The Sligo Live festival is offering a €35 special Club Ticket which gives access to 3 nights of music featuring Wallis Bird, Pokey LaFarge and The South City Three and Mánran.
This year’s festival returns to the Model with a strong line-up over 6 days over the October bank holiday (October 24-29). The entire ground floor includes The Black Box for Club headliners, The Acoustic Stage for short sets by artists playing other festival venues and The Session Room for more traditional music.
Highlights from the Model (Doors: 10h30pm, on stage: 12 Midnight):
Friday October 26: Wallis Bird,
Saturday October 27: Pokey Lafarge and the South City Three
Sunday October 28: Mánran
The final night of the club hosts the World Air Fiddle Championships and celebrates the ancient ‘Oíche Shamhna’ with a Halloween fancy dress competition.
The group will also be playing 2 gigs on Arthur’s Day, September 27. The first one is part of freshers week in the Chapel in I.A.D.T college in Dun Laoghaire at 7.30pm sharp. The second one will be in Sweeney’s on Dame street with support from The Strypes.
The singer with 2012′s hottest musical act, Brittany Howard tells Ed Power about the rise of Alabama Shakes and their smalltown origins.
As frontwoman of Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard rollicks and sways, singing from the bottom of her boots, the murky tidepools of her soul. She is Amy Winehouse fronting The White Stripes, a young Aretha Franklin in a blizzard of blue-collar rock.
In a cramped pre-show dressing-room, however, Howard couldn’t be further removed from her onstage caricature. Slumped against the wall, lost in a vast under-grad hoodie, she is demure, almost painfully shy.
“The attention has been kind of a distraction from time to time,” she admits. “We’ve been trying to finish our record and holding down day jobs. Until recently I had to work weekends [she’s just quit her position as a mailwoman]. And suddenly we’re getting offered all these little tours, across America. It’s fantastic and exciting. At the same time, we wanted to get home, to finish the album.”
If at the start of the year someone had told you the most thrilling new rock act of 2012 was going to be an awkward garage blues band from the butt-end of Alabama you’d probably have choked on your Doritos. But it’s true: from properly humble origins – up until last November the lead guitarist had never flown on a plane – Alabama Shakes have seized the blues and indie scene by the scruff and held on for dear life.
“We come from a small town where you have to find things to do ‘cos there’s not a lot going on,” explains Howard. “That’s how people get into music. It’s a hobby. The only hobby.”
Hometown is Athens, Alabama (not to be confused with R.E.M.’s stomping ground, across the state line in Georgia). With a population of 22,000 and a church on every block, it’s a place for which the handle ‘god fearing’ could have been minted.
“I guess it’s a nice place,” says Brittany. “Everyone there is certainly pretty decent. The question, I suppose is, are they good ‘cos they want to be good or because God told ‘em to act that way? I’ve never been able to work it out.”
“Everything that’s happened since, it’s kind of wild,” chips in Cockrell, a smiling, bearded chap who, though absolutely sober this afternoon, emits an air of stoned insouciance. “You get used to it. Then you stand back and think ‘Wow, this is actually kinda crazy!’”
They started out performing in small college towns around Alabama. “We got a pretty big following early on,” says Cockrell. “We’ve played all over. We did a tour with Drive By Truckers. And we have a following in Huntsville. That’s a pretty big place. They have an military arsenal there, so there’s some employment.”
The South, they will allow, is god fearing and conservative. But it isn’t as redneck or racially divided as outsiders assume. In Alabama nobody blinks twice at Alabama Shakes, a multi-racial rock band fronted by a black woman. “People have a lot of stereotypes in their head,” he reflects. “I think they haven’t checked in with the South in a long time. Things aren’t like they imagine. Not by a long way.”
For an extended interview with Alabama Shakes, pick up the new issue of Hot Press, on sale now.
Art-rock titans Elbow simply couldn’t be in a better position to steal the show at this year’s Electric Picnic. Singer Guy Garvey reflects on their long journey to the big time with Celina Murphy.
