Cork Music & Concert Christmas Gift Ideas

tweety stuff @ronanfromcork

This was first published in The Evening Echo [Cork] on 2018-12-20,
text underneath photo.

TID Echo - 2018 Gift IDeas


Perhaps you are still looking for a few present ideas for this Christmas – or maybe you just want to reward yourself! – and as the saying goes ‘sometimes the best gift you can give is an experience’, so here are a few options of tickets you can get for upcoming Cork events. Remember that buying tickets directly supports local venues, promoters and artists.

In terms of music and arts festivals in Cork, the ever popular Indiependence (2 to 4 August) has already sold out of their early bird and Tier 1 tickets, so perhaps a ticket for Tier 2 before it sells out would go down great with someone you know, Bastille and Biffy Clyro are two of the headliners already announced for the 2019 edition.

The Quarter Block Party (8 to 10 February) which is held in various venues around Cork City Centre, features an array of interesting music, theatre and arts talent. There is one simple overall ticket that comes in at a very affordable €50 price and guarantees entrance to every event over the weekend, such Beats & Sweat: A Tribute To Sir Henry’s, Hilary Woods, Lords Of Strut, Le Boom, Landless and Anna Mieke.

The most recent addition to Cork’s festival calendar is ‘It Takes A Village’ (10 to 13 May), one way to show how well their debut went this year is that when the early bird tickets for 2019 went on sale the DAY AFTER the 2018 festival, they were snapped up almost immediately. A ticket to the festival covers both the entertainment AND your accommodation, so you just need to turn up in your car, drop off your suitcase and groceries and that’s it, no tents or traipsing. They have a system of paying in installments if you wish. They have only announced some of the acts so far but they include Gilles Peterson, a renowned as both a radio DJ on BBC 6 Music and internationally as a club DJ; Don Letts, a DJ and filmmaker, who is credited as the DJ who “single handedly turned a whole generation of punks onto reggae”; Saint Sister, a duo whose recent album ‘Shape Of Silence’ has added to their reputation for evocative performances fusing electronica, vocal harmonies and Irish Harp; and Lisa O’Neill, whose latest album ‘Heard A Long Gone Song’ has garnered incredible praise and last week was named by Jude Rogers in The Guardian as the Top Folk album of 2018.

Over the last decade and a bit, many families in Cork have developed a tradition of giving tickets to Christy Moore (6 July) at Live At The Marquee to each other, as his concerts never fail to entertain. At this year’s concert he recorded a song ‘Sail On Jimmy’ live and released it as a single, Christy himself described it as “a stand out memory in my 52 years of gigging, 4,000 people, who had never heard the song before, were singing beautifully by the end of the 3rd chorus. It was a joyful and memorable moment”.

Another concert there that is quickly turning into a tradition, is Jenny Greene with the RTE Concert Orchestra and Gemma Sugrue, (28 June) where they will be performing a selection of classic 90s dance tunes live. Their last three concerts at the Marquee have been tremendously received and are perfect for a night out with old friends.

In the first few weeks of the 2019 there are many interesting gigs worth getting a friend, family member or yourself a ticket to. As part of the Ballincollig Winter Music Festival, The Delines (23 January), who feature Willy Vlautin, one of the most lauded writers in Americana; he who made his name fronting Richmond Fontaine, and then as an author of novels, some of which have since been adapted for film, namely ‘Lean On Pete’ starring Steve Buscemi and Chloe Sevigny.


One solution to the January Blues being provided by The Cork Opera House is two different comedy sketch groups; CCCahoots (31 January), Cork’s best loved comedy troupe will be performing sketches from their much loved characters and new material, and then Foil, Arms & Hog  (1 & 2 February) return to Cork as part of their ‘Craicling’ tour. The trio recently became the first Irish comedy act to start providing content to Snapchat’s international ‘Discovers’ channel.


Coughlans will be hosting the album launch of the long awaited new album by John Blek (1 February), this will be his sixth album in six years, and by all accounts ‘Thistle & Thorn’ is his most complete and ambitious work to date.

Cyprus Avenue opened their newly upgraded venue last weekend, and the reports are very positive, their listings are packed already but one gig that stands out for me is when Malcolm Middleton (2 February), a Scottish songwriter and co-founder of Arab Strap, returns touring his new ‘Bananas Album’. Also a short while later Microdisney play their final concert there on Tuesday 19 Feb.

A treasured gift for many will be a ticket to Mick Flannery (17, 18 & 19 May), who will be playing to launch his latest album, all three concerts are bound to sell out, so buying them now will be a well received gift.

Another option for a present is a ticket from the series of concerts being held in Musgrave Park between 20 and 25 June, when there will be performances from George Ezra, Walking On Cars, The Coronas and Hozier.

Other than that don’t forget, in case you just want to gift a music fan and don’t know their taste that well, vouchers are available from most local venues such as Cyprus Avenue, Coughlans, Cork Opera House and the Everyman Theatre or maybe call to Music Zone in Douglas, Plug’d Record at The Roundy or Bunker Vinyl, Camden Place for the latest Independent Cork and Irish music releases.


Cork Jazz Festival Trail 2018 Overview

tweety stuff @ronanfromcork

This was first published in The Evening Echo [Cork] on 2018-7-5, text underneath photo.


