A shorter version of this article was first published in The Evening Echo [Cork] on 2017-04-13.
Text below photo.
The thriving Saint Luke’s area is playing host to a range of concerts on Easter Sunday with an afternoon concert by Lynda Cullen and Anth Kaley in Rant Cafe; then Sillk playing in The Saint Luke’s Wine Tavern; a double bill from Katie Kim and Lankum (formerly Lynched) in the magnificent Live At Saint Luke’s Church and proceedings coming to a close in Henchys Bar with a DJ set from Donal Dineen.
Ian Lynch, an uileann piper and one of the singers in Lankum, is delighted to be coming back to Cork, and bearing in mind it will be Easter – a time that has quite a history in Ireland – he anticipates it will be reflected in their concert, “often if we are playing on a significant date or significant venue we tailor our set list accordingly. I like to sing songs that are of relevance to people, and that is the value of folk and traditional song, it can still have resonance for the listener.” Recently the group played at prestigious BBC Radio Folk Awards, and they picked a specific song to perform there, “we were playing in the Royal Albert Hall, and bearing in mind that city it was in, playing ‘Sergeant William Bailey’ – an anti-British Army recruitment song – seemed the logical choice… there was no choice about it all really.”
Since all four members of the Lankum have a wealth of songs and experiences, the band have a lot of options when it comes to what material to pursue and perform, Ian explained, “there is no set formula for what songs we perform as Lankum. There’s so much out there, we are always learning and finding new material, be it from going directly to the archive or we hear one at a session. Each one of us has been in the situation where we’ve brought a song to the group; we’d all agree it’s good and worth working on: but after a few weeks we’d agree it just isn’t coming together so we move on and do something else. We just know when it works.”
Lankum (who changed their name in February in solidarity “with oppressed, marginalised and displaced people, both internationally and nationally…while the systematic persecution and murder of black people in the USA continues…” and therefore decided they would not use the loaded and offensice term ‘Lynched’ anymore) have in the few short years since releasing their first record in 2013 ended up sharing stages with Folk Music stalwarts as Norma Waterson and Martin Carthy; appearing on ‘Later… with Jools Holland; and touring extensively.
Ian is aware that they earned their stripes before all this success and have kept long connections to the people they have gigged alongside, “in one way it’s happened very quickly, but in other way my brother and I have been at this nearly 15 years! We played with Los Langeros right at the start of all that and have kept in touch with people like Phil ever since, we’ve played in Triskel Arts Centre and the Cork Community Print Shop and of course we’re returning to Live At Saint Luke’s Church.”
Having played Cork on several occasions, both as Lynched and other previous musical incarnations, Lankum have built up quite a following, and the appreciation between the Leeside audience and the band goes both ways, “there’s a few cities that you go to and just know it’ll be a good gig and you’ll get a good response, Cork is always one of them. I’d always heard about the whole supposed rivalry between Dublin and Cork; we’re a band that couldn’t pretend to be from anywhere else other than Dublin, but we’ve always had a good response when we play there. I always look forward to playing there, our last two times in Live At Saint Luke’s Church have been mega gigs.”
Ian commented on how pleased he was for Lankum to be part of such a varied bill on Easter Sunday, “in the last 10 or 15 years or so the music industry’s playing field has completely levelled out. People are realising they can do things themselves, they don’t need the big boys to put on events like this, things like this are amazing to see that.”
Chris Schmidt Martin, the cellist and a vocalist with Sillk, is looking forward to their concert, “we’ve been talking to Declan in The Wine Tavern for a while about playing there, it should be an ideal spot for a gig. People can get into a ‘gig going mode’ in familiar venues, whereas non-traditional spaces can lead to an inquisitive mindset for an audience, which in turn is good for the music and the atmosphere, this can definitely be exciting.”
Lynda Cullen is also very enthusiastic about playing, ‘I think the idea of this event is wonderful. Saint Luke’s is such a buzzing, vibrant community, and this sort of event will further strengthen that spirit. Playing at an event such as this is very different from the average ‘festival experience’, as acts aren’t being put on one after the other on the same stage. Having your own platform gives you much more freedom to use the space as you see fit, rather than having the feeling of being ‘slotted in’ before a major act, and having to whittle down a set list to fit time constraints. It ensures that there aren’t people watching you who are just waiting for the main act!”
Chris continued on Lynda’s point about not feeling like a ‘support act’, “while having your name on the same line as Donal Dineen on a poster is definitely a boost to the ego, it feels like we’re playing our own gig that’s happening in conjunction with all of this other great stuff. People might come to see us after Lynda and Anth play in Rant, and I’m sure a lot of the people who come to see us will move on to the gig in the church, but it’s nothing like opening to a crowd who haven’t really arrived yet, which can happen with one stage festival days.”
The fact her afternoon concert is in a cafe is something Lynda is looking forward to, “playing in this type of venue can be really enjoyable, it takes the focus from the alcohol and places it instead on the music. Kids rarely have the chance to see live music performed and for that reason I think the more places that host all ages gigs the better. On a personal level, my twin sister will be visiting with my nieces for the event, so I’m looking forward to a chilled out, relaxed afternoon. My sister will sing with me and the little ones are excited too, as they love seeing live music but rarely get the chance!”
Finishing the day and night’s proceedings will be Donal Dineen, one of Ireland’s most revered and respected DJs, former host of ‘No Disco’ and the co-creator of the online music show ‘This Ain’t No Disco’. While better known for DJing with ‘club sets’, he is relishing the chance to be part of such a disparate bill, “as a non drinker, I always find it funny to be in a pub at any time, but when it happens with the right people and on a bill that has so much really good music around it can be perfect. You know there’ll be people who are into listening to more good music in a different context.”
His varied and extensive experience of DJing means Donal doesn’t try to presuppose what records he’ll play, “I come to every gig at this stage prepared with everything, prepared for anything. Knowing that people going to the gigs will be there is one thing but I’ll also be keeping in mind there’ll be other people who are in a different frame of mind there and they are also customers. I might have to reach deep down to get them all going. My ultimate ambition as a DJ is to get everyone dancing, that can entail a very broad kind of thinking, you can use different tunes from different places that might trigger one thing in one person – you might get them running from the jacks to dance to some Paul Simon and keep him there much longer than he expected… I doubt I’ll be playing any of my favourite Techno records though!”