Since its birth in 1979, Cork Folk Festival has earned a reputation for bringing together some of the biggest names on the traditional and folk scene – as well as championing some of its up-and-coming stars. Set in Cork city, is has a unique atmosphere, taking in 14 of the city’s famous venues, but the festival feels intimate, despite its diversity in venues. Whether it’s local foods; tripe and drisheen, or a bodhrán workshop, fiddle concert or trad session that you’re after, the festival is well catered and all at minimal cost. Put short, it’s an old school festival for audiences who appreciate world class acoustic music. This year’s line-up includes Mick Flannery, Lynched, Buttons & Bows, Unthanks, Dick Gaughan, We Banjo 3 and introducing Atlantic Arc Orchestra with Donal Lunny, Pauline Scanlon, Jarlath Henderson, Aidan O’Rourke and Padraig Rynne, Ewen Vernal, John Blease .
Our Top Six Picks…
Mick Flannery is a refreshingly unassuming artist from Blarney, whose stage presence exudes no superficial gimmicks, just a man sharing his songs in an understated but powerful manner. This attribute, combined with the heartfelt honesty in his lyrics, has won him worthy comparisons to such great songwriters as Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits. “Mick is 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.” Urban Folk, New York.
Self-styled Dublin folk miscreants Lynched involve the talents of brothers Ian and Daragh Lynch, who, legend has it, formed their own “experimental folk-punk psychedelic duo” around a decade ago. Their uilleann pipes, whistle and guitar are now joined in the band by Radie Peat (concertina, bayan, and whistle) and Cormac Mac Diarmada (fiddle, banjo). When they set out, they played folk-punk in Dublin pubs. They have since moved the focus to the city’s roots and its ancient song tradition. The repertoire includes anti-war songs, sing-alongs, children’s songs from the streets of Dublin and old Traveller songs.
Northumbrian folk group the Unthanks took shape in 2004 as Rachel Unthank & the Winterset. Formed by sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank, the Winterset released two albums and earned a loyal following in the U.K. before switching monikers in 2009. With a slightly different line-up in place — one that featured Rachel’s husband, pianist Adrian McNally, as well as fiddler Niopha Keegan and guitarist Chris Price — the Unthanks released their debut album, Here’s the Tender Coming, that same year. Here’s the Tender Coming made a big splash in Europe, where it was named one of 2009’s best releases by Mojo, The Guardian, and Uncut.
Buttons & Bows
When Buttons and Bows first landed on the Irish music scene in 1983, a new splash of colour was thrown into the mix. With their roots firmly planted in their beloved Irish traditional music, Buttons & Bows was ready to experiment with graceful Quebecois waltzes, lively Danish quadrilles and achingly beautiful Shetland airs. Barriers were broken, energy and humour abounded, jigs and reels were given a new dusting of magic. Decades later, the band’s repertoire still raises a smile at traditional music sessions in every corner of the globe. This influential foursome – made up of Jackie Daly, Séamus and Manus McGuire and Garry O’Briain – began its days with sessions in Kinvara and previously performed at the Cork Folk Festival in 1992 & 1998.
We Banjo 3
Award-winning quartet We Banjo 3 from Galway, combine Irish Music with Old-Time American and Bluegrass influences to reveal the banjo’s rich legacy and roots. When this band of brothers take flight in a wave of virtuosity, verve and joie-de-vivre, feet tap and pulses race. Enda & Fergal Scahill and Martin & David Howley are among the most celebrated and distinguished young musicians in Ireland today. They perform at Cork Folk Fest with the band Socks in the Frying Pan.
Atlantic Arc Orchestra
The festival will present the premier of a new musical project called Atlantic Arc Orchestra, featuring musicians & singers from Ireland, North and South and Scotland. It’s a project that has been co-produced by singer Pauline Scanlon, to draw on the shared musical heritage of the Atlantic arc region. The line-up features: Donal Lunny (musical director & bouzouki), Pauline Scanlon (Irish traditional vocals), Jarlath Henderson (border pipes), Aidan O’Rourke (fiddle), Padraig Rynne (concertina & electronics), and Davie Ryan (drums & percussion).
The 37th folk fest line-up continues with Scots troubadour, Dick Gaughan and gifted English songwriter Steve Tilston. Plus a very special concert, The Compánach Concert- The Music of Ireland with Fintan Vallely, Gerry O Connor, Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn, Roisín Chambers, Sibéal Davitt and photographer, Jacques Piraprez Nutan .
The packed festival also includes trad singer Barry Gleeson, Ron Kavana, Sean Ó Sé, Warwick Folk Festival, Cork Singers’ & Pipers Clubs, Lee Delta Blues Club, Seamus Creagh Tribute Concert and Stíleanna- Concerts in Fiddle, Pipes, Flute, Accordion/Concertina & Song. This year we will be back in the City Hall for a Céilí Mór with the Allow Céilí Band.
So if you’re a fan of folk music Cork is the place to be this autumn.
Tickets on Sale at www.proc.ie & www.tickets.ie