TID - Echo - Jazz Trail

While of course the headline artists playing in The Cork Opera House, The Cork Opera House and City Hall are guaranteed to be tremendous acts, and spending a day or evening wandering around the Metropole is also a classic way to enjoy the Cork Jazz Festival, to many people the real heart of the festival is the music trail – over the course of the 5 days over 50 venues host 100s of concerts. Here are a few gems to look out for…

The Oliver Plunkett will have nearly 40 gigs over the the weekend, but two that stand out in particular are ‘The Midnight Jazzy Ramble’ on Thursday at 12pm, where a host of musicians sit in a circle in the middle of the bar and the audience stand around them watching them jam, and also Friday at 9.30pm when The Cosmic Funk Band play upstairs.

Tom Barrys on Barrack Street have just one concert a day, all at 8pm, but have made great selections to get the party going with The Watermelons on Friday; One Horse Pony – who just released their new single ‘Hot One’ and are playlisted on RTE Radio 1 – on Saturday; and She Said on Sunday.

People who want to have a good old rock out will be very pleased with the fare at Fred Zeppelins, on Parliament Street, with The Slut Club playing on Thursday night; King Witch, Hundred Year Old Man, Doomas, Raum Kingdom and Mendicant playing late on Friday; Jobseekers, Stanton’s Grave and The Audible Joes playing on Saturday night;and an early evening performances by Sinner Boy, a Rory Gallagher tribute band, playing at 6pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Anyone who enjoys a concert at any of the Live At Saint Lukes concerts will be able to enjoy free gigs before and afterwards in Henchys across the road as well; keep an eye out in particular for The Underscore Orkestra, who play a great combination of Balkan, Klezmer, Blues and Americana. They will be playing there on Friday at 9.30pm (after the David Duffy Quartet’s Unity Project) and Sunday at 5.30pm.

One visiting band to definitely keep an eye out for are The Hot Club Of Jupiter, a Parisian and Gypsy jazz group who are playing 8 gigs in 3 days and promise ‘if you make it to all 8 you get to be in the band!’ They will be playing at the official launch of Crawford & Co on Anglesea Street on Friday at 6pm at their new ‘after work club’ with free pizza and pints for all – a good way to start any weekend! (They also play there on Saturday at 7pm.)

Some of the other recently opened bars and venues in Cork to check out include The Bridge on Bridge Street with Gary Baus bringing his sax, deep knowledge of swing jazz and fun times from Friday to Sunday at 5pm, with DJS to close afterwards; The Grand Central which only opened last week on Washington Street, formerly The Bailey, will have Cork’s Soul Legend Karen Underwood playing Friday to Sunday at 6pm, and notably has a concert from Paddy Casey at 8.30pm on the Friday too.

Dali, formerly the Pav, on Careys Lane will host a 14 hour Techno gig on the Saturday, and on Sunday host ‘AmyAmyAmy’ when Briony O’Toole and her ten piece band celebrate the 15th Anniversary of Amy Winehouse’s album ‘Frank’ at 7.30pm. Following that at 10.30pm will be Nubiyan Twist, a big band who have focus on groove with Afrobeat, Dub and Soul influences as well as the jazzier end of Hip-Hop in the mix. The other half of that double bill is Blue Lab Beats, who have remixed tracks for the likes of Jodie Abacus, Dua Lipa and Rag’n’Bone Man, but their own DJ gigs have brought them throughout the world and gained many millions of listens online.

Coughlans Bar on Douglas Street, like so many venues have several concerts a day worth mentioning, but keep an eye out on Saturday at 8pm for Whoa! Mama, a new band who specialise in taking hits from all over the airwaves, artists as varied as Aretha Franklin, The Bangles, The Cardigans and Beyonce, and get your dancing. Coughlans will also have Shookrah playing on Sunday at 11pm, who will have been playing earlier that day in the Old Oak at 1pm.

Marlene Enright who was nominated for the Choice Music Prize earlier this year will be playing in Electric, South Mall, at 5.30pm on Friday and at 4pm Saturday and Sunday. A little later Pontious Pilate and The Naildrivers will be playing The Brog on Oliver Plunkett Street at 5pm on Saturday and Sunday, their set of classic ska covers mixed occasionally with their own original material never fails to get any crowd going. They also play the legendary ‘last gig of the entire festival’ when they start playing at 11.50pm in The Crane Lane to take proceedings onto the Tuesday!

All venues and their concert times can be found at

Interview With Nnenna Freelon

tweety stuff @ronanfromcork

A shorter version of this text was first published in The Evening Echo [Cork] on 2018-10-18, text underneath photo.


TID - Echo - Nnenna Freelon

Only embarking on a professional singing career after she had raised her children, Nnenna Freelon quickly became a world renowned singer, teacher and arranger, with six of her albums receiving Grammy nominations. She has also won several other jazz awards including a very notable one at the start of her career, “the Billie Holiday award was given to me early in my career when I released my first record in 1992, my understanding is that they looked for emerging voices and singers. That really gave me a great boost of confidence and support by acknowledging my voice and promise. That was me standing on the shoulders of Billie Holiday, someone who was a self taught singer but at the end of the day she sort of defined Jazz singing. There had been Blues singing and Folk singing before her, but arguably she and Louis Armstrong were the grandmother and grandfather of the genre we call Jazz singing.”

The idea of standing on her ‘Billie Holiday’s shoulders’ is central to how Nnenna views how Jazz music works, “Jazz is a music of collaboration really, an individual might think they are creating all by oneself, but that’s so rare. Most of us stand on the shoulders of others or borrow, adjust and change ideas. We all live in this world of influences that include Jazz, Classical and Folkloric music, and things we learned as kid, it’s all in there – and if we are wise, we dig into that well.”