As the banterful frontman of slow-burning art-rock sensation Elbow, Guy Garvey is in charge of composing the melodies that tens of thousands of fans queue for hours to belt out in a swampy field, and at weaving the tales, vivid stories of scallywagging about greying suburbs as a boy or nursing heartbreak by drinking ‘until the doorman is a Christmas tree’, that the band have become synonymous with.
Despite the band’s Mercury Music Prize, their countless placements on international telly, and ginormous gigs like the one they’re about to do tomorrow, Guy’s also the only one who gets recognised, meaning that the task of courting the public inevitably falls into his hands.
“It’s a beautiful day,” he chirps, echoing the words of ‘One Day Like This’, performed at the Closing Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. “I’m looking at quite an amazing view of London.”
It’s a city about which Garvey understandably has mixed feelings. On the one hand, he’s here rehearsing for the biggest show of the year, a star-studded, cheesetastic pop extravaganza that will be watched by an estimated 750 million people worldwide and send Elbow’s fourth album, The Seldom Seen Kid, soaring back into the charts.
On the other, he’s just finished work on the band’s B-Sides album Dead In The Boot, which, featuring songs recorded as far back as 2000, has left him in a particularly reflective mood.
“An awful lot’s happened in that 12 years,” he muses, “the way people listen to music and the way people make music and market music has changed. The political and social landscape of this country has changed massively and you end up having recordings that you made yourself, coming from a purely personal place, end up being a little bit of a social document. Two songs off the album are the most pointed political records we’ve made.”
For another band, digging into the forgotten trenches of their back catalogue would be a fun rainy-day project, but for Elbow, who celebrated their 20th anniversary last month, it was a huge undertaking.
“There was about 70 to pick from,” Garvey says. “Then we narrowed that down and we had what we shall call a gentlemanly debate over the final selection! (laughs) Then Mark [Potter] chose the running order and did a great job. It’s a funny one, the running order, it’s a mythical beast on any record…”
We presume they rounded up the troops for a anniversary celebration? “We did it every night, actually!” he laughs. “Every gig we did last year, we had a good drink with the audience. We didn’t do an official thing like a, ‘Happy anniversary, dear!’ because none of us can remember the exact date!”
For an extended interview with Guy Garvey, pick up the new issue of Hot Press, on sale now.
As Dexys Midnight Runners stage a dramatic return, Kevin Rowland talks to Olaf Tyaransen about perfectionism and putting the band back together.
A few months ago, Dexys (now with a shortened name) released the widely acclaimed One Day I’m Going To Soar, their first album since 1985’s Don’t Stand Me Down (reported at the time as being one of the most expensive albums ever made).
That follow-up to their classic 1983 breakthrough Too-Rye-Ay failed to do the business and, in between various sackings, resignations and internecine disputes, that seemed to be pretty much it for the once massive Birmingham band.
Although band leader Kevin Rowland recorded a couple of commercially disastrous solo albums, it was widely rumoured that his perfectionism had scuppered their career. Rowland refutes these rumours.
“Well, do you know what? I don’t think I am a perfectionist really. I think I was. I mean, I’ve seen it written about me a few times. But if I was a total perfectionist, I wouldn’t have got the album done. That’s for sure.”
Even so, given that the band actually reunited as a touring concern in 2003, the LP was a very long time coming. Featuring original members Mick Talbot, Pete Williams and Jim Paterson, alongside new recruits Ben Trigg, Neil Hubbard, Tim Cansfield, Madeline Hyland and Lucy Morgan, One Day I’m Going To Soar was recorded over a matter of years rather than months.
“It’s been a long time,” Rowland admits. “But I’m really happy with it. That’s the important thing.”
Having tasted massive success in the ‘80s, the next two decades weren’t too kind to the writer of such classic hits as ‘Come On Eileen’ and ‘Geno’.
