Ronan’s FreeSession Tips For Christmas Week-ish

tweety stuff @ronanfromcork

first published in @The Evening Echo 2014-12-23


It’s that time of year when people’s social schedule get stretched, not to mention the wallet, so to tip you off on some musical gems with no cover charges here is a list compiled by Ronan Leonard of completely FreeSessions on for the rest of the year. Show people who don’t live here what they are missing and remind yourself why you stayed! All gigs start around the 9.30 mark unless otherwise stated. St Stephens Night and New Years Eve are omitted, as the rest of the nights over the Christmas Period deserve some more of the limelight!

Tuesday 23

To take the edge off people’s Christmas shopping nerves there is a gig at 6pm by Anna Mitchell & John O’Connor (Oliver Plunkett, Oliver Plunkett Street), who sing duets from classic country to more modern gems.

Ikarumba (The Poor Relation, Parnell Place) play in the style of The Gypsy Kings and their high energy gigs are never known to disappoint, just across the river there will be a rare appearance by the Medication Blues Band (Charlies, Union Quay), featuring the band Princes Street backing the magnificent John Lynch on lead vocals. They are my personal tip of this whole article.

Saturday 27

The blues rock juggernaut three piece Blind Lemon (The Slate, Tuckey Street) will shake the cobwebs off anyone who is suffering after St Stephens Night, but for those who might prefer something more acoustic or to introduce a foreign visitor to traditional Irish music there is a CeiiI Mor (The Oliver Plunkett) at 6.30pm, where dances are also taught to those who want to give it a go.

Getting back to the riffs and amps, there is a “night of seasonal rock’n’roll madness” (Fred Zeppelins, Parliament Street) that will feature The Grunts, Lennoko; This Place is Death, The Japans and Kendo Nagasaki.

One of Cork’s most legendary bands, The Hot Guitars (Coughlans, Douglas Street), who have been playing in various permutations since the 70s will be playing their broad range of rock and blues, from The Rolling Stones to Van Morrison to Steely Dan.

Sunday 28

Karen Underwood (The Poor Relation) plays a weekly 6pm slot with her usual blend of Soul, Blues and Jazz. Normally this helps bring people’s weekend to a gentle close, but for the week that’s in it perhaps it’ll be a more raucous affair!

Niall MacCabe (Coughlans) and his band play a delightful set of sweet soul music, where his original songs stand up well against some of the classic songs they also play. His album of his own songs, ‘Part Of The Light’ was released in March this year and many have considered it the best record to come out from a Cork act in 2014.

The only non-live music on this list is The Sunday Times Sound System (The Bowery, Tuckey Street, 4pm), any list of great free events in the city over Christmas would be incomplete without them, their 5th birthday party will be starting in The Bowery in the afternoon and will go on for 10 whole hours, while throughout the year they bring some of the freshest guests, this edition will be feature their 4 residents DJs, John Hennessy, Colm K, Dean Feeney and Barry Walsh. It will be free up till 11pm, so get in early and since they always get absolutely packed you should get in very early!

An equally up tempo event but much different style of music will be The Roaring Forties (The Woodford, Paul Street), with their swing jazz set while many of the songs are standards their performances of that material is anything but!

Monday 29

Hank & Ray (Charlies) recently marked the 20th anniversary of their weekly Rock and Roll Roots session with an 8 week celebration, it took that long to fit in all the guests they wanted to join them; expect any number of them to fall in on this night. The Monday Night Session (Coughlans) is much younger in comparison but it doesn’t fall short when it comes to the musicianship and atmosphere they create.

Lynch Mob (Counihans, Pembroke Street) – A lovable man with a white beard and hat, it must be Santa… no it’s not it’s Ricky Lynch and The Lynch Mob, they play mostly Bob Dylan songs but keep an ear out for some of Ricky’s original numbers too.

To those who don’t feel they have rocked enough that night, and perhaps want to make use of a rare chance for a Monday night out, get thee to Live Lizzy (The Crane Lane, Phoenix Street), a tribute band to one of Ireland’s finest bands Thin Lizzy, this will be a late gig starting at midnight.

This time of year are when we all relax our rules, and I’m about to break the rule of this article and squeeze in one gig that you pay into, Ger Wolfe (L’Atitude, Union Quay – €12), fresh from playing with The West Cork Ukulele Orchestra in The Cork Opera House on Monday 15 he will be joined by Edel Sullivan and Paul Frost, two of the finest musicians in Cork.

Tuesday 30

If you are in the mood for some soul, blues and a sprinkle of country then The Pixie And The King (The Woodford) will be the best place for you, this duo fill up the stage with more energy than most 6-piece bands do!

The Gillbillies (Beggarman, Gillabbey Street) Cork’s longest running session, this bunch have been playing every week for over 35 years, double bass, clarinets, harmonica and a myriad of other instruments means you will think it’s the Jazz Weekend again!

Thursday 1 January 2005

In case your new year’s resolution is to go to more live music I suggest the Irish Trad & Cajun sounds of Eileen Healy & Sean Kelleher (Charlies Bar)

Friday 2 January

For my final tip may I bring to your attention Lowlek (The Roundy, Castle Street), the alternative funk band that will be launching their new single, ‘Stide And Abide’, their unique visual presentation is coupled with a charismatic style and complex sound.


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