She credits her father with introducing her to Jazz but is very aware of not getting too totalitarian about what counts as Jazz music, “that was the music by father loved – from him I heard people like Sarah Vaughan and big band music, I don’t know if I’d have been attracted to that music if wasn’t for him in my life. I think sometimes people start to think of Jazz as something that is only legitimate if it’s Charlie Parker or Thelonious Monk – and if it’s not that it’s not ‘Jazz’ – but that’s a very narrow view.”

Instead of a particular sound, Nnenna views playing and singing Jazz as mindset, “improvisation is the thing that links the music together, if you have the ability to create music in the moment and keep it in that moment, that satisfies me as Jazz – as opposed to music that is written down and the effort is put in to perform it exactly as written, that is for me is not Jazz. Duke Ellington had a great explanation for music, “there are only two types of music – the good kind and everything else!”

Nnenna’s concert in Cork will be her second time playing the festival, “It’s been many many years since I was at the Cork Jazz festival, it was 2001 – I was just a baby! This time I will be accompanied by piano, acoustic bass and drums – it’s a wonderful group, one I’ve worked with many times. We are looking forward to it so much. We do have a broad repertoire – but the music we will be playing at this particular concert in The Everyman will largely be standards from the great American Songbook, but re-imagined. Taking songs that have lasted a long long time and looking at them with a different lens, you can do that with the great songs.”

She has just two criteria to consider before adding a song to her repertoire, how it sounds to her and how she connects to it, “I’m simply attracted to beautiful melodies, things that have a strong melodic form – people see me go from the songs of Stevie Wonder to the Duke Ellington – I go where the melody goes! I think I’m a storyteller, I love stories – inside of songs I look for a story, even when I’m singing a 32 bar song I’m performing a 5 to 7 minute play. There’s a beginning, an apex, and an end told in a dramatic way, and underpinning it all is a story. I always tell my students, that if you don’t have a story to tell – and it doesn’t have the be the one the lyricist wrote, it can be one of your own making, that is the improvisational nature of jazz – dig in your own personal experiences, those of others or into your own soul as a human being and you bring that to the audience. Then the audience takes what you’ve expressed and make their own story from it, it just continues to expand like ripples in a pond, it’s really magical.”

On that note, she drew on a very specific example to explain this, “One woman wrote me a beautiful letter, that I still keep in my office, some years ago she was recovering from Breast Cancer surgery, so she was going into for her chemo and she used the music from my record called Soul Call, which I released in 2000, and played that as she had her treatment and she really felt like it helped in her healing. That hadn’t been my intent when I made that record, but how grateful am I that it had that effect for her, so there’s the story the lyricist wrote, the story that I had with the song and the story that particular listener had with the song and it goes on and on. That’s why I’m so glad I can be an artist and singer, that’s the reason right there.”

Finally Nnenna reflected on Aretha Franklin, another great American vocalist who has passed away, “The Queen of Soul is exactly who she was, and she was also a friend,
The day she died a group of us got together, and we talked about the many ways she affected us, musically, spiritually, socially. We did what you do, we span a few records, raised a toast, quite a few toasts, to this great spirit and that we were blessed to be alive when she was. What an amazing talent she was, I heard some say once ‘oh there are black American voices like hers in every church in America’, that is absolutely not true! She was a one in a generation voice and when you look at the depth and breadth of her material, she stuck her fingers into Pop stuff, Jazz stuff, classical – she had a voice that could just move you. All hail the Queen!”


Nnenna Freelon Trio & Donny McCaslin Group play The Everyman Theatre on Sunday 28 October at 2.30pm. Tickets available at



Interview With Mama Kin

tweety stuff @ronanfromcork

This was first published in The Evening Echo [Cork] on 2018-7-5, text underneath photo.


Part of the core ethos of the Clonakilty International Guitar Festival is to encourage touring artists and build the festival within the town, one of this year’s headline acts is the Australian act Mama Kin Spender who are returning after a great reaction to Mama Kin’s set of concerts in 2015.

Speaking from her home before she returns to Clonakilty she reminisced about the venue and the town, “I’ll never forget my first time of playing at DeBarras.  It was akin to a spiritual experience, something in that place breathes magic. Who can tell why some places feel like home but I know that I love your part of the world. Your people feel like my very own, and they make me feel like I am theirs. I like to tell stories, and your audiences are up for the ride, we fit together.”

Mama Kin, whose real name is Danielle Caruana, knows the world of music in many capacities: as a solo act; her current collaboration with Tommy Spender; the youngest member of a large musical family and as the wife of John Butler – one of Australia’s most successful singers and band leaders – she has seen every scale of music festival and venue, and she has a tremendous respect for the Clonakilty Guitar Festival, “I love a festival that is of the town, by the town, for the town and this is one such model. The town’s own venues host all the shows, there is no festival site, the town is the festival! These festivals are my favourite because I feel like the whole community is engaged and benefits from the festival, and as an artist I feel so welcomed and folded into the culture of a place.”

While her first two albums ‘Beat And Holler’ and ‘The Magician’s Daughter’ were solo affairs, ‎‘Golden Magnetic’ the album she touring now is as part of a collaboration, “the material is written by us as a duo, I play drums and Tommy plays guitar and we sing harmonies throughout each other’s songs. While we created this body of work as a duo, we decided to illuminate the recorded works with a large vocal section so wherever possible we perform with a choir… and guess what… we are doing this at Clonakilty!”

