- 02 Apr 13
Good news for folkies – a new promoter aims to bring roots music to the masses...
A new independent promoter on the Irish roots scene, Roadworks Tours has announced a series of live dates. Committed to growing the Irish folk and roots circuit, Roadworks aims to bring together the best of international and local talent. Already in the pipeline are visits from such Americana luminaries as Tom Russell, Mary Gauthier and Gurf Morlix. Tickets are also on sale for Birds Of Chicago, Wailin’ Jennys founder Cara Luft, The Kennedys, LAU and Hurray For The Riff Raff, on the road following their appearance at Kilkenny Roots Festival.
The new company was established by Gerry Rickard and Denis Goodbody. Rickard has a background in international entertainment. He was head of European business for the touring Disney On Ice shows for many years. Writer and copywriter Goodbody is presenter of Dublin City FM’s Roots Musings. Roadworks Tours’ mission is to grow the market for everyone by stimulating interest in the local gig experience, as well as in the specific artists performing.
Rickard says: “Roots music is a broad term. Roadworks’ roster will include Americana, bluegrass, gospel, blues, Celtic, African and other world genres. The list of artists is growing.”
First up will be Birds Of Chicago, featuring two of the most compelling new voices in North American roots music, JT Nero and Allison Russell formerly of Po’girl. Supported by Donegal’s Kate O’Callaghan, you can catch them in the Roisin Dubh, Galway (April 27); De Barra’s, Clonakilty (28); Locke Bar, Limerick (29) and Balor Arts Centre, Ballybofey (30). Roadworks Tours believes a full house benefits everyone. Expect to see some great roots music acts en route to your locality.
Of course, there are already a number of dedicated roots music promoters who’ve been working to build an audience for folk, bluegrass, blues and gospel. Some, like Jim Heaney’s Real Music Club in Belfast, have been around a long time. They’ve created an audience to match the impressive roster of artists. Since he began promoting in 1998 Jim has attracted some of the leading lights in roots and country music to the Northern capital. Even now, with ‘flag’ protests thrusting the city back into the negative zone, it’s a testament to his persuasive charm that he has Lucinda Williams coming to play the Limelight on May 13 and Steve Earle at the same venue on June 2. Both artists have the profile and audience to work with more mainstream promoters, but loyalty keeps them with the Real Music Club.
Also running out of Belfast, Nigel Martyn has been promoting gigs under his Old Flattop brand for quite some time. He favours a broadly similar mix of acts, booking tours that take in the whole country. At the moment he’s organising a series of shows by Maria Muldaur, best known for her ’74 mega-hit ‘Midnight At The Oasis’. That tune received several Grammy nominations and is enshrined forever in the hearts of Baby Boomers.
Despite her considerable success in pop, her 46-year career could best be described as a long, rambling odyssey through the various flavours of American roots music. During the folk revival of the early ‘60s, she performed blues, bluegrass and Appalachian ‘Old Timey’ music. She began her recording career in ‘63 with the Even Dozen Jug Band. Shortly afterwards, she joined the very popular Jim Kweskin Jug Band, touring and recording with them throughout the ‘60s.