- 26 Mar 12
Spring is on the way and with it the first great festival of the year.
Spring is in the air, the days are getting brighter and – huzzah! – festival season is upon us.
One of the earliest fests worth attending is Vantastival in Dundalk (May 4 –6). Over the couple of years of its existence, the event has come to pride itself on its accessibility, the fact anyone can go and have a good time there. And for all its small-scale downhomeyness it does manage to offer a diversity that even something on the scale of Electric Picnic struggles to pull off. Part of that diversity means that traditional and folk acts get more than a fair crack of the whip.
Amongst the headliners you’ll find Kíla’s pipe-wielder Eoin Dillon, who has released a couple of solo albums: The Third Twin in 2005 and 2010’s The Golden Mean. As well as the high-octane bio-fuel reels you might expect from a Kíla member, he can turn in a heartstopping slow air. He’s a hell of a live performer too.
Also nestling comfortably close to the top of the bill is another noted deliverer in the live stakes, Frankie Gavin who continues to make the occasional festival appearance to the delight of those who like a little humour and flair with their trad.
Also appearing will be The Bonny Men who vigilant readers will remember were among my New Year’s tips for ones to watch. They’re one of the acts I’ll be keenest to catch over the course of the weekend. Unfortunately, my other traditional pick for the year Doimnic MacGiolla Bhríde won’t be at Vantastival. You’ll have to stay vigilant and keep a weather eye out for him elsewhere over the course of the summer.
Indeed anyone with a love of folk music will find plenty to spread the grin from one ear to the other. I Draw Slow will be continuing their seemingly relentless march into the ear canals and hearts of the folk lovers of Ireland. And making a return after turning heads last year are Gypsy Rebel Rabble.
Boyles of Slane will be holding a taster gig Thursday April 19 featuring three of the festival’s hottest prospects in the folk genre. Headlining are The Spook Of The Thirteenth Lock whose meld of folk and alt. rock will be showcased on their just about to be released album The Brutal Here And Now. Also due to perform at Boyles is Miss Paula Flynn who will also be releasing her secong long-player later in the year and will be unveiling some of the new songs that go to make it up.
In addition, there are solo performers like Marc O’Reilly, Inni-K (the artist formerly known as Eithne) and SJ McArdle (who like the above mentioned Miss Paula Flynn is more alt. country than alt. folk) and bands like Layne County. Plus there’ll be The Raglans, who’ve been around for a while but seem to be building up a little downhill snowball of recognition of late, The Viking Project who swear they’re from Dublin although they’ve somehow eaten half of Lynyrd Skynyrd and now enunciate clearly in a husky Alabama accent, Vickers Vimy who have cunningly shied away from online fame by having the same name as a famous First World War bomber and making themselves next to impossible to Google, Wyvern Lingo who have also been making their presence felt over the last year or so and The Henry Girls quietly honing their songs up in Donegal. I’ll see