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Folk column with Greg McAteer
Why is the thought of a trad group representing Ireland in the Eurovision too much for the media to get its head around?
Greg McAteer, 06 Dec 2006
I guess the biggest news in folk and acoustic music circles this fortnight is the announcement that Dervish are to represent Ireland in the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest in Helsinki.
Less gratifying has been the knee-jerk pigeonholing of Dervish by the country’s mainstream media. Considering that RTE chose to accompany the announcement with a folksy snippet from a Dervish instrumental track this is perhaps understandable. Still, given the feral intensity of their rendition of Dylan’s ‘Boots Of Spanish Leather’ or the rip-snorting headlong tilt of something like ‘Red Haired Mary’, it’s disappointing that so much of the coverage of RTE’s decision has been petty and parochial.
This, remember is a band that has played to audiences all over the world and shared stages with Neil Young and R.E.M. But can the average daytime DJ be arsed doing any research on them? No! Instead they take the piss out of the fact that Shane Mitchell plays the accordion standing up. Edifying... hardly! Knowing the band as well as I do, I have no doubt that at the end of all this they will once again have pushed the envelope, not just for themselves, but for acoustic music generally.
If there is a band out there who can square the circle between musical integrity and commercialism then Dervish will be the ones getting my douze points. Let’s just hope the songs are there to support them.
One programme on which Dervish are likely to get a fair crack of the whip is When The Wind Blows, Martin Donohue’s new weekly showcase on Shannonside/Northern Sound which currently goes out live weekly, each Tuesday night, after the nine o’clock news.
If he can get enough listeners the programme will also be put online, allowing a worldwide audience to access the treasure trove of folk, trad and other acoustic goodies that Cavan’s favourite son tends to lace into the show.
Before all that mayhem, there is the small matter of Christmas. As I’m guessing most of us here aren’t the office party type we’ll be aiming to have our fun at a few gigs. Maybe it’s a bit early to get into the Christmas spirit (who am I kidding – I got marooned in the middle of Belfast almost a fortnight back when I inadvertently drove into their ceremony to switch on the Christmas lights) but Charlie McGettigan is a master of creating that warm glow and he is playing at the Iontas Theatre, Castleblayney on Saturday December 9.