More
Check out the Irish Lion's 'The Death Of Cuchulain'.Read More
Damien Dempsey, Kila, Mundy and more are coming to Leixlip this weekend...Read More
Wicklow shindig also welcomes O Emperor, Columbia Mills and moreRead More
A lot of shows in store for the Newbridge spot.Read More
The seaside frolics are taking place the weekend after Electric PicnicRead More
The new bash is taking place in Kildare this May.Read More
The first batch of acts have been announced for Bulmers Live At Leopardstown, the annual racing and music tie-in.Read More
Hermitage Green and Nathan Carter also included on the billRead More
Singer-songwriter takes on 'Happy Xmas (War is Over)'Read More
With the anti-water charges protests underway, Luke 'Ming' Flanagan tweets: "At last we have awoken. Stay awake. Nearly there."Read More
Comedian David McSavage ahead of his gig on the opening night of the Christmas Festival at The Castle Glanmire, December 5th and Damien Dempsey Live At The Castle Glanmire, Saturday 6th DecemberRead More
David McSavage, Damien Demspey and local heroes Stephanie Rainey and Jimmy Moore will play at the castle in Cork.Read More
Troubadour Damien Dempsey on battling depression and finding inner peace.Read More
Another chance to catch the Irish Lion before Christmas.Read More
If it’s a mini music and arts festival you’re after, look no further than the Live At The Castle weekender taking place from December 5-7 in the Castle Glanmire which is just a short hop from Cork City.Read More
Lethal Dialect will join the Dubliner for a pre-Christmas show.Read More
Damien Dempsey leads the charge for the Tuam Stadium festival.Read More
Damien Dempsey and friends performing at the National Concert Hall on the 10th of August. Damien was joined on stage by John Sheahan, Lumiere and Nicole Maguire.Read More
The single day event features ten acts across two stages.Read More
Eyewitness called South East Radio with the news this morning.Read More
Australia duly conquered, Damien Dempsey returns home for an August 10 show in the National Concert Hall, tickets for which will be available on Wednesday May 28.Read More
The Dublin star plays the Sligo venue this Friday.Read More
Following on from last year’s inaugural success, the second annual Doolin Folk Festival is bringing some seriously tasty names to its Big Top from June 13-15.Read More
Following on from last year’s inaugural success, the second annual Doolin Folk Festival is bringing some seriously tasty names to its Big Top from June 13-15.Read More
Spiritual offspring of Bob Marley and James Connolly, Damien Dempsey's fanbase includes Morrissey, Glen Hansard and Bruce Springsteen. As his first 'Best Of' Collection drops, the Donaghmede troubadour talks about popping up in Moz's Autobiography, hanging with Bruce and his struggles with writer's blockRead More
The Dublin artist's Best Of is the most popular record in the country this week.Read More
His Essential Tour continues into the summer months…Read More
Morrissey has struck up one of his rare friendships with Damien Dempsey, interviewed in the new issue of Hot Press.Read More
The singer will make an appearance in their Henry Street location this Saturday.Read More
Damien Dempsey has announced the Valentine’s Day release – the soppy old so-and-so! – of his ‘Happy Days’ single.Read More
The Dublin troubadour will play the venue in February.Read More
Philip Chevron Testimonial ConcertRead More
Our thoughts on Damien's gig at Scariff Harbour Festival...Read More
The Dubliner will be playing on home turf this December.Read More
Belfast’s Féile an Phobail is to celebrate its 25th birthday from August 1 – 11 with arguably its most star-studded line-up yet.Read More
The singer will play there this summer...Read More
Featuring Damien Dempsey and Lethal Dialect, the film will highlight social issues in Darndale...Read More
Empire Music Hall, BelfastRead More
The real voice of Ireland is back. After over four years of seeing the world and grappling with a ‘dark’ bout of creative uncertainty, Damien Dempsey returns to soothe the soul of a depressed nation...Read More
His latest album is launched with football match fervour.Read More
We're honouring the release of Almighty Love.Read More
Classics old and new, and a revealing interview, ahead of his cover feature...Read More
First original collection in four years worth the waitRead More
The singer launches his new album in October.Read More
If features Damien Dempsey, Andrea Corr and Moya Brennan...Read More
Due to phenomenal demand...Read More
An intimate evening with the Dublin troubadour...Read More
"Party On With Damien" in SeptemberRead More
He's raising funds in The Grand Social for uillean pipe-makersRead More
An acoustic Damien Dempsey, Republic Of Loose, Gemma Hayes and O Emperor are confirmed for the 2011 Sham Rock FestivalRead More
'The Auld Triangle' will be released December 3Read More
Dublin's favourite son returns to his spiritual home.Read More
The biggest musical event to hit the Co. Meath town this year.Read More
He's appearing next month in The Workman's Club.Read More
Helium 2010 is taking place on July 31.Read More
The Dublin singer-songwriter will play The Pavillion on March 17Read More
Due to phenomenal demand, the Irish singer/songwriter will play another solo show at Whelan's on December 18.Read More
The Irish singer will perform an all ages show live at Whelan's on December 20.Read More
Damien Dempsey has been confirmed to play a rare solo show at the Bog Lane Theatre in Ballymahon, Co. Longford on Saturday November 28.Read More
“I’m an island virgin”Read More
Catch him down the road from Lord Henry's gaff in Ryan's of The Gormalough.Read More
Dempsey has just announced that he will be stopping off in Dublin to start 2009 properly with a gig at Vicar St.Read More
Damien Dempsey has raced to the top of the Irish Music DVDs charts this week, with his Party On – Live At Vicar Street offering.Read More
Damien Dempsey has announced that he will be stopping off at the Button Factory in Dublin to put on an all-ages show in December.Read More
Acts appearing at next month's Beamish Cork Folk Festival include Damien Dempsey, Lisa Hannigan and more...Read More