Looking back, does he have any regrets about the long and winding road he’s travelled? “Any regrets?” he repeats, sounding aghast. “Do you know what, that’s the last thing I wanna talk about, any kind of regret. I’ve just made a record that I’m really happy with and it’s a positive time for me. It’s a good album, it’s been really well-received, which is great. Great reviews. When we play live, One Day I’m Going To Soar is a show rather than a gig. We play the album in sequence.”
“We’re about to do some more shows, including the Electric Picnic, we were just working on the rehearsals today. So I’m not really thinking about any regrets and I’m not really thinking too much about the past. I’m bang in the present with this. It’s been received in a contemporary way and I’m a contemporary artist.”
Was it emotional going back into the studio with his old bandmates? “It was a lot of hard work,” he says. “I’d done some demos and we honed them and honed the arrangements. But there was moments that were really emotional. Like one day I walked into the studio and I saw Jim and Pete Williams talking, and I hadn’t seen those guys together for like 30 years. Just watching them interacting was absolutely lovely.”
For an extended interview with Kevin Rowland, pick up the new issue of Hot Press, on sale now.
Stradbally-bound and coming of age with their second record, The Vaccines tells Craig Fitzpatrick about life on the road and rising stardom.
One-half of London’s hottest guitar merchants are beaming conspiratorially back at me in a dressing-room located in Ireland’s largest stadium. There are countless reasons for Justin Young – the English pipes – and Árni Hjörvar – the Icelandic bassist – to be pleased mere hours before they take to the Croke Park stage, two rungs below Noel Gallagher and the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the bill.
But their sheepish grins are holding back a secret. Early hype coming to fruition, and what it’s like vaulting up the indie ladder, are the burning issues on the agenda as Árni attempts to throw cold water on the conversation.
“I can’t really talk any more about it without name-dropping,” he grimaces. So naturally I needle him. “No don’t!” guffaws Young, the former Jay Jay Pistolet now sporting long locks. “I can’t, I won’t, haha! Yeah, go on…” responds Árni as he folds, quite easily, before whispering. “The Boss watched us from the side of the stage at Isle of Wight.” A pause for dramatic effect.
“Someone told us afterwards, I didn’t spot him.” Would it have thrown them to catch sight of the New Jersey icon mid-set? “It definitely would have thrown me,” Young nods.
The touring has been extensive but enjoyable, with trips to the far-flung likes of New Zealand and Japan. For all the talk of the industry faltering, it’s nice to hear that some of the old rock ‘n’ roll perks still exist for our bright young guns.
“In terms of playing America…” Justin starts. “I mean, you could think of Ireland as the size of one state. Not even! So you can’t think of America as a country. You have to think of it as another world. Because of my throat problems we haven’t had a chance to tour it properly, but we’re touring it late this year. We’re excited to do it properly, play in the middle of nowhere.”
With their debut album scarcely a year old, admirably The Vaccines have forged on, planning to strike while the iron’s hot. The Vaccines Come Of Age arrives in September.
“You don’t want it looming and you don’t want to be a cabaret act playing the same songs over and over again,” Young explains. “It’s all done completely live, so there’s a lot more character, more intimacy. It’s a very searching record.”
For an extended interview with The Vaccines, pick up the new issue of Hot Press, on sale now.
Ahead of his Electric Picnic slot, Villagers frontman Conor J. O’Brien talks second albums and returning to the live arena with Edwin McFee.
One of 2012’s must-see acts at Electric Picnic is unquestionably Dublin’s own chart-breaking phenomenon Villagers.
The brainchild of Conor J. O’Brien, the band’s now near mythic 2010 debut Becoming A Jackal found its way into the hearts of a generation thanks to its mesmerising mix of unforgettable melodies and melancholic lyrics and at this year’s festival punters will get to witness the next step in their evolution when they perform a selection of cuts from their upcoming 2013 second album live and in person, alongside old(ish) favourites.
Details on Villagers’ follow-up to their much-loved debut is still very much under wraps at the moment, but Conor is happy to share a few morsels of information on the hugely anticipated slab of wax.
