- 06 Jan 23
With the countdown officially on for Your Roots Are Showing, John Spillane discusses the remarkable strength of Irish folk and traditional music...
The inaugural edition of Your Roots Are Showing – Ireland’s newest and largest annual folk, roots and traditional music conference – is coming to Monaghan’s Four Seasons Hotel & Leisure Club from January 22 to 26, and is rapidly shaping up to be an unmissable event for musicians both emerging and established.
Located just an hour’s drive from Dublin, in a beautiful four-star facility, the event is set to attract delegates from across Ireland and the wider world, for five days and four nights of showcases, panel discussions, workshops, social gatherings and exhibitions, as well as opportunities for professional development, networking, mentoring and more. The event will feature showcasing artists and bands from around the world – with the line-up set to be announced soon.
The aim of the conference is to highlight and support Ireland’s thriving music industry – while also exploring international relations, and the impact Ireland has had, and continues to have, on music worldwide.
Some of the special guests and speakers at Your Roots Are Showing include Irish musicians and singer-songwriters like John Spillane, Emma Langford, Clare Sands, Liam Ó Maonlaí and Moxie’s Darren Roche, as well as representatives from Glastonbury Festival, WOMEX World Music Expo, Philadelphia Folk Festival, English Folk Expo, Grand Ole Opry Archives, Rounder Records and more.
In the run-up to the eagerly anticipated conference, John Spillane spoke to Hot Press about the state of Irish folk and traditional music.
One of the country’s most beloved and renowned singer-songwriters, the Cork native and two-time Meteor Award winner released his first independent album in 20 years, the acclaimed 100 Snow White Horses, in 2021. Back in October, he returned with In Another Light, a discography-spanning live album, recorded at Cork Opera House.
While many commentators have dubbed this current era a “golden age” for Irish folk music, Spillane reckons that “every time is a good time for Irish folk on the international scene.”
“Because Irish folk music is so well-respected around the world,” he resumes. “We don’t realise in Ireland how good it is. People in Ireland don’t realise that we’re sitting on the crock of gold here, with our traditional and folk music. We have our roots music here that’s as strong as anywhere in the whole world.
“Most countries kill off their folk music, and they go into commercial pop music,” he adds. “But a lot of countries in Africa have very strong indigenous music, and we’re very lucky to have it too – because most European countries don’t have it as strong as we do. There’s a lot of great pipers and fiddle players here. The music has been saved – if we could save the language now, we’d be laughing.”
But events like Your Roots Are Showing are about more than just preserving the culture, he states.
“It’s not about preserving something from the past – it’s about growing it into something big in the future,” he remarks. “It’s more of an expansion than a preservation.”
As he points out, the Irish language, folklore and storytelling traditions are an “enormous resource” when it comes to Irish music.
“There’s a deep well there,” he says. “We could be drawing on that a lot more.”
That relationship between storytelling, folklore and song is just one of the subjects that will be covered in the panels taking place as part of Your Roots Are Showing’s programme. Other topics will include: funding and grant applications; visual branding; managing mental health on tour; social media and online marketing; international visa and tax information; managing digital royalties’ and more.
Finally, on the last night of the conference, the organisers behind Your Roots Are Showing will be opening their doors to the public, who can avail of a limited number of tickets to a special gala concert. Featuring a thrilling sampling of folk and roots music, it’s set to be a brilliant night for industry folk and music fans alike.
• Register now for Your Roots Are Showing, which takes place from January 22-26 in Monaghan, at showingroots.com