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Folk column: Death of a legend
The passing of Geoff Harden leaves a gulf at the heart of the trad scene.
Greg McAteer, 26 Sep 2006
Music in Northern Ireland suffered a deep loss with the death on the morning of September 4 of Geoff Harden.
Geoff had worked for years in the North, helping to run gigs and festivals as well as writing and broadcasting about folk music.
Many young musicians got their first play on his Homemade Jam radio show and he was a tireless champion of fresh sounds with a great love of acoustic music in all its forms.
But although chiefly known as a lover of folk, he was equally at home with jazz. It’s hoped that a commemorative concert will be held in Belfast to celebrate his lifelong commitment to music at some point in the near future.
The line up for this year’s Tain Festival has been unveiled. This year’s festival runs from Wednesday October 25 until Sunday October 29, which means the annual pumpkin blow-out will be a bit early for Halloween, but I doubt if that will dampen spirits in the town they call ‘Fundalk’.
The line-up features the usual blend of stellar names and quirky choices. The festival kicks off with a Spirit Store show for James Yorkston and The Athletes. Although he has built up a cultish following, Yorkston hasn’t yet found the widespread appeal of, for example, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and he must be hoping his third album, The Year Of The Leopard, will win a few converts.
The following evening the Spirit Store plays host to Ronnie Drew with Mike Hanrahan and although Ronnie’s laconic drawl is perfectly suited to the Spirit Store’s Weimar Republic vibe I have no idea how they’ll fit everyone in.
Friday 27 sees Kila taking over the Tain Theatre in the Town Hall, where they blew the audience out of the water at the Tain Festival a couple of years ago.
After getting marooned on the M1 in a motionless Ford Transit for most of the afternoon and some of the band having to hitch to Dundalk, they worked out all the tension and stress in the course of one of the most flamboyant and electrifying performances of their career, with more instrument swaps than you would ever have thought possible.