“Well, we haven’t mastered it yet, but it’s all finished,” he begins. “We’ve just come back from Donegal three or four days ago where we had a final session… We’re gonna go to London to master it at the end of the month and I’ve a feeling I’m going to be dragging over synthesisers and stuff and setting stuff up in the mastering suite – which is ridiculous,” he smiles.
“I can’t really stop until someone tells me to stop. There have been moments of frustration making it, but most of the time you’re so busy you don’t really have a chance to dwell on it. There’s a reason why it’s taken this long and the reason is – everything has to be right.”
For the frontman, the highlight of his year will more than likely be Electric Picnic.
“I’m so looking forward to the Picnic,” he enthuses. “I feel like we’re kinda veterans. It’s nice to come back with a new palette, you know? We’re playing on Saturday and we’re on right before The Roots in the same tent, which is awesome. I can’t wait. I definitely want to catch them for a bit. I think they’re going to be great.”
After Electric Picnic, the band will round off 2012 supporting Brooklyn indie heroes Grizzly Bear on their upcoming European tour and then it’s all systems go for album number two, and possibly three too… “We’re more excited about this Grizzly Bear tour than we’ve been for a long time. It’s going to be a bit of a dream,” says the singer.
“I’ve loved the band for a while. I remember hearing Yellow House when it came out [in ‘06] and just going – this is kinda like a different thing altogether. This is a band who were basically making film soundtracks as albums, which was exciting. It’s a good way to get back to gigging before we begin our own tours.
“We’re going to do a couple of things in November/December after that, but next year will be our busiest,” he concludes. “I dunno though, I also feel like I want to record another album. We were talking about making a Krautrock record and doing it via email, just sending ideas to each other and not actually being in the same room and seeing what turns out in the end. It could be kinda interesting.”
For an extended interview with Villagers, pick up the new issue of Hot Press, on sale now.
This years is Screenadelica’s debut at Electric Picnic. Screenadelica is an exhibition that champions the screenprinted gig poster and travels around festivals all over Europe and further afield.
Screenadelica designs posters for headline or appropriate acts at each venue. For its first Irish outing, Screenadelica commissioned posters for Glen Hansard (by its founder, Liverpool based designer Horse) and for The Horrors (by Army of Cats).
On its website, Screenadelica explains the thinking behind its posters: “With digital download taking over the music scene, the desire to still own something physical makes the screen printed poster all the more important, driving artists to create pieces of art for each show which encapsulates the music in their eyes.”
A gallery/venue show is also planned in Dublin for early November, watch this space!
New additions have just been announced for the 2nd John Martyn tribute festival!
These include Mundy, Iarla O’Lionaird, Jacqui McShee (of British folk/rock/jazz band Pentangle), Philip Donelly, Doug Morter and Chris Campbell will join John Martyn’s long time band on stage over the weekend.
All artists have a special link to John Martyn: Jacqui McShee is a long time friend and fan of John Martyn, who released her ‘About Thyme’ album in 1994 featuring John Martyn as a special guest. Doug Morter is the founding member of folk-rock band Hunter Muskett and was the lead singer of Then Came The Wheel, John Martyn’s 80’s band.
Dublin native and guitarist Phillip Donnelly, also known as The Clontarf Cowboy, was referred to as “The Boss” on the guitar by John Martyn. And Iarla Ó Lionáird has a strong connection to Martyn and Thomastown as both lived there for many years.
One of the youngest musicians to join the line up is Belfast musician Chris Campbell. “It’s a privilege to be involved in a festival that celebrates such a phenomenal songwriter and musician,” he said. “I was sold from the moment I heard “Couldn’t Love You More”. Martyn is one of the greats, an influence to so many songwriters including myself & I am looking forward to performing my tribute to the man himself.”
Kilkenny vinyl DJ and John Martyn fan Ben Mac Caoilte will also play a selection of John’s music from London Conversation to Heaven and Earth entirely on vinyl at the festival this year. Other participating artists include Mick Pyro (Republic of Loose), Leslie Dowdall (inTuaNua), Ultan Conlon, The Man Whom, Kevin Power, Rob Doherty and Deetrich.