While many musician’s describe their work in terms of genre, Mama Kin measures this album differently, “the intention is connection and expansion. I believe that the most punk thing you can do these days is practice hope, love and connection. Especially in the face of all the news and data that we are fed every day which would have us subscribe to disconnection, fear, separation and hate. This new album is our act of hope. It is a total flip on what I am used to. It feels tough and visceral and I just love it so much.”

As well as making music with that mindset, she also spends a lot of time trying to help others make music in the form of The Seed Fund, a not-for-profit organisation she helped form that offer grants annually to Australian artists from any background, creating art and music across any genre, to establish themselves as self-sustaining, professionals, “The Seed Fund again is hope and abundance in practice. We all rise with the full tide and there is enough for everyone. I wanted to see that in action. So my husband and I created a fund and started giving out grants and running initiatives that would bolster our own industry. It has been a wonderful experience. I am not a fighter, I really go weak at the knees at the thought of conflict, but I can put all my energy into making good, that’s what I am here for…I just want to make ‘good’ at every turn.”

Mama Kin’s life has always been immersed in music, the youngest of six siblings, she had music lessons from the age of five – primarily in piano – and like the rest of her family would play in the band in church and for members of the Maltese community who visited their house in Melbourne. Aside from that, two of her brothers are professional musicians, and her first band featured them both, they had a working title of ‘Kin’ and when she learned she was expecting her first child the Mama Kin moniker grew from that. She feels very much an equal in the family now, “I feel more frequently like the Mama than I do the youngest child, so I suppose I have graduated somewhat. I feel like my own confidence around my songwriting and music making has grown so much over the past few years, that I can hardly recognise my old, insecure, unsure, little sister self. When I do meet her, I rub her back and tell her that she should sing and write, good things are coming! I love writing, recording and touring my music, and I love that every release is a bit of a different journey, sonically and personally.”

For two internationally touring musicians to manage rearing a family takes a lot of work, a lot different from running a family band’s weekly concert in the local church, “we live 3 hours south of Perth, the world’s most isolated city, in a little town called Margaret River, being immersed in nature is good for my writing and a great antidote to the highly urban touring lifestyle. It has changed so much in the last year or so for me, it is almost eerie. I have a 15 year-old and an 11 year-old and all of a sudden I have heaps of time. I used to covet time, methodically, obsessively! There’s still heaps of planning, we seem to operate about 7 months ahead at least, and sometimes we are ships in the night. The most amazing thing is realising that although at times it has been arduous to say the least, our kids are really great travellers, totally flexible, robust and resilient – really quite impressive people! However, I really don’t know whether they will follow in our footsteps, our eldest was saying the other day that although they love music they are not sure they would ever sign up for this crazy lifestyle!”

Mama Kin Spender & Choir play De Barras on Thursday 20 September and the entire festival runs Monday 17 to Sunday 23 September. Further details can be found at

Interview With Marc Ribot

tweety stuff @ronanfromcork

This was first published in The Evening Echo [Cork] on 2018-1-11


Marc Ribot, who plays De Barras in Clonakilty on Sunday 21 January, is one of the most revered guitarists in the world, he has released over 20 albums of his own various projects, and his work as a collaborator stretches back to the 1970s when he started performing live with luminaries such as Wilson Pickett, Carla Thomas and Chuck Berry. His first major studio recording was alongside Tom Waits in 1985 on his ‘Rain Dogs’ album and they have continued working together on albums such as ‘Franks Wild Years’, ‘Mule Variations and ‘Bad As Me’. The long list of artists he has also played with includes Elton John, T-Bone Burnett, Norah Jones, Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, and extensively with Elvis Costello.

He rang in the New Year in central Italy where he played several shows at the Umbria Jazz festival with both his Marc Ribot Trio, as well as The Young Philadelphians – where he is joined by three other improvisers interpreting classic ‘Philly Soul’. Speaking from the airport on his way to USA, he was delighted in the completed residency, “I was playing at Umbria for a few days in a row, it was a lot of fun it’s nice to play every day and not have to travel, it’s rare luxury to be able to play and to be able to sleep!”

Marc Ribot was returning to the US for the New York Winter Jazz Festival to play a concert with Ceramic Dog, his free/punk/funk/experimental group, and also to perform a solo set playing collected ‘songs of resistance’. Activism is something that is important to him, “these are very difficult times, I’m not shy about saying Mr Trump poses a danger of fascism in the United States, and anyone who doesn’t like that idea needs to be active now in opposition and resistance.”

His sights are then set on a ten date tour of Europe playing sets of improvised guitar, having released so many records in different styles and with 15 bands/projects listed on his own website – some more active than others – to try and predict what will be played is a difficult task, he continued “certain pieces of music I do can drift between the projects, such as my trio that performs the music of Albert Ayler and sometimes I do one of those pieces solo, but generally each project I do is a distinct concept so there’s not tonnes of crossover. Having said that when I play solo it’s as close a chance you can get to hearing anything I’ve done, anything I’ve ever done at any point in my life could end up in my set. It’s improvised, and everything is bubbling around there in the soup so you never know what will come to the top in any particular moment.”