Damien Dempsey has announced a second consecutive night at Vicar Street on December 18.Read More
Damien Dempsey is to tour extensively in support of this year's The Rocky Road album, including a pre-Christmas Vicar St appearance.Read More
Damien Dempsey's adoration for traditional Irish balladry has inspired the Bard of Donaghmede to record his most powerful album yet.Read More
Dublin singer does a first rate job of interpreting Irish Trad standards for a new generationRead More
Damien Dempsey has announced he will play the Empire Music Hall in Belfast on August 7.Read More
Damien Dempsey's new album is out next month, and we've got a sneak peak at the artwork...Read More
Damien Dempsey has confirmed details of his new album, The Rocky Road, with a massive Irish tour lined up for the coming months.Read More
Damien Dempsey’s To Hell Or Barbados album is now even more of an essential purchase with the release of an ‘Expanded Edition’, which includes eight bonus cuts.Read More
Aslan's Christy Dignam is set to appear in a Sky News documentary with Damien Dempsey this Christmas.Read More
Damien Dempsey live @ The Hot Press Chat Room - Electric Picnic 2007Read More
It’s a big ask, but Damien Dempsey will try to be even more deadly than he was at 'Leccy Picnic as he embarks on a national tour.Read More
Damien Dempsey has announced he will be playing an intimate acoustic gig in the Hot Press Chatroom at Electric PicnicRead More
Blame it on the sunshine, but Damo seems to have been afflicted with the Irish summertime weakness for lightweight reggae. While there’s certainly always been that element to his music, and with considerable success, this is not one of his bigger statements.Read More
A spiritualist in a material world, Damien Dempsey is back with To Hell Or Barbados, his fourth and arguably his finest album.Read More
There’s nobody else quite like Damien Dempsey. His vocal style is very much an acquired taste. It takes a few listens before you start liking it, but after a while and you wonder where he’s been all your life.Read More
Damien Dempsey's announced a pal and former collaborator as the opener for his June tour.Read More
Folk and trad news by Greg McAteer.Read More
Damien Dempsey has confirmed details of his fourth studio album, which finds him dabbling in electronica.Read More
He may well go on to produce better work, but Live At The Olympia captures a wonderful hour or so of music, during which Damien Dempsey is king of all he surveys.Read More
Dublin's working class hero Damien Dempsey is set to play a series of gigs around Ireland.Read More
The cat's out of the bag now: the acoustic guitar-strumming Damien Dempsey will join the bill for the Lir benefit gig.Read More
Damien Dempsey finishes the year off on a high with two shows at the Olympia in Dublin.Read More
Damo wants to be held in the third single from his number one Shots album. I say do what the man says; he’s massive. Certainly worth a listen for evidence of Dempsey’s more pared-down songwriting skills which strike an appropriately romantic chord.Read More
Damien Dempsey interviewed at Electric Picnic.Read More
Dempsey has two upcoming gigs being filmed for BBC and RTE televisionRead More
Damien Dempsey, The Chieftains, The Saw Doctors, Sharon Shannon and Mundy are among the artists performing at Dancing With LunasaRead More
Damien Dempsey has battled his way centre stage, winning the support of luminaries as diverse as Morrissey, Robert Plant, Sinéad O'Connor, Larry Mullen and Brian Eno along the way. Now with the release of his third album Shots, he is poised to make a major breakthrough. Interview by Tanya Sweeney. Photos by Cathal Dawson.Read More
Your writer is just as fond of the throwaway, the frivolous and the ephemeral as the next person, but it takes someone as integral as Damien Dempsey – back, here, with his third studio album – to remind you how empty, or, alternatively, full of shit most music is. That’s not a negative statement, just a true one.Read More
With his highly anticipated album set for March release, Damien Dempsey has announced a series of live dates around the countryRead More
"It was an album made when it could be made, when the players were around because there was no label, and no funding..."Read More
Shortly about to embark on tour with Morrissey, Damien Dempsey has announced a December homecoming date at Vicar St.Read More
The crowd’s unbridled outpouring of devotion and fervour is like getting swept up at Nuremberg – it’s burn, baby, burn – and burn is the operative word.Read More
Damien Dempsey makes a welcomed return to live duty next month when he plays three 'homecoming' gigsRead More
Damien Dempsey's Seize The Day opus has been welcomed with wide open arms by the British press...Read More
Discover the world according to Damien Dempsey in the upcoming RTE documentaryRead More
Mrs Dempsey was on hand at Vicar St. to celebrate her son's golden salesRead More
From strange days coming second in a yoghurt-sponsored competition and playing awful gigs sandwiched between boy bands, Damien Dempsey, with a little help from Shane, Sinéad and Christy, has survived and thrived. Eamon Sweeney meets a rap balladeer with a hit album, a social conscience and more than a few stories to tell.Read More
Read the review of Damien Dempsey's brilliant second album and listen to 'Negative Vibes' and 'Factories'Read More
Ace Dublin troubadour Damien Dempsey signs licensing deal with Sony UKRead More
Read three brilliant archived features on Dublin troubadour Damien Dempsey on the eve of the release of his second album Seize The DayRead More
Seize The Day, the new album by Damien Dempsey, finally due out next month. Read on for tour dates and news of the fate of that Massive Attack/Sinead O'Connor collaboration tooRead More
Damien Dempsey is a soul singer in the truest sense of the word. OK so he's no Al Green, but the 23-year-old from Donaghmede is incapable of being anything other than honest and giving anything less than 100% every time he opens his mouth to sing.Read More
Adrienne Murphy speaks to Damien Dempsey about his debut album, politics, Bob Marley and having Christy Moore hanging on the telephoneRead More