In an age of digital downloads, mp3s, and music piracy, a seminar in Kilkenny during this year’s arts festival this Sunday will probe the future of the music industry.
Chaired by Matthew Nolan of 3epkano and Mary Butler of the Kilkenny Arts Office, the seminar will feature musicians such as Pierce Turner and Robert Hacker Jessett discussing a response to the ever-changing face of the industry.
The session is sure to throw up some interesting areas of discussion but one thing that surely cannot be disputed is the importance of the live arena as a platform for introduction and promotion, a point highlighted in the strength in quality of the variety of acts that make up this year’s two music strands of the festival.
Nolan, curator of the Wired strand, describes the programme as one “that feels like one of those old mix tapes you’d pass around from friend to friend”.
In both his and the strand’s third year, the 3epkano frontman continues to explore the diverse range of contemporary genres that has seen acts such as Spiritualized, Amiina and Katie Kim, Mercury Rev, Julie Feeney, and J Spaceman and Si Schroeder perform in previous years.
“This year’s Wired follows the ethos of years one and two, offering the same eclectic blend of genres and style,” says Nolan, delighted to be asked back for a third year.
Beginning at the end, as it were, the presence of English rock band Tindersticks ensures a climactic finale to the festival on Sunday, August 15 in St Canice’s Cathedral with a guest appearance by 3epkano.
With eight studio albums to their name since 1993, the band has made a name for itself with a dark, brooding array of influences and the recognisable baritone of Stuart Staples.
After a five year gap between 2003’s Waiting for the Moon and 2008’s The Hungry Saw, Tindersticks released Falling Down A Mountain earlier this year with Irishman David Kitt playing a prominent role. Kitt is expected to perform on drums with the band in Kilkenny.
The album features more of the genre-blending music that has struck a chord with fans for the past 18 years, with strong elements of jazz, soul and even country in a slightly more optimistic atmosphere than fans might be used to.
Elsewhere Adrian Crowley, whose performance in St Canice’s Cathedral last year was a genuine treat, returns to Set Theatre at 3pm on Sunday, August 15 with folk/pop singer Valerie Francis, who describes her sound as “musical hopscotch”.
Crowley has seen his reputation grow considerably over the last year, winning the prestigious Choice Music Award for album of the year in 2009 and being named by none other than Ryan Adams as one of his favourite underground singers. He will perform with a full band in Kilkenny.
Another Irish singer-songwriter and one of the country’s most sought after talents, Mick Flannery performs at St Canice’s Cathedral this Sunday, August 8 with Morton Valence and Catherine Dowling of Alphastates.
An intimate performer whose full-throated voice has won him comparison to Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits, Flannery is another Irish artist who has seen his star rise recently since the release of his platinum-selling album White Lies.
The opening act in the trilogy of vaunted Irish songwriters comes in the form of Pierce Turner. Immortalised in the Christy Moore song ‘I Love The Way Pierce Turner Sings’, his poetic lyrics and rambling yarns have seen him labelled as one of the most important Irish artists of modern times.
He performs at the Parade Tower in Kilkenny Castle this Saturday, August 8, with support from rising starlet Jennifer Evans, whose soulful voice and finely-crafted songs have drawn comparisons to Joanna Newsom and Evie Sands.
Gig-goers at Belfast band And So I Watch You From Afar’s performance in Set Theatre on Saturday, August 14 are in for an interesting evening, with epic songs featuring titles such as ‘Set Guitars To Kill’ and ‘Clench Fists, Grit Teeth...GO!’. Expect “frantic rhythms, monstrous chords and thundering percussion”.
Avant garde Japanese rocker Damo Suzuki brings an experimental element to the programme, his performance sure to connect with the audience’s musical soul.
Renowned for his “instant composing” process, Suzuki likes to select an eclectic bunch of musicians and without any rehearsal build a performance with no barriers between the audience and the musicians. He performs at Set Theatre on Friday, August 15. This will be followed by a DJ set from Today FM DJ Donal Dineen.
Renowned US cellist Erik Friedlander brings a contemporary jazz flavour to this year’s Wired programme, described as “one of today’s most ingenious and forward-thinking musical practitioners”. He will perform with guests the FLM Ensemble at Set Theatre on Sunday, August 8.
And a new addition to the strand this year is the New Music Night in Set Theatre on Thursday, August 12, which Nolan describes as ‘perhaps the most important event’ of the programme.
The night will be headlined by one of Ireland’s most intriguing acts, Halves, who blend a vast range of acoustic and electric instruments into an evocative, cinematic live experience. Other bands on the night include Geppetto, Ryan Taylor Doyle and Teffia Ki.
For full details on this year’s Wired strand and other strands of the Kilkenny Arts Festival, visit www.kilkennyarts.ie For bookings contact the box office at 3 Bateman Quay on (056 ) 7752175 or email firstname.lastname@example.org