Bearing his first well received 2016 Clonakilty show in mind, Marc is aware of not repeating himself, “playing a venue a second time always has an impact, it’s almost unconscious but I don’t want to do the same thing in the same place. Fortunately my memory helps there, let’s just say that sometimes not remembering things perfectly is a blessing! Improvising covers a wide area and can take in everything from ‘Free Improv’ like the Derek Bailey model, where you attempt to create something from nothing each time. Then there are various traditions and levels of improvising, even Western Classic players improvise a bit when they embellish. I’m very influenced by the ‘Free Improv’ movement and from ‘Free Jazz’, which have two very different histories and ways of doing things. As other improvisers would agree even when in a completely free improv situation where you are trying to do things completely from scratch, what comes out of your brain is largely what went in to your brain at some point, it might be scrambled, or with mistakes, or worn by time and use, but you can hear where someone’s been when they improvise.”

While the content of the shows will change from concert to concert Marc is touring with both acoustic and electric guitars, “with this tour I’m thinking of largely improvising mainly on acoustic, but I’ve been working on some John Cage pipe organ pieces called ‘Some Of The Harmony Of Maine’, which I’ve transcribed for guitar, that might show up on the electric. John Cage essentially put an old hymnal in a blender, by cutting and pasting lines of music together and creating new pieces that sound like the old hymns but don’t tend to move in the same way. So there’ll be quiet acoustic parts and then some pretty raucous parts!”

The concert is being presented by the 2018 Clonakilty International Guitar Festival, an organisation that Ribot admires, “I think it’s great when people are enthusiastic first of all, and when a local team comes together – especially when they also include local musicians – then there’s nothing better.”

Marc Ribot plays De Barras on Sunday 21 January, tickets available via

Interview With The Complete Stone Roses

tweety stuff @ronanfromcork

This was first published in The Evening Echo [Cork] on 2018-10-11, text underneath photo.

TIC - Echo - Complete Stones Roses

When The Stone Roses rolled into Cork for Feile 95, Ian Brown, Mani and the rest of the band were virtually kings of the city, with stories of people meeting them still being told today. The affection for the band has never dampened, and when The Complete Stone Roses come here during the Jazz weekend it is bound to be one of their best gigs of the year.

Nelly, who plays bass and takes on the mantle of Mani, is very clear about the role The Complete Stone Roses take on, “we’re not impersonators, we’re not that kind of band. We wear similar clothes, our singer does pull a few of the moves Ian Brown does, and we put a lot of attention to detail into the performances, but we aren’t actors pretending to be The Stone Roses, we are musicians playing the songs of The Stone Roses.”


He knows full well just how important The Stone Roses are to people and his group try to do that justice, “as a band they made quite an impact, they had that punk thing – they came – had two big records, pretty much every song on both albums are great – and then disbanded. We play all the greatest hits like ‘Sally Cinnamon’, ‘She Bangs The Drum’, ‘Fools Gold’, ‘Waterfall’ etc, but also the fan favourites ‘Mersey Paradise’ and ‘This Is The One’, so people who listen to them a lot will be happy, if we are recreating a specific set we listen back to the bootlegs and play it as close to possible as we can from that night.”

The attention to detail he refers to goes as far as his actual bass guitar, as Nelly went to great lengths to get the exact same model as Mani’s main bass, which did not go unnoticed when the two met, “Mani said the bass he plays is as ‘rare as rocking horse s**t’, but that’s how we see it as a band, if you are going to do it, do it right. The guitarist and I have always done that, get the same guitars and bass that The Stone Roses use; get the right tones, gear and pedals. It took me a long long time to find the exact same Rickenbacker that Mani uses, but it was worth it – it’s a great bass and plays great.”

Both bass players have become friends over time, “I’ve met Mani a few times, the last time we met up was the night The Stone Roses were playing Glasgow Green, we met up for a few beers beforehand and talked about music and how life was going. He’s always had great praise for the Complete Stone Roses, he’s a great guy.”

Nelly spent a lot of time perfecting what he does in the band, “I sat and studied all the recordings they made and every bootleg I could get my hands on – there are so many versions of what they did – and learned what suited the band best live. Learning when he used his thumbs and when he used plectrums; which tones he used when. It all paid off because we are in place now where we are really happy with it.”

While he isn’t pretending to be Mani on stage, Nelly is aware of how Mani plays in a live setting, “there’s plenty of performances you can see of Mani, he’s quite an energetic bass player and it’s easy to get into frame of mind and attitude especially when the crowd is up for it.”

Mani started influencing Nelly’s style long before he joined The Complete Stone Roses, “The Stone Roses had finished around 1995, and I only started taking the bass seriously around 1999 when I was about 19, I was into punk music originally and then I got into Indie bands like The Stone Roses, so Mani was a really big influence straight away, and also Primal Scream, who Mani was playing with at the time. He’s always been a very melodic bass player, so I picked up stuff like that straight away and got into that style.”

Since he wasn’t a founding member of the group Nelly knows it was more than his playing that got him into the band, and also explains how they don’t recreate the band’s off-stage antics, “The Complete Stone Roses were already an established band when I joined them, they had started around 1998, this tour being the 20th anniversary, I only joined in 2005. I think my personality and attitude was a big part of me being asked to join the band, not just my technique. We are travelling so much with the band members and staying in hotels etc, you are essentially living with each other for half the year on the road. We’ve all got to get on really well, and fortunately we do – we don’t want to be fighting with each other like the real Stone Roses did!”

The Complete Stone Roses play The Venue on Saturday 27 Oct. Tickets are available via TicketMaster


Interview With Levi Lovell / The Big Lovin’

tweety stuff @ronanfromcork

This was first published in The Evening Echo [Cork] on 2018-9-27, text underneath photo.

Echo - TID - Big Lovin'

The stars have aligned, and the world is ours for the taking”, the confidence of Levi Lovell, the frontman of The Big Lovin’, can’t be doubted and judging by ‘Adiadiadio’ – their debut single – that confidence is well and truly justified.

