Once Upon A Time In The West

TO CELEBRATE five very successful years and to get the next chapter in its story under way, the Róisín Dubh will host Once Upon A Time In The West, a festival of music concerts, DJ sets, and pub trails throughout the west of the city from today until Bank Holiday Monday.

In 2004 the Róisín Dubh was taken over by local businessmen Kevin and Greg Healy and music promoter Gugai and in the five years since it has become the music venue in the city, playing host to promising up and coming bands (Official Secrets Act, Fight Like Apes, The Kanyu Tree ), the coolest indie/alternative acts around (Port O’Brien, Jens Lekmann, Sparklehorse, Silver Jews, Iron & Wine, I’m From Barcelona ), and genuine music legends (Arlo Guthrie, Mercury Rev, The Skatelites ). The venue is set to continue those high standards with shows by Blitzen Trapper, New York Dolls, Horace Andy, and Okkervil River all on the way.

The concerts

The concerts start in the Black Box Theatre with a show from Mick Flannery tonight at 8pm. Flannery is the most hotly tipped singer-songwriter in Ireland right now - winning the Best Male at this year’s Meteor Irish Music Awards and Hotpress’s Most Promising Act of 2009.

“Mick Flannery is a singing and songwriting force to be reckoned with,” said Siobhán Long in The Irish Times while Urban Folk, New York, declared him “ a songwriter of the first order...His voice is pained, gravelly, and powerful. Recorded or live, it carries through and stops you in your tracks.”

Also tonight, Super Extra Bonus Party will bring their wild, thrilling, and multi-genre music to Strange Brew in the Róisín at 9pm. Admission is free and Gugai is DJing afterwards.

Tomorrow, the brilliant Jape (solo alter ego of The Redneck Manifesto bassist Richie Egan ) plays the Róisín Dubh at 8pm. Richie released his debut solo album Cosmosphere in 2003, but it was not until 2004’s The Monkeys In The Zoo Have More Fun Than Me, that he really started to make an impact.

The album was arguably one of the best Irish indie releases of the past 10 years and its key track ‘Floating’, with its hypnotic blues meets dance feel and lyrics pondering the nature of life and death (a key Jape theme ), announced the arrival of an important new songwriter.

Jape’s career took a further step up the ladder in 2008 when he released Ritual. The dance/rave element was more pronounced, but there was no skimping on the rock and indie side of things, both elements combining to produce such stunning songs as ‘I Was A Man’ and ‘Apple In An Orchard’. There was also the sweetly acoustic ‘Phil Lynott’, Richie’s ode to his fellow Crumlin native. The album went on to win the 2009 Choice Music award.

Support is from the brilliant Le Galaxie (See this week’s Proust Questionnaire ).

Canada is the epicentre of indie cool right now and there is a treat in store on Saturday when Toronto’s Final Fantasy - violinist, composer, singer, and arranger Owen Pallett - takes to the stage of the Róisín at 8pm.

In late 2003/2004 Arcade Fire, then largely unknown outside Canada, were recording their debut album Funeral and Win Butler asked Pallett to do the string arrangements for it.

Funeral would establish Acrade Fire as the coolest band on the planet. For Palett, it provided inspiration for one of his finest songs - ‘This Is The Dream Of Win & Regine’, which was included on Pallett’s acclaimed debut album Has A Good Home (2005 ).

Pallett followed this up with the brilliant Baroque-pop and prog of He Poos Clouds (2006 ) which was evidently inspired by the magic schools in Dungeons & Dragons. “The Dungeons & Dragons aspect was the scaffolding for the record,” Owen told me recently. “The record is mostly about feelings and lying.”

Owen is currently in the studio working on a new album. “The working title is Heartland,” he says. “Musically I’m drawing from an idea of adapting the principles of subtractive analogue synthesis into orchestral writing. It sounds like a gigantic orchestra LFO. Lyrically it’s a romantic epic about nothingness.”

Will Owen be playing any songs from Heartland at his Galway show? “I’ll be playing mostly new songs,” he says. “Some of them are real hits, I’m looking forward to playing them for you.”

On Sunday the Black Box will host a double bill featuring Mundy and The Blizzards at 8pm.

Mundy will be reminding audiences that he is not just a member of Sharon Shannon’s big band, but a solo singer-songwriter, by playing songs from his new album Strawberry Blood.

“There are songs that come easily to you and you can’t even explain how they come about,” Mundy said about writing for the new album. “Others are more difficult. You’ve got to listen to your gut and let it out there and see what happens. You just need to be brave.”

The Blizzards - Niall Breslin, Dec Murphy, Anthony Doran, Justin Ryan, and Aidan Lynch - in 2004. Exemplifying the ‘hardest working band in show business’ model, the band toured the country, almost non-stop. Their growing fan base no doubt helping their debut single, the self-released ‘First Girl to Leave Town’, to land in at number 11 the Irish charts.

Heads in the music industry turned towards Mullingar and saw the band sign to Universal. The label’s speculation quickly paid off with the top 10 hit ‘Trouble’. Within 12 months the quartet went from New Band Stage to NME kingpins at Oxegen. Endless touring has seen them build a formidable buzz, all of which paid off when the album A Public Display of Affection, produced by Michael Beinhorn (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Korn, Soundgarden ), met with great success.

Support is from Galway’s The Kanyu Tree. Expect smooth vocal harmonies, catchy pop, and white boy funk.

Meanwhile in the Róisín from 9pm, No Banjo will entertain audiences with their mix of roots, blues, and folk, followed by a DJ set from the Galway Hooker Rotary Club, when Gugai and friends take turns at DJing and spin whatever tunes takes their fancy.

Tickets are available from the Róisín Dubh and Zhivago. Super Extra Bonus Party and No Banjo are free.

DJ sets and other gigs

Other venues will be joining in the celebrations with the Róisín for the weekend. Massimo will host a gig by Cuckoo Savante tonight at 9pm followed by a DJ set from Dick Coombes; DJ sets from Mr Ray and SiSi on Friday from 9pm; Northern Soul from Mullers on Saturday at 9pm; folk-rock band Breakdown Rambler will play at 9pm (check out their debut album Witness By Moonlight and see www.myspace.com/breakdownrambler ), followed by DJ Ted.

The Blue Note will host DJ sets from Noel Phelan (tonight at 9pm ); 110th Street’s Cian & Cyril (Friday at 9pm ); Tiddlerz and Rory Gaffney (Saturday at 9pm ); and on Sunday there will be Stevie G (6pm ) and The Disconauts (9pm ).

Bierhaus will also have a number of DJ sets with Bap To The Future (Thursday at 9pm ); David Kitt (Friday at 9pm ); the Choice Cuts DJs (Saturday at 9pm ); and Disco Sunday with Ger Z, John Daly, and Jamie Norton (Sunday at 9pm ).

Admission to all the DJ sets are free.

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