The band perform an engaging, urgent live show and back it up with very well-rehearsed and delivered original material, they have been likened by some to Irish songwriter Pugwash, and on more international level to acts such as Ben Folds or Beck, Levi accepts those comparisons.

He reckons they can trace their influences further back than that, “there’s certainly a lineage that can be traced back through those bands and the likes of ELO, all the way back to The Beatles and The Beach Boys, and beyond. There’s really no end to that rabbit hole, you can dig as deep as you like.”

“What I love about that kind of songwriting is that they weren’t afraid to have fun, and they were so adventurous. I’m not gonna sit here and talk about the general quality of current pop music  – I frankly don’t have the time – but the main thing that bothers me is that it all takes itself terribly seriously. I want to show people that, believe it or not, you actually can have a good time listening to music – and with The Big Lovin’, you can have ridiculous craic listening to some bangin’ tunes.”

His take on the quality of current pop music is undermined by his next claim, “I don’t really listen to other people’s music, find it rather dull. I usually have my own records on repeat in my chateau”, he then explained – presumably with his tongue still in his cheek – how his band operates, “democracy is a dirty word in The Big Lovin’. The mere mention of it results in swift re-education for the guilty band member. My rule is absolute! West Cork has proved a particularly fanatical region for my music, so I poached most of my musicians for the band there.”

Levi is reluctant to give away much about how he developed as a performer, or how he put the band together, as he puts it “you can find out my origin story behind a paywall! What I will say is I returned to West Cork in 2017 from a six-year journey of self-discovery in the Far East. By stealing songs from the locals I met on my travels as well as the ones I’ve written, I have amassed a deep repertoire of sure-fire hits – so I’m destined to make a quick buck in the capitalist markets of the West. With my crack team of musicians, I’m conquering the known world by force.”

Part of the charm of the music video The Big Lovin’ have released in support of ‘AdiAdiAdio’ is how they’ve mixed the tropes of the idea of classic rock and roll bad boys with priests and nuns, the use of a convertible is very reminiscent of ZZ Top as well, Levi credits everyone he thinks contributed to the video.

“I happen to be an excellent director/screenwriter/ actor/producer on top of my many other talents so that means video is just another medium for The Big Lovin’ to convert more unsuspecting listeners over to our side of the fence. The idea was simple, we filmed the average day of a gang of priests. The results are hilarious. Seeing is believing.”

On occasions Levi lets slip that forming the band wasn’t the limit of his ambitions, “let’s call a spade a spade, the band is just a front for a cult, it’s as simple as that really. We use the subliminal power of music – really good music – to get our hooks into prospective cultlings, and we just keep on growing, swallowing up everything in our path. Do you lack confidence? Or frequently feel arrogant? Join The Big Lovin’ today!”

Playing a stand out show at last weekend’s Clonakilty International Guitar Festival (the festival’s brochure claims The Big Lovin’ are “the first cult to be endorsed by our festival”), as well as recent performances at Limerick’s inaugural Feile na Gréine, and successful trips to Dublin means the band’s reputation keeps increasing, which Levi feels in vital, “The Big Lovin’ always needs to grow. It’s hunger is insatiable. The beast we have created is loose upon the land and nothing can withstand it’s swagger. It rolls into festivals and music venues, pubs and taverns, high streets and alleyways, towers and tenement buildings. All shall fall under the pall of The Big Lovin’’

More about The Big Lovin’ can be found and heard at

They play Cyprus Avenue on Thursday 4 October,
De Barra’s, Clonakiltyon Friday 19 October, and
The Mariner, Bantry on Friday 20 October.   on

‘Adiadiadio’ is available now on Spotify, Youtube etc


Culture Night 2018 Overview

tweety stuff @ronanfromcork

This was first published in The Evening Echo [Cork] on 2018-9-20, text underneath photo.

ECHO - TID - Culture Night

Culture Night’s continuing popularity and growth means there are now over 1600 venues participating nationally, hosting over 4000 free events. For this year’s edition Cork City has over 100 venues putting on a myriad of events, the programme covers the entire breadth of the concept of Culture in Cork, all things are celebrated; food, art, old buildings, new music and theatre, and language – with a large element as Gaeilge.

Also in recent years a lot more has been held during the day time as well the later events, giving people a chance to completely overload on events, and of course to helping families get more involved in the programme, with that in mind my first tip starts at 3pm in Cork Opera House, ‘Arán agus Im’ features Manchán Magan in a theatrical performance where he makes sourdough bread for 2 hours while offering insights into the wonders of the Irish language.  

The ‘Poem-Roam’ consists of 10 events in 5 venues between 5pm and midnight, starting in the Munster Literature Centre and ending up in The Long Valley, which is the home of Ó Bhéal’s weekly poetry night; there will be book launches, ‘5 word poem’ challenges, and readings throughout the trail.

Other opportunities for enjoying Culture NIght while roaming the city include Bringing The Wine Geese Home’ (4pm) a historical walking tour, starting at L’Atitude, Union Quay, retracing the footprints of Cork’s various connections to some of the famous wine families of the world and finishes with a special “Wine Geese” tasting. Some of the places visited include The Crawford Gallery, Huguenot Quarter and The Port of Cork & Bonded Warehouses. Speaking of the Port Of Cork, people who might like a fresh look at the city (and fresh air) should try booking the ‘Cultural Boat Tour’ down the River Lee on board ‘Cailin Oir’, which departs from the Port Of Cork at 4pm. Both of those events are very popular so booking tickets in advance is advised.

Those in Cork Bus Station will have a chance to enjoy a concert while they wait with Cumann na bPíobairí Corcaigh (Cork Piper’s Club) (5.30pm), followed by the much admired High Hopes Choir (7pm), and finishing with Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Douglas branch (8pm).

Full time venues putting on events include The Roundy with #CorkLovesMusic (8pm), a panel discussion led by Evening Echo’s Mike McGrath-Bryan on “What next for Cork City’s music community amid urban renewal, new venues and a new generation of musicians and music professionals?”; and The Crypt in St. Luke’s will be opening their doors to an open rehearsal (5pm) of a brand new opera by John O’Brien, inspired by Oscar Wilde’s timeless story, ‘The Nightingale And The Rose’, people will get a peek behind the creative process of making an inventive new work featuring singers, musician-actors, dancers and actors. That actual production will be receiving its world premiere in October in The Everyman Theatre.

A few different places are partaking in their first Culture Night such as Dali (formerly The Pav) on Careys Lane, whose resident visual engineers David Mathuna and Darren Kirwan have created an immersive audio visual experience (from 6.30pm) for people to experience an evening of dark, murky visuals at every turn, accompanied by mad electronic sounds, they promise a “transformed trippy bubble!”

Another recent addition to Cork has been Roots Coffee House in Montenotte, which provides training and employment for a group of people supported by Cope Foundation. Art teacher Bronwyn Casey and her ‘Splash Of Colour’ students will host a workshop (5pm) suitable for all ages and levels of ability in the Cafe’s fun and relaxed surroundings, will also exhibiting some of the student’s work

Nano Nagle Place on Douglas Street, contributes to Culture Night this year with a programme of climate themed ideas, music and theatre, ‘Horrible Histories and Harmonies’ (4pm) will be there to introduce children to some of the most fun and gruesome parts of history with music, dancing and stories. Afterwards there will be a Drop in Climate Action themed ‘Kid’s Korner’. The East Cork Early Music Festival (6.30pm & 7.30pm) will be performing ‘Baroque Classics’ in the beautiful Goldie Chapel.

Going from the 18th century to future generations, the Ballyphehane Youth Music Project/Music Generation Cork City (5.15pm) and the Junior group of the Douglas Branch of Comhaltas Ceolteóirí Éireann (6.15pm) will be playing in the plaza of City Hall, with more live music after from the Polyphonics Barbershop Choir (7pm) and the Cork City Samba Band (7.30pm).

Many other public buildings such as County Hall, Collins Barracks (Old Youghal Road), and The Cork Public Museum (Fitzgerald Park) are opening for the evening which is a great opportunity to see them in a new light – or since it’s the evening, a lack of light! Speaking of light, The Glucksman are hosting ‘Tours By Torchlight’ (9.30pm, 10pm and 10.30pm) providing a unique opportunity to experience the museum and exhibition, they intend to bring you up close to the art of modernist masters Josef and Anni Albers, and investigate their practices in a different light.

Culture Night takes places this Friday 21 September, more elaborate details for all mentioned here and many more events can be found at #culturenightcork


Interview With Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh / Quiet Lights Festival

tweety stuff @ronanfromcork

This was first published in The Evening Echo [Cork] on 2018-9-7, text underneath photo.

ECHO - TID - Caoimhin O'

Over the last decade or so, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh has developed into one of the most inventive and daring artists on the Irish Traditional music landscape. He is one fifth of the critically lauded ‘The Gloaming’, who sold out 7 nights in a row earlier this year in the National Concert Hall; one quarter of ‘This Is How We Fly’, a band that have incorporated trad, dance, electronic and jazz influences to create an intriguing instrumental contemporary folk sound; and alongside all this he has continued performing regularly solo and in various collaborations – sometimes short term projects, others more long standing.

The inaugural ‘Quiet Lights’ festival takes place in Cork over the second weekend of September and promises to “shine lights on the new wave of Irish folk and traditional talent that are quietly making waves, forging new paths, recollecting old tales and making new stories.” Caoimhín being part of the line up is an obvious fit, something that isn’t lost on him, “it’s a lovely invitation to do something special, especially knowing the man behind the festival, Jon Pearson, and seeing the other artists who will be performing at it – it feels like a fine sonic adventure is on the cards, and there’s no need to hold anything back!”

He clearly feels an affection for the festival and how it will be set up to be in various places across the city, some well known music venues – such as Coughlans, The Roundy and St Pauls – and also places that would be less used such as Slow Moving Clouds playing in the Chapel in Griffith College on Saturday 8 September with Katie Kim and Radie Peat playing together there the next day, he continues “I thinks it’ll definitely really help bring music to new audiences; I especially like this kind of festival, one that uses some really beautiful spaces in the city, rather than the big-tent-in-a-field.”

On the subject of his many collaborations, one of the festival’s other acts Cormac Begley [Coughlans, Douglas Street – Friday 7 September] and he did a tour as duo playing in various churches around Ireland in 2016 and 2017, but while some people might expect him to be standing near each stage waiting to jump on Caoimhín has a much more relaxed expectation for the weekend, “you know, I’m really most interested in other people’s unique solo voice. I’ve always been most interested in hearing people do their own beautiful thing, just them on their own. I understand that ‘collaboration’ sounds like an exciting thing to some people, but really I would much prefer to hear somebody just do the thing they’ve brought into being all by themselves. If someone makes music that affects me profoundly, I just want to experience more of that thing, rather than start playing with them. At the same time, I know there’s some kind of excitement that an audience gets from seeing something new happen in front of them for the first time, but I don’t really believe in it myself.”

For his solo show, he is bringing an acoustic instrument and also some new electronic ideas he’s been developing, “I’ll be playing my extraordinary 10-string hardanger d’amore fiddle, and I’ve written some code that allows to process the sound of it in real time, so I’ll be taking those electronics with me too.”

This summer Caoimhin has got back into the swing of things of playing on his own, “the last few months have been really nice, actually – I had a good few solo gigs, which I’m really happy about – I had kind of neglected that side of things for a while, and I forget just how much I enjoy it, it’s one of the most rewarding ways of making music I know.”

He seems intent on keeping up that momentum, on both a live and recording front, “I have a solo tour coming up in the Autumn, of which the Quiet Lights gig is the first, and I’m really looking forward to all of those gigs, and developing and evolving the material as I go along. I am definitely looking towards recording a solo album over the next while too!”

His solo gigs weren’t the only concerts he played recently though, his moving from project to project is a mindset he relishes, “I’d wilt if it were always the one thing… Getting into the different headspaces needed for each group is both fun and challenging, I’d say but I reckon I thrive on the multiplicity of the different combinations. I had some lovely gigs with This is How we Fly, which is always a thrilling and wonderful experience, and I was also on a small island in Denmark playing with Garth Knox at a pretty magical little festival.”

It wasn’t just playing music that has occupied Caoimhin over the summer, “I didn’t overload the summer with gigs, it’s good to leave a bit of room for other things that matter! I had plenty of walking, camping, foraging and the like. The freezer is full of wild bilberries from the Wicklow mountains, the cupboards are full of jams and chutneys and pickles and homemade wines and vinegar and all those sorts of things now – what a summer it was for growing things!”

The Quiet Lights festival runs from Friday 7 to Sunday 9 September, full line up can be found at visit
Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh plays St Peter’s, North Main Street as part of the Quiet Lights Festival at 4pm, Saturday 8 September, tickets €15 available from

Connolly’s of Leap, West Cork – Thursday 18 October, ticket info here

Aula Maxima, University College Cork – Friday 19 October

Interview With Radie Peat / Quiet Lights Festival

tweety stuff @ronanfromcork

This was first published in The Evening Echo [Cork] on 2018-8-9,


While all the acts playing the Quiet Lights Festival are established and have played Cork many times, the collaboration concert between Katie Kim and Radie Peat will only be the second time they have performed as a duo. Their debut concert was in April of this year as part of the Musictown Festival in Dublin.

The idea of the two playing together was first mooted by Jonathan Pearson, the organiser of the Quiet Lights festival, Radie Peat was delighted he got the ball rolling, “I’ve been a fan of Katie’s music for years, long before I met her and became friends, I’d found her music on the internet and got obsessed with it. It’s been really exciting for me to get to work with her, but I probably wouldn’t have thought of it myself. It was cool to hear that Jonathan thought it could work, then for Katie to think it could work and then I was thinking ‘jaysis, maybe it could work!’ We originally approached it as a one-off event, it was supposed to be a few songs together and then a few things on our own but we ended up getting very excited and put together a whole programme of new material together. It was so exhilarating that doing it just once seemed like a bad idea.”

Best known for her singing and concertina playing with the folk quartet Lankum, Radie has noticed some differences with working with Katie, primarily known for her ethereal composition and use of both acoustic and electric instrumentation, “Lankum is an equal part collaboration between the four of us, so it wasn’t a huge jump to work in equal collaboration with Katie, but what did stand out was that Katie and I are from two different musical worlds. There is crossover though but it’s hard to put your finger on, there was no obvious musical thing to do so the challenge was to thread two seemingly separate musical strands together.”

Another element that had to be dealt with was a more vocal one, as Radie continued, “working with another female artist was different for me, as when I’m working with the lads in Lankum I’d be using certain elements of my voice whereas with Katie I was using different areas. I was using much higher and much lower parts as we both were working in the same range. I was so surprised when we did get together, considering how different the music we make is, that when we sat down and started we had very similar ideas of what we wanted to sound like. We both really liked the songs the other person was bringing to the table, from the preliminary stages onwards I was excited about it. It was madly easy to do in a way to make it sound like we wanted to, and I think that’s a testament to Katie’s musicianship as that wouldn’t happen in every collaboration, sometimes it’s more of a struggle.”

In that spirit of trying new ideas, they have been revisiting material and using different instruments, “there’s a few things different with what we do, so if you’ve just seen me in Lankum, or Katie Kim play, it’s bit of a departure. Some of her songs are there but reimagined, there are some songs from other contemporary artists and some folk songs. Instrumentation wise, it’s different for me as I don’t play any concertina and I play a lot of guitar.”

Radie reckons this will remain a live project for the next while, “it’s a bit early stages to be talking about recording an album, I’d love to document the gig somehow, but if you think about it as a band we’ve only done one gig! We are full time musicians and have our separate careers, we’re at the part where we are really excited and we just want to play it for people. At that first gig by the time we were ready we were nervous about what people would make of it, as no-one had got to hear it before we performed it, we didn’t do any test audiences or anything. We are still like that, to be able to perform it for people in a live setting, it’s just good fun.”

Radie Peat & Katie Kim play The Chapel at Griffith College, Wellington Road on Sunday 9 September. More information and tickets details can be found at